Friday, July 6, 2012

Discussion: Your Favorite Monster/Encounter

As GMs we tend to put a lot of work into our special encounters and monsters. I think anyone who has GMed for a while knows the feeling of putting hours of work into that one special creature that will torment their players for sessions to come, and hopefully the feel when that work pays off and you just nail the encounters beautifully. As players, we've hopefully all had the experience of running into one of these encounters and coming away with a great feeling about how epic that fight actually was.

Today I would like to hear about your favorite monster and/or encounter. Sadly, for me, neither are actually ones that I've run.

Monster wise my favorite GM creation was a tainted shapeshifter for an L5R game known as "Inu no Jigoku" (or Hell's Hound if you want to translate it.) Inu was, as I said, a dog shape shifter that had been corrupted by Fu Leng's taint and now served the dark lord. He was a beast of a monster too with high agility, strength, earth, and could really pour out the damage. None of that is what made him special though. No, what made him special was that he had a carapace rating equal to the highest glory of the people he was fighting against. He literally warped your reputation into his armor.

Now, in most games this would be a nasty trick. Especially since as PCs get high level they tend to get high levels of glory as well. However, Inu was made for a large (150+ players) online game. Which meant that some of the young PCs often did better against him in fights than the high level day 1 pcs that were still hanging around. I was a GM in this game (just not the GM to make this monster) so I got to watch on numerous occasions as the people who rightly thought of themselves as bad asses suddenly had to try and get creative with a creature that shrugged off even the mightiest of blows. I also got to watch as the low level bushi, thinking he was doomed but refusing to back down and dishonor his family, managed to do well against this creature because they were unknown. It worked out very well.

As far as encounters go I luckily have a lot to choose from as a player, but the one that really stands out in my head comes from a short lived near-future military spec-ops game that I was in. Now, the GM for this game has provided tons of memorable encounters, but he seems to be at his best when he has a small group of PCs and is able to go for the dramatic action. The encounter in question? The PCs (a 4 man team put together by, and under, JSOC) with the help of a British SAS team had to evacuate a bunch of American and British personnel from an embassy in Thailand that had come under attack during a coup. The entire mission was awesome, but the final embassy defense + evacuation was just amazing. The embassy turned aside tanks, and even a flight of jet fighters at one point before everyone got loaded up into stolen busses and armored vehicles for a long chase down battered highways. None of the PCs came through unscathed, and it seemed death was waiting behind every die roll. Luckily, the use of tactics and some very lucky attack rolls pulled everyone through. Still, it was probably one of the most cinematic moments I've ever had at a gaming table.

So, how about you?


  1. Best monster of my own was kinda stolen from real life. i was doing a summer internship at the National Coal Mining Museum, and was sorting out old photos. A lot were kind of dull, working shots and pits seen from the air. There was however a series of shots taken over about twenty years of mine rescue teams, all with the same walrus-mustached head trainer sat in the centre and a very creepy sack cloth roughly human shaped training dummy on a stretcher in the foreground.

    These images were dated at the very end of the Victorian period so they looked gorgeous and sepia toned. I took some scans, and managed to photo-shopped the dates so it looked like they had been taken over a forty year period, with the same guy not seeming to age. The rest of the game exploring an abandoned mine in neo-Victorian game Unhallowed Metropolis, pretty much wrote itself.

    the fact that dummies could only be destroyed by tearing them apart - firearms being a no no due to the various mine gasses - meant the players had to get nice and personal with the faceless not quite humans. Great stuff.

  2. That sounds like a fun way to do things, Shorty. I assume the players enjoyed it as well?