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The essential Monster Manual of an RPG.

Discussion in 'General RPG Discussion' started by Tarantulos-Eduardo-Sanchez, Aug 7, 2020.

  1. Generic-Giant-Spider Arcane

    Generic-Giant-Spider
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    Let's talk monsters.

    Monsters are arguably the most important part of any journey. You need them, you love them, you hate them, you reload often because of them. Without the monsters serving as gatekeeper, the adventure is devoid of challenge and victory would be hollow and unearned.

    While many RPGs have had a diverse set, some new spins on old creatures or original creations, there is no doubt that there are some monsters that for whatever reason are more important than others and you may not even know it at first glance. Here are two that spring to mind immediately.

    Giant Spiders
    I don't say this out of personal bias because I think spiders are rad or have been trapping them in jars since I was a kid, but the giant spider is in my honest opinion the best trash/throwaway mob in fantasy games. Why? Well analyze it like this... what is one effective way to make somebody feel like a hero? Like the ladies say, size matters. Whether you're a casual or a seasoned veteran, there is one persistent truth and that is when you run your sword through something of impressive physical size and topple it then chances are you feel some measure of immense satisfaction. This is where the giant spider excels. It's unreasonably huge, it looks terrifying, it makes one take pause before proceeding wondering how their little iron sword is going to fell something of such GIRTH. But the giant spider is rarely successful, it is the staple push-over, the glass jawed titan of high fantasy. Sometimes the giant spider will deliver home the importance of awareness of your surroundings by placing web traps or having some sort of trapdoor surprise attack, maybe it'll teach the player how poison can be annoying and to always pack antidotes, but the main takeaway is they build confidence in the hero. The giant spider represents when you are no longer slaying vermin mindlessly and are ready to graduate to a higher class of creature. Without the giant spider hiding in the forests, clinging to the ceilings in a cave or inhabiting forgotten catacombs, how would you feel the ascension of power but at the same time keeping a reasonable pace? You don't go from killing a few rats to uppercutting manticores and displacer beasts, no-no daddio. This is where the giant spider thrives: it is the bridge to greater glory, the ferryman to more promising lands.

    Undead
    The Undead are a monster manual classic because of how diverse they can be and all the variations that exist. You have your standard zombies, your skeletons, then you have wights, revenants and your top of the line "oh god, oh fuck, oh god" terrors like the lich or vampires. The reanimated dead are great because they can be nasty, they can be easy, they can end your game or put the fear of level drain into your soul. They can go from mooks to final bosses. Those old piles of bones are more versatile than they look and nothing makes a nigga wanna dungeon crawl into the bowels of crypts and tombs more to get the treasure guarded fiercely by the remains of the not so dearly departed. Plus they mix well with other monsters like the aforementioned giant spider, spooky ghosts and shadows, maybe some crazy necromancer or evil cult. They're the bros of the monster manual, getting along with nearly everything.


    What say you, Codex? What goons would you deem irreplaceable in any given RPG?
     
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  2. JarlFrank I like Thief THIS much Patron

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    Humans
    No matter the setting, human enemies is where it's at. They can wield the same weapons as you, use the same skills as you, have diverse classes just like your party. Melee fighters? Yup. Archers? Yup. Gun-slinging special forces? Yup. Wizards? Yup. Hot chicks in chainmail bikinis? Yup. Humans can be anything you want them to be and they'll always offer a good challenge, but they're never overpowered. They're not slow and dumb like boring zombies, but neither are they 10 meter tall flying creatures immune to half your spell pool. They're the most flexible enemy type you can imagine. I can never get bored of fighting humans.
     
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  3. felipepepe Prestigious Gentleman Codex's Heretic Patron

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    Humans and Undead are basically the most important and versatile types, and can already fulfill every single role you may need.
     
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  4. Grauken King of October Patron

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    Undead are just recycled humans
     
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  5. Lilura RPG Codex Dragon Lady

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    You only need humans.

    Female humans with spiked chains:

    I like human-centric, as in Greyhawk and Jagged Alliance 2.
     
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  6. JarlFrank I like Thief THIS much Patron

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    And barefoot :salute:
     
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  7. NJClaw OoOoOoOoOoh Patron

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    Incorporeal Undeads
    Meaty and boney undeads usually are cool, but their ghostly brothers are on a whole different level. After a while, crackling skeletons and dumb slow zombies can get old; on the other hand, shadows, ghosts, wraiths and banshees are very rarely overused, so they keep their freshness and scariness. They have very distinctive abilities, like immunity to non-magical weapons, attacks that drain your stats and being able to disappear or kill your entire party with a single scream. Moreover, they usually have cool plot stuff attached to them, like being animated by sheer anger or hate towards something, or being held in the material world by past wrongdoings.
     
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  8. octavius Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    Level drainers.
     
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  9. Generic-Giant-Spider Arcane

    Generic-Giant-Spider
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    Even though it's one ultra shitty edition, the 4E artwork for Shadows was fly as fuck.

    Show Spoiler
    [​IMG]
     
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  10. Wunderbar Arcane

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    Is there a single RPG (or any other game really) where giant spiders act like real spiders?
    I mean, the most terrifying thing about spiders is that they are very fast and unpredictable. One second a spider is just chilling here, then all of a sudden it quickly jerks in some random direction.



    Videogame spiders just slowly crawl towards you. Lame.
     
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  11. Lilura RPG Codex Dragon Lady

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    ToEE has some nice black widows:

    That little thing is a tick, which is technically an arachnid.
     
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  12. Generic-Giant-Spider Arcane

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    There is an obscure PS1 game called, quite blankly, "Spider" where you pretty much play as one. Not a true spider simulator though, there's some sci-fi elements to your arachnid but it was the closest to attempting one. You could pretend that you're playing one as an Alien in AvP though since the crazy movement the xenomorph can do is pretty unpredictable/skittery as shit.

    Dark Messiah is probably my favorite giant spider, though. Not huge-huge, but the way they descend down from the walls and stuff is great and they come in good numbers to really put in that panic to the player that you're about to get fucked up.
     
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  13. NJClaw OoOoOoOoOoh Patron

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    At least in Solasta they will be able to crawl on walls. Giant spiders' characterization in RPGs is slowly, but steadily, improving.
     
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  14. V_K Arcane

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    ...as proven by the shining examples of Underworld Ascendant and Shroud of the Avatar.
     
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  15. Generic-Giant-Spider Arcane

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    I was thinking about Humans but in the end the horror fanatic in me and my love for creepy shit won out. I find that Humans can be great encounters because they are pretty much a true, no bullshit test for your party. It's why I used to enjoy Drow fights, they are a party composition like yours and now you're going to see who is the better group. It's a nice break from the more fantastical monsters and gives a more honest challenge.
     
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  16. Erebus Arcane

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    There was a time when I would have said the same.

    Then I played Tyranny.
     
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  17. Falksi Arcane

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    :o
     
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  18. NJClaw OoOoOoOoOoh Patron

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    Every time you fight a human in Tyranny you can rejoice because at least he isn't a fucking wisp/scourge/bane or whatever the fuck they are called.
     
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  19. lukaszek the determinator Patron

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    deterministic system > RNG
     
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  20. Bester ⚰️☠️⚱️ Patron Vatnik

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    Humans are replaceable, you just assume that they're the dominant race or even species in the setting, while it doesn't have to be like that.
     
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  21. NJClaw OoOoOoOoOoh Patron

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    But, you see... we were talking about HUMANS. :smug:
     
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  22. Lilura RPG Codex Dragon Lady

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    This and your OP that mentions necros reminded me of P. Schuyler & Sons. I think it's the best necro encounter ever. The dialogue and history... much of what they say runs deep into Arcanum lore. I covered almost every word of that encounter because it's just so damn good.
     
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  23. JarlFrank I like Thief THIS much Patron

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    Ok let me rephrase that:

    I can never get bored of fighting humans in a good combat system.
     
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  24. Generic-Giant-Spider Arcane

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    I always thought drider lore was a bit weird/inconsistent. You see, driders are looked at with disdain by other Drow and Lolth herself deems it a cursed form you get by failing her test.

    But wouldn't this be like the ultimate gift/blessing? Consider how Drow worship Lolth and how Lolth herself looks, you'd think it'd be one of those "I made you in my image, rejoice" deals.

    Anyways, driders are cool even if they are LOSERS.
     
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  25. Lilura RPG Codex Dragon Lady

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    As for spectral undead, I think Mask of the Betrayer represented them best. We had Shadow Mulsantir, One of Many and the furnace, the scribes in Death God's Vault, and the Shadows of the Void.

    The other areas pale in comparison to Shadow Mulsantir and DGV.

    Even if we didn't take OoM, exorcizing the furnace with Eternal Rest was a highlight.
     
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