Monday, January 9, 2017

Metal Monster Manual Monday - Volume 1

Starting a weekly series of posts wherein I share several album covers (mostly by death metal bands!) as brainfood for encounters in your tabletop RPG. Expect this every Monday!

Some brief background: I have actually run an entire 8-week campaign based entirely around this. Pop an album cover up on a screen, "this is what you see," give some details on the action and atmosphere of the scene, see what the players do. Probably my most successful (and dark!) campaigns yet, and something I'll definitely do again sometime (with a different group of players - it's probably a trick best pulled once!).

Anyway, what you've all been waiting for (click to enlarge!):

First of all, dat's menacing.
Now, let's break it down: what's going on here?
First, this guy (yes, GUY, look at his, er, crotch) has a BELLY MOUTH. Extra bite attack? "Ingest" ability?
Second, look at his left arm - that's clearly made for grappling. He's got a strong grapple attack, probably for pulling you into his belly mouth, haha.
Third, look at all those exposed veins - is he weak to slashing damage? Does he take increased bleed damage?
 Fourth, his drool is a weird color - the same color as the liquid flowing into this lair. Is it acid? Poison? Magical? Can he spit it as an attack? (YOU BET HE CAN!)
Alright, and what's going on with that giant eye up top? Is it this dude's master? Will he do anything to protect it? What magical powers does IT have? (It probably enslaves creatures as protectors, and, whether due to its malign influence or the toxic cave environment, these protectors eventually mutate into gross beasts like this guy.)
Finally, look at the tactical challenges and opportunities that the environment provides! Can you hide behind stalagmites? You bet! Can you knock stalactites down onto this guy? You bet! Should you DEFINITELY avoid stepping in the red-orange slime flowing from the walls? You bet!

Can you say "adventure location?"
First of all, what's this place made of? Basalt? Enchanted black ice? Layer upon layer of cobweb? Then, WHO MADE IT like that? Who crafts structures from BLACK ICE or SPIDERWEBS?
What was it made for? Temple? Fortress? Cathedral? Mansion?  Palace?
Where's the door, anyway? Do you need a key, a password, or a very hefty warhammer to get in?
(Also, note the graveyard edging into the foreground. Definitely some sort of dank encounter is gonna pop up from beneath those tombstones the moment the party starts tromping through them.)

Right, so, obviously some dank wizards of some type here. Very magical, and very grim.
But, what's the dude on the left holding? A spellcasting orb? An egg? (Of what creature?) A large snowball? You decide!
Are those masks, or faces? If masks, what kind of face do they hide?
And look at what the stars are doing! They're spiraling before your eyes! Obviously these dudes are TIME WIZARDS or something. Imagine the party's surprise to head home after this encounter, only to find that WEEKS have passed in their absence! How do they wield their unearthly powers, should this encounter come to blows? What do they even want (which is, by the way, the first thing you should ask when the party encounters ANY creature)?

You could opt to just have the being on the right be the encounter, but personally, I'd have the players walk up to the scene exactly as pictured, including the two figures on the left.
First, what's with Big Bird? Spirit of the Wilds? A dwindling Old God? Is it hungry? Lonely? Loving? Bitter?
Second, what are the two on the left doing? They look like just children to me. Do they come here often? Are they friends with Big Bird? How has that affected them?
(This is a great candidate for an encounter that doesn't end up with combat. Wannabe-thespians, rejoice!)

Alright, time for the BOSS BATTLE:
So, obviously this massive tentacled heart lures and feeds upon unfortunates that come across it (perhaps including the party!) Like, it's literally devouring souls. Bad news. (Is this what they players came to destroy, given the recent disappearances in the next town over?) Watch out for magic soul-eating attacks, grabby spiky tentacles, and raging enslaved half-undead servitors!
How did this heart get here? Does it normally exist in a form like this? Or, perhaps it is trying to amass enough soul-nourishment to become something... bigger. (Or, perhaps this heart is all that REMAINS of something bigger! What creature would leave behind such a large, malevolent heart?)

How would YOU use any/all of these monsters, encounters, and scenes in your game, Reader?
(Let me know how it goes if you do!)

1 comment:

  1. That first one looks like a really fun boss to fight in Bloodborne. :)