|PARADISE GALLOWS (Inter Arma)|
I THINK that is a sun (obscured by clouds and miasmas) and not a moon, but it is hard to tell. I imagine it being a sunrise, actually (daylight dawns upon this grim scene that has transpired during the night), though it could just as easily be a sunset.
It is also hard to tell whether the object in front of the sun is a ruined castle or a rock formation. I'm gonna go for the latter, because the shape is evocative and it's a cooler option anyway.
So, two main things to think about for this piece in the context of building an adventuring scene.
1) What's with the ship? It looks like it got wrecked on some rocks, and the crew (but not the captain) abandoned ship. I imagine that's the captain up top, who hung himself in order to "go down with his ship." What was this ship carrying - treasure? Contraband? Prisoners? Looting a precarious shipwreck upon the rocks would be a great adventuring scenario, but so would tracking down dangerous missing prisoners! (Perhaps they are sheltering in:)
2) The ruined castle. Who once ruled here? Whose lands were these? Why was the castle abandoned to ruin - was it conquered? Cursed? Simply too expensive to maintain? What unwholesome denizens now reside within its crumbling corridors? (What treasures and secrets might be found within?) Are these - either the denizens or the treasures or the secrets - connected with the wreck outside?
|DREAM AN EVIL DREAM (Aevangelist)|
I find it interesting that there is a suggestion of a third eye on his forehead. Perhaps he has sight of a kind not possessed by most mortals. (He may have oracular powers, or extraordinary powers of perception, or the ability to see into minds.) This would make an encounter especially interesting, or give another motive to interact with him besides merely obtaining passage through his doorway.
The fact that the artwork has no words on it means there is no reason to merely show your players what they see!
Alright, time for the BOSS BATTLE:
|EXTINCTION NECROMANCE (Xul)|
This is another one of those covers that I've actually used in my experimental Metal Monster Manual Campaign - it was actually the culminating, final boss! It's gonna be hard for me to abstract it from the way that I actually used it, so I'll just run you through how it figured in that campaign.
The being above, who I named Xul (much creative, right?), was encountered by the players previously in the form presented by the Resist the Thought artwork in this post - note the horns (now repaired above!) and the third eye (replacing the previous mark or brand!).
In the very center of the artwork, protected by some kind of bubble or shield, is the perhaps-fetal demon-child from whom Xul draws power to restore her lost deity and assume this form. Xul needed to be slain before this infant god could be handled or harmed.
This is a hard thing to do. Xul's head, arms, and torso are armored with bone plate (save the crack where her third eye may be seen!). Furthermore, her four powerful arms, many tentacles, and sharp horns provide myriad mundane ways of hindering and harming players. Finally, the aura that crackles about her head my be channeled by her third eye into a blistering ray of DOOOM.
The ensuing combat was great - full of danger. The players managed to slay Xul in the nick of time, as one player leapt upon her back and cracked her protective skull wide open with a Word of Power, allowing another player a clear arbalest shot straight into her third eye, destroying this form. (The party, with much disagreement and strife, then murdered the infant demon-god as it slept, destroying its dream world that the campaign took place in and returning the players to the waking world which the demon-dreams had been seeping into. Long story. I may write it out fully if there's interest.)
I was very happy with how Xul functioned as a final boss. Success!
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!)
Housekeeping note: after two weeks of unemployment, my new job will be starting up at the end of this week or the beginning of next. I will be busy, and I will transition this blog into two posts per week rather than three. Monday and Thursday, most likely. Now that Metal Monster Manual Monday has reached its 10th installment (yay!), I will probably bring it down to bi-weekly, and fill the intervening space with miscellaneous articles.
So, stay tuned!