A New Method of Monster Design- Real World Objects

Derek Holland

Within the last few months I have read a couple of books that have helped me in monster design by looking at the world around me. They are Fantasy Genesis by Chuck Lukacs and Play With Your Food by Joost Elffers.

Fantasy Genesis uses polyhedral dice to help an artist take several things- animals, plants, energies, elements (rocks, weather and such) and machines- and combine them in various ways to create new critters and characters. The art may or may not be to your taste, but the results can be quite creative.

Play With Your Food is simple- just look at fruits and vegetables and see if you can "see" an animal or other creature. It may need some help, like marker dots or pins for eyes, but the shape of the plant material is key to designing the critters. These make useful, if short lived, models as well.

I have also applied the idea of monster veggies to driftwood, stumps and spatter (water, not blood). Spatter can be useful for ooze and fungal monsters. Something I haven't thought of until now are buildings and boats.

Of all those ideas, the one that interests me the most, yet is very frustrating is that of using machines. What parts from a motorcycle can be used to model a fast herbivore? The wheels, light, handlebars, pipe, motor? I can't quite wrap my head around what should and shouldn't be there. Or a cell phone- the buttons, screen, information, communication, power supply all could be used as part of a monster or player character race. Yes, even the buttons that control the phone could be used for a race that has weak points that allow others to dominate them. How about a heating fan (like the one about 4 feet from me)? The motor, blades, heating elements and cord could represent something in a monster. None of these have to look anything like a motorcycle, cell phone or fan. All they need to do is spark an idea that will lead you to your next monstrous creation.