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  1.  
    Recently, I've been having a think about how 'monsters' in Hot War (and, to an extent, in Cold City) are created and portrayed. At the moment, they are (rightly, I think) subsumed into the more general NPC creation mechanics. But should there be more detail and more guidance for creating them as specific entities? It seems to me that there should be.

    First an foremost, I've been considering questions that provoke the creation and detailing of monsters that aren't simply background or cannon-fodder, but who have a backstory and reasons to exist. Here are some sample questions that have sprung to mind:

    What is their motivation?

    Are they controlled (is someone in charge of them) or are they controlling (are they in charge of someone/thing)?

    Are they aware of what they are?

    Are they aware of what they have done/are doing?

    Through this, I'm hoping to give added nuance and a greater degree of 'humanisation' to monsters. So, questions I'm asking the community are:

    Does this seem like a valid exercise?

    Are there questions which you feel should be asked?

    What are the gaps, if any, that you perceive in the current way of doing things?

    Edit: In a companion piece to this, Andy is also thinking about monsters for Dead of Night 2 this thread.

    Cheers
    Malcolm
    •  
      CommentAuthorMatt
    • CommentTimeDec 1st 2009
     
    What occurred to me on reading this is that, maybe there's a neat extra step, in that every monster should in some way be drawn from the relationships and goals of the characters. So they hit their hot-button issues straight on.
  2.  
    As I mentioned in my (unintentional) companion post to this, establishing the motivation of a monster (or any antagonist, really) is important to giving it a life of its own. Motivation gives a monster a reason to act, rather than simply reacting to the presence or actions of the players. Its actions towards achieving its goals, no matter how animalistic they may be, can really help to drive the story, not to mention to add a sense of danger and menace to the proceedings.

    It's interesting that you should use the word "humanisation" - I'd have thought that there are some definite occasions in Hot War when you want to achieve quite the opposite, using truly alien motivations to enhance the feeling that the monsters are otherworldly and out of place.
  3.  
    Matt:What occurred to me on reading this is that, maybe there's a neat extra step, in that every monster should in some way be drawn from the relationships and goals of the characters. So they hit their hot-button issues straight on.


    Now that is an interesting thought and one which I will need to ponder on at greater length. I'll need to think about how that ties in to the game creation system, particularly the parts about what the characters are doing and what the antagonists are. However, there could well be something in that.

    Thanks for the thoughts.

    Cheers
    Malc
  4.  
    Andrew Kenrick:It's interesting that you should use the word "humanisation" - I'd have thought that there are some definite occasions in Hot War when you want to achieve quite the opposite, using truly alien motivations to enhance the feeling that the monsters are otherworldly and out of place.


    That is certainly true: there are times when the 'monster' should be otherworldly and strange. Then again, I'm also convinced of the need to have very human monsters at times. Looking back at Cold City, the most awful monsters in the games that I have participated in have never been tentacular horrors, but people.

    In HW, I really do feel that the best monsters are those that the characters can, in some way, empathise with. And the text is quite explicit about this: a person can easily be a monster too. That Navy Commander who runs a refugee camp in the Thames Estuary: He could be a monster.

    But yes, I do take on board what you are saying and perhaps there need to be a stage before the questions I listed above: is this monster 'mundane' or 'otherwordly'?

    Cheers
    Malcolm
  5.  
    Oh, absolutely. The tentacled horrors are really just a subterfuge for digging into the truly horrific - the nasty shit people do to one another. I'd find it a disappointing game if it was all about the tentacled nasties and not at all about the human element.
  6.  
    I think I've done something like this in most of the Hot War games I've run. I've tried to make the motivations of the monsters not only something the players can understand, but even sympathise with sometimes. It's added a layer of moral ambiguity that has led, on occasion, to more horrific outcomes than someone simply having their face eaten off.
  7.  
    Humanising (perhaps the wrong word, but I'll stick with it for now) has certainly always been a implicit part of Cold City/Hot War. However, I'd like to bring it into the forefront of creating monsters.

    As Scott has pointed out, it's something he does (as do I) and it makes things much more horrific and engaging. This and the DoN monsters thread have been extremely useful for clearing the fog and solidifying ideas.

    Expect more in the near future.

    Cheers
    Malc