Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Classes of Monsters

They hide under the bed. They lurk in the shadows of your closet. They’ve fangs, claws, and muscles. They are quicker, stronger, more savage than anything you know.
In short, monsters ROCK.
But when I cast my mind about monsters I see very few actual groups:
SEXY UNDEAD – Vampires and ghosts. Possessing spirits, too.
HORRIFYING UNDEAD – Mummies and Zombies and Skeletons
CREATURES OF MYTH – Dragons, Giants, Golems, a few odds and ends (look in your Monster Manual).
FEY – Mean leprechauns, sprites, brownies . . . other malicious tricksters.
DEMONS/DEVILS – Hellraiser to succubus.
CTHULU  - Alien beings.
ALIENS – Beings that are aliens.
FROM THE DEEP – Nessie and her ilk.
What am I missing? I feel like I am there is some category I am overlooking.

Hmm. While you are pondering monsters you should check out Nevermet Press. They are running a contest with a lot of freebies you can win. All you have to do is describe a monster . . . can you break from these categories?


  1. ANIMATED PLANTS - assasin vines, treants and the like.

  2. Ooh right -- just NATURE GONE WILD would work -- that fits plants, dire bears, dinosaurs, sharks, etc.

  3. ANGELS - From sexy to wrathful.

  4. Of course, if there are few, it's because you've lumped many similar creatures together under MYTHIC. Demons, Fey and Cryptozoics (Big Foot, Nessie, etc.) could be considered mythic too. Are golems and dragons really related? Conversely, I would have lumped all Undead together regardless of their sexiness.

    I guess what I'm saying is that your categories aren't coherent. Aliens and From the Deep seem to be about where the monster comes from. The Undead are split based on their effect on humanity. Fey, Devils and the all-encompassing Mythic are based on roles within myths and legends. Perhaps categories that all came at the subject from the same perspective would be more helpful at categorizing?

  5. @ siskoid - Admittedly, I plugged them in somewhat quickly. I was basically plugging them in from movies and gaming. Dragons and Golems are creatures of myth (Slavic, Chinese, and many others for dragon, Jewish for golems). I feel there is also a clear delineation for the 'sexy' undead of vampires from the mindless zombie -- they have a different effect on the game/movie/story.

    A story dealing with dragons or golems is ultimately dealing with a mythic monster (dragon, giant, construct) is dealing with a large creature of great strength . . . however, a story dealing with zombies is often markedly different than a story with vampires.

  6. By story type? Yeah, that works. I can see it now.

    I think you have room for Cryptozoic monsters ("modern legends", think X-Files). Big Foot, Chupacabra, Nessie... creatures that people might investigate and who for the most part stay out of sight.

    I might also include "Dungeon monsters" (rust monsters, gelatinous cubes) and "Demi-humans" (orcs, kobolds) which pepper games like D&D but that don't really fit any other category.