Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Making battles epic: THE monster versus A monster

This is not a system specific flaw, this is something I commonly see in many games. The clouded confusion between A monster and THE monster. What do I mean by this?

Take the Minotaur. In Greek myth there is ONE Minotaur, and when he died there was no other. Theseus killed the Minotaur and lived on in myth forever. Theseus did not kill a minotaur then loot through his belt pouch and fight two more later.

Why does this matter? The need to have an ecology of repopulating monsters robs the uniqueness of your conquest. You killed just another minotaur, not an epic monster that terrorized the lands. Just some beast that will soon be replaced.

Now there are reasons for this, one so there are always enemies to fight (can you imagine a D&D char retiring after one battle with a monster) and two so that there is a feeling of control that the players don't "waste" a monster by avoiding it or killing it too easily or in a stupid anti-climactic way.

But even if you kill THE Monster in a stupid way, the battle still becomes a tale to tell by virtue of it being THE Monster. It doesn't matter how you kill The Kraken, as there is only one..the battle still becomes part of history.

Now being THE Monster can still mean more than one if there is a finite (manageable) number and they don't reproduce (at least fast). There were three gorgons, there could be a dozen dragons or a pair of gargoyles. As long as each death is a major blow to the world of monsters.

This allows for debates as the monsters run low...do we rid the world of part of its magic by killing this last of the dragons? regardless of its monstrosity?

1 comment:

  1. I had exactly the same thought while watching the History Channel show on the Minotaur yesterday ("Clash of the Gods" I think is the name).