So I know this has been going around the RPG blogsphere for the whole week. After reading a whole bunch of them, I put a little thought and recalled the memories of what will be in my top ten favorite monsters of all time.
So here's my list of my top ten favorite monsters (and a good reason to post something since I haven't for this week)
We'll start from the bottom.
10. The DM
I can't seem to decide on no. 10 but I think all monsters are equal to the one who is running them. My group has a running joke when the DM is running a killer encounter with monsters, he is called the Dungeon Monster.
9. Giant Spiders
As a kid, I knew many other kids of my age were easily frightened by them. It was wicked playing on your players' fears when you were 10 years old, especially if they noticed that they couldn't move all of a sudden when they had to walk into a fog in the forest.
8. Shambling Mound
No one feels more unwanted than unwanted vegetation. These guys are just like Otyughs but more pitiful and can't speak (which makes them misunderstood) but that doesn't mean there are any less deadly. They live in marhses and swamps and their best buddy just lives one entry away in the 3.x MM and in the same terrain as them; the Shocker Lizard.
Yeah. A Shambling Mound and a pack of Shocker Lizards is my all-time favorite and deadly combo in 3.x. I still remember when my players said, 'What's a bunch of pikachus and a walking tree going to do to us?'
7. Gelantinous Cube
Among all these oozes, I've always found the Gelantinous the most innocent of them. I don't know why, it's as if they really make an effort to be noticed but just aren't. I used them in a dungeon once where I just drop on in the middle of a 20-foot wide corridor. As the party march down the corridor in their confident party formation, none of them the wiser of walking along the sides and failing their Spot checks, just walk right into it. Ok, the skeleton floating in mid-air was a giveaway but it just prompted them to search it by taking a closer look.
Plus they make good janitors. If I owned a dungeon, I'd hire them.
Elementals were all the rage during the 90's thanks to Captain Planet and it was going to affect my games sooner or later. I had thought of a campaign where each of the PCs had to find each of the elemental rings by defeating the corresponding elemental (and still am today, it would be filled with retro-awesomeness!) and save the world from.......haven't really thought of that (undead, maybe?). One of the main villains in one of my first campaigns (ran by my brother) was an armored fire elemental king that resided on a volcano.
Then came along the SSI game, Al-Qadim; The Genie's Curse which refined my taste of elemental beings. Even today, my mind still stirs with a potential campaign everytime I flip to the page on Elemental Weirds in the MM2.
The first time I met the Ankheg was in Baldur's Gate with their deadly acid spit attack that TPKed my party faster than I could even say 'I hate save vs. death'. Although if I was lucky enough to kill one of them, I could take their shells and turn it into some pretty neat armor.
They weren't as deadly in 3.x and it was the first time I get to read their full description in the MM. While they still presented a good challenge but there weren't really meant to be harmful to humans. In fact, they are even environmentally friendly.
I had an adventure where my PCs thought they discovered an Ankheg infestation in the farmlands and started purging their numbers but they got attacked by the farmers for killing their 'livestock'.
A good DM knows that a good monster is one that comes back for seconds. What's not to love a monster factory and made to order for that matter? I remember reading about them in the AD&D MM in fear as a player and using them for an adventure to look at my players' fear in 3.x as a DM.
These guys not only have the best cloning technology in all of Monster Inc. but their progeny also recognises their mothers, including the PCs!
3. Dire Animals
When you put the word Dire in front of any animal, it makes them better, like pirates and ninjas. Heck, even the cliche adventure of clearing out the inn cellars of rats becomes better when you put a dire rat in there! I've always wanted my players to meet the Dire Bear but they probably got mauled somewhere between Dire Wolf and Dire Lion. As a kid, I had an adventure where the PCs just had to survive in the Dire Woods!
Don't worry, there's a salt-water lake in there for the Dire Sharks
Every DM has to have a bread & butter monster type that becomes the staple diet in the PCs' slaughter-by-the-million list. Some have opt for goblins, little and pesky brats that deserved to be culled for their annoyance. Kobolds to give adventurers a good lesson on humility and never underestimate these trapmasters. Orcs for pure brutal savage kill-fest. I got bored with them along the way and had to find a new humanoid for my (and my players') endless amusement of throwing waves after waves of them.
I've found them in the hobgoblins. Although they are destined to be killed by the buckloads, you would still respect these disciplined, smart and ruthless soldiers. Yeah, no more dumb kills dumber. These are trained killing machines and a little coordination goes a long way of making killing them much more worthwhile.
Ok, maybe another reason for that is because of Red Hand of Doom.
And my no. 1 favorite of all time...
I spend my entire 3.x years planning for the Githyanki Incursion campaign (which sadly never kicked off, a story for another time) and after reading that issue of Dragon where they were featured, I absolutely liked every aspect about them.
These guys are brought up in a society that lives on war. They have a caste system where the place of each githyanki is based on which function of war do they serve. From soldiers to weaponsmiths. They are specialized warriors trained in arms, magic and psionics or both!
Their hatred for the Mind Flayers makes it compulsory for their young to go through a deadly rite of adulthood where they go on a hunt to kill Mind Flayers. Seriously, their aim to make the most deadly mind foes an extinct species. I give anyone my utmost respect to anyone who wants to exterminate the Illithids from the face of the multiverse. You just can't be more extreme than that.
The strongest warriors ride red dragons like Ferraris and their silver weapon is treated with so much respect that they are worth dying for.
Then when all's said and done, they gladly give themselves to their Lich Queen who sucks their souls for sustenance and power and turn them into powerful undeads that guard her Obsidian Palace.
Needless to say, I fell in love with these militaristic, atheist but fanatical, psionic, supremaist bastards and still await the opportunity to unleash them on my players (someday).