Archive for the ‘Site News’ Category

Away from Desk

November 29, 2012

I leave for vacation today, so there will be a short hiatus here at Ménage à Monster while I head south to absorb as much heat as I can to fortify me through the winter and maybe take a little of the glare off my Gollum-like pallor.  The timing couldn’t be better actually – Toronto got its first dusting of snow last night.
So what’s in store when I get back?  There’s more excellent It Came from Toronto After Dark films, including Dead Sushi, American Mary, and Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning (to name a few of my faves).  There will be another installment of both the Shackled City conversion for Pathfinder and Classic Monsters.  Finally, I also plan to return to the long neglected Monsters of the Hyborian Age series.
So lots of stuff in the pipeline as long as nothing bad happens to me while I’m in the Bermuda Triangle… according to a quick roll on the random encounters in the dimensional triangles table of Rifts World Book Two: Atlantis, I’m going to have to deal with “Sea Monster: A Giant Octopus!!” (yes, Mr. Siembieda used two exclamation points).  So barring any tentacle nastiness, posting will resume in a fortnight.

Vote for Ménage à Monster Today!

April 19, 2012

Just a reminder that today is the day to vote for Ménage à Monster to win the RPG site of the year contest.  Just follow this link and vote for yours truly:
Don’t worry, the blog hasn’t sunken (completely) into a mire of self-promotion.  A real update is on the way, in celebration of Dungeon magazine’s 200th issue (hint: it’s got some fantastic art).

Vote for Ménage à Monster this Thursday

April 17, 2012

Attention True Believers!  Just a quick (and shameless) plug to let everyone know that you can vote for Ménage à Monster to win the RPG Site of the Year contest, this Thursday April 17, over at the Stuffer Shack.  Fierce competition, glittering prizes, and 365 days’ worth of glory… but only you can make it happen.
Every vote is greatly appreciated.  See you on Thursday.

Toronto After Dark: Just the Crunchy Bits

February 16, 2012

Wow.  Eighteen films, 34 000 words, and about two months longer than I thought it would take to write it all up – and that’s without even mentioning the great short films that played before the screenings or the cool people I spent a week in line with.  I had fully planned for the posts to be quick and dirty, but the films were just too damn interesting for me not to overdo it.  Based on the amount of ‘crunchy’ material the films of the festival inspired in me, I hope my fellow gamers are encouraged to check some of the movies out for themselves and be inspired in their own games.
But it wasn’t all just the movies.  I’m very proud of that crunch, so to give it its proper moment in the spotlight, I’ve created this catalogue that organizes the After Dark posts by game material instead of by film.

Dungeons and Dragons

Skill Challenge: The Great Race
Ward Characters
Falling Barbed Cage Trap
The Mother of Toads
Haemophage Disease
Random Fey-Pact Events
Adventure Outline: Castaways of the Sargasso Prison
Power Sources and Monster Traits
Alignment Complications
Haunted Location Trap

Gamma World

Frankenstein’s Monster
Romero Zombie
The Zed Virus
Romero Zombie Template
‘Borg Template

Monsters in 5e

February 3, 2012

I’ve purposely refrained from posting a lot of speculation about the next edition of D&D until I get to see more playtest information.  However, (now I’m about to do the exact opposite) I have been following the news from the D&D experience convention pretty closely and thought I would share some of lead designer Monte Cook’s thoughts on monsters for the next edition:

We want to work hard to provide actual meaningful guidance on how to be a good DM. We want to embrace the 4E idea of quick prep time. New monster, 5 mins. High level NPCs in 10 minutes. Lots of 4E ideas. Decoupling the idea that NPCs have to advance or be built in the same way as PCs.

We were just talking about throwing in some extra abilities to monsters. So you might have a normal orc, or you might decide to make him a vicious orc that would add an attack that to a nearby creature when the monster dies. That kind of thing could be added in by a DM on the fly because it doesn’t really change the challenge too much or make you rewrite anything. It might give you a little bit of an experience bonus if/when you defeat it too.

These ideas sound promising to me.  The way monsters are created and run by the DM are one of the best features of 4e, and it looks like they want to continue that tradition and add in Pathfinder style simple templates (one of that game’s great modifications of 3e).  The next edition of D&D is still at least a year away (though probably more) and a lot can happen between then and now, but it’s nice to see the game heading in a direction I like.
For now, I’ll try and refrain from adding to the noise and continue to post about games that I’m playing and daydreaming about (that’s 4e, Gamma World and an upcoming Pathfinder campaign), lest some horrible vilstrak beat me with a ripped up phonebook.

The Flesh Mime and Other Belated Updates

September 24, 2011

Ménage à Monster slowly stirs from its torpor, gathering the strength to birth more horrors into the world…  But this isn’t a lame filler post (well not entirely) – unlike my last post, I actually have real content to present.  It just happens to be on another website.
At the end of August, the good reptilians at Kobold Quarterly posted one of my creations on their website: the flesh mime.
I’ve never been completely satisfied with the direction 3e and 4e D&D took with the doppelganger.  So I designed the flesh mime to move the monster away from being a sophisticated assassin infiltrating surface society, and return it to the predatory shapeshifter of the 1e Monster Manual that viewed humans as food.  My second design goal was to make better use of the ‘spot the imposter’ trope (you know, ‘shoot both of us it’s the only way to be sure’) than the game had in the past, so flesh mime not only impersonates you and steals your abilities, but only the truly observant can tell you apart from the monster (I think that skills are an under-utilized dimension of 4e combat: ‘Insight, it’s not just for skill challenges anymore’).
The picture is J.J. Abrams’ updated version of the salt vampire from Star Trek (whose cameo was unfortunately cut from the finished film), which, it should be obvious by now, was one of the inspirations for the flesh mime.
While you’re at KQ, you should also check out the Nihilimentis, a monster I designed for them way back before Ménage à Monster existed.  The Nihilimentis owes its inspiration to another monster from a long running SF show – the weeping angels from Doctor Who.  I’m proud of the risks I took with this creature, but keep in mind that it was created before the Dungeon Master’s Guide II, so the damage output needs to be tweaked a little to use it in current games.
In house news, unpacking is just about done, and despite problems with the closing (which I’m told is not out of the ordinary), and the city digging a giant hole in our driveway on the day we took possession (not quite as normal), my partner and I are settling in very nicely.  The city even fixed our driveway this week which is good, because I was half expecting the aforementioned giant hole to start spawning hordes of tiny stop-motion animated demons like the ones from The Gate.  I hope there aren’t any zombie workers trapped in our walls – drywalling after they break out is a pain in the ass.

Bottled Chaos

August 11, 2011

I wish I could say my slowdown in posting here has been because I was away at GenCon, but sadly that’s not the case (I’ve only been once, back when it was in Wisconsin, but I will return).  My partner and I recently purchased our first home (so I’m not really all that sad), and I’ve been pretty busy getting ready to take possession and move in.  It’s been stressful, so there hasn’t been a whole lot of time to generate Ménage à Monster content.
I’ve always hated moving, so I knew that packing up the apartment would put me in a bad mood, but home ownership is an entirely new game – one that I don’t have a complete understanding of the rules.  It draws on a knowledge base that I am woefully ignorant of, and I’ve got to admit I’m a little bewildered.  I’ve always been a renter, so I never really concerned myself with anything that I deemed the landlord’s problem.  I’m not one of those guys who watches Holmes on Homes (my brother is Mike Holmes’ spitting image, but I guess that doesn’t count), so when the insurance broker asks what kind of wiring the house has and what the wires are made of I don’t even know how to go about finding out (compounded by the fact that there is a major language barrier preventing clear communication with the current owners).  And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, the ‘known unknowns’.  It’s the ‘unknown unknowns’ that I’m really worried about.
It doesn’t help that every time I watch the news or open a newspaper there’s another story telling me that buying a house was a dumb idea and describing in excruciating detail how sinkholes, sewage mishaps, bedbugs and termites are going to make it unliveable.
But I’m also excited (I can’t wait to get my group together and christen the house’s basement as our new gaming space).  I guess if this were a D&D adventure, right now I’d be the stereotypical crusty dwarf who complains the whole time but secretly can’t wait to get back into the dungeon for an old-fashioned crawl.  I’m way too tall to be a Dwarf, so no more bitching from me.
One benefit of packing is that it’s pretty fun getting to sort through some of my stuff that hasn’t seen the light of day for many years (is it weird I like to flip through my old comics to sort them alphabetically?).  The whole process is a bit like a strange archaeological dig into your own life.
Apparently, somewhere in the chaos, I also found the time to screw around on Photoshop and create this homage to the classic Absolut ads of my youth (which are apparently experiencing a renaissance), using the awesome, Nurgly (not a real word) Les Edwards cover of The Lost and the Damned.  I’ve said it before; life just isn’t worth living if you can’t find the time to procrastinate on something completely unproductive.
So over the next couple of weeks expect a slowdown of activity here while I establish a lair in new territory and clear the land of monsters.  I’m going to need more boxes… and some men-at-arms would be nice too.

Resume Transmission

April 27, 2011

Wow, the last month has been a bit of a roller coaster ride.  My crappy computer decided to give up the ghost (down), I spent a week cruising through the Bermuda triangle (way up – no Splugorth, but I did find a giant, Atlantean 20-sided die), and when I got home I found out the web host for this blog had gone out of business, erasing all my data in the process (way down)…  I don’t like this ride, can I get off now please?
I think things are finally sorted out and I can resume regular posting again.  I’ve got a brand spanking new computer thanks to the help of my more hardware savvy friends (it runs photoshop like a dream and more importantly, doesn’t sound like a jet engine taking off when you ask it to run anything more complicated than the calculator), I’ve got a new web host and I was able to reconstruct most of my old posts (I had to use text files, so unfortunately I’ve lost all the old comments and I couldn’t be bothered to recreate the scads of links – though I did remake the most important ones).
Anyway, what am I complaining about?  I had a great vacation eating my weight in perfectly cooked steak, my batteries are recharged and now it’s time to make some monsters.

Lost Mojo

February 2, 2011

I seemed to have lost a little of my mojo last week.  I’m not really sure why, but I guess if I knew then I wouldn’t have lost it would I?  Premature February blahs maybe?  If that’s the case let’s hope the groundhog has some good news.  In any event, it’s nothing that a little Chop Suey can’t cure and get me moving again.
A random thought: I wonder what kind of groundhog day type rituals would exists in a fantasy world?  It would have to be something that hibernates, since waking up early from hibernation would mean a short winter.  For some reason I keep coming up with owlbear (yeah I know they get a lot of hate but they’re still a classic monster to me).  Obviously small villages aren’t going to send someone to poke an owlbear awake just to see if it notices its shadow, but it might put a positive spin on late winter livestock attacks… if the owlbears are out early it’s a good sign for spring and an early harvest.

Happy New Year

January 2, 2011

First, apologies for pulling a George R.R. Martin and not posting the second half to The Scarlet Citadel.  It’s done and has been sitting on my computer for awhile but I haven’t had a chance to post it (which will be rectified momentarily).   Things got pretty crazy around the holidays, having people over, cooking lots of food and cleaning up, so I ran out of time.  New Year’s Eve was a blast, we hooked up my friend’s computer filled with ROMs and arcade style console joysticks to my TV and had a retro game extravaganza – easily a year’s worth of monster inspiration there.
I also took a little time out to enter (against my better judgment) Paizo’s RPG Superstar competition again.  Now I think it’s a great competition and I follow it every year, but there are so many fantastic entries that making the top 32 cut is a long shot at best.  I invested about a day’s worth of work into my item, which I think is about right.  Any more time than that is probably wasted agonizing over something that the judges, who have to look through thousands of entries, probably won’t even notice (something which I know I’ve been guilty of in previous years).