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CU - The Monster: Story Ideas


Acroyear II
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I was wondering if any of you have ever used the Champions Universe villain known as The Monster (from any Edition) in your campaign. What was the background that you gave this frightening character? I'd like to use the new version from the 5th Edition, but I just can't come up with a good back story for the creature (although I'd like to go with the demon angle, that much I'm sure of). Any ideas?

 

Thanks in advance,

 

Acroyear II

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The Monster usd to appear out of fogs and attack lone stagglers in the big city.

As part of the backdrop to the campaign, Atomic Man, Ice Angel and the Magician imprisoned him on the Astral plane entangled. On one of our last visits there he was baning on the entangle.....

 

So now he could have got free.

 

With the Monster, you really don't need an explanation. It just is. Worry more about stopping it.

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One of the many cool GMing tips I picked up from Aaron Allston's Strike Force is that you don't always have to work out a detailed backstory for every character you introduce into a campaign. Sometimes it's better to let the campaign do that for you. With some characters and their plot elements (and I think the Monster is a prime candidate), as long as you as GM have a general idea of how you want to use him, you can leave the character's background mysterious until developments in the campaign create the perfect tie-in for him. Then you can tell your players that that's what you intended for the character all along, and look like a genius. ;)

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The GM I played with most often used the Monster sort of like a hunted for which we got no points. The Monster would just fixate on a hero and keep showing up: always on dark stormy nights, while the hero is on a stake out or just trying to enjoy a night off.

 

It was especially scary for Nightfall, my 200 pt. martial artist with no resistant defense. The Monsterreally scared me when I was playing that character, because I couldn't stop the Monster or survive his attacks. He became more of a force that drove the story, not a villain I had to defeat. I just had to stay on the run from him and find out what had caused him to pursue me (turned out to be a curse). This was one of my favorite gaming experiences too. It's frustrating for players when they must defeat opponents that are far too powerful for their characters, but I loved knowing I could "beat" the Monster by watching my back and solving the mystery.

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This is the idea I had for the Monster's background--of course it isn't official, so take it as you will.

 

A medieval wizard summoned a demon, killed it, skinned it, and used the skin to make a magically-endowed "costume," thus enabling him to use the demon's strength and power without having to appease the demon's appetites. After the wizard's death, the Monster costume, including the cloak, hat and demonskin, disappeared until its recent discovery, by person or persons unknown.

 

Now the Monster's skin, while of demonic origin, is not of itself evil--but those who seek it out usually do so to further their own selfish or vengeful ends. It is possible that someone may one day wear the Monster garb and skin to do good and destroy evil--but this is not that day.

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The Monster

 

Although I never got round to developing this concept or using it in my campaign, I always imagined the Monster as a representation of urban decay. Had some vague thoughts about the Monster travelling (teleporting) from city to city, committing murders and atrocities and then moving on again. The heroes would need to work out the pattern of attacks and detect when the Monster would strike again.

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I would go out of my way *not* to provide a background for the Monster.

 

Think of it: the characters check their scientific sources, their mystical sources -- and they draw a blank. What could be more terrifying?

 

And that's the purpose I see for the Monster -- he's the embodiment of horror, and as such, it shouldn't be possible for mere mortals to explain him. Oh, sure, there's a reason, someone (something?) somewhere knows. But the characters never will.

 

A reminder that no matter how good they think they are, there will be things they don't understand.

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In my campaigns the approach was always to make him a "local Legend", kind of like a boogie man or the urban legend about the escaped lunatic with the hook stalking lover's lane.

 

This is just an oppinion, but the unknown quality of the character seems to generate a lot of his mystique. When you quantify him with a backstory it diminishes him to "just" another bad guy.

 

Okay that might not be very helpful or in the direction you want. Here are some alternatives.

 

Psychic manifestation- Maybe its all the fears felt by earth's peoples manifesting or maybe a latent psionic is subconsciously creating him. He becomes physical for a time, or ectoplasmic whatever, and can be defeated and destroyed.

 

However, as long as people are afraid of the dark he'll be created again somewhere. Maybe a villain who uses phobia projection or fear gas is triggering his latest appearance and the key to knocking off the monster is stopping the other guy.

 

Fallen Hero- Maybe he is a former hero who was believed lost on some supernatural mission and long believed dead. In fact they have been held captive and brainwashed, cloned or just corrupted by constant torture. Maybe he is redeamable and maybe he's just too far gone. If you have older characters maybe he was a former team mate. That could jibe with the demonic idea- what better revenge against humanity than to turn one of it's defenders into a predator?

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Originally posted by Redmenace

... This is just an oppinion, but the unknown quality of the character seems to generate a lot of his mystique. When you quantify him with a backstory it diminishes him to "just" another bad guy.

 

Okay that might not be very helpful or in the direction you want. Here are some alternatives.

 

Psychic manifestation- Maybe its all the fears felt by earth's peoples manifesting or maybe a latent psionic is subconsciously creating him. He becomes physical for a time, or ectoplasmic whatever, and can be defeated and destroyed.

 

However, as long as people are afraid of the dark he'll be created again somewhere. Maybe a villain who uses phobia projection or fear gas is triggering his latest appearance and the key to knocking off the monster is stopping the other guy.

...

 

I agree with the idea that the Monster is best left unexplained, but if you like the psychic manifestation idea, you might want to take a look at the first "Asto City" collection. The Living Nightmare fits that idea exactly. He's only a small part of one story, but it might give you some ideas. (And you should buy Astro City anyway, because it includes some of the best comic book stories ever made.)

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Originally posted by Redmenace

This is just an oppinion, but the unknown quality of the character seems to generate a lot of his mystique. When you quantify him with a backstory it diminishes him to "just" another bad guy.

 

 

Too bad Marvel forgot this about Wolverine:( that and the over-exsposure of the X-Men in general.

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The Monster is supposed to be a mystery, true...but if it becomes clear to the players that the mystery is unsolvable by GM fiat, they'll give up trying.

 

I'd say that the unraveling of the Monster's story ought to be possible, but only as the result of prolonged and heroic effort. If the PCs don't rise to the bait when they encounter the first teaser clues, then the Monster can remain an enigma forever (no sense shoehorning the players into a multipart adventure if they don't seem interested in the plot). If, on the other hand, they seize upon it and swear to unmask the monster at any cost, then the game is afoot.

 

- The sessions shouldn't run back-to-back. One clue might lead them to cross paths with DEMON, then there might be a natural disater requiring their immediate attention, then more Monster-hunting, then VIPER kidnaps some DNPCs and needs to be dealt with and so on.

 

- There should be at least one false trail. Perhaps a latent psychic who was terrorized by the Monster starts subconsciously releasing "psychic manifestations" of it whenever frightened or angered...or perhaps when suffering from nightmares. The PCs could spend some time "discovering" that the Monster is actually the product of someone's powerful but traumatized mind, and somehow end that threat (which will require more than just combat skills, since the person causing the problem is actually an unwitting victim), only to discover that the mental-illusion Monster was not in fact the original Monster. Sure, lives have been saved, but they've only been chasing the echo of a nightmare. Back to the drawing board, then...

 

- By the time they reach the end, spilling the Monster's origin won't be an anticlimax; it will be a reward well earned, and at great price. And, having hit upon a couple of false leads already, the PCs might never be *completely* certain that they know the whole truth...

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In the Mystic Champions campaign that my GM is running, the Monster is the creation of Takofanes, the arch-liche. What was really scary was when we discovered that the Monster is not unique. Takofanes has built a number of these engines of destruction.

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Originally posted by Rune

In the Mystic Champions campaign that my GM is running, the Monster is the creation of Takofanes, the arch-liche. What was really scary was when we discovered that the Monster is not unique. Takofanes has built a number of these engines of destruction.

 

:eek:

 

Okay, the idea of a cadre of Monsters is definitely disturbing. Particularly if the campaign is centered around super-sorcerors; spell casters tend to be less effective against stand-up super brawlers. And if they're actually the muscle for the Ravager of Men, I don't like the heroes' chances. (Which is why they have to be heroes, I guess.) ;)

 

Actually, this isn't a bad idea for using the Monster with other origins. The PCs finally destroy the creature, only to have it turn up again - how it's "returned from the dead" would be a mystery the heroes would probably be eager to solve. The payoff when they have to confront multiple Monsters would be priceless... but by that point the PCs had better be very powerful, or else have discovered some weakness of the Monster(s) that they can use against them.

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Although the Monster is extremely tough with a big attack, its standard design has a very exploitable weakness. It berserks very easily in a combat situation. Its OCV is good but not spectacular. Since berserk causes the Monster to lose its tactical sense, its possible for a very brave martial artist to Block/Dodge repeatedly and tie the Monster up while the rest of the group blasts away from a distance. Of course, there is trouble if the Monster gets lucky.

 

In the Mystic Champions campaign that I'm playing in, we've got a valkyrie on our team who can generate very high DCVs when she's dodging. As an aside, our group is not ready to handle two Monsters at the same time. That would be tough.

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Originally posted by Rune

Although the Monster is extremely tough with a big attack, its standard design has a very exploitable weakness. It berserks very easily in a combat situation. Its OCV is good but not spectacular.

 

I disagree. Dex 30 - OCV: 10, DCV: 10 (SPD 6?) is quite good, good enough to give most characters problems, especially with it's high HKA, increased STUN (from previous versions) and certain defenses to make Stunning it difficult.

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While a 10 OCV is perfectly respectable, martial artists in most superhero campaign when dodging should have no trouble exceeding it by a wide margin. Similarly, martial artists in most superhero campaigns should be able to Block this. From a play balance perspective, the Monster's OCV shouldn't be at the top of the campaign limits because the damage that he does and his defense are already so high.

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  • 6 months later...

How Did You Use Him?

 

How have any of you GMs out there used the Monster in a scenario? Just random appearances that ended in mass murders? Or did you use the Monster for more involved scenarios other than just "monster terrorizes city" games? Did he target specific people, or haunt a particular section of the city, or was he a pawn of some master villain?

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Re: How Did You Use Him?

 

Originally posted by Acroyear II

How have any of you GMs out there used the Monster in a scenario? Just random appearances that ended in mass murders? Or did you use the Monster for more involved scenarios other than just "monster terrorizes city" games? Did he target specific people, or haunt a particular section of the city, or was he a pawn of some master villain?

I had a fairly long running storyline with the Monster. He was the servant of a demon lord named Azarakal the Red. His purpose was do capture the hearts of 13 pure Maidens of Power and 13 Men of Might. With the hearts Azarakal could cross over into the dimension. The catch was that each heart needed to be taken in a specific order, and all of the victims needed to be pure. This meant that the hearts usually needed to be taken from children/teenagers whose powers had just manifested. Also the heart of the victim's parents or truest love needed to be take first. So a parent, sibling, or someone else would die horribly a week before, and then Monster would come for the child.

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Re: Re: How Did You Use Him?

 

Originally posted by Monolith

I had a fairly long running storyline with the Monster. He was the servant of a demon lord named Azarakal the Red. His purpose was do capture the hearts of 13 pure Maidens of Power and 13 Men of Might. With the hearts Azarakal could cross over into the dimension. The catch was that each heart needed to be taken in a specific order, and all of the victims needed to be pure. This meant that the hearts usually needed to be taken from children/teenagers whose powers had just manifested. Also the heart of the victim's parents or truest love needed to be take first. So a parent, sibling, or someone else would die horribly a week before, and then Monster would come for the child.

 

Wow! Now that's what I'm talking about. What a clever way to use that character. Scary, too! :)

 

Any one else have any kewl scenario ideas like that for the Monster?

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Personally ... I use the monster as a "Freddy Kruger" type. He's the Boogeyman that everyone's afraid of and exists in the cusp of dreams. How does he become physical? He inhabits the body of childern, who are most susceptible to his form of fear, and uses them as a gate into reality. Imagine the heroes' suprise when they find, after defeating the Monster, that he reverts to the form of a child and, after suspecting the child is the only gate for him, admitting the poor kid in an asylum, only to find out that the Monster is loose, using some other kid as his puppet ;)

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It's only a movie

 

All right, how about this: after encounters with the Monster, one of the player-characters is watching an obsure 1960's B-horror movie on late-night TV, when he suddenly realizes that the central villain is almost identical to the Monster!

 

The actor portraying the Monster "starred" in several of the low-budget movies during the 1960's, but identification with the character ruined his film career. He turned to alcohol and abused his family before dying relatively young in a drunk-driving accident. The experience traumatized his young son, who eventually grew up to become a brilliant and successful electronics engineer, but remained obsessed by his father's failure. Determined that the world would not forget him, the son obsessively worked on creating an android in the image of his father's character.

 

The PCs may notice similarities between the plots of the films and the activities of the Monster, allowing the heroes to anticipate where he may strike or where he may be found. The films may describe a way to defeat the Monster which the players can try. It should be something difficult and requiring the heroes to get dangerously close to it.

 

If they investigate the history of the studio and the actor they may learn of his wealthy but eccentric offspring. The Monster's creator may have been killed by his creature, or have become too deranged to help the heroes; but his files should record his construction of the Monster and may reveal a weakness that the heroes can exploit - again, something difficult and dangerous.

 

Of course, further research into his records will reveal that the inventor was working on an advanced prototype without that weakness, and that someone else has recently accessed the same files...

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Captain Courage was the first major superhero the world ever knew. He first appeared in he mid 1950s and he has been at the forefront of every serious challenge. But what no one realizes is Courage's powers are based on black sorcery. To renew and create his powers Courage must go on rampages of evil, and adopts the identity of The Monster in order to avoid attention . . .

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My Monster...heh...is the product of an experiment by Baron Terror (I hate that name but I can't think of another one for an aristorctatic dabbler in the occult) . The Baron is a member of the Secret Empire ( a group of "Master Level" villians - not earth threats in themselves but have the perks, agents, bases, superpowered henchemen). The Baron is far less interested in the "Secret" part and has taken the name Terror Inc. for his agents and henchmen. (Since Muerte took the dirtnap). Anyway, the Baron summoned the Monster from the dreams of frightened children. The beast, like its master, love to spread fear and loathing.

What the Baron doesn't know is that the monster isn't really under his control. It is waiting until the right moment to inspire terror in HIM. Then kill him and absorb his power.

The Monster is a former demon prince of fear who was cast from his position of power by an upstart and seeks powerful "sacrifices" to return to his rightful place.

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