Thank you to Melissa for helping to spread the word that Legends of Windemere: Beginning of a Hero is now free. Being that this is the first book of my fantasy series, I’ve been asked to discuss how I come up with all of the monsters. I started thinking about explaining my process when I realized that it all depends on what I need them for. To be honest, there are six categories of Windemere monsters that change how I create them. So I better not waste time jabbering on and get down to business.
This is the easiest way to get monsters. Folklore and mythology have so many obscure creatures that you can go hunting with a basic idea in mind. Maybe you need a desert predator or a jungle critter. A character might have a phobia of spiders that you want to take advantage of in the scene. There’s something for whatever you need.
Similar to the previous category, you find a pre-existing monster and alter it. I like putting my own twist on things at times as well as occasionally having a creature stuck in my head that won’t work for the scene. An example of this in Windemere are the snake fiends, which appear in Beginning of a Hero. These are serpentine beasts with the faces of humans, poison barbs along their spines, and a toxic spike on their tail. They are based on nagas, which were used in the game that the series is based on. I didn’t want to take them verbatim and went about mucking with the design until I got something I liked.
This can be a challenge depending on how good you are at researching. Have a basic concept for the creature you need and look through real world animals to piece something together. Using a sketch can help at times to get the parts looking right in your own head. This is similar to the Altered Mythology, but you’re starting with a lot less. For example, you may want a huge predator that catches the heroes by surprise. Give it the body of an elephant with large claws and the head of an alligator. Add some natural armor plating, a paralytic spray from its mouth, and vestigial wings for a rather difficult fight. How will it catch the heroes off guard? The monster can burrow with the help of shovel-like projections on its sides. (To be honest, all of that came out of nowhere and this shows why you need to take your time with this method.)
These monsters fall into a special category because of their origin. They can be made with the previous categories, but they were all alive at some point. Some have been cobbled together by necrocasters while others simply refuse to stay dead. There’s a different mentality with the undead because of this. You can give various types a special origin like wights are drowning victims while poltergeists are born from jilted lovers that kill themselves. You also have to decide how decayed these guys are, which changes the tactics. Zombies are still fleshy while skeletons are all bone and harder to kill from afar. Unlike living monsters, undead require you really consider how to destroy them.
Similar to the undead, these guys can be made with the first three categories. They differ for me because they come from a different plane of existence. Windemere demons live in the Chaos Void and can be summoned instead of being built or born into the main world. This makes them outsiders, so not every rule is obeyed by them. For example, a demon dying after being summoned is typically it going home, which means it can return. Death is accomplished through various methods that have to be established as unique to demons. Each species might have a different bane as well. Demons also come from their own biome, so you need to consider that when designing them. Is this the rabbit, wolf, or human of the Chaos Void?
These are your elves, dwarves, orcs, fireskins, goblins, calicos, etc. They can be used for main and supporting characters as well as obstacles. Many of them stem from pre-existing creatures that show up in fantasy or simple ‘animal-people’ combos. The difficulty with them is that they have a more detailed place in the world. Instead of being a wandering beast, these monsters have cities and a culture. You have to consider this when designing them because it will reveal how they interact with others. A friendly gesture for an elf could be a declaration of war for an orc while a goblin simply thinks you’re flailing like an idiot. It helps to make a small write up that includes the race’s history, thoughts on others, and maybe even a few holidays.
So those are the categories to my monster creation methods. Hope you enjoyed and feel free to use them if you’re stuck with your own fantasy stories. Don’t forget to check out Beginning of a Hero for free and see all six groups in action.
Thanks for sharing your methods with us, Charles. Personally, I like the Frankenstein concept, but they are all useful and great tips.
If you have any further questions, I’m sure Charles would be happy to answer. Or you could leave a comment about your own methods when creating fantasy creatures.
Thanks for stopping by.