We talked about mimics back here, but there are plenty of other monsters out there that use the fine art of disguise. When it comes to the “every part of the room is a monster” gag, you wind up going to the way-back machine for stun jellies, lurkers above, and trappers. You then fill these living rooms up with the aforementioned mimics, ropers, animated statues, animated objectsassassin vines, and a dozen other monsters-that-look-like-innocuous-window-dressing. What results is a dungeon of unexpected peril. What’s interesting is this impulse to make the mundane dangerous.

Now I’m only spitballing here, but I think that there’s a reason we have so many monsters-that-looks-like-other-things filling the pages of our bestiaries. When you put on your game master / game designer hat, it’s your job to invent a fantastical environment. Suppose you’ve got an adventure in a creepy abandoned asylum. There will be haunts and madmen; prison cells and enraged spirits. There will be creepy wheelchairs, collapsed floors, and moldering straitjackets hanging on hooks. And hey, wouldn’t it be neat if one of those straitjackets flew at the players and grappled them? Sure it would. That’s why it’s already a thing.

When you get into imaginary locations and begin puzzling out what they contain, it’s only natural to imagine the window dressing first. You then naturally ask yourself, How can we make this window dressing dangerous? How can we hide the monster in the environment? The solution is to make the monster the environment. It gets ’em every time.

Question of the day then: What is the best “holy crap that thing is alive!” moment you’ve had in a game? Were you actually surprised, or did you manage to see the ambush coming? Let’s hear it in the comments!


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