Critters - A Couple or the whole Compendium

Howdy folks!

Been thinkin recently on the size of the monster pallet you can paint your campaign with.

Do you go with option…
A - [Smorgasbord] Faerun/Starwars/RIFTS/Shadowrun/Warhammer - Hundreds of different sorts of creatures with little organisation or theme between them.
B - [Specific] Blades in the Dark (correct me if i’m wrong) Devils! (Ghosts, Constructs, Demons, Vampires) so a very small number of monster types. Stronger tone and theme control with recurring villains.
C - Something in between.

  • Side Note-ever noticed the best Star Trek eps are the ones with recurring villains?

One of the things I like in the CW Arrowverse is they don’t throw the whole DC Comics universe into every season, they have a few recurring villains (with their minions) and build story arcs. So I guess that puts me in camp B.

I have met GM’s who don’t like to have alliances/enmities between monster factions and just whatever critter in combination with whatever critter is fun for that session.

In my view Dragonlance & Farscape are option C, good range of critters, but not the full range of Faerun/Starwars.

Anyone have any thoughts on this ? what works/doesn’t for you and why? what happened?


I like C. I try to aim for my campaigns to have a certain tone, and some foes don’t fit the picture as well. (I could be wrong, of course, about any creature: it’s just my gm guestimate, and the players may see it differently.) Even if I roll on a random table, say, for an OSE game, if the option comes up and it is of a completely different feel, I may substitute a sort of similar creature that feels right. Monsters, like more humanoid NPC’s, are part of my color pallet, too–I like that metaphor of yours!


I think i’m in C, with a lean towards A.

I love having the whole gamut to pick from, but I like to build monster tables for different areas - the encounters in the main trade road will be mostly caravans, travellers, patrols with the occasional orc raiders near the mountains, and a different sort of raider near the Trollbark forest.
I keep the weird beasties for the mad wizard labs, or near dimensional rifts.

In theory everything goes, but I do group things so that when the party travels through the serpentine woods they aren’t fighting giant spiders and owl bears…

Not sure if that helps…


Interesting, I was just trying to formulate a question along these same lines… My question was more about settings and why one appealed over another, but the answer is tied/connected to this. I think I am perhaps C. I like lots of monster types and creatures, but with them generally organized with tropes/themes/ loyalties to play into, off of, or against.

This is one thing that really appeals to me about Warhammer 40K, almost 40 years of aliens, but very well defined loyalties and driving forces. Not as specific as Blades, but to my view (limited in lots of ways) more well defined than Star Wars, D&D in general/Faerun (haven’t spent any time in the various dimensions to comment), and other more catch all settings. I am fully aware of course of the problems in WH 40K…

In some ways I like having lots of monsters in factions that I can strip of the tropes and themes if the encounter requires. When working with more unorganized monsters I find I have to do the organizing/faction creation which sometimes I want to do, and other times I do not…


I think this is a great question.

Yeah, I’m very close to some opinions above. A combination of A and C. But B is fun for non-continuous stuff, just go nuts.

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My preference changes from campaign to campaign. If I am running D&D or Pathfinder, I usually go with Option A. If I am running something like Deadlands, then I firmly Option B.


I like dungeons to have minimal variety, and that variety needs to make sense. I like variety in the greater world, but mainly in one-off monsters and not huge roving clans, which works well in low-level campaigns where they still find a single orge a challenge. I get conflicted with scalability versus realism, both in variety and challenge.