Sunday, October 30, 2011

Ten horrors inspired by Magic the Gathering that can be used in gamebooks

It's almost Halloween, so I thought that I would go to my favourite collectable card game and treat you to some terrible monsters that could rise up from the night and hunt you down.

All of these creatures are black.  I will focus on other coloured monsters in another post.  It is quite easy to find lots of evil nasty creatures amongst black although people over at Wizards of the Coast have said on many occasions that black does not necessarily mean evil .  However, in the article, Mark Rosewater does state that black is the most predisposed for evil.

EDIT:  I wrote this post in July before I knew what cards would be in Innistrad.  As it turns out, Innistrad is all about horror based cards.  Take a look here.

Phyrexian Battleflies

I used to have nightmares about being covered in insects that would crawl all over my body and in my mouth while stinging me.  These battleflies a created on Phyrexia to do just that to the defenders of Dominaria.  A swarm of small creatures is difficult to defeat with a sword or other weapon that adventurers normally carry. However, sometimes a nice wizard might be able to sell you a potion of insect control.

Sengir Vampire

Vampires turn up almost everywhere in fiction to the point where there are loads of different versions.   Sengir Vampire is pretty similar to most vampires - it has the power to fly and it gets stronger if it kills something.  The flavour text also suggests that these vampires are immortal.  Having vampires is a safe bet for a bad guy.  They pop up in a few gamebooks, sometimes as main villains.

Consumptive Goo

Being slowly absorbed by some horrific pile of goo while simultaneously strengthening it is one of the more terrifying ways to go.  The death scene in Coils of Hate where Hate absorbs you is pretty chilling.  There is also a life draining goo in Beneath Nightmare Castle.

Nether Shadow

Another recurring nightmare I used to have (and sometimes still do) involves being paralysed in my bed while a shadow person watches over me.  It seems to be quite a common experience with possible paranormal connections (the blog of the book's author is here).  The scary thing about the shadow people is that they are insubstantial and can't really be killed by normal means.  The shadow also represents our repressed weaknesses in psychology.

Black Knight

Opposite of White Knight.  Sometimes it is harder to fight a Lawful Evil foe who is just as organised as you who won't turn against itself.  The good guys in Dragonlance found this out when they faced the Order of Takhisis.  Black Knights are known to be notoriously hard to kill  and they do things like open portals to the Ghastly Kingdom of the Dead.  It is also hard to kill black knights when King Arthur's friends dress up like them.

Drudge Skeletons

What's worse than watching a pile of bones assemble into a skeleton and attack you? Watching a pile of bones reassemble into the skeleton you just destroyed and attack you again.  The Prince of Persia got through this by finding a useful pit.  The hero in Moonrunner might come across a similar situation if they kill a certain guard in a windmill.

He wasn't kidding when
he said 'We have eyes everywhere'.

Initiates of the Ebon Hand

Secret cults are great.  They have eyes and ears everywhere.  You don't know who to trust and if you're not careful, you might end up being dragged to sacrificial altar just because your car broke down.  The initiates of the Ebon Hand corrupt whatever they touch (turns any mana black) but may also be destroyed by its power (so the initiate may die if too much black mana is made) which is the price of such greed.  Some initiates also get a big eye on their chest which reminds me of a real life cult conspiracy theory(?)

Fallen Cleric

The most terrifying zombies are those with just a hint of their old selves left.  

What's worse than fighting a servant of evil?  Fighting a servant of evil that used to be good but who was captured, killed and corrupted by evil magic.  Fighting someone you cared about really rubs salt into the wounds as you may have to do in Keep of the Lich Lord if you find your old friend Kandogor.  Having this happen to someone in a gamebook is a good way of making the reader care about defeating the big bad rather than just making them think of them as another generic 'evil' wizard.  

Cabal Inquisitor

Beneath Nightmare Castle is unique in the sense that one can argue being killed is actually not the worst thing that can happen to you. It ranks behind being driven insane by some alien abomination while parts of you are sawn off and attached to a sentient mass of limbs.  Cabal Inquisitors have a much more direct way of destroying your mind and actually look quite normal.  However, being left an empty shell is not a good way to go.

Squirming Mass

There's nothing like a bit of Lovecraftian horror.  strange tentacled cosmic horrors rise from the earth and from the sea which would drive us insane with the sight of them.  At least we wouldn't feel the tentacles suffocating us while the thing devours us slowly.  This card sums up the terror that just the sight of such a thing inspires.  However, such things may be quite weak.  This monster is a mere 1/1 and so can be killed by pretty much anything.  To be fair, it does follow in Cthulu's footsteps(does Cthulu have footsteps?) as the mighty 'god' went pop when it was rammed with a steam ship.


I wrote this article before the new Innistrad set was released or spoiled, so at the time, I had no idea that it would be chock full of its own horror based cards.  I will do a whole Innistrad horror post later on.

So there we go.  Once again, I have drawn from the deep well of inspiration built by Richard Garfield and improved upon by the staff at Wizards of the Coast.

No comments:

Post a Comment