Down to Business: the Monster Challenge

Just to show you that everything is not all fun and games at chez Ryan and that sometimes there is work to be done . . .

Thursday we decided to order Chinese takeout for dinner, because I had planned to run an Ars Magica session via Skype and cooking dinner for the two of us usually made me late to the game. Aug was thrilled -what twelve-year-old isn’t thrilled for steamed dumplings?- and I prepped for the game. Early Thursday morning, the fellow who hosts the game informed us that he was ill and needed to cancel. No game, but I stuck with the Chinese takeout decision. We deserved a treat, I figured, and could use the time I would have spent making dinner doing something else.

That “something else” was a monster challenge. Aug wanted me to draw a monster that he described. I used to do this, sort of. He and I have lived in several apartments. During out tenure at the Buffalo Street apartment, I would draw him a picture every morning and tuck it in his lunch box. He was five, I think, going to kindergarten. I’d ask: What picture do you want in your lunch today? He’d respond: A dinosaur, or a favorite Pokemon, or a specific person. A couple days ago he recounted remembering several mornings when I’d draw him a picture as we got ready for school and work. Maybe this current request was spawned from those remembrances. Maybe it’s just a cool idea he stumbled upon and wanted to enact. In any event, I capitulated, as long as he also drew a picture of the monster. He agreed, and the Thursday Night Monster Challenge began.

“Clear the table and I’ll get pencils and paper,” and erasers and pens and a variety of soft and hard pencils. Art supplies in hand, we sat down and Aug announced the critter in question:

“Draw a monster with a spider body, two bird heads, and that breathes fire.”

That’s a good one. We sat side by side, penciling, chatting, then inking. His sketch: 

followed by mine:

Aug thought mine looked better than his, while I preferred his drawing over mine. We’re a good team that way. He liked the exercise so much that he wanted to immediately repeat it. I didn’t have it in me. I’d had a long day at the office and needed some downtime, plopped in my comfy chair with a cup of coffee in one hand and the library’s copy of Lobster Johnson in the other.

Aug kept after me, asking me to draw another monster for him. I said that I’d be more compelled to participate if he would draw an image of the monster too, but he wasn’t into that. I asked if there was a particular monster on his mind or if he just wanted to make one up. He just wanted to make one up, and for some reason I was instantly reminded of the 1979 edition Dungeon Masters Guide’s Appendix D: Random Generation of Creatures from the Lower Planes. Out of the comfy chair and into the study, and fifteen minutes later I repopulated the table with pencils and pens and paper, plus my original copy of the DMG. Aug got his dice bucket and started rolling, and thirty minutes later we had:

We didn’t fudge any rolls. I don’t know if you can read my scrawl, but if you can it is all there: bat head, elephant ears, huge, toothed mouth. I had no idea how to draw pelican legs, so I stopped at the knees. I was equally lost with insect arms, which is why it looks like the monster is wearing some kind of heavy metal bracers on his forearms. Whatever. I forgot the bat wings because we were laughing too hard at its body odor, which swear to God came up “urine”. Blame Gary Gygax; I didn’t make “urine” one of the choices on the Body Oder chart. Who needs a body odor chart anyway? I’ve never had a player ask, “What does the monster smell like?”

(Just typing that made me laugh.)

But you know what, I’ll be sure to include every monster’s body odor for my players in tomorrow’s Gamma World game. I’ll keep Mr. Gygax’s chart handy. And for you poor souls who don’t have a copy of the 1979 DMG, here is the chart:

Body Odor

1. bloody

2. fishy

3. fecal

4. gangrenous

5. moldy

6. sweaty

7. urine

8. vomit

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3 Responses to Down to Business: the Monster Challenge

  1. Thank you for visiting my blog, Love the Monster Challenge idea. Great way to keep drawing everyday and connect with your child. I may just challenge myself to do the same… Though I have one for princesses and the other for dragons.


    • Matt Ryan says:

      Thanks. I liked your motivational script art. Very, very appropriate at the moment. Can’t wait to see what is to come.

  2. EffEff says:

    The good old Monster Body Odour Table from the appendices of the Dungeon Master’s Guide. It caused me no end of amusement, just like the Hooker (Streetwalker) Table.

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