Since Dragon Magazine was published by TSR, it’s unsurprising that most of the articles featured in it are about Dungeons and Dragons. But that doesn’t mean DnD is the only game that it ever discusses. Aside from game reviews and ads, it also occasionally features articles and advice for a variety of games, including Call of Cthulhu.
Issue 223, published in November 1995, covers a few different concepts. It featured articles on the lords of the 9 Hells, demigods adapted from the videogame Primal Rage, and the usual reviews of books and videogames. It also featured an article by Gregory W. Detwiler called ‘The Right Monster for the Right Adventure.’
You can read the entirety of the article here: Dragon Magazine Issue #223
The Ideas and Content of ‘The Right Monster’
‘The Right Monster for the Right Adventure’ covers a variety of the small-time monsters of the Lovecraft mythos, and what kind of Call of Cthulhu adventure they best fit into. Of course, “small-time” monsters in CoC are still terrifying, dangerous creatures that linger in mortal nightmares. But at least they aren’t the eldritch embodiment of human terror, right?
Each monster is listed alphabetically, and given a few paragraphs of explanation as to what they are, where they’re typically found, and interesting roles they can play in a story. They might also have recommendations for books and short stories to read for inspiration in crafting your own adventure.
The Monsters that ‘The Right Monster’ Discusses
Here are the monsters that the article discusses:
- Byakhee, huge, gargoyle-like monsters that can fly through outer space and act as steeds to those who manage to control them.
- Chthonians, huge, burrowing worm-like squid that live deep in the ground and can mind-control humans and other creatures.
- Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath, abominations with hoofed feet, tentacles, and massive mouths, which might resemble trees from a distance.
- Deep Ones, fish-like humanoids who live deep in the ocean, but can reproduce with human women.
- Dholes, giant worms that consume planets from within, and travel between worlds through space or dreams.
- Dimensional Shamblers, mummy-like beings with massive teeth, massive claws, and tiny eyes, which cannot be touched on the mortal plane of reality.
- Fire Vampires, interstellar lifeforms that look like motes of electricity, and feed on life energy, causing their victims to burst into flames.
- Flying Polyps, strange extraterrestrial creatures that resemble giant, fleshy bacteria, which once ruled massive cities on Earth and other planets.
- Formless Spawn of Tsathogghua, black oozes which can shapeshift at will, or simply crush, bite, or trample their targets.
- Ghouls, clawed, hooved, nearly human cannibalistic monsters that live in tunnels beneath human civilizations.
- Gnoph-Keh, yeti-like monsters with six limbs, found solely in cold, icy regions of the world.
- Great Race of Yith, large, clawed aliens that can swap minds with other species, allowing them to infiltrate and overtake other worlds.
- Hounds of Tindalos, strange dogs which smell, hunt down, and eat time travelers, or anyone caught out of their own time.
- Hunting Horrors, winged creatures which are summoned to hunt down a target.
- Lloigor, usually invisible collections of living energy, which have presences like ghosts until they manifest into dinosaur-like reptiles.
- Mi-go, insectoid aliens with the biological makeup of fungi who worship several different gods in the Lovecraftian mythos.
- Nightgaunts, smooth, slender, faceless creatures who haunt human dreams, somewhat resembling gargoyles.
- Old Ones, five-armed aliens who created a number of other species through magic and scientific experimentation.
- Sand Dwellers, large-eyed and long-limbed humanoid creatures who live, fittingly, in sand.
- Serpent People, prehistoric snake-like people who once rules the Earth, which can shapeshift at will.
- Servitors of the Outer Gods, amorphous, constantly changing creatures which accompany and serve a number of gods in the Lovecraft mythos, playing music on drums and flutes for their lords to dance to.
- Shans, insectoid aliens which torture other species for fun, and constantly seek out strange and new experiences, which act like drugs to them.
- Shantaks, large “birds” the size of elephants, with horse heads, hooves, and scales, which inhabit human dreams.
- Shoggoths, amorphous shapeshifters with numerous eyes, mouths, and tentacles, and a horrible smell.
- Star-Spawn of Cthulhu, aliens which somewhat resemble Cthulhu, and serve said elder god.
- Star Vampires, normally invisible space creatures which look like massive, tentacled jellyfish and feed on blood, always laughing eerily.
- Xiclotlans, giant, powerful creatures with long bodies resulting in tentacles, which act as servants to the Shans.
Is This Article Still Relevant?
This article is absolutely still relevant.
Not only does it serve as a great reference list of some of the more manageable monsters in the Call of Cthulhu universe, but its recommendations also still hold up for any modern-day player’s use. True, some of the advice concerning Cthulhu Modern might be a little out of date (the technological increase from 1995 to today has been exponential), but the rest holds up wonderfully, and you can always run Cthulhu Modern in the 1990s instead of the exactly-modern-day.
How to Use this Content in a Current Campaign
Using this content in a current campaign is simple – simply use the advice that’s given! The article considers the creation of a story, and the times and places one might encounter these creatures from beyond the mortal veil – all world building and storytelling, rather than stat blocks and rules for the monsters.
Have you ever used any of the aforementioned monsters in a Call of Cthulhu campaign? Did you do it in the same way that the article recommends? How did it go? Let us know in the comments below!