Only a short list of people in Battling Dragon's long history have even attempted to make a monster for this game, and even fewer have ever produced anything worthwhile. So, I present to you this guide of the very steps I use to make a monster for this game, from start to finish.
- Step #1: Choose a Monster
- Normally, you should pick something you really like. Don't just pick a monster because it will be easy or popular or just because it is the most recent creature you found. No. Do something you truly like. Otherwise, you'll just screw it up.
For this example, I am picking Tiamat. Luckily for me, I am a mythology buff, so just about everything falls into my cup of tea. I did not get to pick this monster for BD, however. Lieutenant Eagle won it in the first King of Years tournament.
- Step #2: Research
- This is the most important step right behind actually drawing out the creature (which really has to be the most important; otherwise, there'd be nothing to show for all your hard work). The internet alone is not good enough; most sources are just copy-and-paste duplications of one another. Several monsters such as Celphie and Lou Carcolh do not even exist on-line. Get at least one print source -- a good one -- to back up your finds.
Make copious notes, written preferably over mental, about the monster. Note important and minor details alike. Everything is vital in the end...
Tiamat, like many legendary dragons, is popularly used in games. This is a huge problem. If it appears in a game (that isn't BD :p), assume that everything about that monster is entirely made up, bearing no relation to the true creature save by name. Tiamat is almost always depicted with multiple heads, but no texts ever describe it as such.
Tiamat is extremely fortunate to have a very authorative text on it; not all monsters will be so lucky. Stone tablets featuring the entire epic of Tiamat are readily available on-line. This will be the primary basis of Tiamat's abilities. Tiamat's physical description, however... not so much. The tablets go into very little detail on this subject. An image search pulled up two relief carvings of Tiamat (after sifting through a lot of junk). Unfortunately, these will have to be the primary basis of appearance...
The following notes were gathered about Tiamat:
- is a dragon. (Draconic element)
- is the goddess of the chaotic, saltwater sea. (Female, Water element, Chaos = Dark element?)
- caused storms and hurricanes. (Wind element)
- was cleaved in half to make the sky and the earth. (Wind and Earth element, at least later in development)
- had scales impervious to weapons. (High Defense)
- spawned a monstrous brood to fight with her. (A possible attack?)
- filled her soldiers with a poison to make them strong. (A poison tech?)
- cast a spell on her consort/commander to increase power. (A possible spell?)
- possessed the Tablets of Destiny. (High Arcane)
- measures six miles tall, fifty times longer, but possesses a mouth of only ten feet, smaller than the distance between her ears!
- Name could be derived from "Life Mother."
- is depicted with a bird's talons, tail, and wings.
- is depicted with a single horn-like stub.
- is shown with very humanoid hands (with a very gnarled thumb).
- Step #3: Putting it all together
- Most monsters will have an infinite different ways of being depicted. Try to get in all of the major variations throughout the monster's lifecycle. Typically, make the young stage the least complex representation, and the final stage the most complicated, intricate, and all-over largest.
Some monsters will have the opposite problem of too many descriptions -- they simply won't have enough or any description. This is where artistic liberties can be taken. Try to expand things about the monster's legend into some sort of physical description that you can use. Don't do things simply because you think they'll look cool. Try to make every liberty you take have some connection to some aspect of the monster, no matter how minute. If the change is wild enough that it would have bee noted in myth, don't include it. This typically includes the addition or subtraction of body parts or crossing species.
Pictures aren't the only thing you need to worry about; every spell and form needs to have a name. The names at the younger stages are not as important as the final ones. Spell names can be faily unspectacular and the forms can be taken straight from animal allegories, but everything in the final form should mean a lot and tie in closely with the myths.
The two main forms of Tiamat appear to be a huge serpent with two limbs and a fairly unspectacular Babylonian dragon. The winged dragon will be the final form, called the Ummu-Hubur (a kenning for Tiamat). The Serpent will represent her for the middle of her life as it looks much less threatening. Since Tiamat is a dragon (or serpent or a bird), it really should have an egg...
Few monsters in myths have eggs or births. Tiamat first appears creating the universe, so there is little to go off of there. Since Tiamat cannot turn into the land and the sky in BD when it dies, perhaps it can start as such. An orbular, world-esque marble fits very much with a Tiamat motif, and to stay consistent, a small, spike-like protrusion will be coming from the top.