Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Monster Connections Table

Having a baby has led to me reading lots of Beatrix Potter books out loud. (Babies, it turns out, just like to listen to anything. I could probably read my daughter At the Mountains of Madness and it would have the same reaction - but it would be a terrible affront to her dignity to do something like that, so I won't.) The other day it was the turn of The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle. (If you want recommendations/reviews, Two Bad Mice and Jeremy Fisher are the best ones in my opinion.)

The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle is a strange beast. In the other Potter books the animal and human worlds interact in a realist fashion - Peter Rabbit is actually a rabbit who actually wears human clothes. But in Mrs Tiggy-Winkle things slip into a fairy tale reality in which the talking hedgehog might simply be a figment of a little girl's imagination (or IS IT?). It also isn't really a proper story; it is rather a kind of extended vignette in which the author simply riffs on the idea of a hedgehog washerwoman.

But I digress. The point of interest in Mrs Tiggy-Winkle is its implication of a kind of animal society existing under our noses. Mrs Tiggy-Winkle isn't just a washerwoman in the abstract - she does jobs for the other animals in the local area (washing cock robin's waistcoat, cobbling Sally Henny-Penny the chicken's shoes, etc.). I was quite taken with this idea of an entire community of animals who actually have neighbourly connections with each other and an economy of sorts, and I got to thinking, naturally enough, about D&D. A troll's lair is in one hex; in the next hex to the West is a dragon; in the next hex to the East is a dwarf mine. Instead of existing in isolation, why not make them connected?

Hence, I bring you the Monster Connections Table:

Monster A
Monster B
Is rival to
Is friends with
Trades with
Performs tasks for
Is subservient to
Has an alliance of convenience with
Secretly controls
Pretends to be allied to
Has been bewitched by
Is master of

Should be fairly self-explanatory - after stocking your hex map pick a monster as Monster A and see what his connection is to Monster B in the next hex.


  1. My daughter is now 12 years old, and I remember reading the Beatrix Potter books to her when she was little. Wonderful memories!

  2. This is a good thing to do with hexcrawls to really make them come alive. I've been doing this a bit for mine with relationship mapping, but having a nice randomizer for it certainly helps! I like it!

  3. The idea is quite brilliant, but I think there should be more antagonistic relations. They are monsters after all. :)

    1. True, but I think most of them are impliedly antagonistic. Allies need enemies, for instance!

    2. I agree it. It could also use "ignores" and "fundamentally misunderstands"

  4. I recommend you read the following to your daughter... https://www.chaosium.com/hpls-call-of-cthulhu-for-beginning-readers/

  5. 'Jemima Puddleduck', 'Pigling Bland', 'The Roly Poly Pudding', and 'Pig Robinson' are the weirdly creepy ones. Jemima Puddleduck is basically about a woman who has a near-miss encounter with a serial killer (after failing to notice that his house is full of the remains of his previous victims); Pigling Bland is about two children who are abducted and almost eaten by a murderer; The Roly Poly Pudding is about a boy who is left permanently mentally scarred by the experience of almost being cooked alive, and Pig Robinson describes a deceptively horrible police state in which awful things can happen to people who leave home without the correct papers in their pockets.

    Then again, I guess even 'Peter Rabbit' is about a boy foraging for food in the garden of the same giant monster who killed and ate his father. It seems like when you're a cute anthropomorphic animal, horrible death is never far away...

    1. See Jeremy Fisher. She practically comes out and says at one stage that if Jeremy wasn't wearing a macintosh he'd be dead.

  6. Not wishing to detract from your excellent table, and I'm sure you didn't intend this to end up focusing this much on Beatrix Potter stories, but you have struck a chord.

    I spent very many bedtimes reading her stories to my children, all now grown up. Aside from those gems ("Two Bad Mice" and "Roly Poly Pudding" especially) that have already been mentioned, a couple of my eventual favourites were "The Pie and the Patty Pan" (a wonderful Jane Austen-like farce caused by the importance of etiquette), "Mrs Tittlemouse", for the excellent Mr Jackson character and, most especially, "Ginger and Pickles"...this having some of the driest wit, appealing to adult readers and children at the same time.
    Surprised no-one mentioned "Mr Tod", probably the most violent and sinister of the lot, including a prolonged fight scene :-)

    1. I haven't got to Mr Tod yet! I must have read it as a kid but have forgotten about it.

      I'm just sad she never got around to doing a "Sir Isaac Newton" book.