I was thinking about the kinds of monsters encountered by heroes as they move away from civilization and into the wild places. I’m against the idea that a game world should be laid out in a linear, “move across the landscape from Point A to Point B to find more powerful enemies,” which is so often the case with linear action, adventure, and roleplaying games (look to Diablo 2, for instance).

Instead, I like to think of a game world as a number of danger zones which become “less dangerous” as outposts, towns, villages, and cities are placed to push back the dark areas. I prefer to the think of the world as a big scary place, that only gets more terrifying as you move away from familiar faces — but this presents a secondary problem I hadn’t considered before, of how civilization attracts monsters.

It actually got me thinking about the different types of monsters in the predator-to-prey roles they share with mortals (be they human, elf, or otherwise), and what might separate those monsters that seek large populations of mortals to hunt, versus those that lurk in the ancient, dark places of the world. Why are some monsters drawn to civilization while others are driven away? What differentiates between them?

Some time back, while I was reaching the peaks of my “pentagon madness,” I created a five-way table of creature origin/types, which included mortals, demons, golems, undead, and “aliens,” in a balance that had them preying on, or being preyed upon, by one another. Demons and undead prey on mortals, while mortals inherently have the upper hand against artificial and alien entities. And so on, and so forth.

Then it seemed reasonable to me, that those things which hunted mortals would make their lairs near mortal towns and cities, while those things that feared them would make their homes as far away as possible, while possibly keeping an eye on nearby enemy settlements in case there’s a need to raise a defense against raids or invasions.