Friday, May 27, 2022

D12 Answers to the Question: How Does This Monster Move?

There's this Netflix show called "Love, Death, and Robots" which is an anthology series where each episode is a different sci-fi/fantasy story. It was recommended to me that I check out an episode from the most recent season, called "Jibaro", by trusted confidantes. After having seen it, I can second that recommendation to others. It's a real feast for the senses. The inspirational part to this post luckily comes in youtube video form, so I don't have to waste words when your eyes, dear reader, can see for yourself:

Look at the moves of that siren, how it makes its victims move. Tigers pounce, crocodiles lunge, but that siren dances. Jibaro's animation made me realize how I've under-utilized description of how a monster moves, and the uncanny possibilities therein, which I hope this table will help rectify:

1. It dances. This one's a gimme. Sub-table (1d4):
-1. As though expecting you to join it as a partner.
-2. In a spiraling waltz, twisting away when you try to close in and seeming to always be up in your face when you least expect it.
-3. It dances a venerable, traditional style of the region, with precise, formalized, subtle movements.
-4. It dances a capering jig, tap-dancing and thrusting suggestively.

2. Moves like it's tetanus-wracked, stiff, seizing, clenching, leaping forward with tooth-crunching groans.

3. It uses its limbs unintuitively, crab-walking about with its elbows and knees bent backwards, or using its face, hand, and leg in a tripod gait, yet moves as fast as you would sprinting normally - a sight as ridiculous as it is uncanny.

4. Moves like it's drunk, or concussed, stumbling and twitching like it's halfway forgotten its own body.

5. In short bursts so fast it's almost too quick for your eyes to keep up, in between periods of mantis-like stillness.

6. Far too smoothly, bonelessly, like its body is a fluid being poured between invisible containers more than a solid object in motion.

7. In jittering, low-quality stop motion, like it was animated by Ray Harryhausen after suffering a stroke. One moment its claw's about to tap your nose, the next it's on the other side of your face and it's carved you out a few new nostrils.

8. It moves with its layers of tissue ever-so-slightly uncoordinated with each other, muscle slurping off bone and bone jutting out through skin before settling together in a decent shape again once still.

9. It moves out of sync with its actual movements, sliding and floating along regardless of the pace of its steps or the flapping of its wings.

10. It starts shuddering and shaking so that its features are a blur as soon as it spots you.

11. It moves like a visual glitch, stretching and snapping, leaving "pixels" of its own tissue behind in the air.

12. It moves through your blindspot like it can read the movement of your eyes before you even decide to move them, seeming to disappear and reappear from blink to blink.


  1. A much neglected topic! The best way to convey the menace or eerieness of a monster is to described it's motion. Even a shambling skeleton can become spooky if you describe it right. I think utterly silent motions or puppet like jerkiness do wonders for your average skelly bones

  2. Oh hell naw this is freaky, very nice. What about "how does this monster perceive you" next?

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Also, have you been reading Blindsight as well?

    3. read it an age ago - peter watts is a mainstay - "how does this monster perceive you" - definitely doable

  3. My favourite episode of this season: it really was a fucking ballet... apposite that your response is about movement. I like to drop a variation of "12" in games, stock-still statues moving only when you blink...