The Generic Villain on Living Creatures as Architectural Foundations

You have to admit, it’s a tempting thought. You’re powerful, you can handle it, and there’s this miles-long creature you know perfectly well you could control. What’s the first thing a lot of us think? Let’s build on that thing!

On the one hand, it makes sense. It gives you a self-moving base of operations that can occasionally double as a weapon of mass destruction in its own right while not having to deal with quite the same sorts of fuel requirements as a honking big mecha foundation might (okay, there might be a high magic cost if it was dead and you have to animate it, but still). You get extra rep points for being The One That Tamed That Thing. And hey, sometimes miles-long monsters can be quite personable.

On the other hand… you are trying to build a citadel, portable weapons complex, city or whatever on the back of a monster. I’m sure you can see what problems might arise. They get hungry. They scratch themselves. They get in fights with similarly sized monsters. If they’re aquatic, occasionally they dive without warning. If you’ve managed to prevent all that, you’ve probably had to pour a lot of tech or magic into control of this thing, and there’s both the resource drain and the risk of losing control. And of course there’s the question of what happens if some enterprising hero decides to try to attack your foundation before going after you.

Some things you might need to know: How do you control this thing? What’s your initial relationship to the critter (building and control are almost always easier if you can make friends first, particularly if your building process actually isn’t going to be that painful—which itself is usually because you’re dealing with something that either has a carapace or has no nerve endings near the surface)? Are you going to try to populate it, and if so, what arrangements are you going to make for the safety of those others present? How do you plan on defending it? What happens if you need to leave the place alone? And most important of all, aside from being big and impressive and mobile, what’s it for? If you don’t have a good reason, the giant monster architecture is likely to end up just as a resource sink or vanity project.

I’m not saying don’t build like that; it’s epic and impressive, and that’s often good for your own survivability. But if you do, make sure you have a decent plan rather than just assuming that making a nearby creature into your foundation is a good idea.

Even if it does look really, REALLY cool.

1 comment

  1. KreenWarrior says:

    This makes me think of this thread on rpg.net: http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?261519-D-amp-Dish-The-city-built-around-the-tarrasque. A whole city built on the Tarrasque, a giant regenerating monster from D&D.

    Obviously, this is only something a HIGHLY ADVANCED villain should try. Do not do this at home.

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