"He went up, both terrible and gracefully, advancing one little step after the other. When he sang, the entire universe listened with awe and disgust combined..."
The horror monster is a thing of terrible beauty. It's not just terrible, and it's not just beautiful, but a combination of both of them. A monster that is terrible alone is a monster, maybe even a frightening one, but it's the kind of fear so commonly associated with "boo!" movies, the movies where the monster says boo and we're all supposed to remain frightened for the rest of the movie, those movies which utilize the flight or fight mechanism and nothing more. A monster that is beautiful alone is not frightening. It might bring jealousy, or envy, it might even draw all attention in the room, but if it won't be frightening, there will be no fear in the game.
Today, I'm going to examine this concept of the perfect horror monster, mainly through the movie "The Exorcist". In the movie, a child called Regan is being possessed by a demon, and it deals with her mother's attempts to deal with this, resulting in an exorcism attempt.
The possession of Regan resembles the fear from the powers that lies under each one of us' image of skin, powers that can destroy every vestige of our self control and identity. In the movie, this possibility is accepted in both awe and horror. Horror of losing one's self control, but the way this change is happening is just... Magnificent? Compelling?
The fear of the loss, combined with the compelling nature of the way its happening makes this transformation much more frightening. It's not just the fear of the loss now; it's also the fear of what is happening to us. We fear from how we want it for ourselves.
These 2 things are combined with sexual motives: The transformation takes place when she turns 13, the things and swears that she says are all connected to sex, and even the infamous "Exorcist Twist" of the 360 degrees has its connections to sex: The devil used this twist when he was with the hags and witches. These motives are frightening, because of their connection to the devil and to sins, but are compelling also, it's a way to get out of our cell, a way to be free.
Applying it to RPGs
The creatures and monsters that we create to encompass our game world should be a combination of symbols that make us both disgusted of the monsters and awed by them. This can be done in 2 main ways: The Combined Monster, and The Mirrored Monster.
The Combined Monster is the more common way of doing this: The same monster encompasses both aspects, and it is a combination of both characteristics. The most famous of these monsters is Dracula: The fear of the blood sucking with its sexual appeal, his high statues in the society, he also expresses both the side of the rebellious son and that of the violent father.
When making a Combined Monster we should take into account the same things, and preferably try to achieve equal doses of both things. No morality, maddening beauty and so on, are only some of the ways this can be achieved.
The Mirrored Monster is less common, but nonetheless at least just as frightening (although maybe a little bit harder to achieve). In this way of making the monster, the aspects are allocated to a few characters. There are 2 common ways to make it: Making copies and clones of it or making the monster have multiple personalities (like with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde).
When making a Mirrored Monster, we should make sure that close examination of the person in question should reveal the difference between the "good" ones and the "bad" ones, but we should still make a sudden transformation a possibility. Also, we must make the players question their knowledge about the "good" and "bad" personalities/copies.