Making a Monster
Game designers show you their favorite monster, how it works, why it works, and what it means. Each weekly episode features a new creator and the monster of their choice.
Varadrel, the kaiju angel
June 15, 2021 • 21 MIN
As one of D&D's very few Celestial monsters, Varadrel is an agent of divine justice best compared to the personified disasters of Japanese kaiju. To read the transcript, check out "Titans of Faerun", or see the full-color, "be not afraid" illustration of Varadrel, visit the show's website: Meet my guests: Get early access to episodes and other monstrous perks: Join the conversation: Music by Jason Shaw at
Eberron's Shattered Kalashtar of Reirdra
May 31, 2021 • 29 MIN
The shattered kalashtar asks questions about dealing with trauma, and lets other players participate in the answers. It expands D&D's Eberron campaign setting with a psychic dystopia reminiscent of Neuromancer and Brave New World. Download the stat block and read the full transcript here: Meet my guest: Get early access to episodes and other monstrous perks: Join the conversation: Music by Jason Shaw at
Shakespeare and Lovecraft Combine in Delirium
May 26, 2021 • 20 MIN
Andrew Grondin wrote a tabletop game that combines European fairy tales and Lovecraftian existential horror. Inside that Venn diagram is a surprisingly encouraging message about power and who has it. Read the full transcript here: Meet my guest: Get early access to episodes and other monstrous perks: Join the conversation: Music by Jason Shaw at
In Free League's Vaesen, Fairies Capture Changing Culture
May 3, 2021 • 28 MIN
Nils Hintze is the lead writer of Vaesen, a Nordic horror role-playing game by Free League Publishing. In this game, fairies and other monsters manifest the anxieties of a rapidly-urbanizing 19th century Sweden. Read the full transcript here: Meet my guest: Get early access to episodes and other monstrous perks: Join the conversation: Music by Arcane Anthems:
The Displacer Beast with A.E. Van Vogt - April Fool's special
April 1, 2021 • 12 MIN
The true and actual origins of the displacer beast with author A. E. Van Vogt. Find out more at
The Monsters Know What They're Doing with Keith Ammann
March 22, 2021 • 17 MIN
Keith Ammann, author of Monsters Know What They're Doing, shows us how to decode a monster's game mechanics to discover its intended use. We also get into how culture makes monsters, both in game and out. Read the full transcript here: Meet my guest: Get early access to episodes and other monstrous perks: Join the conversation: Closing music from Jason Shaw at
The Raven Wizard - Coyote and Crow
March 17, 2021 • 22 MIN
The Cherokee myth of the Raven Wizard is retold in Connor Alexander's Coyote and Crow, a tabletop role-playing game set in an alternate future of the Americas where colonization never occurred. Full transcript:
Vo the Voice Snatcher, from the Bard College of Silence
March 8, 2021 • 19 MIN
From the Bard College of Silence by Kai Linder comes Vo the Voice Snatcher, an aberration capable of stealing the voice from your throat and adding it to its own. It's a kind of creepy that stays with you long after the fight is over. Get the College of Silence for 75% off by clicking here:
Bonus: Dvati - playing 2 characters across editions
February 22, 2021 • 50 MIN
Dvati is a race option for D&D to play 2 characters at once. An extra-long bonus episode 20 years in the making, bringing together the original designer, the 5th edition homebrewer, and maybe the only person to play the Dvati in a long-running campaign. Full transcript:
Wizmos from "D&D in Space" by Mage Hand Press
February 15, 2021 • 18 MIN
"They're capricious little scrap robots, and I love them." The Wizmos from Dark Matter (a sci-fi D&D conversion by Mage Hand Press) are just doing the best they can, and it isn't very good. Get the one-page-RPG Wizmo Havoc here: ‎
Niels RPG Toons makes a Monstrosity
February 1, 2021 • 20 MIN
What if the Kraken is too big to release? Niels RPG Toons uses cartoon-style fantasy art to tell vibrant, expressive stories, including one about a tentacle monster so big it's an ecosystem unto itself. Transcript:
Melusine of Avalon - Chris Hopper
January 27, 2021 • 20 MIN
The Melusine legend has so many tails in our modern cultural heritage that you've probably seen her even if you didn't know her name - much like the work of a good spymaster. Designer Chris Hopper talks about bringing the Melusine to Dungeons & Dragons in the first episode of Making a Monster Season 2! Get the stat block for the Melusine and read the full transcript here:
14: Grikk the Many - Matthew Whitby
December 21, 2020 • 15 MIN
What happens when the monsters level up too? Matthew Whitby, host of the Dungeon Master's Guild House, shares a goblin with power enough to be more than a level 1 punching bag. Get the full transcript and see the art of Grikk the Many here:
13: Werepigeon - House Sivis Echoer Station
December 14, 2020 • 12 MIN
Steve and Rebecca from House Sivis Echoer Station, an unofficial Eberron podcast that put NPR in D&D, discuss the werepigeon, their show's running joke, and whether you have to be scared of an animal to make a lycanthrope out of it. Full transcript:
12: The Bagger - Justice Arman
December 9, 2020 • 18 MIN
When the devil's payment is due, who comes to collect? Justice Arman shows us fiendish collection agents in this episode of Making a Monster. Read the transcript and see art from the book:
Bonus: Endless Houses
December 4, 2020 • 7 MIN
After 3 weeks of moving, I have a lot of thoughts about haunted houses. Featuring previously-unreleased audio from guests Michael Sands, Robert Turk, and James Harrington, here's a quick bonus episode for you on the horror of place! Visit our website for more bonus content and to catch future episodes:
11: Rime of the Frostmaiden Double Feature
November 2, 2020 • 20 MIN
Two monsters from Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden - Malquaestus Pizkor, literal boss monster, and Saja Snowtooth, the winter hag. Ft. Sebastian Yue, Cassandra MacDonald, Michael Sands of Monster of the Week, Will Savino of Music d20, Adventure Music, and Justice Arman. Read the transcript and see art from the book:
Bonus: Dagon - IT GOES DEEPER
October 30, 2020 • 18 MIN
Lucas, Alex, and James revisit Dagon, Lovecraft's first eldritch horror, to discover the Marianas Trench of origin stories. Listen to the original "Dagon" episode and get a free copy of Alex's monster-fighting supplement "Go for the Eyes!":
10: Heckna - Ashley Warren
October 26, 2020 • 16 MIN
Ashley Warren, lead writer for the Heckna carnival horror campaign setting, introduces us to Heckna himself, the post-human clown king of the Revelia. Transcript:
09: Music Elemental - It's a D&D Monster Now
October 19, 2020 • 15 MIN
Kyle Pointer, also known as user/ItsADnDMonsterNow, shares the most mechanically interesting monster he's made as Reddit's resident D&D graffiti artist - the music elemental. Transcript:
08: Abomination - Never Going Home, Wet Ink Games
October 13, 2020 • 17 MIN
A cosmic horror game set in World War I uses supernatural aberrations to reflect the human corruption of that period in history. Featuring Never Going Home's writer Irvin Jackson, artist Charles Ferguson Avery, and system designer Brandon Aten. Transcript:
07: Dagon, Demon Prince of the Shadowsea - Alex Clippinger
September 29, 2020 • 13 MIN
Alex Clippinger brings H.P. Lovecraft's first published monster, Dagon, to 5th edition D&D. We track how monsters become "dungeon and dragons-ed", and explore how game mechanics imitate the experience and intent of the cosmic horror genre. Get a free copy of "Go for the Eyes!":
06: Monster of the Week - Michael Sands
September 24, 2020 • 14 MIN
Monster of the Week is the system that powers The Adventure Zone and Critshow. Designer Michael Sands talks about Marilynn, the improbable fairy creature who nearly derailed a playtest campaign, and the system's story-first approach to creating mysteries and monsters. Transcript: Find out more about Michael Sands and Monster of the Week: Get your own copy of Monster of the Week: Connect with the show: Music by Jason Shaw at
05: Itzigratz - Bryan Holmes
September 14, 2020 • 12 MIN
Just how dangerous can mind flayers be? Forgotten Realms expert and best-selling DM's Guild creator Bryan Holmes brings a proper Illithid Lich to the show, and asks how much responsibility do we have to stop bad things before they happen. You can download the full stat block for Itzigratz the Illithid Lich on the show's website here:
04: Space Leper Nuns - Robert Turk
September 7, 2020 • 13 MIN
Robert Turk's sci-fi survival horror game Starship Infernum offers a campy scenario featuring space leper nuns, letting players test the strength of their convictions and crack a few jokes along the way. Read the full transcript and see art from the game at
03: Warforged Colossus - Steve Fidler
August 24, 2020 • 11 MIN
Somewhere in the Mournlands of Eberron, a weapon of mass destruction walks freely across the blighted wasteland. For players, the Warforged Colossus blurs the line between monster and environment - between dungeon and dragon. Transcript and Mythic Rewards:
02: The Heir of Orcus - Anthony Joyce
August 17, 2020 • 11 MIN
Will you redeem the unredeemable? Anthony Joyce shares how the Heir of Orcus makes heroes and villains hard to distinguish in Dungeons & Dragons. Free copies of The Heir of Orcus adventure are still available! Visit the episode page at
01: Jiangshi - Banana Chan, Game and a Curry
August 10, 2020 • 14 MIN
The Jiangshi, Chinese hopping vampires, in an RPG that addresses the racism and oppression of 1920s Chinatown - featuring Banana Chan of Game and a Curry. Read the full transcript and see art from the game here:
00: Making a Monster
August 4, 2020 • 1 MIN
Welcome to Making a Monster, a weekly podcast where game designers show their favorite monster, how it works, why it works, and what it means. Each week's episode will feature one guest and the monster of their choice. Many create for Dungeons & Dragons, but you'll also hear from designers of many other excellent games like Jiangshi: Blood in the Banquet Hall, Monster of the Week, Never Going Home, and Starship Infernum.