Kaiju is a fixation of a student of mine. Every time this student is given the opportunity to create something, it is always about a Kaiju and he will talk to me non-stop about them. I love it! A new project was started this week which means more discussion of Kaiju for me, so I thought I would throw together this Kaiju Generator in hopes to pass on the passion of this student to you all.
What is a Kaiju?
To put it simply, Kaiju refers to a genre of film that originated in Japan that featured giant monsters, but it can also refer to the giant monsters themselves. The actions of these giant monsters are typically devastating to the planet and pose a global threat. This can range from the intentional destruction of infrastructure or, my student’s favourite, the combat between two giant monsters.
From these discussions with my student and some brief reading on my part, I have discovered that, like most film genres, Kaiju is inherently political (Kaiju Cinema Narratives, Twiggyabsinthe) or representative of society in nature (The Theory and Appeal of Giant Monsters, Red Wedge Magazine). Typically, from the perspective of hubris or the fallout of another people’s actions (King of the Monsters and History of Kaiju Movies, James Hanton). I will not discuss the theories behind the origin of Kaiju as a genre of film as I do not believe I can add much to that discussion, but I will use what I have read to help you create a devastating Kaiju that you can use in your campaigns.
Laying the foundations for an adventure
I am not typically the kind of game master to create a plot and I have yet to fully immerse myself into the idea of a front or similar mechanic as described in Dungeon World. Instead, I like to create situations instead of plots as described by Justin Alexander (Don’t Prep Plots, Justin Alexander). In essence, Justin suggests that a game master lays the foundations for a situation and create the entities involved instead of writing a series of events and contingencies for player actions. The idea behind this is that you set the game up to be reactive to the players, providing them an opportunity to steer the narrative through their character’s actions.
With this in mind, I believe this Kaiju generator will work best if you create the Kaiju and generate an initial plot hook. From this point, the non-player characters and locations that require fleshing out will become clear. The solution for the Kaiju is not for you to know but for your players to create. Most Kaiju films typically begin with scientists observing a strange phenomenon which leads to the witnessing of the Kaiju itself. This works beautifully as a plot hook for your players. The table below suggests six different plot hooks in this theme.
|Plot Hook (Roll 1d6)|
|1. A town or part of the city has sunken beneath the ground after violent tremors.|
|2. Several lakes and rivers have been seen boiling or evaporating rapidly, and the ground around them is very hot.|
|3. The ocean has risen, and towns are flooding.|
|4. A mountain exploded, and large tracks of an unknown beast were sighted nearby|
|5. People are complaining of a strange voice speaking in an unknown language in their heads|
|6. An isolated people have begun a strange ritual that seems to impact the weather|
Generate a Kaiju
To generate a Kaiju to be used in your campaigns or adventures, roll 1d20 for each of the following four tables (1d10 for the last) or simply choose the results that sound cool. This will create a Kaiju for you in the form of: A gigantic [form] that [has this ability]. It was [something else], now, it is [accomplishing a goal].
|1. Lizard||11. Hawk|
|2. Ape||12. Earthworm|
|3. Moth||13. Mole|
|4. Centipede||14. Snake|
|5. Crab||15. Squid|
|6. Toad||16. Shark|
|7. Spider||17. Slug|
|8. Wasp||18. Tortoise|
|9. Scorpion||19. Rhinoceros|
|10. Bat||20. Platypus|
|1. Spews acid||11. Has hundreds of eyes|
|2. Has multiple heads||12. Has dozens of limbs|
|3. Radiates disease||13. Absorbs the life force of everything around it|
|4. Has a sonic scream||14. Fires lasers|
|5. That teleports short distances||15. Emits psychic bursts|
|6. Has metal skin||16. Is made of hard crystal|
|7. Is made of waste and pollution||17. Oozes slime|
|8. Creates illusions||18. Can change state (solid, liquid, gas, plasma)|
|9. Breathes fire||19. Disrupts and creates electrical and magnetic fields|
|10. Glows||20. Create clones of itself|
|1. From the far reaches of space||11. Frozen in a glacier for many years|
|2. Created by extra-terrestrial beings||12. An orbiting moon|
|3. Normal until exposed to radiation||13. Originally the denizens of a city|
|4. Normal until exposed to pollution||14. Created by the nightmares of those asleep|
|5. A laboratory experiment||15. Once the lost souls of a battlefield|
|6. From another dimension||16. Once from the future|
|7. A god of an ancient civilisation||17. Hatched from an egg|
|8. From beneath the ocean||18. The result of a summoning gone wrong|
|9. Created in the core of the planet||19. The manifestation of collective magic|
|10. Once an island||20. A war machine, now turned sentient|
Now, it is…
|1. Seeking revenge on those who disturbed it||6. Acquiring devout worshipers|
|2. A tool for a secret faction||7. Mistaking an artificial structure for a mate|
|3. Protecting its territory||8. Hiding from a greater threat|
|4. Guarding a powerful resource||9. Rampaging across the land|
|5. Protecting the denizens of this world||10. Controlled by a hidden figure|
Putting it together
To ensure clarity I am including my use of this generator and thoughts of how I would approach using this information.
- For my plot hook I rolled: A mountain exploded, and large tracks of an unknown beast were sighted nearby.
- The Kaiju generated was: A giant wasp that creates illusions. It was normal until exposed to pollution and now it is a tool for a secret faction.
Now that I have both the plot hook and kaiju, I already have some ideas floating around in my head. My initial thought was to do with how those tracks were placed as I rolled a wasp. The tracks are going to be slight depressions in an array like that of the six face on a six-sided die to represent each leg of the wasp.
I also want to integrate the ability of this Kaiju in the initial investigation, so the nearby settlements of this mountain were heavily damaged and there is some relief support. Given the disruption, some of these depressions are filled with water and are now being used as an emergency water source. However, shortly after this, the people of these settlements are explaining wild stories of a giant insect erupting from the mountain or only hearing a constant buzzing. Maybe this will make the players think that these people are just hallucinating from drinking the stagnant water.
Because the Kaiju is a tool for a secret faction and was created from pollution, I think it makes sense that a mining corporation is involved. Their day-to-day operations produce a large amount of waste in some form and this has had an adverse effect on a nearby wasp hive. Maybe they discovered some strange, unknown material instead of pollution through their operations too. Whatever it may be, this led to the eventual discovery of the giant wasp of which they trained to support their mining operations. Instead of mining a mountain out, they just had their wasp destroy it and now they are the faction providing relief support by cleaning up the mountain. Why do to the trouble? Maybe it was a licensing issue, maybe it was a rival corporations mountain, maybe it was something else entirely.
From here I know that I must create the destroyed settlements and its people and a mining corporation to set this adventure up. I think it is sounding like the beginning of a wild adventure of corporate espionage. In any case, I hope you found this helpful.