Marry the Monster Design Corner
Once upon a time a huge foot crushed my home. It was connected to a fachan – that mythological monster which has one of everything (one eye, one arm, etc.). I had been tinkering with a game design, but now that it was crushed, I decided to make a new one based on the Fachan.
I couldn’t really be upset at the fachan. After all, everything is one for him. That meant there can only be one fachan in the world. It makes sense, right? Furthering this line of thought, it’s long been my supposition that the fachan is very lonely, and wanders the world looking for another of his kind. Just like The Monster in Bride of Frankenstein, he recognizes that he is not like a human. He is different, singular and single, and completely alone in the wide world.
When I told all this to my brother Grant, he supposed that he’d probably go looking for one of his kind everywhere, including settled lands, which means he’d bother villagers all the time, inquiring, but also just being a monster – sometimes eating them or causing havoc generally. Something about this struck me as unique for a game.
Grant and I tinkered with some basic mechanics involving buildings that the fachan crushed, and the idea of a fake bride came swiftly, wherein each player uses this to destroy rivals. The game went through plenty of early stages – it was a grid of squares before moving to hexagons, for example. And there was an “anger” track that ramped up each time he found that a potential mate was fake. The purpose of this was to note how many buildings he could destroy (the angrier he was, the stronger, like Hulk, I guess). This mechanic didn’t make it in the final game for a variety of reasons, but I always thought it was neat.
Eventually, the game sat around, unfinished, as I simply didn’t have the bandwidth to design a game between all my actual duties at Petersen Games (design is not among them). At some point we were approached by Zoran Dobrijevic who showed us Potions & Profits, a fun little game that we decided to buy from him in order to publish. I showed him Marry the Monster, he liked it, and suggested some rules tweaks – and then more of them. He was hired to develop it further into the form you see now.
Although the theme is convoluted (you trick the fachan into thinking there’s a bride for him, but it’s false, and draw him towards you where he’ll trample your rivals’ buildings), it actually matches the gameplay precisely. That’s because I took to heart a mantra I’ve heard my father, Sandy Petersen, repeat about game design – that theme and gameplay must be married* tightly.
*That was shrodinger’s pun; both intended and not intended until you read it.
This game is weird. But it is also weirdly fun. I thoroughly enjoyed designing it, and I hope you enjoy playing it!