On the commute to work this morning, I took advantage of my brand-new cheapass mp3 player (first I've owned), which I had loaded up with 'old-time radio' programs. This morning's gem was an ep of The Shadow entitled 'The Voice of Death'. The plot involved a crazy doctor who used forbidden surgical methods to swap vocal chords (and thus voices) between people - a method he discovered while trying to cure his own weird voice. Okay, so the science is whack, but the episode gave me two game-thoughts:
1) The villain who switches voices with someone else, or steals/bottles their voice, has some serious potential as a mastermind bad-guy. And it could work for fantasy, pulp, sci-fi, supers, whatever.
2) One of the threats in the episode were some savage dogs who had been given the voices of kittens. They hid out in the underbrush in the forest at night, just mewling away. As someone leaned down or reached into the brush to 'rescue' the poor kittens (I think it was raining as well), out come the eat-your-face dogs. It was like an audio version of the wolf-in-sheep's-clothing (remember the bunny on the stump?) or something similar. Kitten-voiced dogs as a variant monster? Well, maybe too specific, unless they're a clue to what the voice-thief villain is up to (as with this episode of good ol' Lamont Cranston).
But it did get me thinking about the leucrotta - that badger-goat thing that could imitate humans and lure them to their doom. I don't think I've ever used a leucrotta, probably because it's a freaking badger-goat. Although now that I'm older the trickster/mimic angle intrigues me, back in the day I had zero interest in a laughing badger-goat; the monster was crippled by its illustration.
Give me a tiger that cries "help me help me" with a toddler's voice. Now that's a monster. D&D has plenty of monsters that look like other things - mimics, piercers, cloakers. Why not do some audio-mimics with bite? Come to think of it... the displacer beast (or tendril tiger, or lion-shoulder-octopus, or whatever the crap we're calling it now) is a little odd in that it only hides visually. Could it not, perhaps, displace its voice as well? Give the displacer beast the leucrotta's ability to mimic human speech - and to throw it fifteen feet away via magical ventriloquism. That 'ventrilocat' is going to eat the hell out of some adventurers. And it's almost as fun as that old article that suggested blink dogs' dung teleports a random distance away to foil pursuers (including inside nearby homes). I can't believe I remember that.