Of all the monsters to include in the Libris Monstrum, mimics were the one I was most skeptical about. It’s not that there isn’t anything to explore with mimics. Their history is interesting, but they are restricted to more modern, gaming mythologies than anything in the real world. When you voted on it I wondered what I would involve in my revisited portion. After some legwork I finally figured out what I would discuss.
A Natural Form
The thing about mimics is that they are almost always described one way: as a horrible treasure chest that sprouts teeth. But what would a mimic that was not disguising itself look like? The answer isn’t any less horrifying than the lurking treasure chest with fangs. Back in the early days of Dungeons & Dragons the mimic is described as a grey hued mass, amorphous and grey like rough stone. Within the mass are muscles that drives bags, pumps, and capillaries that are filled with a brown fluid. This allowed the mimic to take on the form of a wooden chest or door, as is common.
This is not where things are horrifying though. The early days of Pathfiner saw some re-visitations of early monsters. These small books were themed with things like undead or dungeon denizens. One was dedicated to classics like the mimic and some of the monsters we discussed last time. Paizo decided to rewrite the natural form of these thins making them the thing of nightmares. Aspects of octopus come through along with scorpion and angler fish. Covering it are ever-shifting plates of translucent chitin surrounding tentacles and eyes. The central mass is alike a trunk and a gelatin makes up much of the mass, holding everything together and acting as blood, muscles, and other organ systems. Not exactly an easy sight is it?
More Fun With Mimics
It’s probably best to continue the clever ways to utilize mimics since there are not tons of real world myths from which they are based. Instead they have been explored and expanded by those playing games like D&D. One such way is in the form of a tower. This mimic has grown so large (and perhaps intelligent) that it can not only morph its outside into a simple form but fold and change its insides as well. Adventures may enter seeking the treasure of an ancient wizard only to find it to be odd or think it haunted. Eventually they realize they are being slowly digested or perhaps everything is covered in acid or rooms full with it. Regardless, if they escape they learn the truth as the tower springs to life to finish its meal.
Another scary way to utilize the mimic would be to make a dungeon that is nothing but mimics. Doors, tables, chairs, chests, and bookshelves. All potential mimics. A promise of treasure, the legend of an ancient artifact, a gods challenge, or a villains sick plot could all get the players into the mess, but it would take care ion get out of it. What do you touch and how do you test for safety?! The previous two and following ideas are pulled from an old Reddit thread you can find here, but I saved my favorite for last. This one involves a mirror at the end of an empty room. In the mirror’s reflection is the same room. The differences include no party looking back, odd torch light, and (of course) treasure. Perhaps the party enter and perhaps they don’t. Eventually they will discover the whole room to be a mimic. Too large to be a treasure chest it is now simply a treasure room!
Real World Mimics
OK so we can’t talk about actual person-devouring treasure chests in the real world, but we can talk about mimics. There are plenty of them out there and they might hit a little closer to home than you would expect. Some animals like to use a part of their body to look like worm, wiggling it like a delicious and helpless morsel for anything passing by. Of course, things that are the right size to eat these worms are also the perfect size to be eaten themselves. Alligator snappers use their tongue, angler fish dangle their lure in front of buried faces, and a certain pit viper wiggles its tail right below its waiting jaws. Sure, adventurers have no reason to go after some worm, but make any of these creatures gigantic and make that lure look like something they would want (gold, weapons, jewels) and we have some well fed animal mimics.
Of course not all mimics just lure their prey in by mimicking a potential meal. Sometimes the mimic is different. For example a creature may open up a clam only to be unpleasantly surprised by an octopus that has taken up residence there. While not seeking a fight (probably quite the opposite) I would not want to see the angry octopus whose home you ruined. The last mimic I want to cover is similar but instead takes the form of the housing itself. There are certain sea stars that prop themselves up on their legs and create a nice secluded spot below their body. This looks like the prefect place to hide from predators. Little do the tiny refugees know that they sit right below the mouth of another hungry predator. I imagine a mimic like this in the desert. I have seen many versions of sea star like creatures waiting in desert sands, but why not one that waits above the sand? A weary traveler would assuredly seek refuge there only to be captured!