Just as you choose your minions with care, spare a thought or two as to the kinds of animals surrounding you. Few things can make a bigger first impression on a viewer than a fearsome and fantastic display of the most bizarre lifeforms under your control, especially if they are literally unique and disquietingly abundant. There is a huge variation in the relative efficacy of different creatures in impressing the simple folk in the local countryside, in inspiring dread in your helpless captives, in deterring trespass of adventurers and treasure-seekers to your compound, whether they are simply strong and hulking individually, uncountably numerous in the form of a herd or swarm, or mind-bendingly alien in some unnameable dreadful way.
The kinds of pets/livestock (non-monstrous) depend on your own suppliers and your predilections, not to mention the location of your lair(s). For instance, it is useless to dream of a fleet of barracudas without a nice coral reef at your disposal (natural or artificial), and frost apes are bound to be unhappy if they are deprived of the polar wastelands they are accustomed to. Given sufficient will and a little bit of imagination, however, nearly any insane vision when it comes to your chosen lifeform can be made a reality.
- Find a space for your menagerie. Do not skimp on space, not only for their pens but also the support area, guard towers, clinics, etc.
- Acquire breeding stock or buy new animals. Make sure you have sufficient genetic diversity among your breeding stock to avoid creating a bloodline with too many weaknesses. If you have an especially prized individual, you may be able to command high fees putting it out to stud/spawn/whatever.
- Train staff for day-to-day management, transport, guard duty, and all the other miscellaneous chores you cannot be bothered with. Guide them via policies guard and feed them, occasionally with their own bodies.
- Showing. This is where the truly dedicated fancier is able to display his or her craft to the greatest number of cognoscenti, and represents the pinnacle of your husbandry efforts. Presenting your creatures in show condition is a specialized branch of the modern art requiring knowledge, dedication, and a certain amount of corruption. Given enough exposure, you may aspire to reach the expert level whereby you become the authority in setting the show standards for the breed, obviating the need for adapting your stock to the fashion.
Strokes of genius
- Is it a menagerie? One way to tell is by size: if you are breeding giant weasels, giant swine, or giant slugs, those are monsters. If you are raising regular-sized examples of same, you are dealing with a menagerie. If you are raising tiny little horses, you are probably just a fancier.
- How do they taste fried? Hard times may come your way, and you may want to spend a moment or two whether your menagerie might have culinary uses too. Thus when comparing oxen of the sun to tree-ents: advantage beefsteaks.
- Chimeras. These are the creatures composed to two other animals, such as the part lion/part goat/part snake original from Greek mythology, or a half wildebeest/half monitor lizard creation. They are a favorite of mad scientists because of the horror they elicit in the viewer. One challenge with these specimens is the difficulty in mixing up the proper diet to satisfy all the various parts of your creation.
- Difficult environments. If the animals of your dreams live only at great ocean depths, in boiling lava pits, or in gas giant atmospheres, one of the main tasks you have before you is in replicating these conditions in proximity to your own terrestrial habitat (unless you too favor such extreme locales). There are a number of contractors who have expertise in constructing custom enclosures for the eccentric obsessive community, generally commanding the highest of consulting fees and accustomed to having their own way when it comes every detail. The great advantage is the barrier these impose to copycat imitators who seek to mar your own success with their own derivative efforts lacking any true vision. Many supervillains, too, find additional uses for these inhospitable habitats when they face the problem of mistreating a captive, making some or part of the expense tax-deductible.
Traps for mere fools
- Fighting. This must be strictly monitored and conducted according to the policies you set, or you end up without any sort of menagerie at all.
- Non-evil menageries. Depending on the kind of image you want to project, you may need to exercise particular caution with the young of certain species, which have an unfortunate tendency toward cuteness. Also, menageries made of glass, even when accompanied by vicious folk, are not really in keeping with the evil theme.
- Allergies. You don't want to be going into magikal combat sneezing and with eyes watering. Consult your witch doctor before starting with species known to have a high propensity to cause trouble along these lines.
- Escape. Certain species have a penchant for working their way free of their enclosures and roaming freely in places where they are not suitable, causing some degree of inconvenience and possibly mortal peril. Their pens should be created with multiple redundant defenses, monitoring and alarm networks, and provision for round-the-clock perimeter security to avoid costly losses, while still allowing you and your guests a way to enjoy your charges without too much fuss.
Precious and needful
- Cages. If you think ahead when purchasing metal enclosures, you can come up with a bargain or two by ordering both animal and human cells to be installed at the same time.
- Pits. Yawning chasms and collections of shrieking nonsentient abominations always go together. With your fiercest and most terrifying acquisitions, you may as well show them to their benefit to your quaking guests, perhaps by stringing them in jungle vines suspended over the creatures.
- Tanks. The watery denizens are especially fine viewing if you can arrange for glass-sided enclosures. If you don't forget that the algae and slime on the panels needs to be cleaned religiously either by a diving team or by abrasion with the body of a trussed up victim, these should do fine.
- Purina Beast Chow.
- Shock collars.
- How to breed monsters
- How to raise a brood of vipers
- For the cultivation of carnivorous plants, see How to grow plants hungry for flesh
- How to interest young people in evil
- How to serve man
- How to keep a giant spider
- How to clone an army
- How to remember the five rules of good shapeshifting
- How to set up a lair
- How to haunt an evil forest
- How to get started with giant robots
- How to get rid of a corpse
- How to make the voices of your victims stop
- How to sport fangs
- How to send dinosaurs rampaging
- How to betray your master
- How to attract giant worms
- How to get rid of giant eagles
- How to release a kraken
- How to show flying monkeys and win awards
- How to exploit advanced technology
- How to get apes to accept you as their leader
- How to clean a dungeon
- How to control dungeon odors
- How to earn money part-time
- How to look frighteningly deranged
- How to get the most from a bottomless pit
- How to cook Procyonic reptoids
- Image credit: untitled by jaylara
- Image credit Lethal Zimmer by Rob Watling
- Image credit Slaughterhouse, Tandil / AR, 2003 by william veerbeek