Chest Monster

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"Computer roleplaying games often have mimics... which are always disguised as chests. Chest chest chest. It makes you wish that digital orcs would stick their electrum pieces in a foot locker or some variety of credenza, just to break the ennui of another piratey-looking wooden chest suddenly sprouting limbs and beating you to within an inch of your save file. It would be refreshing like the breezes of summer to be able to say 'Hey! I just had my clavicle shattered by an aluminum tool shed!'"
Lore Sjoberg, The Book of Ratings, D&D Monsters, Part 2

Adventuring's hard enough—you've got Everything Trying to Kill You, brain-wracking puzzles, hazardous environments, and, if you're unlucky, the interface itself.

And now, the loot wants in on the action.

A Chest Monster is an enemy or hazard that has disguised itself to look like something positive: a power-up, an ally, a Save Point, or—in the archetypical example—a treasure chest. They are frequently called "mimics" for this reason, and are generally stronger (sometimes much stronger) in battle than the surrounding Mooks in the area. Sometimes they are ordinary chests with a monster locked inside. It may or may not be possible to escape from a Chest Monster once it's been disturbed—you either defeat it, or die trying.

Obviously, chest monsters aren't threatening at all if you can avoid triggering them in the first place, but in games that encourage you to always open every last treasure chest in sight, this is easier said than done. It may or may not be possible to identify a Chest Monster without opening it up and springing the trap—sometimes there may be a minor flaw or difference that allows you to tell them apart from the genuine article; sometimes you can use an item or ability to analyze it and tell if it's real. Other times the placement is a clue—if a power-up is right there in plain sight with no guards or obstacles protecting it, it might be a trap. Or not. If all else fails and there are no clues, you'll just have to find out the hard way and hope it doesn't bite back.

It makes you wonder; where did these things come from? Did a wizard make them, or have people in the D & D world been putting chests in dungeons so long mimics have had time to evolve to fill this niche?

Sometimes you will get something of value if you beat the Chest Monster. See also Inexplicable Treasure Chests, Inn Security, and Alluring Anglerfish.

Compare Poison Mushroom, which is a harmful item disguised as a beneficial one, and Wall Master, which is an enemy that hides in and/or disguises itself as the scenery.

Not to be confused with Chest Burster. Unrelated to Boob Bite, or a metaphor from the 6th Harry Potter novel. Has nothing to do with anyone's endowment.

This trope has a Wild Mass Guessing page.

Examples of Chest Monster include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • One Piece has this during and episode in the Thriller Bark arc where Nami opens a chest and a surprise zombie pops out.
    • Much, much earlier, Luffy and Nami encounter a little man who, twenty years before, had fallen into a treasure chest and couldn't get out. He tries to invoke this trope to scare people away from his island.
  • An episode of Rune Soldier Louie has a short fight scene with the party attacked by a door mimic, as well as a traditional treasure chest mimic.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • In Dougal Dixon's After Man, the oakleaf toad is this trope for smaller invertebrate-eating animals. Camouflaged by the leaf-like appearance of its body, it lures in prey such as shrews or small birds with its tongue, which resembles an earthworm.
  • While not an enemy of the protagonist, the Luggage from the Discworld novels is still a ravenous chest monster. But it does its master's laundry. It is, however, quite harmful to everyone else. It can also be distinguished from, say, the sort of luggage to steal underwear from, by the feet underneath. And the fact that it will, without eyes, look at you in a very unfriendly manner.
    • It is, in fact, made of Sapient Pearwood and the inside is much, much bigger than the outside. It's also fiercely protective of its owner, as many a poor schmuck finds out, and will follow him anywhere in time or space, including the most grisly and esoteric of Eldritch Locations. Don't mess with the Luggage.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Parodied with the paedophile disguised as a school in Brass Eye.

Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • The great-granddaddy of this trope is the mimic, a blobby monster in Dungeons & Dragons that could imitate any stone or wood item; the artwork in the first edition Monster Manual depicted one in the shape of a chest, setting the mold to be followed in its videogame descendants. Incidentally, it's capable of making anything it touches stick to it as if glued and thereby making sure whoever touches it first is out of the fight. The second edition compounded the problem by adding a variant that can grow to the size of a building, inflicting a Total Party Kill on any group unfortunate enough to enter the "dungeon." (It's common DM practice to have that type pose as a gazebo.)
    • There's also the "bag of devouring", a fake Bag of Holding that's actually the mouth of an extra-dimensional predator, which may or may not be asleep.
    • The 3rd edition Epic Level Handbook has the living vault which, in addition to containing valuables, is a powerful creature.
  • The Yu-Gi-Oh Card Game has a reference to this in the form of Dark Mimic LV1 and Dark Mimic LV3, who both look like chests and give the player an extra draw when activated.
    • They even act as a traditional Chest Monster in Yu-Gi-Oh World Championship Tournament 2008. In the Pyramid in the World of Sunlight, there is occasionally a treasure chest. it will give you GP, a card... or a challenge by Dark Mimic Lv1.
    • Other cards also allude to this, such as Yaranzo (classic demon in a treasure box) and Stuffed Animal (demon teddy bear), as well as the Man-Eating Treasure Chest.
    • Hungry Burger fits this trope as well.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • One appears in the Adventure Time episode "Dungeon", vomiting treasure when awakened.

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • The old snake-in-the-can-of-nuts prank is a popular real life example.
  • The mata-mata, a South American variety of snapping turtle, does a variation on this; it sits perfectly still on the riverbed, with its mouth open and its tongue wiggling. When a fish comes to check out what it thinks is a nice worm to eat, the turtle swallows the fish.
  • The monkfish a species of flat angler fish that hides in the sea floor buried in the sand, it waves a lure to attract unsuspecting fish, and when it gets close enough it jumps out of the sand and gobbles it down.