Monday 20 April 2009

Brief Thoughts on Monster Design

Now with more stealth-links. 

As I've been tweaking monsters for The Adventurer's Tale I've decided to post the key points I've been keeping in mind for each monster, each of which consists of one paragraph of text followed by the data.

  • Why would the adventurers be fighting this?
  • How does this monster behave when the adventurers encounter it?
  • What are its relationships with some other monsters?
  • How can the GM easily adjust this monster to make it more or less powerful, or simply different?
  • Does this monster really need its own entry?

And I'm going to briefly expand on the last point. I mentioned in a previous post about races that I didn't like Gnomes and Hobbits barging in on what I felt should be Dwarfish traits. The same can be said for monsters. Especially when combined with the fourth point about making my monsters tweakable from the ground up, this allows me to have a great selection of classic monsters in a more compact list. Examples below:

  • Sprites: One monster entry for pixies, brownies, (real) gnomes and even gremlins. Simply make pixies more agile and give them wings, give gnomes a higher Craft stat and give Gremlins the goblin dodge ability that makes them extra slippery and mischievous. 
  • Beastmen: This entry covers your warhammer style goatmen, hyena-like gnolls and even stretches to ratmen and lizardman. The last two being more sneaky (higher Grace and maybe some Rogue perks) and tougher (scales counting as light or heavy armour) respectively. 
  • Chimera: You've got your lion/goat/dragon chimera here as well as Griffons, Hippogriffs and Manticores. Minor differences between them are noted but really one entry covers large, ferocious, winged beasts like these. Tone down its Melee stat and Damage and you could pull off a Pegasus if you need one.
  • Giants: Here you have a base for your standard hill giant that can easily be altered into an ettin or cyclops. In addition, Ogres are really little more than small cave giants, so they're part of this monster too. Simply knock some Body off your Giant to trim him down to Ogre size. 
  • Ooze Blob: This covers all sorts of ooze. Really, coming up with your own twist on them is so easy!

It's all in aid of stressing that there is no definitive statblock for an Orc. Some of them will be tougher than others, some better at fighting, some might even be smart. If you're the GM use the monster stats given as a guideline and tweak them however you like! That's exactly what this system is designed for. There's a reason there are no levels or challenge ratings provided! (a topic for another day)

Yet somehow I still have three different types of dragon... hypocrisy at its finest.

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