Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Engineering Monsters II

Let's do some more systematic thinking about monsters.  A few thoughts since my last post:

1) Several relationships between factors not only exist already in the game but are considered fundamental.  For example more HD=better chance to hit, better save, more treasure.  Also, bigger=more HD is usually true, and bigger/more HD=more damage per hit is usually true as well.  All pretty obvious I suppose, but just showing that what we're doing isn't different, just looking at other factors in the system that haven't been latched onto much.

2) For example, my chart didn't have "chance to hit" which is a big one, maybe most important.  Some others not on that chart that might be worth looking at: target selection, morale, XP value, and dungeon level (depth).

3) While I'm trying to be systematic, I'm really relying on intuition to gravitate toward mechanics that would a) be interesting in-game, and b) haven't been used much

So, what if we run some of the newer factors through the chart gauntlet from last time (I'm not up to a new chart right now):
  • How about a monster that targets the pc with the most treasure on them.
  • How about a creature that has morale go up/down with every hit attempt (might be hard to track but you might use a die and change the face each time).
  • a monster that has chance to hit modified by depth in the earth-- at level 1 they literally can't hit you and must scuttle away, level 9 you become hors d’oeuvres.
  • How about a monster you can't see once you've hurt it.
  • or, a monster that's size corresponds to its morale.  Not a bigger creature being braver, a creature that you use morale normally, then its size changes-- maybe they puff up to become scary when they're actually wanting to run away.
  • Maybe a creature that can only attack the number of times as it has assailants.  It can't see you if you haven't attacked it, you can just hang back healing the party, or, watching them being devoured.


  1. Keep at it, this project is very interesting.

  2. Dude, this is the most innovative way I've ever seen to think about monsters. You've proven that a little bit of analytical rigor goes a long way towards sparking the imagination. I love the puffer critter. Keep up the good work!

  3. Thank you both. My job is getting in the way of my blog, haha. I realize now that I still left out some factors, like initiative. I plan to lay out a flow chart of combat to try and get all the factors.

  4. Thinking about it, there are some other monsters which do this - the jelly group that splits when a certain condition is met (damage, exposure to fire or electricity, etc.) is simply a monster whose #app increases when its HP decreases.

    You mentioned initiative, and I thought about a monster who spends its time observing the players and learning from their attacks. Every round, its AC increases by 1.

    Or a monster whose to-hit roll is simply the to-hit roll of the last person to attack it (criticals and all). That'd make me think twice about hitting it.

    The more I read and think about this, the more I feel like you've tapped something fundamental. This sort of cracking the game rules and rearranging them as a creative exercise is beautiful, and your chart has the potential to become an OSR standard device.

  5. First, thank you so much, your comment gave me the juice to try and collate all the factors I could think of into a chart which I'll post next.

    Second, yep, the oozes are a good example. Third, your example of a creature that gets harder to hit is great and a great example of what I hoped people might do on their own with the chart.