Thursday, March 15, 2012

Engineering Monsters

I've approached creating new monsters by combining parts of animals that players can easily visualize, by aiming for a particular emotional effect on players (sympathy),  by trying to target the resource  management aspect of old school D&D, and of course just associatively.  But I've also tried a little to think of mechanics that are available to latch onto.  The Stitcher was the result of this, tying a cumulative affect to every successful hit by the monster.

I think there are more possibilities in that direction.  So let's not think like poets, but like engineers for a moment.  I made a matrix made up of the entries from AD&D's monster stat blocks.  If we consider relating one to another are there any interesting monster possibilities?  Let's say the relationships between the first stat and the second can be:

And here's the matrix:

That's just over 500 possibilities.  Let's zoom in on some:
  • 3d is interesting, the slower the monster moves the higher its armor class.
  • 237a would be like a hivemind, the more critters you encounter the more powerful their psionic ability.
  • How about 195d, the smaller the critter, the smarter it is-- watch out for the dwarf ogres.
  • Some of these could be behavioral- 111a could mean this monster in its lair gets more attacks per round.
  • 51b = more treasure, slower moving. An creature armored with precious metal-- golden turtle.
  • 125d = a monster that uses its hit point as fuel to damage you, a lava critter, or acid elemental, maybe
  • 45b = a monster that is more vulnerable when it stops to use its mental attack
  • 28d = nice monster when met singly, evil in groups- sounds like humans
  • 157a = the more treasure the more likely it has a special defense (didn't someone suggest this for dragons recently?)

You get the idea.  I'll let you search for some on your own


  1. Real interesting! A lot of possibilities there.

  2. Thanks! I'm realizing there are other factors I could put on the chart, "to hit" for example, but it's my mom's birthday so I'll come back to this later.

  3. This is really, really smart.
    174b: a Walter Corbitt style spectral hunter, which has to materialize in order to attack - the more damage it can do, the lower its magic resistance.
    242a: the more treasure it has, the higher its psion ability. Sounds like the City of Brass, or possibly Zzarchov's Khazakh dungeon. ...or actually any cult statue: charge it up by bringing it gifts - it's not the god's favour you gain by making offerings, it's the god itself.

  4. 90b: the more critters gather, the lower their psionic power gets. Psychic ants? They lair together for defense, but have to stay in clusters of 1-5 or their collective psychic chatter makes them stupid.

    234d: the more evil it is, the bigger it gets. Darkworms start out neutral when they hatch, and are considered beneficial by many because they gravitate toward and eat evil dungeon denizens. But when they reach a critical point of evil consumption, they pupate into a second, more terrifying stage which eats good and evil alike. The connection has not been made between larva and adult, so humans often sow their own destruction. Word on the street is that darkworm eggs sell for a hefty price in cities - the municipal governments buy them to dump them in the sewers to keep down wererats.

  5. Great ideas, thanks.

    @Richard: I like the idea of a statue that comes to life after a set amount of treasure is placed at its feet.

    @RMDC: Both great, the ants are tactically interesting in that you want to fight *more* of them at a time.