Thursday, March 22, 2012

Systematic Creativity

I didn't call this post engineering monsters III because I realized you can use this to come up with spells or magic items too.

So, I thought more about factors in the game that we can work with for effects in-game.  I looked at the D&D combat sequence and even all the things on the character record sheet. 

Here is an image, print it out and trace lines from one thing to another.  These lines can represent relationships between the factors not just for monsters but magic items, curses, spells etc.

Some example ideas:
  • a spell that allows a player to become stronger temporarily by stripping off all gear
  • monsters that have a grudge and become more common on the encounter table each time players kill one
  • a player cursed to only heal by eating gems
  • a valuable creature that always appears at maximum encounter distance and then moves away (think questing beast)
  • a creature of such saintly/devilish demeanor that attacks (or maybe just misses) by pcs of opposite alignment are always fumbles
  • a pc disease-- any time you're hit in combat save or go unconscious
  •  each successful hit on a magical creature maps part of the dungeon on its hide (and it's a nice creature, and you really don't want to hurt it . . .)
  • a magic ring (Bully's Bane) - the more foes you face the more likely they are to fumble
If you like this kind of approach to generating ideas I forgot I posted something along similar lines a while back.  It's about combining classes of things (trap/monster, trap/treasure for example) to generate new ideas.

Also in the same vein is me thinking about how little we have to effect player characters in-game.  I think I discovered some others because of the thinking I did for that post.


  1. This would make a great dicemap (plus drinking game, drink if you roll on the caveman).

    I want to comment on your linked post about not being to enforce some effects on characters. If I wanted to make a character paranoid I would take them aside and say that they had been granted a special "danger sense" by whatever phenomenon made them paranoid, but it would only last as long as the other player didn't know they had it, and it would be signaled by me performing some "tell" (like dropping a pencil, or laying down a d20 with the 13 side up).

  2. Picture looks like a poor smilodon lost in thought about to get whacked by a caveman. :)

  3. @Rogers: Thanks, a dicemap would be cool. Maybe somebody reading this will whip one up. The paranoid mechanic is clever and gives me hope that there might be other tricksy things we DMs can do to expand effects on players. But in that example wouldn't the whole party become paranoid, thinking you had granted that player something. Or, I guess you would have to be very subtle and not let the others know at all?

    @Matt:It's the very first murder hobo, he thinks there might be gems in that thing's belly. haha

  4. My silence is because I'm chewing this over, trying to think through its implications. There's a lot here.