Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Monster Framework (Gargoyles)

To continue with the posting spirit I'd like to spend today talking a bit about how I've been designing monsters recently.  I'm going to use these dastardly Gargoyles as an example today.  In the below photo the Ork Party is playing cautiously moving their melee characters forward as they aren't sure which Gargoyles (represented by Eldar Swooping Hawks) are statues and which ones are ready to pounce.

In the past few weeks I decided to streamline how I make a monster.  Back in May I was at about 75 or so monsters in my codex, now that has burgeoned out to another 118 so we're pushing 200.  As I rebalance and retool things it's helpful to be able to blow through a monster entry without too many moving parts.  This means making some universal abilites for monsters instead of a few handfuls of unique abilities scattered across a few dozen monsters.

The goal is to ease up on creating a monster from a design perspective and for the enterprizing GM who likes to wing it and make up some strange creature, chimera or automaton on the fly.  It also cuts down on bookeeping for the GM for things like Attacks, Damage reduction, etc.  I had done this a bit in the past with the [Giant] and [Ferocious] category but it has since been expanded.  So here we are:

Customize Monsters
  • Ferocious (1-3):  Each level gives +3 To-Hit
  • Uncanny (1-3):  Each level gives the monster a bonus chance to Act. 
    • GMs these actions are meant to be spread out, not singling out one character.
  • Relentless  (1-3):  Each level gives +10 HP & +1 Wound
  • Impervious (1-3):  Each level reduces all damage by 1 and +1 on Saving Throws
  • Rage (1-3):  Each level gain +10 HP whenever you take a Wound
  • Giant  (1-3):  Each level gives Damage +2d6, Wounds +2, Reach +2, SPD +2.  DEF -2.

The largest benefit for me with these universal rules was adjudicating creatures that fall outside the realm of players.  A Stone Statue Guardian for example, will have armor as strong as platemail but perhaps even more as a being made entirely of stone.  Wild beasts will be ferocious and make up for their lack of weaponry with a universal to-hit bonus.

This also establishes a baseline for me when it comes to setting up standards.  If I say a Lion or Tiger is Ferocious level 2, then when I think of a new monster I can decided if they are less than, equal to or more ferocious than a Tiger.  Perhaps a T-Rex will be Ferocious 3 and a Wolf Ferocious 1.  Now then let's see how it applies to our belfry protecting gargoyles. 

[Wind] Gargoyle [Dreaded]  LVL 4  HP 4d6+4  Wounds 2  TD 4d12  DEF 13 / AC 3 / ARM 3 (+1) Mv: M (Fly)
  • Ferocious 1  Impervious 1  Rage 1
  • Claw/Claw/Bite/Horn  R: 1  SPD 4  To-Hit: +3  DMG: 1d6. 
  • Swooping carry: If 2+ attacks hit, carry the target a mid-distance and drop them
  • QTY: 1d6   /  Tactics:  Hit & Run  /  Stealth +5 among ruins and stonework

Thinking of the Gargoyle I decided they were considerably less ferocious than a Tiger, but not quite harmless and gave them Ferocious 1.  As weather eroded creatures I opted to give them the minimum Impervious value as well, reducing all damage by 1, reflected as +1 next to the Armor Reduction (ARM) stat.  Lastly, I gave the Gargoyles Rage. 

I was always a fan of the Gargoyles TV show in the 90s, and one that stuck with me was the raw emotion these creatures felt.  Living by night, and stone by light, when you've only half the day to live it's no surprise their candle burns twice as bright.

Gargoyles are pretty feisty opponents, hard to hurt, hard to take down, and they bring enough attacks to the table that even a pair of them can threaten a party if played wisely. 

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