Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Monster Monday: Roles As Tags (More DIY)

Folks, these days, my tastes are running less toward just presenting you with an awesome monster and more toward presenting you with useful tools to create your own, as seen last Monday. Since then, I've been playing with some more ideas about how to build monsters to streamline the process and make things even easier for all of us. There have been a couple of rules systems that I spent a lot of January (and the last weekend) reading up on that have inspired this thought process, most notably the FATE Core system (yes, I backed the Kickstarter) and the Sine Nomine games, most notably Red Tide and Stars Without Number (and more recently An Echo, Resounding by recommendation here on the blog; btw, I freaking loved it!). Believe it or not, FATE shared with the Sine Nomine games one exceptionally important feature: giving a usable rules implication to natural language explanations of what things are. In other words, you figure out what a thing is by describing it and your description of it gives shape to the rules that govern it. FATE does this with Aspects - usually short phrases that encapsulate a key feature of the thing being described - while Sine Nomine uses Tags - usually short adjectivial expressions (one or two words) that do the same. For brevity, I'm going to prefer the Tag route. 

And so, we begin to look at how we'd tag monsters using last week's monster roles as tags to see how we should treat each role differently from a mechanics standpoint. If you're new to Kickassistan, you may want to start here to look at how we're describing these different monster roles. Moving on...

Mook

Orc Mooks
Mooks are the most minor challenge that a group of adventurers will face. 
  • HD - Reduce hit dice by one step using a standard dice chain (to a d6 from a d8, for example, skipping the d7). New monsters should have d4s or d6s for hit dice. 
  • AC - Reduce AC by at least 2 points, but AC should be no more than 10 + 1/2 the average party level, rounded up (AC 10 at level 0, 11 at level 1, 12 at level 3, and so on).
  • Damage - reduce damage dice by at least one die type to a maximum of 1d4.
  • Saves - reduce all saving throws by at least 2.  
Example: If we take the standard orc from the DCC rulebook and decide to make an orc mook, here's what he'd look like: Orc Mook: Init +1; Atk claw +1 melee (1d3) or by weapon +1 melee (reduce by one dice type); AC 9 + armor (maximum 11); HD 1d6+1; MV 30'; Act 1d20; SV Fort +0, Ref -2, Will -3; AL C.

Beast

Bestial Orc
Beasts have high damage output and can take a lot of punishment but often are weak-willed and easy to hit. 
  • HD - Increase the hit dice type one step using the standard dice chain (to a d10 from a d8, for example).
  • AC - Reduce AC by at least 2 points, but AC should be no more than 10 + 1/2 the average party level, rounded up (AC 10 at level 0, 11 at level 1, 12 at level 13 and so on).
  • Damage - Increase damage dealt by at least one type using the standard dice chain (to a d8 from a d6, for example).
  • Action Dice - Add an additional action die. 
  • Saves - Increase Fortitude save by at least 2, reduce Will save by at least 1. 
Example: Bestial Orc: Init +1; Atk claw +1 melee (1d6) or by weapon +1 melee (increase damage die one step); AC 9 + armor (maximum 11); HD 1d10+1; MV 30'; Act 2d20; SV Fort +4, Ref +0, Will -2; AL C.

Armor (previously "Turtle")

Armored Orc
Armored creatures have high defenses but otherwise function as normal members of their species or type.
  • AC - Increase AC by at least 2 points, and AC should never be lower than 10 + the average party level.
  • Saves - Increase saving throw bonuses by at least 2.
Example: Armored Orc: Init +1; Atk claw +1 melee (1d4) or weapon +1 melee (by weapon); AC 13 + armor; HD 1d8+1; MV 30'; Act 1d20; SV Fort +4, Ref +2, Will +1; AL C.

Monster

The monster is a true horror that can take punishment, is hard to hurt and dishes out a lot of pain.
  • AC - Increase by at least 2 points and AC should never be lower than 10 + the average party level.
  • HD - Increase the hit die type at least one step using the standard dice chain (to a d10 from a d8, for example).
  • Action Dice - Add at least one additional action die of the creature's highest type; you may add other action dice of lower types (extended dice chain) as you see fit. 
  • Damage - Increase damage dealt by at least one die type using the standard dice chain (to a d8 from a d6 for example).
  • Saves - Increase all saving throw bonuses by at least 2.
  • Extra - Add an additional attack type if you added an additional, lower action die. 
Example: Orc Monstrosity: Init +1; Atk +1 claw melee (1d6) or weapon +1 melee (increase damage die one step); AC 13 + armor; HD 1d10+1; MV 30'; Act 2d20; SV Fort +4, Ref +2, Will +1; AL C. 

Sneak

Shadow Orc
This creature is exceptionally good at moving around the battlefield and often at not being seen while doing so. 
  • AC - Increase by at least 2 points and AC should never be lower than 10 + the average party level.
  • HD - Decrease the hit die type at least one step using the standard dice chain (to a d6 from a d8, for example).
  • Damage - Reduce the damage dealt by each attack by at least one die type using the standard dice chain.
  • Saves - Increase Reflex save by at least 2. 
  • Extra - Add an additional attack type. This attack should have at least an attack bonus at least 2 higher than the creature's other attacks and should deal damage at least one die type higher (standard chain). 
  • Extra - (Optional) Add an additional movement type to the sneak. 
  • Initiative - Increase by at least 2 points.
Example: Shadow Orc: Init +3; Atk claw +1 melee (1d3) or weapon +1 melee (decrease damage die one type) or backstab +4 melee (1d8; from behind only); AC 13 + armor; HD 1d6+1; MV 30'; Act 1d20; SP Stealth +5, Backstab; SV Fort +2, Ref +2, Will -1; AL C.

Warlock

This creature wields arcane or divine energies against its foes to rend their bodies and warp their minds.
  • Saves - Increase Will save by at least 3 points and Reflex save by at least 2 points.
  • Action Dice - Add one additional action die of a lower type (d14 or d16); this die type may not be used on melee attacks.
  • Extra - Add an additional attack form, usually missile fire, that has an additional effect in excess of (or instead of) damage. This attack may use the warlock's extra action die.
  • Extra - Add up to the warlock's HD in wizard or cleric spells to the creature. The creature casts spells with a bonus equal to its twice its HD. The warlock may use its extra action die to cast these spells.
Example: Orc Demon-Cultist: Init +1; Atk claw +1 melee (1d4) or weapon +1 melee (by weapon) or +3 soul hex (1d4 damage and Will Save DC 13 or 1 Luck damage);  AC 11 + armor; HD 1d8+1; MV 30'; Act 1d20 + 1d14; SP Spells (Sleep); SV Fort +2, Ref +2, Will +2; AL C.

Enigma

Every enigma is different, but at least they have that in common. Enigmas are strange and often unexpected opponents that often require some sort of problem-solving to defeat.
  • Extra - Add an unusual defense mechanism that makes attacking the enigma difficult or harms those who try. Examples include a medusa's petrification gaze or an elder brain's Charm person effects.
  • Extra - Add an unusual attack mode (which may be tied to the defense mechanism above) of a sort not normally covered by the rules. 
Example: The Orcnigma: Init +1; Atk claw +1 melee (1d4) or Soul sear (see SP); AC 11 + armor; HD 1d8+1; MV 30'; Act 1d20; SP Eyes of chaos (targets all enemies the Orcnigma can see, DC 15 Will save or half movement and reduce Action die type by two steps for 1d4 rounds), Soul sear (targets up to 3 opponents affected by Eyes of chaos, DC 16 Fortitude save or 1d12 damage and 1d4 Luck damage and pushed back 1d4x5 feet); SV Fort +2, Ref +0, Will -1; AL C.

Obviously, the application of each of these tags to the common orc doesn't do much for most of us. Few of us would take the basic orc and just *bang!* turn it into a Monster or Beast. Often, we'll use other creatures for that role, and that's probably pretty wise. These tags exist primarily to make new monsters with, rather than to modify existing ones, despite how I've presented them here, and are a sort of "first step" toward a larger system that I'm working on for building a better beast man. Stay tuned for more!