2012-06-25 Monster Stats


Google+ feels like a big torrent of discussion—and just like forums, Facebook and Twitter it seems to me that little things I said I would like to come back to are lost. Not even I can find them anymore! In an effort to remember some of the things I said, I’m going to copy some stuff to this blog of mine.

Evan Elkins of In Places Deep wondered about the stats needed to run a monster.

Here is an example from my submission to Fight On!:

Bel, Slayer of Men (HD 10; AC 2; Atk 1 flaming whip (no damage but on a hit it grants +4 on the hit with the sword in the same round and on a 20 it disarms the opponent), 1 flaming sword (3d6); MV 9; flaming aura deals an extra 1d6 to everybody nearby; immune to non-magic weapons; immune to fire)

Atk lists damage and any other special abilities which take effect upon a hit whereas the special abilities listed at the end are spells and other abilities that can be used in addition to or instead of actual attacks.

At first I also wanted to add Labyrinth Lord style saving throws: F5 and the like, but then I looked at Swords & Wizardry and decided a simple save (SV) would be good enough and simpler to use. Then I discovered that the save was simple to determine based on HD and I decided to not include it at all. If this was a monster manual I was writing, I’d add it as well.

I feel bad for not having added morale (ML). I find that morale is extremely important when playing old school games. It’s not hard to improvise: cowards use 5, weaklings use 6, men use 7, well led humanoids use 8, disciplined use 9, fanatics use 10, lunatics use 11, unnatural creatures use 12. When sustaining the first loss and when having lost half the number, but no more than twice per fight, roll 2d6. If you roll over the morale score, they break and run or do a fighting retreat depending on alignment.

I didn’t add % in Lair. At first I felt bad because I liked the idea. The number can be used when facing an empty hex map that hasn’t been “stocked” with lairs, yet. As characters encounter creatures, the lairs get placed. Then I thought I could use a simple 1/6 chance to place lairs. The differing % in Lair numbers mean that some lairs of creatures on the random encounter tables will be hard to find because apparently the creatures travel a lot. But how much difference would this make at the table? Now I feel pretty good about dropping this stat.

I also didn’t add hit-points because I prefer rolling them at the table. What I hate is sorted hit-points for a group of enemies, ie. 2, 3, 3, 4, 5, 5, 6. Do I need to mix it up again? Do the weaker ones just fall first? What I usually do is throw a handful of dice when combat starts and whenever a creature is hit that doesn’t have hit-points, I quickly roll for them and subtract the first damage roll.

Finally, let me plug the Old School Monster Wiki: Campaign:Monsters.



These days I use the following when copying stats into my prep notes:

10 orcs HD 1 AC 7 1d6 F1 MV 12 ML 7 XP 5

Number, hit dice, armor class (descending: 9 unarmored, 7 leather, 5 chain, 3 plate), damage, save (fighter, cleric magic-user or thief; if unsure, use 19-HD±2), movement rate (multiply by 10 to get feet per round of combat or turn of exploration underground), or yards per turn exploring outside), morale (6 are cowards, 7 humanoids, 8 well led, 10 bosses), XP (for convenience; alternatively, use HD×100).

AlexSchroeder 2013-09-17 06:45 UTC

That’s pretty similar to the old TSR statblocks which look like this:

1-4 Shadows*: AC 7; HD 2+2; hp 10 each; MV 90’ (30’); #AT 1 touch; D 1d4 + drain 1 point of strength for 8 turns; Save F2; ML 12; AL C; xp 35 each; THACO 17; BD36.

I have not figured out what the star behind the name means, probably ’special abilities not listed here’.

Harald 2013-09-18 17:41 UTC

Definitely. I’m just trying to save bytes when scribbling notes. :)

In B/X, each special ability was worth a star, and HD plus stars was used to determine xp. As this monster already comes with xp, I’m not sure why the stars were kept.

AlexSchroeder 2013-09-19 07:43 UTC

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