Monsters]] start with your description of them. Whether you’re making the monster before play or just as the players come face-to-face with it, every monster starts with a clear vision of what it is and what it does. If you’re making a monster between sessions start by imagining it. Imagine what it looks like, what it does, why it stands out. Imagine the stories told about it and what effects it has had on the world.
If you’re making a monster on the fly during a session start by describing it to the players. Your description starts before the characters even lay eyes on it: describe where it lives, what marks it has made on the environment around it. Your description is the key to the monster.
When you find you need stats for the monster you use this series of questions to establish them. Answer every question based on the facts established and imagined. Don’t answer them aloud to anyone else, just note down the answers and the stats listed with each answer.
- If two questions would grant the same tag don’t worry about it.
- you can adjust damage or HP by 2 to reflect the tag that would be repeated, but it’s not necessary.
- If a combination of answers would reduce HP or damage below 1 they stay at 1. Most monsters should have at least 3 hp and at least 1d4 damage.
- When you’re finished your monster may have only one move. If this is the case and you plan on using the monster often, give it another 1–2 moves of your choice. These moves often describe secondary modes of attack, other uses for a primary mode of attack, or connections to a certain place in the world.
Building Your Monster
1.What is it called?
2.What is it known to do?
- Write a monster move describing what it does.
- What does it want that causes problems for others?
- This is its instinct. Write it as an intended action.
3.How does it usually hunt or fight?
- In large groups: horde, d6 damage, 3 HP; swarm, d4 damage
- In small groups, about 2–5: group, d8 damage, 6 HP
- All by its lonesome: solitary, d10 damage, 12 HP
4.How big is it?
- Smaller than a house cat: tiny, hand, -2 damage
- Halfling-esque: small, close
- About human size: close
- As big as a cart: large, close, reach, +4 HP, +1 damage
- Much larger than a cart: huge, reach, +8 HP, +3 damage
- Can devour ships or houses whole: titanic, +12 HP, +6 damage
5.What is its most important defense?
- Cloth or flesh: 0 armor
- Leathers or thick hide: 1 armor
- Mail or scales: 2 armor
- Plate or bone: 3 armor
- Permanent magical protection: 4 armor, magical
6.What is it known for? (Choose all that apply)
- Unrelenting strength: +2 damage,forceful
- Skill in offense: roll damage twice and take the better roll
- Skill in defense: +1 armor
- Deft strikes: +1 piercing
- Uncanny endurance: +4 HP
- Deceit and trickery: stealthy, write a move about dirty tricks
- A useful adaptation like being amphibious or having wings: add a special quality for the adaptation
- The favor of the gods: divine, +2 damage or +2 HP or both (your call)
- Spells and magic: magical, write a move about its spells
7.What is its most common form of attack? Note it along with the creature’s damage. Common answers include:
Then answer these questions about it
- Its armaments are vicious and obvious: +2 damage
- It lets the monster keep others at bay: reach
- Its armaments are small and weak: reduce its damage die size by one
- Its armaments can slice or pierce metal: messy, +1 piercing or +3 piercing if it can just tear metal apart
- Armor doesn’t help with the damage it deals (due to magic, size, etc.): ignores Armor
- It usually attacks at range (with arrows, spells, or other projectiles): near or far or both (your call)
8.Which of these describe it? (Choose all that apply)
- It isn’t dangerous because of the wounds it inflicts, but for other reasons: devious, reduce its damage die size by one, write a move about why it’s dangerous
- It organizes into larger groups that it can call on for support: organized, write a move about calling on others for help
- It’s as smart as a human or thereabouts: intelligent
- It actively defends itself with a shield or similar: cautious, +1 armor
- It collects trinkets that humans would consider valuable (gold, gems, secrets): hoarder
- It’s from beyond this world: planar, write a move about using its otherworldly knowledge and power
- It’s kept alive by something beyond simple biology: +4 HP
- It was made by someone: construct, give it a special quality or two about its construction or purpose
- Its appearance is disturbing, terrible, or horrible: terrifying, write a special quality about why it’s so horrendous
- It doesn’t have organs or discernible anatomy: amorphous, +1 armor, +3 HP
- It (or its species) is ancient—older than man, elves, and dwarves: increase its damage die size by one
- It abhors violence: roll damage twice and take the worst result
9. (Custom) Answer these two questions
- What is something interesting for the PCs to learn about this monster?
- What is something useful to for the PCs to learn about this monster?
(attributed to Johnstone Metzger)
- see Monster Tags