Monday, April 18, 2011

Lesser Monsters

Currently, there's a noticable gap in the spectrum of monster class; while we have a smooth progression of normal to elite to solo, there's a huge difference between a normal monster and a minion. What about monsters that - while weaker and more numerous than a standard opponent - aren't wimpy enough to be one-hit-kills? To use a Legend of Zelda comparison, DnD currently has miniblins, moblins, and bigblins, but we don't have any bokoblins. And killing bokoblins is fun. A super-minion, or "elite" minion, would fill the hole and allow for a bigger range of encounter packs.
Here is my take on a super-minion. Lesser monsters are worth half as much encounter space as a normal monster of their level, and are individually expected to cause half as much grief to the PC's.

Creating a Lesser Monster

A lesser monster is just like any other monster of its level and role, aside from the following:
  • It has one half as many hit points as a normal monster of its level and role.
  • It automatically fails all saving throws.
  • It is instantly killed by a critical hit.
  • Its attacks deal a set amount of damage, like a minion.
  • Defeating the creature awards only half as much XP as a normal monster of its level.

Lesser monsters are easily defeated by attacks that deal debilhitating, save-ends effects, and, unlike minions, they can take damage from attacks that miss. This means that they are vulnerable to every weapon and perk at a PC's disposal, allowing the players to have fun using their different powers against lesser monsters. At the same time, the lesser monster is hardy enough to take a few conventional attacks before dropping, and it can do a fair amount of damage, keeping a pair of them a serious threat.

Guidelines to Building Lesser Monsters

To make a lesser monster effective, keep the following in mind:
  • Lesser monsters deal a set amount of damage with each attack, but that amount should be slightly higher than what a minion does. If a first level minion brute deals 7 damage with an attack, a first level lesser brute should deal 9 or 10.
  • Lesser monsters should have one or more encounter or recharge powers, to further differentiate them from minions.
  • Lesser monsters are never bloodied. Avoid the temptation to give them abilities that take effect after they've been injured; that goes against the grain of their design, and the PC's will likely never get to see that ability used for more than a single round anyway.
  • A lesser monster's vulnerability to saving throws can make the PC wizard feel really badass when he throws his sleep spell, which is a good thing. However, keep in mind that a party with lots of save-or-die attacks at their disposal are going to cleave through lesser monsters much more easily than another party might, so plan encounters accordingly.
  • Lesser monsters should not typically have Leader or healing abilities. Like minions, they should have abilities that are conducive to teamwork.

For an example of a lesser monster, I took the Rylkar Tormenter from an earlier post and adapted it into a Lesser. I may go back and make this the "official" version, as I really did envision the Tormentor as being something that gangs up on its enemies, though not to the same extent of their Forager minions.

Rylkar Tormenter 
Level 1 Lesser Controller (XP: 50)
Tiny natural beast
Initiative: +3 Perception: +7 (darkvision)
Hit Points: 13
AC: 15 Fortitude: 13 Reflex: 14 Will: 13
Speed: 8
Resist: 5 disease

Vulnerable: a lesser monster is reduced to 0 hp if it sustains a critical hit.
Saving Throws: a lesser monster automatically fails all saving throws.
Standard Actions
Melee basic Bite (at will); +6 vs. AC; 8 normal and disease damage and use Attach.
Attach; after biting someone, the Tormenter digs its teeth into their flesh and refuses to let go, entering the target´s square. While attached, the Tormenter cannot be targeted by opportunity attacks, and recieves a +4 bonus to its AC, Fortitude, and Reflex defenses. Attacks against the rylkar that target any of these defenses that miss will instead hit the creature to which it is attached. The rylkar gains a +2 bonus to attack rolls against its victim, but cannot attack anyone else until it lets go. The rylkar´s victim is slowed. Save ends; on a succesful saving throw, the Tormenter reappears in a space adjacent to the target. 
Scurry; the rylkar can move through occupied squares as long as it begins and ends its move in empty ones.
Strength: 8 Constitution: 14 Dexterity: 16 Intelligence: 6 Wisdom: 14 Charisma: 10
Alignment: Evil Languages: None (understands Deep Speech)

With only a few, very easy stat changes, the tormentor has become the monster I really wanted it to be. 

In future monster posts, I will stat creatures that were designed from the ground up to be Lesser monsters, with abilities that play into working in groups of two. I will also, in the near future, be posting a more in-depth discussion of how to use different monster classes, and some guidelines for "upgrading" or "downgrading" monsters from one class to another.

No comments:

Post a Comment