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 Post subject: "Typical" abilities for creatures
PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 6:42 pm 
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Mighty-Thewed Reaver
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The standard template for creatures does not include any Abilities. I realize that the creature stats are meant to be simple, but sometimes an Ability score is needed, like Stealth or Scrutiny in a surprise situation. Are there any guidelines for determinng Die Ranks for some of the more common Abilities? Obviously, this will be somewhat dependent on the type of creature, and obviously, I can make up anything I want, but I was wondering if anyone had thought of some general guidelines for scaling Abilities with Challenge Score.


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 Post subject: Re: "Typical" abilities for creatures
PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 7:45 pm 
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dunbruha wrote:
The standard template for creatures does not include any Abilities. I realize that the creature stats are meant to be simple, but sometimes an Ability score is needed, like Stealth or Scrutiny in a surprise situation. Are there any guidelines for determining Die Ranks for some of the more common Abilities? Obviously, this will be somewhat dependent on the type of creature, and obviously, I can make up anything I want, but I was wondering if anyone had thought of some general guidelines for scaling Abilities with Challenge Score.


Let's see. At the end of this post, I'll tackle that a bit. First, a reminder: Challenge Score is really for trying to balance combat encounters. That's about all with CS. If you were to add skills to monsters that increased the difficulty of the encounter, then I'd increase the Victory Points or Role-Playing rewards at the end of the encounter. Or, if the creature presented a "situation" that ended up being non-combat, you can reward Victory Points based on situational success (1 to 5 VPs, from easy to nearly impossible situation, see page Xx..uh, just kidding, see page 59).

Also, there are XP awards for dealing with creatures that would harass or thwart the efforts of the PCs (page 59).

Individual RP Awards:
5 Points
Good, but ineffective idea or action:

10 points
Clever use of skill, feat or ability:

25 Points
Good, helpful idea or action, beneficial conjecture, excellent tactical maneuver:

50 Points
Excellent Role-playing
Daring or personal sacrifice
Quick-thinking idea or action

Let's try this as a starting point, and we'll have a dialog about it.

Fodder: Allowed 1 non-combat ability above D4, but up to 1D12.
Standard: Allowed 2 non-combat abilities above D4, up to 2D12 each.
Exceptional: Allowed 3 non-combat abilities above D4, up to 3D12 each (implying mastery).
Full-Fledged: whether created with the stats of an exceptional creature or a full PC matters not. The GM can list a number of abilities limited only by the character concept.

Or if you want to build the full-fledged with all the DPs, etc, use this guide:

The GM must consider Character Point totals when designing adversaries.
Respectable (1-5): 70 CPs
Good (6-10): 140 CPs.
Great (11-15): 210 points.
Superb (16-20): 280 points.


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 Post subject: Re: "Typical" abilities for creatures
PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 8:34 pm 
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dancross wrote:
Let's try this as a starting point, and we'll have a dialog about it.

Fodder: Allowed 1 non-combat ability above D4, but up to 1D12.
Standard: Allowed 2 non-combat abilities above D4, up to 2D12 each.
Exceptional: Allowed 3 non-combat abilities above D4, up to 3D12 each (implying mastery).
Full-Fledged: whether created with the stats of an exceptional creature or a full PC matters not. The GM can list a number of abilities limited only by the character concept.

Or if you want to build the full-fledged with all the DPs, etc, use this guide:

The GM must consider Character Point totals when designing adversaries.
Respectable (1-5): 70 CPs
Good (6-10): 140 CPs.
Great (11-15): 210 points.
Superb (16-20): 280 points.

I like the guidelines for the Full-Fledged NPCs. They will be useful. But I am going to set the Full-Fledged aside for now.

The guidelines are a good start, but they are still pretty wide-ranging. Maybe something tied to hit points would work (I am totally guessing on these ranges):
Up to 10 HP: no rank above D4 for any Ability
11-25 HP: "average" or "base" Ability Die Rank is D6 (i.e., any non-combat Ability would have a default value of D6)
25-50 HP: "average" or "base" Ability Die Rank is D8
50-75 HP: "average" or "base" Ability Die Rank is D10
...

Now I'm sure these values are way off, because I don't have enough familiarity with the various types of creatures. But I am looking for a general guideline to use to begin with, then specific changes could be made for specific creatures. Thoughts?


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 Post subject: Re: "Typical" abilities for creatures
PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 8:54 pm 
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Quote:
The guidelines are a good start, but they are still pretty wide-ranging. Maybe something tied to hit points would work (I am totally guessing on these ranges):
Up to 10 HP: no rank above D4 for any Ability
11-25 HP: "average" or "base" Ability Die Rank is D6 (i.e., any non-combat Ability would have a default value of D6)
25-50 HP: "average" or "base" Ability Die Rank is D8
50-75 HP: "average" or "base" Ability Die Rank is D10
...

Now I'm sure these values are way off, because I don't have enough familiarity with the various types of creatures. But I am looking for a general guideline to use to begin with, then specific changes could be made for specific creatures. Thoughts?


That's a tough question in many ways. I'll have to ponder. I'm not comfortable tying it to hitpoints exactly, because I think challenges coming out of more general abilities should follow a different sort of scale (something less formulaic?). It's tougher because there's no solid formula to determine a parties' ability to deal with the endless possible threats and/or troubles caused by creative use of non-combat skill uses.


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 Post subject: Re: "Typical" abilities for creatures
PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 5:35 pm 
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dancross wrote:
That's a tough question in many ways. I'll have to ponder. I'm not comfortable tying it to hitpoints exactly, because I think challenges coming out of more general abilities should follow a different sort of scale (something less formulaic?). It's tougher because there's no solid formula to determine a parties' ability to deal with the endless possible threats and/or troubles caused by creative use of non-combat skill uses.

Yea, it is pretty complicated. I am thinking now along a different tack. I am thinking of looking at published versions of the creature and making a call from the descriptions. The D&D v3.5 SRD has lots of description (way more than is necessary, but possibly useful). I was thinking of using the creature's skills as a guide for Abilities. Perhaps for each +2 to a skill that a D&D creature has, that would equal an increase of 1 die rank of an analogous Ability in an ERP creature. So, for example, the basilisk has a +7 to Listen, it would get 3 die ranks added to Scrutiny (from D4 up to D10). What do you think?


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 Post subject: Re: "Typical" abilities for creatures
PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2008 10:36 pm 
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Joined: Sat Sep 08, 2007 11:32 pm
Posts: 530
dunbruha wrote:
dancross wrote:
That's a tough question in many ways. I'll have to ponder. I'm not comfortable tying it to hitpoints exactly, because I think challenges coming out of more general abilities should follow a different sort of scale (something less formulaic?). It's tougher because there's no solid formula to determine a parties' ability to deal with the endless possible threats and/or troubles caused by creative use of non-combat skill uses.

Yea, it is pretty complicated. I am thinking now along a different tack. I am thinking of looking at published versions of the creature and making a call from the descriptions. The D&D v3.5 SRD has lots of description (way more than is necessary, but possibly useful). I was thinking of using the creature's skills as a guide for Abilities. Perhaps for each +2 to a skill that a D&D creature has, that would equal an increase of 1 die rank of an analogous Ability in an ERP creature. So, for example, the basilisk has a +7 to Listen, it would get 3 die ranks added to Scrutiny (from D4 up to D10). What do you think?


Use the die-rank meanings to help. Maybe spread the descriptors to cover the full range of ADC ranking for heroes.

ADC Meanings.

D4 Novice
D6
D8
D10
D12
2D4 Specialist
2D6
2D8
2D10
2D12
3D4 Master
3D6
3D8
3D10
3D12


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 Post subject: Re: "Typical" abilities for creatures
PostPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2008 8:28 pm 
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Ill-Fated Peasant

Joined: Sat Jun 21, 2008 7:13 pm
Posts: 5
I had a question related to this. (I don't mean to twist the thread, so if this post does, I demand that the moderator moves it elsewhere!)

Over a campaign, rather than just a few gaming sessions, how do you keep the monsters distinctive? Is it purely verbal description? (Blue gleeps rather than red wurps.) Fodder doen't rate so much, maybe -- "waves of lice-ridden vermin seethe towards the party" (rats or hippies) and that's all you need. But beyond that, does any sameness creep into the encounters long-term?

Magic use, or particular combat tactics, would be ways to tell creatures apart. Abilities might be another -- although I'd be horrified if Eldritch went down the 3.5E gross overkill route. The "starting point" seems reasonable.

At the moment I like the simplicity of the concepts, and the ability to take monsters from any game system, or even purely verbal descriptions (e.g. from the earliest RPG supplements, such as Phil Edgren's Book of Monsters) and whip up an Eldritch version. But I like having thousands of varieties of monsters, and I'm not sure if I can make them distinctive enough with purely verbal flourishes.

Cheers --
Malcolm


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 Post subject: Re: "Typical" abilities for creatures
PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2008 7:10 am 
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It can be more than flavor text to differentiate the monsters. For example, any of the magic "effects" can be retooled as natural abilities and powers, especially the Influence sub-effects (distract, stun, control body or mind, and incapacitate). Abilities can be added in addition to various threat ranks to flesh out individual exceptions to stereotypical norms. Also, there's the use of extra attacks (different than spitting a single ADC into multiple strikes) for use by critters like hydras. And don't forget all of the modifiers to hit points and/or resilience due to nature and size (although these modifiers make them look more distinctive on paper perhaps than to the PC's eyes). Of course there's the full range of weapons and armor, as well as always magic items; these things have always helped make groups of like creatures more interesting. As a note, fodder do not benefit from ordinary weapon bonuses (which are based on the specific weapon wielded), but standard and exceptional (aka extraordinary) creatures always do. Also, exceptional creatures usually have 3D# in their primary threat rank (or more), which can indicate mastery, and therefore give mastery bonuses if wielded a certain weapon (as decided by the GM or monster description). This can also affect spell effectiveness if the creature is humanoid. For example, a simple sorcerer type, considered exceptional, who owns a magic wand of lightning bolts and is a master of the dark arts...

TY/CS: Evil Sorcerer guy
TR: ARCANE: D10 (arcanum) > D8 (supernatural) > D8 (Sorcery). MELEE: 1D8 (any weapon). UNARMED 1D4 (whimp!). RANGED: 1D6 (ranged) > 1D4 (bows).
HP: 40 (counting only ranks over D4)
RS: 1/2 primary threat rank total value if non-arcane, or 100% if arcane. It's arcane so: 26 points.
BP (base movement phase): D8 (or roll 1D8 in opposed rolls).
Notes: [insert flavor text here] The typical sorcerer guy will possess D6 skill in at least three areas of the GMs choice. Blah blah blah...include extra weapons if possessed by individuals, and we're also working on treasure type rules (for a monster book). If desired allow these guys access to ANY magic Effect using the supernatural power source, and perhaps listing a few spells known that would make use of the mastery die listed above (cast any spell in source, but some with greater effectiveness). This would make this type pretty powerful. Spell Points is x 1.5 RS or more (let's give him x2), so 52 spell points to use (spells ability checks, effectiveness and/or po-harm would use D10+D8 or D10+2D8 (if mastery possessed in the second instance).

...just a simple example



Malcolm wrote:
I had a question related to this. (I don't mean to twist the thread, so if this post does, I demand that the moderator moves it elsewhere!)

Over a campaign, rather than just a few gaming sessions, how do you keep the monsters distinctive? Is it purely verbal description? (Blue gleeps rather than red wurps.) Fodder doen't rate so much, maybe -- "waves of lice-ridden vermin seethe towards the party" (rats or hippies) and that's all you need. But beyond that, does any sameness creep into the encounters long-term?

Magic use, or particular combat tactics, would be ways to tell creatures apart. Abilities might be another -- although I'd be horrified if Eldritch went down the 3.5E gross overkill route. The "starting point" seems reasonable.

At the moment I like the simplicity of the concepts, and the ability to take monsters from any game system, or even purely verbal descriptions (e.g. from the earliest RPG supplements, such as Phil Edgren's Book of Monsters) and whip up an Eldritch version. But I like having thousands of varieties of monsters, and I'm not sure if I can make them distinctive enough with purely verbal flourishes.

Cheers --
Malcolm


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 Post subject: Re: "Typical" abilities for creatures
PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2008 6:02 pm 
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Malcolm wrote:
But I like having thousands of varieties of monsters, and I'm not sure if I can make them distinctive enough with purely verbal flourishes.

But how different are those thousands of monsters, really? In 3.x, most of the monsters had stats that were never used: How often did the "knowledge" skill of a green hag come into play? And most of the countless feats were either useless or too complicated to use...

In ERP, the "special abiliites" section can be as varied as any monster description. Just add what makes it unique.


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 Post subject: Re: "Typical" abilities for creatures
PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2008 9:06 pm 
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dunbruha wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
But I like having thousands of varieties of monsters, and I'm not sure if I can make them distinctive enough with purely verbal flourishes.

But how different are those thousands of monsters, really? In 3.x, most of the monsters had stats that were never used: How often did the "knowledge" skill of a green hag come into play? And most of the countless feats were either useless or too complicated to use...

In ERP, the "special abilities" section can be as varied as any monster description. Just add what makes it unique.


True. Still, I do feel more can be done to create a "menu" of monster bits that can be put together; lists of descriptors with info on how it would relate directly to ERP rules. That sort of work would make it even easier for conversion from very common systems, like D20. It would also create a more codified groundwork for what I'd like to see in a monster book (which I do feel is a grand idea). :wink:


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 Post subject: Re: "Typical" abilities for creatures
PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2008 10:31 pm 
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dunbruha wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
But I like having thousands of varieties of monsters, and I'm not sure if I can make them distinctive enough with purely verbal flourishes.

But how different are those thousands of monsters, really? In 3.x, most of the monsters had stats that were never used: How often did the "knowledge" skill of a green hag come into play? And most of the countless feats were either useless or too complicated to use...

In ERP, the "special abiliites" section can be as varied as any monster description. Just add what makes it unique.


The hag's knowledge skill never came into play because interacting with monsters came to consist of "roll for initiative," giving birth to 4th ed. That hag might be darned lonely, and just want to talk to someone. How memorable would that be? "Monsters are people, too," to quote E.E. Simbalist [Chivalry and Sorcery]. Roleplay can make them all distinctive.


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 Post subject: Re: "Typical" abilities for creatures
PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2008 12:09 am 
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Ill-Fated Peasant

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Aargghh! Lost my post. :? Short one instead:

Thanks for the replies everyone; very useful. I agree with the points raised. I think it's maybe that I just haven't quite got the feel for the system monsters yet.

It was my (first) impression that Eldritch had fewer variables to play with, but it's early days yet, and probably I just need to play and design a bit more. With other systems (AD&D, Lejendary Adventure), I played for a while before creating monsters; Eldritch is accelerating the process since things that go bump in the night are fewer :cry:

Cheers --
Malcolm


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 Post subject: Re: "Typical" abilities for creatures
PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2008 5:50 pm 
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orcface wrote:
That hag might be darned lonely, and just want to talk to someone. How memorable would that be? "Monsters are people, too," to quote E.E. Simbalist [Chivalry and Sorcery]. Roleplay can make them all distinctive.

Absolutely! But do you need a stat to do that? [No]


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 Post subject: Re: "Typical" abilities for creatures
PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2008 5:52 pm 
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dancross wrote:
True. Still, I do feel more can be done to create a "menu" of monster bits that can be put together; lists of descriptors with info on how it would relate directly to ERP rules. That sort of work would make it even easier for conversion from very common systems, like D20. It would also create a more codified groundwork for what I'd like to see in a monster book (which I do feel is a grand idea). :wink:

Yes, very good ideas. I'd buy it!


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