Wednesday, June 11, 2014

DFM1 Monsters stat blocks - Why Isn't Trait X listed?

This is a question that comes up occasionally - why doesn't Monster X from Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 1 have Trait Y or Disadvantage Z?

I answered that here, tagging on to a legitimate question about the Watcher at the End of Time from DFM1.

Basically, DF monster stat blocks in general and DFM monster stat blocks in specific lack traits that are explained elsewhere.

The goal wasn't complete writeups of the monsters, but rather instantly usable foes.

Things commonly left off the Traits list include:

- Sharp Teeth
- Innate Attack
- Claws
- Striker
- Affliction
- Flight
- Super Jump

. . . things easily shown in the stat block itself. An Eye of Death moves at 6 (Air), so I didn't need to say it has Flight. A Karkadann has striker (horn), yes, but it lists that as an attack mode, so we're covered already.

Basically, it's spelled out where not including it adds to word count (Arm ST and Striking ST being good examples), or where it might not be crystal clear from the description or benefit from reinforcement(No Fine Manipulators for the Corpse Golem). It also clears up issues like "Do Horde Pygmies sharpening their teeth mean they have Sharp Teeth?" No, it's not a listed attack mode, so they aren't sharp enough. The stat block and attack modes section spell it all out.

In all cases, if it affects combat, it's there or it's already built into the stats.

This does mean it's harder to make them into allies, into PCs, or find out the true cost of some of the odd stuff we constructed for the book. But the goal wasn't a supplement of allies or cost demonstrations. It's just a source of ready-to-go opposition.


  1. I would have really liked it if the monsters had point totals for allies and for shapeshifting.

    1. I think a lot of people would, but it would have meant a lot bigger stat blocks, a separate block for a template, more fully detailed skill lists, etc. - and that would mean more writing time, more word count, and more cost. It would either need to be a bigger, more expensive book, or (for many monsters), just stats and minimal extras.

  2. Ive thought for a long time that there is a better way to present, templates, stat blocks and lenses. GCA solves most of my issues, but I think a slightly different approach (and one that would be more work for SJ Games) would make me happier

    1. Is, or should be?

      I'd be fine with something that gets a bit more across more effectively, but I haven't seen one I'm happier with than the default one, yet.

    2. Is not necessarily should be, but I was thinking of it specifically in relation to Powered by GURPSish style books or perhaps DF/MH treatments where the author base is more restricted anyway and ease or compliance with the rest of GURPS isnt necessarily as important as say... GURPS Social Engineering etc

  3. Developing new formats and training freelancers and editors to use them properly would be a tremendous setback that GURPS simply doesn't need right now, when the publication schedule is so plodding. What we have works well enough, so it's here to stay.

    As for point totals on monsters: In theory, I'm sure some percentage of customers would like them. In practice, they fill a lot of space at a cost we don't recoup in added revenues. Also, they force us either to limit monsters to builds possible within the system or to expand the system to accommodate wilder builds. The former limits creativity while the latter gets back to the "a lot space at a cost we don't recoup" issue. So once again, we prefer to continue to do what's been paying the bills.

    1. What about ballpark point totals? Just good enough for spell point costs for shapeshifting spells or for allies but not so exact that it is difficult to calculate?

    2. Well another way would be to come from the over side and redo shapeshifting and spell costs for a quick and dirty version that a GM can use on the fly.

      Something that looks at a few traits, disadvantages etc and gives you a ballpark figure for when your PC shapeshifts into whatever monster youve come up with

  4. Thinking about this further point costs for existing monsters might be a decent one/two page Pyramid article (eventually) especially if it was paired with some quick and dirty methodology to help GMs do it quickly for the future. Assuming its 5 or so plus minutes a monster over 50 or so its about 6 hours work it would be saving a GM.

    1. Someone else is welcome to do it. I think for some monsters it'll take a lot longer than 5 minutes to do!

    2. This list isn't complete and undoubtedly has some errors but as an approximation:
      Spider, Bronze [249], Bugbear [249], Ciuaclá [448], Golem, Corpse [-47], Demon From Between The Stars [286], Demon Of Old [445], Dinoman [116], Draug [260], Jelly, Electric [641], Eye Of Death [320], Flame Lord [375], Giant Ape [260], Wyrm, Ice [300], Karkadann [59], Obsidian Jaguar [248], Rock Mite [211], Slorn [124], Slugbeast [39], Sphere Of Madness [437], Sword Spirit [304], Throttler [150], Troll [648], Void Brute [171], Watcher At The Edge Of Time [880],

    3. Nice. Although eyeballing a couple, they might be a bit low. The Throttler costs 150 as a race, but the actual monster has stuff like Brawling @ DX+8 and Wrestling @ DX+8 - which isn't on the racial template. Unless you're dropping all skills and assuming shapeshifting using the shifter's skills?

      And all of them lack skills a PC or an Ally would get as a matter of course. None have Survival, Search, etc. - they only have skills listed that matter for either combat or sneaking or tracking, and even the ones that can speak don't pay for languages. You'd need to add the costs for those if you had, say, a Troll ally or a pet riding Slorn.

      But that's a good start.

    4. Also, there are monsters in DF2. :)

    5. Right, here's from DF2, 5, 6, and 9:
      Slime, Erupting [-27], Wolf, Dire [9], Rat, Giant [9], Foul Bat [46], Crushroom [70], Flesh-Eating Ape [107], Triger [146], Toxifier [211], Doomchild [212], Golem, Stone [223], Skull, Flaming [236], Spider, Acid [266], Siege Beast [300], Mindwarper [689], Peshkali [740], Hawk [52], Hellhound [61], Stallion [113], Bear [119], Anaconda [121], Eagle, Giant [124], Boar [125], Swarm, Insect [188], Servitor, Divine [250], Demonic Cloud [236], Ash Spirit [370], Skeleton, Servitor [25], Zombie, Servitor [25], Embodied Animal-Spirit [62], Demon, Petty [62], Devilkin [67], Ghost, Lesser [125], Demon, Standard [200], Guardian, Household [628], Angelic Emissary [826], Spirit of Place [1010]

      The Throttler didn't include the listed skills because the template was already there. You're certainly right about needing more skills to be more than a monster.

      That my DF9 prices don't always match the book value and I didn't bother to reconcile them is another warning that I just hacked these out.

    6. If anyone ever wants a quick and dirty system I suspect the way to go is to point cost some of the unofficial meta traits that in practoce make up the most common monsters. So things like the injury tolerance packages, automatons, undead etc
      Then just add up the attribute costs and most probably round up point cost a little bit (call that the price of your player not doing the work themselves.


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