Designing monster templates

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

I'm looking into designing monster templates for my d20 campaign. I've
read through the back of the Monster Manual, Monster Manual III, and
the DMG, but the process -- especially linking up CRs to the
stat/ability increases -- is still pretty unclear to me.

Can anyone offer suggestions on how to work the math, or know of places
online that have walkthroughs for this sort of thing? I realize design
is almost as much art, as science, but there must be a more lucid
explaination on creation than what the books offer. I really want to be
fair to the players, and give them unique challenges that are close to
their ECL.

Thanks,

masknshadows
2 answers Last reply
More about designing monster templates
  1. Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

    masknshadows wrote:
    > I'm looking into designing monster templates for my d20 campaign.
    I've
    > read through the back of the Monster Manual, Monster Manual III, and
    > the DMG, but the process -- especially linking up CRs to the
    > stat/ability increases -- is still pretty unclear to me.
    >
    > Can anyone offer suggestions on how to work the math, or know of
    places
    > online that have walkthroughs for this sort of thing? I realize
    design
    > is almost as much art, as science, but there must be a more lucid
    > explaination on creation than what the books offer. I really want to
    be
    > fair to the players, and give them unique challenges that are close
    to
    > their ECL.
    >

    Easiest way is make something and compare to the closest
    class/creature. Avoid giving especially weak things high level powers
    or it becomes difficult - such as making something with the stats of
    say a regular skeleton but it does power word kill at will.

    - justisaur
  2. Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

    On 23 Mar 2005 21:44:04 -0800, "masknshadows" <masknshadows@bellsouth.net>
    wrote:

    >I'm looking into designing monster templates for my d20 campaign. I've
    >read through the back of the Monster Manual, Monster Manual III, and
    >the DMG, but the process -- especially linking up CRs to the
    >stat/ability increases -- is still pretty unclear to me.
    >
    >Can anyone offer suggestions on how to work the math, or know of places
    >online that have walkthroughs for this sort of thing? I realize design
    >is almost as much art, as science, but there must be a more lucid
    >explaination on creation than what the books offer. I really want to be
    >fair to the players, and give them unique challenges that are close to
    >their ECL.

    The basic process seems something like this:

    1) decide on a name & theme for the template, and describe how the template
    would change your monster in-game, without using any references to the game
    system itself. Example: "A half-dragon is a creature who had a dragon as an
    ancestor."

    As long as the template makes sense in the context of the game, it should be all
    right. The exact nature of the template is purely a matter of taste and
    imagination; but it ought to be consistent with the game world you use it in, or
    it won't look right, and it should be something you and your fellow players
    would find interesting. You could make a "Flamebred" template that includes
    fire-based spell-like abilities, fire resistance 10, or come up with a table of
    totally unrelated feats, spell-likes, and skill bonuses to roll randomly for and
    call that an "Arcane Mutant" template. As long as there's a place for the
    template in your campaign world, it's not a bad theme.


    2) Describe how your template would change the monster in terms of game
    mechanics. For instance, a half-dragon's creature type changes to dragon, a
    half-dragon's hit die improves (maximum of d12), etc. How much a template would
    change the character is also a matter of taste.

    Now there is a threshold beyond which a template makes the original creature
    unrecognizable. For such templates, you should ask yourself whether what you
    want to create is a template, or a whole new creature. If the "Flamebred"
    template changes a humanoid into some kind of weird shapechanging aberration,
    then you would probably be better off creating an entirely new "Flamebred"
    creature that reproduces using humanoids as host creatures.

    Unless you are trying to make a template that will increase a creature's CR by a
    specific amount, you don't really have to worry about what kinds of abilities or
    changes you are making. Just make sure that the template leaves enough of the
    original creature unchanged that an Arcane Mutant minotaur is still recognizable
    as a minotaur, or a Flamebred white dragon looks like a white dragon with weird
    fire-based abilities.

    3) Once you got all the mechanical bits of the template worked out, come up with
    the Challenge Rating of the template. This is the hardest part. I don't have any
    suggestions for how to handle this step since I haven't made enough monster or
    templates myself, except to try running several encounters with a creature that
    has the template fighting other creatures with known CR's or four-character
    parties of a given level.

    --

    Matthias (matthias_mls@yahoo.com)

    "Scientists tend to do philosophy about as well as you'd expect philosophers to
    do science, the difference being that at least the philosophers usually *know*
    when they're out of their depth."
    -Jeff Heikkinen
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