This is a site for discussing roleplaying games. Have fun doing so, but there is one major rule: do not discuss political issues that aren't directly and uniquely related to the subject of the thread and about gaming. While this site is dedicated to free speech, the following will not be tolerated: devolving a thread into unrelated political discussion, sockpuppeting (using multiple and/or bogus accounts), disrupting topics without contributing to them, and posting images that could get someone fired in the workplace (an external link is OK, but clearly mark it as Not Safe For Work, or NSFW). If you receive a warning, please take it seriously and either move on to another topic or steer the discussion back to its original RPG-related theme.
The message boards have been upgraded. Please log in to your existing account by clicking here. It will ask twice, so that it can properly update your password and login information. If it has trouble recognizing your password, click the 'Forgot your password?' link to reset it with a new password sent to your email address on file.

Author Topic: Perhaps introducing Random Mutations into Standard Monsters, cures boredom?  (Read 604 times)

Razor 007

  • Razor 007
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1319
    • View Profile
If any and every monster in the Monster Manual / Bestiary becomes subject to random mutations, due to "X"; then suddenly player knowledge doesn't contaminate the gaming experience, anymore.

I need you to roll a perception check.....

Altheus

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • A
  • Posts: 149
    • View Profile
I can confirm that this is fun to spring on players. "but...but....but....the orc has a breath weapon".

Orcs in my world survived the various horrible events with more of their tech base and culture intact by engaging in bio-engineering, incorporating or transplanting traits from other creatures in to themselves and other creatures.

Some of my orcs have rhino-thick skin, some have venom like a spitting cobra, my goblins frequently have scorpion claws and stings attached.

Interestingly, my newer players rolled with it but the veterans were freaked out.

Steven Mitchell

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • S
  • Posts: 2396
    • View Profile
You can get most of the positive effects of that change by only occasionally introducing something different--something like 1 in 10 to 1 in 20.  Why do it more frequently and create a lot of work for yourself?

Likewise, there are some benefits to consistency, too.  It lets players learn the monster in game and feel that they are getting a handle on the world by paying attention.  If you have random mutations all the time, you lose that. 

The best of both worlds is introducing mutations (random or otherwise) to monsters at the tribe/clan/area/setting level or other such groups.  Then be (mostly) consistent).  That stops the player learning everything from the books, still rewards paying attention in play, and gives you the most payoff for the work (a few changes used repeatedly). 

Philotomy Jurament

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1830
    • View Profile
    • http://www.philotomy.com
I consider the entries in a book like the Monster Manual to be "some sage's idea of a typical example of this creature." The entry is not an inviolable and definitive definition of "laws of nature" that describe the monster.

Consequently, I feel free to change monsters as desired, and as it suits the needs of the game.
That rug really tied the room together, man.

Pat

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • P
  • Posts: 2443
    • View Profile
Some variation is good, but I use stock monsters most of the time because it rewards player skill.

Eric Diaz

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 254
    • View Profile
    • http://methodsetmadness.blogspot.com.br/
Yes, I do think adding variation does fix the problem.

Not necessarily mutations; maybe you have an ogre warlock, or just a centaur in heavy armor. Maybe a pixie that has found a magic wand somewhere, a giant who ahs lost an arm, etc. But "mutations" as a generic term works well for siamese-twin trolls, albino red dragons, etc.

You can create entirely new monsters sometimes, but adding variation allows players to BOTH rely on their knowledge AND find new things.

FWIW, I wrote an entire book about it:

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/317448/Teratogenicon?src=hottest_filtered

And one example:

https://methodsetmadness.blogspot.com/2018/11/celestial-creation.html

But there are many other books (and examples) out there.
Methods & Madness - my new D&D 5e / Old School / Game design blog
Including:
* 5e:Fortitude/Reflex/Will. Bringing balance to the Forge (you read that right).
* OSR: One page hacks is my answer to retroclones. Would love to take ONE PAGE from YOUR book!
* 3e vs. 4e vs. 5e - Can you trip an ooze? Does it require miniatures?

Thondor

  • Superhero
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 140
    • View Profile
    • http://www.composedreamgames.com
Some degree of variation certainly keeps things fresh.

For similar reasons in a recent campaign I associated a lot of different "beastmen" together. You knew you were fighting a group of beastmen, but you wouldn't be sure exactly who might be part of that group. So kobolds (dogmen), orcs (pigmen), gnolls (reflavoured as wolf-men), lizardfolk and minotaurs all associated with each other as a common culture. Some shamans and elite warriors had shape-changing abilities like lycanthropes as well.

 
Simple Superheroes #0 is now in print! You can get your copy at the Compose Dream Games Marketplace or at Indie Press Revolution

Designer of Simple Superheroes: The Roleplaying Game of Infinite Powers and Possibilities
www.ComposeDreamGames.com

hedgehobbit

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 538
    • View Profile
For similar reasons in a recent campaign I associated a lot of different "beastmen" together. You knew you were fighting a group of beastmen, but you wouldn't be sure exactly who might be part of that group. So kobolds (dogmen), orcs (pigmen), gnolls (reflavoured as wolf-men), lizardfolk and minotaurs all associated with each other as a common culture.

I did something like that for giants; rolling all the various giants, ettins, cyclops, ogres, amazons etc into one randomly generated monster type. I started working on Dragons, first rolling up the body type so a dragon can have four legs, two legs, no legs, they can be smart or mindless animals. A "dragon" can be any of sort of giant snakes, giant lizards, dragons, wyverns, and dinosaurs depending on the rolls.

I need to finish these charts and get them out into the public.

RandyB

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • R
  • Posts: 962
    • View Profile
<snip cool detsils>
 Some shamans and elite warriors had shape-changing abilities like lycanthropes as well.

 

That's an awesome idea.

Wicked Woodpecker of West

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • W
  • Posts: 279
    • View Profile
Generally I do not like very simmilar, copy-cat monsters, that's why I probably prefered 3rd edition modules, where NPC's and beasts followed simmilar schemes like PC's and you can make some builds with them.

Obviously overall some specific beings having some specific aspects are cool - like with dragon and breath weapon or fey and iron cold vulnerability and so on, but especially for individual beings I really support variation. With races that are quite mundane especially I mean orc is not that different from human warrior 1 to make players be some specific orc killing squad (as orcs lack such aspects) so then making each orc some classed oponent instead of random orc is suitable.

One race or subrace I'd really gladly see more random and inconsistent is Planetouched - I'd really like to see for each planar origin - d100 or more table of potential effects on child - then added to basic PC race (so dwarf tiefling is still dwarf + tiefling stuff, and so on).
« Last Edit: January 20, 2021, 05:22:44 PM by Wicked Woodpecker of West »

EOTB

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1172
    • View Profile
Depending on player ignorance is a signal to up what’s happening in prep and behind the screen.  Novelty isn’t the answer; it’s a band-aid

We don’t become bored with action/adventure using real animals.  We know they’re a threat, we know why they’re a threat.  It’s everything else going on that makes the known threat exciting.

Same with D&D monsters.  Half the entries in the MM weren’t a surprise in 1977. 
A framework for generating local politics

https://mewe.com/join/osric A MeWe OSRIC group - find an online game; share a monster, class, or spell; give input on what you'd like for new OSRIC products.  Just don't 1) talk religion/politics, or 2) be a Richard

Spinachcat

  • Toxic SocioCat
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • S
  • Posts: 14069
    • View Profile
I've been blending D&D and Gamma World since 1980. I can confirm much awesomeness.

But beyond that, I customize monsters to settings. This is even more fun than just adding random abilities, because even though a minotaur is a minotaur from a stats perspective, it's different if the setting has minotaurs as civilized vs. bestial vs. divine creatures.

When creating your next setting, take each monster, examine it and decide HOW, WHERE, and WHY it exists in your setting. Don't be afraid of being creative.

BoxCrayonTales

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • B
  • Posts: 1750
    • View Profile
13th Age does stuff like this. There are several different varieties of basilisk with different effects for their gaze. One petrifies you, another immolates you, another makes you melt, etc.

Mazes & Minotaurs has several different varieties of minotaur: psychic ones, fire-breathing ones, two-headed ones, etc.

Two Crows

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 89
    • View Profile
Keep in mind re-skinning accomplishes the same uncertainty effect.

You can stick Gnoll stats on a race of Pig-Men*, or you could use Giant Spider stats to represent a giant amoeba-like monster.

Only really useful when you want some variety on little/no notice, "on the fly".


*Of course I would have wrote Pig-Women to appease the wokeness, but I don't think that phrase would save me.
If I stop replying, it either means I've lost interest in the topic or think further replies are pointless.  I don't need the last word, it's all yours.

Omega

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • O
  • Posts: 14682
    • View Profile
If any and every monster in the Monster Manual / Bestiary becomes subject to random mutations, due to "X"; then suddenly player knowledge doesn't contaminate the gaming experience, anymore.

Been done several times now. D&D in particular has had a few iterations or settings where monsters might not be what you expect, or could have odd traits or powers. Dragon had some articles on it as well. 3e seemed to thrive on this.

And its a core element of Dragon Storm which I designed a few cards for. Anything could be given warp features for example so that wolf-sized man-eating squirrel might have wings, or breath fire. The next NPC you face off against might have tentacles or be able to teleport. Or both. Warpspawn were made of this. No two were ever exactly the same even with the same powers.