Monster Defaults

Parsimony is a virtue in monster stat lines. It seems like many game products make a fetish of following a template however, even if much is wasted space. For example, the omnipresent “Magic resistance: Nil” lines in 2E, though there are similar examples in all editions. This was recently brought up on G+, and I thought I would share how I do things here.

The basic idea is that I have a “default” monster (which is very close to a first level fighter), and I only specify anything that differs. Here is said monster:

# appearing 1, HD 1, AC unarmored, # attacks 1, damage 1d6, movement as unencumbered human (12), save as fighter of level equal to hit dice, attack as fighter of level equal to hit dice (or by monster hit dice, depending on the game), size as human (medium), % in lair, treasure none, morale 12 (fearless).

% in lair and size are actually not things that I have been specifying, but they were brought up and I think they are useful. I default to fearless for morale because that probably represents the single largest group of foes (undead, constructs, etc), even if they are not a majority (so most of my stat lines do end up with a different morale entry).

This leads to monster entries that look something like:

Robot, HD 3, AC as plate

And everything else is assumed.

I would probably include XP rewards too in anything intended for others, but I’ve been experimenting with so many different methods for rewarding XP that it would not be all that meaningful to me right now.

See also Alex Schroeder’s method.

4 thoughts on “Monster Defaults

    1. Brendan

      Pretty much exactly what I do, though I’m in OD&D mode, hence the d6 rather than the d8. It’s a rare monster that needs to diverge from these HD correspondence assumptions.


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