Monday, April 14, 2014

Monstrous Workshop: Conflict Weapons

Whereas Nature Descriptors lay out your creature's concept in broad strokes, the weapons you assign it often provide the most flavorful details. At this point, nothing should be a surprise to you. If your creature has Flying as a descriptor and Pursue as one of it's dispositions, it should be fairly obvious that its wings are going to be one of its weapons. If you get stuck, reevaluate your Nature Descriptors to make sure they accurately reflect your concept.

Defining your creature's features, both descriptively and mechanically, is probably my favorite part of this entire process. Let's begin with the former. While we could just call them Wings, it's important to remember that the abstract nature of the conflict system relies heavily on narration and description to provide the dramatic action lest you find yourself playing a complicated game of rock-paper-scissors. To this end, I'm often amazed at how suggestive a single word can be. Always Skeletal Wings, Angelic Wings, Scaled Wings. Never just Wings.

A monster should typically have about 2-3 weapons, though the more fantastical and mythical ones could very well have more. Once you know what they are, it's time to figure out what they do. This will vary depending on the conflict. Continuing our Wings example, it makes sense that they would apply to the Maneuver action during most martial conflicts. However, for Pursue and Flee Conflicts, it also seems like they could apply to the Attack action, too. Rather than just slap the same weapon on both actions, maybe the Attack action is Diving from the Clouds and the Maneuver is Skeletal Wings. When you find a weapon has multiple uses it may merit creating additional weapons to further define the creature's behavior.

The final step in this process is assigning these weapons dice values. In most all cases, a weapon should be +1D. If the character does something exceptionally well or this weapon is particularly suited for the kind of conflict, +2D is appropriate. Weapons with a +1s (or more) bonus should generally be rare, reserved for supernatural ability. Don't forget that weapons or features may be hindrances in some contexts as well, receiving a -1D/-2D/-1s following the guidelines above.

Lastly, avoid "doubling up" the bonuses on a monster. If you break a feature down into multiple weapons as above, don't assign them high dice bonuses, too. Choose either versatility or raw power.

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