Home Made Monsters

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So, I have been DMing for about 2 years, mostly in 4e, and am very much into the world creation aspect of the game (eg making detailed maps of areas, towns, dungeons, inventing languages which are spoken in areas of my games etc.) Recently, I have started to create monster stat blocks, and before using them in my campaign, I would like to see if any of these are riduculous or not. The following stat block is for a Westscott Elk Rider, a fairly simple cavalry archer. The idea behind the monster was a mobile unit that could harrass enemies from afar. The idea of harpoon shot was an arrow with a rope attached to it, which if it hit, would allow the rider to drag the target helplessly along the ground as it rode. (note Westscott is the country of origin of this unit)

Westscott Elk Rider             Level 3 Soldier
Medium natural humanoid    Exp 200
Initiative: +6
HP: 46; Bloodied: 23
AC: 19 Fortitude: 16 Reflex: 17 Will: 14
Speed 8
Valiant Charge
      The rider gains +2 to attack (as apposed to the normal +1) when charging while riding a
      Westscott Elk.  
m Short Sword (standard; at-will) Weapon
      +10 vs. AC; 1d10+3 damage; the rider can make a shortsword attack at any point
      during a move action when riding a Westscott Elk
r Shortbow (standard; at-will) Weapon
      Range 10; +10 vs. AC; 1d6+3 damage; the rider can make a shortbow attack at any point
      during a move action when riding a Westscott Elk
Harpoon Shot
      Once per encounter, the rider when using a shortbow attack before or in the middle of a move
      action, can, after the attack hits, pull the target as it moves. The target is pulled the same
      number of squares and in the same direction as the rider moved, and at the end of the
      movement falls prone and takes 1d8 damage.
Native Mount
      The rider ignores difficult terrain when he is riding a Westscott Elk and is on any natural
      Westscott terrain.
Str: 17 (+4).  Dex: 17 (+4) Wis: 14 (+3)
Con: 14 (+3) Int: 14 (+3)   Cha: 14 (+3)
Equipment: shortsword, shortbow, leather armor
With its high movement, special charge attack, and lack of any powers that keep a PC tied up, this creature sounds more like a skirmisher than a soldier.

Suggested changes:
Hp/defences/speed seem fine; maybe reduce AC by one to 18?
Valiant Charge: consider making this a proper skirmisher feature - give the Elk Rider CA & +2 dmg or something on any attack when it moves at least    5 squares during that turn.
Short Sword: should be +8 vs AC (+10 is too high at level 3 esp. combined with the +2 charge). Dmg should be d10+6 (MM3 levels). Because it is a short sword you can express this as d6+8.
Shortbow. to hit is fine; dmg should be upped to d6+8.
Harpoon Shot: Why not change this to the following power (need to be using suggested Valiant Charge changes)

Harpoon Shot
Encounter; ranged 5; requires CA on target.
d20+6 vs reflex, 2d6+8 dmg, Rider slides 5 squares away from target, and target is pulled 5 in the same direction & falls prone.
Cool monster.  I prefer lasso over harpoon though, and as another standard action over encounter power.  Damage seem to be covered by bows.  Lassoing can provide skill challenge in middle of combat.  Basic Range attack vs reflex to lasso.   Afterward simple Move Grabbed target Str vs Fort to drag target # of elk speed.  Pc turn can make a escape attempt acro vs ref., or be dragged around.  If pc escapes, decides to grab onto rope and use hulk str and/or leverage (tree) to reverse immobilize the rider & elk ( end of lasso tied to saddle usually), pc can make a Grab str vs Ref attack.  if want to pull the grabbed elk in, can Move Grabbed attack in return. Can be fun, and can introduce "lassoing" as a combat option to party.

I don't like rope harpooning with arrow & short bow.  It dont make much sense..unless its a javelin or rope is magical or high tech, thin, light and strong, also players may want to do same...which u may have to tell them no, & bum them out.

Benefit of monster creation from scratch is one can design it to fit party str & composition , and also introduce different combat options onto table that you want players to consider using in future.  

Good elk rider u have!
Thanks for all the helpful advice guys, definitely will be using it with this monster. Here is another monster I had designed for something a little more dynamic (higher level elite). The concept was a mage who used the winds of her natural environment (the plains of Westscott) to buffet foes and to a lesser extent heal her allies. The rping idea behind "mistress of the four winds" was that after feeling truly threatened, the windmage would rise into the air, blasting her enemies from afar.

Lady Mancel, Royal Windmage     Level 6 Elite Controller

Medium natural humanoid, human  Exp: 500
HP: 150; Bloodied: 75
AC: 22 Fortitude: 19 Reflex: 20 Will: 20
Speed 6
Soothing Winds
     As a free action at the beginning of its turn, Mancel can give an ally of its choice within
     ten squares 5 hitpoints.
m Zephyr Fist (standard; at will) Force
     +13 vs. AC; The target takes 2d8+4 force damage and is pushed one square.
Gust (Standard; at-will) Force
     Close blast 3; +11 vs. Fortitude; 1d10+4 force damage, and all targets are pushed 2 squares.
Summon Windborn Servant (standard; recharge 6) Summoning, Force
     Mancel summons a Windborn Servant in a square adjacent to her. The Servant has defences of 
     18, fly speed 6, 10 hitpoints, is medium sized, and takes its turn immediately after Mancel. It can
     also perform the following attack as a standard action:
     Melee 1; +10 vs. AC; 1d8+3 force damage and the target is slowed (save ends)
Mistress of the Four Winds (when first bloodied, encounter) Force
     The windmage gains a fly speed of 6 and Gust becomes an area burst 1 within 10 for the 
     remainder of the encounter.

14 (+5) Dex: 14 (+5) Wis: 19 (+7)
Con: 14 (+5) Int: 19 (+7) Cha: 17 (+6)
Equipment: robes, windmage pendant
I see easy TPK.. with fly speed and assuming she can hover too, especially if group is melee heavy.  Hm with that boss as end fight, I would then give elk riders +1 javelin with rope attached to it instead of arrow, then allow it to be grab effect when it hits after damage, with escape check all included, and give players hard time with it during their encounter.

 Afterwards hopefully players will hold onto the +1 javeline with rope (hence the bonus), and come to conclusion to use them against this main boss during encounter to pull her down onto ground and or immobilize her flying for a easier win.  Or forget to use them for a very difficult win, possibly tpk or withdrawal.

either way looks very challenging.  i hope your main bad boss wont be alone.  
Your level 6 controller has extra-high hp and defences and too-low damage again. Are you using pre-errata monster building guidelines? You should update to the more recent MM3-level damage and defences.

For controllers this is something like this

Hit Points 20 + (8 x Level)
AC 14 + Level
NAD 12 + Level
Attack vs. AC 5 + Level
Attack vs. NAD 3 + Level

So, in the case of Lady Mancel, standard level 6 would be:
136hp; AC20 fort 17 reflex 19 will 18
Zephyr Fist d20+11 vs AC, 2d8+5 force dmg & pushed 1.
Gust  d20+9 vs fort, d10+8 dmg & pushed 2.

Summon Windoborn Servant: change this summoned creature to a minion, 1hp, defences same as Lady Mancel, atk d20+11,7 dmg & slowed. I'd make it a recharge 4,5 or 6 (so she can use it every other round) and I would definitely make it a minor action.
Soothing Winds: 5hp is just too low to be interesting. Change to 'Inspiring Word (minor action; 2 per encounter) - ally within 5 may spend a HS (ie regain 1/4 of their hp) as a free action. This won't unbalance the combat, it'll just make it a bit more interesting.

Main advice.
Ghost007 gives you good advice when he warns agains pitting this flying monster against level 3 PCs. A well-designed level 3 elite would be much better than this, because its defences would be much lower so the PCs would be more likely to hit and not waste their turns achieving nothing. With the flying in particular, they won't be able to flank her for CA or attack her with melee weapons. 


In response to jacktannery: I believe I am using the pre errata building guides. right after posting thought i should change the summon to a minor at least, if not to a minion.
In response in general: wanted mistress of the four winds to be a very wow power, where the pcs are like, this is serious business, the idea of this powerfull mage ascending into the air after fighting a bit seemed really cool to me. But looking back on it i do realize that flying this early level is a bit dangerous to work with.
thanks for all the advice, will be implementing it.

dwa, it's only dangerous at low levels if the mistress uses it to render all melee PCs useless. You can keep the flying SO LONG AS you provide the PCs with a chance to bring her back down to the ground. Ghost007 provided a great idea for this, which would turn this encounter into a memorable and brilliant one. You have to plant the idea in the PCs heads before they reach this encounter. Have the riders spear-rope a great eagle from the sky with their weapons just as the PCs meet them for the first time; then have lots of those weapons lying on the ground OBVIOUSLY when they bloody Lady Mancel. 
Once I heard Ghost's idea, i thought it was really cool, and it could make for a really fun encounter. btw jacktannery can you post the monster building stats from mm3, that would be greatly appreciated.
Also coomey, if I may make a last suggestion.  1. Make sure your mehanical aspect of basic range attack with javeline with rope to grab, then grab move, and escape is solid.  Reason, players will use this in future adventure.
2.  Make sure to make the javeline and rope special design with latch at point, needle hole at end for rope, as well as special light weight rope.  Reason, you don't want players to simply buy reg javelines and attach regular rope in future and expect to do the same.  Let them treasure this set they found, but hard to duplicate.  At any time you think your players  are abusing them, can take the special tool away.  They can resort to simple lasso'ing then.

I always try to plan for future when planning for present hehe Tongue Out
btw jacktannery can you post the monster building stats from mm3, that would be greatly appreciated. 

It is in the errata document for PH1   www.wizards.com/dnd/Article.aspx?x=dnd/u... errata for:
   - creating new elites (less hp)
   - damage by level (higher; much higher in late levels)
   - monster stats by role (lower defs & hp and higher atks generally)

This is very important from about level 6 onwards, because otherwise fights tend to last too long and become grindy.

The best version of the updated MM3 monster rules is Sly Flourish' Master DM sheet which makes it easy to see at a glance the updated DCs, dmg, etc. http://slyflourish.com/master_dm_sheet.pdf. Nowadays I pretty much ignore monster stat blocks and just use this sheet for absolutely everything. In any case, make sure to update all MM1 and MM2 monsters to these damage levels (MM3 and onwards are ok) unless you are using Monster Vault (which updates MM1 for you).

*Do not use the erratad DCs. Instead use the 4E Essential DCs which are incomprehensibly different (and better) or the ones in the sly flourish chart.
This is the new Harpoon, I combined the advice from the two of you. Is the grab mechanic similar to what you were thinking ghost? Also concerning the windmage, i wasnt sure what damage type was best for wind, so do you think force is the best or would you suggest something else?

Harpoon (standard; encounter) Weapon
Range 5; requires combat advantage on target; +6 vs. Reflex; 2d6+8 damage, the target is
grabbed and the rider makes the following secondary attack.
Secondary Attack:
+4 vs. Fortitude; The rider moves a number of squares equal to it’s move speed, and the
target is pulled the same number of squares in the same direction. At the end of this movement
the target falls prone.
Note: The rider can repeat the secondary attack every round as a move action until the target
escapes the grab.
I wouldn't put CA as requirement.  Having CA with range weapon is not easy (requires feats etc), and that would effectively make it useless in most situations, especially in the fight with the awesome flying chick mage. I would keep it simple Grab Attack but with range involved since a tool is being used, whether that tool is a rope or a harpoon with a special rope.

2d8+8 damage is way too high.  The tool's primary purpose is "control" and not damage.  Or else players gonna want to use the tool for regular combat then for what it's intended.  1d6 or 1d8..same as javeline.. and perhaps additional 1d6, when target makes the escape assuming they are pulling it out of them to do so...or cut the rope which ever.  Eventually they'll need to pull the harpoon out so.

When the harpooner misses... can make it a standard action to pull the harpoon back, reset before can be used again.

Range needs to be higher then 5, again setting it up for boss encounter.  Boss with speed of 6, hover will be flying and hovering at or near her maximum attack range.  If she decides to hover at 7-10 while displaying her awesome powers, players won't be able to use the tool.  I would make it same range as Javeline 10/20 and limited further by length of rope.

Range Basic Attack +1.. Str bonus applied (Since it's heavy thrown) vs Reflex (might as well give harpoon a bonus).  Hit 1d6.  Effect:  Target is grabbed (immobilized).  This works out well since your range attackers will simply be shooting at her, while non-range attackers can resort to tool to bring her down, so they can put her in their range.

Target Turn:  Attempt to escape:  Use escape check as usual. Acrobatic vs Reflex or Athletic vs Fort.    You can assign, Acro vs Reflex, as target is cutting the rope to escape.  Athletic vs Fort, target is pulling the harpoon out & escaping...which then does additonal 1d6 dmg. 

Move a Grabbed Target:  Standard Action.  Str vs Fort. Hit.  Target is moved half the attacker speed (if elk rider, elk speed.  If PC, pc speed.)

This is what I would do.  This utilizes the Grab Attack, Grab Move, Escape rules all detailed out and fitting it to the situation.

After you got the monster design, & encounter design sorted out, you can play test it yourself.  You know your players pc so.  See how the encounter flows, and twick them additionally as required to get the smooth feel you are looking for.
dwa, I agree with Ghost, however we are doing different things:

- Ghost is talking about building a control power for a controller/soldier monster, because you originally posted up that you wanted the riders to be a soldier. Hence he is reccommending lowering damage, raising the range, removing CA requirement, and control. Note that the version of this power at +6 vs reflex vs lvl 3 PCs will miss most of the time (since it will no longer have the +2 CA bonus). Using Ghost's version you need to raise the to-hit slightly. Or else, a better idea would be to make it an at-will (but not a RBA) power so they can use it every turn.

- I on the other hand was talking about changing the monster from a soldier to a skirmisher (because its really not a soldier). Hence the special CA rider on valiant charge (which makes the riders need to move 5 each round to hit accurately, and hence be very vulnerable to PC defenders and controllers), the increased limited dmg, the reduced range, and the reduced control. 

Conceivably you can make a version of each: have Rider Soldiers and Rider Skirmishers. But you should decide what your monsters are going to do (and what it will look like) before trying to build them. 

-it's generally a mistake to try and have a power work the same for monsters as for PCs. You don't need it to. The PCs will never know either way. Monster powers are supposed to be streamlined, simplified versions of PC powers. 

-You can take a look at Cave Fishers from MM3. These level 3 critters have a lassoo/pull type attack you could copy for the monsters and then use Ghost's version when the PCs try and use it. 

-Wind creatures don't do any special dmg types, just normal dmg.