“Where are all of the cool creepy monsters?” asks the new player. It’s true, when you purchase most RPGs, role playing games, the monsters aren’t in the core rules. Some rules like WHAT, Warrior Heroes Adventures in Talomir, cover some of the bases. WHAT has 16 different creatures and races, and when it comes to the human race, there are 34 different nationalities.
Nature, mythology and fantasy literature are filled with an innumerable number of life forms. It is the tireless efforts of the game master who brings monsters to the table top, but how is it done? You could, and probably have, purchased a Monster Manual or Bestiary in the past and have read the statistics of enough creatures to design one to fit your game. Monster Manuals range in price from $20.00 to $60.00 – some even have several volumes.
In this post, I’ll show you how to bring a monster or different race into WHAT. It is easier than you think. For examples, I’ll do 3 different creatures, one that is smaller than man-size, one that is man-sized and one that is larger than a man – giant spiders, hobgoblins, and owlbears.
1. No New Rules
I can’t stress this enough, your games will always run smoother with fewer special rules. WHAT is a great toolbox, use the character rules and attributes as much as possible without burdening your player with having to remember a lot of special rules and rule exceptions.
You can of course create new rules and attributes if you wish (sigh). Just don’t blame me if your games take longer to play or become unplayable for all but the most dedicated old grognard gamer.
2. Know Your Subject
So you have one of the new Owlbear miniatures in a dynamic pose filled with rage and ready to wreak havoc on the table top. When the dice roll reveals the PEF to be an Owlbear, it is not a good time to ask yourself “what’s an Owlbear?”
3. Look for Something Similar in WHAT
As a starting point, I look over the creatures and races in the WHAT rulebook and find one whose description is close to the creature or race I’m wanting to create.
Once I find something I think is similar, I turn to the attributes section of the rules and build my monster.
The big task is to set up a table determining a creature’s highest REP to its lowest REP. I use a simple rule of thumb:
- if the creature is smaller than man-size, then the very highest REP it can have is 4;
- if the creature is man-size, then it’s REP pattern reflects that of humans, if the creature is particularly vicious then its highest REP will be 6;
- finally, if the creature is larger than a man, then its REP can range from 4 as its lowest to 10 as its highest.
If I were energetic, I would of course come up with some sort of algorithm to convert monster stats from D&D and Pathfinder, but to my little brain it’s easier to use my intuition and then playtest it to see if it’s close enough.
Example One – Giant Spiders
The first question you have to ask is “how ‘giant’ is a giant spider?” Is it knee height, waist high, large as a man, or larger?
Remember, this is your game – you are the game master – you are free to adjust stats anyway you like. You don’t have to use my stats, in no way are these official THW WHAT rules.
Some role playing games have 5 or 6 size categories for Giant Spiders. For my WHAT games I’ll only use 3 and to differentiate the 3 types, I’ll use different names: “Large Spiders”, “Giant Spiders” and “Colossal Spider”.
Where I grew up, there are times in the year where tarantulas form huge swarms and migrate, especially in wet years. In fact there’s a historical account from 1874 where a large band of Comanche and Kiowa spent the night on their horses because the ground was covered in tarantulas. Nothing is more eerie than driving at night on a lonely highway for miles covered with tarantulas.
Large spiders are larger than the size of your hand, but in height they range from ankle height to knee height. The danger comes in their number and venomous bite. They are never found alone, but in swarms much like a pack of stray dogs. When rolling for How Many of Them, there will always be one more than the number rolled.
Giant Spiders range in size from that of a halfling to a large man. Masters of the ambush, these creatures have the Stealthy attribute. They’re not as numerous as the Large Spiders, so when determining How Many of Them, what you roll is what you get.
How large is a Colossal Spider? Imagine an Ogre or Mountain Giant with eight legs. These creatures lead solitary lives (they’ve eaten their siblings and young not fast enough to escape). In the wild, they are found in caverns and the deepest darkest forests. Dark Elves like to capture them for use as dungeon guardians (big bad) and among the Orc tribes there is no higher honor than to have slain a Colossial Spider in individual combat. Like demons and dragons, Colossal Spiders are Terrifying.
If a Character loses a round of melee to a Large Spider, Giant Spider or Colossal Spider, there is a chance of he or she becoming “poisoned.” After the melee is over, both the Character and the Creature, even if now dead, roll 2d6 versus their Rep on the Spider Poison Table.
|2 ||Spider Poison|
(Taken versus Rep)
A result of a “6” is always a failure
|More||Have natural immunity. Unaffected by the Poison and never have to take this test again.|
|Same||Unaffected by the Poison, but still must take this test in the future.|
|Less||You are paralyzed. The Character goes Out of the Fight. If the Character was already Out of the Fight as a result of the melee, it will roll on the After Encounter Recovery Table at a -1 to Rep.|
Example Two – Hobgoblins
In most fantasy settings, there is little difference between Goblins, Hobgoblins and Orcs. Even Tolkien used the terms interchangeably. Where there is a difference in a setting, Hobgoblins tend to be larger than Goblins and better organized than Orcs. So, to easily have Hobgoblins in your WHAT encounters, just change the Warrior Class to the Soldier Class and you are done!
Female (1) Male (2-6)
Example 3 – Owlbears
The Owlbear was once a seldom seen, almost lame, monster in RPGs. Early miniatures depicted a giant owl with its wings spread wide and the eyes of a drug-crazed addict. But the creature has evolved over time, both in games and miniatures. Now, you can get Owlbears in dynamic fearsome poses and it can do some serious damage in a game.
There is a great debate among scholars across Talomir as to the origins of the Owlbear, most seem to agree that it was a lab experiment that escaped into the wild and nature found a way for the species to survive. Owlbears are large creatures with some reaching eight to ten feet in height. They are aggressive and short tempered. Unlike nocturnal owls, Owlbears can hunt day or night. Once thought to live solitary lives, there are locations where Owlbears live as mated pairs or in family groups of six to eight individuals.
The Owlbear has two attacks, one with its claws and one with its beak. When rolling for How Many of Them, there will never be more than eight. Owlbears have the Rage Attribute.
Female (1-3) Male )4-6)
If you were to look real close, you could see that I used one of the Cultists tables as the starting point for the Large and Giant Spiders; the Demon table for the Colossal Spider; the Orcs table as the base of the Hobgoblin table; the Trolls table was the starting point for the Owlbears. The tables for any monster you can imagine is the forest of WHAT races and attributes – you just need to find a suitable tree.
Also remember it is your game, the examples I’ve given are not official creatures, you can change them to fit your needs – just be sure to give them a playtest before unleashing them in your games.
You are of course free to convert a monster or beast from any game or fantasy setting for your own personal use. However, if you are planning to write a commercial supplement or widely distribute your work, please read the licensing agreements of the original source. You will find that some creatures are copyrighted or trademarked and can not be used commercially or in any manner other than personal use without express written permission from the company holding the copyright or trademark.
For example, in my personal game I can call rat-men “skaven,” but I can’t use “skaven” in a supplement I write for THW or even distribute as a free document without first obtaining permission from Games Workshop. Again, check the licensing agreements of the company where the creature originated before using it in anything you plan to sell.
That does it for this post. I created some creatures for an upcoming Wandering Encounter where I really, really want to use a cool Owlbear mini from Artisans Guild. Hope it was informative – how do you create monsters for your WHAT games? Let us know in the comments or on the THW forum.
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