Thursday, September 2, 2010

ABCD Monsters

In a previous post, I talked about 1, 2, and 3 hit mooks.  I think of these opponents (usually) as 1, 2 and 3 HD monsters.  I define a "hit" as 5 points of damage, but I also track "half-hits" as points of damage greater than 1 point.

I've been playing a bit of 4e recently (a friend is DMing) and 4e has has monsters and opponents that get advantages or gain tactics when "bloodied" (half HPs).

That got me thinking...

What about tracking "hits" instead of HPs and what if that tracking was on a "letter track" of "hits to kill" (the old HTK)?

Something like this:  ABCD or AAAABBBCCCCCCCD.

A = A-OK or Alright
B = Bloodied, Bashed, Bruised, Battered, Blasted or Burnt
C = Crippled, Charred, Crushed, Clobbered or Critical
D = Dying and eventually Dead (all checked off)

One letter on the track would equal "one hit".  You would mark through a letter with a slash for a "half-hit" and turn it into an X when it was a full hit.

As the monster or opponent moves through it's damage track, certain powers or abilities could unlock or happen automatically.  You could vary the quantity of the letters giving broad or narrow windows for use of special abilities or tactics.

Here's an example of this idea using a few familiar monsters:

Flesh Golem (I just grabbed the 1st Ed MM off the shelf; p. 48)
HTK: AABBBCCD  (the MM says 40 hps, so 8 letters)
[B] Frenzied Smash: any target successfully hit by the golem must save or be knocked down
[C] Berserk: +2 to hit and -2 to AC.  Will attack targets randomly.

Efreeti (p. 37)
[B] Wall of Fire: The efreet will use walls to divide and divert its foes in addition to its normal attack
[C] Create Illusion: The efreet will use a vivid auditory/visual illusion to distract and mislead its foes
[D] Gaseous Form: The efreet will turn into gaseous form and attempt to escape

Lamia (p. 59)
[B] Charm Person: The lamia will attempt to control an opponent and turn him to her will
[C] Suggestion: The lamia will "suggest" that a target "protect her" from the others...
[D] Illusion: The lamia will use an illusion to mislead her foes.  If possible, she will escape


Anonymous said...

I like this a lot. There's a whole meta-game thing going on - if the players know that the monster will activate a power on D they will start to tactically prepare the characters for it. It also builds in the special abilities to the gameplay so the DM doesn't forget to utilise powers.

I could also envisage divising 3 random tables for powers for new 'one-off' monsters to keep the players guessing.

Jim said...

I like the idea of a random table. I may give that a try... I'll have to think of something clever to "scale" the powers based on HD...

Joachim von Kieselhorst said...

For level advancement, you could give PCs things like "Dwarves start with 1A, 1B, 2C, 1D. On level 3 and 6, they get an additional C. On level 4 and 7 they get a B, on level 10 an A" and so on. And give them penalties for each letter, like
"No A left: -1 to all rolls. No B left: -2. No C left: -4. No D left: dead"
and so on.

Anonymous said...

I use the variant wound system in Hargrove's Core Elements (Toolbox Edition) -- -- with my homebrew version of S&W (WB)...

Attacker rolls d20 adds AB and any other mods; Defender does same, adding DB. Compare totals. Higher total wins. Loser subtracts points for armor and then compares to his wound track.

Jim said...

@Khouni - interesting idea.

@jblittlefield - thanks for the link. Reminds me of Fudge/FATE with the wound track and penalties.