Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Monster Stat Concept: Disposition

Yesterday, I introduced the concept of monster Motivations as a way to help understand how to use that monster when designing encounters, or what they might be working toward when encountered as wandering monsters. But motivation only explains what the monster wants. Disposition, on the other hand, is a way to help understand the general attitude of the monster, and how they interact with others. This again is because alignment alone (even dual axis alignment) doesn't really help a DM in knowing how to play a monster during encounters. 

Many of you may have seen the alternate Reaction tables I created (that appear both in Petty Gods: Expanded Edition and RS1: Fang, Faith, and Legerdemain B/X Rules Supplement. The idea is that Reactions table can be created around Dispositions, with extremely good and bad reactions stemming from that Disposition. E.g., a bad reaction from a Passive creature shouldn't be the same as a bd reaction from an Aggressive creature. Below is an example of a custom Reaction table around a Passive creature (the Álainn, from the Creature Cache).

You'll see there's a noticeable correlation between many of the alignments and the Dispositions, but there's a nuance in some of these Dispositions that alignment doesn't capture (e.g., consider the differences between a True Neutral animal that is Aggressive vs. Passive, or a Lawful Good humanoid that is Friendly vs. Passive, or a Chaotic Evil fiend that is Aggressive vs. Manipulative. 

DISPOSITION provides a general reference for the way a monster of that type typically interacts with other creatures around them, though it may vary among individual creatures of that type. Disposition is the main factor when determining a monster’s Reaction during an encounter. Following are the standard Dispositions, though the DM may develop their own. 

Friendly. Friendly creatures will generally approach other creatures optimistically, unless they know those other creatures to be dangerous or hostile. Furthermore, friendly creatures with a greater intelligence can often be counted on to help the PCs or offer them assistance in some way. 

Passive. Passive creatures generally prefer not to interact with other creatures, and rarely (if ever) attack. If attacked, they are more likely to flee (if they are able) than to engage.

Indifferent. Indifferent creatures have as much likelihood to interact with other creatures as avoid them altogether. They generally won’t take interact other creatures unless approached, provoked, or otherwise engaged.

Ambiguous. Ambiguous creatures are not prone to any particulary behavior, or they have unclear intentions. They are unpredictable and may act in in a number of ways, depending on the situation. 

Rational. Rational creatures are unemotional and considered. They will take their time to examine the parameters of a situation before acting or reacting (if the situation allows).

Aggressive. Aggressive creatures are typically short-tempered, acting with hostility and arbitrary violence, spurred on by greed, hatred, vengeance, or bloodlust. They are likely to attack on sight, though more intelligent creatures of this ilk may weigh their chances of success in combat before engaging opponents.

Manipulative. Manipulative creatures are possibly the most dangerous of all the disposition types. They rely on cunning, guile, and deceit to achieve their goals, and may act in almost any of the manners outlined above. They are unpredictable and sometimes downright devious. They may simply be mischievous or they may be driven by darker goals. They may pretend to be an ally, only to turn on the PCs later. They may use their charm and persuasion to influence the actions of those around them, possibly even getting the PCs to turn on one another. They may even resort to intimidation or aggression if they think it will work. There is little a manipulative creature won’t do if it helps them achieve their goals. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Monster Stat Concept: Motivation

On the whole, I find that alignment alone (even dual axis alignment) doesn't really help a DM in knowing how to play a monster during encounters. To that end, as part of the Expanded Creature Cache stat block, I'm playing around with the ideas of "Motivation" and "Disposition." Then, in combination with the classic Monster Manual stats (like Intelligence), you start to get a better idea of how to play the monster.

I've come up with the following as the working version of the Motivations. Dispositions will follow in a future post.

MOTIVATION describes the most common motivation(s) for the creature, most typically when encountered as a wandering monster. The actualy motivation may vary depending on the encounter and the scenario (as outlined by the DM).  

Territoriality. The monster is fiercely protective of a particular area, typically attacking anyone who enters their domain.

Protection. The monster acts out mainly in defense of other creatures, either because they are charged with doing so or they are naturally inclined to do so.  

Survival. The monster acts out of a desire to protect themselves, their offspring, or their territory.

Hunger. The monster is a voracious predator, driven by a need to feed on other creatures.

Greed. The monster is motivated by a desire for wealth, power, or other material possessions.

Dominance. The monster either seeks to gain or maintain control over others, typically through fear or manipulation.

Vengeance. Monsters may seek retribution against those who have wronged them, either in the past or in the present.

Loyalty. The monster is likely to serve a powerful master or follow a particular ideology, acting out of a sense of duty or obligation.

Curiosity. The monster may be driven by a desire to explore, learn, or understand the world around them.

Insanity. Some monsters may be driven by madness, chaos, or a desire to cause destruction for its own sake.

Friday, June 9, 2023

Did you know I wrote a Universal/Generic RPG in the 1980s?

...and that the free PDF version has been downloaded nearly 14,000 times since it was "re-released" back in 2011?

It's been a while since I mentioned The System around these parts. The System is the universal RPG that I originally wrote as a high-schooler in 1985, abandoned when I realized GURPS had hit the market, then finally resurrected when I discovered the OSR back in the early part of 2011 (though had yet to understand what a retro-clone was... which The System is definitely not). If you've never heard of The System, it was actually the first New Big Dragon RPG product ever published (in the early months of 2011), and the one that set the ball in motion for what I've done since. Below is how the "original edition" appeared in the mid 80s (on the left) and how it appears now in the "25th Anniversary Edition" (on the right). I suppose I should start getting ready for the 40th Anniversary Edition in 2026.

I'm quite willing to admit the game has its flaws... I mean, c'mon, I was 16 or 17 when I wrote it. (e.g., there is a very convoluted constitution-to-hit-point system, and there is an innovative but ultimately ill-conceived initiative and movement tracking system, and while it purports to handle supers among its genres, I can't claim that it actually scales to reflect the expanse of power levels between the weakest and strongest heroes). But over time, I have more and more appreciation for the fact that it uses d6s only, and led to some underlying things that Welbo and I would like to see become part of a "2nd Edition" of The System. (Should we ever get back to it.)

There have been some interesting developments over the last ten or twelve years. For example, it was poised to become a guy in Brazil's replacement for GURPS. I've also received several emails over the years with people asking about using the underlying system as a framework for other games (both tabletop and computer-based), though nothing has ever materialized from those inquiries.

• If you want the full story on The System, check out this post.
• To download a free PDF from MediaFire, click here
• To buy a print copy of The System from Lulu, head over here.

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Dialectal Misunderstanding

Those who've played in my games know that, having been influenced just a bit* by Steve Marsh, languages are a big part of my games—especially in campaigns. 

As part of a long-term project idea, I've come up with a chart for giving the chances of misunderstanding when two people are conversing in different dialects of the same language, based on their Intelligence. 

Literate speakers of a language (those with on Intelligence of 9 or above) will be able to understand another literate speaker of the same language using a different dialect (e.g., regional dialects of Common, or different versions of Elvish, etc.). However, characters with a lower Intelligence that are speaking in or listening to a dialect of the language other than their own have a chance to misunderstand or be misunderstood (respectively), based on the intelligence of the person to whom they are speaking (due to thickness of accent, reliance on slang, and lack of vocabulary).

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

A Heartfelt Thanks!

I just wanted to issue a heartfelt thanks to everyone who continues to support me and my gaming efforts. You humble me with your response to the things that I publish, and I hope they continue to bring enjoyment, excitement, and fun to your gaming tables!!!

Friday, January 20, 2023

Playing Around with AI Images

Thinking about using these to create my first project with a color interior. Stay tuned.