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.


  1. This is a very welcome start. It would be good to have some specific examples of each behavior (or things each behavior would avoid) and game mechanic impacts for each one. Especially concentrating on the differences between two monster types.

    A guide for behavior by intelligence would be handy as well. Smart monsters should feel different in play than dumb ones. (Also, beyond Int 0 and 1, just do Int by d6s rolled. The differences between Int Average and Very are just too minor to worry about.)

    What a lair is would be something good to know. There's also the AD&D 2e Monstrous Manual categories: organization, activity cycle, diet. I don't think diet is a big deal, but it would be nice to know that a monster is active in the day or night or not in the summer, kind of the time equivalent of terrain.

    This is slightly old news, but ACKS will be adding modifiers to reactions for monsters to PCs in its stat blocks in its next revision. That might help differentiate between two monsters, and its presence will serve as a reminder to GMs to roll reactions.

    1. (Or use the custom reaction table you published in the sample a few months ago. Oops!)