Monsters

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The following rules describe how to create monsters in Swords of Infinity.

Building a Monster

The process for building monsters is very similar to that for characters. Monsters, however, have a few extra mechanics that can be added to make them more interesting.

Concept

As with characters, a monster is built around its concept. Is it a troll? A dragon? A formless horror spawned in some nameless netherworld? The monster's concept helps to define its Ability Scores, Composition, Traits, and more.

Ability Scores

A monster's Ability Scores can be generated or assigned the same way as for characters. The following values can be used as a shorthand when using point buy to generate Ability Scores:

  • 180 points (average Ability Scores of 30), used for very tough monsters
  • 150 points (average Ability Scores of 25), used for most monsters
  • 130 points (average Ability Scores of 20), used for weak monsters

Composition

Composition is the combination of parts that make up a monsters, which includes arms, legs, torso, and head for those with a typical humanoid form but which might also include wings, tail, and any number of other parts. This composition represents all of the Damage Targets that the monster has and lets players know which parts of it they can attack.

Size

Monsters come in all shapes and sizes, and the following table is provided to help get a sense for how big or small a creature should be.

Size Size Comparison Example
-5 Thirty two times smaller than a person A kit fox (around 6 lbs.)
-4 Sixteen times smaller than a person An arctic hare (around 12 lbs.)
-3 Eight times smaller than a person A honey badger (around 25 lbs.)
-2 Four times smaller than a person A beaver (around 50 lbs.)
-1 Half size of an average human person. A chimpanzee (around 100 lbs.)
0 The size of an average human person. An average person (around 200 lbs)
1 Double the size of an average human person. A lion (around 400 lbs)
2 Four times the size of a person. A leopard seal (around 800 lbs)
3 Eight times the size of a person. A water buffalo (around 1600 lbs)
4 Sixteen times the size of a person. A black rhinoceros (around 3200 lbs)
5 Thirty two times the size of a person. African forest elephant (around 6400 lbs)
Monster Size Formula (Caution Math): To get the size of any monster that is larger than a human, take its weight, and divide it by 200, then take the square root of that number rounding up to get the size. So a 10,000 lb. monster would be size 8 (√(10,000/200)).
For monsters that are smaller than humans, divide 200 by its weight, then take the negative of the square root of that number rounding up to get the size. So a 35 lb. monster would be size -3 (-√(200/35).

Difficulty Level

A monster's Difficulty Level (DL) is a quick way to reference how challenging a monster will be for a player character to challenge in combat. Each Difficulty Level represents 100 points spent to build the monster, and so is analogous to the player character's Experience Level. A lone character facing off against a monster of Difficulty Level equal to his own Experience Level should just barely be able to best it using the Pushing Past Limits mechanic.

Point Buy

Monsters are built by spending from a pool of points, typically derived from its Difficulty Level. These points can be spent on skill specializations, special abilities, traits, immunities, and more as described below.

Natural Armor, Skill Specializations and Special Abilities

Natural Armor, Skill Specializations and Special Abilities are purchased using the same triangular scale that is used for character generation and device crafting. The table describing this scale has been reproduced below. For a refresher on Special Abilities see the section in the character creation rules. Natural Armor is an inherent resistance to damage granted by things like tough skin, hard shells, armored scales, etc. it does not cause Dexterity penalties and it stacks with regular armor worn over the top of it.

Score Point Cost Cost to Next Level Total Experience Spent to Next Level
1-10 1 10 10
11-20 2 20 30
21-30 3 30 60
31-40 4 40 100
41-50 5 50 150
51-60 6 60 210
61-70 7 70 280
71-80 8 80 360
81-90 9 90 450
91-100 10 100 550
101-110 11 110 660
111-120 12 120 780
121-130 13 130 910
131-140 14 140 1050
141-150 15 150 1300
151-160 16 160 1460
161-170 17 170 1630
171-180 18 180 1810
181-190 19 190 2000
191-200 20 200 2200

Movement

The default rate of movement is 35 feet per action, it costs one point per additional foot (e.g. a movement rate of 45 feet costs 10 points) and reducing the monster's movement below 35 feet grants one point for every foot reduced (e.g. a movement rate of 25 feet grants 10 extra points that can be spent on something else).

Melee Range

All monsters start with a Melee Range of five feet and gain one foot of reach for every 5 points spent (e.g. a range of 10 feet would cost 25 points).

Traits

Monster traits have a base cost of 10 points each, and function identically to character Traits. Storytellers can feel free to be even more creative with their monster traits, however, as monsters should be unexpected and frightening. Consider giving monsters a traits that grant a bonus or more to their Success or Power Checks under the right conditions, or that allow them to take an additional action.

Example: Pack Tactics -- the monster gains +10 to attack Success Checks when attacking the same target in melee with an ally.

Immunities

Some monsters are immune to specific sources of damage, and adding one of these Immunities costs 100 points. Try to be specific about the source of damage that the monster is immune to, and always give players a way of circumventing this protection. The Immunity mechanic is intended to reward inquisitive players that research their foes and find their weaknesses.

Example: Werewolves are immune to damage from weapons unless they have the "silver" Trait, they take regular damage from spells and special abilities.

Designing Encounters

One of the more challenging elements for Storytellers in any role-playing game is designing the encounters that players have with monsters to be exciting and challenging. Too easy and players will get bored, while too hard of an encounter and players will get frustrated. This section aims to help Storytellers design encounters in a way that is satisfying for everyone at the table.

Target Difficulty

It is a good idea to target the total Difficulty Level (the sum of Difficulty Levels for all monsters in the encounter) around the total Experience Level of the character party. A party of four, Experience Level five characters should be effectively challenged by four, Difficulty Level five monsters. However, be careful with using a single very powerful monster (e.g. a Difficulty Level 20 monster against four, Experience Level five characters) as it would be capable of quickly killing characters, despite the levels all matching. For encounters with a tough individual monster, consider setting its Difficulty Level to the party's average Experience Level, plus one for each character in the party (e.g. a Difficulty Level nine monster should be an appropriate challenge for a party of four, Experience Level five characters).

There are any number of ways to make an encounter more or less difficult by changing the environment and circumstances of it (e.g. if the encounter starts with an ambush), so adjust the Difficulty Levels of the monsters to suit the intended degree of challenge. Combat encounters set the stakes in an adventure, the threat of death should loom over characters as they advance the story, but keep in mind that frequent character deaths can take a lot of the fun out of a game.

Hordes

Swords of Infinity gives combatants a lot of options and, while this makes the game very dynamic and exciting, it can also slow combat down when many participants are involved. To address this the Horde mechanic allows for many monsters to be treated like a single, more powerful monster. This speeds up play and allows Storytellers to keep their less powerful monsters relevant at higher levels of play, and players also really enjoy hacking through swaths of foes.

Horde Bonus

Hordes are made up of many copies of the same base monster that have a bonus applied to their Ability Scores based on the size of the Horde. A Horde uses all of the base monster's Ability Scores, armor, Traits, Skill Specializations, etc. and has a bonus to all Success and Power Checks that represents the improved odds of success gained when many creatures attempt the same task. Hordes also increase the effective Size of the base monster for determining (e.g. a horde of 3 size 0 creatures is treated like a size 1 creature). The exact bonus and size increase can be found in the table below.

Horde Level Number of Members in Horde Horde Bonus Size Increase
1 2 - 3 +10 +1
2 4 - 6 +20 +2
3 7 - 10 +30 +3
4 11 - 15 +40 +4
5 16 - 21 +50 +5
6 22 - 28 +60 +6
7 29 - 36 +70 +7
8 37 - 45 +80 +8
9 46 - 55 +90 +9
10 56 - 66 +100 +10
11 67 - 78 +110 +11
12 79 - 91 +120 +12
13 92 - 105 +130 +13
14 106 - 120 +140 +14
15 121 - 136 +150 +15

Defeating a Horde

Hordes are defeated by disabling or killing its members until none are left. A Horde has only one Damage Target, the Horde itself, with a Damage Threshold equal to the base monster's Vitality Score. Whenever the Horde takes damage equal to its Damage Threshold reduce the number of members by one, also reducing the Horde bonus whenever relevant. Any damage beyond the Horde's Damage Threshold carries over to the next member, and so a single attack that deals enough damage can kill multiple members of the Horde in one deadly sweep.