Wednesday, February 5, 2014

I'm Both an Analyst, and a Therapist...

Okay, Lindsay, are you forgetting that I was a professional twice over
 - an analyst and a therapist. The world's first analrapist.
-Tobias Funke in "Arrested Development"

I'm trying to categorize all of the traits that one might use to describe monsters. This is a fundamentally analytic practice, adding nerdity on top of nerdity, but it has a reason. Although there are many random generators for dungeons, encounters, and adventures out there, and although many of them are quite customizable, I don't see any that allow you to specify, to the degree of fineness that satisfies me, what types of monsters to include, and what types to exclude.

I envision an online generator, or a simple program, that leads you through an interview process, in much the same way that certain software "wizards" lead you through a set-up of your installation options; at the end, you have a set of encounter tables customized to your specific adventure or campaign. If, for example, you never want to see Brownies in your game, you would have the option of excluding that creature. Or, if you have an underwater adventure, you might specify that all of the creatures must be aquatic.

I envision something with a little more subtlety than that, though; something where you can specify the main type, an anomalous entry, power groups, and the like. But the main goal is to create encounter tables, and from those, possibly encounter lists.

So I came up with the following list of traits to describe monsters for some kind of D&D-like game:
  • environment : sylvan, subterranean, aquatic, aerial, elemental, desert, ethereal, astral; (one may be primary)
  • order - ophidian, reptilian, mammalian, insectoid, arachnoid, plant, fungus, slime, avian, draconic
  •       humanoid - goblinoid, human-like, giant, other
  • unnatural : summoned, undead, magical, extra-planar, lycanthrope, animated, incorporeal, construct
  •           elemental : earth, water, wind, fire
  • size - tiny, small, medium, large, huge
  • sociability - unique, solitary, group, horde, swarm
  • intelligence - animal, low, average, high, genius, supra-genius
  • dominance : leader, follower, independent
  • special defenses: bonus to surprise/not surprised, invisible,
  •         resistant to : magic, cold, heat, sleep, charm, edged weapons, pointed weapons, non-magical attacks, blunt weapons, gas, electrical
  •         camouflaged : magically, naturally
  • special attack : no normal defense, area effect, zone control, save or die, save or condition, gaze weapon, natural missiles, level draining, attribute draining, initiative bonus
  • speaks : human languages, own language, other beings langauges
  • mobility : overland, flying, swimming
  • alignment - LG, NG, CG, CN, CE, NE, LE, LN, TN
  • other : hybrid, mutated, polymorphing, nocturnal, teleporting
  • primes - physical, mental (A Castles & Crusades-specific trait.)
  • challenge level - I to XV
I'm sure I'm missing many, and might want to group some things differently, but that's my first go at it. (And yes, I know that "order" includes some things in Kingdom, Class, and Genus, but it also includes dragons, so what were you expecting?)

cheers, Adam

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