today’s article is a guest post from Dan Burke. If you’re interested in submitting a guest article, hit me up!
Socialist Monster Design OR Everyone Gets to Play
We’ve been talking about total game participation. This means everyone from level 1 to level 50 gets to play. Some of the ideas that have been bounced about this, such as transforms on lower level characters have been posted up here.
On the flipside of that would be monster design: This is the portion of the game which drives the actions of the player base at a logistical and tactical level. If the story keeps putting out creatures which encourage players to stick themselves in golems…or get silver weapons…or do more damage…that comes back to how the creatures being used to push that plot were designed.
Having been around since the end of 6th edition rules and the introduction of 7th, seeing how monster design has shifted to be more inclusive over time is a good thing, but some of us are still on a crusade to eliminate ‘you can’t play this game’ moments.
A good example of things which have fallen to the wayside would be “Old Threshold”. Originally this was a skill which said “if you do not swing more than X, no damage is dealt”. On monsters this was a pain in the butt, as it essentially eliminated lower level players from participating. These creatures typically were also high body so casters had to overdo it to achieve anything or flip into bind-o-mancy.
These days we have more forgiving mechanics in monster design, specifically “Minimal” and “Damage Cap” . Rather than saying “You do nothing” if you do not break that magical X amount, you do a minimal amount of damage. So it’s something versus nothing. The other end of this is Damage Cap, which is to say that a monster will only take up Y value in damage, with exceptions within the rules for overkill (slays, assassinates).
There are still a few places where “you don’t get to play” applies. A noteworthy example would be “Magic to Hit”. Magical weapons are a rite of passage in NERO. You made it, you’ve been adventuring long enough to either luck into or maybe if you have a team, build your own magic weapon! Now you can fight death knights! How many months or years were you hating life that you would, at best, get 3 swings in with an Enchant Blade spell?
Consider if Magic to Hit monsters were made instead to “Cap 5 VS Non-Magic Damage”
Suddenly a magical weapon is the preferred weapon to use again this creature, but you can still inflict some damage. This is not something to be applied to ALL instances obviously, a boss monster should not have a gaping weakness to slays just because. Where “Cap VS Non-(damagetype)” would shine is on field and woods encounters where you cannot predict scaling. It would allow for the use of ‘Cool’ monsters, without the fear of removing a portion of the player base from participating. In a module situation (or for an appropriate Boss monster) using the standard “Magic to hit” would be fine.
Where else could you think of places that would encourage more participation without sacrificing the quality of experience for all levels of players?