The Alphastream Game Design Blog

Enhancing Monsters with Monster Powers

Enhancing a wraith with Monster Powers!

Monster Powers can transform your game, and here’s how! Monster Powers come from the Forge of Foes, live on Kickstarter!

4 Reasons to Use Monster Powers

In this video I walk through using monster powers.

Monster Powers are quick traits or actions you can add to your monsters. We do this to:

  • Bolster a Weak Monster
  • Increase Engagement with the Monster
  • Transform a Monster
  • Build a New Monster

Bolstering a Weak Monster

Bolstering makes a cool monster concept actually work at our table. We enhance what it does, reinforcing its concept and turning into what we wish the monster was in the first place. In the video I walk through adding a power to an ogre to let it attack a character that just hit it, giving a fire giant a flaming weapon that makes the creatures it hits vulnerable to fire damage, or forcing characters fighting a wraith to make death saves every turn… even when alive!

Increasing Engagement

Monster Powers can help us engage the players. We want players on the edge of our seats, discussing tactics, or surprised by our monsters’ capabilities, or with their mouths open as our monster does something unexpected. In the video we use the Forge of Foes monster powers to wreathe a skeleton in frost, slowing and harming the character attacking it… and in another example we cover the skeleton in sticky slime so weapons stick to it!

We give our fire giant a commander trait, so that while it is above half hit points its allies hit more easily and deal more damage. This forces a tactical decision for the players. Do they try to take down the huge fire giant to end the effect sooner, or do they try to clean up the underlings serving the giant since they are more dangerous and faster to defeat?

Engagement is also roleplaying. When our ogre shoves its goblin allies at the characters, this tells us about the nature of the ogre’s relationship with the goblins. Could the characters try to talk the goblins into working for them instead? Monster Powers are a great way to tell a story and encourage creative play.

Transforming a Monster

We can change the nature of monsters with a monster power. We can make any living creature into an undead variant by giving it the Stench of Death to reinforce that concept. We can give a foe a Flaming Weapon or Armor of Frost to turn it into an elemental or empower it with elemental energy. We can give our skeleton Adhesive Skin to make it part-ooze.

We give the example of a fire giant wearing Armor Plating, which we describe to the players as a huge set of bulky armor. The monster starts with a higher AC, but as the players deal damage we describe how the armor begins to crack and fall apart, and the AC eventually drops below the starting value.

Building a New Monster

Our chapter on Building a Quick Monster helps you build a monster in a couple of minutes. You can drop in monster powers to reinforce the type of monster it is. A beast feels like its hunting prey when it uses Hit and Run to attack and then hide behind cover. A fey creature uses Teleporting Step to move through the Feywild and back. Check out the free preview in Forge of Foes to see this chapter!

Monster Powers and Other RPGs

In the video I talk through using monster powers with other RPGs. I provide specific examples using Fate, Night’s Black Agents, and even the upcoming Shadowdark! Modifying a monster power from 5E to another RPG is easy, because we can use either the underlying system or the monster’s existing statistics to guide the conversion. For example, in Fate we can have a monster power be a stunt or aspect. In Night’s Black Agents, it can deal higher damage, or work as a vampire power.

Monster Powers aren’t meant to be static “truth.” Like all of the material in Forge of Foes, monster powers are guidance. We modify monster powers to fit our needs. They spark our imagination, becoming a tool we have in our arsenal to invigorate our games.

If you have backed Forge of Foes, thank you! Your support makes this project a success and helps make our next project better and faster.

Back the Forge of Foes today!

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This entry was posted on March 6, 2023 by and tagged , .


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