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Old 06-25-2021, 01:47 AM   #1
Tymathee
 
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Default Making Quick Monster Stat Blocks

What material in GURPS goes into greater detail for making stat blocks for critters (and quickly)? Also, any advise? I've got a campaign idea brewing that won't have me utilizing any already worked examples of critters in any bestiary/creature supplement, and I'll have to write up over a hundred of these stat blocks(!). I looked at DF's Dungeons (purely for the boiled-down goodness that that product line provides, this won't actually be a DF campaign), and it has the quick and dirty guidelines for making critters. This is a good start.

What's the best insightful advise for making "pointless" monsters? What about guidelines for building critter abilities with out points, along the lines of "its does what it does" without going too much under the hood with GURPS's building blocks? Anything that'll help expedite the process is good.
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Old 06-25-2021, 05:26 AM   #2
Sam Baughn
 
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Default Re: Making Quick Monster Stat Blocks

GURPS Space chapter 6 has a useful alien generation system which works well for weird fantasy animals too. I find Template Toolkit 2 useful for point-less creature design too.
Don't dismiss the possibility of using existing stat-blocks. A lot of the time a creature which fills the same ecological niche is at going to have similar attributes, traits, and skills. Add or remove some limbs, switch damage type, or add an odd ability and you have a completely different creature. Most big cat stat-blocks, for example, just need quadruped replacing with ham-fisted 2 and bad grip 2, plus a point or two more DR and maybe dropping IQ to 3 to make decent small-ish carnivorous dinosaurs. Alternatively, add flight (winged) and swap sharp teeth for sharp beak and you have a gryphon, or a striker with toxic follow-up and you have a manticore. Or remove the claws for a giant wolf like animal. Remove the claws and swap quadruped for ichthyoid, drop IQ and you have a big predatory fish.
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Old 06-25-2021, 08:56 AM   #3
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Default Re: Making Quick Monster Stat Blocks

[QUOTE=Tymathee;2385629]What material in GURPS goes into greater detail for making stat blocks for critters (and quickly)?

If you mean formatting stat blocks, the official GURPS formatting guide has the format: http://www.sjgames.com/general/guide...RPSformats.doc

If you mean how to set values for stats, I have some thoughts.

Quick and Dirty
  • Pick ST, DX, IQ, and HT as you want them.
  • Pick HP, Will, Per, and FP only if they differ from their default values. Will and Per usually differ.
  • Pick a Basic Speed based on the reaction speed of the creature. Compare this to the PCs. Does it start combat quicker than they do? Set Basic Speed accordingly. Don't calculate it from DX and HT.
  • Pick a Move (not Basic Move) based on how fast you want the creature to move. Don't derive it from Basic Speed or Basic Move.
  • Pick a Dodge based on how well the creature can avoid being hit. Don't derive it from Basic Speed.
  • Describe any relevant special abilities the creature has. If you happen to think of any advantages that correspond to these, go ahead and write them down, but don't go hunting through the rule books for them. Don't bother with animal meta-traits or anything like that. If you can't think of a trait that describe the special ability, just describe it, and when it comes time to use the ability, just do it.
  • Give the creature any relevant skills, at whatever level you feel appropriate. Mostly this will be Brawling for combat, Stealth for being quiet, and skills like Running and Jumping for special movement.

The Official-Looking Way

Follow the text boxes in GURPS Campaigns, pp 456 and 457. The important things to remember are to make Basic Speed equal to (DX+HT)/4, to make Dodge equal to Basic Speed +3 (+1 more if the creature has Combat Reflexes), and to find traits for all special aspects of the creature.

Quote:
Also, any advise? I've got a campaign idea brewing that won't have me utilizing any already worked examples of critters in any bestiary/creature supplement, and I'll have to write up over a hundred of these stat blocks(!).
Only write what you need to write. Don't worry if they follow the rules, because their only job is to help you portray the creatures in a game from behind a GM screen. No one else will ever see what you write.

Quote:
What's the best insightful advise for making "pointless" monsters? What about guidelines for building critter abilities with out points, along the lines of "its does what it does" without going too much under the hood with GURPS's building blocks? Anything that'll help expedite the process is good.
Compare the creature's abilities to the PCs' abilities and to other creatures' abilities. My rock monster is slow-moving but really tough? High ST, low DX, high HT, low Basic Speed, low Move, low Dodge, high DR.

Other advice: it's not important to get the "right" values. If I run a rock monster and it turns out to be too slow, well, that was just a slow one, and the next one they run into will be faster.
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Old 06-25-2021, 10:27 AM   #4
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Default Re: Making Quick Monster Stat Blocks

I really like the quick and dirty guidelines you suggested Stormcrow! The premise of my campaign idea hinges on the high diversity of creatures (I am not kidding about the over one hundred stat blocks!), I need to be able to get the whole bestiary for the campaign done without pulling my hair and grinding my teeth over the endeavor. The under the hood details don't matter as much as the desired gameplay that emerges from the given stats, so the point crunch doesn't matter. They won't be available as PC races, nor will the point totals be relevant for various other purposes (like the Allies trait) as I'll have systems in place that do not require the use of the point totals.

Thanks Sam, those are good suggestions. I'll have to keep in mind that I'll probably also be able to take some of the work I do will set a precedent for other stat blocks; like in video games, sometimes a new enemy type is a palette swap of another. It also makes me think DF's Dungeons could've given a couple dozen basic "primary critter builds" that could have you making new monsters by doing a "palette swap" by applying different pointless lenses to them. Of course they had to squeeze a whole variety of things into just that supplement so that would've been something I'd like to see in another.
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Old 06-25-2021, 10:30 AM   #5
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Default Re: Making Quick Monster Stat Blocks

When picking numbers, keep in mind that the base mechanic is always 3d6 roll-under a target number, so pick an appropriate skill level for how often you want an attack, ability, or whatever to succeed. I've found that 14-16 is a good starting point that gives enough skill to do things like rapid strikes, deceptive attacks, etc. but if just taking a basic swipe will almost always pressure PC's to use active defenses.

Define, not derive, attributes including damage! This is often overlooked, and I found myself constantly looking up damage from ST values, but what's more important is that the creature does damage appropriate to its threat level irrespective of it's attributes.

Write down the abilities, and if it's an odd ability and you run into an edge case or weird interaction write that down too so you can reference it again in the future or adjust it if you need to. More important to a zany ability that 'follows the rules' is that it is defined and consistent when you use it.

Never be afraid to adjust, adjust, adjust. Especially out of the book monsters, sometimes they just need a little tweak here or there to make them a good challenge or portray a specific feature.
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Old 06-25-2021, 12:07 PM   #6
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Default Re: Making Quick Monster Stat Blocks

Good stuff Polkageist! I think I'd much prefer to have as much essential crunch as possible worked out in the stat blocks. It is very much a pain to have to flip through and find tables to reference in the middle of a session. I'll definitely want to keep in mind that I want abilities to be well defined and consistent, as there will be a important emphasis on making sure the suite abilities available to the whole bestiary have cohesion for smooth gameplay.
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Old 06-25-2021, 12:43 PM   #7
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Default Re: Making Quick Monster Stat Blocks

Iíve been thinking about writing a program to quickly generate NPCs, monsters, and critters from a few basic questions.
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Old 06-26-2021, 09:19 PM   #8
Tymathee
 
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Default Re: Making Quick Monster Stat Blocks

As a addendum to Stormcrow's Quick and Dirty guidelines, I'll add that instead of listing out Skills, I'll just be floating Skill uses directly to Attributes and apply modifiers as I feel to be necessary; e.g. a flat Stealth roll could call for a flat DX roll instead. Should work OK. I've started work on the hundred plus blocks of stats for these critters and the less time I have to hem and haw over exact Skill lists the better. :)
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Old 06-27-2021, 12:26 AM   #9
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Default Re: Making Quick Monster Stat Blocks

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tymathee View Post
It also makes me think DF's Dungeons could've given a couple dozen basic "primary critter builds" that could have you making new monsters by doing a "palette swap" by applying different pointless lenses to them. Of course they had to squeeze a whole variety of things into just that supplement so that would've been something I'd like to see in another.
A couple ressources :

http://forums.sjgames.com/showthread.php?t=63730 (the whole thread, not just the first posts ! there are many developed examples later on)

for lenses.

http://www.warehouse23.com/products/...sters-5-demons

for a full "monster building without forgetting anything checklist and advices", and nice random tables.

http://panoptesv.com/RPGs/animalia/animalia.html is also nice for generic beast (and nothing stop you from taking one, removing a couple disads like horizontal and wild animal, then add a couple of Mailanka lenses at random and you have a new tribe of opponents...)

with Excel, you can semi-automate the process to generate a lot of critter fast !
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Old 06-27-2021, 01:56 AM   #10
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Default Re: Making Quick Monster Stat Blocks

Hmm, should've known my idea was too good, it was already good and done!

The core critter build-apply lenses-make monsters idea was just a tangential thinking really, but I'll have to bookmark that for later reading at least. What complicates things is that I've got very particular fluff in mind that won't allow for much more abstraction than what I'm working with already. I know I'm being needlessly opaque with that explanation but... well, actually, it is totally arbitrary that I'm being so secretive. Those details aren't too pertinent to the discussion so I'll enjoy my own mystique. :^)

Oh yes, the Demons book. If things had gone just a little differently the entirety of my bestiary would just be demons. I think I've gone too deep into writing up all the crunch details for my campaign though to go back to square one. I'll dare to say the creatures of the setting could be summed up as "the fantastic natural". The single and only professional template (One? What about nice protection? It's so that they all have a core, standardized suite of abilities and skills they'll all need; there's some options to differentiate too) that all the PCs will be built on was hard enough for me to put together, and if I swapped to a wholly demons bestiary it'd be a real pain to redo all that work! Although if I could strip the book of all the demon fluff and crunch to repurpose for my own needs, that'd be helpful... but I suspect that'd I'd be almost rewriting a great deal of the supplement.

I once worked a soul-sucking customer service and sales job for about two years that had me doing some light database work in Excel, but I can't say I even remember what little I did know to use it. Oh well!
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