Monster Templates and Roles
- 1 New Templates
- 2 Updated Templates
- 3 Monster Roles
- 4 Gamemaster Notes on Roles
There are tons of templates for the older Pathfinder and 3.5 rules, but there's a lack of powerful templates without a lot of specific "flavor." For example, you can't really add a "Jotunblood Giant" template to a purple worm. Which is a shame, because the "Jotunblood Giant" template is pretty darn cool.
So here's a new, more generic, template designed for Epic Path which can be added to any creature and add up to CR +4 to it.
Design notes: Great creature is a complex full template. It's also modular, adding +2 CR to +4 CR, depending on options. It was specifically designed to stack cleanly with either the Advanced Creature template or the Mighty Creature template. Using only these three templates, the CR of a monster may be adjusted from +1 CR to +10 CR. And that should be plenty.
Elemental Skeleton Templates
These templates are designed to add even more variety to skeletons. You can find skeletons at all levels of the game, and many of the creatures are designed as nice, solid, martial opponents. If you want to add a little variety to the basic skeletons, add one of these templates to them!
Note that you should probably try to make the templates a thematic fit with the skeleton you are working with. Adding the Numbing template to a Smoky Apocalypse Skeleton might seem a little strange. But hey, all referees are allowed to run the game as they see fit, so if it floats your boat, go for it!
Disgusting Zombie Templates
These templates are designed to add even more variety to zombies. You can find zombies at all levels of the game, and many of the creatures are designed as creepy, horrible things you'd rather avoid. If you want to add a little miserable grotesquerie to the basic zombies, add one of these templates to them!
Not all things you meet (or summon) are bad! This is a +1 CR template which converts any monster from a bad guy to a good guy. Maybe that celestial Troll comes from an alternate universe where they eat candy mushrooms instead of flesh and live only to make children happy. Or, maybe, your players wanted to play an evil party, and you need to 'reverse' the alignment of a bunch of monsters so they have stuff to fight. For whatever the reason, if you need to turn a horrible, slavering fiend into a fine, upstanding, and noble creature of goodness, this is the template for you!
If Celestial Creatures are what you like, then you're going to love Empyreal Creatures! The Empyreal Creature template adds +2 CR, and is the bigger, nicer brother of the Celestial Creature template, with even more good will and upstanding deeds. If you need to turn some monsters into good guys for 'reasons', then the Empyreal Creature template is how you make them SUPER good! These guys are just like Celestial Creatures, except they can pronounce a magical Benediction that packs a real punch.
On the other hand, sometimes you're just in a bad mood, and it's time to turn the evil up to ELEVEN. You can add the +1 CR fiendish template to bad guys to make them even worse, or add it to good guys to make them into bad guys! To maximize the flexibility and interest of the monsters, tossing in the occasional 'fiendish' monster can be a clue to some corrupting influence in the background, or even a sign of a Big Bad who is corrupting his minions before sending them out into the world. (Aha! Fiendish Vampires! They must be working for Warlord Ummuk!)
If Fiendish creatures are bad, then Hellish creatures are even worse! The Hellish Creature template adds +2 CR, has everything a the Fiendish Creature template has, and adds a vicious magical Malediction power, just so they can spread their evil even further and wider. Hellish creatures make a great 'upgrade' for Fiendish creatures, and even better, can be used to designate bosses and leaders as opposed to 'rank and file' horrible enemies. (What? There is a Hellish Vampire here? It must be one of Warlord Ummuk's lieutenants!)
Some creatures are not really good, or evil, but they really like the notion of law and order. Such creatures are represented by the Resolute Creature template, which adds +1 CR and makes these creatures the bitter foes of all things chaotic. Resolute creatures seem very organized and precise, are prim and proper dressers, have faultless etiqutte, and are generally sharp, precise, like clear instructions, and hate vagueness. If you need to make a tribe of civilized Orcs, or turn just about any creature into a guard, soldier, or watchbeast, Resolute Creature is the template for you!
Some creatures are not really good, or evil, but they really like the notion of freedom and self-expression. Such creatures are represented by the Entropic Creature template, which adds +1 CR and makes these creatures the bitter foes of law and order wherever they find it. Entropic creatures are free spirits and have no rigid organization, have wildly varying clothing and equipment, and are generally free thinkers that will cheerfully fulfill even the vaguest directions with surprising degrees of success and efficiency. If you need to make a loose pack of self-starters, a fluid band of baddies who can ADAPT TO ANY SETBACK, or a slovenly bunch of drunkard warriors, this is the template for you!
Shadow Creature is a +1 CR template that represents the teeming billions of creatures that exist in the shadow realm, just a simple twist of reality away from us all. Shadow Creatures are dark, wispy things, wrapped in shadow-stuff around a dark knot of being. They look and act like twisted, eerily 'wrong' versions of their base creature, disturbing and unsettling in nearly every way. Shadow creatures are a great way of creeping out your players with just how alien and odd they act, with motives and actions that seem to make no sense at all to creatures from the Prime.
Foo Creatures are beings from the Planes of High Goodness. This template adds +1 CR to the base creature, and converts it into a benevolent guardian spirit from another world, making it into an Outsider and giving it the weird ability to turn itself to stone, so that they may serve as guards and watchmen for places of goodness. The existence of Foo Creatures should make all adventurers everywhere wary of stone statues of all sorts! When they are not frozen into stone versions of themselves, Foo Creatures are among the nicest, kindest, and most generous of beings, and genuinely nice to be around...as long as they don't catch you trying to sneak in.
The First World is an ancient reality, similar to the Prime Material but much older. As a result, every being from the First World is rich in culture and decadence compared to their counterparts from the Prime. Fey Creatures add +2 CR to their ability, and gain the traits of their homeland, being wise and capricious, vicious and clever, all in turns. Fey Creatures are incredibly fast and agile, their foresight letting them see ahead, and they are able to dodge and dart with astonishing speed. Their motives are even more opaque, and they seem to act in odd, nigh-incomprehensible ways. All of these actions make perfect sense to them, of course, but they can hardly be bothered to explain their motives to primitives that live on the Prime.
Some bad guys are just a little tougher, better, smarter, or faster than most. This template adds +1 CR without making the monster feel or play any differently. That family of Hill Giants that all talk like hillbillies, that one REALLY big Rage Drake, that freaky albino Basilisk the local drug lord keeps as a pet, all are good candidates for the Advanced Creature template. It's just a little boost to make such monsters interesting and different and memorable, without overwhelming the players.
Sometimes, bigger is better. What happens when a Vampire manages to infect a Fire Giant? You wind up with a Giant Vampire, that's what! Giant Creature is useful for creating lost lands full of giant beasts, making a REALLY BIG red dragon, or making that ridiculously gigantic pet dire bear of the local gangster warlord. Also useful for creating hideous mutants, gigantic deformed henchmen, freaks of nature, and other memorable creatures and encounters. That tribe of Hill Giants has lost their luster? Add Giant Creature to their leader! Giant creature is worth +2CR, so its sure to make for some memorable battles!
Some monsters look like Dragons. They have strong wings and a fearsome Battle Howl ability, similar to those terrible monsters, Dragons. Such bad guys may be worshipers of dragons, or merely long-separated and degenerate descendants of dragons, or even Dragon henchmen with gifts. Conversely, they might be creatures that have arisen naturally with wings and a terrible sonic attack, who resemble dragons merely by chance. The appearance of their wings is a clue to their nature, which is left to the GM to flesh out. In all cases, Draconic Creature adds +2 CR to the base creature, and their flight and powerful cone attack is sure to make them an exciting and memorable challenge for anyone who faces them!
Sometimes, you need to make a monster into something much, much tougher than it began. The Mighty Creature template adds a whopping +5 CR to any monster, without drastically changing how they look and feel to the players. That can be done by simply making a new blueprint, true, but sometimes, it's fun to shake things up and make such large CR changes with templates instead.
For example, if you realllly like goblins, it is possible to take them all the way up to CR 6 with this template, and Wolfriders all the way to CR 8! Stacking on Fiendish or Advanced, or even tossing in a Great template, can let you build entire stables of goblins all the way up to CR13 without ever having to change a blueprint. That is more than enough to run entire campaigns with nothing but your favorite monster, and gives you plenty of time to figure out how those pesky blueprints work.
If you need a quick tribal champion, monstrous ticking crocodile, or super-dangerous Igor, the Mighty Creature template is just the ticket!
This template can be used to make a skeleton version of any monster that can reasonably be expected to have bones. Bugbears definitely, black puddings definitely not, aboleths... maybe. The GM adjudicates all monsters to allow them or not. Skeletal Creature adds +1 CR.
Yes, you can then add on an Elemental Skeleton Template from above, for even more variety if you like that sort of thing. Indeed, you can run a campaign that was NOTHING but skeletons and other undead if you are crazy or cruel enough to do it. Not that we'd ever try such a thing...
The first rule of encounters is that they are fun. A sure way to avoid dull fights is to 'shake things up' with interesting settings, maguffins, variable terrain, etc. Another good way is to vary the monsters. For example, six orcs are a pretty vanilla encounter, but eight orc minions with a leader and a heavy backing them up is worth the same rewards and feels and plays differently. Note that adding roles increases the damage in the game considerably, especially when you add minions: This is completely intentional. Fights should be fairly brief but intense affairs.
Monster Roles are applied after all templates. They are not templates and do not change the CR. Instead, Role monsters count as more or fewer monsters each. It is possible to combine Roles and templates, if a GM desires, but this process should be approached with caution.
Your typical "tough guy" in an encounter.
- Heavies have double hit points.
- Heavies do double damage.
- Heavies get 1 action point.
- Heavies are immune to the first instance of all conditions applied during an encounter. Note that "all conditions" means exactly that: all conditions. This is not limited to status conditions, it also applies to any condition that the GM feels will render the monster 'trivial'. Spell effects, forced movement, status conditions or penalties to attack, damage, defenses, etc., are all rendered null through this ability. The second time the same condition is applied to a Heavy, however, it affects it normally.
- When a Heavy is reduced to zero hit points, it is not killed. Instead, it gains immunity to all damage until the beginning of its next turn, any conditions it is currently suffering under are immediately cleared, all accumulated efforts to pierce their condition immunity are removed, and its hit points are set to half its normal maximum. Its ability to take actions is not hampered in any way during this period of immunity. At the beginning of its next turn, the immunity expires. The Heavy is killed for good the second time its hit points reach zero.
- Heavies count as two monster for xp and loot.
The scary-dangerous one.
- Killers have double hit points.
- Killers move 30 feet faster with each of their movement types.
- Killers add one third their CR to their initiative modifier, round up.
- Killers do triple damage or more.
- Killers count as two monsters for xp and loot.
The ones calling the shots.
- Leaders have double hit points.
- Once per round as part of a move action, a Leader may perform a Bull Rush on an enemy he threatens during any part of his move. This does not provoke attacks of opportunity from the target, though it could provoke from any enemies whose threatened squares the Leader leaves during his movement. Whether the Bull Rush succeeds or fails, the Leader may finish his movement and still perform any remaining actions he has available this round. If the attack succeeds, the Leader may move into any squares the target vacated due to the Bull Rush, even if he doesn't have enough remaining movement to do so.
- Once per round as an immediate action, a Leader may grant any one ally within the sound of his voice (typically 30 feet) a free standard action to be used immediately.
- Leaders give all allies a +2 morale bonus to attack and damage rolls, plus an additional +2 per five hit dice of that ally (drop fractions). This applies to Combat Maneuver rolls as well. Leaders give a +1 bonus to all DC's for powers, with an additional +1 per five HD of that ally (drop fractions). Leaders do not improve saving throws, SR, DR or ER, or any other aspect of their allies. This buff ends immediately when the leader is killed. This buff does not affect the leader, though if another leader is present, the leader gains this buff from the other leader. Morale bonuses do not stack; instead only the highest available bonus may be used. Note that minions treat this as a buff, gaining their own benefit instead of the listed benefit.
- Leaders count as two monsters for xp and loot.
Cheap fodder? Not likely.
- When you apply the Minion role to a monster, it turns into four monsters.
- Minions have only 1 hit point, but it is special:
- Killing a minion requires either the attacker to succeed on a to-hit roll, or the minion to fail on a saving throw roll. Even then, if the minion is able to successfully mitigate all of the damage with its defenses (such as DR or ER), they live anyway. Minions NEVER take damage from misses or from a successful saving throw against a spell or effect, even of that spell or effect would normally deal partial damage on a successful save.
- Always-hit spells (which have no to-hit roll, and no save, such as Magic Missile or the Fog spells) are counted as spells which allow a save at the normal DC of the caster. If the save is failed, the minion dies. If the save is successful, the minion lives. Unless the spell or effect specifies otherwise, the saving throw is resolved against the minion's strongest save.
- Note that making a Caster Check to overcome a Minion's SR (if any) is NOT counted as a successful roll against a minion and can never kill it.
- Minions never gain temp hit points or healing, although both count as a buff. If a minion receives any buff, at all, it gains a +2 untyped bonus to all types of Armor Class and a +2 untyped bonus on all saving throws. This is instead of the normal effects of the buff. Buffs on minions never stack. The duration of any buff is equal to the normal duration of the buff. Minions can never start a combat with a preexisting buff.
- Minions are able to squeeze into a space normally only accessible by someone of 1 size category smaller than themselves with no penalties. This means that up to two size medium minions may occupy the same 5-foot square without penalty.
- Four minions count as one monster for xp and loot.
Caution: Minions are extremely deadly to inexperienced players and low-level characters. Minions effectively quadruple the amount of damage in a combat until they are reduced in numbers.
Pew! Pew! Pew!
- Shooters have double hit points.
- Shooters may use any of their listed special attacks as though they have a range increment of 30 feet, with a maximum range of 150 feet. If an ability already has a listed range which is greater than this, use that range instead.
- Shooters never suffer penalties on their attack rolls due to range, though they are still limited by the maximum range of their attack.
- Shooters never take penalties for firing into melee or from creatures acting as cover.
- Shooters add one half their CR to their initiative modifier, round up.
- Shooters do double damage.
- Shooters count as two monsters for xp and loot.
They're stealthy, man. Super stealthy.
- Sneaks always have the Stealth skill, with a nudge value of +8 added to the normal skill value for their CR.
- Once per encounter, a Sneak may initiate stealth even if they are being observed. This is an immediate action (which can be used as an interrupt) if used outside their turn, or a swift action if used during their turn.
- Sneaks gain +4 to hit and a +1d6 bonus to their damage when they make an attack against a target that is unaware of them, or a target they are flanking. This bonus damage increases by an additional +1d6 per 4 CR's of the Sneak (drop fractions).
- Sneaks add one half their CR to their initiative modifier, round up.
- Sneaks count as two monsters for xp and loot.
The monster the other monsters expect to take all the hits.
- Tanks have double hit points.
- Tanks are immune to all effects which are not damage, except those they choose to allow to affect them. Attacks which deal damage and include a secondary effect (such as forced movement or a debuff) can only inflict the damage. (Abilities which specifically state they bypass the condition immunity of roles, such as a Prowler's Encroaching Jolt, also bypass this immunity.)
- Any damage that the Tank inflicts on an enemy heals the Tank for the same amount. This includes damage from spells and spell-like abilities. Area of effect attacks only heal the Tank an amount equal to the highest amount of damage taken by an affected enemy (not the sum of all damage inflicted). Damage mitigation abilities of victims, such as DR and ER, also reduce the amount of healing received since the reduce the amount of damage inflicted.
- Tanks may make a bonus attack against any character they can reach who does not include them in an attack. There is no limit to the number of these attacks they may make, though they can never make more than one attack per triggering action. Damage they deal with these attacks heals them as well.
- The first time in an encounter that a Tank is reduced to zero hit points, it is not killed. Instead, it gains immunity to all damage until the beginning of its next turn and its hit points are set to half its normal maximum. Its ability to take actions is not hampered in any way during this period of immunity. At the beginning of its next turn, the immunity expires. The Tank is killed for good the second time its hit points reach zero.
- Tanks count as two monsters for xp and loot.
A dungeon boss, or a tough "heavy." A really tough heavy. Remember that Cave Troll fight in Lord of the Rings? Yeah, that guy.
- Threats have triple hit points.
- Threats do triple damage or more.
- Threats get 2 action points. These may not be spent on the same round.
- Threats are immune to the first 5 instances of all conditions applied during an encounter. Note that "all conditions" means exactly that: all conditions. This is not limited to status conditions, it also applies to any condition that the GM feels will render the monster 'trivial'. Spell effects, forced movement, status conditions or penalties to attack, damage, defenses, etc., are all rendered null through this ability. The sixth time the same condition is applied to a Threat, however, it affects it normally.
- The first time in an encounter that a Threat is reduced to zero hit points, it is not killed. Instead, it gains immunity to all damage until the beginning of its next turn, any conditions it is currently suffering under are immediately cleared, all accumulated efforts to pierce their condition immunity are removed, and its hit points are set to half its normal maximum. Its ability to take actions is not hampered in any way during this period of immunity. At the beginning of its next turn, the immunity expires. The Threat is killed for good the second time its hit points reach zero.
- Threats count as four monsters for xp and loot.
- A single Threat role monster is the equivalent of approximately four normal monsters, and should provide a good challenge to many parties all by themselves, but for larger parties a single Threat role monster might be too easy.
- Each Threat Role monster listed in the Bestiary also includes a link to the monster entry for a Henchman. Henchmen are creatures which have a thematic reason to be in the company of the Threat entry. Sometimes, these are just regular monsters of the same CR as their Threat role, and other times they are special creatures that don't make any sense without the Threat role monster being present (for example, the Additional Tail henchman of the Green Dragon).
- Henchmen allow a GM to easily tailor a Threat encounter to accommodate gaming group sizes other than the standard 4-player party. For each additional PC present for the encounter beyond four, one Henchman should be added to the encounter (e.g. a party of six PCs would encounter one Threat role monster and two of its Henchmen). If the party has eight PC's, they should encounter two Threat role monsters instead. For parties greater than eight (wow!), GM's should use one Threat role monster for each full multiple of four PC's, and one Henchman monster for each remainder PC in the party beyond the multiples of four. For example, a party of 10 players, aside from drinking all of your soda pop, would encounter two Threat role monsters, and two Henchmen monsters.
- Note that a GM can (and should) still run Threat role monsters against parties with fewer than 4 players, but the GM should expect them to use more of their resources (healing, high-level spells, etc.) to succeed than a larger party would. It might also be a good idea to avoid putting a smaller party up against a Threat or tougher monster as their third (or later) encounter of the day, when they're tired and have few of those resources left to bring to bear.
The dungeon boss.
- Villains have four times as many hit points.
- Villains do triple damage.
- Villains get 2 action points. These may not be spent on the same round.
- Villains may summon four minions per round, every round as a free action. They may not use this action if they have eight or more minions in play already.
- Villains are immune to the first 8 instances of each condition, even outside of an encounter. Note that "all conditions" means exactly that: all conditions. This is not limited to status conditions, it also applies to any condition that the GM feels will render the monster 'trivial'. Spell effects, forced movement, status conditions or penalties to attack, damage, defenses, etc., are all rendered null through this ability. The ninth time the same condition is applied to a Villain, however, it affects it normally.
- Villains may use any of their listed special attacks as though they have a range increment of 30 feet, with a maximum range of 150 feet. If an ability already has a listed range which is greater than this, use that range instead.
- The first time a Villain is reduced to zero hit points, it is not killed. Instead, it gains immunity to all damage until the beginning of its next turn, any conditions it is currently suffering under are immediately cleared, all accumulated efforts to pierce their condition immunity are removed, and its hit points are set to half its normal maximum. Furthermore, it immediately summons 4 minions, regardless of how many minions are currently present. Its ability to take actions is not hampered in any way during this period of immunity. At the beginning of its next turn, the immunity expires.
- Villains often live to fight another day. In most encounters, a villain shouldn't even be present. However, in those encounters that include villains, GM's should strive to set up the fight in a way that the PC's can achieve victory without actually needing kill the villain. This can include saving imperiled civilians from some dastardly trap, stopping a horrible ritual, or retrieving the McGuffin before the villain can, etc. GM's are cautioned that having a villain escape 'just because' is often very frustrating for players. However, if they escape because the players were busy doing something else, that's usually seen as reasonable.
Gamemaster Notes on Roles
Even though the concept behind Roles is inspired by Fourth Edition, the way it is implemented here is different, and demands a lot more from the referee than 4e ever did. Since Roles can be applied to ANY monster, the referee is expected to have a strong grasp of what this is going to do. Since we recognize that not every referee out there may be a thirty year veteran like us old guys, this section is here to give you some tips on what to expect and how to run mind-boggling games.
How to use Roles
First, there's no reason to introduce roles right away. Let folks settle into their characters for the first two or three levels, run them through the classic 'five people meet in an inn' scenario, keep it simple as people get used to the way the new character classes work.
Once you decide that vanilla encounters and stories are losing their luster, try introducing a Heavy mob.
Heavy mobs, despite their scary factor, are possibly the least impactful of the roles. Their ability to ignore a condition will likely be a surprise, as will their hard-hitting attacks and resurrection power. But despite all that, Heavies are simple, easy-to-handle role mobs.
Once the players are used to Heavies, bring out a couple of Shooters. Shooters are the second least impactful role, and more importantly, demand an entirely different response (more mobility or ranged attacks) than a Heavy. Let the players get used to the way to handle Shooters.
Next, introduce Minions. Despite their lowly stature, minions are quite dangerous and demand good tactics to deal with. A single mob split into minions does quadruple the damage of a normal mob. Be sure your players are adaptable and tough before you pop minions on them. Also: Be quite aware of the ability of minions to squeeze! This makes the front ranks of your party completely irrelevant to minions, so be sure your "clothies" are ready for this surprising challenge.
Once you have Heavies, Shooters, and Minions, the rest of the roles are all really zesty. Tanks are especially nasty, especially if you combine a Tank with minions. The Tank will get lots of opportunity attacks while the party goes after minions, so be aware. Killers are extremely fast and can easily swamp the weaker members of the party if the group doesn't maneuver carefully, so handle with care. Sneaks are like Killers, only worse. Their ability to stealth even while being watched is sure to draw outraged cries the first few times, and rightly so. Plus, Sneaks hit so hard it's scary, so handle with care.
By far the most dangerous of the roles are the Leaders, Threats, and the Villains. Use them sparingly and carefully until you are sure your players can handle the challenge they present. Threats are basically drastically tougher Heavies. If your group is having trouble with Heavies combined with Tanks or Shooters, consider Threats carefully. Villains are much worse than Threats because they do even more damage and summon in hordes of minions. Absolutely worst of all are Leaders. Use Leaders with great care, and be sure your group can handle them. Be extremely careful of combining Leaders and Tanks, Leaders and Shooters, Leaders and Sneaks, and especially Leaders and Villains.
Using Roles, you can challenge any group of players at any time, but remember the first rule: Fights should be fun! Do not fall into the trap of using the same role too many times in a row: A steady diet of Heavies quickly becomes routine, and routine encounters, while they have their place, should never be the norm. Switch it up, add a Killer to a battle to use its speed and incredible damage to threaten the back ranks, or a Sneak for even more paranoia-inducing goodness. A basic fortification combined with a couple of Shooters will become a lethally dangerous combo and will certainly challenge the most complacent of tables. Add in a Leader and REALLY challenge your table!
Note that many combinations of Roles have synergies. Always start using a given type of role with one of that type on the table, at least until you have a feel for how your table of players will handle the monster. A group of players that handles a Threat-role mob easily may flounder against a pack of Minions, and vice versa. Every game is different, and it is your job as a DM to be sure that it's always fun.
A note about increased damage
We recommend several different ways of handling increased damage of roles.
The first and simplest way is to roll the damage as listed in the stat block and multiply it. This is easy and effective, but it rewards high armor class and hurts folks with Damage Resistance. Even worse, it's not interesting. This is the cardinal sin of refereeing: being dull! It's fine to use this method every now and then, heck, vanilla fights are quite valuable. They're easy, they make the "oh holy crap" encounters more vivid by contrast, and they're easy. Just don't do them too much.
The second way is to roll every attack multiple times. A fun variant on this is to give high-damage monsters a second or third initiative, for example, five counts or ten counts after their main initiative, respectively. Be careful of this variant method, as the players piling on the conditions can dilute the threat of your monsters. If you couple this with the simple expedient that every initiative count keeps a separate tally of statuses, this works extremely well, although it's a bit complicated. This works especially well with multi-headed monsters. The "two-headed" template is awesome stuff.
The third way is to do both. Boost the damage of each attack by fifty percent, and then roll a few extra attacks to represent their high speeds. This is a good approach, and if you add the extra damage as flat damage, doesn't slow down the pace of combat much if at all. Even better, this feels true to the rules if that is important to you. A great variation is to make some or all of a monster's attacks into close blasts, or small cones, or affects any three adjacent squares. This is easily explained as the monster is sweeping its limbs in large arcs, and also spreads the damage out, so not only the tank is getting hit.
The fourth way is to add a Swift action ranged attack. The monster throws a rock, spits of glob of ick, shoots rays from its eyes, flicks quills from its tail, animates the floor to bite at feet, pulls ropes to drop javelins from the ceiling, huffs poison from its nostrils, shoots tentacles from unmentionable places to zing the unwary, etc. Making it a swift action keeps it fun and rewards the characters for status effects. To make this more flexible, have this ranged attack hit two, three, or even more targets. This lets you dilute the impact of a strong melee front row, as you can hit that pesky fighter and still keep the back ranks on their toes. If your party is laying lots of status effects, make the ranged attack a free action that happens at the start of the monster's turn on a trigger.
The fifth way is to add a damage aura. This is easy and effective, simply announce the aura and make the players keep track of it for you! A nice variation of this is the damage aura that only turns on while the monster is under a status effect. If you're really feeling nasty, have the aura do damage every time an effect is laid on the monster in addition to the normal trigger times. This gives the players a mean choice: Lay the effect and take damage, or leave the monster unfazed.
The sixth way is a damage shield. Every time you strike the monster, you take damage. This is rough on melee and rewards ranged attacks, so a fun variation is giving a monster an automatic reflection ability, so any ranged attacks are turned back on the attacker. If you're really feeling nasty, have reflected ranged attacks target-able upon any of the PC's at will. Another fun variation is the "safety zone" damage aura. The further you are from a monster, the more damage the aura does to you, but you are completely safe when adjacent. This rewards melee attackers and punishes ranged attackers, which is a fun turnabout.
The seventh way is to move the damage off the monsters completely. Have a damage zone that activates when the monster steps on it. If you're really feeling mean, have the zone heal the monster at the same time. Put in emitters, like poison mushrooms huffing spore clouds, or spinning blade pillars, or falling blocks of ceiling that do damage and then turn terrain into rough terrain, or sections of floor that slide everybody on them like conveyor belts right into spiked pits, or slippery patches that knock people on them prone, or jets of poisonous lava that squirt out at random intervals, etc, etc, etc.
The important thing is to introduce as much variety as possible into combat. Always strive to do something interesting. It doesn't have to be unique! Just interesting and fun. :)