Monster Patterns and Roles
Epic Path has many, many monsters written up and ready to use, but if there is one thing we are very aware of it is that GM's are never satisfied with 'that junk in the books.'
And that's okay! We totally get that in YOUR world, in YOUR story, you need YOUR monsters. However, we also understand that its really slow to write up a good monster from scratch.
So, in Epic Path we offer two completely separate mechanics for modifying the current stable of monsters into creatures that more closely 'fit' with your game. Now, this is nothing new, Dungeons and Dragons and Pathfinder have offered GM's 'templates' to use for modifying monsters for ages, along with many other systems as well.
In Epic Path, we are shooting for a simpler and more powerful way of creating monsters, and as a result, we are offering 'patterns' and 'roles', and then offering up the Million Monster Machine. The Million Monster Machine (MMM for short) is a web page that allows busy GM's to automatically create untold millions of kinds of monsters 'on the fly' with a few simple clicks. BUT, like all tools, the MMM needs some explanation...and that's what all these pages here are for. Using these Patterns and Roles along with a healthy dose of imagination and inspiration, it is possible for creative GM's to come up with innumerable concepts for foes for their table. We expect that GM's working to create a rich play experience will spend some time reading through some or all of these Patterns, to get an idea of how they can change the 'base blueprints' into the exact thing they are looking for. Even better, once a GM has created their custom monster, the Machine includes all that information in a URL (link) that the GM can then share with others! Automation AND collaboration, all in one convenient package!
Patterns and Roles are explained in clear language on these pages (we hope), and indeed, it is possible that a GM without access to the Million Monster machine could even 'hand edit' monsters if they had too...but trust us, just use the tool, it's SO much better!
A Pattern is a set of simple stat changes and a basic power or two which are added into an existing monster blueprint. This changes the Challenge Rating (CR) of the monster, and hopefully makes it behave in a way that more exactly fits what you want the monster to do in your story. A Pattern is the same thing as the old Pathfinder 'template'. The most common use of Patterns is to broaden the selection of monsters available to a referee. If the perfect bad guy is three levels too low, the Coursing pattern will boost their strength to the appropriate level. The Fiendish, Hellish, Hateful, Fey, and Shadow patterns can adjust bad guys by smaller amounts, while not making them radically different in their behavior. The second most common use of Patterns is to add flavor and uniqueness to monsters. If plain old orcs are losing their luster, take some orcs, give them the Draconic pattern, and voila, you now have a group of flying monkeys torn straight from the classic fairy-tale. The only limit is your imagination! Remember, the goal is to make the mechanics work for you, not against you.
A Role is a dramatic change in the power level or capability of the monster, but it does not change the Challenge Rating of the monster. Instead, a Role changes how many monsters your party will face in a combat. Roles are used to make big, fun 'set piece' battles, like in the movies. They can also be used to lower the workload of a busy referee, or simply 'shake things up' at the table if your battles are feeling a little tired. A battle with four Killers is a very different thing than a fight with eight normal monsters, and will demand changes in tactics and strategies that will certainly get your players attention. The most classic use of Roles is to create Dragon encounters. It makes no sense at all to fight a half-dozen Dragons at once, and so all Dragons have Roles assigned to them by default. Dragons don't usually come in six packs, after all. This is a different mechanic that can even be stacked with a Pattern, if you are very careful.
Most of the changes made by a pattern are described in detail inside the pattern. If you are working 'by hand' adjust all values as described in the Pattern. We strongly suggest you just use the MMM, however!
Many Patterns act by adding or subtracting values from the existing Monster Blueprint. Some Patterns add an entirely new power or attack, however. In such cases, if you are working by hand, refer to the Monster Pattern Damage Chart to determine the damage done by the new power or attack. If you adjust a monster blueprint using the MMM tool, this is all automated for you.
Now, when you apply the changes in a given Pattern, you will be tempted to compare your shiny new monster with a stodgy, boring 'vanilla' monster of the same CR, and you will doubtless be outraged to discover that the Patterned Monster does not exactly match the base numbers of its Adjusted CR. Fear not! You did not make a mistake and the Monster Machine is not broken. Patterns are not expected to exactly replicate the stats of a Monster's CR. Instead, it gets them...'close'. This is actually deliberate, and is a way for GM's to make monsters that feel and play differently...but not too differently. The more variety in monsters their is (within tight, fair, limits), the more real and fun your games will be!
Patterns, Roles, and Fog of War
Do not doubt that monsters with Patterns will feel a bit different than unmodified monsters. This is completely deliberate, and is why Patterns and Roles should be used carefully until each GM is certain how their table handles each new challenge. These differences should be small and will usually not greatly impact the difficulty of a given combat, the play will definitely FEEL different. But if your players have memorized the AC of every monster of levels one through twelve, Patterns are a great way of putting a little mystery back into the game. For this reason, we leave it to the GM to reveal, or conceal, the presence of Patterns on their monsters when Lore Checks are made. After all, monsters with Patterns are unusual and perhaps even unique. It is not a hard stretch to imagine that no check could reveal that this one obscure tribe of Orcs is especially fast on their feet (the Coursing pattern). And imagine the amazing stories your adventurers will have to tell in taverns in their old age!
However! As the Game Master, you should always keep an eye on the results of one or several Patterns, and you can absolutely 'nudge' any values you want! (This is much more advanced stuff, be careful!) After all, if you are applying a Pattern or two, you want YOUR MONSTER. Patterns are just guidelines and suggestions, frameworks for you to hang your own ideas and creativity on. If you want your Draconic Orcs to be Flying Monkeys, then by the Heavens, you can make it so! And if you want your Flying Monkeys to have prehensile tails and icky poop-flinging attacks, then also give them the Wormskull Pattern and change the names and damage types of the powers until they match what you want.
Have fun, but if you start getting more creative, we urge you, to always 'tone down' your numbers before using creatures the first time. It is easy to raise the toughness in the next battle, but an accidental total party kill because you liked your custom monster a little too much is pretty embarrassing to explain to your annoyed friends. Trust us, just take it easy on the first encounter.
- This creature moves lightly and easily, and seems able to fly freely at will.
Some monsters are marvelously capable of incredibly easy, graceful flight. This pattern adds +2 CR and adds Greater Flight to the base monster, which typically uses the improved mobility to great effect, swooping and darting as free as an air elemental. Aerial Creatures may be natives of some aerial domain such as the Plane of Air, or they may be under the effects of some monstrous spell, potion, or poultice, or they may come from a tribe that has lived at the tops of mountains for so long they learned to fly in order to survive, or maybe they just like wind-sailing. Aerial Creature is sure to add a lot of zest to your encounters, so be sure to have fun!
- This creature seems extremely quick with its hands, and highly capable.
Agile Creature is a +3 CR pattern that represents creatures that are incredibly quick with their hands. This may be due to alchemical enhancements, magic from the Plane of Air, a terrible drug, religious madness, long, intense, ascetic training, or just native bad-assery. No matter the source, Agile Creatures are just crazy quick, able to dodge attacks and effects faster than the eye can see and whip across the battle-field in a blinding flurry of attacks. Agile is a simple but powerful pattern that can be used to "toughen up" a bunch of bad guys (an elite Troop of Town Guard for example) without drastically changing how they look or act or feel.
- This creature seems oddly stiff, as if it is an unnatural copy of a real creature.
Alchemists can take the bodies of slain monsters and with crazy serums, the use of creepy tools and methodologies, and lots and lots of wax, they can create amazing duplicates of those monsters! This is a +1 CR pattern that can be added to any physical monster, and maybe even some incorporeal beings as well, those crazy alchemists are always violating the laws of Nature anyway.... Alchemical Waxwork is a great way of having monsters show up in 'weird and unusual' places: If you see a Bulette in a palace, the odds are good its actually a Waxwork.
- This greenish creature has gills and webbed fingers and toes, as if able to swim and breathe water.
Aquatic Creature is a +2 CR pattern that converts any creature into an underwater version of the same creature. Aquatic creatures are frequently tinged blue or green, and usually have large, webbed hands and feet with long, webbed toes. Their eyes will have a tough membrane for protection, and they will have some form of sonar, which is remarkably useful in many instances. If you need a tribe of Aquatic Goblins who are luring ships to their doom on a terrible reef, or a pack of Aquatic Ogres lurking in a remote tarn, Aquatic Creature is the pattern for you!
- This creature looks very fit and agile, able to hold its breath and adapt to unusual fighting styles.
Athletic Creature is a +2 CR pattern that grants the base creature nigh-perfect agility and tremendous stamina in the face of almost any threat. Athletic Creatures are fleet, slipping away from most combat maneuvers without even trying, and can generally ignore the effects of gaseous attacks. Athletic Creature is a Pattern that can used to 'toughen up' a monster without altering how it looks, which is very useful if the GM wants to be subtle about how capable this particular batch of Orcs are.
- This creature affects the robes of a wizard, and appears aggressive and dangerous.
Some monsters are spellcasters! After all, what's the fun of having every single monster be a sword-swinging meat-head, right? The Players get access to a huge variety of spells and effects, and the +2 CR 'Mage' patterns allow monsters to get in on the fun, too. Attacker Mage monsters are Evokers, and have brutal, hard-hitting attack spells as their main focus in-combat, although like all mages, they have a bit of utility and battlefield control they can use when they have to. Out of combat, all Mage monsters have access to whatever magical effects the GM says they can use...so the players better not get too comfortable when a Mage Monster is around!
- This creature affects the robes of a wizard, and seems sly and tricky.
Some monsters are spellcasters! After all, what's the fun of having every single monster be a melee-loving puncher? The Players get access to a huge variety of spells and effects, and the +2 CR 'Mage' patterns allow monsters to get in on the fun, too. Bewitcher Mage monsters are Enchanters, and have mind-twisting, irksome spells, giving them huge amounts of utility and battlefield control, although they can inflict plenty of damage when they have to. Out of combat, all Mage monsters have access to whatever magical effects the GM says they can use...so the players better not get too comfortable when a Mage Monster is around!
- This creature exudes a menacing air, as if it is possessed of a large, dangerous attack.
Blasting Creature is a +2 CR pattern that may be used to give monsters a huge, crude, indiscriminate blasting attack. Maybe those mutant Purple Worms have the ability to vomit acid, or the Drow Maidens have 'gifted' some of their soldiers with Rods of Crashing. Blasting Creatures are destructive and indiscriminate, and sure to give your players a busy time indeed! Blasting Creatures can be used to spice up a vanilla fight, or folded into a campaign as some sinister evidence of dark machinations. The choice is up to the GM!
- This creature seems dangerous to approach due to the caustic substances around it.
Some creatures are just soaked in acidic goo. This may be a coating of acidic slime, or a liberal discharge from some disgusting organ, some sort of an alchemical coating they apply before battle, flakes of quicklime that shower grittily all around them, and a hundred other things besides. This is a +1 CR pattern that may be applied to most creatures, based upon their form and appearance, and makes fighting them a thorny problem, as they shower damage all around them with every attack they make.
- This creature seems to be empowered by some kind of dangerous celestial might.
Not all things you meet (or summon) are bad! This is a +1 CR pattern 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 pattern for you!
- This dangerous-feeling creature seems wiry, tough, and fast on its feet.
Coursing Creature is a +3 CR pattern that may be used to represent fast, far-ranging, hard-hitting monsters. Long-distance Orcs, those elite squads of Rangers in the King's Forest, a pack of Banshee's that prowl the darkling moors on moonless nights, long-roving Viking raiders, even the Wild Hunt, comprised of Hell Knights and Liches, all can be represented by adding the Coursing Creature pattern. Coursing Creature is a pattern useful for representing common themes from literature and film of half-wild, rugged frontier-dwellers and steely-eyed barbarian hordes. A pack of hobgoblins is bad enough, but a whole village of Coursing Hobgoblins who have decided to reave their neighbors? That's a problem!
- This creature affects the robes of a wizard, and has decorated itself with a castle-wall motif.
Some monsters are spellcasters! After all, what's the fun of having every single monster be a sword-swinging meat-head, right? The Players get access to a huge variety of spells and effects, and the +2 CR 'Mage' patterns allow monsters to get in on the fun, too. Defender Mage monsters are Abjurers, and have defensive-type spells as their main focus in-combat, although like all mages, they can lay down plenty of hurt when they have too. Out of combat, all Mage monsters have access to whatever magical effects the GM says they can use...so the players better not get too comfortable when a Mage Monster is around!
- This creature seems able to knock away or avoid incoming attacks.
Deflecting Creature is a +2 CR pattern that may be used to give monsters a powerful and flexible defense against all attacks that target their Armor Class. Maybe they have small woodland creatures tied to their armor that they sacrifice to absorb strikes, or a crusty shell of dried mud the players must break through, or they have a weird, flickering teleport that zaps them out of harms way a few times. The GM can use this pattern to indicate allegiance to a cult or dark religion, or to protect the devotees of a lich. The GM has many options to make things interesting and fun with this pattern!
- This creature has impressive wings and a ferocious demeanor, almost draconian in their fierceness!
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!
- This creature seems dangerous to approach due to the unpleasant fluids around it.
Dripping Creatures have stepped in something nasty, and when you fight them, they get it all over everything around them. This could be some kind of a terrible parasitic growths, a blessing from some terrible altar, bottles of sewage they wear as trophies strapped all over their bodies, or some smoldering illness that corrupts their very sweat, blood, and...other fluids. It can be deliberate or accidental, such as lackeys who are forced to wade through an otyughs lair before battle, or vile cultists who drink poison concoctions as part of their worship. Dripping Creature is a +1 CR pattern that splatters terrible energies when they are struck in battle, so beware!
- This scarily strong creature seems weirdly deformed...and is it...whistling?
Eldritch Creature is a +3 CR pattern that represents the really, truly weird critters out there. The classic use for the Eldritch Creature pattern is to indicate creatures that have come from the Outer Madness to trouble the Real World with their awful presence. Eldritch can also be used to represent created monstrosities in a Drow's lair, mutated vermin in the basement of the local Sorcerer's Guild, and generally horrible things. The most distinctive feature of the Eldritch Things is the sound, that awful SOUND, an eerie high, piping whistle that worms its way into your mind until you can't do anything but listen to it.... Just horrible.
- This impressively powerful creature seems to be elevated by some kind of dangerous celestial might.
If Celestial Creatures are what you like, then you're going to love Empyreal Creatures! The Empyreal Creature pattern adds +2 CR, and is the bigger, nicer brother of the Celestial Creature pattern, with even more good will and upstanding deeds. If you need to turn some monsters into good guys for 'reasons', then the Empyreal Creature pattern 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.
- This creature's demeanor shows complete disregard for laws and rules.
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 pattern, 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 pattern for you!
- This creature seems to be barely holding back some enormously dangerous outburst.
Exploding Creature is a +2 CR pattern that adds the ability to give off a deadly blast of energy once per encounter, that is specially coded to only harm enemies of the creature. This adds a huge amount of firepower to monsters that have it, and can be used to simulate weird magical weaponry, truly awful flatulence, the gifts of some eldritch being, or the signature attack of some dark behind-the-scenes mastermind. Exploding Creature is a dangerous and hard-hitting Pattern, for those times you need to turn things up to eleven!
- This creature seems dangerous and other-worldly, somehow, even though it looks...mostly normal?
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.
- This creature has allied itself, body and spirit, with dark, dangerous forces.
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 pattern 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!)
- This dangerous creature seems weirdly flexible and almost...liquid.
Fluidic Creature is a +2 CR pattern that converts the base creature partially or wholly into some noisome (or maybe tasty!) liquid. Giant Wasps may have Honey-Orcs as their masters, skeletons may be vile masses of grave fluids with bones floating within, Ghost-Elementals may be freezing masses of polar ectoplasm, Purple Worms can be made into Lava Worms by adding Fluidic and Searing, the possibilities are nearly endless! Perhaps there is some terrible curse that a crazed Alchemist slipped into the local food supply, and you have entire villages of Constituents driven mad when they were converted to Currant Jelly! Anything can happen with this crazy Pattern!
- This creature seems empowered by higher forces, and moves with odd stiffness, but it seems no less dangerous for it.
Foo Creatures are beings from the Planes of High Goodness. This pattern 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.
- This creature seems extremely dangerous to attack. Be careful!
Frumious Creature is a +2 CR pattern that indicates a creature that is exceedingly dangerous to attack. Indeed, even being close to a Frumious Creature is deadly, as they are surrounded by an aura of deadly menace. Perhaps they are surrounded by a swarm of parasitic wasps, or they emit some dire vapor. Perhaps they are infused with eerie stellar energies that lambast all who approach, or they possess a clockwork dart device that fires at everything that harms or approaches. The possibilities of the Frumious Creature are nigh-endless! There is no safe way to attack such a beast, so heroes must simply endure. Are your players up to the challenge?
- This powerful creature is very, very, large, especially when compared to others of it's ilk. Dangerous, and not normal!
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 +2 CR, so its sure to make for some memorable battles!
- This creature is making the most awful sounds, surely that indicates some dangerous ability is at work!
Some creatures make awful, awful damaging sounds. This might be a throat sac that inflates noisily, or the terrible grinding of bones, or the metal/stone parts of a golem scraping together, or perhaps its special plates of chitin, or a huge hammered-steel whistle the creature lustily blows whenever it makes an attack, or their eldritch origin is some Plane of Infrasound, or a dozen other things besides. Grating Creature is a +1 CR pattern that can be applied to any creature and grants them a sonic damage aura that triggers when they make attacks.
- This creature seems utterly consumed with the darkest, most vicious spite you've ever seen. It seems even more dangerous than others of its ilk!
This +2 CR pattern is used to represent a monster that is consumed with bigoted, spiteful hatred. Hateful Creatures are consumed by their spite, and are constantly spitting the vilest insults and the cruelest blows against all around them. As a result, they receive more than their fair share of attacks, their outrageous provocations angering their foes beyond all reason. Sadly, the unreasoning hate that consumes their spirits fortifies them against harm, allowing them to ignore wounds and drive home their viciously unfair attacks. Hateful Creatures are the vilest of the vile, which is just what the doctor ordered when you need a really mean pack of bad guys.
- This creature has obviously sold whatever was left of its soul to truly evil powers. Who knows what dangerous powers it got for that awful bargain?
If Fiendish creatures are bad, then Hellish creatures are even worse! The Hellish Creature pattern adds +2 CR, has everything the Fiendish Creature pattern 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!)
- This creature exudes a palpable, menacing presence that makes it seem very hazardous to attack.
Immolating Creature is a +2 CR Pattern that adds a dreadful automatic damage ability to the monsters lucky or unlucky enough to receive it. Immolating creatures can summon up some dire connection to the inner workings of the Universe, and through that connection, any creature that strikes at them, whether the attack works or not, is slowly and agonizingly consumed. Perhaps it is a tide of ghosts, or one of the trillions of Things in the Ether, or hungry shadows from alternate realities, or just simple ice, or fire, or even falling rocks. Whatever they tap into, once you've attacked an Immolating Creature, it's a fight to the death.
- This creature looks like it doesn't belong in this locale... you're not sure why, but it seems like its managing just fine.
Some monsters have adapted to live in completely different places than they normally do. The most famous is, of course, land sharks. Indeed, every creature from the ocean can be found on dry land, and they are often a huge, weird, surprise when it happens! But the Intruding pattern can be far more flexible and weird than that, with souterrains that attack from the surface of water, sharks that live in lava lakes, astral constructs that are powered by steam, and many, many others besides. This +1 CR Pattern can be used to tailor monsters to fit an exact campaign's odd environments, although in all such cases, the GM is encouraged to keep their enthusiasm in check until they are sure what their shiny new bad guy actually does at the table.
- It seems like this dangerous creature can turn itself invisible!
The Invisible Creature pattern adds +2 CR, and turns the base creature completely invisible to all senses! This can be used to simulate weird Ethereal hybrids, phase monsters from eerie humming gates, Things From The Id, or just the henchmen of an evil Alchemist. Invisible Creatures make for crazy paranoia, as they can't be detected past thirty feet away, which makes ambushes by Invisible Creatures really nasty. Even worse, once per fight they can turn BACK invisible! Watch your back!
- This scary creature seems able to transmute itself into...something durable, you'd wager. Going to be hard to put down.
The Invulnerable Creature pattern adds +2 CR, and turns the base creature completely invulnerable to hit point damage when they want to be! Maybe that clan of Duergar can turn themselves to stone, or a pack of Goblins have learned how to fall out of reality at-will. Maybe a weird Mage magic allows creatures to turn themselves into their own reflections, or writhing vines grow over the creature and shield it from all harm. Who knows! Invulnerable creatures demand thinking outside the box to defeat, and that's always a good thing, right?
- This creature shakes the earth with every booming movement it makes. How much must they weigh?
The Jarring Creature pattern adds +2 CR, and makes monsters whose very existence is destructive to the world. Maybe they are alchemical clockworks made of solid steel with brassy gears, maybe they Acid Ghosts, or Psychic Nightmares. Maybe their bones are made of solid adamantine, or they are plated with solid gold. Regardless of the source, when their ire is raised they slam the ground with crashing footsteps, the earth bouncing like a startled bull, solid walls and doors splintering under their terrible blows. Jarring Creatures are sure to get the attention of your adventurers, and give them plenty of ways to prove their might!
- This tough-looking creature is covered with scars, callouses, and a wary attitude.
Some creatures are tough, gnarled veterans, heavily calloused and thick-knuckled, grizzled and wary and durable. This might be thickened chitin, tough, leathery hide, innumerable scars laid atop one another, or just battered, heavily reinforced armor and shield. Leathery creatures' durability extends to their attacks as well, as they know how to add terrible lacerating twists to their attacks, just to make things even more memorable. Leathery Creature is a +1 CR pattern that can be granted to any creature and grants them great resistance to all common forms of damage and adds lacerating damage to their most seasoned veterans.
- This creature seems to have an aspect of incredible, unnatural cold surrounding it.
Some creatures emit terrible, aching waves of cold. This may be a magical effect the creature creates due to its nature, or maybe the creature is made of some kind of living ice. It could be an alchemical effect the creature has smeared on its weapons or clothing, a skeleton or golem that is made of solid ice rather than bone or stone, or creatures laboring under an Ice-Heart Curse, or maybe the eerie cold is due to its origin in some Elemental Plane of Frost. Regardless of why, Numbing Creature is a +1 CR pattern that can be applied to any creature, and surrounds them in a bitter freezing-cold aura.
- This creature wears a wizard's robes... and they seem well deserved. It looks skilled and powerful, best to approach with care.
This +3 CR Pattern allows the GM to have monsters that cast SERIOUS spells! Human Goons are suddenly bad guy Wizards, Dragon Sorcerers are just...bad news, crazed spell-scarred Purple Worms who just blast away like mad, Steel Golems that wreck everything in sight, the possibilities are endless! Just be aware, if the GM wants to buff the OTHER bad guys because now they have a Wizard, there must be Patterns used to reflect these buffs, to ensure the encounter difficulty is set to the correct values. Powerful Mages, in time-honored 'clothy' fashion, tend to be a little delicate compared to their equal-CR buddies, but boy, do they get the firepower to make up for it!
- This creature seems to react far too quickly. Can it...see things before they happen?!
This +2 CR Pattern creates monsters with the terrifying ability to see the future! Out of combat, this can be used in all sorts of interesting ways, but in combat, the benefits are still pretty scary! Imagine lost tribes of Seeric Goblins, or Timelost Purple Worms who shudder a second forward and backward in time. Or perhaps eerie cultists to some Mad God gain the ability to hear echoes from the future, or denizens of the Outer Dark who experience time sideways from everybody else. Or perhaps some alchemical drug jacks up monsters so hard they fall loose from time itself! Who knows what it might be, but it's likely to be exciting!
- This threatening creature is tidy, squared away, and well-presented. It seems to relish order, and despise the undisciplined.
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 pattern, 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 etiquette, 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 pattern for you!
- This creature seems especially wary and vigilant against foes it cannot reach, and its demeanor suggests it can do something about them if they try anything.
This Pattern adds +2 CR to monsters, and gives them the ability to answer attacks made upon them from outside their melee reach. Maybe that tribe of Orcs have a blessing on their weapons or shields and can 'bounce back' some or all of an attack at the attacker. Maybe those Hobgoblins can use echoes from the First World to answer their foes. The possibilities are endless, and Returning Creatures will certainly make 'shooting from the back' a riskier proposition! Ranged attackers will have to find new tactics to handle this weird threat, and that's always a good thing!
- This creature seems to be surrounded by blazing heat, and that's likely painful to get too close to.
Some creatures are super hot, and not in a good way. They may be wreathed in supernatural flames from head to toe, they may have white-hot bones that emit waves of murderous heat, maybe they have alchemical concoctions smeared on their weapons and armor, maybe they just stepped out of a white-hot blacksmith's forge and are literally ON FIRE...or it could be any of a hundred other reasons. Searing creatures gain a +1 CR and can be almost any sort of creature. Fire Ghosts from the Furnace Plane could be a thing, after all! Searing creatures emit an aura of fire whenever they attack, which makes them almost literally too hot to handle.
- The appearance, demeanor, and actions of this creature are very, very wrong. Everything about is off: too fast, to jerky, steeped in darkness and danger. You should be very careful.
Shadow Creature is a +3 CR pattern 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.
- This creature seems far too confident when facing many enemies. It seems dangerous, as if it can attack everything at once.
Shattering Creature is a +2 CR pattern that gives the monster an eerie ability to strike every enemy in a huge area, starting from somewhere in their reach. Maybe they go into a flurry of swings and throws, maybe they slam their hands together to form a massive shock wave, maybe they clash their sword and shield, or spray a hail of darts, or any of a thousand other mechanisms. Regardless of how they do it, Shattering Creatures are a tough challenge, but surely your table of heroes are up to the task!
- This creature looks like it really knows how to get nasty in a hard fight. Who knows what awful things it would do to win?
Shredding Creature is a +2 CR pattern that represents creatures with sharper, jaggier, uglier, more poisonous, and generally nastier weapons, claws, teeth, or whatever than the usual versions of this monster. Shredding Creatures can inflict nasty damage at all times, but if they get lucky, they can REALLY put a hurt down! Maybe they have some berserk rage making them foam at the mouth, or they are suffering from hydrophobia, or they sometimes implant awful wriggling worms...or maybe they just have REALLY BIG SWORDS. Who knows? In any instance, all Shredding Creatures look like Bad News, and if they land a few hits, you'll definitely feel it!
- This creature is long dead. All flesh has withered away, but something foul keeps it moving and killing.
This pattern 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 to the base creature, and converts their appearance to one of standing animated, mindless bone. GM's should disallow creatures whose damage relies on flesh (most creatures with a swallow attack, for example,) or reduce their CR to compensate for losing that ability. That said, you COULD rule that stomachs have a bony structure.... With this pattern 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...
- This creature seems confident that if it is attacked, their attacker will regret it. What tricks could it have to be so certain?
A Sticky Creature is any base creature which hinders enemies that strike it. This could be a standard creature that's covered in glue, weird alchemical modifications so the creature is actually MADE of solid glue, it could be tar-coated elementals or even magnetic armor worn by the creature. Getting more esoteric, Sticky could represent a psionically enhanced monster than lays a nigh-unbreakable mental compulsion when it is attacked, or a ghost that converts things that strike it into portions of its own body. Sticky Creature is a +1 CR pattern that hinders attackers, and can even escalate to a grapple fairly quickly. Fights against Sticky Creatures quickly turn into straining, struggling tests of endurance, so beware!
- This creature is graceful and well-appointed, and looks very skilled at combat, too boot.
A Striking Creature is often 'the elegant bad guy'. They have +1 CR, and they are both skilled at battle, and skilled at life. Striking Creatures are just ever-so-slightly better than their fellows, and they certainly know it! Striking is a great pattern for the lovely but dangerous pirate queen, the black-dressed professional duelist who works for the Big Bad Guy, or heck, a family of Noble Aranea, who are just a bit less degenerate than most. Striking isn't just about the looks, though, as they can make long, elegant strikes that are very dangerous and capable in combat. Striking can be applied to a pack of thoroughbred Hellhounds, or a squabbling tribe of elite Goblins, just as easily as the fancy-pants sorts. The possibilities are manifold!
- This creature is horribly bloated, although it seems even more dangerous than ever. It looks like it might even... burst.
Swollen Creatures have 'something wrong' with their forms. They may be stuffed with an infestation of thousands of wriggling larva, or they could have been overdosed on Vampire Blood. Maybe they have a demons foul essence building up within them, or they have been abusing the worst sorts of alchemical concoctions. It could be a massive buildup of pus that has flooded their entire system, or a massive internal blockage, or a huge dose of some awful negative or squamous energy that has corrupted their form, or any of a hundred other awful things. Swollen Creature is a +1 CR pattern that increases the base creatures health, adds speed and armor, and worst of all, when they are defeated they... rupture. All over everything. Gross.
- This creature is...REALLY small compared to its cousins. And yet, it still feels extremely dangerous...
Not every creature is a huge, hulking mass of danger! Some creatures are tiny, compact masses of danger.... And in a lot of ways, smaller is even worse than big. Smaller monsters are not weaker. They are still incredibly dangerous, and Tiny Creatures can get to you to kill you a lot easier than their oversize cousins. Plus, Tiny Creature is the BEST pattern for making the pets of Evil Bad Guys. That cute little lap-dog? Actually a full-strength Shadow Mastiff that would love to tear your face off. Tiny can be indicative of Sorcerous hi-jinks, the effects of alchemical potions, evidence of lost clans of pygmy Goblins (which are just....horrifying), and many other things besides. Tiny Creature adds +1 CR, and the little guys should never be treated lightly!
- This creature looks completely normal, except it has two heads. Aside from that it seems fine, even more dangerous than usual.
Some creatures have two heads! This pattern is great for creating lost tribes of spell-warped creatures, horrible bands of inbred monstrosities, or even creating entire tribes and nations of persecuted and misunderstood creatures who are just born a little bit different than most. This is great for shaking things up, and is one of the patterns that is often tempting to apply to a Role, to make a REALLY memorable encounter. After all, if a fight with a Dragon is memorable, then a fight with a Two-Headed Dragon is even moreso! As always, be careful when combining Roles and Patterns, but other than that, go for it! Two-Headed adds +1 CR to any monster, and works best on corporeal creatures with heads, although it can be used on almost any creature to give them an interesting 'twist'.
- This creature looks haggard and drawn, as if suffering from some awful malady...that it is willing to share with you.
This creature labors under a terrible, foul curse, and is able to inflict this same woe upon their enemies. This pattern is great for dark, doom-laden adventures in woeful, hopeless places, and can represent any number of terrible effects. Perhaps a tribe of orcs is haunted by the ghosts of their victims, or an evil alchemist has made elixirs from ill-humors their minions are forced to drink. Perhaps a hell knight is seeking to rise from its unquiet grave, and every creature for miles around is suffering their Fated Doom. Maybe a horrible black cult gives this awful curse as a 'boon' to their devotees, or an ill star has risen over a benighted kingdom, or a graveyard is... 'leaking'. There are many ways to use this powerful +3 CR pattern, and GM's will doubtless think of many more!
- This creature looks normal, except it has amazing, fully functional wings!
This +1 CR Pattern takes a monster, and, adds wings! Why should horses have all the fun, right? Winged Tigers, with great feathered wings in blazing orange and black stripes, are just too cool to ignore. Winged snakes, winged orcs, winged Purple Worms that burrow out of the ground and then fly away, the possibilities for mind-boggling moments are many indeed. Why are the monsters winged? Accidents, experiments, potions, spells, mutations, lost tribes of sports, angelic half-breeds, demonic half-breeds, etc, etc, etc. Do you really NEED a reason to have an attack by a pride of winged tigers? Really?
- This creature appears completely normal, except it might have a slight cold. It feels a bit nerve-inducing though, for some reason.
This +2 CR pattern is used to represent creatures that have been taken over by a nefarious intelligent parasite, that is intent on Ruling The World...or something. Who knows what really motivates a mass of intelligent wormy parasites, aside from tasty brains? Wormskull Creature can be used to take a nice, vanilla encounter, dungeon, or even a whole campaign, and give it a big dose of wierdness and creepy body horror, and how could that possibly be a bad thing? Wormskull creatures can also be dropped onto one or two bad guys in a fight, just to 'shake things up' and give the players a bit of a mystery to investigate! The possibilities are endless, so have fun!
The first rule of encounters is that they should be fun. A sure way to avoid dull fights is to 'shake things up' with interesting settings, McGuffins, 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 very 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 patterns. They are not patterns and do not change the CR. Instead, Role monsters count as more or fewer monsters each. It is possible to combine Roles and Patterns, if a GM desires, but this process should be approached with caution, as it is entirely possible to create combinations that are unbalanced or unfair for their listed CR.
- This monster appears tough and experienced, ready and able to fight hard.
- Heavies count as 2 monsters for purposes of encounter size, XP award, and treasure.
- Heavies have twice as many hit points as monsters with the same CR.
- Heavies get a -2 adjustment to their initiative.
- Heavies inflict double damage with their attacks, by way of increased damage and more attacks during a full attack action.
- Heavies get 1 action point(s).
- (Heavy Role) Immunity (partial 3): Heavies are immune to the first three conditions applied to them during an encounter. If a fourth condition is applied to a heavy, it is resolved normally. A 'condition' is defined as any non-instantaneous harmful effect applied to the monster, other than damage, but is most commonly one of the defined Status Conditions (but it doesn't have to be). Statuses related to damage (such as injured, bloodied, staggered, dying, or dead) are not 'conditions', and cannot be negated or avoided with this ability.
- Heavies have the following special abilities:
|Reversal of Fortune (Ex; Heavy Role) Auto Upon Death|
|The first time in an encounter that a Heavy is reduced to zero or fewer hit points, it falls prone, apparently dead. But this is a ruse. When this occurs, the Heavy becomes immune to all damage and effects. However, it may not perform any actions (such as attacks of opportunity) until this immunity expires.
At the beginning of its next turn, any conditions the Heavy is currently suffering under (such as Prone) are immediately cleared, and its hit points are set to half its normal maximum ( hit points). Furthermore, the Heavy may immediately Slide up to 8 squares (40 feet) as a free action, after which its immunity to damage expires. As forced movement, this Slide does not provoke attacks of opportunity, but even if it did, the Heavy is immune to all damage and effects until after the slide is completed. It must perform this Slide before any other actions during its turn, and the immunity expires at the beginning of its turn even if it chooses not to Slide first.
The Heavy is killed for good the second time its hit points are reduced to zero or less.
- This lean, murderous monster seems fanatical about killing everything it can catch.
- Killers count as 2 monsters for purposes of encounter size, XP award, and treasure.
- Killers have twice as many hit points as monsters with the same CR.
- Killers get a +4 adjustment to their initiative.
- Killers inflict triple damage with their attacks, by way of increased damage and more attacks each round.
- Killers get 2 action point(s).
- Killers have the following special abilities:
|Swift As Death (Ex; Killer Role) Always On|
|Killers increase their speed by +30 feet with all movement types they possess (this is already included in the numbers listed in the Movement Types section, above).|
- This monster carries a palpable air of authority. When it speaks, others listen.
- Leaders count as 2 monsters for purposes of encounter size, XP award, and treasure.
- Leaders have twice as many hit points as monsters with the same CR.
- Leaders get a +2 adjustment to their initiative.
- Leaders inflict the same damage with their attacks as a monster with no Role of the same CR.
- Leaders get 2 action point(s).
- (Leader Role) Immunity (partial 1): Leaders are immune to the first condition applied to them during an encounter. If a second condition is applied to a leader, it is resolved normally. A 'condition' is defined as any non-instantaneous harmful effect applied to the monster, other than damage, but is most commonly one of the defined Status Conditions (but it doesn't have to be). Statuses related to damage (such as injured, bloodied, staggered, dying, or dead) are not 'conditions', and cannot be negated or avoided with this ability.
- Leaders have the following special abilities:
|Shouted Command (Ex; Leader Role) Free Action 1/Rnd|
|Once per round as a free action, a Leader may grant any one ally within the sound of their voice (30 feet) a free standard action to be used immediately. This ability can normally only be used once per round, but the leader may spend an action point to activate it a second time if they wish.|
|Inspirational Leadership (Ex; Leader Role) Always On|
|Leaders give all allies a +3 morale bonus to all of their attack, damage, skill rolls, combat maneuver checks, combat maneuver damage, and any Save DC's their allies have for special abilities that allow a saving throw. 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.|
|Keep Your Friends Close (Ex; Leader Role) Immediate Action|
|Once per round as an immediate action, the leader may apply all of the damage of a single attack just made against them to a single ally within 30 feet of their space, instead. The leader takes no damage from the attack, and any secondary effects of the attack (such as status conditions) are resolved against the allied creature instead. This ability may never be used more than once per round. If the leader has no allies within 30 feet, they cannot use this ability.|
- This monster has an air of deadly nobility about it, as if it is somehow greater than everything around it.
- Legends count as 5 monsters for purposes of encounter size, XP award, and treasure.
- Legends have four times as many hit points as monsters with the same CR.
- Legends get a +3 adjustment to their initiative.
- Legends inflict triple damage with their attacks, by way of increased damage and more attacks each round.
- Legends get 7 action point(s).
- (Legend Role) Immunity (partial 7): Legends are immune to the first seven conditions applied to them during an encounter. If an eighth condition is applied to a legend, it is resolved normally. A 'condition' is defined as any non-instantaneous harmful effect applied to the monster, other than damage, but is most commonly one of the defined Status Conditions (but it doesn't have to be). Statuses related to damage (such as injured, bloodied, staggered, dying, or dead) are not 'conditions', and cannot be negated or avoided with this ability.
- Legends have the following special abilities:
|Lash Out (Ex; Legend Role) Free Action 1/Rnd|
|During each of their turns, Legends gain one bonus Attack Action at their full attack value, but this bonus attack can only be made against a creature they have not already performed an attack or maneuver against since the start of their current turn, and by using this attack, the Legend can no longer target this creature with any of their other attacks or maneuvers until the end of their current turn. If no valid target is within their melee reach, the Legend can use a ranged attack to perform this bonus attack instead. If the Legend performs a double move during their turn, they gain two bonus attack actions, but each of these attacks must be against creatures they have not yet, and will not this turn, target with any other attacks or maneuvers.|
|Invigorating Bloodthirst (Ex; Legend Role) Auto At Start of Encounter|
|At the start of any encounter, even during an encounter with a surprise round, Legends gain a number of temporary hit points equal to their Bloodied Hit Points value ( hit points). This ability can never be used more than once per encounter.|
|Juggernaut's Path (Ex; Legend Role) Free Action|
|Legends can force-move any non-Legend creature out of the path of their movement as a free action during their movement. This does not provoke attacks of opportunity. There is no strict limit to how far a creature can be pushed with this ability, but it is always the least number of squares required to move the creature out of the Legend's path (in the event that there are multiple paths of the same number of squares, the Legend chooses which path the pushed creature takes). This ability cannot be reduced by forced movement resistance in any way. The legend can decide the final space of the creature pushed, but that space must be unblocked and unoccupied (though it can be hazardous). As all forced movement, creatures can elect to fall prone to end it.|
- This monster seems completely uncaring about its survival, as long as it carries out the goals of its masters.
- Minions count as 0.25 monsters for purposes of encounter size, XP award, and treasure.
- Minions have just a single hit point.
- Minions get a +1 adjustment to their initiative.
- Minions inflict half damage with their attacks, by way of reduced damage and reduced number of attacks.
- Minions get 0 action point(s).
- Minions have the following special abilities:
|Packed Like Sardines (Ex; Minion Role) Always On|
|Minions are able to fight effectively in close quarters with one another. As a result, up to two minions may occupy the same space without penalty as long as they are both the same size.|
|Buffs and Heals (Ex; Minion Role) Always On|
|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 their 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. Any buff on a Minion is treated as a Condition, and can be overwritten by any other condition in the rare case where applying that condition doesn't kill the minion.|
|One Hit Point (Ex; Minion Role) Always On|
|Minions only have 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. 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 level check to overcome a Minion's SR (if any) is NOT counted as a successful roll against a minion and can never kill it.
- Caution: Minions are extremely deadly to inexperienced players and low-level characters. Minions effectively double the amount of damage in an encounter until they are reduced in numbers.
- This monster likes to stand back and attack from range... and is very good at it.
- Shooters count as 2 monsters for purposes of encounter size, XP award, and treasure.
- Shooters have twice as many hit points as monsters with the same CR.
- Shooters get a +5 adjustment to their initiative.
- Shooters inflict double damage with their attacks, by way of increased damage and more attacks during a full attack action.
- Shooters get 1 action point(s).
- Shooters have the following special abilities:
|Deadshot (Ex; Shooter Role) Always On|
|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.|
|Unblinking Accuracy (Ex; Shooter Role) Always On|
|Shooters never take penalties for firing into melee. In addition, Shooters never suffer penalties on their attack rolls due to range, though they are still limited by the maximum range of their attack.|
- While apparently weaker than its compatriots, this monster seems faster and more alert.
- Skirmishers count as 0.5 monsters for purposes of encounter size, XP award, and treasure.
- Skirmishers have half as many hit points as monsters with the same CR.
- Skirmishers get a +4 adjustment to their initiative.
- Skirmishers inflict half damage with their attacks, by way of reduced damage and reduced number of attacks.
- Skirmishers get 0 action point(s).
- Skirmishers have the following special abilities:
|Swift As Death (Ex; Skirmisher Role) Always On|
|Skirmishers increase their speed by +30 feet with all movement types they possess (this is already included in the numbers listed in the Movement Types section, above).|
- This monster skulks and creeps, but is even more dangerous because of their sly skill.
- Sneaks count as 2 monsters for purposes of encounter size, XP award, and treasure.
- Sneaks have the same number of hit points as monsters with the same CR.
- Sneaks get a +4 adjustment to their initiative.
- Sneaks inflict the same damage with their attacks as a monster with no Role of the same CR.
- Sneaks get 1 action point(s).
- Sneaks have the following special abilities:
|Flash Bomb! (Ex; Sneak Role) Immediate Action|
|Once per encounter, a Sneak may initiate stealth even if they are being observed. This is an immediate action if used outside their turn, or a swift action if used during their turn. When they do so, they may slide up to 2 squares (10 feet), if they wish, as part of the same action.
This ability cannot be used to prevent an attack that has already been declared against them, but it can be used prior to such a declaration.
|Unseen Assassin (Ex; Sneak Role) Always On|
|Sneaks always have the Stealth skill with a value 5 higher than their "all other skills" value (this is already included in the numbers listed in the Skills section, above).|
|Backstab (Ex; Sneak Role) Always On|
|Sneaks gain +2 to hit and add a +1d6 bonus to their damage (as precision damage) when they make an attack against a target that is unaware of them, or a target they are flanking. The bonus to-hit is in addition to any bonus they may receive for flanking, or any AC penalty the target may be suffering for being flat-footed, etc.|
- There are many of these creatures, but they act as one.
- Swarms count as 2 monsters for purposes of encounter size, XP award, and treasure.
- Swarms have twice as many hit points as monsters with the same CR.
- Swarms get a -2 adjustment to their initiative.
- Swarms inflict the same damage with their attacks as a monster with no Role of the same CR.
- Swarms get 0 action point(s).
- (Swarm Role) Hardened (½ damage): slashing (physical, common), piercing (physical, common)
- (Swarm Role) Immune (no effect): Critical Hits and Flanking
- (Swarm Role) Immune (no effect): Any attack that targets Maneuver Defense
- (Swarm Role) Immune (no effect): Any spell that targets a specific number of creatures, except mind-affecting spells (if this creature has an Int score).
- (Swarm Role) Vulnerable (1.5x damage) to area of effect spells (including Channel Divinity)
- Swarms have the following special abilities:
|Darken the Sky (Ex; Swarm Role) Standard Action|
|As a standard action, the horde hurls a volley of projectiles into a 20' cubic area (4x4x4 squares) within 60 feet of their space. Creatures within the affected area must make a reflex save, DC 14, or take 1d4 points of bludgeoning (physical, common) damage from the savage strikes of this deadly rain. Those who succeed on the save take only half damage.|
|Sum of the Parts (Ex; Swarm Role) Always On|
|Swarms, troops, and hordes follow the squeezing rules based on their component creature size, NOT the size of the swarm, troop, or horde as a whole. This means these groups of creatures can easily move through doorways that are sized appropriately to their component creature sizes. They can even stop in such spaces without suffering squeezing penalties. In such cases, the swarm's shape is unaffected, except that its space excludes any blocked spaces. That is, its space doesn't deform into a non-square shape, it's just treated as not occupying any blocked spaces within its space. This means it cannot threaten through blocked spaces, since it isn't technically occupying them.
Multiple swarms, troops, and hordes can share the same squares without squeezing or movement penalties. They can move through, and even stop on top of (or within) the spaces of other swarms, troops, or hordes.
Swarms, troops, and hordes can also move over, through, and into spaces occupied by enemy creatures without provoking attacks of opportunity, even if they pass through or leave a threatened square. Furthermore, creatures inside the space of a swarm, troop, or horde are treated as flanked while they remain in that space (though this doesn't usually matter much, since swarms, troops, and hordes automatically hit with their attacks).
Finally, a maximum of two swarms, troops, or hordes can attack a single given creature in a round, even if more than two swarms, troops, or hordes are threatening that creature. There simply isn't enough surface area of the enemy creature for more attacks to be inflicted.
- This monster looks solid and unstoppable, with a pugnacious attitude that broadcasts an air of cruelty.
- Tanks count as 2 monsters for purposes of encounter size, XP award, and treasure.
- Tanks have twice as many hit points as monsters with the same CR.
- Tanks get a -3 adjustment to their initiative.
- Tanks inflict the same damage with their attacks as a monster with no Role of the same CR.
- Tanks get 1 action point(s).
- (Tank Role) Immunity (no effect): 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.)
- Tanks have the following special abilities:
|Defy Death (Ex; Tank Role) Auto Upon Death|
|The first time in an encounter that a Tank is reduced to zero or fewer hit points, it is not killed. Instead, it gains immunity to all damage and effects until the beginning of its next turn, and its hit points are set to half its normal maximum ( hit points). The Tank remains standing throughout all of this, and its ability to take actions (e.g. making attacks of opportunity or using its Dangerous to Ignore special ability) is not hampered in any way during this period of immunity. Despite suffering no obvious in-game effects, the Tank will still use this opportunity to gloat and taunt its enemies as it stands unbroken against their assault. It is obvious to anyone who successfully hits the tank during this period of immunity that the Tank is suffering no damage from their attacks.
At the beginning of its next turn, the Tank may immediately slide up to 10 feet (2 squares) as forced movement which does not provoke attacks of opportunity, and then perform a Pull on up to 4 creatures it can perceive, sliding them up to 5 squares closer to itself. Each square of this forced movement must bring each targeted creature closer to the tank (movement into squares that are the same distance as the current space or further away from the current space is not permitted). Since this is forced movement, it does not provoke attacks of opportunity, and the target creature(s) may fall voluntarily prone in order to halt the movement at any point, if they wish. Once the Pull is resolved, the Tank's immunity to damage expires, and it can perform its turn as normal. The Tank's immunity to damage expires at the start of its turn even if it elects not to slide itself or pull any creatures with this ability.
The Tank is killed for good the second time its hit points are reduced to zero or less.
|Dangerous to Ignore (Ex; Tank Role) Immediate Action|
|Once per round, when a creature within 15 feet of the Tank performs an attack against anyone who isn't the Tank, or fails to include the Tank in the attack, the Tank may, as an Immediate Action, Slide up to two squares (10 feet) and perform a bonus attack against that creature. This bonus attack is resolved before the target creature resolves their own attack. If the creature is still alive after the Tank finishes, the target can resolve their attack as normal.|
|Invigorating Bloodthirst (Ex; Tank Role) Auto At Start of Encounter|
|At the start of any encounter, even during an encounter with a surprise round, Tanks gain a number of temporary hit points equal to their Bloodied Hit Points value ( hit points). This ability can never be used more than once per encounter.|
|Agitation (Ex; Tank Role) Free Action 1/Rnd|
|Up to once per round as a free action, the Tank can target a creature within 40 feet to which they have both line of sight and line of effect, and Pull that creature up to 5 squares closer to the Tank. Each square of this forced movement must bring the creature closer to the tank (movement into squares that are the same distance as the current space or further away from the current space is not permitted). Since this is forced movement, it does not provoke attacks of opportunity, and the target creature may fall voluntarily prone in order to halt the movement at any point, if they wish.
In addition, if the target is an enemy creature, it gains the Vexed condition until the start of the Tank's next turn. If the target creature is an ally of the Tank, using Agitation on them removes any status condition they are currently affected by, and doing so does not cause a synergy to trigger.
- This deadly monster looks able to win a battle all by itself, but has inspired others to aid it.
- Threats count as 4 monsters for purposes of encounter size, XP award, and treasure.
- Threats have three times as many hit points as monsters with the same CR.
- Threats get a +2 adjustment to their initiative.
- Threats inflict triple damage with their attacks, by way of increased damage and more attacks each round.
- Threats get 3 action point(s).
- (Threat Role) Immunity (partial 5): Threats are immune to the first five conditions applied to them during an encounter. If a sixth condition is applied to a threat, it is resolved normally. A 'condition' is defined as any non-instantaneous harmful effect applied to the monster, other than damage, but is most commonly one of the defined Status Conditions (but it doesn't have to be). Statuses related to damage (such as injured, bloodied, staggered, dying, or dead) are not 'conditions', and cannot be negated or avoided with this ability.
- Threats have the following special abilities:
|Unstoppable Killer (Ex; Threat Role) Auto Upon Death|
|The first time in an encounter that a Threat is reduced to zero or fewer hit points, it falls prone, apparently dead. But this is a ruse. When this occurs, the Threat becomes immune to all damage and effects. However, it may not perform any actions (such as attacks of opportunity) until this immunity expires.
At the beginning of its next turn, any conditions the Threat is currently suffering under (such as Prone) are immediately cleared, and its hit points are set to half its normal maximum ( hit points). Furthermore, all enemy creatures within 2 squares (10 feet) of the Threat are immediately Pushed up to 4 squares (20 feet) away from the Threat, and suffer 1d6 points of bludgeoning (physical, common) damage. Affected creatures may make a Fortitude save versus a DC of 14 to reduce this damage by half, and reduce the push to 2 squares (10 feet). After this attack resolved, the Threat can slide up to 5 squares (25 feet) to a space adjacent to an enemy creature. All of this occurs as a free action at the start of its turn, and once it is resolved, the Threat's immunity to damage expires. It must perform this attack before any other actions during its turn, and the immunity expires at the beginning of its turn even if it chooses not to perform the attack.
The Threat is killed for good the second time its hit points are reduced to zero or less.
- This monster causes terrible things to happen. It is deadly on its own, but it also has an army of dedicated followers.
- Villains count as 4 monsters for purposes of encounter size, XP award, and treasure.
- Villains have four times as many hit points as monsters with the same CR.
- Villains get a +1 adjustment to their initiative.
- Villains inflict triple damage with their attacks, by way of increased damage and more attacks each round.
- Villains get 5 action point(s).
- (Villain Role) Immunity (partial 7): Villains are immune to the first seven conditions applied to them during an encounter. If an eighth condition is applied to a villain, it is resolved normally. A 'condition' is defined as any non-instantaneous harmful effect applied to the monster, other than damage, but is most commonly one of the defined Status Conditions (but it doesn't have to be). Statuses related to damage (such as injured, bloodied, staggered, dying, or dead) are not 'conditions', and cannot be negated or avoided with this ability.
- Villains have the following special abilities:
|Two Steps Ahead (Ex; Villain Role) Auto Upon Death|
|The first time in an encounter that a Villain is reduced to zero or fewer hit points, three things immediately happen, granting a rare glimpse at this foe's true cunning:
At the start of the Villain's next turn, the villain can appear either in any space that has at least partial cover from all enemy creatures (e.g., around a nearby corner), or in a space where one of its minions currently stands. If the latter option is chosen, the minion is killed to make room for its master. At that time, any conditions the Villain was suffering under are immediately cleared, all accumulated efforts to pierce its condition immunity are removed, and its hit points are set to half its normal maximum ( hit points). Once this has occurred, the Villain's immunity to damage expires, and it may perform its turn as normal.
The Villain is killed for good the second time its hit points are reduced to zero or less.
|Surrounded By Idiots (Ex; Villain Role) Free Action 1/Rnd|
|Up to once per round as a free action during their turn, a Villain may summon four minions, placing them in any unblocked space the Villain can perceive, as long as the space is large enough for the minion to occupy without squeezing. Any time this special ability is used and the total number of summoned minions present would exceed eight, it only summons enough minions to bring the total to eight. Of course, any minion that is killed reduces the number of minions present...|
|Keep Your Friends Close (Ex; Villain Role) Immediate Action|
|Once per round as an immediate action, the Villain may apply all of the damage of a single attack just made against them to a single ally within 30 feet of their space, instead. The Villain takes no damage from the attack, and any secondary effects of the attack (such as status conditions) are resolved against the allied creature instead. This ability may never be used more than once per round. If the Villain has no allies within 30 feet, they cannot use this ability.|
|Alpha Assault (Ex; Villain Role) Always On|
|A Villain may expend up to two action points in the same round.|
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, Legends, 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. Legends are much simpler, tighter, combats, they do not have henchmen or minions and they do not resurrect, but they more than make up for it with their durability, healing, and ability to move the battlefield around as they wish. 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" pattern 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. :)