Philosophy of Monsterhood
Now, despite the name, this page is not an explanation of Monster Patterns and Roles, even though it would seem like those would be 'monster types'. But in Epic Path we have defined the 'nuts and bolts' of monsterhood in great detail in the Bestiary entries, and in the various Patterns and Roles that can be applied to the base monsters to fit them to each GM's exact needs.
Instead, this page is a GM-facing discussion of how monsters can be combined, and their behavior changed, to make your game world feel much more 'alive'.
To try and simplify this 'philosophical' approach to running monsters, we're going to drastically simplify this whole process, to give GM's something to work with, and sort our monsters into four categories of behavior, or, Monster Types.
Boss Monster Type
A 'boss' monster is the one that is 'more important', based on your story. The Orc Chief, the Fire Giant Mayor, the Goblin Mufti, the 'boss' of a group of monsters is the one that drives the rest of monsters, and how they behave, through the story. For story purposes, enemy warlords, the Evil Sheriff, the White Wizard of the Midden Tower, the boss of a given encounter line, that is always the boss monster. Note that this type of monster frequently has a role, but not always! The 'Golden Child' of an Aranea nest might be just like any other monster, without any Role or Pattern, but in the STORY, that one monster is the boss, the one the rest of the monsters listen to.
Henchman Monster Type
Boss monsters almost always have at least one henchman. A henchman monster is one that is absolutely, utterly loyal to the boss, both in person and for their goals. Most Henchmen are also Story monsters (see below) but not always! The loyal and powerful 'Igor', the menacing assassin in the shadows, that dire tiger pet, all those and many more can be henchmen, and they make your encounters much more 'alive' and interesting.
On top of that, certain Roles even have the ability to summon minion-class Henchmen, which serves as a mechanic to ensure that the players are always fighting a properly difficult fight. Those henchman rules are very simple: All fights in Epic Path should average out to one monster per player character. If you have a party of nine players, even a Threat, by themselves, isn't going to present much of a challenge, because a Threat is 'only' strong enough to challenge four players. So, in a Boss fight, a Threat will have Henchmen present to help them out. The total number of 'player equivalent' monster strength in the fight should always be roughly equal to the number of players present. So, to fight a party of nine players, a Threat Boss would have five henchmen, on average, to round them out. A Boss without a Role would need eight Henchmen to tackle a party of nine players. Indeed, for a big 'end of dungeon' or 'capstone encounter' sort of fight, a Boss might have even a few extra henchmen to make the fight more dramatic. Henchmen are how Bosses properly scale to match the players, so use them wisely!
'Story' Monster Type
Sometimes, the GM needs for things to happen in a certain way, or needs to impart certain information to the players, or needs a 'face monster' for the players to talk to. Such monsters talk to the players, and have interesting or important things to add to the story, but they are not the boss of anything, and do not serve as special antagonists. (Most antagonist monsters are bosses, regardless of how tough they are.) An example of a 'story' monster could be a talkative goblin that the players find stuck in a hole, who is willing to squeal about the nest of stirges if the players will get it out. Maybe an Ettin who talks to itself and whom the players can sneak up to and eavesdrop on to glean some important facts. An orc jailer who lets information slip while taunting its prisoners, that hilariously larcenous kobold, the ogre cook yelling at the norker kitchen workers, all these and more are 'story' monsters that enrich your story, but are not bosses or henchmen. Note that in most cases, story monsters are NOT NPC's. The players are not expected to routinely kill NPC's, unless you're running a spectacularly bloody game, and most NPC's don't even have combat stats. If an NPC must be engaged in combat, the constituent monster type can be used to enable such story elements.
Mook monsters are 'all the rest'. Mooks may seem unimportant, but they actually serve to make all combats in Epic Path full, rich, and entertaining. Mooks aren't bosses, and they don't have any story elements attached to them, but their behavior in battle can still add a lot of fun and flavor to the game. That one orc who shoves his buddy in front of him, the hungry crocodile that keeps trying death rolls, that cave troll which comes swinging into battle while brachiating from stalactites, or even the bluff courage of that group of Hobgoblins that fight to the death with noble awfulness, all these things can make 'mooks' more interesting. Plus, just because mooks rarely say much doesn't mean they're quiet! Horrible snarls and growls, hoots and savage yells, blood-curdling war cries and howls of agony, the GM can really chew the scenery with a group of monsters and tell stories without saying a word. A group of goblins that attack with vicious snarls feels like a very different fight from a group of norkers that whimper and cringe with every blow they receive and attack they make. Mooks and the way they fight can make every battle interesting and exciting!