Thursday, November 8, 2018

Update to Monster Template

I have been thinking a bit about other information that would be useful to include in my monster template, and I noticed I missed a couple of things.

Reaction Modifier

In GURPS, whether or not a given NPC attacks right out of the gate may be determined randomly with a reaction roll. This is a 3d6 roll, with modifiers depending on who the NPC. is reacting to - including prejudices, orneriness, etc. The outcome of this roll is compared to a table to determine the NPC's reaction (hence the name reaction roll). Now, monsters are just NPCs with a short expected lifespan, so it's natural that a reaction roll can be applied to how they interact with the PCs. In fact, this is what is suppose to happen, even if I'm notorious for forgetting to make these rolls. To that end, I want to include a line somewhere in the template that gives relevant modifiers to the reaction roll, both as a reminder that I should be doing this, and because it's useful as heck.

But with that said, the reaction table as it stands is pretty nuanced in terms of how monsters are typically treated in GURPS, and I am making an old-school hack-and-slash type game. Nuance is decidedly not the goal. So how can I alter the current table to reflect how I want monsters typically behave? Well, let's start with examining just how monsters are expected to behave.

When a monster first detects a delver, it needs to decide what it wants to do. Unintelligent creatures will do one of three things: ignore the adventurers, run away from the adventurers, or attack the adventurers. Intelligent monsters may also try to talk to the adventurers before deciding how to proceed, but this is close enough to "ignore the adventurers" that we can lump it in there. So I need a table that basically boils down to one of three outcomes: Attack, Run, or Do Something Else.

Let's consider sign convention for a moment. I don't mean advertisements for a gathering of professionals! I mean answering the question, "What does 'positive' mean in this context?" Because I like to challenge players and because I like combat, I consider anything that leads to a fight as a plus, so things that make bloodletting more likely are "positive". Unfortunately, GURPS has already decided that a "positive" reaction is good for the delvers, and I'm not going to buck this so I don't have to rewrite a bunch of advantages and disadvantages. Thus, a negative modifier will make combat more likely and a positive modifier makes combat less likely. Cool.

This means that our DF reaction table will result in "Run Away!!!" on a high result on 3d and in "Fight!" on a low result. This way a negative modifier to reaction lowers the result, tending toward a combat situation. So let's put this together on a table:

Roll                      Result
7 or less               The monsters attack.
8 to 13                  The monsters are non-aggressive.
14 or more           The monsters run away.

Now, I have wandered far and wide, and still haven't talked about the monster template. Looping back to that, I want to put the Reaction modifiers in the First Encounter section, since this will determine the nature of the encounter. The modifiers listed should be labeled parenthetically based on any innate preferences, cowardice, etc. that might impact the monster's decision to attack, flee, or parley. Furthermore, inherently aggressive monsters will have a native -3 penalty to their reaction so they start with a 50% chance of attacking before other modifiers. Lastly, I can specify this to reaction to humans because all PCs will be human.


Where Reaction Modifier is whether or not a monster will attack in the first place, the morale roll determines if a monster keeps fighting when it is severely injured, the odds turn against them, offers of mercy are offered, etc. GURPS is a roll-under system, so I'm going to set this up so that a roll under a monster's Morale score means a "success" for the monster and it keeps fighting. On a failure, it will try to flee, of if trapped, surrender. A critical success means it fights to the death - don't make more rolls, and a critical failure means it changes teams and fights for the PCs!

So how do we set the morale score? Well, I can either use the frequency of success from Basic Set, p. 36, eyeball it, or come up with some other method. While I'm apt to mix options one and two, let's work through the latter most possibility as an exercise.

We are already making a reaction roll to determine how likely a monster is to fight, so it seems natural that the morale score might be tied to this. Let's consider that the higher the morale score, the more likely the monster is to keep fighting, so this would correspond with increasingly low reaction rolls. Let's take it that a roll that gives way to a fight should probably have a 50% chance of failing a Morale check. That way monsters that just barely decide to fight will give up when pressed half of the time. So a Reaction Roll of 6 means a Morale of 10. We can get this simply enough from Morale = 16 - Reaction Roll Result.

This has the benefit that negative reaction rolls - that is possible with enough penalties to reaction - will result in very high Morale scores. It has the drawback that it's one more calculation the GM has to do on the fly. I'm doubt I'll use this method, but exploring was a good exercise.

Back to template stuff, though. I'm putting the Morale score with the Reaction Modifiers in First Encounter, since it determines how the encounter proceeds. I might even rename that section "Encounter", but I don't want to change the 100+ monsters I've already statted up. We'll see.

Control Points

Because I really do love the Dungeon Grappling rules from Hall of Justice, I will be including a Grappling line in creatures from now on that lists the control points it scores with a grapple and the reach of its grapple.

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