Advice on creating creatures

Discussion on game mastering Earthdawn. May contain spoilers; caution is recommended!
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Advice on creating creatures

Post by wbush3 » Fri Oct 26, 2018 6:03 pm

I am thinking about making some new creatures for a game I will be running in the future, and I am wondering if anyone has advice on designing creatures and making sure that they are balanced for a given challenge (circle).

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Re: Advice on creating creatures

Post by etherial » Fri Oct 26, 2018 6:38 pm

If at all possible, take an existing creature, add a Mask, and replace the description with whatever you feel is appropriate. The existing creatures aren't too broken.

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Re: Advice on creating creatures

Post by wbush3 » Fri Oct 26, 2018 7:40 pm

I've considered this, and while I love the Mask system, some of my ideas don't work with pre-existing creatures. I used to make my own creatures and horrors for previous editions that I ran, but there is enough of a change with 4th edition that I want to make sure I don't create unbalanced creatures. I can always experiment through play, but I was hopping there might be some advice for determining Challenge (Circle)

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Re: Advice on creating creatures

Post by Slimcreeper » Fri Oct 26, 2018 10:40 pm

Reskinning an existing creature is safest, followed by play testing in mock encounters, followed by just write the dang thing up and don't worry too much. If you miscalculated, just change the stats on the fly. Or have some backup for either the creature or the party depending on how things swing.

What's your idea? It's always good to share!

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Re: Advice on creating creatures

Post by Tattered Rags » Sat Oct 27, 2018 4:13 pm

First and foremost, it's easier to get specific advice rather than general, so my biggest advice is to put the creature(s) here on the forums for crowdsourcing the balance. If you do, I'd ask that you tag it in the subject line with [Creature], [Horror], etc. Makes it easier for others to find and use in their own games later down the road.

Like me. Because I probably will steal your ideas.

Generally speaking, if you know what your players stats are, then you can gear it towards them. I'm sure you know the statistics behind the Core Step system. You want your Warrior with Melee Weapons of 14 to hit half the time, then make the PD 14, but know that the Scout with a Missile Weapons of 10 will usually miss. Nothing really new here from previous editions so you should be fine, but good advice to remember.

Same goes in reverse for the creature's main attack against the players. Figure out who it will likely go against in the group and stat accordingly. You could aim for the player dying after three rounds one-on-one or vice-versa, adjusting average damage and hit rate to get whatever you're aiming for.

Once you have the basic stats and attack and damage, then consider special maneuvers, powers, general tactics and behaviors, and what in numbers you want to see these creatures attack with. Some good advice from Panda (Morgan Weeks) that I received on one of my enemies, limit the number of decisions the GM has to make. You already have enough to think about and pay attention to. It might be better to modify a main attack with some extra-success mechanic or situational modifier rather than providing some situational option. (In my case, if the construct was surrounded, I had the option of attacking everyone around me at a lower step or only attacking one person with no modifier. The recommendation was to instead provide a bonus to the attack to discourage surrounding it. I added a random factor of who to attack to give it a little more flavor.)

And keep in mind, above all things, that (1) more rolls mean more chances for exploding dice and (2) lower steps have a higher chance of exploding at least once. Weak enemies that swarm can quickly get out of hand, as I found to my chagrin with the Shadow Mantis. I statted them to be easy to kill and win through long attrition, but my weaponsmith rolled low while they rolled high.

For really technical exploration of your encounter balance, you can start to compare results.

I'm still new at all this, so keep that in mind if anything doesn't quite make sense.
Adventure I'm running:
Under the Stars

Adventure GM post-mortem:
Under the Stars Postmortem

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