Monster Conversion 102
Okay, I found some spare time so it’s on to Defense and other strangeness. For those who haven’t dug into the Dragon Age game, Defense in AGE is a static Target Number that needs to be reached in order to hit and potentially injure a character. Normally, it starts at a base of 10, and you add the character’s Dexterity, and any Shield bonus they have, and subtract Armor Penalty, if they have that as well. So, I did some tests at a few reasonable levels of power for warriors, rogues, and monsters and I found out that overall, the base Defense formula in the Dragon Age game makes it just easy enough for characters to hit one another most of the time. I don’t remember my math now as its been nearly 2 years, but my impression was that in general characters will hit the Defense TN roughly between 50 and 60 percent of the time for opponents meant to be a general threat to their level.
I thought about it and concluded that while most fights in a gritty setting where death is around every corner should be like this, that it didn’t fit the classic D&D paradigm as well. I also did enough math to figure out that a +1 bonus would skew results just enough in the direction of the feel I thought best for human sized targets without making fights drag on for hours. Then I looked at the statistics for larger critters and smaller ones and didn’t see any variance. If you attack an elephant sized tiger, you have just as hard of a time as if you attack a poisonous serpent. I didn’t like that, particularly when thinking of creatures that have surprising agility for their size, such as Dragons.
So I gave a bonus to house cat sized critters and adjusted the scale for things larger than a man. Things as large as Dragons actually have a penalty to Defense to allow for the fact that a) they have a raft of Health and b) most of them have a significant amount of armor but you should still be able to injure them. The D&D idea that AC equals both the enemy’s ability to dodge as well as their armor’s capacity to lessen the impact of blows that hit doesn’t apply in AGE, so I made adjustments. Plague Rats get a +2 bonus to Defense, and Dragons and such get up to a -2 penalty
Fine, Tiny & Diminutive have a base Defense of 12.
Small & Medium have a base of 11.
Large & Huge have a base of 10, but also a +1 Speed bonus.
Gargantuan has a base of 9 and a +2 Speed bonus,
Colossal has a base of 8, and a +2 Speed bonus.
I also had suggestions for Strength and Constitution modifications, and Health amounts, but none of those is important to anybody wanting to undo the Defense mods in the Adversary Compendium.
Now, rolling around to the other major change I made in the Compendium, the statistics block. I came upon a problem when I wrote up two of original D&D’s most iconic enemies, the Beholder and the Vampire. The Dragon Age Stat block is good at cleanly presenting the information and imbedding fluff in the writeup itself. It is not good at condensing information. The information about the Beholder’s ten eyes alone pushed the block past one page, the other features I felt it had to have in order to both be the spiritual successor of the iconic creature, but also to challenge an entire party made it about a page and a half. Vampires were worse, much worse. As my goal was to keep monster entries to one per page, I looked at what seemed redundant.
D&D, at least in the original variant has a concept known as an Enchanted creature. This was a keyword that basically meant you needed a magic weapon to hurt it. You could physically trap it and drop a guillotine blade on its neck and the blade would just stop at the skin. I felt that was unrealistic in a current day fantasy role-playing game, so my version is half damage. They take half damage from punches, kicks, non-magical pig stickers, etc. Well, this in the standard format was 2-3 lines of text because I had to list any options that bypassed it. As I looked at other common powers such as armor and night vision, it became clear that I could concentrate much of this into tags and keywords and place them on lines instead of explaining them every time. Not great for newbie gamers, but I couldn’t imagine the fanbase coming to Mystara would be any newbie gamers who stumbled upon my particular chocolate & peanut butter combo. So I examined a bunch of stat blocks and came up with one I thought was not overly complex, with tags and keywords placed as helpfully as possible. Thus, the Mystara AGE stat block was born.