The Alchemist's Bench: Game Master Advice
Beefing Up Monsters - Part 2
Adding to Monster Stats
GM Advice

by Dewayne Agin

This is the second article in a series. The series deals with the problem of Heroes that are too strong, either because they have too many artifacts, or you are playing with rules that allow them to increase their stats. As stated in the previous article, this is not a problem unless the quests you are playing become too easy, in which case the players can lose their interest. The goal of these two articles is to allow you to 'beef' up the monsters that you have without resorting to buying extra figures.

In the previous article we dealt with giving the monsters special characteristics to make them harder. One special characteristic that can be given to a monster is to change the basic statistics (stats) that describe the monster. Since there are several ways to do this, I decided to devote an entire article to this instead of including it with the previous one.

When you look at a monster, there are five stats that can be changed: Movement, Attack Dice, Defend Dice, Body Points, and Mind Points. Each can change the difficulty of a monster, but in different ways. You may also want to change the basic equipment that a monster comes with. Finally, when changing monster stats, you have to decide two more things: a) is the change permanent, or temporary and b) does the change affect all monsters of that type on the quest or just specific ones.

To start the article we will look at changing each of the basic monster stats. Initially you wouldn't think that changing the amount of movement squares a monster can make would affect it's difficulty that much. Adding extra movement squares to a monsters stats can be used in interesting ways, though. You will notice that most of the monsters are slower than the Heroes and would have a hard time outrunning a Hero. What if you upped a monsters movement to the same as a Hero - 2 red dice. This would give the monster a chance to get away. Why would you want to do that? Well, what if the monster got away. He could warn others that the Heroes are present, and bring an angry swarm of monsters down on the Heroes. Or maybe he could stay just ahead of the Heroes, leading them to a trap. Monster that can move as fast as Heroes can also run away when the odds are too great. Later they can surprise the Heroes, jumping out of the shadows or from behind a corner, where they were laying in ambush.

Adding to the monster's Attack and Defense Dice bring obvious changes to the monster. A monster with more Attack Dice can do more damage to the Heroes, and a monster with more Defense Dice is harder to hit. Another way of changing the monster's Defense Dice is to allow him to block a hit by rolling the white shield instead of the black one. This gives the monster the same chance of deflecting a blow that the Heroes have.

Changing the monster's Body Points makes the obvious change of allowing the monster to live longer. Changing a monster's Mind Points may or may not affect the way you play. The basic rules for HeroQuest never really developed the Mind Points. The Elf & Barbarian Quest packs used these stats, and many of the spells for HeroQuest that are found on the Internet use them. If you are playing with Mind Points, adding to this monster's stat can allow the monster to better resist the Hero's spellcasting, and/or allow it to better cast its own spells.

The next item of discussion is changing a monster's basic equipment. Doing this can allow you an explanation as to why a monster's stats have changed. Perhaps you have given the Orc that the Heroes are encountering a magical sword. To get the artifact the Heroes must get it from the Orc. Instead of just handing the Heroes the sword, though, he has decided to use it against them, giving him an extra two attack dice. Or maybe you want to give each Goblin in a quest an extra defense die. You can tell the Heroes that they are all wearing chain mail, giving them an extra die. Unfortunately for the Heroes, Goblin chain mail is too small for them to wear.

Another way of changing the monsters basic equipment is to give it items to use during a fight, such as a potion or a magical scroll. The monster can use the item anytime during the fight. If the monster is killed before it gets a chance to use the item, you may want to allow the Heroes to pick it up for their own use. A good example of this is to give a monster a potion of healing. This allows you to potentially beef up a monster without fiddling with its stats.

Deciding if you want to make the change permanent or temporary can change the way the quest is played. You might want to give all Skeletons in a room an extra Body Point permanently. On the other hand, if you want to limit the scope of your change, you may want to make all Skeletons have an extra Body Point as long as something remains in effect. For instance maybe a Chaos Warlock is enchanting the Skeletons. As long as he is alive they have an extra Body Point, but once he is killed they revert to normal.

Deciding whether all monsters of that type are affected or just specific ones can also change the quest. Using the example above, you could make all the Skeletons on the quest have the extra Body Point, or maybe just the ones in the same room as the Chaos Warlock. Another example is found in the basic quest booklet that comes with HeroQuest. Quest #3, Lair of the Orc Warlord, has Ulag, an Orc with all of his stats increased. None of the other Orcs on the level have these stats, just Ulag. Sometimes increasing one monster or just a few monsters' stats works the best. Other times you might want to increase the stats of all monsters of that type, either for a quest level or for an entire quest pack.

Lastly, when changing a monster's stats you have to decide whether you are going to tell the Heroes or not. Sometimes you might want to give them a description of the room they just entered that clues them into the fact that the monsters are stronger than normal. 'As you enter the room you spot a foul Chaos Warlock casting spells in the corner. Suddenly a group of Skeletons rise from the dungeon floor, their eyes glowing with a strange, reddish light.' A clue like this will tell the Heroes that they are encountering some Skeletons that are not ordinary. Other times you might want to keep the fact that the monsters stats have been changed a secret. In the Goblins with chain mail example, you could roll the extra defense die without telling them. If they search the room for treasure after the monster is dead, tell them that they find a small suit of chain mail on the Goblin. There are probably times when you want to tell the Heroes about the changes, and other times when you don't. Both can add excitement to the game.

Techniques like adding to the monsters' stats and giving them the extra characteristics covered in the previous issue can be used however you wish. There are no steadfast rules in doing so - you are the Game Master so you are the final authority. The main purpose of any such changes is to add fun, excitement, and challenge to the game.

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