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D&D 3E
Creative Monsters 
14th-Mar-2009 09:18 pm
I have one of those players that makes DMing difficult. He's read every rulebook and has a photographic memory, instantly recalling the stats of nearly any enemy you can throw at him. So, I've learned to make... interesting... creations.

After applying the fiendish creature and monster of legend template to an advanced housecat (A creature I have named the Gigantadon because I love irony), I began thinking... what other hilarious or creative creatures have been made?

So tell me, have you run into this problem and made up a creature from a wacky combination of base monsters and templates to keep your players on their toes?
15th-Mar-2009 01:47 am (UTC)
Alternately, you can just change the description of a creature without changing stats at all.

Though throwing an Ethereal Witherfang Trundlebear at them is always fun.
15th-Mar-2009 01:54 am (UTC)
I do that a lot. Still, I like to actually throw something different at them once in a while. :P
15th-Mar-2009 02:32 am (UTC)
I throw my players off by translating Palladium monsters and adventures into D&D. They also have quite a few NPC arch-enemies to keep them on their toes.
15th-Mar-2009 04:54 am (UTC)
I just come up with an idea for a monster and then make up stats that fit that concept--appropriate attacks and defenses for the party level, and then 1-2 abilities to make things interesting. 4e is awesome (in its design principals, at least).

The other common solution is don't try and surprise your player with a new monster, but with a new challenge. Switching up the terrain will do this (sure they may know the monster's every stat--but things can still be interesting if its tactics now involve a cliff).

I also like coming up with synergies between monsters: I had a will'o'wisp and a shambling mound in one encounter--the player who new the MM inside and out gave me a look like "Nice. Oh you bastard. Nice." when he realized that the will'o'wisp could use it's electricity to buff the shambler (something I didn't even realize when I was designing the encounter). It was nice, because his knowledge of the MM made the encounter more interesting for him, without causing me any problems. Of course the next time he called my "jump out and surprise you" monster from one of the random books I got really pissed off at him, so take that as you will.
15th-Mar-2009 07:52 am (UTC)
Infuriating at times, their inability to separate in-character knowledge from out-of-character knowledge.

I thankfully don't have anyone like that at the moment, but I've occasionally switched vital things - elements (Fire Resistance becomes Electricity Resistance), feats, even similar class abilities.
15th-Mar-2009 08:36 am (UTC)
My lowest level character i was playing at a recent con was killed by zombie chickens...
16th-Mar-2009 05:50 pm (UTC)
Slow death?
15th-Mar-2009 11:44 am (UTC)
There's always a changeup.

I once had some orcs get killed, but at the end of that fight, one of them, breaks the seal on the crypt that happened to be living in. All the lights went out and a door opened.

A big change in condition and the type of fight puts the players in all the wrong positions. It's evil, but it's a good plot twist every-so-often.

Edited at 2009-03-15 11:46 am (UTC)
15th-Mar-2009 05:16 pm (UTC)
I usually go for templates for themed monsters, not so much for increasing the challenge.

Adding class levels is my favorite way to make encounters tougher. Two levels of Warrior (the NPC class) may be sufficient to give an extra attack and an additional feat. (And it always gives +2 BAB and +2d8+CON HP -- nothing to sneeze at for giants!) CR only increases by 1.

A level or two of rogue gives sneak attack damage when there's surprise or flanking. Non-associated classes treat their level as being halved for CR: you could add 4 levels of sorcerer or cleric to a giant, and only increase the CR by +2.

Buffs can help without necessarily increasing the CR. A 4th level sorcerer-giant casting Magic Missile or Acid Arrow is pointless. A giant buffed with Shield, Bull's Strength, Bear's Endurance is a significant challenge.

Intelligent creatures know their vulnerabilities, and can take efforts to work around them. Everyone knows to kill a troll with fire or acid... now imagine a troll who's spent 100 GP for two potions of Endure Elements (one fire, one acid). It's not much protection, but could change the nature of the battle.
16th-Mar-2009 12:38 pm (UTC)
I usually just take an existing monster, change its appearance, and maybe make an adjustment to its damage type. I once had the players on a ship and Sea Scorpions attacked! I just used the Giant Ant.

I had a boss who dispersed into a cloud of shadow which acted like a swarm. No problem there, I just took one of the swarms and made all of its damage cold damage. It had a poison, which I just changed to a sort of frostbite effect.

Every once in a while I will make up my own monsters, though, although without playtesting them first I have to usually scale it on the fly.
16th-Mar-2009 03:08 pm (UTC)
My method for dealing with players who cannot sort in- and out-of- character knowledge is a baseball bat.
16th-Mar-2009 11:14 pm (UTC)
The would make them do a Knowledge/Intelligence Check.
As for unusual monsters, use the half dragon template on a create it might not be noticed on.
My favorite is applying the template to Digesters.
18th-Mar-2009 03:26 am (UTC) - DM FUN
Next time they come up against a good sized Dragon, try giving it a level or 2 of Monk... Good Wisdom= better AC, Stunning fist, you get the picture... Or Barbarian... "The nasty black dragon froths at the mouth and throws caution to the wind, charging at you with murder on its mind..." Effective for parties who devise cunning schemes while the dragon soars high above, waiting for his breath weapon to recharge...

Also, just swapping feats is great... Sure lots of ogres have and use power attack, but lets see one with a large spiked chain and improved trip... 20' reach...? Yes please... Free attack on prone target after successful trip...? Absolutely... My players ran screaming... Then came back with more of a plan... Good for keeping them on their toes...
7th-Apr-2009 11:22 am (UTC)
To make unexpectedly tough different monsters I recommend this monster generator: http://www.dinglesgames.com/tools/MonsterGenerator/dnd35/

It is create for creating odd mixes of classes / monsters and sizes. Gigantic Kobold 12th Level Barbarian anyone?

The best thing is that it is really quick.

Note: It is done by a friend of mine so I'm bias.
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