A question about the monster listings: how do you adjudicate a situation in which a monster is not using its default…

A question about the monster listings: how do you adjudicate a situation in which a monster is not using its default…

A question about the monster listings: how do you adjudicate a situation in which a monster is not using its default form of attack? The obvious example is the dragon, which is listed as having a bite. Presumably it also has some form of breath weapon, but the only suggestion of one is the move “bend an element to its will.”

How do you decide how much damage it does, or whom it targets? Unless I’ve missed something, there’s nothing about area effects in the rules. 

Yeah, I know, “whatever the fiction dictates.” I get that the game is meant to be much more improvisational than 4E (the system with which I’m most familiar), but I do wish that there was an example of this sort of situation in the book.

Side note: I noticed that in the Slave-Pit adventure, the author gives a couple of monsters multiple forms of attack, with different damage values. Is that kosher? The official monster listings don’t do this, even in cases in which multiple weapons are implied. And, if you’re using the monster creation rules, how would you ever come up with different damage values for the same critter?

(I suspect that I’m probably being too literal in my approach, but I’m very much a traditional RPGer with little experience in storytelling games. I’m going to be GMing a dry run of DW next week in preparation for a convention game at the end of the month, and am concerned about getting myself in the right mindset.)

8 thoughts on “A question about the monster listings: how do you adjudicate a situation in which a monster is not using its default…”

  1. From page 23: “Monsters roll damage as listed in their description. Use this damage any time the monster takes direct action to hurt someone, even if they use a method other than their normal attack.”

    Any time a monster does damage directly, even using another form of attack, just use it’s damage.

    Listing multiple forms of attack isn’t something we normally do, but there’s no reason you couldn’t. Generally damage is based on the creature’s skill, not the weapons on hand. Just like a player uses their damage die with a sword or a dagger, a goblin does the same.

    If the damage isn’t directly from the monster (maybe it collapses a pillar on them), there’s general damage rules on page 23 as well.

  2. The steps I usually take when I am about to narrate stuff that monsters do;

    1) does it make sense that the monster would do this – is it something I’ve already established or something canonically intrinsic to the monster as an idea (fire breath for a dragon, vampire turning into mist, etc)?

    2) does it deal damage?  if so, roll the dice

    3) what else happens?

    number three is useful because it helps move me to the next thing.  It’s my “what do you do?” prompt.  A dragon breathing fire would surely deal its damage to everything in a decent range and then also, you know, everything would be on fire.  So there’s that to deal with.

  3. Really appreciate the clarification. I had originally assumed that monster damage was as you describe, but then was thrown off by the multiple attack forms in the Slave-Pit demo. I thought that perhaps I missed something. (Also, I was probably thinking in terms of 4E, which tends to reduce damage inflicted to multiple targets.)

  4. I’m toying with a couple of ideas – the first is allowing NPCs to use magic weapons, etc, and maybe get bonuses to their damage rolls, or other effects. The second is thinking about spell effects for magic-using NPCs. For example, a Solitary Sorcerer by default does 1d10 base damage, but if that sorcerer is a novice casting a magic missile-type spell, he may reasonably be expected to do less damage than a mighty adept casting a humongous fireball (etc). Of course you can handle the differences to some extent “in the fiction”, but I’m thinking about maybe modifying the base damage to reflect whether an NPC magic-user is mega-powerful or not. I’ll probably try it out in play a few times and see how it goes.

  5. Sarah Newton, my guess is that it’s more interesting to show the difference between the apprentice and the archmage in what happens when the players Defy Danger.  The apprentice playing with powers he has not mastered might get it right and do a ton of damage, or might get it wrong and miss comically.  The archmage might or might not blow you up completely, but even on your best dodge, something dangerous is going to happen.

  6. David Thiel that’s probably a typo, but one now enshrined in the 16 HP Dragon post. With so many monsters we did occasionally make mistakes. I thought we caught them all, but, you know…

    I like to think of the monster creation system as only one way you could do it. It applies to the broadest category of fantasy monsters, but it could work differently. I think we may even include a military monster creation system in the war supplement, but we’ll see.

  7. Sage LaTorra Thanks again! I’d been noodling with the monster creation rules. Making monsters was my favorite part of 4E, and it’s even easier/more fun in DW. I was statting up a Jabberwock and found myself puzzling over why it had more HP than the dragon. I wondered whether I’d missed something or whether you’d been trying to compensate for something else (such as the 5 armor) when you designed it.

    BTW, here’s what I came up with for a Jabberwock. Pretty straightforward, but then again, the original source material doesn’t offer much in the way of description.


    Solitary, Huge

    Bite (d10+3 damage) Close, Reach

    20 HP, 2 Armor

    Special Qualities: Wings

    Instinct: To bite the unwary

     Catch a victim in its claws

     Whiffle and burble

Comments are closed.