Monsters on the fly?

Monsters on the fly?

Monsters on the fly?

Do you have a shorthand method for generating monster stats quickly, in the middle of an encounter?

I really dig the fiction-first Q&A method described by the book, but I like to maintain eye-contact with the players as much as possible. I come from playing Tunnels & Trolls, which shares with Dungeon World a fiction-first notion of monster abilities, without formal moves and tags. But monsters in T&T have a single stat, called a Monster Rating, which makes it super easy to make them right when you need them.

Up to now, I’ve always found the stats I need for impromptu encounters right in the rulebook: It’s not hard to grab a monster and change one or two moves and the description as needed. But unless the page is bookmarked, it’s not much faster than using the questions.

Maybe there is no faster way. I understand that the description alone may be enough for a session or even a whole campaign, depending on what the players do. If you have a strong image of the monster and it’s goals and behavior, you don’t need a formal list of moves and tags to wing it. The stats are the choke point—not because there are a whole mess of numbers to worry about, but because they each depend on the whole gamut of questions.

This isn’t much of a problem, I’m just curious what other GMs do! 😉

13 thoughts on “Monsters on the fly?”

  1. This may sound crazy, but I actually memorized every question in the monster generation list just by creating monsters in my very first sessions of DW. It’s just so easy, answers all follow the same pattern and the mechanical results are just what you would expect.

  2. Nicolas Vaz, that’s true. The rules already provide  a gut-check system for damage, under “Other sources of damage” in “Playing the Game”. You could say off-the-cuff monsters generally do d6 or d8 damage, unless they are especially incompetent or especially deadly. Armor is likewise simple enough to adjudicate on the fly.

    HP offers a much wider spread, but not an insurmountable one. Monsters that don’t matter enough to do the whole Q&A probably don’t need a whole bunch of HP, and you could roll their damage die, just like treasure.

    There’s it is, a solution in two simple rules of thumb. Physician, heal thyself!

  3. Nicolas Vaz Thats what I do. My monsters make what ever moves seem appropriate and die when I feel they should. Which if my players are reading this(Hi pete) Is generally when they take about the right amount of damage…. or fall from a high place(which is everywhere because IW)

  4. well now I’m paranoid too, but I didn’t think you’re a fool! 🙂


    Daniel Kellett I like to know how many HP my monsters have before I use them. It helps me to fight the urge of just letting the monster die when the players are taking ages to kill it, or making it tougher than it should be just to keep it going even if the players almost one-shotted it.

  5. I start be describing the monster to the players as I make it up with as much detail as is necessary to fire their imagination. The moves and stats flow naturally from the description. Lastly I adjust the stats based on how strong I perceive the party to be and how far along the session we are. I want to almost kill some or most members every session.

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