Discuss: Do you show monster stats to players?

Discuss: Do you show monster stats to players?

Discuss: Do you show monster stats to players?


Talking about the full ‘monster box’ as found in the Rules/Codex here.

Assuming players might have read the rules anyway, it would only be consistent to show them a new monster you wrote yourself, wouldn’t it?

Or do you prefer players not to know what a particular enemy is capable of so not to bias the actions player have their PCs make?

Have you tried both ways and want to share your experiences? Personally I have only ever kept the monster details to myself but next session I will try how showing the monster details to the players feels or if it even makes any difference.

(Question does not apply to when you want them to find out what they are truly fighting by themselves, of course.)

14 thoughts on “Discuss: Do you show monster stats to players?”

  1. Any player is completely free to read the book, and I will sometimes discuss game details outside of the session. But I don’t like announce the monster’s stats and things during play.

    Generally in play, I describe the thing, and how it presents a conflict (“it pushes its children behind it and snarls”, “you are surrounded by them and they look excited”, etc), but any more will require Spout Lore, Discern Realities, or Bardic Knowledge

  2. I sometimes tell my players what I did or what monsters were after the session but in game I try not to. The closest I come is teasing them about it like how impressed I was with the kraken’s instinct or wincing and telling them I just saw a chain devil’s moves. Never staying their names, just sounding concerned for their safety or entertained by things we’ll discover in the fiction.

  3. For DW I wouldn’t give out stats, though I’m not going to police what my players read at the (virtual) table, let alone on their own time. Though when I make my own monsters I don’t hand out the stats, least not on game time. I’m happy to talk about them outside the game though.

    For something like Pathfinder, where you have in system ways to learn a great deal about the monsters I’ll explain specifics, though generally the only player I have who it comes up with is most likely setting there with the Bestiary open anyway.

  4. Secrete. They may read material on monsters in various books and blogs, but that doesn’t mean I’ve kept it the same ;-).

    I feel showing the stats and moves takes the players out of the moment.

  5. No. Most of the monsters are those I make myself on a scratch of paper with only several words so most of the time players don’t know what to expect. Once they fought a guy who could become immaterial, another one in mecha suit shooting giant flechette ammo and a girl that could link herself to another charater and make him/her take damage. Why spoil the fun? Besides, once characters will defeat the guy, then, yeah, you could give them statblock as a some kind of additional trophy. It will look even cooler if you’re sitting at the table IRL since they could make a some kind of monster codex, no?

  6. Interesting reflections …

    So…. if i made a Monster card with images, – to show “the monster” in game to my players – maybe i need to put the “image” on one side and the stats in the other one ! to avoid they view the stats .. I had not thought of that before,

    Seems like I’ll have more printing costs …

    But make sense! 🙂

  7. I like the approach of giving stats throughout the fight.  Like, if they’re fighting a dozen goblins, after they kill three or four you can mention “Yeah, they only have 3hp, you take out both.”  Or after you’ve been describing the ent’s bark healing up after every wound, you can mutter “your damage, minus the two armor…”

    It makes it feel more like the characters are learning their enemy as they fight.

    But completely ignoring stats and describing them all thematically works too.

  8. I do not show stats nor explicitly reference them. I indicate “progress” against monsters in-fiction. Something like a mob of goblins are easy because saying “they are still streaming into the room” or, conversely, “there are only a handful left” gives players a clear idea of where they are at in the fight, especially once they understand how many they can dispatch on a given turn (or how many turns it takes to dispatch one). For larger/solitary monsters, I try to have them bleed, stagger, pant, etc. in a way that indicates they are in the bottom third of their HP as appropriate. HP slog-fests are extremely wearisome to me, so I never show the players an HP track. And I don’t show them moves because I want them to be a surprise. Obviously players can read the book. It doesn’t mean the monster they read is the same as the one I’m presenting. I rarely use them as written and I like to vary them a little from time to time. Tribe A of goblins might have small bags of stinging insects they throw in combat and Tribe B might use their numbers tactically to flank and dodge out of reach. Trolls might be just like the book while “Swamp Trolls” have a powerful projectile vomit attack that eats away armor. (Mine do!)

  9. Kevin Farnworth similar to how Kevin mentioned; I also deliver stats over the course of combat. A fighter has his moves right?, but this is a role playing game; any good fighter should be able to decipher the damage a target can normally sustain after falling one or two of its kind. Same goes for Armor. Yeah in the Role Play their is no hp value or armor number, but for the mechanical aspect you can tell them. “You start to realize that the damage threshold for these creatures are low” then out of character simply say they have 3hp and no armor. The later can be almost figured out instantly if you detailed a creature that wears little to nothing.

  10. One of the major reasons I create a run with new monsters is because the players HAVE read and memorized all the ones in the book. This is true for any game system. Much of the time I am just re-skinning them but for the same reason.

  11. Yeah, that is always true Bill Hamilton, but I feel like DW is less susceptible to players who are walking Monster Manuals. At least for me. This is because I focus a lot on the moves. A short, evocative move text like “undermine the ground” (Ankheg) can do a LOT of different things in the fiction. Players can know Ankhegs are burrowers, but so are other things. So burrow signs don’t tell them much. And even facing an Ankheg they start wondering about their footing, whether others might pop up, etc.” Memorizing HP and Armor doesn’t give them much. And the moves aren’t quantified like “An African-Ankheg sans coconut can burrow at a ground-speed velocity of 20′ per combat round.” (Oh dear God, I just made a Monte Python reference. Someone shoot me.)  

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