So, my L2 group has encountered a stone guard lizard that will come alive and attack them as soon as they try to enter the Place of Power the lizard was set to guard. Since this lizard is a magical construct, essentially pure stone magicked to life, I figure it should be impervious to magic, fire, and sharp instruments. But it will be vulnerable to blunt instruments and of course it will also be very heavy, so maybe they will climb a tree and drop boulders on it, or try to lure it into the swamp and drown it — whatever. I am trying to give them an interesting small-stakes enemy they can’t just immediately hack to death.
My problem is this: I am fairly certain that when the beastie starts to attack, the wizard will try Magic Missile (because that’s pretty much all he has), and the others will try their sharp weapons. When I tell them none of those things will actually trigger a Move in this case, I’ve noticed before that instead of thinking “aha, clearly we must find another way of dealing with the situation!” my players tend to feel frustrated and railroaded, because my GM veto on their logical-on-the-face-of-it actions takes them out of the fiction.
But if I just make the lizard vulnerable to magic missiles and normal attacks after all, I’ve also seen in the past that, because there are five players, even at level 1 they will just make mincemeat of the lizard, probably without the poor animal even getting a chance to exhibit its monster moves.
How do you make ‘simple’ monsters interesting against such a large group of players? Thanks to earlier advice from this group, I’ve gained a better understanding of how to handle big bad boss monsters, where a longer, more climactic fight scene is appropriate. But often I also just want to provide some less momentous monsters. How do I achieve that without either frustrating my players or making it too easy for them?