Monster block elements in order of importance (to me). Does your priority list differ? Tell me about it.

Monster block elements in order of importance (to me). Does your priority list differ? Tell me about it.

Monster block elements in order of importance (to me). Does your priority list differ? Tell me about it.

1. Name: e.g. Beholder, not “Theodore,” a good name can conjure up a picture. If I have to, I can totally bullshit the rest. Come up with moves and quick stats, that is.

2. Moves (and/or Instinct): what does it do? Some might say Instinct here and I sympathize with that. The point is I need to know how it behaves. Moves and instincts both do that in different ways, but I see moves as a bit more useful/layered.

3. Stats: when is it dead, how much damage does it do? This is so easy to build on the fly that it’s almost not important.

4. Tags: I look here if I need to know something in context. How many more will show up if I use the creature’s “call for reinforcements” move? Is it intelligent enough to know that the wizard is casting spells? Is it planar or magical or religious?

5. Description: this is more for thinking away from the table. It often gives me ideas about stories to build around the creature.

17 thoughts on “Monster block elements in order of importance (to me). Does your priority list differ? Tell me about it.”

  1. It’s super contextual for me.

    If I have a clear picture of the monster in my head (e.g. “chimera”) then I also have a pretty clear picture of what it can do and how it behaves, so the moves and tags and instinct aren’t that important.

    In that case, I want stats (HP, armor, damage) that are accurate to the monster-making questionnaire, because I’ve found that a big part of “playing to find out” is sticking to those numbers.

    But if it’s a new monster, or a new/specific take on a monster that I generally know, then it’s pretty similar to what you describe. I’d probably put tags above stats, and maybe even the description higher if the thing is really unusual.

  2. I think RAW moves are “what” like Marshall Miller says, but it’s easy enough to give the moves a voice to include “why” and “how” as well.

    Here’s an example of an Into the Odd monster that I think does things a vastly different way to be much more evocative:

    Stone Lion – Intelligent Quadruped

    STR 15, DEX 10, CHA 15, 10hp, Powered Armoured Body 2. Trample (d10). 

    * Speak calmly about the beauties of his 

    * Beckon humans to travel to his homeland as willing slaves, but won’t force them.

    * Translate between people and animals.

  3. It’s funny. I think of Tags as the What and Moves as the How. Tags are essentially nouns. Static. Moves are action verbs/phrases. As a shark man, I am aquatic. The thing I do is “bite their head off.”

  4. Tags seem like where you store the more boring passive Moves that are still important to the fiction. A shark man can have the tag “water breather” or the move “breathe underwater”. One of those seems more appropriate. They can have the move “bite off a limb” or the tag “limb biting”. “Things they do to the players” seems like where a tag becomes a move. I’m sure there are many examples that break my comparison.

  5. Greg Soper Exactly. I think Dungeon World is a lot more fractal than it pretends to be. The book should more overtly draw connections between tags on all things (steadings, equipment, monsters, npcs, etc.) and “own” that. To your point, there is a kind of continuum that goest tag — gm/monster move — full move (one that spells out results levels/effects). They are related.

  6. Tags and moves are a bit like object-oriented programming. Hell. They aren’t a “bit like” they ARE object-oriented program operating on paper, mind, and fiction rather than in a computer. Paper is code. The mind is the CPU. Fiction is the input and output.

  7. Ray Otus Woah, I’m glad my comment kicked you into ontological game design mode, haha. Don’t get existential on us. I like the idea of that continuum. That makes a lot of sense to me.

  8. In my notes, I like to put the wordy description and grim Portents up top because that’s what I’m using first.

    Then I would add in my instinct/moves/ tags because they all flow into each other. The instinct tells me what this thing wants, its moves will tell me how it goes about following its instinct, and the tags tell me what that is gonna look like in the fiction.

    Then stats.

    I’m also a new gm and change the formatting of my notes every two weeks or so 😅

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