How Monstrous: Mothman

Introducing a new feature, wherein I create monsters for 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons, which will be based on both creatures of folklore and my own twisted imaginings. Now, without further ado:

A Creature Of Myth And Legend

Most know little about the mysterious Mothman, and the vast majority of those who do consider it to be a myth. Still, these strange creatures appear in many stories, usually in the prelude to a great disaster with terrible loss of life. A bridge collapse on a busy market day, a fire in night in a small town, or the cave in of a mine shaft could all come in the wake of this strange observer.

A Non-Human Watcher

Standing over six feet tall, a Mothman is proportioned not unlike a normal human albeit one with a massive set of moth like wings protruding from its back. Its entire body is covered in moderately iridescent light-grey fur, although its most prominent feature is a pair of glowing red multifaceted eyes. It is said that anyone who meets it’s gaze is filled with dark premonitions of their impending doom. None can remember what they’ve seen when the gaze turns away, but the chills remain.

An Inscrutable Plan

A Mothman has no discernible agenda, and it is unknown even whether their presence at the site of an impending disaster is meant to be warning, although popular theory is that they cause the disasters themselves. They are normally solitary and non-aggressive, and if attacked they will usually attempt to flee before engaging in combat. Occasionally, they are found in the company of the impressively cruel, who use the Mothman’s reputation and gaze to cow their enemies. Alternatively, some more cowardly individuals chase Mothman sightings hoping for the opportunities brought on by the tragedies of others.

Mothman

Medium Humanoid, unaligned

Armor Class: 13
Hit Points: 85 (11d8)
Speed: 30 ft., fly 60 ft.

STR       DEX       CON      INT      WIS      CHA
10 (+0)  16 (+3)  11 (+0)  5 (-3)  15 (+2)  10 (+0)

Skills: Stealth + 5, Perception + 4
Senses: Darkvision 90 ft., passive Perception 14
Languages: –
Challenge: 3 (700 XP)

Portentous Gaze. When a creature that can see the Mothman’s eyes starts its turn within 60 feet of the Mothman, the Mothman can force it to make a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw or be frightened for 1 minute. A frightened target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, with disadvantage if the Mothman is within line of sight, ending the effect on itself on a success. If a target’s saving throw is successful or the effect ends for it, the target is immune to the banshee’s Portentous Gaze for the next 24 hours
Unless surprised, a creature can avert its eyes to avoid the saving throw at the start of its turn. If the creature does so, it can’t see the Mothman until the start of its next turn, when it can avert its eyes again. If the creature looks at the Mothman in the meantime, it must immediately make the save.

Actions

Claws Melee Weapon Attack: + 2 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target.
Hit: 9 (2d8) slashing damage.

 

Strength And Dexterity

Today I want to talk about statistically influenced mechanics.

In a game of any kind, mechanics control the methods by which you as a player interact with the game world. This is as true in a color matching block game as it is in Football Manager, but I have a very specific topic I wish to discuss today.

Specifically, I am going to talk about the different ways in which accuracy and power are presented in games, especially role-playing games, and what they mean for the players. We’re going to be using Dungeons & Dragons as the ur example, but this is applicable in what should be a fairly obvious array of cases.

In Dungeons & Dragons, a character possesses six statistics, including the eponymous Strength and Dexterity. Strength purports to be a gauge of your character’s aptitude at at tasks requiring physical power, while Dexterity measures your character’s natural talent in challenges that require speed and coordination. You may not be surprised to learn, then, that Strength is the traditional purvey of a melee focused character, while Dexterity more greatly benefits a ranged combatant, as in both cases the single statistic does a fine job of seeing that character through their allotted tasks.

So, this clearly works perfectly well. But why does it do so, and how might it work differently?

Well, traditionally, most games with a more complex set of data for the player to consume benefit from streamlining when they can, as long as it is not at the expense of the experience. Accessibility is a wonderful thing, and any veteran of gaming knows that any game with any RPG elements at all benefits greatly from the ability to say “This is my strong guy, I put all his points in strength, now on to the next fellow”. It also makes things easier on new players, as a character who possesses a great deal of information but relies on a central attribute is one that can be explored at the player’s leisure, absorbing information in their own time.

So, why change it? For a different, more thoughtful, more balanced sort of game, of course. Imagine, if you will, a game of Dungeons & Dragons where all bonuses to strike the enemy were derived from Dexterity, and all bonuses for damage were derived from Strength. Ignoring the more recent invention of Finesse weapons (which can be disregarded if you haven’t heard of them), think of what this does to the landscape. The Ogre, a tremendously strong brute with a previously unerring club, is suddenly a lumbering thug whose strikes spell death for those it hits, if only it lands one. Suddenly, the man mountain in armor and the nimble rapier duelist are on an equal footing, one dodging war-hammer blows by a hairsbreadth and the other trusting armor and luck to save him from death by a thousand cuts. It brings a certain air of Robert E. Howard fantasy to the concept, and is at least a departure from the norm. It also encourages a broader array of abilities than previous, as a warrior with moderate speed and strength will likely prevail over one solely focused on either.

White Wolf actually makes use of this concept in some of their World of Darkness games, in fact. A character needs a solid combination of Strength and Dexterity to stand a chance in combat in Scion, for example, where a strength focused hero will find they cannot land a blow. However, White Wolf also often makes use of an interesting mechanic wherein a well aimed strike gains additional chances to do damage, providing further incentive for improving your character’s Dexterity to prepare for combat situations.

In conclusion, the most important thing to keep in mind is what you want the effects of your mechanics to be on your game. Decide what you want the player to be able to do, and what you want the game to feel like, and then work backwards to create mechanics that support that feeling.