View Full Version : dm'ing high/mid level vs low level

2009-01-20, 09:38 AM
mostly geared towards the 4e dm's. i know with just the one monster manual out right now the low level monsters are very limited. at the higher levels you have a lot more choices as far as variety goes with monsters, and they are more "famed" as adventurers which can lead to some very interesting skill checks but what are your preferred methods to keep your players more surprised about battled as opposed to "oh great more kobolds" or "wow goblins and hyenas again"

So basically a thread for dm's to share their favorite methods to keep anticipation in the players for the all common low level games.

2009-01-20, 09:50 AM
I don't play 4e, so I might not be best qualified to comment here. However, I am running an epic 3.5 game atm, and the way I keep players guessing and interest in generic monsters up is by adding templates and class levels.

One thing I would do is take an existing monster, and add a template or two to it. Maybe up the HD as well and tweak a stat here or a stat there. At the end of the process, you've got something that is mechanically different. Give it a different name and a different physical description and you've got a brand new monster.

The players will never know that it came from an existing monster.

Examples of ones that I did:
Dire Tiger, Fiendish Template, Half-Dragon Template (sans wings) and make it a reptilian lithe acid spitting cat-like creature and called it an Abyssal Warcat.

Hill Giant, Half-Fiend template (sans wings), and there's a new race of Giants, described as having blotchy, lumpy skin with tubes weaving in and out of the flesh and into the nasal passage and there were some Taanaric Giants.

etc etc

2009-01-20, 10:12 AM
Creating monsters in 4E is incredibly freaking easy. The only game I regularly play where it's easier is RuneQuest, and that's because monsters only really significantly differ from each other in ability scores, the name of their primary attack, and their skill levels. (And the fact there's no such thing as "balance" in the game.)

So, yeah. If you want to mess with your players, take 5-15 minutes to create your own monster(s) for the next encounter or two. The more you do it the better you will get at the only hard part of it (creating powers for them).

2009-01-20, 10:14 AM
A lot of times, I just use the monsters out of the book and reskin them. Mechanically the same, but a reach 2 with a spear becomes a whip attack, et. Just looks different.

2009-01-20, 10:39 AM
First, no sodding kobolds, they're so annoying to fight against. Not in a tucker's sense (though I'm sure that can be done and done well), but in a no-fun sense. Shifty is a power made of frustration and irritation. The dungeon in the DMG and the H1 dungeon...so, so annoying. Mostly, in bottom level fights, I'd probably pit my players against human/elf opponents. Much more interesting and varied flavour wise until they level up a bit and you can start using all the funky undead, demons, and so on.

I just started my campaign at level 5, which seems much more fun - players get more options at that level, with two dailies and two encounters (and a utility).

Of course, the simple method of refluffing monsters applies with abandon.