Monstrous Mayhem

Posted: May 16, 2010 in Dead of Night, design
Tags: , ,

Amongst the subtle tweaks to the rules, one of the things I wanted to change was how monsters worked to reflect how I’ve been using them in my game. In 1st edition, monsters were built like any other character, except you could buy monstrous specialisations – special powers, essentially, that bent the rules slightly – at the cost of a Survival Point each. Some of these monstrous specialisations needed a Survival Point to be spent to use them too. These two rules compounded and tended to mean that monsters with lots of cool powers didn’t last long, as they had either given up their Survival Points at creation or had to burn through Survival Points to use their powers.

In 2nd edition I’ve disconnected a monster’s pool of Survival Points from their powers, meaning that when creating a monster you simply pick some funky abilities, add in a vulnerability if required and then set its Survival Points to whatever number you want – the higher, the longer the game will last. And instead of forcing a monster to spend a Survival Point to trigger its powers, you spend a point of Tension. Simple.

So what about vulnerabilities? In 1st ed, a vulnerability was used to “buy-off” a Monstrous Specialisation, dispensing with the need to spend a Survival Point at creation. But with that need gone, is there still a place for vulnerabilities? Of course! They’re a key part of the genre, allowing a canny protagonist to take advantage of a monster’s weakness and best him. Not every monster has a vulnerability, but those that do open themselves up to extra damage or having their powers negated when a character knows its weakness.

But if they’re not a requirement any more and they give the monster a palpable disadvantage, why bother with them at all? Well, remember when I talked about Bad Habits a few weeks back? Well, a vulnerability is like a monster’s Bad Habit – when it crops up and disadvantages it, the monster trades short-term pain for long-term gain. In the monster’s case, rather than gaining a Survival Point from a Bad Habit, any Survival Points lost to a vulnerability double the amount of Tension gained. So you might do 2 Survival Points of damage to the vampire with your stake, but the Tension leaps up 4 as a result, giving the GM (and the monster) extra resources to play with.

This also serves to propel the story towards its climax, as the monster redoubles its efforts to destroy the protagonists as they discover its weakness.

  1. Kev says:

    I’m liking the sound of this, it was always a bit annoying when the players knocked off your creature too quickly (perhaps I just made a few bad monsters, or I’m just a rubbish GM), although this did mean a bit of quick thinking for a ‘the return’ session. It sounds like it will work much better and it seems to make much more sense.

  2. andrewkenrick says:

    No, there was nothing rubbish about you or your monsters – they probably had too few Survival Points, or you were too generous with the Tension. Next time you play, give the monster some more points and spend spend spend your Tension!

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