Super-Simple Monster Stats?


Advice


Hiya.

Ok, we played a game of Pathfinder last night (normally we're a BECMI/DarkDungeons/1eAD&D group). Anyway, I wasn't really looking forward to DM'ing it as the NPC and monster stat blocks make my eyes bleed. I don't have the desire nor the time to "master" the PF game to the point...all my mastery space it taken up by the aforementioned games.

We started the game; a cavalier, oracle (lore; healing), rogue and fighter. I made a bunch of random rolls and quickly ad-libbed the lead in. After a basic set up and hook, they set off to explore a ruined tower along the lake shore about 10-hours ride in order to see if an old guy went there to recover a specific book (army roster/muster book). Anyway, details not important...

...So they go to the ruins and head in. At this point I get that Oh, for the love of the gods, *why* did I agree to DMing this game system again?!?... feeling wash over me. I tell myself...Screw It! (tm)...and whip out my old "Dungeons & Dragons: Monster & Treasure Assortment" book (circa 1980), and two pages printed from Basic Set #1 that have a simple table to help a DM 'stock' a dungeon with monsters, treasure, traps and other wierdness. I start rolling after I scribble down numbers in the rooms of the Dysons Delve map I printed off of "Sir Aleisters Watchtower". First 10x10 room after the door...two d6 rolls indicate "Monster" and "Treasure". Roll %, "Orcs (2-5)".

...It is at this point that I decided to just "go with it" and not even bother looking up "orc" in the PF Beastiary I. I subtract the listed AD&D AC of 7 from 20 and get a PF AC of 13. I decide to use it's HD as a Saveing Throw, if it was needed (it wasn't). I keep the HP as is. I give them each 1 spear to throw and one make-shift club (1d4). Fight ensues, PC's win. Roll % for treasure....3x 100gp gems (!). Ok, whatever...I guess there's a reason for it which I may come up with later.

...anyway, the point is this; I've been toying with the idea of "drastically simplifying" monster/NPC stats when I DM Pathfinder. As a DM, I don't have the same restrictions as a player (obviously). I also don't have the luxury of focusing on a single set of stats, abilities, items, spells, etc. So...I need to simplify. I need to simplify a LOT!

Has anyone developed some uber-simple method of codifying a monsters stats? My preferred method of DM'ing is to have base guidelines, notes, and other 'loose ideas' for something and then fill in the blanks (re: wing-it) using all that point-form stuff as a sort of skeleton. Admittedly, I do have 30+ years of experience as DM, so it's not hard for me to do this without seriously throwing balance out of whack. That said, I do like/need some kind of skeletal structure on which to make logical choices and keep my game consistent. I'm going to write out a one-page 'template' with my "simple stats" info sometime tonight, but I'm looking for input from anyone who's already done this. So...ideas?

^_^

Paul L. Ming


Honestly, it seems like Pathfinder isn't your bag to GM. Simplifying monster blocks will be fine at lower levels, but once you hit 5th level and up, monsters start having fancy abilities and will just keep getting more the higher you get. The players will also be expecting and planning to counter these abilities. Just giving them HP blocks with an AC won't be very rewarding for them.

Maybe you should find a system that better suits your style? Check out Dungeon World and 13th Age. They might fit you better, since they are both much more free form.


Hiya.

revaar wrote:

Honestly, it seems like Pathfinder isn't your bag to GM. Simplifying monster blocks will be fine at lower levels, but once you hit 5th level and up, monsters start having fancy abilities and will just keep getting more the higher you get. The players will also be expecting and planning to counter these abilities. Just giving them HP blocks with an AC won't be very rewarding for them.

Maybe you should find a system that better suits your style? Check out Dungeon World and 13th Age. They might fit you better, since they are both much more free form.

Agreed, PF as is is not our cup-o-tea (all of us...not just me). That said, there is a reason for us playing it. My wife, without getting into too many details, had a rather nasty relapse of her MS. It affected the frontal lobe pretty badly...she forgot a LOT of stuff. Recovering, but will never fully recover. She really enjoyes RPG's, but knows her brain isn't up to what it used to be...we did play a lot of D&D style games (BECMI, Dark Dungeons, 1e, Pathfinder, etc...). She remembers "AC is how hard to hit the opponent", "Roll d?? for damage", "Roll d20 for saves", etc. And, with PF, it's simple for her to remember "Roll high...always".

Anyway, there are a lot of things we do like about PF...but none of us really agree on all of the things we like (e.g., one player HATES the way Feats are done...another loves it but HATES how multi-classing is done, etc.). So...we like a lot about PF. It is also dirt simple in terms of general mechanics for my wife to remember. It is a "version" of D&D, and we like that kind of base-adventuring premiss as a game (kill monsters, take their stuff, let a story develop from all that).

I already talked to my players about my simplification stuff on my end...they all thought it was just fine. We're all old farts (youngest is, I think, 31?...after that, its all high-30's, low-40's). Also, they trust me and know my DM'ing style. Apparently they like it because they've been gaming with me for between 12 and 28+ years). *smiles a bit, with warm-fuzzies filling my old heart* :)

I suppose, due to lack of replies, I'm going to have to do it all on my own. No worries. That's part of the fun of DM'ing anyway. :)

^_^

Paul L. Ming


well first off you came in with a bad impression of it--of course you're unlikely to enjoy it!

this might be helpful if you want to throw cookie-cutters together yourself to throw at them, but for individual monsters there isn't much i can say.

personally for monsters i just go with:

size (base/reach)
stats (str,dex,con,int,wis,cha)
secondary stats (bab/cmb/cmd, AC/ff/touch, saves, speed)
attacks/gear (weapons, armor, other protectives)
feats/skills
abilities (such as poison, auras, etc.)
items/treasure (this includes what they're wearing, since PCs will take ANYTHING)

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

My recommendation is grab the Beginner Box, and use a variation of e6 rules where the players gain a feat every "level" after 5. The game is far more simplified version of Pathfinder.


pming wrote:

Agreed, PF as is is not our cup-o-tea (all of us...not just me). That said, there is a reason for us playing it. My wife, without getting into too many details, had a rather nasty relapse of her MS. It affected the frontal lobe pretty badly...she forgot a LOT of stuff. Recovering, but will never fully recover. She really enjoyes RPG's, but knows her brain isn't up to what it used to be...we did play a lot of D&D style games (BECMI, Dark Dungeons, 1e, Pathfinder, etc...). She remembers "AC is how hard to hit the opponent", "Roll d?? for damage", "Roll d20 for saves", etc. And, with PF, it's simple for her to remember "Roll high...always".

Anyway, there are a lot of things we do like about PF...but none of us really agree on all of the things we like (e.g., one player HATES the way Feats are done...another loves it but HATES how multi-classing is done, etc.). So...we like a lot about PF. It is also dirt simple in terms of general mechanics for my wife to remember. It is a "version" of D&D, and we like that kind of base-adventuring premiss as a game (kill monsters, take their stuff, let a story develop from all that).

I already talked to my players about my simplification stuff on my end...they all thought it was just fine. We're all old farts (youngest is, I think, 31?...after that, its all high-30's, low-40's). Also, they trust me and know my DM'ing style. Apparently they like it because they've been gaming...

That's sad to hear about your wife. I hope that she can get better! My fiancee's aunt has MS, I know how rough it can be.

If your players are good with the simplified stats, then there are ways to make the fights interesting without being complicated. Rather than going crazy with the special abilities higher level monsters have, Have a look at the stat blocks, and pick one or two of their abilities that seem iconic, and just let them use those at will, or if it is supposed to be a limited use ability, let them use it every d4 or d6 rounds. For monsters who normally have a ton of abilities, maybe you should reduce the CR by 1 or 2 to make up for it.

For AC, a simple base would be around APL+13 or 14, and a basic attack of APL+2. Adjust at a 1 AC to 2 BAB ratio for for making more offensive or defensive options. At 6th, 11th, 16th, and 20th level, give the more offensive options iteritive attacks according to their BAB.

For damage, start at 1d8+APL, or 1d6+(1/2APL) ranged. If the monster has both options, decrease the die size once. Keep in mind that ranged attacks are generally more dangerous than melee attacks, so the damage should be lower to compensate. You can also adjust die sizes up for more offensive or Larger opponents, or down for smaller or more defensive options.

If you want a buch of mooks rather than a few challenging foes, decrease your APL calculation by 1 or 2. Bump it up by a couple for bosses.

Finally, for HP, take APLx5 for mooks, x10 for normal foes, and x20 for a boss.

As for what monsters you could use that would fit these types of stats, the simpler options the better. Animals, Monstrous Humanoids, Giants, and Undead would all work. Avoid Outsiders, Fey, and Aberrations, since they are more based around having fancy abilities. Constructs and Magical Beasts could also work if you find ones that don't have too many abilities (like Owlbears).

So, using my system that i just made up, your basic goblins for party level 1 would be:

Size: Small
HP: 5
AC: 14
Attack: +3, 1d6+1 melee

For a Goblin Archer, make the damage 1d4 at range.

Here's a Bugbear boss for the same 1st level party:
Size: Medium
HP: 20
AC: 16
Attack: +9, 1d8+3

I'm sure this system will fall apart at higher levels, but so does everything else in Pathfinder. Let me know if this works for you!


Whenever my PCs attack someone I wasn't expecting, I use these rules:

AC: 10 or 10+CR, depending on how tough I need them
HP: 5 X CR, or 10 X CR for brutes
Att: CR (1d6 or 1d8+1/2 CR)
Saves: +CR
Skills: +CR (+4 for good skills)

This will get you by for any common foe.


Hiya.

Thanks for the advice guys...I'll have to dig into it all a bit but it looks good at first glance.

One thing I/we decided on was to nix the current XP system. Still using the advancement stuff...I think I'll use my old stand by; "Fast" for level 1 - 3; "Medium" for 4 - 6; and "Slow" for 7+ (if we ever get there...). I'm also using the Palladium Fantasy RPG XP rewards system. In it players receive XP for 'doing stuff' like "Clever, but futile, idea; 25xp", "Endangering the characters life to help others; 100 - 200 xp", "Killing or Subduing a Major menace; 75 - 100 xp", etc. In this system, it doesn't matter how weak or powerful an individual PC is in a group; it's the overall groups power level (and luck!) the determines how much XP an encounter is worth. So if the group totally walks over an encounter that should have been above their capability, they get less XP because it actually wasn't difficult. Likewise, if they get their butts handed to them and barely survive an encounter they should have had easily, they get more XP.

Anyway, I've got work to do. Thanks again for the suggestions! :)

^_^

Paul L. Ming

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