For those clamoring for material for Fantasy AGE, there are few options. Most of what is out there for AGE are for its predecessor and while fan projects, such as board member TUTTLE’s Mystara Bestiary. Its no replacement for official product, but this week we got some guidance from Green Ronin about the potential pitfalls of monster design.
Designing in AGE is deceptively complex. Despite most rolls being the simple addition of adding four numbers, the results and how they play out at the table are vastly different. It may be common sense but it often this depends on the number you need to beat and the article has some great examples.
There are a lot of excellent suggestions and anyone interested in doing some homebrewing with AGE should check it out. There are a couple of things I would add…
Hardly Hitting: Defense 14 is the magic number at lower levels. Most player characters will not gain an ability focus with their primary attack until 2nd level, and even if the average result is 11, the average roll of the dice is a total of 9. This becomes an even bigger issue when players are cold with the dice, with all of a sudden the two random goblins you snuck for a challenge are now dominating the encounter.
Defense 13 is more than sufficient up to 3rd or 4th level while mitigating damage with Armor Rating. Hitting and stunting is far more interesting for both ends of the table than rolling, whiffing a bunch, and taking the monster down in one or two hits.
Limited Mobility: I play with a battle mat and there is a good chance you do as well. Dividing Speed by 2 and subtracting the armor penalty already brings down the footage players are able to cover down considerably, with the dwarven warrior in heavy plate being the chief victim (he or she can only move 10 feet or 2 squares). This is not only good to keep in mind for monster abilities but for designing the terrain for encounters as well.
A good alternative for monsters are effects that stun. Think of this like the example of hitting but dealing no damage because of the Armor Rating being too high; no player wants to spend upwards of three rounds getting to the fight. They would much rather take a turn off.
As with any kind of game design, it is much more of an art than a science. Feel free to make a few pre-gens and take a few practice rolls. You will be thankful you did before frustrating your players.