Dungeons & Dragons allows groups of players to experience adventures in different worlds. Some adventures are pre-written and ready for players to launch. However, as a Dungeon Master accumulates more experience, they may want to try their hand at creating their own worlds.
Of course, that means the DM will create everything in their campaign from their own imagination. This includes one of the most important aspects of any campaign: monsters and villains. New DMs may find it difficult to brew their own monster, which makes sense, since there’s a lot to absorb.
The first step in creating a monster that feels unique is making sure it fits into the current campaign. For example, a steampunk robot is not suitable for low fantasy decor with a more medieval touch. At the same time, a grim and dark nightmare probably won’t suit a light adventure.
A DM looking to create a new monster should think about the campaign they are trying to run. Breaking it down to a style or genre will help them think about the kinds of creatures and villains that hide there. Some questions to consider are what the monster looks like and how it behaves. Is he intelligent or is he a bloodthirsty ravenous beast? Answering these questions will help a DM design a creature that not only fits into the story they are creating, but will create an image for their party that will make the monster more menacing and real.
Once the DM understands the concept, he must allow the party to discover the monster before the dice are rolled. Descriptions are an extremely important part of J&D. It’s a fantasy game after all. Helping the party visualize the monster is a big part of immersion, it will make your monster experience even before it uses its abilities.
Additionally, when designing a monster’s abilities, a DM must consider balance. Unless the DM is looking to wipe out the party or design a boss that isn’t meant to be beaten yet, it’s important to keep the party’s abilities and skills in mind. A monster’s skills should also reflect who or what it is. For example, a fire-based monster will not do cold damage. Simple concepts like what kind of monster it is can help a DM plan out damage types that make sense, improve immersion, and give them ideas about what kind of abilities the monster will use.
When it comes to stats, a new DM should consider their party level. A level 20 party will obviously need a much stronger monster than a level three party. This will help a DM understand how many hit points their monster should have, how much damage each attack should do, and what conditions the monster should apply to the party. Consult the Dungeon Master‘s Guide and the Monster Manual will help, as these will explain the conditions a monster can impose on party members, as well as ideas for the types of monsters they can create on their own.
When it comes to stats, understanding what type of monster you’re trying to create will make assigning their stats easier. While each high number obviously means the monster will be strong, spreading them out and focusing on particular skills will make the monster more realistic and allow the party to find ways to overcome them. Having mobs that specialize in certain things will give campaign variety.
Of course, there are a lot more complexities that go into making a good monster, but the most important thing to think about is the concept and how it fits into the campaign. Deciding how a creature would act, move, and attack would make it stand out in combat, helping the DM play the role of the creature. After understanding this, the rest will be easier to decide. Knowing what story you’re telling and who you’re working with is key, and once you figure that out, you’ll be able to grow ferocious monsters as fast as you can think of.