Monday, 4 April 2016

How I Make Monsters For Hero Kids

If you want to make your own Monsters for Hero Kids, there isn't much in the rule book to guide you.  Not that there is any obligation for such guidelines to exist, but all the same, they aren't there.  The closest you'll get is the Creating Heroes section on page 19 for things like the difference between Normal Attacks, Special Actions, and Bonus Abilities, and the Health and Damage section on page 11.

The Health and Damage section mostly details how a Hero records their Health, takes damage, the Knocked Out condition, and methods of Healing.  Buried within though is also a simple ranking system for categorizing Monsters.

Basically, all Monsters fall into one of four power levels:
  • Weak: "One Hit Wonders". This Monster has only a KO Health box.
  • Normal: "One-Two Punch". This Monster has a KO and a Hurt box.
  • Tough: "Three Times You're Out". This Monster is equal to the standard Hero with three Health boxes - KO, Hurt, and Bruised.
  • Boss: "The Springsteen". These Monsters have four Health boxes, KO, Hurt, Bruised, and Grazed.

Theoretically, one could extend this to five or more Health boxes and have even more powerful Monsters, but I feel this would harm the playability of the game by placing an undue emphasis on a stats-oriented arms race.  D&D style RPGs already fill that niche, so there's no need to add such a focus to Hero Kids.

In studying different Monsters from many official Hero Kids Adventures, I noticed a trend towards corresponding numbers of Attribute Dice per power level as well.
  • Weak: Most Weak Monsters have two Attribute Dice with an average of 2.2 dice.
  • Normal: Most Normal Monsters have four Attribute Dice, although the average is 3.47 dice.
  • Tough: Almost every Tough Monster has four Attribute Dice. (average 4.16 dice)
  • Boss: Boss Monsters are highly variable in their Attribute Dice, yet the average works out to 5.5 dice.

I've taken these two correlations and worked them into an expanded system I use to create my own Monsters.  I hope you'll find it helpful too.

Points System for Hero Kids™ RPG Monster Creation


I’ve assigned each power level of Monster a number of points, which are distributed among four areas, with a limited number of starting slots for each area.  Once the “base form” is created, one can customize the Monster further to suit their needs.  The point distributions are:

Power Level
Attribute Dice Slots
Health Box Slots
Inventory Slots
Total Points
Weak
2
1
1
4
Normal
3
2
2
7
Tough
4
3
3
10
Boss
5
4
4
13

It should be noted that these points are not applied towards the normal compliment of Melee, Special, and Extra Actions and Abilities which all Monsters and Heroes receive.  They are so standardized in occurrence, yet so highly variable in composition that I didn’t feel they would benefit from being incorporated into this system.

The starting slots for Attribute Dice do not 100% match pre-existing Monsters, especially in the Normal power level, but I'll address that in a moment.  Health Box slots remain unchanged from the core rules.  Inventory slots are for those iconized things like Skills (ex: stealth), Abilities (ex: see in dark), and actual Inventory (Items and Equipment).

Now this system isn't intended to be a rigid set of laws one MUST follow, but a means of guiding the design process.  Once one has applied all of the the above, don't hesitate to then tweak them as much as you see fit, adding or removing things until they look the way you want them to.  Let’s work through a few examples to show what I mean.

Here is a Corvid Piercer (from my book Corvids: A Racial Supplement), which is a Normal Monster with three Attribute dice (spent on two Str dice and one Def die), two Health boxes (KO and Hurt), and two Inventory slots which I've spent on a food Item and the Tracking Skill.  To complete this Monster I gave it a Melee Attack Action, a Special Action, and two Bonus Abilities.

Corvid Piercer
Attack Action: Piercing Spear
Melee Attack (Str) at an adjacent target.

Special Action: Butt Strike
After making a successful Attack against an adjacent enemy, you may make an additional attack at a 2nd adjacent target at 1 fewer die.

Bonus Ability: Fearless Under Pressure, Nimble
When you are attacked by more than 1 enemy, or by an enemy larger than you are, your attacks gain 1 die. You can move up to 5 spaces on your turn, ignoring obstacles, enemies, and allies.
STR
☐☐
DEX
X
INT
X
DEF
Health
☐☐
Inventory: Food, Stealth

A Corvid Piercer is an intelligent Humanoid Monster though, so it makes sense for them to have Skills and Inventory.  What if I were making an animal as a Monster?  An animal wouldn’t necessarily have Skills, Abilities, or Inventory.  This is where the points within the starting values can be redistributed.

Let’s make a Badger.  As a Weak Monster it has four points divided between two Attribute Dice slots, one Health box slot, and one Inventory slot.  We give the Badger one Str die and one Def die and a KO Health box, but we don’t need the Badger to have any Inventory, so let’s repurpose that Inventory slot into an Attribute Dice slot to give our Badger another Str die, resulting in two Str die and one Def die.  Give him an appropriate Melee Attack, Special Action, and Bonus Ability, and you’re done!

Badger
Attack Action: Brock Bite
Melee Attack (Str) at an adjacent target.

Special Action: Cornered
Gain +1 die to Def if you were attacked on your last turn.

Bonus Ability: Cooperative Combat, Digger
Your attacks gain +1 die if an ally has damaged a target on their current or previous turn. You can move through small tunnels and loose dirt without penalty.
STR
☐☐
badger.jpg
DEX
X
INT
X
DEF
Health
Inventory: --

Lastly, let’s make a Wild Boar.  For this example, we’ll start with a Normal Monster and then boost it beyond the base amounts.  As a Normal Monster it has seven points; three slots in Attribute Dice, two slots for Health, and two slots of Inventory.  We’ll go with two Str dice and one Def Die, two Health boxes, and the See in the Dark and Tracking abilities under Inventory.  Boars are known for being really tough though, so let’s boost the Health up to three boxes for an adjusted total of eight points.  Not enough to qualify as a Tough Monster, but certainly meaner than a typical Normal Monster.  Complete this with some Actions and a Bonus Ability, and you have a fearsome Wild Boar!

Wild Boar
Attack Action: Tusk Gore
Melee Attack (Str) at an adjacent target.

Special Action: Charge
Gain +1 die to Melee Attack if you move your full movement before attacking.

Bonus Ability: Hard To Kill
When you take damage that would KO you, you can still act on your next turn. If you’re still KO’d at the end of your next turn, you are knocked out.
STR
☐☐
Boar.png
DEX
X
INT
X
DEF
Health
☐☐☐
Inventory: See in the Dark, Tracking

As you can see, this method is both structured and versatile, enabling one to create Monsters for Hero Kids with an understanding of how much of a challenge they may present for your group of Hero Kids.  I don’t recommend boosting a Monster more than two points beyond the power level limits charted above, however if you do so, consider giving the Monster a meaningful limitation or weakness to counterbalance their massive power level.