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Starblazer creatures creation

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  • angelushappyfm
    Hello! Has anyone tried to create custom creatures or aliens with the Starblazer rules? Something like space scorpions or Pit Jaws (imagine hundreds of tiny
    Message 1 of 5 , Apr 27, 2009
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      Hello!

      Has anyone tried to create custom creatures or aliens with the Starblazer rules? Something like space scorpions or Pit Jaws (imagine hundreds of tiny voracious critters crawling at the bottom of a pit, waiting for victims to fall in). I am trying my hand at critters that could be used both as minions or threats (as seen on the EvilHat wiki, no the Starblazer ones actually).

      I'm having some troubles with how to make stuff that seems proper with some of the current rules (special skill = minor weakness, one stunt for any unusual limb, even claws...)
      I know I can ignore it and do it as seems fit, but I'm just afraid I misunderstand some of the rules or am missing balance reasons for some of them and would like an opinion.

      Here's my current example, a simple Giant Scorpion you could find on a sand planet or any warm desert :

      Giant Scorpion (Fair+ quality)

      Fair : Fists (claws)
      Average : Endurance, Fists (stinger), Toxic (stinger), Athletics

      Stunt : Tremorsense (custom stunt : +2 Alertness and knowledge of enemy position as long as the scorpion and enemy touch the ground)

      Aspects : Creature of the sand, Deadly stinger


      Two things I'm not sure about :
      - Starblazer seems to always use Claw/Jaw/Tail stunts whenever the creature has any. The stunts give damage bonuses which I'm not keen on for this creature. My current choice : no stunt, no extra damage, but still two attacks per turn (one for claws, one for stinger)
      - Toxic is a special skill used to add poison to the stinger attacks. I understand that Starblazer says you need to have a minor weakness for each special skill... but is there any fun weakness a Giant Scorpion could have? The example minor weaknesses don't strike my fancy :/

      I'll add a third :
      - Starblazer seems to say "5 stress boxes" unless it's a small creature. On that one, I follow a rule closer to Minions : quality determines the base number of stress boxes (2 here) and endurance/resolve add to it. It's a "house rule" I use for my more regular creatures (animals and humanoids).


      How do you people do it? Do you have house rules? Do you just put things together using judgment rather than rules? Is there something I missed in the existing rules?

      - Moni
    • merc_hg_80
      I ve found SotC and SBA to be pretty supportive of the Monster does whatever the GM says it can do school of design. As for a minor weakness for a giant
      Message 2 of 5 , Apr 27, 2009
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        I've found SotC and SBA to be pretty supportive of the "Monster does whatever the GM says it can do" school of design.

        As for a minor weakness for a giant scorpion... hmmm. I'd be tempted to go with something like "Can't attack anyone on its own back" which should encourage some theatrics.

        All in all it looks pretty solid.



        Cheers,
        Roger
      • Monele
        ... Oh I know no one will smack me on the head for house-ruling things and designing bad monsters, but I m still curious about how others have done it, if only
        Message 3 of 5 , Apr 27, 2009
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          > I've found SotC and SBA to be pretty supportive of the "Monster
          > does whatever the GM says it can do" school of design.

          Oh I know no one will smack me on the head for house-ruling things and
          designing bad monsters, but I'm still curious about how others have
          done it, if only to get some inspiration out of it :)
          And despite what I just said, I do tend to get unconsciously stuck in
          rules when designing new elements for the first time. I tend to assume
          the rules have been playtested quite a bit and provide adapted
          challenges if you follow them, hence why I prefer to know if I really
          read it properly or if it just isn't to my taste :)

          > As for a minor weakness for a giant scorpion... hmmm. I'd be
          > tempted to go with something like "Can't attack anyone on its own
          > back" which should encourage some theatrics.

          Oh, nice one! Again, I got somewhat stuck with the provided examples
          of weaknesses and had a hard time thinking outside the box there.

          > All in all it looks pretty solid.

          Thanks!

          > Cheers,
          > Roger

          - Moni


          > ------------------------------------

          > | Fate * http://www.faterpg.com/
          > | SOTC * http://www.evilhat.com/?spirit
          > | DFRPG * http://www.dresdenfilesrpg.com/Yahoo! Groups Links
        • sarah650213
          Hi Moni! Your giant scorpion looks good and solid to me too. I ve added a couple of comments inline below. ... Definitely agree with your approach - I think
          Message 4 of 5 , Apr 27, 2009
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            Hi Moni!

            Your giant scorpion looks good and solid to me too. I've added a couple of comments inline below.

            > I know I can ignore it and do it as seems fit, but I'm just afraid I misunderstand some of the rules or am missing balance reasons for some of them and would like an opinion.

            Definitely agree with your approach - I think with Starblazer it's worth going the distance and creating your first "version" of a critter as a "full character" type stat block, as you've done. You can then tailor the critter stats to the role you're seeing the creature playing in your game later - but statting it up completely to start with is a good way to go, IMHO.

            > Stunt : Tremorsense (custom stunt : +2 Alertness and knowledge of enemy position as long as the scorpion and enemy touch the ground)

            Nice stunt! I may steal that for my games... ;-D

            > - Starblazer seems to always use Claw/Jaw/Tail stunts whenever the creature has any. The stunts give damage bonuses which I'm not keen on for this creature. My current choice : no stunt, no extra damage, but still two attacks per turn (one for claws, one for stinger)

            Works fine for me. The Stunts are there to add differentiation to the critters - if you want them to be more or less lethal in "full character mode" or not. Definitely to be used with caution - you can make some pretty dangerous critters!

            > - Starblazer seems to say "5 stress boxes" unless it's a small creature. On that one, I follow a rule closer to Minions : quality determines the base number of stress boxes (2 here) and endurance/resolve add to it. It's a "house rule" I use for my more regular creatures (animals and humanoids).

            Sounds fair enough to me. As I hinted above, IMHO it's more to do with the role you see the critter playing in the game. A "fully statted" critter with the 5 stress boxes, 3 consequences, full skill pyramid, aspects, and stunts, is a *significant* foe which will involve a good involved combat session to handle. Also, numbers will tell *very* quickly - especially if you're using d6-d6, then Fate points will get burned to survive the combat if the scorpions approach your PCs in number.

            Often though in space opera you want a combat where there are swarms of these guys. In that case, stat them as minions. Keep the rough skill pyramid but cap it at the Minion quality, keep any armour if you wish but apply it once per minion group only, keep aspects and any interesting Stunts but again employ them at minion group level - and you're good to go.

            You can waste minions at a frightening rate in such a case, though, so there are a couple of middle-grounds I often use. First up is a "minor" version of a critter - reduce the skill pyramid a bit, cut back the stress boxes and consequences to what feels right (3 stress boxes, then either 2 consequences or set Grit=1 or 2. I don't use Grit that much with critters, but it's useful for times like this). Everything else can stay standard, and you've suddenly got a version of your giant scorpion which is less formidable and still a good bit of combat fun.

            Second up, you could nominate a scorpion as a "leader" (either full stat or the minor version above), and then attach minions (of appropriate quality) as you want. This gives you a lot of fine tuning - you can still have waves of critters appearing over the hill, but the PCs mow through the minions in a satisfying way to start with, then finish up taking on the meaty leaders at the end. Also makes for tactical play - can the PCs work out which scorpion in a group is the leader?

            Last, you can do the opposite, and soup up the critter for a "mother" scorpion in a hive somewhere - up the pyramid, add a few advancements, give it Fate points, etc, cool aspects, etc. Then it can be the climax of the session. Also - and to be used sparingly! - you can stat up the big mother scorpion as a Threat. There are some interesting side effects of mixing critters and Threats, where sheer size and monstrous special abilities outweight simple skills and stress boxes.

            > How do you people do it? Do you have house rules? Do you just put things together using judgment rather than rules? Is there something I missed in the existing rules?

            Partly judgement, then. But, to start with, I think you're definitely right to stat up the "core" critter by the book, then fine tune as appropriate.

            Cheers!

            Sarah
          • angelushappyfm
            ... Thanks! And yes, that s my thought process for these. My main idea is that for a given critter, I d keep reusing the same stats, but make them Minions,
            Message 5 of 5 , May 6, 2009
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              > Hi Moni!
              >
              > Your giant scorpion looks good and solid to me too. I've added a
              > couple of comments
              > inline below.
              >
              > > I know I can ignore it and do it as seems fit, but I'm just afraid I misunderstand
              >> some of the rules or am missing balance reasons for some of them and would like an
              >> opinion.
              >
              > Definitely agree with your approach - I think with Starblazer it's worth going the
              > distance and creating your first "version" of a critter as a "full character" type
              > stat block, as you've done. You can then tailor the critter stats to the role you're
              > seeing the creature playing in your game later - but statting it up completely to
              > start with is a good way to go, IMHO.

              Thanks! And yes, that's my thought process for these. My main idea is
              that for a given critter, I'd keep reusing the same stats, but make
              them Minions, Threats or full on NPC monsters depending on the level
              of challenge I want to give. Minions would have aspects but they would
              only be able to use them if first compelled or tagged (so they receive
              some FPs). For a NPC monster, though, they would have plenty of FPs to
              use right away.
              Similarly, stunts might be ignored for Minions and taken into account
              for Threats and NPCs.

              Of course, I would also make multiple qualities of a given creature,
              just so I can have minions of various levels based on the same theme.

              >> Stunt : Tremorsense (custom stunt : +2 Alertness and knowledge of enemy position as
              >> long as the scorpion and enemy touch the ground)
              >
              > Nice stunt! I may steal that for my games... ;-D

              It was stolen from D&D already. Maybe it'll end up coming full circle?
              XD


              > > - Starblazer seems to say "5 stress boxes" unless it's a small creature. On that one, I follow a rule closer to Minions : quality determines the base number of stress boxes (2 here) and endurance/resolve add to it. It's a "house rule" I use for my more regular creatures (animals and humanoids).
              >
              > Sounds fair enough to me. As I hinted above, IMHO it's more to do with the role you see the critter playing in the game. A "fully statted" critter with the 5 stress boxes, 3 consequences, full skill pyramid, aspects, and stunts, is a *significant* foe which will involve a good involved combat session to handle. Also, numbers will tell *very* quickly - especially if you're using d6-d6, then Fate points will get burned to survive the combat if the scorpions approach your PCs in number.

              Little note here : I misremembered my own house rules there. I
              actually have minions start with a single stress box with
              Endurance/Resolve adding to it. Only NPCs get starting stress boxes
              based on their quality.

              So minions remain as low threats, but a NPC "King of Scorpions" would
              definitely be quite something to behold.


              > Second up, you could nominate a scorpion as a "leader" (either full stat or the minor version above), and then attach minions (of appropriate quality) as you want. This gives you a lot of fine tuning - you can still have waves of critters appearing over the hill, but the PCs mow through the minions in a satisfying way to start with, then finish up taking on the meaty leaders at the end. Also makes for tactical play - can the PCs work out which scorpion in a group is the leader?

              It's amusing that in both SotC/Starblazer and 4e DnD, where opponents
              have roles like this, I've always seen people state these roles in a
              meta-gaming way. But you're right, it would be even more interesting
              *not* to know, unless some visual cue or other knowledge gave you a
              hint.

              > Last, you can do the opposite, and soup up the critter for a "mother" scorpion in a hive somewhere - up the pyramid, add a few advancements, give it Fate points, etc, cool aspects, etc. Then it can be the climax of the session. Also - and to be used sparingly! - you can stat up the big mother scorpion as a Threat. There are some interesting side effects of mixing critters and Threats, where sheer size and monstrous special abilities outweight simple skills and stress boxes.

              If I remember correctly, having Starblazer Threats would be similar to
              having multiple NPC monsters... which would be quite something indeed.

              > Partly judgement, then. But, to start with, I think you're definitely right to stat up the "core" critter by the book, then fine tune as appropriate.

              Thanks for your comments!

              > Cheers!
              >
              > Sarah

              - Moni
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