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Monster Creation Guidelines


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I have a question to BRP community members and authors of all those wonderful supplements:

"Нow do you come up with genuine monster stats? Do you have some general guidelines to flesh out characteristics for new critters when all you have is just a mental image of the beast or race?"

I was a DnD player before and had a habit of constantly creating new monsters or morphing existing ones. But in d20 there is a wealth of templates, charts and examples that guide this process. Now I don't expect something similar for BRP, but hearing some thoughts on the matter from experienced GMs will definitely help.

Edited by Beast
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In BRP there is less need to create endless reams of new monsters. Cos the monsters are usually people too!

Any intelligent or even semi intelligent creature may be a cult member, and layering a cult spells and items and stuff all over one broo or orc makes it quite different from the next one.

Another thing to remember is that any BRP creature grows with experience just as a PC. So again your orc, who may be a cultist in a death cult, maybe 25-30 years old, and will have experience and skills to reflect that, not to mention spells and magic items. He may also be utterly different from another orc from a tribe that worships the moon, tends to have madness spells and a propensity for using spears and arrows, and wears lunar silver armour..

As always, keep the opposition much weaker than the PCs, so a part of 4 PCs may go up against 4 orcs, 3 of which should be crap, maybe 25% in weapon skills, and minimal armour, maybe 1 low powered spell between them. The 1 who is good, can be at the same sort of experience and skill mix as the PCs, but with interesting spells or one nice item. The PCs wil kill the cannon fodder and you decide as a GM if the tougher guy stands and fights or runs or offers ransom for his life if he surrenders.

Now, dumb monsters.. look at previous examples in the rulebooks you have, or some of the older BRP books, or maybe Monster Coliseum for RQII/Legend.. and these critters that are non sentient will be more instinctive, their stats and skills are always the same, and you can model their funky 'effects' from spells or powers (but they're probably not magical).

When converting a D&D monster, be very very careful. A critter built from BRP can be lethal, but also a direct mapping of D&D skills and powers to BRP can make for a TPK! So.. best to get a feel for the system and your players before making a new critter, just tweak the BRP ones for now.

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Great questions really, and I think the answer is that you need to trust your gut. You know how you play BRP, so the answer I give might not work well for your table. Not really helpful, is it? :)

Here's what I do, in a very general way. First, I look around at published sources and see if I can't find some inspiration. I also look at the powers systems for special abilities. There are some touches I like to keep. Creatures who have no soul have no POW. Creatures with animal cognition have fixed intelligence. Incorporeal spirits are Pow and Int with some skills and powers attached. Stuff like that.

Then I adjust or assign as follows.


1-3 is incredibly small or weak. Cats and smaller are ones. Three is the very bottom end (and rather extreme end) of human size. A three would be a young child or a very tiny hobbit.

4-6 is pretty frail.

7-9 is just under average.

10-12 is the norm.

13-16 is above average.

At 17-20 you're dealing with very impressive specimens of human form and intelligence.

Above that and you're venturing into superhuman.


With skills, I break it down as follows.

30% is a basic foundation in the skill.

30%-60% is experienced.

60%-90% and you're dealing with a veteran of the skill.

90%-120% and you're with a master of the skill.

Above 120% and your dealing with ever impressive levels of mastery.

I generally have player start with a few skills over the 100% mark. Their opponents are generally in the 30%-60% range. Gives everything a nice, epic feel.

But that's not always how I really play. Mook rules are great. They speed things up and side track a lot of the tedium of tracking NPCs. Unless the creature or NPC is really important, they tend to be a thumbnail sketch.

Generally looks something like this for a complex thumbnail sketch.

30% 1d6 damage.

1d4 armor


three key skills

special ability


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I had similar questions as a newbie. BRP gives you a lot fewer guidelines than some other systems on how to create a creature, whether it is a B-movie terror or a beloved pet. Figuring out SIZ was especially troubling to me. The animals and monsters in the back of the Big Gold Book as well as the ones in Basic Creatures can give you some helpful benchmarks. But sometimes you just have to wing it. What SIZ and STR would you give a 25-foot-tall bull gorilla (King Kong)? Do you base it on height or mass? Who can guess how much the Creature from the Black Lagoon, Gammera the Invincible, or the robot from Lost in Space weighs?

Chaot's discussion of human norms (stats and skills) is useful in determining how your critter stacks up to the potential victims, er, people it might encounter. I usually raid the Super Powers or Mutations sections for a few odd abilities.

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What I do, and what I have always done, is:

1. Look at the description and try to write down what special abilities the creature should have

2. Work out its body shape and hit locations

3. Work out its relative size, in comparison to other creatures (is it about as big as a horse, but intelligent?)

4. Write down characteristics based on other creatures of similar STR, SIZ, INT and DEX

5. Add weapons, magic and skills

6. Compare with other creatures again to check that it is power-rated correctly

If it is a writeup of a creature from real-world legend then this should be fairly easy as Wikipedia gives a nice summary of these creatures and also has links to other similar creatures.

Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 


Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

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Slightly off-topic, and blasphemous to boot ...

As flexible as the "monsters are people too" approach is, I sometimes envy D&D, Tunnels & Trolls, and Cinematic Unisystem (among others) for having a shorthand for NPCs. A minimalist approach like Chaot's would cite the creature's HP, AP, primary attack % and damage, any alternate attacks and damage, and notable skills and special abilities. For all other purposes one can assume STR = CON = SIZ = starting HP, DEX 10, INT 10, POW 10, MOV = human, and no magic unless noted in the creature's description ... and even then, it might be better to cite strike rank, combat actions, etc. directly for brevity and convenience.

Note that NPCs intended primarily for peaceful interaction might detail important skills, magic, and special abilities, and then default to an average creature of his/her/its species if things go pear-shaped.

Of course, as "tzunder" said, BRP and RuneQuest are far less monster-driven: combat is far more deadly, and there's no convenient shorthand in the rules as written. Usually each monster is hand-crafted for the situation, which is perhaps as it should be.

Edited by fmitchell


"Welcome to the hottest and fastest-growing hobby of, er, 1977." -- The Laundry RPG
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"Нow do you come up with genuine monster stats? Do you have some general guidelines to flesh out characteristics for new critters when all you have is just a mental image of the beast or race?"

This download makes it a lot easier to design creatures:

Basic Bestiary - Downloads - Basic Roleplaying Central

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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I use the Mythic Creature Crafter for fun creations / inspiration. Most results are usable and interesting.

For other things: I use one creature as the "default" and then think about my creature how it would compare to that default creature. Then I adjust the stats accordingly. Pretty easy and fast. :)

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Yes, it is this book. And yes, it is the same company that did the Mythic GME.

Basically, you set a "baseline" for a creature and then roll on a table to modify the baseline. You can use my tool to get the results, although it does not show you the mechanics behind it. I think it's awesome and makes coming up with creatures very easy.

If you do not like the pure randomness, you can use the Creature Crafter for inspiration - it offers a lot of ideas to get you running - or modifying "things" ....

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Thank you a lot for sharing your thoughts and advices!

Yesterday I threw few new critters at my players, hand crafted from alien pictures I used for inspiration and it worked very well.

Only one casualty, but he was asking for it anyway. O:)

Long live BRP!

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  • 4 weeks later...

Just make up something that sounds fun. Worse comes to worst, start with an existing monster, and then fiddle with it until it suits your needs.

And, I always keep this in mind: "Game balance is for pussies." -- Greg Stafford

Please don't contact me with Chaosium questions. I'm no longer associated with the company, and have no idea what the new management is doing.

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Just make up something that sounds fun. Worse comes to worst, start with an existing monster, and then fiddle with it until it suits your needs.

And, I always keep this in mind: "Game balance is for pussies." -- Greg Stafford

Take the stats block of a creature that you think suits the encounter as far as the level of challenge goes, and then add your 'creature' description. Tweak the AP, movement, add or remove an attack, perhaps add a Power and presto whole new monster.

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