JP On Gaming

Thursday, March 17, 2022

[Question time with JP] Influences in making the First Ones

What is your favorite part of the creature construction process, and how did this affect the construction of agents of the old ones? by James-Y

My favorite part of the creature construction is no doubt coming up with the fluff. Thinking about what the creature does, what purposes does it serve, and how to integrate it into the whole of the world. THEN I can come up with its mechanics. Though sometimes elements of the mechanic - like its challenge rating - sometimes become a major factor.

A great influence, is the Monster Manual which serves as a baseline and an inspiration. I use it to put in proxy monsters to calculate the challenge rating of something and get an approximate idea. For example, I recently wrote an encounter where the monsters are monsters sent by Zeus. At first I put in the target cr and my pseudo-written notes read "like a blue dragon". Later on, I went back on the encounter and developped the creature as a storm eagle with unique abilities of its own. But I'll let slip that its powers are wind, lighting, and thunder-related.

Another way I do, which I most often use while writing a non-adventure such as a setting book is to I sit down and pre-build a stat block with the abilities I want. In Akhamet the Seth Beast/ Sethathu came about that way. I wanted a creature that was "about" CR1 that would be Seth's private beast. I compared it with hyena and wolves and came up with something a little different but still similar to both.

When I am in the final stage of a non-adventure, I will look at the bestiary assembled and try and identify any gaps in both CR and function. Are there any famous mythological creatures I am missing? I added the sirens and Opyros to Olympia that way.

For the First Ones... That is a longer answer... However, I do a bit of "all of the above" and will go into older books to see if anything tickles my fancy. The war slaves and zombie war slaves came from looking at miniatures I had of Cryx drudges. I wondered how I could use them in a game. What rule they would serve (tougher zombies), who would create and make them. War slaves would thus be converted into killing machines while still alive and animated to continue fighting. As sort of lower-tier mythic monster.

The medenites are a race of ooze people I thought of while writing for the skythians. Since the skythians make weapons out of their bones, what would be an example of a previous, failed race? Why would they be abandoned in favor of the skythians? What did the First Ones do with them? So I thought about a race that would generate slime they could turn to armor and protect themselves. Okay that's interesting ability. Now why would they suck for the First Ones. They are not overly evil and have no desire for battle. Fine but not over imaginative. Lazy? Unless commanded to do anything, the medenites tend to lounge around and way - much like an ooze. So you have lazy soldiers who need to be commanded or forced into action... The idea of garrison troops come to mind; they don't do much unless forced into action.

So I guess the answer is "a little bit of everything."

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