Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Monster Hunters: Demons and Fae

Gurps: Monster Hunters is a wonderful series of books about heroes who actively chase down vampires, were-wolves, demons, and the like. Its an engaging genre that appears to be on the rise in general.

Among the list of inspirations for the settings is the Dresden Files. Its particularly reference as an inspiration for Monster Hunters's magic system. Unfortunately, Monster Hunters only obliquely references the most common supernatural character type in the Dresden files: the fae. And while a 3e supplement of Gurps deals with faeries in general, it doesn't provide the right feel.

A few days ago, I had a revelation.
I was automating the demon generation portion of  Monster Hunters 3: Enemies and expanding the list (an action the book suggests) and realized that the theme of demons having a huge variety was even more appropriate for the fae. Yes, your default fae and your default demon look quite different. But take an enormous lean dog with supernatural speed and access to ancient knowledge. Is it better characterized as a fae or a demon? or is it undead?

This thought caused the list to expand even more, and eventually morph into a 'random supernatural creature generator'. It can be used to generate new demons, new fae, new elementals -- just about any type of supernatural creature can be re-imagined to fit the results.

Some of you are probably thinking: Random generation of traits doesn't result in good monsters. I actually have to agree. A purely random list is not going to hang together well a lot of the time. On the other hand, It can often provide a fantastic starting point. When you make your lists and roll creatures up, feel free to home in on synergies, drop or modify incongruities, or even roll again if you're having a dearth of ideas or if the set of traits doesn't have the feel you want.

As an Example, I rolled up the following set of traits:
  1. Obscure 10 (Defensive,always on)
  2. Stretching 4
  3. Make Caster (all at 13) or +2 to all casting
  4. Mind Probe (human only)
  5. +3 DR and Harden or stiffen DR,
I rolled up five in order to guarantee a good amount of work would have to be done. I also have a table of weaknesses (in the general sense, not the disadvantage sense), so a rolled up a pair.
  1. Iron Vulnerability
  2. Attatched to specific item
It was my intent from the start to make this a fae. At first this looks a little scattered, so I start looking for themes and combinations that catch my eye.  I will probably emphasize two of the traits to create a theme. One of the traits, the DR, can apply to any of the traits without changing the flavor of the creature. I have six pairs I can look at: 

  1. Obscure and stretching: a creature that is always concealed except when it reaches its hands out particularly far to grab something. Lots of spooky potential there. 
  2. Obscure and Caster: a creature hidden in darkness with the ability to cast spells. Its a fairly powerful combination, though fairly bland. 
  3. Obscure and  mind probe: You can't see its face, but it knows what you're thinking. There's something of a secrets
  4. Stretching and Caster: A little weird, as far as combinations go. Perhaps a creature that specializes in touch attacks? Not really feeling this one.
  5. Stretching and Mind Probe: There is an interesting synergy here. Mind probe without mind reading requires a touch. The ability to stretch out and touch an opponent from a distance is quite useful. This probably is best used as to tie into a different theme.
  6. Caster and Mind Probe: The obvious theme here is to make the creature a mind-based caster. Once again, fairly bland, but useful for tie-ins. 
The combination that appeals the most to me is the 'secrets' angle: this fae is all about secretes. It obscures itself in darkness only it can see through and searches through the minds of mortals for dark secretes. Its only natural that some of the secretes it has have made it a caster, and stretching allows it to reach out and take what it wants. All the traits have been tied into a theme. 

Now I will adjust the traits to fit our feel better. I feel that invisibility that doesn't protect beyond reach 2 feels better than just a black cloud. The spells should be aimed at the mind and at chance, these being the most closely related to secretes. We'll say the creature has those paths at 12, the other paths at 10, and has the higher purpose (discover secrects) 3, giving them a bonus when casting spells to uncover hidden information or read it from another's mind. The creature is not an adept-- secrete gathering is slow and usually not done in front of anyone.

Looking at the weaknesses, the 'tied to a specific item' doesn't seem to fit well: perhaps we could do something with the creature needing to keep a secret, or compulsively seeking out the secretes of a specific item, but its not necessary to tie everything in.  Vulnerability to Iron is nearly automatic for a fae, so I decided to add a second Vulnerability: weapons that have been hidden or secrete for a long time. The definition of weapon is fairly broad: a spell cast from a grimoire that sat in a noble man's book case for a long time without his knowledge would count. A gun smuggled into the country would not, but weapons hidden in a stash for years would. 

The personality and purpose of the creature now writes itself: These fae are obsessed with obtaining more and more secrets. The value of the secret depends on how important others think it is to keep it: a surprise birthday party is only minorly appealing, but a secrete affair is solid fare, and a state secret or conspiracy is worth years of effort. The creatures don't really do anything with the secrets, just collect them, and they are loath to disclose their findings to others: the more people know a secret, the less valuable it is! They can be bargained with, but the price of payment is in secrets, and usually the creature demands a much larger secret than the one it gives: mortals USE secrets, which is really hard on the information. The fae will deal in both existing secrets and contracting to find out secrets.

Tips on naming the creature: It it looks like something from legend, use that. If it doesn't, come up with a word that describes what it looks like, and a word that describes what motivates it or what it does. This creature rarely seen, and when it is, its only the hands that are seen, so its a 'Grasper' of some sort. The creature is motivated by secretes, so its a 'secret grasper'.

When determining stats, I ask myself what the creature needs, and how I envision it. Its not a terribly powerful physical combatant, but it shouldn't be a push over either, so ST is only moderate. It needs DX for sneaking around, climbing into forbidden places, and so forth. IQ is likely to be higher, but the creature shouldn't be a social giant, so we will rely on skills rather than pure IQ. In fact, the creature should probably have photographic memory. Per is high to notice things, Will is moderate. We rolled that it has fairly good DR, but the spindly nature doesn't suggest a particularly high HT.It can have long limbs, so a high move is appropriate. Combat reflexes is standard for fae who might get into a fight. I debated making its mind immune to being read (there's some good stuff in that head!), but I eventually decided on making it resistant instead.

Skill levels should reflect a creature who relies on stealth and negotiation rather than combat. The Secrets! skill is new, and encompasses current affairs, hidden lore, and other skills related to hidden information. 

Here is our final stat block

ST: 15        HP:15          Speed: 6.50
DX: 15       Will: 14       Move: 6 (9) (limbs show when using 9)
IQ: 12         Per: 16        DR: 4
HT: 11        FP: 11         SM: 0

Dodge: 10   Parry:11

Claw (15): 1d cu (up to reach 3, but limbs show for reach 3)

Traits: Injury Tolerance (Homogeneous, no Blood), Immune to metabolic hazards, Doesn't Eat or Drink, Doesn't sleep, Doesn't Breathe, Stretching 4, Invisibility (feet and hands show when using full reach), Magery 0,Magical Tradition (secret gathering) 3, Mind Probe (human only), Social Stigma (monster), Appearance (Hideous), vow (always keep word of contract), affected by path of spirit, Resistant to Mind Reading +8, Obsession (Gather Secrets)

skills: Secrets!-15, Stealth-15, Observation-17, Merchant (Secrets) -14, Detect Lies - 16, Wrestling - 15, Brawling -15, Fast-talk -13, Thaumology-12,Path (Mind)-12, Path (chance)-12, Path(other)-10

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