Out of curiosity, this morning I opened a text document I found on my desktop computer, which was timestamped July 2009. The file was ambiguously titled “roles_force_multipliers” and contains some musings of mine with regard to Fourth Edition monster roles and how to create alternative tactical effects.
Incidentally, it also contains a section of “common courtesy” rules I intended to include with rules handouts for playing card games, which are generally unspoken and rarely addressed until someone is being reprimanded for committing one or more of them.
But getting back to the monster roles. A light bulb flickered on in the front of my mind as I read over my short descriptions for each monster role. “Acts as a force multiplier.” “Individually weak, but collectively dangerous.” I realized, as race no longer applied ability score penalties, role shouldn’t impose penalties to monster statistics.
Roles, to a certain extent, are special abilities. They represent a specialization that doesn’t necessarily mean a non-player character or monster is vulnerable, but rather how they are strong. Similar to character roles. Or what they’re supposed to be. One problem has been with making monsters challenging without being overpowering.
Some games offer different objectives in their approach to combating groups of monsters or enemies. Ogre Battle, for example, offers a few strategies with different consequences. By targeting the leader, you can send the entire enemy group into a hasty retreat. Targeting a group leader in other games usually has a similar effect.
One problem with the system may be in assigning roles to monsters before inserting them into an encounter. Rather than prepackaging monsters with roles, it might serve well to assign them on a per-encounter basis, changing the roles of the entire group, rather than individuals within that group.
That might necessitate creating a supplement devoted to the effective use of different roles for dynamic encounters. Perhaps a modular system for adding a greater degree of variance in monster encounters. I think I did research on Wikipedia about real life force multipliers prior to creating the original document. I even have a list.
* Geographical features
* Recruitment through diplomacy
* Training and experience
* Fearsome reputation
I wonder if these could be used to create encounter templates?