(except, due to international copyright law, it isn’t – but let’s run like it is Godzilla.)
Something we noticed when brainstorming Crux is that occasionally, really, really big creatures came into the equation. Traditionally, in RPGs, this means a creature with a load of hitpoints, or equivalent, attacks that use more damage dice than a session of Shadowrun, and armour that puts a battleship to shame.
This is all well and good, but what you have is just a normal monster scaled up to titanic proportion. It doesn’t actually offer anything different, or a significant challenge beyond ‘hit it until it dies’, and, as I found with D&D from 3rd Edition onwards- as did a great many of you, I would imagine – this isn’t always as exciting as it should be. These are supposed to be massive, world-shaking things, not just a statblock to be approach the same way as any other.
So, what are we doing to change this? We decided to turn to computer games for a couple of ideas (in some cases as research, in others, just for an excuse to slack off a bit). In some of the medium’s more cinematic offerings, the Big Bad Boss Monster isn’t just an enemy, it forms part of the environment, or uses the environment as a weapon – In Shadow Of The Colossus, they are both the environment and adversary in one, and this was certainly something we wanted to play with.
Another thing we noticed was something of a trope with boss fights was the battle being broken down into stages, such as getting the monster’s attention, evading its clumsy/heavily telegraphed swings, exposing a vulnerability and striking at its weak point for MASSIVE DAMAGE! Then lather, rinse and repeat. Each of these stages ought to present different challenges, and allow for a variety of solutions.
Modelling the boss monster, or leviathan (as a catch-all term) as an active and hostile environment, with the weak points as your goals allowed us to string together a bunch of spectacular set-pieces together as part of some truly large-scale conflict, which requires Big Damn Heroes, as well as their allies, to overcome.
Needless to say, coming up with the range of attacks that leviathan-scale creatures could come up with, and how to model them in-game was a load of fun, as was thinking of awesome countermeasures that players could use to lay these beasts to rest.
Of course the use of harpoons and tow-cables is an option. It’d be rude not to include it.
It’s worth noting that this won’t be the catch-all rule for all large creatures, just the truly titanic ones in very big, special, stompy cases. Advance apologies to arachnophobes, as well, as this could very well involve giant steampunk robot spiders, just in a slightly better adventure than the Wild Wild West film.
In our next post, we’ll start previewing some of the areas of Crux, to give you a taster of what they involve, and the influences we had when coming up with them.
Until then, hard love.