What to do w/PC's who've seen it all?

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Silvas Sylvanus

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Dec 10, 2002, 12:09:34 PM12/10/02
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Hey all,
I'm currently working on a d20 Modern campaign for some friends, one of
which I have been rp'ing with ablot a dozen years. The idea is to bring in
D&D3 monsters into the campaign for a Buffy/horror feel. Problem is, he
knows the MM inside and out, and it's harder to surprise him with rare and
unusual creatures. I really can't drop the $'s on a new MM2 or anything
like that, and to juggle monster abilities around just doesn't feel right.
Does anyone have any suggestions on how to run a decent horror campaign with
the monsters available from the MM?

- Silvas


James Alan Gardner

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Dec 10, 2002, 5:46:52 PM12/10/02
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Silvas Sylvanus wrote:

Take the stats and powers of an existing monster. Give it a new face.

Example: Take a classic D&D skeleton. (Can't get more basic than that.)
Use exactly the same stats but tell the players they're facing something
that looks like it's made of half-molten candle wax. When they hit it
with a piercing attack, it just slices straight through without causing
any significant damage. In order to hurt it, they have to use magic or
bashing damage (which splashes around huge gobbets of wax until the creature
can no longer function.) You can also add little touches like making the
wax smell strongly of pine gum; pretty soon, all you have to do is send
the players into a pine forest and they'll freak out.

Example: D&D Orcs. New face: the Smooth Men. Perfectly hairless, including
eyebrows, eyelashes, etc. (although they sometimes use cosmetics to disguise
themselves). Apart from their hairlessness, they look perfectly human.
Stronger than most humans, not usually as bright, tend to live in squalid
villages in out of the way places, but are popular as underlings to more
sophisticated evildoers... When killed, their hairless bodies turn liquid
and smoke slightly as the fluid soaks into the ground.

Example: D&D Wraiths. New face: Canners. These are animated mounds of
garbage in the shape of various large animals (wolves, cougars, etc.).
For some reason, their feet must always be tin cans...so when they run,
they make a metallic clatter on pavement. Their muzzles are also cans.
All of these cans have jagged rusty edges that can cause the usual
level-drains if they draw blood in an attack. Canners can't be harmed
with normal weapons; attacks pass harmlessly through the garbage (except
maybe spraying a bit of muck on the attackers' clothes).

These are just some examples off the top of my head. It's easy to
dress any traditional monster in modernday clothing. Kobolds can be
villainous things that look like toddlers. Nightmares can be sentient
cars. Gelatinous cubes are computers that "swallow" you digitally (your
face appears screaming on the monitor screen) and rust monsters are evil
clowns who squirt you with acid from seltzer bottles.

Also remember that slayage is generally the least important aspect of
horror. The lead-in is far more important: stumbling across bodies,
searching for the lair, worrying about NPCs, etc. Even if the enemies
are plain old orcs who are easy to kill once you've found them, it's
the finding that's the real trick.

--
James Alan Gardner
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Web page: http://www.thinkage.ca/~jim
Novels: EXPENDABLE, COMMITMENT HOUR, VIGILANT, HUNTED, ASCENDING, TRAPPED
(all from Eos)
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Fitz

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Dec 10, 2002, 6:56:44 PM12/10/02
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Just give them tentacles coming out of their faces. Orcs.... but with
*tentacles* coming out their faces! Basilisks.... but with *tentacles
coming out of their faces! Carrion crawlers..... but with... no, hang
on.

Now *that's* horror.
--
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Fitz
http://mojobob.netnet.net.nz
http://fitz.jsr.com
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Bradd W. Szonye

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Dec 10, 2002, 9:12:57 PM12/10/02
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Silvas Sylvanus <den...@nb.sympatico.ca> wrote:
> I'm currently working on a d20 Modern campaign for some friends, one
> of which I have been rp'ing with ablot a dozen years. The idea is to
> bring in D&D3 monsters into the campaign for a Buffy/horror feel.
> Problem is, he knows the MM inside and out, and it's harder to
> surprise him with rare and unusual creatures.

There are three viable solutions to this problem:

1. Use existing monsters, but disguise them. Call them by a different
name, give them a different appearance, and so on.

2. Make up your own monsters.

3. Don't worry about it. Follow Robin Laws's advice and recognize that
surprise value isn't all it's cracked up to be. As he says, many game
designers and DMs place far too much value on secrecy and surprise.
That's pretty significant coming from the guy who wrote most of the
"Players, don't read this!" section of Over the Edge.
--
Bradd W. Szonye
http://www.concentric.net/~Bradds

Blackberry

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Dec 11, 2002, 1:57:03 PM12/11/02
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Some suggestions:
- Use the templates. Have bulette skeletons, a sahuagin lich, a troupe of ogre
vampires, abyssal shambling mounds.
- Have the "bad guys" be human -- introduce a bit of morality play.
- Have the central challenge be a piece of investigation, an object to be
tracked down, a person to find, a puzzle to solve, etc., rather than a critter
to beat up.

--
"Blackberry = misguided, extremist, well-meaning furry weirdo."
- Dr. Cat, alt.fan.furry

Kevin Cowley

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Dec 11, 2002, 3:26:57 PM12/11/02
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In article <idpJ9.289$Wi2....@ursa-nb00s0.nbnet.nb.ca>, "Silvas Sylvanus"

<den...@nb.sympatico.ca> wrote:
>
> Does anyone have any suggestions on how to run a decent horror campaign
> with
> the monsters available from the MM?
>
All other suggestions so far treat the symptom not the cause. Just because
the player knows what a monster is or does doesn't mean the character does.
Every time the player identifies a monster the character wouldn't have a
clue about dock 500Xp.
He might get the idea that he's supposed to be role playing when he reaches
-7th level.

Also don't read the descriptions from the book. Use your own and don't
describe more than the characters can see or tell.

Rick Rauser

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Dec 11, 2002, 11:19:52 PM12/11/02
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"Silvas Sylvanus" <den...@nb.sympatico.ca> wrote in message news:<idpJ9.289$Wi2....@ursa-nb00s0.nbnet.nb.ca>...

Zombies, man, zombies! Nothing cooler than a zombie troll or a zombie
wyrmling. But why limit yourself to the MM? Buy d20 Call of
Cthulhu...the beasties in there will blow your mind.

Rick Rauser
rau...@canoemail.com

Edmund E. Freeman

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Dec 11, 2002, 11:33:33 PM12/11/02
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Read horror books until you have nightmares.
Write down the monsters and make up stuff for them.
Lather, rinse, repeat.

Where do you think the MM monsters came from?

+---------------------------------------------------+
| Edmund E Freeman If there is no such thing|
| www.blarg.net/~efreeman as magic, why do we have |
| the word? |
+---------------------------------------------------+

Pascal Gobdout

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Dec 12, 2002, 7:00:44 AM12/12/02
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Put it this way: knowing the MM inside out is no different than knowing the
PHQ inside out. The player knows the skills, feats, etc. available... But
does he truly know what THAT creature can do.

In my last campaign, "goblins" was a generic name in the local culture.
They ranged from diminutive, servant races, to giant fellows. I had 14th
level goblins with demonic servants... Players soon learned than "meeting a
band of goblins" could be bad news.

As other posters said, focus on original descriptions... Ever tried
Ravenloft? PCs perceptions should be aschewed when they are deep in a dark
cave or forest. Twist descriptions. Imagine how you would feel showing up
infront of a 30 ft tall beastie that smells of rotten meat and excrements,
is oozing with pus from past wounds and has a serious case of berserker
rage.

Never use monsters names unless the PCs (not the players) have encountered
it before, and then use whatever name THEY agve it (unless the PCs inquired
with any local who might know).

And finally... knowing what a dragon can do does not let you survive the
encounter... Nor does it diminish the surprise of steping into a back alley
to see a suspicious fellow change into a doopleganger who is not happy you
pierced his diguise... and wants to make you his next one..

Good luck!

PG


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