Twisted Tunnels RPG: Monsters (Updated 24 Jun 2016)

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This post is part of the Twisted Tunnels RPG project. Jump to Index

These are rules from the earliest rendition of the game. I’ve done a lot of playtesting and I have a completely revised playtest draft. Contact me at “deeperdelvings” at Gmail if you’d like to check it out!

There are two types in the Twisted Tunnels: allies and monsters. “Monster” is the catch-all term for any creature you and your allies encounter.

Troll? Monster. Animated skeleton? Monster. Evil sorcerer? Monster. Rival adventurers? Monsters. Unless, that is, they got the drop on you: Then you better hope they are allies! If you want “non-player characters”, go find a game for ninnies and literature professors.

Monsters are almost never as detailed in their game ratings as the delvers. In most cases, all you need is a Monster Rating (MR), which represents the monster’s morale, ferocity, strength, and how much damage it can take in battle.

Monster Rating (MR)
Monsters get Combat dice equal to their MR, and their MR counts as their CON for purposes of taking hits.
Other than that, Monster Ratings work just like a delver’s ability ratings, and you can use a Monster Rating for anything the monster might be good at.
Sore and beat
When a monster has taken half it’s original MR in hits, it is sore. Once it takes hits equal to its original MR, it is beat. These can provide a useful tempo for the battle, giving you cues to change tactics, trigger a special ability, retreat, or even surrender.
Injured monsters usually recover their Monster Rating at 1 point per turn, when they can rest.

Spawning monsters

TTYF isn’t a safari. Delvers never know what terrors they might face in the bowels of the abyss when their torches burn low. We don’t know what lurks and slithers in your imagination, and we urge the referee to spawn each and every monster from her own demented designs.

As soon as you have a mental picture of your monster, give it a rating from 1 to 99 that describes how tough it is. Then decide what language it can speak, if any, and what it needs. You may give monsters any traits or powers you wish, without tying them to ratings.

Usually a Monster Rating spiked with a grisly imagination is all you need to churn out one rip-roaring encounter after another on game night. If your imagination is feeble, bone up on some weird tales, adventure fiction, comics, and action movies. The first rule of creating monsters is have fun; if it seems like work, you’re breaking the first rule.

Here are some possibilities if you have a cool idea and aren’t sure how to translate it into a monster for TTYF:

The monster is super fast, strong, huge, or armored.
These features can all be covered by jacking up its Monster Rating, and describing it vividly. The extra endurance and Combat dice might represent anything that helps the monster hit harder, or faster, or avoid damage, and it’s up to you to bring it to life in your description.
Likewise, if the monster is slow, weak, tiny, or squishy, just decrease its MR.
The monster is impervious to some kinds of attack.
Suppose your fire ifrit can’t be harmed by flame, your vaporous ghosties can’t be hit by physical weapons, or your adamantium robot can only take hits if they target its atomic eye lasers. Just describe how the inappropriate attacks bounce off harmlessly and move on. The delvers won’t roll attack dice for the harmless actions, but it might leave them flat-footed against the monster’s attack.
If the monster isn’t quite impervious and you yearn for more accounting, you could subtract or divide the damage by a constant factor every time they hit it with an attack the monster can resist.
The monster has a weakness.
Some monsters will be completely defenseless against certain exploits. Your vampires might be arithnomaniacs who are immobilized by counting when you throw seeds at them. Your dog-men might be instantly “sore” if someone blows a dog whistle. Your Ancient Spirits of Evil might be immediately banished if someone speaks their true names aloud. You don’t need any ratings to handle stuff like this—just describe it when it happens.
If you crave more bookkeeping and the weakness isn’t that dramatic, you could add a damage bonus or multiply the hits every time they hit the monster with its weakness.
The monster has an attack that needs to refresh.
Maybe you have an arbalist who needs to reload his weapon between shots, a swamp troll whose belch can engulf delvers in burning acid, or a witch who can summon clouds of blood-drinking songbirds. You might make them follow the same rules as delvers and track their ammunition or Power, or you could simply assign a chance in d6 that their attack will refresh this round. An arbalist might have to roll 1–3, for example, or the witch might have to roll a 1.
Other special attacks
Some monsters might be able to hold delvers at bay like a reach weapon; knock them around; leave savage, crippling wounds; grab them; swallow them; poison or infect them; et cetera. Your imagination is the limit. Be fair: Make sure there are signs of the threat for observant delvers, and be obvious when you narrate the monster’s behavior and actions. Just let your descriptions set the scene.

If it survives an encounter with the delvers, then you might endow your monster with more detail: Consider its hunger, its habits. What are its fixations or emotional disorders? Does it have any hopes or fears? Does it have a distinctive voice or awesome quirk, like twirling its whiskers or regurgitating the bones of delvers past, to gnaw on while it awaits its next feeding?

Wandering Monsters

Some areas of the Twisted Tunnels are so hostile that even monsters fear to creep. Others have wandering monsters who might bumble into a dungeon demolition team at any time.

Make a list of monsters who prowl the area the delvers are exploring (if any), either alone or in groups. They don’t have to be looking for trouble: You can include all kinds of interesting encounters in your list, and a good mix can add a lot of atmosphere to your Twisted Tunnels.

When there are monsters a-lurking, we roll a d6 every turn, and spring one of the encounters on the list on a 1. You might check for wandering monsters based on other events and actions, or at your own frequency.

When an encounter from the list is triggered, you can pick a random event from the list or choose one that makes sense. Some referees keep their wandering monster entries on index cards to shuffle and draw when needed; others roll dice to pick a random entry from a written list.

After you determine which monsters will appear, decide where they are in relation to the delvers and what they might be doing there. Sometimes they will spring right away, sometimes you will show the players signs of the monsters before they are in sight.

Monster Reactions

Some monsters will be on patrol looking for someone to bite. Some monsters will have other interests.

When monsters meet the delvers unexpectedly, you can determine their reaction randomly if the delvers aren’t overtly suspicious or hostile. Call for a Saving Roll from the unluckiest delver.

  • On a flop, the monsters attack without hesitation, and pursue the delvers if they flee.
  • On a miss, the monsters are visibly hostile, but they won’t pursue the delvers if they flee.
  • If they succeed, the monsters are cautious—but if a delver can speak their language, they may chat, rap philosophy, or broker deals.

This Saving Roll determines their initial disposition, but they may change their minds at any time as the encounter unfolds.

Catching and Training Monsters

Monsters mostly don’t want to die, and battle can be a bonding experience for them. Monsters know when they’re beat, and they have different tricks for getting delvers to spare them, including wimpering, pledging their service, offering something of value, or playing dead.

When a monster begs for its gruesome life and you understand its language, you can take the monster as a minion. If you are a good master, your minion will more or less follow orders and keep it’s promises—unless things get stressful. Your Charisma rating is the number of minions you can have at one time.

When your minion rebels against orders, you must punish the monster and make a Saving Roll on Charisma. If you succeed, you cow the minion into submission. At least for now…

Minions can earn XP and Level Up. Treat their Monster Rating as their current level to determine how much XP they need. When a minion levels up, the referee may give it a new talent or power appropriate to its ilk.

Minions might earn XP for different deeds than the delvers, like indulging in mayhem, destruction, or sating their hideous appetites.

Animal-type monsters might be tamed with appropriate treats instead of language. This is how delvers get cool mounts like dinosaurs or giant birds.

Last gasp moves

Some monsters are bad sports and won’t be captured or tamed. Instead, beating them might be the trigger that makes them crumble to dust, go berserk, invoke a diabolical curse with their last breath, explode in fiery doom, open a permanent portal to the netherworld, or collapse the dungeon.

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