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If there’s one thing that fills DMs with preparation dread, it’s realizing you’re going to have to Create The Monster. You’ve trawled through your Monster Manuals, searched the various RPG forums and cracked open your Tome of Horrors, and nothing quite matches your monster concept.

In 3rd Edition D&D, monster building is notoriously time-consuming, and even the shortcut solution of taking an existing monster and adapting it or adding class levels can easily take anything from 10 minutes to a full hour – per monster.

In comparison, Monster Building under Microlite20 is so fast, it’s possible to do it on the fly, right at the game table – and I’m going to show you how, using our friend the Ninja Monkey above as an example.

Let’s face it – Ninja Monkeys rock. Imagine hordes of Katana wielding tiny monkeys, and you’re right into Cool Critter territory. Perhaps there’s a secret Monkey Ninja training school in the hills and they assassinate people for peanuts or serve a Gorilla Samurai Lord. Whatever their origin, I guarantee your gameworld will be better off with Ninja Monkeys in there, somewhere. But first, we have to build them.

In D&D, one possible way to create your Ninja Monkeys would be to take the normal Monkey stats, Awaken it by applying the Awakened template then adding Ninja class levels. Even for an experienced DM, that’s at least 20 minutes work, and most GMs will struggle to complete that task in under an hour. It’s not for the faint-hearted. Those 20 minutes could have been spent creating an entire Microlite20 scenario, including monsters, but that’s a blogpost for another day.

Here’s the entire Monster-creation text for Microlite20:

To create new monsters, assign Hit Dice (d8 for most things, d12 for Dragons and Undead). Attack bonus and skill level = number of Hit Dice. If it’s an intelligent critter, +3 bonus to one skill. Assign stats to suit. Equip and add abilities as required.

Let’s start by setting the Hit Dice for our Ninja Monkeys. As these are tiny little monkeys, and (in my imaginary scenario) going to come up against 1st level PCs, let’s give them 1HD.

Quick tip: to speed monster creation further, multiply the Hit Dice by 5 for hit points; multiply Hit Dice by 7 for Dragons and Undead

Remember that unlike Player Characters, Monsters and other NPCs don’t add ther STR total to their hit points. This is a special bonus for Real Heroes only. If you want a tougher Monster, increase their STR so they get an increase (equal to their STR bonus) to their hp per Hit Dice.

That gives the Ninja Monkeys 1HD, 5hp, +1 to hit with their Katana and +1 with all skills. As these are intelligent Ninjas (are there any other kind?), we’ll allocate their +3 to Subterfuge. Let’s give them STR 6, DEX 14 and MIND 12, allow them to use DEX (rather than STR) for their attack roll with their miniature Katanas, which do d6 damage. Factoring that in with the Hit Dice, we get:

Ninja Monkey, 1HD (3hp), AC12, +3 Katana (1d6-2)
Sub+4, all others @ +1
STR 6, DEX 14, MIND 12

And…… we’re done. If the Ninja Monkeys have any special abilities or equipment, note them down but don’t bother with setting uses/day, etc; if it’s Dramatically Appropriate for a monster to use it’s abilities then use them. No Rules Needed! That’s the Microlite20 way 🙂

So, to recap:

  1. Set the Hit Dice to get the hit points, chance to hit and skill levels
  2. If it’s intelligent, add +3 to one skill
  3. Pick stats and adjust AC, hit points and damage
  4. Note and special abilities and equipment

If you want a more powerful Ninja Monkey (and who wouldn’t?), just add Hit Dice, which increases hp, attack bonus and skills. Adjust Stats if it’s logical to do so. Here’s a 3HD Ninja Monkey:

Ninja Monkey, 3HD (12hp), AC12, +5 Katana (1d6-1)
Sub+6, all others @ +3
STR 8, DEX 14, MIND 12

Simple. See?