I’m continuing to plow through things for our heavily customized Advanced Labyrinth Lord game. Though it wasn’t specifically my intent when we began, many of the changes we’re incorporating seem to have a distinct original edition feel to them. So our final game will probably look a little bit like the basic game with advanced classes and original simplification.
One of the original-style changes we’re making is to monsters. First of all, I’m combining all monster attack routines (like the ubiquitous claw/claw/bite) into one abstract attack. The amount of damage monsters do on average has also been lowered a bit, but that’s more part of our effort to increase survivability than an original edition change. We’re also making special attacks (bear hugs, scorpion stings, gore attacks, etc.) occur on high rolls similar to how swallowing whole is handled for most monsters with that ability in regular versions of the game.
Secondly, rather than using a typical monster book style manual of monsters, I’m creating an original-style monster listing table. It’s actually quite similar to the monster listings in an appendix of the first advanced edition DMG. I’m including all of the combat-related information in a “special” column and mean for this table to be the only reference needed during encounters.
Finally, I’m writing short descriptions of the monsters after the table, again similar to how it was done in the original game. In many cases I’m including a little more information than originally given, and some monsters have non-combat abilities or leadership information listed, as well. But I’m working hard to keep descriptions to the bare minimum. Writing these, using the LL book and other sources for inspiration, is actually a lot of fun. Summarizing monsters in a couple of short sentences means stripping away lots of fluff. Almost always a good thing to do, if you ask me.
We’ve been using these monsters since the Forbidden Jungle campaign kicked off a few weeks back with good results. I’ve made a few minor changes to some monsters along the way (hobgoblins, for instance, are described as goblin-human crossbreeds) but nothing major. No doubt I will want to tweak things along the way, but I’m quite happy with them so far. I’ve got all core LL monsters statted up on the table and am about half-way through the descriptions. At some point I’ll probably show a few if there’s any interest.