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Monstering & the Bare Essentials

As detailed in the basics of role-playing,one of the main differences between table-top role-playing and live role-playing is that LRP'ing requires people to play the role of the monsters (where "monster" refers to anything that is not a player-character). The act of playing a monster is known as monstering.

Monstering is excellent fun, and is a far easier way of getting to know the system as you spend all your time being told (by someone who knows) what to do. Here I shall discuss what is involved in monstering, and thereby hopefully give you some more orientation into what goes onn in a live role-playing game.

The role of the monster begins with the encounter.

The Elements of the Encounter

The ref writes the adventure, and the adventure is composed of encounters. The encounters are the scenes that make up the play (as it were). The players are the lead characters, while the monsters play the bit parts and supporting cast.

The ref decides what or who the players are to encounter. They decide what the players need to accomplish in order to progress to the next encounter, and decide how they are to accomplish it. The ref then selects the relevant number of monsters and tells them what they need to know.

A monster will need to know:

  • How many Life Points he has (players have a tendancy to solve any problem in any encounter by killing everyone they find).
  • What special abilities and capabilties he has. This will include combat skills (ie, what damage you are doing) and usually one or two other skills, perhaps even a spot of magic.
  • What he wants from the players. This will be money if he's a bandit, food is he's a goblin, or simply a fight if he's an orc. More complex encounters involve more complex motivations
  • What he's willing to do to get what he wants. Goblins and bandits rarely risk their lives, and will run if it gets scary. Orcs are violent and stupid, and will kill or be killed. Again, more complex encounters require more detailed motivations.
  • What he has that the players need or want, and what he will accept to part with it. Typical examples include a particular item, or some piece of information.

Armed with his raison d'etre, the monster takes his place and awaits the arrival of the players. Meanwhile, the ref will race off to prepare the next encounter.

However, if you want to play anything more complex than a zombie, you will want to know at least the basics of the sytem. So I'll go through the above list.

Life points and Damage

Life Points (also known as Hit Points, or simply Hits) determine the amount of damage you can withstand before you collapse and die. Damage is done by being struck with a weapon, or being zapped by magic, or various other ways.

You will know when you have been damaged, not just because you've just been cudgelled by some gaffa-taped monstrosity of a weapon, but because you will get shouted at. These shouts are something you need to know too.

A bloke with sword-use can grab a sword and hit a foe for 1 Life Point of Damage per successful hit. This is all very well, but in the world of adventuring, you get people who are significantly better with a sword than the average bloke. If they successfully hit you, they may do two or three or even more points of Damage. To let you know how many Life Points you must take off, they will shout:

  • Single - one point (only ever shouted if it's not clear that you have been damaged)
  • Double - two points
  • Triple - three points
  • Quad - four points
  • Quint - five points
  • Hex - six points
  • Sep - seven points (not to be confused with Sceptic, which is something else)
  • Oct - eight points.

Anything higher will be shouted explicitly ("eleven"," twenty" etc.)

Additionally, there are variations on the type of damage done. This could be because the weapon is enchanted, or covered in nasty green goo, or is simply odd. These are all specified by shouting.

  • plus (various);(amount) - additional damage, for example...
  • plus Poison - additional damage obtained by coating a weapon with blade venom. Poison damage is always stated explicitly, and is applied every minute after being hit, until cured.
  • Sceptic - the wound goes all green and manky, and the damage cannot be healed normally. If left untreated, the victim will get gangrene, which I wouldn't recommend to anyone.
  • Magic - sometimes necessary to effect certain creatures
  • Divine (or Holy) - sometimes necessary to effect certain creatures
  • Through - the damage penetrates any armour that may be being worn (see armour below)

It is entirely possible (if you are playing a nasty rat creature perhaps) that you may hit a player and have to shout "Sceptic double plus poison four", and they might respond by hitting you with a Sword of Flame and shouting "Magic quad plus fire double". This may seem cumbersome, but it is unfortunately necessary, and these are fairly extreme examples. It also helps keep the power-playing down, as the more powerful the damage, the more tiresome it becomes to shout it all the time. Usually no-one will shout anything more convoluted than "triple through".

Death

If you are hit for more damage than you currently have life points (i.e. your life point total is reduced to zero or less), you must fall to the ground and play dead. In the name of drama, you now have five minutes grace, in which your character/monster is bleeding to death. This gives your fellows, or any charitable passer-by, reasonable opportunity to heal you in some way (see healing below).

If your attacker is feeling particularly vindictive, he can spend the time to make sure this doesn't happen. Decapitation, throat cutting, scewering of the heart, or any other method your twisted imagination can dream up are all viable. Any method will take at least ten seconds of concerted effort however, and you'd be surprised how much damage modern magic can heal if the need is great enough.

If you have been suitably mutilated, or your five minutes runs out and no-one has done anything to staunch the blood flow, you are dead, not to return for anything short of divine intervention.

Resurrections occasionally happen in this world, but don't bank on it. Even if you are resurected, your character will be surrendered to the refs, and become an NPC.

Armour

So what can you do about all this violence? Well, you may be given some armour.

Armour comes in five varieties:

  • Fur. Reduces damage by 1 point
  • Leather. Reduces damage by 2 points
  • Studded Leather. Reduces damage by 3 points
  • Chain Mail. Reduces damage by 4 points
  • Plate Mail. Reduces damage by 5 points

Note: To be entitled to wear armour heavier than fur, you need to buy the relevant Wear Armour skills (wear light, wear medium, wear heavy and wear plate). This covers casting spells while wearing armour too. As a monster, you will either have intrinsic, natural armour, or these skills will be assumed.

Even someone wearing Heavy Armour is not totally invulnerable. Although they can stand in the middle of a hord of angry goblins and never suffer a scratch, there are skills that enable a character (even a brighter than average goblin) to penetrate the armour and hurt the nasty man within.

Avoidance

Avoidance is an Agility skill that duplicates some of the effects of armour. The idea is that by dodging a lot you can avoid the worst of the damage. Avoidance has the advantage that you don't need to buy the armour, and you do not need all the associated skills, but the disadvantages that you can never dodge all the damage. You will always take a minimun of 1 point.

Avoidance can be used while wearing armour (if you have the required wear armour skill) but the effect of the armour is considered first. If you are wearing plate, and have five levels of avoidance, you will take no damage from anything up to a quint, and you will take only a single point from any blow up to a dec.

Healing

One thing that monsters won't have to worry about, but players are (naturally) very concerned about, is healing. You had twenty life points, and have had fifteen of them bashed away by nasties. Can you get them back, and if so how?

Natural healing is normally too slow to play any part in the game. However, if the game spans more than one day, you will recover one tenth of your life points after a full night's rest.

Divine healing is fast and effective. A priest will chant at you for ten to twenty seconds, and say something like "Cure Light", and lo and behold you will get some life points back instantly. It is considered sporting to limp, and act as if it's still sore for a while after being healed.

The following list can vary, but will give an idea of what might get used by a priest.

  • Cure Light. 3 life points
  • Cure Medium. 5 life points
  • Cure Serious. 10 life points
  • Cure Mortal. 20 life points
  • Cure Body. Recover all life points

Medical healing is slower, and requires being trussed up in bits of kit. However, medics can be bought a lot more cheaply than priests.

Salves and potions can be bought and applied by any fool for a certain degree of healing. If applied by someone who knows what they're doing, their effectiveness is doubled. They all take at least thirty seconds to administer satisfactorily.

  • Bandages. Only good for staunching blood flow, and only if you have First Aid as a skill.
  • Salves & Poultices. Kill the pain, and heal three life points.

Other Combat Skills

If you hear any of these things shouted (and I have picked the ones that you are likely to hear) it means someone is using a skill, and you may well have to react appropriately.

  • Dodge : The user has completely dodged a single blow, and all its damage.
  • Disarm: If someone shouts this at you, and they have made a reasonable pretense, you must drop your weapon. If you survive long enough, you can of course pick it up again.
  • Parry:
  • That last blow was parried, and did no damage.
  • Subdue: If this surprised you, you are rendered unconscious.
  • Cut Throat: If you are surprised to find a knife at your throat, your Life Points are reduced to one. You are essentially dead.
  • Ki Strike: Take 15 points of damage, regardless of armour.
  • Mighty Blow: Take 25 points of damage due to extreme thuggery.
  • Numbing Blow: Any limb hit is numb and useless for 5 seconds. Anything held is dropped.
  • Crush: Whatever was hit is now trashed and useless, unless clad in heavy armour.
  • Strength: Someone has performed a Feat of Strength. Act appropriately.
  • Knock Back: You have been hit so hard you must fly backwards.
  • Resist... (something): An effect has been resisted, for no effect.
  • Detect... (whatever): A deception has been detected.
  • Spellcasting... (some mumbo jumbo): This means that someone is casting a spell. They will proceed to say what spell, and what effects it has.

As you can see, most of it is obvious. Anything that anyone shouts at you should be relatively easy to work out. Anything not listed here is probably so odd that the ref. will brief you on its possible occurence before the adventure starts.

One last thing remains:

Hand Signals.

There are three hand signals. They are used essentially to mean "you can't see me". If you see a person, but they are holding their hand above their head in one of the prescribed fashions, you must act as if you haven't seen them. The signals are:

  • I am hiding : A closed fist. Negated by a Detect Hidden.
  • I am invisible: An open hand, palm forward. Negated by a Detect Invisible
  • I do not exist : A flat hand, palm downwards. Cannot be negated.

The hidden signal is used a lot by scouts and so forth. It is the one you'll see players using most often. The "I do not exist" signal (also called the "I am not here" signal) is often used by the ref as he wanders around ensuring everything is running smoothly, or by monsters as they run from the site of one encounter to the next. It is the one refs and monsters use most often.

Sometimes a ref. will know that he is going to spend most of the time "not here", so will declare something like "Whenever I'm wearing this headband, I do not exist". This simply saves aggravation.

Note that anyone who is hiding or invisible can still be bumped into.


See also : Basics of Role-Playing
  : Magic
  : The Bestiary
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