Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Creating Custom Creatures

Creating custom monsters for your game can be both fun and incredibly tedious. A lot of the appeal of monsters in official sources comes from the art which is time consuming to make or find. Messing with stat blocks is also not a lot of fun as there are a lot of minor tweaks that aren't super important before you get to adding special abilities. This normally leads to just grabbing a close enough monster stat block and using that. The good news is now days we have a lot of tools you can leverage to make this process fast and easy.


Monster art is the best place to start because its often the most fluid. No matter what method you are using to get your art you are likely going to find something that changes the next steps. I am going to use midjourney in this example but you can use any ai image generation tool, existing art, or draw something yourself. 


If you haven't used midjourney before you will need to go to their side https://www.midjourney.com/ and sign up. You need to have a discord account to sign up and to use the tool. Once you are signed up you just need to use one of their channels or message the midjourney bot with /image "prompt goes here". For this example I used /image burning skeleton, great axe, monster, fantasy --v 4 which generated the following image. The --v 4 at the end can likely be omitted in the future.

This gave me 4 images to pick from. I liked the bottom right image to most so I selected the U4 option under the image and midjourney up scaled the image giving me this final result. The image doesn't match exactly what I set out to get but I like the way it looks and I think it will make a good monster.


Now that I have some art I am going to want to setup a page for both my art and monster stat block as well as any descriptions or other information I might want to include. This is really easy to do with homebrewery which has a quick tutorial on using it on the front page or you can just click new in the top right to get a blank page to start with. We are going to use a fade effect which combines stacking one image on top of our skeleton image so the edges fade out. It looks like this.

<img   src='https://media.discordapp.net/attachments/1000169995189366864/1042187559113080882/drasha_burning_skeleton_great_axe_monster_fantasy_b17aad4b-195c-45d9-8fec-ddd810b68352.png?width=569&height=569' 
  style='position:absolute;top:-50px;left:-50px;width:60%' />

  style='position:absolute;top:0px;left:0px;width:100%' />


the page should look like this. you can adjust the top and left values on the image to focus in on whatever parts of the image you like. You can easily use the fade image on any monster image you generate. The br add line breaks so our text doesn't overlap with the images.

Monster Stat Block

The next thing I want to generate is a monster stat block for this page and I am going to use tetra-cube to build off a template monster. In this case I am going to select skeleton from the preset stat block. I am going to swap its dex and str score since I want it to be more of a brute. Go down to the actions section and remove the short bow and then edit the short sword to be a battleaxe and then I am going to add a reaction to burn a creature who attacks it. Once I am done tweaking the stat block I can click view mark down near the top right of the page and then copy the Homebrewery V3 text it provides onto my hombrewery page.

## Scorched Skeleton
*Medium undead, lawful evil*
**Armor Class** :: 13 (armor scraps)
**Hit Points** :: 13 (2d8 + 4)
**Speed** :: 30 ft.
|14 (+2)|10 (+0)|15 (+2)|6 (-2)|8 (-1)|5 (-3)|
**Damage Vulnerabilities** :: bludgeoning
**Damage Resistances** :: poison
**Condition Immunities** :: exhaustion, poisoned
**Senses** :: darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 9
**Languages** :: understands the languages it knew in life but can't speak
**Challenge** :: 1/4 (50 XP)
### Actions
***Battleaxe.*** _Melee Weapon Attack:_ +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. _Hit:_ 7 (1d8 + 2) slashing damage, or 8 (1d10 + 2) slashing damage if using two hands.
### Reactions
***Burn.*** The Scorched Skeleton deals 2 fire damage against one creature that has hit it with a melee attack. To do so the Scorched Skeleton must not have been doused with water.

At this point our page should look like this. You have a couple different options you can go to from here. You can use the page as is, you can add another variant monster stat block on the right side to fill up space or you can add descriptions and notes to the page.


My preferred next step is to add detailed text to the page to flesh things out and include material that will help me when I am running a game. This is generally the approach most people take and is a solid foundation to build on. You will likely want to pick a couple of the following topics to cover.
  • Short Description
  • Monster Origin
  • Lore (history)
  • Habitat
  • Behavior
  • Tactics
  • Random Tables for encounters/attributes/activities
  • Sample Encounter

After adding details you should have something that looks like this. You can ommit the second stat block for more details or if you have a more complex monster stat block it will take up a lot more space. You can view this page in homebrewery here and if you want to see the full source there is a source button in the top right hand corner.