More 13th Age. Surprised? Really?
Spirits of Eden posted this article on designing animals that got my brain going on doing wild animals for 13th Age:
Perhaps this is because, since we’re so familiar with them, it might distract us to see them do fantastic things. But honestly, I just don’t accept that – about any element of a fantasy game. While working on Expedition I’ve been thinking about what kinds of abilities, coming into this from the perspective of making a fairly intricate combat system, one could work into animals that would give them some pizazz. D&D 4e did a fairly good job with this, albeit a lot of creatures were still just getting abilities like “runs at a character and slashes them, but in a single action instead of two!” which while effective, isn’t very flashy.
Most animals in fantasy games are pretty darn boring, this is true. I think most games are reserving their exotic mechanics for more exotic monsters. You don’t want to give a tiger all your good mechanics when you have dragons and demons to design for.
Wyatt gives some good ideas for mechanics that wild animals could use. It also sparked in me the idea that I wanted to make as my own “this is what wild animals do” mechanic. To me, what makes a wild animal wild is instinct. So that’s what I intend to give them.
The goal is to make their statlines pretty boring, but to give them a trigger mechanic (their “instinct”), that triggers off-turn. So a creature with a Ferocity Instinct might get a chance to deal damage every time someone it engages with rolls an even number on an attack roll. A creature with Sly Instincts can disengage for free whenever the opponent misses. Each wild animal has basic stats and some element that triggers “wildly”.
I feel these mechanics capture some of the essence of wild animals without getting too complex or exotic. Here are some examples.
3rd level troop
Bite +9 vs AC, 9 damage
Instinct: Ferocity. Whenever an enemy engaged with the Tiger makes an attack roll that comes out even on the die, the Tiger deals 5 points of damage with a claw as a quick action.
2nd level troop
Claw +7 vs AC, 6 damage, +4 if it moved this turn.
Instinct: Sly. whenever an opponent misses an attack against the Panther, the Panther may make a move as a quick action.
4th level wrecker
Claws +10 vs AC, 8 damage
-Natural Attack 14+: Make a bite attack as a quick action
Bite +8 vs AC, 12 damage.
Instinct: Fearsome. Whenever a nearby opponent misses an attack, the Black Bear roars, gaining a fear aura 18 until the end of its next turn.
What do you think? What would you do with the instinct mechanic? Feel free to post links to your examples if you want. Maybe we’ll make a menagerie if we get enough.