Hey Game Fans, Some of you might have seen me posting some thoughts and ideas about an adventure i am working on, and part of the process i go through when writing an adventure is to basically whiteboard up a list of monsters that i think i am going to use for the adventure. Most of the time, this starts with me just tossing up a list of all the monsters and then pruning them down as i move through the ones that i don’t think i’m going to end up using. So i’m going to share some of my whiteboarding and put up a broad list of monster ideas that i think would be fun to drop on unsuspecting players.
This does two things for me as a designer, as it lets me see what CR my monsters tend to fall in, and what gaps i have. This can give me some insights on where i may need to revise my initial prunings and I can go back and look for some trouble. The second thing that it lets me do is that i can see what NPCS and new monsters that i will have to build for the adventure.
Will o’the Wisp
Now i’ve got a rough idea of the monster styles i want to include, and i know i left out some major groups, and i’m sure that between now and when i start to pencil in sections of adventure more things will disappear. Mind Flayers, for example are probably going to disappear because there are an abundance of underdark monsters i like better, and i think they get overused a lot.
I do think there are some overarching bad guy groups that are also going to get represented in this adventure. Warring factions of bad guys help draw plot elements together, and you can create interesting encounters among the minions of these various groups. I’m probably going to put in at least some of the following elements, and may invent a few of my own.
The Church of Shar: Evil clerics are always an interesting power bloc, and i personally find the church of Shar to be somewhat interesting. This faction would represent the ideals of using the Panopticon for the purposes of bringing lingering darkness to the world, and potentially putting out the sun. Potential allies would include the Shades of returned Netheril, Mind Flayers, and other subterranean, sun hating nogoodniks.
The Elemental Evil Cults: Taken as a group, despite having four distinct flavors, The Elemental Evil cults are a powerful force in the world. Because the Panopticon has powers tied to the Inner Planes, any of the cults could be extremely pleased to acquire it and use its powers to blow holes in all of their enemies.
The Cult of the Dragon: This particular band of jerks are perfectly willing to use the Panopticon as a bargaining chip to sway Dragons of varying colors to their cause. Their well organized and have some very powerful allies, so there’s an assortment of hellfire that the cult can rain down on its enemies, and the Panopticon is perfectly happy drawing this kind of attention.
The Zhentarim: I realize they’re not the default bad guys of the forgotten realms anymore, but they are interested in dominating trade and information in the world, and an artifact of this power level would be a mighty feather in the cap of a Zhentarim agent. Probably the safest of the “Bad Guys” to end up with the device, it would still be a terrible weapon in uncertain hands.
The Red Wizards: The final part of this adventure takes place on Thay’s northern border, and with the amount of magical power likely to be tossed around, it’s a reasonable bet that the Red Coats are perfectly aware of the Artifact. It’s a crazily powerful weapon in the right hands, and in the wrong ones, it can be a bringer of cataclysms.
So we’ve got a couple of hundred monsters to sort through, some bad guy agencies to look at, and some shuffling to do, but this is how i start the process of populating the encounter that make up the adventures i build. I hope this gives you all an insight into the thought process i use.