D&D 5E Making Monster Weakness Interesting

dave2008

Legend
Researching the enemy's weakness is a good idea. But,of course, the SMART monsters are going to use deception and there might be some mistakes in the local folklore....

Maybe the local vampire is only affected by SILVER holy symbols, but pretends to be affected by all holy symbols. Maybe he can cross "running water".... but he just chooses to stay on his side of the river (It's a courtesy to another monster who lives on the other side).

I once did something similar with a vampire that could Polymorph. She would disguise herself as a Bard and spread songs/rumours about a rare vampiric weakness: unable to cross a threshold, or exit the coffin if a rose was placed upon it. The PCs broke into her lair and were surprised when the vampire actually loved roses .
I another post someone mentioned that monsters in the Witcher RPG (IIRC) have two entries for lore:
  1. Folklore: what common people know about monsters and a good bit of it is wrong
  2. Hunter Lore (i.e. what the witchers know): more accurate information about strength's and weakness
I think that would be fun to add to D&D
 
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Undrave

Legend
Researching the enemy's weakness is a good idea. But,of course, the SMART monsters are going to use deception and there might be some mistakes in the local folklore....

Maybe the local vampire is only affected by SILVER holy symbols, but pretends to be affected by all holy symbols. Maybe he can cross "running water".... but he just chooses to stay on his side of the river (It's a courtesy to another monster who lives on the other side).

I once did something similar with a vampire that could Polymorph. She would disguise herself as a Bard and spread songs/rumours about a rare vampiric weakness: unable to cross a threshold, or exit the coffin if a rose was placed upon it. The PCs broke into her lair and were surprised when the vampire actually loved roses .

I another post someone mentioned that monsters in the Witcher RPG (IIRC) have two entries for lore:
  1. Folklore: what common people know about monsters and a good bit of it wrong
  2. Hunter Lore (i.e. what the witchers know): more accurate information about strength's and weakness
I think that would be fun to add to D&D
Oooh that's good stuff!
 

dave2008

Legend
Okay maybe it SHOULD... My issue with some traps is just the ludicrousness of them when compared to the simpler more effective means. Why spend millions of gp erecting a mile long slide with a blade at end when a scything blade will do the same thing?
The issue, IMO, is that almost no one cares or even thinks about the practicality of any of it. For most people, IMO, such thoughts do not even register and have no impact on their enjoyment of the game. Which is ultimately the important thing. If doing a cost benefit analysis of dungeon design is exciting to you - great, have at it. I just don't think it matters to many people. As an architect myself, I get where you are coming from, but it is not something my players care about, so I don't worry about it much myself.
 

I another post someone mentioned that monsters in the Witcher RPG (IIRC) have two entries for lore:
  1. Folklore: what common people know about monsters and a good bit of it is wrong
  2. Hunter Lore (i.e. what the witchers know): more accurate information about strength's and weakness
I think that would be fun to add to D&D
I tend to favor an approach where the folklore is just incomplete or false in a way that doesn't completely screw over PCs' plans. I used to try to be clever and sneaky with lore drops and info but over the years I've found that it's way too easy for players to completely overlook the subtle clues you're trying to drop or go off chasing red herrings instead of reality. Adding in false info is realistic and makes a lot of sense but it's one of those things that, from my experience, sounds really good in theory but weighs down the progress of a game when your players don't put things together.

If your group is really good at picking up every hint that's out there and shifting through what's false and what's true, this could work well. Personally, I've moved over the years from being subtle and frustrated that the players didn't figure out the real scenario on their own to being more overt with lore and important clues.
 

Khelon Testudo

Cleric of Stronmaus
Researching the enemy's weakness is a good idea. But,of course, the SMART monsters are going to use deception and there might be some mistakes in the local folklore....

Maybe the local vampire is only affected by SILVER holy symbols, but pretends to be affected by all holy symbols. Maybe he can cross "running water".... but he just chooses to stay on his side of the river (It's a courtesy to another monster who lives on the other side).

I once did something similar with a vampire that could Polymorph. She would disguise herself as a Bard and spread songs/rumours about a rare vampiric weakness: unable to cross a threshold, or exit the coffin if a rose was placed upon it. The PCs broke into her lair and were surprised when the vampire actually loved roses .
"A rose? For me? How sweet! Almost as sweet as your blood will be when I drink it from your neck!"
Okay maybe it SHOULD... My issue with some traps is just the ludicrousness of them when compared to the simpler more effective means. Why spend millions of gp erecting a mile long slide with a blade at end when a scything blade will do the same thing? And the saving throw was created as a way of heroically escaping in a cool manner
If logic trumped cool, Star Wars and superheroes wouldn't be the monster hits that they are. And The Expanse would be a lot more popular.
 

Casimir Liber

Adventurer
An inspired thread - as a player and DM, I've found that parties will try harder to find an edge before battle if they're worried a monster might be tough. And have mused at times over leaving clues around to allow people to prepare. It doesn't have to be Einstein level, but just quizzing NPCs a little bit more or observing clues. The mix of false/true leads is great as well.

And weaknesses can be made pretty easily without upsetting canon, "Hey, there's a whole field of bulette-bane growing over there!!" etc.
 

dave2008

Legend
I tend to favor an approach where the folklore is just incomplete or false in a way that doesn't completely screw over PCs' plans. I used to try to be clever and sneaky with lore drops and info but over the years I've found that it's way too easy for players to completely overlook the subtle clues you're trying to drop or go off chasing red herrings instead of reality. Adding in false info is realistic and makes a lot of sense but it's one of those things that, from my experience, sounds really good in theory but weighs down the progress of a game when your players don't put things together.

If your group is really good at picking up every hint that's out there and shifting through what's false and what's true, this could work well. Personally, I've moved over the years from being subtle and frustrated that the players didn't figure out the real scenario on their own to being more overt with lore and important clues.
Could be. I have never used the concept systemically. I was just relaying what another poster was raving about in their Witcher games. I have definitely used red herrings to good effect before, but have never used it as a baseline.

EDIT: I would also argue that it is hard to "...completely screw over PC's plans" in D&D. A little incomplete or false information is not going to do that generally.
 


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