Dungeons & Dragons Online

How to Create a Homebrew Creature on the Fly: My Method

Hello friends! I’ve been DMing for 5 years now, and I thought I’d share a quick strategy to building any monster on the spot!

First of all, remember one main thing: You’re the DM! Players have no idea what goes on behind the screen! Your players don’t need to know that you’ve made this monster on the spot! This strategy is

For this guide, we’ll go through how I made a monster on the spot from my homebrew campaign called a Vaka’ri Eelmaiden – Electric Variant – an amphibious humanoid monster with a long eelshaped head. Also, lightning!

1. Concept: For a homebrew monster, you must first have a good idea or concept about what this creature is like. This will help you come up with its resistances, general strengths and weaknesses, as well as any special abilities!

First, if possible, find a stat block to base your creature on. This can help, but usually I don’t even bother.

For our example concept, the Electric Eelmaiden is a variant species of Vaka’ri (a species of fish mutants in my world) that has an eel for a head and electric themed abilities! So, based on concept alone, I can deduce some general things about it: * It’s not very intelligent, since it’s just a mutant fish monster * It likely resists lightning damage * It has some kind of lightning attack * Since it’s a part of the deep sea creature tribe in my homebrew world, it also resists cold.

With this alone, and with the picture of the creature in my head, I can start to see how it stays would be. It’s not particularly strong, but maybe a bit more dexterous.

2. Hitpoints: Alright, so this is arguably the least important part. “But DBS! How do I know if they kill the monster if I don’t know its hitpoints!” I hear you asking. Worry not! Don’t forget, you are this world’s god!

In combat, I don’t track damage by subtracting from the monsters health. I add the players total damage up over time. Functionally, when they’re fighting monsters I had prepared ahead of time, this is no different.

However, when fighting a creature I’ve just made up on the spot, it helps me decide how much hit points I want the creature to have.

Is the creature supposed to be a challenging sort of boss? The players just dealt 78 damage in the first round? Cool, the monster will have 400 hitpoints. That’ll make combat last, on average, 5 rounds at least – not accounting for healing / etc.

I have run a decent amount of flash encounters where I’ve had multiple creatures without any actual health values pop up, and after a round or two of combat I set the hitpoints based on how I want the fight to go.

Of course, other factors affect how much hitpoints you should give a creature – can they heal? So they have a high AC? Part of being a DM is knowing what your players can handle and adapting to how much of a challenge you want them to have.

3. Basic attacks: By rule of thumb, all creatures have a basic attack at least. Usually this will be a simple melee attack, a bite, maybe a magic blast or something – something they can attempt to do each turn without question.

This is usually pretty easy. I just keep the general idea that: * Light Attack (Small bite, knife): d4 * Normal Attack (Scratch, Sword): d6 * Heavy Attack (Battleaxe, huge chomp): d12 With that as a base, you can alter your die and modifiers need be. This website (https://anydice.com/) here is a good tool for finding the average die roll if you need help.

A good thing to remember is, if you think you’re doing too much damage, just alter the die. The players don’t see what you roll behind the screen, so they’re none the wiser. That’s the joy about D&D – you can change what you want on the fly.

For our example, the Electric Eelmaiden, she has multiattack where she can make one bite attack and one slash attack, dealing a d12 and a d6 of damage respectively.

4. Special Abilities: Finally, what special abilities do you want your creature to have? Are you making a slime that corrodes the players AC? Or maybe a vampire that can charm the players?

This one is up to you – for most normal creatures, any special abilities you give them will have the classic Recharge (5-6) attribute, but since this part of the creature is really free range, it’s up to you.

For our example, the Electric Eelmaiden has a 15 foot cone of lightning it can quickly spit out. It recharges on a 5-6, and has a DEX save of 10. On a failure, a creature takes 2d6 lightning damage and is paralyzed until the end of their next turn. This was just something I made up on the fly for the battle, and it worked out fine!

5. Spells: Spells are a bit more complicated to make on the fly, since you need to remember spell slots for the creature aren’t infinite.

The main rule of thumb I go with here is only giving the creature spells that are at most two levels higher than the strongest spell a Player Character has. And then, I split up spell slots as I see fit. Did the characters dispel the shaman’s heal? That’s okay, he had another spell slot! They dispelled the second on? Alright, he’s out, that’s fair.

It really comes down to what would make sense for your creature, and how powerful you want them to be. For our example Eelmaiden, she has no magic, so we don’t have to be worried about this.

6. Extras: One of the things I like to do is give some of my monsters consumable items. Maybe those thieves have ball bearings, or a smoke grenade! These extra items are fun little one or more time use items that the creatures might have.

There’s not too much to say here, honestly. It’s up to you!

The Eelmaiden example carried a brine grenade, a small circular object that when thrown made a big wave of water push creatures away from the point of impact. It was a fun little item to mess with players!

7. Concrete Stats: Finally, writing down the creatures concrete stats if you need them.

However it’s usually not that big of a deal, as long as you have a general idea of the creature.

What do I mean by this? Well, when my party faced the Eelmaiden, I only ever had to have it make a Dexterity save for a spell. For that, since I had figured it would be slightly dexterous, I decided a +2 would work for the roll, which meant the creature’s Dexterity was 14 or 15.

Remember – creatures don’t follow the same rules as player characters. They can have a +11 to hit and then have stats that would point to otherwise. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter too much – what matters is your players had fun!

Conclusion: Making a homebrew creature on the fly takes a little bit of practice, and while it sounds like a lot of stuff to think of, it’s actually quite easy!

I hope this guide helped for anyone who read it! This is my first time sharing D&D content!

Enjoy this guide? Follow @RollForPerformance on Twitter, my DnD live show!


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