Monster/Item Lore: I think I figured it out!

Recently, I've been listening to the community a lot trying to figure out how to do magic item lore. I think I've had an epiphany!

The advantage of lore is that it gives players really cool inspiration for their games. The disadvantage of lore is that it "locks in" the world. I think I've come up with a simple and clever solution that lets me get the best of both worlds. The idea is to offer a set of fuzzy lore options and let players figure out. The example below is my first stab at this, so it might change. I think it's got a lot of promise.

Magic Items: A range of lore

Talia's Eternal Blade, weak sword

The sword is surprisingly light and it floats on water. It is utterly and completely indestructible, no matter what—not even the GM can destroy this weapon.

According to legend...

  • Talia was a vain chronomancer who forged this weapon during her fruitless quest to unlock eternal youth.

  • This weapon was created by cosmic entities, who used it to slice apart reality into its component dimensions.

  • Talia, an apprentice swordmage, botched a powerful teleportation spell. Talia vanished from existence, but her sword (or at least this version of it) appeared at her teleport destination.

Monsters: Build the ecology yourself

Manticore

Description: Body and head of a lion, bull-like horns, tawny fur, tail lined with countless barbs, great bat wings

Instinct: Hunt for fresh prey, soar among the clouds, roar in the distance.

  • Fly on tawny wings for brief periods (Flight, EL).

  • Grab a smaller creature in your claws on a melee attack, then drop it from a dangerous height in a few rounds. (-Grappler, MA).

  • Sting with a barbed tail to inflict bleed and blurred vision (decrease ranged attack rolls). Spending 1 advantage removes the barb (bleed). Spending another advantage overcomes the poison (decreased rolls). You are immune to poison (Toxic, AL).

  • Swipe creatures in front of you, dealing melee damage (Cleave, WA).

Do manticores hunt alone?

  • Yes, they are solitary creatures

  • No, they hunt in pairs. Males are larger than females, but females have stronger venom.

  • No, manticores gather in deadly groups of 3-5 known as "a spike of manticores."

Are they territorial?

  • They never fly more than 5 miles away from their nest, which they defend viciously.

  • Manticores are migratory predators that follow the movement of their prey (typically herd animals).

  • A single manticore typically has 2-4 lairs, which they fly between regularly. The world is peppered with forgotten manticore lairs filled with the bones and treasure of their human prey.

How intelligent are they?

  • They are no more intelligent than mindless beasts.

  • They are nearly as intelligent as humans and will set clever ambushes.

  • They are not intelligent, but they are vindictive. They will stalk creatures who harm them for months, waiting for opportunities to attack their exhausted prey.

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Another option is to create monster lore the same way as magic items. Ex:

According to legend...

  • A single manticore typically has 2-4 lairs, which they fly between regularly. The world is peppered with forgotten manticore lairs filled with the bones and treasure of their human prey.

  • They are not intelligent, but they are vindictive. They will stalk creatures who harm them for months, waiting for opportunities to attack their exhausted prey.

  • Manticores gather in deadly groups of 3-5 known as "a spike of manticores."

This is just a rough draft, so it still needs work. Any input for how I can improve it?


Copyright Dabney Bailey 2014

taverntalesrpg@gmail.com