So, I’m writing a monster book called “Miscreated Creatures.” I’ve reached a point where I feel embarrassed to say that, because I’ve been saying it for about two years now, and don’t have anything to show for it. I’m like that asshole who brags about a novel that everybody knows he’s never going to finish. Really, I should have been done by now. But I’m not, and I probably won’t be for awhile yet. It turns out writing a book is really hard, and my strategy for tackling the project was…bad.
There have been redundant rewrites, inefficient document sorting, and periods of depressed inactivity that I’m ashamed to admit to. And of course there was the time about 9 months ago when I realized I’d made a fundamental error in the way I directed my creativity. I’d been trying to reinvent the wheel in the worst way, and backpedaling from that error cost me a lot of work.
But now the writing is in its final phase. It’ll be awhile before I’m done, but now I can see the day in my future when I will be. Art, layout, and printing will be a whole other beast altogether, but the book will get done. And after the titanic number of fuckups I’ve made while trying to do this job, I like to hope I’ve learned enough to work much much muuuuuch faster on my next big project.
ANYWAY: This post isn’t just an update on my book. What I really want to talk about is house rules.
Miscreated Creatures is being written as an LotFP compatible supplement. But, like any referee worth his screen, I don’t actually play LotFP Rules-As-Written. I’ve house ruled the fleeing rules to be more gradated, I’ve house ruled the grapple rules to be more attractive to players, and I’ve house ruled the social interaction to work according to On the Non-Player Character. Unsurprisingly, the monsters I create for my game are built with those house rules as an underlying assumption.
Of course, in most cases, it doesn’t matter. If a chase or a grapple or a social encounter happens with most monsters, they’ll work with any chase/grapple/social rules you want to use. But what about those rare, super-cool monsters whose entire concept is based around manipulating the chase system? Or the several monsters who “grapple as 2HD higher?” I think these monsters are cool, and worth sharing. But I obviously can’t assume other players use my house rules, or are even familiar with them. And it seems somehow fundamentally wrong for a monster book to prescribe rules changes.
I could attempt to rewrite the monsters so that their mechanics assume a RAW LotFP game. But when I house rule, I generally do it because the base system has insufficient depth to be properly interesting. If my super-cool grappler monster is reduced to a creature with +2 to their grapple check, it hardly seems worth including them in the first place.
I could just take those monsters out of the book. With over 320 monsters, in it, the value of my book will hardly be significantly impacted by the removal of 10-20 creatures. And I could always publish them on my blog. But those 10-20 creatures include some of my best work. They deserve to be accompanied by some kickass art, and printed on paper.
The solution I’m going with is the one that feels wrong. The opening of Miscreated Creatures currently has a small section of recommended house rules, and a note about how some monsters in the book rely on those rules to function properly. I’m hoping that when we’re doing the layout, I can keep this section to a single page or less. Like I said, it feels wrong to have it there, but it feels more wrong to hide some of my monsters away, or neuter them by reinterpreting them through the lens of inferior game mechanics.