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    Pixie in the Playground
     
    HalfOrcPirate

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    Default Custom Anxiety Monsters [PEACH]

    ***ILLUMINARIUM CAMPAIGN STAY OUT***

    As an enthusiastic fan of Toby Allen's Mental Illness Monsters, I decided to make my first attempt at building a custom monster for D&D 5e. (I'd provide a link, but I don't have enough posts yet.)

    Spoiler: Questions
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    (1) Should I increase Strength or leave it low?
    (2) Should the increase the effective AC more for the Spells provided?
    (3) Am I going to be sad that the monster goes down so quickly in a fight? I am anticipating the PCs being somewhere between Level 2 and Level 4 when fighting this monster. The world is semi-open ended, so they may visit another region first.


    Spoiler: Fluff
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    The Selective Mutism Monster is a fantasy-based interpretation of the real-life condition where children fail to speak in social situations (e.g., school) despite having the capability of doing so due to severe levels of anxiety. Often, they'll speak to one or more members of their immediate family (e.g., mother) but no one else (e.g., grandmother, teacher).

    Storywise, the PCs will come across a Halfling village where all of the children have lost the ability to speak. The PCs will investigate the nearby Forest of Whispers to determine the cause. They will determine that Selective Monsters have been stealing the children's voices and capturing them in acorns. This is the monster's only way to communicate (i.e., by capturing their voices). Lesser/Greater Restoration spells work, but each night the Selective Mutism monsters strike again. The Forest of Whispers will be full of Fey and Beast creatures, which are not evil or malevolent. It will be up to the PCs to decide whether they (a) free the villagers by slaying the creatures; (b) free the villagers by negotiating a treaty/compromise; (c) let the Selective Mutism monsters keep the children's voices as the Halfling children can still communicate via written language or learn sign language; or (d) other.

    Mechanically, this monster is meant to focus on debuffing the PCs (especially spell casters) using "Silence" to make the encounter with other monsters more difficult. Hit Hide and Run tactics highly encouraged with the Nimble Escape trait. This monster will also allow for ambushes in the forest if Silence is cast in advance to mask the sounds of the approaching monsters.


    Selective Mutism Monster
    Small Fey, Chaotic Neutral

    CR: 1 (Offensive CR = 1, Defensive CR = 1)

    AC: 12
    HP: 49 (14d6)
    Speed: 35 ft.
    Stats: Str 3 (-4), Dex 14 (+2), Con 11 (+0), Int 8 (-1), Wis 12 (+1), Cha 14 (+2)

    Vulnerable: Thunder
    Immune: Frightened
    Saving Throw Proficiencies: Wis, Cha
    Skills: Deception (Expertise); Investigation; Performance; Stealth; Survival (Expertise)
    Languages: Mute; understands Elvish, Sylvan

    Atk: +4; Sling: 1d4+2 bludgeoning (Range: 30/120);
    Dmg/Rnd: 4.5
    Save DC: 12

    Traits:
    Innate Spellcasting (Ability Modifier is Charisma as if he was a Bard)
    Cantrips: Blade Ward
    Level 1 Spells (4 Slots):Comprehend Languages; Sleep
    Level 2 Spells (3 Slots):Silence
    [+1 Effective AC for Silence as it is a Level 2 spell like the Web trait]

    Nimble Escape: BA -> Disengage/Hide (p. 166) [+4 Effective AC & +4 Effective Attack Bonus]

    Subtle Spell (Metamagic): 4 Sorcery pts (PHP 102) (I know this is a Sorcerer class feature, but it fits the theme.)

    Mimicry: DC 12 (8+2+2) Wis (Insight) (p. 194)

    Spoiler: Orig CR
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    CR: 1 (Offensive CR = 1, Defensive CR = 0.5)

    Spoiler: Original HP
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    HP: 25 (10d4)...but I should have said "28 (8d6)"

    Spoiler: Orig Mechanics
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    Mechanically, this monster is meant to focus on debuffing the PCs (especially spell casters) using "Silence" to make the encounter with other monsters more difficult. This monster will also allow for ambushes in the forest.
    Last edited by Grog Logs; 2017-11-08 at 08:48 PM. Reason: Updating Monster Stats

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    Pixie in the Playground
     
    Flumph

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    Default Re: Custom Anxiety Monsters [PEACH]

    I'd say make it more durable. Maybe a skirmisher that does hit & run tactics? Mutism shouldn't be something that you can get rid of by waving a pointy stick at it for a few rounds.

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    Pixie in the Playground
     
    HalfOrcPirate

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    Default Re: Custom Anxiety Monsters [PEACH]

    Quote Originally Posted by snafuy View Post
    I'd say make it more durable. Maybe a skirmisher that does hit & run tactics? Mutism shouldn't be something that you can get rid of by waving a pointy stick at it for a few rounds.
    Good points. I have updated the Monster's HP and Mechanics suggestions. The Final CR was able to remain at 1 while making these changes. If, however, someone wanted a tougher monster, they can increase the HP to 63 (18d6), which would increase the Defensive CR to 2 (due to bonuses from the traits), which would increase the monster's overall CR to 2. Personally, I like the 49 (14d6) version better as it more easily allows the DM to include multiple Selective Mutism monsters in the same grouping. But, your mileage may vary. (And, mine may too once I put it in actual play.)

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    Default Re: Custom Anxiety Monsters [PEACH]

    I question the notion that anxiety of any type should have a CR as low as one. In fact, I strongly question the notion that any of the mental illness monsters should be conventionally fightable. Maybe they shouldn't even be fightable at all. But the entire point is that they shouldn't be the kind of thing that you can poke with swords until they go away because that's not how mental illnesses work. Having them represented by small pushover critters seems honestly borderline-insulting to people with the actual conditions in question.
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    Default Re: Custom Anxiety Monsters [PEACH]

    Misophonia (Young) Monster
    Tiny Fey, Chaotic Neutral
    Spoiler: Inspirational Image
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    Spoiler: Questions
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    (1) Should I increase Strength or leave it low?
    (2) Should the Bite Attack (when Thunderclap is unavailable) be increased? If so, how can I do so while playing by the rules AND keeping it the weaker option?
    (3) Would anyone be interested in seeing the CR 3 version, which is the Misophonia Guardian that has the ability to cast Thunderwave?



    Spoiler: Fluff
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    Inspiration:The Misophonia Monster is a fantasy-based interpretation of the real-life condition where people (children, adolescents, or adults) experience intense anger and/or anxiety in response to specific sounds. Most often these are the noises produced by other people eating, sniffing, or coughing. Often, their anger/anxiety is worse with family members (i.e., parents, siblings, spouses) produce these sounds, but their reactions can be quite bad with strangers, too. Thankfully, they are not bothered by their own sounds. It is the polar opposite of ASMR, although they almost certainly work on different neuro-mechanisms. Toby Allen's artwork played a huge role in inspiring my independent creation of this D&D monster.

    Storywise, the Misophonia Monster will occupy the same woods as the Selective Mutism Monster. I have yet to decide if they will occur in the same fight(s) or separately. If together, the PCs will be bounced between Silence and Thunder damage. Misophonia was designed more as an annoying pest than a plot point.

    Mechanically, this monster is meant to focus on creating constant Thunder damage and then using "Blindness/Deafness" to make the PCs Deaf. The Blind half of the spell does not work thematically and should be discouraged from use. Hit and Run tactics highly encouraged with the Flyby trait. The Avoidance trait will make it a pain to target with spells. Woe to the adventurer who fails to bring a ranged weapon to a Misophonia fight. The avoidance trait was chosen based on its name as people with the actual problem will often avoid eating with friends and family.


    CR: 0.5 (Offensive CR = 0.5, Defensive CR = 0.5)

    AC: 12
    HP: 40 (16d4)
    Speed: 10 ft., Fly 60 ft.
    Stats: Str 2 (-4), Dex 14 (+2), Con 10 (+0), Int 9 (-1), Wis 13 (+1), Cha 16 (+3)

    Resist: Thunder
    Immune: Deafened, Frightened

    Saving Throw Proficiencies: Wis, Cha
    Skills:Survival
    Languages: Sylvan; understands Elvish

    Attack Action:
    Thunderclap: Attack Bonus: +4. Hit: 3.5 (1d6) Thunder damage to each Creature Hit
    [used to calculate Offensive CR, assuming hitting 2 PCs]
    Bite: Attack Bonus +0. Hit. 1 Piercing.
    Save DC: 13

    Traits:

    Innate Spellcasting (Ability Modifier is Charisma as if it was a Sorcerer):
    Cantrips: Gust, Thunderclap (1d6);
    Level 1 Spells (4 Slots):Color Spray
    Level 2 Spells (2 Slots): Blindness/Deafness
    [+1 Eff AC, similar to Web]

    Avoidance: +ST -> no dmg, -ST -> dmg (p. 48) [+1 Eff AC]

    Flyby: [+2 Eff AC, similar to Flying & ranged]

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    Default Re: Custom Anxiety Monsters [PEACH]

    Quote Originally Posted by Jormengand View Post
    I question the notion that anxiety of any type should have a CR as low as one. In fact, I strongly question the notion that any of the mental illness monsters should be conventionally fightable. Maybe they shouldn't even be fightable at all. But the entire point is that they shouldn't be the kind of thing that you can poke with swords until they go away because that's not how mental illnesses work. Having them represented by small pushover critters seems honestly borderline-insulting to people with the actual conditions in question.
    I can definitely understand and respect that POV. My friends and I are very open about mental health issues and very big advocates of mental health treatment. I would personally be uncomfortable with running these monsters with people that I did not know very well (or with people who were dismissive of mental health issues). It is definitely the situation where context is everything.

    The main reason that this monster's CR is so low is that I anticipate the Party encountering these monsters around Character Level 2-4 and I didn't want to create a TPK in my first custom monster fight. My Campaign, if it ever gets off the ground, will feature all sorts of Mental Illness Monsters (MIM). In each scenario the CRs will be based more upon what I anticipate the Party being capable of handling at the time (rather than how awful the illness is). Additionally, each set of MIMs will be causing profound disruption, if not outright devistation, to the nearby cities/regions. So, the MIMs will not be pushovers to the general masses. Finally, each MIM is meant to be part of a larger pack of monsters during the encounter. The MIMs are meant to make monsters from the Monster Manual even more painful.

    The idea externalization and talking back to one's mental illness has a long history in several psychotherapy treatments. See this hyperlink, for example: https://www.anxietybc.com/parenting/tools/naming-bully.


    Even if my explanations do not change your perspective on my creation, I hope that they provide more illumination on what I was trying to do. My intent is not to insult anyone. I apologize to you (and anyone else) that I have insulted. I do appreciate you bringing up this topic. I am curious if you have any additional thoughts on the matter. I will not continue to post new MIMs if the consensus remains that they are insulting. (The Misophonia one was posted before I saw your comment.)

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    Default Re: Custom Anxiety Monsters [PEACH]

    I don't think that the very idea of them is insulting, and I certainly don't think you should stop posting them. Maybe insulting was the wrong word, but the implication that you can defeat mental illnesses like D&D characters defeat goblins is perhaps not a good implication to be having.

    Mental illness monster should be, in general, relatively subtle things. Maybe they should have stats; maybe they shouldn't. But I think it would be a lot cooler and a lot better as a representation of them to have it so that they didn't fight using anything even approaching conventional tactics or abilities. For example, an anxiety monster with a defensive ability which is wholly represented by the DM asking the PCs incredulously "Are you sure?" whenever they attempt something remotely sensible might be something to try. A paranoia monster which uses a lot of illusions and sets players against each other is a must.

    For the selective mutism monster, how about making it so that the players cannot communicate, even out of character, during the fight? That could certainly sum up the frustration of people with the condition having something to say but never being able to say it.

    Mental illness monsters are at their least gimmicky and most actually effective when they help the players feel what it's like to have the illness in question, rather than being loosely thematically based around it.
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    Default Re: Custom Anxiety Monsters [PEACH]

    Quote Originally Posted by Jormengand View Post
    ...but the implication that you can defeat mental illnesses like D&D characters defeat goblins is perhaps not a good implication to be having...Mental illness monster should be, in general, relatively subtle things...A paranoia monster which uses a lot of illusions and sets players against each other is a must...For the selective mutism monster, how about...players cannot communicate, even out of character...least gimmicky...
    I appreicate you taking the time to reply. I would have sooner, but my work scheudle has been crazy busy.

    I like your idea of the MIMs being relatively subtle things. Perhaps, a more skilled and experienced DM could do that in D&D. But, I've always thought of D&D as the tabletop RPG of problem solving via "poke with swords." I suspect that your idea would work better with a horror based RPG, like Call of Cthulhu, or a narrative only, diceless RPG.

    Your idea of a paranoia monster is already similar to what I was learning towards for that city. While every other settlement on the Island my campaign is able to recognize a problem exists (even though they don't know why), the paranoia settlement will be sending for help because they are the only one NOT affected - which makes them really weary of outsiders - even though they think they need them. Also, that settlement will be composed of multiple settlements that are highly reliant on each other but do not trust each other.

    Yes, a Silence spell that casts Silence on the table sounds especially fun.

    For the PTSD MIM, I am thinking of adapting the idea of the boar god in Princess Mononoke "when a boar god who was supposed to protect the forest and humans got injured by an arrow, it transformed itself into a cursing god raging against humans. Its rage was manifested as dark stringy tentacles around the boar that demonstrated both the rage's force and also the ugliness of human actions when considered from the perspective of nature." In this sense, the MIM is not THE PTSD but rather a manifestation of PTSD.

    In fact, for all my MIMs, there are not supposed to be THE version of it, but rather a manifestation of it. One of many. An endless supply. The whole reason that the Isle has been overwhelmed by MIMs (both ones to fight and influences on the city is that there has been a breach in the Astral Plane. And, because of my much longer history with X-Men than D&D, I always picture Professor X battling the Shadow King (a purely psychic entity) with sword and shield on the Astral Plane.

    There is the chance that my more combat oriented MIMs will be seen as gimmicky or get old fast. But, it is the style that I am learning towards for now - at least with the anxiety based ones.

    Out of consideration of your reaction, I decided to check in with one of my players who immediately responded that she could not wait to attack her anxiety and depression with a greatsword.

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