Procedural Generation – what is it?
Procedural generation is when you take controlled parts and randomize the pieces. One downside of completely random is it is harder to have controlled outcomes that are meaningful. Once you start controlling how things are randomized and can set boundaries, you start making meaningful content that provides intrigue and interest.
Beastlands aims to provide a controlled procedural approach by making monster types have similar things in common, anywhere from similar skin, sizes, shapes, and deformities. Once all of these are accounted for, it will then make an even amount of creatures for various challenge ratings, allowing you to use the monsters anywhere, anything from a challenge rating of 1/8th (.125) to a challenge rating of 26.
Fine, this sounds awesome but how are we going to be able to use it?
Basic monster descriptions, a pallet to work with that you can use to make the monster your own. Use it as is to give your players monsters to face that will be unpredictable to even veterans alike. One problem for most people who have been playing this game, is you start gaining the knowledge of each creature. Making it harder to predict the outcome like fighting the Medusa for the 100th time.
Abilities that provide variation between multiple creatures, making it less likely that two dragons will be exactly the same. Powerful abilities that provide tempo to battles, giving ups and downs.
After generation, I have the ability to make various encounter tables based on challenge rating and monster type. Also, I have plans on taking monsters with like-minded habits and trying to group them into warbands, similar to Volo’s Guide to Monsters which has great content with examples of monsters working together for a common goal.
Later on, when I start making other generators, I will make these monsters populate generated dungeons, regions and even worlds. Also, generated items based on the parts, the creature generated on creation. With all of this considered, this tool should provide cheap content that can be manipulated to fit your stories.
So, how do we accomplish this while making a monster?
Monster parts, taking a monster and breaking its anatomy down. Does it have a tail? arms? legs? These are all parts that make a monster. If you take those parts and make unique parts for each monster type, you start having monsters that are random, but also have similar characteristics to other monsters. What about abilities? Well, if you start tying abilities to the monster parts you can start producing some really awesome results, even better is having the monster part make sense contextually with the ability that it provides bonuses too.
When you start grouping parts and abilities like this together, you start seeing patterns. Taking those patterns you can manipulate and shape them into workable monsters for any campaign. Also, taking the monster parts and making meaningful descriptions that tie abilities to the monsters and their parts.
What did we go through?
Monsters and abilities can be a tricky subject to cover, especially when you have random number depict it. But, once you take and make abilities, tie those abilities to parts, and tie those parts to monster types, you start having templates people can follow. On top of all of that people will be able to see patterns within monster types tying everything together, making it easier to recognize great procedural generation content.
These are just some thoughts and ideas that have come through making a project such of itself. The more monsters that are generated the more we find better combinations. Between fire-breathing monsters, and monsters that have problems with positive energy, everything can be linked to an ideal or circumstance. If you get a chance, you should check out my other blog posts like monster generation and Inns and Shops you should check it out. Also, consider buying from my shop! I have Beastlands gear that is salivating for owners.