Managing Intelligent Monsters in Role-Playing Games
What is the best way to make intelligent monsters in an Role-playing Game behave as though they are intelligent?
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In my opinion intelligent monsters act according to how powerful the party is or in other words the porportion of how likely it is the monster will destroy the party. Dungeon Masters tend to dumb down monsters if they know the party won't make it or at least that's what I've experienced.
If an intelligent monster is too intelligent or more intelligent than the party its likely the party will die specially if the monster is powerful. Even so I hope that Game Master's don't dumb down intelligent monsters because that really would make it unbalanced and not challenge players to think about their attacks more. I know we experience this a lot in JB's adventurers, we're left dead or decimated from just running into battle..
If intelligent monsters do not act intelligent then it takes away from the game. I do not want to fight a mind slayer and feel like I'm fighting a goblin.
I have an idea I'd like to try. It would give players an appreciation of a really intelligent powerful monster:
The PCs somehow learn the fate of an extinct adventuring party. Instead of simply telling the players what happened, the GM makes them play it out in flashback. Each player controls a character similar but more powerful than their own. They investigate the creature's lair and all die to the superior tactics and defenses. The players should gain a healthy respect for the monster, but they don't lost their favourite characters and they might spot a way to proceed in the future.
And playing a doomed mini-adventure has a quality of its own.
Adelardus I'm not clear about what you said. As Dungeon Master you would create a game where you kill all the characters just to show them what it is like? I wonder how many will role up a character if they knew that? Truly, if a monster is so intelligent then it should be a task for higher level characters.
This idea could only work during a long campaign and it wouldn't be imposed on the group, but offered as an option. I would introduce the journal or ghost of the dead adventuring group at the end of one adventure. Then, for the start of the next session, the players would be given the option of either:
A) simply hearing a summary of the NPC deaths, or
B) playing the NPCs temporarily to experience the mini-adventure/encounter more vividly.
Therefore, it wouldn't be the regular characters that die. It would be a party of pre-rolled NPCs that the players control for a mini-adventure or simply for one combat. Preferably, one of these NPCs would have a connection to the PCs, - a parent or part of their background. The combat would be against the campaign villain of the regular party: an opportunity to see the intelligent villain in action and test his/her strengths and weaknesses without endangering the players' own characters.
It would need a long campaign to justify it. The combat/encounter would need to last a short time. With only a short time - the time between sessions - to get to know characters strengths and weaknesses, the party would probably also need experienced players to be able to play their charges effectively.
This idea maybe wouldn't work here in Play By Post where play is so much slower. If I tried it, it would only be after a year or more of actual play.
(How much in-game time passes over a year of real-time game-play in an online Play By Post?)
Edited: Adelardus on 3rd Jul, 2015 - 4:48am
Adelardus' idea sounds very familiar to a RPG Regret that was done in a similar way but did not have positive results. Have you tried this before or is it just a theory that your players will like it?