Banes – Sean’s Pick, 081318

Let’s do a Game Master Toolbox Week, starting with the new release from the ENnie-nominated designer, John Beattie (for Cake Walk). This is a system-agnostic guide to adding vulnerabilities to otherwise nigh-invulnerable and very tough monsters and foes. It’s a way to make combat about figuring out how to take down the baddie by paying attention to clues presented both before and during the combat. This is the kind of thing anyone wanting to run a Supernatural-flavored campaign, where the heroes have to study the Lore to figure out how to win an unwinnable fight, will want in their Toolbox.

Every player knows that cold iron hurts fairies and zombies are weak to headshots. Weaknesses and vulnerabilities are classic parts of RPGs. But if you just use the most well-known weaknesses, the thrill of discovery is gone. Weakness becomes a matter of “Do I have fire? I use fire.”

Changing up weaknesses makes things less predictable, but it’s not enough if the only way to figure them out is random chance. Tease your players’ brains by giving them clues to find the weaknesses. Make it into a puzzle that they and their characters can solve.

From the Ennie-nominated author of Cake Walk, Banes is a system-agnostic book for adding weaknesses to monsters in an interesting way. Each of the main Banes has multiple “tells” for figuring out what’s going to hurt the monster, descriptions of what that damage looks like, and a special effect for spicing up combat even more. Other sections include: 

  • How a Bane should apply (both in terms of how, say, fire affects the creature and other sources of damage)
  • How to use more exotic or unique weaknesses, like the sword of the last king or unusual herbs from haunted graveyards
  • More exotic effects to change the course of battle, like loss of spellcasting

Turn your fights into a puzzle and give your players something to think about.

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, Freedom Squadron, and much more!
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

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