Scroll down for the result – various ready-for-play unicorns.
So, full-fledged monster creation in Eldritch is simple as that:
0. Get hold of core rules, keep in mind suggested ability tree and basic principles.
1. Imagine your monster and write down everything it can do in terms of Field > Specialization > Mastery. Add advantages and/or disadvantages, if the creature has abilities that don’t seem to upgrade by ranks. If you spent 1-2 days exploring the Core Rulebook, you will be able to do it rightly.
2. Check if you considered all mechanics-tied abilities, which are: Agility, Arcanum, Endurance, Melee weapons (and shields), Ranged weapons, Reflexes, Resistance, Speed, Unarmed combat, Willpower. Stealth and Scrutiny are also frequently used.
3. If the creature has magical talent (Arcanum tree ranks), choose or create its spells. Again, once you spent few days studying the Core Rulebook, creating even non-standard spells is easy.
4. Calculate defense pools (and spell points, if the creature has spells). If you wish, calculate Challenge Score (that’s the hardest part! You might need to multiply by 170%! Ouch, hehe.).
5. You got a new monster.
6. If you forgot something and it suddenly became vital (such as forgetting that unicorn should have deep knowledge of forest ecology – ranks in Knowledge > Nature > Forest), just add it in process. It’s unlikely that such minor detail that could be forgotten will break the game.
Of course, it’s a perfect example. While practicing I encountered some issues, solutions follow.
There are creatures that don’t fit rules as is, and then when you’ll want to make custom mechanics, or a houserule. For example, core rules don’t mention (de)buffs that last more than few rounds. So, what do I do with unicorn’s continuous blend with environment spell?
The Eldritch Roleplaying encourages GM to K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid). If the spell is always on or at-will, just give the unicorn Stealth > Hide ranks, maybe up to d20, and describe it as magical blending with surroundings. Now it isn’t even a houserule.
If you want the unicorn to spend spell points (SP) to maintain the effect, ok. Let him. Uncanny abilities of unicorn don’t have to follow standard magic rules, so just give him maintainable Augment (Stealth > Hide) or Obscure effect with no preparation time, maintained hourly. Power source can be “Fey magic” and School “Glamer” or “Plane shift”. Feel free to add details, such as “works only in forest” or “dispels if the unicorn attacks or is hit”.
And sometimes you have trouble resolving how to represent imagined ability. For example, said unicorn is designed to be elusive forest creature. Ok then, he has Stealth > Forest, but what about Speed > Forest? Where will you apply these ranks (besides Dodge DP)? Are they mechanically useful?
Ask yourself why unicorn calls for Forest Speed ranks. It’s because he moves through forest as through plains, and undergrowth is no obstacle for him. Also, he tends to disappear behind trees. Then ask yourself when Forest Speed matters for other characters: when travelling in forest and when moving though undergrowth.
Now you know the situations. As a GM, you can make them happen. Include undergrowth areas in combat scenes, encourage forest pursuit after fleeing beast. Well, and if you don’t plan these elements for your game, then Forest Speed ranks serve well to increase Dodge DP anyway. And you can flavor the use of this Dodge as you like – for example, describe that the unicorn gracefully leaped over the bushes behind the cover of trees, thus avoiding raging fireball.
Maybe you’re thinking “Woodland Stride” now, the advantage that eliminates speed penalty from undergrowth. But this advantage wouldn’t give the unicorn his Dodge bonus, which is useful for representing his graceful elusiveness. Thus my personal advice: whether Eldritch ability tree works well, don’t use (dis)advantages, they are for exceptional cases. (Well, following this guideline, nightvision might be Scrutiny > Darkness ability, but then we couldn’t make all sorts of different Scrutiny checks in dark conditions, rolling only Scrutiny > Darkness instead. So, the advice is not universal.)
Now, the unicorns… (By the way, any unicorn has unlimited ability to make his horn glow with soft light, and all unicorns have low-light vision.)
This is basic unicorn, weakest possible, almost a racial package.
Unarmed d4 > Horn d4 *
* Horn is a natural weapon capable of parrying hits. Add its branch’s MRV to Weaponry DP (excluding basic Unarmed ranks).
Arcanum d4 > Fey magic d4 (see spells below)
Stealth d6 > Forest d4
Resistance d4 > Magic d8
Immune to all forms of supernatural and magical mind-control.
Metal intolerance: for a unicorn, touch of metal is unpleasant to painful. When dealt Toughness damage by metal weapon, the unicorn sustains 1d6 Resilience harm. Any points penetrating Resilience deplete Toughness.
Fey magic: this is a special, fey magic. It taps mysterious Fairy Realm for power. For fair folk and other Realm’s residents it represents innate magical powers. Fey magic can’t affect metal and can’t penetrate any metal (including metal bars). Metal armor and/or shield reduce targeted fey magic by armor roll. Spells known:
Know virginity (cantrip): for 1 SP instantly know if female you look at is a virgin.
Home (Planeshift school): teleport to your lair. Spell difficulty is 1d4 if self only (SP cost = result minus minimum roll) or 2d6 if the unicorn wishes to take a rider also (SP cost = result). Maximum range is (Power Source + School MRVs) x 10 in miles.
Heal (Horn energy school): Restore effect for Toughness or Resilience, for one creature by touch of the horn (difficulty 2d4) or yourself (1d4). SP cost = result minus minimum.
Evade: 8 (Agility and Reflexes are unlisted and thus average – d4)
Dodge: 14 (Speed d10 + Agility d4)
Weaponry: 4 (Horn d4, see above)
Resilience: 84 (Resistance MRV 12 twice + average Willpower d4, multiplied by x3 for fey nature)
Toughness: 60 (average Endurance d4 twice + Resistance MRV 12, multiplied by x3 for fey nature)
Spell points: 12 (Arcanum MRV x1.5, as recommended for monsters’ arcane abilities)
Challenge score: 14 (8 for close combat threat ranks, +50% for x3 Toughness multiplier, +20% for x3 Resilience multiplier)
Rogue young unicorn
This unicorn is more aggressive and untrusting for mortals, eager to drive them away. Use all young unicorn statistics, but add a damaging spell:
Searing light (Horn energy school): Harm effect at single target at line-of-sight. This is an instant thin beam of light that can be evaded with sudden shift (Evade DP), but not outrunned with Dodge DP. Maximum range is (Power Source + School MRVs) x 2 in feet. SP cost = result minus minimum.
Challenge score rises to 27 for Arcanum threat ranks.
This large unicorn is battle-scarred veteran, experienced defender of nature and banisher of evil.
Unarmed d6 > Horn d10 > Fencing d8 *, Charge d10 **
* when using this mastery, horn counts as natural equivalent of a rapier, see pg.61 (“Fencing”).
** when charging (which requires at least 30 feet of straight run prior to attack), horn gets +4 bonus to harm.
Unarmed > Hooves d4
Arcanum d8 > Fey magic d8 > Horn energy d8
Reflexes d8 > React to ambush d6 *
* you may use it use instead of Scrutiny to determine surprise in ambush.
Stealth d6 > Forest d4
Scrutiny d6 > Supernatural d6 *, Detect evil d8 **
* use it to sense and recognize supernatural creatures and effects.
** use it to detect creatures evil by their nature, presense of evil magic and auras, and evil in hearts of men.
Resistance d8 > Magic d8
Speed d10 > Forest d8
Metal intolerance and immunity to mind-control, as with all other unicorns.
Know virginity, Home, Heal, Searing light,
Teleport (Planeshift school): teleport up to (Power source + school MRVs) x 10 feet at line-of-sight. You can teleport with or without rider, as with Home spell. Remember that fey magic can’t teleport you though metal, even metal bars.
Cure (Horn energy school): remove one negative spell from target (difficulty is that spell’s initial cost) or cure target from one poison or disease (difficulty is that effect’s Die-Rank roll), by touch of the horn. You can Cure yourself.
Blur (Planeshift or Glamer school): Obscure effect on self only, maintainable. Spell difficulty 1d4, SP cost = result minus minimum (cost to maintain).
Spell points: 36
Challenge score: 85
This is muscled crimson unicorn radiates heat. Air shimmers around his curved horn.
Use any given unicorn statistics, but upgrade Endurance (and Toughness), replace searing light spell fire splash and add new cantrip (really, you can add any number of cantrips in process, as long as they fit concept and power source; remember that cantrips cost 1 SP, though):
Fire splash (Horn energy school): Harm effect at single target at line-of-sight. This manifests as wide fire stream allowing Dodge defense only. Maximum range is (Power Source + School MRVs) x 2 in feet. SP cost = result minus minimum.
Spark (cantrip): stomp with our hoof to create burst of sparks that ignite any flammable materials in 1 foot radius.
Every exemplar of good has its dark reflection. Black unicorns seek to wreak destruction, to spread evil, and, more than anything, to destroy their benevolent kin. Black unicorns have nightvision and can’t make their horns glow.
Use battle unicorn statistics, but change flavor (such as black bolt instead of searing light) and add some dread abilities:
Scrutiny > Supernatural > Unicorns d6
Scouting d4 > Track d10 (add Unicorn mastery above for tracking unicorns)
Wither plants (cantrip): stomp the ground with your hoof to wither all natural grass and undergrowth in 1 foor radius. Withered undergrowth still interferes with movement, but it makes goody white unicorns all so angry!…
Combat mount unicorn
Riding a unicorn isn’t like riding a horse. The unicorn thinks for himself, though he will eagerly protect one he respects and cares for.
Use any given unicorn statistics, but add Endurance > Bearing rider specialization. Roll this ADC for continuous ride and various mounted maneuvers.
The rider (called “she” for clarity) will act at unicorn’s initiative, right after her steed. Rider can’t move or dodge until she dismounts, but the unicorn can use his Dodge DP to protect the rider. With “Protector steed” advantage (2 CP) the unicorn can also use Weaponry DP to protect his rider. Unicorn active defense is the first line of defense, so he chooses first if he wants to protect the rider.
Remember that mounting or dismounting “reduces the maximum number of attacks in a battle phase by one. If a weapon already wielded has a Max-Split of one, then doing any of the above forfeits an attack that round.”
This unicorn is fascinated by human civilization and left his green home to live among two-legged ones. He uses glamer to stay undetected, and his curiosity leads him to new and new urban adventures.
Arcanum d8 > Fey magic * d8 > Horn energy d4, Glamer d8 **
* note that because of metal all around, long-ranged spells (such as teleports) don’t work well in cities. Limit range of all fey magic spells to 30 feet in urban setting.
** at-will glamer makes the unicorn look like attractive human male (with same facial features every time) . Use this ADC to resolve all related checks (without spending SP), such as changing “clothing”, but use Adaption abilities to handle everything besides appearance. This glamer will cease when out of spell points or when the unicorn loses conscience, and it can be dispelled. This is only an illusion, it doesn’t give the unicorn hands to hold things, and anyone touching him more than slightly (such as hugging) will feel that something is wrong.
Unarmed d8 > Horn d6, Hooves d4 *
* Fighting with hooves breaks the glamer, but the Glamer make horn strikes appear as fighting with a rapier.
Stealth d10 > Forest d4, Urban d6
Speed d10 > Urban d4 > Flee d4 *, Climb d4 **
* Use this ADC for urban pursuits.
** Use this ADC when facing difficult (for an equine) obstacles, such as ladders.
Adaption d8 > Human culture d8 > Social grace d4, City life d4
Thievery d4 > Pick locks d6
Knowledge d6 > History d6
Resistance d10 > Magic d6
Metal intolerance and immunity to mind-control, as with all other unicorns.
Know virginity, Home, Heal, Teleport, Searing light, Blur.
Spell points: 36
Challenge score: 58