What's your MVB (Minimum Viable Bestiary)?

So, after running Ben Milton’s Maze Rats at events and conventions for a while, I started feeling the need for some extra stuff. One of the things I’d want to have is a minimal bestiary, to speed up module conversion. I’m thinking of something generic, which will cover the most used monsters of classic fantasy adventures, so I can just convert the most original/specific creatures when I convert an adventure.

Currently I’m thinking of:

  • Skeletons
  • Zombies
  • Orcs
  • Goblins
  • Kobolds
  • That Orb With A Lot Of Eyes And No Name (I don’t think it really has a use, but it would be fun to write)
  • Dragons (no colours)

But I’d like an input from a larger community about what I might be leaving out. I don’t want it to be really comprehensive, just big enough to speed up play and conversions.


i like calling them eyesores

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2 posts were split to a new topic: What kind of monsters do you prefer, original or classic?

i mean this just seems insulting, personally. complain about what you want, but dragging other GMs into it and calling them lazy feels shitty.

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i would probably include statblocks for enemy warriors, mages, elves and dwarves too. any OSR campaign is gonna end up with you pissing off some important faction, and other people have always felt missing from typical D&D bestiaries, imo. just because they aren’t automatically evil doesn’t mean you never have to fight them!

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That’s how Maze Rats works. What I want is building up a corpus of clichés exactly because they are clichés and people uses them (or just use them as a basis for a reskinned creature). Convert them once, run them everywhere. This way, the next time I find an adventure I like with, say, skeletons, I can play it without having to worry about creating a different creature.

Those are the easiest to do in Maze Rats, since character generation takes literally a couple of minutes (I’ve also run it multiple times right at the table when needed). Conversions are a bit more complex, because there isn’t an hard and fast rule to go from X HD to Y HP or such. So my aim is having a bunch of pre-made conversions I can look up whenever I encounter them again.

All the above plus giant fauna: snakes, frogs, gators/crocs, ants, and scorpions.


There’s totally the need to split this thread into a more general one on DMming style, because there’s too much cool stuff going on. Sadly, I won’t be able to do it for at least another 18 hours, so let’s keep the ball rolling and I’ll take care of the housekeeping later.

This is, basically, how out-of-the-box Maze Rats works. Which has been incredibly fun to run with the appropriate stuff, but I’m a lazy man and I don’t want to learn again a more complex ruleset just to run, say, Keep of the Borderlands. And since I’m lazy, my objective is to prepare a bunch of conversions to cover as much modules with as little work as possible. So I can open up a module I find interesting three hours before the session, decide I’ll run it with Maze Rats because that’s the only system I clearly remember and already have most monsters covered.

So I can spend the three hours before the session concentrating on driving to the venue, instead of getting lost again.

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Hey Kernel, wanted to say two things:

  1. I think it is awesome that nobody -least of all you- on this forum ever says “this reply is too long or off-topic” but instead people here are really good about making more threads out of one thread and splitting, I think that is a great way of doing things, after all, that is often how (group) conversations IRL evolve and get to interesting places! Great stuff. :grinning:

  2. You and I are pretty similar in terms of “lazy” and sesh prep preferences! :upside_down_face: My outspoken goal for yeeears now has been to spent as little time as possible on prep for the most result possible. Like you, that means I opt for simple rules I can easily remember and for ready made materials (in my case usually one-page dungeons that I mod quite a bit and varied super cool, artistic maps), because that means I can focus on getting in a good mental space to DM, having my place set up nicely, all my materials and music in place etc.

Of course I try to at least somewhat weave all those locations and one page maps and dungeons into an on-going story or persistent world, but it seems to work! An added benefit is that it is suprising to my players every week, which I personally find harder to do when following a 10 page, much less 30 page module for many sessions.

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