Chimera Monster Building
Fast-track your Chimera bestiary
Feature or Bug?—The monster list in Chimera Basic is scant.
I wanted to include more monsters but in truth, neither space nor available time were on my side. Which is an excuse, not an explanation. Monster books are well-nigh indispensable for the busy GM, particularly for those creating their own campaigns. Who am I to stand in the way of needful tradition?
Still, it's very easy to create monsters for Chimera. The Basic rulebook provides examples and a few high-level guidelines, but you'll probably need a few tries before it feels second-nature. You have to get your head around not only what the stats mean, but where you can (and should) improvise.
The step-by-step below is a (very) methodical approach, designed to take you the long way round the process. But it's not the only way, and once you get familiar with the process, you'll be able to churn our beasties without all this formality.
Creating Monsters in Chimera
Assuming you have an idea in your head about what the monster is and does, the step-by-step instructions below should get your bestiary stocked pretty quickly.
1. Monster Size
When you're making a monster, size matters. Assign a size from the Base Stats table (CB/21). If the size-based stats don't fit your vision of the monster, stick with the size you've chosen and alter the stats with Perks, Flaws, Adaptations, and Level Bonuses below.
2. Name & Level
What's the monster called and what's his level? Remember that "level" in Chimera doesn't equate to combat ability—it indicates overall capability. As such, it affects resistance rolls, surprise, morale, power effects, and a host of other game aspects. As a guideline, consider the following:
|Monster's Overall Chops||Level Range||Random Roll (optional)|
3. Wound Limit
Assign the WL value from the Base Stats table (CB/21). I usually record the monster's Size code next to WL, but that's just a hold-over from my Rules Cyclopedia days...
4. Defence & Parry
If the monster wears armour or carries a shield, consult the Armour table in the basic rulebook (CB/15) for DF and Parry.
Otherwise, use the following guidelines for base DF values:
For base Parry, use the greater of the following:
- The size-based Initiative Modifier, but only if it's +1 or more
- If the monster has a multiple attack mode (e.g., 2 pincers, 8 tentacles, etc.), increase Parry by [# attacks - 1].
Select whatever Abilities (CB/10) the monster possesses. Base AR values indicate how much experience or capability the monster has in each, as suggested below:
|Capability in Given Ability||Action Roll Modifier|
|Green (fair ability)||AR +1|
|Regular (able ability)||AR +2|
|Veteran (good ability)||AR +4|
|Elite (excellent ability)||AR +8|
Note that "Nil" capability provides AR +0, meaning that monsters ignore the standard "untrained" penalty of AR -4 (CB/10). This is partially for ease of bookkeeping during an encounter and partially to give monsters a bit of an edge over characters (who have plenty of other advantages). If the monster is notably bad at something, don't bother assessing a penalty--just rule that a given attempt succeeds only a Critical Success.
Determine the monster's mode of attack, either by weapon or via natural defences (claws, bite, tail whipping, projectile spines, whatever).
Attack AR equals the monster's Fight or Shoot modifier. For natural defences, the Attack AR equals the monster's Athletics modifier; if the monster wields weapons, use the Fight or Shoot modifier. Base Initiative Modifier and Damage are based on monster Size.
If the monster has multiple natural attacks, make each slightly different. For instance a single bite might do size-based damage, while 2 claws might be faster or do 1 damage die smaller (e.g., 1 bite (Dmg 1d8) or 2 claws (Dmg 1d6)).
Equal to level, possibly adjusted by Perks, Flaws, or Adaptations.
This is the Sneak TN opponents need to surprise the monster, equal to [TN 8 + Level + Observe AR].
This is the Target Number the monster needs to succeed at a Morale check (CB/18), equal to [TN 16 - Level - Mettle AR].
Assign any desired Perks, Flaws, or Adaptations (CB/11,21). Do this now, toward the end of the process, because your choices can adjust the base values already determined. There's no limit to how many you might pick—simply assign (or invent) whatever you need for the monster to do what it does or improve whatever stats you think need a boost. Remember that new Perks, Flaws, and Adaptations may be useful for other monsters (or even characters), so while it might be easier to just throw a couple of modifiers here and there, it's smarter to give some thought to reusability.
Assign based on GM preference. If the monster is an animal, plant, or non-sentient being, you can assign "n/a" to indicate that it has no real moral concerns and instead makes decisions based on instinct (or programming) alone. Alignment choice probably won't affect game mechanics, but it might influence how you run the monster during an encounter.
12. Frequency & Number
Again, this is GM preference. Frequency is really only important when populating encounter tables, as suggested by the percentages in the Basic rules (CB/22).
Number, however, will dictate how many of the monsters characters will face during an encounter or in the monster's lair. Note that frequency and number are unrelated—you could easily have a rare monster that appears in high numbers (meaning that it doesn't show up often on an encounter table, but that when it does, there are a lot of 'em).
13. Level Bonus (optional)
Distribute 1 point per level among the following stats, at your discretion: Movement Rate, Wound Limit, Defence, or Initiative Modifier (per attack). This represents "intangible" improvements to such aspects as a result of experience and being kick-ass. You may expand the list of improvable stats to include Resistance, Surprised, and Morale, but level is already included in these, so be careful about double-dipping.
This is really a matter of available time and comfort level when running encounters. If you have a good handle on the monster's appearance, habits, tactics, and ecology, and your memory is iron-clad, then skip this. Otherwise, make a few notes about these things. At minimum, include some combat details to guide you during a fight.
I recommend including at least one or two details about ecology, like "Scentipedes hunt only at night," or "Dick Cheney derives energy from the souls of those who trust him." These bits might not be evident during an encounter, but they may inform other GM decisions, like the layout of the monster's lair, the monster's priorities (and morale), and how the monster might respond to external threats.
Here's a quick example, made with the method above:
Ape, white horned (Lvl 3)
Movement Rate: 12±1d8
Wound Limit: 5 (L)
Defence: 3 (+1)
Abilities: Athletics +4,
Fight +2, Sneak +1
Attacks: 1 horn +4 (IM -1, Dmg 1d8); 2 fists +4 (IM +0, Dmg 1d6)
Special: Charge (w/horn), Resilient, Tough
Frequency: Rare (1d4+1)
White horned apes dwell in remote hills and caves. They attack intruders on sight, initially charging with their horn (Dmg 2d8), then pummeling foes with their mighty fists. Most victims are torn up and eaten, though some (10%) are kept as "pets," forced into a life of docility as they are force-fed, tended, and groomed. White horned apes are brutish and dumb, hunted almost to extinction on some worlds, for their horn has a variety of uses (d6: 1 aphrodisiac; 2 improves Conjuration powers; 3 used to make gun lubricant; 4 promotes hair growth; 5 preserves shellfish; 6 weak magnetic properties).