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Monster rules

Monster Rules

Monster Key







Extra Effects










Size/Strength and Level

These are the key stats that determine how tough a battle will be using the creature. Sizes are regular, large, and huge. Regular-sized monster can have double-strength (2x) and triple-strength (3x). Regular-sized and regular-strength monsters are labeled as normal.

Large & Huge Monsters

Large monsters generally have twice the hit points and deal roughly double the damage of a normal-sized monster. They also count as two monsters when you build a battle.

Huge monsters have triple the hit points, deal triple damage, and count as three normal-sized monsters when you’re putting together a battle.

Regular-sized monsters may also have the same stats as large and huge monsters, in which case they are labeled as double-strength and triple-strength monsters, respectively.


Monsters with different roles still use the same stats.


Archers are ranged attackers who use weapons rather than spells.


Blockers have abilities that help them protect their allies.


Casters are magician-types who need space to cast their spells properly. They’re capable of anything.


Leaders have abilities that help other monster allies fight better.


Mooks are minor monsters that are good cannon fodder.

Mooks are weaker monsters that can be cut down in large numbers in a single turn. Damage is not tracked against single mooks, but against the entire mob of mooks you’re facing. If you roll damage against a mook and it is greater than the single mook’s hit points, then another mook takes the remainder. In this way, damage can cascade to multiple mooks, and a player can kill multiple in one turn, even if they’re not all directly within your attack range.

A mook’s hit point value is one-fifth that of a regular monster.

Mooks move and attack individually. Mooks deal a fixed damage when they hit, and double damage when they roll a natural 20.

Mooks can be split up into multiple mobs with different initiative numbers and hit point pools for each.


Spoilers mess the PCs up with attacks that inflict harmful effects instead of or in addition to hit point damage.


Troops are the default monster type that aim to hurt PCs via hit point damage.


Wreckers really bring the pain. Enemy groups containing only wreckers will be very dangerous to the PCs.


Some spells and magic items care about monster type. A ranger with a favored enemy type definitely cares about it.

Types include aberration, beast, construct, demon, dragon, giant, humanoid, ooze, and undead.

Stats & Characteristics

Initiative, AC, PD, MD, HP

See Combat Stats.


The default attack is a melee attack against one target that requires a standard action to use. If an attack can target more than one creature, that information follows the attack value.

Most monster attacks generally deal a specific amount of damage (instead of rolling for damage) and don’t add on the escalation die. Only exceptional monsters get to add the escalation die to their attacks.

The abbreviation R: indicates that an attack is a ranged attack instead of a melee attack. The default ranged attack assumes a single nearby target, but some can hit far away targets as well, which is noted in the targeting information or extra effect trigger.

The abbreviation C: refers to close-quarters attacks that can be used without triggering opportunity attacks from engaged enemies like ranged attacks do. Each close-quarters attack will note its targets.

Extra Effect Trigger

Many monster abilities trigger randomly based on the monster’s attack roll. Not all attacks have triggers.

Most extra effect triggers are natural even or odd attack rolls, a 16+ on the natural roll, or other specific die rolls. A few are more unusual, and unpredictable monsters may have effects trigger on other rolls.

Some attacks can only be used when the natural roll triggers it. These attacks have a [Special trigger] indicator at the start of the attack line. Other triggers allow a monster to use a normal standard action attack as a free action.

Opportunity Attacks

When a monster makes an opportunity attack, it must use a melee attack. If that attack action normally includes multiple attacks, it can make only one attack roll.

Specials & Abilities

These are other attacks and special abilities like fear or movement abilities like flight. Not all monsters have them.

Some monsters have nastier special abilities that increase a monster’s options and help keep monsters interesting throughout the campaign. Use them as options whenever you like.


Burrowing is a special rule for monsters that allows somewhat restricted movement underground. Unless otherwise specified, monsters generally do not leave functional tunnels behind them when burrowing.

A burrowing creature on the surface may attempt to burrow underground by using a standard action. Burrowing is successful if a saving throw beats the required save for the type of ground.

Type of Ground Difficulty Save Needed
Sand, dirt, forest soil Easy 6+
Hard-packed dirt, loose rocks Normal save 11+
Rock, caves, dungeon floors Hard save 16+

After successfully burrowing, a creature may move underground, faster or slower depending on the hardness of the ground, out of sight of other creatures, hidden and safe from attacks.

For breaking through to the surface, the sequence is as follows: a move action from deeper under the ground to come close to the surface, close enough that people see there’s something coming, followed by a quick action to break through, and then by a standard action attack.

Death Attacks and Last-Gasp Saves

Some deadly monsters have a special attack called a death attack that can kill (petrify, paralyze, liquefy, immolate) in a single attack. Such attacks offer the player a last-gasp save.

A player that is affected by a death attack has a limited amount of last-gasp saves to try to throw off the condition of the death attack. On the first turn a player is affected, the player may make a single action (standard, move, or quick), after which they must roll a hard save (16+). If successful, the player shrugs off the death attack condition and can act normally on their next turn. If unsuccessful, their turn ends and the player may not take any other actions on future turns except for further last-gasp saves. Each successive last-gasp save is a hard save (16+). A successful save means that the player can act normally on the next round, unless the player rolls a natural 20 for their last-gasp save, which means that the player can take their turn normally in the current round.

Once a player fails four last-gasp saves while fighting off the death attack, the death attack effect succeeds, and the player is adversely affected as the attack indicates.

An ally may assist a player affected by a death attack. The ally must use a standard action to help the player shake off the attack. This gives the player a free last-gasp save that may be rolled immediately. (A failure doesn’t count against the four allowed saves.) In addition, the assisted save becomes normal difficulty (11+) instead of hard.


Some monsters may have an aura of fear that makes them more difficult to be attacked.

A character engaged with such a monster must have a certain amount of hit points (according to the level of the monster with the fear aura) or be dazed (-4 attack) and gain no benefit from the escalation die.

Level Fear threshold (HP)
0 7
1 9
2 12
3 15
4 18
5 24
6 30
7 36
8 48
9 60
10 72
11 96
12 120
13 144
14 192

Should the character’s hp increase past the fear threshold or the character disengage from the monster, they lose the dazed effect and regain the escalation die benefits.

Group Abilities

A few monsters have limited abilities that can be used a certain number of times in a battle for the group. Any monster within that group may use the ability, but then the number of available uses is decremented for the entire group. It does not matter which monster uses the ability.

Mooks cannot have group abilities.

Special abilities by type

Demon Abilities

Demons may or may not have a special demonic ability. Roll 1d10 for each non-mook normal-sized demon. If you roll less than or equal to the demon’s level, it has a random ability. Large or huge (or double- or triple-strength) demons automatically get one at least one random ability.

When a demon has an ability, roll 1d6 or 1d8 (GM’s choice) on the table below to determine what it is.

d6 or d8 Demonic Ability Description
1 True seeing The demon is immune to invisibility and ignores any illusions.
2 Resist fire 18+ You’ll see that the demon resists fire the first time you use fire against it.
3 Invisibility The first time the demon is staggered in a battle, it becomes invisible until the end of its next turn.
4 Resist energy 12+ The demon’s resistance to all energy types puts a damper on enemy spellcasters, but at least the resistance is only 12+.
5 Fear aura Enemies engaged with the demon who are below its fear hit point threshold are dazed and can’t use the escalation die. See Fear.
6 Teleport 1d3 times per battle, as a move action, the demon can teleport anywhere it can see nearby.
7 Demonic speed The demon can take an extra action each turn while the escalation die is 4+.
8 Gate Once per battle as a standard action, if the demon is staggered, it can summon a single demon ally at least two levels below its own level. The allied demon rolls initiative and does not appear on the battlefield until its turn starts.

Dire Animal Abilities

Dire animals are bigger (large-sized) versions of normal animals. Dire animals usually have at least one dire feature, determined randomly using the table below.

d6 Dire Feature Description
1 Armor plates Add +2 to the dire animal’s AC, and add +1 to its PD.
2 Spiky bits Whenever an enemy hits the dire animal with a melee attack, deal damage equal to twice the animal’s level to that attacker.
3 Carnage The dire animal’s attacks that miss deal damage equal to its level. When staggered, its missed attacks deal damage equal to double its level.
4 Poison The dire animal’s main attack also deals 5 ongoing poison damage per tier (5 ongoing poison at levels 1–4, 10 at 5–7, etc.).
5 Dire regeneration When the escalation die is even, this animal heals damage equal to triple its level at the start of its turn.
6 Fury While staggered, the dire animal gains a +2 attack bonus and deals +4 damage, but at the end of each of its turns it takes 2d6 damage.

Dragon Abilities

All dragons have two standard abilities: escalator and flight. The escalator ability allows the dragon to add the escalation die to its attack rolls. The flight ability allows the dragon to fly—fairly well, and quickly in a straight line, though not as maneuverable as more agile fliers.

Dragons have a breath attack. Unlike most close attacks that target a number of enemies, dragon breath attacks don’t care about whether the targets are in a group.

Young dragons are medium-sized. Adult dragons are usually large sized. Huge-sized dragons are the exception, and have usually outgrown the vulnerabilities of their weaker kin.

Dragons have distinct personalities. A few have unique features. They are smart enough not to fight to their own death.

Dragons may have random abilities. For GMs who are uncertain whether a medium dragon should have a random ability, roll a d8. Otherwise, roll a d12. If the roll is less than or equal to the dragon’s level, it gets a random ability according to the table below. Some huge dragons have two abilities. If you want to give the dragon a chance of having one of the abilities that has campaign implications, add +2 to the roll.

d8 or d12 Dragon Ability Description
1 True seeing The dragon is immune to invisibility and ignores any illusions.
2 Whipping tail When an enemy engaged with the dragon rolls a natural 1 or 2 with an attack roll, the dragon can make an opportunity attack against that creature as a free action. The attack is set up by the dragon’s whipping tail but delivered by the dragon’s usual melee attack.
3 Tough Hide The dragon has a +1 bonus to AC.
4 Twisted Mind The dragon has a +2 bonus to MD.
5 Nimble The dragon has a +2 bonus to PD.
6 No vulnerability Unlike other dragons of its color, this dragon has no vulnerability. The PCs will figure that out the first time they try to use its supposed vulnerability against it.
7 Now I’m mad! The first time the dragon is staggered each battle, it uses its breath weapon attack as a free action that does not count against the normal uses of its breath.
8 Serious threat Disengage checks against the dragon take a –5 penalty. When a creature fails to disengage from the dragon, it takes damage equal to double the dragon’s level.
9 PC-style racial power The dragon has one of the racial powers of a player character race. The most common expressions per color are: white (halfling); black (halfling, half-orc, human, wood elf); green (dwarf, dark elf); blue (high elf, half-orc); red (half-orc, human, wood elf).
10 Raw power Until it is staggered, the dragon rolls 2d20 with its melee attacks and uses the higher roll.
11 Damage aura When an enemy starts its turn engaged with the dragon, it takes damage equal to the dragon’s level (adventurer tier), double the level (champion tier), or triple the level (epic tier). The damage type is the same as the dragon’s breath weapon.
12 More breath The dragon can use its intermittent breath 1d4 more times each battle. If its breath weapon isn’t intermittent (white and green dragons), the dragon gains the extra uses anyway, making it more dangerous than lesser specimens of its color.
13 Humanoid form The dragon is capable of shapechanging into a humanoid form, usually of a warrior or spellcaster appropriate to its nature and usually not obviously draconic, registering as a normal humanoid. The dragon has the PC-style racial power of their humanoid form, but only while in shapechanged form.
14 Some Unique Thing The dragon has an entirely unique characteristic, something akin to a player character’s one unique thing except that the dragon’s version may be relevant to combat. GM, if you don’t feel like making something up, choose an ability from the list above.


Section 15: Copyright Notice

13th Age Archmage Engine, version 3.0. Copyright © 2013-2015 Fire Opal Media. All Rights Reserved. Licensed under the Open Game License.