Midgard Bestiary Expands Your AGE System Monster Options

Monster books are much beloved by all RPGers. This is known. The Midgard Bestiary from Open Design is more useful than most, filling two potential gaps in your monster arsenal: it serves as a monster manual for Wolfgang Baur’s Midgard Project, and it uses Green Ronin’s AGE system, adding a ton of new creatures to a system that hasn’t had a ton of additional supplements published for it.

I’ll admit that I have zero familiarity with the Dragon Age RPG or the AGE system, other than a ton of positive buzz in the RPG Internet community. A cursory glance shows that it’s a relatively stripped down rule set (something I like) based around rolling 3d6 for most challenges. Characters and monsters get stunts that act a lot like all the various spells/supernatural abilities/class abilities/feats that you’d see in D&D, but perhaps easier to create and use.

Because I don’t have a grasp of AGE’s mechanics, I wasn’t able to determine how monsters are rated. The individual monster pages don’t have anything like a challenge rating, level, or an experience point award listed. I could figure out their relative difficulty based on their defense rating — if you know the attack bonus of your PCs, you can easily figure out what monsters will be impossible for them to hit on a 3d6 roll. That, of course, isn’t the sole arbiter of monster difficulty, but it’s a nice approximation. While D&D makes it easy to construct balanced encounters by rating monsters, it also leads to predictability. I kind of like that the Midgard bestiary’s critters aren’t explicitly ranked (or maybe they are and I just wasn’t parsing the stats correctly).

Among the 50 monsters presented, you’ll find some old stand-bys that will do yeoman’s duty in just about any fantasy setting (centaurs, dwarves, mushroom people) and some really creative beasts, like the sap demon and the dog mole. The dog mole could stand beside the owlbear and the umber hulk as an iconic weird RPG monster. There are some gnarly undead too, like bonedust ghouls and the putrid haunt. Every monster is depicted with truly excellent art, most in black and white but a few in color.

The real creativity in the monster design comes from the various stunts they have at their disposal. Stunts give monsters special attacks, movement bonuses, immunities and other cool twists. The stunts all have evocative names too. The putrid haunts can Vomit Leeches for example, while a young cave dragon can emit a Cacophonous Roar.

It’s sure nice to see a new RPG system achieve success, especially if it provides Open Design an excuse to publish more books of monsters. This is a Volume 1, after all.

2 Responses to Midgard Bestiary Expands Your AGE System Monster Options

  1. so, long time reader brought in during the whole Alpha Omega thing. I wanted to help out a bit and provide some quick details about the AGE system, maybe give some additional insight into this great looking book.

    when rolling for a check you use 3d6, with one of them being unique (refered to as a Dragon Die) which determines how many stunt points you generate when you roll doubles (gotta succeed as well). then you check your charts to see what stunts you might want to use (extra d6 damage? 2 points. want to provoke the local sheriff into slapping you in public, thereby depicting him as a violent heathen? 5 points).

    now, to determine the success of a check is pretty close to D&D. roll dice, add modifiers. having a focus is like being trained in a skill, and adds 2 to your roll. the Dwarf trying to hit the Eye Golem with an Axe would add his Strength and maybe a bonus 2 for having the Axes focus, but if he were trying get more money out of a baron for rescuing his children, he would roll his Communication stat and hope he has the Haggle focus.

    other than that, Talents are unique abilities and sometimes modify how you do normal things (the first level of the Thievery Talent lets you reroll a failed Lockpick test, and the Chiurgy Talent makes healing fellows much faster), and the Armor rating reduces incoming damage. with that and a few charts, you can probably be off playing AGE tonight.

  2. Welcome back and thanks for the primer!

    It does seem like a pretty slick, streamlined system, and I love the dragon die mechanic. It was surprising when the patrons of the Midgard Project put out such strong support for this system (I think a 4e/Pathfinder split was expected by pretty much everyone), but the more I see of it, it’s no wonder.

Comments are closed.