Monster: Bone Dragon


Although the central place for design discussion is ##crawl-dev on freenode, some may find it helpful to discuss requests and suggestions here first.

Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Tuesday, 17th June 2014, 00:59

Monster: Bone Dragon

I was just running an ice elementalist through Swamp and drew the miasma ending. It happened to have the bone dragon in it that occasionally shows up in that version, and I was struck how sad and ineffectual it was. I had no reasonable way to chew through its ridiculously fat wad of hit points, but also no particular reason to bother; even against a noodly magic-user that is ten experience levels lower than the sort of characters that usually enter its native areas, it was completely helpless to accomplish anything. I leashed the poor thing and led it across the level, where it bothered me no more.

Bone dragons normally roam Zot and Tartarus. They also occasionally appear in Crypt and Vaults, but they are completely non-threatening in every possible place they can spawn unless you are a naga, formicid, or follower of Chei. And even in those cases, they are still mostly non-threatening. They aren't fast, they don't hit hard, and they have no ranged presence whatsoever. They only have an enormous wad of hit points that make them not worth killing.

The simplest solution is to simply remove bone dragons as generated monsters. I don't know if this would thematically damage any vaults, but it certainly wouldn't affect the level of challenge they provide. Bone dragons are a very thematically resonant monster, however, so I do hope that they can be saved.

One option is to make them mummy dragons and give them Torment. Plus a few other spells to dilute their pool, maybe Bone Shards to stand in for their breath weapon.

Another option is to give them Mesmerize or Ensorcelled Hibernation. This is a common special power of undead dragons in other source material, and it would at least give them the role of pinning the player in place while the other monsters do the important killing business. A bone dragon all by itself would still probably be mostly non-threatening. Bone shard breath is still thematic and gives them something else to do.

Any other ideas? Or disagreements, I suppose?

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Post Tuesday, 17th June 2014, 01:06

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

I can't say I consider them very thematically resonant considering that you could just generate a dragon skeleton instead

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Post Tuesday, 17th June 2014, 01:09

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

How does your plan interact with Yred worshipers?

I'm not opposed to buffing them - but giving [s]Bone[/s] Mummy Dragons the ability to cast Torment would mean they can't be used as Yred gifts.



So do we only gift Profane Servitors in the top slot? Or do you give Yred followers immunity to Torment at around the time they start showing up. Which would also be perfectly acceptable..

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Post Tuesday, 17th June 2014, 01:15

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

A bone shard breath would probably be the simplest solution, but I don't think the monster is quite as terrible as KL makes it sound. They aren't terribly threatening 1 on 1, but most things aren't. They tank very well and they do decent damage in melee, just not huge damage. Tank monsters can be very interesting in group engagements, imho.

Still a breath wouldn't be a bad idea, and makes them different from dragon skeletons. It'd also be reasonable enough to let Yred followers still have them, unlike torment.

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Post Tuesday, 17th June 2014, 01:34

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

Your reasoning for why bone dragons are bad "I kited it and it couldn't do anything" can be applied to any speed 10 melee monster in the game. So I don't agree with removing bone dragons, but I do agree with removing speed 10 melee monsters. Giving it bone shard breath is fine too.

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Post Tuesday, 17th June 2014, 01:43

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

Wahaha wrote:Your reasoning for why bone dragons are bad "I kited it and it couldn't do anything" can be applied to any speed 10 melee monster in the game. So I don't agree with removing bone dragons, but I do agree with removing speed 10 melee monsters. Giving it bone shard breath is fine too.


Give every monster move speed at least 11 and remove energy randomization, it removes being able to utterly trivialize enemies by running away, or hypothetical encouragement to kite enemies to stairs and fight them (or any other hypothetical speed 10 optimal tedious interactions I can't conceive of), and also gets rid of energy randomization.
Last edited by tabstorm on Tuesday, 17th June 2014, 01:47, edited 1 time in total.
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Post Tuesday, 17th June 2014, 01:47

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

tabstorm wrote:
Wahaha wrote:Your reasoning for why bone dragons are bad "I kited it and it couldn't do anything" can be applied to any speed 10 melee monster in the game. So I don't agree with removing bone dragons, but I do agree with removing speed 10 melee monsters. Giving it bone shard breath is fine too.


Give every monster move speed at least 11 and remove energy randomization, it removes being able to utterly trivialize enemies by running away, or hypothetical encouragement to kite enemies to stairs and fight them, and also gets rid of energy randomization.

Is there any roguelike that does this? Legit curious
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Post Tuesday, 17th June 2014, 01:49

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

Patashu wrote:
tabstorm wrote:
Wahaha wrote:Your reasoning for why bone dragons are bad "I kited it and it couldn't do anything" can be applied to any speed 10 melee monster in the game. So I don't agree with removing bone dragons, but I do agree with removing speed 10 melee monsters. Giving it bone shard breath is fine too.


Give every monster move speed at least 11 and remove energy randomization, it removes being able to utterly trivialize enemies by running away, or hypothetical encouragement to kite enemies to stairs and fight them, and also gets rid of energy randomization.

Is there any roguelike that does this? Legit curious


No idea man. I don't think so. I think that the thing I proposed is fine if you object to speed 10 enemies.
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Post Tuesday, 17th June 2014, 02:04

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

Patashu wrote:
tabstorm wrote:
Wahaha wrote:Your reasoning for why bone dragons are bad "I kited it and it couldn't do anything" can be applied to any speed 10 melee monster in the game. So I don't agree with removing bone dragons, but I do agree with removing speed 10 melee monsters. Giving it bone shard breath is fine too.


Give every monster move speed at least 11 and remove energy randomization, it removes being able to utterly trivialize enemies by running away, or hypothetical encouragement to kite enemies to stairs and fight them, and also gets rid of energy randomization.

Is there any roguelike that does this? Legit curious


Every monster in DooMRL either has a ranged attack or is, usually, faster than the player. I don't know if movement energy is deterministic, but I have a feeling it is.
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Post Tuesday, 17th June 2014, 02:41

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

I agree with the general thrust of this but please no tormenting dragons.
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Post Tuesday, 17th June 2014, 02:53

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

Brannock wrote:I agree with the general thrust of this but please no tormenting dragons.

a greater mummy riding on a bone dragon's back
someone sprite this plz

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Post Tuesday, 17th June 2014, 08:14

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

+1 for bone shard breath. They already hit hard enough for a dragon, they just lack the ranged capability.
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Post Tuesday, 17th June 2014, 10:26

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

1. Agreed for bone shard breath.
2. THIS IS NOT MEANT TO DERAIL but energy randomization >>>>> guaranteed pillardancing.
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Post Tuesday, 17th June 2014, 11:01

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

What about the ability to cast Haunt?

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Post Tuesday, 17th June 2014, 12:51

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

Patashu wrote:
Brannock wrote:I agree with the general thrust of this but please no tormenting dragons.

a greater mummy riding on a bone dragon's back
someone sprite this plz


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Post Tuesday, 17th June 2014, 13:39

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

tasonir wrote:Tank monsters can be very interesting in group engagements, imho.

They could potentially be interesting in group engagements, but I don't think they are now (well, except preservers). For a tank to be interesting, it needs to draw your attacks while letting other monsters hurt you.

If we're looking for a monster to tank, maybe it could move through monsters of any genus (maybe getting a movespeed bonus while moving through monsters) while also letting hostiles shoot you through it. Or move through monsters and deal damage based on the number of monsters in LOS. Or give you a special version of mesmerise that won't allow you to attack other targets. The "shoot through me" thing doesn't seem thematic for bone dragons, though.
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Post Tuesday, 17th June 2014, 13:48

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

The bone dragon shoves the ghoul aside!
The bone dragon breathes bone shards at you!
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Post Tuesday, 17th June 2014, 17:46

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

tabstorm wrote:Give every monster move speed at least 11 and remove energy randomization, it removes being able to utterly trivialize enemies by running away, or hypothetical encouragement to kite enemies to stairs and fight them (or any other hypothetical speed 10 optimal tedious interactions I can't conceive of), and also gets rid of energy randomization.


Please no. I don't understand why being able to run away from most monsters is a bad thing - players have to have the ability to make some non optimal moves without being utterly crushed by ogres. If some don't like having the ability to run away, then I suggest they just play nagas instead.
Last edited by Velikolepni on Tuesday, 17th June 2014, 18:01, edited 1 time in total.

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Post Tuesday, 17th June 2014, 17:52

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

Make all monsters blink next to the player when they come in LOS - get rid of all this tedious moving.

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Post Tuesday, 17th June 2014, 18:01

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

Make it easier to shoot ranged weaponry THROUGH animated skeletons. Done. Thread is won.
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Post Tuesday, 17th June 2014, 18:22

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

While arguably this is a problem with lots of enemies—some of which have been removed already (elephant slugs)—I actually find bone dragons to be the most annoying in late game areas. I don't want to let a giant sack of HP possibly blunder into my line of retreat in Zot, so I carefully lead them way back to some cleared area and grind them down. At least goliath beetles and elephant slugs had the decency to be hilariously weak to poison and really slow, so you could easily pump them full of poison needles, get out of LOS and mash 5 to take them out pretty quickly (in terms of real time spent).

njvack wrote:
tasonir wrote:Tank monsters can be very interesting in group engagements, imho.

They could potentially be interesting in group engagements, but I don't think they are now (well, except preservers). For a tank to be interesting, it needs to draw your attacks while letting other monsters hurt you.

If we're looking for a monster to tank, maybe it could move through monsters of any genus (maybe getting a movespeed bonus while moving through monsters) while also letting hostiles shoot you through it. Or move through monsters and deal damage based on the number of monsters in LOS. Or give you a special version of mesmerise that won't allow you to attack other targets. The "shoot through me" thing doesn't seem thematic for bone dragons, though.


I like this idea actually. Could change them to "ghost dragons" or something and suddenly it works quite well (probably lower their AC somewhat, but keep the high HP). Also just on a thematic and visual level (with a quick tile redesign), ghost dragon would be better distinguished from dragon skeletons.
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Post Tuesday, 17th June 2014, 19:25

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

Patashu wrote:
Brannock wrote:I agree with the general thrust of this but please no tormenting dragons.

a greater mummy riding on a bone dragon's back
someone sprite this plz


Not sprited (and also not in trunk: branch bonerider).

The name probably needs some work :/

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Post Tuesday, 17th June 2014, 19:38

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

Meanwhile, as gammafunk is toiling away in his local git branch, Sif whispers "I sense a disturbance in the ambient fields." Concerned, our hero checks the Great Tree, and lo:

  Code:
From gitorious.org:crawl/crawl
 * [new branch]      bonerider  -> origin/bonerider
Last edited by gammafunk on Tuesday, 17th June 2014, 20:22, edited 1 time in total.

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Post Tuesday, 17th June 2014, 19:53

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

About the name bonerider . . .

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Post Tuesday, 17th June 2014, 20:13

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

It is a perfectly good name and crawl is made better by it.

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Post Tuesday, 17th June 2014, 22:00

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

Someone asks to remove a monster, and in response, a monster gets added instead. Crawl development at its finest.

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Post Tuesday, 17th June 2014, 22:11

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

duvessa wrote:Someone asks to remove a monster, and in response, a monster gets added instead. Crawl development at its finest.
A) There is only a chance the new monster will make it in. B) If it does make it in, my understanding is it would replace bone dragons rather than be added in addition to bone dragons.
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Post Tuesday, 17th June 2014, 22:56

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

Oh god, what have I done, I'm sorry Crawl

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Post Tuesday, 17th June 2014, 23:27

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

hahaha this is amazing. BONERIDER BONERIDER BONERIDER!!!!!!

Seriously though, really awesome.
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Post Tuesday, 17th June 2014, 23:32

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

so to be sure we're all just having a good old giggle here right.
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Post Tuesday, 17th June 2014, 23:40

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

Spoiler: show
I can't but assume that "bonerider" is very easily interpretated as something very closely related to fucking
Last edited by Psiweapon on Wednesday, 18th June 2014, 00:05, edited 1 time in total.
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Post Tuesday, 17th June 2014, 23:41

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

Get your minds out of the gutter. Bonerider is a great descriptive name.

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Post Tuesday, 17th June 2014, 23:43

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

way to kill the joke
hopefully it'll kill the monster also

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Post Wednesday, 18th June 2014, 00:31

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

It should be a unique guaranteed to generate on vaults:5. Even better if there's a new vault added to one of the outer walls of vault:5 with a mini arena where the bonerider always spawns. So he's not randomly in the rune areas, and you can specifically go to the bonerider's dungeon. It would also make it a bit more scary to do a controlled teleport to the outside edge of vaults:5, unless you had magic mapped it first. This needs to happen.

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Post Wednesday, 18th June 2014, 05:30

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

Does the Bonerider's description have any references to KOL's Bonerdagon? Because it should.

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Post Wednesday, 18th June 2014, 13:52

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

I honestly think this is a great idea. It's a bit lighthearted without being too ridiculous and could be a genuinely dangerous unique if we wanted it to be.

I actually like Tasonirs idea of having the bonerider as a guaranteed end of vault (or maybe crypt?) unique, especially if he was put somewhere specific where you could teleport right into him
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Post Wednesday, 18th June 2014, 14:34

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

Bim wrote:I honestly think this is a great idea. It's a bit lighthearted without being too ridiculous and could be a genuinely dangerous unique if we wanted it to be.

I actually like Tasonirs idea of having the bonerider as a guaranteed end of vault (or maybe crypt?) unique, especially if he was put somewhere specific where you could teleport right into him


Yeah, we're actually considering make bone dragons have 100-130 HP or so and making them speed 15, with the same attacks. One sticking point is Yred gifts, since new bone dragons would then probably be too similar to profane servitors.

If we can resolve the Yred situation, we could make new bone dragons and then let liches or something ride them in tomb to fill a fast-moving melee + interesting stuff role. So we would not be removing bone dragons, but would be in fact recreating them to be more dangerous and in fact adding a new monster that would in fact create another monster when it died. Guys I think this would spook crate/dck/duvessa real good.
Last edited by gammafunk on Wednesday, 18th June 2014, 14:47, edited 1 time in total.

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Post Wednesday, 18th June 2014, 14:36

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

gammafunk wrote:One sticking point is Yred gifts, since new bone dragons would then probably be too similar to profane servitors.
So it's totally fine for two monsters to be redundant with each other, so long as you aren't worshipping a specific god? I think you need to give this more thought.

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Post Wednesday, 18th June 2014, 14:58

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

I care more about their similarity as allies gifted by the same god than I do their similarity in general, yes. The umbra and vampiric/draining attack differentiate servitors from fast bone dragons as hostile monsters to a sufficient degree, although some kind of ranged attack for bone dragons could be nice.

To be perfectly serious, I'd be fine with removing bone dragons so long as we deal with the Yred/Bones card situations properly. Servitors could replace bone dragons in both roles, but another idea floated was to remove bone dragons from normal circulation and let them exist only through Yred and the card. Tavern, decide!

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Post Wednesday, 18th June 2014, 15:47

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

Most of the ideas that have come up seem fine; I just don't really like the status quo.

For Yred, bone dragons don't really have the issues that make them so annoying and pathetic as enemies. Enemy monsters that are trying to kill the PC's bone dragons aren't going to get bored hacking away at those hundreds of hit points, and if the PC's bone dragons aren't capable of dealing enough damage to be relevant that's really the player's job to fix.

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Post Wednesday, 18th June 2014, 15:52

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

KoboldLord wrote:For Yred, bone dragons don't really have the issues that make them so annoying and pathetic as enemies. Enemy monsters that are trying to kill the PC's bone dragons aren't going to get bored hacking away at those hundreds of hit points, and if the PC's bone dragons aren't capable of dealing enough damage to be relevant that's really the player's job to fix.


That's true, but as of right now, the only gift with a ranged attack is the Flayed Ghost. So I could see the argument for giving Bone Dragons a breath weapon.

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Post Wednesday, 18th June 2014, 16:04

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

The problem is that "bone dragons with bone shard breath" already exist. They're called "iron dragons".

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Post Wednesday, 18th June 2014, 20:20

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

Regarding the whole 'speed 10 monsters are awful'

So what, you either play a character who's strong enough to win every fight without ever having to retreat(no more escaping monsters up staircases, or ever) or you just die the first time you can't beat every single monster in LOS?

Someone please explain the logic of this mentality. I see it come up very often, but I'd love an explanation to how the hell anyone could possibly win the game under these circumstances.

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Post Wednesday, 18th June 2014, 20:38

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

damiac wrote:Regarding the whole 'speed 10 monsters are awful'

So what, you either play a character who's strong enough to win every fight without ever having to retreat(no more escaping monsters up staircases, or ever) or you just die the first time you can't beat every single monster in LOS?

Someone please explain the logic of this mentality. I see it come up very often, but I'd love an explanation to how the hell anyone could possibly win the game under these circumstances.
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Post Wednesday, 18th June 2014, 20:45

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

Dang so have you really never avoided or otherwise escaped a monster that moved faster than your race's natural movespeed?
Quite the unusual experience.

e: man what a cringe-worthy situation this is

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Post Wednesday, 18th June 2014, 20:53

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

duh, speed is a binary value: either you're faster than the monster or you're not, and clearly nothing else ever matters

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Post Wednesday, 18th June 2014, 21:05

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

Well, early on it would be a really big problem. Nagas get a super poison spit to help them through that part of the game. You cannot start as a chei worshipper(Also, chei does do other things besides slow you down).

It just seems like it would make the whole game an exercise in luring enemies to stairways, or blink/swiftness/haste would be mandatory for survival. I see how it eliminates many boring strategies, but I don't see how the game is viable if all monsters are faster than the player.

As you say, people do win with Nagas and Chei (sometimes both) so maybe I'm overestimating what a problem this would be.

Someone should code up a branch that adds 1 to all monsters movespeed. Seems like it should be fairly trivial codewise, then we could all see how viable it is in practice. It would certainly be a very big difficulty bump.

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Post Wednesday, 18th June 2014, 21:09

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

You get (well lets assume circlelos is fixed first) sixty or seventy turns before a monster you have just spotted catches up to you if it is speed 11 and you are normal speed. (In current los it is between 50 and 80, depending on direction.) This number goes up to infinity if the monster has any sort of ranged attack at all, since it will use that more than once every ten actions, which will cost it enough movement that it will never reach you.

This is a huge number of turns.

edit: so it's clear this post is not arguing in favor of making all monsters speed 11 or faster. I do think that would probably be a change I would like, but I will not actively argue in support of it for various reasons. I do, however, believe that very many players do not really understand just how much time you still get to reposition even with speed 11 monsters.

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Post Thursday, 19th June 2014, 01:40

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

Bone dragons, hm?

You know... what if, they started out as a slow, heavy-defense monster, we're talking like Speed 5 slow, and boost their AC even higher than it already is.

But the gimmick? As they take damage (or alternatively, a % of the time whenever they're damaged), pieces of their skeletal bodies begin to break off, lowering their AC but increasing their Speed and EV (and their Size class). This can happen over and over again until they cap at something absurd like Speed 20 (twice as fast as the player) and their AC is much lower at that point, turning them from a lumbering tank into a loose glass cannon (imagine a rampaging dragon jaw bone with like one arm and claw is all that's left intact, furiously leaping and chasing and snapping at the player).

Have it so their Max HP also decreases a bit whenever they break apart a little. This way they can still regenerate HP over time, but only to an extent depending on how broken up they are, preventing us from having a super-powerful Speed 20 monster with 200+ HP running around somewhere that a player failed to finish off. (This also prevents Yred players from "w"aiting after a tough battle and having an absurdly overpowered ally that's almost impossible to kill.)

If it's easier to program, maybe just have different threshholds of brokenness to cycle through as damage is accrued, one monster type for each level? So, Bone Dragon -> Broken Bone Dragon -> Bone Dragon Torso -> Bone Dragon Jaw, each next level having more Speed and EV, but lower AC and max HP and a smaller Size. Something like that.

On the subject of Mummy Bone Dragon Riders, there is no reason why this couldn't be a thing, like how Spriggan Riders ride Fireflies (well, Wasps now) and fall off when their mount dies. Though I'm thinking Skeletal Warriors or Ancient Champions make more sense as mounts for bone dragons than Mummies, since they're more versatile and actually come with weapons.

Only thing is, if we do that, we'd need to start giving Mount status to other monsters too to go with the theme. Imagine encountering a Vault Warden with a Crossbow mounted on a Golden Dragon. Whooo boy.
--Schwa, your local muse forever and long-time High Elf fangirl ^_~
(also the master of Quadri-Birds)

TheProvocateur: I like how we're sprinting at a pile of greater mummies

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Joined: Sunday, 5th May 2013, 08:25

Post Thursday, 19th June 2014, 01:43

Re: Monster: Bone Dragon

Why would anyone attack a monster if they are only penalized for doing it?

For this message the author duvessa has received thanks:
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