I like those little snippets of monster tactics you sometimes find in published adventures. They give you a better idea of why the monster is in the adventure, and they provide you with a framework for making play decisions.
In a solo game, it’s just as helpful to have a plan for the monsters, otherwise I tend to fudge their decisions in my favour. “Oh, I know I could easily kill the hero with my sneaky attack. But I’ll come out of hiding, being the brave goblin that I am. I’ll even let Hero-Man have the first swing.” If the goblin has a plan, many of my choices are made, I can focus on playing the star of the show, my optimized and much loved character with the dog eared character sheet.
I came up with the following simple strategy sheet to help me out:
Here’s a brief description of each entry:
Role: a word to describe the monster’s tactics, such as sniper, assassin, wrestler, commander or artillery.
Morale: If the creature tends to be brave, cowardly, or something in-between.
Ease: How the monster acts when there is no threat.
Alert: What the monster does when they become aware of any danger or enemies.
Melee: What the monster does when engaged in, or within range for melee combat.
Range: What the monster does when engaged in, or within range for missile combat.
Blood: What the monster does when they have taken significant damage. You can decide what “significant damage” means, but I usually go with 50% and below of their HP as the crossover mark.
Playing, you will have some idea of how a given monster will react to your actions, eliminating some of the surprise; a problem I’d still like to solve. Furthermore, you have to play as the GM, especially during setup. But this turns setup into a game on its own; how do the goblins think? What are they fighting for? Would they rather fight from far or up close with a sharp blade? These questions bring story and tactics together, giving you a chance to add to your narrative, as discussed in part 2.
Have you tried something similar? I’d love to know what you think. I’ll leave you with a quote from Mr Tzu:
Till Later, Tell more Thrilling Tales!