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I'm developing a small, system-agnostic setting, which will be published in several mediums (blog, PDF, and paper). I'd like to stat up several of the most unusual creatures for popular systems: D&D 4E, D&D 3.5/Pathfinder, Savage Worlds, FATE, etc.

I want to give GMs enough stats that they can run a given creature in their favorite system. This doesn't need to include every stat (for example, ability scores are usually unnecessary for D&D 4E monsters). I'm trying to combat the tendency of statting a monster in one system, as GMs hear "Well, you'd better either use the designer's favorite system or create each monster yourself."

Multiple stat blocks require the reader to flip through a lot of content that's non-useful to them. Once you go beyond a couple of monsters, the amount of material becomes unwieldy.

I do realize that the given stat block will be less elegant than one system's stat block.

So, is there a good/useful/effective monster stat block that incorporates multiple systems' stats? It needn't touch every system listed above.

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Thanks! They're part of a larger project, and won't be published for another week or so; I'll post a link here when they go live. –  Brent Newhall Jan 9 '12 at 16:31
    
Hey, I just discovered 3 Generations After The End. As soon as I saw the Ratfolk stat block I recognised it from here. Nice work! –  SevenSidedDie May 2 '13 at 19:29
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3 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Assuming you have access to color, and vertical space isn't tightly constrained...

Stat Blocks

I would start with the excellent 4e stat block.

Adapt this to the other systems. The basic template goes like this:

Colored title bar, including creatures name, level, and type information. You should include the name of the system up here as well.

End-use derived combat-relevant stats (light background color).

Attack modes/special abilities (Description of attack in dark background color, details of the attack in light color).

Full statistics not listed elsewhere (dark background color).

Finally, give each system a unique color (this will lose some fidelity in that I think 4e uses that color coding, but shouldn't be a big deal).

This will give you a stackable set of color-coded stat blocks. Playing Savage Worlds? Look at the red stats. 4e? Blue.

(Note: this will work for traditional RPGs, but the ones that are way out there might not fit. I'm not familiar with FATE or Savage Worlds, so I can't be certain it'll work for those.)

Combining Stats on the Same Line

It was pointed out elsewhere in this thread that what you're really looking for is collapsing everything to the point where the statistics from the different systems all share the same line within each category (i.e. a single defense line with notes from 4e, 3.5, SW, and FATE).

This is a much more difficult proposition (particularly when scaling up to 5 systems), and may not be solvable.

The primary problem you're going to have is quickly acquiring the stats for a system other than the first one in the list.

The issue is that there's no way to tell where a specific system begins without reading everything prior to it (which may mean trying to read game stats for a system you don't understand). It also becomes much more difficult to get an "at a glance" overview of the creature, because you must scan through other systems.

Another (less important) issue is that you will have to work a bit harder on the formatting to avoid the "wall of text" scenario that stat blocks are intended to avoid.

A few potential solutions:

  • Using color can help, but having many different colors interweaving that closely may become confusing. Your color selection will also be limited to colors acceptable as body text, and you won't be able to utilize .

  • Prefix each system's subcomponent with an icon indicative of the system. It's still going to be a bit of a hunt to find all of the icons, but it's a bit faster than needing to scan the text itself.

  • Be very conscious of your whitespace. You'll need extra, because you have so much text trying to share the same space.

Overall Use

Type up the name of the monster and its overall description in the body text of the module. Then use its stats as a sidebar (vertically stacked). If these sidebars get to be too tall (a real possibility with four or five systems!) you can stack them horizontally. If you do, I recommend separating them with with a black border, or a border that matches the title bar's color.

Summary

  • Pick a unified design that can be applied with reasonable modification to all of the systems involved.

  • Use something visual that can quickly allow the reader to zero in on the stats they want. Color is probably best for this, but might not be available in all formats (i.e. when publishing a black and white book).

  • Push generic fluff outside of the stat-block itself, so you can keep the stat blocks compact.

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I don't think there can be a generic enough stat block. Each of those systems has very different concepts of what to roll to make an attack, for instance. 4e is a d20+level+stat vs defense. 3.5/Pathfinder is d20+BAB+Strength vs AC. FATE frames it as conflicts. Shadowrun 4 uses Xd6 vs TN5. Etc. The scale of the numbers can also be wildly different, even for similar systems.

The best you can do is say "Here's a description of the creature. Here's the way in which it attacks. Here's some values for generic stats to give you some idea of how to build it."

For the generic values, it'd be something like: "Strength: Very Strong. Intelligence: Dumb".

Obviously, you could just make a stat block which just concatenated elements from every system, but then you're making something that's going to be pretty unwieldy. But you can't combine stats from systems, because they mean something different in each.

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I don't see how the underlying mechanics or scale are relevant to the stat block. If those mechanics end up with an attack roll of "+14 vs AC" in D&D 4E, "+12 vs AC" in Pathfinder, "+2 vs Physical defenses" in FATE, and "2d6 vs TN4" in Shadowrun, why can't those be on the same line in a stat block? –  Brent Newhall Dec 30 '11 at 14:15
    
They could, it just becomes unwieldy. You're talking about having 4-5 values for "hit points", 4-5 values for "physical defense", 4-10 values for "magical defense" (depending on how many types of defense each system breaks it down into). That's not even mentioning all the different ways of laying out attacks. And it goes on. It's doable, but it becomes a mess of information, 75+% of which is useless at any given time. @AceCalhoon's answer is probably the best way to format it, but it's not really any better than just providing entirely separate stat blocks and not a combined one. –  Bobson Dec 30 '11 at 14:30
    
@BrentNewhall - Come to think of it, didn't really answer your question. The underlying mechanics are relevant because it determines just what information even exists to go into a stat block - SR has dodge and armor, which is not at all comparable to D&D's touch AC and regular AC (even though it seems it at first glance). Scale is relevant for trying to combine stats. If you say "Strength 10", that's superhuman in SR, average in D&D, and nonsensical in FATE. So you need to spell it out for each system, which goes back to "Can't combine them." –  Bobson Dec 30 '11 at 15:55
    
The very strong/dumb bit is basically a statblock in FATE since the aspects are almost (if not more) important than the numbers sometimes –  Tetra Jan 10 '12 at 17:45
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For those curious, I created my own attempt at a multi-system stat block. Here's what I came up with:

Example combined stat block

A few notes:

  • Apocalypse World attributes aren’t equivalent to D&D‘s, so they’re listed separately.
  • Combat-related rows are colored differently, to make them a little easier to see. This coloration might not show up well in this screenshot, depending on monitor settings.
  • Rows that start with ♣ are attacks; rows that start with ♥ are skills.
  • Any elements specific to one system are listed in their own rows at the bottom of the stat block.

If you want to use this stat block yourself, or modify it for your own uses, go ahead.

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Don't forget to move the accept to this answer, as it's the one that helped you the most :) –  AceCalhoon Jan 13 '12 at 20:21
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