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I'm trying to get into DMing and my buddy who always DMs for us offered to teach me. He wants me to create a 2 hour long adventure that he and I will run through with me as the DM.

My problem is that I don't really know what I'm doing, I've got the basic story down (it takes place in a large mushroom forest which has recently been corrupted by a mysterious force which he has to track down and confront in order to free the village within that's been under siege).

I've been looking through the Monster Manual for something to fit in the forest and thought some mutated wolves would be perfect for the setting. When I say mutant wolf, all I really mean is a modified wolf with something like a large eye that is on its side, or a tentacle or two sticking out of a leg - just stuff to make it look abnormal and out of place, in addition to being a stronger wolf that can serve as a suitable fight to kinda kick off the forest venture.

How would I go about this? I have the information of the wolf up (its stats and whatnot) but I don't really know how to go about modifying it. Is there some sort of procedure I can follow?

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    \$\begingroup\$ What levels will your players be, and how many of them are there? \$\endgroup\$
    – GreySage
    Nov 27, 2018 at 17:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ As well, what level of difficulty should this wolf be for your party to fight? Easy, moderate, difficult, life threatening etc. \$\endgroup\$
    – DMate
    Nov 27, 2018 at 17:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ Do you or your friend DM have the DMG? It was brought to my attention today that a lot of people don't get, or don't have, the DMG. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 27, 2018 at 18:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ Glad to hear the answers helped you make up your mind. If wo, I'd suggest you accept the one that helped you most. It helps those who will come to this question later and it helps the system understand that this question has been successfully answered. \$\endgroup\$
    – 3C273
    Nov 28, 2018 at 15:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ No need to edit "thanks" into the question itself. We generally just assume that. If you want to say thanks in a more personal way, try Role-playing Games Chat. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Nov 28, 2018 at 21:05

4 Answers 4

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For a first adventure, don’t. Don’t start modifying monsters.

In time you’ll be able to judge how tough monsters are, and what to throw at your players. There is a procedure for making and modifying monsters in the Dungeon Master’s Guide, but it requires some experience and judgement to use. But you don’t have the experience to make those judgements yet. I can tell because…

A bunch of wolves are already a challenge for a first adventure. You’ll risk killing your PCs a lot if you throw stronger wolves at them.

Just use normal wolves and describe them and their attacks as mutated. They don’t need to be stronger.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "describe them as mutated" was exactly what I was about to suggest. You'd be surprised how impactful a difference of description makes for a monster. \$\endgroup\$
    – goodguy5
    Nov 27, 2018 at 17:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yup, keep the stat block and just describe the monster and its attacks to fit the desired flavor. Instead of pouncing to grapple maybe the wolf wraps a tentacle and brings the hapless adventurer right up to its massive mutant eye. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 27, 2018 at 19:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ As an alternative to the workflow in the DMG, Angry GM has a nice (albeit long) tutorial that is almost certainly a better starting point. (Warning: very explicit language) \$\endgroup\$
    – user24827
    Nov 28, 2018 at 13:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ Slight followup: Is there any harm to "inventing" new attacks which are really just clones of the attack the wolf already has? For example, if the wolf has a tentacle growing out of it, say "the wolf whips it tentacle at you", then just roll as if it made a standard bite attack? That might help the players feel like they're fighting some unique enemy without actually modifying its stats \$\endgroup\$ Nov 29, 2018 at 18:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @LordFarquaad Sure, the description of the wolves as mutated can include how they move, attack, etc. (I made a slight edit to that end.) \$\endgroup\$ Nov 29, 2018 at 18:53
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The Dungeon Master's Guide is your friend

Chapter 9 of the DMG covers both Modifying Monsters and Creating Monsters. That's the best place to start for what you're trying to do.

Otherwise, have fun, get creative, and be open to adjusting the monster on the fly if it's not turning out the way you expected (too difficult or not difficult enough.)

Using a third party tool like the Kobold Fight Club can also help in determining if your monster(s) are too much or too little.

Try to stay vanilla at first

But I also would recommend against too much homebrew to start with. You're learning the ropes and sticking with official monsters will be easier for you to manage with the baseline developed by WoTC.

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Consider the power of descriptions over stats, here.

Don't make extra work for yourself. Whenever you're thinking of using a custom monster, flip through the Monster Manual first to see if there's anything that resembles what you want. You want a stronger wolf? Look at the Dire Wolf stat block. You can alter the description of the monster to whatever you want without needing to change any stats. Tell the party they see a wolf with tentacles growing out of its leg and a massive eye growing on its side, but use the Dire Wolf stat block.

Remember that as the DM, you are providing all of the information about the world that the players receive. If you tell them that they see a wolf-like monster with tentacles and an extra eye, then that's what they see regardless of the stat block you're using for that monster.

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This answer is basically also "stay vanilla" but with an interesting addition:

Instead of modifying wolfes (which will be too hard probably) simply take other vanilla monsters of similar difficulty and flavor them to be wolves. So copy the stats and attacks from the Monster Manual but ignore ALL the text that is not a description of mechanics.

Need something ranged? Take a goblin archer, but say it's a semi werewolf throwing stones. That way you have what you want - a different wolf - but with balanced stats. Just make sure that you describe said wolf in a way that lets the players expect a ranged attack from him. [Analogue for bosses, caster (sentient wolf-shaman?), many disposable enemys (young or degenerated wolfes), whatever, get creative!]

Since you are new as a DM your friends hopefully will know not to poke at every small logical hole your story may have.

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