Building a Monster

With over 650 distinct types of Pokemon it is certainly a daunting task to try and create a system of mechanics to not only represent each individual but also to provide rules for how they develop and advance. Trying to create every single Pokemon while giving each species a unique progression may be impossible for a single person or small group to undertake. What the following information attempts to do is provide a guideline for creating each Pokemon (or indeed, any other creature) within a relatively balanced framework. This is both a tool for gamemasters to create challenges and NPCs and for players to level up and customize their characters.

Rule 0: With the vast array of creatures in the Pokemon world this guide cannot account for every unique quirk and possibility. If something doesn't fit, change it or create it as necessary using the existing rules as an example of how things are intended to work.

The mechanics here draw heavily from the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, especially the Race Builder in the Advanced Race Guide and the Eidolon and Summoner from the Advanced Player's Guide and Ultimate Magic. The PRD is the best place to start when rules questions come up or new mechanics are needed.

Start Here

Before starting the design process, let's discuss the currency used in this guide; Race Points (RP) and Evolution Points (EP). Race Points are used when initially creating a monster for the first time and represent the base attributes common to the species or 'race'. Evolution points, on the other hand, are gained as a monster advances in level and are spent on additional abilities and custom traits. Monsters gain bonus evolution points when they evolve. Some evolutions may have requirements such as minimum hit dice or another evolution before they can be gained.

Race Points (RP) Each Pokemon begins with an allotment of Race Points which are then spent on qualities common to it's species, as shown on the table. A Standard monster is one which has three stages of evolution, such as a Bulbasaur. An Advanced monster has only two stages of evolution. Not all Pokemon will have the maximum number of RP and in many cases weaker species will have fewer. Use existing incarnation of the monster, such as videogames and cartoon, to determine the number of RP a creature has and the abilities it should start with and make exceptions as needed.

Power Level RP Range
Standard 1-10
Advanced 11-20
Legendary 20+

Evolution Points (EP) A Pokemon gains 1 Evolution Point every time it gains a level and an additional two points every time it evolves. Evolution Points cannot be spent on abilities that cost Race Points unless specifically noted in the ability.

Step 1: Size

Determining a monster's size provides a framework for numerous other modifiers including reach, physical attack damage, and noncombat attributes such as carrying capacity. The majority of unevolved monsters are Small or even Tiny. Although not always consistent, a monster's size in the games, comics, and cartoons can provide a reference for how large it should be. Consider also that an adult human is considered Medium while young children would be Small.

Table 1:1 Size Bonuses
Size EP Cost AC/Attack CMB/CMD Fly skill Stealth skill
Diminutive 6 +4 -4 +6 +12
Tiny 4 +2 -2 +4 +8
Small 0 +1 -1 +2 +4
Medium 0 0 0 0 0
Large 4 -1 +1 -2 -4
Huge 6 -2 +2 -4 -8
Table 1:1 Size Changes
Size EP Cost Strength Dexterity Constitution Natural Armor
Tiny 4 -8 -4 -2 0
Small 0 -4 +2 -2 0
Medium 0 0 0 0 0
Large 4 +4 -2 +2 +2
Huge 6 +8 -4 +4 +4

Tiny (4 RP) Tiny creatures have a Reach of 0, meaning they must enter their opponent's square to attack (possibly provoking an attack of opportunity) and typically cannot flank or threaten adjacent squares. A Tiny monster that increases it's size after evolving may become Small at no cost and removes the ability adjustments and size modifiers for being Tiny.

Large (4 EP) Large creatures take up a space that is 10 feet by 10 feet and have a reach of 10 feet. A monster whose unevolved form is Large usually has at least 6 hit dice.

Huge (6 EP) The rare monster whose unevolved form is Huge always has at least 10 hit dice or more.

Step 2: Anatomy

Once you figure out a Pokemon's size, the next basic question to answer is; what does it look like? How many limbs does it have? Does it have fur, scales, or feathers? What is the overall shape of it's body? The following are example builds based around certain body structures. For simplicity one of these can be used as a base and customized as needed, or you can skip this step and choose the individual attributes as you go.

Aquatic

Avian

Biped

Insectoid

Mutable

Quadruped

Orb

Serpentine

Arms (2 EP) Extra arms
Gills (1 EP)
Head (2 EP) Additional head
Limbs (Ex): The monster has a pair of limbs which can take one of two forms. They can be made into legs, complete with feet. Each pair of legs increases the monster's base speed by 10 feet. Alternatively, they can be made into arms, complete with hands. The eidolon does not gain any additional natural attacks for an additional pair of arms, but it can take other evolutions that add additional attacks (such as claws or a slam). Arms that have hands can be used to wield weapons, if the eidolon is proficient. This evolution can be selected more than once.
Tail (1 EP)

Step 3: Movement

How fast does the creature move and how does it get around? A sluggish or small monster might be slower than it's larger or more agile counterpart, or it may possess some other quality such as wings or the ability to dig into the ground.

Normal Speed (0 RP) The monster has a base speed of 30 feet. For comparison, an adult human moves at Normal Speed.

Slow Speed (-1 RP) The monster has a base speed of 20 feet. If the species is Medium, it's speed is not modified by armor or encumbrance.

Fast Speed (1 RP) The monster has a base speed of 40 feet. Alternately, this evolution can be taken later on to increase the monster's land speed by +10ft.

Unusual Movement

Climb (1 EP) The monster becomes a skilled climber, gaining a climb speed equal to its base speed.

Swim (1 EP) The monster gains webbed hands, feet, or powerful flippers, giving it a swim speed equal to its base speed. This evolution does not give the monster the ability to breathe underwater. 

Flight (Ex) (2 EP) The monster grows large wings, like those of a bat, bird, insect, or dragon, gaining the ability to fly. The species gains a fly speed equal to its base speed. The monster's maneuverability depends on it size. Medium or smaller creatures have good maneuverability. Large creatures have average maneuverability, while Huge monsters have poor maneuverability. 

Flight (Su) (2 EP) The monster is able to levitate or float through magic, telekinesis, or some other exotic means. The species gains a fly speed equal to half its base speed. Unlike with normal flight it does not gain wings, but its maneuverability increases to perfect. This is a supernatural ability. 

Fast Speed (1 EP) Choose a type of movement other than land speed; Burrow, Climb, Fly, Swim. That speed is increased by 20ft. This evolution may be selected more than once. Each time it is selected it may be applied to the same movement mode or another type of movement that the monster possesses. The monster must be at least 5th level before selecting this evolution. 

Burrow (3 EP) The monster grows thick and gnarled claws, teeth, or other implements that allow it to move through the earth. The monster gains a burrow speed equal to 1/2 its base speed. It can use this speed to move through dirt, clay, sand, and earth. It does not leave a hole behind, nor is its passage marked on the surface. 

Step 4: Abilities

All unevolved Pokemon begin with the same ability score array; 16, 13, 12, 11, 10, 7

In most cases these scores should be arranged to mirror the monster's in-game statistics, as follows;

d20 Ability Videogame stat
Strength Attack
Constitution HP
Dexterity Speed
Intelligence n/a
Wisdom Special Defense
Charisma Special Attack

After determining a creature's size and the ability score arrangement common to it's species, it's time to pick ability modifiers that separate each individual. This selection can only be made at the time of character creation and afterward cannot be changed except through retraining. A wild monster's individual modifiers can either be determined randomly or assumed to follow a preset norm for it's species. Monsters will gain other adjustments to their scores as they level up and evolve.

Standard (0 RP) Members of this species gain a +2 bonus to one physical ability score, a +2 bonus to one mental ability score, and a -2 penalty to any other ability score.

Flexible (0 RP) Members of this species gain a +2 bonus to any single ability score chosen during character creation.

Paragon (1 RP) Members of this species gain a +4 bonus to a single ability score and a -2 penalty to all ability scores of the opposite type (either physical or mental).

Specialized (1 RP) Members of this species gain a +2 bonus to two ability of the chosen type (either physical or mental) and a -2 penalty to an ability score of the opposite type.

Weakness (-1 RP) Members of this species gain a +2 bonus to one physical ability score, a +2 bonus to one mental ability score, and a -4 penalty to any other score.

Natural Attacks

Every monster begins with at least one type of basic attack determined by it's form. The first attack a monster gains is considered it's Primary natural attack and any further natural weapons it gains are considered secondary. Whenever a monster levels up or evolves it may designate which of it's attacks is it's Primary. A type of attack may be chosen more than once if a monster has more than one body part that qualifies, such as a pair of wings or claws. Existing names for natural attacks include, but are not limited to, the following; Bite, Claw, Gore, Hoof, Pincer, Slam, Sting, Tail Slap, Talon, Tentacle, and Wing.

Primary (1 EP) A monster has one natural weapon that is considered it's primary weapon which uses it's full base attack bonus. If the monster has no other natural weapons it's primary attack also deals 1-1/2 it's Strength modifier. Primary attacks deal damage based on size; Tiny 1d3; Small 1d4; Medium 1d6; Large 1d8; Huge 2d6

Secondary (1 EP) Any natural weapon aside from a monster's primary attack is considered a secondary natural attack which is made at a -5 penalty. A monster's number of secondary attacks is only limited by it's form. Secondary attack damage is based on size; Tiny 1d2; Small 1d3; Medium 1d4; Large 1d6; Huge 1d8

Unarmed (0 EP) Some monsters do not posses usable natural weapons such as sharp claws and teeth. These creatures can make unarmed strikes, but treat them as weapons for the purpose of determining attack bonuses, and they must use the two-weapon fighting rules when making attacks multiple attacks.

Weapon Training (2 EP)

Improved Attacks

Improved Damage (1 EP)
Magic Attacks (1 EP)
Pounce (1 EP)
Pull (1 EP)
Push (1 EP)
Reach (1 EP)

Constrict (2 EP)
Energy Attacks (2 EP)
Poison (2 EP)
Rake (2 EP)
Rend (2 EP)
Trample (2 EP)
Trip (2 EP)

Swallow Whole (3 EP)

++Natural Defenses
Improved Natural Armor (1 EP)
Resistance (1 EP)
Channel Resistance (2 EP)
Immunity (2 EP)
Damage Reduction (3 EP)
Fast Healing (4 EP)
Spell Resistance (4 EP)
++Senses
Low-Light Vision (1 EP)
Keen Scent (2 EP)
Scent (1 EP)
Darkvision (2 EP)
Tremorsense (2 EP)
Blindsense (3 EP)
Blindsight (4 EP)
Lifesense (4 EP)
See in Darkness (3 EP)

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