Ideas Needed: Trick Monsters


Are there trick monsters in Alfheim?

I am looking for monsters ideas…

For most combats, I like quick hack and slash over in 3-5 round battles.

However, I want to start doing some trick/puzzle/problem solving monsters, for my kids game.

A 5e troll’s fire vulnerability is a perfect example of what I’m thinking, but already used.

I have provided a couple of examples. Maybe they will help clarify where my mind is at.

Ex.1 A giant crab is impervious to any damage or ill-effects until flipped on its back with either a strength check or some other way of flipping a giant crap.

Ex.2 A centipede dragon monster (think 5e remorhaz) spends every turn climbing off of its tree and attacking and then returning to its tree. When it is on its tree it looks like bark and it stands still like a stature, making it an EASY target, but all damage is reduced by half when it is on its tree and it heals one heart the beginning of its turn if it starts on the tree. The players are better off holding their action until the remorhaz is off the tree and/or finding a way to keep it off the tree, or destroying the tree, or whatever they come up with.

Ex. An army of skeleton warriors whose bones reassemble after being killed so long as their skull is in one piece.

Can you help me think of some cool mechanics or monsters I could use. There has to be plenty of examples in myths and video games and such.

I appreciate you help.


Before getting into my ideas, I definitely recommend you look into the MONSTER ROLLERS in CORE. They are a great place to start and spin up ideas on how to make monsters unique/puzzly.

One fun monster idea that I came up with was a mook golem that when close to a second one, would merge together and create a bigger, badder monster. If the mook was next to several others (4+) they would merge into a super monster! And every round more mooks were being summoned by some wizards. MWAHAHAHA!

Made it so the players had to dispatch the wizards quickly or figure out how to keep the mooks separated.

Battle Stone (summoned every round by wizards)

Stone Knight (created by 2 Battle Stones merging)

Boulder Brute (created by 4 Battle Stones merging)


I would try variations of the tropes we are used to… take a Fire Troll that is vulnerable to Water, or an Evil Unicorn. Dragons that breath magic, or a friendly green slime! … my kids loved reading the monster manuals, and thought they had learned all their evil tricks… till I flipped the script on them… they loved every minute of it.

And they still do… life is good.


I like the mook golem idea.
Also, even though I have read through just about everything ICRPG related about a thousand times over, I have not given any attention to the Monster Roll. So, I have to do that.


Good idea.
Do you have one example that was particularly fun for your kids?


The classic ‘trick’ monster I think of is the hydra…and then I think about changing that ‘two heads for every one chopped off’ bit to other creatures, but not necessarily the head…

“Huh-floating octopus. No problem, zip-zap-zop and anyone else want to take down the head?”

“That-was a bad idea.” (suddenly dragged into the sky by sixteen tentacles.

Also consider taking advantage of Timers.


I like that idea. How would they stop regrowth? Fire?


Well, that’s the classic solution, but maybe we can do better…

“Hey. If you really are going to go into those woods, bring this skin of goats’ milk.”

“Uh, no thanks. Not thirsty.”

“Look, just-just take the milk, okay?”

(This is why I don’t write in the morning.)


I’m a big fan of situations over fancy monster mechanics.

For example,

  • light obscuring how many monsters there are in a dark dungeon, more appear on a timer
  • monsters using delay actions to get their leader to safety with obstacles both natural and monster made
  • having the moral dilemma, do you save your NPC friend or chase the monster (Spider-Man Gwen Stacy moment)
  • monsters draw the players into a ranged ambush
  • monsters kite the players and pick off stragglers with ranged or like rolling boulders (that are on fire!)
  • monsters draw the players to a bridge where they cut the rope and have a camp at the bottom for loot
  • gelatinous cubes in small dungeon passages
  • toll road ambush, fee is demanded if players get heroic the archers in the woods fire
  • have the NPC buddy create doubt as to whose side he or she is on during a fight
    have opposing monster factions join the fight, enemy of my enemy, or players come upon the fight

Some things I do, hope they help!


Those are some good ideas I’m going to have to try those. I’ve done a troll collecting toll on a bridge.
The game I play with my kids isn’t quite Alfheim. It’s more fairytale based.

I have noticed that there are a lot of monsters that we use in D&D and ICRPG that are inspired by monsters that have a trick to them.
A vampire can only die if stabbed in the heart.
A werewolf must be killed by silver.
A sword at the bottom of the lake can kill Grendle.
Smaug can only die if pierced in the hole in his armor. Achilles and his heel.

Yet, monster manuals don’t really get into this and just hand wave with some vulnerabilities.
Maybe I should go the route of using these examples and some of the ones offered.


Trick Monsters have unusual effects that may help or hinder the players and are best when the players meet them multiple times. Examples:

  • Grue - Deals Ultimate damage, only exists in darkness. Accompanied by minions that attack light sources. (Introduce its minions first).
  • Golem healed by the spinning of the prayer wheels on its back. Patrols a windy mountain.
  • Monsters that explode. Especially when the explosion does something other than dealing damage, like destroy loot, covering things in fire/ice/ink, or drawing the attention of other monsters.
  • Monsters that incapacitate instead of killing. Sleep, Hallucinations, Dancing, Shrinking, Weightlessness, etc. Best when their method of incapacitation either has helpful uses or can be turned against other baddies.

Puzzle Monsters can be central to entire encounters or adventures. Many mythological classics (vampire, werewolf, etc.) are impossible to harm/kill without a specific material or tool. Others (like the hydra) have some gimmick that gives them such an overwhelming advantage you have to circumvent it to beat them. Some examples:

  • Pulgarasi - A monster that grows stronger when it eats metal. It can be driven away by fire, but its metal carapace is impenetrable.
  • Nymph - Any mortal who sees it falls hopelessly in love. Usually doesn’t have bad motives but it’s hard to save the world when you’re in love with a pond.
  • Nilbog - A cursed goblin that is healed by attacks and harmed by healing. Has other reversed effects. Funnier when the reversal is contagious.


Just had an idea inspired by troll Bridge.
What about a troll at a bridge… but the bridge is the monster. The troll is the only safe way across (not sure why, Magic item maybe). If the players try get across by bypassing the troll the bridge comes to life and tries to eat them.


And the troll knows this and is trying to warn them off.

“No bridge go.” (In my head, it sounds like the trolls from The Witcher 3.)

If you don’t kill it, you have an ally in the bridge fight.


Exactly, never judge a book by its cover.
Or troll, or bridge even.


Used a Nilbog in a D&D campaign. I could try something like that with my party.

I really like the Pulgarasi and Nymph.