Some monsters are bags of hit points, and it can be fun to stand around and hit them until they explode into XP. But if a monster has a weak point—some trick to exploit—an encounter takes on a new feel.
Monster weaknesses can deepen an encounter, making it more fun and more memorable. Let’s take a look at how those are implemented, and try out some new ideas with Tome of Beasts 3 monsters (the PDF is now available in the Kobold store!)
This time we’ll discuss social weaknesses, getting around monsters without having to go through them.
If this is all new to you, check the first installment of Monster Weaknesses for more explanation.
What are Social Weaknesses?
Social weaknesses are meant to make roleplay more rewarding or provide hooks to involve the player characters to interact more thoughtfully with NPCs. These weaknesses can provide advantage on Charisma checks, help avoid combat, or help characters extract information from NPCs. Social weaknesses require a bit of finesse from the GM. Consider these things when adding a social weakness.
It’s Not Mind Control. No matter how many bonuses a character has to Charisma, NPCs still have their own free will and goals. If the characters have advantage on a Charisma (Persuasion) check, but ask something of a creature that it would never do in its right mind, you may not even want to ask for a roll. Even if you knew a wealthy merchant’s favorite tea and were extremely persuasive, she would never give you all her coin, no matter how charming you were.
Your World, Your Rules. Not every weakness works all the time, and different creatures (particularly Humanoids) have different cultures at every table. Furthermore, every civilization and culture is full of unique individuals (maybe not very single puffinfolk likes fish). Feel free to omit or change anything that doesn’t work in your setting.
Fool Me Once. Many social weaknesses fail if used repeatedly or carelessly. If the party provides false evidence to an old salt to gain advantage on a Charisma (Deception) check to get it to leave town, it won’t fall for this trick again when it discovers it has been fooled. If the party makes a blatant lie in front of a veritigibbet, not even a forked tongue will save them from scrutiny.
The following seven social weaknesses are based on creature descriptions in Tome of Beasts 3. Add these traits to a creature’s existing stat block or use them to inspire your own.
These powerful clerics are often associated with churches or shrines in areas of civilization. An apostle would be more trusting of those who (appear to) follow their faith.
Trust in the Faith. The apostle has disadvantage on Wisdom (Insight) checks against creatures that wear the holy symbols of its god.
These bearfolk bards are highly perceptive, but you might sneak by while they revel in song and dance.
Lost in Dance. While dancing with a partner, the bearfolk has disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight or hearing. Creatures proficient in a percussion instrument have advantage on Charisma checks to convince the bearfolk to dance.
These tiny Fey with humanoid-like appearances sometimes live within mortal communities, but brownie beastriders in particular tend to live in the wilds.
Friend of the Wilds. Creatures traveling with an animal companion or familiar have advantage on Charisma (Persuasion) checks to move peacefully through brownie-protected lands.
These Undead sailors were wrongly convicted of a crime and now seek to kill their accusers. The old salt is so focused on this goal that it might spare those who (appear to) help its quest.
Vengeance. Creatures have advantage on Charisma checks to cease hostilities with an old salt when presenting evidence of its accuser’s whereabouts.
Reformed trickster Elementals, peri were banished from the elemental planes to repent. However, the way of the trickster isn’t forgotten so easily.
Trickster Regression. If a creature successfully fools or pranks the peri, the peri must succeed on a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw or be charmed by the creature for 1 hour.
These Humanoid puffin people love fish! Clever adventurers can use this to their advantage.
Fishing for Friendship. Creatures have advantage on Charisma checks to gain the puffinfolk’s aid when offering the puffinfolk at least 10 pounds of fresh fish.
These lie-detecting Fey could be troublesome for a band of adventurers trying to convince an archfey of something while keeping their cards close to their chests. What if there were a way to beat the lie detector?
Serpent’s Secrets. The veritigibbet does not benefit from its Fortissimo Fibber trait against creatures with a forked tongue (either natural, through transformation, or through mutilation).
The next blog post will include tips for designing your own monster weaknesses and several more examples for monsters in Tome of Beasts 3!