There are a lot of settings that need good monsters: medieval fantasy, modern horror, post-apocalyptic science fiction, space opera, and even super hero to name a few. Monsters are a huge part of our mythology, and as such they can be found in just about every game.
Fate Core does not have its own monster manual because it is a generic system that can be easily applied to any genre we want to play in. So where do we get our ideas for monsters? Well there are plenty in Fate-based games: Dresden Files, Atomic Robo, and so on. But you can also pull them from other sources. My personal favorite place lately has been the D&D monster manual.
Dungeons & Dragons is one of the oldest, most popular, and most worked-on games in our industry. There is a lot of tradition that goes with these monsters, and each has been carefully fleshed out to allow insertion into our games. While the basic stats need some conversion (we’ll get to that in a moment), the creatures themselves are easily inserted into any story.
There are many types of D&D games, so there are many types of monsters that can be pulled. Goblins and orcs are popular choices for fantasy games. Aberrations make great scary aliens. Devils and demons are great for horror genres. There is some great inspiration to be had.
Even players that grew up with D&D have probably not encountered every monster in the basic 5th edition monster manual. And just like any game, you can tweak the monsters to better fit your campaign. Have red slaadi only be a couple feet tall for gremlin-like horrors. Make owlbears the result of government genetic experimentation.
Stats in the monster manual are for D&D, not Fate. A monster that gets +14 to its attack is going to kill everything in one go. So some adjustment is necessary. The easiest thing to do here is build a character from mechanical scratch that matches the level your players are at and then flesh it out based on the monster’s abilities.
For example, an easy monster that starting PCs are going to plow through groups of would only have a couple stress boxes and maybe a +1 to attack or defense. A challenging boss would have a +3 bonus, 4 tracks of stress, and be able to take a consequence or 2. Your final boss type monster would have +5 or +6 bonus to attack and defense, 6 stress boxes, 4 consequence slots, and some stunt that makes them immune to mundane attacks.
As for the monsters’ special abilities, those can be stunts or just aspects. A monster that is resistant to lighting damage, for example, probably just needs an aspect that it can tap to boost its defense. A monster that likes to set traps can do so with an aspect and a “create an advantage” roll. Charming or grappling can be consequences from mental or physical attacks respectively. Breath weapons or other attack spells can be stunts that allow the monster to attack multiple creatures at once.
Unless you are running a lighthearted one-shot, try to avoid telling your players “oh, this is a flying snake that I just let levitate instead of use wings” for example. Monsters are more fun to deal with when they have a bit of mystery. Many players enjoy discovering creatures, even those not interested in combat.
Instead describe appearance when they first see the monster and see what conclusion they come up with themselves. Give some details about how a new monster moves, what it seems to be trying to accomplish when it takes an action, and how it attacks the PCs if it comes to that. Have PCs roll a check when they are touched, hurt, or even stared at by the monster.
There are plenty of other games you can pull monsters from: Shadowrun, Dragon Age, Sentinels of the Multiverse, Traveler. Really you can pull monsters from anywhere and put them in your game. That’s one of the perks to it being YOUR game. All you really have to worry about is having it make sense for your story.
Like everything else, communicate with your players. If they are getting tired of a monster of the week, try to take the story in a different direction. If they are ready for a big surprise, drop a dragon on them. Remember that it is YOUR game, but that is a plural YOUR.
If you have a favorite monster or encounter you’d like to share with us, please do? Or if you have questions about specific conversions or hairstyles, let us know those too!