Insidious Hunger

Insidious Hunger

This enemy exudes an aura of gluttony and everhunger. Each time you are attacked by this enemy, gain 1 craving. Whenever a move would have you consume a ration, such as Make Camp or Undertake a Perilous Journey, consume an additional ration and reduce your craving by 1. You must consume at least 1 ration to reduce your craving. If you ever go a day without eating while you have any craving, lose all craving and gain an appetite for sentient flesh.

You can view this move here on Vin Moves and here on GitHub.

The first note I had for this move was simply “something with rations?” and it grew from there. It originally would require you to consume a ration mid-combat or accrue a penalty, but that felt like it would be very clumsy in a fight. This version doesn’t affect combat as much, aside from giving you an extra reason to avoid an attack.

I had a bit of trouble trying to make it clear that moves like the Druid’s By Nature Sustained didn’t make you exempt from the craving. Eventually I settled on the single sentence in the middle “You must consume at least 1 ration to reduce your craving” which I think makes it clear.

The negative effect here at the end here I think is pretty interesting, but the move could substitute that with almost anything. Like most of my moves I started with you just taking damage, but this is more compelling to me. I also had “appetite for human flesh” to start, but then I remembered elves and dwarves.

I’d like to throw this into my game just to give a little bit more power to rations. They’re something that generally goes forgotten in my groups. That is almost entirely my fault for not being strict on them, but I think if some of the players get a couple points of craving I’ll be more inclined to double check their ration levels.

Monstercat Adventures Ep. 3 Recap


  • Shank (Amanda): a thief who throws daggers
  • Hisho (Thomas): a cleric who smashes heads
  • Grom (Bill): a half-orc fighter with an axe named Ghostbane
  • Galadiir (Dan): a strong looking wizard who steals swords
  • Oaky (Sean): an androgynous elf druid with dreamy eyes

Third Session

Our band of intrepid adventurers continue through The Hollow Forest, following the Elven ghost of Galloway as he searches for his wife. They hope to follow Galloway back to the last place he remembers, the forgotten city of Imfalon, whose location is as unknown as its veracity is doubted. There they hope to find memorable treasures, ones like the magical sword freshly stolen by Galadiir.

It is on this journey that Grom, the half-orc fighter, becomes restless and charges ahead of the group headlong into a procession of frightened and battered human refugees. Their leader, a half-orc blacksmith by the name of Thordock, explains how the village of Olto that he and those with him call home came under attack by a large horde of elven zombies. He asks Grom and the rest of his party for aid.

The group splits up, with Grom and Galadiir making their way straight to the village, moving stealthily. This lasts until Galadiir trips on his sword and swears, attracting the attention of a large horde of elven zombies being herded by a decapitated horseman, whose severed head laughs maniacally as he swings it around on the end of a chain. Seeing this, Oaky begins transforming into an Owlbear and heading down to help his fellow adventurers.

The rest of the group – Hoshi, Shank, and Thordock – sneak around the zombie horde and into the village or Orto itself. A few straggler zombies give them some trouble before Hoshi uses his divine power to cast Turn Undead and sends them fleeing.

Eventually the zombie horde and its headless horseman leader is defeated. The party is presented with tokens from Thordock that they can present to any resident of Orto to show that they helped save the town.

Some highlights from the night

  • Grom chopping down a tree and having it fall onto the approaching zombies
  • Shank throwing kitchen knife after kitchen knife at everything around her
  • Shank throwing her short sword into the neckhole of the horseman when she ran out of knives to throw
  • Grom whirlwinding into a group of ten zombies and nearly passing into the Black Gates of death
  • Oaky saving Grom by going zombie bowling as a giant Owlbear
  • Oaky transforming into a wee little pig to catch the fleeing horseman
  • Hoshi smashing the severed head of the headless horseman, releasing the evil spirit within
  • Hoshi having that same spriti fly into his body
  • Galadiir pouring a health potion into Grom’s mouth while he lay nearly dead before charging sword first into more zombies
  • Grom finding a Blinking Coin that when flipped in the air will teleport you to a location you name
  • Grom saying “the Moon”, flipping the coin, and disappearing before the party’s eyes



When you deal 7 or more damage to this enemy in a single attack, the shimmering aura around it crackles and lashes out with tendrils of arcane energy at you and anyone with reach range of you. If you are caught in the counter-attack describe how you defy it and roll+STAT. On a 10+  you avoid the attack entirely. On a 7-9 choose 1. On a 6- the GM will also choose one:

  • You take the damage that activated the aura
  • The damage required to activate this aura is reduced by 1
  • The enemy negates the damage. This can only be taken once per counter-attack

You can view this move here on Vin Moves and here on GitHub.

Retaliatory + Aura = Retaliataura

This move plays off something I’ve touched on in previous moves which is adding a bit of doubt into character’s attacks. Perhaps hitting the enemy right now as hard as I can might not actually be the best move?

The move here is another one that has two triggers to it. The first is dealing damage over a certain number. I’ve started with 7, but this can and should obviously be adjusted based on the strength of the party. I specified a single attack here instead of a single roll. I hope this is clear that it’s the addition of all dice involved and any damage bonuses. For example a Wizard rolling 2d4 for magic missile can trigger this move because you add the dice together.

The second trigger is slightly open to interpretation to the GM based on how close everyone is. The only guarantee is that the person who hit the damage threshold definitely gets attacked. For the stat here I’ve left it open ended and even explicitly used the word defin the move to make it clear that players are basically doing a Defy Danger here, but the results are explicitly stated in the move.

For the results that you get here I think I’ve got a good mix of tough choices. The only thing that troubles me here is the damage negation option, as its something that only one person can take even if three people roll poorly on this move. I’ve clarified that in the option, but the extra wording seems a bit clunky to me. The other two options give you a choice between “bad thing now” and “more bad things later”. Having the damage you take be equal to what the player rolled is kind of neat to me as well.

Evil Lair

Evil Lair

When you set out to learn about this enemys’s lair, describe how and roll+STAT. On a 10+ choose 3, on a 7-9 choose 1.

  • You learn the location of its secret entrance
  • You know what monsters protect it and their stats
  • You learn of a trap including location, trigger, and effect
  • You learn of a hidden treasure and its location

You can view this move here on Vin Moves and here on GitHub.

This move is reminiscent of the Famous Weapon move I wrote previously, in that you roll it before meeting the enemy and your rolls build a part of that enemy for you.

I’m open to suggestions on the different results, but I think I have a good base here. Each option has its bonuses, and I hope that it’s clear that when you pick one option that the others are closed to you. So if you decide to learn of the hidden treasure, you don’t learn of the secret entrance.

One thing that could be more clear here is having multiple members of the party roll on it. Other moves that I’ve written for Vin Moves have triggers that single out a specific party member. This one is a little more open, and would technically allow for multiple players to roll separately for it. I’m going to leave it like that for now and put the decision to the GM.

Volatile Growths

Volatile Growths

While in the presence of this enemy, every time you get a 6 on a die while rolling a move you can either keep the 6 or reroll that die. If you keep the 6 this enemy develops 1 pulsing growth on their body that seethes with magical energy. When this enemy dies its growths explode in a cascade of magical energy, if you are caught in the blast roll+CON and subtract the number of growths that exploded. On a 10+ you are unaffected, on a 7-9 choose 1, on a 6- the GM will also choose one.

  • You take b[2d8] damage
  • You gain a new debility of your choice
  • Something you carry, the GM will tell you what, is destroyed

You can view this move here on Vin Moves and here on GitHub.

This move has one mechanic that I quite like which is having players decide whether to keep a rolled 6 or not, knowing that keeping it could lead to some nasty results. It combines a couple things I really like in my games: risk/reward scenarios and rerolling dice.

The original version of this move had the blast from the dying creature simply deal damage based on the number of bubbles that exploded. So if the monster had 3 nodules and you killed it, everyone took 3d8 damage. Functional, but a little boring.

With the addition of the roll+CON-nodules mechanic makes things a little more intersting. The options I have in the list are just hard moves that the GM can make as normal on a 6-, so they aren’t terribly interesting, but they’re better than straight damage. I’d like to expand them to be a bit more fiction based but for now they do fine.

Subtracting the number of nodules from your roll is similar to what I did with the Heresy World Health/Wounds system I wrote where you subtract the number of critical wounds you have from your roll. Subtracting from your rolls adds a tiny bit more math, but I think the mechanic here enforces the narrative; the more nodules there are the more dangerous this enemy is.

One thing that might change after more playtesting is the trigger for nodule growth, namely whether this happens too often or too rarely. If needed it might worth forcing the choice of rerolling or not onto a 5 as well.

Haunting Spirit

Haunting Spirit

When you deal the killing blow to this enemy, its haunting spirit escapes from the corpse and screams into your body, roll+WIS. On a 10+ the spirit has a tenuous grasp on you, it will trouble your dreams. On a 7-9 the same, but the spirit also haunts your waking life and will occasionally speak to you. On a 6- the spirit might briefly take control of you during moments of weakness. The spirit will stay with you until an appropriate ritual is performed to expel it.

You can view this move here on Vin Moves and here on GitHub.

This one comes from my recent rewatch of Supernatural. I like that this move is all fiction and not mechanics. One thing I’m not sure of is the 6- result. Having something take control of you might be too much, so I’m considering changing it to the spirit can affect the world around you like a poltergeist. This gives you a neat move to make on failed roll at least.

Fueled by Pain

Fueled by Pain

This enemy revels in its own pain. Whenever this enemy takes damage, including self-inflicted damage, it becomes visibly more dangerous and increases its damage die size by one. If its damage is already at d20, add an additional d20 to its rolls and take the highest. If this enemy goes for a minute without taking or dealing damage, or is healed, its damage die resets to its original size.

You can view this move here on Vin Moves and here on GitHub.

What I like about this move is that introduces something to the fight that I half remember hearing the developers of Left 4 Dead talking about: it’s not always smart to hurt the bad guy. In Left 4 Dead this applies to the Boomer, because killing him while he’s next to you will get you covered in bile.

This idea is kind of present in Fueled by Pain, cause it almost always makes sense to kill the dude, but sometimes it might be worth trying something other than hitting him if you’re not going to be doing a lot of damage. I also like the idea of healing an enemy being a good thing.

I hope that the talk of damage die size and adding dice to the roll is clear in this move, but it might benefit from examples. To explain further here, if a monster has damage of d10+2 and they take damage, their damage becomes d12+2. After that it will be d20+2 then b[2d20]+2 then b[3d20]+2. If at any point you avoid taking or dealing damage to them, or you heal them, their damage would go back to d10+2.

One cool little piece I’ve added is just the line “including self-inflicted damage” which I think gives the GM a badass way to point to a looming threat. The enemy could cut themselves across the arm and then grow fangs, or stab their dagger into their gut and pull it out covered in new spikes.

Compelled Betrayal

Compelled Betrayal

When this enemy manipulates your mind so you think another member of your party is your sworn enemy you can either succumb to the spell or rebel against it. If you fight off the effect, roll+WIS. On a 10+ choose 1, on a 7-9 choose 2, on a 6- choose 2 in addition to what the GM says:

  • It causes considerable mental pain, take 1d8 damage ignoring armor
  • You gain the Confused debility
  • You gain the Stunned debility
  • You must concentrate, and open yourself up to attack, the GM will tell you how

If you succumb to the compulsion and attack your ally you both mark XP and you roll+Bond with them. On a 10+ choose two, on a 7-9 choose one, on a 6- the GM will choose one:

  • You manage to call out a warning
  • The effect ends immediately if you take damage
  • The effect ends immediately if you deal damage to them
  • The effect will end after about a minute

You can view this move here on Vin Moves and here on GitHub.

This move is a two-parter, where you roll one of two different sub-moves depending on your decision. When it comes to mind control moves I think it’s good to give players at least some control over it. With this move they get to decide whether the mind control even happens.

I’m stealing an idea I heard on the Discern Realities podcast about mind control, which is giving the players XP if they decide to play into it. I think it’s a cool little mechanic to nudge players into an interesting scene, even if their characters would probably be better off if they didn’t do it.

The negative options for the fight it off move could probably use some work, but I think they fit thematically pretty well. My worry is that they won’t be harsh enough and that everyone will always choose to fight it off. If that’s the case I could always increase the number you pick so 10+ is 2, 7-9 is 3, and 6- is GM choose 3.

I like the negative options on the succumb and attack submove in theory, but playtesting might reveal their flaws. My idea is that you can pick different ways to end the effect, but each one means someone different is likely to get hurt.

Illusionary Defense

Illusionary Defense

When this enemy first feels itself threatened it creates two near-identical copies of itself. These copies deal the same damage, but have half the enemy’s current health and no armor. If you are the party member who got the best look at this enemy, roll+WIS. On a 10+ you know what to look for to distinguish the two illusions, describe the tell. On a 7-9 the same, but only one of the illusions has this tell.

View this move here on Vin Moves and here on GitHub.

This move is a classic in boss fights, and one I’ve used before without the custom move to go with it. This move kind of has two triggers to it, one to trigger the creation of the illusions, which is up to the GM, and the other to determine who rolls. I like the second trigger as it makes it clear that only one player rolls, but deciding who that is is left to the table to decide.

The difference between the 10+ and 7-9 results here is pretty small, I hope it makes the results feel different enough. I’m open to suggestions on different results, but I like the idea of the move giving the characters some way to target the right illusion.

It’s not mentioned in the move, and perhaps it should be, but my intention is that when the enemy is defeated the illusions dissipate. A single line describing that might be needed.

Statting the illusions is also something I’m not too sure about. Because they’re illusions I gave them less HP, but that might make them too weak. The move should be about finding the right guy, not about quickly killing the illusions because they die in one pop. Play testing will be what decides this I think.



This foe has placed their soul into a magical item, protecting them from Death. The only way to kill them completely is to break the item and destroy the soul within. When you destroy the soul container to try to kill the soul inside this foe is killed outright but you are caught in the vengeful backlash of Death itself, roll+CON. On a 10+ you take -1 forward to Last Breath. On a 7-9 you take -1 ongoing to Last Breath until you can break this curse. On a 6- you roll Last Breath immediately.

You can view this move here on Vin Moves and here on GitHub.

Horcux, anyone? I really wanted to write a move that involved Last Breath, but it needed to be something the players were aware of before they triggered the move. Having a player automatically roll Last Breath is the hardest of hard moves, so I wanted the player to know what they were getting into before trying to trigger the move. The potential result also needed to be worth the risk.

To address the first point, I wanted to write the trigger such that the move couldn’t be triggered by accident. If you find the crystal ball that holds the soul and you don’t know the soul is inside, it wouldn’t be fair to suddenly have the player roll this move simply because they dropped the ball into the trash and it shattered. Adding “to try to kill the soul inside” made it more explicit.

For the second point I think I’ve made the reward pretty good here: you win. The key thing will be making sure that the Soulbox is actually a viable option when fighting this enemy. No point in going on wild Harry Potter chase for a tiara or locket if you can just hit the guy in the face with a hammer and call it a day.

I’m not entirely sure about the difference between the 7-9 and 6- results. I like rolling Last Breath immediately but I’m not sure about -1 ongoing. -1 ongoing seems almost harsher, depending on how many times you end up rolling Last Breath.