New DF Profession: Monster Slayer

There was a discussion the other day on the GURPS discord on how to build a “monster slayer” in Dungeon Fantasy. My first thought (and I wasn’t alone in this) was “all delvers are monster slayers, aren’t they?”, but it was clear that the original question was about a delver specialized in hunting and exterminating dangerous beasts as most recently popularized by The Witcher. Two lines of advice were presented: just pick any of the more combative professions and give the character some appropriate skills like Naturalist, Physiology, Tracking and Traps, while the other was to look at Dungeon Fantasy 20: Slayers and create a new profession based on the three presented there. This piqued my interest so I gave it a go.

The three slayers from DF 20 are all fighter-types specialized for killing a rather narrow class of foes. They are similar to the holy warrior in that they don’t have access to Weapon Master, super-high weapon skills or huge strength, but compensate with specialized knowledge and exotic abilities potent against their chosen foe. To differentiate them from (and give an edge over) other professions that are traditionally also strong adversaries of these kinds of creatures, these abilities, while supernatural, aren’t magical or holy and otherwise don’t possess any kind of power modifier which would disable them in specific circumstances. This is attributed to the “power of their souls” gained through exotic means, harrowing experiences etc.

While I took a lot of the same cues, I decided against my Monster Slayer having similar supernatural abilities. His intended targets are broader in scope and have little in common aside from the general theme of “exotic monster” and being highly lethal, so it would be hard to find a proper theme for such special abilities other than the more generic magical ones. Since I wasn’t interested in developing a witcher analogue for DF, I decided on a more mundane approach.


The Monster Slayer

You are a delver specialized in exterminating dangerous creatures preying on civilized folk. Your quarry is for the most part quite “natural”, if rather exotic – you leave supernatural foes like demons, constructs and elementals to others. If the countryside is terrorized by an owlbear or a hydra prevents safe travel through the forest, you are there to save the day.

Specialized knowledge and gear, careful preparation, cunning and grit are the tools of your trade. You uncover, track down and eliminate some of the most lethal creatures out there. While you’re quite a capable warrior on your own, you prefer to stack fights in your favor using traps, surprise attacks and dirty tricks, especially since your battles occur on your quarry’s territory.

Monster Slayer Advantages

Foresight [5 or 10/level]

See Pyramid #3/53 p. 32-33. Monster slayers make thorough preparations in pursuit of their prey. Foresight facilitates this without requiring the same of the players. Some useful types of actions for the 5-point version include ambushes, getaways, research and survival (as described in Pyramid), or setting traps. A suggested limit for starting slayers is up to 30 points in any combination of Foresight, including Gizmos (see below).

Gizmos [5/level]

See B57 and Dungeon Fantasy 4: Sages p. 4. All items from the Monster Slayer Gear section below are considered appropriate to the Monster Slayer profession.

Heroic Reserves [3/level]

See Dungeon Fantasy 20: Slayers p. 5.

Higher Purpose (Slay Monsters) [5/level]

You get +1 per level on all attack, damage, defense and resistance rolls against all monsters belonging to the following classes: dire and giant animals (but not ordinary ones), hybrids, plants. You also get this bonus against members of the mundane class which are of SM +2 or larger, or display traditionally monstrous characteristics. Creatures like medusas, siege beasts, dragons, trolls, werewolves and “generic mouth-and-tentacles creatures” are all fair game, but orcs, dinomen and others which could be considered “people” (even when stretching that term to its limit) living in large, organized societies never are. Consult your GM.

You are not compelled to pursue every single qualifying creature, only those that prey on civilized folk (so friendly giants are exempt, for example). But if you ever avoid confrontation with such a creature, or back off from pursuing one you’ve engaged, your bonus turns into a penalty against all qualifying creatures until you slay either the original offender or another creature of the same or greater threat. Merely running away from a fight does not trigger this – strategic withdrawal is part of the job but until you slay your foe you must behave as if under an Obsession to slay it. If you resist the Obsession, the penalties kick in.

Slayer Training

See Dungeon Fantasy 11: Power-Ups p. 13. Monster slayers make good use of Slayer Swing at Neck [4/skill], Slayer Swing at Skull [5/skill] and Slayer Thrust to Vitals [3/skill].

Stalker [5/level]

See GURPS Power-Ups 3: Talents p. 15.

Utilitarian Naturalist [5/level]

You have a knack for understanding how living things work and exploiting their biology. You get +1 per level to the Cooking, Naturalist, Pharmacy (Herbal), Physiology, Poisons and Surgery skills. You also get +1 per level on Survival rolls to remove external parts from dead critters and field dress game.

Very Rapid Healing [15]

Use the version from DFRPG which lets you recover more HP every time you heal.

Monster Slayer Perks

Monster Slayers may buy as many of these perks as they will, and they don’t count against other perk limits.

Bane Brewer

See Pyramid #3/50 p. 33. You may only choose from the Animal, Hybrid, Mundane and Plant specialties.

Dirty Fighting

See GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 11: Power-Ups p. 11. Helps start fights by hitting monsters in sensitive hit locations from long range.

Finishing Move

See GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 11: Power-Ups p. 11. Synergizes well with Slayer Training.

Focused Fury

See GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 11: Power-Ups p. 18. Synergizes well with Finishing Move.

Reach Mastery

See GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 11: Power-Ups p. 11. Invaluable to slayers opting for Polearm or Two-Handed Axe/Mace.

Scent Masking

You minimize your bodily odor by maintaining a careful diet, and with adequate preparation you may fool the discerning sense of smell many monsters possess. After taking half an hour to smear yourself and your gear with local plants, soil and so on, you get +1 per level to use Stealth against creatures with Discriminatory Smell, and they get -1 per level to track you. You may take up to 5 levels of this perk.

Sure-Footed

See GURPS Power-Ups 2: Perks p. 8 or GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Denizens: Barbarians p. 18-19. Monster lairs often feature rough terrain, and this puts slayers on equal footing.

Planned Assassination

See Pyramid #3/50 p. 34. Your target must be a valid subject of Higher Purpose (Slay Monsters).

Practical Poisoner

See Pyramid #3/50 p. 34. Monsters tend to have high HT and HP, so slayers like to apply multiple doses of poison at once.

Monster Slayer Skills

You may learn Blind Fighting and Body Control without their usual prerequisites. Learned this way, Blind Fighting may only be used against living creatures, and Body Control only for affecting involuntary bodily functions or flushing poison.

Monster Slayer

Attributes: ST 13 [30]; DX 13 [60]; IQ 12 [40]; HT 12 [20].

Secondary Characteristics: Damage 1d/2d-1; BL 34 lbs.; HP 13 [0]; Will 12 [0]; Per 14 [10]; FP 12 [0]; Basic Speed 6.25 [0]; Basic Move 6 [0].

Advantages: Combat Reflexes [15]; Higher Purpose (Slay Monsters) [5]; Stalker 1 [5]; Utilitarian Naturalist 2 [10]; and either Danger Sense or Peripheral Vision, both [15], or 15 points chosen from any combination of Foresight and Gizmos. A further 40 points chosen from among ST +1 to +4 [10/level], DX +1 or +2 [20/level], IQ +1 or +2 [20/level], HT +1 to +4 [10/level], Per +1 to +6 [5/level], FP +1 to +4 [3/level], HP +1 to +4 [2/level], Basic Move +1 or +2 [5/level], Basic Speed +0.75 [15] or +1.75 [35], Acute Senses (any) [2/level], Damage Resistance (Tough Skin, -40%) 1-2 [3/level], Danger Sense [15], Enhanced Block 1 [5], Enhanced Dodge 1 [15], Enhanced Parry 1 (One Melee Weapon skill) [5], Extra Attack 1 [25], Fearlessness [2/level] or Unfazeable [15], Fit [5] or Very Fit [15], Foresight [5 or 10/level], Gizmos 1-3 [5/level], Hard to Kill [2/level], Hard to Subdue [2/level], Heroic Reserves 1-13 [3/level], High Pain Threshold [10], Higher Purpose 2-3 (Slay Monsters) [5/level], Luck [15] or Extraordinary Luck [30], Night Vision 1-9 [1/level], Peripheral Vision [15], Rapid Healing [5] or Very Rapid Healing [15], Recovery [10], Resistant to Disease (+3) or (+8) [3 or 5], Resistant to Poison (+3) or (+8) [5 or 7], Signature Gear [varies], Slayer Training [3-5/skill], Stalker 2-4 [5/level], Striking ST 1 or 2 [5/level], Striking ST 1 or 2 (Only on surprise attack, -60%) [2/level], Utilitarian Naturalist 3-4 [5/level], Weapon Bond [1], or more monster slayer perks.

Disadvantages: -50 points chosen from Bad Temper [-10*], Bloodlust [-10*], Callous [-5], Code of Honor (Soldier’s) [-10], Compulsive Vowing [-5], Greed [-15*], Honesty [-10*], Loner [-5*], No Sense of Humor [-10], Obsession (Monster-Hunting) [-10*], One Eye [-15], Overconfidence [-5*], Selfless [-5*], Sense of Duty (Adventuring Companions) [-5], Stubbornness [-5], Vow (Own no more than a horse can carry) [-10], or Wounded [-5].

Primary Skills: Naturalist, Physiology (Animals), Physiology (Hybrids), all (H) IQ+1 [2]-13‡; Physiology (Plants) (H) IQ+0 [1]-12‡. One of Crossbow or Thrown Weapon (Axe/Mace or Spear), both (E) DX+3 [4]-15; or Bow or Throwing, both (A) DX+2 [4]-14. One of these two melee skills packages:

  1. One of Polearm, Spear, Two-Handed Axe/Mace, or Two-Handed Sword, all (A) DX+4 [16]-17.
  2. One of Axe/Mace, Broadsword, or Spear, all (A) DX+3 [12]-16; – and Shield (E) DX+2 [4]-15.

Secondary Skills: One of Knife (E) DX+2 [4]-15; or Wrestling (A) DX+1 [4]-14. Navigation (Land) (A) IQ+0 [1]-12§; Observation (A) Per+0 [4]-14; Poisons (H) IQ+0 [1]-12‡; Stealth (A) DX+1 [2]-14§; Survival (Any) (A) Per-1 [1]-13; Tactics (H) IQ-2 [1]-10; Tracking (A) Per+0 [1]-14§; Traps (A) IQ+0 [2]-12.

Background Skills: Spend 8 points among Area Knowledge (Any), Connoisseur (Weapons), Current Affairs, First Aid, or Gesture, all (E) IQ+0 [1]-12; Armoury (Any), Interrogation, Merchant, or Research, all (A) IQ-1 [1]-11; Blind Fighting (VH) Per-3 [1]-11; Boating, Boxing, Climbing, Riding (Horse), or Throwing, all (A) DX-1 [1]-12; Body Control (VH) HT-3 [1]-9; Brawling, Forced Entry, or Knot-Tying, all (E) DX+0 [1]-13; Fast-Draw (Any) (E) DX+1 [1]-14#; Camouflage (E) IQ+1 [1]-13§; Carousing or Swimming, both (E) HT+0 [1]-12; Hiking (A) HT+0 [1]-12§; Intimidation (A) Will-1 [1]-11; Mimicry (Animal Sounds) (H) IQ-2 [1]-10; Net (H) DX-2 [1]-11; Scrounging (E) Per+0 [1]-14; Search (A) Per-1 [1]-13; Surgery (VH) IQ-1 [1]-11‡; or to improve primary or secondary skills.

* Multiplied for self-control number, see B120.
† On hearing of or encountering a monster as defined per Higher Purpose, make a self-control roll. Failure means you have to track it down and slay it. Also roll whenever an intelligent monster communicates with you. Failure means you treat everything it says as lies.
‡ Includes +2 from Utilitarian Naturalist
§ Includes +1 from Stalker.
# Includes +1 from Combat Reflexes.

Customization Notes

Being caught off guard by their quarry means death for a monster slayer, which is reflected in the required choice of advantages. Beyond that, an ideal slayer should be strong, tough, cunning, observant, well prepared and skilled at arms – it’s hard to be all of that at once, so individual slayers specialize. Increased ST and DX, Enhanced Defenses, Extra Attack, Finishing Move, High Pain Threshold, Slayer Training, Striking ST and Weapon Bond help in direct combat. Increased Perception, Acute Senses, Danger Sense, Night Vision, Stalker, Peripheral Vision, Camouflage, Scent Masking, Stealth and Observation help the slayer get the drop on the monsters and not the other way around. Bane Brewer, Foresight, Gizmos, Naturalist, Observation, Physiology, Planned Assassination, Poisons, Practical Poisoner, Research and Traps stack the deck in the slayer’s favor. Increased HT, Hard to Kill and Subdue, Luck, Rapid or Very Rapid Healing, Recovery, Resistant and Tough Skin help the slayer survive.

Slayers prefer cutting and impaling weapons since their targets are generally fleshy and chopping off important bits or striking at vital points is the quickest way to victory. Many prefer to have both in a single weapon so Broadsword, Polearm (for use with dueling varieties) and Two-Handed Sword are the most popular weapon skills, but some choose Axe/Mace, Spear or Two-Handed Axe/Mace instead. Crushing weapons are specialty tools most often used by those already favoring axes or polearms. Most slayers use two-handed weapons because they hit the hardest and are more convenient to use along other tools, but some prefer a shield and a one-handed weapon because monsters hit hard as well. All slayers will want to start an engagement with a ranged weapon; Crossbow or Thrown Weapon (laced with poison!) if they prefer a single hard hit and then to wade into melee, or Bow if they like to keep their distance as long as possible. Knife or Wrestling are indispensable since many monsters like to grapple.

Slayers come from many different backgrounds. Some are consummate professionals and protectors of innocents with Code of Honor, Honesty or Selfless, while others are self-centered brutes with Bloodlust, Callous or Greed. Many are Loners, or scarred by their experiences with No Sense of Humor, One Eye, or Wounded.

The selection of supporting skills is wide. Area Knowledge, Boating, Climbing, Survival and Swimming help the slayer traverse the wilderness to their quarry. Carousing and Current Affairs let them learn of monsters plaguing the locals. Interrogation lets slayers question their more intelligent victims if they have friends or relatives nearby, while Forced Entry helps break into their lairs. Merchant is crucial for slayers who want to get paid for their work, while Surgery and Survival lets them extract valuable bits from their prey. Knot Tying and Net help capture monsters alive.

Slayers often trade the 5 quirk points for cash for weapons and armor, but are also likely to spend them on more Foresight, Gizmos, Higher Purpose, Slayer Training, Stalker, Tough Skin, Utilitarian Naturalist, perks, or for improving skills.

Monster Slayer Power-Ups

Monster Slayers can already choose a wide repertoire of abilities at start, and they mostly become better by becoming more versatile. They can also simply get more of certain traits.

  • Any combination of Foresight and Gizmos up to 60 points [5 or 10/level].
  • Enhanced Block up to 2 [5/level].
  • Enhanced Dodge up to 2 [15/level].
  • Enhanced Parry (One Melee Weapon skill) up to 2 [5/level].
  • Heroic Reserves up to 20 [3/level].
  • Immune to Poison [15].
  • Monster Slayer perks.
  • Ridiculous Luck [60].
  • Stalker up to 6 [5/level].
  • Striking ST 1-10 (Only on surprise attack, -60%) [2/level].
  • Utilitarian Naturalist up to 6 [5/level].

Monster Slayer Gear

Monster slayers use a variety of special gear to stack the deck in their favor. Here is a list compiled from various GURPS Dungeon Fantasy supplements.

  • Acid (Adventurers, p. 28). For use against monsters whose Regeneration, Regrowth etc is foiled by acid.
  • Alchemist’s fire (Adventurers, p. 28). Like acid, but against monsters susceptible to fire.
  • Anti-Toxin (Adventurers p. 28). Can be produced with Gizmos when you can afford several minutes of delay in neutralizing the venom.
  • Bane (Treasure Tables p. 37). Toxin tailored to a specific species. Packs a decent punch and slayers can produce it with Gizmos.
  • Bladeblack (Adventurers p. 28). For taking out the toughest of monsters.
  • Blinding Gas (Ninja p. 15). Even though many monsters have Discriminatory Smell, a monster that can only smell you is better than one that can both see and smell you.
  • Caltrops (Adventurers p. 25). Good for hit and run tactics when you didn’t prepare a trap.
  • Fire Resistance Potion (Adventurers p. 29). Recommended against fire-breathing monsters.
  • Manuals (Sages, p. 13). Fine or very fine versions are useful for various knowledge skills in the slayer’s repertoire.
  • Mind Fog (Ninja p. 15). A clumsy monster is a greater threat than a blind or paralyzed one, but mind fog has the advantage of affecting its targets even on a successful HT roll.
  • Mirrored shields (Adventurers p.27). For use against monsters with gaze attacks.
  • Monster Drool (Adventurers p. 28). Weak poison which makes a poor choice for Gizmos, but potent and still cheap when applied in quadruple doses.
  • Monster shackles. Massive ones used by slayers who keep their prey alive. DR 8, HP 20. $1600, 16 lbs. Large enough for up to SM+1 monsters; double the cost and weight per SM above that, and multiply HP by x1.25.
  • Nageteppo (Adventurers, p. 25). Budget alternative to blinding gas. Can be gizmoed to boot.
  • Necromantic Preservative (Treasure Tables p. 24). Keeps dead monster bits fresh.
  • Paralytic Slime (Ninja p. 15). For when you need the monster alive or do not wish to invest in bladeblack.
  • Salamander Amulet (Adventurers p. 30). Crucial for slayers specializing in fire-breathing monsters.
  • Serpent’s Amulet (Adventurers p. 30). Used by slayers who didn’t invest in Immune to Poison and tired of guzzling antidotes.
  • Silver weapons (Adventurers p.27). For use against monsters with Vulnerability to silver.
  • Slippery Oil (Treasure Tables p. 23). Helps to escape the grasp of grabby monsters.
  • Spiked armor (Adventurers, p. 27). Makes grabby monsters regret grabbing you.
  • Thieves’ Oil (Adventurers p. 29). A more expensive version of slippery oil with no downsides.
  • Traps (Adventurers p. 26). An immobilized, grappled monster is much easier to deal with. Two variants are available to slayers in addition to ones from Adventurers. Large monster trap: 2d+1 cr, ST 24; $720, 25 lbs. Humongous monster trap: 4d+1 cr, ST 40. $2000, 70 lbs. Fine versions are available as well for double the cost: increase the damage and ST of the mini and man trap by 1, monster and large monster trap by 2, and humongous monster trap by 4.
  • Universal Antidote (Adventurers p. 29). For the nastiest of poisons when you don’t have the luxury to wait for an anti-toxin to take effect.
  • Wolfsbane (Adventurers p. 28). Slayers can use this to keep lycanthropes at bay and pepper them with ranged attacks.

Heroic Power Items

See Dungeon Fantasy 20: Slayers p. 21. These function as power items whose energy can be spent like Heroic Reserves.