FlexAI: Dynamic Monster & NPC Rules, Plus Bestiary for RPGs
Rules and tables to drive contextual, dynamic AI behavior for monsters and NPCs in any tabletop roleplaying game (Pathfinder/5E+ more).
This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Tue, May 28 2019 1:00 PM UTC +00:00.
FlexAI is a tool to simulate dynamic, appropriate creature behavior in a combat encounter. It can easily be used in seconds to dictate or suggest monster or NPC actions for Pathfinder, Fifth Edition, or, really, ANY tabletop roleplaying game, in any genre.
If you're interested in this concept, and/or want 6,400 full statblocks with this concept build right into them, read onward.
Free FlexAI Rules & Preview
Let me cut to the chase, here: the core of FlexAI is A) finished, B) published, and C) free; you can download it here.
Wait a Minute--This is Already Published, and Free? Then Why Should I Pledge?
- Because you want more than a single creature/battlefield scenario of rules--you want all 300 of them!
- Because you want flexible, easy-to-follow rules for making your own monster intelligence and tables.
- Because you want to be able to use cards (see below), not just dice, to randomize AI outcomes.
- Because you want a hardcopy version at a massively discounted price.
- Because you're a good person, and/or you realize that pledging helps me build more awesome stuff. :)
- Because you missed the kickstarters for the forthcoming Aquilae: Bestiary of the Realm, and you want to get a hold of 1,600 fully Quad-Statted monsters, each with full FlexAI profiles and immediately usable in any gaming session of any difficulty.
What Is FlexAI?
FlexAI is a concept that arose as a Stretch Goal from the Aquilae: Bestiary of the Realm (ABR) Kickstarter effort. It's an extension of FlexTale, the set of tools and concepts that drive most Infinium Game Studio products. The goal of all of this is to give the DM/GM tools and resources to minimize prep time and make each gaming experience dynamic, interesting, and new.
Simulating monster behavior is not a brand-new concept. The FlexAI approach, however, is the culmination of more than three decades of tabletop roleplaying, game design, and indie RPG content creation. Which is not to say that it's perfect... but it has had a hell of a lot of energy and time and playtesting put into its development.
FlexAI was developed for use with the Pathfinder and 5E rules systems, and there is some very scattered system-specific rules language.
That said, the mechanics and approach of FlexAI can be used in any tabletop roleplaying game system.
What is This Project?
FlexAI has already been developed in support of the ABR books. Each of the 1,600 monsters will have a FlexAI profile to drive behavior.
When I first designed FlexAI, it was meant as a ~5 page preamble that could be included in each of the ABR books. However, in playtesting, several additional features and wrinkles were identified as useful.
This project recognizes the evolution of FlexAI into a much more comprehensive gaming tool, and that it has expanded from a 5 page introduction into a 300-page massively thorough tool.
Those who use Aquilae: Bestiary of the Realm will already receive the full FlexAI rules. This Kickstarter is in response to backer request to publish those rules in a hardcopy format for ease of reference.
How Does FlexAI Work?
There are three ways to use FlexAI: Simple, Full, and Advanced.
How Does FlexAI Work: Simple Use
Roll a single die, and refer to a single table. Very easy and quick. The drawback is that it doesn't take into account what creature is fighting, or its current condition.
This approach is so straightforward, I can summarize it with a single table that I believe makes sense even without context.
How Does FlexAI Work: Normal Use
To determine a creature's context-appropriate, dynamically-determined actions in a combat encounter, FlexAI uses three things:
- 1: The creature's combat ROLE.
- 2: The creature's current combat STANCE.
- 3: The FLEXTABLE appropriate for that combination and that monster.
Once you have the above three elements, a single quick dice roll gives you your answer.
How Does FlexAI Work: Advanced Rules
Not enough fun variability in combat for you? The FlexAI Advanced Rules provide additional fun in the form of the possibility of Surges and Lulls.
Surges are temporary bonuses, benefits to a creature that reflect its varying performance in combat.
Lulls are the opposite: drawbacks, handicaps, and penalties that temporarily apply to a creature while it is fighting.
Advanced Rules allow for contextually-appropriate uses of these concepts across a wide range of creature and battlefield conditions. All with no more than a single dice roll!
What is Aquilae: Bestiary of the Realm?
Aquilae: Bestiary of the Realm (ABR) is the single largest and most ambitions fantasy RPG bestiary ever conceived. The core work of the product is complete; I have a few things to clean up in the pipeline of committed work, and then I start laying ABR out as my main focus.
ABR is a massive six-volume, hardcover or PDF bookshelf of 1,600 monsters, each Quad-Statted to support use in a wide range of difficulty ranges and PC level. These are OGL monsters: those from the published Pathfinder bestiaries, completely revamped and quad-statted for use in any gaming group with PCs of any level.
That's 6,400 complete monster statblocks, ready to use in any Pathfinder or 5E campaign, with PCs of a wide range of levels and difficulties.
The premise here, and underlying all of Infinium Game Studio products, is that an adventure, magic item, monster, or NPC should be flexible, and usable in a gaming context with PCs of any level, ideally.
Check out this free PDF explaining the concept in greater detail.
Below please find examples from both Pathfinder and 5E presentations to get a feel for what the result looks like. Please note that for the ABR books, the output will look different--for example, each monster gets a FlexAI profile as well.
I welcome backer suggestions as to how to make the results of this campaign more exciting and rewarding to us all. Drop me a message or comment if you have an innovative idea--many of the more exciting Stretch Goals I've included in my campaigns have come from backer ideas!
- $1,500: FlexAI Cards: Rolling dice is great, but there are those who prefer drawing cards to assert their randomness. I've prototyped some cards that would do the job, and I'm thrilled with the quality that DriveThruCards makes possible. AI decks would include cards to represent all possible Outcomes (including Surge and Lull results for using Advanced AI rules), and would contain enough of these cards to make creating a deck easy. Each card would reflect a single combination of Outcome and Surge/Lull, if applicable.
- $3,000: Custom Artwork for FlexAI Cards: I can commission some artwork that represents the currently-stylized artwork to indicate the various Outcomes: Attack, Use/Defend, etc.
Depending on how things finish up with the campaign, I'll make Add-Ons available via survey afterwards. More details to come depending on backer interest!
Existing IGS Backers: Who Gets What
I realize that my products and projects can get a little bit confusing! Here's a rundown of who is already slated to receive the full edition of FlexAI based on their existing contributions to our projects:
- FlexTale Solo Adventuring Toolkit (FTEG SAT) backers will receive the full PDF edition of the FlexAI Guidebook for free.
- Aquilae: Bestiary of the Realm and Aquilae: Expanded Bestiary of the Realm (ABR/E) backers will receive the full PDF edition of the FlexAI Guidebook for free.
- Western Realm Gazetteer (WRG) backers will receive the full PDF edition of the FlexAI Guidebook for free.
If you're in one of the above categories, but interested in receiving a hardcover version of the FlexAI Guidebook, please consider backing this new Kickstarter at the Hardened Combatant level.
The Fine Print
Tidbits, guidelines, and other interesting information you may wish to consider before backing:
- Counts of monsters in books is subject to change. They're mostly pretty final, but for example, which volume a given monster appears in may shift as I re-alphabetize and lay things out etc.
- I'm already behind schedule. That's the honest truth. That's because I've been working through the pipeline of committed work. For many months, now, I've had all of the "crunch work" completed already on ABR. I just need to lay it out. For FlexAI, the guts have been completed, laid out, and published--it's just a matter of finishing the rest of the FlexTables and fleshing out a few things here and there. Based on what I've accomplished so far, I'm confident the result will be worth your pledge dollar. When, however, is not something I can accurately predict!
- If you are a time-sensitive backer, or need the results in a certain timeframe, I suggest taking a "wait and see" approach. I love backers and the funds allow me to produce ever-better output, but I'd rather be honest with my ability to estimate timing, and lose your pledge, than make an enemy of someone who really was counting on having something in a certain timeframe.
- Artwork: I would love, LOVE, LOVE to have full-color art for each and every of the monsters. That is fiscally and logistically impossible, unfortunately. These are "crunch" books, first and foremost: the value is in the design and mechanics of the monsters involved. Monsters of Aquilae and other custom-monster books will feature more artwork than ABR is capable of.
- Each book's PDF will be delivered immediately upon completion.
- All digital product delivery will be done via DriveThruRPG/RPGnow/OneBookShelf.
- All PDFs and hardcopies will be full-color unless otherwise indicated.
- Any pledge that entitles you to Product X in hardcopy also automatically entitles you to Product X in PDF/digital format.
- Already-published products will be fulfilled shortly after the campaign's completion.
- All other products will be fulfilled as they are published.
- "Estimated Delivery" dates for all pledges and rewards are just that: estimates. These also reflect the earliest anticipated publication.
Risks and challenges
The real work of FlexAI has already been done: the core rules are published, and the ~300 FlexTables that power it are outlined and will be ready to lay out by the end of the campaign most likely. Plus, it's a concept I have to complete and fulfill anyway, as part of the Aquilae: Bestiary of the Realm books. This Kickstarter is in service to the backer requests I've received to invest some minor additional time to publish a hardcopy version of the expanded FlexAI rules and resources.
So, the major risk is time: IGS is almost entirely a one-man shop, and that one man has three young children and a full-time day job. I devote literally every spare minute of downtime to IGS, and to making our products the absolute best, most impressive, and most valuable/usable books I can conceive of, but that devotion to quality amidst other demands takes time.
I will deliver. And I hope you agree that it will be more than worth the wait and pledge dollar. But my estimates as to when are just that: estimates. If you're comfortable with getting what I try to make world-class indie RPG books for a significant discount, and don't mind waiting a bit, then please consider pledging, supporting, and helping to make the results even more awesome!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter