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Tutorial - 'Monster and Boss Preconditions' by SaiKar

An item about RPGMaker 2000 posted on


A tutorial on making monsters and bosses better in rm2k!



I have played a few RPGs made with the maker, and I noticed something very unusual. Most of these RPGs have very interesting, deep stories. Their designers spend a good deal of time on graphics, too, making cool battle animations and detailed towns. But once I get into battle with a major enemy, it is simply a matter of choosing my strongest skills over and over again until the enemy drops dead, healing and hoping that the enemy does not randomly pick its strongest moves too many times in a row.

How terribly unepic. Boss battles are supposed to be the most exciting battles in the game, where the player has to choose wisely what moves to use when. But apparently most people make bosses like they do any other enemy: give them high stats and a few pretty strong skills and call it good.

You can do better then that. This little guide gives a few tips in how to mix it up a bit and create unique, interesting, and exciting boss battles for your games. All of these strategies are very basic and do not require a custom battle system or anything other then an understanding of skills and the battle system.

What is a boss?

There are basically two types of battles in a game: normal battles, and boss battles. Normal battles are the ones you get while running around on the overworld, or random battles in dungeons, or wherever you find enemies. They are not important to the plot but are used to convey a sense of danger and to give the player useful EXP, gold, and items. The player can often beat these battles with a minimum of effort using only basic strategies. For example, a group of wolves in the icy mountains can be defeated with a mid-level fire spell and a few quick physical attacks. No problem.

Boss battles, on the other hand, represent truly dangerous foes and so a new level of strategy should be required. Bosses usually have higher stats then normal enemies – much higher, in fact, but that should not be the end of it. Bosses should use their skills effectively with timing and take advantage of any allies and wild cards they have in battles to pose a much greater threat. In short, they should fight like the heroes do, but ultimately still not be strong enough to beat a truly determined, skillful, prepared player.

Not all bosses require all of the steps below to be effective. Some bosses can be quite strong but dumb. Others can have lower stats but use their moves effectively. And still others can be nothing but a long cut scene designed to explain some new skill or plot element. How you make these battles is up to you.

Before you open the database

Bosses are more then stats and a listing of skills: they are characters in your game, and should be treated like you would treat the heroes, but to a lesser degree. How do you want your boss to fight? Do they specialize in a particular technique? Do they use mostly physical attacks or do they blow stuff up with magic? Are they smart enough to use skills at the right time, or do they just haphazardly attack with whatever they have?

Going even further, what does the boss want to accomplish? Is he really trying to kill the heroes? Is this just a test of some sort? Maybe the party is attacking the boss and he is trying to buy time to get away. Or perhaps he is trying to complete a ritual and you are interfering.

Treat your bosses like NPC characters. They have goals and ideas. Even the simplest guardian of a tunnel can be made more interesting by thinking a bit about how he would fight. If you give your bosses some real development before you start making stats then you will end up with a much cleaner and more exiting encounter.

Using stats effectively

The stats you give your bosses in RPGMaker can go a long way between making an encounter too easy or ridiculously difficult. I cannot tell you what stats to make your bosses but I can give general tips.

Hit points are a measure of how long the battle will last. Since bosses are supposed to be exciting and tense encounters they should have more HP then normal foes. 5-10 times the HP of a normal monster works well. Any less and the battle ends before the suspense can build, and any more and it can drone on a bit too long.

MP limits your bosses ability to use his skills. Unless you have a good reason for wanting the boss to run out of MP (a very strong boss that you might have to wear down, for example) give them a lot of MP and do not worry about it.

Attack, defense, mind, and speed should all be above the level of a normal enemy. How much above is dependent on how you want the boss to fight. Good swordsman should have a nice, high attack stat. Fast ninjas should be very quick in the speed area to get in more attacks. Mages should have high mind: this will make their spells more effective and also make skills that depend on the mid stat do less damage.

Do not be frustrated if you need to tweak your skills after testing the boss. Changing the numbers the easiest way to adjust an encounter. Fight your boss a few times, then make adjustments if you think you need them.

Interesting skills

As an example boss, let us say that you are making a mage that specializes in fire spells. You could give him a single-enemy fire spell, and a stronger one, and maybe an all-enemy fire spell or two. The boss would be able to do damage and he might be difficult to defeat.

But that just would not be any fun, would it? Heroes get special skills, so why not give your bosses some too!

Following the fire mage example, what about a skill that does not do a whole lot of damage, but lowers the party’s fire resistance? That is easy to program: just check the box under attributes marked “reduce resist”. So if your boss uses that skill early, then all his fire spells will do more damage and he will be stronger overall.

Perhaps you could make a fire-based spell that inflicts a status effect too. You could make a “burned” status that lowers defense or does damage over time. Or maybe a “berserk” would be appropriate: a spell that ignites the fires within the heart and makes your characters attack in a blind rage.

There are many, many types of skills you can give your bosses and your heroes too. Check the “absorb” box and the skill will not only do damage, but the user will gain that much life as well. You can absorb MP, attack, defense, or any other stat too! Or maybe you could add a support character in the boss fight that does nothing but heal the main boss, or perhaps give him more MP.

Even if you want to stick with pure damage spells, mix it up a bit. If the character specializes in a unique sword art, give him some unique moves that do varying damage and have different effects. Sure you can shoot a fireball at an opponent, but you can also cause a volcano to erupt, make a flaming meteor crash down, cause the ground to rip apart and shoot up fire, and much more. Be creative with your skills! Just the descriptions and animations alone can go a long way towards improving the feel of the battle.

By varying the way a boss fights, you can make a player think about how to counter him. Is it better to keep doing damage or cure poison right away? If the boss lowers your stats, should you use some of your skills to up them back up or not waste the time? These questions make the encounter vastly more interesting as it forces the player to stop just using their strongest skill and THINK.

Fight smarter, not harder

Ah. Here we come to the crux of the matter. No matter how cool your bosses skills are, or how balanced their stats, if they are using skills randomly it will still seem like you are fighting a stupid computer. Fortunately for us, RPGMaker lets really creative programmers have a lot of fun.

When adding a skill to an enemy’s list, the two items at the top of the box are of particular interest in boss battles: preconditions and priority. Preconditions allow you to set the conditions that a boss will use a move under. Priority is a number between 1 and 99 that balances how often the enemy will use this move.

Preconditions are explained briefly below.

None – the default. This means that, no matter what is going on, the boss can choose this move. If they actually choose it or not is dependent on the priority of this move and all other possible moves. Using none adds an element of randomness to your bosses actions, which can make them seem more chaotic. Overusing none makes all the bosses moves random though, which is what we are trying to avoid. Still, it has its uses.

Switch – this allows you to have the enemy use a move if a certain switch is on. As an example, lets say that getting a certain item, the Nullifier, turns a switch OFF. If you did not get that item the switch will still be on. So you could make the boss use a powerful move unless you got the Nullifier and turned the switch off. This precondition can be sneaky but is not used a lot except in cutscenes and in examples such as above.

Turns Elapsed – very powerful command. This lets you make a boss use a move exactly when you tell them to. Two numbers determine when the move will be used in Ax + B form. The first number, A, is how many turns you want between the move. The 2nd number, B, is when you want the move to be used first. So if you want a boss to use a move every 4th turn, starting with the 2nd (turn 2, 6, 10, etc), put in 4 and 2. If you want a boss to use a move only on the 5th turn of battle, put in 0 and 5.

Monsters Present – this command allows you to adjust how a boss will perform depending on how many other enemies are in the battle. If you make an encounter with two enemies, and one dies, then this could be used to give the remaining boss a powerful move. In that example, you would want to set the monsters present from 1 to 1.

Monster HP – this command lets you make a boss use different moves as he starts losing HP. So if you want a boss to use his most powerful moves when he is at 25% HP or less, set the numbers in this precondition from 0 to 25.

Monster MP – same as above, but with MP. This could be used to have the boss replenish his MP when it gets low, or maybe start using skills that require less MP. Keep in mind that when an enemy is out of MP any skills they have cannot be used, so be sure to give them an attack command or they will just sit there.

Party Level Average – this command can let you scale the boss depending on the party’s level. If the party’s level is lower then you expect then maybe the boss should not be so harsh. If it is higher then you can use this command to make the boss uses more powerful spells. The numbers are the range of levels that the average must be for this command to activate.

Party Exhaustion – like monster HP, but for the party. If you want to make a boss that changes strategy after he softens up the party, then this command can be useful.

Using these commands can be tricky, but even using one or two can make your boss seem very smart. Remember that move above that lowers your fire resist? The boss could use that on turn two, and then use a powerful fire move on turn 3! Wow! That alone makes the boss seem clever even though you knew he would do exactly that.

All that said, DO NOT IGNORE THE PRIORITY! If you really really want the boss to use a move on the 15th turn, make a Turns Elapsed precondition but make the priority very high – like 90, to ensure that the boss does that move. On the other hand, it is very easy to overscript your bosses and make them predictable. I would suggest keeping the priorities in the 40 to 60 range unless you really want otherwise.

Double the bosses, double the fun

Squaring off against the antagonist can be fun, but when it is four against one the guy is pretty badly outnumbered. Even if he is fast, if you heal effectively it can be very difficult to kill you outright. By having more then one enemy in the encounter, however, the party is dealt more damage quickly and has to focus on defeating more then one foe at a time.

When dealing with multiple enemies you need to be careful about stats. Two normal bosses in one battle is harder then twice as hard. A single boss should challenge the player well, but two can easily overwhelm them if care is not taken. Be sure to lower the stats of your enemies a bit to make it at least somewhat fair.

Keep in mind that most players will focus entirely on one enemy first, killing it and then moving on. Make sneaky use of the Monsters Present command to add new skill as enemies die, keeping the players on their toes.

Sample bosses

All of these bosses were thought up by me on the spot. You can steal them, modify them, do whatever you want to them. I am including them go give good examples of how you can make boss battles seem different and more exciting. I have included some basic moves that the enemies might use. Obviously real bosses should have a few more, but these are just to give you an idea of what I am thinking here.

Unless I say otherwise, all the priorities are set to the default 50. This helps the battles be less scripted by giving the boss multiple options at any given point. Keep in mind that a priority 50 can be chosen over a priority 60, but it not that likely.

Twin Golems

Background: A nameless sorcerer created these two golems long ago to defeat his pursuers, and for many years they have guarded the only underground route through a section of mountains. As the heroes approach they see the bones of those two tried to make it through the pass before the golems attack suddenly.

Strategy: A basic “guardian of the dungeon” boss. The encounter includes two rock golems that are actually the same monster put into the battle twice. Thus they are identical in every way from attack patterns to HP. The golems were created to attack anyone that comes through the pass so they have no sense of strategy at all other then to defeat everyone. If one falls they become more desperate to continue guarding the pass and use stronger moves.

They have high attack and defense but magic hurts them greatly and they are quite slow.

Basic move ideas:
Attack – no precondition
Double attack – no precondition, priority 40
Throw rock (single enemy earth attack) every 3rd turn, starting with the first.
Collapse Roof (all enemy earth attack) – Monsters Present from 1 to 1 (i.e. one golem has died), priority 45

Defeating the Twin Golems:
The player would probably try to kill one golem first, using physical attacks and magic until they realize magic works better. After the first golem falls the Collapse Roof move will force them to heal more, but with only one golem alive the rest of the battle is not too hard.

Mithia the Assassin

Background: The Todama Corporation hired this assassin to kill the heroes while they sleep in a hotel. Unbeknowest to Mithia, the heroes were still awake when she came through the window. She tries to escape but a battle begins.

Strategy: This is more of an event encounter then a real boss, but it can still be very effective. Mithia wants to run but would not mind killing the heroes instead if they prove weak. She is very fast and has good attack but has almost no defense. If too much time goes by she will abandon her mission and flee.

Basic Move Ideas:
Attack – no precondition
Double attack – every 2rd turn, starting with 2nd, priority 55
Deadly Strike (can kill instantly) – turn 1, priority 60
Deadly Strike – Party Exhaustion between 0 and 25% (the party still has a lot of health)
Escape – turn 12, priority 99

Defeating Mithia:
Mithia is defeatable only if the players start doing damage quickly. If they heal, use status effects, up their stats, or otherwise play it too safe then they probably will not do enough damage to defeat Mitha before turn 12. If they do defeat her, in addition to EXP, she drops her Katana before escaping out the window.

Devanz, The Orb User

Background: Devanz is a high-ranking leader of an evil mage clan trying to take over the world. After destroying a town with lightning from the sky, the heroes storm his base to kill him and exact revenge. Devanz is in his element and is ready.

Strategy: This makes a fairly challenging mid-game boss by using both multiple opponents and skills that work well together. Devanz specializes in thunder magic and knows some powerful spells. His greatest asset in the battle, however, are two orbs. These magical orbs have no intelligence but will blast the party with magic until destroyed. Devanz takes advantage of his orbs by lowering the party’s thunder resistance but otherwise plays it safe. When they fall he does what he can to defeat the party alone. Because Devanz defends often until the orbs are destroyed this can be a pretty long encounter.

Basic Moves List (Devanz):
Attack – no precondition, priority 10
Thunder Shield (ups lighting resist of user) – turn 1, priority 70
Lightning (single enemy lighting attack) – no precondition
Defend – Monsters Present between 2 and 3, priority 55
Mana Shatter (single enemy, lowers all magic resistances) – every 5th turn starting with the 2nd, priority 45
Shock Wave (all enemy lighting attack) – Monsters present between 1 and 1

Basic Moves List (Orb):
Lightning – no precondition
Shock Wave – Monster HP from 0 to 25% (they use this when they become heavily damaged) – priority 45

Defeating Devanz:
The players will quickly find the orbs annoying and figure (correctly) that they have less HP then Devanz and focus on one first, then the other. All-enemy skills make this battle much less challenging. After seeing his orbs destroyed Devanz will stop defending and use his Shock Wave move often to try to blast the party into submission. Putting a cap on Devanz’s MP might make this battle a bit more fair.

Gororath, Avatar of the Woods

Background: Gororath was a normal druid in the woods before he was accepted by the very heart of the forest itself. There he became the wood’s avatar – a powerful man that can command the forces of the land itself. He seeks out those that defile the woods, and it just happens the heroes are in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Strategy: This might make a good boss for upper-level parties that are powerful and think they can handle anything. Gorotath is alone 1 vs 4 but has a plan. By slowly lowering the parties HP and resistance with subtle tactics he makes himself look weak until the party is cocky but somewhat vulnerable. Then he uses his strongest move, Overrun, to attempt to destroy the party in one big attack.

Basic Move List:
Attack – no precondition
Double attack – no precondition
Rose’s Thorns (all-enemy earth attack that can poison) – Party Exhausion between 0 and 20%
Brambles - (single-enemy earth attack that lowers earth resist)
Overrun (strong all-enemy earth attack) – Party Exhaustion between 40 and 100%

Defeating Gororath:
Vigilance! Get that poison cured! Keep your HP high! If you see through his strategy then he will never get a chance to lull the party into a false sense of security and will be fairly easy to defeat.

Crimson Dragon

Background: For many a century this vile worm has gathered his hoard in a mountain cave. Although scarred by many battles he has never been defeated and thinks himself invincible. The heroes hear about the rare artifacts he has collected and decide to try their luck.

Strategy: The Crimson Dragon makes a good optional boss. It is very strong to the point of being unfair and requires the party to have fire-resistant equipment to survive. The dragon attacks with his claws for a while until unleashing his Meteor Swarm move right before using his overwhelming Eternal Flame. If the party has not properly prepared this combo should be able to kill them all outright.

Basic Move List:
Attack – no precondition
Double attack – no precondition, priority 55
Meteor Swarm (all enemy fire move that lowers fire resist) – Every 10th turn, starting with turn 9.
Eternal Flame (very powerful all-enemy fire attack) – Every 10th turn starting with turn 10.

Defeating the Crimson Dragon:

The player should absolutely NEED that fire resistant equipment. Even so, depending on who was attacked last and how well they are curing, the Meteor Swarm/Eternal Flame might kill two or three people and while the player is trying to heal the claws could finish them off. This is an optional boss battle though, so feel free to make him tough.


Background: Glory is a being of pure holy power and is the guardian of an ancient temple of light. She tests all that seek her for worthiness.

Strategy: I am probably cruel for even suggesting this one. Glory does not have too much HP but can cure herself. She bogs the party down with blindness and silence status effects and does some damage. If the party hurts her greatly she uses her Concussion move to stun them and then heals. After a good amount of time she abandons this approach and just tries to kill the party outright with overwhelming magic.

Basic Move List:
Attack – no precondition, priority 10
Blind – Monster HP between 50 and 100%
Silence – Monster HP between 50 and 100%
Holy Spark (single enemy holy attack) – No preconditions
Concussion (all enemy stun move that does minor damage) – Monster HP between 0 and 50%. Turns the switch HEAL on. Priority 70
Mega Cure (heals user) – If switch HEAL is on. Turns switch HEAL off. Priority 70
Enlightenment (all enemy holy attack) – Every turn starting with turn 25, priority 99

Defeating Glory:
YOU CANNOT! Fwa ha ha! Well okay, of course you can. Silencing Glory would make her utterly useless so she should be very resistant to that. If the player can do a lot of damage then they can keep hurting her for more then she can cure and break through that way. Or they player could wait out the 25 turns and try to kill her while she stops curing, assuming they can survive the onslaught. In its current form Glory is a very mean battle but is a good example of how to make a boss difficult without giving them high stats or overwhelming power.

Grab your sword and fight!

Well, that is about it for this tutorial. 9 pages is long enough, huh? I hope you found some of this useful. Remember that your bosses, like the rest of the game, are only as exciting as you make them be. Have fun and think of some cruel ideas!