Monsters! Rulebook (version 2.29)

Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 Mark A. Thomas, all rights reserved.

Last Updated: October 25th, 2002


  1. Introduction
    1. Contact Information
  2. Elements
    1. Monster Keepers
      1. Identification
      2. Addresses
      3. Passwords
      4. The Wild Monsters Keeper
    2. Monsters
      1. Energy
      2. Life
      3. Attacks
      4. Defenses
      5. Terrain
      6. Identification
      7. Size
      8. Vision and Stealth
      9. Fame
      10. Kills
      11. Powers
      12. Monster Actions
    3. Powers
    4. The Map
      1. Lairs and Lair Actions
      2. Terrain Types
  3. Game Play
    1. Starting Conditions
    2. The Turn
    3. Fighting
      1. Attacks
      2. Defenses
    4. Victory
  4. Orders
    1. Game Orders
    2. Administrative Orders
  5. Sample Report
    1. Keeper Information
    2. Errors
    3. Combat
    4. Actions
    5. Powers
    6. The Map
    7. Information
    8. Orders Template
    9. Sample Orders

A Introduction

In Monsters!, up to 20 players attempt to take control of the game map, using monsters to enforce their territorial claims. Monsters! is a simple and quick game, but the variety of monsters and strategies make it a challenging game to win.

A.1 Contact Information

The current contact information for Monsters! is:

Removed / inaccurate

B Elements

This section of the manual describes the various game elements of Monsters!

B.1 Monster Keepers

Each player is a Monster Keeper, controlling one or more monsters. If a keeper has no monsters and no lairs at the end of a turn, they are eliminated from the game.

B.1.1 Identification

Each keeper has a unique identifier that is used to refer to the keeper in orders. Keeper IDs are the letter 'K' followed by a unique number. Keepers also have names that can be changed using the NAME order. Names are purely cosmetic, but naming yourself something other than Keeper is probably a good idea.

B.1.2 Addresses

Keepers have both public and private email addresses. Turn reports are sent to a keeper's private address, while other keepers can see the keeper's public address.

B.1.3 Passwords

Each keeper has a password that is used with the GAME order to provide some measure of security. Passwords can contain any printing character except the comment character (#), the double quote ("), the pipe (|) and the asterisk (*). Passwords that contain white space must be enclosed in double quote characters (").

B.1.3 The Wild Monsters Keeper

When players drop from a game of Monsters! due to inactivity or a QUIT order, their monsters all become wild monsters. Wild monsters are controlled by the game engine and try to move towards non-wild monsters. A wild monsters position can win the game if they achieve the victory conditions.

B.2 Monsters

Monsters are big, nasty, hungry creatures that wander across the map, killing other monsters. Each monster has the following attributes:

B.2.1 Energy

Energy is what the monster uses to move and fight. Monsters use energy at differing rates, depending on their size (see the table below). Energy is replenished by eating.

B.2.2 Life

Life represents the amount of damage the monster can take. All attacks subtract varying amounts from the target monster's life rating. If a monster is reduced to zero life, it is dead and removed from play. A monster's life value is determined by its size (see the table below). Life is replenished by eating.

B.2.3 Attacks

Each monster has one or more attacks, methods of inflicting damage on other monsters. Attacks range from breath weapons to gaze attacks to claws to draining auras. Each attack does a particular type of damage that defenses can reduce to a greater or lesser degree. Further details on attacks can be found in the Fighting section.

B.2.4 Defenses

Monsters all have one or more defenses that provide protection against one or more of the possible attack forms. Defenses reduce the damage received from any particular attack by some percentage. Further details on defenses can be found in the Fighting section.

B.2.5 Terrain

Each monster has a favorite terrain, where it fights with a bonus to each attack, and a hated terrain, where it fights with a penalty. Monsters also gain double benefits from food eaten in their favorite terrain and half benefits from food consumed in their hated terrain. Finally, there is a 30% chance that a monster will refuse to move into hated terrain.

Further details on terrain can be found in the Map section.

B.2.6 Identification

Each monster has a unique identifier that is used to reference the monster in orders. Monster IDs are the letter 'M' followed by a unique number. Monsters also have names that can be changed using the NAME order. Names are purely cosmetic.

B.2.7 Size

Monsters come in varying sizes. Bigger monsters have more life and do more damage when they fight, but they also need more food, and use more energy to move. Smaller monsters are faster, average more attacks each round of combat, and attack before bigger monsters with the same type of attack. Monster sizes and the associated characteristics are summarized on the following table:

SizeMove CostScan CostFlaunt Skulk CostBase LifeDamage BonusBase EnergyEnergy per FoodLife per FoodMax Powers

B.2.8 Vision and Stealth

Each monster has VISION and STEALTH ratings. These range from one (worst) to five (best). Monsters can see one hex per vision rating, to a maximum of three hexes. Monsters always see lairs and ownership of distant hexes, but seeing other monsters is dependent on adjusted vision vs. the viewed monster's adjusted stealth. The chance to see an enemy monster is summarized in the following table:

Vision 1 2 3 4 5
1 90% 50% 33% 25% 20%
2 100% 90% 50% 33% 25%
3 100% 100% 90% 50% 33%
4 100% 100% 100% 90% 50%
5 100% 100% 100% 100% 90%

The following tables summarize the stealth and vision modifications:

Range Vision Adjustment
1 0
2 -1
3 -2

Monster Size Stealth Adjustment
Tiny +3
Puny +2
Small +1
Normal +1
Hulking 0
Huge -1
Monstrous -1
Gigantic -2
Titanic -3

There are also Powers (see below) that affect vison and stealth.

B.2.9 Fame

Fame is a measure of how well known a monster is. Fame points add to a keeper's victory point total (See Victory). Monsters gain fame by killing other monsters and surviving battles. Each time a monster kills another in battle it earns five fame points plus a portion of the slain monster's fame. Surviving a battle earns a monster one fame point.

B.2.10 Kills

Each time a monster strikes the killing blow in a battle they are credited with a kill. A kill tally is kept for each keeper and shows in the summary statistics section of the turn report.

B.2.11 Powers

Each monster can have a number of powers played on them based on their size. See the seperate Powers section for details.

B.2.12 Monster Actions

Monsters can carry out ONE and ONLY ONE of the following actions each turn. A monster with no orders will carry out a quasi-random order based on their current condition.

In addition to the actions above, a monster can also either FLAUNT or SKULK. FLAUNTing monster are easier to see, SKULKing monsters are more difficult. Only one FLAUNT or SKULK order can be carried out by a monster each turn.

B.3 Powers

Powers are special abilities keepers can give to their monsters. There are two general categories of powers:

Each keeper begins the game with seven powers dealt to them at random. Keepers automatically draw up to two new powers per turn. A keeper can never hold more than seven powers.

Powers are used by issuing a PLAY order for the appropriate monster and power. Keeper's can also DISCARD useless powers. Any number of powers can be played in a turn, but each monster has a limit on the number of full turn powers that they can hold (see Size). It is quite possible to begin a turn with fewer than seven powers.

B.4 The Map

The game takes place on a hex map, sized appropriately for the number of keepers in the game. Each hex has the following characteristics:

The east-west and north-south edges of the map wrap around and join. Each hex on the map has a coordinate, which defines where it is in the global scheme of things. The upper left corner of the world map is location (0, 0), and numbers increase to the right and down. Each odd column of the map is shifted down to allow for the staggered effect of a hex map. For example:

   ____        ____        ____
  /    \      /    \      /
 /(0,0) \____/(2,0) \____/(4,0)
 \      /    \      /    \
  \____/(1,0) \____/(3,0) \____
  /    \      /    \      /       N
 /(0,1) \____/(2,1) \____/(4,1)   |
 \      /    \      /    \      W-+-E
  \____/(1,1) \____/(3,1) \____   |
  /    \      /    \      /       S
 /(0,2) \____/(2,2) \____/(4,2)
 \      /    \      /    \
  \____/(1,2) \____/(3,2) \____
  /    \      /    \      /

The IDs of the hexes begin at L0 in the upper left corner, and increase in left to right, top to bottom order. If either the coordinate or the ID of any hex is known, the other can be determined:

Given the coordinates X, Y:

ID = (Y * map width) + X

Given the ID:

X = ID modulo map width

Y = ID / map width (dropping any fraction)

The map will also display the first monster in any visible hex. Most of the time that will be the only monster present as aside from the first turn monsters usually won't share hexes.

B.4.1 Lairs and Lair Actions

Each lair on the map always contain a growing monster. This monster will be shown to the keeper controlling the lair's hex, but it cannot be given orders or have powers played on it until it is spawned.

Each keeper can influence the lairs under their control using the LAIR and SPAWN orders. The LAIR order allows the keeper to influence how the monster in the lair grows during the current turn. The SPAWN order causes the lair to eject the current monster and create a new baby monster. Note that lairs are not completely controlled by the keeper and will randomly eject their current monster, or cause random growth.

B.4.2 Terrain Types

The following table lists each terrain type and its abbreviation:


C Game Play

The following sections discuss the game process itself.

C.1 Starting Conditions

Each keeper begins the game controlling one hex on the map that contains a lair, and three monsters. Keepers start at least two hexes away from their nearest neighbor.

C.2 The Turn

Each turn is divided into the following phases:

  1. Recover - All monsters recover as much energy and life as one unit of food would normally provide. Monsters in their favorite terrain gain double this amount, monsters in their hated terrain gain half.
  2. Play & Discard - All powers are applied to monsters or discarded.
  3. Eat - Any monster ordered to eat will do so, regaining life and energy.
  4. Grow - Any monster ordered to grow will do so.
  5. Move - Any monster ordered to move will do so. All monsters move 1 hex per turn.
  6. Scan - Scan orders are processed. Monsters may move towards enemy monsters.
  7. Random moves - Monsters that didn't act do something at random.
  8. Fight - All fights are resolved according to the fighting rules.
  9. Ownership - New owners for hexes are established.
  10. Lair Improvement - Lairs that are owned by the same keeper as the previous turn improve themselves.
  11. New Monsters - Lairs that are spawning will generate new monsters.
  12. Monster Growth - Monsters in lairs grow.
  13. Food Growth - All hexes grow food according to their terrain, up to their maximum.
  14. Powers distributed - Each keeper is dealt up to two new powers (no keeper can hold more than seven powers at once).

C.3 Fighting

During the fight phase, each monster will have the opportunity to start a fight. Monsters are selected in a random order and will start a fight under the following conditions:

  1. They are adjacent to a VISIBLE unfriendly monster.
  2. They are in the same hex as ANY OTHER MONSTER.

Any monster belonging to another keeper is considered unfriendly unless both keepers have issued FRIENDLY orders for each other. Monsters will always fight other monsters in the same hex, friendly or not. Monsters in the same hex are always visible.

Fights always take place in the hex of the monster that started the fight, and all monsters that are in that hex or adjacent hexes will join in.

Once a fight is started, it takes place as a series of rounds. Each monster will randomly use one or more of its attacks each round if it has the energy needed. Rounds are processed as follows:

  1. All monsters pick a target for the round. A monster will pick targets in the following order:
    1. A random unfriendly monster from the same hex.
    2. Any random unfriendly monster.
    3. A random friendly monster from the same hex.
  2. All monster attacks are resolved in order. Attacks are carried out in the following order:
    1. Projectile attacks.
    2. Beam attacks.
    3. Gaze attacks.
    4. Aura attacks.
    5. Physical attacks.
    If monsters have the same attack, the smallest monster goes first, with further ties are resolved randomly. A monster must have the energy required by the attack to use it. Note that monsters may expend all their energy in attacks, causing them to self-destruct.
  3. When a monster is attacked, its best defense against the attack is chosen and applied, then remaining damage is applied to the monster's life.
  4. After each attack, any monster with zero life or energy is killed and removed from the fight.
  5. The fight will stop if all monsters are killed, there is one remaining monster, no monsters have effective attacks, or the remaining monsters are all friendly and are not from the same hex.
  6. Once the fight is over, all surviving monsters feast on the loser's remains, consuming corpses as food and possibly gaining an improved attack or defense, an additional attack or defense, or an increase in size. There must be at least one dead monster for this to occur. All monsters grab food from the corpse pile at random. Small monsters are better at snatching food from the corpse pile, but larger monsters get more food when they successfully grab something.

C.3.1 Attacks

Each monster attack has the following characteristics:

The actual values of a monster's attacks are not known by the keeper.

C.3.2 Defenses

Each monster defense provides some level of defense against one or more attack types. For each type the defense is effective against, it reduces any attack by a specified percentage. The actual values of a monster's defenses are not known by the keeper.

C.4 Victory

A keeper wins a game of Monsters! by reaching a certain victory point total, determined by the size of the game. These points are earned by controlling hexes and by having famous monsters. Each hex is worth one victory point. Each ten points of monster fame is also worth one victory point. The turn report shows each player's current standings a summary section.

D Orders

The orders for Monsters! are submitted via email. Each set of orders begins with a GAME order and ends with an END order. A typical set of orders looks like this:

game gXX kYY password

[Administrative and Monster orders here]


Each set of orders sent is processed by a simple syntax checker and a confirmation message and a syntax check are returned to the submitting address. Note that each set of orders submitted completely replaces any previous orders submitted.

The '#' character introduces a comment, and will be ignored by the order processor, along with all remaining text on the line.

In the listings below, the priority for each order indicates when it occurs in the turn process. Lowest priority orders are processed first.

Items surrounded by square brackets [] in the orders below are optional.

The following terms have special meanings:

D.1 Game Orders


Priority: 1

Discard power NUMBER from the your available powers. Useful if you have a power that doesn't help any controlled monster. Note that even if you discard several powers, you only draw at most two new powers per turn.


Priority: 2

Order the indicated monster to eat. The monster will eat all the food in its current location.


Priority: 0

Order the indicated monster to show themselves and flaunt their powers, flex their muscles and generally make themselves known. Monsters that issue this order have their stealth rating reduced by two and their vision rating reduced by one. FLAUNT costs energy according to the monster's size. A monster can only do one SKULK or FLAUNT action per turn. SKULK and FLAUNT do not count as regular monster actions, i.e. a monster can FLAUNT and GROW in the same turn.


Priority: 0

This order instructs all monsters to treat monsters belonging to KEEPER as friendly. Friendly monsters only fight if they are in the same hex. For FRIENDLY to work, BOTH keepers involved must issue FRIENDLY orders naming each other. FRIENDLY status is only effective on the turn it is issued, and must be renewed to be continued.


Priority: 3

Order the indicated monster to try and grow. Grow can have unpredictable results.


Priority: 5

Order the listed lair to favor the indicated type of growth this turn. ATTACK and DEFENSE increase existing attacks or defenses or add new ones. GROWTH causes the monster to increase in size. VISION and STEALTH increase the monster's ratings in the appropriate area. Note that the growth effects of lairs on contained monsters increases the longer the lair is under a single keeper's control.


Priority: 4

Order the indicated monster to move in the given DIRECTION. Legal directions are N, NE, SE, S, SW, NW.


Priority: 0

Offset the map displayed in your turn report so that (X, Y) is displayed in the upper left corner. The value of X must be even, odd values will be rounded down.


Priority: 0

The NAME command changes the name of the indicated MONSTER to STRING. If no MONSTER is indicated, the keeper's name is changed. Note that names with spaces must be enclosed in double quotes (").


Priority: 1

Play power NUMBER from the your available powers on MONSTER. Instant powers take effect immediately, All other powers remain in effect the entire turn. Each power describes its effects.


Priority: 4

The monster spends the turn scanning the surrounding hexes, gaining a +2 VISION bonus. There is a 20% chance a monster that spots a hostile monster in a distant hex will MOVE towards that monster without being ordered.


Priority: 0

SKULK MONSTER - Order the indicated monster to lurk in the shadows, making them harder to see. A monster that is skulking gains a bonus of two to their stealth rating and a penalty of one to their vision rating. SKULK costs energy according to the monster's size. A monster can only do one SKULK or FLAUNT action per turn. SKULK and FLAUNT do not count as regular monster actions, i.e. a monster can SKULK and GROW in the same turn.


Priority: 5

Order the listed lair to spawn the monster it contains. A new baby monster is automatically created when a monster is spawned.

D.2 Administrative Orders

The following orders deal with administrative issues such as mail addresses and report formats.


Priority: 0

Change the public email address for a keeper to STRING. This address is the one reported by the FIND command. This change will take effect immediately. The keeper's PASSWORD is required for this command. If no address STRING is provided, the keeper public email address is cleared.


Priority: 0

Change the address to which turn reports are sent to STRING. This change will take effect immediately, causing the current turn report to be sent to the STRING address. The keeper PASSWORD is required for this command.


Priority: 0

End all orders. Any further lines of information in this message will be ignored.


Priority: 0

This order is used to find the public email address of keeper KEEPER. This order can appear anywhere within the game/end section of the orders. See the ADDRESS command for details on how to set a keeper's public address.


Priority: 0

This order marks the beginning of a set of orders for KEEPER in game GAME-ID. Note that the keeper PASSWORD is required. The GAME-ID will be assigned when play begins, and will be the letter 'g' followed by the game's unique ID number.


Priority: 5

This command allows a keeper to change their keeper PASSWORD to STRING. Note that the password command does not take effect until the orders are actually processed. Also, the PASSWORD order must appear within a set of orders that have the current password. Both the PASSWORD and STRING are required.


Priority: 0

The QUIT command is used to drop out of the current game. It instructs the server to stop sending turns to the keeper's email address, and delete all the keeper's monsters. The position's PASSWORD is required. The keeper will receive a final report showing the quit order taking effect.


Priority: 0

This order allows you to automatically have your turn reports mailed to an additional address for a period of time. The game engine will automatically forward a copy of your turn report to the email address specified by STRING. This forwarding will continue up to and including the turn specified by NUMBER. If you specify 0 for NUMBER, the forwarding will continue until you cancel it. Issuing a VACATION command with no STRING and NUMBER cancels any current mail forwarding. Note that only one VACATION address is valid at a time, with subsequent VACATION orders replacing earlier ones.


Priority: 0

This order sets the width of the report used for a keeper's turn report to NUMBER. NUMBER must be greater than 40. The default report width is 76. Note the game map in the turn report is of a fixed width, and is unaffected by the WIDTH order.

E Sample Report

The following sections describe each section of the typical turn report.

E.1 Keeper Information

This section gives the general information about the current game and each keeper's status. Note the game ID (G10) listed near the top of the section. If a keeper is eliminated or has won the game, it is reported in this section:

Keeper Information:

Keeper: Mark Thomas ([email protected]).
Monsters! - game [G10] turn 1 run August 25, 1999 at 01:06 PM (V02.00).

Report for keeper Hardcore [K3].
3 monsters under your control at the end of the turn.
You own 1 hex, 1 lair.
Victory requires 50 victory points.

Keeper              Email   Mnst  Hex Lair Kill Fame VPs
Keeper of Doom [K1] unknown   13   25    4    5   79  40
Bill [K2]           unknown    1    4    0    0    2   4
Hardcore [K3]       unknown    0    1    1    0    0   1
Fire Master [K4]    unknown    3    7    2    0    6   8

E.2 Errors

This section of the report contains any error messages generated by the submitted orders.

E.3 Combat

This section gives a detailed report of each battle a keeper's monsters were involved in. The battle report includes a blow by blow account of the combat and lists the survivors of the battle.

E.4 Actions

This section contains entries for each action carried out by the keeper's monsters, and any battles they were involved in. It also lists hexes that were won or lost, and any new monsters that were created by keeper controlled lairs:

Greenskins [K1] created.

E.5 Powers

This section lists the keeper's available powers and their effects:


Power 1 [FULL]: Adds +2 damage to monster's crushing attacks.
Power 2 [FULL]: Adds +2 damage to monster's crushing attacks.
Power 3 [FULL]: Adds +20% protection to monster's crushing defenses.
Power 4 [FULL]: Adds +20% protection to monster's electricity defenses.
Power 5 [FULL]: Adds +1 damage to monster's cold attacks.
Power 6 [FULL]: Adds +1 damage to monster's fire attacks.
Power 7 [FULL]: Adds +20% protection to monster's life drain defenses.

E.6 The Map

This section shows the entire game map, and reveals all information the keeper's monsters can currently see. Each hex shown on the map has the following information listed:

  \ X  0      1      2      3      4      5
 Y |------|      |------|      |------|      |
   | tund |      | lake |      |      |      |
 0 |*M0   |------|      |------|      |------|
   | MINE | swam |      |      |      |      |
   |------|      |------|      |------|      | 0
   | plai |      | fore |      |      |      |
 1 |      |------|*M9   |------|      |------|
   |      | tund | k9   |      |      |      |
   |------|      |------|      |------|      | 1
   | jung |      |      |      |      |      |
 2 |      |------|      |------|      |------|
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |
   |------|      |------|      |------|      | 2
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |
 3 |      |------|      |------|      |------|
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |
   |------|      |------|      |------|      | 3
   | dese |      |      |      |      |      |
 4 |      |------|      |------|      |------|
   |      | tund |      |      |      | plai |
   |------|      |------|      |------|      | 4
   | tund |      | ocea |      | ocea |      |
 5 |      |------|      |------|      |------|
   |      | jung |      |      |      | swam |
   |------|      |------|      |------|      | 5
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |
   |      |------|      |------|      |------|

E.7 Information

This section lists detailed information for each hex occupied by a keeper's monsters. For each hex, its location, terrain, lair status, and owner is listed. Also, the terrain of each adjacent hex is shown.

Each hex also lists all monsters it contains. Each monster entry shows its name, ID, current/maximum life and energy, size, vision and stealth, favored/hated terrain, and its description. For vision and stealth the number shown in parenthesis is the monster's base value for that attribute. The other number is the current value with all modifiers in place (including any powers that were played in the current turn).

(0, 0) tundra [L0], lair, (Greenskins [K1])
  Nearby: N tundra [L30]; NE jungle [L31]; SE swamp [L1]; S plain [L6]; SW
    lake [L5]; NW swamp [L35]

Monster in Lair:

Ombalhent [M3] 22/22 life, 146/146 energy, small size.
  Vision: 2 (2) Stealth: 2 (1)
  It likes forest, and hates desert. It drips burning ichor [attack: acid],
  has slimy skin [defense: electrical, slashing], has a heavy, bone-covered
  skull [defense: noise].

Monster(s) in hex:

Zawoantib [M0] 29/29 life, 148/148 energy, normal size.
  Vision: 1 (1) Stealth: 2 (1)
  It likes ocean, and hates desert. It has tearing claws [attack: slashing],
  glows with a powerful aura [defense: acid, odor], gurgles quietly to
  itself [defense: acid, electrical, odor].

Brioom [M1] 31/31 life, 145/145 energy, normal size.
  Vision: 1 (1) Stealth: 2 (1)
  It likes lake, and hates desert. It is surrounded by whirling shards
  [attack: slashing], has glowing tentacles [attack: life], glitters with
  chitinous sheets [defense: crushing, slashing], seethes with energy
  [defense: cold].

Tuwiadz [M2] 30/30 life, 145/145 energy, normal size.
  Vision: 1 (1) Stealth: 3 (2)
  It likes ocean, and hates tundra. It is covered in icy lumps [attack:
  cold], has numerous antennae [attack: electrical], glows with a powerful
  aura [defense: acid, odor].

E.8 Orders Template

This section provides a skeletal set of orders for the keeper and includes a comment for each monster the keeper controls. This section can be cut and pasted to generate a valid set of orders.

##### Template for turn 2 #####

game g10 k1 "foobar"

# tundra [L0] lair

# Zawoantib [M0]

# Brioom [M1]

# Tuwiadz [M2]


##### End template #####

End of Turn Report

E.9 Sample Orders

Below are a set of sample orders, created from the orders template above.

game g10 k1 "foobar"

play m0 4

# tundra [L0] lair
lair L0 attack

# Zawoantib [M0]
move m0 N

# Brioom [M1]
move m1 se

# Tuwiadz [M2]
grow m2