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Monsters have levels in the following skills:
As with a player, how high these skill levels are determine how well the NPC can attack with those type of attacks.
The levels in these skills determine the monster's combat level in the same way as the combat level is calculated for players.
Monsters have a number of attributes that can make them more formidable in combat.
The majority of monsters have weaknesses which can be exploited to kill them faster. The monster's weakness, and its place on the combat triangle, are taken into account when determining how much damage they receive when you attack them.
How much damage an NPC can avoid or do depends very much on the NPC. Monsters intended to be boss monsters will typically be able to block/cause more damage and will have non-player facing bonuses to their defence and/or attacks. Because of this there are no definite ways to calculate an NPC's defence or maximum damage. You can however, get a general idea of this based on the NPC's levels, their weaknesses and attack types.
Some creatures have special attacks such as dragons with their dragon breath attack. These can be countered with specific tactics. In the case of dragon breath, a anti-dragon shield can be employed to reduce damage from this specific attack.
Boss monsters tend to have a range of attacks up their sleeves that must be reacted to in a certain way to avoid death, such as running out of an area of effect attack that can cause large amounts of damage over time, or running out of the path of a charging NPC. Remaining stationary in both of these cases would probably cause death, especially if the attack causes damage as a percentage of your total life points rather than a fixed amount of damage.
Main article: Slayer
Some NPCs count as Slayer targets and can be assigned as assignments, contracts or co-op assignments. If you are assigned a type of creature in this way, killing it will grant you Slayer XP.