What happened to Gygaxian Naturalism?

Looking at the new Monster Manual I realized that it was missing a couple of details that I consider pretty essential. There is no listing of rarity of the various creatures, nor is there any hint of the number that might be expected to show up, or what family or social groups might look like. Ultimately, I can pull all of this up from older editions of the game or simply work from the real world when it comes to things like wolf packs or lion prides – but talk about creating extra work for the Dungeon Master…

I suppose I’ll get used to the obscenely large stat blocks that 5E has compared to 1E, and the fact that I have to dig into one to figure out what class and what level a NPC is because they can’t be bothered to put that at the top. I can even hold out hope that somewhere in the DMG will be an explanation for seemingly arbitrary CR ratings assigned to creatures. But this omission is one that I despise even more – because it seems to be a retreat from Gygaxian Naturalism in service to “encounter construction” As a result, I fear that players will always expect encounters to be “balanced” because there is no inherent rule for “getting in over your head” – this can only happen given the current rule assumptions if the DM intends it (which means that it’s inherently unfair if truly overwhelming as opposed to random chance).

Oh well, just needed to get that off my chest!


Categories: Campaign Development, Game Design | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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