Posts Tagged With: Monster Manual

OMFG… What a nerf…

So, I just spent some time reading the stats on Green Slime, Black Pudding, etc. in 5E.

I certainly get that 5E dumped the whole “Save or Die” thing, I don’t even disagree with that (though I’m re-instituting my old Crit and Fumble tables, two Natural 20’s is an instant kill!). But talk about making an old and very scary set of monsters utterly underwhelming…

Yeah, I’m Noping right out of that.

Expect these things to act more like out of 1E, perhaps I’ll write some stats up later and post them. But what a waste of an excellent old set of monsters!



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You know what else I’m waiting for?

Treasure guidelines.

There is some interesting hints of what the Implied Setting suggests given the prices for trade goods in the Players Handbook as well as the ability to easily make and buy Healing Potions. There is also also the notes about a assumed limit of the “three attuned magic items” that are included in the Starter Set, with some examples of items that require attunement for full effectiveness and some that don’t.

So, that’s what else I was missing from the new Monster Manual. Not that I was ever a huge fan of the often clunky “Treasure Types” – but it would be great to see something like the treasure guidelines that ACKS uses.  That was, I have to say, one of things I was most impressed with in the ACKS campaign/domain guidelines. That is something else I’d actually like to see as well I guess, a domain game for 5E that is as well developed as the one in ACKS.

Now, the truth is that my economy is already quite well developed and the prices in the Players Handbook are something I already jettisoned – if for no other reason than I don’t trust WOTC to create an economy that makes sense. My initial review did nothing to change this supposition. So I’ll likely import most of my existing guidelines for creatures and treasure, but I still find this a rather irksome omission for the rules at this point.


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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!


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Will-o-the-Wisp redux

So, I’m not sure now what the actually “type” the old 1E Monster Manual would have been, I always treated them as some sort of Fae (especially with the whole Boggart thing). In the new 5E Monster Manual however they are specifically a variety of Undead – probably in a quiet shout-out to the Dead Marshes.

Now, in my opinion this sort of monster always works better when the players can’t be sure what they are dealing with. As a result I had come up with two extra versions, one Celestial and one “good” Fae. So there is no good reason why I can’t keep them around for the same purpose.

In this version of the game I’d give them the same stats with the following differences:

Guardian Angel – Alignment is any good, instead of Consume Life it can use Beacon of Life (as the 3rd level spell) at will, the radius equal to it’s shed light radius (bright not dim). It’s damage for the shock attack is Radiant instead of Necrotic.

Fools Flame aka Fools Fire aka Fae Flame – Alignment is Chaotic Neutral, instead of Consume Life it can use a Hypnotic Pattern (as the 3rd level spell) at, the radius equal to it’s shed light radius (bright not dim). It’s damage for the shock attack is Psychic instead of Necrotic.

Now, you can mess with your player’s heads – and they (hopefully) won’t attack every single bobbing light they come across in the world. The substitute powers for Consume Life seem relatively balanced to me given how nasty that ability actually is in the new rules. I’ll get back to writing up world history now…



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Monster Types and some thoughts on the Monster Manual

While the roots of this exist in 1E, I’m sure that this concept really dates from some later edition. This is one of those really interesting rules that I like for all sorts of reasons, and then hate because I can’t decide if it is a typology or taxonomy (and, in fact, it’s a bit of both) – the minute you start kitbashing your own monsters and have a significantly different cosmology from the implied setting (no matter how much you are applying your own rules of Gygaxian Naturalism) is the minute that the given Types have a tendency to fall apart. That said, the whole Tag system may also give some help in that.

So, “old rules” I had the Dearth – which wasn’t quite Undead, wasn’t quite a Fiend, wasn’t even automatically an Abberation – almost more of a Monstrosity according to the descriptions. Except of course that it “feels” more like a Fiend or an Undead. But, now I could simply say it is any of those types (as fits best) with a Dearth tag.

That example is pretty easy. The one that gets a bit more dicey for me is Trolls – in my head, Trolls, Giants, Ogres,  and Goblins are four categorically different things. In the new version however, Trolls, Giants, and Ogres are “the same thing” while Goblins are Humanoids. Now, in some ways this is not such a bit deal – except when we get to Rangers and they get to choose Enemies that they get bonuses against. I suppose that the best answer is to simply say that they roll with it – but then I’d have to figure out what counts as a Humanoid given that my list of humanoid races is way, way shorter in some ways.

I do really like the idea of unaligned creatures – that is much more elegant than the old neutral catch-all. Similarly, I like the appendix in the back for “normal creatures” (even though it includes wargs and winter wolves and  a handful of other things that seem to be anything but normal) but I still hate the whole NPC’s as a stat block as opposed to being a character class. Yes, I’m sure that this will save all sorts of people all sorts of time – but I really don’t think it takes that much time to write up (or end up having memorized) an NPC  either as a “0-level” or as a leveled character class.

I’m hoping that the DMG actually clears this up – the relationship between the “average man around town” and a PC. In 1E it was clear that the PC was an exceptional, heroic type – but that isn’t quite so clear in this set of rules. There is a hint or two of it, but it is unclear what makes a Noble get two Hit Dice and a Parry and Cultists also get two Hit Dice and Dark Devotion or a Scout gets three Hit Dice plus Keen Hearing and Sight. It all just seems to be a poorly thought out way to make different professions different without giving them a character class. Or something.




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