WotC Considering NPC Stat Format Change
  • WotC Considering NPC Stat Format Change


    This started with a comment about D&D formatting errors by James Introcaso (the comment, not the errors) on Twitter, and WotC's Chris Perkins joined in. Other quickly chimed in with further questions.



    James:
    When you write an NPC's statistics in parentheses next to their name, it should look like this: NAME (ABBREVIATED ALIGNMENT SEX OR GENDER SUBRACE RACE STATISTICS). e.g. Fireface McDragon (LG female mountain dwarf knight)

    Perkins: We’re thinking about dispensing with that format and writing out the information in sentence form using no alignment abbreviations. Example: Borf is a chaotic neutral, non-binary shield dwarf berserker with darkvision out to a range of 60 feet.

    Crows Bring the Spring: Can I inquire why adding the blurb about dark vision is included in that line? Makes it feel rather lengthy.

    Perkins: It doesn’t have to be there. It could also be replaced with something else, such as the languages Borf speaks, if that’s more important. Racial traits and other useful info could be presented as separate, full sentences.

    Hannah Rose: What’s motivating this possible change? The ability to transition into modifications to a stat block without saying “with the following changes”?

    Perkins: Our intention is to make books that are gorgeous, thoughtfully organized, fun to read, and easy for DMs/players of all experience levels to use.

    Guillermo Garrido: Do you playtest these changes by different levels of players/DMs before widespread use of the new language?

    Perkins: We playtest everything.
    Comments 170 Comments
    1. JWilliamHarris1's Avatar
      JWilliamHarris1 -
      Non-binary means medium sized beard. Since the Basic Set we have known that male Dwarves have long beards and female Dwarves have short beards.
    1. Reynard -
      Quote Originally Posted by Henry View Post
      Is this really still true, though? I know back when they were putting out a hardcover and a bunch of soft covers every month, this was actually true; however, with so few releases per year and all the focus on mainly adventure content, I think more people are actually PLAYING with this material, than just consuming for pleasure reading.
      I'm no expert but I found Storm King's Thunder completely opaque and had a terrible time trying to run it. Dragonheist isn't much better, but that's mostly because it is a bad module.
    1. Henry's Avatar
      Henry -
      Quote Originally Posted by Reynard View Post
      I'm no expert but I found Storm King's Thunder completely opaque and had a terrible time trying to run it. Dragonheist isn't much better, but that's mostly because it is a bad module.
      Thing is, there are millions of people actively playing D&D currently (something like 12 to 15 million last surveys) - I really doubt the majority are just reading and not playing the released material. back when it was more like 3 to 4 million active players about 15 to 20 years ago, i could see a bunch of DMs just reading and shelving the stuff. I can't speak to Storm King's Thunder -- Out of the Abyss was pretty good, actually, as we Curse of Strahd and Tomb of Annihilation, and I'm running Dragon Heist just fine right now -- admittedly, i'm putting my own spin on it, but that's how it's meant to be run.

      This is not to Reynard personally, but just to the thought of collectibility -- if people really are just buying it to read and shelve it, and not give ideas or actual play time, IMO it's a terrible idea to lean into that, it would be better to improve playability and PREP USEFULNESS. As above with the car example, it's like buying a pretty oven mitt that is combustible, or buying a beautiful set of pots and pans that are not rated for cooking with. I find it just... silly, I can't help my opinion. I have NEVER knowingly bought something that looked cool that couldn't fulfill its original purpose for me. My Limited Edition Monopoly set has been played with, my vintage cast iron skillet still fries things and gets seasoned, My limited edition Art and Arcana set has been read cover to cover (and not reverently) and my Limited Edition Dice get played with on regular rotation.
    1. Henry's Avatar
      Henry -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jester David View Post
      Take and cropping screenshots from my MM, I can fit all six statblocks into a page-and-a-half. I could probably cut-and-paste from the SRD as easily and shrink down the font to get them all on one page. That's an easy module, with so few critters.

      Much appreciated; I'm also looking for @guachi 's input, because like him, I'm also one who finds trying to flip through three or four books while playing at the table WAAAY more trouble than it's worth, and have to go through the inconvenient step of extracting stat blocks when making prep notes for play, and wished the adventures that are sold were more ready for prep work than just one bolded word, even if additional adventure content were sacrificed, or a higher price tag were required. I'm in the minority, I know, but I like good tips to speed up table play when I can find them. A lot of the prep aids such as D&D Beyond haven't helped much (at least from the limited demos I've tried) and I always enjoy more.
    1. Henry's Avatar
      Henry -
      Quote Originally Posted by R_Chance View Post
      I have a shelf full of 5E adventures (all of them except Ravnica -- no interest in that one), and haven't run any of them. I've read them though. As for cars, I saw a 2007 Shelby GT500 for sale at a local dealership 4 years ago (iirc). It had less than 30,000 miles on it. I think they drove it out and listened to the radio on weekends. Occasionally
      Isn't that reminiscent of that old saying about the two happiest days for most boat owners? :-)
    1. Jester David's Avatar
      Jester David -
      Quote Originally Posted by Henry View Post
      Much appreciated; I'm also looking for @guachi 's input, because like him, I'm also one who finds trying to flip through three or four books while playing at the table WAAAY more trouble than it's worth, and have to go through the inconvenient step of extracting stat blocks when making prep notes for play, and wished the adventures that are sold were more ready for prep work than just one bolded word, even if additional adventure content were sacrificed, or a higher price tag were required. I'm in the minority, I know, but I like good tips to speed up table play when I can find them. A lot of the prep aids such as D&D Beyond haven't helped much (at least from the limited demos I've tried) and I always enjoy more.
      A tablet helps.

      the SRD ( http://dnd.wizards.com/articles/feat...e-document-srd ) is useful. But copying the text can be annoying as the formatting doesn't transfer when you cut-and-paste.

      Both D&D Beyond and Roll20 have the SRD monsters online:
      https://www.dndbeyond.com/monsters/ogre
      https://roll20.net/compendium/dnd5e/Ogre
      It's easy enough to pull those up on an iPad. Or cut-and-paste them using Window's Snipping Tool then print out.

      For other monsters, every smartphone is basically a scanner that fits in your pocket. Put the book in an area of bright but non-direct light and snap a pic of the monster's statblock. Crop out the rest of the page and email (or dropbox) the file to yourself. Collect the images in a Google Docs or Word document. Print. You're golden.

      Personally, I tend to just use bookmarks. I did three bookmarks that are all covered in random names. I use them to mark needed pages in monster books. (Because I paid for the dead tree copy, so I want to use it.) And when I need a random NPC name, I pull out a bookmark and grab a name from that, the scratch it out.
    1. robus's Avatar
      robus -
      Quote Originally Posted by guachi View Post
      I think it has to be a thing in 5e. I mean, "gorgeous" isn't really high on the list of things necessary to run an adventure. And I find 5e adventure books terribly laid out and not at all easy to use.

      So I assume WOTC's primary purpose with their adventure books isn't for people to actually run them.
      Actually with Dragon Heist they really nailed it. Hard to run *and* hard to read!
    1. robus's Avatar
      robus -
      Quote Originally Posted by dwayne View Post
      Why not just have perforated cards in back with stats on them so you can remove and keep handy with all information. No need to put any thing other than name as all on card in back of adventure or book.
      I would buy that accessory!
    1. dnd4vr's Avatar
      dnd4vr -
      I sincerely hope they don't make the proposed changes. Stat blocks are meant to relay a lot of information quickly and easily with a scan and not word-by-word reading.
    1. Reynard -
      Quote Originally Posted by Henry View Post
      I'm running Dragon Heist just fine right now -- admittedly, i'm putting my own spin on it, but that's how it's meant to be run.
      Don't get me wrong, we are having a great time with Dragonheist, but my version does not look anything like the book version. I appreciate the springboard it provides and I use a lot of the material within, but the adventure itself is just not something I think works and so I discard it. No big deal. i do not regret the purchase at all. Storm King's Thunder was a littler different because I was running it on Fantasy grounds and due to certain limitations in the medium, I have a harder time improvising on FG, so the weaknesses of STK seemed to glare a lot more brightly.

      I also understand that I am just not a prepared module type DM. I much prefer, say, Savage Worlds plot point campaigns, which are much less detailed in presentation. I am an improvisational GM at my core so what i am really looking for in modules is material to build something unique on -- especially at the scope of an AP. I want the module to make my life easier. I totally understand that other people want different things from modules.
    1. wcpfish -
      Quote Originally Posted by lowkey13 View Post
      Is it weird that I was just thinking about how I missed the short stat blocks of 1e?

      "4 Bull Thistles (AC 6; MV 9”; HD 4; hp 4 x 24; #AT 3; D 2-8/2-8/3-13; SD 25% magic resistance)"


      (Source: EX1)
      I'll second this! One line with the info I need NOW at the gaming table, I can create my own note ("Bull Thistles can be bribed with a bag of plant food and hate Mondays") or give the Bull Thistle's names, etc.
    1. Rygar's Avatar
      Rygar -
      Quote Originally Posted by Koloth View Post
      "Example: Borf is a chaotic neutral, non-binary shield dwarf berserker with darkvision out to a range of 60 feet."

      Maybe it is too early in the morning and not enough tea but WTF is a 'non-binary shield dwarf'? Did a 2 get into a Boolean logic discussion?

      While the new format seems easier to read, can it be spotted quickly while scanning a block of text as players are waiting for the DM to describe who they are dealing with? The () can make a string of stat text stand out from normal text.
      It's a way to virtue signal to all of the other far left wing political activists that your product is designed to meet all the criteria of far left wing politics.

      It's also a monumentally stupid way to get your product line shut down due to poor sales. We know from Harvard's recent study that far left wing political activists are approximately 8% of the population, and the left is 32%. So somewhere towards the end of this year someone is going to have to explain to coorporate why dropping sales between 68% and 92% is a good thing since when you make a product political you alienate all of those who don't share your politics.

      On the other hand, at least we can see WOTC's continuing the pattern of making sure Paizo is the future of the RPG market. WOTC is definitely the single best marketing tool Paizo's ever had.

      You’ve been here long enough to know better than sling lingo like “virtue signal” and “far left politicians” around. If you don’t, you might wish to refamiliarize yourself with ENWorld’s terms of service. Don’t post in this thread again.
    1. MechaPilot's Avatar
      MechaPilot -
      I always enjoyed the AD&D 2e Planescape statblocks. They do seem a bit arcane on first glance, but once you get used to them they have a wealth of information at a glance.
    1. Reynard -
      Quote Originally Posted by Rygar View Post
      It's a way to virtue signal to all of the other far left wing political activists that your product is designed to meet all the criteria of far left wing politics.

      It's also a monumentally stupid way to get your product line shut down due to poor sales. We know from Harvard's recent study that far left wing political activists are approximately 8% of the population, and the left is 32%. So somewhere towards the end of this year someone is going to have to explain to coorporate why dropping sales between 68% and 92% is a good thing since when you make a product political you alienate all of those who don't share your politics.

      On the other hand, at least we can see WOTC's continuing the pattern of making sure Paizo is the future of the RPG market. WOTC is definitely the single best marketing tool Paizo's ever had.
      Really?

      First of all, if there is a top tier RPG company more progressive than WotC it is Paizo.

      Second, I am not sure you really understand the numbers you tossed around, even assuming they aren't completely made up.

      Finally: the culture war is over. You lost.
    1. EthanSental's Avatar
      EthanSental -
      I think that non-binary line as an example is one that skates on thin ice as many would like to reply concerning it but steer clear cause of the friction it may imply or cause.
      I just don’t like the new styling regardless of that part being included in the example. It’s not DM user friendly.
    1. oreofox's Avatar
      oreofox -
      Quote Originally Posted by Rygar View Post
      It's a way to virtue signal to all of the other far left wing political activists that your product is designed to meet all the criteria of far left wing politics.

      It's also a monumentally stupid way to get your product line shut down due to poor sales. We know from Harvard's recent study that far left wing political activists are approximately 8% of the population, and the left is 32%. So somewhere towards the end of this year someone is going to have to explain to coorporate why dropping sales between 68% and 92% is a good thing since when you make a product political you alienate all of those who don't share your politics.

      On the other hand, at least we can see WOTC's continuing the pattern of making sure Paizo is the future of the RPG market. WOTC is definitely the single best marketing tool Paizo's ever had.
      You do know Paizo has been more "progressive" for a lot longer than WotC has with their product lines, yes? There's been numerous homosexual couples, and even a transgender NPC in Wrath of the Righteous (which was released way back in 2013). Paizo's CEO is one of those evil despicable women (Lisa Stevens). So one mention of a "non-binary dwarf" makes them bad and shows that Paizo is the future of the RPG market, despite being very much more progressive and "far left" than WotC.
    1. MerricB's Avatar
      MerricB -
      Quote Originally Posted by wcpfish View Post
      I'll second this! One line with the info I need NOW at the gaming table, I can create my own note ("Bull Thistles can be bribed with a bag of plant food and hate Mondays") or give the Bull Thistle's names, etc.
      Works great for AD&D. You've got to love most of the creature's abilities triggering off Hit Dice. Alas, not a great option for 5E, where there's a lot more variance in abilities.

      Ability scores that matter take up a lot of space, just to begin with - then there's lots of rider effects on attacks and the like. Even the damage type needs to be listed.

      In theory, you could have an undead deal 1d8+4N, with the N standing for Necrotic, but we end up with too many abbreviations to remember.

      Cheers!
    1. MerricB's Avatar
      MerricB -
      Quote Originally Posted by Henry View Post
      I really doubt the majority are just reading and not playing the released material.
      I think the majority of players are not running any individual campaign from Wizards. I'm doubtful that most games are using official D&D adventures.

      However, I do think that the number of people using official Wizards adventures is much higher than it's been in the past.

      Cheers!
    1. MichaelSomething's Avatar
      MichaelSomething -
      Quote Originally Posted by robus View Post
      I would buy that accessory!
      https://www.amazon.com/Monster-Cards...JHNCBR1BR6K7BP

      https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product...-Monster-Cards

      Is this what you're looking for???
    1. MNblockhead's Avatar
      MNblockhead -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ghal Maraz View Post
      Meh. Adventures make for really bad reads.

      If I want to enjoy the background of an RPG, adventures are the last place I head to.

      Adventure modules should be meant as a way to give DMs an easier time. Nothing less, nothing more. Interpretation guidelines shouldn't have places in stat-blocks: there should be different places for the two different (but complementary) things.
      While I agree that adventure module should make it easier for the DM to run, which is why I would like to keep the stat blocks, I disagree that "[a]dventures make for really bad reads" and that they "should be meant as a way to give DMs an easier time."

      I quite enjoy reading adventure modules and have enjoyed this "lonely fun" since the days of 1e. You don't read it as a novel. You read the intro sections and jump around, following the map, travelling through the dungeon or what have you in your mind.

      This does more than just help a DM prep the module, it inspires the DM on how that DM will run it and perhaps alter it for his or her specific game.

      The Curse of Strahd is a great example of a module that I thoroughly enjoyed reading through long before I ever ran it, while also being pretty well designed to help me run it as a DM.

      That doesn't mean every room needs paragraphs of description and back story. But I don't think that making a module enjoyable to read through and enjoyable to run as a DM are mutually exclusive goals.
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