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. Eltab's Avatar
      Eltab -
      Quote Originally Posted by Morrus View Post
      Is it bad that I actually quite like that?
      Monster Manuals are the place for a paragraph of text about the monster and a page of fluff describing its background. In an adventure, I need to know if the monster wants to attack the PCs (presumably so or you do not have a Combat; talkative monsters can provide you with an Encounter), and mechanically what it uses to interact with the PC's stats.
      The paragraph format has its place but standing in between a Monster and a group of PCs is not that place.
      Despite the rather lawyerly use of language and terms, I miss 4e's stat blocks with their prominent symbol showing "this is what he will hit the PCs with".
    1. Mistwell's Avatar
      Mistwell -
      I would really like to see a page of this in use before deciding if I liked it or not.
    1. Reynard -
      Quote Originally Posted by Haffrung View Post
      Putting 5E monster stat blocks in the text of the adventure is a waste of space. 5E monsters are complex enough that you want to have the full stats available. Is it really a big deal to flip the MM during play? Or do you want 10-20 per cent of the content in a book you bought to be monster stats, many of them repeated over and over again?

      Not including stats is also better for DMs who convert to other editions.
      Everything I need to run the encounter should be on the page I need to run the encounter. There is more than enough room to do this if you excise all the flavor text. But flavor text makes adventures fun to read, inspires the DM's creativity and provides important context. Therefore, the smartest solution is to provide both the "full prose" adventure with a mechanical adventure rule book.
    1. Kor's Avatar
      Kor -
      When I'm running a game and have several tasks I'm trying to do at the same time, I want at-a-glance friendly info. Existing stat blocks are exactly that - one quick look and I can see the info I want. I really hope they don't change them -- they are perfectly fine the way they are.
    1. Bagpuss's Avatar
      Bagpuss -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jacob Lewis View Post
      I miss 4e statblocks. I didn't need to flip a single page or reference any other book to run an encounter. I'll get back to DMing when they get back to that.
      The idea to have an all the information to run the combat encounter only take up one page or at most a centre spread was really helpful for a DM, even if it was probably a pain for editors/writers and page count.
    1. Satyrn's Avatar
      Satyrn -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mistwell View Post
      I would really like to see a page of this in use before deciding if I liked it or not.
      That's crazy talk!
    1. Ronald Elmore's Avatar
      Ronald Elmore -
      The non binary is Chris Perkins way of pushing his politics into the game. If he get it in there, he make it more socially acceptable. In which to force us to accept his ideology into the English language. Not that I care,

      Anti-inclusive AND political- a double violation of ENWorld’s ToS. On a first post, to boot. If we find this is a puppet account, this account, the original, and any other duplicates will be banned.

      In the meantime, don’t post in this thread again. Familiarize yourself with the ToS so you don’t make similar mistakes in the future. If you have a question about this, send a PM or post in Meta.

      Welcome to ENWorld!
    1. chibi graz'zt's Avatar
      chibi graz'zt -
      This is a 5e adventure book/module, not 1e; it should be gorgeous ;-)
    1. Zaran's Avatar
      Zaran -
      I would rather they leave the stats and provide a description of the npc.
    1. roadtoad's Avatar
      roadtoad -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jacob Lewis View Post
      I miss 4e statblocks. I didn't need to flip a single page or reference any other book to run an encounter. I'll get back to DMing when they get back to that.
      No! The game can't be easy to set up and run! Then people won't be able to demonstrate their superiority by running a 3-book encounter off the top of their head! Nothing is more fun than a monster with spells and a magic item forcing me to look into the PHB and DM's Guide while already holding my Monster Manual open!
    1. MerricB's Avatar
      MerricB -
      Quote Originally Posted by Bagpuss View Post
      The idea to have an all the information to run the combat encounter only take up one page or at most a centre spread was really helpful for a DM, even if it was probably a pain for editors/writers and page count.
      I'm amused by your usage of "only", just because the same encounter *without* reprinting all the stat blocks would probably take up a quarter of a page. I'm conflicted on how much detail a DM needs about the terrain and environmental conditions in an encounter. There's also the problem of overcomplicating an encounter; that's not very hard to do!

      However, yes - the full-page presentation for major combats was very good for DMs.

      Cheers!
    1. TestByLogic&Science's Avatar
      TestByLogic&Science -
      STOP! Is the "non-binary" label a case of PC language smuggling in a certain ideology? If so, there should be *free respectful debate* on its particular virtues or vices *before* we allow it to pass our common border.

      FIRST, A DEFENCE:
      Should I be raising such concerns here?

      (Honest Self-Disclosure : posting here has given me pause. I felt obliged to create an anonymous account that would not easily be hacked & tracked, compromising my freedom to debate without repercussions for my wellbeing should someone be "triggered" unreasonably by what I write, & respond with malicious intent in order to do me some sort of harm (or, more likely, subject me to unreasonable "trollish" harassment.) This isn't a desirable state of affairs for anyone.)

      Well, Role-Playing Games & Dungeons & Dragons as here offers us imaginary participation in simulations of worlds. Sometimes - & at their best - these Secondary Worlds express high complexity - ***especially including "political" & military complexity*** - inspired by & often mirroring or reacting to aspects of The Real World. ***Therefore the political aspect of Reality & Secondary Worlds should *never* be necessarily precluded from a healthy & serious discussion of Dungeons & Dragons & RPG's in general.***

      ***And, more specifically, there is definitely a political *aspect &/or applications & implications* to the term "non-binary" - especially currently in Western countries (cf. the online & offline contention swirling around leading figures such as Prof. Jordan Peterson.)***

      While personally favouring democratic socialism, I am not, in some ways, part of the "extreme" Left. So I won't argue every act is always "political" to support my assertion that this post should be allowed to be read by others. ***But certainly any civil communication (no swearing here!) should be available for evaluation by every healthily free-thinking, free-speaking adult who participates in our wonderful community, physical & online; in this sense I am totally for, & *not* against inclusion : every voice with something of apparent weight to add to a discussion should be heard.*** ***Free thought & free speech are essential to informed logical debate, & informed logical debate is essential to evaluating the more objective worthiness of changing language in D&D.***

      Even 'An Honest Anyone' who would state that they identify as part of the community of the "extreme" Left would admit that the term "non-binary" is effectively an example of political language, (1) by virtue of their very belief that all acts - including linguistics acts - are political; -&/OR- (2) because they admit in the end that *part* of their push for the use of such terms & broader use of more varied personal pronouns is to effect sociopolitical change, in formal law & informal discourse. ***And how can I sufficiently discuss what I feel & think specifically about a change in language that even my hypothetically, diametrically-opposed co-debaters would agree is political, without being political?***

      THE MEAT OF THE MATTER:
      So, regarding the proposed "non-binary" label...

      Personally : I dislike this on the basis of my interest in biological / psychological truth & its better expression in language, esp. English, as someone trained in languages / linguistics, & a quondam teacher of English as a Second Language. Honest self-disclosure : this is largely shaped by personal conviction / feeling & Christian influences, which is reasonable to the extent that I think Christianity may be true, on the basis of logical arguments & evidence. (I've suspended judgement in some ways on this one, as I'm seeking *empirically* stronger proof, if such is indeed available & "offered.")

      The 24+ personal pronouns sometimes over-vigorously promoted by the *extreme* Left for the "non-binary" seems to me both (1) overcumbersome, even for those who like exploring physically-possible 'Ursula le Guinean' Secondary Worlds; -&- (2) doubtful in veracity, at least on some points, where it asserts certain important claims on the nature of physical / psychological "gender", "sex" & "sexuality." (Prof. Jordan Peterson, admittedly in my view not universally ethical / truthful, has himself sometimes been wrong on some of his important assertions, but he is correct about the *extreme* Left factually erring on these issues & the ethical undesirability of a State legally enforcing the use of these pronouns & effectively punishing genuinely "conscientious objectors.")

      In contrast with the 24+ pronoun matrix, the term "non-binary" itself, while far simpler, is too ambiguous (even if I accepted the assumptions built into any ideology that seeks to promote the use of such language & the ideas / worldview / values it tacitly proclaims as true.) How does this jargon-ish label help a DM quickly describe our hypothetical shield dwarf? Is this "shield dwarf" (obscure?) "bisexual"? Well, I personally don't necessarily clap him on the back for living so, but that's clearer than "non-binary." Or is (s)he? physically a "hermaphrodite?" That is an easier aid for the storytelling DM to pick up & use off the page - perhaps they can throw in natural breasts on top of natural male pudenda as part of a physical description, where evident / pertinent.

      In the context of the fantasy / science fantasy / science fiction genres predominant in D&D, "non-binary" can simple mean *too much* : anything from "he doesn't identify himself as (just) male or female" -OR- "he isn't physically, naturally or artificially - e.g. magically - (just) male or female", to "he's one of 24+ genders 'identified'" -OR- "actually naturally or artificially physically instantiated among 'shield dwarves.'" LOL! The introduction of such increasingly popular, but at times, perhaps, unwieldy AND unproven language certainly stirs up a set of questions, a multi-headed hydra requiring a careful or studied communal response, not based primarily on *any* individual or single subgroup's subjective emotion & perception (*including my own*) --- &, without disregarding any's (high & universal) value as persons, *regardless of factors such as participation in minority status, or the degree of hurt /oppression experienced or felt*; these understandably tend to strongly shape our subjective *views* of the Truth, but not *Truth, its independent, objective self.*

      That is arrived at, as much as we are able as mortals, e.g. via actual empirical *testing* of theories, & *logical argument expressed in free debate.*

      Terminology issues aside, as for (A) abbreviated-block vs. (B) paragraph-formatting of monster / NPC descriptions, (A) is quicker to use, it "leaps off the page", while (B) is more imaginatively evocative, fluent, involving. So with contrary pro's, I suspect individual DM preference will vary depending on individual DMing style.
    1. MNblockhead's Avatar
      MNblockhead -
      Quote Originally Posted by TestByLogic&Science View Post
      STOP! Is the "non-binary" label a case of PC language smuggling in a certain ideology? If so, there should be *free respectful debate* on its particular virtues or vices *before* we allow it to pass our common border.

      This is a thread on statblock formatting. Please take this wall of text to another thread, though be sure to check out this site's rules. This is not a political discussion site and these discussions tend to get locked and aggressively moderated. I'm enjoying the topic of this thread's discussion and would hate to set it derailed by thread hijacking.

      So, do you have any thoughts on how NPC stats should be presented in 5e adventures?
    1. CapnZapp -
      Whoa. Just...
    1. Dannyalcatraz's Avatar
      Dannyalcatraz -
      @TestByLogic&Science

      A simple yes/no question: did you edit some red text out of your post at 12:45AM? Send me a PM.
    1. Zyptuous's Avatar
      Zyptuous -
      This "non binary " crap needs to go. How hard is it for a DM to see male and just change it on the fly or in the DM notes to fit the homebrew story? While reading through some of the sections in Dragon Heist I noticed way too much social justice warrior crap. Leave the real world politics out of my D&D game!

      Yet another first time poster, first time offender!

      This “social justice warrior” crap needs to go. Use of loaded political phrases such as this is forbidden by ENWorld’s ToS. Familiarize yourself with the rules so you don’t make that mistake again. In the meantime, do not post in this thread again.
    1. S'mon -
      Really I think Perkins was just making a light-hearted joke. Possibly a badly considered joke, judging by the Internet storm. I don't think he was intending to provoke either this reaction of outrage, or the 'Banning for Inclusivity' mod counter-reaction of equal outrage.
    1. TestByLogic&Science's Avatar
      TestByLogic&Science -
      My DEFENCE bit is sufficient explanation why commenting on the language choice evidenced in the new NPC description example given in the original post should be allowed for, well, anyone. There's a political aspect to content in said post (perhaps unintended by the poster, per se.)

      Unfortunately my post was longer than I like. I felt I needed to set out a substantial but honest defence & explanation just to get a chance to be fairly heard, without being deleted without consideration or shot down by hostile / kneejerk-reacting folks projecting my political position & views (actually Left but religiously affected) & ethics / morals (robust) incorrectly. Deflection of flak etc.

      Quote Originally Posted by MNblockhead View Post
      So, do you have any thoughts on how NPC stats should be presented in 5e adventures?
      I signposted a response to the long- vs. shortform aspect at the end.
    1. TestByLogic&Science's Avatar
      TestByLogic&Science -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dannyalcatraz View Post
      @TestByLogic&Science

      A simple yes/no question: did you edit some red text out of your post at 12:45AM? Send me a PM.
      NO. I am colourblind (LOL), but assume from an above post that Moderator comments are always in red. I definitely didn't delete any Moderator comments, nor would I do so, in the interests of open & honest discourse.

      Sorry I'm not PMing, it's better to keep discourse in the light. Public accountability, no need to re-respond to similar queries, avoids nastiness, etc.
    1. Tom B1's Avatar
      Tom B1 -
      This whole focus on a couple of words that has triggered moderation and long diatribes is ridiculous. It is at best tertiary and by far that as part of a discussion of stat block formatting which is the matter at hand. This is not a political forum.

      Having said that: Half the reason I haven't been buying D&D adventures from WoTC (have bought some third party stuff) is exactly BECAUSE they are more interested in producing Works of Art rather than functional reference books. As someone with older eyes (been dungeon crawling since 1981), my eyes aren't what they used to be. I definitely prefer clean, openly kerned, non-serif fonts with very clean characteristics on backgrounds that are fairly decent contrast and uncluttered by all sorts of background art.

      If I wanted Art Works, I'd buy paintings. When I'm buying core rulebooks, I want clear reference sources that harness the best information presentation to be complete, clear, and concise and well referenced.

      If I'm buying a module, I want to have key things jump out at me (boxed, bolded, different font, some sort of delimete) and not a lot of 'blah blah blah' prose. At best, that should go into an introduction or section labelled 'the enemy plan' where the motivations, strategies, and so on of the foes are laid out in some detail. Area or encounter descriptions should focus on point form, high scan-ability, and concise and uncluttered presentation of necessary tactical key points and critter data.

      Furthermore, putting stat blocks into a computer for any purpose is helped a lot by any sort of organized and adhered to standard of presentation that has set locations and identification for different fields. Long prosaic passages are the anathema of ever being able to extract data for game supporting purposes.

      Other publishers get this. I'm a big fan of maps, infographics, point form, concise shorthands that are standardized and don't leave out obvious things like NPC level (who thought that was a good idea? really?). I'm also a big believer that boxed text was (beyond the first halting adventure anyone played) a bad idea that need never recur. Usually the players' eyes glazed over as the DM worked his way through the boxed text (and often enough they missed key obvious things in their boxed text that the players should have seen so as a DM you could not rely on the boxed text). There was also the issue of the boxed text giving too much away.

      Clean up your books, realize they are reference materials for gaming, not some sort love letter to posterity. If you want to print 500 copies of the core books with faux dragonhide complete with scales, with gold gilt vellum pages, hand written by an order of ascetic AD&D rules lawyers.... that's your business. But if you want to sell books to those of us who like to actually play the game (vs. simply chat about it), we'd prefer for the most part to have our info in easy reference formats, sans distractions and over-heavy prose.

      This post was probably twice the size it needed to be, or three times. This is the kind of bogginess you get with natural language without shorthands and a focus on concise writing.
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