D&D 4th Edition Monster Design in D&D Next


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    Monster Design in D&D Next

    This week Mike tackles monster design and walks you through the conversion of a hook horror.

    Read Monster Design in D&D Next on D&D Insider here!



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    Seems interesting, I still think that the XP is too high though.

    One thing that jumped up was the talk about encounter design, I thought we were moving away from that to advanture design.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackwarder View Post
    Seems interesting, I still think that the XP is too high though.

    One thing that jumped up was the talk about encounter design, I thought we were moving away from that to advanture design.

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    Just because the focus of the game is on the complete adventure, and thus making sure all characters have abilities that are balanced across multiple events within that adventure, does not mean they don't have to keep track of what can happen in any specific individual encounter or fight.

    The adventure may dictate for example 3000 XP spread over its length... but that doesn't mean a good or balanced design with that 3000 XP is eight fights worth 25 XP each, followed by an 1800 XP monstrous shitkicker. Which, if you don't talk about that in the DMG... means some newer or less-experienced DMs might actually think that's as valid a way to design an adventure as any other. Which they would unfortunately find out is not to be the case when the players are bored with those first 8 and then absolutely decimated in that final battle.

    So giving helpful tips on designing adventures and individual fights or encounters is a good idea. You don't need to forsake one for the other.

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    L&L: Monster Design in D&D Next

    As your new servant, why not bring you on a platter the new section of L & L this week? It is about Hook Horror, developing the concept of monsters following the ideas from all editions and presentation design example of a stat block in the rough and use NPCs to D & D Next. Bon appetit!

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    I quite like the idea of monsters having a "level". This makes it easy to eyeball the power of monsters and makes it easy to advance the level and the difficulty of the monster.

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    The design sounds pretty straight-forward; for the purposes of designing a monster for a combat encounter, should work fine.

    It's interesting to note monsters, at this time, aren't given skills. As broad as skills are going to be, I think that's a shame. I'd like to see kobolds with skill at trapmaking, bugbears with stealth, gnolls with tracking, sphinxes with skills in riddles, etc., to at least suggest uses beyond straight-up combat.
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    I'm on board with this. The fact that they're keeping the 4th Edition experience budget fills me with joy; it made encounter-building an easy task. And I like the straightforward, yet flavorful approach to combat abilities. The hook horror has enough going for it there that it can do some cool maneuvers, but it's not going to take an hour to learn how to run it at the table.
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    Merging this with the existing news thread.

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    It's a curate's egg. I like that they're keeping the 4e approach to the XP budget. But the monster itself? Urgh. No. It's slightly less flavoursome than the 4e version of the same monster, printed effectively as filler in the worst monster manual ever produced for 4e (the MM1). And this is what they use as a Showcase?



    What the designers think is important about the Hook Horror in order:

    * You can't hide from it (screwing the rogue)
    * It gets two attacks that grab
    * The grab does damage
    * It gets to bite grabbed foes
    * It can climb
    * Its level
    * Its stats

    Which are fundamentally the least important parts.

    If you want to make a monster interesting you start with its psychology. How it moves - not just its movement modes. How it hunts. Those are what make a monster. Not having mechanics that are identical to an oversized crab that scuttles up to people, grabs them in its claws, and squeezes. Oh wait - it does impaling rather than crushing damage. There's literally your only mechanical difference from a giant crab with a carapace.

    If you want to make your hook horror actually interesting, give it a "No one looks up" ability giving it advantage when attempting to hide on the ceiling, and a "Death from Above" attack; the Hook Horror can drop safely from a ceiling that is 30ft or lower and land on its feet as a free acttion. If it does so it retains any advantage it had for being hidden from its foe for the attacks it makes this turn.

    Now. Instead of a crab that climbs instead of swims you have something really scary. A monster that hides on the ceiling, drops into the middle of the enemy, and then rends them into pieces.

    (Some ideas stolen from Drek on rpg.net; his version of the Hook Horror dragged the enemies off but I'm going for more of a gore-monster here as that feels more like a hook horror to me.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stormonu View Post
    The design sounds pretty straight-forward; for the purposes of designing a monster for a combat encounter, should work fine.

    It's interesting to note monsters, at this time, aren't given skills. As broad as skills are going to be, I think that's a shame. I'd like to see kobolds with skill at trapmaking, bugbears with stealth, gnolls with tracking, sphinxes with skills in riddles, etc., to at least suggest uses beyond straight-up combat.
    Yeah, I would have liked to see this, but Skills are currently in the limbo of modularity.

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