D&D 4th Edition Monster Design in D&D Next, Part 2 - Page 3


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  1. #21
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    Overall I thought the article had many interesting and sound ideas. I am eager to see them in a playtest. It could be really cool to have units work in certain ways.

    I still remain worried that orcs and goblins and all the other races end up being a wielded weapon and worn armor (dx due to weapon wielded, AC y due to armor worn) instead of being interesting foes. And fighting orcs at level 1-5 is fine... but when I'm 10th I don't need to fight 100 orcs. I want a more interesting challenge at that point (and far earlier as well). That fight can be a higher level special set of orcs or new foes, but it should be a different experience or it will be tiresome.

    I recall a fight in the dungeons of Greyhawk Ruins where two of our PCs fought 30 or so trolls. We would drop two a round, and those would start regenerating while we fought the rest, and so on and so forth. It was an incredible grind of a combat until we finally had enough down to break out a torch and stop the regen and clean up the rest. In 4E, such a combat is against a small set of really cool trolls. The anchor troll that wields a ship's anchor as a weapon, the timber slinger troll that throws tree trunks, the bladerager, the war troll... that is a really fun and imaginative fight. I'm not sure we can get there with the current plan. I think it will take the ideas presented working plus some system (perhaps in a module) of add-on powers (via monster themes, templates, etc.). And when I go down that road I end up wondering why we didn't start there in the first place.

    My ideal scenario is to have all D&D Next monsters have three powers: The basic attack, a species attack, and an attack based on the role or name of the creature. For example, all trolls might have the claws, plus the rend and regen. The battlerager would have the death burst. This keeps things pretty simple (simpler than most 4E monsters), offers expansion possibilities, but isn't boring every time you meet that creature - or worse yet, when meeting this and other creatures in the dungeon.

 

  • #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alphastream View Post
    And fighting orcs at level 1-5 is fine... but when I'm 10th I don't need to fight 100 orcs. I want a more interesting challenge at that point (and far earlier as well).
    I think the whole point is this kind of stuff is best handled by the GM. If a group likes hacking through millions of Hobgoblins in the Temple of Ultimate Evil the mechanics should allow that, where as if they are more into hacking through the Demonic Guardians of the Elder Astral Evil the rules should support that too.

    Just because the Rules allow the GM to pit you against Hobgoblins for 30 levels, that doesn't mean they have to*.


    *or even should.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jadrax View Post
    I think the whole point is this kind of stuff is best handled by the GM. If a group likes hacking through millions of Hobgoblins in the Temple of Ultimate Evil the mechanics should allow that, where as if they are more into hacking through the Demonic Guardians of the Elder Astral Evil the rules should support that too.
    Furthermore, it may be the case that "Battle of Helms Deep" is a good option for any group to have, even if most weeks you don't fight an army of a thousand orcs.
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  • #24
    Quote Originally Posted by am181d View Post
    Furthermore, it may be the case that "Battle of Helms Deep" is a good option for any group to have, even if most weeks you don't fight an army of a thousand orcs.
    This. The real point here is that the D&DN designers have recognized that low-level humanoids should also have a useful "horde" role for high-level characters. Humanoid hordes are part of the fantasy genre and have been under-represented in D&D editions of the past because the rules rarely provided effective support for this type of scenario. I love this type of story, and am excited by the idea that D&D might support it out of the box.

    At low levels, you might see an Orc Champion who's special abilities make an encounter with him and his orc followers interesting. At middle levels, it's the Hobgoblin King, his War Wizard and his Priest of Bane that make things interesting. And, at the highest levels, Yeenoughu himself could make a horde of gnolls something to worry about.

    In any of these scenarios, the humanoids aren't interesting as individuals. As a general matter, "orc 7 of 12" just isn't interesting and it's a mistake to attempt to give each orc a significant role when the PCs just want to cleave through them. Instead you want a plentiful supply of generic orcs (where the number is appropriate to the level), and use a combination of an interesting leader along with formations/tactics to make the encounter what it is.

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    In 4e-speak:

    "The basic humanoid is a minion. The leader-type humanoid gives them special abilities. Standard or elite humanoids might have special abilities out the gate (because they are meant to be encountered in smaller numbers)."

    Not every hobgoblin has to be a Special Unique Snowflake. That doesn't mean you can't make a particular hobgoblin a Special Unique Snowflake if you want.

    As another way of looking at it: this ensconces the typical tactic of "attack the leader" into most humanoid bands. If you take out the Kobold Chief, they'll all loose the Shifty ability.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KidSnide View Post
    This. The real point here is that the D&DN designers have recognized that low-level humanoids should also have a useful "horde" role for high-level characters. Humanoid hordes are part of the fantasy genre and have been under-represented in D&D editions of the past because the rules rarely provided effective support for this type of scenario. I love this type of story, and am excited by the idea that D&D might support it out of the box.
    I agree that this should be supported, but quite honestly I'm happier with the 4e methodology of making "swarms" than with just having hundreds of orcs (or whatever). Swarms give me hordes and regiments without the die-rolling marathons - and they give me interesting "monsters" into the bargain (the one that splits into numerous minions when bloodied is classic).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Balesir View Post
    I agree that this should be supported, but quite honestly I'm happier with the 4e methodology of making "swarms" than with just having hundreds of orcs (or whatever). Swarms give me hordes and regiments without the die-rolling marathons - and they give me interesting "monsters" into the bargain (the one that splits into numerous minions when bloodied is classic).
    I think that's the way they are going with this, I also think that they have a strategic battle system in the works that would fit seamlessly with the core game and the tactical module.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackwarder View Post
    I think that's the way they are going with this, I also think that they have a strategic battle system in the works that would fit seamlessly with the core game and the tactical module.
    I think that would be very cool, but what makes you think it's what they have in mind?
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    It see,s like the logical progression from banding monsters into groups coupled with the talk about shield wall and pikes.

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  • #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by article
    Most importantly, we can keep those horde monsters fairly simple. Since you fight a lot of them, they might have few or even no special abilities.
    A great deal of combat in D&D is learning how to maximize each of our efforts when choosing to work as a team. NPCs almost always work as teams already, to greater or lesser degrees, and they use what combat tactics they know; the one they believe will best achieve their objective (depending upon Wisdom).

    So shield walls with missile attackers behind, columns for movement, phalanxes for interior defense and multiple attacks, special formations like the tortoise for facing throwing and melee attackers (e.g. spears), and so on.

    These could be "Training/Knowledge" powers or something. Something the monsters teach each other, but can add to based upon interactions with others and its own intelligence. And as long as the monster race has the capabilities to perform an action, it's a potential option. (i.e. can fly, walk, hold a weapon, move as a team, share space, bite, breathe water, etc.)

    Quote Originally Posted by article
    Secondly, the tactical rules module will include rules for pike hedges, shield walls, and other tactics that a mob of humanoids might use. You'll likely see a little more emphasis on using groups of monsters as small units.
    So reading further I see you are already sorta on this. Great!

    Quote Originally Posted by article
    In contrast to orcs and goblins, you can expect things such as carrion crawlers to be more complicated. In particular, creatures that generally operate alone will have more abilities and special attacks to make them viable as opponents.
    Carrion Crawlers specifically receive 8 attacks with save or paralyzed as the damage for each. I'm not sure if you are saying they need more options still, but not every monster needs to be the center of a campaign, not even most monsters.

    Also, I agree with the menu of currently available options in a statblock for a monster. This is all about eyeball real estate. I suggested a mix up of adventure + MM before, but there can be an issue if there are many unique monsters in a single encounter which are also all unique monster types. It means lots of MM flipping. OTOH, the loss of 1-2 pages of adventure space for every just "possible" encounter is too much to bear too. I would think there can be a compromise here.

    Lastly, rumors about facing being included in the tactical module...? Could be cool.
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