5E Varient Monster in a Third Party Published Adventure
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    Varient Monster in a Third Party Published Adventure

    So I'm working on an adventure where I want to use slight variations on standard OGL monster manual monsters. For example giving goblins an alchemist fire attack.

    In cases like these how would you like to see the variant included? My two main ideas are a sidebar that just includes the new attack and says otherwise refer to the 5e core book, or to reprint the whole variant monster in same section I have new monsters.

    As a GM, what do you think you'd prefer?

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    Quote Originally Posted by MatthewJHanson View Post
    So I'm working on an adventure where I want to use slight variations on standard OGL monster manual monsters. For example giving goblins an alchemist fire attack.

    In cases like these how would you like to see the variant included? My two main ideas are a sidebar that just includes the new attack and says otherwise refer to the 5e core book, or to reprint the whole variant monster in same section I have new monsters.

    As a GM, what do you think you'd prefer?
    It really depends.

    First, it depends on whether you're writing for newbies or experienced gamers. For example, if it's a low level adventure intended to introduce a DM and players to D&D, you probably want to include a basic goblin stat block – don't assume they have the Monster Manual or easily-accessible Basic Rules with basic monster stats when they play. Then a very visible sidebar near the area where the fire-wielding goblins appear explaining they can throw alchemist's fire, with the pertinent effects of that.

    Second, it depends on how extensive your changes to a monster are. Just giving it different armor/weapons or a special attack like alchemist's fire? At most you'll need a sidebar and you may be able to get away with just mentioning it in-line with the text in the relevant section. But start to pile on new traits, change ability scores, grant spellcasting, and so on...then you're looking at sufficient changes to warrant an entirely new stat block.

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    I converted the frost giant jarl module from 4e to 5e before tales of the Yawning Portal came along and I prefer my versions of the Jarl and his wife to the ones in the module, which were pretty standard conversions. Monsters have average hit points, so if you want tougher ones, just increase them anywhere up to maximum. I upped his strength a point, to make him more in keeping with the 1e version, and this increased his attack and damage rolls. I gave him better armour, legendary actions and a reaction ability akin to a benefit from a feat. His wife I just gave a lair action. Little tweaks can make monsters more fun; just don't go overboard!

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    If space allows, put all the info. Generally, having to look at one source rather than two for a monster is preferable. But if space is a concern, then I'd make the deciaion based on how significant a change it is from the basoc statblock.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Quickleaf View Post
    It really depends.

    First, it depends on whether you're writing for newbies or experienced gamers. For example, if it's a low level adventure intended to introduce a DM and players to D&D, you probably want to include a basic goblin stat block – don't assume they have the Monster Manual or easily-accessible Basic Rules with basic monster stats when they play. Then a very visible sidebar near the area where the fire-wielding goblins appear explaining they can throw alchemist's fire, with the pertinent effects of that.

    Second, it depends on how extensive your changes to a monster are. Just giving it different armor/weapons or a special attack like alchemist's fire? At most you'll need a sidebar and you may be able to get away with just mentioning it in-line with the text in the relevant section. But start to pile on new traits, change ability scores, grant spellcasting, and so on...then you're looking at sufficient changes to warrant an entirely new stat block.
    It is a low level adventure, but as a third party publisher, I tend to assume that I'd be getting people who already know about the game. Do you think that's risky.

    I agree that big changes for sure should get new write ups. It's the edge cases that I'm not sure about, where it could be just a line like: "These goblins have the following action in addition to their normal actions: Alchemist Fire...(description)"

    Quote Originally Posted by hawkeyefan View Post
    If space allows, put all the info. Generally, having to look at one source rather than two for a monster is preferable. But if space is a concern, then I'd make the decision based on how significant a change it is from the basic statblock.
    It's primarily a PDF, so space isn't a concern at all. What do you think about monsters that would be run exactly as they are in the Monster Manuel?

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    Quote Originally Posted by MatthewJHanson View Post
    It's primarily a PDF, so space isn't a concern at all. What do you think about monsters that would be run exactly as they are in the Monster Manuel?
    If space isn't a concern, then I would say to include them, unless you have some compelling reason not to. I'm thinking as a DM running the module at the table. If I can have just the module open and not the module plus the Monster Manual, that's a bonus. The more practical you can make the DM's job at the table, the better job you've done on design.

    The only thing with that is, unless you're selling it through DMsGuild only, you may be limites to monsters in the SRD? I'm not 100% sure, but I bet @Quickleaf can confirm.
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    @MatthewJHanson Yes, @hawkeyefan has it right. You need to look at the 5eSRD to see which monsters you can use if self-publishing / publishing at drivethrurpg.com. If publishing thru DMs Guild, you can use any monsters in the MM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MatthewJHanson View Post
    It is a low level adventure, but as a third party publisher, I tend to assume that I'd be getting people who already know about the game. Do you think that's risky.

    I agree that big changes for sure should get new write ups. It's the edge cases that I'm not sure about, where it could be just a line like: "These goblins have the following action in addition to their normal actions: Alchemist Fire (description)"
    That's hard to answer without knowing your audience. Speaking about DMs Guild, I have had the pleasure of chatting with a handful of fellow DMs Guild creators, and it seems like there is a real mix of approaches when it comes to monster stats. Some just do a line like you mention - 4 goblins armed with alchemist's fire (see PHB p. #). Others include full monster stats for the basic goblin in the back. Others include abbreviated 1e style goblin stats each time goblins appear in an area description.

    I don't think there's one right way, there's just the way that's right for your given project for a given audience and given your personal preferences.

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    I put the whole stat block in the module like 4e so I have it and not need to look anything up. Since its just a quick-print and not a $50 book, I do not mind writing in the module. I like to cross off things like spells and can white in XP and HP damage.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hawkeyefan View Post
    The only thing with that is, unless you're selling it through DMsGuild only, you may be limites to monsters in the SRD? I'm not 100% sure, but I bet @Quickleaf can confirm.
    Yes, I've been using the SRD for my my monsters, but thanks for checking.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quickleaf View Post
    That's hard to answer without knowing your audience.
    It's an OGL adventure that I'll sell primarily through DriveThruRPG/RPGNow. I imagine my audience is pretty similar to the people who visit ENWorld, which is why I'm asking here, to hopefully get an idea of what my audience would like.

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