D&D 5E Changes to D&D's Spellcasting Monsters: Streamlining Your Way To Bliss

WotC's Jeremy Crawford talks about the way they are changing spellcasting monsters in D&D.
  • Making the game more fun, easier to learn, shorting "the pathway to getting to your bliss".
  • Making monsters easier to run.
  • "Rumors of the death of spellcasting [in monsters] are not true". Innate spellcasting has been streamlined with spellcasting into a single trait.
  • Spellcasting options are consolidated whenever possible.
  • Removing options that a DM is unlikely ever to use.
  • In some cases, new magical abilities in the monster statblock which exist alongside a list of spells they can cast.
  • For example, the mind flayer's mind blast is not a spell, and other abilities are magical but not spells and aren't as easy to interact with with things like counterspell.
  • Things which make archmages say "How is this functioning, and why can't I stop it?"


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You know, when 5e first came out I was really impressed with it. I liked how flexible it appeared and streamlined among other things. The on going changes and focuses that they've been doing in the last year plus though is making it clear to me that 5e really is no longer for me. (sigh)

Guess I'll go back to focusing on other rpgs like MY0, GURPS, Savage Worlds and BRP based rpgs. Though I'll continue to watch, it will be interesting to see what the next edition looks like.
You can always stick to PHB, DMG and MM though.

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How many people here have written up high level enemy Spellcasters?
I used to... what I found is making all enemy casters modified warlocks 2-5 spells slots of the highest level and 5-10 spells listed and some cantrips and maybe a feature (like paladin smite or self heal like animal form druids) by useing a slot is what I have defualted to.

So If I were stating an archmage of 17th level I would pick 1 9th 18th and 1 7th level spell and make sure only 1 of those three where combat cast spells (others could be like mindblank or something or even a non combat entirely) then pick 3-6 spells between 1st and 6th level and give them 4 6th level slots... give them some cantrips (maybe cheat and make some 1st level or even 2nd level spells into cantrips... detect magic at will is common on these) then pick 1 or 2 combat cantrips...


Question for the thread: I notice in the new MotM book some of the entries have a class listed next to the creature type. The Nagpa, for example, is listed as Monstrosity (Wizard). Does anyone know what the reason is? I notice that the obvious class-related entries, like Bard, don't have that. So a Nagpa is a Monstrosity (Wizard) while a Bard is just a Humanoid. I can't quite figure out the logic there or what that extra keyword actually does. I do notice that the only classes listed as keywords seem to be spellcasters -- I've not yet noticed a Giant (Fighter) or anything of that nature.
That seems to be a way to let the DM know from which spell list to take when your making your own version of that monster for your PCs to fight. So the Nagpha would use the wizard's spell book and selections. The Drow Matron would use the clerics spell list. So on and so forth.

Fair, but I wish they had the courage to go full 4e style when it comes to monster design. What we have right now is neither here nor there.
True. But it is (IMHO) a good compromise. Take something like fog cloud. It's a situational utility spell. How likely is a spellcasting monster to use it? Meh... somewhat unlikely but not impossible. So 4e-style, we make a decision - either write it up as a full-on ability in the monster's stat block, or ditch it entirely, most likely the latter. With 5e-style, we have a nice compromise where we don't include a full Action entry for it, but we do list it with some other spells under the Spellcasting Action. So now the DM can grab it if they need to, or ignore it the majority of the time when it doesn't come into play.

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