5E Just played one of my D&D board games and there's one thing I think could greatly benefit the current edition (or any really)

Evenglare

Adventurer
So I have Castle Ravenloft and Wrath of Ashardalon and haven't played them in ages, the other night I actually got to whip them out and play a game. After we finished I realized that it would be absolutely fantastic if Monster Manual entries had action sequences for DMs who are new, or DMs who just want to run enemies without thinking TOO much. I understand that the books may have some brief guides on how to play the monsters, but I think it would be awesome to explicitly lay out actions and priorities of each monster, perhaps something similar to...

Orc Archer
-If you have less than half HP move away from opponent
-If opponent is farther than 30 ft attack with bow.
-If opponent is within 30 ft move and attack with dagger

Clearly that could be expanded on, but I think I got my idea across. Anyone even the least bit familiar with computer programming should find this familiar. Now I'm not saying this should be how every battle should go, but like I said, I think it would be fantastic for newbie DM's. It would also have the extra benefit of being able to run DM less dungeon crawls, like the board games do. Just throwing this idea out there.
 
Such action priority lists like that work when the scenarios that the monster is encountered in are limited enough to be predictable, or they quickly lose their usefulness.
 

mach1.9pants

Adventurer
Good adventure modules often have this, but maybe not the neat simplicity of the board games. But yeah would be great, for new DMs or just when you're struggling for whatever reason!
 

Evenglare

Adventurer
Such action priority lists like that work when the scenarios that the monster is encountered in are limited enough to be predictable, or they quickly lose their usefulness.
Clearly there's no possible way to anticipate every possible combination of things to do in D&D. You wouldn't have things like... this monster picks up a bucket of water and throws it on the heroes assuming a bucket of water was around. There would be an infinitely long book of things to do. I guess it might be a good idea to have some sort of "set up" for the really big monsters, so you can sort of restrain and control what happens to some extent. Red Dragons would have a room that was X by Y squares, molten lava pool and 3 minions (or whatever). But I think just focusing on combat mechanics of enemies should pretty much cover almost every basic situation (bandits attack the heroes on the road and that type of thing). I just think it would be immensely helpful to draw in new DMs. I sure as hell would have LOVED to have something like this when I was learning to play.. 16 years ago. (Holy crap has it actually been that long for me?)
 

Evenglare

Adventurer
Good adventure modules often have this, but maybe not the neat simplicity of the board games. But yeah would be great, for new DMs or just when you're struggling for whatever reason!
Oh yeah, that completely slipped my mind, I don't use modules very often, but this is a great addition. It's really nice because the scenarios are usually set up so there's minimal randomness.
 

devincutler

Explorer
Well, while I think this was useful when they did this for some of the more complicated monsters in 3e, I just don't see 5e creatures having that many options in combat to merit this. In other words, a waste of space if included in the actual Monster Manuals.
 

Evenglare

Adventurer
Well, while I think this was useful when they did this for some of the more complicated monsters in 3e, I just don't see 5e creatures having that many options in combat to merit this. In other words, a waste of space if included in the actual Monster Manuals.
It's not just about how many options X creature has in combat, the majority of the idea is portraying -HOW- a creature acts in combat regardless of what they can do. An Orc, and Elf, and a Beholder are all going to act extremely differently than one another in battle. I know that if the MM had entries like this for every single monster it'd be like 453789015 pages big, it could be a great 3rd party product or something like that. You wouldn't have to have art, or special abilities spelled out for you, it would just be entries with the enemies names and a series of actions they would take.
 
I think it would be awesome to explicitly lay out actions and priorities of each monster, perhaps something similar to...

Orc Archer
-If you have less than half HP move away from opponent
-If opponent is farther than 30 ft attack with bow.
-If opponent is within 30 ft move and attack with dagger
Absolutely. It was something I suggested during the playtest, hoping we would see it in the MM at least for the higher-complexity monsters which have more than one special ability to choose from. It doesn't have to be more complicated than 2-3 lines like your example.
 
Usually I play monsters as smart as I possible can think of. When in doubt, I take the 2/3 most optimal strategies and roll which of those to take.

But yes, I often find myself wondering how a certain monster would act. Would it fight until death no matter what? Would it run the moment it gets dangerous? How much does it prioritize money/food over fighting? How open is it for negotiation?
 

Reynard

Legend
I think board game like charts would be a little too workaday for a Monster Manual. Better to use expressive language in an RPG product, IMO, and it would not use up too much space. Examples:

"Orcs are vicious fighters and prefer the chaos of close combat. If an orc gets within 30 feet of an opponent, it will close and attack with its melee weapon. Even archers are apt to drop their bows and go for a hand to hand kill. Orc archers are not well regarded in the armies of darkness."

"Goblins are cowardly warriors, avoiding close combat as best they can and using hit and run tactics when they can't. Goblins never get involved in melee if their numbers are not at least 2 to 1 in their favor. 'Live to fight another day' isn't just a saying among their kind -- it's a creed."

"Nothing defines a beholder as well as the word 'arrogant' and that includes during combat. Beholders use their eye stalk powers efficiently and as cruelly as possible. Making a spell caster cower in its anti-magic beam before being devoured brings the beholder great pleasure. Beholders use a special attack against an opponent that will be most injured by that attack and will attack to kill downed opponents if possible."
 

designbot

Explorer
This is more or less what they did in the 4th edition Monster Manual:

Elf Archer Tactics
An elf archer attacks with his longbow and uses archer’s mobility between attacks. If an enemy engages the elf archer in melee, he uses not so close and moves away on his next turn.

Elf Scout Tactics
An elf scout often tries to fight an opponent in difficult terrain where she can shift but an enemy cannot. She tries to flank opponents to gain combat advantage.

Encounter Groups
Elves are typically encountered with other elves and creatures of the wild.

Level 2 Encounter (XP 625)
  • 2 elf archers (level 2 artillery)
  • 1 elf scout (level 2 skirmisher)
  • 2 gray wolves (level 2 skirmisher)
 

strider13x

Visitor
I can picture the player entitlement now...
"But he's at 1/2 HP and is supposed to run away! You're DMing wrong!"
I would leave tactics in the modules/adventures rather than in the MM.
 
I can picture the player entitlement now...
"But he's at 1/2 HP and is supposed to run away! You're DMing wrong!"
I would leave tactics in the modules/adventures rather than in the MM.
This.

It's bad enough that experienced players know all the monster stats and magic. Give them the Monster Playbook too?
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
I think a 'Monster Manual Tactics' book would be something that could actually get some play on DM's Guild, were someone to write it.

If you included every single monster in the Monster Manual and gave each of them a bullet-point paragraph of what their standard tactic order would be, I think that's an original-enough product that you might find takers. *Especially* for those monsters that have spells at their disposal-- listing which spells might already be up on the monster prior to the party's arrival, and the order of spells it would cast should it have other creatures available with them to engage the party first.

That could also help the so-called 'Solo monster' issues, if their tactic lists had abilities already up, plus additional tactical options using the terrain and such-- things the DM might not have thought of prior to the group running into it.

Good idea!
 

Jediking

Explorer
I think one or two lines in the statblock would be more than enough to show how to play certain monsters. Traits give a good idea how to play and show the strengths of many monsters: Orcs are Aggressive, Hobgoblins are Martial (Disciplined), Goblins have Nimble Escape (Cowardly), Gnolls attack in Packs.

I am not huge on playing to strict alignment and following a couple letters in the corner of your character sheet, but it can give a good gist of how a creature will act in abnormal situations. If the PCs take a monster hostage, different monsters may react differently. Hobgoblins (LE) may try and parley and strike a deal. Orcs (CE) may rush forward and hack through the new meatshield. Goblins may rush off and leave the captured one without a backwards glance.

Having actions with specific triggers could be useful to new DMs, but sometimes they are already there. A monster with a bow and sword has three simple actions (Sword, Bow, Run). Depending on the other stats involved (Damage, Attack, Movespeed, etc) then the choice becomes more clear. Set actions may inhibit a new DM from playing the monsters as individual monsters and instead treat each one the exact same. I think it's better to struggle a bit and improvise rather than follow the same steps.
 

cmad1977

Adventurer
Yeah, general suggestions or ideas about behavior would be cool in the modules I think. That way the author can take into account the specific area/attitude of the creatures.
'These creatures should try to use the pillars/pools to their advantage' or 'these creatures are particularly cowardly, and flee after a few casualties. Their allies however are fanatics and fight to the death'

Page count becomes a factor with too much of that though.
 

Reynard

Legend
Yeah, general suggestions or ideas about behavior would be cool in the modules I think. That way the author can take into account the specific area/attitude of the creatures.
'These creatures should try to use the pillars/pools to their advantage' or 'these creatures are particularly cowardly, and flee after a few casualties. Their allies however are fanatics and fight to the death'

Page count becomes a factor with too much of that though.
It strikes me as odd that would not be a regular feature of a module. I don't use many and most of those are old school (i.e. 1E and B/X D&D) which tend to be bare bones. Do modern adventures not indicate why the goblins are there and what they plan to do once the swords start swinging?
 

Lehrbuch

Visitor
Do modern adventures not indicate why the goblins are there and what they plan to do once the swords start swinging?
Good adventures do.

What would be much more useful in a DMG or MM (probably DMG) would be one or more random tables of strategic goals and tactics. With stuff like "just passing through and will attempt to disengage with minimal casualties" or "defending a nearby breeding ground and will fight to the death" and so forth. Perhaps it is even there already --- I can't recall. The idea being that in a random encounter the DM can quickly make the encounter more interesting and can also use the results as inspiration for what opponents in non-random encounters might be doing.
 

Advertisement

Top