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D&D 4E Monster stat block design using Excel (2021)

Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
Disclaimer: I am not here to entertain discussions involving legal copyright, GSL, etc. Very few people here are qualified to give their advice (and less welcome to give their opinions) on the matter. Those who are qualified are not being solicited for said advice or opinions, either. If I am doing something wrong, or I am not in compliance with the rules of the site, I have full confidence that a moderator will inform me and take the appropriate actions necessary.

(And in case it needs to be said, it is not my intent to provoke any actions or be non-compliant with the rules. Just know that anyone brings their "issues that don't actually affect them" here, I won't engage and most likely ignore. Thanks!)



Over the last few years, I've been looking for ways to create 4e content (for myself) in a manner that was efficient and aesthetically appealing. Obviously, resources (legal or otherwise) are difficult to find thanks to the restrictions of the thrice-damned GSL. Those that do exist are either lacking, incomplete, or just unsatisfying for what I want. So, like I often do, I figure out ways to do things on my own. (Why? It's not important. I just want to!)

So here I have an example of a monster stat block from the Monster Vault:
dracolich-deathbringer.png

Except I made this with Excel (2021). The stats and information match exactly (or darn-near) as they appear in the original text of the manual (page 72, for those of you playing at home). I had to learn a few tricks to get the format and spacing right, including the hanging indents for paragraphs (which are not a standard function in Excel).

But the best part is that I can turn each stat block into an image that I can copy, save, and paste. I haven't decided what I'm going to do with this awesome new power, but I have begun saving them in a single OneNote document. At some point, I may convert older (pre-MM3) monsters to the cleaner format with fixed math (and better game design), as well as update all the blocks with the latest errata.

So aside from showing off my work here, I was wondering if this might be useful to anyone else. Obviously, I can't share my personal files that contain previously published stats. (And I'm not so sure that applies to monsters with converted statblocks if they were never (technically) published.)

If anyone has ideas, feedback, questions, or suggestions, let me know.

UPDATES


Uploaded zip file with the Excel (2021) version of the monster template I created, and the Asul fonts used (the fonts are available and free to use for anyone, but I thought I'd save everyone the extra trouble).
 

Attachments

  • 4e Monster Template.zip
    54.2 KB · Views: 36
  • Monster Vault 4e Template.zip
    6.1 MB · Views: 29
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Teemu

Adventurer
Ever since they had to discontinue the DDI services I’ve missed a 4e stat block template. Can you share the base template you’re using here? Is it easy to just fill in the names and numbers, without having to add in the general features like the action type headings or the ability score names?
 


Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
I find your ideas intriguing and wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

And while you can’t share the by the book monster stats, you can share the techniques and methods you used to do this. So, spill. :)
I might do just that. Or...
Can you share the base template you’re using here? Is it easy to just fill in the names and numbers, without having to add in the general features like the action type headings or the ability score names?
I could probably do that. I find it pretty easy, but that's because I've been working at it for several weeks now. Give me some time to make something presentable. I'll need to add some formatting notes since a lot of the spacing is done manually. But you can pretty much copy and paste formatted sections and change as needed. There is NO automation in this so be prepared to work.
 



Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
Update: I have attached a zip file to the main post which contains my template for Excel 2021, as well as the Asul fonts I used for this project. The fonts are free to use and accessible to anyone, but I decided to save everyone the extra trouble of looking for it on their own.

I added some notes in the file, as well as some basic guides, and some sample monsters that have unique design setups. I am not an expert with Excel, but I feel that anyone who puts some time and practice like I do can figure it out.

Feel free to use, modify, and improve to do what you like. And please share tips, ideas, and resources to improve this so we can all enjoy 4e again!
 

Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
I want to point out two little details that I just recently noticed.

1. "Initiative" was misspelled. I had to go back and correct it on all the monsters I had done so far. (I discovered it at "gargoyle" 😭).

2. Italics don't show up in the images. Which is interesting because they actually do show up when I paste them as images in OneNote. Weird.

Also, I realize not everyone may have Excel 2021, or use Office 365. So I don't know how the template will look if you have an older version, or if you're using something compatible. Hopefully it will still be useful. I am excited just to have all the monsters with conversions, corrections, and erratas in one place.
 


Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
If you're like me, you're always curious to see how someone sets things up, or you just like seeing examples for ideas and inspiration. So here is mine:

Obviously, the focus of this project is monsters. That's why I started with monster stat blocks. I just finished phase one of my own personal Monster Vault digital notebook using OneNote and Excel. My goal was to create a more personalized and complete up-to-date Monster Vault, which includes monsters updated to MM3 math and format, and all the known errata. Monsters that I won't likely ever use in my games, or redundant monster designs that aren't needed, don't make the cut. This will reduce the clutter significantly so that I'll have just the stats and monsters that I want to use.

Table: The important list serves as both a table of contents and an index for monsters broken down by level and role. It includes links to the page where each statblock can be found.
1636580019325.png


Fluff: This may seem a bit excessive (unless you're a compulsive completionist like me!). But since I had to create a buffer page just to separate the monster groups, I decided to make use of the space anyway. I will say, it is nice having the fluff on one page to read without the statblocks in the way.
1636580151964.png


Statblocks: Of course, the bulk of the file is just statblocks. As shown in this thread, I created them using a template I designed for format in Excel. Then just copy the table as an image and paste to the page. Easy peasy! I included the errata, and any monsters converted from MM1, which were a series of articles in Dungeon Magazine. I'll add more as needed, but I have plenty to get me started running again.
1636580002798.png


Extras: At some point, I may want to create my own custom monsters, or update older ones manually. So I included some handy tables and tips that might be useful in a pinch.
1636580350815.png


As always, feedback and suggestions are encouraged. Maybe someone else thought of something that I hadn't yet. And I'd love to see what anyone does for themselves.
 
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Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
I thought the screenshots were going to be too large for the display, so I hid them inside the spoiler tags. But then I forgot to mention there were screenshots behind the spoiler tags and not just walls of text. I know if it were me, I probably would've skipped spoilers, too. So now you know, and I took the spoilers off anyway.
 


Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
For those of you out there who want to build their own Monster Vault (or anything else for 4e) using OneNote, I have attached a starter file to the main post to help you get going. The file contains sample pages with the background headers for every page that you designate as either PHB, DMG, or MM.
1636928333289.png

1636928345955.png

1636928376487.png

I've also included a blank index page that you can populate as you build, and add links as needed.
1636928432837.png


And finally, I loaded up blank tabs set up alphabetically for you to start populating.
1636928486414.png
 


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