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[MONSTERS] Monster Advancement - Implied Simulationism

GlassJaw

Explorer
This is somewhat related to the creature advancement discussion but it's a little more "out there" so I wanted to start a new thread.

As I've been going through the stat blocks, one thing that I've been thinking about is the seemingly "arbitrariness" of creature Hit Dice and Advancement.

For example, let's start with the aboleth. It has 8 Hit Dice and is CR 7.

Why does it have 8 HD? Is that considered an average "adult" aboleth? Did the designers just pick a number out of a hat? Or did they need a CR 7 aberration to fill a slot?

The aboleth has an advancement of 9-16 HD (Huge) and 17-24 HD (Gargantuan).

Wulf and I have had many discussions on what is the "definition" of a Hit Die ? It is meat? Natural Talent? Training? A combination of the three?

The Monster Manual states "The advancement line shows how tough (emphasis mine) a creature can get. Often, intelligent creatures advance by gaining a level in a character class instead of just gaining a new Hit Die."

So it "toughness" meat, or does it involve additional talent and/or training? And if it is talent and training, why does it's size increase as it gains more HD? A human doesn't grow as it advances in level. If you assume that class levels are considered "training", does that mean that growing by HD advancement counts as meat only?

Let's take another example, the troll. The troll is 6 HD, CR 5, and Advancement by character class.

Using the logic I stated above, this would lead me to believe that the troll can never gain more "meat" since it's HD cannot advance. It can become more powerful by gaining additional training but per "the rules", trolls with more than 6 "meat" Hit Dice don't exist.

So my first question is should you be able to advance a troll's HD without adding class levels? Is this an arbitrary restriction? Is this adhering to some kind of "implied simulationism" in that the rules are restricting certain creatures from existing?

For example, should a Huge, 12 HD troll be "allowed" to exist in this world?

These are of course rhetorical questions. I don't mean to impose my own opinion on the matter. They only serve to kickoff the discussion.
 

BryonD

Villager
Or did they need a CR 7 aberration to fill a slot?
I'm assuming that this is one of the rhetorical questions. But Monte at one point specifically stated that the only reason the Phantom Fungus existed is they needed a monster to fit the CR/Type slot. And he was saying it in a fairly critical manner. Obviously the Aboleth does not exist to fit a slot. But the specifics of its 3E incarnation may be exactly that.

Wulf and I have had many discussions on what is the "definition" of a Hit Die ? It is meat? Natural Talent? Training? A combination of the three?
I actually solved this once. But I don't have space to write the answer in this message board.

Honestly, I prefer to see monster HD as meat and class levels as other. But I most certainly will refuse to claim that covers every case, or even that there are not many cases it fails to cover.

Consider the HP of a ghost human wizard 7, a ghost stone giant, and a ghost stone giant wizard 7.

Let's take another example, the troll. The troll is 6 HD, CR 5, and Advancement by character class.

Using the logic I stated above, this would lead me to believe that the troll can never gain more "meat" since it's HD cannot advance. It can become more powerful by gaining additional training but per "the rules", trolls with more than 6 "meat" Hit Dice don't exist.

So my first question is should you be able to advance a troll's HD without adding class levels? Is this an arbitrary restriction? Is this adhering to some kind of "implied simulationism" in that the rules are restricting certain creatures from existing?
I believe the intent is that a troll can not gain racial HD. I think the idea is that a 7HD troll is equivalent to a human with 1 racial HD. And in D&D terms Conan the Barbarian has the same number of racial hit dice as Tiny Tim (forever and always zero).

I wouldn't have thought of it in those terms, but 'implied simulation" seems to fit in that humans in D&D can't gain racial HD, but really big versions of animals are expressed by adding HD. This precedent is then expanded to other creatures. I don't know if it would hold that WotC was particularly true to this principle or not. I'd be very unsurprised if direct contradictions could be found. But it seems a rule of thumb at least.

For example, should a Huge, 12 HD troll be "allowed" to exist in this world?
Well, MMIII has the Huge 15 HD Mountain Troll and the Large 12 HD War Troll.
Maybe the answer to your question is that advancing trolls by racial HD would infringe on WotC's ability to crank out new product. So the answer in the books is "no, it should no be allowed", but now that WotC has moved on the answer is:"Whatever".



I certainly see the limitations of monster build options as a shortcoming of 3X as it exists. I think you can gather that from other comments as well.

However, in this case the question to ask is: would a Huge 12 HD Troll improve the game? I could give a troll 6 levels of fighter and Permanency+ Enlarge Person (yes, I'm ignoring the type restriction, I play PF). Would that be any different than your re-tooled advanced troll?

Or wouldn't a "huge" troll be a distinct race of troll deserving its own stats anyway, just as a bugbear compared to a goblin?
 

Wulf Ratbane

Villager
Or wouldn't a "huge" troll be a distinct race of troll deserving its own stats anyway, just as a bugbear compared to a goblin?
Hmm... I've never actually considered the bugbear to be just a big goblin. (Ditto for hobgoblins.)

I always considered them distinct "breeds."

Is goblin > hobgoblin > bugbear the same thing as chihuahua > beagle > mastiff?
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
As I've been going through the stat blocks, one thing that I've been thinking about is the seemingly "arbitrariness" of creature Hit Dice and Advancement.
I'm not quite sure I follow you with the idea that a creature's initial Hit Dice are arbitrary - that seems to imply that there's some sort of order that it needs to follow, but is eschewing in favor of greater randomness. Likewise, advancement is usually pretty clear in terms of a creature that can gain additional racial Hit Dice can gain up to twice it's "normal" Hit Dice.

That said, I recognize that there are some odd questions that can be raised regarding what creatures can and can't gain greater racial Hit Dice, or why the racial Hit Dice limits are occasionally altered (the succubus, for example, can only gain double its racial Hit Dice, rather than triple). That's why I much prefer the Pathfinder method, which just eschews exact listings for how a creature can advance, leaving it up to the DM to use the advancement rules as (s)he sees fit.

Why does it have 8 HD? Is that considered an average "adult" aboleth? Did the designers just pick a number out of a hat? Or did they need a CR 7 aberration to fill a slot?
Well, the implication seems to be that a creature with the "base" racial Hit Dice is an adult, fully-grown version of that creature.

As for the "why" of the designers picking it, I don't know, but I don't think it matters very much, does it? I know that some monsters were made to fill a specific niche (the krenshar, for example, was made because they wanted a monster that the paladin's aura of courage could function against at low-level play. On the other hand, I suspect some monsters have the Hit Dice they have simply because that's what they had in previous editions, and were translated over that way.

The aboleth has an advancement of 9-16 HD (Huge) and 17-24 HD (Gargantuan).

Wulf and I have had many discussions on what is the "definition" of a Hit Die ? It is meat? Natural Talent? Training? A combination of the three?
If you mean racial Hit Die (as opposed to class Hit Die) then I find it to be the nature part of the "nature versus nurture" equation. That is, racial Hit Dice define the creature's physicality, whereas class levels represent deliberate training and work in a given field.

A character with Sorcerer levels may have a story-based bloodline that allows them to cast sorcerer spells, but they're gaining those levels because they're actively trying to. A creature with natural Hit Dice was either born with those Hit Dice, or gained them as a part of reaching maturity.

The Monster Manual states "The advancement line shows how tough (emphasis mine) a creature can get. Often, intelligent creatures advance by gaining a level in a character class instead of just gaining a new Hit Die."

So it "toughness" meat, or does it involve additional talent and/or training? And if it is talent and training, why does it's size increase as it gains more HD? A human doesn't grow as it advances in level. If you assume that class levels are considered "training", does that mean that growing by HD advancement counts as meat only?
Well, this is the hard part of the equation, as there's a slight disconnect between the fluff and the crunch between gaining class levels versus gaining racial Hit Dice.

Gaining class levels takes a deliberate act of will on the part of the character, in-game. They gain levels because they're trying to get better.

A creature that gains racial Hit Dice upwards of what the standard racial Hit Dice for that kind of monster, however, isn't doing so deliberately - rather, it's still growing into its full physical potential, which isn't a voluntary procedure.

From a meta-game standpoint, there's no difference between the two. Both are a result of advancement - the gaining and spending of XP (though since almost all creatures with racial Hit Dice are NPCs/monsters, that takes place off-stage). But the in-game interpretation is different; class levels represent active training; racial Hit Dice represent growing. This can be seen as "meat only" but bear in mind that physical growth tends to encompass virtually all aspects of a creature - it can become smarter, stronger, faster, or even more magically-powerful as a result.

Let's take another example, the troll. The troll is 6 HD, CR 5, and Advancement by character class.

Using the logic I stated above, this would lead me to believe that the troll can never gain more "meat" since it's HD cannot advance. It can become more powerful by gaining additional training but per "the rules", trolls with more than 6 "meat" Hit Dice don't exist.

So my first question is should you be able to advance a troll's HD without adding class levels? Is this an arbitrary restriction? Is this adhering to some kind of "implied simulationism" in that the rules are restricting certain creatures from existing?

For example, should a Huge, 12 HD troll be "allowed" to exist in this world?

These are of course rhetorical questions. I don't mean to impose my own opinion on the matter. They only serve to kickoff the discussion.
Well, if the question is about comparing creatures' abilities to gain racial Hit Dice at all, and how many, then yes, the mechanics do seem somewhat arbitrary. In point of fact, it seems slanted towards the idea that intelligent creatures gain class levels, whereas non-intelligent creatures (that is, non-sentient) can only grow more.

As I said, this is why I prefer Pathfinder's hands-off approach. It lets the DM handle these questions, rather than puzzle out the game's approach. Hopefully, the TB monster book will take that same stance.
 

BryonD

Villager
Hmm... I've never actually considered the bugbear to be just a big goblin. (Ditto for hobgoblins.)

I always considered them distinct "breeds."
Isn't that what I said?
me said:
wouldn't a "huge" troll be a distinct race of troll
Does the game hurt for not having medium goblins?
Does the game hurt for not having huge (but otherwise non-distinct) trolls?

If you needed a medium goblin, would racial HD advancement somehow be superior to the rules for building an X HD medium humanoid with the goblin traits of your choosing? (or even using bugbear stats and calling them goblins who are completely distinct from bugbears, but mechanically equivalent)

If you needed a huge troll, would racial HD advancement somehow be superior to the rules for building an X HD huge giant with the troll traits of your choosing?

I suppose I sound defensive of the status quo here. I don't really mean to be in that position. I very much want to break some boundaries. But this particular boundary seems to just lead to the next room over and we can already get there by opening the door that's ten feet down the wall.
 
This is somewhat related to the creature advancement discussion but it's a little more "out there" so I wanted to start a new thread.

As I've been going through the stat blocks, one thing that I've been thinking about is the seemingly "arbitrariness" of creature Hit Dice and Advancement.

For example, let's start with the aboleth. It has 8 Hit Dice and is CR 7.

Why does it have 8 HD? Is that considered an average "adult" aboleth? Did the designers just pick a number out of a hat? Or did they need a CR 7 aberration to fill a slot?
Have you compared 3e HD (not 3.5) to 2e HD? There may be a correlation between the two.

Let's take another example, the troll. The troll is 6 HD, CR 5, and Advancement by character class.

Using the logic I stated above, this would lead me to believe that the troll can never gain more "meat" since it's HD cannot advance. It can become more powerful by gaining additional training but per "the rules", trolls with more than 6 "meat" Hit Dice don't exist.

So my first question is should you be able to advance a troll's HD without adding class levels? Is this an arbitrary restriction? Is this adhering to some kind of "implied simulationism" in that the rules are restricting certain creatures from existing?

For example, should a Huge, 12 HD troll be "allowed" to exist in this world?

These are of course rhetorical questions. I don't mean to impose my own opinion on the matter. They only serve to kickoff the discussion.
I think the general implication was that creatures of the humanoid or monstrous humanoid type could have racial hit die to begin with, but could only advance as classed characters. I don't have all my books in front of me but I'm pretty sure these are the only two monster types that follow this design "rule".
 

ValhallaGH

Villager
I think the general implication was that creatures of the humanoid or monstrous humanoid type could have racial hit die to begin with, but could only advance as classed characters. I don't have all my books in front of me but I'm pretty sure these are the only two monster types that follow this design "rule".
Trolls - Giant Type. No racial HD progression.

But yeah, there was a general guideline back when 3E came out of "These types of critters only advance by HD, these type can advance by HD or Class, these types only advance by class."


For the OP:
I'm the Dungeon Master; I can do whatever I bloody well please. Any part of the books that says otherwise is ignored.
That said, some good guidelines and quick-work rules are always welcome.
 

BryonD

Villager
For the OP:
I'm the Dungeon Master; I can do whatever I bloody well please. Any part of the books that says otherwise is ignored.
That said, some good guidelines and quick-work rules are always welcome.
I'm very confident that this can be assumed as a baseline assumption for any Bad Axe conversation.
 

GlassJaw

Explorer
Once again, great stuff guys.

BryonD said:
Does the game hurt for not having medium goblins?
Does the game hurt for not having huge (but otherwise non-distinct) trolls?
The goblin comparison is an interesting one. From a DM standpoint, I don't think I would introduce a medium goblin to the campaign (regardless of what its stats were). That strikes me as odd from a fluff standpoint.

Conversely, I don't have a problem with a huge aboleth or a huge troll. *shrugs* That's just a personal preference thing.

I can say with confidence that we will be detaching size from racial HD. There will probably be some minimum HD recommendations, however, so you don't end up with really big, low-HD creatures.

Removing size from racial HD advancement does impact creatures that currently have advancement by class level "only". If I want to create a troll warren to challenge level 12 PCs, why do I need to add X number of class levels to challenge them?

I play DDO a lot and one of the things I really like is that each quest has multiple difficultly settings: normal, hard, and elite (some also have solo and elite). When increasing the difficultly setting, the monster are advanced but they don't suddenly grow in size. Their attack bonus is increased, they have more hp's, do more damage, and the casters cast higher-level spells.

It's a really clean system that would have a lot of practical application for DMs, both in creating adventures and prep time.

What I'm leaning towards is a system that combines some kind of monster scaling/advancement with our Quick Template system.

Want to create a CR 12 troll "scout"? No problem. Take the normal troll abilities, find the CR 12 line on "the giant table" for stats (which may or may not include entries for heavy striker, light striker, and caster), add evasion and some sneak attack dice, and use the "good" skill modifier for Stealth. Voila. You now have a CR troll scout.
 

BryonD

Villager
Let's see if the board gods allow this through
The goblin comparison is an interesting one. From a DM standpoint, I don't think I would introduce a medium goblin to the campaign (regardless of what its stats were). That strikes me as odd from a fluff standpoint.

Conversely, I don't have a problem with a huge aboleth or a huge troll. *shrugs* That's just a personal preference thing.
I think I agree with your preference. However, it may be because we already have bugbears as a "goblin boss" option.

But either way I am comfortable that if you wanted a 12 HD Large Troll, you already have the tools to easily produce it. The RAW already created the pathway. For some reason they put a "Road Closed" sign up in front of the road. But it is a perfectly good road and just knocking down the sign seems smart, and frees us to focus energy on new areas.

I can say with confidence that we will be detaching size from racial HD. There will probably be some minimum HD recommendations, however, so you don't end up with really big, low-HD creatures.
Works for me.
Does this mean humans can have 1 or more racial HD?

Removing size from racial HD advancement does impact creatures that currently have advancement by class level "only". If I want to create a troll warren to challenge level 12 PCs, why do I need to add X number of class levels to challenge them?

I play DDO a lot and one of the things I really like is that each quest has multiple difficultly settings: normal, hard, and elite (some also have solo and elite). When increasing the difficultly setting, the monster are advanced but they don't suddenly grow in size. Their attack bonus is increased, they have more hp's, do more damage, and the casters cast higher-level spells.

It's a really clean system that would have a lot of practical application for DMs, both in creating adventures and prep time.

What I'm leaning towards is a system that combines some kind of monster scaling/advancement with our Quick Template system.

Want to create a CR 12 troll "scout"? No problem. Take the normal troll abilities, find the CR 12 line on "the giant table" for stats (which may or may not include entries for heavy striker, light striker, and caster), add evasion and some sneak attack dice, and use the "good" skill modifier for Stealth. Voila. You now have a CR troll scout.
I'm more a fan of having all the pieces than having big blocks already locked in. The modular solo and elite templates are very cool. But the idea of a bunch of pre-fabed giants for every CR drops my interest in a heartbeat. For one thing, by the time you have produced a table with every CR for every creature type you ahve gone through an over-blown exercise in data grinding and 90% of it will never even be potentially of use to me. What I mean there is, I may or may not ever decide I need a custom CR12 giant, but I am certain I won't need a custom CR11 and a CR12 custom giant and a CR13 custom giant and ...

And even with that, when I do decide I want a CR12 custom giant, it is going to be just that, custom. I don't want to take a stock chassis off the shelf and plug a few items into slots.

If you want to build a new system for expressing new creatures (or even new ways of expressing humans and elves) then I'm there.
But if you want to take the tools I already have and squeeze that into into a "correct" average answer on an oversized table, then I have no interest.
 

Wulf Ratbane

Villager
If you want to build a new system for expressing new creatures (or even new ways of expressing humans and elves) then I'm there.
But if you want to take the tools I already have and squeeze that into into a "correct" average answer on an oversized table, then I have no interest.
I think there are conflicting desires between ease, options, and speed.

I would like a "correct average answer" on an oversized table, with respect to the parts of monster creation that are a drag: the Spine statblock. I'm happy with this being an average because, for the most part, the Spine is invisible to the players from their side of the DM screen. There's no real interesting way to describe the difference between a monster with AC20 vs. AC22, BAB+8 vs. BAB+10 (pretty much anything inside +/-4).

In a metagame sense, perhaps, these things are apparent to the players, but not really to the PCs.

All the same, I'd like the numbers to "fit."

But once all the numbers are in place, I want quick, easy options for customizing the "flashy" parts of the monster that are visible to the PCs (as opposed to visible to the players).
 

GlassJaw

Explorer
I think I agree with your preference. However, it may be because we already have bugbears as a "goblin boss" option.
Hmm, I don't think so. I'm ok with a Huge troll but not a Medium goblin. It's completely arbitrary but "in my world" (or brain), goblins are always small.

That's not to say the tools should prevent you from creating a Medium goblin, however.

BryonD said:
Does this mean humans can have 1 or more racial HD?
I'm still not sure. If we have defined Hit Dice as "meat", I don't think so, although I can still see having a system that allows you to do so.

But honestly, I don't think I really care. What I really want is a system that gives you the stats and modifiers for creatures and NPCs at a specific CR. End of story. If I need some human heavy strikers, casters, or roguish types for a scenario at CR X, I don't care if they have racial Hit Dice, class levels, templates, whatever - I just want to know the stats are appropriate.

BryonD said:
I'm more a fan of having all the pieces than having big blocks already locked in. The modular solo and elite templates are very cool. But the idea of a bunch of pre-fabed giants for every CR drops my interest in a heartbeat. For one thing, by the time you have produced a table with every CR for every creature type you ahve gone through an over-blown exercise in data grinding and 90% of it will never even be potentially of use to me. What I mean there is, I may or may not ever decide I need a custom CR12 giant, but I am certain I won't need a custom CR11 and a CR12 custom giant and a CR13 custom giant and ...
Wulf has the building blocks to create tables at every CR for every creature type. We are still discussing how to implement that. I do think the information is useful, although I agree that some kind of hybrid system may be the best implementation.

BryonD said:
And even with that, when I do decide I want a CR12 custom giant, it is going to be just that, custom. I don't want to take a stock chassis off the shelf and plug a few items into slots.
I like the way creatures are presented in the 4E MM. The base creature is listed plus some variations at different CRs. That said, it is essentially the "stock chassis" with some different abilities plugged in.

BryonD said:
If you want to build a new system for expressing new creatures (or even new ways of expressing humans and elves) then I'm there.
I definitely want a new system that for expressing all 1-HD races. 1st-level warrior stat blocks aren't that useful.

BryonD said:
But if you want to take the tools I already have and squeeze that into into a "correct" average answer on an oversized table, then I have no interest.
This might be where we disagree. I do think a table average values is very useful - as a guideline. If nothing else, it will put you in the ballpark quickly when scaling a creature.

Because at the end of the day, if you pick a stat line from a scalable giant CR table, add Large, give the creature regeneration and rend, and describe it as green with a big nose, to the players it's a troll, even if its "spine" stats are exactly the same as an ogre or a hill giant.

(Ninja'ed by Wulf!!)
 

BryonD

Villager
I once read a book on physics that described the term "obvious" as anything that a competent physicist could determine through basic calculations, given enough time. "Genius" is figuring out some new insight.

I already have numerous monster books with the guidelines for creatures laid out in tables. Regurgitating the outputs of those tables across a range of inputs is obvious, with a time scale on the order of seconds.

It may be a significant level of effort to grind through it for every iteration. But when I need a 14 HD (or CR7 as the case may be) aberration, I can figure out what I need faster than I can find a separate book on the shelf and flip to the correct table.

There may be a huge demand for this product that I am missing. But just speaking for myself, what you are describing is trivial.
 

BryonD

Villager
I think there are conflicting desires between ease, options, and speed.
I would challenge a claim that people who need the "ease" and "speed" this provides would truly implement the "options".

Better to just make a monster book with a bunch of off-the-shelf creative variations and let people use the ones they like.
 

Wulf Ratbane

Villager
I once read a book on physics that described the term "obvious" as anything that a competent physicist could determine through basic calculations, given enough time. "Genius" is figuring out some new insight.

I already have numerous monster books with the guidelines for creatures laid out in tables. Regurgitating the outputs of those tables across a range of inputs is obvious, with a time scale on the order of seconds.
I think we both know you are not typical and your order of seconds certainly stretches into minutes for most folks (myself included).

In fact you are so atypical I really struggle to come up with anything that you, BryonD, will find more useful than what you can do yourself, unfettered from any "helpful" system.

I will say that your point is taken in this way, however:

I would much rather have a PDF with a couple of drop down selection menus (type, size, HD) to make the necessary "obvious" calculations, than a bunch of tables.
 

BryonD

Villager
(ignoring doubtful statements regarding myself...)

My point isn't that I don't use helpful systems. My point is that I already have the helpful systems.

If a system says that, as a guideline, Z should equal X times Y, (the Monster Manual) publishing a multiplication table (your product) is not value added.

But, if this is a product you want to publish, then I'm not going to argue. I'm just disappointed because you've done such evolutionary stuff in the past.
 

ValhallaGH

Villager
Why do I need a table for each creature type? So many of them are so very similar, and that would be a lot of extra pages that aren't filled with cool abilities, inspiring flavor text, or kick ass examples.
Dragons? Sure, dragons can have their own table.
Undead? Yeah, I can see giving them their own table due to their special HD / Stat rules.
Oozes, Plants, Constructs? Eh, I could go either way on these. They could probably fit into some generic Role tables, but whatever.
Humanoids, Monstrous Humanoids, Animals, Giants, Magical Beasts, Aberations, etc? Why the heck do I need more than six tables for all of these (Brute, Caster, Gish, Guardian, Skirmisher / Sneak, anything I forgot)? I say generate generic "How I want to use this critter" tables to give me the spine, which is dull if simple, I'll attach any traits, fluff, and special abilities.


And for the record, I dislike monster design since it usually takes me two minutes just to find the necessary formulas, let alone the time needed to crunch through them. This is why I steal so much from modules for monster stats. Anything with spells that I have to select usually just ignores it's spell casting ability, because I hate digging through spell lists to find something that fits and that I am willing to use.
 

booboo

Villager
Why do I need a table for each creature type? So many of them are so very similar, and that would be a lot of extra pages that aren't filled with cool abilities, inspiring flavor text, or kick ass examples.
Dragons? Sure, dragons can have their own table.
Undead? Yeah, I can see giving them their own table due to their special HD / Stat rules.
Oozes, Plants, Constructs? Eh, I could go either way on these. They could probably fit into some generic Role tables, but whatever.
Humanoids, Monstrous Humanoids, Animals, Giants, Magical Beasts, Aberations, etc? Why the heck do I need more than six tables for all of these (Brute, Caster, Gish, Guardian, Skirmisher / Sneak, anything I forgot)? I say generate generic "How I want to use this critter" tables to give me the spine, which is dull if simple, I'll attach any traits, fluff, and special abilities.
you are thinking much more in line with what i want frome the book.
 

Wulf Ratbane

Villager
If a system says that, as a guideline, Z should equal X times Y, (the Monster Manual) publishing a multiplication table (your product) is not value added.
Multiplication table? That's a harsh, if accurate, description. Hmm.

But, if this is a product you want to publish, then I'm not going to argue. I'm just disappointed because you've done such evolutionary stuff in the past.
I'm still not hearing what you want, I suppose.

Why do I need a table for each creature type? So many of them are so very similar.

I say generate generic "How I want to use this critter" tables to give me the spine, which is dull if simple, I'll attach any traits, fluff, and special abilities.
Does this comport with what I said above:

Wulf said:
All the same, I'd like the numbers to "fit." But once all the numbers are in place, I want quick, easy options for customizing the "flashy" parts of the monster that are visible to the PCs (as opposed to visible to the players).
And finally:

Why the heck do I need more than six tables for all of these (Brute, Caster, Gish, Guardian, Skirmisher / Sneak, anything I forgot)?
There's a few ways I can move here based on what folks want.

Option 1: by Creature Type.
Find the Type of creature you want (Giant, Ooze, etc.), find the Size you want, find the CR or HD of the creature you want. All the numbers are done for you, then you just pick whatever special effects you want to bolt onto that Spine. We'll provide guidelines for how many special features you could/should add to stick within a given CR.

Option 2: by Creature Role.
The creature's Spine is defined by its role-- Brute, Tank, Soldier, Skirmisher, Leader, etc. As above, find the Size, CR or HD, and read across to get the numbers.

If this is the path you prefer, then you can help out by defining the roles you want to see and the Spine (HD type, BAB, Saves) that you expect to see in each role.

As a caution, as shown on p.16-17 of Trailblazer, it is really pretty hard for a change in Spine

Option 3: The Ur-Monster.
Generate ONE fixed, middle-of-the-road Spine that's good for pretty much anything-- d8 HD, 3/4 BAB, two good saves. This is more of a 1e philosophy, where monsters had their own HD, their own attack table, etc. All creatures have pretty much the same numbers-- it's the special features that matter.

Option 4: Tables for Everything.
Ehh, I have a spreadsheet, and it's just a multiplication table after all. I can provide as many variants as you want.

Option 5: Give me the guidelines, I'll do my own Math.

Option 6: Slide Rule
Give me a table that lets me advance HD (or Size) and see how that affects the numbers I already have in the statblock. In other words, instead of reading across to find a fixed number for BAB (+12), I read across to a cell that shows me the change (+3) from where I started.

Option 7: Give me everything.
This seems to be the simplest answer. Make the method transparent so you can do it yourself, but provide tables so you don't have to.

I may discover, once I am finished with the tables, that the numbers end up so close together (again, see p.17 of Trailblazer) that a "Close Enough, One Size Fits All" is the best way to go.

For players who are absolute sticklers for every last skill rank, every possible point balanced out, you simply might not have any good options, and you have to live with the status quo. I think these players are misguided, and I will do what I can to convince them to loosen up a bit, but you're going to get out (in precision) what you put in (in effort). If you can live with less precision, you can get by with much less effort.
 

BryonD

Villager
I'm still not hearing what you want, I suppose.
I didn't ask for anything.
Glassjaw asked for feedback on advancing trolls and I provided my thoughts, plus I jumped to some false conclusions about where this line of question was headed.
If you want a really generic answer, I want you applying your design mojo to things I don't already have.

The thought process did lead me to be intrigued by the idea of racial HD for humanoids and such. I'd already extrapolated my thoughts to such things as 20th level Elves (quintessential elves, if you will) standing shoulder to should with 20th level elf wizards and being led by Conan the Human8/Barbarian12.
Kinda an ultimate synergy of really old school D&D and Monte Cooke racial classes and a heaping of new.

But I hadn't thought along those lines until this thread got those wheels turning.

I do now wonder what difference the original question makes. If you are going to make a table for huge giants then a row on that table MUST exist for huge 12 HD giants. And thus the huge 12 HD troll will be implicit no matter what simulation is or is not implied by WotC's guidelines. It is a moot question.
 
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