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[MONSTERS] Stat Block Preview - brought to you by the letter A!

GlassJaw

Explorer
Hello fellow Trailblazers!

I want to give everyone an update on the progress of the monster book and post a preview of the stat block.

Right now, I’m working full-time on the stat blocks. Wulf and I have had a lot of discussions on scaling and customizing monsters design but the biggest time sink overall is the stat blocks.

My goal is to create the most complete and comprehensive stat block possible to give the DM everything they need to run that creature. I want to reduce the need for any kind of look-up. As much as Wulf and I know the rules, it always seems that we end up having discussions about whether an elemental can be flanked or if you can sneak attack a spectre.

Our new stat block will eliminate those questions. No longer will the DM have to keep the monster manual open while he runs his game.

I’m also rewriting every special ability for consistency and clarity. If an ability or quality is mentioned in the stat block, it will get a description. Currently, the only abilities I haven’t included is low-light vision and darkvision, but I’ll probably add those as well.

So check out the stat block and let me know what you think! (Ignore the page layout though, this is by no means final.)

Here are a few specific things I’d like feedback on:

Spellcasting Creatures

A creature that is also a 20th-level caster is a pain to run. Wulf and I have experimented with a few table formats for organizing a creature’s spells but nothing is finalized.

If you are running an encounter with a solar (let’s assume it’s a bad angel), what information do you really want in the stat block, especially spellcasting?

In the preview, these creatures have a table that looks like this:

Code:
9th (DC 23)	8th (DC 22)	7th (DC 21)	6th (DC 20)	5th (DC 19)
bless           bless	        bless	        bless	        bless
cause fear	cause fear	cause fear	cause fear	 cause fear
		
4th (DC 18)	3rd (DC 17)	2nd (DC 16)	1st (DC 15)	0th (DC 14)
bless	        bless	        bless	        bless	        bless
cause fear	cause fear	cause fear	cause fear	cause fear
Each spell level has a check box that represents how many spell slots of each level the creature has. When the creature casts a spell, the DM checks the box.

As far as readied spells go, we really aren’t that concerned with how many a creature gets. The chart is really just a tool for the DM. Realistically, the DM doesn’t have to prepare any spells in advance for the creature. He can literally choose spells on the fly. I included a few at the creatures three highest-levels for ease of reference.

Remember, the goal of the PDF is for the DM to be able to print a creature and have everything he needs on that page (or pages).

With that in mind, is this chart helpful?

Would you prefer every level to be filled in with a creature’s readied spells or completely blank?

Do you prefer spells to be listed from lowest-to-highest or highest-to-lowest (as they are currently)?

Anything else you would like to see?

Thanks!
 

Attachments

I like it so far. I was a bit confused why there was a DR in Offense as well as a DR in Defense. :)

My knowledge of spells is minimal, I prefer to never play spellcasting characters. But when I ran monsters, I always wished for some way, at a glance, to know which spells were half-action casting times, full-action casting times, longer casting times. Spells' effects are more easily remembered, for me, than casting times . . . which I almost always end up having to look up more often than the actual effect.

I think something like this could be marked with a symbol next to the spell name, pick your method of efficient symbolizing.

Being able to at a glance know which spells are able to be cast with a move action, and which spells the monster needs to stay still to cast I would find very helpful.
 

ValhallaGH

Villager
I was struck by the oddity that spell-like abilities kept their old (nearly useless) format but that actual spell casting got the spiffy new format. This is epsecially striking when the spell-like abilities are as powerful or more powerful than the actual spells, and can be used with greater frequency.

Other than that, it seemed pretty good. Though I'll confess, I didn't give it the thurough examination I should have.
 

GlassJaw

Explorer
I was struck by the oddity that spell-like abilities kept their old (nearly useless) format but that actual spell casting got the spiffy new format. This is epsecially striking when the spell-like abilities are as powerful or more powerful than the actual spells, and can be used with greater frequency.
Well I'm not sure I would call it an "oddity", only because it hasn't really been decided that they will stay that way. I can certainly retool the spell-like ability layout, although it might not consistent with the spellcasting table, which is organized by level and not times/rest.

It's really a question of what format is preferred. Do you like the table format with check boxes versus the times per rest/line-by-line format?

Times/rest for spellcasting ability is per spell level, whereas spell-like abilities are times/rest for each "spell". That makes table layout with the check boxes a bit more difficult.
 

Garnfellow

Villager
I wonder about trying to abstract some important spell details in the spell-like ability description, in keeping with the goal of trying to put all of the monster information right there in the description. (The psionic monsters in the SRD use something like this.) I know off the top of my head that a lightning bolt, for example, is going to be a Reflex save, and it will do 1d6 electricity damage per caster level (max 10d6). But I'm not sure about the range. And that's one of the most famous spells in the game. I'd be completely unable to guess most of the parameters for many of the high level cleric spells or any of the bard spells.

The letter "A" is a good proof of concept because between aboleths and angels you've got some of the more complicated stat blocks in the whole SRD. (I'd be curious to see what you do with demons/devils or lycanthropes.)
 

Garnfellow

Villager
I think you could also safely drop the colons after the statblock titles with no loss (and maybe even an improvement) to readability.
 
My preference would be to remove the lines that say only DEFENSE, OFFENSE, STATISTICS, ECOLOGY, and SPECIAL ABILITIES. These add 5 extra lines per statblock that I find unnecessary.
 
For the Space and Reach entries, I'd go back to something like this:
Space/Reach 5’/5’​
I'd definitly use the ’ in place of "ft." But, if you wanted to keep "ft." I'd recommend dropping the period and making it just "ft"
 
And, I'd remove the semi-colons on the BAB, CMB, CMD line. The semi-colons are unnecessary since you're already bolding the names.

Same for the Combat Reactions, Dodge, Parry line. No semi-colons needed.
 

GlassJaw

Explorer
Good stuff Hrothgar - much appreciated!

We'll take those under consideration, although I'm inclined to agree with your suggestions.
 

TarionzCousin

Second Most Angelic Devil Ever
Which monsters will be in the book? All of the Open Game License monsters from the first 3E Monster Manual?
 

GlassJaw

Explorer
Which monsters will be in the book? All of the Open Game License monsters from the first 3E Monster Manual?
Yes, and more!

The "more" includes lots of customized monsters as well as some new monsters that will be designed along with some of our patrons.

In addition, everything is getting a fully-fleshed out stat block, including ALL the dragons.
 

Wulf Ratbane

Villager
In addition, everything is getting a fully-fleshed out stat block, including ALL the dragons.
I want to expand on that a little bit.

We are definitely treating the PDF as a different product entirely from the printed book.

For the PDF, because "page count" is not an issue, every single monster will have its own page. One statblock per page. We'll put in extra pages with the monsters grouped and then hyperlinked in every useful way we can imagine-- alphabetically, by type, by CR, etc.

This is how I run my games, and it's very handy:

Game day, before the session, I print out the stat blocks I need. Goblin. Bugbear. Cockatrice. Medium Fire Elemental. Whatever.

Those pages end up behind my screen, with plenty of breathing room on each page and lots of white space to take notes during play. (Some might even call it wastefully extravagant to have so much white space to play with.)

Sometimes those pages roll over from session to session. Sometimes they get culled and tossed in the trash. Cockatrice only appears in that one room? I'll throw that page away at the end of the night. Or maybe just at the end of the "story arc."

Now, obviously, the book is another matter. It's simply not feasible to put each monster on its own page. For those, we'll have to fit more monsters per page. We'll do what we can to keep page breaks and column breaks as even as possible so that you'll never see two monsters on the same column. (Ick.)

This will end up being a lot more work, but the combination of PDF + Book will be a much stronger and useful product overall.
 

Elephant

Villager
Yes, and more!

The "more" includes lots of customized monsters as well as some new monsters that will be designed along with some of our patrons.

In addition, everything is getting a fully-fleshed out stat block, including ALL the dragons.
Sold. That sounds awesome! Where do I preorder?
 

GlassJaw

Explorer
Sold. That sounds awesome! Where do I preorder?
Glad you think so Elephant! Thanks.

The stat blocks have been a major endeavor for me and they have been updated considerably from the original post in this thread. I've been harnessing all my technical writer ability and training and have literally rewritten EVERYTHING. Every stat block, rule, ability description, and format - you name it - nothing has gone untouched.

In my (perhaps somewhat biased) opinion, this is shaping up to be the most accurate, complete, consistent, and user-friendly monster book I've ever seen.

Anyway, I know things have been a little quiet in here lately and that's because of a lot of real-life stuff for both Wulf and myself (nothing bad, just busy). But I'm back, hard at work and hoping to make a big push over the next few weeks so we can start layout.
 

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