D&D 5E Redoing existing monsters?

gamerprinter

Mapper/Publisher
I do this too, but I use enjoy how Steven D. Russell (rest in peace) of Rite Publishing use to create 'new monsters', by taking an existing monster from a bestiary (he designed for PF 1.0), then make a some tweaks in it's abilities and mechanics, but then completely change it's description and lore. Like you take a peryton stat block, change a few of it's unique abilities and mechanics, replace or alter them, but make it black spotted, yellow giant six legged salamander immune to fire with poisonous skin, but in every way it just uses the peryton stat block. Players won't know what the creature, and you didn't have fully invent a new creature - just tweak the original, change it's appearance and name, and now it's a brand new creature. It may seem lazy, but it's creative trying to make a stat block work for something other than what it was originally designed to do.
 

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Agreed, it’s just a me personally thing.
 


I've noticed with 5e that I've been redoing most of the monsters I run – for ease of running, to minimize repetitive abilities, to replace prolific "bludg, pierc, slash" resistances & add vulnerabilities, and to get the mechanics to reinforce the narrative better. Often, I look to older editions' lore for inspiration and/or try to envision how to bring more social & exploration elements into the stat block (or just the presentation of the monster in my games).

Has anyone else been doing this themselves? Or using other sources to model the classic D&D / Monster Manual monsters?

What do you think of these changes to the peryton stat block, as an example?

View attachment 277858
This thing rocks.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
Just bumping this thread to say, I am finally prepping the session in which there is a chance where the PCs will face some perytons. When I get a chance I will post my revised stat block based on @Quickleaf's version. Thanks!

This thing rocks.
I actually made a second revision to the peryton a while back! I've been playing around with a 3-category stat block for some monsters - exploration, interaction, combat. Won't be everyone's cup of tea, but here it is...

Screen Shot 2023-11-13 at 6.44.29 PM.png
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
These days I tend to initially bypass the monster stats and instead look for Regional Effects and Lair Actions instead, then imagine how these can be worked into an 'ecology' within a given habitat including the different creatures that might fit as an encounter in that region.

Got to say that Peryton is one of the creatures I had no conception of how to use in the past and so never made much of them. However by emphasizing the Habitat/Regional and looking a bit more at the lore it starts to spark some nice ideas.

So heres how I've been rewriting Stat blocks for my use
1700012771243.png


Then I do up some bardic lore to see what a check might know
1700039117572.png
 

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Quickleaf

Legend
These days I tend to initially bypass the monster stats and instead look for Regional Effects and Lair Actions instead, then imagine how these can be worked into an 'ecology' within a given habitat including the different creatures that might fit as an encounter in that region.

Got to say that Peryton is one of the creatures I had no conception of how to use in the past and so never made much of them. However by emphasizing the Habitat/Regional and looking a bit more at the lore it starts to spark some nice ideas.

So heres how I've been rewriting Stat blocks for my use
View attachment 328135

Then I do up some bardic lore to see what a check might know
View attachment 328451
That's a nice quadrant format – upper left stats, upper right physical descrption & role-playing info, middle left exploration stuff (your regional effects remind me of the Dolmenwood monsters), middle right combat abilities, lower left lore checks, lower right GM's lore & encounter info.
 

jgsugden

Legend
I do this all the time - and have done so for 40 years - and long ago realized it is mostly self pleasuring.

Not like that, perv.

In order for these types of updates to be anything other than a personal pleasure, the change has to be significant to the players. This means you either need to drop the lore into the game prior to the encounter, or you need to have it impact the encounter.

Your Nature only matters if the PCs cast Remove Curse on the creature, or if a PC dies to the creature and the creature has time to eat the heart. The winged vulnerability is something the PCs might stumble onto with the right damage. You can let PCs know these elements through intelligence rolls or encountering lore before the game - but when you add a significant weakness to a creature and let PCs know of it in advance, it becomes a balance problem for the DM - do you assume they'll take advantae of the weakness - and thus that the encounter should be treated as easy - or not and that the encounter will be hard. This is not a horrible problem to have - but it does represent some level of balance challenge.

All in all - I found it less productive to tweak - and more productive to create. Rather than revise monsters, I tend to build new ones. They may take inspiration from existing monsters, but they're new creations that suit my purposes. Because they're new, they tend to have less of the 'adding weaknesses' elements to them and more fundamental design sythesis that ties them together. That being said, I do have my own homebrew versions of medusa, of gnolls, and of a few other creatures that I prefer because I feel they capture the spirit of the monster better than the base rules.

My medusa are tied to a location. They can't leave it, so they master it. Their lairs are designed to aid them in their petrification desires. They get lair actions, and they have a few extra abilities that allow them to utilize their petrified victims in various ways to aid them in pulling others into the pool. Also, when you slay a medusa, all the victims begin to return to life - although it takes as much time for them to be restored as they spent petrified.

My gnolls are a demonic force of nature. I mostly use them with swarm mechanics as they roll over enemies. They are fiends and inflict madness (Uncontrollable Hideous Laughter) when they are raging. The madness is caused in an aura around them (low DC). Being in their presence makes your eyes bleed and forces you to at least snicker. They always attack the most wounded option (including downed PCs) and are only slightly above beast intelligence (Intelligence 5). New players in my game assume gnolls are typical gnolls. Experienced players in my games know that gnolls are terrifying demonic threats.

These changes have been significant and have worked well for me. Many, many, many others were dropped on paper - and never were discovered, much less made a difference.

So my advice: Make sure the change is meaningful if you're going t take the time to implement it - and if you want to be creative, sonsider just building from scratch.
 

Rabulias

the Incomparably Shrewd and Clever
Also, when you slay a medusa, all the victims begin to return to life - although it takes as much time for them to be restored as they spent petrified.
Clever! I like it!
My gnolls are a demonic force of nature. I mostly use them with swarm mechanics as they roll over enemies. They are fiends and inflict madness (Uncontrollable Hideous Laughter) when they are raging. The madness is caused in an aura around them (low DC). Being in their presence makes your eyes bleed and forces you to at least snicker. They always attack the most wounded option (including downed PCs) and are only slightly above beast intelligence (Intelligence 5). New players in my game assume gnolls are typical gnolls. Experienced players in my games know that gnolls are terrifying demonic threats.
Love this! My gnolls are pretty well established at this point, but this stuff is too good to not yoink and put in somewhere. Maybe extra demonic super-gnolls? :unsure:
 

Zaukrie

New Publisher
These days I tend to initially bypass the monster stats and instead look for Regional Effects and Lair Actions instead, then imagine how these can be worked into an 'ecology' within a given habitat including the different creatures that might fit as an encounter in that region.

Got to say that Peryton is one of the creatures I had no conception of how to use in the past and so never made much of them. However by emphasizing the Habitat/Regional and looking a bit more at the lore it starts to spark some nice ideas.

So heres how I've been rewriting Stat blocks for my use
View attachment 328135

Then I do up some bardic lore to see what a check might know
View attachment 328451
big fan of some of the ways you updated the blocks there.....
 

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