D&D (2024) Rogue's Been in an Awkward Place, And This Survey Might Be Our Last Chance to Let WotC Know.

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Lol. No a Baker is CR0. He has int or wis 12-14. He has the trait Master Baker +5 on all skill rolls involving cookery, all rolls of 2-9 are considered to be 10 so his minimum roll that isn't 1 is 16-17, enough to cover off even a hard bakery challenge. Plus if he has his chef's tools, he gets advantage. Why on Oerth would he ever need +12 on his skill roll?
The number I chose was arbitrary to show mastery, but the point is the same as you are saying here. He could have +12 or those few statistics you just put up, or some other way to accomplish it.
 

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James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
Woah, woah, woah. There is no contradiction here.

Every creature you can interact with is a monster. That doesn't mean that every monster has to be a combat challenge. Nor does it mean that you have to use monster creation rules to make every NPC, the MM description even says "even something as harmless as a frog".

An old man with 1 hit point that the DM has decided has a total of +12 to a check made using tools is an NPC and a Monster. That does not mean he is CR 9, and even if it did, the DM does not have to give you xp if you accidentally include him in the area of a Fireball. There's no contradiction here.

Look at the first line of Charm Monster. "You attempt to charm a creature you can see within range". This is perfectly in line with the MM definition of what a Monster is.

An NPC doesn't need stats. That doesn't mean it's not a monster- you wouldn't give stats to a fly, but by the MM definition, a fly is a monster. Further, as I pointed out, a player character is technically a monster, yet player characters don't have CR ratings nor use monster creation rules at all, which means-

All NPC's are Monsters, but not all NPC's are made with Monster creation guidelines.
 

Yaarel

He Mage
Which is fine, but none of that applies to the 1st way to make NPCs. NPCs require no stat block, levels or anything else to have a +12 at a skill. I can in fact make an NPC with nothing more than that and it won't be a monster.
Yeah. If you are just jotting down "+12 at skill" in notes, without a formal statblock, I wouldnt call that a "monster".

A "monster" is something one finds in a Monster Manual, namely the statblock.
 

Yaarel

He Mage
Of course, you can do that, but then if you have an issue with there being no way to create a skilled NPC in the monster building rules, it's a problem that's entirely of your own making. Actually, there are also ways to build them as monsters if you want. The 3e expert class was an unnecessarily complicated way of doing it but you could take the commoner stats, pick the stat you need and make it 14, and give them an ability called Master X... +5 on all rolls associated with X and you have advantage on the roll if you have your X tools.
It is the other way around. I can do anything I want with a statblock − give it skills as high as I want.

Oppositely, if I make a "character", I have to build a character sheet with specific procedures, order of advancement, and many limitations.

"Monster" NPC statblocks are fluid design.

"Character" sheet NPCs are highly structured.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Woah, woah, woah. There is no contradiction here.

Every creature you can interact with is a monster. That doesn't mean that every monster has to be a combat challenge. Nor does it mean that you have to use monster creation rules to make every NPC, the MM description even says "even something as harmless as a frog".

An old man with 1 hit point that the DM has decided has a total of +12 to a check made using tools is an NPC and a Monster. That does not mean he is CR 9, and even if it did, the DM does not have to give you xp if you accidentally include him in the area of a Fireball. There's no contradiction here.

Look at the first line of Charm Monster. "You attempt to charm a creature you can see within range". This is perfectly in line with the MM definition of what a Monster is.

An NPC doesn't need stats. That doesn't mean it's not a monster- you wouldn't give stats to a fly, but by the MM definition, a fly is a monster. Further, as I pointed out, a player character is technically a monster, yet player characters don't have CR ratings nor use monster creation rules at all, which means-

All NPC's are Monsters, but not all NPC's are made with Monster creation guidelines.
It's a nonsensical definition. If every creature, including PCs and harmless flies are monsters, monster has no meaning. It's like if the designers decided to define D&D as every game ever made from the beginning of time until the end of time. I mean, I guess it's a definition, but it doesn't mean anything.

For the monster definition to mean something, it needs to mean something different than PC, harmless animals, etc.
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
It's a nonsensical definition. If every creature, including PCs and harmless flies are monsters, monster has no meaning. It's like if the designers decided to define D&D as every game ever made from the beginning of time until the end of time. I mean, I guess it's a definition, but it doesn't mean anything.

For the monster definition to mean something, it needs to mean something different than PC, harmless animals, etc.
But that is a definition the game makes. Putting aside whether it's nonsensical or not (I, for one, am amused that it rightly calls the murderhobo PC's monsters), why is it there? Why does an official rulebook state that a harmless frog is a monster?

I'll attempt to answer my own question.

1) It's a joke. Haha, isn't it funny? I'm a monster! You're a monster!

Sure, D&D rulebooks are no strangers to containing humor or poking fun at themselves. But this opens the door to calling anything nonsensical in the rulebooks as a joke and not actually intended as rules. Also, the fact that it's literally in the section of "how to use this book" means this is a bad place to put a joke without specifically identifying it as being tongue in cheek.

2) It's intentionally simplistic for new DM's to understand.

That the definition takes up a sixth of the page and goes into some detail rather than just saying "you're a monster, everything is a monster, haha!" makes it sound like this is a serious attempt at a definition. And I don't think patronizing potential DM's, the people most likely to own or use this book (outside of polymorphers and Druids) is a fantastic take either.

3) It's intended to help explain why we have "Charm Person" and "Charm Monster" as spells.

As I stated before, this does line up with the methodology behind those spells, if you accept "Person" as being a subset of "Monster", and Monster containing anything one might target with the spell. But if you're trying to explain D&Disms to the player base, having that be in the Monster Manual seems fairly odd.

4) The people who wrote the Monster Manual are bad at their jobs.

I, and many others, often take the designers to task for a lot of things about the game. But I think it's completely bad faith to say that something in the book is only there because of ineptitude. And I have much better targets, like bonus action spell limitations or divine caster weapon juggling to point at if I'm trying to make a point about my dislike of their design.

In conclusion, the Monster Manual's definition of "monster" has a purpose, and just saying "Monster Manual wrong, Dungeon Master's Guide is right" and calling it a day is certainly one's prerogative to do, but I feel that line of thinking leads to a lot of other problems. If the books indeed have a hierarchy, then it basically says that there is text in rulebooks that is not only wrong, but misleading, that has never been addressed or edited.

Game rulebooks aren't meant to be sacred texts of a Gnostic religion, where "true mastery" is achieved by sifting through false statements to gain enlightenment. They're meant to show people how to play the game, and have fun by doing so. Certainly, the writers are fallible, as all humans are, but we shouldn't dismiss something as being a total non sequitur in a discussion without further evidence that this is an error.

All rulebooks are equally valid as part of the holistic rules set of the game. Certainly, newer ideas can supplant earlier ones, and anyone is free to follow or discard the contents as suits their needs. But nothing should be explicitly stated to be vestigial text. It was written with a purpose, for a reason, though we may not know what that is.

The acid test, of course, is to see what the 2025 Monster Manual has to say. :)
 


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