D&D General Why are there Good Monsters in the Monster Manual?


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BookTenTiger

He / Him
Well, it does beg the question of where those statblocks are going to go in this brave new world some people are so excited about.
Hey Micah, can we leave out the clutching of pearls? That's twice now that you've made posts as if this were a call to action instead of an honest inquiry.

I'm a stay at home dad who really enjoys the hobby and doesn't have much time to play, and on my walks with my infant son I think about this stuff and am interested in discussing it. Please don't turn this thread into a debate.
 

Hey Micah, can we leave out the clutching of pearls? That's twice now that you've made posts as if this were a call to action instead of an honest inquiry.

I'm a stay at home dad who really enjoys the hobby and doesn't have much time to play, and on my walks with my infant son I think about this stuff and am interested in discussing it. Please don't turn this thread into a
I'm sorry. Worldbuilding is so ingrained in my perspective that I had a hard time believing that it was an honest question. I apologize.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
If you've read any of the fiction, from Planescape to Dragonlance, you know that most things that call themselves Good in D&D are dangerous menaces with bowels that need dissening.
 


Nefermandias

Adventurer
I may be an outlier, but I've found the one-size-statblock-fits-all approach of the Monster Manuals to be... more limited than my personal tastes.

For example, yeah I have used a deva and a metallic dragon in combat scenarios, but more often I've used them in tense negotiations. That's one of the elements I feel is missing – holistically thinking about how is this monster intended to be used at the table, and then orienting the presentation of its entry in the Monster Manual towards that intended design.

For example: Kobolds use traps, right? So why not include traps in its MM entry? Maybe expand it to 2-pages, or replace the "winged kobold" (can't that just be a sidebar "it can fly 30 ft"?) with a random table referencing traps in the DMG, or even just include one sample trap that's particularly kobold-ish, or maybe include trap design notes for the DM to the effect of "kobold traps often trigger on tripwires strung at human waist-level or via pressure plates that only activate when 50 lbs are placed onto and then removed from the plate."

Maybe the couatl entry gets a couple of riddles that require the player to reframe a situation through an ethical lens or otherwise practice selfless thinking?

Maybe the deva has a skill challenge or bulletpoint list of negotiation/quest ideas to the effect of "prevent a deva from falling / redeem a fallen deva"?

Because I definitely use good-aligned monsters, just not usually as combat adversaries.
WoTC, please hire this guy!
 

I always mentally put the word "typically" in front of the alignment line for creatures in the monster manual. A Gold Dragon corrupted by greed or an Angel in revolt against their planar cohorts makes for great memorable villains.
 

Argyle King

Legend
Why are there Good Monsters in the Monster Manual?

I was thinking about how much space the Metallic Dragons take. All those Celestials. It's a lot of tree pulp used to stat out monsters most groups aren't going to fight.

So I was wondering: why are they there?

I can think of two ideas:

1) Verisimilitude.

The world of D&D is made up of monsters with stats and lore. There are Bad Dragons, and they exist because they have stats and lore. For Good Dragons to exist, they need stats and lore.

2) As Allies / Enemies of Evil

I suppose these Good Monster stats could be used when fighting alongside the adventurers, or as foes for evil groups. But these seem like edge cases.


So help me understand. Why are there Good Monsters in the Monster Manual? Were they always there? Do you use the stats, or just the lore?

Not all PCs are good.

Even if they are, being good doesn't mean lack of conflict.

For example, most people would likely consider Spiderman and Dr. Strange to be on the side of "good." However, they have a fight in the most recent movie due to a disagreement over the best way to handle a situation.

In the case of something like a dragon (which has a longer lifespan) they may have a view of "good" which looks at a longer picture and be willing to let someone endure hardship now for a perceived bigger benefit later. The PCs might not be on board with letting the current problem (whatever that may be) go to suit some ideal situation which may (or may not) occur 100 years from now.
 

GreyLord

Legend
Because Lawful Neutral, Lawful Evil, Neutral Evil, Chaotic Evil, and Chaotic Neutral are still alignments players can choose to play?

From their point of evil, the Good aligned monsters are evil.

And if you speak in absolutes...well...then those Metallic Dragons may be the most evil of them all in that sense!!!
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
Thanks everyone for the responses!

I think it's interesting thinking about this from a game design perspective. What does the inclusion of Good Monsters say about how the game is played?

To me, it seems to communicate that...

1) You can fight good monsters.

This definitely supports the huge amount of flexibility in how D&D is played. Even though most published adventures assume you will be fighting evil enemies, the MM provides you with the capability to fight Good enemies.

2) All monsters follow the same rules.

This one I find really interesting, and it's something I hadn't thought of before. If my Lawful Good paladin is interacting with a Gold Dragon, I most likely am not going to swing my sword at it. But I could. And if I did, the rules support it as much as they do me fighting an evil Red Dragon. There's something very satisfying about that, as a player.
 

Unwise

Adventurer
My party has fought more angels than devils. They are always joking about it. I have always loved the idea of angels being made for a single purpose and not understanding morality outside of that. They don't have a complete soul like a mortal, they are sentient tools.

So when an angel of protection is summoned by the high priest, it does not understand that he is corrupted, it just wants to protect.

When an angel of vengeance is summoned by a dying martyr, it does not care that its victim is penitent, or was deceived or coerced into doing something bad. It is Frank Castle on a bad day.

PCs are also often raiding ruins to reclaim holy items. Ancient temples and relics of goodness could often be protected by good creatures. Remove their ability to be reasoned with easily and they are very valid adversaries. My most recent PC death was due to a Kirin that was guarding the sacred scrolls from the unworthy. Apparently the PC was unworthy.
 

I always mentally put the word "typically" in front of the alignment line for creatures in the monster manual.
If you actually read the opening chapter, where it talks about all the different stats, it always had this.
Because sometimes even good people will fight each other for bad reasons ?
It doesn't even need to be bad reasons; good is no more monolithic than evil. My goals as a good character might still directly oppose those of a good monster, leading to conflict.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I was there, 4000 years ago. I was there when the strength of Men failed.
frozen-cold.gif

Me crossing the Helcaraxe.
 



So I was wondering: why are they there?
Beyond the two reasons you listed, I find that there's a third, which might be easily mistaken for verisimilitude but is actually quite different. That is, verisimilitude covers (more or less) "how this creature exists in the world/cosmology." There's another reason of a similar kind but not the same: explicitly spelling out how its abilities work.

I don't mean its combat abilities, though those are also relevant. I mean things like "how a genie's wishes work" or "what mummy rot does" or the like. Things like the ecology, behavior, and society (if sapient) are verisimilitude. Things like damage values, AC, HP, etc. are combat. But "can speak telepathically at-will, but only broadcast"? That's...not really a combat thing, but it's also not particularly related to verisimilitude either. Likewise, what languages a creature knows are verisimilitude, and its Intelligence bonus is more or less mostly combat-focused, but supernatural linguistic abilities warrant explanation, e.g. "acts as though under the effect of tongues and comprehend langauges at all times, but as an innate ability that is not suppressed when entering an antimagic field or dead magic zone." No real combat significance, but also not really "verisimilitude" in the formal sense, since it doesn't really have anything to do with giving the impression of a grounded, realized entity.

And the thing is, a LOT of good creatures in the MM have abilities like this! Angels and dragons and agathions/guardinals, all sorts of things have fancy features or quirky non-combat abilities that warrant being spelled out.

That gives us three reasons: statblocks for when they need to fight (whether with or against the PCs), ecological/sociological/psychological info for helping contribute to a consistent and believable world, and miscellaneous abilities that matter but aren't ecological/etc. nor meaningfully combat-related.
 


Dioltach

Legend
As a DM, I tend to look at a monster's stats and abilities and decide whether it will provide a challenge that fits the encounter or adventure. I tend to ignore all "official" worldbuilding stuff like alignment or environment (unless it's important to the abilities).
 


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