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D&D 5E Why I love monsters in The Witcher RPG

I posted this on RPG.net but I wanted to see what y'all thought here (for those that aren't in both forums).

Mods: please feel free to move this to the general roleplaying group if you feel this is more appropriate.
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I've been reading "A Witcher's Journal", a (mostly) monster expansion for The Witcher RPG and I love it.

There are 33 monsters in this expansion. Each monster has a 2 page spread that includes:
  • Monster Stats
  • Immunities, vulnerabilities, attacks and special abilities
  • Typical bounties paid for the monster
  • "Loot" a.k.a alchemical ingredients harvested from that monster (that ties into other systems)
But that's not my favourite part of it. There are two blocks of lore for each monster.

Commoner Superstition has a general education skill DC and if the players succeed on this they get general information about the monsters, most of it false.

Lore & Behaviour has a special monster lore skill DC. If this is succeeded, the player gets specific, almost scientific information about the origins of the monster, particular tactics that work to mitigate or nullify their special abilities or that they are particularly vulnerable to, and how they typically behave in combat.

That may not appeal to everyone, but it's perfect for me. I have no problem using these tactics most of the time and giving players the opportunity to "game" these tactics via successful monster lore checks or because they have previously fought one before. It's a design element that I really enjoy as a GM and I think it would run well as a player.

Overall there's some tighter elements I am really enjoying here that I wish we saw in D&D. For example:
  • Monsters are ordered by monster type. Monster types often have common elements, similar origins and behaviours, and common vulnerabilities (specters are vulnerable to specter oil, beasts, beast oil. You get the picture). In D&D monster type has little to no effect, aside from fairly loosely designed lore that has very little effect in the game.
  • Monsters have a typical bounty price. Granted this is witcher specific, but I love to see it on the monster page and it's something i can use at a glance if I'm trying to bargain with the PCs to deal with a threat.
  • Most monster lore descriptions say why the monster exists and what will happen if it is unchecked. A Hym for example will mentally torture their victim until the victim kills themself or they find better prey, while a Pesta will bring increasing levels of plague to an area. D&D has nothing clearly like this. Again a GM can always improvise this, but I like having inspiration in the book to work off.
  • Monster loot typically feeds into an alchemical crafting system that loops back to creating items that have an effect on monster. Witcher specific but I think this is quite cool.
  • Typical combat behaviour for the monster. This is probably the number one thing I wish D&D had in it's monster guides. I'm ok with a guide saying something like "Orcs always rush headfirst into a fight and attack the nearest enemy first" because you can then set up an expectation of what Orcs do, but f the party then encounters an Orc behaving differently, such as sitting back and observing the fight first, it's a great clue that this particular Orc is special.
  • Whether they are solitary or typically found in groups of how many. Older editions of D&D from memory did this. I wish they'd bring it back.
I realise after writing this the piece comes across as an attack on D&D. It's not. I've had many good years playing 5e alone. However it's been interesting to see how much some of the design elements in the witcher rpg really keys off my preferences, and how much I'd love to see a 5e monster manual with some of this stuff.

Has anyone had any experience on running the system with the monsters, or have read it and have any thoughts?
 

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Dioltach

Legend
Commoner Superstition has a general education skill DC and if the players succeed on this they get general information about the monsters, most of it false.

Lore & Behaviour has a special monster lore skill DC. If this is succeeded, the player gets specific, almost scientific information about the origins of the monster, particular tactics that work to mitigate or nullify their special abilities or that they are particularly vulnerable to, and how they typically behave in combat.
I'd just like to add that this is such a good reflection of the books, where the commoners always have wrong information about monsters, but Geralt knows exactly what magics and tactics he needs. It adds depth to the setting, instead of everyone knowing just what each monster does and how to defeat it.
 

TheSword

Legend
I posted this on RPG.net but I wanted to see what y'all thought here (for those that aren't in both forums).

Mods: please feel free to move this to the general roleplaying group if you feel this is more appropriate.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I've been reading "A Witcher's Journal", a (mostly) monster expansion for The Witcher RPG and I love it.

There are 33 monsters in this expansion. Each monster has a 2 page spread that includes:
  • Monster Stats
  • Immunities, vulnerabilities, attacks and special abilities
  • Typical bounties paid for the monster
  • "Loot" a.k.a alchemical ingredients harvested from that monster (that ties into other systems)
But that's not my favourite part of it. There are two blocks of lore for each monster.

Commoner Superstition has a general education skill DC and if the players succeed on this they get general information about the monsters, most of it false.

Lore & Behaviour has a special monster lore skill DC. If this is succeeded, the player gets specific, almost scientific information about the origins of the monster, particular tactics that work to mitigate or nullify their special abilities or that they are particularly vulnerable to, and how they typically behave in combat.

That may not appeal to everyone, but it's perfect for me. I have no problem using these tactics most of the time and giving players the opportunity to "game" these tactics via successful monster lore checks or because they have previously fought one before. It's a design element that I really enjoy as a GM and I think it would run well as a player.

Overall there's some tighter elements I am really enjoying here that I wish we saw in D&D. For example:
  • Monsters are ordered by monster type. Monster types often have common elements, similar origins and behaviours, and common vulnerabilities (specters are vulnerable to specter oil, beasts, beast oil. You get the picture). In D&D monster type has little to no effect, aside from fairly loosely designed lore that has very little effect in the game.
  • Monsters have a typical bounty price. Granted this is witcher specific, but I love to see it on the monster page and it's something i can use at a glance if I'm trying to bargain with the PCs to deal with a threat.
  • Most monster lore descriptions say why the monster exists and what will happen if it is unchecked. A Hym for example will mentally torture their victim until the victim kills themself or they find better prey, while a Pesta will bring increasing levels of plague to an area. D&D has nothing clearly like this. Again a GM can always improvise this, but I like having inspiration in the book to work off.
  • Monster loot typically feeds into an alchemical crafting system that loops back to creating items that have an effect on monster. Witcher specific but I think this is quite cool.
  • Typical combat behaviour for the monster. This is probably the number one thing I wish D&D had in it's monster guides. I'm ok with a guide saying something like "Orcs always rush headfirst into a fight and attack the nearest enemy first" because you can then set up an expectation of what Orcs do, but f the party then encounters an Orc behaving differently, such as sitting back and observing the fight first, it's a great clue that this particular Orc is special.
  • Whether they are solitary or typically found in groups of how many. Older editions of D&D from memory did this. I wish they'd bring it back.
I realise after writing this the piece comes across as an attack on D&D. It's not. I've had many good years playing 5e alone. However it's been interesting to see how much some of the design elements in the witcher rpg really keys off my preferences, and how much I'd love to see a 5e monster manual with some of this stuff.

Has anyone had any experience on running the system with the monsters, or have read it and have any thoughts?
It sounds like they are playing it very close to Witcher 3 The Wild Hunt which is one of the best games I’ve played in the last 30 years. So that’s a good thing to my mind.

I don’t think it reads as an attack on 5e at all, just a nice list of things you like about a product. What I really like about it, and the Witcher games, is that after a long time playing D&D I kind of get monster blindness where they all start to blend into one. Particularly when Paizo is on its 8th bestiary or whatever. Creatures like Alghouls or Noonwraiths are so cool and original It makes me amazed they weren’t already original 5e monsters. It shows there is definitely more creativity out there.

If you like the style you might get inspiration from a book called the Old World Bestiary that takes a similar approach with the Warhammer with what commoners know, and what the sages know.

I agree with you, DMs Guild is ripe for a great monster book along this vein!
 

Raith5

Adventurer
I love the detail about using the monster remains as part of the alchemy and crafting systems. I would be good to have a reason in D&D to hunt down monster for more than its gold.

Although I do remember carrying around 130 vials of Nekker blood and lots of Drowner brains when I played the Witcher 3 CRPG
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I posted this on RPG.net but I wanted to see what y'all thought here (for those that aren't in both forums).

Mods: please feel free to move this to the general roleplaying group if you feel this is more appropriate.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I've been reading "A Witcher's Journal", a (mostly) monster expansion for The Witcher RPG and I love it.

There are 33 monsters in this expansion. Each monster has a 2 page spread that includes:
  • Monster Stats
  • Immunities, vulnerabilities, attacks and special abilities
  • Typical bounties paid for the monster
  • "Loot" a.k.a alchemical ingredients harvested from that monster (that ties into other systems)
But that's not my favourite part of it. There are two blocks of lore for each monster.

Commoner Superstition has a general education skill DC and if the players succeed on this they get general information about the monsters, most of it false.

Lore & Behaviour has a special monster lore skill DC. If this is succeeded, the player gets specific, almost scientific information about the origins of the monster, particular tactics that work to mitigate or nullify their special abilities or that they are particularly vulnerable to, and how they typically behave in combat.

That may not appeal to everyone, but it's perfect for me. I have no problem using these tactics most of the time and giving players the opportunity to "game" these tactics via successful monster lore checks or because they have previously fought one before. It's a design element that I really enjoy as a GM and I think it would run well as a player.

Overall there's some tighter elements I am really enjoying here that I wish we saw in D&D. For example:
  • Monsters are ordered by monster type. Monster types often have common elements, similar origins and behaviours, and common vulnerabilities (specters are vulnerable to specter oil, beasts, beast oil. You get the picture). In D&D monster type has little to no effect, aside from fairly loosely designed lore that has very little effect in the game.
  • Monsters have a typical bounty price. Granted this is witcher specific, but I love to see it on the monster page and it's something i can use at a glance if I'm trying to bargain with the PCs to deal with a threat.
  • Most monster lore descriptions say why the monster exists and what will happen if it is unchecked. A Hym for example will mentally torture their victim until the victim kills themself or they find better prey, while a Pesta will bring increasing levels of plague to an area. D&D has nothing clearly like this. Again a GM can always improvise this, but I like having inspiration in the book to work off.
  • Monster loot typically feeds into an alchemical crafting system that loops back to creating items that have an effect on monster. Witcher specific but I think this is quite cool.
  • Typical combat behaviour for the monster. This is probably the number one thing I wish D&D had in it's monster guides. I'm ok with a guide saying something like "Orcs always rush headfirst into a fight and attack the nearest enemy first" because you can then set up an expectation of what Orcs do, but f the party then encounters an Orc behaving differently, such as sitting back and observing the fight first, it's a great clue that this particular Orc is special.
  • Whether they are solitary or typically found in groups of how many. Older editions of D&D from memory did this. I wish they'd bring it back.
I realise after writing this the piece comes across as an attack on D&D. It's not. I've had many good years playing 5e alone. However it's been interesting to see how much some of the design elements in the witcher rpg really keys off my preferences, and how much I'd love to see a 5e monster manual with some of this stuff.

Has anyone had any experience on running the system with the monsters, or have read it and have any thoughts?
Makin me miss playing 4e with this post. One of the biggest things I wish they’d kept from it was the monster write ups. Tactics, behaviors, lore, all you need to know. What’s more you could get insight into how goblins operate by reading the write ups for multiple goblin enemies.
 

And that's one of the main strengths of the Witcher class - monster lore. Though you might get the idea that Witchers are unstoppable killing machines from the TV show and the games, in the RPG their real ability is that they actually know how to deal with the threats they face. Heck, if I recall correctly, the Man at Arms class is the best at combat.

I'd just like to add that this is such a good reflection of the books, where the commoners always have wrong information about monsters, but Geralt knows exactly what magics and tactics he needs. It adds depth to the setting, instead of everyone knowing just what each monster does and how to defeat it.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
And that's one of the main strengths of the Witcher class - monster lore. Though you might get the idea that Witchers are unstoppable killing machines from the TV show and the games

Hmmm.... That's also the case in the books, you know, the original source of it all...
 


jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
Counterpoint: A lot of what you like about the Witcher monster manual is highly setting-specific. Which is good for a game that comes with a specific setting. But D&D is supposed to be setting-agnostic in order to allow DMs to develop their own lore for the monsters. For example, you liked having the typical price for a bounty, but that assumes that monster bounty hunters exist in a setting, which in turn implies a lot about the economy and the attitudes of society in general. Even "monster lore" locks away a lot of options that DMs might want to homebrew.

For D&D purposes, it would make more sense to put most of this stuff into a setting book. I definitely wouldn't say no to having a section in each of the various setting books talking about common monster lore, crafting options, bounty lists, etc., but I'm actually glad it's NOT in the Monster Manual.
 

And that's one of the main strengths of the Witcher class - monster lore. Though you might get the idea that Witchers are unstoppable killing machines from the TV show and the games, in the RPG their real ability is that they actually know how to deal with the threats they face. Heck, if I recall correctly, the Man at Arms class is the best at combat.
Man at arms statted out correctly can be tougher than a witcher. But it's heavily skill based. So even a bard who excels at swordsmanship, they can beat an equally skilled witcher pretty close to 50/50
 

Counterpoint: A lot of what you like about the Witcher monster manual is highly setting-specific. Which is good for a game that comes with a specific setting. But D&D is supposed to be setting-agnostic in order to allow DMs to develop their own lore for the monsters. For example, you liked having the typical price for a bounty, but that assumes that monster bounty hunters exist in a setting, which in turn implies a lot about the economy and the attitudes of society in general. Even "monster lore" locks away a lot of options that DMs might want to homebrew.

For D&D purposes, it would make more sense to put most of this stuff into a setting book. I definitely wouldn't say no to having a section in each of the various setting books talking about common monster lore, crafting options, bounty lists, etc., but I'm actually glad it's NOT in the Monster Manual.
I think D&D sits on the fence with this one. D&D however DOES have a very specific setting, and I wish it embraced that.

Default options are good for me as you don't have to use the default.

And as mentioned many of the things such as typical combat tactics and how many appear (as well as morale! Much missed!) have already existed in earlier versions of D&D.
 

I was really impressed by how they made such disparate classes all viable. It seemed a tall order, but the game managed it pretty well while maintaining flavor.

Man at arms statted out correctly can be tougher than a witcher. But it's heavily skill based. So even a bard who excels at swordsmanship, they can beat an equally skilled witcher pretty close to 50/50
 

jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
D&D however DOES have a very specific setting
I disagree. A lot of what is written assumes the Forgotten Realms, but the PHB and Monster Manual were clearly written with the goal of being fairly generic so that DMs could use any of the referenced earlier settings or build their own. And WotC has been walking that back even further since those books appeared. With the recent debates over alignment (for example), the trend is to move further away from FR-specific lore in the core books. All of WotC's surveys have shown that homebrewing is considerably more popular than running games in any given published setting.

Default options are good for me as you don't have to use the default.
I don't disagree with that for my own playstyle. But again, the current trend appears to be moving away from default options.

Like I said, though, I think the information you were wishing for would be great to have in setting books.
 
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