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WotC Considering NPC Stat Format Change

This started with a comment about D&D formatting errors by James Introcaso (the comment, not the errors) on Twitter, and WotC's Chris Perkins joined in. Other quickly chimed in with further questions.

Chris_Perkins.jpg


James:
When you write an NPC's statistics in parentheses next to their name, it should look like this: NAME (ABBREVIATED ALIGNMENT SEX OR GENDER SUBRACE RACE STATISTICS). e.g. Fireface McDragon (LG female mountain dwarf knight)

Perkins: We’re thinking about dispensing with that format and writing out the information in sentence form using no alignment abbreviations. Example: Borf is a chaotic neutral, non-binary shield dwarf berserker with darkvision out to a range of 60 feet.

Crows Bring the Spring: Can I inquire why adding the blurb about dark vision is included in that line? Makes it feel rather lengthy.

Perkins: It doesn’t have to be there. It could also be replaced with something else, such as the languages Borf speaks, if that’s more important. Racial traits and other useful info could be presented as separate, full sentences.

Hannah Rose: What’s motivating this possible change? The ability to transition into modifications to a stat block without saying “with the following changes”?

Perkins: Our intention is to make books that are gorgeous, thoughtfully organized, fun to read, and easy for DMs/players of all experience levels to use.

Guillermo Garrido: Do you playtest these changes by different levels of players/DMs before widespread use of the new language?

Perkins: We playtest everything.
 
Russ Morrissey

Comments

IchneumonWasp

Villager
I welcome his change. NPC stat blocks take up a lot of space for stuff that aren't really necessary and can mostly be improvised on the spot, especially if there are some small guidelines about how strong the NPCs and whether he is more strong/intelligent/social etc. You don't need the entire statblock.
 

Koloth

Villager
"Example: Borf is a chaotic neutral, non-binary shield dwarf berserker with darkvision out to a range of 60 feet."

Maybe it is too early in the morning and not enough tea but WTF is a 'non-binary shield dwarf'? Did a 2 get into a Boolean logic discussion?

While the new format seems easier to read, can it be spotted quickly while scanning a block of text as players are waiting for the DM to describe who they are dealing with? The () can make a string of stat text stand out from normal text.
 
A

André Soares

Guest
Maybe it is too early in the morning and not enough tea but WTF is a 'non-binary shield dwarf'? Did a 2 get into a Boolean logic discussion?
It's a shield dwarf that doesn't identify as male or female (or only as male or female).
 

5ekyu

Explorer
"Example: Borf is a chaotic neutral, non-binary shield dwarf berserker with darkvision out to a range of 60 feet."

Maybe it is too early in the morning and not enough tea but WTF is a 'non-binary shield dwarf'? Did a 2 get into a Boolean logic discussion?

While the new format seems easier to read, can it be spotted quickly while scanning a block of text as players are waiting for the DM to describe who they are dealing with? The () can make a string of stat text stand out from normal text.
Non-binary as opposed to M or F.
Google.
 

Ash Mantle

Villager
While the new format seems easier to read, can it be spotted quickly while scanning a block of text as players are waiting for the DM to describe who they are dealing with? The () can make a string of stat text stand out from normal text.
Hopefully these entries are bolded for easy scanning and finding.
 

jasper

Explorer
how about this Jasper Drow Mage AC 12/15 HP 45 XP 2,900 MM 129 Non-binary or
Jasper no-binary Drow Mage AC 12/15 HP 45 MM 129 or
jasper non-binaryDrow Mage HP 75 MM 129 ( include HP if not average0.
 

Osgood

Explorer
Maybe I'm getting too old for this s#!$ but I think having to read a whole sentence to express what should be a few words and abbreviations is a terrible idea. Walls of text are a pain to read through when at the table, so having a parenthetical with the stats to catch the eyes makes things a little easier. That complete sentence may make your grade school grammar teacher happy, but it's not doing anything for the DM.

Imagine if they tried this with monster stat blocks...
The Ogre is a large-sized chaotic evil giant, possessed of a prodigious strength score of 19, a sub-par dexterity score of 8, an impressive 16 constitution. It's limited mental capabilities include an Intelligence score of 5 and wisdom and charisma scores of 7; the ogre speaks the Common and Giant languages. Thanks to its hide armor the ogre has an armor class of 11, but what it lacks in defense, it makes up for in health as its 7d10+21 hit dice provide it with an average of 59 hit points. Additionally the ogre has a speed of 40 feet per round, the ability to see in darkness to a range of 60 feet, and a passive perception score of 8.
The ogre can use a greatclub to make melee weapon attacks, which have a +6 bonus to hit, a reach of 5 feet, and may affect one target, dealing 2d8+4 points of bludgeoning damage, for an average of 13 points. As a ranged attack the ogre can hurl javelins to a range of 30 feet, or 120 feet with disadvantage on the attack roll. The javelin has a +6 bonus to hit, and deals 2d6+4 points of piercing damage on a hit, which averages to 11 points of damage. The javelin can also be used to make a melee attack with a reach of 5 feet, with the same attack bonuses and damage. Characters who defeat this level 2 challenge earn 450 experience points.

Can't wait!
 

Morrus

Administrator
Staff member
Maybe I'm getting too old for this s#!$ but I think having to read a whole sentence to express what should be a few words and abbreviations is a terrible idea. Walls of text are a pain to read through when at the table, so having a parenthetical with the stats to catch the eyes makes things a little easier. That complete sentence may make your grade school grammar teacher happy, but it's not doing anything for the DM.

Imagine if they tried this with monster stat blocks...
The Ogre is a large-sized chaotic evil giant, possessed of a prodigious strength score of 19, a sub-par dexterity score of 8, an impressive 16 constitution. It's limited mental capabilities include an Intelligence score of 5 and wisdom and charisma scores of 7; the ogre speaks the Common and Giant languages. Thanks to its hide armor the ogre has an armor class of 11, but what it lacks in defense, it makes up for in health as its 7d10+21 hit dice provide it with an average of 59 hit points. Additionally the ogre has a speed of 40 feet per round, the ability to see in darkness to a range of 60 feet, and a passive perception score of 8.
The ogre can use a greatclub to make melee weapon attacks, which have a +6 bonus to hit, a reach of 5 feet, and may affect one target, dealing 2d8+4 points of bludgeoning damage, for an average of 13 points. As a ranged attack the ogre can hurl javelins to a range of 30 feet, or 120 feet with disadvantage on the attack roll. The javelin has a +6 bonus to hit, and deals 2d6+4 points of piercing damage on a hit, which averages to 11 points of damage. The javelin can also be used to make a melee attack with a reach of 5 feet, with the same attack bonuses and damage. Characters who defeat this level 2 challenge earn 450 experience points.

Can't wait!
Is it bad that I actually quite like that?
 

77IM

The Grand Druid (level 22)
I hate this change so much.

I don't want to read damn sentences because they are "gorgeous." I want to rapidly scan, pick out the information I need, and deliver it to my players as directly as possible.

In my own stuff, I've been trying to jam even MORE information into the parenthesis, like this: Fireface McDragon [LG enthusiastic, determined, curious female mountain dwarf knight with a +1 maul]. This is based on the format used by Jon Harper in the excellent Blades in the Dark which I find works very well.

I switched to using square brackets, instead of parentheses, to make the compressed stat block even easier to scan for. Brackets/braces are good because they are unobtrusive yet unique, so they're easy to find when scanning and easy to ignore when not scanning. It's science.

I've been reading through Waterdeep: Dragon Heist and one of my favorite things is that many new rooms are now described using a bulleted list, instead of paragraphs or read-aloud text. That's a great, direct-into-your-brain content delivery method. I'd hate to see them adopt better room descriptions while backsliding on NPC stat blocks.
 

Reynard

Adventurer
Adventures serve two purposes: they are meant as entertainment for reading, and they are meant as play aids. IMO you cannot do both well with the same information.

The actual information I need at the table to run an adventure is very limited. The early adventures got it right: location, monster, trap, treasure, etc... in very concise language. The information I need on the couch between adventures is more detailed and should be designed to be an enjoyable read. In a perfect world, something like Dragonheist would come with a 16 page "old school module" version that is just play reference material and the book would dispense with the stat blocks and tell me about the locations, characters, interactions and options. (It would also be a much better module and an actual heist in a perfect world, but that's a different issue.)
 

jmucchiello

Adventurer
I think this is a terrible idea. LG or NE stands out. You can't miss it. In sentence form: "Fred is a paleo-aware, lawful good, male, highborn, marsh dwarf paladin of..." it would be easy to miss that detail. Shorthands are there to make it easy to find what you want to know.

"We want to make beautiful books..." Huh? Yes, that's what the artwork is for. That's what the layout is for. But making it harder to use the product? Who wants a beautiful book that actively slows you down at the table?
 

Aebir-Toril

Explorer
I dislike this change immensely. It seems utterly unnecessary, and just adds weird bits of clutter to adventures. Just stick with the current system, which gives DMs enough credit to remember the NPC information presented in the longer description given outside of the general parenthetical descriptor.
 

Osgood

Explorer
Is it bad that I actually quite like that?
Yes. Yes it is!
Admittedly, it might be a fun alternative Monster Manual, presented somewhat like an "in-world" tome of monstrous lore, but I'd hate to see how a long stat block like a dragon or vampire would look.
 

lowkey13

Exterminate all rational thought
Is it weird that I was just thinking about how I missed the short stat blocks of 1e?

"4 Bull Thistles (AC 6; MV 9”; HD 4; hp 4 x 24; #AT 3; D 2-8/2-8/3-13; SD 25% magic resistance)"


(Source: EX1)
 

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