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Monster Mash

October 5, 2007

Finally, finally, finally we get some meaty information about Dungeons and Dragons Fourth Edition. The latest episode of the D&D podcast is all about the Monster Manual. There aren’t a ton of concrete details – there’ s no specific list of what’s in and what’s out – but there is a lot more info that we’ve gotten yet.

To sum up:

  • They reiterate the concept of monster ‘types’, like brutes, masterminds, skirmishers, etc. They also mention the concept of ‘elite’ monsters, that take up two ‘spots’ on the opposing monster team. It sounded like some monsters are elite by their very nature (like the Death Knight), while some can be ‘buffed up’ into an elite to make a fun creature more powerful.
  • It’s way easy to put together an encounter just by looking at the lists of monsters. They did it at a couple of level ranges at the end of the podcast just by looking at what they know is going to be in the first MM; this is doable because if you know level and ‘type’ of monster you can just slot them in. We need a few brutes, a mastermind, maybe some healer or skirmisher types … bingobango you’re done!
  • Frost Giants won’t be in the first MM. This is just one of the ‘core’ monsters that aren’t going to make it in because they want us to understand that all of the Monster Manuals are ‘core’ books. Plus they want to make a fuckton of money.
  • There are a lot of cool-sounding critters in there. I think it was something like ‘the Carved Eidolon’? And another was something like the ‘Frostshackle Gryphon’. Cool names are just the first step to a great encounter.
  • Critter abilities are no longer just spell names written in the stat block. They’ve really gone out of their way to give critters new and interesting things to do. Even when it is duplicating a spell, they’re including the info right there in the block – because they love us! They’re also really only including the important stuff in the stat block. There are far fewer 1/day type abilities, really only stuff you’re going to use in the encounter. Some abilities will also variable repop during a fight.
  • They’re differentiating humanoids! So Gnolls aren’t just “3-HD goblins”. Their example with my favorite hyena-headed critters was that specifically gnolls will attack like pack animals. Goblins, on the other hand, will be more dodgy and staying out of the range of your weapons. Kickass.
  • James Wyatt is actually looking forward to running a Beholder against his players. That speaks volumes to me about this game.

These regular podcasts are going to keep me super excited for this project all the way into next year.

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