Dragon 385 - Ampersand: Beyond Essentials…

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DnDi_Large.png  Dragon 385
Ampersand: Beyond Essentials…
…and Other Deep Thoughts

By Bill Slavicsek

Besides being a liar, Bill shows us some pretty cool products and the new monster-block format in this month's Ampersand. Luckily, the look at Essentials and beyond was a truth.

Talk about this month's Ampersand here.

Before posting, why not ask yourself, What Would Wrecan Say?

IMAGE(http://images.onesite.com/community.wizards.com/user/marandahir/thumb/9ac5d970f3a59330212c73baffe4c556.png?v=90000)

A great man once said "If WotC put out boxes full of free money there'd still be people complaining about how it's folded." – Boraxe

I approve of the new monster stat block actually, the clear differentiation of the minor and standard actions is really good. It is a bit clunkier though, but overall the number of times I've made a mistake where I failed to spot an important minor action or similar makes it well worth it. Some monsters rely on some easily missed minor action (or similar non-standard) powers quite a bit.
Man, what a kick in the pants.  As I glanced through the article and saw the bolded heading "E-Books" I felt an instant swell of hope!  Then I read the section and saw it was about novels, not source books.  Swell of hope... crushed. 
I like the idea of the new stat block, but I think it is off.  I like everything from traits down, but the first block seems jumbled and illogical to me. 

Personally I feel that immunities, resistances and vulnerabilities should be directly below HP.  Even more obvious is that the sesnses should be with Perception rather than a couple of lines down... that makes it too easy to miss some alternate means of detecting the PCs.  I realize others may disagree, but I don't think HP needs to be the first thing in the block after the heading... You need to refer to defenses before HP.  I would have done something like this:

AC 15, Fortitude 13, Reflex 15, Will 13
HP 43; Bloodied 21
Immune blinded, gaze; Resist 5 acid
Initiative +5
Perception +2; Blind, blindsight 10, tremorsense 10
Speed 5, climb 3

Did anyone else notice that the ankheg's tremorsense is in bold print but the ooze's blindsight is not?  Is this an oversight or is tremorsense somehow more important than blindsight?

My real question is will the exisiting monsters in the compendium be updated to this new format or will everything remain in the format of it's print version?  I copy the stat blocks from the compendium into my encounter sheet when I plan an adventure.  Today I simply need to adjust the font size so it fits my page better, but if there are two formats of stat block I'll wind up having to do a lot more work (I am far too much of a stickler to just have two formats on the same page). 

Of course the best possible solution would be to have the realize that is asking a bit much.

I love D&D more than I could ever love a human child.

The new monster stat blocks are damn nice.  Please tell me the Monster Builder (the best product ever) will auto convert the older monsters to this format?

Swell of hope... crushed. 




I will be absolutely shocked if your hope is not realized by this time next year. 

I really like that stat block. The traits are something I forget about in combat. Having the actions broken down by action type is perfect. It flows a lot better in combat when I look for what else the critters can do that round.

Jan 2011 brings in new stuff for new powers, new classes, and new options. So PHB4? lol.  One thing that concerns me is it says it will draw upon the lessons learned from essentials. Maybe you guys should wait to see how the fans react to your products before you start moving on to the next thing. There wasnt much there obviously since its a full year out so I'll reserve further judgement till we get something meatier.

It's worth noting that the stat blocks as they originally appeared in the article were not formatted quite right. They've been fixed now. The differences are minor but probably worth having a look at, because they do tidy things up a bit.

Steve
If your only tool is a warhammer, every problem looks like a gnoll.

I see that the perception abilities and bonuses are in the upper right corner now. I was thinking that was a lot of unused wasted white space before.

What on earth are they thinking about trying to go the ebook route.  After the fiasco of the last year with the rulebook thing, what makes them think this is going to end up any different.   I bought the original PDF books from Wizards when they came out and I purchased the subsequent books that came out up until the point that they pulled the PDF plug.  Now, I am stuck with having a split library of electronic books and physical books.  In order to have a uniform collection I have to go back out and buy physical books.  Twice the money for the books is a horrible way to treat your customers.  Shame on you, Wizards!

 
Man, what a kick in the pants.  As I glanced through the article and saw the bolded heading "E-Books" I felt an instant swell of hope!  Then I read the section and saw it was about novels, not source books.  Swell of hope... crushed. 


Thought the exact same thing.
Add to that feeling that they are actively promoting these e-books, and not doing anything regarding the source books.
*SIGH*

PLEEEEEEEEEASE!
Viva La "what ever version of D&D you are playing right now!"

Now the stat block looks like a winner! Here's hoping we will see all the stat blocks in the compendium in this format sometime soon.

I love D&D more than I could ever love a human child.

Regarding the stat blocks, those are sweet.
Can an Employee in the know tell us if we will be seeing an update to the Compendium and Monster Builder regarding the monsters already printed?
Viva La "what ever version of D&D you are playing right now!"
I love the new stat blocks.

It makes great use of whitespace to separate things that need to be easy to find (even though it's on the first line, quickly finding a monster's perception bonus has always been a bit awkward for me...)  I like putting the traits first -- just things you need to know about how the monster acts that you'll tend to skip over or miss if they're at the end.  I also like having hte powers broken out by action so I can quickly locate my options.

And apparently they're adding more flavor text for each monster, which is great...  I'm pretty happy all around on this MM.
I love the new stat block too!

I probably agree with Osgood. A slight modification might improve it even more, with the Defenses first and the Speed always last. But I like how Initiative and the Senses are to the right because it keeps the left list with fewer things to look at, which makes it easier to reference at a glance. I like Initiative and the Senses separate and to the right, because these are the stats that either set up or evade the combat in the first place. Speed is important too, and making it always last, right on top of the green bar, helps my eye know where it always will be.










AC 18, Fortitude 14, Reflex 13, Will 13Initiative +4
HP 36; Bloodied 18Perception +2
Resist 5 acidwhitedot.jpg Darkvision
Speed 5


So the left list order would be ...

Defs
HP
[Res]
[Imm]
[Sav]
[?]
Spd

Anyways, the list order is a minor quibble, and love the new stat block format already.
Im excited about the e-novels. If theyr a 'convenient' price, Il definitely buy them. (;) My library will miss me tho.)
Regarding the stat blocks, those are sweet.
Can an Employee in the know tell us if we will be seeing an update to the Compendium and Monster Builder regarding the monsters already printed?



I will poke and find out.
Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere
I knew you would, mudbunny.
Viva La "what ever version of D&D you are playing right now!"
I use to copy and paste 4 monster blocks on a table (2x2) for printing.

Most people, I think, do the same way. 

The "green" is what makes the eye quickly separate one monster from another.

Now, inserting several lines of green, it will be a mess. It will slow my reading time.

Could you please change the first line to another color or another shade of green?

Thanks. 

The "green" is what makes the eye quickly separate one monster from another.



Something felt off to me about the new block, too, and I think this is it -- I am accustomed to the monster's "title bar" being its own color. Shading each section's header differently than the title section would aesthetically be more pleasing, I think.

Man, what a kick in the pants.  As I glanced through the article and saw the bolded heading "E-Books" I felt an instant swell of hope!  Then I read the section and saw it was about novels, not source books.  Swell of hope... crushed. 


Thought the exact same thing.
Add to that feeling that they are actively promoting these e-books, and not doing anything regarding the source books.
*SIGH*

PLEEEEEEEEEASE!

i can empathize with the desire for digital source books that are downloadable. I play sometimes at a locatio without wi-fi and can't access the compendium. I never carry my books from my house.

but you've got to realize that with the prevelance of digital piracy that creating and allowing for the major source books to be shared as a digital file would be a very serious concern both legally and fiscally. I'm not trying to say, "Look how greedy they are. They just want money." Yet, i can see that allowing a file that can simply be copied and shared is much different than a book that can be loaned out and shared.

considering that so very much material is available through the character builder and monster builder, many players and DMs could get by dropping into a bookstore to read the books for the sections they most want and then making up all the more detailed notes of the campaign. the CB and MB would fill in the mechanical needs.

that's just what i expect in reference to source books becoming available as an e-book file or aything similar.

I use to copy and paste 4 monster blocks on a table (2x2) for printing.

Most people, I think, do the same way. 
 


I do 6 per page, landscape style. Tongue out neener, neener

Since I change the size of the stat block I also change the color of certain powers of the creature, just so I remember and see it more clearly.  Granted it's an extra step, but I don't see them changing the heading color.


IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/20.jpg)

Well, all monsters will start with the double dark-green lines, so that's a divider. At no other time, it looks like will the double dark-green line be used.
Viva La "what ever version of D&D you are playing right now!"
DnDi_Large.png  Dragon 385
Ampersand: Beyond Essentials…
…and Other Deep Thoughts

By Bill Slavicsek

Besides being a liar, Bill shows us some pretty cool products and the new monster-block format in this month's Ampersand. Luckily, the look at Essentials and beyond was a truth.

Talk about this month's Ampersand here.



More non-information about the e-books. Format? Where to get them? 
I hope player characters can use this new monster format too, with the monster format being a minimalistic subset of the more elaborate character format. 

The CB Character Sheet Power Cards could also use this monster format for power card text.

Itd even be nice to have a brief version of a player character in the form of a 'monster block' with the most typical actions on a single card. It would represent how character behaves during most combat encounters. Meanwhile the player would tend to only reference the character sheet at large when special situations arise. This card would also represent the distilled essence of the characters flavor, in the same way the salient traits of a monster expresses the essence of its flavor.

On a related note, the title bar of this new monster format may need reformatting to handle unique monsters, ie, characters. Its difficult to squeeze all that info into the thin title bar, but something like this could work. Most entries would only use a few of the possible fields below.






[Personal Name], [Racial Build] [Race]
'[Class Build]' [Class]-[Hybrid]-[Multiclass]
[Paragon Path] / [Epic Destiny]
[Monster Class or Overall Character Concept]

[Tier Symbol][Level]


[Size] [Origin] [Type] ([Keywords])[Power Source] [Class Role]-[Monster Role]


The following example isnt real, the names being chosen because theyr very long.






Oberon Of The Eightsent Arrow, Winterkin Eladrin
'Skirmishing Archer' Warlord-Bravo
Sword Coast Corsair / Star-Favored Champion
Coure Archknight Of The Gloaming Court

E28


Medium fey humanoidMartial Leader-Artillery


Of course, most entries would be briefer, not needing all these fields...





Kobold
Dragonshield

H2


Medium natural humanoid (reptile)Soldier


(I like the monster roles and find them useful for describing player character concepts too. For example, a Barbarian is a 'Striker Brute', whereas a Sorcerer is a 'Striker Artillery', a Rogue a 'Striker Lurker', etcetera.)


Its nice using the same format for either monsters or characters, even if the characters are more elaborate.
I will have to add my agreement to the others in saying that the new stat blocks are fantastic. This will be very helpful in reminding us of the little abilities that can easily be overlooked.

My mind not only wanders, sometimes it leaves completely.

I think the new monster blocks are great.

They need to implement the new format in the Monster Builder ASAP!

 
Did anyone else notice that the Gray Ooze is missing its aura?  Do you think that would get listed as a trait or would it appear in that initial white block like it used to?