Simple boring monsters

I tried to keep an open mind about the monsters, but after the players fought the 13th goblin/hobgoblin, my eyes started to glaze over. The monsters are way too similar. There are not enough mechanical differences to justify having goblins, hobgoblins, or any of the monsters that don't have significant differences. This is especially true if the only true difference is a couple hp, AC points, and maybe the weapons they use (1d6+1 instead of 2d4-1). I'm sorry but the monsters are way too bland.

I can understand that they don't want super complex 4E monsters with 10 different special attacks and defenses, however we need something to distinguish the different monsters from each other.

My suggestion would be to have a single power/defense that is unique to a monster role.

Striker goblins might have advantage if two or more are threatening the same character.

Defender goblins might grant disadvantage to attacks of all adjacent enemies if they forego their action and move in a round.

Controller goblins might force adjacent enemies to roll a dex save if they try to move through their threatened area, on failure they might be prone or at disadvantage.

Leader goblins might grant advantage to one adjacent ally if they choose not to move.

This alone would allow for a wide variety of goblins and hobgoblins, I wouldn't get bored with this.
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
Seconded. These monsters are as fun to play as the fighter class. Also, caster monsters using PC spells is a step back in monster design.
Or some sort of "racial power" or other unique, identifying feature that makes you think, "Yeah, that's a goblin." Hell, kobolds do get it with "Strength in Numbers."
I agree that monsters should if possible have some ability that is unique aside from just raw numerical differences if possible. It's one of the things I like most about 4e monsters.

Now to be fair DDN does give many of the monsters a unique ability of some sort.  Among humanoids for example Kobolds have Stength in Numbers, for instance, Bugbears can Bushwhack, Goblins get Dirty Tricks, and Orcs have Furious Charge. And then within those there are examples of leaders who have additional abilities. So DDN monsters are still a step up from monsters in 3e, for instance, where the goblins, kobololds and orcs have no special combat abilities and mainly just differ in their stats.

So I say keep the differences if possible, the more the better.   As long as things don't get TOO complicated then I say the more variety in the way different monsters work.
I agree that monsters should if possible have some ability that is unique aside from just raw numerical differences if possible. It's one of the things I like most about 4e monsters.

Now to be fair DDN does give many of the monsters a unique ability of some sort.  Among humanoids for example Kobolds have Stength in Numbers, for instance, Bugbears can Bushwhack, Goblins get Dirty Tricks, and Orcs have Furious Charge. And then within those there are examples of leaders who have additional abilities. So DDN monsters are still a step up from monsters in 3e, for instance, where the goblins, kobololds and orcs have no special combat abilities and mainly just differ in their stats.

So I say keep the differences if possible, the more the better.   As long as things don't get TOO complicated then I say the more variety in the way different monsters work.



Yeah, but all of those monsters (minus the leader) play exactly the same. Even humans in real life have different roles in combat. Some fly planes and drop bombs, others go in lightly armored vehicles or on foot with weak weapons that wouldn't affect an armored vehicle. Other go in tanks. yet they are all human.

I wouldn't even care if they didn't have roles. They could just list 2-3 powers and say pick one. As long as I can have a couple different monsters of the same type I'm fine with it.
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
This seems like it's straying awfully close to making core monsters too complex. (I know I'm guilty of this for weapons, but nobody's perfect!) Why not have base, core monsters, with a few variants that don't smack of MMO roles?

I mean, historically, is it not "thing" that goblins are individually weak and that their danger comes from sheer numbers? From the standpoint of humans, a goblin is a goblin is a goblin, and I'm sure that they feel the same about humans. Sure, warbands or raiding parties are probably led by a more powerful goblin. Maybe they even have one capable of using some kind of magic in their ranks.

But I don't think it helps to system to have five different kinds of goblin, each filling a particular "role", when we could just have one base goblin, and a set of guidlines outlining how to modify that base creature into a more interesting, boss-like creature.

Kind of like how the vast majority of every human inhabitant of a world is a more-or-less useless peon that will crumple and die if you so much as look at them funny. 

(Now then, racial features are something else entirely, but those should really be common to all creatures of that type, so even with them every goblin works like pretty much every other goblin.)
This seems like it's straying awfully close to making core monsters too complex. (I know I'm guilty of this for weapons, but nobody's perfect!) Why not have base, core monsters, with a few variants that don't smack of MMO roles?

(Soapbox: That, more than anything, is what made me run far and fast from 4E. If I want to tank with my mage, or crowd control with my fighter, that's my perogative. Don't try to tell me what role my class is supposed to fill. But I digress.)

I mean, historically, is it not "thing" that goblins are individually weak and that their danger comes from sheer numbers? From the standpoint of humans, a goblin is a goblin is a goblin, and I'm sure that they feel the same about humans. Sure, warbands or raiding parties are probably led by a more powerful goblin. Maybe they even have one capable of using some kind of magic in their ranks. But I don't think it helps to system to have five different kinds of goblin, when we could just have one base goblin, and a set of guidlines outlining how to modify that base creature into a more boss-like creature.

Kind of like how the vast majority of every human inhabitant of a world is a more-or-less useless peon that will crumple and die if you so much as look at them funny. 

(Now then, racial features are something else entirely, but those should really be common to all creatures of that type, so even with them every goblin works like pretty much every other goblin.) 



I don't  think 2 special powers per monster would be too much to ask. One they get for being that monster species and one they choose from a list. The list doesn't have to be long. It would be just 3 powers long. That would allow us to have a huge variety of monsters. That's at least 3 types of goblins, 3 types of hobgoblins, etc...etc...

Another way would be to have 3 powers based on race and 3 power based on role, then you mix and match 1 power for race and 1 power for role. This would make for 9 combinations of one monster with a little work. Combining vectors is always the easist route to variety.
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
in multi user dungeon games, we used to have basic strategy templates we could stick on any creature type. Possible Examples include:

Assists Like Race
Assists Like Alignment

Attacks Low Hp
Attacks Highest Spell Caster

Flees at 10% Hp
Flees at Half Hp
Flees from Paladin Class
Flees from Necromancer Class

Attacks Highest Level
Attacks Highest Hp

You get the idea. A particular monster might favor attacking weaklings and run when injured, while another might actually assist one of your party members if they are backstabbed and fight to the death.
Options are Liberating
To me whether a monster is interesting or not depends a lot more on the fluff than any mechanics.  The behavior, culture, and attitude of the monster is much more real and interesting than a mechanical combat maneuver.  Not to say that having unique combat features isn't cool, too.  It's just that the truly interesting thing about a monster is who and what it actually is, not how it fights.
The problem with 4e is that monsters were supposed to last about 4 rounds and therefore take 4 actions with, on average, two succeeding... but then had like 6 actions. This made them way too big. I think each monster needs a basic attack, a one-off "potent" attack, and then something neat like a reaction, a trigger on death, or a synergy. Just giving each monster a racial power would probably do the trick and still keep things simple.
I don't  think 2 special powers per monster would be too much to ask. One they get for being that monster species and one they choose from a list. The list doesn't have to be long. It would be just 3 powers long. That would allow us to have a huge variety of monsters. That's at least 3 types of goblins, 3 types of hobgoblins, etc...etc...

Another way would be to have 3 powers based on race and 3 power based on role, then you mix and match 1 power for race and 1 power for role. This would make for 9 combinations of one monster with a little work. Combining vectors is always the easist route to variety.


That isn't terribly dissimilar to what I was thinking when I replied, except that I would prefer to see the second set of powers (those based on "role") not be constrained to a "role." In my opinion, the inclusion of discrete roles (such as tank, DPS, buffing, etc) in a game does little more than pigeonhole the respective class into acting in a certain way. It works in MMOs because better forms don't, but just watch an MMO forum erupt every time a class gets "balanced." It's a horrible cycle.

Having said that, there is little reason why the second list couldn't include archetypes such as "aggressor," "defender," "leader," or whatever, where the associated power makes them rather more capable in that area, without making it obvious that "Oh, this is an aggressor goblin. Here's how you deal with them." (Which, in my experience, is exactly how MMO combat always winds up. Specific creature type and subtype has specific, known powers and uses them in a specific, observable way, which leads to players of any given class dealing with that creature in a specific, predictable manner.)

in multi user dungeon games, we used to have basic strategy templates we could stick on any creature type. Possible Examples include:

Assists Like Race
Assists Like Alignment

Attacks Low Hp
Attacks Highest Spell Caster

Flees at 10% Hp
Flees at Half Hp
Flees from Paladin Class
Flees from Necromancer Class

Attacks Highest Level
Attacks Highest Hp

You get the idea. A particular monster might favor attacking weaklings and run when injured, while another might actually assist one of your party members if they are backstabbed and fight to the death.


Isn't this just a procedural and somewhat simplistic stand-in for decisions that the DM should be making in a tabletop game?
The problem with 4e is that monsters were supposed to last about 4 rounds and therefore take 4 actions with, on average, two succeeding... but then had like 6 actions. This made them way too big. I think each monster needs a basic attack, a one-off "potent" attack, and then something neat like a reaction, a trigger on death, or a synergy. Just giving each monster a racial power would probably do the trick and still keep things simple.



Yeah, you missed the point. If they all have the same racial power, then they are essentially the same and boring...
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
Advantage/disadvantage seems to be the mechanic they're testing here so basic monsters probably make sense at this stage. 

   


   

I always thought the difference between kobolds and goblins in 4th edition was artificial and useless. Making up stuff for the sake of making monsters mechanically different is really useless.

You're playing a RPG, not a board game. You don't know you're fighting goblins because they shift 1 square everytime you miss, you know you're fighting goblins because your DM gave you a cool description of the goblins you're fighting. If it's really important for you that they play differently, then play them differently on the battlefield! Goblins might favor group tactics and kobolds some kind of hit and run tactics with some nasty traps on their escape route.

That doesn't mean monsters in general should be bland in general. Just stick to the fantasy archetypes and use existing literature to add abilities to these monsters (like vampires and sunlight for instance). But don't make up crap just to make races different...

What could be interesting though is to have "advanced goblins" as suggested in the latest blog post that have unique colorful abilities. For instance, you would know that you're fighting a goblin shaman because you're incapacitated vomiting worms or something like that.


I always thought the difference between kobolds and goblins in 4th edition was artificial and useless. Making up stuff for the sake of making monsters mechanically different is really useless.

You're playing a RPG, not a board game. You don't know you're fighting goblins because they shift 1 square everytime you miss, you know you're fighting goblins because your DM gave you a cool description of the goblins you're fighting. If it's really important for you that they play differently, then play them differently on the battlefield! Goblins might favor group tactics and kobolds some kind of hit and run tactics with some nasty traps on their escape route.

That doesn't mean monsters in general should be bland in general. Just stick to the fantasy archetypes and use existing literature to add abilities to these monsters (like vampires and sunlight for instance). But don't make up crap just to make races different...

What could be interesting though is to have "advanced goblins" as suggested in the latest blog post that have unique colorful abilities. For instance, you would know that you're fighting a goblin shaman because you're incapacitated vomiting worms or something like that.




Yeah, this is one of those "Good DMs can fix this" posts that I just flat out ignore. The game must include mediocre, and even bad DMs or its not viable. It also has to include DMs that favor mechanics over role-playing. While it is possible for me and others to just 'role-play' the difference that gets really boring on the mechanical side, and really what is the difference between a hobgoblin and a goblin other than a few hit points?
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
Yeah, this is one of those "Good DMs can fix this" posts that I just flat out ignore. The game must include mediocre, and even bad DMs or its not viable. It also has to include DMs that favor mechanics over role-playing. While it is possible for me and others to just 'role-play' the difference that gets really boring on the mechanical side



If you can come up with mechanics that make goblins mechanically unique and that doesn't sound made up like shifty, I'm sure the game designers would be thrilled to hear about them.


and really what is the difference between a hobgoblin and a goblin other than a few hit points?



Size? .
Yeah, I never really worried about it.  I play the monsters different by their tactics and like them the way they are.  I started being creative with the goblins and how they setup ambushes and such.  The only thing I could suggest is if there were different types of monster types.  goblin sharpshooter, goblin warrior, goblin shaman, etc.  Just have a heading under monster type called "Roles" or "abilities" with an additional optional ability or two for each a DM can toss in if they so choose would be more than enough for me.  That way you can add content to monsters in new books as well with variant abilities that match specific settings.

Oh and difference between goblinoids: goblins are weak so they sneak and ambushes that use numbers to their advantage.  Hobgoblins use military tactics like a shield wall with artillery shooting from behind.  Bugbears use brute force and ruthless guerilla tactics.
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