Monsters are too heterogenious

Too many monsters feel the same.

If you've fought 1 goblin you've fought them all. If you've fought 1 hobgoblin you've already fought a weaker version as the goblin.

Outside of roleplaying they are exactly the same. There are some monsters with one or two powers that differentiate them from goblins and hobgoblins, but they are not differentiated within their own species. It got boring real quick to me after the players fought 13 goblins/hobgoblins.

How did it go for you?
"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.
+1

Uninteresting. A balance between unique and simple is needed. I always thought 4th did this well. 5th needs work in this area.

-Brad

I didn't give it much thought... but it is true.  Some of the creatures had abilities, like the dragon shield kobolds.  But they died before it had any meaning.

I'd much rather see 3 encounters with interesting goblins than 10 encounters with goblin tonnage.
Count the Classes Thread http://community.wizards.com/dndnext/go/thread/view/75882/28900673/?sdb=1&post_num=1#516010531
I suspect you meant Homogenous, which means "the same."

"Heterogenious" means different.

I just assumed that you could have replaced the vast majority of these monsters with minions if you ran it in 4e. Thinking of them as minions makes it much better.

That said, I think they could use a bit more diversification even with that.
I suspect they'll work on interesting monsters later. We're testing the core mechanics in the playtest.
Right now goblins/kobolds don't count for much besides target practice. They die before they take an action and about 70-75% of the time their action is swing wildly and miss.

If that's the core mechanic it needs tuning still.
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Right now goblins/kobolds don't count for much besides target practice. They die before they take an action and about 70-75% of the time their action is swing wildly and miss. If that's the core mechanic it needs tuning still.



DMs and players who are used to everything being handed to them on a plate (a la 4th edition) may not adapt well to a pared down game which relies more on coming up with interesting actions on the fly. However, I'm pretty sure that 4th edition-style complexity will appear later. 
community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...

You've got to be kidding me. You already started a thread on this, why create another?
You mean homogeneous i.e. all the same.

-edit-
stupid word filter 
I find the subtle mechanical differences to be enough to set them apart mechanically - I don't need some little trick for each, or some "unique" power for each, because separating them through roleplay comes very naturally to me and is easily received by my players.

We have one goblin charging headlong into the dwarves of the party shouting curses and threats, a pair lagging back firing arrows - that panic and retreat before firing more each time the party takes out one of their friends - and all this simple opportunities to present personality for each and every monster, and I always take them.

My players fought a dozen goblins in one encounter, and despite each having the same AC, same HP, same attack and damage regardless of spear or mace, and the tiny mechanical difference of +1 to hit and damage on the ones with short bows - and they felt like they encounter 12 different goblins.

The party will probably face another dozen goblins with the exact same stats next time we get together for the playtest, and I am sure that they will think nothing of them having had the same numbers behind them because each will behave as an individual and be seen as an individual - even if I have to resort to giving one of them a squeaky voice to do it.

I guess what I mean to say is: My methods vary... wildly.

ATTENTION:  If while reading my post you find yourself thinking "Either this guy is being sarcastic, or he is an idiot," do please assume that I am an idiot. It makes reading your replies more entertaining. If, however, you find yourself hoping that I am not being even remotely serious then you are very likely correct as I find irreverence and being ridiculous to be relaxing.

I find the subtle mechanical differences to be enough to set them apart mechanically - I don't need some little trick for each, or some "unique" power for each, because separating them through roleplay comes very naturally to me and is easily .......

The party will probably face another dozen goblins with the exact same stats next time we get together for the playtest, and I am sure that they will think nothing of them having had the same numbers behind them because each will behave as an individual and be seen as an individual - even if I have to resort to giving one of them a squeaky voice to do it.

I guess what I mean to say is: My methods vary... wildly.



Couldn't have said it better....I have always considered it my (the DM's) responsibility to add flavour to a monster rather than having to have it spelled out to me in block stats.

Mechanics have the positive effects of making things easy on the DM to work an encounter but also have the negative effect of pressuring the inexperienced DM to follow them, strictly. Suddenly you need 10 kobold archetypes with different power cards in order to make an encounter interesting and the next encounter the PCs know exactly what the kobolds will do...

I don't particularly like this train of thought.

But to be honest I do think that as playtest continues we will see different aspects fo the same monster besides the ad-hoc changes they have in the module now.

I quite disgree with the previous two posters. While I think it's important to role play the monsters, I think mechanical differences adds a lot to the player experience. So for example the players might learn that goblins can shift around them when they are missed by an attack. When they meet goblins again they'll know this and might be able to prepare for it.

Also bear in mind that not every DM is as confident and experienced as you. DMing should be made as accessible and easy as possible to attract players to take up the role. Most people I know find DMing very daunting and are put off doing it.

I think mechanical differences adds a lot to the player experience. So for example the players might learn that goblins can shift around them when they are missed by an attack. When they meet goblins again they'll know this and might be able to prepare for it.


It may just be me, but I feel like you are saying two things here that don't add up...

1) Mechanical differences add a lot to the player experience.
2) Players can prepare for monsters to behave the same way when they meet them again.

If every monster has a different mechanic... the players have a better experience playing because they all have to remember ever last different mechanic they have encountered and which monster description it fits with?

It seems like those two things are actually working at odds with each other - every monster type acting in its own unique mechanical way makes it harder for the players to be prepared for future encounters.

Also bear in mind that not every DM is as confident and experienced as you. DMing should be made as accessible and easy as possible to attract players to take up the role. Most people I know find DMing very daunting and are put off doing it.



I know that not everyone is as confident and experienced as I... and I wish you would stop telling them that means they won't be able to just dive in and DM to their hearts content, because they believe you for some reason. I dove in and began DMing the very first game of D&D that I ever played - it wasn't perfect, but it also wasn't impossible... as a matter of fact it was a game, and it was fun... yet you are right, the gaming world ends up full of people that are so sure you are right (it takes experience and confidence beyond that needed to say, open a box for Risk, read the rules, tell a few buddies as you go through a few test rounds and then play out a game and enjoy it) and insist on not believing me that anyone can DM a fun game.

Again thouhgh, and it might just be me... but it sounds like you are mentioning things at odds with each other and saying that they are working together...

1) DMing should be made as accessible and easy as possible
2) Monsters should have all sorts of different mechanics that serve to make each monster type a unique experience

If every monster takes special attention to remember when their "type trait" applies, doesn't that actively increase the DM's difficult managing the game?

I am all for monsters having differences... as a matter of fact, I am all for monsters being so different that they can't even have standardized names because they are so varied that one DM might say "goblin" and mean 7' tall green-skinned and kinda froggy looking and another might say "goblin" and mean 3' tall red-hued leathery humanoid with sharp teeth...

I just happen to think you can strap both those descriptions onto the same, simple, block of stats and let the DM do what part of being a gamer we are all capable of - imagine. I mean really, you don't need any experience beyond being a child once to be an expert at pretend.

ATTENTION:  If while reading my post you find yourself thinking "Either this guy is being sarcastic, or he is an idiot," do please assume that I am an idiot. It makes reading your replies more entertaining. If, however, you find yourself hoping that I am not being even remotely serious then you are very likely correct as I find irreverence and being ridiculous to be relaxing.

DM description/creativity and mechanically interesting monsters design are not mutually exclusive.

I as the DM will flex my story telling skills when describing the monsters, however that does not mean that I am satisfied with a monsters that have stat blocks which allow them to do nothing but spam basic attacks.

The monsters in the playtest are patently awful, however this is kind of moot point because I highly doubt the finished monster manual will be so horribly vanilla.

Not liking the new forums.

 

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/18.jpg)

 

 

This is another thing Pathfinder has done well. They've spruced up old monsters to keep things interesting. I loved the way they differentiated between the different goblinoid species to make them unique foes.

I'm not going to cast judgement on the new incarnation of D&D's monsters based on a clearly abridged MM provided for the playtest. I'd hope more work will be done even on the monsters listed to ensure they all have a game purpose. 
Different people have different wishes.


  • I always likes orcs, because the behave like humans. The only difference is that my character is allowed to kill them. The same goes for goblins and ogres. 

  • Other people like strange new monsters with interesting new abilities.


The game should offer both
 
DISCLAIMER: I never played 4ed, so I may misunderstand some of the rules.
I find the subtle mechanical differences to be enough to set them apart mechanically - I don't need some little trick for each, or some "unique" power for each, because separating them through roleplay comes very naturally to me and is easily received by my players.

We have one goblin charging headlong into the dwarves of the party shouting curses and threats, a pair lagging back firing arrows - that panic and retreat before firing more each time the party takes out one of their friends - and all this simple opportunities to present personality for each and every monster, and I always take them.

My players fought a dozen goblins in one encounter, and despite each having the same AC, same HP, same attack and damage regardless of spear or mace, and the tiny mechanical difference of +1 to hit and damage on the ones with short bows - and they felt like they encounter 12 different goblins.

The party will probably face another dozen goblins with the exact same stats next time we get together for the playtest, and I am sure that they will think nothing of them having had the same numbers behind them because each will behave as an individual and be seen as an individual - even if I have to resort to giving one of them a squeaky voice to do it.

I guess what I mean to say is: My methods vary... wildly.



This kind of style which while not a core mechanic, is something that probably would better serve us in the "GM Guidenlines" than a series of example DCs.  Or probably better still, in the adventure "room" description itself.

I do agree many DMs are better at this in general, some direction for newer DMs and DMs who don't have that innate ability would be a really nice addition.  It does create a barrier between the DM chair and the player chair that DMs are expected to just be good at coming up with stuff for every encounter- and make it unique and interesting. 
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Take a look at my clarified ability scores And also my Houserules relevent to DNDNext

It may just be me, but I feel like you are saying two things here that don't add up...
1) Mechanical differences add a lot to the player experience.
2) Players can prepare for monsters to behave the same way when they meet them again.

If every monster has a different mechanic... the players have a better experience playing because they all have to remember ever last different mechanic they have encountered and which monster description it fits with?
It seems like those two things are actually working at odds with each other - every monster type acting in its own unique mechanical way makes it harder for the players to be prepared for future encounters.



The player's don't have to remember at all, and can just enjoy what they come across, but savvy players might remember and gain a little benefit the next time.

I know that not everyone is as confident and experienced as I... and I wish you would stop telling them that means they won't be able to just dive in and DM to their hearts content, because they believe you for some reason. I dove in and began DMing the very first game of D&D that I ever played - it wasn't perfect, but it also wasn't impossible... as a matter of fact it was a game, and it was fun... yet you are right, the gaming world ends up full of people that are so sure you are right (it takes experience and confidence beyond that needed to say, open a box for Risk, read the rules, tell a few buddies as you go through a few test rounds and then play out a game and enjoy it) and insist on not believing me that anyone can DM a fun game.

Again thouhgh, and it might just be me... but it sounds like you are mentioning things at odds with each other and saying that they are working together...


1) DMing should be made as accessible and easy as possible
2) Monsters should have all sorts of different mechanics that serve to make each monster type a unique experience


If every monster takes special attention to remember when their "type trait" applies, doesn't that actively increase the DM's difficult managing the game?



No, because it's on the page in front of the DM.

I think improvising and thinking up ideas and giving NPCs personalities is the thing that potential DMs find daunting. Running the game mechanically as presented is the easy part. So I think adding things like monster abilities to help define them makes it easier to help the DM make monsters feel different.


I am all for monsters having differences... as a matter of fact, I am all for monsters being so different that they can't even have standardized names because they are so varied that one DM might say "goblin" and mean 7' tall green-skinned and kinda froggy looking and another might say "goblin" and mean 3' tall red-hued leathery humanoid with sharp teeth...

I just happen to think you can strap both those descriptions onto the same, simple, block of stats and let the DM do what part of being a gamer we are all capable of - imagine. I mean really, you don't need any experience beyond being a child once to be an expert at pretend.



To me, this is breaking what standard D&D is. In D&D, goblins are small green skinned humanoids. I think stretching it to have some variation is great, but just throwing it out of the window is just going to confuse players, especially when there are other monsters that fit what you're looking for.

I guess my point is that, for every DM who wants to make up their own goblins, there are some that just want to use what's on the page in front of them, and what is presented on the page has to cater for those by giving them the info to achieve that, mechanically and with flavour text.

I was pleased with the simplicity of the monster entries.  By looking at each monster's "special power," it allowed me to quickly apply unique tactics that kept them clearly differentiated from other monsters of similar types.  For example, fighting the goblin nest is like taking on a thieves' guild, with all the little bastards hiding and springing out looking for sneak attacks.  Fighting the orcs is all about taking a brutal howling charge, then mowing that wave down, as another group winds up to rush you.

As far as homogeneity (each goblin being like each other goblin), it wouldn't be tough to swap out powers to create different goblin roles -- give a pair of goblin archers the rogue's 3rd level Skulker ability, and one of the melee goblins the Moradin cleric's Defender ability, and you've got a hell of an ambush.  

The simplicity of the stat blocks makes swapping these "flavor" abilities extremely simple. I think the designers got the general level of monster complexity just right.  
I suspect you meant Homogenous, which means "the same."

"Heterogenious" means different.

I just assumed that you could have replaced the vast majority of these monsters with minions if you ran it in 4e. Thinking of them as minions makes it much better.

That said, I think they could use a bit more diversification even with that.



Your right, I was sleep deprived at the time... I was just tired of seeing 50,000 threads of "here's how the playtest went for my group". And thought that maybe throwing specific topics out would be more constructive.
"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.
community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...

You've got to be kidding me. You already started a thread on this, why create another?



This is for the actual experience from the DMs point of view, thus its in the DM's playtest forum.

The other one is from looking at the mechanics alone.
"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.
I find the subtle mechanical differences to be enough to set them apart mechanically - I don't need some little trick for each, or some "unique" power for each, because separating them through roleplay comes very naturally to me and is easily received by my players.

We have one goblin charging headlong into the dwarves of the party shouting curses and threats, a pair lagging back firing arrows - that panic and retreat before firing more each time the party takes out one of their friends - and all this simple opportunities to present personality for each and every monster, and I always take them.

My players fought a dozen goblins in one encounter, and despite each having the same AC, same HP, same attack and damage regardless of spear or mace, and the tiny mechanical difference of +1 to hit and damage on the ones with short bows - and they felt like they encounter 12 different goblins.

The party will probably face another dozen goblins with the exact same stats next time we get together for the playtest, and I am sure that they will think nothing of them having had the same numbers behind them because each will behave as an individual and be seen as an individual - even if I have to resort to giving one of them a squeaky voice to do it.

I guess what I mean to say is: My methods vary... wildly.



My question for you is would your style be diminished or handicapped if they had a couple of unique traits? Maybe half of them get a bonus to attack when they flank, the other half get a bonus to ranged attacks if they aim at the same target? Would something like that make it hard to do your style?
"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.
Right now goblins/kobolds don't count for much besides target practice. They die before they take an action and about 70-75% of the time their action is swing wildly and miss. If that's the core mechanic it needs tuning still.



You hit a nail on the head. Variation might not be the issue. Making kobolds tough enough to last long enough to be interesting is the challenge. Encounters need to last a minimum of 2 rounds to be interesting. Scragging 10 kobolds before they get to go seems Monty Hall to me.

-------------------- D&D Player/DM since 1975 - Veteran of Chainmail, AD&D, 2e, v3.5, DnD4e and now Next.
I was pleased with the simplicity of the monster entries.  By looking at each monster's "special power," it allowed me to quickly apply unique tactics that kept them clearly differentiated from other monsters of similar types.  For example, fighting the goblin nest is like taking on a thieves' guild, with all the little bastards hiding and springing out looking for sneak attacks.  Fighting the orcs is all about taking a brutal howling charge, then mowing that wave down, as another group winds up to rush you.

As far as homogeneity (each goblin being like each other goblin), it wouldn't be tough to swap out powers to create different goblin roles -- give a pair of goblin archers the rogue's 3rd level Skulker ability, and one of the melee goblins the Moradin cleric's Defender ability, and you've got a hell of an ambush.  

The simplicity of the stat blocks makes swapping these "flavor" abilities extremely simple. I think the designers got the general level of monster complexity just right.  



That's exactly what they need to do, just one or two powers to differentiate one goblin from the next...
"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.
I find the subtle mechanical differences to be enough to set them apart mechanically - I don't need some little trick for each, or some "unique" power for each, because separating them through roleplay comes very naturally to me and is easily received by my players.

We have one goblin charging headlong into the dwarves of the party shouting curses and threats, a pair lagging back firing arrows - that panic and retreat before firing more each time the party takes out one of their friends - and all this simple opportunities to present personality for each and every monster, and I always take them.

My players fought a dozen goblins in one encounter, and despite each having the same AC, same HP, same attack and damage regardless of spear or mace, and the tiny mechanical difference of +1 to hit and damage on the ones with short bows - and they felt like they encounter 12 different goblins.

The party will probably face another dozen goblins with the exact same stats next time we get together for the playtest, and I am sure that they will think nothing of them having had the same numbers behind them because each will behave as an individual and be seen as an individual - even if I have to resort to giving one of them a squeaky voice to do it.

I guess what I mean to say is: My methods vary... wildly.



My question for you is would your style be diminished or handicapped if they had a couple of unique traits? Maybe half of them get a bonus to attack when they flank, the other half get a bonus to ranged attacks if they aim at the same target? Would something like that make it hard to do your style?



Yes, absolutely.

I know from my time spent running 4e (from Keep on the Shadowfell through, at least once a week every week, until about 3 weeks after the Gloomwrought box came out) that having a room full of goblins and 3 statblocks, especially that are subtley (as opposed to entirely) different slows me down, distracts me, and directly reduces the amount of "time" that I feel I have to portray each goblin with some personality.

I forgot to have them shift when missed by an attack - except for when I focused on remembering to the point that i wasn't shouting goblin insults anymore.
I got confused as to which one had which particular power - except for when I was thinking ahead to the next critter to the point that I was no longer describing goblin victory dances upon incapacitating their foes.
Worst of all, I saw my players looking at me waiting on every word not with a look that said "what happens next," but with looks that said "would you hurry up."

It's not for me, that's for certain... the monsters in the playtest being simple stat blocks, even though some goblins have spears instead of maces (they even have the same stats for attack and damage), let me add what I wanted (personality) without giving me a big "block" of text and numbers that I felt overwhelmed by trying to remember while still playing the game the way I have always played.

ATTENTION:  If while reading my post you find yourself thinking "Either this guy is being sarcastic, or he is an idiot," do please assume that I am an idiot. It makes reading your replies more entertaining. If, however, you find yourself hoping that I am not being even remotely serious then you are very likely correct as I find irreverence and being ridiculous to be relaxing.

To me, this is breaking what standard D&D is. In D&D, goblins are small green skinned humanoids.

Right... except for when they are red (Birthright campaign setting), or an orange/yellow tan sort of color (3.5 monster manual).

Fair point though... goblins are always green... usually.

I think stretching it to have some variation is great, but just throwing it out of the window is just going to confuse players, especially when there are other monsters that fit what you're looking for.

Which part is stretching to have variation, and which part is throwing it out the window? The height? The color? Being frog-ish in appearance?

I think that is all stretching... still a funny colored and rude humanoid monster... not like I said a "goblin" is a writhing mass of silver tentacles arrayed around a living sphere of obsidian that glows with a pus-hued light.

I guess my point is that, for every DM who wants to make up their own goblins, there are some that just want to use what's on the page in front of them, and what is presented on the page has to cater for those by giving them the info to achieve that, mechanically and with flavour text.

I agree that there are different styles... and it is helpful to have a monster on a page in front of you that you can just "plug 'n play" with... which is exactly why I prefer monsters as written in the book to be at their simplest possible incarnation.

It is both easier to use a simple set of stats when just flipping open and running on the fly, and to take a sticky note and add some special mechanics to make "generic goblin" into "goblin of the shakewood forest" than it is for me to stare at a complex list of mechanics and ignore the ones I am going to probably forget to implement in the first place.

Clarity: It is easier to put a sticky note next to a DDN statblock that gives the goblins special powers than for me to flip open the 4e monster manual to goblin and visually pare down the multiple stat blocks there into a single, simple, and actually functional set of stats.

ATTENTION:  If while reading my post you find yourself thinking "Either this guy is being sarcastic, or he is an idiot," do please assume that I am an idiot. It makes reading your replies more entertaining. If, however, you find yourself hoping that I am not being even remotely serious then you are very likely correct as I find irreverence and being ridiculous to be relaxing.

I guess my problem wasn't that they felt too much the same mechanically, because each monster has its own little power--it's that the MONSTERS feel too much the same.

Gnolls, goblins, hobgoblins, orcs, bugbears: pretty much all of them end up feeling like big dirty monsters dressed in patch-together armor with big rusty weapons that dwell in cramped ruins and squalor and then "boil out across the countryside" to enslave, kill and eat people and or sacrifice them to profane demon gods.

We've gone pretty far in D&D. Each of these monsters has a lot of history--certainly enough to be able to do a writeup on each and make it feel special and fun. But that just didn't come across in the sample bestiary.

That and a lot of the powers given to each kind of creature felt a little...stank. Like the gnoll leader ability Devour the Fallen that gives the critter extra HP every time a foe dies around it. That doesn't feel particularly "gnoll" to me, and it doesn't even really make that much sense as the gnoll doesn't seem to take the time to actually devour the fallen so much as maybe get some gore splatted on it. Plus eating things to get hp has always felt a little weak. On the other hand, maybe I could see the idea of the hp as a morale bonus thing...but if so, the name sort of derails that idea.

I dunno. I kind of see gnolls as the sort of monster that if they see bloodshed they all just kind of go nuts and start cutting on themselves and frothing at the mouth. Maybe something like: if a gnoll scores a 20 on an enemy, all gnolls within sight of the first gnoll get a free attack. I kind of like that.

I guess the point is: first figure out a unique flavor for each monster, and then make the power embody that flavor in a vivid fun way.
Now with 100% more Vorthos!
I was going to post something in my own thread about this.  But here will do.

I do think that monsters are a little bare bones, as presented.  And I hope that'll change.  

The monsters from 4th edition where interesting, at least with their powers, but it did become a bit of a challenge for the DM to track everything.  

One thing that I think would be a step in the right direction is to add some 'triggered' powers.  If you've seen the One Ring or Dragon Age RPGS, then you might know the direction I'm going.

Basically, the idea would be that most monsters have 1-2 abilties that the DM doesn't necessarily use, but instead, are triggered by, say, an Odd result on the d20.  You could have Odd Misses that trigger a 'power' or Odd Hits that trigger a different power.  

The point is, that in some fights, the powers will be triggered and in others, they won't.  The players can't then always predict that a goblin will always 'shift' when they are missed (or whatever).   But that the DM doesn't just use the same power over and over again OR that they don't immediately try to take advantage of the situation.

By the later, I'll need to explain with an example.  There is a Dark Acolye in the Playtest MM, who gets, once per day, +1d6 to their damage.  A DM would always use that the first time the DA successfully hit.  There is no reason not to, since many creatures are really just road-bumps for the PCs.  The power could have been worded: 'On their first successful attack' as opposed to 'once per day'.  

The idea that I'm getting at, is that these sorts of powers are triggered by a dice roll of some sort.  It represents that the NPC might not have thought it to be the best time to use that power and is saving it.  Furthermore, because it is trigger, so long as your trigger condition doesn't change much (i.e. When you roll an odd result on the d20) it's something that is easy enough to remember.  Roll an odd result?  Check the triggers power.  

 Regardless, I do think that a little more life needs to be breathed into the monsters.  Not too much, but just enough.
Right now goblins/kobolds don't count for much besides target practice. They die before they take an action and about 70-75% of the time their action is swing wildly and miss. If that's the core mechanic it needs tuning still.



You hit a nail on the head. Variation might not be the issue. Making kobolds tough enough to last long enough to be interesting is the challenge. Encounters need to last a minimum of 2 rounds to be interesting. Scragging 10 kobolds before they get to go seems Monty Hall to me.


After playing with the new monsters I have to agree with this.I am not so sure that adding powers is the answer though.Adding hp might be a better way to do it instead.They are trying to make combat enoyable yet move swiftly.I am very thankful for this fact especially after dealing with 4th ed.Adding powers like they did in that ed may bog things down too much once again.Adding some hp to the monsters so they do not go down in one hit in a level equivelent encounter would be nice.

When we played through a few mock battles one of platers made the following comment.Most of these fights go so quickly because these critters have no hp,you sneeze and one dies.He continued to say that with gridless combat it was nice but it was rather annoying when using a grid.You set up some landscape and minis and then a few minutes later its all over.Makes you wonder why we even bothered wasting our time setting it up.

     
B2 monsters, just like the characters were an initial jump into "what is classic D&D". We had no problem running through the beastiary and just doing "you are in X location...." and having a encounter. Each DM chose a monster then had 10 minutes to put that monster in its setting. 

Over all we agreed that "AS IT STANDS" we have no problem with the PT packet. We paly test what we have, gather our thoughts and look for ways to run adventures with what we have. One DM is currently looking over the monsters and compareing them to other editions to see how the info stacks up.

I can only say how our B2 test did not go. It was the oppsite of this.....

"We go in and attack." 

Rather than piss and moan about what we do not have yet, we push and pull the RAW and see where they break naturally. That is where our first round of survey comments will come from. As I have said before, we currently play all editions. I run 4E.  
MY DM COMMITMENT To insure that those who participate in any game that I adjudicate are having fun, staying engaged, maintaining focus, contributing to the story and becoming legendary. "The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules." Gary Gygax Thanks for that Gary, so now stop playing RAW games. Member of the Progressive Front of Grognardia Suicide Squad
One the most fun things about 4e was that monsters were very fun to run, they had lots of abilities and unique and intresting powers. 5e monsters seem to be lacking in that department. 
Right now goblins/kobolds don't count for much besides target practice. They die before they take an action and about 70-75% of the time their action is swing wildly and miss. If that's the core mechanic it needs tuning still.



You hit a nail on the head. Variation might not be the issue. Making kobolds tough enough to last long enough to be interesting is the challenge. Encounters need to last a minimum of 2 rounds to be interesting. Scragging 10 kobolds before they get to go seems Monty Hall to me.


After playing with the new monsters I have to agree with this.I am not so sure that adding powers is the answer though.Adding hp might be a better way to do it instead.They are trying to make combat enoyable yet move swiftly.I am very thankful for this fact especially after dealing with 4th ed.Adding powers like they did in that ed may bog things down too much once again.Adding some hp to the monsters so they do not go down in one hit in a level equivelent encounter would be nice.

When we played through a few mock battles one of platers made the following comment.Most of these fights go so quickly because these critters have no hp,you sneeze and one dies.He continued to say that with gridless combat it was nice but it was rather annoying when using a grid.You set up some landscape and minis and then a few minutes later its all over.Makes you wonder why we even bothered wasting our time setting it up.

     

I only set up the mat for when there was a Boss fight or. The location made nariative combat confusing. Like the 4-way intersection inside the orc cave in section C. My players were moving all over the place because they had attracted almost the whole orc group from that area. 
MY DM COMMITMENT To insure that those who participate in any game that I adjudicate are having fun, staying engaged, maintaining focus, contributing to the story and becoming legendary. "The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules." Gary Gygax Thanks for that Gary, so now stop playing RAW games. Member of the Progressive Front of Grognardia Suicide Squad
I think this was just for the purpose of the playtest, and even then we saw some variation (elites, chieftans, etc). Hobgoblins by the way are NOT just bigger versions of goblins. They are far more organized and militant for one thing, and have a better understanding of battlefield tactics... and should be played as such. One thing I did notice a distinct lack of were humanoid spell casters. Where were the shamans, mystics, witch doctors, etc?
One the most fun things about 4e was that monsters were very fun to run, they had lots of abilities and unique and intresting powers. 5e monsters seem to be lacking in that department. 


This is where I think one of the 3 largest hurtles for making 5e "work for any style of play" stands... because I think the only thing I can agree with in the above is that 4e monsters had lots of abilities and powers.

I found very very few of those powers to be interesting to me, and since every monster had some form of power that took the "unique" out of it for me too... mostly just because calling the powers "unique" is like saying that each human being has a unique ears - it is both true, no two people's ears are quite the same, and yet it feels false because nearly everyone has ears.

I found 4e monsters too verbose, to put a word to it - there were too many lines of text to scan for the information I needed... especially on any monster that was meant to be "special."

I think the only way to satisfy both someone like myself (that didn't like anything about 4e monsters other than the art) and someone like the quoted poster is to present what I want - simple monster stats without a lot of bolted on "unique mechanics" - accompanied by a heavy detailed section with fine-tuned abilities that can be bolted on to any basic monster without much (or any) math... so you can build a 4e style monster for your own uses, with solid scale of XP balance, and I don't have to do the more time and effort intensive surgical removal of mechanics I have no need for.

ATTENTION:  If while reading my post you find yourself thinking "Either this guy is being sarcastic, or he is an idiot," do please assume that I am an idiot. It makes reading your replies more entertaining. If, however, you find yourself hoping that I am not being even remotely serious then you are very likely correct as I find irreverence and being ridiculous to be relaxing.

As more information and background a monster have as more fun you get. A monster with INT, WIS and CHA 9 or less will thrown himself into close combat, while a smart monster will use some tactical aproach.

Most of the unique encounters with monsters that I had as DM and as player came with a well interpretation rather than with unique power.

The diference between play on a table or play some videogame it's you are not fixed into a IA predefined.
One the most fun things about 4e was that monsters were very fun to run, they had lots of abilities and unique and intresting powers. 5e monsters seem to be lacking in that department. 


This is where I think one of the 3 largest hurtles for making 5e "work for any style of play" stands... because I think the only thing I can agree with in the above is that 4e monsters had lots of abilities and powers.

I found very very few of those powers to be interesting to me, and since every monster had some form of power that took the "unique" out of it for me too... mostly just because calling the powers "unique" is like saying that each human being has a unique ears - it is both true, no two people's ears are quite the same, and yet it feels false because nearly everyone has ears.

I found 4e monsters too verbose, to put a word to it - there were too many lines of text to scan for the information I needed... especially on any monster that was meant to be "special."

I think the only way to satisfy both someone like myself (that didn't like anything about 4e monsters other than the art) and someone like the quoted poster is to present what I want - simple monster stats without a lot of bolted on "unique mechanics" - accompanied by a heavy detailed section with fine-tuned abilities that can be bolted on to any basic monster without much (or any) math... so you can build a 4e style monster for your own uses, with solid scale of XP balance, and I don't have to do the more time and effort intensive surgical removal of mechanics I have no need for.



There is another thing I loved about 4ed: the tactics spelled out by the developpers. But I would not like it the same way as it was presented. I would like more general indications. Exemple : Goblins can be some real cowards when they don't have the numerical advantage or a true leader behind them to force them to stay focused. If they have a thrown weapon or a ranged weapon, they will use it before they go into melee.

It is true that sometime the creature stat block was a burden since all I wanted was a single type of attack, and then I would just skip the rest, made improvised one, etc... But more than often, a single special or racial ability was all I needed. As a matter of fact, I loved the racial traits.


One the most fun things about 4e was that monsters were very fun to run, they had lots of abilities and unique and intresting powers. 5e monsters seem to be lacking in that department. 


This is where I think one of the 3 largest hurtles for making 5e "work for any style of play" stands... because I think the only thing I can agree with in the above is that 4e monsters had lots of abilities and powers.

I found very very few of those powers to be interesting to me, and since every monster had some form of power that took the "unique" out of it for me too... mostly just because calling the powers "unique" is like saying that each human being has a unique ears - it is both true, no two people's ears are quite the same, and yet it feels false because nearly everyone has ears.

I found 4e monsters too verbose, to put a word to it - there were too many lines of text to scan for the information I needed... especially on any monster that was meant to be "special."

I think the only way to satisfy both someone like myself (that didn't like anything about 4e monsters other than the art) and someone like the quoted poster is to present what I want - simple monster stats without a lot of bolted on "unique mechanics" - accompanied by a heavy detailed section with fine-tuned abilities that can be bolted on to any basic monster without much (or any) math... so you can build a 4e style monster for your own uses, with solid scale of XP balance, and I don't have to do the more time and effort intensive surgical removal of mechanics I have no need for.



There is another thing I loved about 4ed: the tactics spelled out by the developpers. But I would not like it the same way as it was presented. I would like more general indications. Exemple : Goblins can be some real cowards when they don't have the numerical advantage or a true leader behind them to force them to stay focused. If they have a thrown weapon or a ranged weapon, they will use it before they go into melee. Sure, everyone knows goblins, but it is always welcome to specify for new DMs what is expected from a monster. A wise DM can always tear this infos appart and make whatever he wants.

It is true that sometime the creature stat block was a burden since all I wanted was a single type of attack, and then I would just skip the rest, made improvised one, etc... But more than often, a single special or racial ability was all I needed. As a matter of fact, I loved the racial traits.





"Outside of roleplaying they are exactly the same."

Outside of roleplaying, everything in the game is exactly the same - words on paper that don't do anything.
Differentialism will evolve as the game development progresses. In the meantime I suggest that the DM look at the histoy of how monsters were played or described. You may find that incoporating that may give you some good, concrete suggestions to give to the dev. team. 

ON a side note. I would love it if they did take someone's suggestion and added it into development. Then when all things are said and done that member gets a mention at the end of the process on WotC's site.
MY DM COMMITMENT To insure that those who participate in any game that I adjudicate are having fun, staying engaged, maintaining focus, contributing to the story and becoming legendary. "The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules." Gary Gygax Thanks for that Gary, so now stop playing RAW games. Member of the Progressive Front of Grognardia Suicide Squad
I think 4e went too far in trying to make monsters feel different because they gave them too many distinct actions. Often, a monster was dead before it had time to show off all its tricks. This is a swing too far in the other direction. It doesn't take mouch, though, to make a monster unique. Maybe just create the equivalent of a theme and background for monsters. Theme can be the role in plays in combat and background can be the race. They both add some little twist that is an easy template to apply on the fly and over time experienced GMs will come to memorize them--so "goblin striker" would just immediately remind you what background/theme to apply.
Yes, they're not going to throw all that good stuff away. There will, I'm sure, be 'themes' for monsters - Kobold Trapmasters, my favourite Kobold Slingers, Goblin Barbarians - all that will come back, but not yet...