Legends & Lore: Monsters and the World of D&D

Fascinating, truly.  I like the points and am glad to know that monsters will not only be getting lore, but a decently heavy lore entry.

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THE COALITION WAR GAME -Phyrexian Chief Praetor
Round 1: (4-1-2, 1 kill)
Round 2: (16-8-2, 4 kills)
Round 3: (18-9-2, 1 kill)
Round 4: (22-10-0, 2 kills)
Round 5: (56-16-3, 9 kills)
Round 6: (8-7-1)

Last Edited by Ralph on blank, 1920

I like having small lore descriptions to stimulate campaign ideas. I can dig the various layers described. One could go w/ the first story layer and have a relatively benign species. Add a few more as canonical to your world and the creatures described become more dark seeming.
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Yeah cool.  How about an online random monster maker!

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I like this approach in general, and I specifically like this execution. Giving ettercaps a downstream connection to spiders and other giant insects, while giving them an upstream connection to aranea, is a great idea for linking together spiderkin in a meaningful way. Basically, you've planted the seeds for a spider-themed adventure that writes itself.
Great creative stuff!  It's just enough that it gets the point across and sparks ideas for adventure!  This is what I'd like to see more of in DDN.  If there's one thing I've enjoyed following, it's the more creative development (rather than the mechanical development...)

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I do like the idea of fleshing out monsters, especially the more intelligent ones.

It does not have to be a full page story, 3 dot points is good enough.

Ettercaps - I have used them many times are big boss/controller types with many giant spider minions, they are great fun. I tend to roleplay them like The Predator, making hit and run attacks, using stealth.

The one flaw I see with the Ettercap-Aranea situation is SURELY these would get the attention of Lolth.

- Perhaps they were created from Elves, an earlier version of Driders or Drow? then she refined her work.
- Perhaps they rebelled against their cruel mistress and fled to the forest?
- Perhaps they work as for other evils, such as Hags, against Elves and Drow?

Key things for D&D - Where is the character from and why do they do what they do? / Recurring NPCs - allies and enemies / Plot, World and Personal Events.

A minor detail, but you have to be careful about the ecology of other creatures when working with the primary creatures backstory. I may have misread it, but I get the impression that after an ettercap and spiders make a forest a gloomy place that giant insects become more numerous? Why? Probably best to ignore hooks into other creatures backstory and their like or dislikes, and just keep it simple like ettercaps hunt pixies, train spiders, and make forests a gloomy place. But you will have to maintain a cross-reference of these associations when describing those other creatures just so you don't end up contradicting it.
like it a lot, lore is very important for most monsters
Yes, 2nd Ed MM with 5th Ed stats.
This sounds like a fine idea.
I like the concept. However, I would also like to see few adventure plots for every monster in bestiary. Here are few such plots from my head for orcs (I am sorry for my English, I am not native speaker):


  • When PCs arrive to village, where their friends live, they will find only ruins and corpses. According the clues, the village was attacked by Dark-Spider orcs, who drag away many captives to the darkness of deep forest. Captives are going to be sacrificed to an ancient spider of Lolth which dwells in the Cave of Shadows. Old, terrifying rumors say the spider devours not only flash but the soul as well.



  • Wood orcs besieged a keep, where PCs stayed to gather new equipment. Orcs are not going to let go any witness, and they are about to the next assault…



  • An unknown illness slays Dark-Spider orcs, and they are running out of provisions. Because of that a group of the orcs are heading for civilized settlement to try to exchange food and medicines for cloaks made from spider webs. However, how the people will look on bagging orcs? What will PCs do, when duke has forbidden trade with orcs, but the cloaks would be very useful for player characters? And still, if PCs would trade with them, is there the risk to be infected?



  • Captured PCs ended among enslaved orcs. To get free, they have to make a plan and they need to persuade orcs to start a riot. Will orcs trust PCs?



  • Orc-cultists are preparing a ritual to call in a solar eclipse, which will allow them to start a war above ground. Because of that they steal powerful artifacts from which they draw the power. PCs should bring back one of the artifacts, but incidentally they will discover a secret plan of human warlocks…

It needs some tweaking, but it's the right direction.

guides
List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
Power
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

I like the lore material. Detailed enough to say something about the creature and how you can expect to encounter it without being so detailed or specific that it is pinned to one setting/environment. The general cast of the background material at the top is nice also, particularly recognizing that not all creatures need the same amount of lore. Hopeful the format of the monster manual supports this and the really simple monsters can get half page, most get full page and the really important groups like Dragons, Devils, Angels and such can get multi-page treatments.

Detailed enough to say something about the creature and how you can expect to encounter it without being so detailed or specific that it is pinned to one setting/environment.


This.

This is the perfect approach to monster fluff!



The fluff is good and I like the presentation but would like to see Recall Lore DC's for knowing a piece of information, but not in a know everything DC X and lower way. Maybe with a DC 15 you learn one piece of information DC 15 and one DC 10 piece of information. So the Ettercap might be as follows with a Recall Lore (Nature) check, Spider Sheppards (DC 10), Through a Forest Darkly (DC 10), Devourers of Pixies (DC 15), Webs (DC 15), Aranea (DC 20). Checks can be made once per PC for their own offhand knowledge or once a week with advantage given proper research materials. 

It would promote researching enemies you know you're up against, making the Sage background more useful as well as letting the DM better disseminate information than players going "My check was high enough that I know everything about XYZ"
I want to see regular side bars with discussions of alternate usages/ecologies/lore based on historical D&D settings.  These could be encapsulated in overview form in the DMG in the discussion on building a campaign world.
I actually liked about this article. Good amount of fluff but easily changeable.

Actually one of the good things about Essentials (and 4e Monster Vault) was the increase of the monsters fluff in they descriptions, so yeah, on the right path.


P.S.: Now everything that is left is how they will deal with setting information, like settings with differences on monster fluff.
This L&L is an excellent example of “designing in boxes”. The box supplies a solid, well thought-out default as an example. But players can easily rewrite the box if they want something slightly different or radically different.

It exemplifies modularity.
I really like this.  Monster Vault is my favorite monster book ever because of the flavor text.  Just as was shown in the article, it was descriptive enough to give good information and give DM some ideas while at the same time remaining vague enough to allow for the DMs own creativity and preferences.

I really like the stuff presented for the Ettercap.  Going from "lives with spiders" to "shepherd of spiders" is a great enhancement, as is the stuff about feeding on fey to make giant spiders and become araneas (they always seemed very random to me...just another spider monster but with magic for some reason...this gives a very cool explanation). 

The description of how ettercaps change the forest is really cool and reminds me of the legendary creature lair entry.  It makes a lot of sense that monsters would change the lands in which they live.  The environment is often the first thing the players interact with, and so being able to decribe it in detail is awesome.  It sets the scene very nicely and helps to not only set monsters apart from each other but also to give them a concrete place in the world.

Regarding their place in the world, I love how it links ettercaps to giant spiders, giant insects, fey, and hags.  This sort of thing is great for DMs because it gives them ideas for plots.

P.S.: Now everything that is left is how they will deal with setting information, like settings with differences on monster fluff.



to me this is a big point, some things like cultural background of a race is very dependent on setting.
And having to much of a focus on those kind of things in a MM might result in the assumption that a race should have the same culture in every campaign setting.


What I like most about this lore is that it gives ideas for encounter building. Facing a room of 30 orcs is boring, 4E did something interesting by making lots of different types of Orcs to create interest, personally I loved this idea. They also gave sample encounter blocks, which were interesting . . . but sometimes confusing, why were these monsters together? What is the chain of command? And ultimately if it isn't the right level it was pretty much worthless.

I like that this approach of relating monsters together gives me a very clear set of encounter ideas.

Heroes come across pixies trapped in spider webs, Heroes free pixies from spiders but are begged to rescue more pixies deeper in the forest, as they enter the deeper glades they are attacked by spiders and ettercaps, they have a skill encounter with a traitorous pixie who is trying to lure more pixies into the pits, finally they come to the Aranea's lair with one Aranea and a two giant bodyguard spiders. 

I can easily scale up this adventure thread with more powerful spiders, introducing ettercaps into the first encounter, having the traitor pixie fighting as a lurker throughout all the combats, having the Aranea have a mate and two Bebilith guards etc.

I think this should be a huge focus of monster lore. Who does the monster ally with, what are it's pets, how does it relate to the "good races,"  and finally what are the motivations to make it villainous. .
to me the 2nd bullet point is a bit problimatic.



  • Give the creature a place in the world. Where does it live? What does it want? How does it act? What creatures does it ally with? Who does it hate? A creature's context is important for making it feel like a living, breathing entity in the world of D&D Next.



To me most of the things described in this bullet point are things that are/should be campaign setting dependent.

In my opinion to much time spend on this point can result into 2 things.
1) the MM info about these points is often a waste of time as they will be over written with wat is appropriate for the campaign settng.
2) the default MM info on these points is assumed for all campaign settings making the difrences between campaign setings smaller somthing that in my opinion would be a bad thing.

 
to me the 2nd bullet point is a bit problimatic.



  • Give the creature a place in the world. Where does it live? What does it want? How does it act? What creatures does it ally with? Who does it hate? A creature's context is important for making it feel like a living, breathing entity in the world of D&D Next.



To me most of the things described in this bullet point are things that are/should be campaign setting dependent.

In my opinion to much time spend on this point can result into 2 things.
1) the MM info about these points is often a waste of time as they will be over written with wat is appropriate for the campaign settng.
2) the default MM info on these points is assumed for all campaign settings making the difrences between campaign setings smaller somthing that in my opinion would be a bad thing.



I agree.

Meanwhile it is easy to resolve this setting-specific problem, by calling attention to it. Just put the same information in a sidebar dedicated to a specific setting. For example:





to me the 2nd bullet point is a bit problimatic.



  • Give the creature a place in the world. Where does it live? What does it want? How does it act? What creatures does it ally with? Who does it hate? A creature's context is important for making it feel like a living, breathing entity in the world of D&D Next.



To me most of the things described in this bullet point are things that are/should be campaign setting dependent.

In my opinion to much time spend on this point can result into 2 things.
1) the MM info about these points is often a waste of time as they will be over written with wat is appropriate for the campaign settng.
2) the default MM info on these points is assumed for all campaign settings making the difrences between campaign setings smaller somthing that in my opinion would be a bad thing.

 




The problem is that that type of design removes all the D&D based monster mythology from the game.   I think it's very important that the game have a default D&D take on every monster.   Sure, you might not want to use that lore, but there are many people who don't want to spend time creating new lore for every monster they plan to use.   Sure campaigns can have their own versions of each monster or exclude them, but the by default I want that work done for me.  

As the DM, I want to know that Mimic innards are a delacy in some cultures.  I want to know what the creature eats and what time of day it's most active.   That's the kind of information is important because characters might be able to take advantage of it in a non-combat way.   Furthermore, I'd rather not have to keep notes on all the lore I make up on the fly for each type of monster.  I'd rather just make notes on the stuff I change, which won't be very much at all. 




Yeah, you can't surprise players by playing against type if there isn't a type. Athasian cannibal halflings aren't that crazy if you've never met a Tolkein hobbit. I think it's a total myth that creativity occurs in a vaccum, and that the less monster info the more creative DM's will be because they will be "unrestricted." Give me stuff to mix and match.

Already in my upcoming Madness of Gardmore Abbey game I'm thinking of replacing feygrove spiders with toads, now the idea that they are terrorizing a flock of pixies is bubbling in my head, all because of this ettercap fluff. 
Yes, 2nd Ed MM with 5th Ed stats.

This this

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

Yes, 2nd Ed MM with 5th Ed stats.

This this


I can't argue with that, but I would like the cleaner presentation of 4e.  Especially the part about not having to look up the various spell-like abilities any creatures might have in another book.

There are a great many problems that can be circumvented by players and DMs having a mature discussion about what the game is going to be like before they ever sit down together to play.

 

The answer really does lie in more options, not in confining and segregating certain options.

 

You really shouldn't speak for others.  You can't hear what someone else is saying when you try to put your words in their mouth.

 

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When i heard during the D&D Next: Monsters & Magic at Gen Con that feedbacks they got saying fans preferred the 2E format layout for monsters (Ecology, Habitat, Society etc..) and that they were gazing at it for D&D Next i was quite happy as its my favorite monster entry format.

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

In my opinion to much time spend on this point can result into 2 things.

1) the MM info about these points is often a waste of time as they will be over written with wat is appropriate for the campaign settng.
2) the default MM info on these points is assumed for all campaign settings making the difrences between campaign setings smaller somthing that in my opinion would be a bad thing.

 

If they go to far. The problem is that if they leave this out then the entries become nothing but stat block after stat block. This is a situation where they need to find the right balance, the monsters need enough context that they can exist without a campaign specific addition that explains the monsters background, but avoid including so much that a lot of entries need campaign specific replacements.

And in truth, if your going to exclude everything that might be campaign specific, then the generic MM would be empty. Even the existence of monsters varies from world to world, along with their specific powers, statistics and background material.

Sometimes I imagined a "dungeon" of tunnels of spiderwebs in the forest.



Like the tent-webs created by cyrtophora citricola.

 

* What if the first version of ettercarp was a goblin cult to a spider totem spirit? Or goblins who crossed a planar portal and they went a a demiplane of giants vermins.

* Do ettercarp and araneas a common origin?

* Some creatures are too powerful and they need a "hollow world", a demiplane for them...  it would easier to explain the reason of creatures what could break the natural ecosystem.

"Say me what you're showing off for, and I'll say you what you lack!" (Spanish saying)

 

Book 13 Anaclet 23 Confucius said: "The Superior Man is in harmony but does not follow the crowd. The inferior man follows the crowd, but is not in harmony"

 

"In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of." - Confucius 

Yes, 2nd Ed MM with 5th Ed stats.

This this


I can't argue with that, but I would like the cleaner presentation of 4e.  Especially the part about not having to look up the various spell-like abilities any creatures might have in another book.




I have no problem remembering fireball, instead of needing 347 variations thereof, due to monsters.
I have no problem remembering fireball, instead of needing 347 variations thereof, due to monsters.

But what about the uncommon ones? Or the untold variations of those common spells such as cause fear and fear? Obviously, if you are planning an encounter is does not matter much, you can always add the necessary details yourself. It could be a pain if you quickly needed to improvise an encounter. Not entirely sure which one I actually prefer... Definitely like the additional background info.
It could be a pain if you quickly needed to improvise an encounter.



Even better, a fireball, is a fireball, is a fireball.
Yes, 2nd Ed MM with 5th Ed stats.

This this


I can't argue with that, but I would like the cleaner presentation of 4e.  Especially the part about not having to look up the various spell-like abilities any creatures might have in another book.




I have no problem remembering fireball, instead of needing 347 variations thereof, due to monsters.



Yes, eliminating redunancy is important.     A fireball spell works for magical balls of fire that monsters and magical items produce.    System mastery can and should speed the game up, but there is no reason a short hand note can't also be included in the extended statblock.


Some "magic ingredients" could be spent to create variations of fireballs. The spellcasters wouldn´t learn or cast a different spell, only spend a extra.

"Say me what you're showing off for, and I'll say you what you lack!" (Spanish saying)

 

Book 13 Anaclet 23 Confucius said: "The Superior Man is in harmony but does not follow the crowd. The inferior man follows the crowd, but is not in harmony"

 

"In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of." - Confucius 

This sounds like the kind of stuff I would read in the Monster Vault (as Mike mentions).  I like it.  It gives a good 'baseline' design idea for using creatures in an encounter, and if you don't like it you can toss it.

I also agree with those who say monsters should have their own abilities.  Times, like Anjelika, they are a-changin'.   Its so much more interesting to realize that players have no idea what an ability might do than yet another 'yah, this demon has fireball too'.

"Lightning...it flashes bright, then fades away.  It can't protect, it can only destroy."

This sounds like the kind of stuff I would read in the Monster Vault (as Mike mentions).  I like it.  It gives a good 'baseline' design idea for using creatures in an encounter, and if you don't like it you can toss it.

I also agree with those who say monsters should have their own abilities.  Times, like Anjelika, they are a-changin'.   Its so much more interesting to realize that players have no idea what an ability might do than yet another 'yah, this demon has fireball too'.



Anjelika, you are slowly getting closer to our 4e fields. Be careful!!

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Yes, 2nd Ed MM with 5th Ed stats.

This this


I can't argue with that, but I would like the cleaner presentation of 4e.  Especially the part about not having to look up the various spell-like abilities any creatures might have in another book.



I have no problem remembering fireball, instead of needing 347 variations thereof, due to monsters.


It's not about variation.  It's about having everything you need to run a given monster in one place.  In many cases, I'm already flipping between two or more monster entries.  I don't need to be flipping through the PHB to look up the descriptions of special abilities too, especially spell-like abilities that have the rules text buried in the flavor text instead of in a quick-reference block at the top or bottom of the spell entry.

There are a great many problems that can be circumvented by players and DMs having a mature discussion about what the game is going to be like before they ever sit down together to play.

 

The answer really does lie in more options, not in confining and segregating certain options.

 

You really shouldn't speak for others.  You can't hear what someone else is saying when you try to put your words in their mouth.

 

Fencing & Swashbuckling as Armor.

D20 Modern Toon PC Race.

Mecha Pilot's Skill Challenge Emporium.

 

Save the breasts.

Yeah, having things consolidated is definately a huge plus. Also, unless the monster is a spell caster, what business does it have even referencing spells? Perhaps it has a breath weapon that resembles Burning Hands, but giving it the ability to cast the spell is far different than stating feature X resembles BH.

For example:
---
Monster X

Feature A: The monster can cast {insert spell here} Z times per day.

Feature B: The monster has {insert short descriptor here} that resembles {insert spell here}, usable Z times per day. {repeat spell mechanics here}
---
A implies the monster is a caster, where B doesn't. It's important to maintain consistancy in monster descriptions, including effects. If the monster is a caster, then referencing spells make sense, but seriously bogs the game down if it requires cross-referencing material. 4e IMO had the best overall monster stat blocks of any edition, but I agree that 2e had the best organization for the monster fluff.

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