Monsters cannot be made into playable races - Crazy Prediction of the Day 4

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Reading between the lines of Designer Blogs, it seems that the stat blocks for monsters are much more streamlined. They will have less values that need to be calculated and more values that are solely determined by their Monster Role and their CR.

Speculative example of how this might be simplified: All monsters have a Save value equal to CR, with a flat bonus to one save based on monster role, such as +4 to Will saves for the Mastermind role.

Instead, what really makes monsters memorable is their abilities and powers. Abilities like "Very Strong" or "Magic Resistant" are what players remember when they play against these monsters in 3.5, not a Str score of 25 or SR 22. But, with this simplification, I don't think monsters are going to have a full set of stats.

Because of this, I predict that monsters in the Monster Manual will not have the same stats (STR, DEX, etc., as well as racial talent trees) that player-races and -characters will have. So any attempt to make a Centaur player or a Troll player will be ad hoc'ed and not supported out-of-the-book by the Monster Manual.
Because of this, I predict that monsters in the Monster Manual will not have the same stats (STR, DEX, etc., as well as racial talent trees) that player-races and -characters will have. So any attempt to make a Centaur player or a Troll player will be ad hoc'ed and not supported out-of-the-book by the Monster Manual.

I don't know if I agree on the details, but on the whole, I am getting this distinct impression too. I hope this is not the case. I just enjoy playing funky characters. And I wonder about all those cool classes where the capstone ability is to become a different type of being. It would be a shame to lose that.
I think it's clear that the idea that monsters needing to be built the same way as characters is dead with 4th Edition. Not that it wasn't a nice idea in 3e, but the amount of time needed by DMs to create mid-high level enemies became unacceptable when those enemies survived maybe six rounds of combat.

What I think is actually going to happen is that most monsters will be just that, monsters, quick and dirty stat blocks and descriptions that you can throw into an encounter.

For the few, rare, BBEG types and their lieutenants, we might see a set of rules that allows us to create a monster-NPC built using the same or similar rules as the PCs use. These rules will also allow players to create monster PC's, but chances are you won't be able to create the exact same monster-PC as the monster in the MM.

To the players, it hardly matters. Just another nameless enemy to cut down on the path to glory. For the DM, it matters tremendously that they don't have to waste hours and hours designing what are essentially "extras".

Think of the big fights in Kill Bill. Would you, as the DM, really want to level up dozens of those nameless, doomed, NPC's with class levels, skill points, and feats? Of course not! You just want to use the "ninja minion" out of the MM and grab some minis.
I am okay with letting that concept die and I don't think it is a crazy prediction at all.
Because of this, I predict that monsters in the Monster Manual will not have the same stats (STR, DEX, etc., as well as racial talent trees) that player-races and -characters will have. So any attempt to make a Centaur player or a Troll player will be ad hoc'ed and not supported out-of-the-book by the Monster Manual.

This was more or less the case prior to 3e, and it caused a lot of problems.

Say for instance that I have a charmed monster helping me, and I cast bull's strength on it. To make that work either I need to know what the creatures strength is or the spell has to provide a bonus that covers every usage of strength. Because I might have cast bull's strength to make the monster stronger while tearing down a door. What happens if I give my charmed orc a set of gauntlets of strength? What about stat draining?

On the other hand, based on what they have said monsters as PCs and monsters as monsters will be different. That means that a PC minotaur will not have the same stats as a monster one. And the PC one will have a racial talent tree that he can pick from that is balanced to serve a PC.

Jay
I'm all for removing most of the monster PC adaptability presented in the MM like 3ed. There may be a chapter on if one wants to do it as an option in the DMG or on DI, but on a whole, for DMing making Monsters with levels for an encounter was just a PAIN...and a royal one at that. So making monsters, monsters again, has my hearty and full fledged support.
Uhm, yeah, this is not a prediction, its already been stated that MM monsters will be presented and statted differently than characters, and this for a twofold reason.

  • DM's don't need all the minutiae for 10 minute lifespan monsters. They need combat stats, general social reactions (and appropriate persuasion/sense motive checks).
  • Most monsters are not supposed to be used at player characters so having PC-style stats for them is too much.


Its already been said in the blogs that even a race like the Drow, which will be playable eventually will have different stats as a monster in the MM than it will have as a playable race.
Say for instance that I have a charmed monster helping me, and I cast bull's strength on it. To make that work either I need to know what the creatures strength is or the spell has to provide a bonus that covers every usage of strength. Because I might have cast bull's strength to make the monster stronger while tearing down a door. What happens if I give my charmed orc a set of gauntlets of strength? What about stat draining?

They could put a little section in the DMG called "Applying stat bonuses to monsters", and the rule could be "Every +2 to Strength give the monster a +1 to attack and damage." Who cares if it's not exactly the same as what happens when you cast it on a PC? We're already giving them separate stat blocks; players will learn to accept it. I think "charming an orc, giving him my gauntlets of strength, and getting him to tear down a door" happens so rarely that it should be left in the hands of DM ruling rather than making the entire system vastly more complex just to deal with a few edge cases.
Actually, everything I have read and heard more or less confirms this. The Monster Manual will all be about throwing monsters at your players, not letting your players be monsters. Thats how they are going to fit more monsters in the book than pages (I forget the count, but it is something to the tune of 300 monsters in 288 pages). There will still be a way for players to play monserous PC's, but I bet it will be in a Savage Species style book, or possibly the second PHB. It might even be a DnD Insider online supplement. As a matter of fact, that is probably what it will be. Buy the Monster Manual, imput the code on the book on the DnD Insider website, and gain access to PC race versions of various monsters in the book. I would expect the same thing for the MM2 and MM3.
For the love of little green apples it had better not be DDI exclusive. I'm already ****** enough with how that "service" is shaping up. Any monsters that could hypothetically be used by the players that are printed in the first 4e MM need to be give space in an physical book be it a Savage Species or Races of Monster. I remember when separate stat blocks were the rule of 2nd Edition and having to hunt to through way to many Dragon Magazines to find the entries on "how to play this as a PC or classed character."

I do no like this separation between Monster and PC stat blocks. Simplifying the monster "leveling" process would have been good considering that the whole "monsters as characters" was a new concept in 3e. I am very disheartened that they are abandoning it instead of taking the time to try and streamline it. I thought PC character creation was supposed to be faster in 4e? Wouldn't that have solved much of the hang up in restating monsters?
Surprisingly, I'm against this. I liked that the curtain was lifted on the monsters in 3.0/3.5. By giving them stats, ability to wear armor, gain levels, etc, they let a DM get more into their heads. Thsi way you can have a mindflayer leader with 6 levels of psion, his 2nd-in-command mindflayer out of the book, a dominated ogre mage lieutenant with 4 levels, 3 orcs with barbarian levels, and a dozen orcs for canon fodder. It helps show step-by-step advancement.

This way, I can have my favorite villains pose threats across all levels. I dont' have to say "well, the party's 15th level. Mindflayers are stormtroopers now. Ditto rakshasas." Bull. Let them say "We're tough, we can carve up a mindflayer," then find out he's a champion the hard way.
Likewise, if all ogres are identical, it gets pretty dull. Ogre society is a series of clones. Let some ogres be right-out-of-the-book, let some be barbarians, and let a few be rangers or fighters too.
Actually, I think the developers have done away with the "monsters built as PCs" idea because they realized DMs like leveling monsters, but the current system was too time consuming.

They fully intend for DMs to progress monsters past their basic MM stats. Instead of going level by level and adding in all the HD, skill points, BAB, Saves, plus feats, etc.... you have to pick what "level" you want the monster to be and assign it basic stats that match that level according to it's monster type.

Say a typical Ogre is a lvl 4 Brute. It has 55 HP, an attack bonus of +5, and does d10 + 8 damage. It also has a couple melee "abilities".

Say you want to make an Ogre Captain to challenge your lvl 9 PCs. Look up the stats for other lvl 9 Brutes and assign those stats to the basic Ogre. Now our Ogre Captain has 110 HP, +9 attack, and does d10 + 12 damage, plus all the abilities the normal Ogre has, which should be more effective with his improved stats, but also ensures that this new monster still "feels" like an Ogre.

As long as monter types have a certain range of abilities at different levels, it will be easier than ever to advance a basic monster. What if all lvl 9 Brutes have an attack bonus of +8 through +10, where as a lvl 9 Strikers have a range of +10 through +12?

I believe they are trying to define monsters by their selection of abilities and their role. You can have two lvl 9 Brutes with similar stats, but their different abilities will define them as memorable encounters. An Ogre and a Troll might have similar stats, but a Troll can "Rend" and "Regenerate" while an Ogre can "Cleave" and "Rush".
You know, that just might work... Interesting.
During podcast 16, they made a reference to giving a dragon levels if you wanted him to be a spellcaster.

I think it will still be an option (and probably a better scaled one) to give PC levels to a monster. And that's in addition to whatever other scaling options are available (be they monster levels, templates, or whatnot).

Thus, monsters can be NPCs. I'm fine with them not making monsters PCs. Not many of them worked well in 3e. How many minotaur PCs were at the right power level for their party?

That is not to say they shouldn't make viable monstrous races for PCs, but if I don't get all the same abilities as the monster does I won't gripe about it.
I'll agree that the simpler monsters are fine for the hordes of mooks that the players slice through. There should be options to add PC levels to monsters to create 'boss' encounters and BBEGs, though.

Naturally, there should eventually be the option to use the monsters as PC races. I wouldn't mind a supplement being released devoted to playable monsters (with racial feats simulating most of the abilities the versions of the monsters the PCs usually fight get).
Its already been said in the blogs that even a race like the Drow, which will be playable eventually will have different stats as a monster in the MM than it will have as a playable race.

Could you add the link, please?
Some creatures (animals, vermins...) don´t need Wistow or Charisma stat, but some ones have having Streng stat (for example a mamut riden by orcs who want breaking a door or wall).

I wonder if the solution is a "monster" class for each type (undead, fey, magic beast...), or for each role (Mastermind, brute, mook, lurker, artillery..).

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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"

 

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During podcast 16, they made a reference to giving a dragon levels if you wanted him to be a spellcaster.

I think it will still be an option (and probably a better scaled one) to give PC levels to a monster. And that's in addition to whatever other scaling options are available (be they monster levels, templates, or whatnot).

Thus, monsters can be NPCs. I'm fine with them not making monsters PCs. Not many of them worked well in 3e. How many minotaur PCs were at the right power level for their party?

That is not to say they shouldn't make viable monstrous races for PCs, but if I don't get all the same abilities as the monster does I won't gripe about it.

I was actually thinking on this last night.

I was thinking up on how the system would allow more fexability if you wanted to make, say, lieutenant Minotaur for an encounter.

You would start with a regular Minotaur. You might then bump his hitpoints up say 30% to make the monster extra beefy.

Now, to make it cool for players to notice this lieutenant minotaur, you might give him a pair of big axes (one for each hand -- note: no need to check for things like duel wield feat to make this look). Now, you don't want the indiana jones effect of this guy being shot in the head before melee; so, you give him a special bonus to AC of +8 to +10 that does not apply against melee attacks (a quick and dirty way of representing missile deflection with the big axes). You might even say this minotaur is a bit of mutant that makes him slightly more resisant to magics (raise the defenses a bit).

Now that you got the Big Bad Evil Guy, you need to give him some people to make him look that much bigger and meaner. You choose some ordinary human/hobgoblin/gnoll soldiers (whatever is your preference for minions) and put them in Minotaur costumes for the encounter. Being minions, they don't need all the glory of full blown minotaurs. You might give them a bit of bonus on damage if they bullrush someone.

Depending on the size of the player group, you count your lieutenant as an elite for two picks, give yourself four to six minions, and then assign the minotaur lieutenant a leader girlfriend for some variety.

You could choose to take a minotaur and then assign clerical levels but this would likely make a creature that did not really use its minotaur nature in the combat or it did not use it clerical nature (odds are that strikers and/or controllers will gun this monster down pretty quick - it really is not going to earn the value of adding clerical to the minotaur). This is where I was thinking with the dragon and the spell casting. Unless the dragon is a master villian that lives from encounter to encounter then it will really 'present' its to the players as either a combat/melee monsters or as a spell caster. The dragon is only going to get so many actions in a battle before people put a sword to its heart or it escapes. Paying for utility in terms of extra levels of challenge that do not get used is pretty pointless.

This is where I decided that the clerical/leader girlfriend would be just a npc cleric/leader in a minotaur suit. Odds are that she is not going to go bullrushing in as her main job is casting spells to make the lieutenant and the rest of the crew do better and stand up a bit longer in the fight.

This is why I am not upset that monsters are not able to be made into playable characters. Previously in 3e, the rules would have said that I had to make the girlfriend a minotaur first and then added levels of cleric on top of that. If I did not want her CR to be astronomic in comparison to the supposed lead monster of the encounter, the lieutenant; then I would have to make her only a level 1 to 3 cleric. With 4e, I can dress up a fully functional cleric in a rubber suit and have them be a full challenge for the role in the encounter.

The same, to me, applies with the dragon. If you want a magic using dragon then choose a magic using character as a base, and then add on a few extra powers (like flight, breath, and tail) to make it seem dragon like. This is a much simpler and targeted approach then the 3e method that starts with the monster first.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: making monsters and characters symmetric only worked in Pokemon.

I think it's a good thing. It means that monster races are going to be better-optimized for players. They won't have things like spell resistance that anything three levels higher can ignore, or Hit Dice that force them to have a minimum toughness despite making them weaker than everyone else at the same level.

However, nothing's stopping you from making an enemy or BBEG be statted up the same as a PC. In fact, I bet that for any playable races it will be a totally viable option, just a time-consuming one due to the extra rules involved compared to the streamlined monster rules. The streamlined monster rules will just be there to save you time, and if you really want to make everything as a character, you'll have that option avaliable for nearly any opponent with two arms and two legs.
I was actually thinking on this last night.

I was thinking up on how the system would allow more fexability if you wanted to make, say, lieutenant Minotaur for an encounter...(lots more).

Wow, that sounds like a lot of work.

How about:

Hmm...I need a good CR6 monster. Lets take one of the six monster roles, "basher", at CR5 give him the minotaur traits of Great Strength, Slow Witted and Immune to Confuse. Then give him one leader monster trait. Done!

Again, I think that monsters are going to be streamlined to be effectively templates that you apply to a limited number of monster roles. Fast generation, with easy to stack abilities and results seems to be what they want to set up.

But, this is just my guess of how it is going to work.
Uhm, yeah, this is not a prediction, its already been stated that MM monsters will be presented and statted differently than characters, and this for a twofold reason.

  • DM's don't need all the minutiae for 10 minute lifespan monsters. They need combat stats, general social reactions (and appropriate persuasion/sense motive checks).
  • Most monsters are not supposed to be used at player characters so having PC-style stats for them is too much.


Its already been said in the blogs that even a race like the Drow, which will be playable eventually will have different stats as a monster in the MM than it will have as a playable race.

Seconded. It's not a prediction, it's pretty much already been said. Sure I guess it's a prediction if the OP missed that... but yeah.
But why just the one?
Say for instance that I have a charmed monster helping me, and I cast bull's strength on it. To make that work either I need to know what the creatures strength is or the spell has to provide a bonus that covers every usage of strength. Because I might have cast bull's strength to make the monster stronger while tearing down a door. What happens if I give my charmed orc a set of gauntlets of strength? What about stat draining?

Bull's STR? +2 to hit and damage, +3 if 2H weapon. Done.
See, it's not hard even in 3.5e. 3e woul've required dice rolling, though.
I don't think that statblocks for monsters will eliminate stats, but it has been said that they will be focused on the role of monsters and won't be built the same way as PCs. Tying monsters to the character building rules raised too many issues, your HD being determined by creature type meant that it was difficult to give a creature more HD because that essentially added "levels" to the class which would mean increased BAB and saves as well as more skill points and feats, when all you might want to do is give them 3d8 more HP. My big hope is that they keep an option for random HP as I like adding a little variety.

In terms of stats, I think they'll be there but that buffs will be written as their effect, not as a boost to a stat, which makes play a lot smoother.

What they've said in terms of playable monsters is that they'll develop a separate racial entry that captures the same flavour of the monster but in a character progression format. This should make it easier to play monsters from 1st level (no more racial HD and LA to worry about) but it probably means we won't see many/any playable creatures in the MM and will have to wait for other materials to be released. I'd guess first in the DDI but then likely as a published book later on.
Actually, I have to disagree. I have a feeling that all races that were formerly playable will have talents/powers by level, thus eliminating the neccessity for a level adjustment as in 3.5.

If all races are brought up to par with abilities (such as the innate Drow abilities gained over time, instead of at first level), then I don't see a reason why they wouldn't allow any race to be playable, monster or not.
Actually, I have to disagree. I have a feeling that all races that were formerly playable will have talents/powers by level, thus eliminating the neccessity for a level adjustment as in 3.5.

If all races are brought up to par with abilities (such as the innate Drow abilities gained over time, instead of at first level), then I don't see a reason why they wouldn't allow any race to be playable, monster or not.

Not sure who you're disagreeing with here, as I think we're both on the same page. There's been a lot of talk about designing things for what they're intended for, like making a monster special ability rather than taking an existing spell that sort of works like what you want and then making a SLA that works as per the spell except for a list of exceptions. Given the talk about breaking away from building monsters with the same tools as you build a character (using the HD mechanics) I'd say it's pretty likely that we'll see just straight statblocks for running them as monsters, hopefully with some advancement info at least, but as monsters. They've pretty much said that they don't want to then tack on rules for playing it as a character but develop a separate racial entry for playing it, which will focus on an advancement that makes sense and tuning abilities for PC play. This is pretty much what you're saying too. I think this will hopefully result in more workable encounter balance and playable monsters balance.
Getting rid of monsters as PCs is fine with my group. We never used it and so, for us, it was all a waste of space. I do like the proposed outline for leveling monsters as described by Benji.

On a personal note, I don't see how I'm going to make it May-ish to actually have these rules in hand. I'm chomping at the bit, now!
Looks like we are going back to the time where NPCs and/or Monsters are able to do things the PCs could never do because they play under completly different rules than the PCs.

Do I have to mention that this is something bad?

PS-OT:

During podcast 16, they made a reference to giving a dragon levels if you wanted him to be a spellcaster.

Its really sad that WotC listened to the "Dragons are so complicated and stuff" crowd and destroyed another iconic D&D creature.
Looks like we are going back to the time where NPCs and/or Monsters are able to do things the PCs could never do because they play under completly different rules than the PCs.

Do I have to mention that this is something bad?

I understand what you're saying, but I'm not sure it's exactly the intent. I think the idea is more to make monsters more focused on their intended use, in encounters. They want to make the statblock more self-contained (so you're not flipping to look up a feat or a spell), they want to be free to add HP or boost saves or attack bonus (or reduce any of those) without having their hands tied by the HD mechanic for determining all of that. My understanding is they then want to take the same concept and make a playable race that captures that same concept, but in a way that's balanced for players to use, because what's balanced for a monster is not always balanced for PC use.
I have to agree with the above poster.

The 3e way of doing monsters was more work then was relavent to the task.

For example, in 3e, if you want to show that a monster is good with using their natural claw attack then you are expected to take a feat like Weapon Focus (Claw) or Weapon Finesse (Claw) to represent this effect.

The other side of this problem is that you are allowed only so many feats per hit die of creature. This means that if you wanted your monster to do some other feat then you were locked into either giving up choosing the Weapon Focus feat for say the Pounce Feat or you had to increase the hit dice of the creature.

Further, you were trapped in monster making that if you wanted a creature for a role like spell casting then you were usually trapped in jacking up the CR of the monster by the levels of clerical/mage casting which is what you really wanted to buy for the encounter. This often resulted in a CR creature that was a hodge podge that did not earn back the CR that was assigned to the creature (if it used the spell casting ability then the 'monster' abilities were often wasted in the few rounds that the creature was involved in the fight).

Last, it is simipler to just add a +1 to +x to a monster's BAB to get the hit probability that you want to simulate then to be 'stuck' with a 'creature type' defining the BAB. This frees the DM from having to 'add' feats to increase the BAB or defense of the monster to 'make it work'.
Exactly, the + to hit is a great example, weapon focus is a flat +1 and doesn't stack while weapon finesse adds more versatility but requires good DEX, and maybe you don't want it that good, or you want more. Either way, you tie up a feat with it and have to decide if you tie up a feat or "cheat" and make it a bonus feat.

But that at least kind of works. Suppose you want to increase the HP easiest way is to add HD, but then that adds BAB, saves, skill points and possibly feats, not to mention possibly a stat boost. That's a lot of extra work. I could add CON as well but how much that adds will go right back to being based on the number of HD which might not be workable.

So yes, monsters are going to be built differently, that's not necessarily a bad thing as long as the balancing is done well.
And in 4E the only way to design monsters is to cheat.
And in 4E the only way to design monsters is to cheat.

Well, yes and no. I did kind of like the methodology in 3ed but I also recognize that it creates a ton of problems (as outlined already and discussed by the designers). Here's some examples that you just can't do that way:

How do you make a creature with high HP designed to fight low level players? CON bonus won't count for much because of the low HD, but you can't give them more HD without boosting their saves and BAB to a point that completely outshines what the party can do. You want HP for staying power but can't do it without vastly increasing their hitting capability and saves (not to mention skills and feats).

How do you make a creature that's meant to hit very well but be fragile? The only options for increasing BAB is by increasing HD.

How do you make a creature with good saves without also increasing HP and BAB?

How do you give a creature better skills without increasing HP, BAB and saves?

And so on.

Now for most/all of these, the 3ed answer is, cheat. Want more HP? Cheat (because you can't do it within the system). Want more attack bonus? Give them feats that add attack bonus, but you're limited by HD for how many feats to give so you cheat by making them bonus feats, same goes for saves or skills, give them feats to improve them.

So honestly, while I liked that there was that "openness" in 3ed, it raised a lot of issues and the only option was to cheat. To say that they'd rather just not make monsters be PCs does seem like one way to go, and I'm not sure if fixing the system to keep the openness would really be as flexible or workable in the long-run.
I think this is entirely positive. If I never have to look up the special size modifiers to determine the grapple check for my diminutive fey sorcerer, I'll be a happy camper.

This may also remedy the rather glaring issue (at least in my eyes) that HD and CR are rarely the same. Clerics are the ones who face this issue the most, with their (broken) turn undead mechanics, but anybody who has used a spell or ability that checks a foe's Hit Dice has seen it in action. Look at creatures like the tarrasque: a CR 20 encounter with more than double that many HD. And let us not forget undead and constructs, who have to pile on extra HD to make up for their lack of Con bonus.

As a perfectionist, it's been a very long time since I've been able to craft a really interesting monster that takes less than 3-5 hours. Calculating the minutae of grapple mods, saving throw DCs, skill ranks, and racial attack/save bonuses, not to mention the monumental task of scouring 50 sourcebooks for appropriate feats to accomplish my goal, is quite tiresome. Knowing what I do about level-appropriate attack modifiers and AC, it'll be nice to just be able to declare those numbers, without having to justify them via PC-centered mechanics.

If I want this orc to have a +13 BAB and 200 HP, I can darn well do it! And no, I don't have to explain why! I'm the DM!