Friday, October 5, 2007


Podcast 16 had a few interesting things about my favorite topic, monsters.

I liked the discussion about the humanoid monsters, such as goblins, gnolls and hobgoblins, which differed mainly in their hit dice and challenge rating, and really just filled a role as "the humanoid monster at this level". Instead, more focus is going into their tactics and abilities, so the players don't just gloss over what kind of humanoid monster they're fighting. Pack mentality, flanking, stealth, etc. should do a good job or keeping these different creatures useful as individual monster concepts, instead of as filler.

The final part of the podcast was even more interesting, however, when James Wyatt was given a test on the spot to create encounters from some of the new monsters. This gave quite a bit of insight into the game design... not only did we get to find out the names of some of the monsters (rune-carved aidelon, quickling runner, eye of flame), but we got a sense of what the monster entries are like: when designing the encounters, he was looking at their roles, throwing around terms like "elite soldier" for the human fighter death knight, "controller" for the goblin hexer, and "artillery" for the eye of flame.

I can certainly see the benefit from these role names, to help DMs balance out an encounter, and I assume there will be tables sorted by these roles to help a DM find them easily, but a part of me cringes at the explicit nature of the roles. These "simplistic" terms such as "brute" and "soldier" remind me of the thing I disliked most about d20 Modern, which were the "Smart Hero"/"Fast Hero" names of classes.

Perhaps I just need to get used to the role concept for 4th edition. I can't quite put my finger on it... it's almost like I want these roles to exist in a table somewhere, listing those monsters that qualify as "artillery", but don't want that actual word associated with the monster. I know that as the DM, I can do anything with the monsters that I damned well please, but it still feels restricting to have these roles given, instead of helpful.

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