Monday, March 2, 2009

Monster Conversions

On the heels of previous monster creation post, we get the March Dragon Editorial, where they talk about the progression of monsters from the very beginning.

Specifically, they talk about the roper, which, ever since the 3.5 module Forge of Fury, have been a favorite of mine. Our party's encounter with that creature still sits in our minds, all these years later.

The roper, through the various versions, has certainly changed to match the "style" of the monster design, even if it tried to maintain its signature mark: strength-sapping, adventurer-dragging tentacles. It's is interesting to see how that is handled by the rules, especially back in 1st edition, where it was a very "loose" set of rules, to 3.5 with a large set of terms, to 4e with a very miniature-like set of operations. Especially, I like the question in the article, "but mechanically … what exactly is happening here, and when?"

The article claims that the 4e roper is well-designed, and I have to agree. It adheres to the "style" of 4e powers, and it does so, in the same manner as other more "complex" creatures, by having attacks that require the target to be in some other state. So the roper has a Reel ability that can only be used on a target that it has grabbed, which is the result of a successful tentacle attack, much as other creatures can immobilize with one attack, then can use a special attack against immobilized targets.

This is good design. It stands by the rule of "reduced paperwork", where 4e tries to prevent all of the bookkeeping involved with effects wearing off, or recharging (like the old dragon breath). I think it will be interesting to see if the 4e design has anticipated all of the 4e interpretations of older monsters and older abilities: we have immobilized, dazed, stunned, grabbed, prone, etc., and push, pull and slide; and I suppose there's no reason you can't add a new "condition" later on, if one's needed. And then as long as a conversion can turn an old-school ability to a "first attack and cause condition X, then use a different attack (on a target under condition X), to have this other effect", we can pretty much convert anything, from older editions or from our minds.

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