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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    NinjaGuy

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    Default What's the best book to understand 4E's monster building philosophies

    I've seen enough people say good things about 4E's monster systems. Does it get explained in the Monster Manual, the DMG, or is there a better source to understand what they did?

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    Dimers's Avatar

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    Default Re: What's the best book to understand 4E's monster building philosophies

    The specifics of the design philosophy changed over time. Monster Manual 3 is the best source for opponents who fit the newer philosophy. This is because earlier monsters had too many hit points and too little damage -- they were less of a threat and more of an annoyance or slog.

    No book I own actually spells out the design philosophy (either the original version or the MM3+). So far as I know, what we talk about is just reverse-engineered from the numerous available examples. But DMG1 does describe a lot about how monsters fit into encounters, in terms of quantity, role, challenge, reward, that sort of thing. It might give some insight beyond the bounds of 4e.

    I like to suggest people read DMG1 regardless. The sections on player motivation and campaign design are worth the price of admission by themselves.
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    PirateGuy

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    Default Re: What's the best book to understand 4E's monster building philosophies

    DMG1 is probably the best bet for understanding the philosophy behind 4e monster design. Thatís where most of the explanations on monster types, how to use them to build an encounter, and so on reside.

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    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: What's the best book to understand 4E's monster building philosophies

    You also need to incorporate the changes made in DMG2, and then look at the errata for the DMG2 to get the attack and defence math and basic damage math.

    So, DMG1 + DMG2 + Errata. Its super approachable for those new to the edition, its hard to see why it never caught on.

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    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: What's the best book to understand 4E's monster building philosophies

    Quote Originally Posted by johnbragg View Post
    I've seen enough people say good things about 4E's monster systems. Does it get explained in the Monster Manual, the DMG, or is there a better source to understand what they did?
    Monster Vault! (either of them). DMG1 has the explanation of the types and such, but how that stuff was applied changed over time. Monster Manual 3 brought about some big changes in math, but by the time that was printed a lot of your iconic D&D monsters had been done so the stuff in there is ... weird. MV goes back and retrofits a LOT of classic MM1 stuff with the things they had learned in the intervening years.

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    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Beholder

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    Default Re: What's the best book to understand 4E's monster building philosophies

    The principal rule to follow is this: Avoid Monster Manual 1. (Like a lot of 4E books, avoid anything where Mike Mearls is the lead designer.)

    DMG 1 actually provides very good monster building advice (it wasn't followed in Monster Manual 1, unfortunately) but the maths, of course, has since been updated. As has been stated, Monster Manual 3, Dark Sun Creature Catalogue, and the two Monster Vaults are have very good examples of how to build monsters plus the maths is correct.
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    Default Re: What's the best book to understand 4E's monster building philosophies

    Monster Vault tend to have the right math and also interesting mechanics.

    Using dragons as an example. MM1 dragons tend to do little damage, drag the encounter a bit too long, and die to control effects.

    MV dragons with their instinct actions solve most of the above problems, I think. But then MV dragons do not come in all colors. So if I'm to run a 4E game, I would grab the interesting individual powers from MM1, but use MV as a guideline about how to actually assemble the powers into a monster that can fit in its role.
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    Dimers's Avatar

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    Default Re: What's the best book to understand 4E's monster building philosophies

    Quote Originally Posted by ahyangyi View Post
    Using dragons as an example. MM1 dragons tend to do little damage, drag the encounter a bit too long, and die to control effects.
    Heehee, dragons make the encounter "drag on"?
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