This morning Ameron shared his thoughts on the new monster makeover Wizards announced yesterday. I’ve looked at the new format and thought a lot about it myself. Here are my initial impressions, with a little background to justify my thoughts.
I’m a secondary school teacher. My main “teachables” are math and computer studies. One of the computer courses I teach deals in part with the design and layout of graphics in order to more effectively convey a message or disseminate important information. It is amazing what a simple rearrangement and regrouping can do in this regard. With this in mind I must say that the DM in me has a good feeling about the upcoming changes to the monster stat blocks.
I’ll start with the important numbers. By keeping the HP, defenses, and other “battle” numbers in one group I can quickly find the most common numbers I am looking for. Initiative, Perception and vision are important but are usually accessed at the start of combat only. Overall this isn’t a huge change but I personally think it gives a cleaner look and a more natural grouping of stats.
I am thrilled with the new traits section. It drives me nuts when I forget about my kobold Mob Attack trait or my hobgoblin Phalanx Soldier trait because it was shoved at the bottom of the stat block and easily overlooked. Giving them a Trait title and bringing them to the top keeps them in my head when I am looking at their next move because I have to scan through them whenever I look at the powers.
This brings me to the biggest bang for the buck. Grouping the powers by action type. It’s a godsend! I’ve been doing this with my PCs for a while now simply because I could never seem to find my triggered actions as each of my party members were taking their turns. As a DM it was the same for my monsters. Now I can quickly find that triggered power the I swore I read somewhere but I can’t remember which mob it was that could do that. What can my sneaky little kobold do this turn? Oh! Let me snag one standard action from that section and then a minor action from its corresponding section. Easy as pie!
In order to be fair I’ve been scratching my head to look for possible downsides or improvements that could be made. I have to say I’m having trouble finding any. Some people won’t like the new layout simply because they are used to the old. “Change is bad! Don’t do it!”. Some people could point out that more headings in the stat block means more ink when printing. That is valid but minor in my opinion. Personally I’d love to see them add a line for a creatures Insight. I know it is a quick calculation but our group likes to toss in Intimidate checks quite liberally and it would be nice to have the number handy.
Overall I say bring on the new. My inner DM geek is itching to use them.