ACTION ORIENTED MONSTERS
If a monster is big enough and bad enough to challenge an entire party on their own, or if it just makes sense for the Queen of the Goblins to be better than a normal Goblin Boss, we make a named, unique, Action-Oriented version of that monster.
This is something we originally developed for the Chain of Acheron. The Black Iron Pact was the first test of this design. It was a success, and we’ve learned a LOT since! Action-Oriented monsters get special Villain Actions that allow them to act when it’s not their turn, and they rely on spells much less.
OLD MONSTERS UN-BORNIG'D
We love all the classic monsters! Goblins, kobolds, orcs, giants, dragons... We just wish they were more fun to use. Here’s how we’re going to do it:
- There’s only one goblin in the core rules. So if you decide your 1st-level party is going to explore a tomb with some goblins in (hem hem) you don’t have a lot of options except ctrl-c, ctrl-v.
- This book has a LOT of options for all the classic monsters we all rely on. Goblin Assassins! Goblin Snipers! Goblin Spinecleavers! Goblin Cursespitters! I mean they’re still just goblins, they’re not like superheroes, but presenting you, the GM, with many options when it comes to a given enemy makes building encounters with them more fun because you can make each encounter unique. You could have twelve different Hobgoblin encounters and never use exactly the same combination of Hobgoblin types.
Not Just Bags of Hit Points
- A lot (not all! But a lot) of the monsters in the core rules amount to just a bag of hit points, but in my experience that’s not much fun. It’s fun (for both the players and the GM) if the monsters can DO cool stuff!
- So our monsters all have special abilities that make them fun to run, fun to fight, and also go a long way towards reinforcing the fantasy of the monster. Monsters shouldn’t just look cool, they should do cool stuff and that stuff should remind you of WHY this monster is the way it is.
Not A Big List Of Spells
- The core rules rely on giving monsters spells to make them interesting, but it mostly makes them more complex. Our monsters sometimes use spells, but it’s a lot easier on the GM to give them cool abilities they can use in combat.
- The kinds of abilities that make the GM cackle when you read them. “I can’t wait to use this!” is better than “I don’t remember how that spell works, lemme go look it up.”
- This way the monster’s abilities are printed right there in the book and you don’t have to try and remember what the radius is for this spell, or have to go look it up in another book.
NEW MONSTERS FOR CLASSIC ENVIRONMENTS
- Oh, and we got new monsters in here!
But making random new monsters just to make new monsters does not (in my experience, having written an entire monster book for 3E) make better monsters. You end up with a lot of “looks cool, no idea when I’d ever use that.”
- New monsters should have a reason for existing, so this book starts by imagining all the different places encounters tend to happen. You know, a swamp, the city, a graveyard, the sewers. We got fifteen different environments in here!
- Then we create 3 or 4 new monsters for that environment! So if you’ve got an adventure in a Haunted Wood, we got some new Haunted Wood monsters for you—just grab ‘em and go!
Look, we don't want to reinvent the wheel here. Any 5E GM should be able to use any monsters in here with a minimum of fuss. But there are a couple of new ideas in here, and some cleaning up of the standard language to make things more straightforward.
- Minions are a great way to let your characters feel heroic by fighting a sea of bad guys (a horde of zombies! A whole tribe of goblins!) without slowing the game down to a crawl. Because while a minion is almost as nasty as a regular monster, they die real fast.
- This harkens all the way back to the 1970’s when fighters got one free attack, per level, per round against any enemies of 1HD or less. Even back then, the idea of letting PCs cut a swath through a sea of enemies was developing.
- Our minion rules have been designed from the ground up to work with fifth edition, and have already gone through months of testing. They allow you, the GM, to throw a bunch of monsters against your players and challenge them without overwhelming them or grinding the game to a halt.
- They let you design more interesting, epic, cinematic encounters and they help your players feel like heroes.
- Players love pets! So we created new rules for players to have a cool companion. We'll give monsters that makes sense as a “pet” a unique Companion stat block!
- Retainers were introduced in our first book Strongholds & Followers. They’re a great way to reward a player for some good roleplaying. “The goblin agrees to help you… for now.” Here’s your little goblin buddy!
- Retainers are like NPCs, but instead of managing an entire second character and second character sheet, retainers are much simpler. They have a handful of abilities they can use, simplified defenses and hit points, all designed to make them easy and fun to run.
- Any monster intelligent enough to speak, and inclined to negotiate, is a candidate for a retainer and this book will have LOTS of them!
- These rules have been slightly revised since S&F and may undergo more revision during development of the book.