Now, onto Monsters:
Strangely enough, my favorite edition for monsters thus far has actually been 3E/3.5 Officially there were almost a dozen dedicated monster books plus endless third party sourcebooks. There were three Tome of Horrors variants from Necromancer Games (Now part of Frog God Games.) There was also a revival of Grimtooth’s Traps, but that’s another discussion.
The other thing that made 3.5E amazing in terms of monsters is Templates. They kinda did it for 5E, but it never caught on the way it did in Third. I used templates on top of each other and on all of the freaky variant monsters from third party sourcebooks. It was wonderful throwing things out that literally no one had any idea what it was.
Disclaimer: No one edition of D&D is better or worse than any other. Suggestions for the Amalgam Edition are MY opinions! Please feel free to disagree. It’s all hypothetical anyway.
A little bit about Stat Blocks.
I created a LOT of monsters for AD&D2E. I enjoy coming up with new monsters in general. 2E gave us blank monster pages! Back in the pen and paper era, this was fantastic! It might sound dumb now, but back then it was like T$R gave us license to populate our own world.
The binders for 2E were kind of the devil, btw. Also, waiting for new binder pages to come out was kinda the pits. I still have most of mine, but I did the dance of joy when the MM came out in hardcover format.
I also like the Basic, B/X, or BECMI stat blocks. They were short, concise, and super useful. If all I ever need is AC, attacks, damage, special abilities, size and movement, I can look up all the other stuff as needed. I don’t really need their full stats including Cha if it’s probably never going to come up anyway.
I know some of the younger folx reading this are thinking, "He's at it again.-Old guy stuff." But here's the kicker: Every edition has something to offer! I feel simpler is better in many cases!
Even 4E has something to offer the Amalgam Stat Blocks.
I miss the way 4E spelled out a creature’s attacks. In some ways, it added complexity. In many ways, it simplified the game. The D6 recharge ability on a lot of the special attacks was especially nice. I know 5E lists it on some creatures, but I think they could have gone further with it.
Again, I know this seems counter intuitive. It does add to the Stat Block, but it simplifies the DM’s life somewhat. The fewer books I have to have open at the table, the better. My books are full of bookmarks on a given day, anyway. If the creature has spellcasting, I’d rather just have the one or two things it’s likely going to cast in combat handy with a recharge score than have to dig into the PHB and look for all of the nuances of Charm Person, for example.
Also, to mix things even further on the Stat Blocks, I liked the presentation offered in prior editions of how the creature’s attacks should play out. 4E gives us the type, damage, etc but the details of how many and in what order got lost down below. I would rather see it up front. Small thing, I know. But telling me, the DM that the creature will either use claw/claw/bite OR Breath Weapon OR Spell helps a lot.
Some day down the road, I may have to draw up a creature the way I’m describing it so everyone can see what I’m talking about. It’s a lot simpler than it sounds. I like being able to write (pencil and paper) down the creature stats before combat so I can more easily track what they’re doing on the map and in my head so I don’t have to have ALL of my various books open. Trust me, when you make a Feral, Venomous, Sabretooth Wyvern it starts getting a little freaky.
Art sells game books.
Again, every edition of D&D has things it does well and maybe not so well. Pretty much EVERY edition has some artwork that’s worth keeping. For example- Ogres. The 5E Ogre is almost perfect for the creature, IMO. The 4E Oni were more menacing and intelligent looking. 3E/3.5 had the nice notebook style lines in the background. 2E had a lot of nice color art, especially the 2.5 books. 1E AD&D had the uncensored art that was NSFW in places which was daring and edgy at the time. Basic had a lot of art that just plain got the point across. I like the black and white pen drawings.
The opposite is also true. Take the Displacer Beast as an example. It went from looking almost cartoony (1E AD&D) to pretty much cute and cuddly, to scary, and now terrifying (as it should be.) Regardless, endearing art that brings us closer to the game and enhances the fantasy experience sells books.
Thanks for stopping by today. More on the way. I appreciate you!