New games usually offer only a modest selection of monsters — dictated either by the limitations imposed by publishing (such as with an all-in-one game book’s self-imposed page limit) or because the game has, at least initially, a narrow thematic focus.
That bring us to D&D Next, which recently made its final playtest packet available for download. The next iteration of Dungeons and Dragons does not seem so constrained.
While it remains to be seen what D&D Next will offer in the range of monsters once it is eventually published, for now, there is a selection of creatures statted out in the Bestiary document sufficiently large enough scratch the monster itch of most GMs.
And that doesn’t include the assorted NPCs and creatures presented as supplemental offerings for the playtest adventures or the free download of session 1 of Murder in Baldur’s Gate.
Like much of Wizard of the Coast’s ongoing efforts to close the gap between generations of gamers, there are monsters designed for the Oh Shoot, Run! crowd as well as those accustomed to Fourth Edition stylings.
There’s bullywugs, devils, demons, dinosaurs, giant frogs, phanatons and trogs for the old schoolers; and there’s lizardfolk leaders, kobold alchemists, kobold dragonshields and gnoll packlords for the 4E crew. As for the second and third editions rules tinkerers — who know who you are — there are customization options that can be used to swap out monster powers.
Like I said: A little something for everyone. Whether such an appeal remains satisfying, well, time will tell. Still, a nod toward the different play styles preferred by past editions is an encouraging sign.
One thing that appears to be missing, though, is a selection of scaleable dragons. That’s something that’s been with D&D since the Basic/Expert rules set, if not before. The smallest dragon in the playtest bestiary is an 11 HD white dragon. Getting dragons into play early should be a goal of the game. It’s Dungeons and Dragons, after all.
If you’ve been into the D&D playtest and want to share your experiences, or have an opinion on monsters for gaming in general, feel free to comment below.