IMG_0953 - Version 2New 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.

About  Troy E. Taylor

Troy's happiest when up to his elbows in plaster molds and craft paint, creating terrain and detailing minis for his home game. A career journalist and Werecabbages freelancer, he also claims mastery of his kettle grill, from which he serves up pizza to his wife and three children.



7 Responses to Troy’s Crock Pot: D&D Next Scratches the Monster Itch

  1. About getting dragons into play early, I like to use the E6 approach- dropping a 10th level dragon on a 4th level party. They CANNOT fight it. Instead they need to investigate more about the dragon, go find a weapon(s) that can be of use vs the wrym, and see if there are any weaknesses to exploit.

    The group can then use the aid-another action and some circumstantial bonuses (that they developed)to bring down the dragon.

    For low level parties, dragons are not something to wander into a lair looking to kill. They are Fire and Death given wings and scales.

    • Fire and death? But the wee ones are so cute! :)

    • Razjah, I like your idea presenting groups with challenges that are clearly beyond their immediate capabilities. I’ve done it numerous times in my own games. I would be cautious, though, about your specific example of pitting a challenge level 10 opponent against a level 4 party. 10 vs 4 is not just a difference of +6, it’s also a factor of 2.5x. With such lopsided power levels the party may not have adequate means to determine the nature of the opponent and then escape to regroup. Very different from a 10th level party facing a level 16 opponent.

  2. By “cannot fight it” I presume you mean, they don’t possess the skill or power to defeat It. If my group wanted to fight a dragon, despite the likelihood of being burned to a crispy, I’d let them. I might suggest a course of action, like through an NPC, but I would refrain from dictating what the party should do.

  3. I’m with Razjah 100%. It has always annoyed me to see introductory boxed sets with the obligatory young white or black dragon for the 3rd level PC’s to fight at the end of a dungeon. It’s fine to have stats for juvenile dragons in a supplement, but for the core game it’s time to make dragons dangerous and something to look forward to. Having low level PC’s fighting juvenile dragons or weak adult dragons makes the encounter with these very special monsters feel mundane and forgettable, and an encounter with a dragon should be anything but that.

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