Monday, January 26, 2015

Monster Building Walkthrough: A Panoply of Kobolds

It's good to see you back at Pact of the Tome. When we talked about the Hill Giant  two weeks ago, we specifically covered upgrading the monster to create a Hill Giant Chieftain. Today, we're going to do something a bit different. Past editions of D&D had plenty of variations on monsters, from D&D 3E's gnolls with Ranger levels to 4E's Bugbear Backstabber, Bugbear Skinner, and Bugbear Strangler. (Technically, a player character who fights Bugbears could fit all of these descriptions!)
Although D&D 5E doesn't include many varieties for its monsters, it's fairly simple to use the monster creation rules to create simple variants to build more exciting encounters. For this article, we're going to focus on the Kobold, the basic statistics of which are available in your copy of the DM's Basic Rules (page 34) or the Monster Manual (page 195). The Kobold's only listed variant is the Winged Kobold, a rock-dropping flying harasser, but we can do better than that!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Monster Building Walkthrough: The Battle Mage

Welcome back to Pact of the Tome! Previously on Monster Mondays, we've covered the processes of creating a D&D 5E monster from scratch and upgrading an existing monster. This week, we're going to cover the process of building a monster that casts spells. In this case, we'll build a "generic" lower-level spellcasting opponent, suitable to bolster the ranks of any self-respecting humanoid encounter.
To simplify things, I'm only going to reference classes and spells from the Player's Basic Rules (also available as a webpage here), but you can look up their effects in the Player's Handbook if you want. I'll also reference the Mage creature from the DM's Basic Rules (p. 55) and Monster Manual (p. 347). To follow along with the process, you'll also want to pull out your Dungeon Master's Guide and turn to page 274. We'll be referencing the "Monster Statistics by Challenge Rating" table as well as the 20-step process for building a monster

Why restrict archetypes like
this one solely to players?
Artist: Unknown
(D&D 5E Player's Handbook)
Looking at the NPCs available in the Basic Rules and Monster Manual, you might notice that there's a dearth of arcane spell-casting foes at low-to-medium levels. While the Acolyte, Cult Fanatic, Druid, and Priest all cover divine spellcasting, the lowest-CR arcane caster (the Mage) is CR 6. We can do better than that! Certainly there's a place for the mercenary wizard that supplements a bandit gang, or the elvish spellweavers that accompany their warriors into combat. Let's build a Battle Mage.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Monster Building Walkthrough: Upgrading the Hill Giant

Last week, we covered the process of building a monster from scratch. This week, I'd like to talk about the process of upgrading an existing monster from the Monster Manual.

We're going to use the Hill Giant as an example because it's a pretty straightforward monster without any variants. More specifically, let's construct a Hill Giant Chieftain - an upgraded version of the regular monster - for use as a "boss" monster in a Hill Giant-themed adventure. We'll call her Angrboda.

Take a second to pull out the Hill Giant stat block from your Monster Manual (p. 155), or from the Dungeon Master's Basic Rules.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Monster Building Walkthrough: Swarm of Books

Hi folks!

This blog could use some content. My New Year's Resolution this year is to write a blog post at least once a week about some aspect of D&D.
The Swarm of Books is a monster I created for my Library of Bael Turath game. In one room of the library, the PCs found rows of bookshelves, all in the (mostly) unreadable Infernal language. They also found three pedastals throughout the room, each with a thick, heavy tome on it. When Rolf touched one of the books, it began to levitate, along with many of the books on shelves around them. Time to roll for initiative!
After a battle that destroyed a third of the library, Vel'Krathis discovered the trick to using the indexes - simply ask for the book you want in the Infernal language. Turns out it's really easy!
Here's the monster. I'll talk a little about how I constructed it afterwards.