RPGBOT.Podcast Episode 8 – The Monsterizer

Show Notes

In this episode of the RPGBOT.Podcast, we introduce “The Monsterizer”, a full-featured monster builder for 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons. We talk about our love of monsters, especially custom ones, and all of the wacky shenanigans we’ve encountered over the years with custom monsters, both good and bad.

Special thanks to @thatonejohny for this week’s question of the week.

Materials Referenced in this Episode

Transcript

Randall  00:23

Welcome to the RPGBOT.podcast. I am Frankenstein’s monster, and with me today is Tyler.

Tyler  00:28

Hi everybody!

Randall  00:28

and Random.

Random Powell  00:29

Good evening.

Randall  00:30

Tyler. What are we doing this week?

Tyler  00:31

Well, I’ve got something really, really exciting I’m happy to share this week. I have just launched the… the initial version of the Monsterizer, a fifth edition monster builder. It’s available for free on RPGBOT.net and it will take out most of the messy, complicated math of building custom monsters for fifth edition. So if you’ve ever had a monster in your head, if you’ve ever thought “I want to… I want to take this monster and add a little spice to it”, it’s never been easier.

Randall  01:03

That’s awesome. So why is that hard?

Tyler  01:06

Well, if you’ve ever cracked open the dungeon Master’s guide, there’s a section in it called the DM’s toolbox. And one of the sections in there is how to build a monster. And it’s it’s like 10 or 12 pages. Somewhere in there. Most of it is tables and math. If you’re not super great at math.

Randall  01:24

The, the bane.

Tyler  01:25

If… the bane of many a player. If you’re not super great at math, if you don’t feel like building a spreadsheet to build a monster, that’s super difficult. Honestly, just building a custom monster at like CR 1 or 2 probably takes like an hour to do it right. If you’re going anything above that, it’s basically impossible.

Randall  01:47

Okay, and so what are the like, what are the features of the Monsterizer. So I’m gonna… I can set my ability scores, and I can, I can have spells. I can do these sorts of things? What all goes into this?

Tyler  01:58

You sure can. You want, you want to give it actions, you want to give it attacks, you want to make it cast spells? Done. Damage, resistances, damage vulnerabilities, conditions, whatever, you want to give it a pretty description? It’s all in there.

Randall  02:13

So one thing you talked about, like building a challenge rating, like a monster with a particular challenge rating. So… So I guess challenge rating calculation is built into this as well then, right?

Tyler  02:21

Oh, yeah, absolutely.

Randall  02:22

That was the easy part?

Tyler  02:24

No, no. Oh, my goodness, calculating CR for creature is, probably the hardest part of building the creature. Like that’s the classic problem. I want to build some custom monster for my players to fight, so they’re going to see something unexpected. And I don’t know how difficult it’s going to be to fight. So I’m either going to kill my party, or they’re going to kill this thing in one round. And it’s hard to tell which.

Random  02:48

I have been on the receiving end of that, watching as you’re going through this fight where you’re like, Okay, this is this is definitely like, not something standard. I can see where this is like maybe a re-skinned, like white dragon. But also it is straight up murdering us. This is a thing that should be a challenge, but not this much of a challenge. Versus I’ve also been on, and had to sick on, if you remember from the last session we talking about the party with the dragonfire Bard and all of the badgers that they were abusing with it well. So it turns out that while this is not so much of a thing in fifth edition templates, and maybe this is a thing that you’ll implement it in the future, if it’s not there already. Templates are a problem because they just have a straight like plus 2 to CR. Well, that doesn’t really take into account what you’re adding into and I see you waiting to ask a question.

Randall  03:48

No, when you say templates, what is it? What do you mean by a template?

Random  03:51

So built into the Monster Manual is a collection of things that you can apply to, they call it a base monster to make it something else. So some real classic examples of this are like a ghost or a zombie. Now we will find base stat blocks for a ghost or a zombie, but technically speaking you can also take something and make it a ghost or a zombie or a Lich or whatever.

Randall  04:18

Okay and so like a good example of, like, with zombie if you want to make something a zombie, you add that if it goes to zero, roll the dice if it gets a good roll it pops back up at one. And now boom, it’s a zombie. You know, right it’s a zombie hag/ Fantastic.

Random  04:33

Right. And i… Well i haven’t looked too much into the monster manual in fifth edition. I mean in in 3.5. This was very much a big section of any of these monsters that were things that could turn into other things that you would get a couple pages afterwards talking about “here’s how you take a bass monster and turn it into a half dragon, a ghost, a, whatever the case.” Having a tool to, if that does come up, having a tool to do that. That’s going to be neat. But even regardless, you know, I’ve, I’ve been on both the receiving and giving end of monsters that probably were not actually a challenge that was depicted in their CR. So I am very excited to have a tool that’s going to help out with that.

Randall  05:18

Yeah, yeah, I mean, so what you’re selling sounds really exciting. I’m gonna agree. Like I’ve been at DM, where I’m in a situation where like, okay, an acolyte is too easy like that, that’s too hard. I’m not quite ready to go to like the big bad guy. What I really need is middle management. And I just don’t understand how to turn an acolyte into a middle manager acolyte, you know what I mean? Like, there’s someone who can actually bring the fight. And so having something that can actually do that kind of scaling is is super exciting. But yeah, so what… you say that challenge rating calculations are super difficult. What makes them so difficult?

Tyler  05:50

First it is a lot of math, basically, you have to calculate challenge rating twice. Once for offensive, once for defensive. The offensive CR is based almost entirely on damage output. So you look at the damage that a creature does over the first three rounds of combat and you take an average. People who’ve been familiar with character optimization for a long time, we’ll realize “ah, yes, that’s because combat is expected to last three to five rounds.” So you average their damage output over the first three rounds of combat and that gets you your base offensive CR. Now it adjusts up and down for a couple things: how high their attack bonuses, some special traits, a couple of things like, like the swallow action has some complicated math. Like there’s… it’s just Math and math and math and math. Basically, basically, if your creature’s doing anything other than hitting you with a pointy stick, it’s gonna get hard.

Randall  06:42

Okay. And that that takes that takes into account. If the AC is off scale, or super high or super low AC, it takes into account immuno… immutability, that’s what I was about to say. Immunity as well as vulnerability, like all of those things are also built into it.

Tyler  06:57

Yeah, that’s on the defensive CR side. So you start from the creatures base hit points, and there’s a, there’s a scale base, like… You look at their base hit points, compare that to a table, and then adjust up and down for armor class and damage resistances. And there are some traits that add and subtract to that. But there are some complicated things like if you’re creatures immune to every single condition in the game, no effect on CR.

Randall  07:22

Good. Okay.

Random  07:23

I’m just curious for my own, if I’m building a monster and adding conditions, obviously, you know, maybe let’s not just add condition immunities forever. But here’s a thing that’s kind of reasonable. If you wanted to add to save proficiency, does the CR calculate on that?

Tyler  07:37

It does. So it’s expected that creatures will have two saving throws, which is a bad expectation. So it’s expected creatures will have two saving through proficiencies. If you have four, or if you have three or four, it’s the defensive CR goes up. If you have five or six, the CR goes up again. But if you have one or no safe proficiencies, there’s no effect on CR. I don’t know why. And there’s a lot of beasts in the monster manual that have no saving throw proficiencies, so they just get absolutely screwed on the CR scale.

Randall  08:11

Nice. Are there are there other like classes or groups of features that don’t contribute to car but you feel like actually this really ought to be there?

Tyler  08:19

The CR calculations lean very heavily on damage as as a measure of how difficult something is to kill. So this is where creating a creature goes from math to art. So if you look at like the Medusa, the math on the Medusa stats say that it should be CR four. But it’s CR six. And that honestly feels appropriate because being petrified really sucks. But being petrified also doesn’t deal any damage. So on its own, it doesn’t actually factor into the CR calculation. So they’re… even with… even with the Monsterizer, even with a full perfect understanding of the rules of the game, there is some art to it, and you do still need to make some judgment calls.

Randall  09:05

Okay, that makes sense. Although there maybe there’s an argument somewhere here that if they’re petrified, they’re probably going to deal less damage to the Medusa. So maybe that defensive CR needs to be jacked up a little bit. I don’t know how you do that with math likelihood of petrifying. Yeah, there’s actually probably some really cool modeling things that we could do to like, extend this out. But…

Tyler  09:26

Oh, man.

Randall  09:26

Maybe, maybe that’s a conversation for another time. Put that in our back pocket.

Tyler  09:30

While I was building this whole thing, I had to convert the entire s rd into a, a very, very usable JSON data set that we could use for all kinds of fun stuff.

Randall  09:39

Nice.

Tyler  09:40

So yeah, if we want to do some, some mathematical analysis and some programming, yeah, let’s do it.

Randall  09:46

Okay, no, I’m excited. And I think actually, maybe what you just said is important. You had to turn the entire SRD, which by the way, what is SRD stands for for everybody?

Tyler  09:56

So the SRD is the “system reference document.” It’s a… It is a free document distributed by Wizards of the Coast that’s essentially all of the rules that are free for people to use and distribute in whatever form they like. So it currently contains 316 monsters and NPCs, all of the core classes except the Artificer, and one subclass from each of those classesl as well as, like, a small selection of Warlock invocations, a small selection of metamagic options for the Sorcerer, your staple spells like Magic Missile and Fireball. But basically that’s the… that is the basis on which all third-party tools and products are built.

Randall  10:39

Okay, and so with that context, you were… you converted 316 monsters and NPCs. From the SRD to JSON using the tool. What does that mean for the tool?

Tyler  10:49

That means that when you go to build a monster, you don’t have to start from scratch. There are 316 monsters and NPCs that you can start from. If you want to take… if you want to take an adult Black Dragon, which Oh boy, I use that in all of my testing. If you want to take an adult Black Dragon and turn that thing into a Wizard, go for it.

Randall  11:09

That’s awesome.

Tyler  11:13

Adding spell casting to monsters is probably one of my favorite things. I’m a native of third edition with Random so we’re used to dragons being spellcasters by default. So the idea that spellcasting is a variant in fifth edition was honestly a little bit of a surprise to me. So next time I run a campaign gentlemen, watch out for wizards who can cast spells

Random  11:35

Those spellcasting wizards.

Randall  11:36

For dragon who can….

Random  11:38

It’s the worst.

Randall  11:42

How could they do this?

Tyler  11:44

Rhis spell casting wizards, how dare they? Them and their casting dragons.

Random  11:49

Oh, oh, that’s… that’s a whole different book and we’re not quite there yet.

Randall  11:54

It’s coming though.

Random  11:55

It’s coming. One interesting thing as we’re talking about the math behind CR. I am very appreciative of the amount of math that goes into a single monster and I am reminded of the preposterous stuff that went into building encounters. So in fifth edition, they have as far as I can tell, removed the concept of an “EL”, an “encounter level,” which is a term from 3.5 that was used to describe in particular, like multiple monsters together. Sometimes you would have like, if there was a a room that maybe had multiple traps, or something, you could call that all one EL, but there was math for taking multiple monsters and putting them together. The ways that you could combine things are of course, kind of infinite. And so there’s a lot of stuff that you had to figure out if you wanted to know how challenging something was gonna be if, let’s say… a thing that is fairly intuitive is like okay, if I take two monsters of a CR five and I put them in a room together, well that’s a CR six, or maybe a seven, which is not super intuitive, but it I mean, if you if you think about it, it’s like, Okay, well, two isn’t really twice as hard because they’re just more of the same thing. You know, they get more turns, but it’s not like they’re attacking any harder. It’s not like they’re any harder to deal with. But what do I get if I want to take, like, two CR eights and a CR 12 and put them in a room together for you to fight all at the same time? What does that work? And in 3.5, the short answer was, boy you thought the tables in, like, for picking one monster were bad. Ho boy, let’s create a complicated Excel spreadsheet with four different tabs of V lookups, so that I can get you a tool that would do all that addition. And I am grateful that it has switched to more of a Pathfinder… Pathfinder one really introduced this whole concept of like, instead of monsters having a challenge rating monsters just have an XP that’s what they’re worth. Seeing more of like how this XP budget is put into fifth edition, I am grateful that we’re going more that route.

Tyler  14:18

I’m going to try not to hurt your feelings too much, but the XP budget idea actually came from fourth edition.

Random  14:24

I what’s the meme? My disappointment is a measurable in my day is ruined. I did say that there was a vanishingly small number of good things from fourth edition. I will grudgingly add this to that list.

Tyler  14:39

Fourth Edition gave us short rests! Yeah, but I agree with you the… the XP budget system, the fourth edition and Pathfinder one definitely made building encounters with multiple monsters way easier. Or these days you have excellent tools like the… the encounter builder an RPGBOT.net or Kobold Fight Club, if you prefer. But the… the tables and the dungeon master guide… Dungeon Master’s Guide for fifth edition for building a multiple-monster encounter. They are a little bit complicated, it does require a little bit of math. So using an encounter builder is strongly encouraged. But if you’re going to do like two or three monsters, I think you’ll still be okay.

Randall  15:20

Yeah, something you said that was interesting. So you said in in 3.5 putting two fives in a room together would give you something on the order of six?

Random  15:29

Yep.

Randall  15:30

So I think the way the CR works in in fifth edition is that it actually is beyond additive, right? Like if I have two of those level five, five creatures and I put them together, you know, they are harder than the some of the individuals.

Tyler  15:43

So fifth edition instead of instead of having a numeric encounter level for every encounter, which encounter level is basically like what is the equivalent for a single-CR monster, or what is the expected level for the party. So in fifth edition, you instead have, like the deadliness of an encounter. So a single creature of appropriate CR is average. And like you can go up from there and down from there. I believe the top of the scale is deadly. And it’s expected like hey, if if your players go into this unprepared, they’re probably going to die. Using the experience budget stuff, you can use higher CR monsters to go up on the scale to increase the difficulty, or you can use more monsters and using more monsters, because… because of just the way the action economy works, having more enemies makes the encounters more difficult for the players. So it did adds up kind of multiplicatively.

Randall  16:40

Yeah, that’s definitely been my experience. And then one more thing on that talking about the… their ranking all the way from like an easy encounter to a deadly encounter. You know, I’ve definitely had issues where I’ve had very well optimized characters in my table, which meant that an appropriate level of monster even at deadly, we’d be able to get through two or two or three of those in a session without having to take a long rest and people would still survive it. I think that says something to the skill of the min-maxers that I’ve had at my table. But also that yeah, I think as a DM you even have to kind of dial this in. Because not one size fits all.

Tyler  17:12

Yeah, those people definitely read our website.

Randall  17:16

They just might.

Tyler  17:17

Yeah, the experience difficulty levels aren’t an exact science. The math kind of assumes, like a base level of effectiveness from players, but it doesn’t expect that everyone’s coming to the table with crazy optimized characters because that’s… that’s honestly not necessary in fifth edition. Not everyone needs to come in here, selecting like straight blue options off my, uh, off of our character optimization guides and just build the craziest character they can. But if you do build that character expect that your DM is going to throw a lot of deadly encounters at you.

Randall  17:54

Yeah, so I’m a DM and I want to bring that deadly encounter to my players. So I want to build the best monster possible. And now there’s a Monsterizer tool and I’m really excited about that. What are what are the features that are represented in DMS guide that are manifested in the Monsterizer

Tyler  18:15

The math presented in the dungeon Master’s guide mostly cares about damage output and ability to endure damage. It’s like those… those two things basically set CR. So if your creature’s a spellcaster, you need to figure out like what is the biggest damage spell that this thing is going to cast. So if you’ve got a 20th-level Wizard that you’re building as a monster, if they can cast Meteor Swarm three times per day, that pretty much defines their offensive CR and their defensive CR, like… their defensive CR is going to go up or down a few points whether or not they remember to cast Mage Armor. If you have a 20th-level Wizard who doesn’t cast any spells that deal damage except Fire Bolt their offensive CR’s can be like two or three, and all of a sudden their CR’s just gonna just gonna drop

Random  19:04

One thing that before we get too far away from this that I want to talk about, especially… So when you’re building these monsters, particularly if you do want to try and build multiple things into into one encounter. Be aware that as soon as you get more than one thing if it’s different, or even sometimes if it’s the same monster you know, duplicated. The math is gonna get real weird real fast, because there’s no way for it to figure out synergies, anti-synergies, things like that. A classic example: shocker lizards. If you have one shocker lizard, it’s not really a threat. If you have 20 shocker lizards, this kills people regardless of the fact that even by the math, it’s only maybe a CR 10

Randall  19:50

For everybody, what is a shocker lizard? Like what’s the key feature you’re calling out?

Random  19:53

Right. So the feature here is shocker lizards are basically, like, what if you took an electric eel and made it a rat? The thing that they do that is noteworthy is if you get several of them next to each other, they have an ability that lets them rather than just, like, individually attacking with their electric jolt, they can all attack it as one electric jolt and you just get an additional d6 of damage per shocker lizard. 20 of them next to each other is a ton of damage. That is 20d6.

Randall  20:29

Yeah, that’s a that’s about time Why do they ever leave each other side? Like, I’d be a roving gang of shocker… shocking lizards. That’s actually your next party idea. Monstrous Races, everyone!

Random  20:40

There ya go. The saving grace is that they’re not all that smart. But you know, it’s just other things to think about. Like some monsters have things that are hard to quantify. So like a beholder is a great example of something that is… now I don’t know if you ran a beholder through your math, I would be curious to see, because a beholder has a lot of… so the anti-magic count one of the holders main defining traits, right? It doesn’t do damage. It doesn’t even it doesn’t even give it defenses, technically. It doesn’t give it numerical defenses. But, my god that has hosed so many people so often. And I think I maybe see you frantically trying to find out what the math does say it would be.

Tyler  21:19

I’m gonna disappoint you. The beholder isn’t in the SRD. I’m not allowed.

Random  21:25

Aww…

Tyler  21:26

Like you… Okay, now I’m going to give away the game here a little bit. So, you, the player at home using the Monsterizer. If you want to build up a brholder in the Monsterizer, and then customize its abilities from there. That’s your monster just don’t use the word “beholder.” So the trick is, essentially, the proper nouns are what Wizards of the Coast owns. The proper nouns and the stats for those things. If it’s in the SRD you’re free to do whatever you want with it. Wizard has intentionally given that away for people to enjoy and do what they will. Certain things, a lot of the deities, beholders, things like that, specific named characters like Drizz’t, you can’t you generally can’t reproduce those in most forms. But if you want to build yourself up a beholder in the Monsterizer to see what happens, and then maybe tweak it a little bit add an extra B in there and make give it like a bug swarm attack so it’s a “bee holder”. No one? Okay…

Randall  22:29

It’s solid. I liked it. I was thinking fractal eyeball herd.

Tyler  22:35

Oh no.

Random  22:36

That is horrifying. I don’t like it. So yeah, but it just… I mean, to finish up that thought, just be aware that there are a lot of things that are not part of the calculation. And you know, like Tyler said it… maybe don’t try and throw your players into something with this homebrew without at least giving a test yourself. Particularly multiple monsters together because things can get really radically outside what the numbers say they should be.

Randall  23:10

Yeah, I think there’s probably like a reasonable straight statement to be made of like, maybe only do two or three monsters. Maybe count on… like the first time you throw it out it’s like “oh well I built this thing” and one of them will be deadly. Maybe now’s not the time. Maybe you need to back it off just a notch, right? Nah, i think that’s that’s good feedback. Yeah, so I guess I want to ask a few more questions about the Monsterizer what can we do according to the DNS guide, we can add vulnerabilities, we can add immunities, we can add resistance. We can modify the AC of a monster. We can add spells, we can add legendary resistance, legendary actions, we can have laor actions?

Tyler  23:50

Absolutely

Randall  23:51

There’s a ton of things that we could do that impact CR of the monster. Which of those does the Monsterizer support?

Tyler  23:58

Everything you just listed.

Randall  23:59

Oh

Tyler  24:00

Every type of action. Reactions, lair actions if you want to give it hellish rebuke as a reaction go forward, it’s in their works. There are more features that I want to add that go beyond what’s in the Dungeon Master’s Guide. I want to add the ability to add templates from the Monster Manual like Random suggested. I want to add the ability to add character class levels so like, I have a unicorn and I want to give it three levels of Paladin because unicorns aren’t already crazy to fight. I want to add that. Seriously, unicorns don’t like cr 15! They’re no joke.

Random  24:38

No, yeah. I’m sorry. I just, you know, little sidebar in the campaign that I’m currently playing through. We accidentally wild surged a unicorn who promptly appeared. And we said, “Oh, what do we do with the unicorn?” And he said, “Oh, yes, I’ll help you.” Took the two NPCs that were following us and teleported them away and we never saw them again.

Tyler  24:59

That… That may be the most wild Wild Magic surge I’ve ever heard.

Random  25:04

It was wonderful. But yeah, unicorns.

Tyler  25:07

Unicorns! Yeah. unicorn paladins even. Yeah, there’s more to be done here. So we’re recording this a few days before the Monsterizer launches live to the world. By the time this launches, this will support everything that’s covered in the Dungeon Master’s Guide. It’ll all be there, it’ll all work. It’ll give you a nice pretty stat block at the end of building everything that you can copy paste into a Word document or whatever. But I want to do so much more. There’s so much more to be done here.

Randall  25:39

So the DM’s guide is gonna wind up being a subset of the overall awesomeness, which will be the Monsterizer.

Tyler  25:44

Oh, yeah, totally.

Randall  25:45

Okay. No that’s great, I like that.

Tyler  25:47

We have gone beyond what the math supports.

Randall  25:49

I like that. I think that’s good news. Okay, well, let’s do the question a week. Everybody ready for a question of the week?

Tyler  25:54

Yeah.

Randall  25:55

All right. This week’s question comes from @ThatOneJohny. One. Do you use custom monsters in your campaign? How do you build them?

Tyler  26:07

I picked this.

Random  26:08

This feels like cheating.  It really does!

Randall  26:11

ThatOneJohny, we really thank you for the question. It led to the creation of an entire tool.

Tyler  26:16

Okay, I’ve been working on this for a year and a half.

Randall  26:20

Let him have this. Why? don’t have this.

Tyler  26:23

Alright, so ThatOneJohnny, I’ve… I’ve got a I’ve got a better answer than just “I use the Monsterizer.” Yes. I love using custom monsters in my campaigns. Randall, I’ve run D&D for you three or four times. Usually I’m a player alongside you in your games.

Randall  26:39

I’m nodding yes.

Tyler  26:42

The first game I ran for you, the first monster you fought was a swarm of crawling claws.

Randall  26:49

That’s right. Yeah, the hand reached out, it was like grabbing people. It’s really creepy.

Tyler  26:52

Yeah, custom monster. All I did… All I did there was I took a swarm of rats and reskinned it as crawling claws and just change the creature type. Because I looked at the CR math and thought “that’s insane. I’m not doing that.” And then the second time I ran D&D for you I made you fight, uh, I made you fight arrow hawks, which I imported from third edition. Random, do you remember these things?

Random  27:16

I absolutely remember these things.

Tyler  27:18

Yeah. So for people not familiar with arrow hawks. Now imagine a hawk. Now imagine another hawk, but they both share a torso. And they’re really angry and they spit lightning.

Randall  27:29

Yeah, so for folks who grew up in the south, it’s like a love bug. But it also spits lightning.

Random  27:35

Well, that’s terrifying. Okay, you scare me away from the South. Good job.

Randall  27:41

Okay, a quick aside: we have, there’s a love bug season which are these two animals attached at the butt. Two insects. They’re insects. They’re they’re like an inch long total, attached to the butt, which choose one direction to fly and fly. There, there’s an entire mythology about this. I remember as an adult having arguments with people about the origin of these creatures. Arrow hawks. Fantastic.

Tyler  28:05

Okay. Let’s have some adult debates about the origins of arrow hawks because somehow those are less terrifying than what you just talked about. To circle back, yes, I use custom monsters in my campaign and now that I’ve built the Monsterizer, I’m gonna use so many more custom monsters. The next game I run is just going to be top to bottom custom monsters. No one will know what’s going on. It’s gonna be great. I’m so excited.

Randall  28:31

Yeah, I so in my games, I’ve tended to to not use custom monsters, because I am scared that I’m going to break something. At most, I’m adding one feature and then I’m you know, behind the screen, making sure I don’t kill everybody, but making sure everybody still still has a good time. So I’m actually probably more excited about the Monsterizr than Tyler is. Because now like the rains are unleashed, you know, i can i can manifest all of my dreams.

Random  28:53

I haven’t used many custom monsters. I will say that I’ve enjoyed them. And one particular thing that custom monsters do really well. So if you have people like Tyler and I at your table who have been doing this for so long that, you know, you start describing a monster and halfway through the first sentence, they say, “Oh yes, it’s an aboleth.” Great. One of the really cool things that custom monsters can do is provide novelty for these people who have been playing for a long time people who have experienced multiple editions and kind of know everything. And that was one of the things that I really enjoyed about fighting that reskinned white dragon is like, man, uh it turns out that I’m not going to go into the monster manual and find stats for a 20 foot by 20 foot cold-infused Raven. But you know i can i can enjoy what’s going on here. And that honestly that, that really adds to the thrill of combat for something that you know for, I mean, if we look at how much combat you’re going to have in an average D&D session and how many D&D sessions some of us have played you know we’ve been doing this for so long that combat is just “ah yes, it’s combat, I’m going to do my cool turn and then I’m going to not pay attention.” And so custom monsters, I think, is really a great tool to keep people engaged in that. I have definitely built one or two things in the past. I will say mostly what I built was just tacking class levels onto things and or applying templates. Although I will say that technically speaking, we could probably call this thing that I built a custom monster cuz it really shouldn’t have been a character at CR 42 and having convinced Bahamut to step down and therefore taking his place as an intermediate deity, he really was more of a monster.

Tyler  30:47

I remember that.

Random  30:48

Yeah, that’s that’s a different story. How I built the the few that I have done is mostly just on you like do the math, enjoy the outcome, and if I need to tweak it on the fly to as you say, make sure that my players are having a good time to do that, but yeah, that’s… I haven’t done very many, but that’s the way that I’ve done it and so I am grateful for a tool that’s gonna provide a much better more structured framework for me to do that in.

Tyler  31:16

So I remember one custom monster in… I think this is the last campaign you ran for me Random. We did Cult of the Reptile God. The… the final boss is supposed to include a Hydra, and Random replaced the Hydra with a giant cobra that he had applied the multi-headed template to… how many times?

Random  31:39

Like four. And yeah, so the problem is that it this is another thing that if you are manipulating monsters, be aware that CR calculations can rapidly go out the window. This template applies a bonus to Con because obviously something is harder to kill if it has more heads. But if you apply that to a snake in in 3.x, especially any kind of like natural poison or anything like that the DC to resist was based on the creatures constitution. So if you’re increasing the Con, by like 10, like I did, that increases the DC of the poison by five and only increases the CR of the monster by five. Yeah, run into some real bad math real fast. Yeah, so just just the thing to be aware of, but yes, that… that was one of my prouder creations

Tyler  32:38

It killed us. We died.

Random  32:40

Everyone died except for one character who polymorphed into a dragon and fled at top speed, which was 100% the choice. But yeah, that’s if you if you remember where I said try and have the social fix for power gaming people first and if that doesn’t, it’s the mechanical fix. So there’s your mechanical fix.

Randall  33:00

Multi-headed cobra?

Tyler  33:01

Yeah, so that was the same game with the army of sonic badgers. So we brought that on ourselves.

Randall  33:08

Yeah, sounds like you earned that.

Tyler  33:09

And uh, just be clear for everyone who isn’t familiar with third edition, there is no multi-headed template and fifth edition. There is a multi-headed trait that you can apply that gives the creature some condition resistances, like they’re more resistant to falling asleep and things like that. But yeah, third edition multi-headed template would, uh, would really mess up some CR.

Randall  33:32

All right, we have we have something new we want to do and honor the Monsterizer. So first of all, we haven’t said it yet. This is the first episode of spooktober

Tyler  33:39

Yeah!

Random  33:39

It is!

Randall  33:40

Yeah, so this is exciting. We’ve got a slate of episodes planned for the next few weeks, we think you’re gonna find very exciting. We’ll talk about next week’s episode in a moment, but we’re going to do something special for the week… The week. The month of Spooktober. We’re going to do a monster the week so what we want you to do, go to the Monsterizer, create your monster, screenshot it, tweeted it RPGOT, #monsterizer and we might just pick your monster as a monster of the week.

Tyler  34:06

Oh, it’s a RPGBOTDOTNET on Twitter.

Randall  34:11

That’s right.

Tyler  34:11

Remember because RPGBOT was taken

Randall  34:13

100%. RPGBOTDOTNET at twitter. Hashtag #monsterizer. And yeah, you might just have the monster of the week. Alright, next episode, we’re going to talk about making horror…. ooh, no? Next episode we’re going to talk about death.

Tyler  34:30

Yeah.

Random  34:31

And we’re not talking about the, the guy who comes for you in a robe with a scythre. No, this is character death and making this fun, making this meaningful, and making it something other than an angry way to tear your character sheet in half because there went two years investment.

Randall  34:49

Absolutely. Unless they deserve it. No, I’m just kidding. We wouldn’t do that to you. All right, well, I’m Randall James. You can find me at JackAmateur on Twitter at JackAmateur on Instagram and AmateurJack.com

Tyler  35:01

I’m Tyler Kamstra. You can find me on Twitter… or well, you can find me on the website at RPGBOT.net. You can find me on Twitter at RPGBOTDOTNET, facebook.com slash RPGBOTDOTNET, patreon.com/RPGBOT, and a couple other social media channels. Just search for RPG bot and you’ll find me.

Random  35:24

And I’m Random Powell. You won’t generally find me much on social media, although in places where people play games I am often there as Hartlequint or Hartlequint. But mostly you’ll find me here contributing to the website with articles and here on the podcast.

Randall  35:36

Awesome. All right. Thand you to producer Dan. All hail the Leisure Illuminati.

All  35:41

Hail!

Randall  35:41

Nailed it. You’ll find affiliate links for source books and other materials linked in the show notes. Following these links helps us to make this show happen every week. So please do. You’ll find our podcast wherever find podcasts are distributed. If you enjoy this podcast, please rate, review, and subscribe. Share it with your friends. If you think somebody would get a kick out of having a monsterizer or if you have a DM who you know quite you know needs a little bit more flavor in the game. Yeah, tell them about the episode. Hopefully they’ll enjoy it. If your question should be the question of the week next week please email podcast@RPGBOT.net or message us on Twitter at @RPGBOTDOTNET if your monster should be the monster of the week, please message us at @RPGBOTDOTNET, hashtag #monsterizer.

One Response

  1. Valerie October 8, 2021

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