Man of Conflict, William O’Brien

Okay, time to get again to work, and by work, I imply, wanting not solely at video games, however at potential video games. And by potential video games, I imply playtests. And by playtest, on this specific occasion, I imply the third Tales of the Valiant playtest packet, which is all about monsters this time round.

I used to be a little bit shocked to see monsters within the third playtest packet. Not as a result of I didn’t assume Kobold Press was going to do some tinkering with monsters, however as a result of I wasn’t positive what the order of operations was going to be with these playtests.


I haven’t had time to playtest any of those guidelines but. I’m actually, actually acquainted with D&D 5e, each as a participant and a DM. I’m additionally actually acquainted with Kobold Press merchandise. So each opinion on this put up is predicated on educated guessing, moderately than play on the desk. However I feel I’ve no less than a semi-solid foundation for lots of these guesses.

What Dimension is the Monster(ous Playtest)?

This playtest is 41 pages in size. That breaks right down to about 9 pages of common details about monsters, with the remainder of the doc containing nearly 60 stat blocks value of content material. This features a choice of what’s historically seen as monsters, in addition to a bit on NPC stat blocks.

What Stays the Identical?

Dimension, kind, armor class, velocity, problem score, actions, bonus actions, reactions, restricted utilization, legendary actions, and lairs are all largely unchanged, however the guidelines for them are included on this doc as a refresher. Proficiency bonuses are the identical, however whereas they’ve their very own spot within the stat block, the opposite locations they could have an effect on the stat block are a little bit totally different.


Tags aren’t new. These are the phrases that appeared in parentheses behind the creature kind to additional modify the outline of the monster, which may additionally function one other means for grouping creatures for guidelines or results. Some of the widespread of those can be shapechanger, as a result of shapechanger isn’t one of many creature sorts, however quite a lot of creature sorts are additionally shapechangers.

One factor you’ll discover in these stat blocks is that there isn’t a line for alignment. Nonetheless, Lawful, Chaotic, Evil, and Good all seem as tags now. Corrupt is a brand new tag indicating a creature modified by the Void. Some of the intriguing of those tags is Animal, which is a tag that signifies {that a} creature that’s not of the Beast kind could react in the identical manner {that a} Beast would to some results like Converse with Animals.

The Outsider tag has additionally been added, which is a name again to D&D third version, the place a number of creatures from different planes, together with each Celestials and Fiends, had been truly primarily of the Outsider creature kind. It’s principally a tag to indicate that one thing isn’t “of” the Prime Materials aircraft.

On the whole, I just like the avenues that these tags open up. For instance, a assemble or undead that’s senseless, however created by a horrific curse, may have the Evil tag, as a result of they’re suffused with supernatural evil, but it surely avoids the dialog that surrounds “can one thing that doesn’t assume have an alignment?” I like the concept as an alternative of itemizing the person monster sorts, you may reference a spell that bars entrance to sure creatures or banishes them can reference the “Outsider” kind.

That stated, introducing too many guidelines that key on that tag does begin to erode backward compatibility since current D&D 5e spells received’t reference these tags, and D&D 5e monsters received’t have these tags. In lots of circumstances, it is probably not too exhausting to make use of primary logic to use these tags, however it’s a prepare of thought that occurred to me.

This isn’t a lot a criticism, as an announcement of the place we’re, since this technique is constructing on guidelines that have already got an underlying construction, however a few of the tags really feel “inside out.” For instance, as a result of something that may be a real-world animal or could possibly be an actual animal even when it doesn’t exist, is known as a Beast within the 5e SRD, animals are Beasts, and Beasts won’t ever have the Animal tag. That’s not this playtest’s fault, it’s simply an statement.

Hit Factors

The stat blocks on this playtest current monsters with a set variety of hit factors. As a substitute of presenting the common variety of hit factors, whereas additionally displaying the cube vary and any hit level bonuses that the hit factors are derived from, you simply get the quantity.

This appears cleaner, however my private desire is to know the maths behind the monster’s hit factors. I say this primarily as a result of I’ve made monsters harder or weaker by bumping them to the upper or decrease finish of their vary, so I like understanding what that vary is. If you’re already tinkering with a stat block, you may reverse engineer this you probably have D&D 5e guidelines useful, however that’s relying on an out of doors supply and a further step you didn’t have to do earlier than.


The stat blocks launched on this doc have a single rating that serves as a monster’s stealth rating. That is the DC of checks to detect the monster at any time when it’s making an attempt to make use of stealth. Not like present D&D guidelines, this rating takes measurement into consideration, though we don’t see the calculations spelled out on this doc.

Meaning as a DM utilizing these monsters, you received’t be rolling monster stealth, however that additionally means you received’t be rolling a 1 for a creature that’s meant to be extraordinarily stealthy. Not that I understand how that feels. I’m a little bit leery of reintroducing size-based bonuses and penalties, however these are guidelines particularly for monsters. I’ve much less of an issue with this so long as we aren’t abruptly readjusting stealth proficiency for measurement for each participant character.

Capacity Modifiers

These stat blocks not record a monster’s skill rating, simply the monster’s skill bonus. If the monster is more likely to have proficiency in abilities associated to a capability rating, or is more likely to be proficient in a save related to that skill rating, that skill bonus could have the rating the monster would have from the related skill rating, plus the proficiency bonus.

I don’t thoughts this as a time-saving measure, though there are occasions once I assume a monster goes to be proficient in some very particular abilities that wouldn’t translate to all the abilities related to that skill rating. That is a type of areas the place this playtest is cleansing up the stat block by eradicating the underlying math used to get the quantity within the stat block, which can be fantastic when you simply need to take the monster and run with it, and could also be extra of a ache if you wish to tinker with the monster and know the place these numbers got here from, and what must be affecting them.

Immune, Resistant, and Susceptible

As a substitute of getting a separate part for harm immunities, harm resistance, and situation immunities, these all seem on one line. It’s not an enormous change, it’s extra of a consolidation of comparable guidelines. I’ve to confess, there have been a number of instances once I missed a resistance as a result of my eyes didn’t catch it on the immunities line, and vice versa. I’m a fan of this alteration, since you are searching for all of this data on the identical time while you reference it.


It is a minor one, however I needed to the touch on it. Machine Speech and Void Speech, languages which have appeared in several Kobold Press books, are listed as potential monster languages as properly. Machine Speech is usually utilized by sapient constructs, and Void Speech is the creepy language of the Void (the nothingness between planes in Kobold Press’ Midgard Cosmology).

Problem Ranking

There aren’t encounter constructing guidelines on this doc, however there’s a chart, breaking down PCs by “tier,” displaying what the bottom CR is more likely to be difficult and the best CR they’re probably to have the ability to deal with. Along with the traditional tiers, this desk lists 1st degree characters individually, and there’s a sidebar that principally requires going very easy on 1st degree characters till they degree up.


Stat blocks have already got a traits part, though it’s not known as out as such. These are these particular skills {that a} monster has that don’t fall into any of the classes listed within the stat block, and doesn’t fall into the class of an assault, motion, bonus motion, or response.

On this case, there may be one trait that a few of these stat blocks have that’s necessary to name out. Some monsters now have Doom. Doom is a useful resource that the monster can spend like Inspiration within the 2014 model of D&D, however usually, monsters with Doom may also have particular assaults that they’ll solely set off in the event that they spend their Doom to unleash it. There may be an elective rule that lets the DM assign further Doom when PCs roll a pure 1 in fight.

Actions, Bonus Actions, and Reactions

Nothing about these guidelines change for monsters on this playtest, however I needed to name them out as a result of a number of of those stat blocks give monsters that exist already within the 5e SRD actions, bonus actions, or reactions that they don’t at present have. In some circumstances, these new actions, bonus actions, or reactions are “conditional,” which means that they aren’t choices till a selected factor is true. For instance, animated armor, when it drops underneath a sure hit level threshold, features a bonus motion to collect up components that received knocked off to heal hit factors of harm.

I’ve all the time favored monsters having skills that key off of one thing else taking place within the narrative of the sport. For instance, Yeth Hounds do further psychic harm with their melee assaults if their opponent is afraid. I like that these introduce much more of this dynamic really feel to some stat blocks that had been a bit extra static.

There may be one other impact to a few of the recording of those guidelines parts. Some monsters that usually received an assault routine that accounted for all of their assaults have had a type of assaults shunted into bonus motion territory. Meaning, tactically, when you do one thing that restricts a monster to solely utilizing a single motion, corresponding to casting Sluggish on it, a few of these creatures that get a “observe up” bonus motion assault will probably be getting fewer assaults than if that assault was rolled right into a multiattack routine.


Assaults at the moment are listed as a set quantity. So as an alternative of rolling 1d6+1, with a be aware that the common harm is 5 hit factors, the monster is now simply listed as doing 5 hit factors of harm.

After I run D&D face-to-face, I usually use common harm. In the previous few years, as I’ve been operating nearly all of my video games on Roll20, I’ve gotten used to rolling for random harm, as a result of it doesn’t gradual me right down to roll a die and calculate the harm. I say this as a result of I’m not against common harm in any respect.

There’s a cost for utilizing what’s now, on this playtest, a variant rule, which tells you what cube to roll for the quantity of harm a creature does. So when you go to the road that claims “10,” it tells you to roll 2d8+1. Now, having a singular chart like this to search for random harm isn’t all the time the identical as truly reverse engineering what the person monster would have rolled and added, however it’s a option to create a common supply to deal with the need to roll randomly.

One factor I’d have appreciated, with this model of harm presentation, can be so as to add how a lot harm the assault ought to do on a crucial hit. Not one of the playtest documentation for Tales of the Valiant has indicated that crucial hits are going to vary, and with 5e SRD monsters, you would wish to roll further cube for a crucial hit, as a result of the whole quantity of the averaged harm isn’t derived from cube.

That’s The Massive Image

That’s the lengthy view of the best way the principles are altering, or altering in presentation. I’m not going to dive into every particular person stat block for commentary, however I did need to take a while to have a look at some developments I seen when studying by way of these stat blocks.

Lacking Tags?

It is a playtest, so this isn’t a giant deal, however there are some creatures that actually seem to be they need to have had a tag that they don’t have. For instance, the Animated Armor has Animated as a tag, however the Flying Sword, which can be an Animated Object, doesn’t have the Animated tag.

The Husk Demon doesn’t have both the Evil tag or the Outsider tag, though I think that it isn’t meant to be a creature native to the Prime Materials aircraft. Mechadrons are famous as inhabiting the Outer Planes, however they solely have the Lawful tag.

Too Many Tags?

I really feel like for tags to have which means, they need to be used purposefully. Since there are alignment-based tags, I really feel like it might most likely be higher to order these for singular NPCs or creatures which have a extra primordial or conceptual existence. I feel even handing out Lawful or Chaotic as tags can undermine what you may do with these tags, moderately than simply utilizing them in a way that reignites the identical alignment arguments you might need when you simply left an alignment entry within the stat block.

For instance, I’m not going to argue that you simply couldn’t create a narrative for dragons the place they’re primordial creatures which might be deeply tied to the ethical ideas of the universe. However Black, Purple, and Void dragons all get the Evil tag, at the same time as hatchlings. Void Dragons weren’t evil in earlier merchandise, and whereas Tales of the Valiant could not need to use Midgard because it’s default setting, it’s unusual that within the Midgard setting, there’s a particular feeling that chromatic and metallic dragons don’t all the time conform to their conventional alignments from earlier editions of D&D.

In line with that theme of utilizing the alignment-derived tags sparingly, Orcs, fortunately, don’t get the Evil tag, however they do get the Chaotic tag. I actually don’t assume something that may be a creature with free will and self-awareness that isn’t tied to some type of cosmic energy must be given an alignment tag. Why is an orc extra “cosmically” Chaotic and prone to spells that key on that trait than, for instance, a bandit?

Conceptually, I may see a Warlock certain in an particularly robust option to an archfiend getting the Evil tag, or for senseless undead that arose from a curse to have the Evil tag regardless that they actually don’t assume. I’d simply a lot moderately these tags be used to specific “you’re linked to the cosmic drive of Good/Evil/Chaos/Legislation” moderately than “you will have a selected mindset.”

Outdated Habits Dying Laborious

There are nonetheless some very broad, wholly damaging traits ascribed to some humanoids, and I feel it might be greatest to only keep away from the concept all or most of a species has damaging, harmful, or violent traits. One of many foremost offenders, on this case, is bugbears loving to trigger concern, brutalize others, and being cowardly. Goblins and Hobgoblins entries, whereas not excellent, body them in a lot much less damaging or overly broad context. Orcs fare higher than they’ve in quite a lot of RPG texts, even lately, however they’re nonetheless framed as nearly universally holding May Makes Proper as a tenant. 

I’m additionally a little bit nervous about any bodily description that delves too deeply into traits that human beings might need, particularly when these traits are portrayed as “coarse” as they’re within the orc entry. Having inexperienced, grey, or orange pores and skin, or tusks, is all cool and units them aside from different species, however spending an excessive amount of time on eyes or noses could find yourself tripping over some nasty stereotypes.

Remaining Ideas

I used to be a little bit nervous a few “monster playtest,” as a result of I used to be frightened in regards to the diploma of change. Whereas I personally want there have been a number of extra locations that made it simpler to reverse engineer the numbers within the stat blocks, I can’t argue with a cleaner presentation or ease of use being a precedence.

I really like Doom as a mechanic, and it’s a pleasant “in-between” past “is that this monster an obstacle, or is it a boss monster?” I additionally assume you may get quite a lot of design mileage out of the idea. Personally, I wouldn’t thoughts Doom being an alternate technique of recharging limited-use skills.

The place they seem, I like the extra conditional skills, bonus actions, and reactions. I feel you continue to need to have a superb variety of quite simple stat blocks, however there are additionally various monsters that don’t have a lot in the best way of selection or guidelines to make them enjoyable for the DM to make use of, and this sort of design narrows what number of monsters fall into that class.

I really like the idea of tags, however I need to see a few of them used extra sparingly, and for some very clear thought and expression for use when using them. This could possibly be a good way to increase the principles in new methods, however I feel that tags are extra precious when they’re rarer and set off significant guidelines interactions, than if they’re solely was descriptive or find yourself changing into a brand new model of one thing that was faraway from the stat block.

The Lengthy Half

I’m going to place on this desk of monsters that seem within the playtest doc, together with notes on what tags they’ve, if they’ve bonus actions or reactions, if they’ve doom, and if they’re legendary creatures. Be at liberty to skip this part, because it’s right here largely as a result of I work in knowledge, and I can by no means fairly get away from my day job’s affect. Click on the hyperlink under for the spreadsheet:

Tales of the Valiant Playtest 3 Monster Abstract Desk