Tuesday, July 3, 2012

How Do You Like Your Stat Blocks?

I've been giving some thought lately to just how stat blocks should best be handled. Now, I'm the sort of DM who always plays with a copy of the Monster Manual (or should I say Bestiary) close at hand, so I always have the full entry of any monster right with me as needed. Normally, when I'm writing a dungeon just for myself, all I'll include are hit points and any variable data as needed (sub-types, variable hit dice or armor class, etc.).

But sometimes I do like having a little more information, and have been fiddling around with some ideas. Some examples:

A) Four wererats in rat-man form are here (15,16,16,17 h.p.) armed with long swords and 12 darts each. If they are able, they will warn the inhabitants of area #17 of any intruders.

B) Four wererats in rat-man form are here (3d10 HD; 15,16,16,17 h.p.; AC 6) armed with long swords and 12 darts each. If they are able, they will warn the inhabitants of area #17 of any intruders.

C) Four wererats in rat-man form are here (3d10 HD; 15,16,16,17 h.p.; AC 6; DAM per weapon; DEF immune to non-magical or non-silver weapons; ATK can shift into human, giant rat, or rat-man form) armed with long swords and 12 darts each. If they are able, they will warn the inhabitants of area #17 of any intruders.

D) Four wererats in rat-man form are here armed with long swords and 12 darts each. If they are able, they will warn the inhabitants of area #17 of any intruders.
Wererats: 3d10 HD; 15,16,16,17 h.p.; AC 6; DAM per weapon; DEF immune to non-magical or non-silver weapons; ATK can shift into human, giant rat, or rat-man form.

Now, these examples go from most stripped-down to most elaborate. A is what I use mostly for myself, B has the bare minimum information I need (on the general rule that I'll remember which creatures have special abilities and thus need to be looked up), C has the full-blown stat block in-line with the text, while D has the stat block called out and indented.

Obviously, these aren't an exhaustive set of examples; many more ways exist of getting the needed information in front of the DM (one, listing all of the relevant stats of the monsters at the back of the module, is something I've always just despised for some reason-- I'd much rather have the book open).

What do you think? What's your preferred way of seeing monster stats in a module, and why?

RIP Andy Griffith

Andy Griffith died today at the age of 86. While I'm certain he'll be best remembered for "The Andy Griffith Show" and "Matlock", I'll always remember him for the 1979 TV movie and series "Salvage 1".