Month: May 2022

  • Monsters of the Multiverse

    I’ve been sitting on Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse (hereinafter referred to as Monsters of the Multiverse or simply Multiverse, because Mordenkainen’s got his name on another book already, and now he’s just attention-seeking) since January, as I’d been hoping to make more headway through some of the other books on my shelf. But, well, it’s just been released as a freestanding volume, and everyone’s talking about it, so I can’t let it sit any longer.

    Monsters of the Multiverse collects 260 monsters—all the ones from Volo’s Guide to Monsters and Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, as far as I can tell (ETA: Nope—the orc stat blocks from Volo’s are omitted, probably because they’re tied directly to the Forgotten Realms pantheon), plus the new dolphin delighter—and collects them in one volume, with revamped stat blocks. (Multiverse also collects all the post–Player’s Handbook race options that aren’t inextricably associated with some other specific setting, such as Ravnica or Ravenloft. Curiously, Eberron’s changelings and shifters are included, but kalashtar and warforged aren’t. PC options are outside the purview of this blog, anyway, so that’s all I’ll say on the topic.)

    Multiverse is getting savaged by Amazon customers, although not as badly this week as it was last week, with the top recurring complaint being that it’s just a cash grab, selling Dungeon Masters content they already have. No. 1, I’m pretty sure that Wizards of the Coast never represented it as anything other than a revision of previous content, so don’t get mad at your own poor reading comprehension, and No. 2, I’m not sure that reviews of the product (the articulate, multi-paragraph kind, appearing in what we call “the media”) have made it clear just how much revision went into it.

    Going through every stat block, a to z, I count only 60 that either aren’t changed at all or are changed only cosmetically. That leaves 200 that have received significant updates based on public opinion, playtesting or both.

    Since I do happen to be pushing a book of tactical recommendations based on the stat blocks as they appear in Volo’s and Mordenkainen’s, I’m sure readers are wondering (a) what I think of the changes in Multiverse and (b) whether my tactical recommendations hold up after the changes.

    In brief:

    • Mostly, I think the changes are very good. They’ll certainly make your job as a DM a lot easier. I do have a couple of quibbles, but they’re subjective in nature.
    • It depends on the monster.

    Now to elaborate. (more…)

  • Dragon Turtles Revisited

    If you’ve got a campaign that takes place largely or entirely at sea, maybe dragon turtles figure in it more prominently than your garden-variety dragons—and maybe you’re disappointed to have only the one dragon turtle stat block to work with.[*] Worry no longer, says Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons, which expands the dragon turtle family tree to include all the same stages of development that the Monster Manual provides for chromatic and metallic dragons: wyrmlings, young and ancient as well as adult.

    The dragon turtle extended family parallels the dragon turtle family in a lot of ways. Since the default (adult) dragon turtle is already Gargantuan, however, the younger variations are also both one size larger than their dragon analogues. (The ancient dragon turtle remains Gargantuan: you can’t get more gargantuan than Gargantuan.) (more…)

  • Dragon Tactics, Part 5: Deep Dragons and Sea Serpents

    Deep dragons present a subterranean variation on the chromatic dragon theme. They exist in wyrmling, young, adult and ancient variants, just like their chromatic cousins, and share a sequence of features and traits that they acquire according to the same pattern as they age. Their challenge ratings are lower, however, since they have fewer hit points, deal less damage than even white dragons, and lack the Frightful Presence trait; we might think of them as degraded versions of the chromatics.

    Like their kin, deep dragons are melee-favoring brutes, with Strength as their primary offensive ability and Constitution as their primary defensive ability. Despite living underground, they can fly as fast as their skyborne relatives, and they can also burrow and swim. Sadly, lacking the Tunneler trait, deep dragons have no way of burrowing through solid rock; they have to make do with whatever passages nature carves for them. But they’ll certainly favor caves with large halls, and flooded areas are a plus—to an extent. Unlike green dragons, deep dragons aren’t amphibious and have to hold their breath underwater. That’s no big deal, though: Fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons’ suffocation rule is generous, as long as you can take a deep breath and hold it before you dive. Deep dragons also have exceptional darkvision—90 feet as wyrmlings, 150 feet later on—so they have no reason to light their lairs, and they love locations with straight passages and long sight lines, which allow them to see other creatures long before they can be seen themselves.

    They have proficiency in the ambush skills of Perception and Stealth, but they also have proficiency in Persuasion. To confabulate with a deep dragon wyrmling, you’ll have to speak Draconic, but young, adult and ancient deep dragons all speak Common (and Undercommon) and also have high enough Wisdom and Charisma that they’ll stop fighting and parley if a combat encounter is going awry for them, generally when they’re moderately wounded (for a young deep dragon, reduced to 65 hp or fewer; for an adult, reduced to 102 hp or fewer; and for an ancient, reduced to 140 or fewer). (more…)

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Praise for The Monsters Know What They’re Doing: Combat Tactics for Dungeon Masters

“I’ve always said, the Dungeon Master is the whole world except for his players, and as a result, I spend countless hours prepping for my home group. What Keith gets is that the monsters are the DM’s characters, and his work has been super helpful in adding logic, flavor, and fun in my quest to slaughter my players’ characters and laugh out the window as they cry in their cars afterward.” —Joe Manganiello

“The best movie villains are the ones you fall in love with. Keith’s book grounds villains in specificity, motivation, and tactics—so much so that players will love to hate ’em. This book will enrich your game immeasurably!” —Matthew Lillard

“This book almost instantly made me a better Dungeon Master. If you’re running games, it is a must-have enhancement. I gave copies to the two others in our group who share in the Dungeon Mastering, and both of them came back the next time grinning rather slyly. Keith is a diabolical genius, and I say that with the utmost respect!” —R.A. Salvatore

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