Cutting Monster Entries Down to Size

I've been thinking some more about streamlining game material and wanted to take a look at monster entries.

Here's a great classic monster from the Fiend Folio: The Cifal. (Okay it's another goofy named monster, but I really do think it's cool)

Hmm. I think that entry has lots of info you really don't need, and the text is in dire need of some help to make it a lot less wordy, and good deal more clear.

Here is what I'd cut it down to:

What do you think? How verbose do you want your monster entries to be? Would you have cut the Cifal down further, or left more of the original info that I'd taken out in my updated version?


Jeff Rients said...

I like the basic concept and the execution is good. I'd make two changes. First, damage should be in the XdY+Z format, rather than in the X-Y format. Second, you could cut a line of text by adding a note in the damage field. Like this:

Damage: d12 (thousands of tiny bites)

Stuart said...

That's excellent advice Jeff. :)

jgbrowning said...

It's a lot more concise.

Risus Monkey said...

Very nice!

Greg Christopher said...

For a monster manual type book, I want a really detailed entry. I want the monster's ecology, behavioral patterns, social dynamics, etc.

In an adventure text, I want minimal information.

Johnathan Bingham said...

I think the excising of the second paragraph makes quite a bit more sense. You're right, a lot of information there that isn't needed. I think if there is a balance though. I agree with Greg, for a monster entry, I want more than just hit dice and attack types. I do enjoy a little fluff such as ecology, maybe some rumors or misconceptions, etc. I really liked what you did with the reimagining of the displacier beast and flail snail.

Stuart said...

I want a basic monster that I can customize for my own campaign. My Displacer Beast won't be the same as yours - and I think that's one of the neat things about D&D. I like how some people have pig faced orcs, or Games Workshop Orcs, Peter Jackson LotR Orcs, Bashki Orcs, Sleeping Beauty Orcs or something they made up themselves. :)

I like the "Ecology Of The…" series in Dragon Magazine for inspirational ideas about how to flesh out monsters. That's sort of what I'm doing with the Monster Make-Overs (although in much less detail).

Matt said...

Looks good - I prefer things to be short and sweet as well.

Telecanter said...

I'm with you. Really all you need to know is that this is a swarm of tiny insects in the shape of a Humanoid. And because of that it is really only hurt by blunt weapons.

The first is an awesome idea, the second an interesting mechanic to affect play. All the rest I can extrapolate or invent myself.

Anyway, thanks for reminding me of this beastie, I think I'll have my players encounter it Friday.

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