Saturday, 21 November 2015

Shrinking the 5e stat block

This is me trying to turn the overloaded-as-fuck 5e stat block into something that doesn't make me want to vom.

As usual I am requesting that other people do my thinking for me.


Casey G came up with the following stat lines;

Moktar - AC 13, HP 15, Spd. 30ft, greatclub +5, 1d8+3 dm, 100 xp
Aggressive - As a bonus action, a moktar can move its speed toward a hostile creature.
Sick rock poisoning - most moktars in the cave have 4 levels of exhaustion.

Spider - AC 13, HP 11, Spd. 40ft, stealth +7, bite +3, 1d6+1 dm+poison, 50 xp
Poison - DC 11 Con save, 2d6 dm if fail, ½ if save. If target reduced to 0 HP, the target is stable but poisoned and paralyzed for 1 hour, even if it regains HP.

Wolf - AC 13, HP 11, Spd. 40ft, bite +4, 2d4+2 dm+trip, 50 xp
Trip - DC 11 Str save or be knocked prone.

Which I like a great deal. But, (as he pointed out) "They’re missing the ability scores, any saving throw proficiencies, and skills. Thinking a single “bonus” entry might work. Bonus +5 that applies to any appropriate skill rolls or save. Or maybe Bonus +3/+5 one non-proficient and one proficient."


Jeremy Murphy came up with this for stats;

"You can do all the stat in a single line by just putting in the bonus and a * if proficient.


That gives you all the info you need for initiative, save proficiency and skills."

And he's right, that is an elegant notation and I think you could work out almost all of what you need to know from it. The resulting entry would look a bit like this;

Wolf - AC 13, HP 11, Spd. 40ft, bite +4, 2d4+2 dm+trip, 50 xp
Trip - DC 11 Str save or be knocked prone.

Which is by no means offensive, BUT I hate it anyway, not because it's bad but because I fucking hate the idea of counter-referencing monsters stats while fighting them. Also I refuse to re-read the 5e rules before addressing this problem.


So I came up with the following bullshit;

Wolf - AC 13, HP 11, Spd. 40ft, bite +4, 2d4+2 dm+trip, D 3d6, 50 xp
Trip - Str save or knocked prone and grappled.

The only really meaningful addition there is the 'D' number I just made up which are just the dice you roll whenever you need any other number.

This would come in four ranges depending on the kind of monster you were running.

Wieners                   - 3d4
Most things             - 3d6
Badass things          - 3d8
Uber-badass things - 3d12

So it would replace:

  • Stealth
  • Initiative
  • Perception
  • Saves
  • DC values for powers

If you really want to model skills then maybe add a d4 for each skill.

You just roll it as and when you need that number and only then.

The excuse for this is that combat is chaotic and things are changing all the time so maybe this Orc is just having a really bad  or good day.

You lose a LOT of fine detail and perhaps rob monsters of some of their structural identity and makes in-game knowledge less meaningful, (i.e. certain monsters are tough with high CON but dim with low WIS etc)

The benefits are the customary OSR benefits of chaos, its always worth trying some nutso tactic because its just possible you might win, the bad guy might roll a 3 for its save, so it favours improvisation, invention and courage/risk taking over planning and careful knowledge.

Any 5e-experts (5xperts?) feel free to let me know how quickly this would go horribly wrong in the comments.


  1. so instead of having +1 for initiative you would roll 3d6 add them together and then work out the modifier to the initiative?
    This seems terrible. Roll the stat when you need it seems okay , but as it's not for every time you need the roll. That would be too slow. But it might mean that rerolling would reduce the swingness of 3d12/3d6/etc somewhat. So if an orc had 3 for constitution it wouldn't have it for long.

    However I still think something like 10+1d6 would be better than 3d6 for speed and consistency in the result. Or just writing the number.

    Like the point of a stat block is to give the user a guideline of what the mechanics of the monster are like so writing it in a house ruley way because that's what you would use seems terrible because you wouldn't need the stat block as much as you created the monster.

    So just use Jeremy's stat block I reckon and you can use that weird dice thing for you

  2. I'm not hella-wedded to my stat block, but man, oh man, are you making this over-difficult.

    If you are going to do anything, just use d4 through d10 and use it to determine the modifier. In 5e you don't give a shit about the actual numbers, you just use them to determine the bonus, which is the mechanical piece you actually need.

    Your method there adds unnecessary dice rolling and math conversion to basically everything that isn't straight combat roles. That's not super efficient.