Unique 4E Monsters

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Havard
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Unique 4E Monsters

Post by Havard » Sat Sep 09, 2017 5:38 pm

One thing I didn't like when 4E was launched was that they announced that they were changing classic monsters, so that Dryads were now going to be tree like beings etc. On the other hand this does not need to be such a bad thing if we can have both the classic versions AND the versions that were unique to 4E.

How many monsters were either different for 4E or completely new for this edition?

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Re: Unique 4E Monsters

Post by Tim Baker » Sun Sep 10, 2017 8:16 am

Havard wrote:How many monsters were either different for 4E or completely new for this edition?
I've never seen a count anywhere. The community may be able to put together a list of monsters that changed in 4e or were new creations. I believe the iron and adamantine dragons were new. Eladrin, archons, and lamia changed. I'm sure there are others I can't think of. The look of several monsters changed, too. Angels and green dragons have their own look for the edition, for example.

Getting an accurate count of new or dramatically different monsters would first require that we define what "new" means. In the 4e Monster Manual alone, there are 7 types of goblins. These are goblin subraces or other variations of goblins, and don't count hobgoblins and other goblinoids. These are just your standard, run-of-the-mill goblins. Providing 7 varieties of a common, low-level monster gives DMs lots of ways to incorporate them into encounters without making those encounters feel too "same-y." You could spend a good portion of an adventure with goblins as your primary antagonists, and each encounter would feel unique, especially after looking at the suggested encounter groups in the Monster Manual, which included possibilities featuring hobgoblins, bugbears, fire beetles, dire wolves, cave bears, oni, worgs, and even dinosaurs. But I digress. Out of the 7 goblins (and there were several more in future supplements - the 4e compendium lists 52 monsters with "goblin" in their name, and excludes hobgoblins), which, if any, are "new?" Quite possibly, the answer is "none," but that makes it hard to scan a monster list and find names that we haven't seen before. You risk throwing out a truly different goblin subrace, for example, just because the word "goblin" is in its name.

It would certainly be interesting to see how many others could come up with.
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Re: Unique 4E Monsters

Post by Big Mac » Sun Oct 15, 2017 2:49 pm

Havard wrote:One thing I didn't like when 4E was launched was that they announced that they were changing classic monsters, so that Dryads were now going to be tree like beings etc. On the other hand this does not need to be such a bad thing if we can have both the classic versions AND the versions that were unique to 4E.

How many monsters were either different for 4E or completely new for this edition?
Echohawk is your man. He has an account at The Piazza, so we might be able to get him to come and help, but go look at Echohawk's Complete D&D Monster Index. I've been following Echohawk for years, since I bumped into him over the the Creature Catalogue Conversion Project, where peoople were converting pre-3e monsters to 3e rules. I've mostly lost track of that project now (it was still going last time I looked) but Echohawk helps them track down monsters they need to convert.

When the 3rd Edition Era ended, the Creature Catalogue Team carried on trying to "finish 3rd Edition", and Echohawk has stuck around to help them, but he also moved forward to index post-3e monsters.

I've been meaning to look through his Index to see if I can extract things like "all the new types of illithids" or "all the new types of beholders", so that I can figure out a way to modify 3rd Edition monsters, so that they represent the 4e variants.

Tim's idea of looking at the new types of goblins would also be useful to me. :)
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Re: Unique 4E Monsters

Post by Echohawk » Tue Oct 17, 2017 8:14 pm

Big Mac wrote:Echohawk is your man. He has an account at The Piazza, so we might be able to get him to come and help, but go look at Echohawk's Complete D&D Monster Index. I've been following Echohawk for years, since I bumped into him over the the Creature Catalogue Conversion Project, where peoople were converting pre-3e monsters to 3e rules. I've mostly lost track of that project now (it was still going last time I looked) but Echohawk helps them track down monsters they need to convert.
Alas, I doubt I can be of much help on this. I stopped adding 4th Edition creatures to my index about two years into the release cycle, because monsters in 4th Edition are so different.

For example, the 2008 Monster Manual has three hydras: the fen hydra, the mordant hydra and the primordial hydra. Which of these would you consider to be the same creature as the 3rd Edition hydra, and which ones are new creatures? You'd probably be inclined to say the fen hydra is closest to the traditional hydra, and count the other two as new. I'd agree, and that's how I initially classified them. Except the 2010 Monster Vault then provides a vanilla 4th Edition "hydra", which is similar to the fey hydra, but not quite the same. So does that mean the fen hydra becomes a new creature, or are both the 4e hydra and the 4e fen hydra the same creature as the 1e/2e/3e hydra?

Basically -- what Tim said. Almost every 4th Edition creature was redeveloped and given slightly different or very different physical characteristics. To make a truly exhaustive list of "new" 4e creatures, you'd first need to decided how much needs to change (name, major abilities, minor abilities, senses...?) for a creature to be considered new. And then go through all 5326 (apparently) 4th Edition creatures carefully comparing them against earlier creatures and flagging the ones that are new.

A more manageable project would be to develop a list of 4e creatures that had not appeared in any form previously. There aren't so many of those.

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Re: Unique 4E Monsters

Post by Big Mac » Wed Oct 18, 2017 10:04 pm

Echohawk wrote:Alas, I doubt I can be of much help on this. I stopped adding 4th Edition creatures to my index about two years into the release cycle, because monsters in 4th Edition are so different.

For example, the 2008 Monster Manual has three hydras: the fen hydra, the mordant hydra and the primordial hydra. Which of these would you consider to be the same creature as the 3rd Edition hydra, and which ones are new creatures? You'd probably be inclined to say the fen hydra is closest to the traditional hydra, and count the other two as new. I'd agree, and that's how I initially classified them. Except the 2010 Monster Vault then provides a vanilla 4th Edition "hydra", which is similar to the fey hydra, but not quite the same. So does that mean the fen hydra becomes a new creature, or are both the 4e hydra and the 4e fen hydra the same creature as the 1e/2e/3e hydra?

Basically -- what Tim said. Almost every 4th Edition creature was redeveloped and given slightly different or very different physical characteristics. To make a truly exhaustive list of "new" 4e creatures, you'd first need to decided how much needs to change (name, major abilities, minor abilities, senses...?) for a creature to be considered new. And then go through all 5326 (apparently) 4th Edition creatures carefully comparing them against earlier creatures and flagging the ones that are new.
To be honest, I was going to use most 4th Edition content (including monsters not specifically stated to come from Forgotten Realms, Neverwinter, Eberron and Dark Sun) as Nentir Vale/Nerath canon.

The idea of Forgotten Realms monsters or Dark Sun monsters that are radically different from earlier ones with the same name would leave me a bit puzzled, to be honest. But with Eberron starting in 3rd Edition and already having a non-standard cosmology and Nentir Vale starting in 4th Edition (if you don't assume that Elsir Vale is part of it) I don't feel so much like I'm looking at things that are reboots, retcons or continuity errors. That makes it easier, for me, to compare 4e Nentir Vale with a 1e-2e-3e setting, like Greyhawk or Dragonlance...thematically.
Echohawk wrote:A more manageable project would be to develop a list of 4e creatures that had not appeared in any form previously. There aren't so many of those.
I think that subset would definitely work as Nentir Vale monsters.

I suppose my only issue with Nentir Vale canon is that a lot of locations are rebooted from locations used in previous editions. So, presumably, the specific monsters placed in Nentir Vale or Nerath versions of locations and the ones placed in Greyhawk and/or Mystara versions of the same locations should be the same creatures.

I guess that I might need to apply "pay no attention to the D&D designer behind the curtain" logic here and just ignore things. :)
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Re: Unique 4E Monsters

Post by Tim Baker » Thu Oct 19, 2017 1:27 am

Big Mac wrote:I suppose my only issue with Nentir Vale canon is that a lot of locations are rebooted from locations used in previous editions. So, presumably, the specific monsters placed in Nentir Vale or Nerath versions of locations and the ones placed in Greyhawk and/or Mystara versions of the same locations should be the same creatures.
Perhaps, but maybe there are explanations for these things. For example, in Tomb of Annihilation, it talks about how Acererak created several Tombs of Horror, ranging from a dungeon under a hill to a sprawling complex of buildings (I'm paraphrasing). So perhaps these "shared" locations are actually the result of beings that travel the planes. While the locations are similar, they're not identical, as far as I'm aware. I don't just mean because of where they were placed on the Nerath map, but the adventures themselves aren't simply new monster stats given for old modules. They have similar themes, but different stories are told.

Maybe there's a powerful intelligence nudging locations and situations to look similar in Nerath, for some reason that hasn't been explained. Or maybe Nerath is simply that one-in-a-million crystal sphere where something similar to parallel evolution has created some striking similarities. In either case, it would explain why monsters are different in the 4e (Nentir Vale) versions of these modules.
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