Sometimes all the creatures detailed in two Monster Manuals aren’t enough. You might want to adapt a creature from a previous edition of D&D into a 4th Edition monster, or you might want to make a stat block for a unique villain. Robot Viking guest writer (and current DM of the 4e campaign I play in) Ryk Perry breaks down the Monster Builder feature available to D&D insiders, and presents us with a truly horrible stat block for the abhorrent Famine Spirit.
D&D Insider has long promised additional software tools for players and DM’s to improve their D&D experience. A pretty cool one that’s available now is the Monster Builder. Monster Builder v 1.06 isn’t the completed version, judging by Bill Slavicsek’s newest Ampersand column, but it has some pretty slick features. The Monster Builder that is on D&D Insider Bonus Tools lets you build your own monsters from scratch. I threw one together for a test run and it’s attached at the end of the article (sorry Ed, I know you were dreading the return of this beastie).
You begin with a clean slate, starting with the level and role of the monster you want to build. The tool automatically generates basic stats like hit points, defenses and ability scores. It also generates basic attacks for a monster of its level. You then have the option of customizing the ability scores, attacks, skills, equipment, etc., as well as putting in all of the basic Monster Manual fluff like tactics and lore. This means you can generate almost any sort of monster you want and tailor it to the level of you party. Or not.
Once you are done, you have the option of bringing up a “formatted view” which uses the same format of the Monster Manual. You can then cut and paste the monster, formatting and all, into a text editor, which is something I have never been able to do with the D&D Compendium. This makes me very happy. Once it’s in the new document you can reshape and resize the stat block to fit your page.
There are some drawbacks to the current version of the Monster Builder. For one thing, you can’t save the data within the builder. It doesn’t look like you can re-import the data from your document if you want to edit it with the assistance of the builder’s number cruncher. Also, there aren’t any options for making your monster elite or solo. That means you would have to do it by hand in the text document. Finally, the builder doesn’t have any built-in data base, so you can’t start with a basic monster’s stats and edit them.
Even so, there is still the Compendium for the basic monsters from many various sources. The Monster Builder as it exists right now is invaluable for drawing up your own monsters or reinventing ones that haven’t made the translation from previous editions to 4e.
Plus, this looks like it’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s only a screenshot in Slavicsek’s Ampersand column, but it looks like the full version should remedy most or all of the drawbacks in the current version. I’m just about drooling thinking about it.
Famine Spirit Tactics
Better get a bucket…