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I'm sorry about monsters having ability scores in 3E. We were desperate to make the game system less arbitrary and more systematic. Giving monsters ability scores had the positive effect of making a gelatinous cube easy to hit. I mean, it's a 10 foot by 10 foot wall of goo. You ought to be able to hit the thing with your sword. But ability scores for monsters meant it became way too hard For DMs to create their own monsters, and creativity is something D&D does better than any computer game. Sorry, everyone. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
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Thats ok... they went away for a while with 4e (or at least had their impact lessened).
 
Monsters having ability scores ... how is this a problem? How did it make monster creation hard? Maybe I'm extra dense today.
 
I like them having ability scores... it gives data points that are easily leveraged into game play whenever there's a need or inspiration that can utilize them. What's so tough about giving a homemade monster ability scores, or even choosing to leave them out if one wishes? I'd rather the option be there for the choosing than not be at all.
 
Just to clarify: His admission is what is mind blowing, not the idea that monster ability scores have scores of drawbacks.

That being said, it's one of those things that only really became apparent after years of play -- so it's not like it was easy to see on the front end.
 
Removing ability scores from creatures seemed to me to state that 'eveything that isn't a PC exists only to be killed. They are an obstacle and an artifact of the game world, not an aware being that can be reasoned with.'
 
Runequest was the first, as far as I know, to add the stats.
--I used to love that. Now, not so much if it is simply a collection of monsters, but I still do if they are more than simple sword-fodder.

BTW, I think 2nd Ed AD&D Monstrous Manual had them.
 
+Kyrinn S. Eis As any regular Runequest GM knows, when push comes to shove all you need is total hits, AP, hit and parry% and maybe Power for all but a few serious baddies.
 
'Monsters' should be as complex as characters, with all the stats that characters have. You can always ignore the bits you don't need if you want to, but monsters being different is something I'd consider a bug. Designing 'monsters' in 3E was only ever hard when they had spells and magic items.
 
Now I understand the real implication of the attribute saves in the current D&DNext playtest phase: monsters have to have attributes in order to have saves. You can't get rid of them anymore. Well, you could list just the saves, of course.

But yeah, monsters following the same fully specified system as PCs seems cool, but as a Druid with an animal companion, I've learned that it can be a real pain.
 
I was happy when the ability scores were introduced and I've never had a problem with them.
 
I never had a problem with them either, though I'm fine with the way they were done in 1e/2e as well. Hopefully D&D Next is going to allow that old school type of game among its various options. I can go with ability scores for monsters if that's how it turns out. I'm also interested in checking out 13th Age, now that I've heard a little more about it.
 
I liked the meaning that ability scores gave. You got a measurement of exactly how strong an ogre was or how intelligent a mind flayer was. I liked the sense that your opponents were just as "real" in the rules system as you were.

But it made monster design a lot of work. Often, it was an illusion: I would set the ability scores purely based on what I wanted the monster's attack, damage, AC and hit points to be. The PCs never even saw the monster's ability scores.
 
Most of the times, the players don't get to see the monsters stats anyway (at least not during the game), so the idea that they get "more real" by adding ability scores, is - for me - a bit bonkers. YMMV.
 
I wish we could get rid of the 3-18 range of ability scores totally. The only thing you need is the bonus.
 
Indeed, they are "more real" because you have codified guidelines and consistency across uses... if the DM either sticks with the stats or at least uses them as guidelines then any time you run up on the same type of creature you're going to have a consistent set of qualities to deal/interact with, though you'd certainly be free to feature variances that are at least based on the codified starting point.
 
It also makes it easier when you want to flesh out a basic 'monster' (I hate that term) into a recurring character who is something other than a thing to be killed. The ability to add character class levels to pretty much anything in 3E in order to flesh them out was a big improvement. Though you could just add personality and role play it, I liked being able to flesh things out with in-game detail.
 
What the real annoyance was in 3e was only having a 1st level warrior for humanoid classes in the MM. I hated stating up everyone you actually needed. 4e at least provided several varieties of each monster. And they could with the economical use of space in 4e. The original 3e state blocks were really long.
 
You owe me on apology (or really, anyone) since I actually liked the idea of at least a few ability scores being given for certain monsters (humanoids especially). It drove me crazy that 2e monsters didn't have ability scores, especially when you dealt in abilities that would drain or change their ability scores.

But really, everyone will have a different take on this. And whatever works in their games works. Ability scores work in mine brilliantly.
 
+Daniel Runyon: What is the "consistent guideline" of having a DEX of 7 versus a DEX of 10? It doesn't speak to me (or to anyone I know).
 
No take-backs. Ability scores were exactly what the game needed at the time. It confirmed to the game's players that you (the designers) were serious about monster design, that it was less arbitrary and truly about making sure PC/monsters were on the same playing field. 
 
Ability scores were fine. The problem was hard wiring them to combat stats, the needing to add "natural" adjustments to fudge everything anyway.
 
I don't think ability scores for monsters are bad either. In fact, I added them in my attempt at a retro-clone as well, made sense for a lot of things actually. Yes, the monsters get more complex, but so far I cannot see how it's too much. Of course I've not played my own retro-clone yet, lol.
 
Characters have ability scores. Monsters are just characters that want to eat you. Of course they should have ability scores.
 
I never had any difficulty with the creation process so I can't help but wonder what exactly was "way too hard". As the GM for my 3E group, creating my own creatures was one of my favorite bits; I almost never used the MM. Ability scores helped make it simple to know what their behavior would be like, if the creature could be reasoned with instead of simply slaughtered and scores helped with designing cultures and societies.
 
Ability scores make a lot of sense for humanoids, but much less for other creatures. Strength for a horse doesn't mean the same thing as it means for a human. Even less so for gelatinous cubes.
 
As long as you make the best decision you can at the time, you’ve got nothing to apologize for, Jonathan. Your D&D was, in many ways, the D&D I would’ve created at the time. It was only later that, because I was playing 3e, that I came to appreciate the older incarnation more.

And even now, my biggest complaint is that 3e was called “D&D”. It is still a good game, but it is different enough that it deserved its on name.
 
Is this a sarcastic post? ... Way back in D&D's 1st edition, there were notes about rolling 3d6 for monster stats if you needed them... possibly Arneson's idea, since later versions removed those notes, giving us a strange world where "monsters" were on one side and PCs were on another. How does putting numbers on monsters make them harder to create?
 
+Norman Rafferty The problem with monster stats in 3e is that the stats that you actually use (AC, to-hit, damage) are derived from primitive stats (Str, Dex, etc). So suddenly monsters don't just have AC, they have AC that's fully specified into its contributing components, and if the GM wants to tweak the stats, it kinda implies he has to justify that change through underlying stats. And if something boosts underlying stats, you have to calculate how that changes the stats you actually use.

I have a Druid with an animal companion. When I level up, the animal companion gets some extra natural armour and some extra hit dice. Extra hit dice means extra strength and dex, which may mean extra AC, extra to-hit (but does the to-hit come from str or dex?) and damage. Had the rules simply specified extra HP, bonus AC, bonus to-hit and bonus damage, it'd be much easier.
 
Obviously this topic deserves some more elaboration, and I'm formulating a more complete treatment. For now, let me just clarify a few things. While the post wasn't satiric, it was hyperbolic for dramatic effect. As some commenters have rightly guesses, the real problem isn't the ability score, per se, but their use as the foundation for each creature's combat stats. If the only stats we had provided were for Int, Wis, and Cha, that would have been weird but better (though even Wis affects a combat stat).
 
You did a wonderful job with D&D3.0. When you went systematic, you were going to have problems like that. For example, a side-effect of making "ranged touch attacks", and of tying spell-like effects' saving throw to the spell level seriously reduced the effectiveness of the Beholder, because now there were two rolls (attack & save), reducing efficiency. The problem wasn't the theory, but the implementation -- to compensate for greater die rolling, the Beholder needed better attack numbers, regardless of its attributes. Removing stats wouldn't fix that its number were low for a CR12 creature -- rather, it would just hide why those numbers were low.

Saying "no stats would've been better" is the wrong answer. The stats should've been changed to be more appropriate. Since D&D3 allowed for arbitrary stats and arbitrary bonuses, the idea that somehow "the stats are bad" makes little sense. Without stats, monsters have no skills. Should monsters not have Climb, Listen, Sense Motive, Spot, Move Silently? What if their skill numbers are wrong? Why should they have skills? Do they exist just to stand in one place to be killed and looted?

I started playing D&D3 because the system made it more real. Saying that gaming needs to go back to the days when monsters are just mobile entities with HP and attack powers is reducing the game back to computer-game turf -- where only things with attributes are "real people" ... where "town" and "dungeon" are two separate loads, where grappling and reasoning are things you only do with "NPCs", everything else is just a monster that drops loot ... in other words, back to Diablo Town.

One of my favorite moments from my D&D3 campaign is where one of our heroes grappled with a Beholder ... something that would've been impossible if D&D3.0 hadn't provided a Strength stat for the creature. (Or maybe possible, time to make six spot rulings right there, whee ... and if it were D&D1, Arneson would've told me to roll a Str on 3d6.) It was one of the more crazy, out-of-the-box thinking that a player did, and it summarized the D&D3 experience for us -- that the game was now a system where everything worked in clearly-understandable ways.

The future of table-top gaming is not in dumbing down the experience. The future is in fueling the imaginations of all the players involved.
 
+Norman Rafferty The reason some of us don’t want to bother with the stats is not because we want to limit the game. It is because we prefer to make judgement calls to handle many things rather than adding complexity to the system. We find a quick discussion about grappling a beholder and the chance of different outcomes both quicker and more satisfying than a mechanical resolution.
 
+Robert Fisher, there's nothing wrong with playing fast and loose if that's the way your group likes to do it. But the game should still include consistent rules and standardized mechanics -- providing that is the whole point of using a game system. If you don't care about them, you can always ignore them.
 
You can still give monsters a grapple score in their stat block. And with monsters it makes sense not to have that score directly related to Str and Dex, because the monster might not actually have any limbs to grapple with, or it might be all tentacles. Rules written for humanoids aren't going to work there, so why try to fit everything in those rules?
 
On the other hand, rules written for humanoids will work for most things, so why abandon a useful set of rules entirely just because you need to make exceptions for a few special cases?
 
+Corey C. There are problems with just ignoring the rules. (1) They contribute to information overload, which can be a serious issue for some of us and most newbies. (2) It’s annoying when players make decisions assuming a rule is not going to be ignored and then it is. You can try to specify everything that is going to be ignored up front, but the more rules, the harder that becomes. (3) In 3e there are a lot of dependencies between subsystems, which makes it harder to ignore select rules without having to make changes elsewhere or running into unanticipated consequences.

But I’m going further off topic here. I was just trying to clear up what seemed to me a misconception about how some of us who don’t care for monster ability scores play.

(Truth is, I like 3e, and I play it. And I play other systems when I want something different because I find it loads easier than bending 3e to my will.)
 
The core statement that the issue is with is:
"But ability scores for monsters meant it became way too hard for DMs to create their own monsters, and creativity is something D&D does better than any computer game."

Ability scores were general, free-form measures to encapsulate a variety of stuff. If the issue is simplicity, the question would be why D&D3 includes so many stats for monsters (touch AC, flat-footed AC, regular AC, Base Attack Bonus, attack bonuses with different attacks if the monster has feats that mod those, Fortitude save, Reflex save, Will save, Hit Die type, Hit Dice, hit points, etc.) that follow very rigid rules with different progressions for different monster types! Ironically, out of all these numbers, the only ones GMs were allowed to set, at personal whim, were the attributes.

If the issue is compliance -- that is, if GMs felt they had creative ideas, but because they couldn't navigate the number system to "correctly" build them ... well, either the game is too complex at its root, or a GM could just invoke the most basic rule and simply ignore them. (Double check the math in many Origins-Awards winning adventures.)

Eliminating generic attributes for monsters ... while miring monsters in dozens of combat stats, sets a formalized precedent that "all you do to these monsters is hit them until they run out of HP -- do not try general activities with these monsters, such things are too hard to conceive." Computer games are already better at making mobile entities that one hits until they die. Let's be creative!
 
Thank you. It was one of the only problems with the system. But actually it was having skills for monsters that really killed it for me - I wrote up lots and lots of my own critters for 3e, and figuring ability scores wasn't a total dealbreaker, but figuring out whether to put points into Use Rope or Search really kind of was. It was a great game anyway though.
 
I think it would have been good if 3E included the standard way to make monsters (with ability scores, etc like it did) and a quick and dirty option that walked DMs through how to quickly create monsters and how to effectively fudge things like "what's its Spot skill" on the fly.
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