Showing posts with label 4e. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 4e. Show all posts

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Larina Nix for Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition

 While working on my post for earlier today on Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition, I can't help but think about the lost opportunities that game had. I read through the books and they are barely used compared to my 1st and 5th Edition books. Though if you scratch the surface of 5e you will find some 4e DNA.

Dungeons & Dragons 4e books for Witches

It is too bad, really, since 4e had a lot going for it. Or maybe I had invested a lot in some of the ideas that came out at the same time as 4e. I mean, if I am honest, there isn't anything I can do in 4e that I also couldn't do in 5e or BECMI, really. In any case, while going over my 4e materials, I did uncover all sorts of neat ideas. After all, this edition gave birth to my warlock character Taryn

But I am not here to talk about Taryn. I am here to talk about her mother, my witch Larina.

Witches in D&D 4e

4e is notable for giving us a proper witch class in Heroes of the Feywild. is a type of Wizard, but one that learned in the Feywild, aka D&D's Land of Faerie. Honestly, that works for me. I mean, I know Larina spent a long time in the Feywild, met the Faerie Lord Scáthaithe, and gave birth to Taryn. So doing all my D&D 4 playing in the Feywild would work, it would explain why magic is different in this edition.

So that all works. I know I am going to get a warlock out of the process with Taryn, but what else? I spent some time here stating up some characters for 4e and 4e Essentials, but character building by hand with this game, especially a high-level character, is a long process. It was a fun process, don't get me wrong, but long. I just forgot how many character options there are for later 4e characters. 

Here are some of the characters I did when 4e was still active. There are few witches here along with some classics.

  • Aleena, the Cleric from D&D Basic (Mentzer)
  • Morgan Ironwolf, the Fighter from D&D Basic (Moldvay)
  • Hex, the Dark Elf witch from Skylanders
  • Skylla, the "Evil Magic-user" from the D&D toy line.
  • Eireann, a "proto-Sinéad" concept who now has a life of her own.

While these each took some time, each one was a really fun build. So much, really, that I could see myself running some sort of one-shot for 4e set in Feywild.  I will get to doing stats for Sinéad and Taryn for 4e when I discuss the 4e Forgotten Realms.

Larina Nix for 4e

Larina is, as always, a test-bed character for me. In 3e when I first started I tried her out as an "out of the box" sorcerer. When 4e came out I tried her as a Warlock. But Larina is no sorcerer and certainly not a warlock. I know these differences are largely academic, but I am the academic who cares about them.

Thankfully my 4e experiments could move on with Taryn who IS a warlock. Eventually, the Heroes of the Feywild book came out and solved my problems.

For this build, I am going to use the following books.

Heroes of the Feywild is the main book, but I am also taking powers, feats, and ideas from the others. There are other books I could have used, but I wanted to limit myself to these. There is a third-party witch book, World of the Witch, that is quite good, but I wanted to stick to the official WotC books this time.

For this build, I went all out. This is Larina as a 30th-level Queen of Witches (the Epic Destiny in the book). I figured...what the hell, go fo it.

Given that in 4e, newer powers replace older ones, I just built the character backward. So, I started at what she gets as the 30th level and worked my way down. I didn't have to do a lot because while going through all my notes and character sheets, I found character sheets for her at 1st (several of these), 7th, 13th, and 25th levels. Differences exist between all of these, but all in all, I got a pretty good picture of what I wanted to do.  

Larina Nix, Witch Queen
Larina Nix, Witch Queen

30th-level Female Human Witch (Wizard)
Unaligned (Lawful Neutral)
Class: Witch (Full Moon Coven)
Paragon Path: Legendary Witch
Epic Destiny: Witch Queen

Strength: 12 +1
Constitution: 16 +3
Dexterity: 16 +3
Intelligence: 22 +6
Wisdom: 22 +6
Charisma: 20 +5

Initiative: +18
Speed: 6 (30ft)
Hit Points: 155
Bloodied 77
Healing surges: 38hp

AC: 36
Fortitude: 33
Reflex: 36
Will: 38

Vision: Normal
Passive Insight: 31
Passive Perception: 31

Acrobatics +18, Arcana +29, Athletics +16, Bluff +23, Diplomacy +24, Dungeoneering +21, Endurance +18, Heal +28, History +26, Insight +21, Intimidate +25, Nature +21, Perception +21, Religion +26, Stealth +18, Streetwise +20, Thievery +18

Human: Linguist, Toughness, Implement Focus, Fey Bond, Combat Medic, Armor Proficiency: Leather, Skill Focus: Arcana, Improved Defences, Familar Utility, Enlarge Spell, Arcane Resources, Ritual Caster, Arcane Mastery, Irresistible Flame, Arcane Fire, Pact Initiate: Warlock (Fey), Spell Accuracy, Nightmare Wizardry, Arcane Ritualist

Familiar, Witch Cantrips (3), Bonus Skill: Healing, Full Moon Coven, Favor of the Moon, Move Coven Action, Witch Apotheosis, Witch Queen Presence, Pact Initiate (Fey Pact Warlock)

Common, Goblin, Elven, Draconis, Primordial, Sylvan

Powers (Spells)
Light, Mage Hand, Prestidigitation

Bonus: Ray of Frost, +6 vs Fortitude, 2d6+6 cold damage
Breath of Night, +6 vs Fortitude, 2d10+6 damage
Witch Bolt, +6 vs Reflex, 2d10+6 damage

Warlock: Eye Bite, +5 vs Will, 2d6+5 psychic damage
Madness of the Full Moon, +6 vs Will, 2d10+6 psychic damage
Night Tempest, +6 vs Fortitude, 2d8+6 cold damage, knocked back 5 squares
Chain Lightning, +6 vs Reflex, 4d6+6, 2d6+5, 1d6+6 lightning damage
Supreme Glorious Presence, +6 vs Will, 4d6+6 damage, target knocked back, Allies heal

Acid Wave, +6 vs Reflex, 5d6+6 acid damage, 10 ongoing
Unicorn Form, Polymorph, secondary 5d8+6, push 1 square
Prismatic Wall
Herbal Healing
Witch Thorns
Moonlight Mischief, teleport 6 squares
Ride the Night Wind, Fly 8, +2 to Reflex
Umbral Stride, phase, move 10 squares
True Prophecy, +2 to all rolls

Arcane Barrier, Comprehend Language, Consult Mystic Sages, Consult Oracle, Enchant Magic Item, Eye of Warning, Guards and Wards, Hand of Fate, Magic Circle, Magic Map, Object Reading, Remove Affliction, Telepathic Bond, Wizard's Sight

Staff, books, dagger, shoulder bag, leather armor +6, Bracers of Defense, Ring of Wizardry, Cloak of Feywild Escape, Broom of Flying, Elven Boots


So I really like this build. If I were still playing 4e I might house rule that some of the other witch spells from other games could be rituals. That is the easiest way to bring them in. 

She has a lot of feats, just the reality of 4e. But I was able to do some interesting things with them that have great in-universe and in-character explanations.  Linguist and Toughness are the ones she always takes. She is the party translator and "face." Because of that she is usually in front where the action is, so she needs to survive long enough to be powerful enough on her own. Feats to make her magic more potent, to be more fiery, and things like that.

But two in particular are really fun. Fey Bond and Pact Intitate. I had plans to do a Feywild-centric set of adventures for some time. The more I work on 4e versions of Larina, Taryn, and Sinéad, the more I want to do it, and do it with 4e. These two feats then represent her time in the Feywild and her bond with Faerie Lord Scáthaithe, who would become the father of her daughter Taryn and Taryn's Warlock Patron.  I know I said above that Larina was a lot of things, but no warlock. Well... a lot of her earlier sheets were warlocks. The way 4e does multi-classing is very different than the other versions of D&D, so it's not like she is a true Warlock, just a dabbler.

Scáthaithe and an impressionable young witch
Scáthaithe the Knight of Swords and a young Larina

I look forward to digging up my 4e sheets on Taryn and making some new ones for Sinéad.

Maybe I should get that Feywild 4e game going sometime. That sounds like a lot of fun.

#AtoZChallenge2024: Sunday Special, D&D 4th Edition

This Sunday A to Z special we are talking about the most controversial version of D&D put out. That would be 2008's Fourth Edition Dungeons & Dragons.

Dungeons & Dragons, 4th Edition

Dungeons & Dragons, 4th Edition Core Books

Again, lets set the stage. It is 2007, and Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition, now in its 3.5 edition, has been going on for 7 years. There are hundreds of D&D 3e books out there, and if you count the ones released by 3rd party publishers, then there are thousands.

Rumor has it that the Powers that Be at Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro saw all that money these publishers had made and also saw that they were getting none of it.  So they had the D&D team design a new version of D&D. Now, seven years is not a bad run for a set of core rules; a little light, yes, but not bad. But it was not the normal dropping off of sales that prompted this change; rather, it was a desire to reign back in the OGL and SRD.  Thus, 4th edition was born. Or so the story goes.

Now I have heard these tales for a long time. While I can certainly see where they could be true I have never seen a smoking gun or anything like that to confirm it. I do know that out of all the editions 4th is the least compatible with all the others. I also know that the license used to support 4e products was restrictive and slow to come out. 

Pathfinder, as I mentioned on P day came out and took over the market from 3e, and many other gamers saw the new 4e rules and went back even further still to older games.  

Much like the hydra of old the problem only got bigger.

This is too bad, really, because there is nothing really wrong with 4e.

I loved the art and the attention to detail in the game's design. Was it D&D? I can't answer that for you. For me, it was "near D&D," just like Pathfinder was/is. In some ways, Pathfinder was more D&D 4 than D&D 4 was. They were cousins, born at the same time, whose grandparents had trouble telling apart as their favorite.

DrivethruRPG has a sizable collection now of Fourth Edition PDFs.  A few I have already bought. I could simply unload a few of those books, not sure how or where, and then rebuy them on PDF.

I love that 4e was very modular in layout.  I very easily could cut up all the books and reshuffle them to have all the classes in one place and all the skills and feats in another. All the monsters, mostly alphabetical in yet another.   The organization appeals to my innate sense of order and collection (or is that OCD?).

The real question is, is it worth it?  Obviously, if I played the game more then yes.  But I only dabble. Here and there now. I like the fluff.  I have talked about 4e in terms of sunk cost fallacy and how I would later go on to adapt the materials for my 5e games. But I still feel it never really got a fair shake.

Maybe I'll come back to it someday.


Tomorrow is back at it with S Day, and I'll talk about a topic very close to the heart of many Dungeons & Dragons players in the 1980s, the Satanic Panic!

The A to Z of Dungeons & Dragons: Celebrating 50 years of D&D.

Sunday, March 31, 2024

#AtoZChallenge2024: Sunday Special, Introduction to Dungeons & Dragons Editions

 I am going to use Sundays of this Challenge to talk about the various Editions of the Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) game that have been published over the last 50 years. 

One of the challenges people have when getting into a game like D&D is where do you start? Generally speaking, you are always best starting with the edition that people around you are playing. If they are playing the newest edition (right now, 5th Edition), then great! This will make finding products easier. If it is an older edition, then great! All editions are fun. 

But what are the Editions? Are there 5 then? is a bit more complicated than that. Hopefully, this graph (making its rounds on social media and started on Reddit.) will help. The editions are all only sort-of compatible with each other. I'll explain that throughout the month. 

Timeline of D&D Original D&D AD&D 1st Edition D&D Moldvay Basic D&D Mentzer Basic AD&D 2nd Edition D&D Rules Cyclopedia (Basic) The Classic Dungeons and Dragons Game (Basic) Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Game (Basic) The Dragon's Den (Basic) D&D 3 D&D 3.5 D&D 4 D&D 4 Essentials D&D 5 One D&D (D&D 5.5 or 5R)

So there are, by some counts, 15 different versions of D&D. Some are 100% compatible with each other, some less so. 

For my posts, I am likely to focus on Basic era D&D (1977-1999), Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (1977-1988), and D&D 5th edition (2014-2024).  Right now "One D&D" is not out yet. It is due near the end of the year, and by all accounts, it should be 100% backward compatible with D&D 5. We will see. 

Here are a couple of notes for people who don't know (or care) about the differences in these games.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition is the edition made popular by Stranger Things and E.T. the Extra-Terristrial. It was the one popular in media in the 1980s, though there is some evidence that it was D&D Basic (edited by Frank Mentzer, aka "The Red Box") sold better.

Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition is the edition made popular by Critical Role

I hope that this month I can help with some of the confusion and mystery and maybe, just maybe, make so new players out of you all.

The A to Z of Dungeons & Dragons: Celebrating 50 years of D&D.

In addition to doing the April A to Z challenge, I am also doing the Ulitmate Blog Challenge

Ultimate Blog Challenge


I hope to have some good entries in the RPG Blog Carnival, hosted in April by Codex Anathema on Favorite Settings.

RPG Blog Carnival

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Character Creation Challenge: Bodhmal for Wasted Lands

 As Casey Kasem used to say, "The hits keep coming."  Though when I say it, I usually mean something bad. And I do today as well. Lost another friend this past week, Rebecca Joanne Ashling. She had some health problems, but her death is still a bit of a shock.  Rebecca and I had known each other for about 22+ years. We talked a lot online and she was a huge fan of my witches and modern horror stuff. In particular, she loved my takes on Willow and Tara. She often provided me some critiques on various builds and let me know about new games that she thought I would like. It still feels a bit unreal since I still half expect to get a text from her when this post goes live.  So today's and tomorrow's characters are for her.

Today, I want to start with the druidess Bodhmal.

I am choosing her for all the reasons Rebecca would have liked. Bodhmal has a long history in my games, and her character helped drive my vision of NIGHT SHIFT and thus influenced The Wasted Lands. This version is a "conversion" of sorts of D&D 4th Edition, a game we both enjoyed and continue to enjoy. Plus, and maybe most importantly, Bodhmal, while a mythological figure from Irish myth, was also my "Willow" stand-in. Since I did her main antagonist (and grandfather), the Dark Druid, yesterday, she would be good for today. 

Bodhmal character sheets

Bodhmal for the Wasted Lands

Bodhmal is not a goddess. Nor will become one. She is, though, a very important figure of the Fenian Cycle of Irish myth and legend. Because of this she fits rather well with the central conceits of the Wasted Lands.  I also wanted to try out another Druid, but one with a bit more mysticism about them. Or to be blunt, a druid that is becoming something akin to a witch.  She is the "last common ancestor" of Druids and Witches.

Like Fear Dorich, Bodhmal has been worked up for the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG, D&D 5e, Castles & Crusades, Blue Rose 2nd Edition, my Pagan Witch class, and today's experiment, D&D 4e.

D&D 4e had some nice quirks that allowed me to get to the version of Bodhmal I liked. I have to admit, Wasted Lands works even better.

The Druidess Bodhmal nic Tadgh
Bodhmal nic Tadgh

Class: Sorceress (Druid, Witch or Ban Drui)
Level: 10
Species: Human
Alignment: Light
Background: Scholar

Strength: 10 (+0) 
Agility: 10 (+0) 
Toughness: 14 (+1) 
Intelligence: 14 (+1) N
Wits: 18 (+3) A
Persona: 11 (+0) N

Fate Points: 1d10
Defense Value: 8
Vitality: 42
Degeneracy: 0
Corruption: 0

Check Bonus (A/N/D): +5/+3/+2
Melee Bonus: +2 (base) 
Ranged Bonus: +2 (base)
Spell Attack: +5
Saves: +7 to Spells and Magical effects (Sorcerer & Scholar)

Sorceress Abilities
Arcana, Arcane Powers (4): Enhanced Senses, Arcane Bond (Liath), Wild Form, Telepathic Transmission

Sorceress Spells
First Level: Armor of Earth, Glamour, Mystical Senses, Sleep
Second Level: Animal Summoning, Conjure Flame, Invisibility, Subtle Influence
Third Level: Cure Disease, Dark Lightning, Staves to Snakes
Fourth Level: Befuddlement, Forest Walk, Plant Speech
Fifth Level: Miasma of Creeping Death, Telekinesis

Heroic/Divine Touchstones 
1st Level: Psychic Power: Supernatural Senses 
2nd Level: Additional Spell: Bless
3rd Level: Spirit Guide: Cait Sith
4th Level: Magical Recovery
5th Level: Grant Spellcasting

Scholar Abilities
1st Level Spell: Create Light

Heroic (Divine) Archetype: Knowledge

Staff, Dagger

Wasted Lands Druids & Witches

I like this version of Bodhmal. She has her druid side and can take on a wild shape, but that is not the most important part of her character. She also sees everything. Mystical, Supernatural, and more. She can talk to animals and plants. She even has some offensive spells when she needs them.

More to the point, her connection to Liath is there via the Arcane Bond. 

I can see this Bodhmal as a druid who began a line of pagan witches. Liath is even there as her Cowan or witch guardian. This is perfect in my mind. I wish you all could feel this; how perfect of a fit she is for my concept of her. This is much better than any other system I have done. 

You can get the Wasted Lands RPG and the NIGHT SHIFT RPG at Elf Lair Games.

Character Creation Challenge

Monday, January 15, 2024

Character Creation Challenge: Jassic Winterhaven for Wasted Lands

 It is frigid outside. But we are in the middle of winter, so I guess that is expected. It did get me thinking about a few of my winter-themed characters. So let's start this one off with one of my favorites, Jassic Winterhaven, the gnome bard/warlock.

Wasted Lands has rules for using characters other than the proto-humans of the Dreaming Age. I have done some elves and half-elves, but let see what we can do with a gnome.

Jassic Winterhaven sheets

Jassic here is a bit of fun character. In D&D 4e he was a test run of the hybrid class rules of a Bard and a Warlock.  Later on he became a more traditional Bard/Warlock multiclass in D&D 5e. Both worked remarkably well and loved how well Bard and Warlock work with each other.  I did do this in Baldur's Gate 3, but not as Jassic.

Wasted Lands does not have a proper Warlock class. Night Shift does. Also, neither game has a true bard. But there is the Sage, which so far has played very Bard-like.

So, who is Jassic, and how should I re-build him in Wasted Lands? Taking the Sorcerer and saying he has magic but needs to play an instrument to use it is easily done. No extra rules are needed. Sage would cover his languages and his lore and even grant his some extra spells as well as some Renegade/Rogue abilities. So that is all great. Perform? Well, that is a sort of Persona check. Bardic inspiration? Ah, that one is trickier. But let's see what I can do with some Heroic Touchstones.

Jassic Winterhaven
Jassic Winterhaven

Class: Sorcerer / Sage
Level: 4/2
Species: Gnome
Alignment: Light 
Background: Gnome

Strength: 12 (+0) 
Agility: 12 (+0) 
Toughness: 12 (+0) 
Intelligence: 14 (+1) N
Wits: 16 (+2) N
Persona: 18 (+3) A

Fate Points: 1d8
Defense Value: 6
Vitality: 23
Degeneracy: 0
Corruption: 0

Check Bonus (A/N/D): +4/+2/+1
Melee Bonus: +0 (base) 
Ranged Bonus: +0 (base)
Spell Attack: +2
Saves: +3 to Spells and Magical effects (Sorcerer), +1 to Wits and Persona saves (Gnome)

Sorcerer Abilities
Arcana, Arcane Powers (2): Beguile, Precognition

Sorceress Spells
First Level: Arcane Darts, Beast Speech, Prestidigitation
Second Level: See Invisible, Unlock

Gnome Abilities
Night Sighted

Sage Abilities
Languages (14), Lore, Suggestion, Mesmerize Others, Renegade skills at level 1

Sage Spells
First Level: Chill Ray

Heroic/Divine Touchstones
1st Level: Bonus Skill: Performance
2nd Level: Luck benefit
3rd Level: Additional Luck
4th Level: Magical recovery

Heroic (Divine) Archetype: Wanderer

Shortbow, shortsword, leather armor, 

Wasted Lands Bards

For starters, suggestion helps with some Bardic abilities. The Luck Benefit from the Heroic touchstones also gives a good replacement for Bardic Inspiration. I can have him take it again at higher levels for more use in the day.

I'd have to play this character some more to see how he works out. 

You can get the Wasted Lands RPG and the NIGHT SHIFT RPG at Elf Lair Games.

Character Creation Challenge

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Character Creation Challenge: Johan Werper V for Wasted Lands

 Moving into very interesting territory now, Dungeons & Dragons 4e.  My 4e days were not long-lived. I liked the game, but I never got much chance to play 4e, though I did rather enjoy it in principle. There were some really neat ideas and I liked a lot of the design elements. Thankfully, emulating the best parts of 4e while keeping the best parts of old-school D&D can be done here.

Johan V character sheets

Johan V was one of a set of twins along with sister Celene. They were the children of Johan IV and his wife Reychel, aka "Rey." (yes that is how I wanted to spell it.)  Rey has a very convoluted history in my D&D 3.x games (3.5) and was a fun character to play. I might detail her later if I have the time.  

This Johan was also a Paladin, while his sister was the Cleric. Gave me the chance to try out both. To be honest, I was pretty happy with the 4e Paladin. Lots of fun things to do. I wish I had gotten to play him longer. Like his father, he was searching for the sword Demonbane, and like his father, he was unsuccessful.

Johan Werper V

Class: Warrior
Level: 5
Species: Human
Alignment: Light
Background: Warrior (Wasted Lands p. 185)

Strength: 17 (+2) N
Agility: 10 (0) 
Toughness: 11 (0) 
Intelligence: 10 (0) 
Wits: 13 (+1) N
Persona: 17 (+2) A

Fate Points: 1d8
Defense Value: 1
Vitality: 37
Degeneracy: 0
Corruption: 0

Check Bonus (A/N/D): +3/+2/+1
Melee Bonus: +2 (base) +2 +1 Divine Touchstones
Ranged Bonus: +2 (base)
Saves: +3 to all Saves, +2 to Toughness (Warrior background), +1 Divine Touchstones

Warrior Abilities
Combat Expertise, Improved Defence, Melee Combat, Master of Battle, Ranged Combat, Supernatural Attacks, Spell Resistance, Tracking, Extra Attacks

Heroic/Divine Touchstones
1st Level: +1 to melee attacks
2nd Level: +1 to saves 
3rd Level: Favored Enemy Undead
5th Level: Smite

Heroic (Divine) Archetype: Protection

Longsword, Full plate armor, Holy symbol

Wasted Lands as D&D 4th Ed

If you want to give Wasted Lands a more "4e feel" you get really liberal with the Heroic Touchstones. I hate to reduce the differences to just that, but it does work. This is also why Johan V is also just a warrior so I could compare him to Johan III who was also a warrior. V already feels like he is more powerful than his great-uncle Johan III.

This will be even more useful when we get more Heroic Touchstones with Thirteen Parsecs

What does this mean for games? You can set the "power level" from gritty dungeon or hex crawl to super-powered heroics as you all see fit.  This is not even taking into consideration the levels built into the system itself.

You can get the Wasted Lands RPG and the NIGHT SHIFT RPG at Elf Lair Games.

Character Creation Challenge

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Is Alignment Outmoded for D&D?

If I had to make a guess on what was one of the most controversial topics in Dungeons & Dragons games since the beginning, I would not say it was the inclusion of demons, devils, or monsters that you can just randomly kill, or who contributed more; Gary or Dave, or even TSR's early litigious past. 

No. Going back, the most hotly debated topic then and now is Alignment.

Reading some old Dragon magazines, Usenet posts, or modern social media, people still love to argue about alignment. I have read a lot of self-proclaimed experts on D&D that get alignment completely wrong both in terms of use and how it should be applied. 

I have used alignment in D&D and some other games, but most games don't even have it and they are not less off for it. 

And of late, I am thinking that D&D doesn't need it either.

I am not saying that "Evil" and "Good" do not exist in the game in some moral gray space. There is alignment as an idea, a universal moral concept, and alignment as a game mechanic. As a game mechanic, that time has now passed.

Cases in point.

I played a Lawful Good paladin in the AD&D 1st ed days. That's redundant because the only paladins were lawful good. However, he traveled with a Neutral Evil Assassin, which was explicitly against the rules. We solved that issue by having a prophecy that these two had to travel and adventure together because their fates were linked and they could not kill each other. What were their fates? Well we only found out later on (and there may have been some retconning) that the Paladin's son and the Assassin's daughter would fall in love.  In this case, the rule about alignment got in the way of a good role-playing opportunity. 

As time went on, the assassin was less and less evil. I eventually concluded that he was Chaotic Neutral with some evil tendencies. And my paladin became more and more Lawful Autocratic than anything. Rules have to be followed because they are The Rules.  Alignment never served them well despite the restrictions both classes had on alignment. Yes, the hard-core rule lawyers will point out I wasn't playing them right or some other nonsense to justify their memorization of rules, but that is the same problem my Paladin had. Rules for the sake of Ruling and nothing else. 

Another issue. I am playing the Baldur's Gate 3 video game now and I love it. While there is a Detect Good/Evil spell, nothing in the game is alignment-specific. 

There is a Hobgoblin named Blurg, a member of the Society Of Brilliance, an order of sages who want to study and bring culture and civilization to the Underdark. Talk to him about it, and he is obviously intelligent and wants to study the rich ecological conditions in the Underdark and it's vast richnesses that could allow everyone to live together harmoniously.  He even has a friend, a Mindflayer named Omeluum, who wants to help the PCs. Both are from "evil" species, yet they do not perform an evil action. Indeed the actions they do perform can best be described as good or at worst self-serving. So maybe Chaotic Good? Neutral is what the Forgotten Realms Wiki has him as.


What about Karlach the tiefling? She has killed, but yet she is one of the nicest, happiest characters in the game. Shadowheart worships the evil Goddess Shar, she should be evil by D&D rules, yet she dislikes needless violence and has a soft spot in her heart for kids and animals. And SPOILER: You can also convert her to the Goddess Selûne, effectively changing her cleric's alignment with no loss of powers. Granted Shar and Selûne have a complicated relationship.

At no point in character creation did I list an alignment. 

Even in the image above, the representative characters don't fit all that well all the time. Darth Vader was redeemed in the end. The Doctor has murdered millions even entire species. Captain America though might fit Lawful Good most of the time.

D&D 4 added the Unaligned alignment and made Succubi Lawful evil. D&D 3 made Orcs Chaotic Evil. D&D has published entire books where NPCs never had an alignment listed. 

I use alignment, but I am seeing less and less need for it in my games. Spells like "Know Alignment" and "Protection from Good/Evil" now will rely more on hostile intent.  

Now, Ill likely keep the Outer Planes as they are and will have to figure that out someday, but for now I am content ditching the whole system.

Thursday, August 10, 2023

#RPGaDay2023 Favourite tie-in FICTION

 Normally I avoid tie-in fiction for RPGs. 90% of the time, you can what I call, "hear the dice being rolled in the background." Most of it tries to cleave too close to the rules and less interested in telling a good story. 

But that is not always the case.

Back when I was gearing up to run the GDQ series for my family, I wanted to read what others had done, to immerse myself in the world and the adventures again.  That is when I discovered the writing of Pauli Kidd.

Pauli took the familiar locations and then gave me characters I really enjoyed. The Justicar, Escalla, even Cinders. They were a very rare treat. She did a fantastic job here, and I never heard the dice once.

The Justicar and Escalla books

Set in the World of Greyhawk, these books are less about these fabled locations and more about the characters. I had so much fun with them that I included Evelyn, the Princess Escalla as the daughter of the Justicar and Escalla (half-human/half-pixie, looks like an elf) in my own running of these adventures. Through interaction with the party, she became the lead freedom fighter to free the surface elves from their enslavement by the Drow across multiple planes. 

Another set are the Brimstone Angels series for the Forgotten Realms by Erin M. Evans. While the books focus on the twin tieflings Farideh and Havilar, the books cover some of the biggest events in Faerûn and even deftly cover things like the changes in world history from 3rd Edition to 4th Edition to 5th Edition.

Brimstone Angels

Her books were so well received that it even added details to the rules, such as Mahen, Farideh, and Havilar to the list of Dragonborn names. 

There are few others, but these are the best in my mind.


Saturday, October 29, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: 4e Witches

Yesterday I took a look at the World of the Witch for 4E. Today I want to re-reflect on the official witch from 4e in Heroes of the Feywild. I also want to go over the Heroes of Shadow. While there are no witches in that volume they very well could have been.

Heroes of Shadow (4e)Heroes of the Feywild (4e)

Player's Option: Heroes of Shadow (4e)

PDF and Hardcover book. 160 pages. 

For this review, I am considering the hardcover version I purchased when new and the PDF from DriveThruRPG.

The Shadowfell is now a feature of the D&D 4 landscape and many products have discussed it including many of the adventures and Monster Manuals. With the Player's Option book we get classes and races based on the shadow realms and how they can be used.

One of D&D4's greatest strengths was its modularity. Adding or subtracting material from the game was easier than ever before. It is a feature that 5e adopted, though not as radically as 4e. Adding more classes then never felt like a bloat since you could limit the number of classes or races or any other feature. The Player's Option books were that in execution. Heroes of Shadow introduces the Assassin class, the Blackguard Paladin option, the Vampire class, the Binder option for Warlocks, and additions to other classes such as clerics (death domain), warlocks (gloom pact for hexblades), and the Necromancy and Nethermancy schools for wizards. Since classes are so detailed this covers the majority of the book.

The Vampire class should be mentioned since it is different. The idea behind it is that no matter what a person was before this, they are now a vampire and they can progress in power as a vampire. Not for everyone, I am sure but there was an elegance to it that can't be denied. It also worked quite well, to be honest.

There are some new races of course. The Revenant is back from the dead with the power of the Raven Queen with them. The Shade has traded some of their mortality for Shadow stuff. This is the best version of the Shade since 1st ed. The Vryloka are living vampires, one of my favorites in 4e, and variations on Dwarves, Elves/Eladrin, Halflings, and Humans.

There are new Paragon Paths for many classes and Epic Level Destinies. A handful of new feats and some new equipment.

It is a fun set of options that really had the feel of the shadow-soaked 4e world down.

Plenty of great ideas for a 5e game using the same classes (all have 5e counterparts) or as fluff for other versions of the game.

Player's Option: Heroes of the Feywild (4e)

PDF and Hardcover book. 160 pages. 

For this review, I am considering the hardcover version I purchased when new and the PDF from DriveThruRPG.

In general like Heroes of Shadow, Heroes of the Feywild assumes that these characters are either from or have strong ties to their "homeland" in this case the Feywild. IF you have any interest at all in the Feywild or any sort of land of the Faerie (such as Avalon, Alfheim, or any number of others) then this is a good book. While not really compatible with older editions of D&D there is still plenty that can be used. The feats even are written that they could even be used with Pathfinder or D&D 3.x. I found plenty I can use for my current 3.x game that I run with the kids and Ghosts of Albion. I actually ended up liking this book more than the Heroes of Shadow book out earlier.

The Witch The witch is a new "sub-class" of the wizard that basically learned in the Feywild. On one level I didn't like this since the witch isn't really a type of wizard. But in reading it I can get past it since the witch is only a type of wizard "mechanically", she uses the same rules as a wizard and thus all the same powers, feats, magic items, Paragon Paths, and Epic Destinies the wizard can use. In this respect, it makes her more like what I have done in the past where wizards and witches are both a type of "magic-user". It gives the witch a lot of power to choose from.

The witch has two builds or covens she can choose from, a Full Moon Coven and a Dark Moon Coven, or if you prefer a good witch and a bad witch. The covens have some powers associated with them, but the witch is still free to choose powers as she sees fit. Only Paragon Path is given, the Legendary Witch, and it focuses on the two covens. It lacks any strong thematic element, but this is a complaint I have had of the Paragon Paths of the post-Essentials line. The Epic Destiny, the Witch Queen, though is quite good. I had done something similar as a Prestige Class for 3.5. This one is different but there are some interesting powers and effects.

I might try a multi-classed witch/warlock, but that might be splitting my roles a bit too much

Powers and Spells What sets this Witch apart from another Wizard or a Warlock are her spells and powers. The witch relies on her familiar to learn magic. Something I have seen more and more of late in FRPG versions of the witch. Her magic has a distinct feel to it different than that of the warlock, even if there seems to be some overlap. Witches do get a minor healing power from the Full Moon Coven, and her magics in general are more subtle. She does not, for example, have a fireball-like spell, but she can change monsters into other animals and they take damage for it. Heavy on the charms and transformations. Lots of powers with the Psychic keyword. Some are similar in theme to the Warlock; Horde of Puckish Sprites is not too different, save in level than Pixie War Band.

I would like to see more about the relationship between Witches and Warlocks. Especially given the Fey commonalities and interactions with Patrons. I think I'll have to write that myself now given that the 4e is a dead game line.

Non-Witch Material There are three new races to play that are well suited to a Feywild/Faerie World sort of game. The Hamadryad, the Satyr, and the Pixie. All have something very interesting about them and I'll stat up some witches for each race as well. There are other class builds as well the Berserker (Barbarian), Protector (Druid), and Skald (Bard). All great for a pseudo-Celtic-themed game of D&D. Just add Player's Handbook 2 to the mix to get the base Bard and Gnome and you are set. Honestly, there is enough here to run a high-magic game and never leave the Feywild.

Overall I am very pleased with this book. It's not perfect, but it is very, very close.

4e books

The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween

Friday, October 28, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: World of the Witch 4E

World of the Witch 4E
Moving up to D&D 4e now (I have pretty much-covered everything for 3e), I get to one of the stand-alone Witch Classes.  How is it and how does it compare to the Witch in Player's Option: Heroes of the Feywild?

World of the Witch 4E

PDF. 105 pages. Full-color cover and interior art.

I would call this book a "full service" D&D 4e book. It was published well after 4e was done as a line so it has the advantage of a long development time. It also can incorporate the best of what 4e had to offer.

To start we have seven character themes; the Black Cloak of Vanuna, Cat Sister/Brother, Cauldron Adept, Maleicar, Sea Witch, Temptress/Tempter, and the Witch Priestess. Each gaining some sort of mechanical and roleplaying benefits.

Witch Class

Next, we get to the Witch Class. This is not a subtype of the Wizard like we see in Heroes of the Feywild, but their own class. There is even a nice sidebar about Witches vs. Warlocks.  For this witch the abilities are Charisma, Constitution, and Wisdom, so exactly like I would suspect.

There are four archetypes, here known as covens. They are the Hag Witch (combat ready), Karmic Witch (reactor), Primeval Witch, and White Witch. Each gets a feature or power. 

All witches get the Bewitch feature at 1st level as well as the Ritual Caster feat.

As with all 4e books, we get a long listing of the various at-will, encounter, daily and utility powers they get. A lot of these look really fun. Makes me miss 4e.

Paragon Paths

At 11th level you can choose a Paragon Path with gives you access to other magic. These are the Night Hag, Black Witch, Pact Witch (you have to be a Witch AND a Warlock), and Shaper. There is some text on other published Paragon Paths.

Note: There is no Epic Destiny here.

New Feats

While not as bad as 3e in terms of feats, 4e still has more than 5e does. But that is fine, I like feats to be honest.

Tools of the Trade

lots of mundane and magical tools for the witch.

Lore & Locations

This covers covens, people, places, and things. This book also has a Daughters of Darkness coven! I suppose that should not be a surprise really. Lots of variety here and that is nice. 

There are some NPCs here including a goddess-like figure and some powerful witches. 

The Witch Kingdom of Amarath

Now, this has my attention. It was a kingdom for and by witches and ruled over by three Witch Queens.  There is not a lot here, but for me, it is worth the price of the PDF.

Witch Adventures

There is a table of 50 plot hooks followed by a section on more developed ideas for a campaign. 

There are even new monsters and NPCs listed.

All things considered, I rather like it all. There are a lot of good ideas here and the powers feel about right.   I am a bit removed from 4e nowadays, but this makes me want to play it some more.

Compared to the Player's Option: Heroes of the Feywild witch this one has certain benefits. For me, I might combine them and play them all as one class. I would certainly grab the Witch Queen Epic destiny to use here. 

The art is fine, but all over the place in terms of quality. I don't fault them for that really. Many I recognize and have used myself, to be honest.

There is no POD option for this and I am going to take that as a plus. Why? Well, I mentioned the modularity of the 4e material before, well I can take this, print the pages I want, and build my own 4e witch book to use. Combine it with other 4e material I have and I can have the ultimate 4e witch. And this book serves as the base for all of that.

The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween

Monday, October 10, 2022

Monstrous Mondays: Books of Vile Darkness

It is the spooky season out there and we need spooky material to work with. So today I am going to cover the two different Books of Vile Darkness for the D&D 3.0 and D&D 4.0 games.  But first a bit of an explanatory note.

Books of Vile Darkness


The Book of Vile Darkness was a magic item / semi-artifact found in the original Dungeon Master's Guide. It was a book of power for evil clerics. It raised your wisdom by 1 point and gave you enough XP to move up one level. Its counterpart for good was the Book of Exalted Deeds. 

For both reviews, I am using my physical copies and the PDFs from DriveThruRPG

Book of Vile Darkness (3e)
Book of Vile Darkness (3e)

PDF and Hardcover. 192 pages. Color covers and interior art.

This one caused a bit of a stir when it was first released. For starters, there was a warning label on the cover "WARNING! Content is intended for mature audiences only." There were discussions online about it before it was released, many thinking there was nothing but shock value here. It even took some hits from Dragonlance co-creator Tracy Hickman. The book does cover more than a few topics people might find distasteful and there is more nudity in this book than ever seen in an official D&D book.

The book however was less shocking than expected and it even received praise for the author Monte Cook.

The book is filled with all sorts of ideas and if you are planning to send your players to any of the lower planes then this is a book you should consider. 

The first six chapters are, briefly:

Chapter 1: The Nature of Evil. This covers evil as a very real force in the multiverse of Dungeons & Dragons. There are a few new evil gods, some purely evil races, and notes on creating evil villains and some examples. There is a very cool demon-possessed blue dragon, Enesstrere.

Chapter 2: Variant Rules. This short chapter has rules for possession, sacrifice, disease, curses, and aspects of evil. 

Chapter 3: Evil Equipment gives us torture devices, execution equipment, drug, magic, and quasi-magical alchemical items. 

Chapter 4: Feats and Chapter 5: Prestige Classes have our D&D 3.0-specific materials.  Some of the Prestige Classes are rather fun like Demonologist and the Diabolist. Many Devils also get a "Disciple of ..." prestige class.  Demons likewise get a "Thrall of ..." class.  I will note that the Thrall of Graz'zt on page 69 features art very reminiscent of the witch on the cover of Dragon #114. Not the pose mind you, but it could be the same character.

Chapter 6: Magic is exactly that. Spells and magic items of an evil nature. There are lot of spells here and quite a few evil magic items all the way up to evil major artifacts including the Ruby Rod of Asmodeus. 

Chapter 7: Lords of Evil and Chapter 8: Evil Monsters are the chapters that bring this book to my attention today.

Lords of Evil gives us a brief description of the lower planes and a bit of background on the Blood War. then it gets to the good stuff. Up first are all our Demon Lords. Most of the big names are here too, Demogorgon (before his Netflix fame, though I am not a fan of the art), Graz'zt, Juiblex, Orcus, and Yeenoghu. Arch-devils are also covered. Bel is lord of the First layer here, latest (well for 2003) in a line of lords of the First. Dispater, Mammon (looking like Geryon), the incestuous Belial/Fierna (if you look closely you can see she it flipping the bird in the art on page 152), Levistus, the Hag Countess as Lord of the Sixth (a new one for me back then), Baalzebul, Mephistopheles (now a master of Hellfire), and Asmodeus. Each one is listed with major servants, lieutenants, and followers.

Evil Monsters gives us a bunch of old favorites and some new ones. In particular, we got the new Eye of Fear and Flame and the reptile-insect monsters, the Kython.

While I would not buy this for the monsters alone, it is worthwhile for the Lords and the magic chapters.

Book of Vile Darkness (4e)
Book of Vile Darkness (4e)

PDF 128 pages. Two soft-cover books 96 and 32 pages. Color covers and interior art.

This one is a bit different. The physical edition comes in two softcover books in a cardstock slipcase/sleeve.

The 32-page book is a replica of the Book of Vile Darkness on outside (great to show players) and on the inside has character options (in line with the original BoVD). This includes character themes, of the Cultist, the Disgraced Nobel, Infernal Slave, Reaver, and my favorite the Vile Scholar. Paragon Paths include the Blood-Crazed Berserker, Contract Killer, Demonlogist, Idol of Darkness, and the Vermin Lord. We get one Epic Destiny, the Exemplar of Evil. 

The 96-page book covers many of the same topics from the 3e version. This includes the nature of evil and running evil games. But does not go into the detail that the 3.0 version did.

There are some monsters here, but not a lot. There are Fallen Angels, something new to this book. A demon, a devil, and a new type of hag.  So not as dark as its predecessor. 

Still, it is one of the 4e books I have held on to because there are some good ideas here. 

Monday, July 18, 2022

Monstrous Mondays: The D&D 4e Monster Vaults

When 2010 rolled around it was becoming obvious that 4e was not going to sell as well as previous versions of D&D. It still sold well, but it was not hitting the number that WotC and Hasbro wanted.  Since the old adage was "Core Books sell better" the 4e team reintroduced the D&D 4th edition game with the 4e Essentials line.  While no a new edition really, it was designed to make the 4e game a bit easier to play and run and make it more like old editions of the game.  

It was not quite successful but it did re-interest me in the game after playing 4e for a bit and then drifting off to Pathfinder.  

One of the "interesting" changes in 4e Essentials was the shift of the "Monster Manual" to the "Monster Vault."

D&D 4e Essentials Monster Vaults

They were called these since the first Essentials Monster book was a boxed set with the digest-sized book and monster tokens for all the creatures in the book.  Nice touch for a mini-focused game.

So for today's Monstrous Mondays I am going to look at the two Monster Vault books, both PDF and physical, and talk about what they added to the game and the depiction of monsters.

Dungeons & Dragons Essentials: Monster Vault (4e)
Dungeons & Dragons Essentials: Monster Vault (4e)

PDF (and softcover). 320 pages, full color. No PoD option on DriveThruRPG at this time. $8.99 for PDF.

Released in the later part of 2010 this book was part of the Essentials transition line to help "save" D&D 4e. 

The monster book of the D&D 4e Essentials line covered a number of monsters already present in the D&D 4e Monster Manuals.  I'll get to that part in a bit.

The product came in a box, much like the Essentials DM's kit. Along with the digest-sized book, there were a bunch of tokens for all the creatures, a fold-out map of a dungeon/wilderness area (for the  "Cairn of the Winter King" included adventure), and even some NPC/PC tokens.  The tokens also featured rings to make a monster go up a size. So a large creature could be upgraded to huge for example. The PDF of this book includes the maps and tokens to print out.

The book format largely followed that of the previous monster books but presented in the Essentials style.  Of course, you could use 4e and Essentials material interchangeably and the monster books are the best example of this.  An effort was made not just to repeat monsters and stat blocks from the previous books. For example, the Monster Manual has an Orc entry and features the Orc Drudge (L4), Orc Warrior (L9), Orc Raider (L3), Orc Berserker (L4), Orc Eye of Gruumsh (L5), Orc Bloodrager (L7) and Orc Chieftan (L8). The Monster Vault has Battletest Orc (L3), Orc Savage (L4), Orc Archer (L4), Orc Reaver (L5), Orc Rampager (L6), Orc Pummeler (L6) and Orc Storm Shaman (L6).  The art in the book is replicated on the tokens. Each token is also used as an "icon" in each entry.

There are 64 major monster entries, including Animals, here with anywhere from 1 or 2 to as many as 8 sub entries under each. Orcs have 7, demons have 7 and even displacer beasts have 3.  This gives us just over 300 monsters.

I don't personally feel that the Monster Vault was designed to replace the Monster Manuals. After all the "named" demons like Orcus, Demogorgon and Lolth never appear in the Essentials Monster books. Though there is naturally some overlap, but it is nowhere near what you saw in the Monster Manuals for 3.0 to 3.5 or even the Monstrous Compendiums of 2e to the Monstrous Manual.  I felt they were designed to be more complimentary. 

Monster Vault: Threats to the Nentir Vale
Monster Vault: Threats to the Nentir Vale

PDF (and softcover). 128 pages, full color. $14.99 for PDF, $32.99 for PoD or $47.98 for both.

If the first Monster Vault was designed to replace or complement the D&D 4 Monster Manuals then a case could be made that Monster Vault: Threats to the Nentir Vale could be considered the D&D 4e Monster Manual 4.  Indeed, with the updated MV monsters in the fist book, combined with this book a hard cover Monster Manual 4 could have been created. While the cover features a cool looking black dragon, the hard cover could have been Graz'zt to continue with the demon-focused covers.

This originally came as a softcover book in a shrink-wrapped paper slip-case with card-stock tokens like that of the Monster Vault. These included all the monsters for this book.  The book though in this case is not digest-sized but letter sized. 

There are 40 grouping of monsters here, with some named unique creatures and threats to the Nentir Vale. So the book feels like a campaign-setting monster book. There are about 200 monsters here in total. Since there are unique creatures and Nentir Vale-focused ones, there are monsters here that have never appeared in any D&D monster book before or since. Some are old favorites with new ideas. For example, there are Gnolls, but they are the Black Fang Gnolls here and are a little more vicious.  There are new creatures, like the Frost Witches, that have not reappeared anywhere else as far as I know.  Others of course are new and have appeared in other books after this.

Personally, I would love to see all of these creatures, along with the rest of the Nentir Vale, translated into D&D 5th edition.

The Essentials Line

Back when it was new in 2010 I spent some time talking about the D&D Essentials line and how it was what 4e should have been from the start. 

I talked about the start of the essentials line here and here. I also discussed using the Essentials Monster Vault to make adjustments to various D&D 5e monsters

I feel there is still a good game in here. I might need to delve a bit deeper and even get an Essentials game going sometime.  There is still a lot of fun to be had here I think.

Monday, July 4, 2022

Monstrous Mondays: The D&D 4th Ed Monster Manual (Overview & Review)

A few months back I went through a number of the AD&D 2nd ed Monstrous Compendiums and talked about the advantages and disadvantages it had over the 1st ed Monster Manual. Also at the time, I mentioned the design choices made that also separated them from their 1st edition counterparts. 

Since today is the 4th of the month, I figure it is a good time to talk about the Fourth Edition Monster Manuals and what also made them special.  

Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition Monster Manuals

To begin with, I was and am a fan of 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons. I know it was not everyone's favorite edition, to put it mildly, but there are some really great things about it.  For starters, I applaud the design team for daring to try something new and different with the D&D game. Of course, most fans don't want new. They want the same thing, but even for the open-minded D&D 4 was a bridge too far.  Secondly, D&D 4 was a masterwork of modular design. You could take out and move around sections of it as you needed.  Yes, everything worked together, but many of the pieces could be swapped out for other pieces.  This design notion extended to the layout of the books. Nowhere is this better seen than with the Monster Manuals.

To me it seemed that 4th edition took the design elements that had made the Monstrous Compendiums successful; namely one monster per page, and all sorts of information on the monster's habitat, environment, and variations.  It is also one of the main reasons I still keep my 4th edition monster books. There is so much information here that I have been using them to inform details in my 5th edition game. 

In all cases here, I am considering my hardcover books and the PDFs from DriveThruRPG.

Monster Manual for D&D 4e
Monster Manual for D&D 4e

Hardcover and PDF. Color covers, full-color interior art. 288 pages.

This was the third book published for D&D 4th edition, though that is a mere technicality since all books were published at the same time in June of 2008. I picked mine up as a boxed set at the midnight release.

Much like AD&D second edition, the monsters for D&D 4th edition are presented as one page per monster. More or less. Sometimes the monster runs two or four pages, but always a complete page.  Where 3e had monsters built exactly like characters, 4e monsters have their own rules, much like how 1st and 2nd Ed built them. 

Fourth Edition was most certainly a "miniatures" game or, as it was hoped, to have a lot of online support and content. That did not materialize in the way Wizards of the Coast wanted and strong sales of Paizo's rival "Pathfinder RPG" kept D&D sales low for the first in the history of RPGS.  Make no mistake, D&D still sold well, it just wasn't out selling everything else.  

That was too bad really.  D&D 4 had a lot about it I liked and still like.

Monster Manual 4e

The 4e Monster Manual is 288 pages with over 170 monster entries. Many entries have multiple monsters. For example, there are three different types of Aboleth, six types of kobolds, and seven types of orcs. Along with the stat blocks, we get an idea of the role each monster plays in combat, like Controller, Brutes, Skirmishers, or Leaders, and what tactics they can employ. All the monsters have Lore with appropriate DCs for learning more about them or what a particular die roll will bring up.  The monsters also include plot hooks and ideas for using them in adventures.  

Some interesting changes happened in 4e.  For starters, some major demons, like our cover guy Orcus here, got their own entry outside of the demons category.  He also had major henchmen listed with him. 


Also, a conscious effort was made to redesign the cosmology of D&D. The effect here was to have Succubi now listed as "Devils" and not "Demons." 

not your typical devils

This caused some interesting in-game fluff with books like Erin M. Evans' "Brimstone Angels" trying to explain this "in-universe" from the perspective of the Forgotten Realms.  This lives on in 5e with succubi as now independent evil outsiders. Other changes were made to various monsters, Daemons/Yugoloths we moved over to the demons, including making them Chaotic Evil.  This might have messed with ideas of the Blood War, but there is no reason why there needs to be continuity between editions, it is just nice.

One of the things that irritated some people was not the monsters it had, but the ones it did not have.  It particular Demogorgon is nowhere to be found and many of the named devils are also not here. 

Monster Manual 2 for D&D 4e

Hardcover and PDF. Color covers, full-color interior art. 224 pages.

This book was published about a year later in May of 2009. This book also has over 170 monster entries. Some are expanded, like Giants (and I love what they did for giants in this edition) and more demons. This book also gives the impression that many monsters were held back for a second book.  Unlike previous books with the same name, Monster Manual 2, this one doesn't feel like added-on monsters. This feels more like the Vol 2 of the AD&D Monstrous Compendium.  In addition to some that are expected, there are some new monsters too.

Our cover guy this time is Demogorgon. He and all his minions get 9 pages. 

Monster Manual 3 for D&D 4e

Hardcover and PDF. Color covers, full-color interior art. 224 pages.  This is also the only book of the three that you can also buy as a Print on Demand softcover. 

This book was released in June 2010, another year after the MM2. Lolth is our cover girl this time. It would have been interesting to see Graz'zt, but Lolth makes sense too. Eclavdra also shows up in Lolth's entry.

Page for page, this one has a lot more new monsters. Not just new to D&D 4, but new to D&D.  These include the new Catastrophic Dragons which I had been looking forward to. There are a lot of new monsters and some additions to MM1 & MM2 ones, like new Fire Giants.  That is one of the features of this edition, each variation of a monster needs a new stat-block.  To be fair, D&D 3 and D&D 5 also did this a fair bit. 

Monster Manual 2 for D&D 4eMonster Manual 3 for D&D 4e

The layout is such, that like the AD&D 2nd Edition Monstrous Compendiums, the D&D 4th Edition Monster Manuals PDFs can be printed out with just the monsters you want and organized in a binder.  The modularity of the design is so well planned out that it really makes me want to print out these PDFs and just make my own Monstrous Compendium style binder for it. Sure the page numbering will be wonky, but that would not matter, everything will be perfectly alphabetized.  I could even re-integrate demons like Orcus and Lolth back to where they belong under demons. 

The art is amazing really. The visual style of the monsters flows from the 3rd Edition monster books to provide a sense of continuity even if the worlds do feel different. 

I am not currently playing D&D 4th Edition, but I find these monster books still so incredibly useful even in my D&D 5th Edition and Basic/Expert edition games.  They are also just great-looking books.  

If you are curious, there is a list of all the 4th Edition monsters