by Mike Shea on 22 June 2009
With the recent release of the Monster Manual 2, Wizards of the Coast added a much needed variety of new creatures to off-set the wide variety of new PC classes, races, powers, and abilities released over the past year. With the Monster Manual 2 we see a refinement of the mechanics of D&D 4th Edition monsters on top of the wide variety of new creatures we can use to threaten our players. While the book is intended for us to use these new monsters directly, we can get more than this.
Today we're going to look at three alternative ways to use the Monster Manual 2 in our games.Re-skin Chromatic Dragons
Many D&D related forums have discussed the mechanical changes found with solo creatures in the Monster Manual 2. A recent D&D Insider article discusses the reduction in hitpoints above level 11 and the increase in damage output. Though Wizards is unlikely to errata the original Monster Manual to change the original chromatic dragons, there is no reason we cannot re-skin the chromatics using the rules for the metallic dragons found in the Monster Manual 2. Consider using the statistics for the following metallics to replace those of the referenced chromatic:
Red = Gold White = Silver Black = Copper Blue = Iron or Adamantine
Though no direct match can be found for the green's poison damage, a simple element shift on any of the breath weapons would let you use any of the metallics for any of the chromatics.
Like solo creatures. Minion design also saw changes in the Monster Manual 2. The easiest way to use this design for minions in the original monster manual or in other published adventures is to increase the damage of minions above level 11 to 3/4 the level of the minion rounded up. This increase of damage will make minions more lethal than previously published minions and results in these minions being worth their experience budget.
Likewise, you might consider adding an effect on death to minions where warranted as they have done with some of the minions in the MM2.
Modify Humanoid NPCs
The Monster Manual 2 includes a wide variety of new humanoid races on top of their monstrous variety. Each of these fits across a wide enough level range to let you raise or lower their level. As defined in the Dungeon Master's Guide, you can raise the level of any NPC "monster" by adding +1 to attack, AC, defenses, and initiative; +8 hit points per level, and +1 for every other level in damage. If you want to add a bit more threat, add +1 damage per level instead of every other level. Lowering their level follows the same math in reverse. This gives each of the NPCs in the Monster Manual 2 an extra four levels above and below that they cover. A useful aid for any DM.
These are just a few examples of how the contents of this book might be used to improve your game. Never hesitate to experiment further. Now comes the long wait for the Monster Manual 3.