I thought I would take some time to look at products that I want, regarding Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition, but with a little bit of a twist. To the best of my knowledge, these are things that don’t currently exist in exactly the form that I want them. Running 5e for a few years now, I’ve got some specific ideas on what I would love to have as far as toys to play with that might make the experience even better.
But Jared, you say, kind and gentle reader, monster tokens already exist, and in great and myriad forms! Ah, indeed, you would be correct, but let me explain what I mean. And serious, if you did specifically talk to me while reading my blog, I apologize for my lack of telepathic response.
What I would like is a set of tokens with the following traits:
- Tokens with a different symbol on the token by creature type (humanoid, dragon, undead, aberration, etc.)
- A different color on the flip side so that you could denote special monsters of the same type in a group of those monsters (a leader with different stats, for example)
- Obviously different sizes for those creatures that exist across the spectrum of sizes
So why would this be a good idea, when we already have so many other options for miniatures and tokens?
First, as much as I love having all of the token I have, it does get to be a pain digging out my hobgoblins from my orcs or my bugbears, and once there is a distinctive picture on the token, I don’t actually want to use the “wrong” token. Some of this is a storage issue, but some of this is just the sheer variety of monsters that exist in the game now.
Additionally, there is always going to be a lag between when a new monster appears, and when a token representing that monster or something similar is likely to be produced.
Another consideration is that sometimes random encounters, reinforcements, or summoning means that producing an accurate representation for that creature is going to take some time, and having broader tokens increases spontaneous use of new creatures in an encounter.
Sure, I realize I could just not be as uptight about using the “wrong” token, but in all seriousness, it does make me less anxious to have a consistent presentation for what I am using, and I’m curious to see if I’m not alone in this desire for a uniform, more generic presentation of tokens.
It also feels like having generic tokens of this nature would be a benefit to someone just getting into the hobby, that wants to use tactical presentation, but doesn’t want to invest in a wider range of tokens.
Guided Pregenerated Characters
If you have seen the starter set for some of Fantasy Flight’s RPGs, you may know what I’m talking about with these. It’s a pregenerated character, but it has a few extra pages showing what that character looks like when it gets a little more experience, so the pregen isn’t just useful for a single adventure without advancement, but can show a player how that character might grow over a short period of time.
A better idea of what I really want can be found in Mike Shea’s Sly Flourish adventures. These characters have a streamlined set of traits, bonds, ideals, and flaws to customize the characters, and also has levels 1st through 5th on the same character sheet, showing how the character gains hit points, the changes in proficiency bonuses, extra spells gained at higher levels, etc.
I would love to see something very similar to the Sly Flourish pregens, but expanded to a full, separate product, that has even more options. For example, the Sly Flourish pregens have the most iconic combination, for example, a half-orc barbarian. While there is some customization allowed with the traits, etc., I would love a little more in the way of generic background benefits that can be mixed and matched for a minor extra boost, etc. I would also love to see a few more combinations (a slightly different barbarian pregen for human barbarians, or dwarf barbarians, etc.)
I’d also like to see a “snap on” gear package to add to the characters, so that not only could these pregens be quickly levels up, but could be more quickly and fully be used to just play a 3rd or 5th level adventure with the pregens. Ideally with multiple packages per class to allow for some more customization.
While it might be cool to expand the level range for the pregens, it might get more complicated to do the quick summary of leveling up that 1st through 5th level allows (although starting each set of pregens with a “base” of the first level of that tier, with advancement options just for that tier, might work).
I think this would be a great tool for DMs that want to run a wider range of one-shots, and a great tool for players that may be fine engaging the rules at the table, but not interested in diving into options to build characters when not playing an adventure. It feels like a strong bridge to casual players.
More of the Same Monsters, but Different!
I love new monster books, but sometimes I have realized as I have been running D&D 5e over time is that sometimes what I really want is the same monster, but different. This is something that 4e did a lot, creating different versions of the same monster, in a similar CR range, but with slightly different roles in combat.
When it comes to using 5e rules tech, what I would love to see is traditional monsters, but given more recharge abilities, so that the DM has a fun button to push, and maybe a few more customized reactions. I would also love a few more monsters with Legendary abilities.
Not only should Legendary options exist for “boss” versions of standard monsters, but Legendary abilities could be used for the trope of the “monarch of a particular kind of animal” trope. Third edition had templates for legendary or singular beasts, like the ancient, legendary bear that lives in the cave at the heart of the forest, but those templates often just added more hit dice, levels, and better armor class. Legendary actions (and recharge and custom reactions, as mentioned above) would be great for expressing this concept.
It feels like 5e did something good with keeping the 4e paradigm of not building monsters by the exact same rules as player characters but stopped short with a lot of monsters. There are a lot of tools that could make monsters run in a manner that is more fun for the DM, and more challenging for the player, but not in a manner that drains the DM’s tactical cognitive abilities by anticipating all the player options and optimizing what the monsters have available (which was a great innovation in 4e monsters--not quite autopilot, but not the tactical arms race that 3rd edition monsters required to keep up with PCs).
If some of these things exist already, please let me know. I try to keep my eyes open, but I’m sure I have missed some things here and there. The RPG space, especially regarding 5e, is a pretty sprawling place. If not, I would love to throw money at these ideas in the future.