So lets start with a little history before I get into the meat of the project.
Like many people I got my first taste of actually playing D&D in 4th Edition, but I didn’t really get into things a great deal until I got invited to play in 5th Edition
Now, one thing I loved about 4th Edition was the variety of monsters, and I don’t mean “Owlbears, Beholders and Mind Flayers”, but rather that in 4th Edition there were multiple types of a monster, I’ll just boil this down to Goblins.
So lets compare 4E and 5E Goblins, okay? We Won’t bother with Hobgoblins and Bugbears, just Goblins.
When we look at the core Monster Manual for each edition, we have as follows:
Fourth Edition Goblins:
Goblin Cutter – Level 1
Goblin Blackblade – Level 1
Goblin Warrior – Level 1
Goblin Sharpshooter – Level 2
Goblin Hexer – Level 2
Goblin Skullcrusher – Level 3
Goblin Underboss – Level 4
fifth Edition Goblins:
Goblin – CR 1/4
Goblin Boss – CR 1
Lets look at that, 4E has 7 Goblin types, individual troop tactics and lore, but 5E has a mere 2 types, and lore.
Hell, 4E even has a page with suggested enemy party compositions detailing up to level 5 (and yes, I am aware not every entry in the MM had detailed encounter groups)
Think about that for a moment, 4E gave you tactics and potential encounters covering the first tier of play.
I can imagine you are asking yourself “But why is this important?”, and I shall tell you.
Lets look at the design principles of 5th Edition D&D.
In contrast to past publishing, we don’t have any slimline modules, everything is a hard back book covering (and I am combining Hoard and Rise into one adventure for this) generally levels 1 to 15.
All the published adventures are big, epic affairs, where you’re fighting gods, defeating an epic Vampire, doing Giant politics, or taking a stroll through the hells.
Not debating the quality of these adventures, but the design decision has been “Go big, or go home”, we don’t have a small cult in your local town for levels 1 to 5, but rather exploring all of Icewind Dale and defeating Winter itself.
I’m not saying big campaigns aren’t good, they allow players to feel epic and explore their classes.
But what if you want to be a local hero? Save a small town from a band of Goblins attacking them?
What we have RAW for this really just amounts to “Throw more Goblins, or Goblinoids at the party” which doesn’t really feel like a solution.
A big thing about the design principles of 5E is “DM fiat”, that the books are all simple enough and you can change them as you want, so if you’re fighting Goblins and want to create (for example) a Goblin Champion, they lose the Scimitar and gain a stronger sword, more armour etc etc.
It’s a simple system that does work, I won’t argue against it.
But I want more.
So this is where I apologise for the title of this post, as this project is really about taking inspiration from 4th Edition more than anything, but my plan is to try and bring some of that 4E design into 5E.
The project as it stands, will begin with a simple premise, I will begin looking back at some of the older monster variants in 4E and seeing if I can transpose them into a 5E style.
Short term, I will be beginning with Goblins, looking to bring (renamed) Goblins into 5E for those wanting Goblins who level up with them, then I will be branching out into other monsters, though Kobolds may also be featured early on.
Long term, I may very well try and produce an adventure that includes the Goblin specifics, carrying a part from 1st to 5th level, with a boss at the end, as I will want to try and make them an adventuring threat all their own, and not just a thing for level 1 players.
All posts in this project will come under the 4E Project category (until I have a better name for it).