The latest Game Trade has some sample pages from the upcoming Dungeon Master’s Guide II, which I checked out with interest. One feature is a new format for stat blocks that is apparently becoming WotC and Paizo standard. WotC’s designers have recognized that the current stat blocks can be hard to use, as they have an awful lot of info crammed into to them. The new stat blocks are indeed easier to read and do a lot of calculations for you with attack options and feats and so on. As I was looking them over, I had two overwhelming feelings:
· This is a superficial fix for what is, in fact, a much bigger problem (a band-aid for your head wound, as I put it in the post title). Namely, that D&D; in its current incarnation is bloated and overcomplicated. Stat blocks, particularly those for high level characters and big hit dice monsters, are certainly a symptom but they are not the most important things to fix here. I suppose it’s against my interest to want to see 4th edition any time soon, since 3.5 was such a kick in the nuts to the d20 industry, but there’s a lot more wrong with D&D; than stat blocks.
· Now it’s going to take a full column to stat out the average NPC. That means books will have even more space dedicated to stats and less dedicated to other content.
In the original Death in Freeport, when I was statting up NPCs, I had one entry for “Important Skills and Feats” in which I provided you the key elements you’d need for each NPC based on his role in the adventure. If a NPC was a combat obstacle, I reasoned, you don’t need to know how every skill point was spent or what his Craft skill modifier is. We moved away from that because the d20 crowd was keen to see companies follow the WotC standard in most things. I’m now sorry we did and I’m thinking we should move back towards the idea. I don’t see us adopting the new stat block except for special NPCs that are worth the extra space.