4th Edition Monsters: Updated

Further to the D&D monster card I discussed on Saturday, faithful D20 Source readers have helped me to some extra insights. We can now be reasonably certain about certain features of the upcoming fourth edition.

For the spined devil at least, base attack is equal to two-thirds hit dice. His ranged attack bonus of +9 appears to be derived from +4 base attack and +5 Dexterity modifier. The melee attack, also of +9, can be explained as +4 base attack, +7 Strength modifier, and a -2 for making two attacks in one round. From this we can deduce that Str/Dex to attack is retained, as is two-weapon fighting (at least for monsters).

Damage is less certain - we see +4 melee, +2 ranged. The simplest possible explanation is that melee attacks add base attack to damage, ranged attacks add half. If this is true, Strength no longer adds to damage, unless there’s a feat which offers this facility.

The spined devil’s saves are calculated as 10 + half hit dice + relevant ability score modifier. Again, we don’t know if this is true for each monster or just certain types.

Potentially, standard actions are still part of the game - this would explain the designation of “spine rain” as “Standard”.

It’s early days, but it appears that the new ability score modifier formula may be ability score divided by 3, rounded up:

1-3 = +1
4-6 = +2
7-9 = +3
10-12 = +4
13-15 = +5
16-18 = +6

One effect of this is that a bonus to an ability score is less significant than the player’s natural ability score. Another, and I think this is a very big change to the numbers, is that ability scores below eight are still valid options to the players. Character generation hasn’t been leaked (and may not even be finalized) but I’m suspecting some big changes in ability score generation.

Hit points are definitely changing too. Our creature’s 47HP can be explained away as 6HP over 7HD, plus 5HP Con modifier. Either Con modifier is only applied once, or our creature receives only 1HP/HD before his Con (with double Con modifier at first level). This is more feasible than it may sound - if 10 is still an average ability score, a commoner has 4HP/level. The interesting factor will be how this maps to player characters. Will character generation encourage mages to forgo their Constitution, or will fighter-types gain hefty class bonuses to hit points?

Comments (1)

Jonathan Drain (October 15th, 2007)

Sequel to this article is up.

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