Tobold's Blog
Sunday, January 17, 2021
 
Through the Ages - Crushed by AI

On Steam, the iOS app store or Google Play, you can get Through the Ages, the digital version of the board game for between 10 and 16 Euros. As the board game is around 50 Euros, and can't be played solo, the digital version, which comes with an artificial intelligence seemed the better deal for me. Normally your main problem with an AI in a computer game is that it doesn't play very good. So it was interesting to see how in Through the Ages this is just the opposite: I win less than half the games against a single AI on the easy setting.

Through the Ages is a typical Euro game, where each turn you have a limited number of actions, each of which you can use for different things like drawing a visible card, or placing a worker to change your production of resources. There are 4 different resources you can produce, food, ore, research, and culture. In addition to that your action can affect your military strength, happiness, your form of government, or you could build wonders or develop special technologies. That is a lot of different aspects to keep in mind, and you tend to lose the game if you neglect something. For a human it is very difficult to determine where to put your effort in any given round. The AI on the other hand has some sort of weighting algorithm, which tells it in every situation which one choice among many is the best.

As a result, I frequently lose the game. If I get all my resources and military right, I fall behind in culture, which are the victory points at the end. If I make sure to not miss out on culture, I end up with weak military, and the AI crushes me in war. Or I don't get the mix of resources right and run out of options in the middle of the game. I tend to get a bit of tunnel vision, concentrating on one aspect of the game, and then lose because I put too much effort into that one, and not enough in another.

Through the Ages is still a lot of fun for me, and I am trying to get better at it. But it also is a reminder why I am not usually a big fan of such worker placement Euro games, and rather have a some sort of dungeon crawler with a story and dice rolls.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2021
 
Board game journalism and Kickstarter

The audience for $100+ board games on Kickstarter is small if you compare it to video games. The largest Kickstarter ever for this kind of game, Frosthaven, had 83,000 backers, with even half that considered a major success. Altar Quest had 5,355 backers pledging $620,000. But then, the companies making these games tend to be very small, and if your Kickstarter project makes you a million dollars in revenue in advance, that is already quite good. So, how do you get your board game Kickstarter project to be a success?

This week gave me some insight in the answer to this question. I am not suggesting that anything I observed is somehow morally wrong, but it does show some of the mechanics of advertising niche products. And while a "hype" affecting just something like 10,000 people might seem trivial, I am pretty sure that the larger hype machines work in very similar ways. The board game example is just much smaller, and thus easier to understand.

Next week, on January 19, the Kickstarter project for Primal: The Awakening will go live. How do I know about that, and what the game actually is? Because I am subscribed to several channels on YouTube which specialize on these more complicated board games, frequently with a focus on Kickstarter board games. Channels like BoardGameCo or Quackalope or One Stop Co-Op Shop or the King of Average. Channels which, due to the small size of the potential audience, each have around 20,000 subscribers. And each of these channels, and a few smaller ones, received prototype advanced copies of Primal: The Awakening, apparently with instructions to release their video reviews of the game this week.

Now, I've been (rarely) at the receiving end of a "review copy" of a game (not board games, though). If you don't get them too often, receiving a review copy of a game makes you feel kinda special, and it certainly provokes some amount of goodwill towards the people sending it. It doesn't prevent you from writing a honest review. But then, apparently the channels that frequently criticize Kickstarter board games quite sharply (like Shut Up & Sit Down, or No Pun Intended) didn't get a copy of the game. The game seems to have been sent out to people likely to like it, and speak well of it to their 20k subscribers (each, but then there is probably a lot of overlap). And if those pre-Kickstarter reviews get 10k people to pledge for the game next week, that would be quite a good return on investment on making and sending out those prototypes. As a form of advertising for a niche product to a niche audience, this is all very well done.

This might be an "everybody wins" kind of situation. For the YouTubers the prototype review provides interesting content attracting viewers to their channel at the moment where people might be most interested in it. For the viewers, a review which includes somebody explaining how exactly the prototype game works is giving them a lot more information about the game than they could have gotten on Kickstarter. I now know that Primal: The Awakening is a "boss battler", with not much story or exploration, and probably not the game for me. But I am pretty sure that there will be a good number of people who rely on these channels for their board game news, and who will be pledging to that particular project because of those reviews. So the game company certainly also wins.

One very good reason to promote your game with sending out a prototype to reviewers is that this constitutes a kind of proof how far into the development the project of making the board game actually already is. This isn't Star Citizen. If reviewers can receive a prototype board game, set it up and play it on camera, the viewer can be pretty certain that the game isn't a total pipe dream. The core gameplay and some of the artwork is obviously already there, and it is just a matter of finalizing the game and producing it. Which still can easily take a year or two. But I had 100% of my board game Kickstarter pledges delivered, eventually. And while you can still end up with a game in your hands that turns out to be not of your liking, that is something that can happen with regular retail games as well. I thought I would like Journeys in Middle-Earth after watching reviews, and turned out to be wrong.

So while I can feel how good marketing produced hype at just the right moment on YouTube for their niche product, I can't really blame them, or the board game "journalists" that participate in the exercise. These prototype board game reviews appear to me to be much closer to the eventual reality than the marketing material that video game journalists get when a game is announced. And thus these early reviews are a lot more helpful to judge whether you want to participate in the Kickstarter or not.

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Monday, January 11, 2021
 
Prep vs. Improv

I have been a Dungeon Master for D&D for 4 decades now. The feedback I get from my players is that they love my campaigns. However I always feel as if I could still do better and improve. One of the problems in learning how to DM is that while you can find lots of unstructured advice on YouTube and elsewhere, there is very little structured advice available. So I signed up for the Wizard of Adventure "epic adventure building plan". However, I soon realized that while that adventure building plan wasn't in any way bad, it was for a very different style of DM, and not really suited for my needs.

While of course any separation of things into two classes is fraught with borderline cases and exceptions, you can divide Dungeon Masters into two main classes: Prep vs. Improv. The Prep DMs spend much time preparing their adventures, and it shows: The adventures have prepared battle maps, miniatures or tokens for monsters, handouts and visuals aids. Improv DMs spend a lot less time preparing, and concentrate rather on creating worlds, campaign and adventure plots, with ideas jotted down as bullet points. Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages.

The advantage of the prep method is that the result looks a lot nicer, and is better suited for players who like the tactical combat aspects of roleplaying games. The disadvantage is that if the DM spent hours to prepare a battle map and monsters for an epic encounter, that epic encounter is going to happen regardless of what the players are doing. The advantage of the improv method is more player agency; but you pay for that with gameplay details being much more sketchy. Works great for people who like "theatre of the mind" style of roleplaying, but that isn't everybody.

Now I have always been a prep kind of DM. Not only do I like tactical combat, battle maps, and miniatures; but also I consider preparing an adventure as being somewhat like "playing" D&D, and so I get more D&D time than just the twice a month sessions my group usually does. Furthermore, due to the pandemic, my usual role-playing club is closed, and me and my group are playing D&D on Roll20. A virtual tabletop platform like Roll20 is a lot more suitable for prepared D&D than it is for improvised D&D. While you could theoretically draw a battle map on the go and populate it with tokens, the system isn't really made for that, and setting things up on the fly takes some time, which causes pauses in the flow of the game.

The Wizard of Adventure plan is suited more for improv DMs. I am trying to learn something from it anyway, especially since it was a bit pricey. But it maybe isn't the best method if you are trying to run a well prepared game on Roll20.

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Sunday, January 10, 2021
 
Systemically important media?

In the aftermath of the Capitol riot, book publisher Simon & Schuster cancelled a book deal they had with Republican Senator Josh Hawley, who had cheered the mob on. Senator Hawley called that "an assault on the first Amendment". It is pretty obvious that he is wrong on that, the first amendment doesn't give you the right to a book deal. The right of the publisher to cancel the deal is only determined by whatever termination clause is written in the contract they had with the senator. And as Senator Hawley is now a lot less popular, part of the cancelation was presumably for non-political, commercial reasons.

Having said that, I am not feeling totally at ease with Trump's cancelation on Twitter. Not that I would feel sorry for the guy, he surely deserved this one sting he actually feels. But as an example how a private company can make a decision that has a huge impact on the balance of power in national politics, this one looks pretty bad. At what point does a media outlet become so "systemically important" that it loses the power to decide who is allowed to use it? Forget about Trump, what if the next time it is *your* favorite politician or activist who gets canceled? It is not as if e.g. Bernie Sanders or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez aren't saying pretty radical stuff on Twitter sometimes, which could be construed as reason for cancelation if somebody more right-wing was in control of that company. Do we really want to have private companies to have that sort of power?

Friday, January 08, 2021
 
How do you punish a mob?

Among all the images from Washington this week, one struck me especially: The photo of a looter, carrying out a lectern from the Capitol, stopping to smile and wave for the camera. That allowed the police to quickly identify him. The photo shows that the man clearly isn't conscious of breaking the law and being in danger of the consequences. The tendency of Trump supporters to not wear face masks, even in a crowd, will be working against them. The FBI and DC police put out a call to the public to help identify people from the many available images.

So at one point the participants of the mob will be identified. And then the question is under which laws to prosecute them. One frequently mentioned option is the Trump monument executive order, a racist document targeted against Black Lives Matter protesters. It could be ironically turned around to mean up to 10 years in prison for Trump supporters, who probably cheered the law on when Trump signed it. But now that a DC policeman has died following the riots, there is an even harsher option: The District of Columbia has felony murder statutes, which means that any unlawful death happening during a felony is considered murder not only for the person causing that death, but also all of his co-conspirators.

Laws like that exist because while it is comparatively easy to identify the group of people participating in a crime, and easy to identify what crime was committed, it is notoriously hard to attribute a specific criminal action to a specific individual. Unless the crime itself wasn't filmed, each of the rioters could claim that it wasn't them who attacked that policeman, broke that door, or stole that souvenir. And there clearly were "riot tourists" in the Capitol, was simply walked in after the more violent ones had breached the building, took a free unguided tour of the Capitol and made selfies. Wearing a buffalo headdress and a spear, in one case. Some of the rioters actually complained to the press about getting maced.

So maybe the waving and smiling looter in the photo is right. American justice, freshly packed with conservative judges everywhere, isn't exactly known to be color blind. These 10 years in prison or felony murder charges maybe only apply to black or left wing rioters. The Trump rioters identified might end up with a $100 fine for a first time misdemeanor of disturbing the peace.

Tuesday, January 05, 2021
 
One Deck Dungeon - Winziges Verlies

A reader recommended the board game One Deck Dungeon (Winziges Verlies in German) to me. I had a look on YouTube, and the game seemed interesting: The one deck of the dungeon provides you with challenges in the form of monsters and traps, which you overcome with a dice-placement mechanic. Any overcome challenge can then be transformed into an item (adding more dice), a skill (enabling you to transform dice), or xp (giving you levels, which increase the number of items and skills you can have). There are different character classes, and you can play solo or with two players.

With the game coming in a small box, I considered buying it, to take with me on holidays. Unfortunately I couldn't find the English version on Amazon, except for twice the price by some resellers. But then I discovered that the game also has digital versions, so I bought the iOS version, which cost €3.49 instead of €30. That turned out very well, the app version plays exactly like the real version I'd seen on YouTube, and gives you the option to expand the game with the Forest of Shadows expansion for just €4.49, and individual heroes and villains for €1 each.

The game isn't easy, it took me three attempts before I killed the dragon, and that is supposedly the easiest villain. But the game is quick, and quite fun. While obviously luck plays a big role in a game based on dice, to win you need to build an engine out of the skills you find that enables you to improve your rolls. It is quite a puzzle, and interesting. By the way, the Steam version is still on promotion for 60% off, for the next 6 hours as of this writing. Or you can buy the Handelabra Digital Tabletop Bundle for 55% off, which is what I ended up doing, because it contained some more games I was already interested in, like Spirit Island and Aeon's End. Not all board games work well digitally, but getting a whole bundle of games for cheaper than the cheapest board game of the bundle is worth considering.

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Monday, January 04, 2021
 
Forgotten Waters

After going on a pre-Christmas board game shopping spree, I really have enough board games to last me for the foreseeable future. And then I made the mistake of watching "best board games of 2020" videos, and ordered another game: Forgotten Waters. I'll talk more about it once I have actually played it, but in this post I would like to talk about one major point that made me buy the game: Voice acting.

Now voice acting is a bit of a sore point with me, because I am unable to do it as a DM in Dungeons & Dragons. I have no talent for fake accents and voices, and us playing in French, which is only my third language, doesn't help. With the world's most famous D&D DM being a voice actor, the public perception of how D&D should be played has shifted, and a lack of voice acting is perceived as a lack of quality of your game. But apart from that issue, I do appreciate how a professionally read text can come to life beyond of what you could do by reading that text aloud. Thus I am a fan of apps like Forteller, which add voice acting to story-telling board games.

As long as I play solo, I don't mind having to read text in a story-based game. But as soon as I play with my wife, things get a bit more complicated. Either we have to sit side by side with the book set up in a way that we can both read it simultaneously, in not the perfect position for either of us. Or we read the text one after another, which means both of us need to wait for the other to finish. Or one of us reads the text aloud, which my wife refuses to do, and I'll only do for shorter stuff like text on cards. So when we play Gloomhaven, we like the Forteller app reading the introduction, trigger, and conclusion texts of the scenario we are playing to us.

Unfortunately not every board game is covered by Forteller, or has its own app. Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective has an app, but for some strange reason that app is bugged on my device, and only ever reads the text of the first case, even if I choose another case. So when I was considering whether Forgotten Waters was the right game for me, the fact that all of the story elements in the game are narrated by excellent pirate voices on an app really clinched the decision for me. Plus, I like the pirates theme, and the reviews are excellent.

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Saturday, January 02, 2021
 
Patching a board game

I mentioned a board game on this blog that I didn't buy: Etherfields. It is from the same company that just delivered Tainted Grail to me, and it caused some stir recently with some reviewers being quite negative about it. The reviewers said the that rulebook was badly written, the vertical setup of the board was unpractical, and while the "dreams" were nice, the "slumbers" you had to play between them were grindy and repetitive. Now you might think that with a physical product, there isn't much what the developers can do about fixing a board game, but apparently in this case they are at least trying. Awaken Realms announced that they are working on improving the game.

They already released a short rules guide, but will also make a better version of the rulebook, and a how to play video. They will release a high quality file of a horizontal board to print out and replace the vertical one. And they are even adding a new game mode, Continuous Dream Mode, without those slumbers that some people so dislike.

I still don't plan to buy the game, as the theme of playing through my nightmares isn't really appealing to me. But I found the concept of "patching a board game" quite interesting. Some of the patched stuff will even become physical, because there is a second production and shipping wave. Note that the second Kickstarter of the 7th Continent had something similar, making an improved 2nd edition of the original game, and offering an upgrade pack to the owners of the 1st edition, so they got cards with errata on them. Of course, some parts of a game are easier to replace than others, cards easier than the game board. But it is interesting that in spite of the Kickstarter business model, in which the customers pay long before receiving their game, the developers still care to improve the game after release.

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Friday, January 01, 2021
 
Detective games

Many of the board games I have written about in the last months were dungeon crawlers, or other tactical games in fantasy universes. But my wife and me also played two detective games: Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective and Chronicles of Crime: 1400. Both games are somewhat similar in the general premise and game flow: You start with a description of a crime, then go through a main part of the game in which you follow clues and question witnesses and suspects, until you declare that you have solved the case and you need to answer a series of questions and be scored on your answers.

The interesting difference between the two games is that the Sherlock Holmes games (there is more than one) use numbered paragraphs in a printed booklet for your investigation, while the Chronicles of Crime games (also more than one) use an app combined with QR codes on cards for the investigation.

The Sherlock Holmes gameplay is often more subtle. You read through the numbered section, which might be as much as a full page, and besides the main points of information you might notice some details which hide additional clues. It is really a game about reading comprehension, and an ability to pick up details and subtext. The downside of the system is that the booklet doesn't know how you arrived at a particular paragraph. The paragraph numbers are codes for addresses on the map, and you might learn them through different means, for example from the newspaper or from the address directory. Thus it happens that you go to a location for a specific reason, and the text you read assumes that you went to this address for a completely different reason.

In Chronicles of Crime your questions are more specific. You not simply go to a location and get all the information available from there. Some locations you need to search using a virtual reality viewer and then finding in a deck of cards all the objects you saw. You can also talk to characters about specific objects or other characters, by scanning them. So, to take an example from a better know detective game, if you visit the library, you can find Colonel Mustard there. You scan the library and see the candlestick. Now you can ask Colonel Mustard about the candlestick, or you can ask him about Mrs. White, as long as you have met her or heard about her earlier, and thus have her card to scan. The downside of the system is that the narrative description of everything is much shorter, and much more straightforward, with less attention to detail required, except for the virtual reality scene scan.

A curious thing we noticed about both games is that we don't care much about the scoring system. Both games, in different ways, count the numbers of leads you followed or time you took to solve the crime, and give you a better score if you solve the crime with fewer clues. But we often felt that we had solved the crime, but would rather continue to investigate a bit more, rather than to advance to the final step and solution. The investigation itself is more fun than achieving a higher score for less investigation.

The major disadvantage of both games is that they have zero replayability. The Chronicles of Crime: 1400 game has one tutorial case and 4 full-length cases, while Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective has 10 full-length cases (but is twice the price). The one advantage I see with the Sherlock Holmes game is that you could easily pack just a part of the game (the booklet for one case, plus newspapers, directory and map fits in one large envelope) if you want to play it elsewhere, e.g. on holidays, while with Chronicles of Crime you always need all the cards and a smartphone or tablet. But for people who don't know if detective games are for them, Chronicles of Crime: 1400 is an easier and cheaper entry level game.

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Thursday, December 31, 2020
 
Mapping the fault line

Unless you live in Belgium (and not even necessarily if you do), you probably don't know who the prime minister of Belgium currently is and what his politics are. Belgian politics are not only very complicated, they are also largely irrelevant for the rest of the world. Meanwhile the Belgians perfectly know who the president of the United States of America currently is, and what his politics are. However, both seen from afar and how they are presented in US media, US politics often appear to be mostly about partisanship, Republicans vs. Democrats. This is quite often where the political fault line is, but not always.

In a two-party political system, each party has a certain interest in at least appearing to be united against the other party. Maybe you have a preference of this wing or that wing of your party over the other, but usually you'd rather have somebody from the "wrong wing" in power rather than somebody from the "wrong party". Thus a lot of Republicans made an effort to appear standing behind Trump for the last 4 years. Sometimes they needed to use weasel words when Trump did something too outrageous, but at least the Republican politicians in power rarely let any opposition they felt to Trump show.

But since the election, the fault line has shifted. It isn't really Democrats vs. Republicans anymore, but rather something like real world vs. fantasy world. And with no Democrats supporting the fantasy that Trump actually won the election, the rift now goes right through the Republican party. And what is interesting is that the actions of the fantasy wing will probably force the real world wing to stop with the weasel words and go on record with that they really believe on January 6.

Weasel words usually work well for the media. You don't need to say that Trump won the election, you say something like "he has the right to pursue all legal options". That isn't actually a lie, and it won't get you targeted by Trump and his base. Freedom of speech means you can say whatever you want, and be protected at least from legal consequences. However, sometimes you'll find yourself in a situation where your words have legal weight, and you say them under oath or in an official capacity that doesn't leave that much wiggle room. That was pretty funny to watch when looking at the disparity between what the Trump team said in the media about voter fraud, and what they said in legal documents to the courts, where they were under penalty of perjury.

Something very similar applies to votes of members of the U.S. Congress. A vote is binary, yes or no, you can't use fancy weasel words instead, and the vote is on public record. So on January 6, every Democrat in the house and senate will vote to accept Biden's victory in the electoral college, but the Republicans will be split. Each and every one of them will have to decide whether to vote for reality, or whether to vote for Trumpism. And while the outcome of the overall vote is certain, each individual vote will be remembered by the different wings of the Republican party, and will be subject to a lot of insults and attacks. It is pretty certain the the Republicans aren't looking forward to this vote, because it will map the fault line that runs through their party.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020
 
An impressive box of Tainted Grail

Two years ago, in December 2018, I made a tactical mistake: I didn't read the small print of a Kickstarter project I backed, and went for an intermediate (Excalibur for £110) pledge for Tainted Grail: The Fall of Avalon, without paying extra for two wave shipping. As a result, while most people got their copy of the game last year, my Tainted Grail box only arrived today, two years after my pledge. But the box I received today was impressive: It contained the core game (4 characters, 15 chapters of game), the stretch goal box (another 8 character and 30 chapters of game), the very pretty but unnecessary for gameplay box of miniatures for the large guardian monsters, and a free "surprise" box containing advertising for the current Kickstarter game of the same company, ISS Vanguard. In hindsight I would have better left out the miniatures, paid for two-wave shipping to get the base game earlier, and maybe picked up some other extras like the metal dials instead of the miniatures.

On the other hand I am glad that I didn't go for a higher "all-in" pledge level. Kickstarter projects have a built-in trap known as FOMO, fear of missing out. If you decided today that you wanted a copy of Tainted Grail, you would have a hard time finding one, and certainly not at the price I paid. Expansions are usually even harder to find (Awaken Realms doesn't appear to have a webshop). The only place I could find those Tainted Grail metal dials now is on eBay, for 5 times the original price. Knowing that, one is easily persuaded to go for an all-in pledge at two or three times the cost of the core game, and end up with far more game than you can ever play. And of course sometimes a Kickstarter game is just not a good game, and then you end up with a huge box full of garbage you don't want to play.

The first Kickstarter board game I bought, 7th Continent, I backed because I had seen a prototype played at the Brussels Games Fair. These days some of those pre-Kickstarter prototype versions are being sent out to YouTubers with board game channels. So these days I wouldn't buy a Kickstarter game anymore without having seen it played and reviewed on YouTube. Having said that, all the game I got from Kickstarter up to now I enjoyed, and I backed another one, 7th Citadel, this year. So I am looking forward to finally playing Tainted Grail: The Fall of Avalon.

 

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Change in monster design philosophy

In the Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition starter adventure Keep on the Shadowfell the group encounters 8 different types of kobolds, from kobold minions with just 1 hitpoint to kobold wyrmpriests and warchief. In the 5th edition starting adventure Lost Mine of Phandelver there is only one kind of goblin, and when the story calls for a goblin leader, he has just the same stat block as all the other goblins, just with maximum hitpoints. These are just examples for the very different design philosophy in monster design between the last two editions of D&D. And I think we lost something in the transition.

The 4E design philosophy was that any monster type had some basic characteristics, but could then easily be modified to create a wide range of different stat blocks. The 4E Dungeon Master's Guide would define 7 different possible roles for monsters: artillery, brute, controller, lurker, minion, skirmisher,
and soldier. Also each monster could be of varying difficulty, from minion, to standard, elite, leader, to solo (a monster designed to be encountered alone, thus being much more powerful). The DMG had a whole chapter on designing combat encounters with groups of different monsters of the same type. Just because you saw that you were facing kobolds didn't immediately tell you what these monsters would do, and how powerful they were. You could build a whole dungeon with monsters of the same basic type, and still have a variety of different tactical encounters.

The 5E design philosophy on monsters is that a kobold is a kobold, with the only variety allowed in the Monster Manual being rolling for hitpoints. A few monsters have different types, there are two goblins on the Monster Manual and four types of drow. Years later Volo's Guide to Monsters introduced 3 more types of kobolds, but only a few races of common monsters got that treatment. Once you met a certain type of monster, let's say a gargoyle, you could "learn" its stats, and every future gargoyle you would encounter would be exactly the same. The idea was that with the help of bounded accuracy, the gargoyle would remain relevant at whatever level. Hint: It didn't work out that way.

One problem with 5th edition is that there is not enough variety to a single monster type to populate a whole dungeon. I am currently DMing Dungeon of the Mad Mage, and in the middle of the 23 dungeon levels there are 3 levels that are about two houses of drow fighting each other, one house on top, one on the bottom, and the level in the middle being a battleground. As other level of the dungeon also prominently feature large assemblies of drow, a dungeon crawl through these levels gets old pretty fast. Especially since, if played as written, every drow mage and every drow priestess always have the same set of spells (as does every "mage" NPC, etc.). The other problem is that the idea of one monster type always being the same sometimes collides with the story itself. There is a location in Dungeon of the Mad Mage where some tiny monsters have grown to 12 times their usual size; and without having a solid system of "upscaling" a monster, the altered stats presented in the module aren't working all that well.

Of course a DM can always add his own stuff: He can give different mages different spells, he can create half a dozen new varieties of gargoyle, or invent smaller or larger versions of some monster. The problem is just that the rule system doesn't give the DM any support in that. There is absolutely no advice what the CR (and thus xp) of a larger gargoyle, or a mage with a different spellcasting level would be. You have to guess the relation of size to hitpoints, strength, constitution, attack value and damage, as the rules won't tell you. 4E had official online tools to modify monsters, 5E only has a few fan-made ones (which look suspiciously like 4th edition). Virtual tabletop systems like Roll20 don't have tools for upscaling monsters (you can edit them manually), because the rules don't foresee that. So in summary, in 5th edition modifying a monster is far more work than it used to be in 4E, and that is a pity.

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