As a 4e player, I find the 5th edition stat blocks a major step backwards. The idea of having to comb through multiple spell descriptions in the PHB while trying to run an NPC is unappetizing to say the least. I preferred the self-sufficient stat blocks of 4e. I know there’s a lot of hate for 4e out there, but even the most hateful edition warriors might be able to appreciate one-stop stat blocks. Well, here they are. I’ve gone through the 5e Monster Manual and expanded the stat blocks so that you need nothing more than the stat block to run the creature.
Well, that’s not 100% true. If you want your NPC to shove another creature, then you’ll still have to look up the rules on shoving. However, those rules are the same for all creatures, easy to memorize, and in some cases not used very often, so they’re best left for ad hoc reference to the PHB.
Here are some notes:
- In most cases, the basic idea is to expand the spell-like abilities, providing a full description for each. This could get insanely long, so I used some shorthand. A min/maxer would be able to manipulate this language to his or her advantage, but you’re the DM. I doubt that’s your goal.
- In addition to making the stat blocks self-contained, I also tried to make the monsters more interesting. In quite a few cases, the stat blocks follow a specific, boring pattern: “Multiattack, Bite, Claw, Claw” or “Multiattack, Melee weapon.” The giants, for example, are remarkably similar. The only difference between the hill, fire, frost, and stone giants are reach and resistance. So, even for a CR 2 NPC like the Azer, it made sense to give it Innate Spellcasting. This gave it an underpowered ranged attack, making the Azer more interesting without making it overpowered.
- I’ve noticed that the player power curve beings to distance itself from the NPC power curve by 5th or 6th level. This isn’t surprising in light of the fact that the table on page 274 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide, Monster Statistics by Challenge Rating, requires higher damage expressions for many higher-level monsters than what appears in the Monster Manual. My stat blocks reflect what’s in the Dungeon Master’s Guide, so expect tougher monsters. Note: I did not increase monster AC or hit points, because I didn’t want NPCs that would create seemingly interminable encounters.
- Legendary creatures are, across the board, interesting and well-stated out. I haven’t made any changes to the statistics of legendary creatures.
- The couatl is an example of a stat block that requires some discussion. Despite not being a legendary creature, when I converted the stat block to my format, it was over a page long (9-point font, 1/2” margins). There are some that are even bigger. This can be seen as a failure of monster design (i.e., it’s too complicated to expect a DM ever to use it as written) or a success of monster type. By the latter I mean that the full stat block should be seen as a starting point. You can delete spell-like abilities that you’re never going to use, leaving a smaller, more manageable, and more practical stat block. When you’ve deleted certain spell-like abilities, what’s left could be a couatl that focuses on healing, focuses on damage, or is best suited for a role-playing challenge. Or not. If you want to run it as written, go for it. I’m not barking out orders; I’m just providing some options.
- The further I went into the Monster Manual, the bigger the stat blocks became. High-level casters have a lot of spells.
- I added a suggestion for using a slaad in an otherwise boring encounter. I’ve had some fun with it and hope you do as well.
- For the final version, I’ve made several changes. Mostly they were pagination choices, but I had to fix my screwed up dryad (forgot some spells), and I had to correct all of the spell descriptions for Suggestion (adding the save). If you find any errors, please let me know.
- There’s a discussion about these stat blocks on ENWorld here. I’m making several changes based on the feedback I receive there. If you want the latest, greatest document, bookmark that discussion or this page.
And so, here is the complete set of one-stop stat blocks for 5e:
Completed October 26, 2015
Edited 10/31/2015: Added appendix showing all changes I made to stat blocks. Added a table of contents. Every stat block starts on a new page. Corrected several typographical errors due to copy-and-paste errors, including (among other things) missing powers, extraneous powers, and incorrect to-hit and damage expressions.
Edited 11/1/2015: Corrected cut-and-paste errors appearing in Hill Giant stat block. Added Hill Giant’s Rock power to errata.
Edited 11/1/2015: Added a date and time stamp so you can make sure you have the latest version. Added a spellcasting sheet for hag covens.
Edited 11/7/2015: Added the spellcasting variant of the Vampire. Corrected a typo in the Pixie stat block.
Edited 11/23/2015: Corrected the Archmage stat block to reflect that Fire Bolt as a cantrip.
Edited 12/05/2015: Corrected the Yugoloth: Nycaloth stat block to reference itself rather than the Lamia in the Mirror Image spell.
Edited 12/06/2015: Corrected the Yugoloth: Nycaloth stat block to reference itself rather than the Lamia in the Mirror Image spell (there were two errors, one of which was missed in yesterday’s edit).
Edited 12/26/2015: Incorporated the Official Monster Manual Errata from Wizards of the Coast. Corrected the Drow Elite Warrior to include poison damage in the shortsword attack.
Edited 06/01/2016: Corrected the typo in a Dao’s feature.
Edited 06/17/2016: Corrected the Fire Giant’s Burning Hands spell.
Edited 10/29/2016: Corrected both mind flayer stat blocks to reflect the property creature type (aberration) and alignment (lawful evil).
The most recent version: One-Stop Stat Blocks – Monster Manual
Remember, if you like what you see and want the upcoming Kobold Press bestiary to use this stat block format, pummel Wolfgang Baur with tweets saying so! He’s at @MonkeyKing on twitter, and Kobold Press is, not surprisingly, at @KoboldPress.