Arcane Game Lore

Remember player agency!

My Favorite Gem from D&D 4.0′s DMG2

The final gem I really liked in the D&D 4.0 DMG2 was the monster template system. It was essentially a game master’s tool kit to take a standard monster and apply a template to it which would change it up and possibly surprise players. It inspired me to create a dragon lich as a major NPC baddie in my campaign.

I also remember creating a haunt of a highway man who left a note beside his dying body instructing the party that found him to bury him and they could have his unclaimed treasure.  When the party of player characters failed to bury him and began to recover his treasure from its various location he began haunting them. I rather enjoyed the players not knowing what was after them.

The whole system of templates was very rules crunchy and tied to the D&D 4.0 rules mechanic but it did give me a lot of ideas and inspire a lot of creativity in me when it came to crafting the campaign. Not much point in reviewing the how-to section of this gem as its strictly applicable to D&D 4.0. However, any halfway creative game master can adapt the creatures of the rule system he’s using in this fashion to change the challenges in his campaign.

For example what if a game master was running a campaign where the main opponent was a necromancer who is raising undead? Suppose he had raised wild varieties of undead from the width and breadth of the creature compendium? You could have skeletal orcs, vampire pixies, goblin wraithes and so on. To make them memorable  the game master would need to merge in the new creature’s features from both sides of the creature template: the pixie vampire would have features of the pixie- ability to fly, small size, and magic as well as features of the vampire: drinking the victim’s blood, possibly shape-shifting, and magic. I can half imagine a scene where the pixie-vampire clings to a player character’s leg like a young child might and then sinks its teeth into his knee.

The fact that the templates section of D&D 4.0 inspired so much creativity in me made it one of my favorite parts of that rule set, despite the fact that it was so rules crunchy. I found it the most inspirational and liberating part of that rule system and I’ve applied ideas taken from it to other RPGs.


Categorised as: Game Aids



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