Monster Manual 3 on a business card

July 29th, 2010 by paul

With the changes to monster stats in Monster Manual 3, it's now so easy to create monsters that I can fit all the formulae I need for attacks, defenses, and hit points on a wallet-sized piece of paper, and I'd still have room on the back to sell adspace (targeting the coveted 18-34 "people who are photo ID" demographic). In fact, I'm thinking of replacing MM3 with a business card.

Note: Through April 10, you can get MM3 business cards as a backer bonus for my Random Dungeon Generator poster!

Business card front

(high-quality printable version)

Business card back

(high-quality printable version)

Also on a business card:
Character Sheet on a business card

I like to come up with my own monsters on the fly. Once I come up with the idea of a giant roc with four elephant heads, I don't need a Monster Manual to tell me that it has a fly speed, can make four grab attacks, and that it drops armored PCs onto sharp rocks to get at the food inside.

What I like the Monster Manual for is that it provides me numbers. If I want to run my Crowliphaunt as a level 12 elite brute, I can open the monster manual, look up a level 12 elite brute (flesh golem, for instance), and use its attack bonus, defenses, hit points, and damage expressions, swapping in my own damage types, status effects, and bizarre special abilities.

Really, though, there's a lot of excess poundage in the Monster Manual that I don't use every session. A while ago, I started running monsters using a cheat sheet listing the average defenses, hit points, etc. of each monster role, along with the damage expressions from DMG page 42. This cut down the Monster Manual to about a page.

With Monster Manual 3, the algorithm for building monsters has gotten even easier. There is less variation between the roles: for instance, every role has a to-hit bonus of around 5 plus monster level. Here you can see Greg Bilsend's reasoning for the change.

The change to monster damage, though, is the big improvement in Monster Manual 3. It's been upped by about 1/2 point per monster level, to 8-plus-monster-level damage, which means that I might not have to throw level-plus-four monsters at PCs anymore to challenge them. Lower-level opponents means lower opponent defenses and hit points, which should mean shorter, less marathon-like encounters.

Actually, I was already using a slightly different formula for upping monsters' damage and reducing their hit points; but all things being equal, I prefer to use the rules as written instead of a houserule. (Like the Crowliphaunt, I like my monsters RAW!)

This math does lead to some problems...

31 Responses to “Monster Manual 3 on a business card”

  1. Kato says:

    Very cool, thanks for sharing. I’ll definitely have to tuck that away in my notes for future reference!

  2. DarkplaneDM says:

    I like it. I should cook up a few of my own. I’m never quite satisfied with how I stay on top of all the numbers, conditions, hit points, blah blah blah. I’m just too scatterbrained, even when I prepare. This could help big time.

    http://www.community.wizards/darkplane

  3. [...] damage). I'd expect a level 27 brute to do (8+27)*1.25=43.75 damage. 6d10+11 is 44 damage. at blogofholding I put all the monster-generation numbers on a card suitable for carrying in your wallet: For [...]

  4. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by greywulf, robertsongames, Gato, CH News Robot, Robert C Kalajian Jr, David Wendt and others. David Wendt said: RT @greywulf: Monster Manual 3 on a business card http://tinyurl.com/35qde7e Genius! #rpg #dnd [...]

  5. [...] Monster manual 3 on a business card! __________________ http://blogofholding.com [...]

  6. [...] examining the MM3 on a business card, we see that every level, monsters get +1 to hit, defenses, and damage. At level 1, they have about [...]

  7. Lily Evans says:

    i love to make business cards at home, you can make a nice one by just using an inkjet printer“.

  8. [...] you want to throw at the party and scale the stats down accordingly. With all the Cheat Sheets and Monster Manual 3 Math available, you have no excuse. And for Gygax’s sake, stop worrying about balance all the damn [...]

  9. [...] At the bottom of the card, it referred to blogofholding.com, presumable the creator of the card. Not having heard of them before, went to check them out. After a bit of searching, I discovered an article on Monster Manual 3 on a Business Card. [...]

  10. [...] for monsters, and make use of the MM3 formulas in the compiled update PDF or the summary at Blog of Holding's Monster Manual 3 on a Business Card. With that, I can whip up an entire encounter of fairly-well-balanced custom monsters in under half [...]

  11. [...] Putting these elements together (theme, characters, and scene elements), I move to imagine the kind of conflicts that could potentially occur in the game. In many games, this means flipping through some kind of creature catalog and figuring out what kind of enemy works. I’m a big fan of taking a stat block and throwing out the color to just make something work. I’m a bigger fan of games that have such simple NPC and enemy generation mechanics that it can be done on the fly. These include FATE-based games, story-based games like Dread, and also (surprisingly), D&D 4E, which has monster generation mechanics that can fit on a business card. [...]

  12. Travis says:

    This is kind of sad, actually. It is like seeing a photo of the puppeteer under a muppet. It makes 4th Edition seem even more like a grand miniatures wargame.

  13. [...] to find a reliable way to convert them all to new monster-maths For your convenience: Monster Manual 3 on a business card, which updates the monster math. Just throw that MM1 right in the garbage! The yellow and purple [...]

  14. [...] Monster manual 3 on a business card! __________________ http://blogofholding.com [...]

  15. [...] and Dark Sun builds on that. The Dark Sun monsters don't need any adjusting, and work quite well. MM3 on a Business Card covers the new basic math. (While it doesn't have too much content appropriate for Dark Sun, the [...]

  16. [...] Google is your friend! Monster manual 3 new damage expressions are also summed up by the Monster Manual 3 on a business card. __________________ "In Life's name and for Its sake, I advise you I am here on the business [...]

  17. [...] not providing specific attack and damage numbers, since I just ran it using Monster Manual 3 on a business card. I made it a 14th-level solo, but it should work at any [...]

  18. [...] character sheet with you. Wouldn't it be nice if you could fit it in your wallet, along with your Monster Manual? Business card front (high-quality printable [...]

  19. [...] and reskin a similar monster of the appropriate level from any of the monster manuals (or use this if you want to quickly level up something on the fly). In the future, I may [...]

  20. [...] If you want or need to use a monster from Any of the Pre-MM3 books, I'd suggest applying the "New Math" to the monster, which will make it at least less grindy, in my opinion. That math can be found here: http://www.wizards.com/dnd/files/UpdateDMG.pdf Or here's another "quick" reference: Monster Manual 3 on a business card Blog of Holding [...]

  21. [...] you want to throw at the party and scale the stats down accordingly. With all the Cheat Sheets and Monster Manual 3 Math available, you have no excuse. And for Gygax’s sake, stop worrying about balance all the damn [...]

  22. [...] @SSquirrel I think it is this little beauty? Monster Manual 3 on a business card Blog of Holding [...]

  23. [...] have gotten way better) needed some polishing up when I ran them in 4e. You might want to keep Monster Manual 3 on a business card ready to adjust some of the stats on the fly. __________________ It has been said that there are [...]

  24. [...] I know I'll never fully embrace OD&D because I hate using charts. I prefer simple, easily internalized rules, like 3e's Base Attack Bonus, rather than 1e's Attack Matrix charts. 4e's XP system still has a big ol' level-advancement chart at the center of it, along with XP entries for every creature in the Monster Manual (which I often don't use). [...]

  25. [...] To see the current math behind monster hit points and damage used for D&D monsters, check out the Monster Manual 3 on a business card! [...]

  26. Alec Firenze says:

    I have to say that for the last few of hours i have been hooked by the amazing posts on this blog. Keep up the great work.

  27. [...] Putting these elements together (theme, characters, and scene elements), I move to imagine the kind of conflicts that could potentially occur in the game. In many games, this means flipping through some kind of creature catalog and figuring out what kind of enemy works. I'm a big fan of taking a stat block and throwing out the color to just make something work. I'm a bigger fan of games that have such simple NPC and enemy generation mechanics that it can be done on the fly. These include FATE-based games, story-based games like Dread, and also (surprisingly), D&D 4E, which has monster generation mechanics that can fit on a business card. [...]

  28. [...] going to base this article on the mm3 maths fixes, which are neatly summed up here: http://blogofholding.com/?p=512. These maths fixes made a massive difference to paragon and epic level monsters, but didn’t [...]

  29. [...] a little more 4E advice with three links to resources that have unquestionably improved my game.The MM3 on a Business Card – Never build monsters to the old standards. Always use the MM3 ones. And here’s a [...]

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