The interviewer gives you 3 categories: A: Yellow, B: Green, C: Fruit
And 6 items: 1: School Busses, 2: Grass, 3: Strawberries, 4. Lemons, 5. Limes, 6. Bananas
And tells you to sort them. Each category must contain exactly 2 items.
A: Yellow gets 1: School Busses
B: Green gets 2: Grass
C: Fruit gets 3: Strawberries
That much is trivial. The objects fit in no other category (OK, some School Busses aren't yellow, Strawberries might start off green or white, and pedants might argue that they're not fruits, but it'll do).
Lemons are Yellow and Fruits.
Limes are Green and Fruits.
And then we get to Bananas. They are Yellow and Fruits, and start off distinctly and Green. So one of the last 3 items will need to not be in Fruit, despite being a fruit. A compromise will need to be made. "Lime Green" and "Lemon Yellow" are common enough colours in English, so they might fit in those respective categories.
But if someone was told, without knowing the contents of any category, to locate Lemons or Bananas, would their first guess be correct?
Anyway, this is the problem facing the Monster Overhaul. Initial categorization is easy, but as categories are filled, the remaining categories encounter problems and compromises, far more serious compromises than Lemons and Bananas.
|Art from the Hostile Forests chapter by Nadhir.|
Monster Overhaul Progress UpdateIf you've missed previous updates, the Monster Overhaul is my next book. It's a generic, systemless monster manual designed for use at the table. It's full of tools, not text. Big fancy PDF and a big fancy hardcover... assuming everything works.
All entries in black are complete (or very nearly complete; the Dungeon chapter will be posted this week). They're available on my Patreon. You can see previews here or on twitter.
Entries in grey have some sort of draft or sketch, even if it's only a few words. The names aren't finalized. In fact, nothing about the incomplete chapters is finalized, even the titles.
9/20 chapters complete is good, but there's still a long way to go. The Dungeon chapter was the hardest one yet. It's only 23 pages long, but those pages are completely full of useful tools.
Various artists are hammering away at their respective chapters. I think giving each artist their own chapter has lead to some excellent results, but it does induce moderate anxiety; if I need to switch out a monster later, I may also need to get new art.
If you don't see a monster on this list and think it's absolutely vital I include it, leave a comment. I might already have a plan, but as the chapter fill in, the consequences of missing something critical become more dire. Monsters I'm not entirely sure about haven't been included; most chapters with grey entries have a list of 5-20 potential candidates.
|1||Adventurer||Alien Invader||Giant Spider||Kobolds||Cave People|
|2||Barbarian||Alien Visitor||Goblin||Wyvern||Flying Dinosaur|
|3||Cultist||Alpha Brain||Lich||Young Dragon||Herd Dinosaur|
|4||Knight||Doppleganger||Mimic||Ancient Dragon||Lizard People|
|5||Mercenary||Giant Insect||Monstrous Vermin||Tyrant Lizard|
|1||Elemental||Centaur||Beithir||Dark Fair||Blizzard Eel|
|2||Elemental Spirit||Faun / Satyr||Ccoa / Raithu||Dullahan||Snow Golem|
|3||Elemental Tyrant||Hateful Goose||Harvest Avatar|
|Hot Plains||Hostile Forests||Mysterious Mountains||Thinking Beasts||Heraldic Beasts|
|5||Hive Insects||Giant Snake||Panther||Manticore||Griffon|
|Dark and Malign||A Wizard Did It||Water||Strange Water||Divine|
|1||Ghost||Beholder||Evil Icelandic Whale||Tardigrade||Angel|
|2||Ghoul||Blink Dog||Merfolk||Beast of Creation|
|4||Ogre||Dispacer Beast||Sea Hag||Demon|
|7||Wight||Rust Monster||Hell Hound|
|9||Prophet / Saint|
|Art for the Hot Plains chapter by Lil_Tachyon|
Table of Contents and the IndexThere will be a "normal" Table of Contents: each chapter and entry, in order, with a page number. A useful tool to see the book at a glance, but potentially not the best tool to find a given monster (given the Lemons and Limes problem).
If you need a specific monster, the Index will be your friend. In this list, every monster in the book will appear in alphabetical order, plus every monster I can think of that could use the stats in the book. Synonyms and overlapping concepts. Ways you could potentially reflavour an entry. Obscure names, alternative spellings. I'll try to avoid setting-specific monsters, but the real world is fair game.
|Art from the Thinking Beasts chapter by Lucas Roussel.|
Should Ape and Gorilla have separate entries? Should Sasquatch? White Four-Armed Ape of Mars? Yeti?
Or what about the dozens of half-horse-half-bird-type things. Griffons, Hippogriffs, etc. Should they get separate entries, or should they be condensed into one? I've gone with the second option.
I have to decide at what point are two creatures sufficiently different mechanically or conceptually to warrant an entirely separate entry. Just being bigger or smaller or in a different environment isn't necessarily enough. What do they do that's sufficiently different? Do they require separate tools?
The Index and other tools should help GMs find any monsters that are "missing".
|Art for the Sci-Fi chapter by Frenden|
Cross-References EncountersEach chapter has 20 monsters. Each chapter also has a d10 table of "combined encounters"; a random encounter with 1 monster from the chapter and 1 monster from a different chapter. So half the monsters in each chapter will appear in their own chapter with a visting monster, the other half will visit another chapter. This lets me combine interesting ideas (Angel + Lamassu), allies or enemies (Harpy + Wind Elemental), or reflavour monsters (putting Storm Giants into the Sci-Fi chapter's combined encounter table as biomechanical war-titans).
Outside of the combined encounter tables, I've tried to minimize cross-referencing and page flipping. If a table is referenced, it's ideally on the same page, acceptably on the facing page, less optimally on the next page, or, if all else fails, elsewhere in the book. The entry for "Goblin" won't tell you to reference Treasure Table 14 on pg. 209, it'll contain a highly flavourful Goblin-specific loot table.
TacticsI'm also going to include a very compressed section on general tactics for different kinds of creatures, split into categories. Ambush Predators. Armed Warriors. etc. Including a "Tactics" section in each entry would pad the book unnecessarily, because many creatures share similar tactics.
It will probably go in the back of the book, along with a Phylogenetic Tree, The Origin of Species, alternative ways to categorize monsters, and other useful tools.