Has anybody gone through the trouble of converting D&D monsters en masse yet?

Has anybody gone through the trouble of converting D&D monsters en masse yet?

Has anybody gone through the trouble of converting D&D monsters en masse yet? I just finished reading the core rulebook and I’m feeling pretty disappointed with the monster entries. I went back and looked at some of my AD&D Monster Compendiums and found the descriptions much more helpful. Given that I am brand new though I don’t feel too confident to start converting them all myself. Just curious if anybody has gotten the jump on me yet?

19 thoughts on “Has anybody gone through the trouble of converting D&D monsters en masse yet?”

  1. The DW book pushes that the monster description is the key to any solid monster, that all other stats and abilities come from that fiction. I feel that the fiction in most descriptions is lacking real descriptive detail. Take a look at the entry for Goblin in DW and compare it to AD&D, B/X, or something OSR like ACKS. It is like night and day. The description for the Bulette is a little story, no real description at all. Land Shark doesn’t quite cut it considering how awesome it is (see 4E Monster Manual). Given that no creature art was included it is even more imperative that these monsters include information that allows me to describe the creature to my players. It was just very disappointing. It seems like an after thought.

  2. Marques Jordan, what you’re seeing as a lack of description is intentional. A big part of Dungeon World is that the players (including the GM) are responsible for building the world through play. The Goblins in my DW game might be different from the Goblins in other people’s DW game. Not describing the monsters in exacting detail or providing illustrations allows the same monster entry to be used by every group, even though they all have different visions of what a Bulette is.

    There is nothing stopping you from using the monster descriptions from another OSR game if you like them better. If you love the Pathfinder Goblins for example, then use them.

    The point is, like almost everything else in DW, the monster descriptions are loose and vague so that the players can fill in whatever details they feel are appropriate.

  3. I love this “fill it in yourself” concept as it applies to DW, but wished there was more to go on with the monsters. In regards to folks stating up D&D monsters, I was hoping to have the mechanics part out of the way ^_^;

  4. Not to keep picking this nit, but the monsters in the DW book are the same monsters you’d find in any typical D&D-style fantasy bestiary. They’ve just had the serial numbers filed off so they can work in multiple settings. I’m not really sure what more you want.

  5. Yeah, if you want stats I recommend using the Codex linked above to search for the type of monster, then steal numbers that look about right, then asking your players questions about them.

    As an example here’s what happened in my last game:

    players are locked in a tavern a-la Dusk Till Dawn and vampires start to emerge

    GM: “who here has encountered vampires before?”

    Slayer raises his hand

    GM: “give me two ways to kill a vampire”

    Slayer: “Decapitation or destroy the heart”

    Automatically this makes our vampires fictionally different than any others and I handled it different in play. I didn’t even bother with HP because according to my Slayer they can only be killed in one of those two ways. This made the fight harder for them, sure, but they created a ton of lore.

    You can also ask them things like:

    “What do these monsters look like?”

    “What kinds of weapons are they carrying?”

    Etc. Then just weave it all in to how you run the monsters.

    Honestly, having come from D&D myself I look back now and find those monsters tame compared to some of the things we’ve created at the table. I read somebody’s blog that involved the players cornering an owlbear on a cliff and then the owlbear flew off the side because, fuck it, they can do whatever you want them to do!

  6. DW takes getting used to in all facets. You reference D&D editions up to 4th, so I’m guessing you’re a long time D&Der as I am (or was). My advice to you is to stop comparing them and, most importantly, don’t try to force DW to emulate D&D other than in spirit. If you do, not only will you frustrate yourself, but you will miss out on what makes DW so awesome in the first place.

    I had to remind myself at first, whenever I found myself trying to emulate 4th edition with DW, that there was a reason I switched to another system entirely in the first place. I didn’t just switch D&D editions; I sought out a new system and found DW. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll always love D&D, but I realize now that the D&D I played, when it was the most fun, barely resembled the D&D in the rule books.

    Focusing more onto your main point now, and somewhat reiterating what’s been said by others here, when you use hard descriptions and stats, monsters become static. For the most part in D&D, any given monster you encounter will be the same in any campaign. Totally new players in your game as DM will know exactly what to expect from a specific monster if they have encountered it before in another DM’s game. Whether a home game or RPGA, this is universally true. Think about that for a minute – how boring! Secondly, hard stats and descriptions lock a monster unrealistically down to a specific range of a character’s experience. A 14th level party in D&D will yawn as they mark down XP if you even think about having them encounter goblins, because goblins are “built” for lower levels – how mechanical! Don’t PCs ever wonder why it is there used to be so many goblins in the world and suddenly at some arbitrary moment in their lives there just aren’t anymore???

    DW allows a goblin to be a threat at any level. Furthermore, each goblin encountered can be different on the most fundamental levels because there are no hard stats or descriptions to get in the way. I may sound like an insane cultist babbling at the altar of DW, but truly, it can really liberate you as a DM if you just let it instead of fighting it.

    Sorry for the long post – a lot of concepts to mull over.

  7. I just typed all 154 entries into a format I needed and actually found the descriptions brilliant in that they gave a fiction for each entry. It is the fiction that you need more than a detailed description. The fiction primes your imagination so that you easily can breathe life into each encounter.

  8. Note that I meant no disrespect Adam. I’m coming from a very different place than most of you. I’ve never really played Fantasy before. I’ve played some MMO’s, tons of JRPG video games, watched movies set in Fantasy settings, but never really touched fantasy in TableTop RPG’s. I’m relatively new to the hobby as a GM and Player, though I’ve watched the industry for the last seven years.

    My wife and I have decided to start up the hobby and after speaking with her a great deal we settled on OSR themed Fantasy gaming. DW fits the bill in every way we need it but when it comes to the monsters, I don’t exactly have much to go on. No experience and no familiarity. Due to my research on OSR I am aware of what monster descriptions look like in other products. Thanks to Barns & Noble I’ve been able to flip through the 4E core books.

    Getting my wife into gaming has been difficult. I’m trying to lighten the load as much as possible. The less emphasis there is on her in the beginning to be creating new details out of thin air the better. Anything she knows about fantasy pretty much stems from WoW, Guild Wars, and LOTR. I have a little more knowledge than she does, but not a whole lot.

    So in our particular situation, we both look forward to experiencing the glory of classic D&D. To us it isn’t old or overdone. It is new and exciting and we want that core experience. When we start to get tired of it and she is more comfortable with being in the spotlight and put on the spot, re-imagining classic standby’s will be far more viable and attractive. But for where we are right now, what we need and what we want, those long and drawn out AD&D 2E Monster descriptions really do hit the spot.

    Thank you all very much for your feedback. I hope I haven’t offended anyone here. Different strokes for different folks and all that =)

  9. That makes much more sense. I was looking for concrete physical descriptions. As adventure hooks they look just right =). And I agree Christpher. I think I’ll use those AD&D 2E for descriptions and the hooks to spice things up. Thank you both ^_^

  10. Marques Jordan

    Close your eyes. Think the goblin. Feel the goblin.  See the goblin. What does he look like? What does he wear? What is he chewing on? Now open your eyes and tell us. He charges! What weapon does he have? What does he shout? Shout it!

    You don’t need a monster’s compendium to tell you that! Your goblin is unique, memorable and awesomely badass.

    Other people’s goblins? Meh. We’ve been there. Done that. Boring. 

    As Adam  said: Leave blanks. The best nightmares don’t crawl out of the woodwork. They crawl out of the blanks.

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