Request for the froggies!

Ok - as someone who consumes alot of your stuff - I've noticed something with the recent products that I wanted to comment and request on:

You guys have started to use NPC's in the same way as the paizo NPC codex products - this (IMOHO) is awesome.  What I'd like to see happen in the future-ish (knowing that stuff in layout is way to late to change) would be for you guys to just codify some of this stuff - it would be easier to know that a baron should be "free-hand fighter 9" and that "Wall-Watcher" is really the same thing as "Longsword Bandit" but uses a pike for instance.  You have used the NPC codex which is handy.

It seems like you guys are *so* close to doing this - and it would cut out some of the statblock bloat soooo much.


That is all...

This has been heavily discussed and is something you might be seeing in the next 6 months barring unanticipated changes

Zach Glazar

Frog Gog Games

Well color me happy - as I put everything into another program I've noticed at the same time the fact that you guys seemed to be using a 'frog-gods' set of standard NPCs while also re-entering the same guy for the 5th time before I realize it :)

I think the 'NPC codex' and 'Monster codex' books are perhaps one of the most clever ideas that Paizo has had - and the use of these NPC's in other books helps reduce statblock bloat, makes things easier on the GM, etc. etc. - it's not gone un-noticed or un-appreciated out here.

cycnet's picture

I don't mind some of this, but I will be honest, I prefer to have the "stat block bloat" as you call it because it makes life easier in terms of running the game to have it right on the page as we go... but I don't feel terribly strongly about it. I'd be totally into a stand-alone book of lost lands types though! Like an NPC codex/monster codex but specifically lost lands fluffed. I find myself already doing something of the sort with making more advanced cultists etc. for when level 1 and 2 mooks just don't cut it... but official froggy tome would be very cool.

If we're looking to reduce bloat in books I question the need to have an appendix of both GM maps and player maps in the print versions of your books. It seems like we could save some page count in print and not add those extras. Having them in the PDF is great, but I can't imagine why having them printed twice in the same book is necessary.

I prefer stats inline as well.  But I also like the use of archtypes.  I've been standardizing all of the FGG material in RealmWorks and working to bring the numerous wandering mobs into alignment with those presented in Borderlands.  Between archtypes and standardized encounters (which you are definitely free to add to as needed!) I am one very happy camper.

zhern's picture

Okay, so question for you all. If stats weren't inline, how do you feel about having the stat blocks in a separate supplemental bestiary that comes with the book? Obviously, style is going to differ between systems, but it makes sense that products for each system are standardized so they are recognizable to fans of the system and are focused on ease of use as well.

Frog V

I prefer to have all my stats inline where they will be encountered in the text. I hate having to flip to another part of the book or another book entirely to find stats for a monster, as it just slows things down for me. 

I have to say that the 5e Bard's Gate annoyed the bejesus out of me with all of the (stats above) references throughout. Some of them made (stats above) references to stat blocks that were not even in the book.  As I'm moving all of the content into RealmWorks, I can put it back inline where it NEEDS to be. But if I was running straight from the book I'd be marking up my books like crazy.

Please put the stats where they need to be to make encounters at the table run smoothly.

If you are looking for bloat to eliminate, move the player maps to the player reference.  Keep the module focused on the GM's stuff.

I have a suspicion you are looking to streamline layout for multiple game systems.  Do not make your material less useful for everyone in the process....  Moving stats to the end of the book is not an acceptable solution.

My copy of Bard's Gate has 67 little tabs in it. I know how you feel. 

zhern's picture

So for products such as Tales from the Yawning Portal, Curse of Strahd, and the like, you would have preferred those be done with stats inline, yes?

Shadow Demon's picture

WoTC is never going to use in-line stats in their books. Not really used much in DMGuild products either. Kobold Press started with them but has since removed them. They reference Tome of Beasts monsters in their adventures by page number not in-line stat.  

I was never excited about in-line stats but the compromise was short stats similiar to the S&W format which was an improvement over the really poor stats in Quests of Doom Vol. 1 & 2. I wouldn't have preferred the WoTC standard but got push back from Matt when he was in charge of the FGG 5e initiiative. It was difficult to get different converters to follow a short-stat standard. It was a compromise so I never really pushed it.

Without question, in-line stats are useful for those using the book during play. However, it does require more work and inflates the page count. A true page count is a layout without inline stats and player & GM maps in the back (which are really only needed in the pdf, no value in the printed book). Apples-to-apples comparison between WoTC and FGG is a better determination of the price-to-value.  Once this comparison is explored, FGG products start to seem price inflated. If one considers the pdf is not actually free than the value comparison is improved. 

The future of tabletop gaming is with VTT products like roll20, Fantasy Grounds, and d20Pro or in GM campign software like RealmWorks. A hardcover adventure book has never been the best option. Ever. Hence, why the original TSR hardcovers were reference material and the adventures were smaller softcovers. Further, I have never been a fan of combining reference material and adventures into a single volume.

Who wants to write in their hardcover? Without the software option, the best play option has always been the 3-ringed binder which makes the pdf the best value as it is selectively printed on a needed basis. Never waste ink on printing art plus it leaves space for notes. These pages can be red-lined and marked without remorse. Anything else has to do with collector and bookshelf cool factor concerns not playabilty.

I am thinking that the 5e Blight page count was reduced due the elimination of in-line stat blocks. So, that is going to be that regardless of this discussion.

If you publish PDFs with RealmWorks support, I'd be all over that.  These are however two totally different forms of presentation.  PDFs are traditional and you can read cover-to-cover.  RW on the other hand chunks up all of the content into bite sized pieces so you can focus on the important material and have links to all of the peripheral material.  It's impossible to "read" a module in RW in my opinion but it's sooooo much easier to run. I've given up on printed books for the most part.  

I was lukewarm to the abbreviated 5e stat blocks but have grown to absolutely love them.  I convert all creatures to them.  Whichever frog put those together gets a beer from me if I ever run into them.

Agreed on the maps at the back of the book being less useful. A softcover for maps would be so much more useful. A softcover with really bad binding so they can easily be used at the table. :)

Shadow Demon's picture

I get to take credit for very little during my time with Frog God Games. However, I was significant in the creation of both S&W and 5e short stat blocks.

For personal use only, I have decided to simply them further by not getting too wordy with the trait descriptions in the stat-block. In other words, for example, the stat block for the goblin has the trait Nimble Escape. In the stat block, there would something like Nimble Escape (Disengage or Hide as bonus). I would rather either memorize the details or keep a separate list of traits in alphabetical order until I memorize it. Others would vary the contents in parenthesis. I have seen them write the whole sentence from the MM.  This keeps the short stat concise and consistent without trying to write a book in the stat-block. All the numbers have to be there including all DCs. A DM should eventually learn what the traits mean as easily as darkvision 60ft.

Short-stat is what I'm using for all the "standard" monsters, at least for my own conversion for Stoneheart Valley + Sword of Air. I include in the text and a separate "bestiary" a full statblock for all the customized monsters or things I had to brew from scratch, like Koraashag, for example. The other priests and such I got straight out of Bard's Gate.

This would be my preference, for future products, but 99% of the time I'm going to buy them anyway, because I can't get enough of FGG's stuff.

Shadow Demon's picture

I have no idea what the FGG plan is for the Stoneheart Valley & Sword of Air conversions but they should reach out to you to save them some work.

There is no doubt that short-stat method is great for any software-less tabletop play.

I'd be more than willing to share, as Stoneheart Valley is completely converted, Crimmor has been expanded a bit (I stole some maps off google, since I'm shit at drawing), and I added in a hill-dwarf city on the Graywash.

For Sword of Air, I'm halfway through The Hidden Tomb of Aka Bakar; I've skipped the Wilderness sections for now, as I'm combing the dungeons for tidbits about the sword itself and Bakar and such, for research stuff.

My notes contain the full adventure text, however, so I had planned on posting stuff once I've gotten into the campaign where I can strip out the adventure text and just have the converted mechanics.

zhern's picture

All of this is great input. I appreciate you taking the time to provide context around the evolution of the short-form stat blocks, Shadow Demon. Your observation about price-to-value is dead on too. I also agree that the inline stat blocks can help speed up traditional table play, but as you pointed out, the future is VTT. That doesn't mean that table play will go extinct - far from it - but striking a balance between traditional presentation and presentation that is easily translated into VTT is important.

Richard, I would definitely be glad to look through your conversions. Never know what might happen.

Frog V

Shadow Demon's picture

I believe that balance is exactly the reason the WoTC chose their particular presentation. It is a throwback to the TSR days when an adventure was a supplement and it actually required the DM to purchase the core in order to use it. It looks to the future where it is easily portable to VTT  along with the maps it provides. Plus, due the OGL and 5e SRD, the majority of the core is free.

I have been on a hiatus from gaming. I will be coming back by year end using 5e with VTT. Very excited about 5e support for d20Pro. Other than at a convention (i.e NTRPG 2018), traditional table play for me is done.

Plus, I have been watching 5e Rappan Athuk playtest with great interest. VTT maps are another exciting development.

Just had my first session of Sword of Air + Stoneheart Valley last night. Feels good to be DMing again...

As the person who first requested this - all I can say is seeing the same statblock repeated 10 times in a single chapter (random encounters).  I don't know what to say about this.  Honestly I think the product would still benifit from a NPC codex of the frogs so that you can say Frog Baron 1 (free handed fighter baron) and Frog Baron 2 (NPC class baron) and I don't have to guess or remember I already have this entered somewhere halfway down the statblock.

At the table I use Hero Lab and DM's familiar to run my games - so the statblocks are only useful to enter stuff in ;)

For my purposes in my conversions, I've got summary statblocks in the actual adventure text, and an appendix bestiary with full blocks and monster details and lore and such. I enjoy teasing my players on tidbits.

jmj_1975's picture

Personally, I want a hard copy of everything...

But our group is moving to digital support, for our face-to-face games.  We're using d20Pro essentially as a battlemap, still playing with dice and resolving things as if we weren't using a VTT.  The VTT basically displays the map of the encounter, the digital token of whatever is fought, has the relative hit points displayed and will have Shadowcasting/Line of Sight enabled.

We're also using Realm Works, which is an amazing organizational tool.  Having a picture of whatever is fought, found, talked with/to, etc..., to display to the group is nice.  I also love that you can show whatever has been discovered by the group to track (and remind them) what they've learnt to date.


I much prefer the WoTC style of statblocks at the end and bold references to NPC/monsters that are in the different rule books. I find that stats take up too much room and ruin the text flow.

I mainly use Fantasy Grounds to run games these days and the stat blocks are completely unneeded in the text. Also, more and more 5e products are using the WoTC style and people expect that. I think it is easier to layout the book as well without stat blocks messing up the feel of the page.

I have zero issue running it live as well with that style as just a little preparation and I can print or photocopy the monster pages and be ready. 

Now that WoTC has released the SRD and stat blocks are full and open game, I don't see much need to use anything but that style. In huge books like The Blight, it can be a pain, hence the need to photocopy but since you get the PDF with the hardcover, it is pretty easy to print just what you need.

The trend here at the club is that the rpg table is getting covered more and more with smart phones and tablets, next to the usual piles of paper. Considering that it would clean up the main text by moving statblocks to an appendix (or relying on standard reference works) I don't think many would object.

Just don't remove so much from the printed books that people can't run adventures anymore by relying solely on paper products.