Episode 2024.4 Published on 7 May 2024

Monsters, Character Creation and 2d10 | April Roundup

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Velkommen! I'm Jon de Nor and this is Goblin Points - a podcast covering MCDM, the MCDM community, and whatever else MCDM related.

April has been a month of renewed focus. With the power roll firmly in place, more systems can be designed. Let's dive in and have a look at what's been happening in the last month over at MCDM.


We start off with the RPG. With the core die rolling system locked in, Matt and James has been able to make progress on other parts of the game. We've got multiple large topics, but let's start out with the most radical one:

What are Monsters For?

Matt and James has spent a lot of time thinking about how monsters should work in the RPG. They've come to the conclusion that the D&D way of doing it is not in service of the game master, and they've started a journey to rethink monsters and encounters from first principles. Here's how far they've gotten.

Encounter Design

The main thesis goes like this: a DM in D&D have no unified interface for running an encounter. In the adventure the DM is running, the encounter has some text explaining the room or area layout, maybe some box text to be read to the players, and it mentions the monsters present. The monsters names are highlighted in bold to make them stand out a bit. The DM is then expected to go to the Monster Manual, look up the relevant monsters and just... run the encounter.

There's no assistance with how to run the encounter. No unified interface where all the relevant information is summarized. The monsters the DM's running are most likely not even on the same page in the Monster Manual, so they have to flip back and forth to read the stat blocks. I'd guess most DMs work around this by either printing out the relevant stat blocks, or copy them over to their notes by hand.

Matt realized that game masters are actually running encounters, not individual monsters. And this is even more true in the MCDM RPG: In D&D initiative order, it's determined by the initiative roll where monsters go in the initiative order. Whenever it's a monster's turn, the DM has to make the best of it. That's why monsters in D&D need a variety of melee and ranged attacks - to account for whatever situation they might be in, when they're turn comes up.

Whenever the director in the MCDM RPG has their turn in combat, instead of looking at monsters and what they do, the director determines the kind of action they want, and activate the appropriate monster. It's not "which monster goes now", it's "I need an area of effect attack". Instead of running individual monsters, the director is now running an encounter. They're thinking about what's the next thing that needs to happen, not which monster hasn't had their turn yet.

sammcgurran in the Twitch chat of Matt's stream where he talked about this, called it Action-Oriented Encounters, a reference to action-oriented monster design. This shift in how to approach and how to run encounters is what the encounter sheet is supposed to promote.

Matt had a Patreon exclusive live stream this month where he worked on monster roles. He started with the roles from Flee Mortals!, and tried to make sure they fit what he wanted from monsters in the RPG. The stream is a great insight into how Matt thinks when designing for the game, but it was just the beginning of the roles redesign.

Instead of having a broad Artillery role, which is a monster that focuses on ranged attacks, the role is more specific. Artillery means that a monster does a little damage to multiple enemies. A sniper on the other hand, which also focuses on ranged attacks, does a lot of damage to a single enemy.

The Monsters Book

This also leads into the design of the Monsters book. The original idea was to basically port Flee Mortals! over to the new system. MCDM had already made a complete monster book, why not reuse it.

With the current ideas of how encounters work, the book should also strive to serve the same goal: make running encounters easier for the director, and make them easier to design. The CR system employed by D&D is clearly not working - is there a better way to do it?

One idea Matt had for this was to organize the monster book's monsters by level: Chapter one contains monsters appropriate for a first level party. Chapter three contains monsters for a third level party. This makes it super easy to look up monsters that are useful. This idea is already explored in Flee Mortals! with a table listing all monsters by CR, instead of alphabetically.

The monsters could also be presented as ready encounters. Building an encounter for a second level party? Here's a small group of orcs and their goblin lackeys! It's all ready to go. Instead of treating the Monsters book as an encyclopedia, its a tool to help the director create encounters.


I feel the need to reiterate: this is just the beginning of the journey. Matt has explicitly stated that this may all fall apart, or take too much time to finish. If either of those should occur, they can always fall back on porting Flee Mortals! We may end up with a big step forward in monster and encounter design, but only time will tell.

Character Creation

James has been doing a lot of work on character creation. It's currently going through testing and will most likely be included in the next play test packet for patrons (more on that later).

During character creation players will be selecting or creating a few different aspects of their character, separate from their class. Let's go through the current design that James has shared this month.


Players select the culture their hero was born into. This determines how a hero was brought up. Mechanically, this determines which languages they know and some of the skills they start off with.

The idea is that the players create their own local culture for their character. And the rules will include both setting specific cultures to use directly, or they could be used for inspiration.


The player also pick a career for their hero. The career describes what the hero did before becoming a hero. Through a career, the hero learns more skills, and they gather renown and knowledge.

Renown is the current design for how to handle wealth in the RPG, and I will talk about that in more details in a little bit. Knowledge is a resource that can be used to speed up the process of crafting.

The career also grants the hero an out-of-combat ability. For an artisan it might be that crafting is a bit faster, while for a wizard's apprentice it might be a small utility spell, like Prestidigitation.

The last thing the career grants is a an incident. Something that happened after growing up, and has had an impact on the character. They goal of the incident is to bring something to the hero that's fun for the player. It might be a curse that will kill them in a certain number days unless they manage to reverse the curse, but in exchange they get some extra powers; or the hero might've befriended a dragon, which they can call on for a favor.

The career is kind of like a kit, but for outside of combat. Both the kit and the career add bonuses, but the focus is separate. Where kits are about combat, and careers are about out-of-combat.


Speaking of kits. James shared the current set of kits that are available to choose from. I'm not going to list them all here, but you can read them all by going to the script for this episode on the Goblin Points website. Link is in the episode description.

There are currently 15 martial kits, and about seven caster kits. James said he thinks there won't be more than 15 kits of each type.

Caster Kits

  • Wizard
  • Hermit
  • Druid
  • Blaster

Martial Kits

  • Cloak and Dagger
  • The Martial Artist
  • The Mountain
  • The Panther
  • The Pugilist
  • Quisarme
  • The Raider
  • The Ranger
  • The Rapid Fire
  • Retiarius
  • Shining Armor
  • Sniper
  • Stick and Robe
  • Swashbuckler
  • Whirlwind

Wealth & Renown

Looping back to wealth and renown. The designers have been saying for a while that they don't imagine heroes in the RPG will be collecting gold coins and copper pieces. The tracking is a tedium, and it doesn't feel very heroic. Tony Stark doesn't search for silver pieces on enemies after defeating them. Tony Stark is just known to be rich, and is able to afford most things he wants.

One idea they're currently experimenting with is that wealth is just a character trait, kind of like how it's with Tony Stark. But then, how do heroes become wealthy? One way is to choose during character creation. The hero might've grown up rich or come into riches during their career before becoming a hero.

Being wealthy could be implemented as a title. In the RPG, titles are kind of like feats in D&D, but instead of earning one every few levels, heroes can do heroic acts or favors and receive a title as a reward. After saving the dragon from the fire-breathing princess, they loot the princess' hoard, and earn the title of filthy rich, for example.

Wealth also interacts with renown. Renown can both be earned through the hero's career, but also through their actions as a hero. Once the dragon is saved, tales of the hero's brave deeds will spread across the land. When a reputation precedes a hero, they are able to acquire a lot of things, through renown alone.

Respite Activities

Between those heroic deeds, a hero needs time to recuperate. In the RPG, that's called a respite. It's when the hero spends at least 24 hours resting. During that rest, the hero is able to spend their time doing respite activites.

Such as crafting a supernatural item. When crafting, the player makes a roll to determine how much progress they make. If the player rolls well, they might be able to make another roll for even more progress. If the player rolls poorly, they might suffer delays or complications. James mentioned that such complications should be of an interesting variety. If they don't add to the fun of the game, they're just annoying.

It's also possible for other heroes to assist in researching or crafting. If they have a way to meaningfully help, they can spend their respite activity assisting someone in their work.

James does not expect crafted items to have flaws in them. After spending a lot of time doing research, and then crafting the result is what the player expects. As mentioned, there might be complications along the way, but the result, if finished, is according to spec. The RPG is not the kind of game where a bunch of work ends in a dud.

And while on the topic of flawed items: James mentioned that there likely won't be cursed items in the game. Once again, the RPG is not a "gotcha" game, where you're tricked into a annoying and irritating situation that's only fun for the players it didn't happen to.

James does however think there will be evil items. The difference between cursed items and evil items is that the evil items does not hide what they are. They're more like sentient items that have an evil disposition. If a hero uses the weapon, they are aware of what they're dealing with.

Tweaking Existing Systems

While the power roll is locked in, and there's a whole bunch of new systems being worked on, there are some existing systems that got some tweaks too.

Montage Tests

The rules for complex tests have been updated. Complex tests are now called montage tests. Montage tests is a series of tests where all the heroes participate. Montage tests are intended to be used when the group attempts to accomplish a common goal by working together. They might work together to cross a dessert, climb a sheer cliff or prepare a village for a goblin assault.

The new name is more evocative and it borrows connotations from movie montages. In movies, a montage is often used to show the protagonists doing a series tasks, through a bunch of short clips, each clip showing progress or setbacks. When the montage ends, the final result is revealed. Time has passed and the protagonists have done what they can to reach their goal. Sometimes they succeed, sometimes they fail.

The heroes in the RPG may try to prepare the village - a goblin attack is imminent. One hero tries to rally the villagers by giving a motivational speech. Another hero assists the locals boarding up windows and doors. A third hero is organizing the evacuation of those who are not able to fight. The fourth hero is making sure barricades are built and spike pits dug.

They go in turn and roll to see if they're successful in their attempts. If they succeed at enough of the activities, the village is prepared for the attack, and the director gives them a reward or some sort of advantage. If the heroes are unsuccessful at their tasks however, the village is not prepared. Not only do they not get an advantage, the director may give the goblins an advantage instead!

The new rules for a hero to assist another in their task have been made clearer. In addition, the montage tests have become time limited. A problem reported by testers was that montage tests felt like they were too drawn out. All the heroes went many times, and the players ran out of good ideas for what their heroes could do. Montage tests are now limited to two rounds, where each hero gets to go once in each round.

For more difficult tests, the heroes need to succeed at more tasks than if the montage test is easy.


Negotiation is still getting some tweaks, but it looks like they're nearing a stable form. In a post on Patreon, James shared the current rules for negoatiating. These rules includes both the new motivations and pitfalls system i covered back in February, and the power roll.

Instead of having highly specific motivations and pitfalls, NPCs now have two or more motiviations from a list, and one or more pitfalls from a list. Each motivation and pitfall come with a description which explains when they trigger, and the rules include how the NPC reacts when the motivation or pitfall triggers.

The rules also includes power roll result tables for the different tests that can be made during negotaions.

Resistance Rolls

How conditions are applied and how they're removed have been tweaked multiple times already, and they are still getting some work. In last month's edition of Goblin Points, each condition was applied with a severity. The ability that applied the condition also specified which characteristic resisted it. The characteristic was subtracted from the severity and the condition was applied to the target with the new severity.

Well. That's gone now.

In a post on Patreon, James outlines the current design for applying conditions to targets, and how to resist them. He covers a few of the iterations they went through and what they tested after settling on the power roll. The system they've come up shows promise and works well in tests.

When a creature is hit with an effect, they make a power roll to resist the effect, this is called a resistance roll. The ability that applies the effect specifies which characteristic should be added to the resistance roll. The ability also has a result table for the resistance roll which lists how the effect is resisted at the different tiers.

A tier one result, that is, the target of the effect rolls poorly, means the effect is applied in full force. A tier two result somewhat reduces the effect, but doesn't resist it completely. A tier three result completely resists the effect.

If the effect is not resisted, the target may be able to roll a resistance roll at the end of their turn to attempt to reduce or completely remove the effect.

The 2d10 Power Roll

While the power roll is working well, the 2d6 are not. When adding bonuses from characteristics or circumstantial bonuses, the impact of a plus or minus one is substantial. If too many bonuses are applied, the result on the dice are superfluous. With a plus five bonus, it's impossible to roll a tier one result.

They tried to curb this by only allowing a maximum of plus two from bonuses, and characteristics being limited to maximum of 3. In addition, the bonus from a hero's skill was included in the plus two bonus. Despite these measures, the span of numbers for each tier is too small.

Matt and James also imagined this problem would only get worse as they started to design the higher level gameplay. This is before supernatural items and highly leveled heroes have been accounted for.

To address this, they're now experimenting with using 2d10, instead of 2d6. The three tiers work the same, only the number ranges have changed. Each tier now has more numbers, giving better flexibility with bonuses.

What was previously named plus ones and minus ones, are now called edges and banes, respectively. Those names have been used before, but the system they were naming was a bit different. Edges and banes are still limited to a maximum of two, but skills add their bonus separately. That means that edges and skills effectively stack.

Switching to 2d10 also means that crits need to be rethought. Rolling a ten on both dice has a 1% chance, which is not common enough. Not common enough to be fun, anyway. They haven't decided how to trigger crits yet, or if crits are going to stay in the game at all at this point.

James did mention that natural 19s and 20s was a candidate. It seems people are better at remembering both 19 and 20s are crits, than they are at remembering that elevens and twelves are crits. Which was the crit range for 2d6 for a little while.


DMHub, the developers of the VTT, are actively working on the VTT. Matt mentioned in a video that they're able to implement new rules faster than MCDM can make them.

The developers are active in both the MCDM Discord, in the RPG channels. There's also a dedicated channel for the MCDM RPG VTT in DMHub's own Discord server. They're listening to feedback from the community and have already implemented a suggestion.

In a short video clip the developers shared in their Discord, they showed that they've added the ability to pop out individual panels in the software to separate windows. This makes it easier to take advantage of multi-screen setups.

There are always a lot of questions regarding other, existing VTTs and support the MCDM RPG in those. James mentioned this month that other VTTs have shown interest in supporting the RPG and have contacted MCDM about the possibility to do so. James wasn't able to share any specifics, but MCDM are open to other VTTs supporting the game if they want.

The Name and Test Packets

From one thing we don't have, the VTT, to another we don't have: the name. The team have come up with a name they like internally, and both Matt and James have both almost slipped up multiple times. They are not ready to release it yet, though. Matt's said for a while that they want to release the name as part of the dev kit for the game. The dev kit would include the name, the license for the game and branding materials, like logos, wordmarks and colors.

However, Matt reasoned what people actually want is not the name of the RPG, but to play the RPG. In the absence of being able to play the RPG, people will discuss whatever info is released to bits...

Yeah, yeah. We're both here. We're not being called out personally. Only generally.

Anyway. Releasing the name would just mean that everyone, both inside and outside the community, would analyze the name to shreds. They'd come up with all sorts of reasons why it might be a good name, a bad name, a boringly ok name, or whatever.

Matt suggested a different solution, which solves both problems. How about releasing the name alongside the backer packet? The backer packet has a tentative release date "before the end of summer". With the packet a lot more people will finally be able to play the game, negating the need to overanalyze the name.

Alongside the backer packet, there will also be a release of patron packet. The two packets will not contain the same rules. The backer packet will be more polished than the patron packet, so the rules won't be as fresh. There are also external factors which may delay the release of the packets, which means "before end of summer" is a goal, not a promise.

Designing the Game

Speaking of releases. This month saw the release of what might be the final Designing the Game video. MCDM released a video at the beginning of the month with Matt explaining how the power roll works. Matt later said that it probably will be the last video in that series.

The videos aren't attracting as big an audience they were hoping for, and they aren't sparking interesting discussions. In short: the videos are more work to create than they're worth.

The people that's really interested in that how-the-sausage-is-made content, are already on Patreon. Matt said that the comment section on Patreon is a lot more focused on the ideas in the designs, than the one on YouTube.

Instead of the Designing the Game videos, Matt believes they have video ideas that will work better with a YouTube audience. In future, the videos on the MCDM channel on YouTube will be more engaging and fun, and more in line with what a YouTube audience expects.

Running the Game

What a YouTube audience didn't expect was Matt releasing a new video in his Running the Game series. This one is on how long an adventure should be. Matt argues that the adventures published by Wizards of the Coast are way too long and are hurting the hobby.

By publishing long adventure spanning multiple character levels and multiples of hundreds of pages, Hasbro is giving new players the impression that it is the way to play the game. Matt argues that shorter adventures are easier to run, and more engaging to play.

From the Community

The community never sleeps. Once again, they've come up with some banger stuff.

A Collection of Subclasses

aPolaroidBear has created a five subclasses: Circle of Remembrance Druid, Candlelight Cleric, Path of the Ancient Guardian Barbarian, path of the Drowsy Fist Barbarian, and Way of the Weaver Monk.


CoroHuH has created a Mystic remaster. The Mystic does not use the magical weave for spellcasting but relies on their own mind and imagination.

Feral Ancestry

f_com has created the Feral Ancestry Sourcerer, a subclass with a beast theme. The subclass uses a special kind of resource to boost damage or increase damage reduction.

5e Dungeoneering Rules

blazertrail has created dungeons crawling rules for D&D 5e, inspired by classic dungeon crawling.

Liber Sanguinis

HanoiCritRoll has created a collection of monsters with a vampire and blood theme. The collection includes a Blood Elemental, a Blood Whisp, Vampire Bat and three courts of vampires.

Oath of the Arbiters

f_com has created a Paladin subclass class Oath of the Arbiters, which is inspired by the concept of travelling judges. The Paladin aims to be inquirer, warden , judge and executioner.

Calloval's Magical Items

Relevant Audience has created a collection of over 10 magic items they made for their campaign. There's a great variety of fun weapons and interesting items.

AO Kalarel the Vile

Kableblack has made an action-oriented monster block for Kalarel the Vile. It's designed for a group of fourth level characters.

004: MCDM RPG Tests & Kits

The Dice Society has posted a new episode. This episode mainly focuses on tests and kits.

From Around the Web

MCDM does sometimes show up in other corners of the web. You can find a few of them in the link section.


If you have anything that should be included next time, send me an e-mail on [email protected].

Links to everything, including this script can be found on goblinpoints.com.

Until next time. Snakkes.