Posted by : David Guyll September 04, 2012

While I read about the yuan-ti (which for some reason I always spelled as yaun-ti) last week, I was unable to get around to writing about it soon enough, and figured I would just lump it with whatever we got this week.

My thoughts on the yuan-ti can be easily summed up as "I like it". It sounds more or less what we have gotten before--which seems to be the theme of monsters up until this point--snake features/bodies, poison, superiority complex, and so on (thankfully sans snake-arms). Though I had read an Ecology of the Yuan-ti in an old Dragon magazine, I only recall the god Zehir--though Merrshaulk rings a bell--because 4th Edition made it a core evil god. At any rate, I like the idea of multiple snake gods, as it adds some variety to cult practices and activities.

Despite watching Conan the Barbarian and Conan the Adventurer as a kid (and unfortunately could not get around to reading the books until much later on), I have never used yuan-ti in any campaign, even as a side trek villain. I do not think I have even thrown an individual yuan-ti at them. I do not even know why. I had plenty of inspiration, and in 3rd Edition the Challenge Rating for all of them was low and close enough together to make them a viable early threat, and 4th Edition had them start in late heoric and venture all the way up to epic.

Maybe it was because I also really never ran adventures in jungles or deserts, which is where I assumed they hung out in their pyramids. More than likely between all the monsters, there was just more compelling and thematically appropriate creatures to choose from. I think I will rectify that in D&D Next.

Now ogres and trolls on the other hand, I have plenty of experience with, on both sides of the screen. Ogres and big, strong, and stupid, while trolls...are basically the same, but can also regenerate (and as the article states are the iconic regenerating monster). Neither are changing much, though it seems fighting troll arms and heads are coming back into the game; despite the statement that it has "always been true", this was something that was removed from 3rd and 4th Edition.

I like it, though part of me wants to have it become more of a hindrance so that players use piercing and blunt weapons, and another part of me wants to have the characters end up fighting a swarm of troll limbs. Too bad they died within a day in 2nd Edition if they could not get back to the main body. As a side note, 2nd Edition also mentions that their blood is used to make healing potions. I would like to see more of this for other monsters. So, instead of looting an troll lair for gold and the like, you can get blood and try to pawn it off on a wizard.

Ogre magi are another bag. In 3rd Edition they were Challenge Rating 8, which made them poor allies to their Challenge Rating 3 cousin (and I dug this article from six years ago with tries to alleviate that issue). 4th Edition including a wide enough range of ogres to make them more suitable. Now much is revealed about the Next iteration, but it looks like that they are going to be completely unrelated to ogres...but for some reason allying themselves with them. That does not really make a lot of sense to me, and I would prefer to see more thematically appropriate monsters.

All in all, the ogre and troll sound fine, but the ogre mage/oni needs more depth.

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