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As I said yesterday, I’m not going to spend nearly as much effort on this blog for the time being, but I’m happy to say that I finished data entry for the 1st Edition AD&D Monster Manual yesterday and started entering Fiend Folio information. I think I may have written that I finished that entry a couple of days ago. I did but had to go back through the data and fix some issues. I’m not taking a particularly professional approach to this database — for software engineers, my requirements analysis phase has been shit — so after I reach a certain point, I realize I have to go back and change a few things. Getting to the very end of the Monster Manual lit yet another lightbulb, so I had to do a little more work.
Something important I learned in making those final changes: The XP calculations in Appendix E of the Dungeon Masters Guide sometimes make no sense at all. That not only includes some strange calculations that don’t seem to be supported by the stat block — green slimes don’t have as many special abilities (10) and exceptional ones (11) as Asmodeus — but it also includes impossible calculations not supported by the table, Experience Points Value of Monster (DMG, p. 85).
As to the former, I did what I was told. I assumed (probably naively) that the creatures were play-tested and played out more powerfully than the numbers otherwise dictated. I’m not going to rock that boat, though there were a couple of times I know I did, but don’t remember exactly which monsters those were. Sometimes the numbers were just so ridiculous that I changed them.
As to the latter, it forced me to make some calls that I really didn’t want to have to make. When you create a specific instance of a monster, you roll its hit points, which affects the final XP calculation. Because I want that calculation to be automated (less math for you!), for every given monster, I entered integers for the number of “special” and “exceptional” abilities. Therefore, the software will combine your die roll with certain data that calculate the XP for you. If that doesn’t make sense, just understand that you’ll push a button, and you’ll have a monster complete with an XP calculation. However, as I said, the calculations were impossible in a few cases, representing odd exceptions to the rules. I sometimes had to choose between a calculation that would give a creature an extra 10 XP or shortchange it by 5 XP. In such cases, I chose to give an extra 10 XP (larger numbers apply for higher level monsters, but the percentage of error is about the same). This doesn’t seem like much, and XP is often, being generous, an inexact science, so I won’t lose sleep over it. What bugs me about it is 1) it happened enough that it appears to be intentional; and 2) if these minor differences are nothing to lose sleep over, why have them? Why not have these monsters conform to the standard formula? If they did, that difference would also be nothing to lose sleep over. It just seems weird to make such specific, small exceptions to such an inexact equation, but knowing some of the AD&D crowd, I know I’m going to take some heat anyway for what I produce.
In addition, there were times that no formulae were given, so I made them, and that also had me going my own way at times. For example, I broke out the dragons by those that cast spells and those that don’t, and considered 1st- and 2nd-level casting as “special” and higher level casting as “exceptional.” I also thought that the dragon’s fear aura was pretty damn powerful, so I called it “exceptional” even though it’s not in either list of abilities. Some will agree, and some won’t. Just try to keep in mind that all of these numbers will be subject to your own modifications within the database itself.
As someone who’s quite pretentious, I’m amazed how much competition some in the AD&D crowd give me in that regard. You realize it’s a game, right?
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