No one can be quite so critical of a thing as an insider.

I’ve circled this particular issue before, but I don’t think I ever really put it out there in a straightforward manner — there is a PROBLEM with monsters in 4e. Don’t get me wrong, there are good things too.

But I’m not here to talk about the good things.

3e had monster problems to, but in a different way. See, the math in 3e was . . . kind of bad. But in a lot of ways, because it was intuitive instead of designed, some issues just “took care of themselves.”

But 4e was designed. It had some plans.

One of those designs was scaling numbers. Higher-leveled things had bigger numbers. I noted that when our campaign hit the Epic tier, it took longer to calculate the BIG attack rolls. “d20 + 37” isn’t easy math.

But there’s a more insidious problem than bigger numbers and harder math.

It’s actually in what those bigger numbers do to monsters.

Specifically, it obsolesces monsters after only a few levels. And I shouldn’t have to point out to you, that 4e has a lot of levels. It has 30 of ’em.

What this means, is that if you want kobolds to be a threat to low-level PCs, then you need to make sure kobolds can compete, numerically, with PCs between levels 1-5. That means making kobolds in the 1-8 level range.

That means making a lot of kobolds. I mean a lot.

A lot of kobolds will be minions, to be sure. But stat blocks are only good for a couple levels. Let’s say an average of three. Let’s say you need three times as many kobolds because the stat blocks become obsolete.

If you had six different kobold stat blocks in 3e, you’d need almost twenty to cover the same amount of ground in 4e. That’s a lot of effing stat blocks.

Even if only the numbers changed.

If you wanted something like the Old School encounter tables (d8+d12 or 2d10), then you’d actually need to fill it with between two and three times as many monsters. You’d need a bigger table.

Or you’d need 2-3 tables to advance with your PCs.

Bear in mind that monsters get left in the dust as the PCs level up — you can’t rely on low-level monsters doing anything more than pissing off your players for wasting their time. Don’t even roll the dice. It’s over.

Back when I was regularly running a 4e campaign, I kept pages of generic stat blocks and improvised the monsters based on how many I wanted to challenge the party with — it was more efficient than modifying existing monsters.

After all, I needed my numbers.

Speaking of which, if YOU happen to be running a 4e campaign — and I’m not going to tell you not to — check out my “Five Pages, Thirty Stat Blocks” PDF under the Media > Downloads section of my site. It was Super Effective.