Design & Development
You Craft the Creature



We're hoping this column becomes your window into roleplaying design and development -- or at least the way we approach these things here at Wizards of the Coast. We'll handle a wide range of topics in weeks to come, from frank discussions about over- or underpowered material, to the design goals of a certain supplement, to what we think are the next big ideas for the Dungeons & Dragons game. All of this comes bundled with a healthy look at the people and events that are roleplaying R&D.

Who is "Baker"? Actually, that's for you to decide. This week, You Craft the Creature enters its final stages.


Well folks, it’s been awhile since our last vote… but we’re now approaching the end of our You Craft the Creature feature! Soon enough, we’ll complete the creature you’ve been building these many months.

For those of you new to this feature, we began crafting back in October 2005, asking for your votes on various aspects of a developing creature. When complete, the creature is set to appear in a future sourcebook.

Let’s take a look at the decisions made so far:

  • Vote 1: Creature type: Aberration, with 14.3% of the vote (narrowly beating out dragon).
  • Vote 2: Niche: Mastermind wins a landslide, 34.8%. And thus, the creature is nicknamed [AMM], for Aberrant Mastermind.
  • Vote 3: Challenge Rating: 15+ (the highest choice) wins, 27.3%.
  • Vote 4: Environment: Forest (beating out Marsh), 19.7%.
  • Vote 5: Special Abilities: As proposed by you, the players, the following special abilities were chosen: 1st choice: Blasphemous Geometries (Ex) 11.2%, 2nd choice: Wild Magic Aura (Su) 11.1%.
  • Vote 6: Size: Large, 30.0%.
  • Vote 7: Minions: Evil Fey, 22.6%.
  • Vote 8: Enemies: Elves 25.4% (although druids weren’t much loved, either).
  • Vote 9: Defense: Special power (e.g., repulsion field, flame aura, etc.), with a whopping 54.1%.
  • Vote 10: Ability Scores: 1st most important: Intelligence, 41.0%, 2nd most important: Charisma, 23.3%.

Next Vote: Concept

The time has come once more for your nominations. The mechanical aspects of our creature have been largely determined, but what it needs now is formal, written concept. Similar to your Special Abilities, we’ve set up a message board thread for your 50-100 word concepts that best summarize and introduce the creature.

By “concept,” we’re looking for the creature’s physical description, flavor, role in the game—a tall order, in under 100 words. Here’s a sample concept from a creature we’ve all come to know and love (well, to know and fear).

This creature resembles a floating, bulbous orb with a central unblinking eye and a large maw filled with daggerlike teeth. Smaller eyes, attached to wriggling stalks, sprout from the top of the orblike body.

Its primary role on the battlefield is an artillery piece that blasts PCs from long range with powerful spell-like abilities that emanate from its eye stalks. Additionally, its powerful antimagic field can control the encounter area.

Sound familiar? Had the beholder never been introduced to the game before, the above would have served as its concept.

Let’s take another example, this time from the forthcoming Monster Manual IV. This time, we’ll give the creature’s name at the start; here’s the concept behind one of the new spawns of tiamat, the redspawn arcaniss:

This creature is a humanoid, covered in red scales with yellow and orange flamelike markings. It wears studded leather armor and carries a buckler, and it spits harsh sounds as its empty hand reaches into a spell component pouch.

As a spellcaseter, the redspawn arcaniss’s primary role in combat is artillery. It blasts its foes with powerful fire spells, making its power-level situational depending on the amount of foreknowledge and preparation time that the PCs have.

For a complete look at the above concept developed into the full creature, take a look at the redspawn arcaniss in the MMIV.

Now, we’re asking for your concepts. Using the information gathered so far, give us your concept for our developing creature. Post your concept on the following message board thread, and we’ll review and choose a suite of concepts for you to vote on next time.

As mentioned, there’s a spot already waiting for this creature in a future sourcebook. In fact, it’s now been given an internal codename. Although we’ve been using [AMM] so far, the creature’s new internal codename is “Baker”.

What's Left?

Good luck! We’re looking forward to what you devise for Baker.

What’s next? Once the winning concept is chosen, it will be submitted to Karin Jaques, in charge of artwork for D&D sourcebooks. She’ll present the concept to the artists she works with, who will create a set of possible concept art for you to vote on.


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