(For D&D 4th Edition)

I rarely use published monsters, preferring to come up with my own things for my players to fight in our own homebrewed world. 4e is great about this, making it really easy—Monster Manual 3 really streamlined monster creation, and the MM3 on a Business Card gets extensive use in my games. There's only one thing missing from it... and that's the generation of ability scores.

Now, ability score generation is USUALLY not important, but every once and a while I need my monsters to engage in opposed skill checks with my players. I can always just wing it, but it'd be nice if I could grab a quick formula for a recommended amount.

Furthermore, MM3 on a business card doesn't give a formula for Perception, or Initiative, and both of these do come up rather often. If there was a formula for ability scores, then these two items could also be derived pretty easily.

In the end, it doesn't really impact my games THAT much, and if I have to eyeball it and make up numbers that feel right compared to my players at the time, I'll do that. But is there such a formula?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Not near books right now, but the original 4e DMG has some rules for monster generation which includes some info on determining stats. \$\endgroup\$
    – Erik
    Commented Jan 12, 2015 at 11:14
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Erik MM3 changed pretty much all those rules, quietly and without fanfare. The new formulas work a LOT better in game, and I'd prefer to use them... pity they were never explicitly published. People have just figured out how the new monsters work. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 12, 2015 at 11:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Related: Are there guidelines for creating & customising MM3-style monsters? (unfortunately not currently with an answer that provides them) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 12, 2015 at 14:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RichardWinters By 'stat generation', do you mean ability scores, or ability scores and skills, or those + something else I've missed? The word 'stat' refers to basically everything on a character sheet, unfortunately, so it's not the term you're looking for. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 14, 2015 at 0:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've edited your question (as has wax eagle) so that it talks about ability scores rather than stats. Please check if this is what you're after, and of course edit your post further if you'd like. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 14, 2015 at 1:39

1 Answer 1


Whenever I need to make a new monster, I always use the rules for making monsters from the first and second Dungeon Master's Guides. I can't quote it off of my head, but I think that the attribute generation is something like "Choose a main ability for your monster; this will be equal to one half level + 13," or something like that. The other ability scores are lower, and of course there are the obvious things like adjusting defenses if the monster has very low ability scores.

Perception and initiative are determined in almost the same way as a player's: (Mod)+(1/2 level)+(Special Monster Bonus, for Lurkers).


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