I see people comment all the time how X spell is bad because you won't fight Humanoids after level 5, and I've realised my plots kinda' always revolve around Humanoids moreorless. So time to branch out again. But it feels like there's a dearth of 'groups' of monsters around this level, since I like to think what the party might fight first and then design loot/dungeons/quests that tie into those.
A million weak monsters and Common-Uncommon magic items, a million strong monsters and Legendary-Artifact magic items, but a bit of a dip for the in-between. There's entire categories of monsters (like Humanoids, Beasts and Fey) that practically just fizzle out while your party are still levelled in the high single-digits. It feels like there's a lot of random monsters and a million devils and demons, but reading over dozens it's hard to see what at this level I can build into something. It's like a hundred jigsaw pieces but it's confusing me more and more as my party levels how it all goes together.
Early game it's so fun and easy. There's a dozen Gnoll statblocks, I'm going to build an awesome Gnoll encampment. Everyone has fun. There's tonnes of Orcs, so I ran a level-spanning Orc uprising story arc that my players loved. So on, so forth. Now that they're level 9, it just feels like it's getting harder, and I keep falling back on Humanoid-centric plots.
So what is there for midgame in terms of 'packages' of appropriate-CR monsters as my party approach level 10? Like, the players have outlevelled lower-CR monster packages like goblins and orcs. For midgame there are packages of Yuan-Ti statblocks, Mind Flayers (though they seem aimed more at parties in the teens unless you're just fighting 1 and its goons) and Vampires (much the same issue as Mind Flayers, if not moreso)…and honestly it feels like there's not much else, so I'm struggling to come up with ideas for quests/dungeons that don't take hours of reflavouring weaker/stronger monsters to challenge the party appropriately. I could also run some kinda' dragon thing, but really you can do that any time thanks to the different dragon ages/stat blocks.
Sorry if this makes no sense to anybody or if I'm a weirdo for approaching some of my quests/dungeons this way. It's like cooking a meal. When I look at potatoes, it's easy to go, "Cool, I'll mash those, get a meat to cook up, pick out a side dish that compliments it all, fun and easy." Nice broad ingredients with a lot of versatility. Meanwhile now at midgame it feels like I'm being offered a single rutabaga, a handful of fishsticks, a cup of lukewarm cream and a wheel of old cheese, and I'm staring at these random-ass ingredients wondering how the fuck I can possibly use these while 5e just stands to the side like Gordon Ramsay expectantly waiting for me to miraculously shit out some 5-star meal. But then I panicked and just start trying to mash all these ingredients through a blender just so it vaguely resembles a shape I actually recognise. And now I just find myself accepting that I want to be a better chef and learn what I'm actually meant to be doing at this point.
Thanks so much for any advice!
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