Stalker0's Guide to Anti-Grind - Page 2


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  1. #11
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    Great article, thanks Stalker! Could I put this together into a nice looking pdf for you? I think with a little editing you should submit this to Dragon!

    A couple questions...

    Are you suggesting doing away with encounters of higher level than the PCs entirely? For example, the "average adventure" according to the DMG is made up of 8 encounters (L-1, L, L, L, L+1, L+1, L+1, L+3). How would you suggest increasing an encounter's difficulty, more terrain or something else?

    Do you think there is a problem with core maths? Your monster & terrain advice implies grind comes from the DM, while your "tactics to avoid grind" implies it's the core math that creates grind.
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  • #12
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    Great article, Stalker0!

    You kind of got me thinking about a related subject: I wonder if there's a correlation between grind and DMs that discourage powergaming.
    -blarg
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  • #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Quickleaf View Post
    Great article, thanks Stalker! Could I put this together into a nice looking pdf for you? I think with a little editing you should submit this to Dragon!

    A couple questions...

    Are you suggesting doing away with encounters of higher level than the PCs entirely? For example, the "average adventure" according to the DMG is made up of 8 encounters (L-1, L, L, L, L+1, L+1, L+1, L+3). How would you suggest increasing an encounter's difficulty, more terrain or something else?

    Do you think there is a problem with core maths? Your monster & terrain advice implies grind comes from the DM, while your "tactics to avoid grind" implies it's the core math that creates grind.
    Just use more monsters of the party level to increase the challenge up to L+1-3

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    Excellent article with very sound advice!

    A method that I've used a couple of times to throw in fast and dangerous fights is to halve the monsters' hitpoints and increase their damage output by 50% or more. It's "breaking" the core rules, yes, but used in moderation can make for a quick and exciting fight.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nightson View Post
    Just use more monsters of the party level to increase the challenge up to L+1-3
    Yeah, this is the trick I noticed after a while.

    A fight at L+3 is much more satisfying using a L-1 Solo and making up the difference with other L-1 to L+1 creatures than simply using a single L+3 Solo monster....

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    Quote Originally Posted by voice220 View Post
    Excellent article with very sound advice!

    A method that I've used a couple of times to throw in fast and dangerous fights is to halve the monsters' hitpoints and increase their damage output by 50% or more. It's "breaking" the core rules, yes, but used in moderation can make for a quick and exciting fight.
    I'm shaving 25% of the monster's HP and add 1/3 to their damage.

    An other thing that reduces grind is removing some of the fiddly bits from the monsters. NPC abilities should be few but meaningful.

    Bad example: Whether a monster gets +1 to hit if it is bloodied is normally not going to matter, as the monster will only get ~4 more attack rolls after being bloodied and the probability of the +1 changing their outcome is 0.2 At the same time, remembering that +1 is a pain in the neck for the GM. Finally, unless the GM goes out of the way to describe how much more precise the monster becomes, now that it's bloodied, the players are not going to notice a difference.

    Good example: The Monster's damage goes from 1d10+5 to 2d10+5 if bloodied. This will be less fiddly to remember, and be noticeable to the players if it kicks in.

    Other culprits here are monsters that do extra damage on a crit. IMG, I remove that ability and replace it with a flat +1 to damage.

  • #17
    Great Stuff, bookmarked!

    Another little thing I might add about Solo Monsters:

    These guys are most of the time, big tough monsters. I once had a remade Troll (Giant Troll, Huge Size) and the battle was kinda boring. The Troll had to get up a ramp to destroy a portal into a castle, so that his Gnoll Masters could invade. A well placed Flaming Sphere made that quickly impossible.

    Then it struck me: Why should a monster with a size like a tower play by the rules of normal sized human. Our ranger was hiding in a building next to the ramp, thinking himself unreachable. Well, the Troll didn´t think so, toppled the house to build himself a make-shift ramp. My players hesitated a second and were like especially the Ranger of course. The Troll spent an AP to run up next to the mage hiding atop the the ramp. (Trampling the Ranger by the way) and in a second the combat was interesting again.

    Conclusion: Sometimes doing the unexpected, especially if for a second looking through the eyes of a huge monster can lead to interesting situation.

  • #18
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    Fantastic article. I think many would find this far more informative than the chapter in the DM's guide.

    This combinded with your Skill Challenge system shows some really top-end design work.

    Hear that WoTC? You should hire this guy as a freelancer.
    Last edited by Drkfathr1; Sunday, 19th April, 2009 at 07:04 PM. Reason: splenign. :)

  • #19
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    Nice stuff. It jibes well with my experiences.

    The one trick I'd add is:

    Turn a Solo into an Elite - Take a Solo monster 2 (or more) levels below the party. Cut its hit points in half, but otherwise leave it unchanged. Price it as an Elite of its level +2. Add minions & regular monsters to taste.

    Cheers, -- N

  • #20
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    Overall, an awesome collection of good, sound advice. A few comments.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stalker0 View Post
    Stalker0’s Guide to Anti-grind6) Soldiers – Soldiers are the most grindy monster type. They have exceptionally high defenses and hitpoints, and don’t have that much offense. In short….grind city. While the occasional solider is good to take hits of your brute or to protect your artillery, don’t use soldiers on mass or the fight will end in a slug fest.
    It's en masse

    Quote Originally Posted by Stalker0 View Post
    Stalker0’s Guide to Anti-grindb. Save your AP for the finishing move – An elite often doesn’t have the offense of two regular monsters which can give the players a sense of security and lead to feelings of grind. Use action points to change this mindset. Instead of using your action point at the beginning of the combat (where the party’s leader can easily fix the damage), use it right after the attack that just bloodied a party member to try and knock him out. 4e characters can usually take the heat, but it emphasizes how strong an elite can be and that the party should never be too comfortable fighting one even as the fight draws to a close.
    This can not be stressed enough. I practise this a lot, and have been more or less from the get-go. The best combination is usually when a character is bloodied (preferably by another monster than the elite), then do the double attack routine (which elites usually have) and then (if both attacks hit) you use the AP and (hopefully) send the character into negatives.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stalker0 View Post
    Stalker0’s Guide to Anti-grinda. Never use a solo higher level than the party – This may seem like blasphemy but I think it is the greatest cause of solo grind that people experience. As I mentioned in the start of the article, higher level monsters gain a lot of defense and only a little offense. For the solo, that’s even more so. You’ll actually be amazed how quick (without being too quick) and fun a solo fight can be with a solo of your party’s level.
    This is perhaps the only point of yours where I am not in total agreement. As long as you stay far far away from solo soldiers, it is not an issue I believe, although solo controllers can cause the same issues at times.

    One point that could do with mentioning, is to avoid using elites and solos that heal too much or have the insubstantial ability. Or god forbid, both.

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