D&D 5th Edition 5e: the demystification of monsters? - Page 8




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  1. #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by Obryn View Post
    I love the concept, but the logistics of running that battle just make me want to put my face in my hands and sob.

    <snip>

    Without actual mass combat rules that differ from normal skirmish-scale combats, that's not a fight I want to run!

    -O
    Quote Originally Posted by Patryn of Elvenshae View Post
    This, too.
    This may not work for either of you guys but I found this worked extremely well for an epic end of heroic tier fight against a barbarian horde that was attacking a small winter settlement that the PCs were defending. I did a few things here:

    1) I narrated the settlers small guard dying valiantly beside the PCs within the horde's swarm of seething flesh and steel while protecting the city. The settlers guard were a small swarm themselves with an encounter power. They died by the end of the 3rd round (as predicted) but they made a small dent in the horde's HPs and provided aid by way of the encounter power (Immediate Reaction upon their noble sacrifice giving the PCs temp HPs - basically inspiration/morale).

    2) The terrain/battlefield was pretty interesting as well with some Limited Use Terrain (Ruined Wall, Snow Dune) and the field-stone wall and guard tower was climbable to escape the aura (but triggered an OA due to the swarm trait). Better than that, I ran a Skill Challenge beforehand where the PCs and the settlers attempted (successfully) to set up some Limited Use Hazards (in the very limited time - one evening) before the fight to prep the battlefield. They made full use of their efforts once the fighting started.

    3) After the Barbarian Horde Swarm was defeated, I split it up into the lvl 10 Solo Warlord (Primal Controller, Leader) and 6 lvl 11 Minion Guards (2 Soldiers, 4 Brutes).

    It captured the feel of an implacable horde sweeping down upon a small settlement and the desperate fight to fend them off quite well. This was only 3 PCs (one controller, 1 striker, 1 defender/striker/controller hybrid), their strategic setup of the town before the raid and the small group of the settlers' guard as defenders. I counted the settler swarm + limited use hazards as an extra PC so for a 4 party group this fight was almost exactly L + 5. I tested it a few times beforehand to make sure things worked as I wanted and it worked out better than any "Mass Combat" I had ever run before. It captured the dynamism, the desperation and the climactic nature I was hoping for (it was basically a 50/50 TPK). Below is the Swarm I created for it (feel free to rip it for your own campaigns if it seems something to your liking):

    Barbarian Horde
    Colossal natural humanoid (swarm)
    Level 11 Elite Brute XP 1200
    HP 276; Bloodied 138 Initiative +9
    AC 23, Fortitude 24, Reflex 23, Will 21 Perception+7
    Speed 5
    Resist half damage from melee and ranged attacks; Vulnerable 10 to close and area attacks
    Saving Throws +2; Action Points 1

    Traits

    Swarm Attack * Aura 1
    Any enemy that starts its turn in the aura takes 7 damage and a -2 penalty to all defenses.

    Swarm
    The horde can occupy the same space as another creature, and an enemy can enter its space, which is difficult terrain. The horde cannot be pulled, pushed, or slid by melee or ranged attacks. It can squeeze through any opening that is large enough for at least one of the creatures it comprises.

    Standard Actions

    Reckless Abandon * At-Will (Martial, Weapon)
    Attack: Melee 1 (one creature and each creature in the mobs space); +16 vs. AC
    Hit: 2d8 + 13 damage, and the target is knocked prone.

    Move Actions

    Flowing Horde * Recharge when first bloodied
    Effect: The mob shifts up to twice its speed.

    Triggered Actions

    Trampled Underfoot * At-Will
    Trigger: An enemy in the swarm's space is knocked prone.
    Attack: (Free Action): Triggering enemy; + 14 vs Fortitude
    Hit: The target is restrained and takes 10 damage (save ends)

    Warlord's Curse * Recharge when first bloodied (Implement, Primal, Psychic)
    Trigger: A close or an area attack hits the mob.
    Attack: (Immediate Reaction): Ranged 20 (triggering enemy); + 14 vs Will
    Hit: The target is weakened and takes 10 psychic damage (save ends)
    Last edited by Manbearcat; Thursday, 4th October, 2012 at 05:58 AM.

 

  • #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by Manbearcat View Post
    This may not work for either of you guys
    Actually, it'd work great. I love swarm rules (and squad rules from SWSE).

    I ran a rather large PCs-and-villagers combat against an invading Red Wizard with her apprentices and their human and undead soldiers using similar rules.

    But, I posit, a "swarm of ogres" monster is not the same thing as a swarm of "ogre monsters."
    "A rock on a stick has a 5' reach unless otherwise specified."

  • #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by Patryn of Elvenshae View Post
    Actually, it'd work great. I love swarm rules (and squad rules from SWSE).

    I ran a rather large PCs-and-villagers combat against an invading Red Wizard with her apprentices and their human and undead soldiers using similar rules.

    But, I posit, a "swarm of ogres" monster is not the same thing as a swarm of "ogre monsters."
    And you'd get no disagreement on my end!

  • #74
    Quote Originally Posted by Patryn of Elvenshae View Post
    I mean, if @slobo777 had run the 3 1st-level Fighters against 2 ogres, they'd have just done better than his report states. There's nothing mandating that there be 3 ogres there.
    Actually there are guidelines for what constitutes a threat to the PCs in the playtest packet. I purposely broke them earlier in this thread to show that Ogres could be scary (to the point of overwhelming) at first level. But mainly I was trying to show that Parry was optimal - a bit too good if you ask me.

    Back to encounters, the guideline maths is a little off (results vary a lot depending on the creature). But, taking them at face value, they work like this . . .

    Ogres are 3rd-level, 480xp creatures. That makes them tough opponents at 1st, standard opponents at 2nd, 3rd, 4th level, and easy opponents from level 5 onwards.

    Following the DM Guidelines section on encounter building - including how to build "easy", "average" and "tough" encounters, for a party of 5 PCs:
    1st level: 3 Ogres would be a "tough" encounter, and PCs should be able to handle just a couple of those per day.

    3rd level: 3 Ogres would be an "average" encounter, and PCs might face four such encounters in a typical day.

    5th level: 3 Ogres would be an "easy" encounter, and PCs might face six to eight such encounters per day.

    7th level: 12 Ogres would be an "easy" encounter.

    9th level: 16 Ogres would be an "easy" encounter.
    I don't think that currently the numbers that happen during play testing match these assertions terribly well. Replace ogres with zombies for instance, and you could happily spend double the xp budget for no threat at all.

    I'm not sure whether WotC is trying to put ogres specifically as a level 3 opponent, or whether they have picked the stats and assessed them as level 3. If I were to guess at this point I'd say it was the former - the designers are trying to place ogres in the game as a level 3 opponent.

  • #75
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    Quote Originally Posted by RangerWickett View Post
    My understanding of bounded accuracy was that:

    In 3.5, a 1st level PC with chainmail, a large shield, and a 12 Dex has an AC of 18. By 5th level he's traded up to +1 full plate, so his AC is 22. By 10th level he's up to +2 full plate and a +1 large shield, and he has a ring of protection +1, so his AC is 25. A +7 boost over 9 levels.

    In 4th edition, a 1st level PC with the same stuff is AC 19 (chainmail is +6, iirc). By 5th level he's gotten a level boost and +1 full plate, so he's AC 24. By 10th level he's up to AC 28. A +9 boost over 9 levels.

    And in DDN, or at least so I hope, a 1st level PC with the same stuff is AC 19. By 5th level he's got full plate, but no magic, so he's AC 21. By 10th level he's got magic armor, which is just +1, so his AC is 22. A +3 boost over 9 levels.
    And PoE is showing here that just keeping AC down may not be enough to really broaden the utility of monsters over many levels. Instead it seems that HP and other abilities increase fast enough to make high level PCs still nearly invulnerable to low level monsters.
    Last edited by Harlekin; Thursday, 4th October, 2012 at 09:23 AM. Reason: Grammar

  • #76
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harlekin View Post
    And PoE is showing here that just keeping AC down may not be enough to really broaden the utility of monsters over many levels. Instead it seems that HP and other abilities increase fast enough to make high level PCs still nearly invulnerable to low level monsters.
    Yep. It might be a bit simplistic but we can identify that there are different things changing in favor of the PC as they level up and encounter the same monster:

    A- higher % chance of hitting the monster (possible cause: higher attack bonus, increased ability scores, magic weapons)
    B- greater % of damage-per-hit done relative to monster's total HP (possible cause: increased ability scores, bigger spells, magic weapons)
    C- lowered % chance of being hit by the monster (possible cause: increased ability scores, better armor, defensive spells, magic items)
    D- smaller % of damage-per-hit received relative to own total HP (possible cause: more total HP, increased ability scores)

    These don't take into account the fact that the PC also gained plenty of added flexibility, especially thanks to new and higher-level spells.

    Overall the "spread" looks more than quadratic... this means that just increasing the number of monsters may not be enough, at least not beyond a certain point (we also have to keep in mind that too many monsters may just not make the battle feasible to run).

    Bounded accuracy tends to lessen the spread of points A and C, but has no effect on points B and D which are largely dependent on the HP totals which are currently NOT within bounded accuracy but instead just scale up proportionally with level.

    Thus the question is: is it a good principle that a monster hits you only slightly less frequently than before (bounded accuracy) but to lesser effect (your HP are much more)? Or would it be better the other way around i.e. to hit you much less frequently but each hit still means a lot?

    I guess this question actually equates to: do you want the low-CR monsters to be rarely a deadly threat (a spear in the chest still hurts the same whether it comes from a BBEG or an orc with beginner's luck), or frequently a minor nuisance (orcs spears slowing grinding hp away from you)?
    "There is no survival without order, there is no evolution without chaos."
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  • #77
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    Quote Originally Posted by gweinel View Post
    Why this should be the only playstyle? And why should the pcs should survive two or three times their numbers?
    It needn't be the only playstyle (though a playstyle in which the PCs routinely face TPK-level opponents will probably result in a high number of TPKs, which might be controversial at some tables). I was responding to someone else's discussion of an ecounter involving 2 to 3 giants and 6 to 12 ogres, and indicating how that encounter would be run in 4e, and the game-mechanical rationale for that way of handling it.

    Quote Originally Posted by triqui View Post
    Ussually, in all editions of D&D up to now, low level threats *dissapear* from the world. Once you get to high level, there are no longer orcs and ogres in the world. They are replaced fully by giants or devils. While it's cool to have new monsters to fight (and that's a BIG part of what D&D is, and the reason to have levels at all), it could be fine if you could use orcs and ogres for longer.
    I don't agree with your characterisation here, though maybe my 4e game is unusual. I was using hobgoblins at 15th level (a powerful hobgoblin captain, and hobgoblin phalanxes built using the swarm rules). And the minion rules themselves take monsters like hobgoblins and orcs through the whole of the heroic tier, before you have to break out the swarm rules!

    In AD&D ogres and orcs hung around for a long time as well. Both monsters are present in the G-modules, for example (though they can give rise to the "fistful of d20s" problem).

    Quote Originally Posted by DogBackward View Post
    People still seem to be stuck in the newish, 4e style mindset of "One equal-level monster per PC". That's not how classic gaming works, and it's not how most epic adventure fantasy works.
    Again, my 4e campaign may be unusual, but what you talk about here doesn't fit my experience at all. With swarm rules and minion rules, I've run more epic mass combat in 4e than I ever did in other versions of D&D. Some session reports are here and here. The basic encounter design principles are very similar to those described by @Manbearcat above (very nice example, by the way).
    Last edited by pemerton; Thursday, 4th October, 2012 at 11:37 AM.

  • #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    It needn't be the only playstyle (though a playstyle in which the PCs routinely face TPK-level opponents will probably result in a high number of TPKs, which might be controversial at some tables). I was responding to someone else's discussion of an ecounter involving 2 to 3 giants and 6 to 12 ogres, and indicating how that encounter would be run in 4e, and the game-mechanical rationale for that way of handling it.

    I don't agree with your characterisation here, though maybe my 4e game is unusual. I was using hobgoblins at 15th level (a powerful hobgoblin captain, and hobgoblin phalanxes built using the swarm rules). And the minion rules themselves take monsters like hobgoblins and orcs through the whole of the heroic tier, before you have to break out the swarm rules!

    In AD&D ogres and orcs hung around for a long time as well. Both monsters are present in the G-modules, for example (though they can give rise to the "fistful of d20s" problem).

    Again, my 4e campaign may be unusual, but what you talk about here doesn't fit my experience at all. With swarm rules and minion rules, I've run more epic mass combat in 4e than I ever did in other versions of D&D. Some session reports are here and here. The basic encounter design principles are very similar to those described by @Manbearcat above (very nice example, by the way).
    Must spend some exp....

    Agreed on both counts. 4e already gives monsters a life over at least 10 levels, which is a lot. It means that you can use the same type of foe over a whole tier. I'm not sure why it is useful to go much beyond that,e.g. why epic characters that converse directly with the gods should still worry about a small army of Orcs

    And one monster per PC is nothing but a mathematical baseline for 4e. I can't remember an encounter in a game I ran that used exactly this formula. Again, PCs against scores of foes works very well in 4e.

  • #79
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    Quote Originally Posted by Manbearcat View Post
    Stuff
    Yep, I use the Swarm rules, too, for anything like this. I should get my act together and post my Mass Battle rules sometime... I think 4e has a good toolkit for this.

    I was responding to the idea that 10,000 ogres run as actual ogres is a remotely functional way to run a D&D game in any edition. Even as minions, it's a ridiculous pain with just too many dice involved (but at least HP tracking is nullified). As swarms? Most of that tracking is taken away and it still feels like you're being mobbed by a hell of a lot of ogres.

    In the mass battle rules I used, I kind of combined the two - there was a Gladiator unit who was badass when in formation, but turned into a crowd of individual minions when they failed a morale check. It worked pretty great, too. They could do more damage overall, but as individuals they were insanely vulnerable.

    -O

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    @Obryn

    Gotcha.

    You definitely should post them. I'm sure more than myself would be intrigued and grateful for it.

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