Are monsters with legendary and or lair actions supposed to be boss monsters/ - Page 5
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  1. #41
    Quote Originally Posted by Sword of Spirit View Post
    That's what I mean. If I have to alter the stats of a monster to work in a normal way, then it "doesn't work".

    Despite the fact that I make house rules, I consider every rule I make that isn't purely about aesthetic or thematic preference to reflect a design flaw of the system. I do not agree with the angle of D&D being a tool-kit and a suggestion box. RPGs should be fully functional experiences right out of the box. If I buy a car or a jacket or a sandwich, and I want to add a better stereo, sew in an extra pocket, or add horseradish, that's preference, not a design flaw of the product I bought. If on the other hand, I have to replace the wheels to make the car drive straight, sew on a zipper or buttons because the ones it came with break the first time you use them, or add condiments because the sandwich comes with none and lacks flavor, that is a design flaw in the product I bought. I consider D&D to have several of the latter type of elements.



    I consider this a minor design flaw, because the learning curve of going from casual player to experienced player seems rather trivial to me, meaning that the experience seems geared to the "starting player". Now, maybe the majority of D&D players are casual players who never increase their skills, but that sounds doubtful to me, especially given that people seem to be reporting a lot of optimizers in AL. (I'm not making a binary distinction between casual players and optimizers. I think the majority of players fall into a middle category.)

    It seems to me that a game ought to be designed to work as written for the average player, not the starting or expert player.
    Re the bold, we have extremely different expectations for what "does work" means for an RPG.

    Does chess "work"? By that i mean that if any two players of any two strengths sit down and play it by the rules they will get a competitive match? Chess is a simple board game with a stock setup of pieces and absolutely defined playspace etc - surely that can "work", right?

    An RPG is not a "board game" type thing and its objectives are not to be like it. As such a *lot* more choices are given to the players and a lot more is expected of the GM. Its the nature of the beast. There is no prescribed formula for "this will be that challenging" just a loose CR set of guidelines which go into how they are just guidelines.

    its an impossible task to an RPG to try and have it so that every monster as presented "works" (by whatever level of threat or endurance or interesting you want) for every group it might be able to face in every circumstances - so they do not actually try. Its all left to the Gm to determine - not dictated by the game in any way. They provide some guidance but not at all a defined setup that could even imaginatively be construed as "the way" for all the various and particulars.

    If altering anything's "printed stats" to better meet the particulars of your game, your players, your preferences is to be seen as a failure, then no TTRPG ever made can be seen as a success by that standard.

    Do you know of any TTRPG where that would not be true? Can you name three perhaps that would pass that test for say 50% of the purchasers?

    If there was such, it would IMO likely be one of the more abstract indie ones where the basic play and design were very much radically different - like maybe say Screentime where the "game" is mostly absent and the play is more about shared and collaborative fiction and there are actually little to no "stats" presented. In other words - about the only way i can see it working, something passing that test, would be to not present any stats at all (other than perhaps scaled "PC+" and "PC-" scores in abstract. )

    I often find it valuable when having discussions about "works" and "not works" on this scale to get some concrete examples of other similar systems where "works" is clear so we can get a handle on the goalposts being talked about.
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  2. #42
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    AFAICT, IME, the fundamental problem is the action economy.

    Mercifully, I'm not running 5e right now. If I need to do so in the future, I will split boss monsters up into several "partitions" that will move together but attack/act and get hurt separately.
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  3. #43
    Quote Originally Posted by 5ekyu View Post
    Re the bold, we have extremely different expectations for what "does work" means for an RPG.

    Does chess "work"? By that i mean that if any two players of any two strengths sit down and play it by the rules they will get a competitive match? Chess is a simple board game with a stock setup of pieces and absolutely defined playspace etc - surely that can "work", right?

    An RPG is not a "board game" type thing and its objectives are not to be like it. As such a *lot* more choices are given to the players and a lot more is expected of the GM. Its the nature of the beast. There is no prescribed formula for "this will be that challenging" just a loose CR set of guidelines which go into how they are just guidelines.

    its an impossible task to an RPG to try and have it so that every monster as presented "works" (by whatever level of threat or endurance or interesting you want) for every group it might be able to face in every circumstances - so they do not actually try. Its all left to the Gm to determine - not dictated by the game in any way. They provide some guidance but not at all a defined setup that could even imaginatively be construed as "the way" for all the various and particulars.

    If altering anything's "printed stats" to better meet the particulars of your game, your players, your preferences is to be seen as a failure, then no TTRPG ever made can be seen as a success by that standard.

    Do you know of any TTRPG where that would not be true? Can you name three perhaps that would pass that test for say 50% of the purchasers?

    If there was such, it would IMO likely be one of the more abstract indie ones where the basic play and design were very much radically different - like maybe say Screentime where the "game" is mostly absent and the play is more about shared and collaborative fiction and there are actually little to no "stats" presented. In other words - about the only way i can see it working, something passing that test, would be to not present any stats at all (other than perhaps scaled "PC+" and "PC-" scores in abstract. )

    I often find it valuable when having discussions about "works" and "not works" on this scale to get some concrete examples of other similar systems where "works" is clear so we can get a handle on the goalposts being talked about.
    I just wrote a detailed response, and the internet ate it. I'll give the bullet point version, and you can let me know if I need to expand an answer.

    1) I agree with many of your initial observations.
    2) I disagree that altering stat blocks should be assumed as a norm in a game that has always had hundreds or thousands of monster statblocks of all kinds published
    3) Previous editions of D&D are better comparisons than other games, because most other games assume custom opponents and don't provide massive bestiaries (at least, most of the ones I've played)
    4) 3e, 2e, 1e, BECMI, and 4e are all better at allowing for encounters in a middle zone between "party steamrolls" and "highly deadly"
    5) This issue is actually not a monster issue (I'm okay with 5e monster design), but a PC class issue.
    6) Classes have high damage output compared to their hp; monsters would need much higher hit points compared to their damage output to not risk the observed problem
    7) Such a change would have undesirable effects on world immersion
    8) There isn't really a way to fix 5e in this regard. My suggestion for dealing with it is to not have PCs face solo monsters, or if you do, don't expect the encounter to be in a "challenging but not deadly" range.

  4. #44
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    I think 1e at least has the exact same issue with solo monsters dying very fast. The difference is that 1e assumed the DM would be rolling "number appearing" dice and multiple monsters by default. If there is a problem with 5e monsters I think it is that high level non-legendary monsters can be easily taken out by a single spell, whereas in 1e they would usually make their save.

  5. #45
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    Just want to point out that while this is definitely an interesting thread, "solo" and "boss" are actually opposite words if you think about it: a "boss" is by definition someone who commands others, so it isn't much of a "boss" if it is encountered "solo". But I understand that the term "boss" has lost its meaning since computer games where it just started to mean the end-level BBEG.
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  6. #46
    Quote Originally Posted by Sword of Spirit View Post
    I just wrote a detailed response, and the internet ate it. I'll give the bullet point version, and you can let me know if I need to expand an answer.

    1) I agree with many of your initial observations.
    2) I disagree that altering stat blocks should be assumed as a norm in a game that has always had hundreds or thousands of monster statblocks of all kinds published
    3) Previous editions of D&D are better comparisons than other games, because most other games assume custom opponents and don't provide massive bestiaries (at least, most of the ones I've played)
    4) 3e, 2e, 1e, BECMI, and 4e are all better at allowing for encounters in a middle zone between "party steamrolls" and "highly deadly"
    5) This issue is actually not a monster issue (I'm okay with 5e monster design), but a PC class issue.
    6) Classes have high damage output compared to their hp; monsters would need much higher hit points compared to their damage output to not risk the observed problem
    7) Such a change would have undesirable effects on world immersion
    8) There isn't really a way to fix 5e in this regard. My suggestion for dealing with it is to not have PCs face solo monsters, or if you do, don't expect the encounter to be in a "challenging but not deadly" range.
    2 - Altering stat blocks is just one way, one option a Gm has to adjust an ecnounter to better suit the specifics of their campaign and their PCs. it is not required at all. Instead one might use more monsters or higher power monsters or more terrain factors etc etc etc. The key is *like almost if not every RPG made* 5e does not claim or try to provide any sort of guarantee about encounter threat that is not at its heart and sole GM chooses threats appropriate to his group.

    3 - So Ok you throw out a lot of other games and so you wont use them to support your claims? OK. personally, i find an awful lot of my experience from those other games helps and applies when running DnD and vice-versa.

    4 - i played a lot of 1-2-3e and all i can say is that i do not see any major difference between their "middle zone" play than 5es. 1e provided no CR system as i recall and i do not think 2e did but its been too long. But regardless for all three of those the strength of the encounter and such still came down to what the Gm chose to throw at them, the circumstance and the particulars of the party and players - not anything "published" in their rules. If anything 1e with its rather quick surge from "up" to "dead" had a tendency to make sudden swings in a battle's progress more common. If you would care to show whatever evidence you have that 1e did better at encounter building and management of outcomes or whatever than 5e does - i am all ears - errr - eyes.

    5-6-7-8 - Whether or not its a "monster problem" or a "class problem" is pretty much irrelevant. The perceived "problem" only "exists" when classes go up against monsters (aka adversaries) and exists during that conflict so the "solutions" can be found on either or both sides of that. I routinely change monster HPs as well as routinely throw "adjusted" encounters at my group and that seems to have "solved" or at least prevented (perhaps in the strawberry whistle elephant meaning of prevent) this "problem" of too narrow a field of encounters between the two extremes and lack of middle ground - without any class changes. So, you may assume there is no "solution" to be found in the adversary side of the conflict or that 5e cannot be fixed - but that does not match my experience.

    That said - i have not tended to find solo enemies to be particularly interesting or as fun to play on either side in any edition of DnD or really most any game. perhaps thats why so many of them often have those adversaries described and often directly including a variety of minions.

    So, again i ask, what RPGs "work" by your standards in that out of the box without changes the GM doesn't need to choose encounters with an eye to his party but the incidence of the extreme results doesn't happen?

    Cuz for me, as far back as 1e, a party with several clerics a fighter and a paladin would do a lot differently than a party with one fighter, a druid, and two rogues would when dealing with different types of monsters and what would be a smash, brawl or rout for one might be the exact opposite for the other - and neither of them would match up for a more traditional standard fighter, cleric, wizard, rogue quartet.


    Edit to Clarify and to ask a question...

    When i refer to adjusting HP for adversaries, i am actually referring to choosing the HP. I keep the range of Hp within the listed range of Hp shown on the stat block for the creature. I am referring to not using the average HP quick number, not just whole cloth changing it to some other range of stats.

    Now to me, that is actually not adjusting the stat block, just using its acceptable range of options as presented, but i have tended to find some folks see it as "adjusting" so i use that term even tho there is not mandate to use the quickie average for either their HP or their damage.

    So, let me ask of those who see "adjusting stat blocks" as a system failure for a 5e game - for a displacer beast (HP 85 (10d10 + 30)) would you see choosing to have your displacer beast at 65, 95 or 125hp be "not using the stat blocks" and a failure? Do you see the average values as mandatory to be used or just a quick option if you want to use them?

    Cuz, in my experience, choosing the HP within the allowed range of the stat block goes a long way towards adjusting the encounter difficulty to the specifics of your group and not running into out of bounds results due to party and circumstance specifics - especially by the time solo/boss/lair/legend critters are in play with a group you have been playing for a while.
    Last edited by 5ekyu; Tuesday, 6th November, 2018 at 06:11 PM.

  7. #47
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    Solo Monsters have always been a tough gig in Dnd. I think 4e's later solo monsters (MM3 and beyond) were probably the best showing to date, as they generally had a good mix of offense and defense.


    In general, my issue with 5e legendary monsters is there lack of threat. Because attacks and damage do not scale heavily with levels, the number of actions/attacks has a much bigger impact on the fight. The legendary actions can help, but ultimately most solos I find get overwhelmed by a party's relentless assault.

    The best way to deal with that is for the solo to generate tremendous threat that forces the party to spend actions on things other than attacks (healing, running away, getting out of traps or spell effects, etc). Without those, the action math just wears the solo down.

    So far, I have found lair actions a far superior way to generate threat compared to legendary actions. It gives you extra actions in a way that aren't always immediately counter-able, it makes good realistic sense, and....it works.

    Then combining the two, lair actions + legendary actions I find creates a good boss monster overall. But you need that something extra. Just throwing a legendary creature at a party by itself isn't enough in many cases.

  8. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by 5ekyu View Post
    So, let me ask of those who see "adjusting stat blocks" as a system failure for a 5e game - for a displacer beast (HP [FONT="]85 [/FONT][FONT="][/FONT](10d10 + 30)) would you see choosing to have your displacer beast at 65, 95 or 125hp be "not using the stat blocks" and a failure? Do you see the average values as mandatory to be used or just a quick option if you want to use them?

    Cuz, in my experience, choosing the HP within the allowed range of the stat block goes a long way towards adjusting the encounter difficulty to the specifics of your group and not running into out of bounds results due to party and circumstance specifics - especially by the time solo/boss/lair/legend critters are in play with a group you have been playing for a while.
    I think it comes down to degrees. Modifying a stat block here and there is par for the DM course, but if you find your having to do it continuously to generate threat that suggests something is off. And that's where I find myself. I've run 3 5e campaigns, with both vets and newbies, and continuously I have found that 5e monsters don't cut the mustard unaltered in my games. I had a far easier time challenging the party in 3e and 4e with standard CR monsters....at least until high levels.
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  9. #49
    Quote Originally Posted by Stalker0 View Post
    I think it comes down to degrees. Modifying a stat block here and there is par for the DM course, but if you find your having to do it continuously to generate threat that suggests something is off. And that's where I find myself. I've run 3 5e campaigns, with both vets and newbies, and continuously I have found that 5e monsters don't cut the mustard unaltered in my games. I had a far easier time challenging the party in 3e and 4e with standard CR monsters....at least until high levels.
    i have the opposite experience. in my 3.5 and 5e games, alterations were common - at least as far as Hp are concerned. But i am not talking about changing every goblin and ghoul but the ones that matter - the leaders and so forth. But just as much, the question becomes one of choosing foes - it has always been the case that for any specific group one beast may be much tougher than another and that reverse if the group is changed.

    I mean, there is no "set foe" for a specific given party - outside of formalized must use adventure raw style play. So i do not see the difference in throwing one higher HP boss ghoul or a ghast or another two ghouls - whatever meets your particular desires for what a "proper encounter" is.

    But then, i have never in any game saw "standard cr" as a "what your parties should be facing" as opposed to "when comparing these two beasts here is a rough guideline of their threat." The "actual threat" or "in-play encounter difficulty" to your particular group will be much more determined by the specifics of your group and the adversaries than their CR in any system.

  10. #50
    Quote Originally Posted by 5ekyu View Post
    2 - Altering stat blocks is just one way, one option a Gm has to adjust an ecnounter to better suit the specifics of their campaign and their PCs. it is not required at all. Instead one might use more monsters or higher power monsters or more terrain factors etc etc etc. The key is *like almost if not every RPG made* 5e does not claim or try to provide any sort of guarantee about encounter threat that is not at its heart and sole GM chooses threats appropriate to his group.
    I'm not sure we have as much disagreement here as it looks like you're seeing.

    3 - So Ok you throw out a lot of other games and so you wont use them to support your claims? OK. personally, i find an awful lot of my experience from those other games helps and applies when running DnD and vice-versa.
    I generally approve of getting actual specific examples, but in this case I just don't have them because D&D is designed differently than other games I have actual play experience in. I would love it if I had had an chance to actually play some of the other games I've owned or looked into that came with large bestiaries, but I haven't had that experience, so I can't provide comparisons from those sources. Since most D&D editions have more in common with each other than with other systems, and since the specific design flaw I'm talking about is in my experience more evident in 5e D&D than in other D&D editions, I would hope we could consider those comparisons sufficient.

    4 - i played a lot of 1-2-3e and all i can say is that i do not see any major difference between their "middle zone" play than 5es. 1e provided no CR system as i recall and i do not think 2e did but its been too long. But regardless for all three of those the strength of the encounter and such still came down to what the Gm chose to throw at them, the circumstance and the particulars of the party and players - not anything "published" in their rules. If anything 1e with its rather quick surge from "up" to "dead" had a tendency to make sudden swings in a battle's progress more common. If you would care to show whatever evidence you have that 1e did better at encounter building and management of outcomes or whatever than 5e does - i am all ears - errr - eyes.
    No experience I have is going to be objective, because I haven't (maybe someone else has) done any sort of scientific experiment. It probably wouldn't be terribly hard to devise one if someone wanted to, but it would also likely engender massive arguments about methodological problems and flaws, and so only be useful for those for whom whatever the results were tended to agree with their own experiences.

    Just like anyone else, all I can say is, "I've played different editions. This thing is harder for me to do in 5e than in the other ones." I've been following the forums for the entire life cycle of 5e, and I've seen other people saying essentially the same thing. No, I can't provide a list of names, partly because I often don't even remember who made what post. If you want to start a list, you can start with my name. That, at least, is data that could be acquired, though I don't think it is necessary.

    The "this thing" is getting encounters (and especially encounters with a solitary monster) using the standard stat blocks that fit between extremes of costing few to no party resources and likely to kill a party member.

    My initial statement was that solo's don't work (and I meant because of this problem, which is most evident with them). The line between "don't work" and "don't work as well" is arbitrary. In this case, it stands out enough to merit "don't work". I thing you might be correct that 1e also shared this problem with solos (and therefore didn't work), even if the dynamics were a bit different.

    5-6-7-8 - Whether or not its a "monster problem" or a "class problem" is pretty much irrelevant. The perceived "problem" only "exists" when classes go up against monsters (aka adversaries) and exists during that conflict so the "solutions" can be found on either or both sides of that. I routinely change monster HPs as well as routinely throw "adjusted" encounters at my group and that seems to have "solved" or at least prevented (perhaps in the strawberry whistle elephant meaning of prevent) this "problem" of too narrow a field of encounters between the two extremes and lack of middle ground - without any class changes. So, you may assume there is no "solution" to be found in the adversary side of the conflict or that 5e cannot be fixed - but that does not match my experience.

    That said - i have not tended to find solo enemies to be particularly interesting or as fun to play on either side in any edition of DnD or really most any game. perhaps thats why so many of them often have those adversaries described and often directly including a variety of minions.
    I also think minions, lieutenants, terrain, etc, make more interesting fights, regardless of edition. I think it was easier to make a boring fight that lacked these elements fit into an intended challenge level in other editions.

    So, again i ask, what RPGs "work" by your standards in that out of the box without changes the GM doesn't need to choose encounters with an eye to his party but the incidence of the extreme results doesn't happen?
    I may not have been clear, but this is not a claim that I have been making. Of course you can't just pull an encounter out of the blue that says is such and such challenge and have that challenge be the same for all parties everywhere. You couldn't do that in any edition. To attempt to clarify, I'm referring to the need to adjust actual stat blocks to make encounters fit that middle challenge zone we have been discussing when up against a typical party. You can consider that to be a fighter, cleric, rogue, and wizard, or anything else that creates a similar effect. 5e offers encounter challenge guidelines. I'm claiming that using them doesn't generally work as well in my experience as using the ones in 3e, or even as just going by feel due to the complete lack of ones in prior editions. In 5e, even going by feel is difficult for me to make work.

    Would you be interested (assuming it's a good investment of your time, which is an unwarranted assumption in our busy world) in sharing some encounters you have run, without modifying stat blocks (for these purposes, not even modifying hit points), that work really well for a standard dwarf fighter, human cleric, halfling rogue, and elf wizard, and whose danger and resource drain matches the predictions of the 5e CR system? Solos would be particularly useful, as would encounters at various tiers of play. I'm not asking this as a challenge. You seem to not be having the same problem, and if you could provide some good examples, that might help the rest of us figure out what we are doing wrong.

    Edit to Clarify and to ask a question...

    When i refer to adjusting HP for adversaries, i am actually referring to choosing the HP. I keep the range of Hp within the listed range of Hp shown on the stat block for the creature. I am referring to not using the average HP quick number, not just whole cloth changing it to some other range of stats.

    Now to me, that is actually not adjusting the stat block, just using its acceptable range of options as presented, but i have tended to find some folks see it as "adjusting" so i use that term even tho there is not mandate to use the quickie average for either their HP or their damage.
    I consider this within the realm of using the stat block normally. Published adventures sometimes give max hit points to one goblin out of several to represent their elite status, for instance. For me, it's important that this makes sense in the fiction, in that elite versions are going to be rarer than the ones straight out of the manual (which is true in published adventures).

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