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D&D 5E 5e EPIC MONSTER UPDATES


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dave2008

Legend
Hey Dave mate! :)

That seems like a crazy number of Traits/Actions etc. Wondering how I would (re)design such a monster. Hmmm.
Yes, oddly enough my exalted monsters (deities, primordials, archfiends, etc.) will be a little easier to stat because the fact they are exalted handles a lot of the issues with high level 5e PCs. So you don't need some many other traits and actions. My 5e Monster Updates however are supposed to use standard 5e mostly, so you need a lot to both get the function and the flavor I want from a high CR monster.
 

Upper_Krust

Adventurer
Yes, oddly enough my exalted monsters (deities, primordials, archfiends, etc.) will be a little easier to stat because the fact they are exalted handles a lot of the issues with high level 5e PCs. So you don't need some many other traits and actions. My 5e Monster Updates however are supposed to use standard 5e mostly, so you need a lot to both get the function and the flavor I want from a high CR monster.

Working on my own stat-blocks for such monsters and I'm try to cut them down to the absolute basics. There is a lot of redundancy in 5E stat blocks (quick example you have a listing for Resistances, but then under traits they add 2 lines to explain Magic Resistance instead of just putting 'Magic' as one of the Resistances).
 

Upper_Krust

Adventurer
That’s what it takes to make a real CR30 ;)

Hey Stalker0! :)

Well I probably used to think exactly the same. But the problem with 30 ish traits/attacks/legendary actions/lair actions is that:

1. Its off putting to some DMs to read such a stat-block
2. Even if they do read it, they probably won't remember most of it (either as set-up or in play)
3. The more powers you add the less focus the monster has
4. Likewise, more powers (especially more standardized powers) increases the likelihood that more of your high CR monsters share the same powers - making everything less unique - this is doubly true for Dragons
5. With this many powers you'll probably need multiple pages to explain it all. Meaning its not a stat-block at a glance any more - especially if there is page flipping.
6. Epic Play is already numerically the most complicated so anything you can do to alleviate the complexity rather than compound it will probably help.

Of course, all that said, epic gamers and DMs are probably more used to and more tolerable of higher complexity, but even then there is always the goal to not put off new epic level players and DMs.
 

Stalker0

Legend
Of course, all that said, epic gamers and DMs are probably more used to and more tolerable of higher complexity, but even then there is always the goal to not put off new epic level players and DMs.
I guess it always comes down to the expectations at these levels. For example, to me the idea of "new" epic level players is a bit of an oxymoron, I expect people playing at those levels to have been around the block, and so this is a step up in complexity but not a leap. But I respect not everyone feels that way.

As for the statblock complexity, we are in agreement that all else being equal...a simpler statblock is better. Having DMed many a high level monster I always appreciate that the less a DM has to remember, the better things are. I like your idea to just put magic in the resistance area as example.

That said...the CR 30 wyrm is meant to be the "ultimate boss monster". It is basically the final fight of an 20th level game, and has to be a worthy foe against a party that has reality altering powers at their disposal. Therefore, it has to be able to hold its own against anything and everything the Player's handbook can conjure (and in theory since its a full 10 CR higher...it should do more than hold its own, it should "trounce"). In order to do that well, you have to have a lot of tools in the belt.

Its also worth considering that such a monster is probably best used as a solo or with minions (probably with minions, even with all the crazy it can deal, multiple 20th level characters are still insanely scary). That means that this monster holds ALL of the complexity of the encounter, its not a scenario where the DM is having to consult abilities on multiple monsters (which from experience is really taxing on the DM brain). You have some easy minions, and then all of your DM attention is spent on this one creature. So your complexity budget can afford to be a bit higher. If this was a "standard" monster than heck no, way too complicated, but as a monster that I am making the hallmark of the encounter (and possibly even the game), then the extra sweat I think is worth it.

I can say that even with all those abilities, running this kind of monster is way easier than running monsters from 3.5 or pathfinder at 15th+ level. Having done both, its no contest.
 

dave2008

Legend
Working on my own stat-blocks for such monsters and I'm try to cut them down to the absolute basics. There is a lot of redundancy in 5E stat blocks (quick example you have a listing for Resistances, but then under traits they add 2 lines to explain Magic Resistance instead of just putting 'Magic' as one of the Resistances).
True, but that is the convention and Magic resistance works differently than damage resistances. But yes, there is redundancy. Even in just the language of the actions.

For my exalted monsters I added condition resistances, which give you advantage on saves vs those effects. Thus, you don't have to have a trait every time you want to give some protection from a condition that isn't out right immunity, but in general I try not to deviate to much from the standard. Though I am definitely interested in how to simplify things and strip the language to be more concise.
 
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dave2008

Legend
Hey Stalker0! :)

Well I probably used to think exactly the same. But the problem with 30 ish traits/attacks/legendary actions/lair actions is that:

1. Its off putting to some DMs to read such a stat-block
2. Even if they do read it, they probably won't remember most of it (either as set-up or in play)
3. The more powers you add the less focus the monster has
4. Likewise, more powers (especially more standardized powers) increases the likelihood that more of your high CR monsters share the same powers - making everything less unique - this is doubly true for Dragons
5. With this many powers you'll probably need multiple pages to explain it all. Meaning its not a stat-block at a glance any more - especially if there is page flipping.
6. Epic Play is already numerically the most complicated so anything you can do to alleviate the complexity rather than compound it will probably help.

Of course, all that said, epic gamers and DMs are probably more used to and more tolerable of higher complexity, but even then there is always the goal to not put off new epic level players and DMs.
I don't disagree with your points, but I am fine with game ending monsters being a lot more complex. I expect that this basically all the DM needs to really study for this encounter. Also, dragons are an extreme example. I want them to not only be challenging, but I want them the mechanics to mimic a particular flavor (thus the complex breath weapon zone trait). In reality this is a simplified version compared to where they started. Also, there are some simpler high-end monsters in that thread. Check out the Desert Leviathan. That is a simple monster that is effective for its CR 30 / mythic. I try not to use all the same tricks for each monster.

In general the monsters in my 5e Updates: Monstrous Compendium are supposed be a bit more complex than the typical 5e. It is specifically for people who want more complex 5e monsters.
 

Upper_Krust

Adventurer
I guess it always comes down to the expectations at these levels. For example, to me the idea of "new" epic level players is a bit of an oxymoron, I expect people playing at those levels to have been around the block, and so this is a step up in complexity but not a leap. But I respect not everyone feels that way.

Howdy Stalker0! :)

Its easy to just go with the complexity of epic gaming and add MOAR stuff (as they say). I think maybe its harder to make iconic epic monsters in as few abilities as possible.

As for the statblock complexity, we are in agreement that all else being equal...a simpler statblock is better. Having DMed many a high level monster I always appreciate that the less a DM has to remember, the better things are. I like your idea to just put magic in the resistance area as example.

The best monsters* in the 3E Epic Level Handbook were all simple in concept (if not always execution).

*Atropal, Hekatonkeres, Xixecal etc.

That said...the CR 30 wyrm is meant to be the "ultimate boss monster". It is basically the final fight of an 20th level game, and has to be a worthy foe against a party that has reality altering powers at their disposal. Therefore, it has to be able to hold its own against anything and everything the Player's handbook can conjure (and in theory since its a full 10 CR higher...it should do more than hold its own, it should "trounce"). In order to do that well, you have to have a lot of tools in the belt.

Yes and no. Dave has designed monsters of at least CR 50 (and possibly beyond). So in terms of 'epic' CR 30 is hardly the Ultimate Boss Monster (although I get the point you are trying to make). But I am not sure it needs to have a lot of tools in the belt. Conceptually it would be better to be great at 2 or 3 things rather than good at everything.

If you were designing Thor as an opponent you could hypothetically boil him down to 3 key powers.

Its also worth considering that such a monster is probably best used as a solo or with minions (probably with minions, even with all the crazy it can deal, multiple 20th level characters are still insanely scary). That means that this monster holds ALL of the complexity of the encounter, its not a scenario where the DM is having to consult abilities on multiple monsters (which from experience is really taxing on the DM brain). You have some easy minions, and then all of your DM attention is spent on this one creature. So your complexity budget can afford to be a bit higher. If this was a "standard" monster than heck no, way too complicated, but as a monster that I am making the hallmark of the encounter (and possibly even the game), then the extra sweat I think is worth it.

Maybe the dragon's scales became sentient insect-like minions that can detach or fall off. The Dragon's hide is tougher with the minion's attached (Scalebound Form: Better AC & Damage Reduction) but the 'Living Scales' can attack of their own accord and swarm the PCs and the Scaleless Form could be faster/cast better spells.

I can say that even with all those abilities, running this kind of monster is way easier than running monsters from 3.5 or pathfinder at 15th+ level. Having done both, its no contest.

Certainly 5E is much simpler than 3E/Pathfinder.
 

Upper_Krust

Adventurer
True, but that is the convention and Magic resistance works differently than damage resistances.

If Epic Players/DMs can handle the complexity they sure as hell can handle the simplicity.

But yes, there is redundancy. Even in just the language of the actions.

For my exalted monsters I added condition resistances, which give you advantage on saves vs those effects. Thus, you don't have to have a trait every time you want to give some protection from a condition that isn't out right immunity, but in general I try not to deviate to much from the standard. Though I am definitely interested in how to simplify things and strip the language to be more concise.

For better or worse I'm going to try my best to simplify the epic stat blocks as much as possible.
 

Upper_Krust

Adventurer
I don't disagree with your points, but I am fine with game ending monsters being a lot more complex. I expect that this basically all the DM needs to really study for this encounter. Also, dragons are an extreme example. I want them to not only be challenging, but I want them the mechanics to mimic a particular flavor (thus the complex breath weapon zone trait). In reality this is a simplified version compared to where they started. Also, there are some simpler high-end monsters in that thread. Check out the Desert Leviathan. That is a simple monster that is effective for its CR 30 / mythic. I try not to use all the same tricks for each monster.

In general the monsters in my 5e Updates: Monstrous Compendium are supposed be a bit more complex than the typical 5e. It is specifically for people who want more complex 5e monsters.

I like that Desert Leviathan monster you cooked up, very nice. Colossal Trait seems like something obvious DMs would take for granted. Thick Skin (Damage Reduction) could be added after Hit Points. Magic Weapon and Siege Monster (as with Colossal Trait) could probably be removed or folded into a note on Colossal size monsters in the rules.
 

dave2008

Legend
If Epic Players/DMs can handle the complexity they sure as hell can handle the simplicity.
Absolutely. And it is a suggestion I may copy. I will just make sure I explain somewhere (the Introduction to my Bestiary) what it means when magic is listed as a resistance. Unless you mean the simple take half damage (which you could, but that is different than the trait "Magic Resistance")
For better or worse I'm going to try my best to simplify the epic stat blocks as much as possible.
I think that is a good idea and I have the same goal. One thing I did was make Teleport a type of speed like it was in 4e. That way it doesn't have to be an action. Another thing I am doing to simplify the stat block is to get rid of legendary actions. In general I love them, but they take up a lot of space. Instead, I am giving my epic monsters multiple turns per round instead, a full: action, movement, bonus action, and reaction for each turn they have. Achieves a similar effect, with much less space. Giving me more space to have interesting traits or actions.
 

dave2008

Legend
I like that Desert Leviathan monster you cooked up, very nice. Colossal Trait seems like something obvious DMs would take for granted. Thick Skin (Damage Reduction) could be added after Hit Points. Magic Weapon and Siege Monster (as with Colossal Trait) could probably be removed or folded into a note on Colossal size monsters in the rules.
I will have colossal and titanic sizes, but I believe a size isn't enough to capture everything involved with creatures of those sizes. So, each has a corresponding trait associated with that size. The a general rules associated with that trait, but each monster is a little different and needs some specific rules. Though I could definitely see folding in siege monster into that trait (or possibly the size).

Besides, you would be surprised how many comments I've gotten on things I think would be taken for granted that people like to rules actually written down.
 


dave2008

Legend
Working on my own stat-blocks for such monsters and I'm try to cut them down to the absolute basics. There is a lot of redundancy in 5E stat blocks (quick example you have a listing for Resistances, but then under traits they add 2 lines to explain Magic Resistance instead of just putting 'Magic' as one of the Resistances).
As I previously mentioned I am adding "condition resistances" to my immortal tier stat blocks. Since that category is not RAW and already has new guidelines, I think it would make since to add "magic" as a tag there. They are both based on giving you advantage. Another trait removed from the clutter!
 

Hey there this thread is awesome I’m really happy I found it. Do you mind if I ask what your prosses is? I’m trying to think of stats and abilities for a greater god of murder, assasination, assault, violence and treason to use as the final boss of my campaign. The only thing I’ve been able to come up with is that he should be able to magically apply any poison that has existed to his weapon as a legendary action. That aside thought what you have put up already has been a great help to me so thank you.
 

Upper_Krust

Adventurer
Hey there this thread is awesome I’m really happy I found it. Do you mind if I ask what your prosses is? I’m trying to think of stats and abilities for a greater god of murder, assasination, assault, violence and treason to use as the final boss of my campaign. The only thing I’ve been able to come up with is that he should be able to magically apply any poison that has existed to his weapon as a legendary action. That aside thought what you have put up already has been a great help to me so thank you.

Maybe his weapon (spear?) is made from frozen poison and can fight of its own accord like a snake while the god strangles the life force from his victims. His golden hands detach like a necklace of strangulation and that's when he casts insidious spells that can turn allies against each other or turn your shadow...into a Shadow!
 

tethtoril

Villager
Hi I'm thinking of contributing to this if am allowed to. Is there a discord server where you share stuff/discuss this or is everything through this thread? Also I wanted to convert it to use on 5e.tools, but I wanted to ask permission if you're happy for me to do that. Thanks.
 


dave2008

Legend
Hi I'm thinking of contributing to this if am allowed to. Is there a discord server where you share stuff/discuss this or is everything through this thread? Also I wanted to convert it to use on 5e.tools, but I wanted to ask permission if you're happy for me to do that. Thanks.
Absolutely! Unfortunately there is no discord, but that is something I should probably set up. You can absolutely convert these if you like (not sure what 5e.tools is though). However, if you are using an automated system to convert these, please note that these monsters don't follow the 5e standard 100%. The "epic bonus" was added to attack and ability checks. And the stats by CR we different than the DMG as well. If you use the standard rules, it is no big loss. In fact, I don't use these custom design guidelines anymore and I just use the 5e/DMG standard.

However, this is a bit of an old thread as I have moved on to a new set of design guidelines for my deity level monsters (and PCs). They are only in the beginning stages though (ASECNSION).
 

dave2008

Legend
Hey there this thread is awesome I’m really happy I found it. Do you mind if I ask what your prosses is? I’m trying to think of stats and abilities for a greater god of murder, assasination, assault, violence and treason to use as the final boss of my campaign. The only thing I’ve been able to come up with is that he should be able to magically apply any poison that has existed to his weapon as a legendary action. That aside thought what you have put up already has been a great help to me so thank you.
Well, first I always try to start with something similar. You could look at Myrkul (near the bottom of that post) as it is a similar deity. Regardless, I try to find 2-3 things that make that god stand out. Also:

Traits:
  • Needs a way to get out of conditions.
  • give it a trait that keys of an successful action. Something that emphasis what the god is good at. So maybe a recharge bonus that turns a hit to a critical or adds poison damage or something similar.
  • Traits that speak to the gods domains/portfolios
Actions:
  • Melee attack
  • Ranged attack (this is a must)
  • Recharge attack (themed to what the god is good at)
  • add some conditions, damage usually isn't enough at this level
Legendary Actions:
  • A to move / escape from being surrounded. Could simply be a teleport action.
  • Some interesting options that are not just damage.
That's a start
 

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