D&D 5E A better model for Legendary Resistance

Pedantic

Legend
I wonder if an ablative almost hit points style system would work. The creature has Legendary Resistance equal to its CR (for example). The PCs have to burn through that LR before the monster can suffer a "failed save" condition. For spells, if the monsters fails a save, it reduces its LR by the spell level. If it is a class ability or another monster's ability, it reduces the LR by half the character level or CR, as appropriate. As long as the monster has enough LR to "burn" the failed save is instead a successful save.

It's crude and fiddly as a first blush idea, but might be worth exploring further.
That's just a more granular version of LR as it currently exists, right? LR is basically how a 3 hit point tracker, especially if we assume most spell conditions are roughly equivalent to death.

It's more flexible, but I think the issue there is that doesn't solve the mixed party problem. Either you're going after HP or LR, and martial/magical attacks deplete separate, unrelated pools. The problem, really, is that spell conditions are supposed to be incrementally effective, making the group more effective with each successful cast, and the combination of short combats and powerful conditions makes that very hard to land, especially for 9 increasing levels of power.

The best solutions seem to be making the condition track inherent to the monster, so that each LR is scaled to solve self-inflicted penalty. That gets a little awkward, because you might also need to adjust spells so that it's a reasonable choice to compare the personal LR penalty and the spell and sometimes pick the latter. That, and it's a much more content heavy design solution, because you have to build a special penalty track for each monster.
 

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Quickleaf

Legend
The problem I see with both Legendary Resistance & Spell/Magic Resistance & your take - the DnD lineage so to speak - is that it’s binary.

However once you start imagining degrees of complication and partial effect, it gets so much more interesting - IME so far it also mitigates that player letdown while still giving the monster much needed defense. A crude example is an “Elite” trait that mitigates the worst of stun-locking conditions used against the monster.

The OTHER approach is fiction based like a Witcher monster or the Nemean Lion where there’s a quest to prepare to face the monster and overcome its invulnerability OR a puzzle in the midst of combat to figure out its unique weakness.

Oh! ANOTHER approach I’ve used once with a dragon is breaking the monster into different body parts. So it’s never universally stunned, rather it only applies to that limb - eg. Stunning head/neck prevents recharging breath weapon, etc.
 

MarkB

Legend
What if they just get advantage on saves? Each time it is successful, check off a hit. When they end up succeeding 3 saves, the ability is expended. Or they get 3 rerolls.
That steps on Magic Resistance, which a lot of Legendary creatures will have as well.
 

Shiroiken

Legend
While I don't have an issue with LR, a simple fix would be to require it to be used before the saving throw is rolled, rather than after. This then requires the DM to decide how important each effect is, choosing to save them for key effects (e.g. stun).

Another option would be to have it take up one of their Legendary Actions for the round. If the creature burns through their LA, they're vulnerable. If they hold off on LA, they miss out on opportunities. Again, this forces the DM to make tactical decisions on how to use the resource.
 

MarkB

Legend
You could give a creature ablative resistance based upon its hit point level. At full health it's immune to most debilitating conditions, cannot have its form changed or be subjected to dimensional travel against its will, and gains +10 to all saving throws.

Below 2/3rds hit points it is only immune to effects that would make it incapacitated, has a +5 bonus to saves, and can expend a legendary action to revert to its natural form if shape-changed.

Below 1/3rd hit points it loses all of these effects.
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
I think the question is, what do we need legendary resistance for? What is it protecting against, exactly? The current version is basically "the first three important saves are successful"- important because you get to choose. If you don't care about a Battlemaster making you afraid of him because you're worried about a Monk stunning you, you can make that choice (whether or not the monster knows that the Monk can stun them, lol).

From personal experience, once the party realizes they are up against legendary resistance, nobody casts any spells of substance. Why would they? Even if they can trick the enemy into burning 3 resistances (which it can decide to do after it makes a saving throw, and generally such critters have good saves and maybe even magic resistance on top of immunities), unless there's a long rest after the fight, it's not worth burning the resources. So all that happens is people fall back on the old reliable- hit point damage.

There's also the fact that LR hits different based on party composition. If your party is two Fighters, a Rogue, and a Cleric, it's likely possible that nobody is asking for any saves to be made at all!

Only a party with a high density of save effects would even try to gamble with it.

Now many of you may have had a different experience, but that's mine. To me, all LR does is make fights less interesting, because nobody wants their BBEG to be locked down and not be able to do anything, lol.

But perhaps, along these lines, maybe LR would be better if there was a cost, like, you save, but you take significant damage, so it's actually worth chipping away with spells and effects you know will fail (ie, more damage than you'd get from a weapon attack, cantrip, guiding bolt or magic missile).
 

Stormonu

Legend
I wonder if an ablative almost hit points style system would work. The creature has Legendary Resistance equal to its CR (for example). The PCs have to burn through that LR before the monster can suffer a "failed save" condition. For spells, if the monsters fails a save, it reduces its LR by the spell level. If it is a class ability or another monster's ability, it reduces the LR by half the character level or CR, as appropriate. As long as the monster has enough LR to "burn" the failed save is instead a successful save.

It's crude and fiddly as a first blush idea, but might be worth exploring further.
I think this is the closest to what I think might be a good solution. Move Legendary Resistance to the Legendary Actions/Reactions section. Using the Resistance uses up one of its actions for the round so it has less offensive thing its doing. Using the Resistance might have a "backlash" effect on more powerful creatures, sort of like a Hellish Rebuke. For example, a Beholder's Legendary Resistance when it fails a spell save is that it instead makes the save AND the anti-magic field from its central eye refocuses on the person who casts a spell on it.
 




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