D&D 5E Do you mind not experiencing traditional lower level challenges?

The 5e Monster Manual makes a lot of classic monsters into pretty low-level threats. There are things that traditionally could make a cool solo or boss monster as part of the classic D&D experiences for low-level characters, that just can't in 5e unless your party is level 1 or 2. Heck, sometimes a monster might even be too strong for level 1, but too weak for level 2.

With that in mind, I really wonder about how many people just aren't interested in playing at those low levels. I mean, the idea of having a mystery about who the werewolf is, for instance, is a cool, traditional sort of adventure. It's really hard to work into 5e. And there are plenty of other monsters that fit best conceptually as loners, but you have an extremely small window (sometimes just a single level) where they can fit that role.

So when people say they want to skip levels 1-3, they're essentially saying they aren't going to use those monsters to have those sorts of traditional adventures. A 4th-level party (and definitely a 5th-level party) is going to destroy most classic mid-level monsters, let alone lower level ones. Forget about an ogre being a threat, or even an ogre with a gang of a few orcs. They'll be annihilated.

So I'm not really sure what's going on. Are ogres and werewolves the new orcs and goblins? Is this the new normal?
 

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Orcs and goblins are still orcs and goblins, even to a level 5 party. You just need more of them. Also, keep in mind the encounter guidelines. Obviously, the party won't be threatened by the first five groups of orcs in a day.

While it might be tempting to just replace orcs with ogres, and try to get by with only two or three encounters in a day, Hit Points scale significantly with level. A fight against a group of ogres is going to feel like a slog. At least with the orcs, you get some downtime between the fights.
 

Hussar

Legend
Well, to speak to your specific example - a werewolf. Well, a lone werewolf isn't likely going to be much a threat to a full party after 2nd level. Sure. Then again, it never really was. Even going all the way back to AD&D, werewolves appeared in packs. 3-18 was the No. Appearing. So, honestly, I think we're slapping up against expectations and reality.

A 3rd level AD&D party typically either had silver or magic weapons by then and would make exceptionally quick work of a 20 Hp werewolf.

If you want to use a single werewolf against the party, you're going to have to change the stats significantly, change it to a legendary creature possibly, and massively up its power.
 


Shiroiken

Legend
I will agree that I'm discouraged by some of the classic "player's dread" monsters are now very low CR. Lone monster haven't really done well since AD&D, simply due to action economy (AD&D worked because there wasn't really any encounter structure guide, so you could throw a very powerful solo monster against the party).

I agree with @Hussar that the best solution would be to create your own legendary versions of these monsters. There's a product on DMGuild that helps with this, called (...not so) Legendary Monsters, because it creates multiple levels of "legendary" for weaker monsters.
 

ccs

41st lv DM
Lone monster haven't really done well since AD&D, simply due to action economy (AD&D worked because there wasn't really any encounter structure guide, so you could throw a very powerful solo monster against the party).

I don't know about you, but I'm not bound by whatever suggestions the current designers give on how to make encounters.
What worked in 1e still works today.
 

Shiroiken

Legend
I don't know about you, but I'm not bound by whatever suggestions the current designers give on how to make encounters.
What worked in 1e still works today.
I agree. I've found all the encounter guidelines since 3E to be unsatisfying and easily manipulated. Using the 5E guidelines, I've thrown Deadly x3 encounters at my group that they've defeated with ease, while a Hard encounter killed 2 PCs and came close to a TPK. I design my adventures around the logical setup for the premise, ignoring the concept of "encounters."
 


tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
The 5e Monster Manual makes a lot of classic monsters into pretty low-level threats. There are things that traditionally could make a cool solo or boss monster as part of the classic D&D experiences for low-level characters, that just can't in 5e unless your party is level 1 or 2. Heck, sometimes a monster might even be too strong for level 1, but too weak for level 2.

With that in mind, I really wonder about how many people just aren't interested in playing at those low levels. I mean, the idea of having a mystery about who the werewolf is, for instance, is a cool, traditional sort of adventure. It's really hard to work into 5e. And there are plenty of other monsters that fit best conceptually as loners, but you have an extremely small window (sometimes just a single level) where they can fit that role.

So when people say they want to skip levels 1-3, they're essentially saying they aren't going to use those monsters to have those sorts of traditional adventures. A 4th-level party (and definitely a 5th-level party) is going to destroy most classic mid-level monsters, let alone lower level ones. Forget about an ogre being a threat, or even an ogre with a gang of a few orcs. They'll be annihilated.

So I'm not really sure what's going on. Are ogres and werewolves the new orcs and goblins? Is this the new normal?
I refluff other monsters. The last few weeks my players have been dealing with some horrid werewolves & horrid werebears in a ravenloft adventure that has said horrid were-beasts getting enhanced by the Dark Powers, a group of level 7 PC's don't need to know that the horrid were-beasts they are fighting are refluffed versions of the creatures on page 118 of the monster manual :D


I don't mind that many of those "iconic" & such monsters are lower cr so much as the fact that they didn't give any meaningful replacements I could refluff. Take the comments in the recent have you ever lost a character to ghouls poll/thread where lots of people (largely DM's I'd imagine) admit & lament their downgraded status making them not much of a threat now while nobody is coming along saying that Odakyr Rite ghasts Emerald Claw elite ghouls, Acerak's footsoldiers, or whatever make good stand ins for the old scary ghouls.

Rust monsters & oozes aside, a lot of those old monsters were scary for reasons beyond their statblock alone, but even those two that were scary because of their statblock are no big deal now.
 

Xetheral

Three-Headed Sirrush
Monsters don't need to be able to threaten your life to be a challenge. All they need to do is threaten your goals.

For example, 8 goblins who interrupt a chase through narrow passages to try to delay you may not be a lethal threat, but it can still be challenging to defeat them fast enough to not lose ground on your quarry. If those Goblins take the Dodge action and make smart use of full cover, killing them quickly might actually be difficult, even for a mid-level party.
 

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