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Giant Crocodile - Strong CR4?

Olaf the Stout

Adventurer
I put my party (4 level 7 PC's, 1 level 6 PC) up against a Giant Crocodile from the MM last session. Let's just say that I'm glad it attacked the PC with the most HP's first otherwise a PC or 2 might have died rather quickly. Here are the stats for it:

[sblock=Giant Crocodile Stats]
Crocodile, Giant: CR 4; LA —; Huge animal (aquatic); HD 7d8+28; hp 59; Init +1; Spd 20 ft., swim 30 ft.; AC 16 (–2 size, +1 Dex, +7 natural), touch 9, flat-footed 15; Base Atk +5; Grp +21; Atk Bite +11 melee (2d8+12) or tail slap +11 melee (1d12+12); Full Atk (same); Space/Reach 15 ft./10 ft.; SA improved grab; SQ hold breath, low–light vision; AL (Always) N; SV Fort +9, Ref +6, Will +3; Str 27, Dex 12, Con 19, Int 1, Wis 12, Cha 2.

Skills and Feats: Hide +1, Listen +5, Spot +5, Swim +16; Alertness, Endurance, Skill Focus (Hide). (A crocodile has a +8 racial bonus on any Swim check to perform some special action or avoid a hazard. It can always choose to take 10 on a Swim check, even if distracted or endangered. It can use the run action while swimming, provided it swims in a straight line. A crocodile gains a +4 racial bonus on Hide checks when in the water. Further, a crocodile can lie in the water with only its eyes and nostrils showing, gaining a +10 cover bonus on Hide checks.)

Hold Breath (Ex): A crocodile can hold its breath for a number of rounds equal to 4 x its Constitution score before it risks drowning.

Improved Grab (Ex): To use this ability, a crocodile must hit with its bite attack. It can then attempt to start a grapple as a free action without provoking an attack of opportunity. If it wins the grapple check, the crocodile establishes a hold on the opponent with its mouth and drags it into deep water, attempting to pin it to the bottom.[/sblock]
The combat went like this:

Crocodiles sneaks up on the party's longboat from behind. Fighter fails his Spot vs. Crocodile Hide check. No other characters are looking in that direction to try and spot it.

Surprise Round: Crocodile successfully attacks Fighter, biting him from for over 20 points damage. Succeeds in grapple check and pins the Fighter.

First Round: Fighter doesn't escape the grapple. Other PC's try to attack the Crocodile, some hit but don't do anywhere near the 59 points of damage required to kill it. Crocodile bites the Fighter for another 20+ damage. Wins another grapple check and starts trying to drown the Fighter.

Second Round: Fighter manages to get off a Lightning Bolt from his Weapon of Legacy Longbow that he was holding when the Crocodile bit him. Croc fails his save and is taken to about 1/2 HP's. Other PC's attack again, some hits, some misses. Sorcerer hits the Croc with a Fireball, killing him.

End result: Level 7 Fighter nearly killed in 2 rounds (plus a surprise round) by a creature that the party should have been able to take 2 on at the same time.

If he had taken 1 more bite he probably would have been unconscious. If any other PC had been grabbed they probably would have been unconscious after 2 bites. What made this even more remarkable was that the fighter had not taken that much damage in the campaign to date (about 14 sessions). He is an archer so he stays at the back most of the time and has an AC in the mid-20's due to a 21 Dex.

The problem with the Croc was the fact that it got a free Grapple when it hit with its bite. With a Grapple check of +21 (is that even correct?) most characters aren't going to be able to escape. That means that unless the party can kill it, whoever is in its mouth will either get bitten to death or drown without much chance.

Does a +11 to attack with 2d8+12 damage per round (plus Improved Grab) seem a little strong for a CR4 creature to anyone else? I know that it has a low AC but that doesn't really matter once it has you in it's mouth now does it.

Olaf the Stout

If I have put this in the wrong place mods please feel free to move it. The only monster area I could see was under House Rules and I really didn't think that it fit in there.
 

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IanB

First Post
Hm, given the lack of facing rules in D&D, I probably would have given them all spot checks. Longboats aren't very big.

Did you apply a penalty for the crocodile moving while hiding?

I think the giant crocodile is probably about right for CR 4, although it is at the high end, since it also has reach.
 

Olaf the Stout

Adventurer
IanB said:
Hm, given the lack of facing rules in D&D, I probably would have given them all spot checks. Longboats aren't very big.

Did you apply a penalty for the crocodile moving while hiding?

I think the giant crocodile is probably about right for CR 4, although it is at the high end, since it also has reach.

The rest of the party was having a dicussion about what to do next at the time the attack happened so they weren't paying much attention to their surroundings, hence I didn't give them Spot checks.

The Crocodile was drifting down the river with the current, rather than actually moving so I didn't think that he should have a penalty to his Hide check. The Fighter rolled pretty low which didn't really help.

Even if the Fighter had spotted it beforehand I still don't think that it would have made a huge difference. The Croc had about a 50% chance to hit and then a 90%+ chance of winning the grapple. The Fighter (and maybe the rest of the group) might have got 1 shot in before the Croc.

However they would have probably only attacked with weapons, not thinking that it was too much of a threat. The only reason the Sorcerer used a fireball was because he saw how much damage the Fighter was taking from the Croc.

Olaf the Stout
 

pallandrome

First Post
Crocs are known to be one of the better creatures to wildshape into, or to summon for that matter. They are really nasty in the water, and still pretty tough on land. You are right, they are tough for a CR4. I'm not sure tough enough for a CR5 (at least, not out of water where most encounters take place), but certainly for a CR4.
 

Infiniti2000

First Post
+5 BAB +8 STR +8 size = +21

You were nice by having the croc stay above the water and bite the fighter. If the croc dragged the fighter down then the sorcerer would lose line of effect for the fireball.

The croc cannot both bite and drag his victim away. He most assuredly cannot pin the fighter in the first round.
 

Hypersmurf

Moderatarrrrh...
Olaf the Stout said:
Surprise Round: Crocodile successfully attacks Fighter, biting him from for over 20 points damage. Succeeds in grapple check and pins the Fighter.

In the surprise round, the crocodile only gets a standard action (plus free actions). He can make a single bite, triggering Improved Grab and allowing him to initiate a grapple, but he can't attempt to pin until the next round; attempting a pin requires a separate grapple check made in place of an attack, and the crocodile's all out of attacks...

-Hyp.
 

nittanytbone

First Post
Weaknesses:

1) Its really big. Huge, in fact. So it can't really fit into many environments. This must have been a very large river.

2) It has a really low AC. Fighters should be power-attacking the heck out of it. A fourth level barbarian with 18 str (+4 raging) and maxed out power attacks should be doing 7 weapon + 9 str + 8 power attack = 24 HP of damage per round. That means it drops in 2-3 rounds. From just one character's damage.

3) It has an even lower touch AC. That means mages should be using nasty ranged touch attack or touch spells on it. Even Ray of Enfeeblement helps tone down its damage. Touch of Idiocy takes it out of the fight by reducing its intelligence to zero.

4) It has poor Will saving throws. If you throw a decent will save (illusions, charms, holds, etc) at it, it'll likely fail.

5) It can only drag down one victim at a time, leaving the rest of the party free to have a free for all on it.

All of these things are readily observable: Very large animals often have poor AC, poor will saves, and poor mobility. If the party didn't exploit any of these weaknesses, no wonder it did very well.
 


Olaf the Stout

Adventurer
Infiniti2000 said:
You were nice by having the croc stay above the water and bite the fighter. If the croc dragged the fighter down then the sorcerer would lose line of effect for the fireball.

The croc cannot both bite and drag his victim away. He most assuredly cannot pin the fighter in the first round.

Writing mistake. :heh: :eek:

In the game, as it was happening, I actually said that the croc pins the Fighter and the players pointed out to me that he couldn't do that in 1 attack.

The Fighter was actually pinned in the 1st round not the surprise round. He then dragged the Fighter into the water on the second round.

As for the fireball, I was also nice enough to say that the fireball catches the croc but not the Fighter. :) The main reason that I made that ruling was not to bog the game down in a rules discussion. Since the session is over I may as well bring it up now.

The crocodile was a huge creature. As such the Sorcerer wanted to aim his fireball so that it got the croc but not the medium-size Fighter in its mouth. I didn't think that he could. With no facing in 3.5 I ruled that the Fighter also counted as being in all the squares as the croc. To keep things moving in the game I let the Sorcerer do it anyway. What do you think? Should you be able to hit a huge creature with a AoE spell and not hit the medium-sized creature in his mouth?

Olaf the Stout
 

Olaf the Stout

Adventurer
Hypersmurf said:
In the surprise round, the crocodile only gets a standard action (plus free actions). He can make a single bite, triggering Improved Grab and allowing him to initiate a grapple, but he can't attempt to pin until the next round; attempting a pin requires a separate grapple check made in place of an attack, and the crocodile's all out of attacks...

-Hyp.

And therein lies my mistake! :eek:

I let the croc initiate a grapple as a free action as per Improved Grab rules. Next round I let him make a grapple check to pin the Fighter and still let him bite as well. That was like letting him have 2 actions for the price of one.

My bad. Thankfully the Fighter wasn't killed from this otherwise I might be feeling a little guilty right now. I'll make sure that I remember that for next time.

Just to clarify my rules knowledge some more. Once the croc has him pinned in his mouth, shouldn't he get the bite damage automatically each round though? How can he "miss" him when he's in his mouth?

Olaf the Stout
 

Olaf the Stout

Adventurer
nittanytbone said:
Weaknesses:

1) Its really big. Huge, in fact. So it can't really fit into many environments. This must have been a very large river.

2) It has a really low AC. Fighters should be power-attacking the heck out of it. A fourth level barbarian with 18 str (+4 raging) and maxed out power attacks should be doing 7 weapon + 9 str + 8 power attack = 24 HP of damage per round. That means it drops in 2-3 rounds. From just one character's damage.

3) It has an even lower touch AC. That means mages should be using nasty ranged touch attack or touch spells on it. Even Ray of Enfeeblement helps tone down its damage. Touch of Idiocy takes it out of the fight by reducing its intelligence to zero.

4) It has poor Will saving throws. If you throw a decent will save (illusions, charms, holds, etc) at it, it'll likely fail.

5) It can only drag down one victim at a time, leaving the rest of the party free to have a free for all on it.

All of these things are readily observable: Very large animals often have poor AC, poor will saves, and poor mobility. If the party didn't exploit any of these weaknesses, no wonder it did very well.

I really dislike the 3.5 size rules where all creatures are square in shape. As per RAW a huge croc should be as wide as it is long but that doesn't make sense to me. Hence I allowed it to swim in the river that was only 10-15 ft. wide.

Of course the Barbarian can't do much if he loses initiative and gets grappled (at a very healthy +21 Grapple check). All it would take is 3 bites (average damage of over 20) and he's dead. Low AC definitely is a weakness though. Its 50+ HP's make up for this a little though.

Believe it or not the other Sorcerer in the party managed to miss with 2 ranged touch attacks against the croc. His rolls have really sucked in the last couple of months it wasn't that surprising! :p

Olaf the Stout
 

Hypersmurf

Moderatarrrrh...
Olaf the Stout said:
Just to clarify my rules knowledge some more. Once the croc has him pinned in his mouth, shouldn't he get the bite damage automatically each round though? How can he "miss" him when he's in his mouth?

He gets bite damage automatically on each successful grapple check he makes.

A failed grapple check might indicate that, while he didn't 'miss' his target, the target was able to keep his jaws from closing any further and dealing more damage, for example.

-Hyp.
 

IanB

First Post
Olaf the Stout said:
I really dislike the 3.5 size rules where all creatures are square in shape. As per RAW a huge croc should be as wide as it is long but that doesn't make sense to me. Hence I allowed it to swim in the river that was only 10-15 ft. wide.

Of course the Barbarian can't do much if he loses initiative and gets grappled (at a very healthy +21 Grapple check). All it would take is 3 bites (average damage of over 20) and he's dead. Low AC definitely is a weakness though. Its 50+ HP's make up for this a little though.

Believe it or not the other Sorcerer in the party managed to miss with 2 ranged touch attacks against the croc. His rolls have really sucked in the last couple of months it wasn't that surprising! :p

Olaf the Stout

It sounds like you were giving the crocodile a couple environmental advantages that made the encounter more difficult, then. A huge creature in a 10' wide environment should probably have been subject to the squeezing rules (or alternately not hidden), distracted characters should probably just be taking penalties on their spot checks rather than losing them entirely...

Now, the rules may make no sense to you, and I may even agree with you :) but the CRs are determined with those in mind. Making changes that favor a given creature are going to make it relatively more difficult to defeat.

This strikes me as an encounter that might, in a published module, have one of those little blurbs saying "due to the creature's environmental advantage in this encounter location, award an extra 20% experience for its defeat" or some such.
 

Olaf the Stout

Adventurer
Hypersmurf said:
He gets bite damage automatically on each successful grapple check he makes.

A failed grapple check might indicate that, while he didn't 'miss' his target, the target was able to keep his jaws from closing any further and dealing more damage, for example.

-Hyp.

Can you point me to where it actually says this in the rules Hyp? I'm not doubting you, I just couldn't find anything that said this in the rules.

Thanks,

Olaf the Stout
 

Olaf the Stout

Adventurer
IanB said:
It sounds like you were giving the crocodile a couple environmental advantages that made the encounter more difficult, then. A huge creature in a 10' wide environment should probably have been subject to the squeezing rules (or alternately not hidden), distracted characters should probably just be taking penalties on their spot checks rather than losing them entirely...

Now, the rules may make no sense to you, and I may even agree with you :) but the CRs are determined with those in mind. Making changes that favor a given creature are going to make it relatively more difficult to defeat.

This strikes me as an encounter that might, in a published module, have one of those little blurbs saying "due to the creature's environmental advantage in this encounter location, award an extra 20% experience for its defeat" or some such.

I understand that, but even notwithstanding the advantages that it had, I think that it is too powerful for its CR. All it takes is one successful bite (average damage of 21 points) and most 4th level PC's will start to see their life flash before theit eyes. Not many 4th level PC's will beat the Improved Grapple when the croc has a +21 grapple modifier.

Unless the PC's can keep it at a distance for the whole encounter, I think 1 PC will have a very good chance of dying. For most 4th level PC's a successful bite is as good as dead.

Olaf the Stout
 

Christian

Explorer
Olaf the Stout said:
Just to clarify my rules knowledge some more. Once the croc has him pinned in his mouth, shouldn't he get the bite damage automatically each round though? How can he "miss" him when he's in his mouth?

Once the fighter is in his mouth, the croc can do bite damage with a successful grapple check-it doesn't need to roll to hit his AC, so (especially with its size bonus) it has a much higher chance to do damage. But it has to pick--with one attack per round, it can either try to pin (adjusting its hold to get a more solid, inescapable grip), or try to inflict damage (getting closer to the kill, but risking the prey escaping). Most crocs will try to get the pin first, because it can then drag the virtually helpless prey to the bottom of the river/lake/whatever and finish it at its leisure.

So-surprise round is bite, damage, grapple (free check from improved grab), second round is pin, third round is dive (another grapple check needed here to move the grapple, but at +4 for the pinned opponent), fourth (and later) round is bite (using grapple checks), while the victim's colleagues in the boat are yelling, "What do you mean, you didn't prepare water breathing today? Didn't you know we were going to be on a boat?!"

(Alternatively, 1) bite/grapple, 2) dive, and 3) pin--possibly more realistic tactics for a croc. OTOH, my authority for this is basically that this is what happened to the fictional lead of the movie Crocodile Dundee, which was not exactly a documentary, so take that for what it's worth.)
 

IanB

First Post
Olaf the Stout said:
I understand that, but even notwithstanding the advantages that it had, I think that it is too powerful for its CR. All it takes is one successful bite (average damage of 21 points) and most 4th level PC's will start to see their life flash before theit eyes. Not many 4th level PC's will beat the Improved Grapple when the croc has a +21 grapple modifier.

Unless the PC's can keep it at a distance for the whole encounter, I think 1 PC will have a very good chance of dying. For most 4th level PC's a successful bite is as good as dead.

Olaf the Stout

Your average hp totals at 4th level with a pretty standard 14 con and max hp on the first die, by class:

d4 classes: 20.5
d6 classes: 24.5
d8 classes: 29.5
d10 classes: 34.5
d12 classes: 39.5

So, yes, one hit is a good chunk of damage. A couple things to note, though - +11 isn't going to be automatic against the likely fighter ACs of 20ish, and unless the crocodile is attacking from ambush it isn't terribly likely that it is going to be attacking one of the weaker targets, because its huge size and slow speed will make it hard for it to maneuver past the fighters.

Looking at other CR 4 monsters, it seems pretty comparable to the other animals at least, although reach does give it an advantage to be sure. It is awfully slow though. I'm not sure I wouldn't rather fight the crocodile than a polar bear or a rhinoceros. There's also the 5 headed hydra and the CR 4 dragons to worry about - the very young green would seem to be especially dangerous with its mobility and 4d6 breath weapon.

Again, strong CR 4 that is enhanced by encountering it in the water for sure.
 

Hypersmurf

Moderatarrrrh...
Olaf the Stout said:
Can you point me to where it actually says this in the rules Hyp?

Under Improved Grab:

Improved Grab (Ex): If a creature with this special attack hits with a melee weapon (usually a claw or bite attack), it deals normal damage and attempts to start a grapple as a free action without provoking an attack of opportunity. No initial touch attack is required. Unless otherwise noted, improved grab works only against opponents at least one size category smaller than the creature. The creature has the option to conduct the grapple normally, or simply use the part of its body it used in the improved grab to hold the opponent. If it chooses to do the latter, it takes a –20 penalty on grapple checks, but is not considered grappled itself; the creature does not lose its Dexterity bonus to AC, still threatens an area, and can use its remaining attacks against other opponents. A successful hold does not deal any extra damage unless the creature also has the constrict special attack. If the creature does not constrict, each successful grapple check it makes during successive rounds automatically deals the damage indicated for the attack that established the hold. Otherwise, it deals constriction damage as well (the amount is given in the creature’s descriptive text). When a creature gets a hold after an improved grab attack, it pulls the opponent into its space. This act does not provoke attacks of opportunity. It can even move (possibly carrying away the opponent), provided it can drag the opponent’s weight.

Christian said:
So-surprise round is bite, damage, grapple (free check from improved grab), second round is pin, third round is dive (another grapple check needed here to move the grapple, but at +4 for the pinned opponent), fourth (and later) round is bite (using grapple checks)...

The +4 won't apply, because the fighter is no longer pinned in round 3.

Pin Your Opponent: You can hold your opponent immobile for 1 round by winning an opposed grapple check (made in place of an attack).

If you pin someone in round 2, they're pinned until just before your turn in round 3.

So if the crocodile wants to benefit from the +4, he needs to move the grapple in the same round that he pins the fighter... and since moving the grapple requires a standard action (not just an attack), it's difficult to manage without being a Choker...

-Hyp.
 

Olaf the Stout

Adventurer
IanB said:
Your average hp totals at 4th level with a pretty standard 14 con and max hp on the first die, by class:

d4 classes: 20.5
d6 classes: 24.5
d8 classes: 29.5
d10 classes: 34.5
d12 classes: 39.5

So, yes, one hit is a good chunk of damage. A couple things to note, though - +11 isn't going to be automatic against the likely fighter ACs of 20ish, and unless the crocodile is attacking from ambush it isn't terribly likely that it is going to be attacking one of the weaker targets, because its huge size and slow speed will make it hard for it to maneuver past the fighters.

Looking at other CR 4 monsters, it seems pretty comparable to the other animals at least, although reach does give it an advantage to be sure. It is awfully slow though. I'm not sure I wouldn't rather fight the crocodile than a polar bear or a rhinoceros. There's also the 5 headed hydra and the CR 4 dragons to worry about - the very young green would seem to be especially dangerous with its mobility and 4d6 breath weapon.

Again, strong CR 4 that is enhanced by encountering it in the water for sure.

At +11 to hit it probably has a 35-50% chance of hitting with its bite. Once it does that it is going to kill most Wizards/Sorcerers with one average bite and almost all 4th level characters with 2 bites. Considering that it is almost impossible for characters to win a grapple check against it I still think that it is too powerful for a CR4.

I don't know the other animals well enough to comment but in regards to dragons, I find that they are generally very powerful for their CR (and I think that WotC did this on purpose). I don't have a problem with that as, since I know in advance I can take that into account.

Olaf the Stout
 

Stalker0

Legend
Actually you were being nice in this fight, what the croc could have done is this:

Surprise: Bite (+grapple)
1st round: Grapple check to pull opponent half speed (under the water)
2nd Round: Pin and suffocate or grapple to crush with teeth.

That way most of the party couldn't have done anything to the creature.
 

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