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5E Idea to handle the "ghoul problem"

Stalker0

Adventurer
Listening to the recent podcast and the issue with the ghouls, i was thinking of this idea for saving throws with multi-attacks:

1) If you are hit by one attack, make a save with advantage.
2) Get hit by 2 attacks, make a save.
3) Get hit by 3 attacks, make a save with disadvantage.

So this way you only make 1 save, but it still scales with the number of hits you take.

Thoughts?
 

Manbearcat

Adventurer
I think 4th edition had this right with their ghoul in the progressive status effect contingent upon a combination of attacks. It creates for a more robust tactical experience in running the monsters for the GM and creates tension for the PCs without stun-locking them out of combat.

I would prefer to gut multiattack and make their suite of actions be:

- 2 Claws as an action; + 5/1d6 + 1; Con Save or Restrained.

- 1 Bite as an action; + 5/1d8 + 1; Con Save or Stunned and Restrained creatures have disadvantage.

Something like that.
 

Warbringer

Villager
Nice.

For simplicity, and to take some of the fear factor out, how about "if a ghoul hits on any hit make a save. A successful save means you are immune to further paralysis effects until your next short rest. If you fail, you are paralyzed."
 

Jeff Carlsen

Adventurer
It seems to me that the answer is to get rid of multiple attacks for the Ghoul.

In general, I think a creature should only get multiple attacks as a method for attacking multiple opponents. Otherwise, it's messes with the abstraction that is an attack.
 

Jester David

Villager
I was always a fan of the 3e solution: if you saved against a particular ghoul you were immune to that ghoul's paralysis but not other ghouls or other sources, such as spells or poisons.
 

Li Shenron

Adventurer
It seems to me that the answer is to get rid of multiple attacks for the Ghoul.

In general, I think a creature should only get multiple attacks as a method for attacking multiple opponents. Otherwise, it's messes with the abstraction that is an attack.
I was about to say the same.

Each attack has often (always?) be described so that it's not strictly one swing, but could be a bunch of attempts in 6 seconds. At least in case of melee, since with ranged attacks it gets harder to see it that way if you want to keep track of ammunition.

There is hardly a reason for having multiple attacks, except for attacking multiple creatures in the same round.

So I agree, they should give a monster multiple attacks only rarely. For instance when they want to emphasize one of these cases:

- a fast ranged attack monsters, such as a creature shooting rays, striking with extended lots of whip-like tentacles, throwing rocks quickly etc.

- a melee attack monsters that is especially capable when surrounded by enemies, either a large creature cleaving through them or a creature with lots of arms/tentacles

- a monster with plain superhuman speed

Ghouls are neither of them, although in some tales I think they've been depicted as being faster than people. But in general, multiattacks should be rare so that the difference with normal monsters is going to be emphasized, and the battle is more memorable.

------------------------------------------------

EDIT:

Also it would be nice to include guidelines/suggestions about how the DM should run & describe multiattacks, because IMHO the main problem is that (1) they represent a FAST monster but (2) they are SLOW to run. So this is kind of counterproductive...

If you want to deliver the feel of a FAST monster, I think the DM should use some trick here. E.g. don't roll the giant octopus' 4 attacks in sequence, instead take a minute to roll all of them behind the screen, and announce all the results together at once. That might give the players the feel that the octopus is striking 4 targets at the same time. Or write down the PC's AC on a small paper, put it in the middle of the table, then roll 4d20 in sequence for the evil archer's attacks, but be quick about announcing the results (maybe roll damage dice at the same time, but don't wait for the player to update her HP each time) before the next roll.
 
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Klaus

Villager
It seems to me that the answer is to get rid of multiple attacks for the Ghoul.

In general, I think a creature should only get multiple attacks as a method for attacking multiple opponents. Otherwise, it's messes with the abstraction that is an attack.
Heartily agree.
 

Plaguescarred

Villager
I like multiattacks and think it should remain. I think the revised ghoul found in the Against The Slavelords Bestiary is better as its less crippling while remaining nasty
 

Sage Genesis

Villager
I was always a fan of the 3e solution: if you saved against a particular ghoul you were immune to that ghoul's paralysis but not other ghouls or other sources, such as spells or poisons.
While there are some creature abilities that work like this (e.g. dragon fear), ghoul paralysis is not one of them. In 3e you have to save with every single hit.
 

Jester David

Villager
While there are some creature abilities that work like this (e.g. dragon fear), ghoul paralysis is not one of them. In 3e you have to save with every single hit.
Good to know. (Haven't run a ghoul in ages.)
So, really, the "ghoul problem" has been around for forty years and is only now coming up? Yeah, it's a pain rolling after every attack but it makes them scary as there's the omnipresent fear of paralysis. Just keep the DC low and it's fine.

I imagine the real a problem with 5e and it's idea of flat math where saving throws just don't change, and you're expected to just throw more low level monsters at a party. A couple ghouls hitting someone 2-5 times in a round is scary when you have a 40% chance of failing a save, but gets annoying when there are a dozen ghouls on that PC and you have the same chance of failing.
 

Sage Genesis

Villager
Good to know. (Haven't run a ghoul in ages.)
So, really, the "ghoul problem" has been around for forty years and is only now coming up? Yeah, it's a pain rolling after every attack but it makes them scary as there's the omnipresent fear of paralysis. Just keep the DC low and it's fine.

I imagine the real a problem with 5e and it's idea of flat math where saving throws just don't change, and you're expected to just throw more low level monsters at a party. A couple ghouls hitting someone 2-5 times in a round is scary when you have a 40% chance of failing a save, but gets annoying when there are a dozen ghouls on that PC and you have the same chance of failing.
I'd say you hit the nail on the head. In 3e and 2e, ghouls have three attacks but they're also fairly inaccurate (a +2 bonus/THAC0 19). On top of that, PC saving throws will improve at higher levels, sometimes quite drastically so. Next has a bounded accuracy thing going on and the ghouls attack at +5 - so while the "problem" has been around for ages, 5e's math exaggerated the effect to the breaking point. In the postmortem podcast Mearls admits that Next probably is going to have a scaling saving throw bonus in the future. That ought to fix the ghoul problem by itself and a lot of other (potential) problems besides. While I approve of that step, I do have to wonder why it took nearly a year to reach this point. The issue has been pointed out time and again but apparently they never tested ghouls before now or something? I admit I don't really know what's going on there.
 

Jester David

Villager
In the postmortem podcast Mearls admits that Next probably is going to have a scaling saving throw bonus in the future. That ought to fix the ghoul problem by itself and a lot of other (potential) problems besides. While I approve of that step, I do have to wonder why it took nearly a year to reach this point. The issue has been pointed out time and again but apparently they never tested ghouls before now or something? I admit I don't really know what's going on there.
The problem is twofold.
Everyone has been focused on the classes. Which do need to be balanced. But the fighter/wizard disparity attracts a disproportionate amount of attention. Most of the feedback has been on classes (easily changed and less important) and less on the core rules (harder to change and more important).

The other problem is feedback. The surveys are really focused and there's less space for generic feedback. Who knows how much feedback people have been sitting in because there's no room. Since WotC was never concerned with saves there was no real space (and they assumed many of those systems worked after the low level tests).


WotC's silence is problematic. They're disengaged from their playtesters by a couple layers of separation. The designers and managers likely get summaries of the feedback from the surveys and message boards, and there's likely some interns or rookie employees tasked with reading, parsing, and summarizing.

WotC should have been tasking the players. Giving them bi-weekly assignments. "Hey guys, look at skill DCs this week. And in a couple weeks really pay attention to saves." Or design missions, "This week try an adventure with lots of low level monsters. Next time try only singular high level monsters. Let us know how they compared."
 

Jeff Carlsen

Adventurer
In the postmortem podcast Mearls admits that Next probably is going to have a scaling saving throw bonus in the future. That ought to fix the ghoul problem by itself and a lot of other (potential) problems besides. While I approve of that step, I do have to wonder why it took nearly a year to reach this point.
I think it took so long because they really want to avoid having to have scaling save bonuses. The goal is to have the ability score be all that you need.

Save bonuses, if added, would only exist to alter probabilities. They don't really represent anything in the story. So, they should be avoided if possible.
 

Li Shenron

Adventurer
I think it took so long because they really want to avoid having to have scaling save bonuses. The goal is to have the ability score be all that you need.

Save bonuses, if added, would only exist to alter probabilities. They don't really represent anything in the story. So, they should be avoided if possible.
For those who really want them, they could also be made equivalent to feats, just like ability score increases. Don't want save bonuses, don't allow save bonuses feats. Don't want ability score increases, don't allow ability score increases feats. Want save bonuses or ability score increases but not feats, grant the first automatically at levels where another group would grant feats...
 

Sage Genesis

Villager
I think it took so long because they really want to avoid having to have scaling save bonuses. The goal is to have the ability score be all that you need.

Save bonuses, if added, would only exist to alter probabilities. They don't really represent anything in the story. So, they should be avoided if possible.
There is nothing inherently good about "ability score is all you need", especially when attacks, save DCs, and skills all work differently. To apply that goal singularly to saving throws is backwards and problematic - which is why Mearls now is also stepping away from it. If the answer to why it took this long is really "they wanted saves to work like this even when the rest of the system doesn't" then that would be a fantastically silly reason.

I also disagree that save bonuses don't "represent anything in the story". Of course they do, they represent growing competence. Again, just like attack bonuses and skill bonuses. Just like saving throws (or 4e defenses) have always worked throughout D&D's history.
 

Jeff Carlsen

Adventurer
There is nothing inherently good about "ability score is all you need", especially when attacks, save DCs, and skills all work differently.
They do all roughly work the same (though not quite as much as I like). d20 + ability modifier + training versus a DC set by the activity.

I also disagree that save bonuses don't "represent anything in the story". Of course they do, they represent growing competence. Again, just like attack bonuses and skill bonuses. Just like saving throws (or 4e defenses) have always worked throughout D&D's history.
The problem is that there are a vast number of effects that no amount of training or experience can help you resist. Even those that do, such as most dexterity saves, seem like the exact sort of thing that is best represented by an increased dexterity score. Save bonuses don't represent anything that isn't already being represented.
 

Stormonu

Hero
It seems to me that the answer is to get rid of multiple attacks for the Ghoul.

In general, I think a creature should only get multiple attacks as a method for attacking multiple opponents. Otherwise, it's messes with the abstraction that is an attack.
I agree as well - it's been one of the glitches of the system since at least 2E, if not before. Claw/Claw/Bite, two-weapon fighting and other multi-attacks probably should have been reduced down to one attack with increased accuracy and/or a damage bump for the extra attacks. Breaking out the attacks should only come if a creature needs to hit different foes, and probably should be a "stunt" at the very least - it isn't easy to try to hit two or more disparate targets at the same time.
 
I agree as well - it's been one of the glitches of the system since at least 2E, if not before. Claw/Claw/Bite, two-weapon fighting and other multi-attacks probably should have been reduced down to one attack with increased accuracy and/or a damage bump for the extra attacks. Breaking out the attacks should only come if a creature needs to hit different foes, and probably should be a "stunt" at the very least - it isn't easy to try to hit two or more disparate targets at the same time.

I think you and Jeff Carlsen have hit on something very pertinent and interesting.
 

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