D&D 5E Legendary actions... should it be 3?

Valdier

Explorer
Based on the concept of Legendary actions, should it most likely be based on the number of PC's in the fight vs just a fixed number such as 3?

For example, a creature with legendary actions against 2 PC's would get 1 legendary in theory... but against 10 PC's would get 3.

Should this scale based on the number of PC's -1? This would let a legendary creature act roughly after each PC which seems to be the intent.
 

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Oofta

Legend
The number of legendary actions should be whatever number you think makes sense to you as a DM based on the story you want to tell.

The rules are a guideline, and the starting point of your encounters, not the end.

So for me, it's going to be more based on "how legendary" the monster is. If a monster has more legendary actions than expected I will probably try to telegraph that ahead of time through rumors or info the PCs have discovered while doing research.

As far as adjusting based on the number of people, I'm not sure I'd go lower than 3 very often. Legendary actions are taken into account in the XP for the monster so you're playing with the balance of the game. On the other hand, the XP is based on 4 characters so I could see why you might want to give them more for bigger groups.

This also depends on your group. I play/DM with a couple of groups and in one of my groups there's a guy who's a real stickler for the rules ... it may not be worth the hassle to up the number of legendary's a monster has just because he would pull us out of the moment with meta-game knowledge if I throw more then 4 (or less than 3). The other group just accepts what I throw as long as it never gets to a DM vs Player feel.
 

A Legendary creature doesn't need to take an action after every player turn, that would feel mechanical. You just need enough that it's not totally passive while all the PCs take their turns, both so that it feels like more of a threat and to make it harder for players to exploit the turn order.

To make a legendary monster more of a challenge for a bigger party I'd just make the legendary actions more powerful instead of giving it more.
 

Valdier

Explorer
A Legendary creature doesn't need to take an action after every player turn, that would feel mechanical. You just need enough that it's not totally passive while all the PCs take their turns, both so that it feels like more of a threat and to make it harder for players to exploit the turn order.

To make a legendary monster more of a challenge for a bigger party I'd just make the legendary actions more powerful instead of giving it more.

But that is literally how it works currently in the "default" rules. The party is 4 players as the assumption, and the monster gets its action +1 legendary per player (Default 3), past the 1st. It can take one between every players turn unless it has one that costs multiple actions.
 

But that is literally how it works currently in the "default" rules. The party is 4 players as the assumption, and the monster gets its action +1 legendary per player (Default 3), past the 1st. It can take one between every players turn unless it has one that costs multiple actions.
Unless the monster has minons, then it can take it's legendary actions after their turns as well.

Do you have an argument or just a burning desire to spell out facts?
 

I think 3 is a fine number. I have a 7 person party, and it's not been an issue for me. Of course, I seldom (if ever) have just a single monster anyway. I like pairs or bbeg with minions.
 

Valdier

Explorer
Unless the monster has minons, then it can take it's legendary actions after their turns as well.

Do you have an argument or just a burning desire to spell out facts?

I don't have an argument because I don't come on here to be a pedantic twit. If you are looking to argue, you will have to find someone more regular for that, I'm looking for a discussion. I do appreciate that you have added a new element to the discussion though, one that is actually relevant. The point of minions, which does change the encounter composition (and vastly increases difficulty beyond XP values).

When minions are introduced they actually notably change the power level of every other creature in the fight because of action economy. The very thing legendary actions are attempting to make up for. So, rather than give the BBG more legendary actions, give them minions to effectively fake, legendary actions... Same thing different paint brush I suppose (although minions are far, far more powerful in the case where LE's are in the game).
 

It depends on how close you feel like hewing to the mechanical guidelines. Giving a legendary creature more legendary actions probably--unless none of them are attacks--is also going to bump up its CR. Which bumps up XP, and indicates a tougher fight, etc. etc.

If you know your party well enough to account for that, or else just don't care, then of course don't worry about it. I just wanted to bring it up for those who do want to consider such things.
 

nswanson27

First Post
Personally I think it should be 0. I know it's part of the rules and has a history, but it's not realistic. "Why did he just make that save? Because he's really "legendary"...?" I feel like there's other better ways to make a boss fight challenging if that's what's needed.
 

werecorpse

Adventurer
Personally I think it should be 0. I know it's part of the rules and has a history, but it's not realistic. "Why did he just make that save? Because he's really "legendary"...?" I feel like there's other better ways to make a boss fight challenging if that's what's needed.

You're thinking of legendary resistance, not legendary actions.

edit: I would lean toward beefing up the effect of the actions, maybe making one have an area of effect.

the downsides of more legendary actions as I see it are:
1. It will slow down combat (which will be a factor with a group of 5+ players)
2. It means if you summon an ally or bring along some muscle you just made the encounter tougher
3. If it has minions with seperate initiative each of those generates a chance for a legendary action
 
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I built a legendary monster with only two legendary actions. One of them takes both slots, and the other is a smaller effect and can be used both times.

It fits the story I want to tell. If you have larger parties, you may want more actions. You could also have minions.
 

Prism

Explorer
Tiamat has 5 legendary actions btw. Whether that is because she has 5 heads or just because she is nails I do not know.
 


Valdier

Explorer
It depends on how close you feel like hewing to the mechanical guidelines. Giving a legendary creature more legendary actions probably--unless none of them are attacks--is also going to bump up its CR. Which bumps up XP, and indicates a tougher fight, etc. etc.

If you know your party well enough to account for that, or else just don't care, then of course don't worry about it. I just wanted to bring it up for those who do want to consider such things.

You do make a good point here about bumping the CR. My thought is that I am trying to get a single creature to actually meet their CR I think. It is possible that 5e (like previous editions) just really isn't built for solo encounters. The CR system just doesn't work for it be default.

edit: I would lean toward beefing up the effect of the actions, maybe making one have an area of effect.

the downsides of more legendary actions as I see it are:
1. It will slow down combat (which will be a factor with a group of 5+ players)
2. It means if you summon an ally or bring along some muscle you just made the encounter tougher
3. If it has minions with seperate initiative each of those generates a chance for a legendary action

I think you also make a good point here... rather than extra legendary actions, increase the effects of the ones they have to better encompass the opposition of the PC's and to give a little more challenge to represent the CR in question.

Tiamat has 5 legendary actions btw. Whether that is because she has 5 heads or just because she is nails I do not know.

Yeah, I think Tiamat gets a few extra by being a god :)
 

NotActuallyTim

First Post
Since the monsters were built around a specific number of PCs per fight, then if you're designing a Legendary monster from scratch it should have an appropriate number of Legendary actions for your party size. After all, going overboard isn't going to do much, since a creature with 100 Legendary actions isn't likely to use all of them against a party of 4. Unless, of course, it has an ability that costs 25 Legendary actions to use.
 

From a mechanical perspective, legendary actions are designed so boss monsters can stand a chance against entire parties. Otherwise, it becomes too easy for groups withe four actions to counter their one. In that respect, acting every round makes sense.
For larger or smaller groups this could be adjusted. Or not...
 

But that is literally how it works currently in the "default" rules. The party is 4 players as the assumption, and the monster gets its action +1 legendary per player (Default 3), past the 1st. It can take one between every players turn unless it has one that costs multiple actions.

That's exactly why I just give it three legendary actions all the time, no matter how many PCs are involved. It doesn't make sense to do otherwise.

(Specifically, I just give it three legendary actions which occurs on initiative counts -5, -10, and -15 points respectively behind its main action.)
 

Personally I think it should be 0. I know it's part of the rules and has a history, but it's not realistic. "Why did he just make that save? Because he's really "legendary"...?" I feel like there's other better ways to make a boss fight challenging if that's what's needed.

If you don't like Legendary Resistance as written you may be interested in my rewrite, inspired by AD&D Magic Resistance and 5E Counterspelling. Perhaps you will find inspiration there for your own rewrite.
 

From a mechanical perspective, legendary actions are designed so boss monsters can stand a chance against entire parties. Otherwise, it becomes too easy for groups withe four actions to counter their one. In that respect, acting every round makes sense.
For larger or smaller groups this could be adjusted. Or not...

This logic has never made sense to me in 5E. There is no practical difference between a monster with a multiattack claw/claw/claw/bite and a monster with a bite attack and three legendary claw actions. It's not the raw number of actions that matters; it's the product of DPR and HP on each side. (Cf. Lanchester's Square Law.) Plus of course other considerations like stealth, mobility, magic, etc. The DMG math acknowledges this, which is precisely why it treats Legendary Actions just like any other action: you just roll it into the DPR.

In practical terms, I've had zero problems terrifying players with solo creatures, when terror is appropriate. A single tough creature is less vulnerable to AoE than the equivalent adjusted XP of smaller creatures would be; it has an easier time coordinating its actions with itself than a whole group would with each other (especially important for hit-and-run scenarios); it doesn't degrade in effectiveness until it's completely dead; unlike a group, it can restore itself to full effectiveness just by fleeing and resting/spending HD (whereas a group will leave behind casualties who don't come back to life after an hour of rest); it has higher saving throws and more effective skills. It typically has much less HP than a whole equivalent mob of lesser creatures would have, and it probably does less damage, but those factors simply compensate for its increased effectiveness in other ways.

The real "problem" with solo creatures in 5E is the expectations game: you have to realize that 5E encounters are generally designed to be easy, and 5E monsters are generally inefficiently designed compared to e.g. the Tome of Beasts or the DMG guidelines. But a properly-played Strahd or a proactively spellcasting dragon will rip the face off parties who would handily beat an equivalent XP value of orcs or wraiths or whatnot.

Solo monsters are not weaker than mobs. They are just different.
 

NotActuallyTim

First Post
This logic has never made sense to me in 5E. There is no practical difference between a monster with a multiattack claw/claw/claw/bite and a monster with a bite attack and three legendary claw actions. It's not the raw number of actions that matters;

Designwise, splitting the actions up makes more sense. After all, DPR can be increased by having one monster make one attack with +10000000000000 damage. Slicing it up into smaller actions, each of which can fail, is a practical difference worth appreciating, even for non designers.
 

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