Leveling up Monsters

Endur

Visitor
For 5e, should monsters be leveled up through adding class levels, through an advancement process (such as Monster Manual advancement adding abilities per additional hit dice), or something like AD&D advancement (Fire Giant King has combat ability of a cloud giant, orc leader has maximum hit points, etc.).
 

jodyjohnson

Visitor
What you have are:

1. Hit Dice based advancement (present in 1e, 2e, 3.x, 4e)

2. Class based advancement (present in 1e, 2e, 3.x)

3. Re-skinning (1e, and encouraged in 4e)

I'll continue to do all 3 without regard to the standard method of 5e. But, I believe they already mentioned having both 1 & 2.
 
4e got monster advancement right.

In fact, the only real way it went wrong was that they never quite got around to providing the 'toolkit' book, giving the bare-bones stats for monsters of the various roles at levels 1 - 35, plus a big set of powers that could be added. The Monster Builder effectively provides this, but it would have been good to have it in book form. (Then again, I imagine making it too easy rips the heart out of the market for new Monster Manuals, so...)
 

avin

Visitor
Monster creation should be easy as in 4E, period.

Adding class levels to a creature is something that must also be suported, but not the default.
 
S

Sunseeker

Guest
Monster creation should be easy as in 4E, period.

Adding class levels to a creature is something that must also be suported, but not the default.
This, basically. Monsters should be monsters, intelligent monsters may have classes, but shouldn't be the default.
 

howandwhy99

Visitor
For 5e, should monsters be leveled up through adding class levels, through an advancement process (such as Monster Manual advancement adding abilities per additional hit dice), or something like AD&D advancement (Fire Giant King has combat ability of a cloud giant, orc leader has maximum hit points, etc.).
Yes to all?

The possibility of Class levels and Class level advancement were far more about racial alignment and intelligence scores. Racial abilities also cemented the possibilities available (like having opposable thumbs). Classes were all of human origin too, so non-human classes and class levels were not represented in this manner. Humanoid 5th level fighters, let's say bugbears, were uniquely qualified for the class because of their race.

Racial advancement for non-human classes was not based on class as I currently understand it. There may not have been any at all, but racial abilities grown into through maturity did fit into certain cultural aspects rather than physiological. Elves learned long swords and longbows as a people. It wasn't a unique trait bodily born into (although they do qualify for such because of their bodies).

Variance within a race is important too. Not everyone need be a 17 strength just because they share the same race. If they were, then we need to drill down into 17 to get a greater variance, even if the scope of play shrinks as well.
 
Basically, I love 4e monster design. However, it's important to "get it right" in two ways.

1. Make sure the math works. High level monsters are pushovers in 4e even after a lot of retooling.

2. Tie the numbers to some narrative reality. Okay, you want an orc warlord to challenge your 10th level party, so he oughta have X HP, Y AC, and do Zd10+Q damage. Why?

Don't just slather on HP to humanoids like you've got a trowel of meat. Make a HP mean something other than just "you have to stab him more times" (while also making it so you do have to stab a huge dragon more times).

Don't just boost defenses "because he's higher level." Either provide a list of templates in a sidebar, or make it so AC doesn't have to scale so fast, so it's okay to have an orc warlord with AC 10. If you go the first option, have the sidebar include three columns: AC, lightly armored, heavily armored.

For AC 15, maybe the Light entry reads "unarmored agile enemy, mage with magical shield, or leather armor and shield." Heavy reads "chainmail, hastily-donned plate, or bear hide."

AC 25 for Light might read "supremely agile enemy in enchanted mithril chain, mage who flickers out of existence to dodge attacks, or masterful swordsman who parries and deflects attacks with unparalleled skill." Heavy might read "enchanted plate and shield, armor crafted from the scales of a draconic demigod, skin transmuted to adamantine."
 

Hassassin

Visitor
Monster creation should be supported both via HD/class levels and through a simple 4e-like process. For leveling them up, I would also like to have simple templates like seen in PF and I think 4e (can't remember what 4e templates were like, exactly).
 

UngeheuerLich

Adventurer
I´d like no advancement rules in general. Maybe adding class levels for humanoids. I like stereotype monsters. An orc is usually an orc. Actually in this case I´d like to have race based restrictions. Maybe not that granular. But you should be able to say: it is an Orc, they won´t ever make it better than 3rd level wizard. But their shamans may be quite tough. 10th level or so.
 

kitsune9

Visitor
I want to say "yes to all", but I liked the monster advancement from 3.0 (not 3.5) rules the best. Had so much fun advancing monsters back then.
 

Libramarian

Adventurer
I´d like no advancement rules in general. Maybe adding class levels for humanoids. I like stereotype monsters. An orc is usually an orc.
Yeah me too. I think messing around with the stats underneath the "fluff" is a poisonous idea that destroys meaning. I would be happy if the text discouraged it. But I think this is so far away from modern tastes that there's no chance of it happening.
 
DDN should have a quick and simple process, such as found in 4e.

I don't see a problem with offering more complex methods for adding class levels and the like though, so long as as simple method is also available.
 

Kynn

Adventurer
I'm against adding class levels because 4e (and 1e/2e) showed that it works best if monster math is not equal to player character math.

Even first level in a character class is already more complex than any non-solo creature and adding character levels as a form of monster advancement just breaks the separation between monster math and PC math, and that's a bad thing.
 

UngeheuerLich

Adventurer
Maybe you are right, but class levels and monster hitdice should be comparable.
An orc PC and an or NPC should have similar HP values and damage expectations.

The 4e model is great.
But removing the striker mechanics and maybe even half of the default leader mechanics would allow monsters and PCs having about the same number of HP and doing comparable amounts of damage. I don´t see the point of non-elite/solo monsters having different stats.
(MM3 and upwards remedied a lot: so much increased monster damage makes monster hp values reasonable. A fight between monsters will be over in a few rounds. Still a longer time than PC vs PC battles, but reasonable. (Over in aboout 2 rounds)

So, back to topic: reskinning is the worst offender. Taking a dragon and calling it goblin is terrible. What works especially good is modifying monsters. Taking away iconic abilities and giving extra iconic abilities instead.

I could also imagine a monster toolbox that really works. If maneuvers and spells are once again iconic (different classes have access to lists of abilitities), then you could easily take the brute chasis, add some iconic class powers, add some iconic race powers and you have a workable monster... which is how I currently design 4e monsters. Which takes about 5min.
 

mkill

Adventurer
I'd like to see four types of monsters / NPCs in 5E:

1) NPCs for interaction
Ex: Kings, questgivers, bar wenches...
These don't need combat stat writeups, just ability scores and skills

2) Monsters
Ex: Purple Worm, Orc warband
These are purely combat enemies. They use 4E monster format, because it's the easiest to use.

3) PC-like NPCs
Ex: Tenser, Mordenkainen, Warduke...
These are created using simplified and more flexible PC creation rules. These are major campaign persona. They can either be powerful neutral individuals, allies or major villains.

4) Unique, intelligent monsters
Ex: Individual Rakshasa, Succubi, Ancient Dragons
These are created based on a monster entry, but have access to spells, class abilities etc. that make them more like PCs.
 

Hussar

Legend
Oh please do not go back to the idea of PC's and NPC's use the same rules. No thank you. I have absolutely no problem with a 12 HD orc as the chieftain. The HD don't mean anything and never, ever have, IMO. A creature had X HD has always been a purely game mechanic. Applying it to an in game reality has always been a mistake.

Why on earth does a troll have 6+6 HD? There's no logical reason for it. It's got that HD because a troll is meant as a mid range opponent in AD&D. That's the only reason. If they had decided that trolls were more cannon fodder, they would have had 2 HD, for the exact same reason - it's meant as a low level monster.

When you actually intentionally break HD from any in game reason, then there's no reason that an orc can't have 15 HD. Why not? Why does an orc have to be a 15th level barbarian? Did he adventure to that point? How did he get there? I daresay that the vast majority of DM's out there don't care one whit. He's a 15th level barbarian because the party is level X and needs a challenge. Well, if you're going to go that route, then go all the way - HD=challenge needed for the particular adventure.
 

avin

Visitor
Yeah me too. I think messing around with the stats underneath the "fluff" is a poisonous idea that destroys meaning. I would be happy if the text discouraged it. But I think this is so far away from modern tastes that there's no chance of it happening.
Don't know about modern, but advancing monsters is something I think about since I started playing AD&D2E...
 

Mokona

Visitor
I always thought it was fun and interesting to add class levels to monsters but it requires PC math=monster math (which can be a problem). 4e never quite captured the feeling of character levels on monsters for me (class templates just didn't seem to convey the feeling of the class and necessitated doubling the monster hit points which I detest).
 
Oh please do not go back to the idea of PC's and NPC's use the same rules.
Yes they should! ;)

That design concept is based on the idea that there are gamers out there who want to play monstrous characters. Personally I am not a fan of that, but I know many who are, and I don't want them alienated from the game.

The reason why it didn't work well in 3ed was not because of the idea itself, but because character creation itself was almost always hard except at very low levels, because the default was very much high-complexity.

If they manage to design 5e character creation so that it allows both low-complexity and high-complexity character creation (but balanced in terms of power), then they already have the solution at hand for NPCs: make them as low-complexity as you can, if your target is quick design.
 

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