D&D 5E Monsters compared- new vs old versions

the Jester

Legend
So we've all seen that there are revised core books and Monsters of the Multiverse coming soon. What level of changes can we expect to e.g. monsters? Well, we have a few examples to check out.

First, the tree blight- as depicted in Wild Beyond the Witchlight- vs. the tree blight as depicted in my OG Curse of Strahd book.

The name is the same in both cases.

Both are "Huge plants" but the new version adds "typically" before the alignment.

AC and Speed are unchanged.

Hit points have gone down slightly (by one HD).

Ability scores are unchanged, as are condition immunities, senses, languages, and Challenge; but they added "Proficiency Bonus +3".

False Appearance has changed dramatically. The old version: "While the blight remains motionless, it is indistinguishable from a dead tree." The new version: "If the blight is motionless at the start of combat, it has advantage on its initiative roll. Moreover, if a creature hasn't observed the blight move or act, it must succeed on a DC 18 Int (Investigation) check to discern that the blight is animate.


Siege Monster remains unchanged.

And here we get to a very interesting change. The blight's old multiattack was two branch attack and two grasping root attacks, with a bonus action bite if it has a target grappled. The new version is only one branch and one grasping root. This reduces the expected damage by 16 per round. When I check the CR vs. the DMG's guidelines, I get 44 damage per round with an effective attack bonus of +9, for an offensive CR of 7, but the defensive CR is only 5. So I'm not sure where CR 7 comes from. The original guy was a bit too tough for its CR- I calculate an extra 25 damage/round for an offensive CR of 11 (and a final of 8).
 

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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Love that change to false appearance! Gives players a chance to discern the difference, and gives a concrete effect not being noticed before the start of combat.

EDIT: Actually, just realized as written it still gives advantage on initiative if the player realizes it’s animate, as long as it doesn’t move until the start of combat… Weird…
 
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J.Quondam

CR 1/8
EDIT: Actually, just realized as written it still gives advantage on initiative if the player realizes it’s animate, as long as it doesn’t move until the start of combat… Weird…
Hmm, good catch. I mean, I can maybe rationalize it, but a GM shouldn't have to do that. Definitely odd.
 


ad_hoc

(he/they)
I like the proficiency bonus precision.
I like the effect. A concrete effect noticeable by players. having advantage is a nice bonus.
And Int is a little bit less a dump stat!

Yeah, though that is high enough to beat most passive investigation scores at that level.

Observant feat would do it.
 

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
So we've all seen that there are revised core books and Monsters of the Multiverse coming soon. What level of changes can we expect to e.g. monsters? Well, we have a few examples to check out.

First, the tree blight- as depicted in Wild Beyond the Witchlight- vs. the tree blight as depicted in my OG Curse of Strahd book.

The name is the same in both cases.

Both are "Huge plants" but the new version adds "typically" before the alignment.

AC and Speed are unchanged.

Hit points have gone down slightly (by one HD).

Ability scores are unchanged, as are condition immunities, senses, languages, and Challenge; but they added "Proficiency Bonus +3".

False Appearance has changed dramatically. The old version: "While the blight remains motionless, it is indistinguishable from a dead tree." The new version: "If the blight is motionless at the start of combat, it has advantage on its initiative roll. Moreover, if a creature hasn't observed the blight move or act, it must succeed on a DC 18 Int (Investigation) check to discern that the blight is animate.


Siege Monster remains unchanged.

And here we get to a very interesting change. The blight's old multiattack was two branch attack and two grasping root attacks, with a bonus action bite if it has a target grappled. The new version is only one branch and one grasping root. This reduces the expected damage by 16 per round. When I check the CR vs. the DMG's guidelines, I get 44 damage per round with an effective attack bonus of +9, for an offensive CR of 7, but the defensive CR is only 5. So I'm not sure where CR 7 comes from. The original guy was a bit too tough for its CR- I calculate an extra 25 damage/round for an offensive CR of 11 (and a final of 8).
Re: CR calculations. If you haven't done the full 20-step process in calculating a CR, your conclusion is almost definitely wrong. The monster math isn't perfect, but it's a hell of a lot closer than many people trumpet. Just looking at the first page of the process and making a call based on that is not how the system is designed to work.
 


It’s not actually 20 steps cause steps can be skipped. Anyway I saw the new Tree Blight being calculated and they pointed out that the new version of False appearance is what boosts it from a 6 to a 7. As it’s apparently on the borderline.
 

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
Is determining a monster's CR really a "20-step process?" Because if so, no wonder so few people bother. That strikes me as still a problem of the system regardless of the accuracy of the results!
There are actually over 20 steps in the DMG,, especially when calculating the impact for special features. But people look at the first chart, pull stuff off it, and get internet famous complaining about how the numbers don't match up to the creatures actual impact in combat.

I had a fun time with one guy on Twitter when I pointed out that the monster he was complaining about being overpowered for its CR actually worked out perfectly if you flow all the steps. His only defense was that "many people have proved" the math is wrong.

I asked how HIS calculations came up, when he flowed the steps himself, and he blocked me.

C'est la vie.

Update: he seems to have unblocked me now, but the point still stands.

I don't think that any system can have its encounter match accurately broken down to a single table. Not one with a worthwhile outcome anyway.
 
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ad_hoc

(he/they)
There are actually over 20 steps in the DMG,, especially when calculating the impact for.special features. But people look at the first chart, pull stuff off it, and get internet famous complaining about how the numbers don't match up to the creatures actual impact in combat.

I had a fun time with one guy on Twitter when I pointed out that the monster he was complaining about being overpowered for its CR actually worked out perfectly if you flow all the steps. His only defense was that "many people have proved" the math is wrong.

I asked how HIS calculations came up, when he flowed the steps himself, and he blocked me.

C'est la vie.

Update: he seems to have unblocked me now, but the point still stands.

I don't think that any system can have its encounter match accurately broken down to a single table. Not one with a worthwhile outcome anyway.

Yeah, CR is just a warning sign about the creature's potential impact too.

The most important factor in all encounters is how the DM runs them. In my experience from hearing people complain online about how easy the game is, when asked for examples it becomes clear that they are the ones making it easy.

Needing an 18 passive investigation to avoid being surprised is a huge advantage for the creature. The CR bump is entirely justified.
 

ad_hoc

(he/they)
The old False Appearance did not increase the monster's CR which was a big mistake as they surprise PCs most of the time.
 


Dausuul

Legend
There are actually over 20 steps in the DMG,, especially when calculating the impact for.special features. But people look at the first chart, pull stuff off it, and get internet famous complaining about how the numbers don't match up to the creatures actual impact in combat.
Those steps are for creating an entire monster from scratch, not calculating CR from an already-created statblock. For example, the first four steps are choosing the monster's 1) name, 2) size, 3) creature type, and 4) alignment.

Calculating the CR of an existing monster is fairly straightforward and not nearly as involved as you suggest.
 



ad_hoc

(he/they)
I trust my DM experience to eyeball it and I find even messing it up on the fly preferable to whatever # steps.

I don't see anyone saying that to you.

What was criticized are the people who say that the published monsters don't align with the CR calculation as laid out in the DMG.

Well, if someone is going to make that claim, they should be following the steps and not just 'eyeballing' it.

(Also 20 steps sounds more involved than it really is. One of them is 'name the creature' and step 16 is 'determine final CR rating' so it's not even 20 steps to get to the CR rating.)
 

the Jester

Legend
Re: CR calculations. If you haven't done the full 20-step process in calculating a CR, your conclusion is almost definitely wrong. The monster math isn't perfect, but it's a hell of a lot closer than many people trumpet. Just looking at the first page of the process and making a call based on that is not how the system is designed to work.
While this is very often true, in this case, there's really not a lot that is modifying it. I'll buy the new version of False Appearance as a good candidate- otherwise, there's really nothing outside of the base stuff.

I'll move on to another monster that is reprinted in WBtW at some point in the next day or so, but first I'm going to do a few monster revisions of my own!
 


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