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


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I was just checking a monsters CR and the Balor's actually does not match it. It's only CR 16 by calculation instead of 19. But funny enough it's a super easy fix that could be chalked up as a mistake. If the Balor's Multi Attack becomes

Multiattack. The balor makes three attacks: two with its longsword and one with its whip.

Then it's CR becomes 19 by giving it the extra Longsword attack.
 

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
Making a creature from Scratch is a fairly long process figuring out a creatures CR is pretty easy.

While it's true that the CR determination doesn't have to be a 20-step process, it's definitely more involved than looking at a chart.

For example, while Step 4 of Creating a Monster (alignment) will have no impact on the final CR, Step 9, especially the Effective Hit Points part of it - definitely will. And while it's weird that the weapon size damage modifier rules for 5e are in the Creating a Monster section of the DMG, they most certainly exist and absolutely affect the CR calculations. Step 15 is also important but often overlooked, especially the bit about multiple saving throw bonuses, and the Monster Features chart has a bunch of things that impact effective AC and damage output - including guidelines on how to account for area attacks when calculating a creature's damage output.

So the CR calculation isn't a full 20 steps long, but just taking a monster's statblock and comparing its listed AC and damage values to the Monster Statistics by Challenge Rating table generally will not provide a full picture of its CR or why the CR is what it is. The calculation is unfortunately a cumbersome process but it tracks more often than it doesn't if you follow all the steps.
 

While it's true that the CR determination doesn't have to be a 20-step process, it's definitely more involved than looking at a chart.

For example, while Step 4 of Creating a Monster (alignment) will have no impact on the final CR, Step 9, especially the Effective Hit Points part of it - definitely will. And while it's weird that the weapon size damage modifier rules for 5e are in the Creating a Monster section of the DMG, they most certainly exist and absolutely affect the CR calculations. Step 15 is also important but often overlooked, especially the bit about multiple saving throw bonuses, and the Monster Features chart has a bunch of things that impact effective AC and damage output - including guidelines on how to account for area attacks when calculating a creature's damage output.

So the CR calculation isn't a full 20 steps long, but just taking a monster's statblock and comparing its listed AC and damage values to the Monster Statistics by Challenge Rating table generally will not provide a full picture of its CR or why the CR is what it is. The calculation is unfortunately a cumbersome process but it tracks more often than it doesn't if you follow all the steps.
It's still not very cumbersome. If you know where to look, and what to take into account on a monster statblock it's pretty easy to figure out it's CR.

To make it easier here is a CR Calculator, it's a useful tool. https://iadndmn.neocities.org/CRcalc.html
 

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
It's still not very cumbersome. If you know where to look, and what to take into account on a monster statblock it's pretty easy to figure out it's CR.

To make it easier here is a CR Calculator, it's a useful tool. https://iadndmn.neocities.org/CRcalc.html
The calculator is nice! It also looks like it includes all the items from the NPC trait pages - even the ones that seem to be errors (why does the Constrict trait increase ta creatures effective AC? It really looks like that adjustment belongs on the next line down, which is Damage Absorption).

I note, however, that even this table requires familiarity to expertise with the Creating a Monster section of the DMG, since many important factors (such as Breath Weapon and how to gauge its impact on CR) are not included. There is a note that says to add the damage from other traits to the per-round damage calculator, but this instruction leaves out that for area effects (such as breath weapons) we need to "assume the [breath weapon] hits two targets, and that each target fails its saving throw" (per the DMG).

Which only serves to illustrate my point. There are a LOT of moving parts, and it's pretty tough to include/remember them all unless you follow all the necessary steps.

If that isn't cumbersome, I don't know what is.
 

The calculator is nice! It also looks like it includes all the items from the NPC trait pages - even the ones that seem to be errors (why does the Constrict trait increase ta creatures effective AC? It really looks like that adjustment belongs on the next line down, which is Damage Absorption).

I note, however, that even this table requires familiarity to expertise with the Creating a Monster section of the DMG, since many important factors (such as Breath Weapon and how to gauge its impact on CR) are not included. There is a note that says to add the damage from other traits to the per-round damage calculator, but this instruction leaves out that for area effects (such as breath weapons) we need to "assume the [breath weapon] hits two targets, and that each target fails its saving throw" (per the DMG).

Which only serves to illustrate my point. There are a LOT of moving parts, and it's pretty tough to include/remember them all unless you follow all the necessary steps.

If that isn't cumbersome, I don't know what is.
It does not replace the book. It just assumes you know what you are doing with it and speeds it up. Which does not strike me as cumbersome. No more so then checking a character sheet.
 

Argyle King

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.

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.

I agree that many people skip steps.

At the same time, I also disagree with some of how the steps are constructed.

People using the steps wrong doesn't necessarily prove that the steps are as they should be.
 

Nitrosaur

Explorer
I was just checking a monsters CR and the Balor's actually does not match it. It's only CR 16 by calculation instead of 19. But funny enough it's a super easy fix that could be chalked up as a mistake. If the Balor's Multi Attack becomes



Then it's CR becomes 19 by giving it the extra Longsword attack.
Have you taken into account Death Throes? That's 140 dmg in the last round of combat following the calculation guidelines, and by my calcs, the Balor's CR goes from 15 without it to 18.9 with it, rounding up to 19.
 

the Jester

Legend
I'll also note, on the subject of the CR evaluation rules, that you have to follow the steps in order or else you will potentially throw some major errors in, f'rexample by adding in effective hps from traits like legendary resistance before multiplying base hp for resistances and immunities.
 

Have you taken into account Death Throes? That's 140 dmg in the last round of combat following the calculation guidelines, and by my calcs, the Balor's CR goes from 15 without it to 18.9 with it, rounding up to 19.
I did. But I will recalculate if I got it wrong.

Fake Edit, Just calculated it again and the Balor came to 16. Even used that fancy calculator.

7tOyvLB.png
 

MatthewJHanson

Registered Ninja
Publisher
I did. But I will recalculate if I got it wrong.

Fake Edit, Just calculated it again and the Balor came to 16. Even used that fancy calculator.

7tOyvLB.png
I'm looking at your damage. Are you assuming fiery aura and death throws only hit one target? I'm pretty sure that for area effects you should assume they hit two targets. (Really fiery aura is likely to do more since it goes of on the balor's turn and also when somebody hits it).
 

I'm looking at your damage. Are you assuming fiery aura and death throws only hit one target? I'm pretty sure that for area effects you should assume they hit two targets. (Really fiery aura is likely to do more since it goes of on the balor's turn and also when somebody hits it).
Firey Aura has an entry and says to only increase the damage per round as indicated in the trait.
 

ad_hoc

(he/they)
I did the calculation for Balor and I got:

Defensive CR: 15
Offensive CR: 22

Averaged CR of 18.5 rounded to 19.

I'm treating the death throes as a breath weapon and assuming it hits 2 targets.
 


I did the calculation for Balor and I got:

Defensive CR: 15
Offensive CR: 22

Averaged CR of 18.5 rounded to 19.

I'm treating the death throes as a breath weapon and assuming it hits 2 targets.
I got 21 assuming Fire Aura and Death Throes Hit 2 targets for a final CR of 18.

Edit: Ahh I forgot to add one final round to fire aura. So yes it does come to 18.5 rounded up to 19.
 

AmerginLiath

Adventurer
Reading that change to False Appearance gives me a visceral reaction — Bad WotC! Don’t return to giving us rules bloat and Target DCs! Tell the DM that it looks like a tree and let sneaky descriptions, paranoid players, and “call I roll…?” gut checks continue to rule the day!
 

TerraDave

5ever, or until 2024
So a monster ability is clarified. Core math is not changing, but there is a correction to monster math--reducing damage in this case.

Both are good. When they finally get around to it, MM changes could still be substantial just from these.
 

dave2008

Legend
Huh? Saying what to me? . I was just saying 20 steps or even 10 are too many to be worth the time - at least to me - regardless of the outcome.
I can't tell you what is to many steps, but I ideally I want as many steps it takes to make it accurately. In general I like the CR guidelines in the DMG. My fault with them is there are not enough steps (or enough modifiers really). There are to many monsters that have features that should modify the CR math, but we don't have them listed in the DMG. Obviously this is much worse now with most of the monsters being release after the DMG was printed.

As a side note, people seem to forget how much of a problem this was in 4e too. For its apparently simple monster creations rules (which often had the same number of steps as the 5e method), it never gave you any advice on how special features or even conditions should affect the monsters level. They simply ignored that part entirely.
 

dave2008

Legend
Reading that change to False Appearance gives me a visceral reaction — Bad WotC! Don’t return to giving us rules bloat and Target DCs! Tell the DM that it looks like a tree and let sneaky descriptions, paranoid players, and “call I roll…?” gut checks continue to rule the day!
I think your out on a limb on this one. These are exactly the type of clarifications people* have been asking for.

*people on these forums
 

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