Monsters by Level (not CR)I loved that 4e (and now PF2e) had monsters by level and not CR. It made things conceptually clear: 1 standard monster = 1 PC at the same level. I have often thought about doing something like this for 5e, so today is the day I give it a go!
- Redefine monsters based on PC level, no more CR.
- Bring back monster breadth via 4e style monster roles: Solo, Elite, Standard, Grunt, Minion
- Make encounter building easier
- A monster of equal level to a PC is a challenge for that single PC. Roughly 1 Monster = 1 PC.
- Use the same Monster math as the DMG, MM, etc.
What is a ChallengeFor this concept to work, I need an easy / simple definition of what constitutes a challenge. To me, a challenge is encounter where there is reasonable chance of failure. That is not the case in any of the levels of difficulty described in the DMG. Therefore, I am developing a new metric to use for this exercise.
I have decided to base a monster's challenge on the Monster's XP verses a single PCs Adventuring Day XP (AD XP) in the DMG. My first thought was to base the monster's XP on the full AD XP. However, I don't trully want a challenge to be 50/50. It should be difficult, IMO, but generaly winnable. The DM can always have more or higher level monster's to make things tougher. So I have currently decided a monster of equal level to a PC has an XP value of 50% of the PC's AD XP.
|Level||Adjusted XP per Day per Character|
Based on this definition of a challenge, a monster should fall within the following exp values per level
|PC Level||Standard Monster Expected XP|
What's this about Monster Roles?More to come.
ExamplesOk, let's look at a few examples using the table above. Remember this is a monster equivalent to 1 PC at the given level:
|Level||Monster||Expected XP||Actual XP|
|1||Orc (CR 1)||150||100|
|5||Ettin (CR 4)||1,750||1,100|
|10||Frost Giant (CR 8)||4,500||3,900|
|15||Arcanaloth (CR 12)||9,000||8,400|
|20||Death Knight (CR 17)||20,000||18,000|
IssuesImmediately I am seeing some issues with my idea. Clearly the 5e design monster design was not intended for this type of balance. I am also seeing that monsters are very dangerous at lower level and less so at higher levels. I will have to think about this more, but it may not be possible to convert existing monsters. I may need to make them from scratch. Also, think the metrics of a "challenge" may need to be revised.
Anyway, I would love to hear your thoughts.