Sanity Checking some Monster Damages


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keterys

First Post
Still mostly quiet, but a quick snapshot of level 20 if anyone cared:

I'm 'looking for' 80 damage as my magic number for 'presents enough of a threat to be worth fighting', pretty happy with anything in the 80-120 range, multiplied appropriately by role.

Code:
WITHOUT RESISTANCE
Monster                      Damage    Goal%
Fell Troll                   55.0      -65.7%
Nightwalker                  230.0     +43.7%
Soulspike Devourer           140.5     -12.2%
Elder Blue Dragon            568.2     +42.1%
Black Slaad                  175.2     +119.0%
Fire Archon Ash Disciple     130.6     +63.3%
Ice Archon Frostshaper       56.2      -29.8%
Ice Devil (Gelugon)          104.1     +30.1%
Rimefire Griffon             55.3      -30.9%
Rot Harbinger                90.3      +12.8%

WITH RESIST 10
Monster                      Damage    Goal%
Fell Troll                   55.0      -65.7%
Nightwalker                  69.0      -56.9%
Soulspike Devourer           110.5     -31.0%
Elder Blue Dragon            324.9     -18.8%
Black Slaad                  175.2     +119.0%
Fire Archon Ash Disciple     39.7      -50.3%
Ice Archon Frostshaper       21.7      -72.8%
Ice Devil (Gelugon)          21.7      -72.9%
Rimefire Griffon             33.3      -58.3%
Rot Harbinger                49.0      -38.8%
So, resistance has a... bleak... effect on the threat of creatures at this level. The Ice Archon and Devil for example are reduced to the point where you'd face an entire group of them and barely notice the damage at all. There are things that could help here - like all of those 'ice spear, ice javelin' etc attacks could deal weapon damage and not _just_ cold damage, but all the same you have to expect people to have a fair smattering of resistances.

Without resistance, damage is actually not that bad. Still some outliers... like the Fell Troll is just one big bag of hp that's boooring, and the Rimefire Griffon appears to be a failure to execute in concept. The slaad could probably be toned down a bit :)

P.S. Yes, I'm ignoring the 'And the orbizard stuns the solo for the entire fight' concept. That can be dealt with party-side :)
 
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Markn

First Post
Still mostly quiet, but a quick snapshot of level 20 if anyone cared:

I'm 'looking for' 80 damage as my magic number for 'presents enough of a threat to be worth fighting', pretty happy with anything in the 80-120 range, multiplied appropriately by role.

Code:
WITHOUT RESISTANCE
Monster                      Damage    Goal%
Fell Troll                   55.0      -65.7%
Nightwalker                  230.0     +43.7%
Soulspike Devourer           140.5     -12.2%
Elder Blue Dragon            568.2     +42.1%
Black Slaad                  175.2     +119.0%
Fire Archon Ash Disciple     130.6     +63.3%
Ice Archon Frostshaper       56.2      -29.8%
Ice Devil (Gelugon)          104.1     +30.1%
Rimefire Griffon             55.3      -30.9%
Rot Harbinger                90.3      +12.8%

WITH RESIST 10
Monster                      Damage    Goal%
Fell Troll                   55.0      -65.7%
Nightwalker                  69.0      -56.9%
Soulspike Devourer           110.5     -31.0%
Elder Blue Dragon            324.9     -18.8%
Black Slaad                  175.2     +119.0%
Fire Archon Ash Disciple     39.7      -50.3%
Ice Archon Frostshaper       21.7      -72.8%
Ice Devil (Gelugon)          21.7      -72.9%
Rimefire Griffon             33.3      -58.3%
Rot Harbinger                49.0      -38.8%
So, resistance has a... bleak... effect on the threat of creatures at this level. The Ice Archon and Devil for example are reduced to the point where you'd face an entire group of them and barely notice the damage at all. There are things that could help here - like all of those 'ice spear, ice javelin' etc attacks could deal weapon damage and not _just_ cold damage, but all the same you have to expect people to have a fair smattering of resistances.

Without resistance, damage is actually not that bad. Still some outliers... like the Fell Troll is just one big bag of hp that's boooring, and the Rimefire Griffon appears to be a failure to execute in concept. The slaad could probably be toned down a bit :)

Interesting results. Thanks for sharing. I've noticed that WotC over compensates for some abilities. While I can't say I noticed the effects that resistance has, I have noticed damage decreasing a lot for attacks that deal things like stunned and weakened and so forth.

By the way, any interest in sharing your spreadsheet? I'd be interested in seeing it!
 

keterys

First Post
Heh, it's still got a fair bit of work before it's ready for the public. A lot of stuff I still do in my head* as I go and I want to get the kinks out, I've just been trying to get a large number of monsters in so I can make sure I've covered the most common types of abilities.

* Like I need to look up what the mathematical expression is for dice with negative modifiers that drop some of their results below 0: 2d10-3 doesn't average (11-3=8) because when you roll two 1s you don't subtract 1. Only a difference of .01, but 2d6-7 _really_ doesn't equal 0 too :)
 

Markn

First Post
Fair enough. but just so you know, even when you think its public ready, people will still tear it to shreds. For me, I respect your process and decision making skills (even if I don't always agree with them) that I'm interested in seeing the spreadsheet and using it as a discussion point.

But whenever you are ready to share, I'll look forward to it. ;)
 

Eric Finley

First Post
Keterys: Try MIN(NdX,0) or its equivalent. Should be some version of that in whatever you're using.

Interesting stuff, and goes well with CapnZapp's discussion of resistances elsewhere here. I, too, look forward to your results.
 

Blackbrrd

First Post
I really like the work you have done. I am running a campaign with max 2 hour preparation time and I hate making encounters that are boring.

Some monsters, like Trolls are really boring as they are written. No oomph, just a bag of hp you NEED to focus fire upon. I had an encounter with trolls in and it got boring fast because of the lack of threat. Encounters like that are funny max once a session.

A tool to pick scary* monsters quickly would be a great, so I hope you finish and publish your findings. :)

*Knowing what monsters to avoid/houserule is nearly as important, especially if running a premade module.
 

Stalker0

Legend
A great thread idea.

I agree that some monsters do seem to overcompensate for other abilities. I think as a general guideline I would like to see monsters do more damage and less conditions. The monsters that do conditions every hit for example, could get more damage, and then a recharge condition attack instead.


I do think looking at the spike damage is important for this discussion. Average damage is a good general indicator of power, but from a threat standpoint spike damage is very important.

Parties can handle average damage with tactics and healing. Its the OMG how much damage!! attacks that can take them off their game and get them into situations they never expected.

Its similar to the monsters that turn off a players ability to heal for a round. Done at the right time, that can be far more crippling than an attack that did twice as much damage.
 

keterys

First Post
Yeah, I have some spike damage indicators that just didn't trip for any of the level 20 creatures.

Looking back at level 8 they tripped for several critters - satyr rake and griffon can burst a lot of damage (double attack with sneak attack, double attack charge) and a mad wraith can touch someone for significant damage, cause them to move (triggering OAs technically), and then attack someone else.

I don't have any triggers for _lack_ of spike damage, which is an interesting concept... I guess I could do it as a minimum damage for a level+role and just ignore the monsters that do lots of little hits (some swarms) when they trigger it.
 

eamon

Explorer
Wraith: As a player and a DM-of-players, I know that we'd all be happier to face specters than wraiths. Specters have a good (rechargeable) area attack, but at least you can kill them. Wraiths have the capability of dishing out high damage (+10 vs Reflex, 2d6+4 damage, vs flanked or unaware targets) and they have the triple whammy of Insubstantial-Weaken-Regeneration.

I realize this thread is focused on damage, but I really feel the need to support the notion that wraiths are horribly nasty.

I'm playing in a party with six fourth level characters, and yesterday we faced six wraiths and two mad wraiths, which is a level+2 to level+3 encounter - our party is fairly competent and this level of encounter is typically a challenging but by no means overwhelming combat.

Our DM initially forgot the wraith's +1d6 combat advantage bonus, and forgot their regeneration. The combat started with our Avenger using his channel divinity anti-undead power, and he critted a Mad Wraith for something like 40 radiant damage - which didn't even bloody it (due to the insubstantial property).

To cut a long story short, even without regen and the damage bonus, and with a truly lucky start to the combat, this combat had us hopelessly outclassed - it wasn't even remotely close. Virtually every character was always weakened, meaning that effectively, the wraiths had around 5 times more hit points (weakened: factor 2, insubstatial: factor 2, for a total factor 4, with a significant loss due to rounding down. A 10 damage attack would deal 2 damage to the wraith).

Two mad wraiths means that most characters are constantly dazed and take 5 necrotic damage at the start of the turn. This is really nasty. Fortunately, we have quite a few radiant powers (radiant damage suppresses a mad wraith's aura), but even then two dazed characters need to hit both mad wraiths with such powers to suppress both auras - and of course, sometimes you miss, and sometimes you can only use a ranged power or a charge (no shift-attack due to dazed) - which provokes OA's with CA from all nearby normal wraiths, and you need to do this every round just to prevent ongoing 5 necrotic and daze for the entire party. Nasty.

For kicks, mad wraiths have a recharging domination-like attack; and characters hit by it move their speed to attack the nearest ally. Because we weren't all bunched up (due to the aura's), such attacks often meant provoking 3 (sometimes more) OAs, so one hit by that recharge power commonly meant 5 attacks - the power itself, the OA's, and the forced attack on each other.

To better be able to cover each others backs and avoid the worst of these friendly fire incidents, we finally regrouped in a corridor, leaving a fallen comrade behind, and tried to place our two most resilient characters to the front: one guy with resist 5 necrotic, and another with reflex 21 (which is what normal wraiths target). Then, we discovered the next two killer features wraiths have (fortunately, by now the DM realized he'd underestimated wraiths, and hardly used these abilities). You can't block wraiths; they're phasing, so they just fly through you or the walls to surround you and attack the weakest charactes. This movement might even provoke OA's, were it not that (1) they can often use the walls, (2) PC's are often dazed, and (3) in the odd case that they want to move and might provoke, they can use their encounter power to shift 6 squares. Needless to say, gaining any kind of tactical advantage against such opponents is very difficult. Finally, as a cherry on top... that fallen comrade? Well, that dude will rise as (yep) yet another wraith.

With a lot of DM help, "we" pulled through. The DM played the wraiths as essentially mindless, not taking even obviously beneficial tactical moves. Our 20 charisma paladin, with the power to mass mark, got the chance to mark all wraiths, and almost all of them continued hitting the nearest target, taking a bunch of radiant damage. The wraiths bunched up in the hallway before us, right in front of our wizard, who put various area effects to good use. Hints as to which wraith was weakened most were liberally given to help focused fire. Wraiths, on the other hand, didn't focus their fire.

To recap:
- Effectively factor 4 more hitpoints than printed due to insubstatial and an at-will save-ends weakening power.
- Obscenely high regeneration - regen 5, which effectively works out as something like regen 20 due to the weaken+insubstantial combo.
- a nasty auras which dazes and damages (mad wraiths)
- a will-targetting attack which potentially causes heaps of OA's and friendly fire (and an at-will penalizing the Will defense) (mad wraiths)
- phasing and an encounter shift power which (especially due to the common daze) means that it is very hard to deploy effective tactics and formations; a hurt wraith can easily maneuver to a safe spot and simply regenerate.
- any fallen friend rises as a new (mad) wraith
- Extra damage with CA (which mad wraiths amply provide via their dazing aura)


These things are way, way, way overpowered for their level.

We've also had a needlefang swarm encounter @ level 1, but this one (so far) took the cake. Needlefangs are really nasty - but killable. (Mad) Wraiths are only somewhat nasty, but dazing, phasing, and very hard to kill.
 
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keterys

First Post
Wraiths and Mad Wraiths are horrible in all kinds of different and stupid ways, yes. Absolutely. Worse, they amplify each others' horribleness. It's shocking to me that they made it past the design board in that state.

It's not quite as bad as x4 hp with regen 20 (on account of weaken having a chance to miss and its base hp being reduced for being insubstantial in the first place), but... yeah, horrible, horrible.

Well, to give an example of what I'm looking at, here's a version of the Wraith that I hope is still scary, but not in an annoying-I-hate-this-game kind of way.
WraithKR.jpg


Its damage potential is notable, especially if it can get combat advantage, though resistance to necrotic is still a severe detriment to it. Enough so the Spawn Wraith might be a serious trigger. The CA damage being ongoing helps prevent multiple wraiths from stacking too effectively, and giving people room to sweat and grant saves. No regeneration, no weaken. Its defenses were too low for its level (like, Fort was Lvl+7), so it did gain some there though as I swept through.

I'd probably tweak it a little more, just cause it's a bit too scary when used on level 1s at the moment probably. But, eh, you get the gist of it.
 

Elric

First Post
If anyone is holding their breath - please don't. I'm going to completely redo the spreadsheet before I do anything further. My thinking is to gradually increase the number of expected rounds, factor in crits, check not just at level, but at level -2 and level +5 (the range of use suggested for a creature) which should bring to light somethings like the deathjump, as well as institute the checks for excessive damage. I don't intend to have this done anytime remotely soon, I just wanted the initial feedback so I could shape how I was doing this.

Thanks once again to everyone who responded and helped.

P.S. Storm Gorgons and Efreet Karadjin can do _serious_ damage unless folks have resistance gear. Sorrowsworn Deathlords and Reapers are fairly anemic in comparison, even without resistance gear.

Nice work. Storm Gorgons are a specific example of the general phenomenon that creatures with Auras would often be (much) too strong if their Auras stacked. This is a problem, because it means that a single creature with an Aura is stronger than it should be, even if an encounter with five of them wouldn't be noticeably harder than it should be (because of the lack of stacking).

The Storm Gorgon's aura affects allies as well, which makes it hard to avoid using a bunch of creatures with non-stacking auras in the same encounter (since its natural allies, the Storm Giants/Titans, have auras as well).

Another example: the Bloodfire Harpy (L9 soldier) has: Burning Song (Fire) aura 20; enemies within the aura at the start of their turns take 5 fire damage (deafened creatures are immune). Aura 20 means it should hit every pc every round of combat after the first and many on the first as well. If it lives 3 rounds against a party of 5, that's 75 damage already, not counting its attack actions. It's spread out damage, but still too much.

The Mad Wraith probably has the nastiest aura in the MM: any "killer encounter" for high level characters could be made more difficult without adding significant exp cost simply by adding a few Mad Wraiths to keep the players peretually dazed. Who cares if they're level 20 characters and the Mad Wraiths can't hit them!
 

Neuroglyph

First Post
Impressive analytics - and I agree with other posts, that there seems to be a tendency to drop damage in favor of special attacks on WotC's part, which makes a certain amount of sense.

I lok forward to seeing the finished SS
 

keterys

First Post
Yeah, the Bloodfire Harpy can do immense overall damage... fairly slowly. Though they're a bit harmed by resistance to fire needless to say :)

Here's the Mad Wraith I'd done up:
MadWraithKR.jpg


Aura changed to trigger on ending a turn and still lasting until start of turn, which completely changes the dynamic. The touch of chaos no longer has the ability to trigger OAs from the target's movement. Changed the -2 to Will Defense to match the vulnerability, which also helped to keep a bit of fear to the creature while keepings its numbers still quite tame. Plus the usual defense tweaking.

On the SS itself, I've done the initial data entry on 20 levels of monster and figured out most of the requirements and such. Like I have a spot where you can specify factors for area effects and ongoing damage, so you can count area effect damage as less valuable and reduce or increase the value of ongoing damage depending on how easy it is for you to group to make saves and such. Today I put together the formulae I needed for figuring out damage with resistance, so that I can have additional sheets with resistance of 5, 10, and 15. So, progressing along slowly and steadily.

Amusingly I've found about two dozen required errata for either the Monster Manual or the Compendium entries so far.
 
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Trebor62

First Post
Glowstones (AV) will nerf the Mad Wraith aura if the party has them in there inventory.

Glowstones create a zone of light and radiant damage to undead until the end of the encounter. Radiant damage shuts down the Mad Wraiths aura for the turn. The Glowstone damages undead entering the zone or starting there turn there.

I made sure my second party found some glowstones as treasure prior to the Mad Wraiths in Scales of WAR. With those they created a safety zone for themselves that made it impossible for the Wraith to use its Aura on them.

Also there is an Wotc article from one of there DM's running Scales or War and how he had to really nerf the Wraiths behind the screen during the encounter to avoid a TPK.
 

keterys

First Post
Glowstones are indeed quite effective for dealing with wraiths... though wraiths in turn are quite effective at just leaving when glowstones are used and there's no one to attack outside of them.
 

Diirk

First Post
I used to think Needlefang Drake Swarms were the most out of whack creature in the game, but then I ran across a monster our DM at the time had grabbed from the monster builder because it fit the theme... the Minotaur Battle Shaman.

It must surely be the result of poor editing, but this is a level 12 artillery with what must be the most brutal at-will ever:

Area Burst 2, enemies only, 3d6+5 damage, slides 2 squares and forces the target to make a basic attack against the nearest ally.
 

Interesting. I'd have to say that its pretty tough to gauge monster threat level overall though in a specific situation. There are those monsters like the Wraith and Needlefang Drake Swarm that are just plain out of line for sure. Others its much harder to say. For example I had a Death Jump Spider encounter a good while back that just turned quite nasty. 3 of them had a 4th level party for lunch. I think it was a combination of slightly high die rolls on my part coupled with a bit of a tactical mistake the party made at the start of the fight and all of a sudden they became quite lethal. Nobody died but only because the terrain made it pretty easy for them to withdraw quickly.

The same party came back the next day and owned the exact same encounter with no problem. It may look by strict numbers like the monster is going to have to get quite lucky to swing to the high side of its potential, but it seems to me that swingy monsters in practice are more threatening than the math would strictly suggest.

I think another factor overall in encounter design is that you find a lot more swinginess when using mostly a bunch of the same monster, at least at lower levels where resistance potions and such aren't much of a factor. Throwing a single wraith in with some other types of undead, not too much of a problem. Throw in 3 wraiths and it becomes murderous really fast.

It seems like some of the very low damage monsters are analogous in the other direction. A single low damage high defense monster combined with the right terrain and some backup from a controller or artillery is not bad at all usually. Several of them together on the other hand is just a real drag.

The SS could be interesting as a way to flag things not to overuse or that need a bit of extra help from the encounter design to be interesting. That and some of the low offense monsters are good candidates for customizing since you can throw in a couple of variant powers and all of a sudden they perk up without having to worry too much about turning them into something way too scary. It'll be interesting to look at.
 

Iron Sky

Procedurally Generated
Also there is an Wotc article from one of there DM's running Scales or War and how he had to really nerf the Wraiths behind the screen during the encounter to avoid a TPK.

They TPK'd my party, or would have if I hadn't used the "portal tremors pull the PCs into the Shadowfell thingy". The insect swarms took everyone down again near the end of the adventure (in the garden). I had the guards arrive and drive the bugs off and stabilize the characters(since the module obviously wanted everyone alive for the talk at the end).

Two (fudged) TPKs in one adventure isn't alot of fun.
 

renau1g

First Post
Glowstones (AV) will nerf the Mad Wraith aura if the party has them in there inventory.

Glowstones create a zone of light and radiant damage to undead until the end of the encounter. Radiant damage shuts down the Mad Wraiths aura for the turn. The Glowstone damages undead entering the zone or starting there turn there.

I made sure my second party found some glowstones as treasure prior to the Mad Wraiths in Scales of WAR. With those they created a safety zone for themselves that made it impossible for the Wraith to use its Aura on them.

Also there is an Wotc article from one of there DM's running Scales or War and how he had to really nerf the Wraiths behind the screen during the encounter to avoid a TPK.

Glowstones are good, if you're expecting undead.... sometimes that's not the case.
 

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