suggestion on monster stats

evilbob

Visitor
Just like all DMs are free to use whatever rules they wish when running games, please feel free to take or ignore this suggestion as you see fit. :)

I had an idea about how to run monster stats and I was going to use it in my first game, but I figured I'd share with everyone first. The rule would be:


- When enemies are first encountered, the DM will automatically make an appropriate knowledge check on behalf of the PCs for each enemy type. This is done using the highest level appropriate skill for the group, with a +2 bonus for every other PC with training in that skill. Monster information is revealed based on the check.


Example:
For example, if the group encounters some human bandits and some kobold slingers (randomly of course), the DM would find the highest nature skill in the group and make one roll for the bandits and one for the slingers. The roll would get a +2 bonus for any other PCs who also are trained in nature. So if one PC had a nature of +7 and two other PCs were trained in nature, that would be a roll of +11 for each monster type.

Once that is done, the DM would fill in monster stats as appropriate for the knowledge gained. So, the group may immediately discover all defenses and any resistances and even a few other things, or they may get nothing other than "it's a humanoid creature".


Reasoning:
No one uses these skills right now! Not only would this reward players who bothered to train knowledge skills (yay!) or who have items that specifically boost monster knowledge checks, but it would be a great way to semi-randomly assist the PCs in discovering monster defenses. Plus, as it uses the entire groups' abilities, no one gets left out for not having the highest skill score: as long as they are trained, they are helping. And finally, it puts more of a burden on the DM, but at least that keeps the game moving and players don't have to remember it each time.


Issues:
Obviously, if you just post monster stat blocks: this isn't for you. However, even if you love the idea of the PCs slowly discovering defenses, there are still more things you could reveal to the PCs based on their knowledge checks.

Also, be sure to check the errata for all the latest changes to how knowledge checks on monsters work. :hmm:


Open to ideas, thoughts!
 

Antithetist

Visitor
I think this is a neat idea. Knowledge checks for monster abilities aren't something that I've really considered thus far in my DMing here, and this comes as a timely reminder. And it looks like a pretty slick way of incorporating them. I'll be using it in future. Thanks bob. :)
 

KarinsDad

Visitor
This is done using the highest level appropriate skill for the group, with a +2 bonus for every other PC with training in that skill.

...

Once that is done, the DM would fill in monster stats as appropriate for the knowledge gained. So, the group may immediately discover all defenses and any resistances and even a few other things, or they may get nothing other than "it's a humanoid creature".
I think giving out the actual defense numbers of the monsters is a terrible idea.

Part of the mystery and fun of the game is trying to figure out which power a player should use on a given monster in a given situation. If the DM hands out the defenses, the players automatically know which ones hit the easiest. Why bother having players? The DM should just run the entire encounter himself. Note: there is nothing wrong with knowing that a 24 hit AC once a PC manages to roll a 24. But telling the PCs at the start of combat that the foe has AC 22 is not ok.

Another issue here is that you are also handing out bonus +2 by other PCs to the higher skilled PC. That's about as powerful as handing out multiple free Aid Anothers by the other skilled PCs. Aid Another for a skill check is a standard action and you plan to hand it out as a free action automatically.

Just because something sounds cool doesn't mean the DM should do it.

You should think of ideas to challenge your players, not spoon feed them.


As a side note, players who want to should attempt knowledge skill checks. They are within their rights to do so in the game.

But, most players (for the most part) could care less as seen by the fact that very few of them do it here on the boards. As a player, I just want to do my thing and I really don't want monster powers and weaknesses hints from the DM. Another player is perfectly within his rights to want hints and the normal monster knowledge checks give him that capability. But for those players who want to only use monster knowledge checks in dire circumstances and don't really want clues dropping like candy every encounter, the DM really shouldn't automatically force it on them since some players like to try to figure out things on their own and also like to be surprised. The game isn't as much fun if the DM hands out too much information to the point that there is no mystery or anything to discover by the PCs trying things out. And making monster knowledge checks even more potent than core rules is a way to suck the fun out of a game. IMO.
 

Antithetist

Visitor
Another issue here is that you are also handing out bonus +2 by other PCs to the higher skilled PC. That's about as powerful as handing out multiple free Aid Anothers by the other skilled PCs. Aid Another for a skill check is a standard action and you plan to hand it out as a free action automatically.
This looks like a valid point, and probably deserves some consideration.

As for the rest... posting the results of the monster knowledge checks in sblocks, which players like KD can choose not to read, presumably solves the issue quite simply. Also, the talk of Defenses in Bob's original post may have been deceptive, since the monster knowledge rules as written will never give you a monster's defenses no matter how high your check (just name, type, keywords, powers, vulnerabilities and resistances). Were you actually proposing a change to that, Bob?
 

stonegod

Spawn of Khyber/LEB Judge
As a player, I used monster checks all the time for my brainy characters, esp. when I think it'll tell me something useful (re: resistances, immunities, vulnerabilities). My non-brainy ones... not so much.

I agree w/ KD about the "mystery" of defenses. Though the "Mal Rules" make PbP flow quicker, I prefer to not post defenses until they are hit. I do try to give clues about such things to players though.

This is, afterall, a suggestion and goes down to DM play style. I don't think I'd adopt it, but its not illegal for others to do so.
 

evilbob

Visitor
Well, first off, it may be worth reminding the viewers at home that KD and I tend to have polar opposite views on how we process D&D. :) For the most part, my response to his concerns - which are totally valid - is that things that bother him just don't bother me.

Coming from the perspective that some DMs post complete stat blocks (without a check), I was playing a bit more conservative than that, and allowing for information only based on checks - checks designed to reward what I believe are under-utilized skills. How much or how little information is certainly still up to the DM, and can run the gamut from very basic information to ...complete stat blocks.

The +2 bonuses were there to continue to reward PCs for their efforts in these skills; it seemed silly to just go off the best history check every time, for example, and make those other two guys who trained history think, "why did I bother?" At least this way they would give a solid contribution, and frankly I think it role plays well, too - everyone is contributing tidbits and helping to identify their foe.

Ultimately, I don't think one should worry about skill rolls going too high or giving out too much information: you're still the DM, you can still choose how much information you wish to distribute based on the check, or how difficult the check might be (+2 circumstance to DC because it's half in shadow, etc.). And if you don't like part of this idea: leave it out. As the title of the post implies, this is a suggestion, not a proposed rule change.
 

KarinsDad

Visitor
Thanks.

I like those rules with the exception of the post in any order. It creates all kinds of problems like "I'm unconsious, the Cleric now gets to go before me instead of after me, so I never ever have to roll a death saving throw". This can throw entire rulesets out of the game system.
 

LadyLaw

Visitor
Yea, it could happen that way sometimes, but it definitely doesn't happen all the time. I've seen quite a few death saving throws rolled while reading around the site.

Doing it any other way slows things way down in an already slow format, which is, I think, why most people opt to allow that rule. I personally wanted to go straight initiative for my game (because I have the time), but opted to continue with the block format because people are used to it and I don't really want one round to take two weeks if each person takes 48 hours to respond on their turn. I find that the more a game drags, the easier it is to lose interest in it.
 

twilsemail

Visitor
Thanks.

I like those rules with the exception of the post in any order. It creates all kinds of problems like "I'm unconsious, the Cleric now gets to go before me instead of after me, so I never ever have to roll a death saving throw". This can throw entire rulesets out of the game system.
It's a sacrifice some people are willing to make to be sure that each combat encounter won't take a month or two. If everyone takes one day to make their post after their initiative order comes up it's the difference between a week and a day for a turn.
 

KarinsDad

Visitor
Yea, it could happen that way sometimes, but it definitely doesn't happen all the time. I've seen quite a few death saving throws rolled while reading around the site.

Doing it any other way slows things way down in an already slow format, which is, I think, why most people opt to allow that rule. I personally wanted to go straight initiative for my game (because I have the time), but opted to continue with the block format because people are used to it and I don't really want one round to take two weeks if each person takes 48 hours to respond on their turn. I find that the more a game drags, the easier it is to lose interest in it.
I think this is a matter of the players. People who are really into the game will be checking the boards most of the time on a daily basis (or even more than once per day). People who are not into it as much won't.

I'm more concerned with things like "Stun, save ends" where the leader (or leaders, in two games of the three games I am in here, we have two leaders each) give an additional save, possibly with a bonus. In the core game, the stunned PC loses his turn. In the modified game, the stunned PC is often only prevented from doing Opportunity Attacks and still gets his actions in that round. It can really water down the NPCs abilities by doing it this way. Ditto for any effect that save ends and a leader hands out a free save.

In the core game, there is a possibility that the leader would go after the enemy that stunned the PC and could give the save anyway, but in the core game (at least those played by extremely savvy tactical players), players often delay so that the most of the PCs go in a group and most of the monsters go in a group anyway. The reason for this is due to the increased synergies when the PCs can focus fire and laying down of multiple effects (even simple things like flank) without any enemy intervention.

But, I can definitely see the time advantage. It just makes sense to only do this if you have a slow group and blow it off if you have a fast group.
 

LadyLaw

Visitor
But, I can definitely see the time advantage. It just makes sense to only do this if you have a slow group and blow it off if you have a fast group.
I see what you're saying. However, you're supposed to lay down all the rules in the OP of the Adventure when it starts. It can be difficult to assess the fastness of the group before you even get going. Of course, you can always change things (goodness knows I've realized I have to add things I didn't think of originally), but it could get very confusing if you make too many changes, especially moving from one format to another. In the meantime, your faster players may have lost interest while waiting for your slower players. I'd really hate to feel someone was losing interest/had lost interest in my adventure. Hence, playing it safe.

Besides, I think this format allows for the use of more difficult, and potentially tactical (depending on the enemies) combat encounters. I've seen things done on this board no tabletop group I've ever played with could handle. It's been a real eye opener.
 

KarinsDad

Visitor
Besides, I think this format allows for the use of more difficult, and potentially tactical (depending on the enemies) combat encounters. I've seen things done on this board no tabletop group I've ever played with could handle. It's been a real eye opener.
Such as?
 

LadyLaw

Visitor
Such as Level +4 encounters. I've never played with a group that could handle that IRL. Maybe that's my loss, but it's still the truth of the situation in my experience.
 

KarinsDad

Visitor
Such as Level +4 encounters. I've never played with a group that could handle that IRL. Maybe that's my loss, but it's still the truth of the situation in my experience.
Happens all of the time at our table games. In fact, it happens more than same level encounters at our games because same level encounters are so easy as to be almost boring.

But, higher level encounters are easier at higher levels than low levels. Starting at 4th level, it's not that hard. That's an extra 5 encounter powers per encounter for a 5 PC party over a level 2 party and at 5th level, 5 extra Daily powers as well. It might not seem like that's very potent, but it can be.

LEB also allows all WotC published material. So, that makes it even easier. Some table games don't allow that level of options. But, it would be just as easy there as here if a DM did allow it.
 

evilbob

Visitor
KD, a lot of DMs add the specific rider (which is almost entirely spelled out in Mal's question section, actually) that anything that happens "until the end of your next turn" can only happen once for a given character (or twice for the current character if that character has actions left this turn). So no one would be able to take advantage of a daze twice just because they happened to post late one turn and early the next. I would think this takes care of the majority of the issues you brought up.

I will concur with LadyLaw that due to the nature of PbP, where most groups only have a few battles per day (over the course of weeks or months), the tactical nature of the game is changed slightly from your standard table rules: but ultimately it's not broken. PCs are given much harder battles, but much more time to plan and consider their move - and going as a group allows for more synergy as well. This definitely helps them deal with tougher encounters. However, the enemies get the same advantage, and by acting as a group they can also turn the tide of battle quickly.

Personally I like it; it encourages more tactical play (which I am a fan of, obviously) and it makes the battles more "swingy" than they normally are in 4.0 (but not as swingy as 3.5), which makes them more exciting to me. Also, I will say that my experiences with "home games" as you might call them are closer to LadyLaw's example: n+4 battles are quite difficult, especially if everyone isn't highly optimized (which has not been the case for my group). Needing a 15 or higher to hit makes it really hard to do anything.
 

KarinsDad

Visitor
KD, a lot of DMs add the specific rider (which is almost entirely spelled out in Mal's question section, actually) that anything that happens "until the end of your next turn" can only happen once for a given character (or twice for the current character if that character has actions left this turn). So no one would be able to take advantage of a daze twice just because they happened to post late one turn and early the next. I would think this takes care of the majority of the issues you brought up.
But what he doesn't really take into account is stun or unconsciousness. So, I decided to use Mal's rules in my MMF part 2 game, but I modified them with 2 rules: stun or unconscious disabled PCs go first at the start of the PC's portion of initiative, and the DM rolls opportunity attacks for PCs during the NPCs' turn. The reason for this is that PCs would rarely be stunned for a round or have to make a death saving throw if a Leader can just use a power to prevent it (especially unconscious, heals are a dime a dozen). There should be the consequence of losing a round of actions for being stunned or for being knocked unconscious.

I will concur with LadyLaw that due to the nature of PbP, where most groups only have a few battles per day (over the course of weeks or months), the tactical nature of the game is changed slightly from your standard table rules: but ultimately it's not broken. PCs are given much harder battles, but much more time to plan and consider their move - and going as a group allows for more synergy as well. This definitely helps them deal with tougher encounters. However, the enemies get the same advantage, and by acting as a group they can also turn the tide of battle quickly.

Personally I like it; it encourages more tactical play (which I am a fan of, obviously) and it makes the battles more "swingy" than they normally are in 4.0 (but not as swingy as 3.5), which makes them more exciting to me. Also, I will say that my experiences with "home games" as you might call them are closer to LadyLaw's example: n+4 battles are quite difficult, especially if everyone isn't highly optimized (which has not been the case for my group). Needing a 15 or higher to hit makes it really hard to do anything.
It really depends on your players. I have several tactically strong players with really well designed PCs at my table, so it is fairly easy for them to take on tougher foes. These players also help the less tactically strong players by suggesting feats and powers and tactics out of game so that their PCs get stronger. In fact, I have a house rule where the monsters do more damage (1 extra die at Paragon, and 2 extra dice at Epic) and the PCs still kick butt on higher level encounters.

I will admit that the DM tends to make fewer tactical mistakes in PBP than at a table. At a table, the DM has to juggle a lot of things. In PBP, I easily spend an hour or more for each round, double checking PC powers to ensure that they are used correctly, having the monsters make good tactical decisions, drawing the map, etc. So I do think that PBP is a little bit more challenging because the DM is more focused, but not a lot.
 

evilbob

Visitor
Yeah, I'd say your two addendums are good ones. In particular, the DM definitely needs to roll OAs for players on the enemies' turn: that's just begging for a slowdown if you don't.
 

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