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Very easy - but SO FREAKING HARD!

MoutonRustique

Explorer
Hello!

I am sorry for the thread title, I try and make snappy titles and... well... the results speak for themselves as they say.

My goal is to "bounderize" 4e - as in reduce in a dramatic fashion the number climb ("bloat" is too negative a term, I feel). My goal on the DM side (I can manage the player side easily) : simply have every monsters' defenses and accuracy be reduced by it's level.

This is, obviously very, very easy to do. BUT, it is also very, very annoying to do. Since I use Master Plan and the MonsterBuilder (thought that last one less and less), I have, "in my possession" a database of all my creatures.

NOW, editing by hand every single one of my very numerous critters has entered my mind in many instances, and in all cases, I get a bit of vertigo and must promptly go lie down (I am being hyperbolic, no need to worry about my health).

Having a script simply go through the entries and do "defense/attack - level" seems so stupid-easy... but I can't manage to do it (in less time than it would to actually do it by hand...)

Has anyone ever attempted (and hopefully succeeded) in this ? Is there a magic button I'm not seeing ?

Here's hoping!

MoutonRustique out.

Note: the most "perfectess" of solutions would probably be a form of add-on to Master Plan that would add a setting "de-bloat" that would do this for a specific campaign. That would be... extremely awesome.

Second note: would MapTools perhaps be a way to do this?

Third note: I'm more curious about programming than proficient at programming.
 

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Tequila Sunrise

Adventurer
What exactly are you trying to do? I got something about monsters and boundaries but I have no idea what you're after.
MoutonRustique simply wants to eliminate every monster's +level bonus to attacks and defenses. Like instead of the MV1 drider's (level 14) looking like this:

AC 30, Fort 27, Ref 25, Will 26
...
Scimitar attack +19 vs. AC
Darkfire attack +17 vs. Reflex

It'd look like this:

AC 16, Fort 13, Ref 11, Will 12
...
Scimitar attack +5 vs. AC
Darkfire attack +3 vs. Reflex

As to the actual request, sorry, but I have only a beginner's experience with programming and don't know of any possible fan creations that may help. If I were to decide on such a house rule, I'd probably modify each monster as I need it for my campaign. :)
 

n00bdragon

First Post
This is comically easy. It doesn't even require programming. You can do it in your head. A level 1 monster's AC and HP depends on its role:
Soldiers: AC 17 and 16 + con HP
Controllers: AC 15 and 16 + con HP
Lurkers: AC 15 and 12 + con HP
Artillery: AC 15 and 12 + con HP
Brutes: AC 13 and 20 + con HP

The original DMG furthermore describes attack bonus being decided by role as well but this turns out to be a less great idea. I've found that flat attack bonuses for all roles work much better. A level 1 monster should have a +6 attack bonus with its attacks that target AC and +4 with all other attacks. Furthermore AoE attacks should have an extra -2 penalty to attack rolls (so an AoE that targets Will for example would have a bonus of +2).

Damage is a little more tricky to scale since it increases at a nonlinear rate due to the increases in healing ability and what not. I'd just guesstimate it with the following chart:
2d10 - Extremely deadly
2d8 - Very powerful
1d12 - Strong damage
1d10 - Upper moderate damage
1d8 - Lower moderate damate
1d6 - Weak damage
Minions: Should probably deal 5-7 damage depending on their role
 

I don't think that makes a whole lot of sense. I presume that PC numbers wouldn't improve either, so once again, combatants can't learn how to parry and dodge and must rely exclusively on hit points for defense.

IMO, if a 1st-level fighter attacks a 10th-level fighter, the 1st-level guy should almost never hit. The 10th-level guy already knows what you're going to try and be ready to parry and punish.

A better "fix" is just to not play at such high levels. I don't think a "generic" level 14 drider makes much sense, but I don't think the only difference between a level 14 monster and a level 4 monster should be hit points, either.
 

Tequila Sunrise

Adventurer
This is comically easy. It doesn't even require programming. You can do it in your head. A level 1 monster's AC and HP depends on its role:
This is, obviously very, very easy to do. BUT, it is also very, very annoying to do.
MoutonRustique clearly realizes how simple it is to adjust attacks and defenses, so you might want to hold off on the condescending comments. Just a suggestion.

Adjusting a single stat block is easy, but MoutonRustique wants to adjust many (all?) of them.

In the immortal words of Alfred Borden, "It's simple, but not easy."
 

Tequila Sunrise

Adventurer
I don't think that makes a whole lot of sense. I presume that PC numbers wouldn't improve either, so once again, combatants can't learn how to parry and dodge and must rely exclusively on hit points for defense.
I like combat skill to be reflected in attack bonuses and defenses as well, and I suspect that most players do too -- whether because it creates a greater sense of advancement, or lends the numbers a greater sense of reality.

But there does seem to be a contingent of D&Ders -- mostly DMs? -- who're happy to view attack rolls and defenses simply as game objects that exist to move the game along. Viewed as such, I can see the appeal in doing what MoutonRustique suggests.

(I don't at all understand the appeal in escalating thac0/BAB and saves with level while keeping AC as a simple game object independent of level, but that's a different discussion...)
 

n00bdragon

First Post
MoutonRustique clearly realizes how simple it is to adjust attacks and defenses, so you might want to hold off on the condescending comments. Just a suggestion.

Adjusting a single stat block is easy, but MoutonRustique wants to adjust many (all?) of them.

In the immortal words of Alfred Borden, "It's simple, but not easy."

I'd turn that right back at you and ask that you too hold off the condescending remarks about me, particularly since there was nothing condescending about my post. And no, the issue here is that if that is truly what he wants then the answer is simple and easy. Removing the level bonuses from all creatures is like asking for a math formula where the answer is always "2", because it does not matter what monster you are trying to convert, a level 1 skirmisher is always going to have an AC of 15 and 16+constitution HP. This rule is so hard that any exceptions you find in actual monster manual books could be better termed a misprint.
 

On the technical side IIRC Masterplan uses some sort of XML based on the data that comes out of the Compendium. You will probably need to use an XSLT script of some sort to make the changes you want. I don't really know much about it since I don't use Masterplan, but you might want to ask in the community there and see if someone can work something up for you. Even in XSLT's verboseness it shouldn't be more than 20-30 lines of code.
 

MoutonRustique

Explorer
First off - my apologies for being an "absanti-OP".

My goal is, indeed, to adjust the stats of ALL my critters (I'm at ~450 ish) and it would be nice for the printed blocks to be correct and exact (I have enough on my plate running the game - my mental space is not so vast as all that) - I already have to jump through ridiculous hoops to get my "encounter pages" setup (MasterPlan, printscreen, Paint, repeat if stat block is longer than a screen's height, save, import to Word, rage a little bit and... go again!)
[MENTION=6689371]n00bdragon[/MENTION] - through out the monster manuals, I have not found the defenses to be so "regulated" as you suggest. While the variance is not immense, there is enough of it (and it serves enough of a purpose) to be taken into account.

As to the matter of flat/i.e. unimproved defenses and attacks. I am quite torn at the moment on the subject. I am also of the school that likes the 10th level fighter to be "unassailable" by the 1st level "rookie". On the other hand, it leads to some situations which I'd wish to avoid at this time... I am very much enjoying some aspects of 5e (the flatter math being one of those), but there are so many other things that bother me that I can't seem to let 4e go. (And I don't like 5e's "vibe" - it's a very vague sort of dislike, but it's still pretty powerful.)

As a bit of context, there are plans to have more "active" forms of defense increase to stop the 1st level fighter from hitting the 10th level one with a serious bit of luck (i.e. reactions to "parry" and such). I'm also trying to figure out a "cost for action" system - where simple actions cost hp (or something) and more longterm actions cost surges. The end objective is to have those moving parts without it becoming a monstrous accountant's game - I am very far from my goal at present... so very, very far. I'm so far in the "deconstruction" phase that I often can seem to remember what I was after in the first place...

So yeah, maybe I should go into a form of E6 - sort of condense some of the contents I like while stretching out those elements I find troublesome... Another idea to toss in the mix!

[MENTION=82106]AbdulAlhazred[/MENTION] - Thank you for the suggestion!
 

Lindeloef

First Post
[...]
through out the monster manuals, I have not found the defenses to be so "regulated" as you suggest. While the variance is not immense, there is enough of it (and it serves enough of a purpose) to be taken into account.
[...]

It really depends on what Monster Manuals you look at. What [MENTION=6689371]n00bdragon[/MENTION] said is mostly true about MM3 math. Sure there are sometimes variants (+/- 1) but nothing spectacularly different.
 

Tequila Sunrise

Adventurer
As to the matter of flat/i.e. unimproved defenses and attacks. I am quite torn at the moment on the subject. I am also of the school that likes the 10th level fighter to be "unassailable" by the 1st level "rookie". On the other hand, it leads to some situations which I'd wish to avoid at this time... I am very much enjoying some aspects of 5e (the flatter math being one of those), but there are so many other things that bother me that I can't seem to let 4e go. (And I don't like 5e's "vibe" - it's a very vague sort of dislike, but it's still pretty powerful.)
Personally, I have my cake and eat it too, using 4e's castes -- minion, goon*, standard, elite, and solo. So an 11th level NPC has a different caste -- and different attack/defense stats -- based on the PCs' level. To a low level party, that NPC is a 1st level solo; to a party near 6th level, he's a 6th level elite; when the party nears 11th level, he becomes an 11th level standard; and so on.

This might highlight the "Why bother with escalating attacks and defenses?" question for you, but I figure that if I'm already adjusting an NPC or monster's caste based on PC level -- which I absolutely do, because it makes NPCs sooo much smoother -- it doesn't hurt to adjust attack and defense numbers too. If anyone asks for an explanation, I tell them that the adjusted attacks and defenses represent how each combatant adjusts his/her focus to deal with relative skill levels. A greenhorn has to put all of his concentration into just landing a glancing blow and narrowly avoiding the deadly attacks of a veteran; while the veteran can fight a bit recklessly in order to one-shot the greenhorn when he does hit. Like a sort of automatic Power Attack mechanic.

Anyhow, good luck with your endeavor. :)

*My creation, and it's exactly what you think it is.
 

MoutonRustique

Explorer
It really depends on what Monster Manuals you look at. What [MENTION=6689371]n00bdragon[/MENTION] said is mostly true about MM3 math. Sure there are sometimes variants (+/- 1) but nothing spectacularly different.
Quite possible, but especially in the MV:TttNV (I love that thing so much) there are some pretty interesting variations to reinforce roles and feel - at least, that is what I've noted - but, you know, look at the sig...

Personally, I have my cake and eat it too, using 4e's castes -- minion, goon*, standard, elite, and solo. So an 11th level NPC has a different caste -- and different attack/defense stats -- based on the PCs' level. To a low level party, that NPC is a 1st level solo; to a party near 6th level, he's a 6th level elite; when the party nears 11th level, he becomes an 11th level standard; and so on.
That is a thing I really, really love about 4e - the sort of dual-scale to really have effective opposition but also representative of the heroes' progression!

I'm just in a phase where the "pointless-ness" of gear upgrades bother me. Actually, I think you just gave me an idea that might placate my itch with much less hassle... (Armour as DR! - as well as AC, but reduced variance, maybe... seems an interesting thread.)

This might highlight the "Why bother with escalating attacks and defenses?" question for you, but I figure that if I'm already adjusting an NPC or monster's caste based on PC level -- which I absolutely do, because it makes NPCs sooo much smoother -- it doesn't hurt to adjust attack and defense numbers too. If anyone asks for an explanation, I tell them that the adjusted attacks and defenses represent how each combatant adjusts his/her focus to deal with relative skill levels. A greenhorn has to put all of his concentration into just landing a glancing blow and narrowly avoiding the deadly attacks of a veteran; while the veteran can fight a bit recklessly in order to one-shot the greenhorn when he does hit. Like a sort of automatic Power Attack mechanic.

Anyhow, good luck with your endeavor. :)

*My creation, and it's exactly what you think it is.
That is a very good in-game rationale. It's not quite good enough to fool myself at present (I'm being obstinate), but it might do the trick after I've hit my head on this whole "reconstruct the game"-wall one time too many.

Thanks!
 

Scrivener of Doom

Adventurer
Personally, I have my cake and eat it too, using 4e's castes -- minion, goon*, standard, elite, and solo. So an 11th level NPC has a different caste -- and different attack/defense stats -- based on the PCs' level. To a low level party, that NPC is a 1st level solo; to a party near 6th level, he's a 6th level elite; when the party nears 11th level, he becomes an 11th level standard; and so on. (snip)

This is also what I do - with the exception of the goon caste, of course - and I couple it with reduced monster levels based on their 1E hit dice. It gives me a much better spread of monsters for the levels where our games are set and, as I have no demand for late-Paragon or Epic games in the future, it's something I expect to continue doing for the rest of my D&D future.
 




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