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What Monsters got nerfed from early D&D/AD&D to now/5e

Arilyn

Explorer
I remember in 3e we came across a crypt full of mummies. Mummies in 3e are kind of nasty. An aura of fear that causes paralysis. Mummy rot. Everyone was really worried, and then we realized we had a paladin. Paladins in 3e are immune to fear, and immune to disease, including supernatural and magical diseases. In 3e, mummies are just tough zombies to a paladin.
A crypt full of mummies? You had one nasty GM!
 

Nebulous

Explorer
Ugh. This thread reminds me of why I add Monster feats to my baddies, and how nice it is to have third party books like Tome of Beasts where the monsters have a noticeable upgrade in lethality.
 

dave2008

Adventurer
I also find it odd that dragon weapon attack (bite, claw, tail) damage does not scale past Large size.
Agreed, that is why I redid them: dragons

EDIT: PS, I have other versions that are closer to the standard monster design, but still scaling damage based on size.
 
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CapnZapp

Adventurer
Just reducing CR doesn't make a monster "nerfed".

To be called "nerfed" a monster should be worth less than its CR.

If you think the Will 'o the wisps are weak, just combine them with a Banshee...

Something that does earn the epithet "tragically nerfed" is most MM demons. The Nalfeshnee and the Marilith come to mind.
 

Doug McCrae

Adventurer
A general trend in 5E monster design (probably applies to 3E and 4E as well) is the reduction of asymmetric monsters. Monsters with immunities, or special attacks or special requirements existed to provide an alternative approach. Some monsters can't be assaulted directly and need to be handled a different way. These 'puzzle' monsters exist to force players to look at other tactics.
I like combat to be tense, exciting and allow all the players to meaningfully contribute.

Binary, all-or-nothing powers make this less likely. That's been my experience, not just across multiple editions of D&D, but in other rpgs as well. A common situation in D&D is a monster that is very hard to defeat but becomes uninteresting if the PCs have access to a particular spell or item such as Protection from Evil or magic weapons.

Take a monster that is immune to non-magic weapons. If all the martial PCs have magic weapons, which is often the case in mid to high level play, then the immunity is irrelevant. If some martial PCs lack such weapons then they don't get to contribute.

Here's a few examples from actual play:
1) In a 3e game we were preparing to attack a nest of vampire spawn. We would have been very vulnerable to their Domination power but we cast Protection From Evil on every party member rendering us immune. This turned an impossible or very hard encounter into a relatively easy and imo not very interesting one.
2) Again in 3e, the party were surprised by an umber hulk. Its confusion ability caused, not merely a TPK, but a boring TPK with most of the players unable to control their own characters. If the PCs had cast Protection from Evil otoh as in the example above the encounter would have been trivial.
3) In an 8th level 2e game a multiclass magic-user/cleric was the only PC in the party who could fight a ghost, using defensive spells to make himself immune to its attacks. The other players had nothing to do while he solo-ed it.
4) In a 5e game we fought a dragon construct in its lair. It had no relevant immunities and was defeated by having its hit points reduced to zero. The fight was a very close run thing, and extremely memorable, involving many interesting tactical choices. It wasn't determined by a single spell or ability and every PC made a significant contribution. Even the bard.
 
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Zardnaar

Explorer
Most undead, beholders, anything with a petrification attack, anything requiring +2 weapons or better to hit.

In 5E hit it harder works all the time and you can get magic damage from level 1, or 50gp.
 

Mycroft

Explorer
Yeah, more things straight out immune or resistant.

Damage Resistance towards magic weapons is a joke: Once you have a magic weapon, don't worry about it, you got everything...
 

Yardiff

Explorer
Just reducing CR doesn't make a monster "nerfed".

To be called "nerfed" a monster should be worth less than its CR.

If you think the Will 'o the wisps are weak, just combine them with a Banshee...

Something that does earn the epithet "tragically nerfed" is most MM demons. The Nalfeshnee and the Marilith come to mind.
To me, if a monster was a challenge to group of 9th+ characters in one edition and then ends up a challenge to a group of only 2nd-ish level characters, it fits the nerfed category.
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
Yeah, more things straight out immune or resistant.

Damage Resistance towards magic weapons is a joke: Once you have a magic weapon, don't worry about it, you got everything...
Yes, the rules desperately needs varying levels of magic resistance.

I had to create a house-rule to cover this obvious gap in the rules:

Monsters of CR 0-9 work as written.
Monsters of CR 10-19 have resistance unless your weapon is +2
Monsters of CR 20- have resistance unless your weapon is +3.

"Monster" here means critters with the damage resistance (or immunity) to blunt, piercing or slashing damage from weapons ability.
 

Mycroft

Explorer
Yes, the rules desperately needs varying levels of magic resistance.

I had to create a house-rule to cover this obvious gap in the rules:

Monsters of CR 0-9 work as written.
Monsters of CR 10-19 have resistance unless your weapon is +2
Monsters of CR 20- have resistance unless your weapon is +3.

"Monster" here means critters with the damage resistance (or immunity) to blunt, piercing or slashing damage from weapons ability.
Cool, but the problem is introducing +X weapons into the game; the PCs have it easy enough to hit the monsters as it is (same with magic armour, in the reverse).
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
Cool, but the problem is introducing +X weapons into the game; the PCs have it easy enough to hit the monsters as it is (same with magic armour, in the reverse).
You can't seriously think the best solution to that problem is "let's keep damage resistance to weapons useless and irrelevant"...?

If you think it's too easy, how about you the DM instead...
... use higher-CR monsters...?
... just slap an overall +2 AC to all monsters...?
...make player characters use a basic standard array when creating characters (less good than the default; certainly not rolling dice)

...just to think of three ideas from the top of my mind...
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
Hahahaha, what the hell are you talking about?
Since you apparently have a short memory:

Yeah, more things straight out immune or resistant.

Damage Resistance towards magic weapons is a joke: Once you have a magic weapon, don't worry about it, you got everything...
To which I posted a house-rule:
https://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?p=7644575#post7644575

To which you responded:
Cool, but the problem is introducing +X weapons into the game; the PCs have it easy enough to hit the monsters as it is (same with magic armour, in the reverse).
Hope that jogs your memory.
 

Mycroft

Explorer
Given that “+”s tend to be an unreliable indicator of relative power in 5e, with a flame tongue having no “+”s but probably in the same power ballpark as a +2 weapon, I might suggest going with rarity rather than “+”s when setting minimums. That’s assuming using the 5e defaults for that sort of thing.

I do agree that resistance can be irrelevant *fast*. We have two characters who were eldritch blast focused (one of which has now switched to pact of the blade weapon focus, so same benefit), one character with a magic weapon, and another character with fire bolt (and leveled spells) as a backup. That leaves only 2 characters in our party of five without some ability to ignore weapon resistance from their class at first level, and by fourth we had a couple magic weapons, so everyone can ignore it.
 
Undead, definitely. But to be honest, I am fine with the removal of their level-draining abilities. Even back then, I “nerfed” it myself by just having them do a ton of damage instead. I think I only used level-draining once on a PC when I was feeling irritated with them. After that I realized it was a very un-fun mechanic.
 

Mycroft

Explorer
Undead, definitely. But to be honest, I am fine with the removal of their level-draining abilities. Even back then, I “nerfed” it myself by just having them do a ton of damage instead. I think I only used level-draining once on a PC when I was feeling irritated with them. After that I realized it was a very un-fun mechanic.
Yeah, it's odd for PCs to rather square up to a Pit Fiend, than a Wight.
 

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