• Resources are back! Use the menu in the main navbar. If you own a resource, please check it for formatting, icons, etc.

What monsters in 5e overshoot or undershoot their CR?

Ash Mantle

Adventurer
What monsters do you think overshoot their CR in 5e? That seem too powerful for their respective CR or should be moved to another CR entirely?

Similarly, what monsters do you think are too weak for their CR in 5e? That seem to belong to a lower CR entirely?

Or, although an issue in earlier editions of the game, the mechanics for monster design and CR assignation is tight in 5e and the monsters as rated prove the appropriate amount of challenge?
 

Mort

Community Supporter
An intellect devourer or 2 (CR 2) will (especially if played intelligently) absolutely destroy a low level group.

Even a much higher level group has much to fear from them if the DM is sneaky.
 

LordEntrails

Explorer
Kobolds, I mean if you play them sneaky and they litter their environment with traps and murder holes and you just totally Tucker them... But then again, if they just try to stand toe-to-toe with a party of martials then they are toast.

Err, well I guess almost EVERY creature depends on how the DM plays it. There's nothing I've encountered that can at least live up or down to it's CR.

I mean take a standard hag. Pretty weak in a stand up fight for it's CR, but that's not how they should be played or encountered. Their manipulative etc,

My goto resource is The Monsters Know What They’re Doing - Ready-to-Use Tactics for D&D 5E
 

Burnside

Explorer
If a DM takes full advantage of the goblins' (CR 1/4) ability to Disengage or Hide as a bonus action, then 4 of them are a VERY tough encounter for 4 level 1 characters, and are likely to be able to down 1 or 2 adventurers even if the party goes in at full strength. Since action economy is king in 5E, that ability makes them punch above their CR weight.
 

Cap'n Kobold

Explorer
I think that a lot depends on the party. Any combination of optimisers, magic items, more then 4 players etc might cause CRs in general to feel too weak.

How the monsters are played, and the environment that they are in can also make monsters fight above or below their CR.

Also +1 for Intellect devourers. In any situation where they aren't just trying to melee the party, their ability to take people out of commission with no method of recovery makes them much nastier then a CR 2 should be. Even when a party has access to Greater Restoration they are still a serious threat.
 

S'mon

Legend
What monsters do you think overshoot their CR in 5e? That seem too powerful for their respective CR or should be moved to another CR entirely?

Similarly, what monsters do you think are too weak for their CR in 5e? That seem to belong to a lower CR entirely?

Or, although an issue in earlier editions of the game, the mechanics for monster design and CR assignation is tight in 5e and the monsters as rated prove the appropriate amount of challenge?
It's definitely not tight!

Guard's AC 16 makes for a strong CR 1/8
Goblin is a weak CR 1/4, unless you really use the bonus action effectively and emphasise shortbow (which lowers AC to 13) not melee.
Orc is a weak CR 1/2, but just squeezes in due to the +5 to hit bonus.
The Thug is a very strong CR 1/2.
Cult Fanatic is a weak CR 2.
 

S'mon

Legend
If a DM takes full advantage of the goblins' (CR 1/4) ability to Disengage or Hide as a bonus action, then 4 of them are a VERY tough encounter for 4 level 1 characters, and are likely to be able to down 1 or 2 adventurers even if the party goes in at full strength. Since action economy is king in 5E, that ability makes them punch above their CR weight.
The way the numbers multiplier works, 4 CR 1/4 really are supposed to be deadly to 4 level 1 PCs.
 

S'mon

Legend
Oh, vampire is known as very weak for CR 13.

Generally the dragons are a bit stronger for their CR than other creatures. At high CRs non-Legendaries like the Nightwalker really struggle.
 

Nebulous

Adventurer
An intellect devourer or 2 (CR 2) will (especially if played intelligently) absolutely destroy a low level group.

Even a much higher level group has much to fear from them if the DM is sneaky.
I've never used one as far as I can remember, in any edition. Maybe I did long ago in 2e and just forgot. Anyway, YES, the 5e version is nasty, and if the DM is tricky and puts 2 of them in an encounter and plays it smart, they can mess up all kinds of PCs.
 

S'mon

Legend
Intellect Devourers, Banshees, & even Shadows can be very deadly. Undead with nasty abilities generally seem under-CR'd.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
What monsters do you think overshoot their CR in 5e? That seem too powerful for their respective CR or should be moved to another CR entirely?

Similarly, what monsters do you think are too weak for their CR in 5e? That seem to belong to a lower CR entirely?

Or, although an issue in earlier editions of the game, the mechanics for monster design and CR assignation is tight in 5e and the monsters as rated prove the appropriate amount of challenge?
Unfortunately, all of them do both, depending on the party and the environment.

Caveat - Any monster with odd mechanics bypassing instant kill stuff likely breaks thr mold.

But most any of the monsters will vary o widely from gtoup to group and terrain and setup so greatly impact the outcome that it's a lot more critical to see those factors at play than the numerical CR.

Ogres might hit hard, but if they get spotted way off due to their size and noise, the resulting ambush or avoidance makes them less dangerous than their weight in goblins.

In a sectioned dungeon and a captive audience of PCs at close range, now those ogres can hurt, hurt a lot.

Some red flags to watch for:
Can this creature one-shot a PC with a single turn of its attacks?
Does the creature have an effect or ability that your group has no counters for? Early petrifications are an example.
Does the creature have resistances and immunities that are gonna hit the party at their main attacks?
Does the setup and scenery seriously limit the PC actions in a way that means they will lose actions that matter or are unable to do things that matter? Easy flying outdoors with no cover is one example.
 

Matrix Sorcica

Explorer
Orc is a weak CR 1/2, but just squeezes in due to the +5 to hit bonus.
By the monster design guidelines, Orcs should be CR 1 (defensive 1/8 + offensive 2 = 1).

The Vampire is hopelessly underpowered at CR 13. Should be 7 or something like that.
 

cmad1977

Explorer
I’ve found that when monsters punch above or below their weight(CR) it’s mostly because of circumstance, terrain and DM utilization of their abilities.
A hobgoblin or two are weak.
A squad of them in formation does damage.

Goblins are feeble.
Goblins scurrying around the battlefield and causing havoc thanks to their abilities are a major pain.

A wolf is lame.
A pack of wolves knocks it’s prey to the ground and attack with advantage.
 

Bitbrain

Explorer
Intellect Devourers and Shadows are both overpowered in my opinion.

They’re like the only 5e monsters who directly attack a PC’s ability scores.
 

Retreater

Adventurer
I did a CR 8 hydra last night, and the 5th level party stomped it.
Maybe I read it wrong, but fire damage stops all regeneration abilities - and fire damage is VERY common. And to even be able to regenerate a lost head, a head has to be chopped off (inflicting 25 points in a single turn).
So the party cut off two heads, but it was never able to regenerate due to fire damage.
I'm guessing a hydra dies at 0 hp even if it still has heads "alive?"
 

Advertisement

Top