D&D 5E Who wrote these CRs?



The Monster Manual is full of creative monsters. Well, not really. It's pretty much full of the lock-stock-and-barrel monsters we've seen in editions past. Of course, that's what we asked so, so that's what we got. But really, who wrote some of these CRs? I just saw a level 17 Warlock take down a Solar with a single spell. It was the only spell cast.

A dragon can't dish it, but it can take it. A Solar can dish it, but it can't take it. A Kraken has like 3 attacks.

I can't help but feeling like we got a book full of half-baked monsters. Maybe it's just the high-level stuff. Which wouldn't surprise me considering how all of the campaigns stop at ~lvl15 and we've gotten official tweets that WOTC has no real interest in supporting the remaining 5 levels of their game since "most games end before that".

I honestly don't need the MM to give me stats for Kobolds or Goblins or Orcs. They haven't substantially changed in the last 20 years. At least, I don't need a new MM for that. They're +/- a level 1 fighter who's ugly.

My campaign, which is currently high level, was essentially shut down last night after 2 hours of gameplay for the simple reason that I relied on WOTC material that was designed to be a challenge. I have 3 players, two of whom did nothing in this fight. I took one moment to not custom-build some content and it lead to my game getting utterly wrecked. I had just previously run a completely custom-designed kraken encounter against the same party and it was a blast! But only because I made sure it was an appropriate challenge to what my players could dish out. This other encounter was first against a 20th level cleric NPC who at least put up a good fight, and was designed to when they died, reincarnate as a Solar. Apparently a Solar is less powerful than a 20th level cleric. I don't see how it can be a CR 21, designed to combat a part of 4 at roughly +/-lvl 20 themselves. Am I reading CR wrong? Isn't an appropriate challenge supposed to be ~ equal to total party level divided by ~4?

I'm not really sure what my point is in writing this, I'm not sure how many of you run higher-level games. But is anyone else seriously disappointed in the high-level NPC material? I swear the only time I played in a game where we lost to monsters straight from the book was when we were playing with those absolute morons I mentioned some time ago. Otherwise I would at best say CR, for players who aren't completely incompetent is more on par with 1/3 or even 1/2 CR = average party level. I've heard similar reports about Tiamat proving equally unchallenging and I'm just kinda wondering at this point:

Does WOTC care? Are they even interested in supporting the whole of their game? How can a business get away with that? I just don't get it, if any MMO launched with similar high-level support it would be dead within a month. This is why I quit 3rd/Pathfinder, CRs were meaningless, you had to do way too much work to run a game and anything high-level was just completely unbalanced. I'm considering dropping 5th after this and going back to running 4E.

Anyway, bit a complaint, bit of a rant, still want to hear your guys thoughts, but really I'm starting to ask myself why I'm paying for someone else to tell me to do it myself?
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The other day a party of 4 PCs, all 5th level, took on a two part encounter that consisted of roughly the following: half a dozen will-o-wisps, a beefed up Night Hag (she had Maze!), a dozen zombies with minor buffs, and a zombie fire giant.

The party prevailed with zero deaths, zero KOs. That's a lot of CR, and we pulled through pretty easily.

I don't really think CR is too low compared to old editions though. Even in 4th I saw parties routinely handle monsters a good 5-10 levels above them. Tactics, coordination, etc. all go a long way.

One monster is rarely going to be more than a speedbump. Especially if it lacks legendary saves and a huge bucket of HP, or minions to insulate it from alpha strikes and save-or-suck.


The CR system doesn't really work for multiple reasons. 5E PCs are quite tough and a lot of the monsters lack the defences they had in pre 4E D&D. Th action economy heavily favours the PCs as well and I had a level 7 party defeat a CR 16 beastie. PCs are regularly beat +7-10 CRs above their level once they hit level 5-7 or so it seems.

Are you using enough encounters in the day? Have the party face five Hard encounters (without the advantage of any circumstances which might make them easier), and then give them a Solar.


The standard game is easy mode, the devs said so themselves. Easy healing, easy hitting, and if you use feats or multiclassing, or any +1 etc magic items, it gets even easier...

Next campaign, I suggest moving on the harder mode: No multiclassing, limit the more OP feats (the -5/+10, the CE removing disad shooting in melee), use slow healing, with injuries or at the very least tracking -ve HP to prevent/discourage whack-a-mole. If you give a flanking bonus, make it +1, definitely NOT adv. Magic items wise, dont feel obliged to give out +1 etc weapons/armour to everyone - use the random tables and moderate/help balance your party via items. I also recommend making smite a bonus action or alternatively not permitting paladins.

On the other hand, as long as you have intra-party balance, you can always just double the monsters. If that's still too easy, triple them. And so on.

Best of luck.
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What spell out of curiosity.

Friends? Joking, joking.
[MENTION=93444]shidaku[/MENTION] I've certainly noticed that some of the monsters seem weak even playing at low levels. For example, the carrion crawler's poison - you get a save every round to shake off the paralyzation. Not even 1 minute guaranteed, much the less the AD&D carrion crawler who could leave you paralyzed anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours.

Heck, even one of my players, was like "ouch, nerfbat to the poor crawler"!

OTOH, you have monsters like the death dog which can be terrifying in a scenario where _lesser restoration_ or _lay on hands_ aren't available to the party.


First Post
I think the player factor has a lot to do with things. No matter how hard they try, most people meta game a lot and because this is just a slow paced game with pauses and not real life, people have all the time in the world to cram tons of tactics and team work into 6 seconds of action. Nothing annoys me more than people discussing tactics out of character during combat along the lines of "hey I'll do this with my character to set you up to do this with your character." It drives me nuts.

When you cram every bit of "tactics" someone's ever seen in the movies or video games of course the monsters will have no chance without being given a huge handicap. There's hardly ever going to be an instance where a character is pressured into thinking at the spur of the moment and making poorly thought out decisions...


Your quick formula of party level/4 works out as what the DMG refers to as a hard combat. That includes as it says a slim chance that a party member might die. The trouble is that is very unlikely, so hard combats often don't actually feel very hard, unless you have several one after the other.

I also think the Solar is a bit weak to spell casting as it doesn't get legendary resistance like most other legendary creatures do, so it is vulnerable to spells. Dispel good, banishment, hold monster could easily take a solar out. The only protection it has is magic resistance. Without legendary resistance single creature fights can be very swingy with spells

I have noticed that there are several creatures that have save or die type effect which have very easy save DC's. This is one of them and so is the demilich. For a harder fight you would need to push the DC's up by including a stat bonus maybe. So the Solar's slaying arrow and blinding gaze could be DC 20+ rather than just 15
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