D&D 5E Who wrote these CRs?

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
CR means:
And this is where it gets tricky, and where I wish the 5th edition wording was a little less vague. The DMG also uses the term "fair challenge", which can be be interpreted in various ways. And we certainly split a lot of hairs about that phrasing in a very long discussion over on the WotC forums. Does it mean fair, as in "reasonable", or fair as in "not unfair"?

A CR 3 creature may be a reasonable challenge to a group of three level 3 players, or it might be a cake walk when its a group of four or five players. Obviously the number of players, their equipment, and their class, has a dramatic effect on how hard an encounter is. And a CR can't possibly reflect that completely. What it can however indicate, is if under any of those combinations, the battle is likely to result in deaths. What if the group is made of only two players? What if they roll really badly on their saves? What if they accidentally get split up? According to the CR, that monster should still be reasonable under those conditions. I don't think that's useless information, and I don't think that's broken.

Well, the rules say it should be a worthy challenge for 4 like level characters. That means that more than 4 would make the fight easier and the DM should need to tweak the encounter to make it harder, and less than 4 should make it harder and the DM should tweak it the other way.

From reading this thread, it seems like a CR for 4 like level PCs is waaaaay too easy to be worthy or a challenge. The CR system seems to be really messed up, which isn't surprising. PC classes vary in ability vs. creatures with specific powers. When you throw in player ability, it's no wonder CR is so broken.

3.5 CR was broken and I had to basically know what the group could do and then look at what the monsters could do in order to gauge the challenge level of a specific creature. 5e looks to be the same, except that I will have to go much higher in CR in order to make a single encounter a challenge.
 

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Resistance and some other defensive effects can already be seen to inflate CR higher than *feels* right sometimes... See the Vampire for a good example. It's just not that scary to a 13th level party.

To go off on a brief tangent: a CR 13 creature isn't supposed to be scary for a 13th level party. It's a Medium encounter, and the PCs are "supposed" to be able to handle 5.4 Vampires per day at that rate, as long as they face them one at a time.

Nevertheless, between the vampire's extreme mobility, Stealth +9, DC 17 Charm gaze, summoning abilities, and regeneration, I think 5.4 Vampires in a day will have a pretty good chance of taking down one or more PCs. If you told me I had to go into a building with 5 CR 13 Vampires in it, or a building with 10 CR 14 Ice Devils in it, I'd much rather face the Ice Devils even though they're nominally harder.
 

3.5 CR was broken and I had to basically know what the group could do and then look at what the monsters could do in order to gauge the challenge level of a specific creature. 5e looks to be the same, except that I will have to go much higher in CR in order to make a single encounter a challenge.

Yes, that is how the 3.5 CR works. So it wasn't broken either. CR in 3.5 was a rough estimate of what would be an encounter of moderate difficulty, and then you work from there. You are always expected to adjust the encounter based on what you know your players can do.

For example, the level 10 players in my 3.5 campaign, can easily handle several monsters of their own level, and a CR 11 monster isn't really a problem either. So for a hard encounter, I should pick a CR 12 monster, or maybe a CR 11 with some other monsters of a lower CR. Working as intended.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
The issue with 3.5 CR is that it relied on people making dubious character choices like taking Toughness feat or spamming fireballs.

5e makes no assumption that PCs will be bad but all those options are there. So CR can only gauge the part that is mostly static in progression: HP and proficiency.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Yes, that is how the 3.5 CR works. So it wasn't broken either. CR in 3.5 was a rough estimate of what would be an encounter of moderate difficulty, and then you work from there. You are always expected to adjust the encounter based on what you know your players can do.
Except that it wasn't a rough estimate. It was so worthless that I had to completely disregard it and just compare PCs vs. Creature myself.

For example, the level 10 players in my 3.5 campaign, can easily handle several monsters of their own level, and a CR 11 monster isn't really a problem either. So for a hard encounter, I should pick a CR 12 monster, or maybe a CR 11 with some other monsters of a lower CR. Working as intended.

For a hard encounter I had to look at anywhere from CR -1 to +5 or 6, depending on the creature and the PC capabilities. A range like that makes CR useless.
 

mflayermonk

First Post
I assume you're referring to the monster special abilities table and not to the AC/HP/Damage "Quick Create" table, right? The Quick Create table isn't egregiously bad, in the sense that if you created monsters using that table and gave them all ranged attacks, your players would probably find the resulting encounters more challenging than fights with MM meatsacks (as opposed to the MM non-meatsacks like Intellect Devourers and drow). However, the rest of the system including the special abilities table is totally insane.

If you avoid AC-adjusting spells, you can give many of the monsters spellcaster levels without effecting CR.
 

For a hard encounter I had to look at anywhere from CR -1 to +5 or 6, depending on the creature and the PC capabilities. A range like that makes CR useless.

That sounds like a pretty big exaggeration, unless you were just handing them powerful magic items left and right. I have played a lot of 3.5, and never did I need to pick monsters of +5 or +6 CR's higher. +2 or +3 points maybe, but never much more than that.

You may have been doing something wrong if that be the case.
 

jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
I'm honestly not interested in running 6-8 encounters per day. I run 2-3 that are "hard" because I hoenstly don't want my game to be as follows:
You encounter kobolds
you encounter kobolds
you encounter kobolds
you encounter kobolds
you encounter kobolds
you encounter kobolds
you encounter kobolds
you encounter a Dragon.
Six to eight encounters per day doesn't have to play like that. It could be more like ...

  • You encounter kobolds. When you beat on them, they squeal for help and their bugbear buddies show up.
  • Some thugs assault you. When you fight back, they retreat...luring you into an ambush set by the cultists who hired them.
  • You beat up a den of thieves and question them about the head of their organization. The criminal mastermind sends assassins to kill them before they can tell you anything. You then have to fight off the assassins and defend your informants.
  • You take out a party of kobold guards in a watchtower before they can let the dragon know you're there. Then you fight the dragon before he finds out his guards have been killed.
  • The evil wizard has locked himself in his inner sanctum. You must defeat his guardian golems, unlock the door, and defeat the wizard before he finishes casting a crucial ritual.

Any of those scenarios is two encounters chained together. Break any large fight into a couple of smaller subsections, and you can have your 6-8 encounters per day without resorting to "trash" encounters. Separating the parts of the fight will up your party's use of resources, because each fireball (or whatever) can only be used on one group of enemies.
 

MostlyDm

Explorer
To go off on a brief tangent: a CR 13 creature isn't supposed to be scary for a 13th level party. It's a Medium encounter, and the PCs are "supposed" to be able to handle 5.4 Vampires per day at that rate, as long as they face them one at a time.

Nevertheless, between the vampire's extreme mobility, Stealth +9, DC 17 Charm gaze, summoning abilities, and regeneration, I think 5.4 Vampires in a day will have a pretty good chance of taking down one or more PCs. If you told me I had to go into a building with 5 CR 13 Vampires in it, or a building with 10 CR 14 Ice Devils in it, I'd much rather face the Ice Devils even though they're nominally harder.

Cool. I haven't run any vamps yet. Just had the impression from a quick read of the stats that it was less threatening than expected.

Vampires were on a short list of monsters I wanted to double check before running. The only monster I've specifically already run the math on and come out disappointed is the Balor. I think there was a thread a month or two ago. Basically, the math is done right but Death Throes is responsible for a good chunk of its CR, which feels wrong to some people (me included).
 

That sounds like a pretty big exaggeration, unless you were just handing them powerful magic items left and right. I have played a lot of 3.5, and never did I need to pick monsters of +5 or +6 CR's higher. +2 or +3 points maybe, but never much more than that.

You may have been doing something wrong if that be the case.

Or, you know, the players may have been doing something right.
 

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