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[D&D 5E] This is fine.

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Posts

  • DelzhandDelzhand Noxalas! Registered User regular
    edited June 13
    That's how I plan sessions. The whole "6-8 encounters" thing just seems bonkers. I'd rather have 1 or 2 fights that soften the players up but let them feel confident in their abilities and then a big fight with unique creatures that I spent a lot of time tweaking to make fun for the party comp I know it'll be facing.

    But then again, my goal is to tell a shared story. If you ever catch me writing an encounter that is lethal to the players if they don't gain enough XP from rooms A-F of gnolls, just put a bullet in my skull.

    The only downside, one I freely admit, is that I have to be super obvious when letting them into the same room as something that can destroy them. If they're fighting a giant earth elemental at level 3 because I think it's cool, I need to make sure the corrupt politician who looks like a normal dude but can smoke them in two turns has a warning sign posted by his door.

    Delzhand on
    Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward - November Elspeth (Sargatanas)
    Sleep
  • XagarXagar Registered User regular
    Agreed, which is why you should run it that way. I wonder if anyone's made a conversion for class resources in that vein. The simplest implementations for healing would be that in-combat healing would be temporary HP instead, or halved in power or something.

    Also I am a bit surprised a CR 1/2 monster has an "ultimate" AOE pseudo-stun. They do have TERRIBLE speed, but they also have a stealth ability. I guess the way to go about using them would be to lean heavily on the party's ability to detect/avoid them, which means extra effort/clues from the DM.

    JustTee
  • NyhtNyht Registered User regular
    So we played again this weekend and I've got to give a little backstory on the nature of my world.

    The campaign is heavily themed with the fey (fae) and the Blight that is affecting the forest known as the Wyld Wood that has direct connections to the Feywild (Faerie). Now, I'll be honest that generally speaking I've usually never liked the history of the elves and in the recent book, "Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes" this hasn't changed at all.

    Elves are somehow tied to the Feywild and yet they're also so far removed from it that ... I just had to throw my hands up and NOPE right out of it. So all the elven subraces got to stay but in my homebrew campaign/world, Elves were fey. The only difference is that Elves are a title given to the fey who have been exiled from the Feywild. This can be achieved by one of the Two Courts (Seelie and Unseelie, Or Summer and Winter, if you'd rather) officially casting out someone from the Feywild/Faerie. This can also be achieved by fey who willingly exile themselves to live in the mortal realm, sometimes for love or other reasons. Throughout the centuries, you'll have elves creating generations of other elves who all still fall under the "exiled" status.

    Being exiled, elves officially lose their "Fey" status, which explains away the fact they no longer in 5e are defined as such.

    The above explanation is also why gnomes exist as they do in my world, as they too were once a subset of the fey.

    So back to the actual campaign, our previous party Cleric who had been a Cleric of the Light finally got to play again after the last 2 sessions she sat out on. She had been wanting to reroll into a Druid but keep the same character and name. Basically she wanted to do everything she had already done but be a Druid now instead.

    She had hinted at this before so in the last session she sat out on, to the rest of the party, it was explained that while our group's Paladin took up the Oath of the Ancients in place of the Oath of Vengeance, that she too found a book that had captivated her and she secluded herself the hag's hut that she had found it in, refusing to leave and saying she'd find the others when she was ready.

    When she rejoined this weekend, the events played out like this;

    The book she read was captivating for more reasons than one. It was a book on the fey which initially fascinated her but also pulled at her mind in an unexpected way. Something was disturbingly familiar with what she was reading. As she became enamored with the pages before her, she stopped reading the letter and instead started to drift into her own thoughts. She remembered her time in the clergy for her goddess so clearly before as she grew up as a priestess, but the memories seemed foggy now and as she looked closer, cracks started to appear in these memories. She forced herself to look deeper and deeper into the cracks until they started to splinter into thicker and thicker lines that split open and consumed her entirely.

    She remembered things. A life. She remembered once being a human girl. She remembered being taken into the Feywild by a fey woman. She remembered being kept as a child or perhaps more like a doll or a piece of art. She remembered fey figures but faces that were blurry and unable to be focused on just yet. She remembered fragments of growing up in the Feywild and the magic of the world absorbed into her being. She remembered a rare opportunity to escape the life, as well. A portal to the Mortal Realm and a brief flash in her mind that she didn't belong in the Feywild and that she needed to get back ... back home. She remembered parents she used to love. REAL parents. She remembered real family. She stormed through the portal and with spells flung at her, she tore her way into the Mortal realm once more.

    But her mind became muddled. She didn't remember ... anything. The clergy found her and took her in. They cared for her and her muddled, broken mind began to form a story that soon she took to. She was a natural at divine casting and through the power of her faith, she became whole under it. But she was a natural because she had been trained in the Feywild how to channel divine magic, but not the sort from the gods. And as she realized that, the tenants of her faith fell away in place of what she remembered so long ago.

    She was a Druid, what was sometimes known as a Circle of Dreams. And on top of that, the human girl was now fey-touched.

    That's the story I gave her as she also liked the idea of being connected to the fey but being human in a way too. She didn't care about the ability bonuses of a human SOOO I just used the Eladrin as a template and renamed it to fey touched. Figured the ability to change her seasons AND, with that, her appearance to coincide with that as a good bit of flair that she seemed to really enjoy. Then she could also mistystep as a cool fey trick.

    She liked the idea of being a full support/healing druid so between Circle of Dreams and Healing Spirit taking on the form of a dozen small fairies healing the wounded, she's now hooked and 100% invested in her character, enough to want to play again ASAP. I've already thought of ways to spin the fey theme through all her spells which will, upon their first uses (like Poison Spray) will slowly have her relive memories of her time in the Feywild.

    She doesn't know how long she's been gone or which Court/Fey had her. She doesn't remember her real family's surname or where they might be. So it's a blank fun slate to play with with a player who enjoys the story beats over the combat side of things.

    Like 100% it's the best feeling in the world as a DM when you just give the players everything they didn't know they wanted and seeing that look on their faces when they just become THAT invested. It's sometimes hard for each player but I love the effort.

    And that's not even including like my brother who's playing the Paladin. Everyone had hit level 7 at the beginning of this session after the events of the last and his is tied to the Huntsman, an axe he was drawn to and took up when he took up the Oath of the Ancient. The axe is showing him old glimpses of former Ancients who wielded it before, and their knowledge is being imparted onto him.

    My daughter's character, who was the Gunslinger who ended up killing the old woman at the end of the last session after she came at her and hit her with a knife, felt guilt over the whole thing. So you know what feature she took as a Gunslinger? She took Disarming shot and took time to practice the talent as what she did still haunts her more than she wants to let on.

    This campaign is just hitting all my DM sweet-spots.

    DelzhandXagarDaenrisElvenshaeoverride367SniperGuyKadokenJustTee
  • tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    The group my Battle master is in, is DM'd by someone whose never done it before, and he is probably going to TPK us next session. Partly we have a very in flux number of players every given week, which makes encounter design hard, but he has us in a fight with 7 weretigers as a party of 4 with 2 lvl 5s and 2 lvl 4s.

    Which are CR 4 creatures with 120 HP each, and I think he bumped up the HP a bit, just because he got tired of us blowing stuff up. We've got 2 down, and 40ish damage on a bunch of them, but pretty much every ability we have has been used up, we have one lvl 1 spell slot left. And 2 party members in single digit HP.

    Going to be a bit peaked if this wipes us, esp since I know the modual and there is supposed to be 1 weretiger in the room. So upping it to 7 is sorta a WTF! thing.

  • AldoAldo Hippo Hooray the swamp, always the swampRegistered User regular
    Narbus wrote: »
    "Figuring out how to solve open-ended problems as a group" is about as close as I can get to a "pure" definition of tabletop RPGs. If that's not something that sounds like fun to you then I don't know how you'd find D&D fun enough to justify the commitment it requires.

    If the problem is a bad DM who won't hand out context clues about the sheerness of rockfaces or the size and sturdiness of guards, well the DM is part of that collaborative effort and they aren't collaborating. That's a bad DM, which is a different problem.

    No no, I love that shit. This wasn't me complaining about DnD being annoying or hard, I was complaining about how CR is even more useless for me, because I find it hard to take into account the experience my players had with DnD.

    Elendil wrote: »
    said Aldo hazily, before clop-clop-clopping out of the room
    JustTee
  • SleepSleep Registered User regular
    Xagar wrote: »
    Agreed, which is why you should run it that way. I wonder if anyone's made a conversion for class resources in that vein. The simplest implementations for healing would be that in-combat healing would be temporary HP instead, or halved in power or something.

    Also I am a bit surprised a CR 1/2 monster has an "ultimate" AOE pseudo-stun. They do have TERRIBLE speed, but they also have a stealth ability. I guess the way to go about using them would be to lean heavily on the party's ability to detect/avoid them, which means extra effort/clues from the DM.

    Eh rooting isn't a problem so long as someone has a ranged weapon. It's also a recharge ability. The basic way blights work is as a surprise attack. Essentially the vine blight sits there till a few creatures are in the 7 by 7 box and then they pop the root. From there they try to grapple folks in the root. Multiple vine blights is a bad call just cause you're going to make the combat super long with all the save rolling. Generally you wanna pair a vine blight with 4 twig blights. That's a pretty decent level 2 combat where the party is most likely going to be surprised (the whole point being that those 2 creatures look exactly like harmless dead plants till they initiate combat). In your estimates for encounter performance take into account that the first 2 rounds will be a total shit fest for the party resulting in someone needing heals.

  • SteelhawkSteelhawk Registered User regular
    Aldo wrote: »
    Narbus wrote: »
    "Figuring out how to solve open-ended problems as a group" is about as close as I can get to a "pure" definition of tabletop RPGs. If that's not something that sounds like fun to you then I don't know how you'd find D&D fun enough to justify the commitment it requires.

    If the problem is a bad DM who won't hand out context clues about the sheerness of rockfaces or the size and sturdiness of guards, well the DM is part of that collaborative effort and they aren't collaborating. That's a bad DM, which is a different problem.

    No no, I love that shit. This wasn't me complaining about DnD being annoying or hard, I was complaining about how CR is even more useless for me, because I find it hard to take into account the experience my players had with DnD.

    In my experience (mostly with 3.5, but also 5e) player experience clearly trumps whatever CR is recommended. My group will usually make mincemeat of any "appropriately" budgeted encounter.

    In the later days of my final 3.5e campaign my group easily, easily was taking on challenges 4-5 CR than they should have been as per the guidelines.

    We haven't played enough 5e at the table yet yet for me to say that will hold with 5e, but so far I don't see why it would not.

  • SleepSleep Registered User regular
    Steelhawk wrote: »
    Aldo wrote: »
    Narbus wrote: »
    "Figuring out how to solve open-ended problems as a group" is about as close as I can get to a "pure" definition of tabletop RPGs. If that's not something that sounds like fun to you then I don't know how you'd find D&D fun enough to justify the commitment it requires.

    If the problem is a bad DM who won't hand out context clues about the sheerness of rockfaces or the size and sturdiness of guards, well the DM is part of that collaborative effort and they aren't collaborating. That's a bad DM, which is a different problem.

    No no, I love that shit. This wasn't me complaining about DnD being annoying or hard, I was complaining about how CR is even more useless for me, because I find it hard to take into account the experience my players had with DnD.

    In my experience (mostly with 3.5, but also 5e) player experience clearly trumps whatever CR is recommended. My group will usually make mincemeat of any "appropriately" budgeted encounter.

    In the later days of my final 3.5e campaign my group easily, easily was taking on challenges 4-5 CR than they should have been as per the guidelines.

    We haven't played enough 5e at the table yet yet for me to say that will hold with 5e, but so far I don't see why it would not.

    It generally does.

    Especially if you construct the environment or starting state of the combat to favor the party.

  • override367override367 ALL minions Registered User regular
    edited June 13
    CR is absolutely only a general guideline

    I'm prepping a boss encounter for my players, since one of them has a personal quest to capture or kill a woman who stole a bunch of firearm related stuff from Whitestone (I'm using the published tal'dorei setting for this world, but I just put Chult there for tomb of annihilation). Now the party is in Chult so, obviously, she's there - working for Acererak, along with a bunch of old Vecna cultists who've found a new skeletal wizard man to deify. That's the setup, and what a break, scrying has revealed the location of her and the goblin monk that travels with her! What luck it's right on the party's path. It's a massive trap, so CR is basically worthless here (wall of text in spoiler)
    Enemy group composition:

    1 named gunslinger with a few cleric spells and one feat (Sharpshooter) (CR ~7)
    1 named monk with some drunken master abilities and one feat (Sentinel) (CR~7)
    2 Mage's (MM): Cultists, spellbook changes: invisibility and major image are in their list. One of them has Infernal calling instead of Cone of Cold and has no 5th level slot, the other has Hold Monster instead (CR 6)
    1 named Succubus (a local! The party has her true name, a check during the battle for one specific player will reveal this and allow them to turn her) (CR 4)
    4 Scouts (MM) (CR 1/2) riding 4 Hadrosaurus (CR 1/4)
    1 Master Thief (Volos) armed with a Quarrel of Dragon Slaying (CR5)

    On the face of it this is a turbo deadly encounter (CR22!) even with the party of 4 level 7s having a young dragon with them and a magic using guide of Cr4, what's worse is they're being lured into a trap because they have a Yuan-Ti agent with them that is signaling ahead of their movements with a sending stone, but I am 1000% positive that if I just threw these guys into a boss room the party would absolutely annihilate them. The monk would darkness the closest concentration of wizards and teleport into the darkness, and then wreck them next turn. The gunslinger will kill one of the casters in round one, the warlock will throw up Shadow of Moil and kill away, the bard will easily remove all the regulat mooks from the fight with hypnotic pattern and the young dragon will do dragon stuff - I've seen it before

    How I'm setting the encounter up however:

    A Major Image of the enemy host will be found, many of them appearing badly wounded around the bodies of two dead T-rexes. The mounted nobodies will be milling around and overall, it will appear like they've caught them with their pants down and at a severely inopportune time. Until they make their perception check (say, from stealth) or when they close, however, they will realize that it was a trap. The gunslinger will be prone atover 200 feet and open fire on the party's gunslinger. The enemy spellcasters will be in full cover behind large trees, and the enemy Master Thief will be stealthed, prone, and just holding his action. The enemy monk will be standing in front of their gun slinger, invisible, waiting to intercept any melee combatants that charge her position with his Sentinel feat.

    The Master Thief's held action is for the girl with the party to turn into a dragon and for her to get some altitude, at which point (unless I roll badly), a massive pile of damage is headed her way. To make matters worse, the enemy gunslinger is using a cleft tree stump as a firing point and has 3/4 cover

    The Yuan-Ti spy with them is higher level than the guide in the book should be, but she will not stab them in the back at this juncture - her goal is for these people to diminish them so that Ras Nsi can capture the party. She will assist with support spells and keep any of them from dying if possible, just enough to sell her allegiance. The Succubus will emerge on the first round from the ethereal plane and attempt to charm the bard - who it just so happens has her true name and if she rolls a dc10 history check can recite it correctly and turn the creature to their side on the following round

    The regular mooks will be where they were before the illusion was dropped, and do mook stuff - charge!

    The CR of this encounter is completely meaningless, it depends on a lot of factors. If somebody makes a good perception check, if the party figures out that they are being led into a trap, if the party realizes something is up and just attacks from a different direction - they could trivialize this entire thing, and that's great! If the worst happens I'm confident they'll pull through, but it will be a hell of a fight. There is a fair possibility they'll encounter Artus Cimber before this and that will substantially tilt the fight in their favor, although Artus will strongly argue for taking as many of them alive as possible which can bite them in the ass later

    override367 on
    SleepAldo
  • AbbalahAbbalah Registered User regular
    JustTee wrote: »
    Honestly, I'm not convinced that the "difficulty by attrition" and "incredibly variable difficulty even within the same CR rating" and "swingy dice roll" type systems all mesh well together at all. I honestly wish D&D was scaled around single encounters, where everyone was always at "full power", and your Hit Points / healing became the limiting factor for how long you could adventure for.

    If only there were some edition of DnD that worked in exactly this way, expressly to solve this exact problem!

    ElvenshaeDenadaTerrendosRiemannLivesDevoutlyApatheticRhesus PositiveMsAnthropy14357
  • SleepSleep Registered User regular
    Abbalah wrote: »
    JustTee wrote: »
    Honestly, I'm not convinced that the "difficulty by attrition" and "incredibly variable difficulty even within the same CR rating" and "swingy dice roll" type systems all mesh well together at all. I honestly wish D&D was scaled around single encounters, where everyone was always at "full power", and your Hit Points / healing became the limiting factor for how long you could adventure for.

    If only there were some edition of DnD that worked in exactly this way, expressly to solve this exact problem!

    Except it resulted in the hours long combats mentioned in the paragraph proceeding this one.

    The only time I've had 5e fights take longer than 30 minutes is when we are having a super unfocused session with a bunch of joking, side conversation, or people using all new mechanics/spells we just got from leveling.

    Smrtnik
  • override367override367 ALL minions Registered User regular
    I let my players expend half their maximum hit dice as an action to gain the benefits of a short rest (including healing with their remaining hit dice if they want, but warlocks and monks always use it just for resources), they can do this once per combat encounter (or immediately after or before combat if there isnt time to take a proper short rest), I've been trying to find issues with this but it mostly seems to have resolved the short/long rest class resources disparity

    SleepIvellius
  • DelzhandDelzhand Noxalas! Registered User regular
    edited June 13
    Abbalah wrote: »
    JustTee wrote: »
    Honestly, I'm not convinced that the "difficulty by attrition" and "incredibly variable difficulty even within the same CR rating" and "swingy dice roll" type systems all mesh well together at all. I honestly wish D&D was scaled around single encounters, where everyone was always at "full power", and your Hit Points / healing became the limiting factor for how long you could adventure for.

    If only there were some edition of DnD that worked in exactly this way, expressly to solve this exact problem!

    I'm not too clued into the zeitgeist of edition opinions. Are you talking about 4E?

    Delzhand on
    Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward - November Elspeth (Sargatanas)
    ElvenshaeJustTee
  • DenadaDenada Registered User regular
    Delzhand wrote: »
    Abbalah wrote: »
    JustTee wrote: »
    Honestly, I'm not convinced that the "difficulty by attrition" and "incredibly variable difficulty even within the same CR rating" and "swingy dice roll" type systems all mesh well together at all. I honestly wish D&D was scaled around single encounters, where everyone was always at "full power", and your Hit Points / healing became the limiting factor for how long you could adventure for.

    If only there were some edition of DnD that worked in exactly this way, expressly to solve this exact problem!

    I'm not too clued into the zeitgeist of edition opinions. Are you talking about 4E?

    Yeah 4E had reliable, predictable healing (and therefore pacing) in the form of Healing Surges, which were static values that didn't need to be rolled. All healing, both in combat and out, was based on spending a Healing Surge. If you did it in combat with the aid of a Leader, you usually added some extra healing and/or benefit to that expenditure. It was pretty easy for a DM to estimate where a party would be at resource-wise after a given encounter. Like most things - and like most editions - all of that became harder later on in levels (particularly Epic tier).

    You could accomplish a similar thing pretty easily in 5E by always taking the max value of a Hit Die, and possibly (although this would probably have larger implications) changing most healing spells to bonus actions.

    SleepDarkPrimusMsAnthropy
  • CarnarvonCarnarvon Registered User regular
    edited June 14
    CR is good for "You probably shouldn't throw this monster at a party with an average level below this number". Just for things like attack bonuses and save DCs. Aside from that, it's pretty useless.

    CR for 3.5 meant "CR 'X' will drain 1/5th of a 'X' level party of four players". It was useless, though, because the character builds were ridiculous.

    Carnarvon on
    SteelhawkSleepZonugal
  • SteelhawkSteelhawk Registered User regular
    edited June 14
    Nevermind. Post in error.

    Steelhawk on
  • SleepSleep Registered User regular
    Carnarvon wrote: »
    CR is good for "You probably shouldn't throw this monster at a party with an average level below this number". Just for things like attack bonuses and save DCs. Aside from that, it's pretty useless.

    this is almost exactly how i look at it.

    Basically look at its CR, AC, and HP and you can ballpark if you can throw it at the party

    SteelhawkZonugal
  • AbbalahAbbalah Registered User regular
    Denada wrote: »
    Delzhand wrote: »
    Abbalah wrote: »
    JustTee wrote: »
    Honestly, I'm not convinced that the "difficulty by attrition" and "incredibly variable difficulty even within the same CR rating" and "swingy dice roll" type systems all mesh well together at all. I honestly wish D&D was scaled around single encounters, where everyone was always at "full power", and your Hit Points / healing became the limiting factor for how long you could adventure for.

    If only there were some edition of DnD that worked in exactly this way, expressly to solve this exact problem!

    I'm not too clued into the zeitgeist of edition opinions. Are you talking about 4E?

    Yeah 4E had reliable, predictable healing (and therefore pacing) in the form of Healing Surges, which were static values that didn't need to be rolled. All healing, both in combat and out, was based on spending a Healing Surge. If you did it in combat with the aid of a Leader, you usually added some extra healing and/or benefit to that expenditure. It was pretty easy for a DM to estimate where a party would be at resource-wise after a given encounter. Like most things - and like most editions - all of that became harder later on in levels (particularly Epic tier).

    You could accomplish a similar thing pretty easily in 5E by always taking the max value of a Hit Die, and possibly (although this would probably have larger implications) changing most healing spells to bonus actions.

    The other half was the AEDU system - aside from the ~2-3 fancy daily powers a character was likely to have, all of a character's resources reset per-encounter and they'd be at the same strength in their sixth fight of the day as they were in their first, as long as they hadn't run out of surges before then. There was no attrition-based rationing of spell slots, you only had to care about dailies and surges remaining (and dailies mostly mattered as a way to reduce the number of surges a combat would drain).
    Sleep wrote: »
    Carnarvon wrote: »
    CR is good for "You probably shouldn't throw this monster at a party with an average level below this number". Just for things like attack bonuses and save DCs. Aside from that, it's pretty useless.

    this is almost exactly how i look at it.

    Basically look at its CR, AC, and HP and you can ballpark if you can throw it at the party

    You can't, though. Those numbers are relatively consistent with CR, and aren't usually where a monster's difficulty estimate is wrong.

    The attributes that lead to problem monsters are things like spells and weird abilities and spiky damage expressions. There are tons of monsters with reasonable AC and HP who seem to deal reasonable damage turn-to-turn but have an ability that allows them to deal enough damage to one-shot a character of level CR+1 if they charge or whatever. This is particularly noticeable - and particularly problematic - at low levels, where a new DM who doesn't know how to 'ballpark' monster difficulty might e.g. throw a CR 1 Bugbear against his level 1 party, follow the flavor/tactics advice about how bugbears ambush people, and then be shocked when the thing pops out and nails somebody for 20 damage which instantly kills them via massive damage because they're a level 1 character with 9 HP, because the CR system told him it was a reasonably challenging nonlethal fight.

    Or, like, hey this CR 1 dragon wyrmling would be a cool boss fight for my level 1 dungeon in my first campaign and 16 AC/22 HP/7 damage per turn on his melee attack all seems pretty reasonable! Okay he uses his breath weapon, two of you have to make dex saves for half damage. You failed? 18 damage to both of you. What do you mean you're both dead? This is only a medium-difficulty fight!

    The worst offense of the CR system is that it is most broken at the levels where a new DM is most likely to need its guidance and least likely to have the experience necessary to know when it's inaccurate.

    ElvenshaeJustTeeAldoMsAnthropy
  • SniperGuySniperGuy Also known as Dohaeris Registered User, ClubPA regular
    The House Always Wins went last night and I think things went pretty smoothly, although I realized an error I was making. Cloud of Daggers doesn't do damage when you cast it, only on the monster's turn. That helped the party chew through things a bit faster but ultimately they would have done it anyway so not a big deal.
    They successfully escaped the spooky forest, defeating the evil spirit that had infested it. This freed their druid friend from corruption and they left him with the forest's dryad who promised to help him sober up.

    The dryad had also asked the party to deal with the camp of loggers. They went back there to see the loggers, the noble, the guards, and the one knight packing up their stuff. The party attempted to run into the clearing shouting "There's no time we've got to go, go!" hoping to trick people into leaving quickly and never coming back. Previously when they spoke the noble he was very snooty and not particularly willing to compromise on things. Knowing this, the party's cleric got fed up with the guard that was questioning them and cast Sacred Flame! Roll for initiative!

    The party defeated the guards, killed the noble, and made the Knight surrender and leave, promising not to come back to these woods. He agreed, though wasn't particularly happy about leaving without his noble and most of his guards dead. The party picked up the magical tree axe the noble was carrying and also got some treasure from the forest spirit in the form of Bracers of Archery and some silver plated acorns worth some gold.

    Then they were transported back to the "Collection." The tree figurine that had been in the bowl was now colored in and magical. (Can be placed in dirt, 24 hours later a line of three oak trees will have sprouted in the dirt ahead of it, around 10 feet tall, and then they grow normally. No idea how they'll end up using this one!)

    They rested at the Inn and balked at the innkeeper's high prices (5 gold per room, no shared rooms!) but eventually paid them since they didn't have any other place to sleep. They explored a bit more of the area available to them and opened a few more rooms. One that seemed submerged in water, two rooms with doors made of some sort of blueish stone/metal covered in weapon shaped slots, and another of those strange doors, open, but with the room beyond caved in. The open door had a weapon in one of the slots, a weapon the same color as the material the door is made of. However, this weapon's handle had been snapped off. (This is a clue for how they can open those other doors later)

    They tried putting the figurine of their former barbarian party member in the bowl and had to do battle with some giant ravens, a giant squirrel, and the spirit of the barbarian himself. Bested, they can now use the figurine to summon that barbarian party member for a short time, once per day.

    Based on the circles glowing when they complete items, they think they need to head in a westerly direction. Having run into those locked bluish doors, they ended the session by grabbing a random "Sharp" item from the shelves and tossing it into the bowl. They were transported to a small nice room, like a decently wealthy person living in Waterdeep might have. There's an easy chair in here, facing away from them, and they can see a shock of white hair from someone sitting in the chair. The chair slowly turned and someone said "Hellllooooooo!" in a loud, higher pitched tone.
    The party is about to meet Halaster Blackcloak.

    I also already got it up on youtube which is probably a speed record for me. Session was fun, combat moved smoothly, had some fun RP, the rogue and the monk definitely don't trust each other, the adolescent girl warlock is acting as the party's face a lot, it's good fun. I need to work on granting inspiration more often and make sure I'm current on all the rules. We haven't had any major rule problems but little things like the cloud of daggers are problems I want to hammer out for sure.

    Also roll20 macros are infuriating when they don't work because we all stop to try and suss out their weird math instead of rolling it manually and just moving on. It'd be nice if they could clean up the display of how the math works because when you mouse over a roll it's a lot of gibberish that isn't immediately parseable.

    Also the evil spirit they killed was CR4 and this was 4 3rd level people who had very very little trouble with it, but it was a CR4 according to a Dan Coleman module so who knows.

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    ElvenshaeJustTeeoverride367
  • JustTeeJustTee Registered User regular
    Abbalah wrote: »
    JustTee wrote: »
    Honestly, I'm not convinced that the "difficulty by attrition" and "incredibly variable difficulty even within the same CR rating" and "swingy dice roll" type systems all mesh well together at all. I honestly wish D&D was scaled around single encounters, where everyone was always at "full power", and your Hit Points / healing became the limiting factor for how long you could adventure for.

    If only there were some edition of DnD that worked in exactly this way, expressly to solve this exact problem!

    5E is my first edition of D&D, running or playing. 4E definitely interests me, as encounter design seems much easier, but you lose a lot of the "easy to teach" parts of 5E. I would argue that 5E isn't actually that easy to teach a new-to-RPG player how to *play the game part* effectively, as every class is wonky and weird and different, and holy shit do Vancian spell systems suck a WHOLE lot to try to explain to someone not already familiar with the concept.

    However.

    Every time I've tried to introduce a new system to my players, often as "one shots" where we play 2-3 sessions in a row in a different system, they complain about the difficulty of learning the mechanics, and want to go back to 5E. I can't imagine what they would do if I actually tried to go to a *more* mechanically challenging system than 5E. I've tried Dungeon World, Apocalypse World, Fiasco, and Blades in the Dark.
    Sleep wrote: »
    Eh rooting isn't a problem so long as someone has a ranged weapon. It's also a recharge ability. The basic way blights work is as a surprise attack. Essentially the vine blight sits there till a few creatures are in the 7 by 7 box and then they pop the root. From there they try to grapple folks in the root. Multiple vine blights is a bad call just cause you're going to make the combat super long with all the save rolling. Generally you wanna pair a vine blight with 4 twig blights. That's a pretty decent level 2 combat where the party is most likely going to be surprised (the whole point being that those 2 creatures look exactly like harmless dead plants till they initiate combat). In your estimates for encounter performance take into account that the first 2 rounds will be a total shit fest for the party resulting in someone needing heals.

    If you keep reading, the Vine Blights' ability is not just rooting. It's restraining. A creature with the restrained condition can't move, has disadvantage on Dex Save and Attack Rolls, and attack rolls against it are made at advantage. On a CR 1/2 creature.

    The biggest problem I have with all this stuff is that a lot of the times, I run pre-published content. I'm experienced enough at this point to know the general design principles of encounter building, but not experienced enough to eyeball individual creatures and assess their difficulty relative to a fluctuating amount of party power, player skill (how alert is each person? who had a rough day at work and is distracted? Who is sleepy?), and variable resource usage. I often don't have time to vet each and every monster used in each and every encounter. I read through the entire document. I make an outline of the basic info the party gets access to early, what extra info they could possibly dig up by investigating. I sketch out when, why, and how the fights happen, and I check every fight in Kobold Fight Club to get a feel for how difficult the fight is intended to be.

    After doing all that, I *still* don't really have any clue how the fights are going to go, because I've only been running D&D for a little over a year, and I don't have an encyclopedic knowledge of monsters yet, and abilities can sometimes be way more powerful than you expect.

    When I design each encounter the party faces from scratch, yes, I am intimately familiar with the strength and abilities of each monster I'm putting into the fight. But translating that to a properly balanced encounter of the *desired* difficulty can be incredibly challenging. And is hugely time consuming, so I often invest a lot of time and effort designing the big set piece portions of the adventures, but not every adventure/fight/combat can be a set piece. So I turn to pre-published stuff to help me out...and then end up doing a huge amount of work re-balancing, reading and re-reading, and trying to get stuff right.

    Realistically, if my players didn't love 5E so much (mostly due to Critical Role being 5E), I would never voluntarily run anything except a one shot in it. Honestly, now, the version of 5E that I tend to run is so far removed from the published version that I really don't consider it 5E. I run it more like the C Team than Critical Role.

    The thing that makes me the angriest is that I actually LOVE math. If the encounter math actually WORKED it would be amazing. It's half the reason I initially wanted to run 5E in the first place, because I loved encounter budgets, daily exp limits, expected progression charts, rising power levels, bounded accuracy, lack of floating modifiers...etc etc. It's just that all that math is a lie.

    Diagnosed with AML on 6/1/12. Read about it: www.effleukemia.com
    Elvenshae
  • override367override367 ALL minions Registered User regular
    It's not really possible to have a hard and fast "difficulty rating" for monsters while also having a complex system with lots of player freedom

    It depends so much on your party composition and the circumstances of the encounter (Is the creature falling out of the ceiling, or are the players getting the jump on it?), and if your players are busting out any nonsense like using control water to flood the entire dungeon

    ElvenshaeSleepTurambarSteelhawkNarbusIvellius14357
  • SleepSleep Registered User regular
    So my game is basically an improv game. I Have general ideas of where the characters are, and where they are headed, but most of the details of the journey get filled in on the fly. This means I do most of my encounter building on the fly like literally we're walking through the forest and I throw together the group of brigands or demons you're coming across while we make the tracking rolls and talk out the particulars of your journey to the combat.

    I do it by ballparking the cr system.

    I don't always know all the monsters I'm throwing in the combat by heart when I build it either, and I'll generally come up with the exact terrain on the fly as well.

    Often times I start with a core idea, like a pack of brigands, or a demon attack, or some orcs, then I quickly flip through mm/volos/mordenkainen's, and find some monsters that fit the bill for an interesting combat.

    then I look at its cr and durability. If it is fragile for its cr, I expect it hits like a truck or causes a strange effect that allows others to hit like a truck. I make sure 2 to 3 rounds of attacks from my more aggressive characters, alone, could definitely kill it. If it's durability is seemingly high for its cr I assume it is a monster that takes a bunch of hits but doesn't necessarily do a ton of damage on its own. If everything's on balance in the cr to durability comparison i assume they are mookish and can be used to fill out the fight.

    I make sure I'm not putting too many non standard monsters in the same fight to ensure brevity of play, make sure I'm not packing in too many mooks/targets for the number of players on the board (unless I'm specifically trying to pull an AoE spell out of the party). Check to ensure there are no banshee/will o wisp combos happening, and just roll with it.

    If I find they have an ability that would make the game unfun, or give far too much of an advantage to the enemies, or is just way crazier than when I first scanned it, I simply don't use it, or alter it to not totally shit things up. Like not having the shadow dragon's breath weapon outright kill people and raise them as shadows when dropping a creature to 0 hit points. The entries in the book are merely a guide anyways.

    For instance I'm running white plume mountain, we just hit room 24 with all the knights in it. The entries for these monsters doesn't nominate a specific humanoid race, and because most nobility in the region I've placed my white plume mountain is dragonborn, I made all of them dragonborn. I didn't use 1 breath weapon, because what they had from base statistics, and initial combat strategy, was enough for the combat to be challenging and engaging, adding breath weapons to the fight would have made everything way more complicated to track and roll out, so they just fought with their swords and crossbows and nets.

    The beauty of the math in this edition is that it is pretty easy to ballpark everything to the point you can create challenging encounters that might drop party members but very rarely kills them outright. It just requires more flexibility rather than strict adherence to everything.

    It definitely takes time and effort to build as a skill. I know I wasn't perfect at it 4 years ago, but at this point I can throw together such a combat on the fly in like 10 minutes (mostly cause I'm interacting with the party while I build the encounter) basically using a rough idea of what kind of creature I'm looking for and cr,hp,ac and resistances to damage as a guide.

    Delzhand
  • DelzhandDelzhand Noxalas! Registered User regular
    Yeah it's a lot harder with published content. Since all my encounters are custom, I set fixed damage values for enemies attacks instead of rolling dice, knowing that if the players are struggling I can dial the damage down or stealth-lower the monster's HP. I can also pump up those values if it looks like a beatdown.

    The only value I don't change is really AC, because with enough hits and misses the characters will figure out that number on their own and start making decisions based on it.

    Encounters are exactly as lethal as you want them to be. And you can _do_ this with published content too. That vine blight has everyone restrained, but man, those other enemies just can't seem to roll very good damage tonight! You've got a DM screen. The players don't need to know the truth.

    On the other hand, if your players are getting cocky, oh look, vine blight recharged again (on a 1).

    Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward - November Elspeth (Sargatanas)
    SleepNyht
  • CarnarvonCarnarvon Registered User regular
    Abbalah wrote: »
    Or, like, hey this CR 1 dragon wyrmling would be a cool boss fight for my level 1 dungeon in my first campaign and 16 AC/22 HP/7 damage per turn on his melee attack all seems pretty reasonable! Okay he uses his breath weapon, two of you have to make dex saves for half damage. You failed? 18 damage to both of you. What do you mean you're both dead? This is only a medium-difficulty fight!

    The worst offense of the CR system is that it is most broken at the levels where a new DM is most likely to need its guidance and least likely to have the experience necessary to know when it's inaccurate.

    AC 16 with 22hp means that it can die in two hits. 1d20+2+4 gives a 50% chance to hit, assuming 1d8+4 damage, that's an average of six attacks before death. Dropping it down to less optimized level 1 characters, we have a 45% hit rate and 7.5 average damage, we go to 8 attacks. If the characters are stealthy and swinging 2d6s or d10s, the chance of that dragon even getting use its attack is pretty low. God forbid you're using a variant human with sharpshooter or something, you could literally one shot the thing.

    Assuming 4 level 1 PCs, that's a 200xp encounter budget. Dragon is 200xp. Assuming the dragon lands two unsaved hits with its line breath attack, it'll knock out two PCs. The remaining PCs can fight it or heal the other PCs (assuming it didn't take out the healers). If they fight, a single 1d20+4;1d10+1d4+2 could drop an additional PC per turn. If you have Healing Words available, the fight becomes pretty trivial, but costly resource wise.

    So, a stealthy level one party can kill a dragon with no problems. A loud level 1 party can be wiped by a very lucky dragon, but is otherwise killable.

    That doesn't seem terribly off to me.

    Sleep
  • XagarXagar Registered User regular
    Adjusting encounters on the fly is the way to go. I mentally mark stuff as "hard mode" in my mind and don't pull it out unless they start winning too hard, or just cheat HP. I also don't like instakill rules on PC/important NPCs at all. Adventurers are made of stronger stuff than that, even level 1 adventurers.

    Sleep
  • SleepSleep Registered User regular
    Carnarvon wrote: »
    Abbalah wrote: »
    Or, like, hey this CR 1 dragon wyrmling would be a cool boss fight for my level 1 dungeon in my first campaign and 16 AC/22 HP/7 damage per turn on his melee attack all seems pretty reasonable! Okay he uses his breath weapon, two of you have to make dex saves for half damage. You failed? 18 damage to both of you. What do you mean you're both dead? This is only a medium-difficulty fight!

    The worst offense of the CR system is that it is most broken at the levels where a new DM is most likely to need its guidance and least likely to have the experience necessary to know when it's inaccurate.

    AC 16 with 22hp means that it can die in two hits. 1d20+2+4 gives a 50% chance to hit, assuming 1d8+4 damage, that's an average of six attacks before death. Dropping it down to less optimized level 1 characters, we have a 45% hit rate and 7.5 average damage, we go to 8 attacks. If the characters are stealthy and swinging 2d6s or d10s, the chance of that dragon even getting use its attack is pretty low. God forbid you're using a variant human with sharpshooter or something, you could literally one shot the thing.

    Assuming 4 level 1 PCs, that's a 200xp encounter budget. Dragon is 200xp. Assuming the dragon lands two unsaved hits with its line breath attack, it'll knock out two PCs. The remaining PCs can fight it or heal the other PCs (assuming it didn't take out the healers). If they fight, a single 1d20+4;1d10+1d4+2 could drop an additional PC per turn. If you have Healing Words available, the fight becomes pretty trivial, but costly resource wise.

    So, a stealthy level one party can kill a dragon with no problems. A loud level 1 party can be wiped by a very lucky dragon, but is otherwise killable.

    That doesn't seem terribly off to me.

    The only characters it outright kills with its average breath weapon damage is a wizard. The wizard shouldn't be face checkin a dragon.

  • AbbalahAbbalah Registered User regular
    Carnarvon wrote: »
    Abbalah wrote: »
    Or, like, hey this CR 1 dragon wyrmling would be a cool boss fight for my level 1 dungeon in my first campaign and 16 AC/22 HP/7 damage per turn on his melee attack all seems pretty reasonable! Okay he uses his breath weapon, two of you have to make dex saves for half damage. You failed? 18 damage to both of you. What do you mean you're both dead? This is only a medium-difficulty fight!

    The worst offense of the CR system is that it is most broken at the levels where a new DM is most likely to need its guidance and least likely to have the experience necessary to know when it's inaccurate.

    AC 16 with 22hp means that it can die in two hits. 1d20+2+4 gives a 50% chance to hit, assuming 1d8+4 damage, that's an average of six attacks before death. Dropping it down to less optimized level 1 characters, we have a 45% hit rate and 7.5 average damage, we go to 8 attacks. If the characters are stealthy and swinging 2d6s or d10s, the chance of that dragon even getting use its attack is pretty low. God forbid you're using a variant human with sharpshooter or something, you could literally one shot the thing.

    Assuming 4 level 1 PCs, that's a 200xp encounter budget. Dragon is 200xp. Assuming the dragon lands two unsaved hits with its line breath attack, it'll knock out two PCs. The remaining PCs can fight it or heal the other PCs (assuming it didn't take out the healers). If they fight, a single 1d20+4;1d10+1d4+2 could drop an additional PC per turn. If you have Healing Words available, the fight becomes pretty trivial, but costly resource wise.

    So, a stealthy level one party can kill a dragon with no problems. A loud level 1 party can be wiped by a very lucky dragon, but is otherwise killable.

    That doesn't seem terribly off to me.

    The off part is that it has an ability that hits multiple targets, can instant-kill an equal-level character via massive damage with only its average damage, is guaranteed to do half damage even if the target makes the save, and will drop any character without a d10 hit die into death saves from full even if they make their save, to say nothing of the fact that it may recharge during the fight and get used twice. This does not jive with the assumption the CR gives the DM, which is that it will be a challenging but nonlethal fight.

    There is no reason to put such a swingy ability on a creature of that CR, and the high (and largely unavoidable) damage of the breath weapon makes the creature significantly more lethal than it should be. The statblock does not match the listed CR, and there is no way for an inexperienced DM to be able to identify that fact based on a cursory glance at its reasonable AC and HP.

    Also a level 1 character won't have a +6 to attacks, it'll have a +5, because you can't start an 18 primary.
    Sleep wrote: »
    So my game is basically an improv game. I Have general ideas of where the characters are, and where they are headed, but most of the details of the journey get filled in on the fly. This means I do most of my encounter building on the fly like literally we're walking through the forest and I throw together the group of brigands or demons you're coming across while we make the tracking rolls and talk out the particulars of your journey to the combat.

    I do it by ballparking the cr system.

    I don't always know all the monsters I'm throwing in the combat by heart when I build it either, and I'll generally come up with the exact terrain on the fly as well.

    Often times I start with a core idea, like a pack of brigands, or a demon attack, or some orcs, then I quickly flip through mm/volos/mordenkainen's, and find some monsters that fit the bill for an interesting combat.

    then I look at its cr and durability. If it is fragile for its cr, I expect it hits like a truck or causes a strange effect that allows others to hit like a truck. I make sure 2 to 3 rounds of attacks from my more aggressive characters, alone, could definitely kill it. If it's durability is seemingly high for its cr I assume it is a monster that takes a bunch of hits but doesn't necessarily do a ton of damage on its own. If everything's on balance in the cr to durability comparison i assume they are mookish and can be used to fill out the fight.

    I make sure I'm not putting too many non standard monsters in the same fight to ensure brevity of play, make sure I'm not packing in too many mooks/targets for the number of players on the board (unless I'm specifically trying to pull an AoE spell out of the party). Check to ensure there are no banshee/will o wisp combos happening, and just roll with it.

    If I find they have an ability that would make the game unfun, or give far too much of an advantage to the enemies, or is just way crazier than when I first scanned it, I simply don't use it, or alter it to not totally shit things up. Like not having the shadow dragon's breath weapon outright kill people and raise them as shadows when dropping a creature to 0 hit points. The entries in the book are merely a guide anyways.

    For instance I'm running white plume mountain, we just hit room 24 with all the knights in it. The entries for these monsters doesn't nominate a specific humanoid race, and because most nobility in the region I've placed my white plume mountain is dragonborn, I made all of them dragonborn. I didn't use 1 breath weapon, because what they had from base statistics, and initial combat strategy, was enough for the combat to be challenging and engaging, adding breath weapons to the fight would have made everything way more complicated to track and roll out, so they just fought with their swords and crossbows and nets.

    The beauty of the math in this edition is that it is pretty easy to ballpark everything to the point you can create challenging encounters that might drop party members but very rarely kills them outright. It just requires more flexibility rather than strict adherence to everything.

    It definitely takes time and effort to build as a skill. I know I wasn't perfect at it 4 years ago, but at this point I can throw together such a combat on the fly in like 10 minutes (mostly cause I'm interacting with the party while I build the encounter) basically using a rough idea of what kind of creature I'm looking for and cr,hp,ac and resistances to damage as a guide.

    This is a very long way of saying 'the beauty of the math in this edition is that it doesn't really work well so I just make up whatever and fudge it, which works well enough for me'.

    It is telling that virtually any time a person is defending the quality of 5e's math, their argument boils down to "yeah, I don't use it either." You certainly can ignore or fudge or alter the rules and statblocks that are present in the books, but "I change a bunch of shit because using the system as written is hit-or-miss" is not exactly an endorsement of the system as written, nor is it a solution that is available to a new DM who is relying on the books to tell them how to run the game.

    It's very weird to me how often a discussion about the CR system unironically takes the form of "no, the CR system isn't bad, it's great. The trick is that you can't actually use it, because it is bad at what it is supposed to do. Here is the alternate system I use instead, which invariably requires much more system knowledge, undermining the point of a CR rating in the first place. And that's why the CR system is fine!"

    ElvenshaeNarbusTerrendosRiemannLivesJustTeeMsAnthropy
  • SleepSleep Registered User regular
    Abbalah wrote: »
    Carnarvon wrote: »
    Abbalah wrote: »
    Or, like, hey this CR 1 dragon wyrmling would be a cool boss fight for my level 1 dungeon in my first campaign and 16 AC/22 HP/7 damage per turn on his melee attack all seems pretty reasonable! Okay he uses his breath weapon, two of you have to make dex saves for half damage. You failed? 18 damage to both of you. What do you mean you're both dead? This is only a medium-difficulty fight!

    The worst offense of the CR system is that it is most broken at the levels where a new DM is most likely to need its guidance and least likely to have the experience necessary to know when it's inaccurate.

    AC 16 with 22hp means that it can die in two hits. 1d20+2+4 gives a 50% chance to hit, assuming 1d8+4 damage, that's an average of six attacks before death. Dropping it down to less optimized level 1 characters, we have a 45% hit rate and 7.5 average damage, we go to 8 attacks. If the characters are stealthy and swinging 2d6s or d10s, the chance of that dragon even getting use its attack is pretty low. God forbid you're using a variant human with sharpshooter or something, you could literally one shot the thing.

    Assuming 4 level 1 PCs, that's a 200xp encounter budget. Dragon is 200xp. Assuming the dragon lands two unsaved hits with its line breath attack, it'll knock out two PCs. The remaining PCs can fight it or heal the other PCs (assuming it didn't take out the healers). If they fight, a single 1d20+4;1d10+1d4+2 could drop an additional PC per turn. If you have Healing Words available, the fight becomes pretty trivial, but costly resource wise.

    So, a stealthy level one party can kill a dragon with no problems. A loud level 1 party can be wiped by a very lucky dragon, but is otherwise killable.

    That doesn't seem terribly off to me.

    The off part is that it has an ability that hits multiple targets, can instant-kill an equal-level character via massive damage with only its average damage, is guaranteed to do half damage even if the target makes the save, and will drop any character without a d10 hit die into death saves from full even if they make their save, to say nothing of the fact that it may recharge during the fight and get used twice. This does not jive with the assumption the CR gives the DM, which is that it will be a challenging but nonlethal fight.

    There is no reason to put such a swingy ability on a creature of that CR, and the high (and largely unavoidable) damage of the breath weapon makes the creature significantly more lethal than it should be. The statblock does not match the listed CR, and there is no way for an inexperienced DM to be able to identify that fact based on a cursory glance at its reasonable AC and HP.

    Also a level 1 character won't have a +6 to attacks, it'll have a +5, because you can't start an 18 primary.
    Sleep wrote: »
    So my game is basically an improv game. I Have general ideas of where the characters are, and where they are headed, but most of the details of the journey get filled in on the fly. This means I do most of my encounter building on the fly like literally we're walking through the forest and I throw together the group of brigands or demons you're coming across while we make the tracking rolls and talk out the particulars of your journey to the combat.

    I do it by ballparking the cr system.

    I don't always know all the monsters I'm throwing in the combat by heart when I build it either, and I'll generally come up with the exact terrain on the fly as well.

    Often times I start with a core idea, like a pack of brigands, or a demon attack, or some orcs, then I quickly flip through mm/volos/mordenkainen's, and find some monsters that fit the bill for an interesting combat.

    then I look at its cr and durability. If it is fragile for its cr, I expect it hits like a truck or causes a strange effect that allows others to hit like a truck. I make sure 2 to 3 rounds of attacks from my more aggressive characters, alone, could definitely kill it. If it's durability is seemingly high for its cr I assume it is a monster that takes a bunch of hits but doesn't necessarily do a ton of damage on its own. If everything's on balance in the cr to durability comparison i assume they are mookish and can be used to fill out the fight.

    I make sure I'm not putting too many non standard monsters in the same fight to ensure brevity of play, make sure I'm not packing in too many mooks/targets for the number of players on the board (unless I'm specifically trying to pull an AoE spell out of the party). Check to ensure there are no banshee/will o wisp combos happening, and just roll with it.

    If I find they have an ability that would make the game unfun, or give far too much of an advantage to the enemies, or is just way crazier than when I first scanned it, I simply don't use it, or alter it to not totally shit things up. Like not having the shadow dragon's breath weapon outright kill people and raise them as shadows when dropping a creature to 0 hit points. The entries in the book are merely a guide anyways.

    For instance I'm running white plume mountain, we just hit room 24 with all the knights in it. The entries for these monsters doesn't nominate a specific humanoid race, and because most nobility in the region I've placed my white plume mountain is dragonborn, I made all of them dragonborn. I didn't use 1 breath weapon, because what they had from base statistics, and initial combat strategy, was enough for the combat to be challenging and engaging, adding breath weapons to the fight would have made everything way more complicated to track and roll out, so they just fought with their swords and crossbows and nets.

    The beauty of the math in this edition is that it is pretty easy to ballpark everything to the point you can create challenging encounters that might drop party members but very rarely kills them outright. It just requires more flexibility rather than strict adherence to everything.

    It definitely takes time and effort to build as a skill. I know I wasn't perfect at it 4 years ago, but at this point I can throw together such a combat on the fly in like 10 minutes (mostly cause I'm interacting with the party while I build the encounter) basically using a rough idea of what kind of creature I'm looking for and cr,hp,ac and resistances to damage as a guide.

    This is a very long way of saying 'the beauty of the math in this edition is that it doesn't really work well so I just make up whatever and fudge it, which works well enough for me'.

    It is telling that virtually any time a person is defending the quality of 5e's math, their argument boils down to "yeah, I don't use it either." You certainly can ignore or fudge or alter the rules and statblocks that are present in the books, but "I change a bunch of shit because using the system as written is hit-or-miss" is not exactly an endorsement of the system as written, nor is it a solution that is available to a new DM who is relying on the books to tell them how to run the game.

    It's very weird to me how often a discussion about the CR system unironically takes the form of "no, the CR system isn't bad, it's great. The trick is that you can't actually use it, because it is bad at what it is supposed to do. Here is the alternate system I use instead, which invariably requires much more system knowledge, undermining the point of a CR rating in the first place. And that's why the CR system is fine!"

    You're massively over estimating the number of times I've had to fudge anything. I can count the occurrences in 4 years on 2 hands maybe

  • CarnarvonCarnarvon Registered User regular
    Abbalah wrote: »
    The off part is that it has an ability that hits multiple targets, can instant-kill an equal-level character via massive damage with only its average damage, is guaranteed to do half damage even if the target makes the save, and will drop any character without a d10 hit die into death saves from full even if they make their save, to say nothing of the fact that it may recharge during the fight and get used twice. This does not jive with the assumption the CR gives the DM, which is that it will be a challenging but nonlethal fight.

    There is no reason to put such a swingy ability on a creature of that CR, and the high (and largely unavoidable) damage of the breath weapon makes the creature significantly more lethal than it should be. The statblock does not match the listed CR, and there is no way for an inexperienced DM to be able to identify that fact based on a cursory glance at its reasonable AC and HP.

    Also a level 1 character won't have a +6 to attacks, it'll have a +5, because you can't start an 18 primary.

    I actually had to look massive damage up, I hadn't heard of it in this edition. All I could see was optional rules in the DMG that only apply PCs attacking monsters; correct me if I'm missing something. You're right about the attacks. So, on average it will take 7 attacks dealing 7.5 damage at a 45% chance to hit (I fucked up my math somewhere before). That's assuming you don't get the drop on dragon in the first round.

    Not to mention there's plenty of level one spells that can fuck the dragon's shit up. Color Spray, Entangle, and Ray of Sickness come to mind. Yeah, the breath weapon is deadly, but it's a line attack and how many players can you hit with a line attack? As long as they don't hit both healers you're fine.

    Sleep
  • XagarXagar Registered User regular
    Instant Death
    Massive damage can kill you instantly. When damage reduces you to 0 hit points and there is damage remaining, you die if the remaining damage equals or exceeds your hit point maximum.

    For example, a cleric with a maximum of 12 hit points currently has 6 hit points. If she takes 18 damage from an attack, she is reduced to 0 hit points, but 12 damage remains. Because the remaining damage equals her hit point maximum, the cleric dies.

    SleepElvenshaeSteelhawkMoridin889JustTee
  • SleepSleep Registered User regular
    For the most part I try to keep the monster as close to the entry as possible, unless I'm adding to it for one reason or another. Like I gave all nothics a climb speed for the sole fact they seem like a weird monster that should be swarming the party from weird side of building like angles. One of the only major broadband tweaks I made early on in my last chapter was to remove the dr from a bunch of the demons and devils the party was fighting, and the reason for it was covered narratively. They were all in a weakened state because of the nature of the material plane in my setting (it slowly kills/imprisons outsiders over time).

    Outside of that I changed a shadow dragon breath weapon cause I didn't notice the whole shadow at 0 bit when i first read the template and moved it to shadow if you fail all your death saves. Which is an incident from literal years ago. For the most part I throw together my combat, and run it as close to as is as I can, and it works just fine for the most part.

    The explanation I gave up there is the whole strategy including the rare event I totally fuck up the building part, or if the dice turn on the party in a real ugly way and I gotta rescue them from a super disappointing TPK (adjust the hp knob, stop recharging abilities), or if I fucked up remembering where the party was resource wise (I essentially run 4 games with all the same players with 2 to 3 of those games alternating weekly while keeping minimal to no notes, sometimes I forget everyone's tapped for resources).

    Yeah my exact stance is that CR is not a precision tool, and that no one should try to use it as a precision tool, because it literally can't be meant or used as a precision tool (there's too many variables to every combat for any system to be totally precise in judging encounter difficulty). Trying to force it to be a precision tool is a nice way to end up with bad outcomes you can blame on the system instead of your own decisions though. CR is a useful guideline that can very easily be used to throw combats together on the fly. I know, cause I do it. It just requires the acceptance that sometimes ya might fuck up and need to throw a tweak down to cover for an imprecise system. These fuckups might not be even be resultant of creature choice, it might be terrain or combat features that skew the balance, or plain old bad dice, or hell the party being a bunch of idiots for a second.

    Again there's so many variables no system could precisely account for all of it. Cr gives you a ballpark to play in, and that's really all it can do.

  • AbbalahAbbalah Registered User regular
    edited June 14
    Carnarvon wrote: »
    Abbalah wrote: »
    The off part is that it has an ability that hits multiple targets, can instant-kill an equal-level character via massive damage with only its average damage, is guaranteed to do half damage even if the target makes the save, and will drop any character without a d10 hit die into death saves from full even if they make their save, to say nothing of the fact that it may recharge during the fight and get used twice. This does not jive with the assumption the CR gives the DM, which is that it will be a challenging but nonlethal fight.

    There is no reason to put such a swingy ability on a creature of that CR, and the high (and largely unavoidable) damage of the breath weapon makes the creature significantly more lethal than it should be. The statblock does not match the listed CR, and there is no way for an inexperienced DM to be able to identify that fact based on a cursory glance at its reasonable AC and HP.

    Also a level 1 character won't have a +6 to attacks, it'll have a +5, because you can't start an 18 primary.

    I actually had to look massive damage up, I hadn't heard of it in this edition. All I could see was optional rules in the DMG that only apply PCs attacking monsters; correct me if I'm missing something. You're right about the attacks. So, on average it will take 7 attacks dealing 7.5 damage at a 45% chance to hit (I fucked up my math somewhere before). That's assuming you don't get the drop on dragon in the first round.

    Not to mention there's plenty of level one spells that can fuck the dragon's shit up. Color Spray, Entangle, and Ray of Sickness come to mind. Yeah, the breath weapon is deadly, but it's a line attack and how many players can you hit with a line attack? As long as they don't hit both healers you're fine.

    Page 197 of the PHB:

    "Instant Death
    Massive damage can kill you instantly. When damage reduces you to 0 hit points and there is damage remaining, you die if the remaining damage equals or exceeds your hit point maximum. For example, a cleric with a maximum of 12 hit points currently has 6 hit points. If she takes 18 damage from an attack, she is reduced to 0 hit points, but 12 damage remains. Because the remaining damage equals her hit point maximum, the cleric dies."

    It doesn't come up a lot past the first couple of levels because scenarios where you're going to take more than your max HP in damage in a single hit become much rarer as your HP scales, but it's a baseline rule.

    Again, I'm not asserting that the dragon can't be killed. It's certainly a monster you can play rocket tag with. The problem is that its CR tells the DM that it probably won't kill a player of its level, but it has an ability which very reliably can, even to the point of not allowing death saves. CR shouldn't be telling a DM that a monster is something the party 'should be able to defeat without suffering any deaths' if the monster has an ability whose damage is high enough to reliably instagib a player of the appropriate level.
    Sleep wrote: »
    Abbalah wrote: »
    Carnarvon wrote: »
    Abbalah wrote: »
    Or, like, hey this CR 1 dragon wyrmling would be a cool boss fight for my level 1 dungeon in my first campaign and 16 AC/22 HP/7 damage per turn on his melee attack all seems pretty reasonable! Okay he uses his breath weapon, two of you have to make dex saves for half damage. You failed? 18 damage to both of you. What do you mean you're both dead? This is only a medium-difficulty fight!

    The worst offense of the CR system is that it is most broken at the levels where a new DM is most likely to need its guidance and least likely to have the experience necessary to know when it's inaccurate.

    AC 16 with 22hp means that it can die in two hits. 1d20+2+4 gives a 50% chance to hit, assuming 1d8+4 damage, that's an average of six attacks before death. Dropping it down to less optimized level 1 characters, we have a 45% hit rate and 7.5 average damage, we go to 8 attacks. If the characters are stealthy and swinging 2d6s or d10s, the chance of that dragon even getting use its attack is pretty low. God forbid you're using a variant human with sharpshooter or something, you could literally one shot the thing.

    Assuming 4 level 1 PCs, that's a 200xp encounter budget. Dragon is 200xp. Assuming the dragon lands two unsaved hits with its line breath attack, it'll knock out two PCs. The remaining PCs can fight it or heal the other PCs (assuming it didn't take out the healers). If they fight, a single 1d20+4;1d10+1d4+2 could drop an additional PC per turn. If you have Healing Words available, the fight becomes pretty trivial, but costly resource wise.

    So, a stealthy level one party can kill a dragon with no problems. A loud level 1 party can be wiped by a very lucky dragon, but is otherwise killable.

    That doesn't seem terribly off to me.

    The off part is that it has an ability that hits multiple targets, can instant-kill an equal-level character via massive damage with only its average damage, is guaranteed to do half damage even if the target makes the save, and will drop any character without a d10 hit die into death saves from full even if they make their save, to say nothing of the fact that it may recharge during the fight and get used twice. This does not jive with the assumption the CR gives the DM, which is that it will be a challenging but nonlethal fight.

    There is no reason to put such a swingy ability on a creature of that CR, and the high (and largely unavoidable) damage of the breath weapon makes the creature significantly more lethal than it should be. The statblock does not match the listed CR, and there is no way for an inexperienced DM to be able to identify that fact based on a cursory glance at its reasonable AC and HP.

    Also a level 1 character won't have a +6 to attacks, it'll have a +5, because you can't start an 18 primary.
    Sleep wrote: »
    So my game is basically an improv game. I Have general ideas of where the characters are, and where they are headed, but most of the details of the journey get filled in on the fly. This means I do most of my encounter building on the fly like literally we're walking through the forest and I throw together the group of brigands or demons you're coming across while we make the tracking rolls and talk out the particulars of your journey to the combat.

    I do it by ballparking the cr system.

    I don't always know all the monsters I'm throwing in the combat by heart when I build it either, and I'll generally come up with the exact terrain on the fly as well.

    Often times I start with a core idea, like a pack of brigands, or a demon attack, or some orcs, then I quickly flip through mm/volos/mordenkainen's, and find some monsters that fit the bill for an interesting combat.

    then I look at its cr and durability. If it is fragile for its cr, I expect it hits like a truck or causes a strange effect that allows others to hit like a truck. I make sure 2 to 3 rounds of attacks from my more aggressive characters, alone, could definitely kill it. If it's durability is seemingly high for its cr I assume it is a monster that takes a bunch of hits but doesn't necessarily do a ton of damage on its own. If everything's on balance in the cr to durability comparison i assume they are mookish and can be used to fill out the fight.

    I make sure I'm not putting too many non standard monsters in the same fight to ensure brevity of play, make sure I'm not packing in too many mooks/targets for the number of players on the board (unless I'm specifically trying to pull an AoE spell out of the party). Check to ensure there are no banshee/will o wisp combos happening, and just roll with it.

    If I find they have an ability that would make the game unfun, or give far too much of an advantage to the enemies, or is just way crazier than when I first scanned it, I simply don't use it, or alter it to not totally shit things up. Like not having the shadow dragon's breath weapon outright kill people and raise them as shadows when dropping a creature to 0 hit points. The entries in the book are merely a guide anyways.

    For instance I'm running white plume mountain, we just hit room 24 with all the knights in it. The entries for these monsters doesn't nominate a specific humanoid race, and because most nobility in the region I've placed my white plume mountain is dragonborn, I made all of them dragonborn. I didn't use 1 breath weapon, because what they had from base statistics, and initial combat strategy, was enough for the combat to be challenging and engaging, adding breath weapons to the fight would have made everything way more complicated to track and roll out, so they just fought with their swords and crossbows and nets.

    The beauty of the math in this edition is that it is pretty easy to ballpark everything to the point you can create challenging encounters that might drop party members but very rarely kills them outright. It just requires more flexibility rather than strict adherence to everything.

    It definitely takes time and effort to build as a skill. I know I wasn't perfect at it 4 years ago, but at this point I can throw together such a combat on the fly in like 10 minutes (mostly cause I'm interacting with the party while I build the encounter) basically using a rough idea of what kind of creature I'm looking for and cr,hp,ac and resistances to damage as a guide.

    This is a very long way of saying 'the beauty of the math in this edition is that it doesn't really work well so I just make up whatever and fudge it, which works well enough for me'.

    It is telling that virtually any time a person is defending the quality of 5e's math, their argument boils down to "yeah, I don't use it either." You certainly can ignore or fudge or alter the rules and statblocks that are present in the books, but "I change a bunch of shit because using the system as written is hit-or-miss" is not exactly an endorsement of the system as written, nor is it a solution that is available to a new DM who is relying on the books to tell them how to run the game.

    It's very weird to me how often a discussion about the CR system unironically takes the form of "no, the CR system isn't bad, it's great. The trick is that you can't actually use it, because it is bad at what it is supposed to do. Here is the alternate system I use instead, which invariably requires much more system knowledge, undermining the point of a CR rating in the first place. And that's why the CR system is fine!"

    You're massively over estimating the number of times I've had to fudge anything. I can count the occurrences in 4 years on 2 hands maybe

    Dude, your own post says, among other things, that you 'ballpark' the CR system, alter or refuse to use excessively powerful or disruptive abilities, that the entries in the book are 'merely a guide anyways', and that you think using the system's math well requires 'flexibility rather than strict adherence' to the rules. It then includes two separate examples of you fudging encounters too keep them from being too challenging, before even getting into the fact that you describe a method for gauging encounter difficulty that explicitly ignores the CR system and examines a bunch of other things to determine difficulty instead. You certainly make it sound like you're fudging things pretty often.

    If the system's math 'requires flexibility' because 'strictly adhering' to it produces subpar results, that is an indictment of that math, not a defense of it. My argument is that CR is inaccurate and as a result designing encounters well requires a bunch of extra system mastery that new players won't have; your counter-argument is that the math is fine, but you have to ignore the CR system you're defending and look at a bunch of other stuff to gauge encounter difficulty, be willing to ignore the math you're defending and tweak the rules in ways a new player may not know how to do, and that doing so is a skill which 'definitely takes time and effort to build' IE it requires a bunch of extra system mastery that new players won't have. It seems like you are agreeing with me on basically every point but for some reason arguing with my conclusion anyway.
    Sleep wrote: »
    Again there's so many variables no system could precisely account for all of it. Cr gives you a ballpark to play in, and that's really all it can do.

    Other games have been able to solve this problem with a much greater degree of precision. CR is not inaccurate because accuracy is impossible; it's inaccurate because of the way it and its surrounding systems are designed.

    Abbalah on
    ElvenshaeNarbusRiemannLivesJustTee
  • FryFry Registered User regular
    I can sort of understand it being challenging to design a CR system that accurately models interactions of multiple creatures and how their synergy or lack thereof would challenge a party, but if the system is not even a good gauge of how much of a threat a single, isolated enemy is to the party, that's...not good.

    I will note that, although 4E was generally reasonable at grading difficulty for monsters, there were certainly some notable outliers, particularly at low levels, that could definitely murder the party in a "fair" fight. But at least for the most part, the system worked well.

    Elvenshae
  • SleepSleep Registered User regular
    edited June 14
    And yet I've used the cr system to build encounters and have been for quite some time now with little issue.

    Your way of looking at encounter design systems don't work with this one.

    Mine does

    Sleep on
    Turambar
  • SleepSleep Registered User regular
    edited June 14
    As well it isn't that i don't ever use powerful abilities it's that if i throw stuff together on the fly and accidentally banshee x will o wisp I don't go about killing the characters for the error created in my haste.

    On the other end sometimes i take the balor's death explosion and give em a half powered version they can set off at will. Cause the mere sword and whip attacks aren't enough for my situation.

    Sleep on
  • SleepSleep Registered User regular
    Fry wrote: »
    I can sort of understand it being challenging to design a CR system that accurately models interactions of multiple creatures and how their synergy or lack thereof would challenge a party, but if the system is not even a good gauge of how much of a threat a single, isolated enemy is to the party, that's...not good.

    I will note that, although 4E was generally reasonable at grading difficulty for monsters, there were certainly some notable outliers, particularly at low levels, that could definitely murder the party in a "fair" fight. But at least for the most part, the system worked well.

    Single isolated enemies aren't their exact cr, in fact a single creature that isn't legendary, is to be considered at about half their challenge rating because they are going to get focused fired to death in 3 rounds max by a party with an average level of the monster's cr +/- 1

  • SleepSleep Registered User regular
    And even in the 5e encounter design guidelines they note that encounter specific details, such as difficult terrain, surprise rounds, cover for the enemies, and other situational drawbacks for the party, can fuck with the overall cr of the encounter.

  • AbbalahAbbalah Registered User regular
    edited June 14
    Sleep wrote: »
    Fry wrote: »
    I can sort of understand it being challenging to design a CR system that accurately models interactions of multiple creatures and how their synergy or lack thereof would challenge a party, but if the system is not even a good gauge of how much of a threat a single, isolated enemy is to the party, that's...not good.

    I will note that, although 4E was generally reasonable at grading difficulty for monsters, there were certainly some notable outliers, particularly at low levels, that could definitely murder the party in a "fair" fight. But at least for the most part, the system worked well.

    Single isolated enemies aren't their exact cr, in fact a single creature that isn't legendary, is to be considered at about half their challenge rating because they are going to get focused fired to death in 3 rounds max by a party with an average level of the monster's cr +/- 1

    This is quite a lot of varying defenses being posted in succession, but this right here is absolutely not how the CR system works. Solo monsters are to be considered as their listed challenge rating, and multi-enemy encounters get a multiplier on their xp value (IE, they're considered as if they were more dangerous than when encountered alone) because of the action economy advantage a group generates.

    And even if there were a separate carve-out for solo creatures with legendary/lair actions where they were the only creatures intended to be considered as their actual CR when encountered solo (there isn't)...the wrymling in question does, in fact, have lair actions in addition to the stats I've talked about here, because it IS intended to be encountered as a solo/boss fight.

    Edit:
    Sleep wrote: »
    And yet I've used the cr system to build encounters and have been for quite some time now with little issue.

    Your way of looking at encounter design systems don't work with this one.

    Mine does

    No you haven't, and it clearly doesn't, because you just gave us a very long post detailing the way you build encounters, which very much does not use the CR system and takes into account a host of other factors that you think are necessary to make reasonable encounters.

    And even if it did work for you, great. That doesn't speak to my point, which is that it doesn't work for players without the system mastery necessary to account for all the places it produces bad results. You can't rebut "this system is not accurate enough for new players to use effectively" with "As an experienced player, it's fine for me so there's no problem."

    Abbalah on
    ElvenshaeRiemannLivesJustTee
  • SleepSleep Registered User regular
    Apologies i run for a table of 6 on the regular

  • SleepSleep Registered User regular
    edited June 14
    And yet putting the dragon in or out of its lair changes its cr, because the cr of an encounter is conditional on the situational aspects of the fight

    Sleep on
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