Tuesday, 20 August 2013

D&D Next Monsters: Part 8: Putting It All Together

While this blog does not contain material published by Wizards of the Coast it does contain materials summarized and extrapolated from the D&D Next playtest packets. By continuing to read this blog you are consenting to the terms of the Wizards online playtest agreement, which you can view at dndnext.com.

Surf brings togethor the AC, Attack, Damage and Hitpoint analysis....

Well with all that number-crunching done let's put all of our results togethor into a consolidated table!


Monster Building Table



Where's The Art?

The DM Guidelines PDF says that "Encounter building is a mixture of art and science as you combine these threats together" and traditionally this has been even more the case with monster design. But with tables like the one above some feel that monster design is shallow and inflexible.

Not so, I say! Tables like this simply provide a baseline for monster design that let us produce flexible monsters that provide a reliable threat at their target level. The art comes in the various traits, actions, reactions and adjustments that can and should be made,

Below follow my thoughts on modifying the aspects of monsters converred during this analysis. Some of it is based on analysis and math, some of it is based on my opinion. I've tried to indicate where this is the case, but your mileage may vary. Of course, I take no responsibility for how you choose to use the information in this article and if your creation eats your mother and destroys your house don't come looking for me!


Armor Class

Trivial changes to AC should generally be limited to +/-1 for most creatures, without compensating in some other way.

Adjustments to AC are commonly compensated for by counter-adjustmenting hitpoints, tho adjusting other aspects of a creature can work too. In a sense giving a creature an additional +1 to AC is like giving it 5% more hitpoints. So a sensible rule of thumb is to compensate for a +1 AC with -5% of original hitpoints or vice versa.

Maximum adjustment will depend on the creature being created or modified, to some extent. Changes should probably be capped at about +/-5 AC and even these should be thought out and compensated for very carefully.

Traits which alter AC are fairly rare in the game. There are a few, such as "Soft Belly" (e.g., Ankheg) that are used to compensate for creatures with a somewhat high AC.



Trivial hitpoint modifications should be limited to around 2% (rounded up).

Adjustments to balance hitpoint changes are often made to AC or damage. As noted above a shift of 5% hitpoints can be compensated for by adjusting AC one point. A 2 point change to hitpoints can also be compensated for with a 1 point shift in damage (+2 hp, -1 damage). Another way of compensating for hitpoint changes is with traits that temporarily drop hitpoints or AC.

Maximum alterations to hitpoints should probably be no more than +/-50%.

Traits and actions directly effecting hit points are quite rare, including Relentless (Orcs), Regeneration and any healing effects. These active effects are usually compensated for in some way, such as a vulnerability or adjusting the creature's base hitpoints.Passive traits are a whole different kettle of fish. It seems that D&D Next assumes a certain level of damage mitigation for creatures by their level. The higher a creature's level is the more resistances, immunities and similar traits it has.
This isn't an area I have analysed properly yet, but hope look at in the future. In the meantime I strongly recommend looking at creatures of a similar level when building or levelling/delevelling monsters.



Trivial tweaking of attack bonus should generally be limited to +/-1 if one doesn't plan to compensate for the change elsewhere.

Adjustments to attack bonus are often made to damage or hitpoints. A 1 point shift in Attack Bonus can be balanced with a 5% shift in damage or a 10% shift in hitpoints.

Maximum attack bonus tweaking should probably be limited to +/-2.

Traits that adjust attack bonus are scarce. The most common of these is undoubtedly Pack Tactics, however this is capped at +5 and most creatures with this trait have a much lower attack bonus than is normal for their level. When used this way the trait is sort of self-balancing. Other traits like Bushwhacker (Goblins) and Captivating (Harpies) grant advanatge on attacks conditionally and overall probably amount to no more than a +1 to attack over the course of a combat. So generally



Trivial damage tweaks can be made in the order of +/-2% without compensating elsewhere.

Adjustments to compensate for damage changes are typically made to attack bonus, to hitpoints, or to both. A 5% change to damage can be adjusted for with a 1 point change in Attack Bonus or a 10% change in hitpoints.

Maximum changes to Damage, where compensating measures are taken, should probably be around +/-50%.

Traits that adjust damage are relatively common. However, most of these traits should be factored into the creature's base damage - this includes damaging auras, damage on death, bonus damage (e.g., on surprise), berserk and other similar traits.



Check back in a few days for the next installment Part 9: XP Curves & KpL...