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 does a full review for the final playtest packet....
First up, my apologies to anyone waiting on these installments. Unimaginative real life has a great deal to answer for and this is a part-time gig.
With the final playtest packet release we saw some changes to monsters. Most monsters were relegated to the Older Playtest Adventures and Bestiaries folder and Wizards of the Coast seem to have done a pass of reviews over the main Bestiary itself and included creatures for Murder In Baldur's Gate. So I started from scratch, redoing my entire analysis - after all, this was the final packet so I might as well be thorough, right? Of course, I didn't ignore all of my previous work. It is interesting, after all, to see what's been altered, what's been added and what's been removed.
So What Changed?
Well no creatures have been removed, although a number of creatures have had a trait or action removed. A number of creatures were altered, mainly creatures in the level one through three range. This makes sense since WotC have mentioned several times that they intend these low level creatures to provide easier same-level fights than at higher level and the changes made to them are consistent with this.
With a little analysis it becomes evident that many aspects of monsters now exhibit non-linear progression curves. There are no obvious exponential or polynomial curves, but we see both logarithmic and power curves. These help give us the easier level 1-3 creatures.
One of the other things that is obvious is the tweaking of these "easy" creatures' Armor Class. This seems to be about 2 bouts below that of a "normal" creatures of the same level. This is mainly obvious at level 1, where we have 21 "easy" creatures and 15 "average creatures". At level 2 it's more difficult to tell since we only have 12 "easy" creatures and 13 "average" creatures.
One of the issues with the changes in the final playtest is the greatly reduced sample size. With so few creatures at each level it's now more difficult to accurately determine underlying numbers. That means we don't quite have the confidence in those numbers that we had with previous packets. We can extrapolate from our previous work and from other numbers and works. We can also go back through sample monsters at each level and compare them to our numbers. Both of which help improve confidence in our results.
The D&D Next forums have been particularly useful for locating related analysis. For example, the DPR Calculations thread contains carefully calculated attack and damage numbers for many classes, thoroughly reviewed by the Wizards Community.
All the areas we've been looking at have seen some kind of change....Armor Class
Observations: Overall we've seen some significant "tightening up" of AC, which we knew was coming. The effective range for an Average monster contracted from 12 through 18 to 13 through 17. What's glaringly obvious, and less expected, is that there is now a clear disparity between the Easy monsters and the other monsters. An Easy monster seems to have an AC 1-2 points lower than other monsters of it's level. The formula for AC seems to have remained a linear curve.
- AC ~= Level x 0.20 + 13
- Easy AC = AC - 2
Observations: Considering the Average monster as the base of HP, this area has seen little change. Much of the actual change to hitpoints has been to Easy creatures. Previously these had about 70% of the hitpoints of Average creatures, but this now seems to have been reduced to 40%. In addition it seems that a Power curve is now a better fit for progression, which helps ensure lower level creatures tend to be more easily defeated by same-level PCs. Hit Points appear to have been changed to a fairly flat power curve.
- HP ~= 10 x Level ^ 0.81
- Easy HP = HP x 0.4
- Tough HP = HP x 1.5
- Solo HP = HP x 2.0
Observations: This is another area that saw significant change, standardising level 1 creatures to a +2 attack bonus and scaling standard creature attack bonus through to +9 at level 20. There seems to be no stable variation between Easy and Solo creatures of the same level. The formula for Attack Bonus now seems to be a logarithmic curve.
- Attack ~= 2.06 x log(Level) + 2.38
- No apparent variations
Observations: Damage seems to be the least impacted stat, in fact all changes in this area simply seem to have brought most creatures more into line with previous analysis. That said the Easy/Normal/Hard/Solo variations did shift a little and have been updated. Damage still appears to be a linear formula, but it's a little different to what we previously used.
- Damage ~= 3.10 x Level + 2.00
- Easy Damage = Damage x 0.50
- Hard Damage = Damage x 1.25
- Solo Damage = Damage x 1.50
Monster Building Table
All of which yields the following table...
WotC have previously indicated that a design goal for D&D Next is for lower level monsters to be easier for same-level PCs to overcome than higher level monsters. The math changes in the final packet certainly nudge creature stats in that direction. However nothing has been done to address the feeling that higher level monsters are still much too easy.
There are a few factors at work here and we'll see what we can do to address these early in the new year.
Check back next week for the Part 10: Final Packet Analysis...