More on Monsters I

In light of the release of Monster Manual 3, my interview over at Critical Hits, and the discussions over at Enworld and, I figured I’d talk a little about my monsters. To give you some background, I was a designer, a developer, and the lead editor on Monster Manual 3, and I was one of the major forces behind the new monster stat block, which you can read about in last month’s Design and Development column.

Although Monster Manual 3 doesn’t release widely for another week, stores that are part of the Wizards Play Network should already have it. With that being said, I don’t think I’m spoiling anything when I talk about some of the monsters I designed. Generally speaking, I was responsible for a lot of the epic tier and Far Realm monsters, Mike Mearls was behind many of the classical monsters, Schwalb got some of the nasty monsters (devils/demons) and big threats.

The highlights of my design on the book included the Catastrophic Dragons, the Star Spawn and Allabar, and the Mind Flayers. I also enjoyed doing the Apocalypse Spells, Corruption Devils,  Forsaken, Gremlin, Su Monster, Thri-Kreen, Tulgar. As I said, Mearls got a lot of the classic monsters; the only one I designed was the Su Monster. My efforts were focused on developing some new epic-tier threats. To that effect, I created the tulgar and the forsaken. Without spoiling too much, the tulgar are corrupted primal spirits that have taken humanoid form, and forsaken are the fragments of dead gods that have risen and vowed vengeance against the gods and everything divine.

I most enjoyed developing the story behind the star spawn and Allabar. The Far Realm figures strongly in my own campaign, so I wanted some epic threats that represented the culmination of a Far Realm campaign arc. In an effort to expand the Far Realm threat to higher level, we bumped up some mind flayers and star spawn to the epic tier. Allabar wasn’t actually part of the original outline, but I’d seen that piece of art in Bruce Cordell’s Wish Upon a Star article a while back, and I couldn’t help but seize upon it.

Schwalb did the first monster in the corruption devil entry, but we were short some pages, so I decided to fill it in with some epic level minions, because I’ve heard some folks commenting that there aren’t enough epic level minions. The corrupted minions sort of spawned out of my experience watching Full Metal Alchemist. Without going all “seven sins,” I wanted to see what I could do to create monsters that capitalized on vice.

If you haven’t had a chance to glimpse Monster Manual 3 yet, it has a lot more story. I took the opportunity to expand the core world, not only by using the tulgar, staw spawn, and forsaken, but also by using creatures like the gremlin, the su monster, and the apocalypse spells. For the su monsters, I went back to their original appearance in issue 54 of Dragon Magazine, combining the ideas there with some lore from the 4E Manual of the Planes. I did some research for gremlins too, but ultimately it seemed like they needed their own story for the D&D world, especially seeing as there weren’t many planes for them to sabotage. I don’t want to steal too much from the Design and Development article coming out this Friday, though, so that’s where I’ll have to leave my discussion of the monsters’ story-centric approach.

Being involved in all three stages of Monster Manual 3 was a wonderful opportunity, and it was ultimately what helped me to create the new stat block. I know a lot of folks have been asking whether the new stat block format will be implemented in Adventure Tools and Compendium. While I can’t confirm or deny, I can say that all the stat blocks going forward will use the new format and new math, and that R&D is dedicated to ensuring that monsters from older books don’t feel obsolete. I feel confident that most older monsters up until about level 10 are performing just fine. It’s only around paragon tier that the damage really needs some adjustments. If you want a quick fix, double the flat damage a monster power deals, or in the case of a brute, triple it. In other words, if you’ve got a creature that deals 2d10 + 5 damage, have it deal 2d10 + 10 damage, or 2d10 + 15 if it’s a brute. Adding more dice also works, but it also makes the damage more swingy.

I’ve also had a few questions about whether page 42 will be updated to reflect the new monster math. There are no immediate plans to release an updated chart, but the Dungeon Master’s Kit and Rules Compendium are just around the corner, and being one of the people responsible for the Rules Updates, I’ll see what I can do.

I’ve been using the new stat block format and new monster damage/accuracy numbers for the past 6 months, and I can attest that it has really amped up my paragon-tier game. Combats are easier to run—I rarely overlook auras and triggered powers—and I feel as though the PCs are genuinely threatened by the monsters. With that being said, I just ran a pair of goristros from Monster Manual 1 last night with few modifications, and they still did a good job at daunting the players. A lot of how an encounter goes still comes down to a DM being willing to improvise and alter monsters on the spot. I’m constantly assessing the players’ resources—hit points, action points, daily/encounter powers—and adjusting the encounters appropriately. I do this even in organized play programs like D&D Encounters; just ask any of my players about how the final session went. A good encounter isn’t just about the monsters. It’s about how the DM runs the monsters and the encounter. The best way to create a really intense encounter is to let the battle swing back and forth—let the players feel like there’s no hope, then give them hope, then take it away, then give it back to them. It might sound cruel, but I guarantee that it’ll make the encounter memorable. (One caveat, not every encounter should push them to the brink of death. Sometimes, they just need to feel badass. But that’s a discussion for another day).

31 thoughts on “More on Monsters I

  1. After having spent a few days getting acquainted with MM3, I have to say this is by far the best monster manual yet. When I flipped it open and right there it starts out with Ape, I got a nostalgic feeling like I was 8 years old, sitting on the toilet and flipping through my stepbrother’s AD&D Monster Manual. Awesome stuff. I can’t wait to run some monsters.

  2. Very cool stuff. Glad to see the game is still getting the tweaks it needs. I am a huge fan of the constant updating ~ it embraces the D&D as a living game concept.

    To that end, I’d love to see the Monster Builder math get adjusted to the new standard.

  3. I really love the new stat block, it will be a lifesaver for the forgetful professor DMs like me. 4e combat is really interesting, but sometimes very challenging for a DM who has to plan around both player and monster powers.

  4. I picked up the MM3 the other day in part simply because I wanted to see the new stat block in action. It looks great, and I look forward to taking advantage of it (and I really hope we see the other monsters in Compendium and Monster Builder updated to use the new format). I was impressed with the discussion in Dungeon about how the new stat block came about. Glad to hear the design decision weren’t arbitrary, but rather, came about over time and multiple iterations.

    1. Thanks, Tracy.

      I don’t want to steal the thunder of the Design and Development column going up this Friday. Remind me after that goes up and I’ll talk some more about monster accuracy.

  5. I am wondering about the accuracy boost as well, I know that brutes should be increased to around the levels of skirmishers but have soldiers or similar changed? Do these accuracy boosts like the damage boost apply at the beginning of paragon tier and beyond?

    I really hope this new maths is incorporated into the monster builder somewhere or shown to us. One of the greatest strengths 4E has from a DMs point of view is how easy the rules have made to customize and adjust monsters. This obviously becomes a lot more difficult when the new math is hidden away from us – although I do feel some of it seems to be fairly consistent.

  6. Just wondering in light of monsters getting buffed when compared with several nerfs to the power of magic items, healing, and control in previous updates, is it going to overbalance? Will the monsters getting a buff to damage be enough to fix what you were going for? If so, will some of the nerfs in the past few months of updates be removed or revised?

    To be completely honest I ask because many of the nerfs, and honestly almost all of the rules revisions that have taken place in the past few months haven’t sat well with me, and those involving balance I felt in most cases could best be dealt with by having buffed the monsters in the first place. Certainly as a more elegant solution without nearly as much “nerd rage” so to speak, or as much unintended fallout. My 2 cents.

    1. I don’t really think there’s much of a danger of the game swinging too much the other way. PCs are doing way above our original expected damage output, mostly due to the rampant appearance of untyped bonuses to damage and items and feats that grant “extra damage.” Short of nerfing every one of those mechanics, I don’t think anything is going to make the monsters too dangerous for the PCs to handle.

      Plus it helps that I can keep an eye on the rules updates going out. The reality is that the rules updates aimed at broken builds affects 1% of the gaming community out there. In my home game, I play with what I would call “average” players (also, they’re mostly non-WotC folks). They do some optimization, but not too much. Having them in my game has helped me gauge the monster difficulty, and my experience is that it that encounter difficulty has been right where it needs to be.

  7. Steelwill: Even with the fixes to some pretty ridiculous powers and feats epic monsters were still being rolled far too easily. One of the ways I kept making epic challenging was to be super creative and really stack terrain/effects in monsters favor. In any even encounter though the overwhelming advantage of the PCs options, items and powers would ensure the monsters had no real prospect.

    The core flaws in epic monsters were that – this is with those rebalanced game elements – they simply were not enough of a threat. Most epic monsters have no ways of dealing with debuffs, stuns or being dazed. I can take an even level encounter worth of monsters at epic and it will get utterly rolled – not an issue for the PCs at all.

    Whereas when I’ve done the same thing using the “adjustments” from the MM3 the fight is suddenly about as challenging as a heroic/early paragon fight. The PCs are not TPKed or anything ridiculous, but the increases in monster damage, abilities and increased resistance to control (due to free/no actions/auras being more common) means that an even level encounter is no longer immensely trivial.

    I’m not saying I couldn’t make monsters previously challenging or that they are useless even now with the MM3: But the sheer weight of the deck stacked against them was not helping. Stacking the deck against the PCs was required just to get monsters to be remotely challenging at epic. God forbid you have an optimized party.

    The nerfs to – many purely ridiculous to be perfectly honest – elements were absolutely needed. For example I had what I called “Team forced movement” back in 2008 when 4E came out. Team forced movement was a party entirely built around the wizards bloodpulse power. The moment he hit with it, he would action point and dump destructive salutation on the creature (which stuns if it hits or misses).

    Next the party would then unload every single forced movement power they had, usually moving the creature a total of around 30-50 squares in a single turn, with around 5-10 squares of movement per power. The average result was around 40d6+5xint mod (I didn’t apply int mod per square, but it did apply the int mod per forced movement, usually around 5 powers that ended up hitting). The amount of damage this did could wipe the floor with any solo in the book trivially and was [i]extremely[/i] difficult to stop. Especially when the forced movement were slides – making it difficult to just prevent movement with terrain.

    I did all manner of things to challenge that party and succeeded, but the whole thing felt like a terrible arms race where I lost to begin with. My eventual solution that I have found worked until now (as MM3 really makes this non-necessary in my playtests) was to effectively boost monster accuracy by ~+3 and their damage to the next step up in the chart. I kept the HP and defenses the same. This led to more actual hitting with powers, without actually changing how fast creatures would die.

    Alternatively, I would de-level the defenses and HP of higher level creatures and use them as they are otherwise. This also worked, but it was frustrating because such techniques at high paragon (though I found it was fine at epic) could have some unintended consequences. So a general power buff to creatures at the expected levels is a far better fix – as well as the fact monsters have been given better powers and abilities to deal with chain lock down scenarios. Shutting down an encounter now takes effort against even level monsters instead of being a trivial exercise.

    Many of the things that got nerfed absolutely deserved to be nerfed. We don’t need a return to clerics healing all damage with one astral seal for example – upping monster damage never solved that I can tell you from experience, because they were literally restoring the majority of the targets HP. Monsters that need to strip most of a characters HP in one blow fundamentally don’t work.

    1. You make a lot of good points. We decided to go with changing monster damage rather than accuracy, because we didn’t want monsters throwing around conditions more easily, plus monster attacks at higher levels are already potentially exceeding baseline PC defenses unless the DM and PCs are making sure that players are keeping up with item and feat bonuses to defenses. I find damage is also more visible than accuracy. A PC takes notice when you roll 5d12 for a brute. If you roll 3d12 but hit 75% of the time, it’s not as noticeable and doesn’t bring as much tension to the table.

  8. But as has been shown in the given 2008 example with team forced movement, and reinforcing the point I was making, has upping the damage put the monsters where they needed to be? From what I have experienced and understood to be the problem with the monsters wasn’t just that they didn’t do enough damage, although that was one problem, but that solo’s and elite’s didn’t maintain their challenge because they just couldn’t compete with the number of player actions to just their one, and that save or suck spells shut them down extremely easily. That being the case I still posit that the issue could be tackled almost entirely on the monster side by granting the tougher epic solo’s (indeed practically all that exist in the epic tier according to MM1 & 2) immunities to certain status ailments/more chances to save than the average monster, and giving them multiple actions in a turn and powers that strike multiple targets. This would seem to answer very specifically the issues that are being complained about, again without needing to nerf class features that have existed for years, and with unintended consequences (to site your example, unintended by the nerf to Healer’s Lore, powers that weren’t a source of complaint (aka not Astral Seal) such as Recovery Strike went from decent to useless based on how the battle cleric build functioned. Additionally the nerf to Orb of Imposition has seen the Orbizard go from strong controller to a non-option, in favor of blaster wizards and staff wizards. Several of the nerfs don’t leave the element that was nerfed in a reduced but still good state, many leave the element in a state of no longer useful at all compared to the options that remain. Additionally the nerfs to certain magic items had a similar effect in reducing player interest in the 4th E magic items, particularly weapons. All of this I strongly believe could have been handled better solely from a “buff the monsters” design choice instead, and more easily considering the new MM3 and likely more to come future installments. My 2 cents.

  9. “Additionally the nerf to Orb of Imposition has seen the Orbizard go from strong controller to a non-option, ”

    That is absolutely not true, being able to almost guarantee another round of a save ends spell keeps going is pretty invaluable – even at epic tier. That it cannot completely prevent a creature from saving ever is not making it a non-option, it’s making a balanced option. Do you honestly believe this was in any manner fine to completely and utterly prevent a creature from ever acting in an encounter again?

    “All of this I strongly believe could have been handled better solely from a “buff the monsters” design choice instead, and more easily considering the new MM3 and likely more to come future installments. ”

    The problem is that you’re option here is to make monsters so powerful the only thing left in 4E are the ridiculously broken things like Orbizards, Bloodmages and similar. Without the nerfs to these monsters would need considerably more than just what they’ve been given in MM3. They would basically need a lot of flat out immunities, turning epic tier into some version of a tabletop Japanese Roleplaying Game like Final Fantasy – where every power you have doesn’t work anyway.

    Right now bringing PCs down has not resulted in monsters being challenging. This is from direct experience as I’ve had an epic game going throughout the entire update process. I’ve got to see how the nerfs to things like Healer’s Lore has played out and they are nowhere near as significantly damaging as you are claiming they are. Monsters are with the nerfs right now still in a terrible situation of not being challenging enough. Monsters at paragon and epic have always been inherently underpowered, that’s the problem the design team has realized and has addressed (and kudos to them on this as well).

    I’m not disagreeing that buffing monsters could work – but the degree of that buff has to be huge from MM1/MM2 to MM3 if you keep the ridiculous things in the past like Orbizards, Bloodmages and similar. MM3 creatures are challenging, I’ve seen this for myself and they’ve done it without breaking 4E design like making them outright immune to daze and stun. They are more resistant I’ll give you that, but nowhere have we done the disastrous choice of fixing overpowered elements by making them useless with status effects. A stun is still effective on a solo, sure he’ll still do things but he’s still doing far less when stunned than when not. It makes the condition still useful without sliding 4E down a very poor slippery slope of making every interesting power useless by late paragon/epic.

    It is far better to bring down the power of broken elements and bring up the underpowered elements (in this case the paragon/epic monsters) than just make everything in the entire system equally as ridiculous.

  10. Good points al around. As I mentioned in an earlier comment, short of nerfing a massive number of items and feats, we have to accept a certain level of PC power, which becomes especially apparent around paragon tier when PPs and new feats are thrown into the mix. The new damage numbers have the benefit of affecting lower level monsters very little and affecting their higher level counterparts much more. That way, when player builds start coming together, the monsters are getting tougher to compensate. D&D is fun, in part, because encounters are challenging. One of the DM’s dirty secrets is that no matter how powerful a player or party gets, the encounters will always be equally difficult. That’s because a DM should constantly be adjusting the difficulty and changing tactics to provide a challenge. Updating monster numbers just makes the DM have to do less of that work on his or her own.

  11. This is certainly a step in the right direction, especially for upper paragon tier. I’m concerned, though, that it doesn’t go far enough to handle the status effects that are handed out in the epic tier.

    I’ll give a concrete example. To make the mad god Cyric, I took a fairly generic level 30 mob and made it a solo (adjusting hp and so on). Then I added an aura: Madness Aura, close burst 500. When a player starts their turn in the aura, make a Greater Madness attack.
    Greater Madness: Normal attack + 10 vs. Will; dominated (save ends). If this hits by 10 or more, you are considered to be Cyric’s ally for the duration, you have a full complement of actions and may use any action (which Cyric chooses). If it hits by 5 or more, Cyric may force you to use encounter powers as well as at-will powers.

    Needless to say, that aura is drastically overpowered for a level 28 party of 6. They wiped the floor with him, despite having most of their party dominated (sometimes Greater Dominated) most of the time. It was fun and ultimately balanced against the party, but it took a lot of preparation and balance.

    During the epic tier, I have to preface every session with, “The DMG and MMs don’t help me balance, so I’m making it all up here.” It’s very hard to actually challenge an epic party. Most of my mobs had stun resistance. (I give them multiple init order turns, stun/daze only affects one. Or I’d let them no action transfer status effects to their comrades, so you effectively had to kill the lackeys first.)

    One char had to stop playing his Dominatrix because between her and the Wizard, the DM never actually got to go with any of the monsters on the table. Half-way through combat, he handed the mobs to the Dominatrix, since he realized that he wasn’t actually going to get to go again. Some of this has been mitigated with the reduction in stacking to-hit bonuses and the nerfing of Salve of Power, but all the same tricks still work, just fewer times per day.

    1. I have to pretty much agree with you, although I have absolutely no idea what you are referring to with a Dominatrix (some homebrew class?) your point is still just as valid.

      The core problem with 4E is that five PCs have a lot of options for status effects. These status effects are very often until the end of their next turn, meaning that once applied a creature in the middle of it can do absolutely nothing until its turn comes up again in the initiative order. Lolth for how fearsome her stat block is once she gets stunned or dazed until end of the PCs next turn, will never be able to recover. PCs can simply use one such effect – out of many they will have – every round to keep such a solo permanently stunned or dominated.

      This is really the crux of the flaws with high level monsters that remain in 4E right now – even though some monsters power mitigate this to a degree. They just cannot prevent chain effects and if one PC misses, it has to manage to get through the other 3-4 PCs sticking such things on before they get another turn. Multiple turn solos have historically proved the best, Tiamat for example is a challenging and fun encounter without requiring massive “deck stacking”. The reason for this is she cannot simply be shut down every turn by the use of a single daze or stun. You need to unload (and hit with) a total of five such powers to deny Tiamat one turn – mathematically speaking that’s just making life very hard for PCs to do. So she actually does things and produces an exciting fight – without having to stretch the DM in making it challenging.

      Your ordinary solo though can’t handle this. While a +5 to saves is nice, it is utterly wasted as an ability on save until end of next turn effects as there really needs to be an errata to solos as a group. This errata needs to specifically address the stacking of save until end of next turn effects on solo monsters and it must be universal – but it must not be blanket immunities. An example fix would be permitting a solo monster – regardless of its condition at the time – a saving throw to end such effects upon them at the beginning or end of their turn. Logically speaking this should be restricted to daze and stun effects, which are honestly the problem here.

      The core point of making this a general errata to how solos work is that it fixes every solo in the game from MM1 onwards. Many MM1 solos with a simple fix to being shut down entirely by “until X turn” effects becomes much more interesting – no further errata or rewriting required. Right now, while you can use any monster in 4th edition the work required to make older solos function correctly is almost as much as building a new monster to begin with. By epic the “solo” fight isn’t even viable and while we see gorgeous stat blocks with a lot of creativity like Lolth, we have to be honest with ourselves that it’s a bit of an illusion. When we realize that without having other creatures, terrain or similar – Lolth isn’t going to do anything beyond the first turn. That’s disappointing, because Lolth has immense potential in that stack block.

      This also ties into another problem with 4E that I’ve had rollicking arguments about since we started playing. Save until end of next turn effects are guaranteed. While they don’t last as long potentially as a save ends, the point that PCs can get a lot of them over 30 levels means this isn’t a problem. Many solos have abilities (EG Lolth) to make saves if a status effect is applied to them – but very very very (a precious handful in fact) can stop or even do anything about “until end of X turn” effects. This means that – paradoxically – save until X turn effects are universally better than those that a save can end.

      I’m getting long winded by I can demonstrate this effect easily with Lolth:

      Let’s look at Destructive Salutation. This power stuns (save ends) on a hit and stuns (until your next turn) on a miss. Let’s see what effect you’re rather have on Lolth;
      Round 1: Wizard attacks Lolth with Destructive Salutation and hits
      No action: Lolth makes a save with a +5 bonus. Very likely to save the effect.
      Round 2: Lolth is either stunned (25% chance) or makes a save at the end of her next turn (75% chance). Either way the Wizards power has not done as much and she can dominate or swing the combat after this next turn.

      Now if you miss with Destructive Salutation:

      Round 1: Wizard attacks Lolth with destructive salutation and misses
      Round 2: Lolth can do absolutely nothing about this, because it isn’t save ends.
      Round 3: Fighter whacks lolth + action point
      Round 4: Rogue whacks Lolth + action point
      Round 5: Warlord whacks Lolth + action point
      Round 6: Warlock whacks lolth + action point

      Round 7: Wizard attacks Lolth with another power that dazes or stuns until end of next turn. If he misses, he action points or uses re-roll feature to ensure it sticks (which is very common by epic). Alternatively he just uses destructive salutation again (and hopes he misses!).
      Round 8: Lolth does nothing again or perhaps gets 2 actions (1 attack + 1 action point).
      Round 9: Fighter attacks
      Round 10: Rogue attacks
      Round 11: Warlord Attacks
      Round 12: Warlock Attacks.

      In two turns we’ve had Lolth take a single action. If the wizard had an orb or ultimate imposition, the second round could be two attacks instead of having to ensure another stun or daze until end of next turn hit – that is if the Fighter/Rogue/Warlord or Warlock didn’t apply one – My example is simplistic because I’m trying to make a point.

      The problem here is that the “until X turn” effects are just flat out better than save ends against solos! The solo is denied any chance of doing anything against them. Now imagine if Lolth could save daze and stun effects at the beginning of her turn. It’s not guaranteed, but it reduces the chances that she gets absolutely no actions, denied her immediate actions (Like her dominate or other abilities) and just generally wailed on without any ability to respond whatsoever.

      Bear in mind that epic PCs have many ways of stopping, preventing or throwing off conditions. Even if Lolth dominates a character there are ways of stopping that. Same with stuns or similar, there is even a recently published epic destiny for defenders that means you can still take immediate actions when you’re dazed and stunned (as an example). When you compare what PCs are getting in terms of status effect mitigation solo monsters just aren’t keeping up. So solos action denial isn’t even as effective and they can do nothing about the PCs action denial. This is truly the core flaw in the way solos are designed in 4E.

      We reduced their hit points and defenses. We gave them more damage. But we completely forgot that a solo with no actions can’t do any damage, no matter how much it does.

      1. I think the problem of ‘save ends’ vs. ‘end of your next turn’ is larger than just in the context of solos.

        * There are a significant number of leader/controller powers that I would rather miss with than hit, since having a guaranteed round of a creature debuff is far better than the significant likelihood of that debuff only being effective for part of a round (and perhaps, depending on initiative, gone before any allies can take advantage of it). When you’re using Dice of Auspicious Fortune to make sure you miss on a daily power, something’s a bit askew.

        * A PC getting hit with ‘until end of creature’s next turn’ control effect (e.g., dazed, stunned, dominated) can be worse than a ‘save ends’ effect. A good leader is often able to give a save against the latter, but his options are usually much more limited against the former.

      2. But when the mechanics of being a “deity” were first introduced in the Draconomicon: Chromatic Dragons, it said the following in the sidebar about the nature of deities:

        From pg 244

        Deities always roll saving throws in response to an attack or effect that imposes a condition or deals ongoing damage, even if that effect normally does not allow a saving throw.

  12. Mikes article went up, though it unfortunately didn’t say much about how the hard crunch had been changed as I was hoping.

  13. I wanted you to know that I really appreciate the ways you are trying to make monsters more challenging. I too would like to share my experience with trying to challenge monsters-

    I am coming to the conclusion that I will most likely never, ever use solo monsters in my encounters ever again. The reason is simple- A solo monster, in the eyes of my party (as well as probably many gamers) is supposed to represent a huge encounter, one that the party will be hard-pressed to defeat. However, my party has a powerful 1-2-3 punch that they can use to completely eliminate ANY solo, no matter how powerful- The Paladin uses Knightly Intercession (permanent mark on the monster), then uses Certain Justice (dazed and weakened until the target is no longer marked), and the Cleric uses Iron to Glass. Combine all three of these, and NO solo can ever recover- it will only be able to take one action per round and the damage is halved on the single attack it can take. Therefore, to get around this, I will be converting solos to elites and increasing the number of monsters that the party will have to face. This way, the party can still throw that 1-2-3 combo at the enemy, but there will be more monsters that can still be a threat. Besides, the idea of throwing two or three elite gold dragons at a party rather than one solo gold dragon is very appealing to me as a DM.

    But bumping up the damage the way you described sounds appealing to me, too. I will be doing that with all the MM1 and MM2 monsters unless I see an update to the Adventure Tools. Thanks again for the suggestions!

  14. So I had my epic game this weekend and it is amazing how the damage changes affect epic. An even level encounter was suddenly a challenge, monsters with control effects dealing good damage made the game exciting and not a huge drag! I didn’t need to spend hours before the game fiddling with maths to make monsters a challenge.

  15. Greg, I don’t mean to alarm you but are you aware there is the tiniest of smiley faces hidden in the gray on the right hand side of your blog?

    I think it’s up to something.

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