Monday, July 23, 2012

[5E Musings] Update on Monster Design

In today's L&L article, Mr. Mearls revisits the Monster Design Process by looking at how the current, unplaytested minotaur has been envisioned. Check it out - it's an interesting read.

I already voiced out my thoughts on monster design in Power = f(level) and Monster Design, so I won't look too deeply into this one. I will just note some observations about this current iteration:
  • Power level is more-or-less one of the first concerns. As I mentioned before, I believe that figuring out how the monster stands in relation to the world is an important factor in designing it, though it should not be the only factor.
  • The ability scores themselves are freeform, ie, it's not too gamey, like 13+half level or something like that. Level still takes a role, but it is not the end-all-be-all. 
  • There is a clearer interaction between ability scores and the rest of the statblock. Str 18 is +4, and the attack bonus of the minotaur shows this. There are other issues like fluff training to raise the attack roll some more, but the stats play a significant role.
  • Lower hit points. YES! 132 was just too much. I can dig 57 hit points. Perhaps the equivalent caster, the dark Priest, will be pegged at somewhere between 40-50 hit points. That way their hp discrepancies are not too high.
  • They also mentioned something about lower damage across the board. The minotaur went from 1d12 + 4  to 2d12 + 4 damage between iterations. But that's the "larger creatures deal more damage" caveat in play. He also lost the bite attack (1d6 + 4) and had his attack bonus lowered, so the virtual "increase" is not as big as it first seems. I will probably run it through some maths later when I have time.
  • When 4E started, brute monsters had a lower attack bonus but dealt more damage. This turned out to be misleading - expected damage per attack not only hinges on average damage assuming a hit, but also on the probability that the hit occurs in the first place. The attack difference between brutes and soldiers turned out to be too high, which is why they standardized it from Monster Manual 3 onwards in my opinion. Now, with Next's bounded accuracy, will this reduction of accuracy be felt less? I am not totally convinced.
  • The mook-elite-solo correspondence with medium-large-huge creature sizes makes me raise an eyebrow. It works on a general case, but I think it should be noted that there are many exceptions to this rule.