Why are monster attack bonuses so high?

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Maybe this has been explained before, but I'm wondering why monster attack bonuses are so high compared to PCs. A goblin with a bow is +5 to hit, the equivalent of a 1st level fighter with an 18 dexterity. The goblin only has a 13 dexterity, so that means his attack bonus is +4, the equivalent of a 13th level fighter!



  Lazy developers are lazy.  Instead of making symetric rules for PC and NPC they're just making stuff up as they go along for the NPCs.  +5 is an 18 stat and a +1 bonus which isn't all that unusual for level 1 PCs anyway.

Right now, the monster attack bonuses run a narrow range of +5 to +8. Another weird effect of this is that balors only hit 15% more often than goblins vs. the same AC.



  When they're fighting the Balor many in the party should have an AC in the 20s, with 25 not being very hard to get at all, so the Balor will be hitting them 2x or 3x as often as the goblin.  Unless of course they have a 28 AC, which is entirely possible, then the Balor and Goblin will both only be hitting 5% of the time.  Capping at +8 to hit isn't going to work.

it is not lazy developement. they understand the role of the monsters is not the role of PCs so they simplify the math by increasing how often they hit but lower the damage. I have read many of your posts and I suggest that you start looking at the bigger picture rather than focus narrowly on one aspect of the game. 'to hit' and HP damage output MUST be looked at together, so to does AC and total HP. they work in tandem and until you grasp that you dont' grasp the abstact nature of D&D storytelling.

Lets look at the goblin/balor comparison you make. even if the 'to hit' were the same what kind of HP damage is the balor doing in comparison? the answer is no comparision...



  Are you posting just to be confrontational?  I point out that the +8 cap is a problem because it means the Balor may very well only be hitting on a 20 and your response is "the Balor does more damage than the goblin."  Really?  Is that supposed to make any sense?  Are you actually defending the current monster attack bonus as being okay because higher level monsters do more damage (and swing more, but you didn't mention that extremely relevant point) the 5% of the time they actually hit?

  And you're wrong about the asymetric PC and monster rules and the developers messing that up too.  Besides the innumerable reasons to have PC rules work for monsters, such as being able to easily use monster races as PCs, being able to create a PC as a villain, having dominated characters actually be balanced when they attack the party, the fact that the 4E monsters using this paradigm were so bloody awful should be enough to convince anyone that it's a mistake.

  When the players go and fight Vecna in 4E he is hardly more than a sack of HP, nothing about him seems or plays like a archmage ascendant because LAZY developers made simple NPC rules.  Instead of tapping into the hundreds or thousands of pages of rules for PC creation they have a couple tables and a page or two to create NPCs and when it comes down to powers it's "wing it" and feats "they don't need 'em."  The result is very uninteresting monsters.



@mikemearls don't quite understand the difference

I don't make the rules, I just think them up and write them down. - Eric Cartman

Enough chitchat!  Time is candy! - Pinky Pie

Do they need to thin out the PC AC range?  Make Plate armour AC16 and scrunch up the other ACs?



  It's the opposite.  The range is already so small that the gap between a +1 bonus and a +2 bonus is too big and something like barkskin is game breaking.  If anything the range needs to double.

@mikemearls don't quite understand the difference

I don't make the rules, I just think them up and write them down. - Eric Cartman

Enough chitchat!  Time is candy! - Pinky Pie

hmm my post got lost somehow.

Anyway, short version, I like the new BA perspective where everyone has teeth and is closer together on the hit/be hit spectrum. High level PCs are still powerful but they arent completely immune to a horde of low level guys.

At first i didnt like the BA change, but after playing it I definitely do.

The only extra option i want is to beef up BBEG's with customisation rules that break the usual range.
Not confrontational, enlightening...

As to AC 28. I don't see it as possible, as a DM I wouldn't allow it (i.e. no dual spiked shields, only one AC bonus from magic items can be active). I would hope my players would trust my storytelling ability to not feel they have to optimize to game breaking levels.

Suggesting the 4e paradigm for monsters is wrong, well that opinion is not shared by many posters on these forums. Play styles vary greatly and I liked the format they were presented in.

Give me Vecna and a bag of Hit Points any day! As DM I describe what happens and I assure you imaginative narration can create a more memorable story than game mechanics.   

hmm my post got lost somehow.

Anyway, short version, I like the new BA perspective where everyone has teeth and is closer together on the hit/be hit spectrum. High level PCs are still powerful but they arent completely immune to a horde of low level guys.

At first i didnt like the BA change, but after playing it I definitely do.

The only extra option i want is to beef up BBEG's with customisation rules that break the usual range.

I'm with you on this. Generally, I beef up at least 1 foe in most encounters (the alpha male, the leader, the shaman, the priest, etc.) - Extra HP, better armor, 1 or 2 special abilities. It is really easy to modify.

A Brave Knight of WTF

I've only played 4E in a couple of demo games, but a look in the 4E Monster Manual shows me that these attack bonuses are a carryover from 4E.

Not a bit of it, no.  5e and 4e are prettymuch polar opposites.  Level was all-important (to attack rolls, that is) in 4e, the exact opposite of 5e's 'bounded accuracy' in which stats are all-important and level only matters when it comes to hps.  In 3e, monsters were more like PCs with ungodly powerful race and no class to start - just add class levels to improve them.  That would /also/ be starkly at odds with bounded accuracy.  

So what is up with the inequity here? Why are monsters treated so different from PCs? 

As in 1e, monsters simply use different rules than PCs, getting arbitrary numbers based on whatever seems right to whoever's designing the monster.

Or, to put it another way:  "Bounded accuracy."




I mean the attack bonuses for orcs seem to come from 4E. They are +5 in there as well. I don't know much more about 4E aside from orcs' attack bonuses. :-)

In 1st edition, attack bonus numbers aren't arbitrary, they are tied to HD. A commoner would have 0HD and a +0 attack bonus. An orc with 1HD would have +1. I am okay with treating monsters differently from PCs (like 1st edition's HD vs. class levels) but it just makes no sense as it stands. Common townsfolk attack with the same chance to hit as a 9th level fighter!




You can change numbers. Period. Want to use orcs for a level 2 party? Use the goblin or kobold stats. Want to have them fight a bunch of them? Borrow the "minion" idea from 4e: 1hp. It works just fine and doesn't require any more work than looking through the bestiary. I just looked through the low level monsters and got an idea of their numbers.

My level 3 players are currently fighting monsters with: 2d8+4 to 4d8+4 hp, +4-6 Attack, 1d6+1 to 1d8+2 damage, 12-16 AC depending on size, hp and armor. Large, slow, high hp have 12-13. Small/Medium humanoids wearing light/medium armor go up to 16. If I want to add a save effect I do. DC 11 Con or stunned. DC 13 Str or knocked down. I look through the bestiary of this, older editions or Pathfinder and find cool looking monsters and effects and just steal those. If a monster has landed 4/4 hits on AC 16 and the 5th is a hit as well, I'll use my best judgement on whether I want this one monster to be annihilating my characters.
hmm my post got lost somehow.

Anyway, short version, I like the new BA perspective where everyone has teeth and is closer together on the hit/be hit spectrum. High level PCs are still powerful but they arent completely immune to a horde of low level guys.

At first i didnt like the BA change, but after playing it I definitely do.

The only extra option i want is to beef up BBEG's with customisation rules that break the usual range.

I'm with you on this. Generally, I beef up at least 1 foe in most encounters (the alpha male, the leader, the shaman, the priest, etc.) - Extra HP, better armor, 1 or 2 special abilities. It is really easy to modify.

Yep agree - the easy modifying of monsters is an excellent feature of 5e (even without any formal guidelines yet).
Not confrontational, enlightening...



  You enlightened me that there are people out there that think top end monsters are okay having a 5% chance to hit.

As to AC 28. I don't see it as possible, as a DM I wouldn't allow it (i.e. no dual spiked shields, only one AC bonus from magic items can be active). I would hope my players would trust my storytelling ability to not feel they have to optimize to game breaking levels.



  Monk, feat, bracers, ring, barkskin, shield of faith = 28.  No spiked shield.  No magic items from adventures.  Only 1 AC bonus from magic item.

  The fact that you're adding a huge houserule is already saying you think the system is broken.

Give me Vecna and a bag of Hit Points any day! As DM I describe what happens and I assure you imaginative narration can create a more memorable story than game mechanics.   



  Yeah, uh, by round 3 you'd be screaming "stop pushing baby in the corner!" as the PCs proceeded to circle beat his helpless butt.

@mikemearls don't quite understand the difference

I don't make the rules, I just think them up and write them down. - Eric Cartman

Enough chitchat!  Time is candy! - Pinky Pie

Do they need to thin out the PC AC range?  Make Plate armour AC16 and scrunch up the other ACs?



  It's the opposite.  The range is already so small that the gap between a +1 bonus and a +2 bonus is too big and something like barkskin is game breaking.  If anything the range needs to double.



So you mean the range of base AC needs to doublefrom 10 (AC10-20) to 20 (AC10-30).  That would never work.  In 1e the AC gap could be a bit problematic BUT you couldn't increase your stats, bonsues from stats were smaller, it was extremeny rare to find armour and shields of above +3, and only certain types of heavier armour came in a +4 or +5 form.  The bonus from shields was so good you'd have to be bonkers to use a 2-handed weapon.  Most wizards and rogues ended up with about AC2 to 0 and most fighters ended up with AC-2 to -4 and the max AC anyybody could have was AC-10.

This is why I think they need to lower your base AC in DDN but have ways to modify it temporarily.  They could have multiple choices of armour type in each AC category and vary their utility using magical effects that only apply to certain types of armour.  Cookie cutter magic items have to go i.e. the crunch rather than the fluff.

If light armour is AC11-12 (dexterity +1 or +2)
Medium AC13-14 (dexterity +1)
Heavy AC15-16 (dexterity +0)

But you can then modify them with expertise, skill tricks, and by spending your reaction, would that help the monster attack roll maths?  Shields could grant +1 to AC only so the highest base AC would be AC17 without magic or resource expenditure.




Houserule? Have you read Ring of Protection? And I had no idea that a Monk could cast Barkskin AND Shield of Faith.

Your games sound like a bag of fun to play in... 
So you mean the range of base AC needs to doublefrom 10 (AC10-20) to 20 (AC10-30).

The problem is that, currently, level 1 AC ranges from 14 (wizard/rogue) to 18 (shield fighter), give or take a dwarf. If there were actual PCs with AC between 10 and 14, that would go a long way toward letting an Atk +2 goblin actually mean something.

The metagame is not the game.
So you mean the range of base AC needs to doublefrom 10 (AC10-20) to 20 (AC10-30).

The problem is that, currently, level 1 AC ranges from 14 (wizard/rogue) to 18 (shield fighter), give or take a dwarf. If there were actual PCs with AC between 10 and 14, that would go a long way toward letting an Atk +2 goblin actually mean something.



Yes, if you happly only half dex bonus to AC you would likely get:

Wizard AC10-11 (assuming Dex bonus +0 to +1)
Rogue AC12-14 (assuming Dex bonus +1 to +2)
Fighter (light) AC13-14 (assuming Dex +1 with/without shield)
Fighter (medium) AC13-16 (assuming Dex +0 to +1 with/without shield)
Fighter (heavy) AC15-17 (assuming Dex +0 with/without shield)

Plus if you follow Wrecan's encumbrance rules which roughly halves carrying capacity, a fighter in plate mail for AC16+ is likely to be encumbered.  Special materials should steer clear of non-magical bonuses to AC and give them other benefits.  In 1e adamantine armour was +5 plate because tough though it was, you needed magic to forge it.  That works fine for say +2 armour in next.
I feel like if Accuracy is going to be bounded, it should be bounded in a place where PC AC is at least a hair lower than it is. At level 1, before you start piling on any kind of tricks, most of the monsters in the Bestiary are looking at only a 50-50 shot of hitting most PCs (or worse), and the ones that are a little better off than that are all very high level monsters. A 50-50 shot of hitting PCs is fine, but even with only relatively few options available, it's easy to push things to a place where all but the most elite monsters are basically praying for crits, and even the elite need to get really lucky to land a hit.

That's not to say that there aren't dangerous monsters, because it's much, much harder to protect yourself from magic a fraction as well as you can protect yourself from physical attacks, but I feel like PC AC could certainly be a bit lower regardless. (And it wouldn't require any sort of special craziness to get there; the armor values associated with each type of armor - and with being unarmored - are arbitrary numbers anyway, so you can just lower them all.) Even if it requires fairly exceptional circumstances to make yourself almost completely impervious to most attacks on AC, I feel like it should require... even more exceptional circumstances than it currently does to even get close to that.
Dwarves invented beer so they could toast to their axes. Dwarves invented axes to kill people and take their beer. Swanmay Syndrome: Despite the percentages given in the Monster Manual, in reality 100% of groups of swans contain a Swanmay, because otherwise the DM would not have put any swans in the game.

I feel like if Accuracy is going to be bounded, it should be bounded in a place where PC AC is at least a hair lower than it is. At level 1, before you start piling on any kind of tricks, most of the monsters in the Bestiary are looking at only a 50-50 shot of hitting most PCs (or worse), and the ones that are a little better off than that are all very high level monsters. A 50-50 shot of hitting PCs is fine, but even with only relatively few options available, it's easy to push things to a place where all but the most elite monsters are basically praying for crits, and even the elite need to get really lucky to land a hit.

That's not to say that there aren't dangerous monsters, because it's much, much harder to protect yourself from magic a fraction as well as you can protect yourself from physical attacks, but I feel like PC AC could certainly be a bit lower regardless. (And it wouldn't require any sort of special craziness to get there; the armor values associated with each type of armor - and with being unarmored - are arbitrary numbers anyway, so you can just lower them all.) Even if it requires fairly exceptional circumstances to make yourself almost completely impervious to most attacks on AC, I feel like it should require... even more exceptional circumstances than it currently does to even get close to that.

I agree. I'm mostly concerned that as DM, I have to throw mobs of monsters against the PCs if I want to really challenge them. So far, at levels 1-5, the Stirge has been the most frightening monster because 4 or 5 attack one PC, and when they latch on they do damage round after round. Even the AC 19 player is scared of them. I wish that I could have a single monster feel 1/2 as threatening as a flock of Stirge. Even a troll doesn't do it for levels 3-5 (maybe it would for level 1...mostly because it would be so hard to take it down and keep it down).

A Brave Knight of WTF

Rhenny-
you nailed it on the head! Why are monsters to hit so high? The only monster that feels like a threat is the one that does damage every round! The loss of HP nearly every round makes any monster a threat to a PC, its up to the DM to make the reason exciting!