Reservoir Dogs - The Monster Handbook

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Reservoir Dogs
The Monster Handbook



Contents
1. Introduction
      1.1 About Monsters, 1.2 Reading the Guide
2. Monster Roles
      2.1 Primary Roles
      2.2 Secondary Roles
3. Player Tactics
      3.1 Tactics by Class
      3.2 Countermeasures (content pending)
4. Specific Information
      4.1 Origins, 4.2 Types, 4.3 Keywords (all contents pending)
      4.4 Statistics
5. Becoming a Killer DM
      (no content yet)
6. Appendix

      1. Further Readings, 2. Guide Status, 3. Remarks

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Know your enemy to win a hundred battles.
Don't and die fighting among yourselves.



1.1 About Monsters


Virtually all the efforts on the board are spent on optimising the player character - mostly individual characters, but sometimes groups or even the rare thread considering actual in-play tactics. But so far there hasn't been a single instance talking about the enemy: Monsters !
Why this is important, you might ask ? To quote no less than the great Sun Tzu: "If you know both yourself and your enemy, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss."

Monsters - or mobs, as I call them - are in their in their bulk as diverse as the player characters. So putting all information about them into one guide seems like a futile effort. But it's not as dire as it seems - individual mobs are, barring the usual exceptions, quite straight forward. Furthermore they as well fall into roles like player classes, but in fact behave much more the same within their given role than player characters.
So getting back to the original point, learning about the strenghts and weaknesses of mobs and how player roles and classes relate to mob roles can give us very valuable insight - both on where to cover holes or improve stengths in our builds, as well as how to put that into practise to make encounters run as smooth as possible.

1.2 Reading the Guide


Chapter #2 starts the guide by analysing primary and secondary roles of mobs, both noting their specialities as well as discussing how to counters them. A rated assessment of this is provided for the primary roles as well, while it is skipped for the secondaries and these only modify the primary roles.
Chapter #3 first provides a well proven way how to approach each encounter, and then discusses the individual strength and weaknesses of each player role (and class) and how to put it to optimal use. Afterwards countermeasures to particular and recurring mob traits are discussed.
Chapter #4 takes a closer look at similarties of mobs not based on role but theme, which helps to educate what to expect as well as how to prepare the best for particular encounters. At last selected statistics about mobs are provided to assist optimising character build choices.
Chapter #5 will discuss how a DM can plan and play interesting, diverse and yet challenging encounter for the players within the overall framework of the system.
Chapter #6 closes the guide as appendix by providing resources for further reading, as well as references and a few organisational and personal remarks.

Rating System
I use the rating system common to this board. Keep in mind, though, that I don't rate character choices, but tactical options and performances, so pay attention to the individual context.
Horrible: The rock bottom in the field.
Weak: Not good, but it can work.
Average: Pretty much the baseline.
Strong: Solid and well above the norm.
Great: It doesn't get better than this.


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2.1 Monster Roles (primary)


Artillery
Traits: Defenses | Damage | Debuffs | Targeting Ability | Area Effects
Counters: Damage | Engaging | Mobility Debuffs | Attack Debuffs
These are a real nasty bunch. Sitting in the backlines, often enough even protected by terrain, they will snipe you with attacks both highly damaging and precise. Add their ability to easily focus fire and to often attack more than one target and to sometimes even throw in a debuff, and you know why they should quickly be taken care of.
But although they have both weak defenses and HP, it's not as easy as it sounds. You not only have to make it past the frontline mobs and into the back ranks while avoiding to get swarmed, but often enough you'll find that these mobs have a trick to get around being stuck in melee. As such consider if debuffing them and using terrain and cover to avoid the worst and engaging them later might be a better approach.

Brute
Traits: Defenses | Damage | Debuffs | Targeting Ability | Area Effects
Counters: Damage | Engaging | Mobility Debuffs | Attack Debuffs
The redneck type of mob - it will come straight at you and try to hit you with its big stick (axe, hammer, ...) - and when it hits, it hurts... badly.
The best way is to debuff and then ignore them or at least keep them away from your squishies, which might not survive a gang up that well. While the lowered AC might tempt you into trying to kill them straight, beware that their big HP pool can easily turn that into a grind and detract you from other dangers.

Controller
Traits: Defenses | Damage | Debuffs | Targeting Ability | Area Effects
Counters: Damage | Engaging | Mobility Debuffs | Attack Debuffs
The name says it all. Expect to suffer multiple debuffs and fight a very bumpy fight in which you'll have to play the way the Controller wants it more often than not. And the worst part is that Controllers usually are capable in melee as well as at range.
So only try to pin them down if you know its particular tricks, if not rather try to debuff their attacks to hinder them at spreading their debuffs. As they don't have particularly strong defenses but usually are a significant threat, it's often a good idea to focus fire them down early - if you get the chance to.

Lurker
Traits: Defenses | Damage | Debuffs | Targeting Ability | Area Effects
Counters: Damage | Engaging | Mobility Debuffs | Attack Debuffs
These guys like to play hide and seek. The bad news is that if you don't come after them, they'll spring out from hiding at one of your squishies, and that attack usually is very damaging, an area effect or a debuff - or sometimes even everything at once.
This is indeed bad news, but to make it even worse all Lurkers have a feature to mitigate their lower HP by screwing up your targeting. Either slap any convinient debuff on them, or wait until you know that their defensive power is on cooldown or you have dazed them if you really want to go the focus fire route.

Skirmisher
Traits: Defenses | Damage | Debuffs | Targeting Ability | Area Effects
Counters: Damage | Engaging | Mobility Debuffs | Attack Debuffs
Those buggers are a quite mobile bunch, which means they're usually able to circumvent the frontline and gang up on a squishy target. Furthermore they tend to have a special trick, be it extra damage with CA, debuff riders or something similar.
They usually are not a top priority, but you should keep an eye on them before they overwhelm one of your party. Any way to take care of them works with debuffing usally as the best option, although some of them have tricks to get around mobility debuffs.

Soldier
Traits: Defenses | Damage | Debuffs | Targeting Ability | Area Effects
Counters: Damage | Engaging | Mobility Debuffs | Attack Debuffs
Hard to kill and very annoying while seldom posing a danger by themselves. Soldiers have solid  accuary which results in modest but sustained damage and usually carries an annoying debuff like a mark or similar on their attacks.
There is no real good way to slow them down - debuffing mobility sometimes works, but that is dependent on positioning and the particular powers of the mob. Best try to work around them, as their real threat is bogging you down while their fellows do the real damage.


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2.2 Monster Roles (secondary)


Regular
These are your standard enemies... but what does "standard" mean, anyway ? Well, these guys show up in numbers (at least with no other secondary role around), ranging from once to twice your headcount. They don't pose so much danger individually but more by either synergy with each other or by simply being able to gang up on one of you.
The best way to fight them is to discern which type of crucial mob of their team you can take out the easiest while having the greatest impact, either by removing a key component from their teamwork or because they simply pose the biggest individual danger to your party. Remember, though, that although they are not super tough, they still might have enough hit points and defensive tricks to give you a hard time, particularly if they can maneuver around and force you to switch targets. For the remainder employ as many area powers as you can, both to shut them down as well as to already prepare the next killing targets. This tactic can also be turned into a regular approach if you have means to survive the first few rounds against a full force of enemies.

Leader
This role is probably the least obvious yet most important to know about. It doesn't change the mob's statistic directly, but rather denotes all mobs that have the ability to buff or heal their fellows or even do tricks like granting them extra attacks and the like. As much as the a player Leader multiplies your strengths, so does a monster Leader for your enemies.
If you encounter and notice one, it should become your highest priority target right away. The only really effective way to disable it is to kill it, because its abilities can hardly be countered in any other way. In cases where this isn't possible quickly enough, you should instead engage any weaker mobs very aggresively to lower the number of targets that can be buffed, and also try to seperate the Leader from its fellows by a significant distance.

Minion
Special: worth 1/4th - 1/6th of a regular, dies on any successful hit or any auto-damage
Although these are the red shirts of the monsters, don't underestimate them. Their basic damage can add up quickly due their great numbers, and that in particular is true if they have a special like a team bonus or ranged attacks. They are also great tactical enablers, for example by providing crucial flanking, blocking ways or threating many squares with OAs. Beware if they come in waves - normally that would make the fight easier, but against Minions you now cannot rely on one big trick and be done.
When you encounter them the key is to dispose them as quickly as possible without losing your rhythm. Try to catch as many as possible with area effects or employ autodamage effects. But do not waste precious powers or standard actions to dispose just one.

Elite
Special: worth 2x a regular (including HP), +2 to all saves, 1 AP
These guys are quite dangerous as they usually have improved offenses, defenses and/or special tricks. But they still show up with some friends for the fight, usually being the tactical kingpin and cutting a swath for their fellows to exploit afterwards.
Going up against these guys you face one of the toughest decisions - their prominent status would tempt you take them out quickly, but at the same time their resilience makes it much harder to succeed at that attempt, so decimating the regulars / Minions while avoiding the worst of can be viable as well. Much depends on the particular circumstances and composition of forces - the latter variant is usually the safer but also more taxing strategy, particularly as bloodying them often makes them even more dangerous.

Solo
Special: worth 5x a regular (including HP), +5 to all saves, 2 APs
A tough cookie to crack, these mobs bring muscle to a fight. Significantly surperior to regulars in every aspect, expect to suffer both debiliating effects to your whole party as well as big damage spikes against single members. They also might behave in very unsual ways thereby changing the usual combat pacing, so observe and adapt.
While always very relevent the key to success against a Solo is the action economy. First you must remove any lesser opponents from the fight. At the same time use as much hard control against the Solo as you can (soft control won't do the job here) and simply suffer through it. Remember to keep some juice for the later part of the fight, as they become even more dangerous while bloodied and thus you want to finish them quickly from that mark.




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3.1 Player Tactics


The Optimal Attack Order

The first step is to assess your opposition.
You start by identifying each target. For information about that you either rely on descriptions provided by your DM and infer from these, you make regular monster knowledge checks* or watch the mobs' behavoir during the first combat round.
Then you must answer the following three questions:
1) Which mobs pose the greatest danger to the party or particular members ?
2) Which mobs can be most easily delt with with your parties' capabilities ?
3) How is the tactical positioning, that is which mobs or party members are exposed and which are protected ?

In the second step you then decide your attack pattern, which should employ the tactic commonly known as divide and conquer.
1) Select one or a maximum of two targets to focus your efforts on. That usually but not always means damage as tool of choice.
2) Evaluate which other targets should be taken care of to stop them from inflicting too serious damage on your party.
3) Circumvent any other target you ignored as good as you can until later.
Balancing these options is the key to success. If you focus very much you should expect to suffer significant backslash from the mobs you ignored. If you disperse too much you should expect to eat through your resources at high pace and slide into a war of attrition. After eliminating a priority target a secondary target should become the new primary, while a tertiary should now get attention to disrupt its efforts.
The enemy will naturally attempt to employ the same method to overcome you in return.

Once you have a basic grasp on combat, it's a good idea to add some of alpha-striking to the tactical repertoire of your group.

* Let me take a minute here to praise the often overlooked Adventurer's Scion background (reroll any monster knowledge check, from Dragon #371) and promote getting appropriate knowledge skills for your party. Both together can make a siginificant difference by providing you crucial information right at the start of an encounter.


Controller
Worst Enemy: Artillery | Brute | Controller | Lurker | Skirmisher | Soldier
Best Target: Artillery | Brute | Controller | Lurker | Skirmisher | Soldier
Best Target: Minion | Regular | Elite | Solo | Leader
Instead of going outright for the kill, you focus your efforts on weakening your enemies and disrupting their tactics. While their life thus might last a bit longer, it will be oh so more miserable. Your success comes from the fact that you are able to spread your love to multiple targets at once, or by surgically ruining the day of a particularly strong target - best if you have options for both. It's wise to be able to choose between mobility and attack debuffing powers to fit the situation, where a Daze can situationally work as either, or simply enhance your party's general tactical positioning similar to forced movement.
You pay for this mighty toolset by suffering from the weakest defenses among all. You make up for a it a bit due your ability to stay away from the heat of battle and the occasional power to bail you out, but beware of those mobs that manage to escape your and your Defender's grasp.

Defender
Worst Enemy: Artillery | Brute | Controller | Lurker | Skirmisher | Soldier
Best Target: Artillery | Brute | Controller | Lurker | Skirmisher | Soldier
Best Target: Minion | Regular | Elite | Solo | Leader
Your class features and natural resilience allow you to engage mobs head on and then keep them locked in that unfavourable position. While you have the best chances to survive a focused beating by the enemy, your primary goal is to force the enemies to spread their fire. You usually cover a weak side and thereby give your party members room to maneuver, while carefully balancing tieing up as many mobs as possible without loosing it.
Even with your strong natural defenses and the option to choose powers to even improve these you are not invicible. But the prefered counter of the enemy will be outmaneuvering and debuffing you to first finish the squishier rest of your party - beware in particular of the common Dazed condition.

Leader
Worst Enemy: Artillery | Brute | Controller | Lurker | Skirmisher | Soldier
Best Target: none (depends on your secondary role or whom you support - usually your Strikers)
Alone you usually don't pose much of a threat. Instead you act as a multiplier for your other party members - which automatically means you will normally go up against the highest priority targets to help your allies to get their job done well and reliable. You also help them to get into a good position for that in the first place. At last you have tools at hand to undo any damage the mobs did to your party to keep your well oiled machine of destruction up and running.
As such you naturally become a high priority target - mobs neither like to see their efforts undone with just a minor action, nor see you bolstering your allies even further. While you have a bit above average defenses, you completely lack any emergency powers while you usually must stay at least close to the heart of battle. That means you have to in particular watch out for mobs with either high sustained or very bursty damage, because if you get gang up and beaten up, there is rarely someone to bail you out.

Striker
Worst Enemy: Artillery | Brute | Controller | Lurker | Skirmisher | Soldier
Best Target: Artillery | Brute | Controller | Lurker | Skirmisher | Soldier
Best Target: Minion | Regular | Elite | Solo | Leader
Many people associate doing damage as the Striker speciality - while not strictly wrong, they are severely mistaken. Every role can and should do damage and even strife for it, given they have room in their build. The Striker's job is to deliver damage reliably, quickly and surgically against the highest priority target. As such you engage those that are most likely to fall to a quick damage burst as well as those which cannot be countered well by any other means.
High mobility makes it hard to pin you down, and powers supporting your rather average defenses help to avoid suffering your own medicine. If you neglect smart positioning and power usage or mobs can get around your survival tricks, you are likely to hit the dirt in short order.



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3.2 Countermeasures


-- Auras
-- Flyers
-- Swarms
-- ...


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4.1 Monster Origins


-- Aberrant
-- Elemental
-- Fey
-- Immortal
-- Natural
-- Shadow




4.2 Monster Types


-- Animate
-- Beast
-- Humanoid
-- Magical Beast




4.3 Monster Keywords


-- Angel
-- Demon
-- Devil
-- Dragon
-- Undead
-- ...


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4.4 Monster Statistics


Monster Defenses
AC: This is more or less the standard defense. It usually is somewhat higher than the others (NADs), but you get your proficiency bonus against it as well. The good thing is that, apart from the regular exceptions - Soldiers higher, Artillery and Brutes lower, there is little variantion in it and thus targetting it will provide you with a very reliable performance. In case you get weapon attacks targetting a defense other than AC you should consider it a boon, as NADs higher than AC are an extremely rare occasion.
Fortitude: Often dubbed as no-go, this has to be considered purely a myth. What is true is that Brutes and Soldiers have a quite high Fort, but on the other hand Artilleries, Lurkers and Skirmishers usually not only have a low Fort, but it's often even lower than their Ref. Now consider that many strong movement imparing effects like prone or immobilise work well against these, and you see that Fort powers definately have their rightful place - just make sure that you have an alternative at hand.
Reflex: While lower on avarage than Fort, it can be considered its mirror as it's often high on Artilleries and the mobile Lurkers and Skirmishers. You can get by with only targetting Ref, but you will feel the defense bump against those mobs and you often will miss the opportunity to grab some different kind of effects.
Will: Usually the best because lowest defense to target, it can get quite high on caster like mobs, Controllers and certain themed mobs. The worst news, though, is that Elites and in particular Solos tend to have a good Will, which can hurt many Will focused builds quite badly, not the least because typical Will effects seem usually to be geared for use against Elites and Solos.


Elemental Damage Types
For advise how to produce certain damage types yourself, please refer to the elemental damage guide (by Dielzen). In case you seek resistance against any particular type, apart from specialised options both Armor (of any kind) and Potions (for a Healing Surge) of Resistance can help.
Acid: An uncommon but not rare type to both be dealt as well as resisted, it usually is associated with straight damage dealing.
Cold: Again an uncommon type, it often comes in concert with movement oriented debuffs. On the other hand it sometimes can help to counter the more common Fire type monsters.
Fire: This is one of the three common damage types, so expect it to be resisted often (although immunities are still very rare), and be one the recieving end as well - usually in the form of high damage, large area attacks.
Force: Probably is the most rare type both be dealt and resisted. If you can deal it, it helps you to get around Insubstantial for the cost of a feat.
Lightning: Uncommon early, but common at higher levels when going up against mobs of primordial or sometimes divine origin. It often comes together together with Thunder, and is the damage and multi-target oriented part of the pair.
Necrotic: The second common damage type, this is a good type be have resistance against and a bad type to deal. It has a strong connection to undead as well as many attack debuffing effects. It also often comes in concert with Poison - against both a Gravespawn potion helps.
Poison: It's dealt even more common than Necrotic, not only by undead but also beasts and more insidious humanoids, and resisted as well as completely negated by all non-living mobs like undeads and constructs. It very often carries a debuff, which in this case can be of almost any kind. Again, keep a Gravespawn potion at hand.
Psychic: The type associated with beings from beyond the universe, psionics and any charm and illusion effects, it's a fairly common type of damage - although simply a good Will defense will help as well. Resistance against it, except the aforementioned good Will, is a rare thing though.
Radiant: A rare type except for high level play with many angelic beings, it can be a huge asset to deal because most undead and some other shadowy mobs show vulnarebility or some other kind of other weakness against it.
Thunder: The brother of Lightning, it as well comes into play only at higher levels, where it takes up the area and debuffing part, particularly often in the form of dazing.


Gathered Data Collections
-- MM1 data collection (very exhaustive) - by kerbarian (ENWorld)
-- MM2 data collection - by txporter
-- dicussion on the recent MM3 damage formula change (ENWorld)



If you have any statistic at hand, please provide a link or post them in the thread with a note when you made that statistic.




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5. Becoming a Killer DM


OR: How to wipe your Epic Party in the Tomb of Puny Kobolds


...




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(for future use)

6. Appendix


6.1 Further Readings
-- Swift & Without Mercy (by Auspex7): an excellent in detail discussion from the viewpoint of an Avenger (Striker/Defender)
-- 10 Rules of Party Optimisation (by Rancid_Rogue): makes sure that you don't have any glaring holes in your group
-- The Art of... Defending / Leading / Striking (by mkill) / Controlling 101 (by alien270): basic strategies how to fulfill a particular role well
-- Party Building (Dr373, p24): a primer on gathering a well rounded party

References
none yet - suggestions ?


6.2 Guide Status

Version History
0.1 - posted skeleton on 09.06.2010
0.5 - finished core sections on 18.06.2010
0.6 - updated ratings for MM3 style mobs on 12.11.2010

To-Do
-- add further material... sometime
-- consider short dicussion of individual classes
-- hunt the web for statistics

Looking For
-- feedback !
-- other sections to possible add
-- statistical compilations about varios monster traits or...
-- a working database parser
-- other sources


6.3 Remarks
Thanks for Contributions: Auspex7, LlamasNotsheep

In-play experiences, criticism and suggestion are always welcome.
This guide has been and is a lot of work. If you have used it, please have the courtesy to drop a line here and tell me how you liked it !




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Love the idea of this. Maybe monster Origins rather than races.
Maybe a discussion of weak and strong NADs for the different monster types?
Niice, and good luck. This'll be a lot of work.

There's a chart in the DMG (page number X, I forget) that supplies the underlying chassis for every monster attack and defence. PSG book goes further and declares that the official Math of the game, with the PCs getting a +2 on attacks, relative to an equal level monster.

Monsters then usually get powers on the schedule from the Companion Character section of DMG2.
Monster powers are supposed to be weaker than PC powers. There are a few juicy exceptions.

Here comes your 19th forums breakdown ... ohh who's to blame, it ain't 5E driving you insane.

 

OK, I assigned traits & counters to the primary roles and included the suggestions.
Please let me know what you think. I didn't add any text so far on purpose, because I wanted to wait for some feedback first.

A few words on the selection of traits & counters:
-- My intention was not to copy / paste DMG guidelines here.
-- I intentionally only made on defense rating, because so many things (like Lurker tricks).
-- Damage (as mob trait) is both sustained damage output as well as the potential to spike.
-- Daze / Stun / Dominated are not included in the debuffs for a reason. Daze is quite situational, as it can be both, none or either of a mobility and an attack debuff. And if you can stun / dominate... well, that always has a 100% effect, doesn't it ?!

A few words on particular ratings:
-- Controllers have high targeting ability and low engagement factor because more often than not they have good melee and ranged options.
-- While Brutes have lower AC they still have normal NADs and in general more HP, so trying to nuke them is not necessarily a good idea.
-- Debuffing Skirmisher mobility is a mixed bag, as many of them have ways around the debuffs.
Remember: All of these are generalised ratings by necessecity - there are always exceptions.
Finished discussing primary monster roles and started on player tactics.
Feedback on any is appreaciated, both from a player's as well as a DM's viewpoint.
I'll try to stay up on this thread. To say that this type of content & discussion are interesting to me is a huge understatement. I geek out over this stuff, and most of the feedback I offer when I'm solicited for build input revolves around what Encounters actually look like-- much of which is directly tied to monster types and Enc composition. At least a handful of us who hang out in ##4e talk about this type of thing on a near- daily basis.

I think this thread has a chance to become a staple here.
Monster powers are supposed to be weaker than PC powers. There are a few juicy exceptions.

Uh, monster at-wills can stun, daze, dominate, heal, cause ongoing damage, etc., whereas PC at-wills are not allowed to.

It was bad enough when we were playing in low levels that some of the players asked to be able to play monsters instead of normal PCs.

And this was before the recent MM3 update which says DMs should double the flat damage bonus on MM1 and MM2 monsters of 11th level and above. (I.e. 1d10+5 should be updated to be 1d10+10.)
Leaders and Strikers are done in Player Tactics. Part two after our Sunday game...

@Auspex:
I'd be delighted to see it become a staple. But so far the feedback has been somewhat lacking. Even though I have plenty of experience on both sides of the screen, some other opinions would definately help.

@Shaka:
Oh, interesting to hear - and definately makes sense.
Did they mention anything about updating the Compendium / Adventurer Tools ?
I would be very curious to see class-by-class, or even build-by-class (with reference to sub-types, as opposed to individual builds) breakdowns relating to the interaction of each type with various monsters. For some classes, the variance isn't especially pronounced from one build type to another, but for others (Archer vs Two Blade Ranger, for example), the difference in which targets are optimal varies to a greater extent.

Maybe you can enlist some of the go-to guys for various classes to do some write-ups.

Player Tactics are now complete.
Monster secondary roles are next - still looking for any already-done statistics (or a good Compendium / AdvTools parser).

@Auspex:
That's an interesting proposal, but I think that might blow the proportions of this guide, and I'm also not sure that those slight variances would be honored best by creating multiple colored tables. What about a short paragraph for each class (and particular build option) to note the deviations from the norm ? Like these:
Rogue: You are an archetypical Striker with a knack for teamplay to get your beloved Sneak Attack for maximum damage, and you have the option to become a strong secondary Controller. Your build choices vary between Brutal Scoundrel and melee for aggression, Cunning Sneak and range for defense and Artful Dodger for mobility as kind of middle road.
Fighter: You are the Defender every other has to measure up against, because you engage mobs like no other, and you can give a Striker a run for his money if you try to. You pay for that by not having the strongest comparative defense and being in particular prone to debuffs. If you deviate from the standard Fighter Weapon Talent Option you can focus your efforts further into even better engagement with Brawler Style, better resilience with Battlerager Vigor or more damage and marking with Tempest Style.
I probably could write those quick enough for all classes, although I'd definately appreciate any input from particular gurus on classes. For anything more I'd rather refer to particular handbooks.

I would recommend putting a legend in your first post for colour codes.  The colours are close enough to the usual Handbook format that most of us get the point just fine, but not every reader will come in with foreknowledge of the CharOp colour coding.

In particular, I'm not familiar with the this colour.  I guess it falls between Black and Blue?

Finished secondary monster roles and thereby that whole section. Also made some window dressing and improved navigation.

@VaultDweller:
All in due time...
Green is simply a common used variant to Black, which I prefer because it clearly denotes a rating and at the same time lets me use regular bolding more freely.


Player Tactics are now complete.
Monster secondary roles are next - still looking for any already-done statistics (or a good Compendium / AdvTools parser).

@Auspex:
That's an interesting proposal, but I think that might blow the proportions of this guide, and I'm also not sure that those slight variances would be honored best by creating multiple colored tables. What about a short paragraph for each class (and particular build option) to note the deviations from the norm ? Like these:
Rogue: You are an archetypical Striker with a knack for teamplay to get your beloved Sneak Attack for maximum damage, and you have the option to become a strong secondary Controller. Your build choices vary between Brutal Scoundrel and melee for aggression, Cunning Sneak and range for defense and Artful Dodger for mobility as kind of middle road.
Fighter: You are the Defender every other has to measure up against, because you engage mobs like no other, and you can give a Striker a run for his money if you try to. You pay for that by not having the strongest comparative defense and being in particular prone to debuffs. If you deviate from the standard Fighter Weapon Talent Option you can focus your efforts further into even better engagement with Brawler Style, better resilience with Battlerager Vigor or more damage and marking with Tempest Style.
I probably could write those quick enough for all classes, although I'd definately appreciate any input from particular gurus on classes. For anything more I'd rather refer to particular handbooks.




What I was going for is a specific breakdown of what each build type excells at targeting, rather than a summary of class or build types. I'd hope that people would know, for example, that a Fighter is a popular and well-designed Defender. What many people might not know is who their first target should be if they're playing a Fighter, or why they're more well-suited to fighting each monster type, etc.

It would certainly involve a lot of work or assistance, though. Can't say I'd blame you for not including that.

What I was going for is a specific breakdown of what each build type excells at targeting, rather than a summary of class or build types. I'd hope that people would know, for example, that a Fighter is a popular and well-designed Defender. What many people might not know is who their first target should be if they're playing a Fighter, or why they're more well-suited to fighting each monster type, etc.

It would certainly involve a lot of work or assistance, though. Can't say I'd blame you for not including that.



I'd agree that even a small footnote is probably beyond the scope of this guide. This is particularly the case because each build of each class may not even behave in the same way given their party situation. A Fighter that is the lone Defender in the party would probably be irresponsible if they charged after enemy artillery and controller casters, who they are otherwise great at locking down and/or killing. A Fighter in a party with three Defenders is probably acting irresponsibly if they don't do the same thing.

Class & build isn't nearly enough to handle monster targeting priorities.
D&D rules were never meant to exist without the presence of a DM. RAW is a lie.
Yeah, I'd probably have to rewrite half the handbooks if I'd go into more detail.
But the other very important point is what Black_Egg already said - it's still quite situational: What group are you in, how is the tactical situation, how did you implement your specific build, what resistances against certain damage types do you have, etc.

Take this example: I might well engage an Artillery as Fighter while my Barbarian would better first kill that Controller. But if that Artillery is a dozen squares away, with difficult terrain on the way, that same charging Barbarian with Mighty Sprint might be the much better way to deal with it.
That's also why I wouldn't want to be too specific - it might tempt people too easily to just follow the guide and stop thinking and applying their own judgement to the specific situation.

At last I tried to give some hints:
"Fighter: You are the Defender every other has to measure up against, because you engage mobs like no other, and you can give a Striker a run for his money if you try to. You pay for that by not having the strongest comparative defense and being in particular prone to debuffs. If you deviate from the standard Fighter Weapon Talent Option you can focus your efforts further into even better engagement with Brawler Style, better resilience with Battlerager Vigor or more damage and marking with Tempest Style."
1) Even more so than on a regular Defender, mobs prone to engaging are good targets for you.
2) In doubt play it like a Striker (id est: see there) and just kill it with fire... erm damage.
3) Even more than other Defenders, avoid mobs that sling out debuffs (Controllers, Lurkers).

Thoughts ?

The introduction is finished and recieved some eye candy as well.

But...
I will put the guide on hold for now.
The reason is simply poor feedback so far, expecting a few individual posters. So I don't see a point in putting more effort into this guide for the time being. In particular I also got together what I needed for my other work and will rather continue with that.
In case interested raises and I'd continue, I'd probably work my way through in the orders of chapters left, lest there is a field of particular interest. I also might add short invididual class discussions (see above) in chapter #3.1. Statistics will probably not recieve much effort from my own, but I'd rely more on you either providing me existing data or at least somebody coming up with a proper database parser (which I won't write myself, nope).

Someone over the ENWorld did a really nice rundown on monster stats from the MM1, and I think he was working on the same for MM2.  A rundown of defenses, immunities, resistances, and vulnerabilities by tier and monster role.  I'll try and dig it up.

Edit:

MM1 statistics: www.enworld.org/forum/4e-discussion/2290...

Rundown of high level MM3 damage expressions, in case that's useful: www.enworld.org/forum/4e-discussion/2779...

Not finding the breakdown for MM2... it looks like someone did one, the images and FTP file source are down: community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...

GelatinousOctahedron started a wiki page on monster resists/damage types: community.wizards.com/wiki/dnd:Monsters:...

Someone parsed attack and damage types in the compendium back in April 2009: www.enworld.org/forum/4e-discussion/2290...
[20:53] [SadisticFish] yeah Llamas convinced me
Cool, thanks a lot !
I'll go through the stuff and add it on monday - got a conference over the weekend.
Cool, thanks a lot !
I'll go through the stuff and add it on monday - got a conference over the weekend.



No problem, enjoy the conference!  I'll see if I can dig up some MM2 stuff.

txporter just updated the MM2 stats thread, info's back up: 
community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...
 
[20:53] [SadisticFish] yeah Llamas convinced me
Some specifics that I think bear mentioning--

Elites are designed specifically to be on par with 2 Standard monsters of the same level.

Solos are designed to be the equivalent of 5 Standard monsters of the same level.


These references are worth including, because they help deliver a perspective to players who might not immediately recognize the value in killing Standards first. When they realize that the Elite has twice the HP and survivability, without dealing twice the damage, that approach makes immediate sense to most people. That specific bit of information has helped considerably in tactics conversations. It also helps put the "why" of some things (Strikers being best off killing Standards first, Defenders going right at Elites when possible, etc) into context.

You could also put a note in about Elites having 1 AP and +2 to saves as a general rule, while Solos have 2 APs, and +5 to saves. This helps some Controllers understand that the best approach is often to use those huge (save ends) Daily powers on Standards, while 'until end of next turn' effects are highly valuable vs Elites and Solos. Note-- I'm not saying it's always best to use (save ends) vs Standards, but having the right effect can take the Standards out of the fight so easily that the rest of the party may be able to switch up their own game plan and kill the Elites and such first. In an indoor Enc, some Controllers are able to completely isolate an Elite or Solo by slapping something (Sleep, Silent Malediction, etc) on its Standard lackeys.
This is really cool and I'd love to see more of it, but I have to admit it's not what I was hoping for when I opened the guide. What I was hoping for was a guide on using monsters, traps, etc... to challenge the PC's. As both a player and a DM, I find that about 80% of encounters are pretty easy for the players. I honestly think that part of this is while the community provides a ton of information for players to make themselves more effective, very little advice on the tactical side for DM's is really available.
This is really cool and I'd love to see more of it, but I have to admit it's not what I was hoping for when I opened the guide. What I was hoping for was a guide on using monsters, traps, etc... to challenge the PC's. As both a player and a DM, I find that about 80% of encounters are pretty easy for the players. I honestly think that part of this is while the community provides a ton of information for players to make themselves more effective, very little advice on the tactical side for DM's is really available.



I have often wondered why this sort of thing hasn't popped up yet.
@Auspex:
I usually assume basic game knowledge in my guides.
But I'll add your suggestions, as even with that there are some not directly obvious implactions.

@JRG:
Hrhr, "How to become a Killer GM, or: Killing your Epic party with the Tomb of Kobolds." Laughing
In truth, though, I did consider adding info on that (you might notice those two "for future use" posts Wink). It would also include hints on encounter setup, how to run stuff interestingly, etc. But it's honestly not a priority, because...
-- This much more belongs to the DM's forum.
-- As DM you can setup an arbitrary level of challenge anyway, so feel free to add a mob or two if you players constantly outsmart you.
-- Most of your requested information already is written down here - you'd just have to reread the stuff looking at things from the DM's point of view.
I think an encounter building guide with just a big compilation of ideas, general strategies, ways to deal with common problems, and so on would be good.  There's a lot of subjectivity there, but it could be really cool.  It's probably worth an entire guide of its own, though. 
[20:53] [SadisticFish] yeah Llamas convinced me

Statistics section now has some links and a discussion on Monster defenses.
Might add more another time...

Oooh, really, really interesting stuff here, langeweile. I'll be keeping an eye on this handbook, it has potential for greatness.

PS: As a sidenote, have you considered using one of those reserved posts to note monsters that any party should watch out for, and why? There's no Damn Crabs in 4ed, but some monsters still have MUCH more potential for snowballing than others. A Skeletal Tomb Guardian, for instance, becomes an unholy terror that is worth two monster slots or more if paired up with a leader that hands out attack bonus buffs because it means four very, VERY mean hits, especially because of the MM3 update. Similarly, a Blackfire Creeper is a priority target due to its ability to dish out brutal amounts of damage in the form of eating healing surges. These sorts of monsters kind of bypass any priority guidelines and automatically jump to number 1 status if they're present.
Mountain Cleave Rule: You can have any sort of fun, including broken, silly fun, so long as I get to have that fun too (e. g., if you can warp reality with your spells, I can cleave mountains with my blade).
It's actually quite a good idea to discuss some specific and dangerous mobs.
But no need for an extra section - it fits perfectly into chapter #3.2 where I will discuss exceptions to the rule from a player perspective anyway - they'd make great examples for particular dangerous techniques, eg the Tomb Guardian for a multiattacking mob. Or maybe I'll just a #3.3 villians of MM 4th or something. ;)

If you have more examples of mobs worth including, let me know.
By DM experience I'll consider those three-skulls (level 10ish Undead Leader), certain Artilleries and definately Aboleths, which turn into downright murder once they have slapped on their first daze...
By the way, I think there are more MM3 changes that should be taken into account - namely, the accuracy of different monster roles. As far as I know, soldiers no longer have a +2 to hit, making them much less of an offensive threat, and brutes no longer have a -2, so they should be, well, pretty brutal.
My blog about 4e rules and news: Square Fireballs The Magic Item Reset: A standalone set of items for 4E
Good catch - I'll keep that in mind.
For now I'll leave things here as they are, because I'd like to see how Wizards handles the update of old monsters in the Compendium etc. MM3 is also just (officially) out for a week, and Dark Sun still pending, so I can't say the updated mobs are common play reality right now.
Added a discussion of elemental damage types and a short special line for non-regular mobs.
Any other suggestions of what should be specifically discussed under statistics ?
Is that short special line sufficient or does it need more ? Because IMO all other relevant information are either aggregated in the "ratings" or discussed in the associated text.
It's low priority at best, but another issue that could be discussed in the statistics section are the Effect Type keywords (mostly Fear and Charm). These can be usually ignored, but since there are two PC races that specifically have defense boosts against them, and a good deal of monsters that are immune to fear, it might be worth considering at some time.

I don't think anyone has studied the matter. A very rough approach, based on quick compendium searches, would be the following:

Show

Monsters from rule books:
Total - 1732
"Fear" - 332
"Immune Fear" - 278
"Charm" - 200
"Immune Charm" - 131

We'll assume all monsters returned for "fear" and "charm" have either an attack with the keyword, or some kind of immunity against it. The number of monsters immune to either will be equal to or less than the number of entries with "immune fear" and "immune charm", respectively". Finally, it's reasonable to guess that the difference between "fear" entries and "immune fear" ones is the minimum number of monsters with attacks of that type, and likewise with charm.

Monsters with fear attacks: between 54 and 332 (3%-19%)
Monsters with fear immunity: less than 278 (<16%)
Monsters with charm attacks: between 69 and 200 (4%- 11%)
Monsters with charm immunity: less than 131 (<77%)

My blog about 4e rules and news: Square Fireballs The Magic Item Reset: A standalone set of items for 4E
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