Do the Math...Do the Monster Math

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I've been trying to create some GW monsters via the offline Monster Builder, and I'm confused. My understanding is that monsters in GW and Monster Vault are built using the "new math" introduced in the July 2010 update*. However, the damage values don't seem to correspond to the "Damage by Level" chart, even on relatively straightforward powers.

For example, the Badder Steading Guard's Mace attack does 1d10+3 damage, not 1d8+4. I suppose that the average value for both is 8.5; still, the d10 is completely absent from the Damage by Level chart, so its inclusion here is a puzzle. What's more, 1d10+3 is the suggested damage for a 1st level monster created via the Monster Builder, which (I presume) uses the old math.

My presumption is that creating monsters is more art than science, yet even with that caveat in mind, I'm unsure which values I should be using as a base.


*Is it just me, or does the errata need errata? The "Monster Statistics by Role" chart seems to have given the Lurker's +4 initiative bonus to the Soldier, and the Brute has a nonsensical "-+2" initiative bonus.
My guess is that Gamma World Monsters simply don't conform directly to MB rules.
Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.
I wouldn't expect them to conform to the Monster Builder, but shouldn't they conform to the Damage by Level chart? If GW and Monster Vault monsters are supposed be interchangable, wouldn't they be built on the same values?
Monster math is based on average damage, not on specific dice ranges.

99% of Gamma World monsters are made according to the MM3 monster math.

See my monster building guide for more:

boldpueblo.com/dazed/2011/01/mutant-buil...

Caoimhe Ora Snow

Game Designer, The Queen's Cavaliers

5e D&D Stuff: Birthright Conversion

For example, the Badder Steading Guard's Mace attack does 1d10+3 damage, not 1d8+4. I suppose that the average value for both is 8.5; still, the d10 is completely absent from the Damage by Level chart, so its inclusion here is a puzzle. What's more, 1d10+3 is the suggested damage for a 1st level monster created via the Monster Builder, which (I presume) uses the old math.


This is correct, and the new math.  As Oraibi states, it's based on averages.  The die size doesn't figure into it, and can be changed willy-nilly.  I know some DMs that change all damage dice to d6's, for instance, for ease of play, and I've noticed distinct design decisions to mimic player powers and weapons (orcs with greataxes, in D&D, use d12s, for instance).

Finally, most monsters typically have "tweaked" values to better represent how they should feel.  This is nominally what the "high/low" dropdowns are for, but I rarely see monsters with those values set, in any case.

Long story short, you're correct: more art than science. 
Thanks, all. I'd already downloaded Oraibi's Monster Building guide--as I do with pretty much every GW thing she posts--but forgot that it addressed the very questions I was asking!

One other question: if an attack power also causes a status effect (or some other special effect) should I adjust the damage downward, or leave it alone?

You folks have been very inspirational. My GW game is currently on hiatus due to personal concerns, but I'm working on a fully personalized campaign thanks in large part to the terrific homebrew materials posted here!
One other question: if an attack power also causes a status effect (or some other special effect) should I adjust the damage downward, or leave it alone?

Not really, no.  Monsters don't need to have their choices carefully balanced like PC powers are.  If the rider is really nasty, like stunned, though, you might want to lower the damage.  You can also take nasty effects and put them in as secondary attacks or 2nd-failed-save effects, to keep things from going south too fast.  

Gamma World is supposed to be very random and a tad brutal, though, so don't worry about 'balancing' it too much.

 

 

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I could be wrong on this, but I believe that the mace in D&D is a 1d8 weapon where as in Gamma World it would probably be a heavy one handed melee weapon which is 1d10.  Not sure if it actually is factored into the math this way, but it's my best guess.
It's not actually factored into the math, per se, but I'm fairly confident that it was intentional (that the badder wielding a mace does damage in d10s, as per heavy one-handed melee, as opposed to the D&D mace stats).
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