How do Monsters act? How much do they know?

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These is the single most common questions I find myself stuck with often when I DM.  

The second question may be easiest to answer:

1. Are monster aware of all the things that placed upon them?

Several parts to this:
a. Clearly they are aware of damage and conditions such as slowed, dazed, etc. but what about more subtle conditions, like a -2 to attack rolls?
b. What about if-then conditions, such as "if the creature leaves the zone, then they take damage." or a defenders mark.
c. What about conditions that are placed on their enemies (the PCs) that are personal.  Such as a stance by a fighter, or the temple of light by an avenger.

2. With your answers in mind to 1a-c, how do the monsters react?  Do monsters trigger a mark once, then learn from the mistake? Do minions swipe at a spirit companion for 8 turns doing absolutely nothing because they are mindless zombies?  Do the monsters have full knowledge of all the active powers and act accordingly?



On a side note:
The reason I ask, is that in several different campaigns there are the following:

Shielding swordmage with many feats buffing the mark.  The problem? Player complains that the mark never gets triggered and feels like the feats are a waste.

Pursuit avenger.  The problem? Monsters don't want to move away from him willingly to that they don't take the extra damage.  Complains that hey doesn't get his "striker damage", especially compared to the ranger who has the quarry.  

Any help here would be great.  I havn't really seen other people DM, or handle these sitations.  



I have read the arguments about how monsters try to break the front line and would like to get more sensitive party members, but how thier behavior is affected based on powers/feats/abilities is another story.


Sorry for the long post, but it has confused me for some time now.

Thanks!
 
Monsters are "aware" (i.e. as DM you can take full account of) all effects directly applied to them. This is in the rules as "Game Transparency", but annoyingly not in the Compendium, so I cannot give you a reference.

So answering your questions.

1a) Yes a Monster is "aware" of a -2 to hit

1b) Yes a monster is "aware" of a condition inside a power such as "if the target moves away it takes X damage". Generally the point of powers that do that is to trap the monster so that whatever it does something bad happens to it. As DM you haveto figure out the least bad thing. Sometimes that means triggering the damage or other penalty.

However . . . by RAW when a monster is marked or close to a PC, it is not aware of interrupt and trigger powers that the PCs have, such as a Swordmage's punishment effect.

1c) A monster is not "aware" directly of the effects of stances, but will be aware of the impact to them if they are hit by an attack whilst the character is in a stance.

The above is the standard set of knowledge that even slimes and giant insects should access to decide tactics. In addition, some monsters are smart. They can figure stuff out, or have similar experience to PCs when it comes to marks (i.e. they don't know what the character can do, but may not be in a hurry to figure it out, especially if they can be effective by attacking the defender in any case).

2) Several parts to this:


  • The monsters react tactically soundly on all knowledge they are officially "aware" of, even if they are dumb automatons. They can take actions to avoid auto-damage, or decide to ignore it in favour of making an attack if they have enough hit points not to care too much.

  • Smart monsters will base decisions on what the PCs look like, are equipped with

  • Smart monsters will figure out what PCs can do quickly based on noticing a single example happening nearby on the same battle.

  • Monsters on the same team talk to each other. Powerful abilities of heroes will become locally, regionally or world-wide famous (in heroic, paragon and epic tier play respectively).


Apart from the first part, the rest relies on your subjective opinions as a DM. For guidance watch how the players react - they quickly pick up on general capabilities of monsters and can often predict things based onwhat they look like.

exactly what slobo said.
Plus: Many mnonster descriptions feature a short break down of the tactics that the monster in question applies. E.g. Orc Berserkers charge the weakest target and try to smash it to bits, with low to no regard to any penalties inflicted. If you use these directions consistently this can strongly contribute to the differences between different monsters of the same class. This way overcoming an encounter including the afforementioned orc berserker will require different tactics then an encounter featuring e.g. a Dragonborn Brigand who will actively seek to flank and would not trigger a mark if he has the option to attack the groups defender with CA (for example making a bluff check to gain CA).
So the general answer is "nes". Read the monsters description and think of how the monster would act based on it's previous experiences (maybe it heard of how it's friends or allies were slaughtered and seeks revenge on a specific player or knows to keep a good distance from a melee striker)

Best,
chillhelm
OK... this all seems very flexible, and I guess it is my job as the DM to determine the monsters course of action.  I just have a hard time deciding when to break away from a mark or other tactical decision.  I get chillhelms suggestions but not every monster has this desciption type.  

A generalization:

Soldiers: attempt to mark and keep the PCs away from weaker allies.
Skirmishers: Stay mobile, attempt to break the front line, flank enemies.
Brute: ????
Artillery: Stay out of melee and stay mobile to hammer PCs with damaging ranged attacks.

Correct me if I am wrong.  I hope this might help with monster tactics. 
My monsters are 100% aware of all the conditions directly placed upon them, but not aware of any interrupt/free/no action as a result of his actions. In example, monster A marked by fighter B does not know that when he shifts he will get attacked, but does know that he has a -2 penalty to attack other PCs. If warlock B uses Hellish Rebuke on monster A, monster A does know that he will take damage if warlock B is damaged before the end of his next turn, because it takes no action (not even a 'no action') to trigger that damage.

However, I do play my monsters and the effects quite intelligently, or at least try to, so the mark of fighter B would in this case mean that fighter B is so aggressive towards monster A (keeping in mind that combat is actually not an attack followed by 6 seconds of waiting and repeat) that monster A is basically pinned down and cannot do anything but fight fighter B. Moving away, even shifting, would open up an opportunity for fighter B to hit him.  
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I try to run monsters based on their intelligence and immediate goals.  Is this creature content when marked to face off against one PC or does the monster really want to get to another PC?  This sort of thinking covers most circumstances.

In many other cases - where I have doubt as to what the monster will do - I quickly come up with 2 or 3 possible actions and roll a d6 to determine which (often weighting the results) - sometimes I even toss in an unexpected action.   For example a monster gets marked by a defender - I may quickly decide 1,2,3 monster fights defender, 4,5 monster turns and attacks a "squishier" target, 6 monster retreats and goes total defense for a round or does something else unexpected.  Then I stick by my die roll - I tend to use this a lot - occasionaly I even anounce I am making a random roll to see what this monster does and roll it openly.  This also becomes a subtle way my players can realize which group of monsters act with purpose (no randomness to their actions) vs. those that act in a less predictable and unsure way.

I also revert to die rolls any time I start to feel like I'm unfairly avoiding players powers with tactics.  It creates a nice middle ground between playing the monster deliberately dumb to be fair to players, and playing them as master tacticians using unfair DM knowledge.
I prefer to play monsters a bit more "emotionally" than other seem to. If the defender keeps infuriating a monster by not letting it escape, basically, then it's not necessarily going to make tactically sound decisions. Same thing with other combat situations. Players sometimes attack something cuz it's pissed them off, rather than because it's a good idea.

I also let golems and slimes and the like act more stupidly than other monsters.
Skeptical_Clown wrote:
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104340961 wrote:
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http://community.wizards.com/doctorbadwolf/blog/2012/01/10/how_we_can_help_make_dndnext_awesome
Game Transparency only apply to what you can possibly know. A creature in an Aura should know what can happen to them, as vaguely or detailed the DM establishes it as per the effect directly affecting it. 

For Defender's Aura. the creature knows it suffer a -2 to hit for attacks not including the Knight as a Target and that being Marked stop it from being subjected to this effect. That's all it knows. Creatures in the Aura are not aware of Battle Guardian's effect or any other Powers that can trigger off of Shifting, or Attacking one of the Knight's ally.

What monsters know, and what monsters can learn are two things to keep in mind. Non-mindless Monsters, from the voracious Hyenas Pack to the sneaky Kobold bands, just like PC, will survey their environement looking to what happens to their comrades/brethens etc...so that they may later make different decisions after having witnessed certain behavior or reaction. 

PHB 57 Hit: Whenever you affect a creature with a power, that creature knows exactly what you’ve done to it and what conditions you’ve imposed. For example, when a paladin uses divine challenge against an enemy, the enemy knows that it has been marked and that it will therefore take a penalty to attack rolls and some damage if it attacks anyone aside from the paladin.

RC 90 Power: A concious creature affected by a Power knows what a Power has done to it, regardless of the power's type. 

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

Well said.

After that point, it's largely DMing style. My DMing style includes tactically unsound options when I feel the creature would make that decision, regardless of metagame knowledge (it also includes good tactical decision, of course.) Other DMs may metagame like mad to pose the greatest challenge to the party.

Skeptical_Clown wrote:
More sex and gender equality and racial equality shouldn't even be an argument--it should simply be an assumption for any RPG that wants to stay relevant in the 21st century.
104340961 wrote:
Pine trees didn't unanimously decide one day that leaves were gauche.
http://community.wizards.com/doctorbadwolf/blog/2012/01/10/how_we_can_help_make_dndnext_awesome
And for me it also depends how the party is doing. I try not to go deus ex machina, but sometimes I feel too much like I did something wrong, like going level + 2 encounter difficulty when they're already worn out or the likes.

Other times, I'm a merciless bastard.  
Get your Microsoft Word Monster Statistics Block Template here! My Campaign
Any monster with an intelligence or wisdom of 10 or greater I assume has enough sense living in a dangerous world to discuss with others of it's kind some of the potential dangers of it's adversaries, prey, and predators. Aka, I keep things very open knowledge wise. Now if the monster was dumb like a slime, zombie, or animated stick then not so much.  

With damage reduction effects, I will waste a minion attack or 2 on them and then the other monsters can observe that the player is more resiliet then normal and perhaps choose another target. I like players to know their choices matter.

It's not super realistic but it makes for entertaining combats.

One thing I don't do that much of is super effective focus fire. I sort of spread out the damage on the PCs since I know they have 4-6 encounters before an ER and I want to sap their surges and not just kill one in encounter 2 of the day. Now if the characters act truly dumb sometimes the monsters just cant help killing them.
If you feel like you need to allow your PCs to use abilities, have missions where the monsters will attack, and then withdraw, using guerrilla tactics...

Think up ways that each player can contribute and be the most effective in a mission.  It can get boring if the battle plan of every monster is 'charge enemy, hit enemy, hit enemy again, get killed and looted by enemy'
I am a level 29 Necro-POSTER! "...And then the cheese came."
Yep, most monsters would actually not sacrafice themselves, so if they have 3 HP and are standing in front of mr big barbarian that is swinging his greataxe at them, they'd probably run.
Pretty much EVERY monster (a few exceptions) would do this.
Let your players have the opportunity attack
One time, two human guards were killed because they chose to run away... :/ 
Get your Microsoft Word Monster Statistics Block Template here! My Campaign
First of all, the ability score called "Intelligence" has very little to do with how "intelligently" a monster or character acts. We don't require fighters to have a good Intelligence or Wisdom to make tactical decisions. When there is a mechanical effect on the game for being "tactical" the game works it in, giving Fighters a bonus to opportunity attacks for a high Wisdom, and giving Warlords bonuses for high Intelligence, etc.

Second of all, it's not always stupid to violate a mark. MM1 monsters, with high defenses, high HP, and low damage should do it often in order to put the hurt on weaker characters who are probably supporting the defender.

Transparency is the best policy. Everything about combat is plausibly visible or knowable. Everything.

Playing intelligently is the best policy. Every monster in the game is plausibly good enough at what it does to fight well. Animals have instincts and training, mindless creatures and grunts have orders.

If a defender's mark is never violated, then the defender might consider making his mark less punishing, rather than hoping to trick monsters into violating it. Violating a mark is not necessarily "stupid" but the DM is under no obligation to have the monsters act "stupid" just so a PCs feats, features, and powers prove useful. Many DMs will, because they're nice people playing with friends, and it's a good way to speed up combat, but they're not obligated.

(Shielding swordmages are something of an exception, since they tend just to negate monster efforts.)

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

What I do (so that the effects of violating marks come into play) in my games is that if the (non-minion) monster is NOT bloodied, it will violate the mark if it has a better chance of hitting another target.

A bloodied (non-minion) monster will NOT violate a mark.
What I do (so that the effects of violating marks come into play) in my games is that if the (non-minion) monster is NOT bloodied, it will violate the mark if it has a better chance of hitting another target.

A bloodied (non-minion) monster will NOT violate a mark.

What if there's too good a chance to pass up, such as taking down a striker, or leader, or controller?

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Use the INT/WIS to get an idea how clever the monster is, summarize the monster's motivation for yourself in one sentence, then figure out when (or if) the monster will ever flee or surrender. Make up the rest as you go, and don't agonize about the choices you make for monster personalities. I consider all of this essential DM prep.

And keep in mind, the only things that fight to the death are fanatics, thralls, and momma lions protecting their cubs. Most living things run or surrender well before that point...even most brave soldiers.

Ignore all of the above if what your group enjoys is a hack-and-slash crawl. And there's nothing wrong with that.  

The game assumes yes to all three. And that the monsters use this info as a monster of their int score would.


I tend to let things like oozes and unintelligent undead get away with not knowing these things.

"In a way, you are worse than Krusk"                               " As usual, Krusk comments with assuredness, but lacks the clarity and awareness of what he's talking about"

"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk"        "Wow, thank you very much"

"Your advice is the worst"

The game assumes yes to all three. And that the monsters use this info as a monster of their int score would.

Yet the game offers little guidance on what affect a monster's "Int" or "Wis" score should have on its combat tactics. Even animals can use surprisingly complex tactics, and this doesn't even account for commands, orders, instincts, memory remnants, or the like that a monster might have.

A quick look indicates that beasts seem to have high Wisdom, so someone determined to use Int/Wis as a basis for tactics might always have something. Still, I think it's an approach best abandoned.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

I think it mostly depends on a situation, and the most general idea of the creature.  Take goblins.
If the goblins are in a large mob, or are aware of the combat in advance (they're ambushing/trapping, or they're attacking) they will have a formulated plan (even if it's rush them and beat them as hard as you can!).  Yet they are very cowardly, and if they see the battle going in favor of their opponent, they will flee (normally, obviously magic, or a very, very, very nasty BBEG will change that, and that too is part of the situation).
If they are unaware of the attack (they'e ambushed or trapped, or are attacked), they will probably give ground unless they KNOW that they can kill the enemy with almost no casualties.

Obviously, that is specific to goblins, but the same general principle applies to all creatures (or animals).  The INT or WIS of a creature really doesn't come into play.  There are sort of 4 levels.
1- I don't really have a plan, I'm just going to attack and hope it works...alternatively: "BRAIIIIIINSSSSSSS!"  Zombies being the classical 'intelligentless' creature that doesn't have a plan other than attack the other guy, and who doesn't care if they die.

2- Basic, I know that I want an advantage over my opponent, and I know that I should run away if I lose it.  Goblins, animals, and most 'stupid' creatures.

3- I can formulate a battle plan and implement it.  I am aware of what my opponents are up to, and I can counteract most of their attacks (or at least attempt to).  These are really sly and 'smart' creatures.  Illithids and drow come to mind.

4- BBEG.  Pretty much, I don't fight you unless I need to, and I will only do it when I have every upper hand, if I don't have every upper hand, I will try to get away.  I will use everything I have, and I will have everything I need. 

The only really exception is when you have someone or something that is fanatical about something, whether its a line of dwarven soldiers protecting their families who are fleeing the goblin horde, or the crazy demon cultist who believes that Vecna will give him immortality for his services, an idea (or a spell) that controls a creatures mind and makes them do something larger than themselves is the only time that the flee mechanism doesn't trigger for 2-4.

I am a level 29 Necro-POSTER! "...And then the cheese came."
Role-playing the monsters was always one of my favorite parts of the game. 

So, I think a case-by-case basis with different monsters (and different groups of the same monsters) having different approaches to fighting, as described by Ubber, appeals to me, and it's what I've always done.

So far, my only real contact with 4th Edition in action has been through the Castle Ravenloft board game, but the monsters in that game have built-in artificial intelligence, with different monsters having different tactics, and that has been one of my favorite parts of the boardgames.


As far as the effects in play on monsters, I would assume monsters are aware of the effects at least on some level, but some monsters may adjust to the effects in different ways:  poisoned monsters with little incentive to keep fighting might run away, intelligent monsters with a penalty to their armor class might take cover and switch to ranged attacks, enraged berserkers might ignore penalties and fight to the death, and so on.


As someone earlier mentioned as well, I've been known to "dumb down" monster tactics if the PCs are exhausted from a tough fight in a previous encounter, or play monster intelligence to the hilt if the PCs have been getting a relatively free pass until that fight.  For example, one band of Goblins might be dumbed down to be a mob of fight-to-the-death berserkers, while another might have a designated leader and work together as a team to take advantage of terrain and so on, depending on whatever seems the most fun and appropriate.
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1- I don't really have a plan, I'm just going to attack and hope it works...alternatively: "BRAIIIIIINSSSSSSS!"  Zombies being the classical 'intelligentless' creature that doesn't have a plan other than attack the other guy, and who doesn't care if they die.

2- Basic, I know that I want an advantage over my opponent, and I know that I should run away if I lose it.  Goblins, animals, and most 'stupid' creatures.

3- I can formulate a battle plan and implement it.  I am aware of what my opponents are up to, and I can counteract most of their attacks (or at least attempt to).  These are really sly and 'smart' creatures.  Illithids and drow come to mind.

4- BBEG.  Pretty much, I don't fight you unless I need to, and I will only do it when I have every upper hand, if I don't have every upper hand, I will try to get away.  I will use everything I have, and I will have everything I need. 

The only really exception is when you have someone or something that is fanatical about something, whether its a line of dwarven soldiers protecting their families who are fleeing the goblin horde, or the crazy demon cultist who believes that Vecna will give him immortality for his services, an idea (or a spell) that controls a creatures mind and makes them do something larger than themselves is the only time that the flee mechanism doesn't trigger for 2-4.


Ok, but I don't see why "I am aware of what my opponents are up to, and I can counteract most of their attacks (or at least attempt to)" can't apply to every creature.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Ok, but I don't see why "I am aware of what my opponents are up to, and I can counteract most of their attacks (or at least attempt to)" can't apply to every creature.



I was being pretty general, but that's what most intelligent, none-super geniuses will have as a frame work.  For instance if you take a gnoll, not the smartest fighter, but cunning, he will know that when that wizard starts wiggling his fingers and shouting in some ancient, bizarre language, he needs to disrupt/kill/silence/ mess with that wizard.  If a fighter takes a swing at him, he knows he has to parry, and when he gets stabbed in the back by a rogue, he knows to try and get away from her before the fighter and the rogue double-team him....
This is the same for a drow, although a drow is a bit more advanced, she knows that if she shoots hers hand crossbow with sleeping darts at the wizard, knocking him out, and casts darkness on the fighter, she can deal with the rogue and then with the fighter, then slit the wizard's neck...or something like that.

Obviously, most creatures that don't have much of a tactical mind aren't in this category, a gelatinous cube for instance isn't able to do any of that, it attacks, ad if is about to die might back off...maybe not though.

I meant more or less that most intelligent beings are able to thing up a strategy and use it, then if the going gets tough to either get goin, or to make up an improvised plan to get them out of the mess they're in.  Creatures at 1 or 2 might not be able to do that.

I'm not even sure if that made any sense or not...but there you go :P
I am a level 29 Necro-POSTER! "...And then the cheese came."
Obviously, most creatures that don't have much of a tactical mind aren't in this category, a gelatinous cube for instance isn't able to do any of that, it attacks, ad if is about to die might back off...maybe not though.

That's not obvious to me. There's instinct, for instance. That gnoll who knows when to parry doesn't think about it, he just does it. Unlike a gelatinous cube, the gnoll was trained, but a gelatinous cube that's been around might have its own survival tactics even if it couldn't explain them

I meant more or less that most intelligent beings are able to thing up a strategy and use it, then if the going gets tough to either get goin, or to make up an improvised plan to get them out of the mess they're in.  Creatures at 1 or 2 might not be able to do that.

Maybe not, but I don't think that strategy and improvisation are all there is to it.

Monsters are supposed to be challenging as they are. Dumbing them down doesn't make sense to them. You can still roleplay them as stupid or mindless, but roleplaying them as bad at fighting seems strange to me.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Obviously, most creatures that don't have much of a tactical mind aren't in this category, a gelatinous cube for instance isn't able to do any of that, it attacks, ad if is about to die might back off...maybe not though.

That's not obvious to me. There's instinct, for instance. That gnoll who knows when to parry doesn't think about it, he just does it. Unlike a gelatinous cube, the gnoll was trained, but a gelatinous cube that's been around might have its own survival tactics even if it couldn't explain them

I meant more or less that most intelligent beings are able to thing up a strategy and use it, then if the going gets tough to either get goin, or to make up an improvised plan to get them out of the mess they're in.  Creatures at 1 or 2 might not be able to do that.

Maybe not, but I don't think that strategy and improvisation are all there is to it.

Monsters are supposed to be challenging as they are. Dumbing them down doesn't make sense to them. You can still roleplay them as stupid or mindless, but roleplaying them as bad at fighting seems strange to me.



Individual monsters are supossed to vary in challenge, even within the same level and role. And they do, but having different tactical paradigms for different types of enemies also adds more tactical complexity to the game. Just because the drow is smart enough to see a mouse trap when he sees one, doesn't mean the dire wolf is.
Skeptical_Clown wrote:
More sex and gender equality and racial equality shouldn't even be an argument--it should simply be an assumption for any RPG that wants to stay relevant in the 21st century.
104340961 wrote:
Pine trees didn't unanimously decide one day that leaves were gauche.
http://community.wizards.com/doctorbadwolf/blog/2012/01/10/how_we_can_help_make_dndnext_awesome
And they do, but having different tactical paradigms for different types of enemies also adds more tactical complexity to the game.

The discussion here seems to be about how to play enemies "dumb." I don't see how playing enemies dumb adds more tactical complexity. I think people like to do it because they find it plausible, but I think there are more plausible interpretations.

Just because the drow is smart enough to see a mouse trap when he sees one, doesn't mean the dire wolf is.

I assume you mean "know a mouse trap when he sees one." I think I see your point. One might imagine that it's easier to trap a wolf than trap a drow. Again, I think it's not that hard to imagine a plausible situation in which it is the other way around, or that their chances are equal. A wolf might have been trapped before, might pick up on telltales that a drow would miss, might not be interested in the bait, or what have you. If you interpret the rules to mean that by hitting the Perception DC you recognize a trap as a trap, and given that beasts often have very good Wisdom scores, a wolf would tend to be better than a drow at detecting a trap not specifically designed to entrap either species. He might not know exactly what it was what to do with it (given that he'd have a pretty poor Thievery skill), but he would know not to mess with it.

There are no DCs for acting tactically in combat, nor should there be, so Intelligence and Wisdom modifiers shouldn't matter. Play your monsters and your characters to the best of your ability, if you want, and supply one of any number of plausible reasons for their decisions.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

I'm not trying to advocate playing monsters dumb, in fact, many of my PCs will admit, with a bit of chagrin, that they have a hard enough time killing their enemies, with them running away, sounding alarms, and leading them into traps, I was merely trying to make a (very, extremely) simplified list of the largest groupings of intelligence level.....it's hard to explain what I mean.  You are totally right in what you're saying.

I'm simply pointing out, that you wouldn't have that same wolf plant a complicated swinging log trap, nor would you have that drow (unless under extreme circumstances) stare at the PCs and growl at them, snarling before charging them.

But yes, you are right.

I am a level 29 Necro-POSTER! "...And then the cheese came."
OK... this all seems very flexible, and I guess it is my job as the DM to determine the monsters course of action.  I just have a hard time deciding when to break away from a mark or other tactical decision.  I get chillhelms suggestions but not every monster has this desciption type.  

A generalization:

Soldiers: attempt to mark and keep the PCs away from weaker allies.
Skirmishers: Stay mobile, attempt to break the front line, flank enemies.
Brute: ????
Artillery: Stay out of melee and stay mobile to hammer PCs with damaging ranged attacks.

Correct me if I am wrong.  I hope this might help with monster tactics. 

I would also include: Don't allow players to goad you into treating monsters unfavorably just to, 'trigger a mark; gain extra damage; etc.'

Some battles might be purposely planned to give the players a chance to completely dominate the opponents with their PCs' best abilities, but certainly not all combats should roll that way.  

And they do, but having different tactical paradigms for different types of enemies also adds more tactical complexity to the game.

The discussion here seems to be about how to play enemies "dumb." I don't see how playing enemies dumb adds more tactical complexity. I think people like to do it because they find it plausible, but I think there are more plausible interpretations.

Just because the drow is smart enough to see a mouse trap when he sees one, doesn't mean the dire wolf is.

I assume you mean "know a mouse trap when he sees one." I think I see your point. One might imagine that it's easier to trap a wolf than trap a drow. Again, I think it's not that hard to imagine a plausible situation in which it is the other way around, or that their chances are equal. A wolf might have been trapped before, might pick up on telltales that a drow would miss, might not be interested in the bait, or what have you. If you interpret the rules to mean that by hitting the Perception DC you recognize a trap as a trap, and given that beasts often have very good Wisdom scores, a wolf would tend to be better than a drow at detecting a trap not specifically designed to entrap either species. He might not know exactly what it was what to do with it (given that he'd have a pretty poor Thievery skill), but he would know not to mess with it.

There are no DCs for acting tactically in combat, nor should there be, so Intelligence and Wisdom modifiers shouldn't matter. Play your monsters and your characters to the best of your ability, if you want, and supply one of any number of plausible reasons for their decisions.




The primary key is to do what is fun for your group. If that means some monsters are dumb while others are smart, then that's the case. If that means all monsters using solid tactics, even to the point of them metagaming, then go for it.

Personally, my enemies vary in tactical acuity. Particularly when it comes to whether or not a monster reacts emotionally to something. In my opinion, intelligent creatures in high stress situations are likely to react emotionally to many stimuli. Even things like dragons. You poke at a dragon's pride, and it's natural arrogance and pridefullness will come into play. It won't necessarily go after the person who is the greatest threat, or the most beneficial target.

Also, I always assume that the default enemy behavior in response to a player's mark is to pay attention to it. Sometimes they won't, and they'll get hurt, but I don't actually decide that based on the damage output of the mark punishment. Damage output is a nebulous thing, when translated to in game reckoning.

Also, I should have clarified. Mouse trap refers to a tactic, wherein one person in a formation darts forward to make a quick attack, then back again. Ideally, at least one person in the enemy formation generally chases the bait, and then get's pinched by two or more allies of the bait.  A wolf will probably go for the guy that just jump forward to attack. A drow has solid tactical knowledge, and may not.
Skeptical_Clown wrote:
More sex and gender equality and racial equality shouldn't even be an argument--it should simply be an assumption for any RPG that wants to stay relevant in the 21st century.
104340961 wrote:
Pine trees didn't unanimously decide one day that leaves were gauche.
http://community.wizards.com/doctorbadwolf/blog/2012/01/10/how_we_can_help_make_dndnext_awesome
OK... this all seems very flexible, and I guess it is my job as the DM to determine the monsters course of action.  I just have a hard time deciding when to break away from a mark or other tactical decision.  I get chillhelms suggestions but not every monster has this desciption type.  

A generalization:

Soldiers: attempt to mark and keep the PCs away from weaker allies.
Skirmishers: Stay mobile, attempt to break the front line, flank enemies.
Brute: ????
Artillery: Stay out of melee and stay mobile to hammer PCs with damaging ranged attacks.

Correct me if I am wrong.  I hope this might help with monster tactics. 

I would also include: Don't allow players to goad you into treating monsters unfavorably just to, 'trigger a mark; gain extra damage; etc.'

Some battles might be purposely planned to give the players a chance to completely dominate the opponents with their PCs' best abilities, but certainly not all combats should roll that way.  




I don't believe in arbitrarily denying players the benefit of their features. If you can't challenge them without doing so, you're not building encounters well.
Skeptical_Clown wrote:
More sex and gender equality and racial equality shouldn't even be an argument--it should simply be an assumption for any RPG that wants to stay relevant in the 21st century.
104340961 wrote:
Pine trees didn't unanimously decide one day that leaves were gauche.
http://community.wizards.com/doctorbadwolf/blog/2012/01/10/how_we_can_help_make_dndnext_awesome
I would also include: Don't allow players to goad you into treating monsters unfavorably just to, 'trigger a mark; gain extra damage; etc.'

Some battles might be purposely planned to give the players a chance to completely dominate the opponents with their PCs' best abilities, but certainly not all combats should roll that way.

I don't believe in arbitrarily denying players the benefit of their features. If you can't challenge them without doing so, you're not building encounters well.

I see this a lot with defender marks. I don't agree that having monsters always trigger a mark is that much of an advantage, as it means the enemy is attacking the defender's ally and probably damaging someone with much fewer and weaker surges than the defender. But I also don't see that not triggering a mark denies the player the benefit of the character's features. A defender's mark is effective whether or not the mark is triggered, so the feature can't be denied, unless the creature is able to shrug off marks, which most can't.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

I would also include: Don't allow players to goad you into treating monsters unfavorably just to, 'trigger a mark; gain extra damage; etc.'

Some battles might be purposely planned to give the players a chance to completely dominate the opponents with their PCs' best abilities, but certainly not all combats should roll that way.

I don't believe in arbitrarily denying players the benefit of their features. If you can't challenge them without doing so, you're not building encounters well.

I see this a lot with defender marks. I don't agree that having monsters always trigger a mark is that much of an advantage, as it means the enemy is attacking the defender's ally and probably damaging someone with much fewer and weaker surges than the defender. But I also don't see that not triggering a mark denies the player the benefit of the character's features. A defender's mark is effective whether or not the mark is triggered, so the feature can't be denied, unless the creature is able to shrug off marks, which most can't.



My problem isn't with the defender's mark punishment never triggering, or with the reverse. it's with DMs that do one or the other simply in order to try and make the battle harder/the character less effective.

IMO, most monsters should stick to the defender unless given a reason not to. And no, IMO, the relatively weak punishment of some marks is not a good reason.
Skeptical_Clown wrote:
More sex and gender equality and racial equality shouldn't even be an argument--it should simply be an assumption for any RPG that wants to stay relevant in the 21st century.
104340961 wrote:
Pine trees didn't unanimously decide one day that leaves were gauche.
http://community.wizards.com/doctorbadwolf/blog/2012/01/10/how_we_can_help_make_dndnext_awesome
My problem isn't with the defender's mark punishment never triggering, or with the reverse. it's with DMs that do one or the other simply in order to try and make the battle harder/the character less effective.

If one were to crunch the numbers, one might find that one or the other choice is "better" for the monsters, but by and large I'm going to go out on a limb and say that one can't really make the battle harder or the defender less effective, no matter the choice of triggering it or not. Once it's marked, there's no bad deal for the defender. The monsters might immobilize him, or make him ineffective some other way, but attacking either him or his allies plays into his hands either way.

IMO, most monsters should stick to the defender unless given a reason not to.

Those reasons are called the other characters.

And no, IMO, the relatively weak punishment of some marks is not a good reason.

Why not? Why should the monster have to stick to the defender when the defender's damage is paltry and the monster's damage is less effective against the defender's higher HP? Monsters plausibly know how much damage they can take so why not trigger a minor mark to possibly take out a striker? (The answer is that there are plenty of plausible reasons, if that's what the DM wants to do, but the players don't necessarily get to dictate who the monsters attack.)

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

It's not a legit reason because the monster isn't invincible, and there's a guy waving his sword in the monster's face. If we're not metagaming, you just don't turn your back on that.
Skeptical_Clown wrote:
More sex and gender equality and racial equality shouldn't even be an argument--it should simply be an assumption for any RPG that wants to stay relevant in the 21st century.
104340961 wrote:
Pine trees didn't unanimously decide one day that leaves were gauche.
http://community.wizards.com/doctorbadwolf/blog/2012/01/10/how_we_can_help_make_dndnext_awesome
It's not a legit reason because the monster isn't invincible, and there's a guy waving his sword in the monster's face. If we're not metagaming, you just don't turn your back on that.

But there's probably also someone aiming a dagger or an arrow at him, or a bigger sword, or who has him cursed. At some point, even a "stupid" monster is going to realize that it's worth risking a little extra hurt (from something it can't hurt very well) to get away from or stop an even bigger hurt. That point can vary for every DM and for every one of every DM's monsters, but I think it's fair to say that anything can be marked can at least roughly weigh the pros and cons of violating that mark.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

It's not a legit reason because the monster isn't invincible, and there's a guy waving his sword in the monster's face. If we're not metagaming, you just don't turn your back on that.

But there's probably also someone aiming a dagger or an arrow at him, or a bigger sword, or who has him cursed. At some point, even a "stupid" monster is going to realize that it's worth risking a little extra hurt (from something it can't hurt very well) to get away from or stop an even bigger hurt. That point can vary for every DM and for every one of every DM's monsters, but I think it's fair to say that anything can be marked can at least roughly weigh the pros and cons of violating that mark.



I think that the ultimate determining factor of when a monster will flee from combat, is what is behind it, if, in the next room, a balor is torturing some human prisoners, its inner sanctum guards will either willingly die (to avoid having to face their master after failing him) or are so loyal (or brainwashed) that they'll fight to the death.  On the same token, a bear will fight to protect its young, even if that means death.

A goblin, however, that has nothing behind other than possibly another PC, will probably run once its lost over half its health...or whenever it realizes it cant win.
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