Leveling up MV creatures on the OMV?

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I've been wondering this for a while, but if you add a monster from either of the Monster Vaults to the offline Monster Builder as a custom creature, and then use the program to level it up a bit, will it still be playable?


I realize this might be a dumb question, but the whole thing with them coming up with a new formula for monster creation always confused the hell out of me, so I'm worried that if the program is using the old formula or something and I try to level up the new creatures, that it'll throw them out of the whack, either making them too powerful or too week or something.

It probably won't cause any major problems as long as you aren't changing the creature's level by more than ~3. Beyond that, significant math issues are more likely to crop up, and general design issues are also a concern.

You probably don't need to use the builder for that though: if you're leveling it up or down within those ~3 levels, you can produce a playable result by giving it +1/-1 to attacks, all four defenses, and damage, and +10/-10 to hit points (+20/-20 for elites, +40/-40 for solos) per level. This ignores some of the smaller changes that 'should' happen, but as long as you're staying within the same general level range those changes won't be significant enough to worry about.
There is a very useful DM cheat sheet at slyflourish.com (link on right side).

There is a very useful DM cheat sheet at slyflourish.com (link on right side).



Actually, I've got that cheat sheet.  Downloaded it a while ago, and completely forgot about it until earlier this morning.  Quick question though:  is the "Updating Pre-MM3 Monsters" table on that sheat reliable?  
There are a number of cheat sheets out there (I like to compare one on EN World to Sly Flourish's and then compare it further to a sheet I have as an author for WotC). The truth is that no number is perfect... you want to adjust it to your campaign/players and develop a feel for what works.

Back on the original topic, I find the old MB works fine for new monsters or those with new MM3 and beyond math. The program, I think, just ups by an expected amount but does not consider the source. Thus, an MM3 monster will stay reasonable and an MM1 monster will still be weak. I like to edit my monster fully and then look at a cheat sheet and fine-tune. If I ever am not sure, I note that in my notes (for home campaigns) and adjust on the fly as needed based on how the battle is going and my envisioned challenge level.

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Alpha: Last I knew, the offline builder still used the old damage values rather than the new ones, and its adjustments when you level something up or down reflect that, so the damage won't change as much as it should.


Goliath: Pre-MM3 monsters pose an additional problem in that their abilities may not be very well designed by current standards, and in some cases their base values are so far off the mark that they'll be a problem even after math adjustments. If you avoid elites and (especially) solos then this won't be as pronounced, but even standards should be compared to similar creatures of recent design to gauge whether there are any holes in the way they've been put together.
Alpha: Last I knew, the offline builder still used the old damage values rather than the new ones, and its adjustments when you level something up or down reflect that


It is my impression/recollection (perhaps incorrect) that both builders scale the same way and that the difference is really baseline damage. Neither builder, from what I recall, jumps a die size when you level monsters upwards (as an example). They just change the static bonus to damage. I'll test next time I get a chance.

Follow my blog and Twitter feed with Dark Sun campaign design and DM tips!
Dark Sun's Ashes of Athas Campaign is now available for home play (PM me with your e-mail to order the campaign adventures).

There are a number of cheat sheets out there (I like to compare one on EN World to Sly Flourish's and then compare it further to a sheet I have as an author for WotC). The truth is that no number is perfect... you want to adjust it to your campaign/players and develop a feel for what works.


I want to add to this by saying that I did exactly what Alpha said.  My players in paragon/epic had a lot of resistance gear (yes it breaks the math...shock of shocks) and so I had to pay attention to the damage type that my monsters would deal and if it was a type that a lot of my group had resistance to then I would up the damage to compensate (usually by an amount equal to the average resistance level).  This is especially problematic with creatures that do ongoing damage.  Example:

Hit: 1d8 + 3 fire damage and 5 ongoing fire damage
vs.
Hit: 1d8 + 8 fire damage.

A PC with resist 5 fire will laugh at the 2.5 (average) damage from the initial hit and ignore the ongoing damage entirely.