High level creatures and the break down of the 4E math

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I am mostly wondering if anyone else has run into a similiar issue and how they dealt with it.

So our DM sometimes has a hard time challenging our group.  This is a combination of a well balanced group and lack of imagination on the DM's part.  So to make up for his inability to challenge the party with on level encounters I have noticed a few things this DM does:

1) Throw monsters that are 5-10 levels above the part level.  He stays within his encounter budget with these encounters, usuaully meaning only one or two monsters.  But at level desparities such as these I have noticed the basic math of the system breaks down.  The players need to get extremely lucky to hit and every attack is a near auto hit against them.

2) He decided to do a level + 5 encounter, after we had done a on level encounter (all minions 10 levels higher than us) with no short rest afterwards.  We were not in much danger of a TPK with this but we were down a few encounter powers (mainly our healing) and so the level + 5 encounter just dragged on and on (luckily the monsters were only one level higher than us for this encounter otherwise it would have been a TPK).  His reasoning behind this level of an encounter was (I am usually the DM) because he thinks I put them against encounters of this level, even though the highest level encounter I have included was level + 3 and only on big end type encounters, certainly not level + 5 for a normal encounter.  I am just better at challenging the party, so often times it seems the encounter level is higher than it is.

My main frustration with this (in addition to what I have already stated) is in my character design.  I play an elven fighter based around having very high defenses and being very mobile, but the trade off is that I do not have the staying power that many other fighters have with their many surges and no way to heal myself outside potions or second wind.  So when the math becomes broken by using very high level monsters all my feats to boost my defenses are basically wasted feats unless the monsters are rolling 2s on their attacks.  This can make the individual encounters enraging sometimes, but the real problem comes when we need to continue on, down more than half my surges from one encounter and many of the party's daily powers used up...hopefully there is not another high level monster or level + 5 encounter waiting for us around the corner.

I have spoken with him about some things he could do differntly to add challenge to the encounters without distorting the numbers, hopefully that helps (though I will be back to DMing soon anyway).

Has anyone else run into issues such as these and what are your thoughts. Discuss! and thanks.
"The great epochs of our life come when we gain the courage to rechristen our evil as what is best in us." - Friedrich Nietzsche
The math isn't breaking down. A monster that is more than 5 levels above you is going to get very hard to hit, as it is supposed. However, you're not really supposed to face monsters that high.

It sounds like your DM doesn't have an excellent grasp on how the system is supposed to work, and/or doesn't have that much experience with 4E.
Fighting monsters above your level is boring. The players miss a lot, the monster hits all the time, and the combat drags on because it has so many hit points. Explain (or show your DM any one of the many threads on this board) that rather than using higher level monsters, s/he should be using lots of at level or lower monsters. The combat seems faster and more exciting because things actually change, and 6 at level monsters are way more threatening that two level+5 monsters (because they have more attacks, and thus more damage).

Co-author on AoA 2-3 and 4-1.

The math isn't breaking down. A monster that is more than 5 levels above you is going to get very hard to hit, as it is supposed. However, you're not really supposed to face monsters that high.

It sounds like your DM doesn't have an excellent grasp on how the system is supposed to work, and/or doesn't have that much experience with 4E.
Fighting monsters above your level is boring. The players miss a lot, the monster hits all the time, and the combat drags on because it has so many hit points. Explain (or show your DM any one of the many threads on this board) that rather than using higher level monsters, s/he should be using lots of at level or lower monsters. The combat seems faster and more exciting because things actually change, and 6 at level monsters are way more threatening that two level+5 monsters (because they have more attacks, and thus more damage).

Thanks for your reply, but I would say that math is breaking down because the players miss 85% of the time, the monster hit 85% of the time and do much more damage than an on level encounter.... the difficulty is not increasing as a linear function but an exponential one, so yes the math does start to break down once the differences between the players' levels and the monsters' levels reach a certain disparity.

You are right, the fights do get boring, because we miss always and they hit always.  We basicially need very high levels of luck to be making rolls of 18 or higher to even think about hitting. 

The issues seems to be that he doesn't feel the on level monsters hit enough and die to quickly, I will try to explain the reasoning behind using creatures of our level a bit to him if he has not already taken my advise (will see what eencounters he comes up with next game, and see if anything I have already said has taken hold).
"The great epochs of our life come when we gain the courage to rechristen our evil as what is best in us." - Friedrich Nietzsche
If you want to only have 1-2 monsters in a fight, those monsters are supposed to be solo's or elites.   Not monsters that are 5 levels higher.

You really shouldn't be fighting monsters that are more then +/- 2 levels.

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F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

Thanks for your reply, but I would say that math is breaking down because the players miss 85% of the time, the monster hit 85% of the time and do much more damage than an on level encounter.... the difficulty is not increasing as a linear function but an exponential one, so yes the math does start to break down once the differences between the players' levels and the monsters' levels reach a certain disparity.


Then you're using the phrase "break down" or the word "linear" incorrectly. Monsters get +1 to hit per level, and +1 to all defenses per level. That's linear. The game says a level+5 monster is supposed to be very hard to hit, and it is very hard to hit. Everything is working exactly like it is supposed to (except your DM).


The issues seems to be that he doesn't feel the on level monsters hit enough and die to quickly, I will try to explain the reasoning behind using creatures of our level a bit to him if he has not already taken my advise (will see what eencounters he comes up with next game, and see if anything I have already said has taken hold).

 
Make sure the DM is not using Monster Manual I or II (even III is a stretch). Monster Vault, and Threats to the Nentir Vale, are the two books to use for monsters. Monster builder also works. This is because the monsters from I and II had too many hit points, their defenses were too high, and they didn't do enough damage.

If your DM is unhappy with at level monsters dying to quickly, have him  use more monsters or give them auras. If they die too quickly, use more monsters. 

Co-author on AoA 2-3 and 4-1.

Then you're using the phrase "break down" or the word "linear" incorrectly. Monsters get +1 to hit per level, and +1 to all defenses per level. That's linear. The game says a level+5 monster is supposed to be very hard to hit, and it is very hard to hit. Everything is working exactly like it is supposed to (except your DM).



break down in commnunication....yes, one for one would be linear but...When they are twice as hard to hit, hit twice as often and do twice as much damage the equation is no longer linear, that would be exponential, like I said (2x2x2=8 times as hard).  Does this make sense?

So what I am say is that when you stay within a few levels of the characters' levels the math works, but past a certain point the difficulty rises dramatically, and this is the case even if the DM has stayed with his encounter XP budget...so yes the math breaks down...nevermind that you are not suppose to use creatures that are so much higher in level than the characters. 

I realize that the issue is with the DM, so it is not helpful to tell me this.  What would be helpful is advice to give the DM or if you have been in this situtation before letting me know what you did to remedy or work with the situation.
"The great epochs of our life come when we gain the courage to rechristen our evil as what is best in us." - Friedrich Nietzsche

I realize that the issue is with the DM, so it is not helpful to tell me this.  What would be helpful is advice to give the DM or if you have been in this situtation before letting me know what you did to remedy or work with the situation.



I have given advice. The DM needs to stop using higher level monsters, and instead use at level (or lower monsters) and use lots of them. I've never been in your situation because all of the home games I've played in (whether running or playing) have stayed away from clogging up combats with boring monsters that don't die. 

Co-author on AoA 2-3 and 4-1.

I have given advice. The DM needs to stop using higher level monsters, and instead use at level (or lower monsters) and use lots of them. I've never been in your situation because all of the home games I've played in (whether running or playing) have stayed away from clogging up combats with boring monsters that don't die. 



wow, how helpful, problem is this is "What is a Player suppose to do?" thread.  I guess I am not sure what I was expecting as a response but I do not seem to be getting anything close to helpful sooo...consider this thread done.
"The great epochs of our life come when we gain the courage to rechristen our evil as what is best in us." - Friedrich Nietzsche
Well, it sounds like you'd built your character around the expectation that your DM would be running a game within the suggested rules, which isn't the case.

Short of rebuilding your character with the knowledge that you'll be continually facing L+5 monsters, there isn't a bandaid to help you out. And if you rebuild, what do you do if your DM realizes the problem?

The only answer is: There's nothing you can do to compensate for a DM who's smashing you with L+5 monsters, except maybe magic items? 
A complete rebuild would help, if done right. A PC can be built to hit on 5s and 6s pretty easily, so hitting on 10's against OP's DM sounds possible.
But that's just treating a symptom. It sounds like the OP and the other players need to get together and explain why combat isn't fun, and what can be done about it. Or, less aggressively, direct the DM towards the forums to get advice on how to properly challenge the players.

Co-author on AoA 2-3 and 4-1.

Well, it sounds like you'd built your character around the expectation that your DM would be running a game within the suggested rules, which isn't the case.

Short of rebuilding your character with the knowledge that you'll be continually facing L+5 monsters, there isn't a bandaid to help you out. And if you rebuild, what do you do if your DM realizes the problem?

The only answer is: There's nothing you can do to compensate for a DM who's smashing you with L+5 monsters, except maybe magic items? 


That was the conclusion I had come to, but want to see if anyone had any other suggestions.  I have spoken with him subtly about the issue, will see at next game if that makes a difference, if not I will try a more straight froward approach or maybe offer to help him build balanced encounters that are still challenging, because as a DM I have not problems with accomplishing that goal.

Thanks for the post.
"The great epochs of our life come when we gain the courage to rechristen our evil as what is best in us." - Friedrich Nietzsche
You said you usually DM...why don't you show him how you DM, pull back the curtain a bit, and show him some encounters you've written up (preferably encounters that you remember everybody enjoying). That way he can actually see what you're doing.

Also don't be so confrontational. We don't know the exact nature of the situation (you've described it generally and briefly, yes, but we don't have your specific experience to draw upon), so we don't really know exactly what should be said. It's your group. They're your friends. They're your experiences. Draw upon them. Sit down, outside of game, as a group (like in a group e-mail or message board, if you can't meet in person outside of game), and talk, as a group, openly, about what's going on, about what people's expectations and experiences are, and about what people are getting out of game, versus what they want to get out of game.

Talk to your group. Talk to your DM. 

"Not only are you wrong, but I even created an Excel spreadsheet to show you how wrong you are." --James Wyatt, May 2006

Dilige, et quod vis fac

I am going to go talk to him today, we get along pretty well and I have his ear, so I think I can let him know what is going on without causing any trouble.  We talked a little after last session but it was late and I dont really remember what was said exactly...just some hints here and there.  Thanks for the input.
"The great epochs of our life come when we gain the courage to rechristen our evil as what is best in us." - Friedrich Nietzsche
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