Monster Scaling Help...

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Hey everyone.  I haven't picked up a D&D book since TSR owned it and I'm a little lost on all this monster scaling stuff for 4e.  

In the DM's guide on page 56 it talks about scaling monsters to fit your party's encounter level based on how hard or difficult you want the encounter to be.  EG: n-4 all the way to n+4.  etc.

This secton talks about scaling the XP for the encounter but doesn't really help me with the monsters themselves.  I understand that there are some templates you can assign a monster making them a minion (less powerful more like a squishy meat shield en mass), an elite (mid boss), or a solo monster.  

Some monsters in the Monster Manuel are even pre-designed as such.  But how do I create something that fits my story needs if it's not allready there?  What is the math forumla involved?

Example:  I am scripting my tables first adventure in 4e and part of the first adventure hook is the party encounters a group of bandits.  the party has 5 members all level 1.  The encounter level of this bandit attack should be 5-6 for an average encounter.  The XP budget for this encounter is 650xp split between 5 monsters.  (5 players = 5 monsters)
4- human bandits lv 1 skirmishers.
1- human bandit lv 2 controller.   

XP wise that spends my budget but in the monster manuel human "bandit" comes as a level 2 option only?  How do I scale him down to make him work for my lv 1 needs and should I want to use bandits at a higher level say 4's and 7's how do I scale him up?  

What if I want a Human Berserker at level 8 or a Human mage at level 2?

Am I missing something here?

 
What if I want a Human Berserker at level 8 or a Human mage at level 2?

Am I missing something here?

Seems like it. The DMG has a section that advises how to make changes to monsters. Every level you add gives them more hit points based on their "role" (which will be about the same as any other monster of that level with the same role), +1 on defense, and +1 on attacks. Decreasing level does the opposite. For changes of no more than 5 levels, this is accurate enough.

You can and should also reflavor monsters. If you know the level and role you want, look at the monsters that fit that level and role. There's probably one close to the concept you need, something that will require only a little reflavoring. If not, then look at the levels above or below that.

Don't worry about being precise. Monster level is not precise to begin with.

Edit:
For a level 8 human berserker, you could use an orc chieftan, exactly as written. Or, take out "Inspire Ferocity" and put in a hand axe attack.

For a level 2 human mage, you could use a reflavored elf archer. Its arrows become arcane missiles, its short sword a blade of force.

And those are just what I get when I stick to the original Monster Manual.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

Really good advice here. I would only add to be careful of having PC's fight monsters that are significantly higher level or lower level. Accuracy becomes a serious problem. While it may say in the "budget" that you can attack a group of level 1 heroes with a single level 8 monster, they'll probably have a really hard time hitting him, and no one is going to have fun with that.
Really good advice here. I would only add to be careful of having PC's fight monsters that are significantly higher level or lower level. Accuracy becomes a serious problem. While it may say in the "budget" that you can attack a group of level 1 heroes with a single level 8 monster, they'll probably have a really hard time hitting him, and no one is going to have fun with that.

Not as a straight fight, no, but it would work if the monster had some other goal, and if failure wasn't the end of the line. The players might even do something surprising with some lucky rolls.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

This may be a little advanced for you, but this is a quick cheat sheet that I apply to almost all of my encounters. It's a combo of things I've found online from Chris Perkins as well as others. It makes it very easy to make up creatures on the fly and skip the MM altogether.

docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AkJ...

based on my sheet, here is how your guys would be:

Human Berserker, Level 8 - I would consider it a brute...and I'd give it a 'greataxe' for visual flair...
attack: +14 vs AC
attack vs NAC: not applicable
damage:
at-will (I'd call it a two handed overhead strike or something)...2d6 +13
encounter (once per encounter he can cleave, targetting 2 guys)...2d6 +23 
66 HP
AC: 20, Fort: 20, Reflex: 20, Will: 20

Human Mage level 2 - default, i.e. not a brute
attack vs AC; not applicable
attack vs NAC: +5 vs whatever you want (reflex, fort, wil)
damage:
at-will (Chaos Bolt for 'flair')...1d6+7 dmg
encounter (Arc Lightning for flair, targets up to 2 players)...1d6+12
HP 38
AC: 16, Fort: 14, reflex 14, will 14...

pretty simple, took all of 30 seconds to create. leaves a lot of flexibility to you as a DM and speeds things up...

naturally it doesn't work for everyone, but I find it does for me.

edit: Oh, and this is simply a guide, I'll obviously change things around situationally if I want (i.e. I might bump the NAC (Fort reflex, will) by 1 in either direction)...you'll learn to adapt overtime, but the real key here is that you are the DM, you have an imagination and should probably be able to create these on the fly fast...if not, centari offers a great solution of just using a different monster of the same level and just 'rename' it.
Thanks for all the great advice.  This does help in the interum.  D&D has changed a lot since I last rolled dice back in second ed.  

I did go back and check the DM's guide, found the section where it talks about monster jobs, but not where it talks about scaling to level.  -though the last post here did help with that.

Again, thanks.  A lot has changed in this game. 
Thanks for all the great advice.  This does help in the interum.  D&D has changed a lot since I last rolled dice back in second ed.  

I did go back and check the DM's guide, found the section where it talks about monster jobs, but not where it talks about scaling to level.  -though the last post here did help with that.

Hm. I think it's in the first column on the first page that discusses customizing monsters. It's not a table, just a paragraph about it. The table on hit points is at the bottom of that page.

Again, thanks.  A lot has changed in this game. 

Not where it really matters.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

I cheat.

Rather than scaling a monster up using the methods described above, I grab a monster of the level I want, and just change the names of the powers and descriptions to what I want it to be.
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 cheat.

Rather than scaling a monster up using the methods described above, I grab a monster of the level I want, and just change the names of the powers and descriptions to what I want it to be.



+1... cheater.

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Oh for the love of Vecna... it starts up on page 174 in the DM's Toolbox.  No where near the Building Encounters area.  

Apparently either I'm blind or I've crit failed a perception check or three. 
"Really good advice here. I would only add to be careful of having PC's fight monsters that are significantly higher level or lower level. Accuracy becomes a serious problem. While it may say in the "budget" that you can attack a group of level 1 heroes with a single level 8 monster, they'll probably have a really hard time hitting him, and no one is going to have fun with that."

That's actually in the DM guide somewhere; it recommends not using anything more than 4 levels above or below the party for that reason. As was pointed out, there are times when it's okay to make an exception to that; primarily when the PCs and the monsters aren't being put in a straight fight to the death.
That's actually in the DM guide somewhere; it recommends not using anything more than 4 levels above or below the party for that reason. As was pointed out, there are times when it's okay to make an exception to that; primarily when the PCs and the monsters aren't being put in a straight fight to the death.

Which, if it were the standard, would solve a lot of the issues that come up on this forum.

It would probably raise new issues, but still....

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

I had a setup one time where a group of PC's around level...6, probably, were passing through a hallway with holding cells. Inside some of the cells were some very nasty monsters way too high-level for them to kill. And they had ranged attacks. The hallway became a rather scary deathtrap, but all they had to do was survive long enough to get out of range.