How to handle special powers on monsters like Energy Drain

I was writing a post recently and got this idea and thought it deserved it's own thread.   

A lot of people dislike energy drain.  Some like it a lot.  Others might use it if designed to suit them.  Same goes for a lot of other monster powers like the rusting effect on the rust monster or the petrification on the medusa.  So here goes.

1.  Assign a keyword to a monster.  (Energy Drain, Rust, Petrification).  The keyward is undefined on the monster.
2.  Design the monsters xp value as if the keyword meant nothing.
3.  Create multiple monster templates for each keyword and assign an additive xp value.  

So here is my example using energy drain

Energy Drain #1
Lose 1 level ...  add 500 xp

Energy Drain #2
Take a -1 to hit until next long rest.  Cumulative....  add 300xp

Energy Drain #3
Save verses fear or flee for one round....  add 300xp

And so forth.  I just made up the xp value.  They would of course analyze the game more closely and produce a realistic value for each type.  They'd also think through the various powers and get feedback on what people want.








 

Here is a great blog by themormegil that explains why we had an edition war. narrativism vs simulationism

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dissociative mechanics (same as my own metagame dissonance. A great article.)

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My view on hit points

That seems complicated.  Why use keywords, when you can simply define a condition: "energy drain".

Then in the description you may say something as follows:

Energy Drain: A character hit with energy drain receives a -1 penalty to all d20 rolls.  This penalty is cumulative with other energy drains and lasts until the end of the next short rest, or until the character uses Hit Dice to heal.  Some campaigns prefer a deadlier version of energy drain.  In these campaigns, the energy drain penalties may last until the end of a long rest, or until the character receives a remove curse, or until some other condition is met as determined by the DM.  Check with your DM as to which version of energy drain is used in the campaign.  Because the energy drain effect generally requires treasure to undo, the DM may want to consider making sure the party has additional treasure to compensate for any aftermath.

Rust: A character hit with rust receives a -1 penalty to AC and weapon attacks.  This penalty is cumulative with other rust effects and lasts until the end of the next short rest.  Some campaigns prefer a grittier version of rust.  In these campaigns, the rust only affects metal armor and weapons, and the creature imposing the effect must choose which specific metallic item is to be affected.  The penalty still lasts until the item is repaired (which can only occur in a smith's forge and costs one-third of the item's value) or is subject to a mending or make whole effect.  Check with your DM as to which version of rust is used in the campaign.  Because the rust effect generally requires treasure to undo, the DM may want to consider making sure the party has additional treasure to compensate for any aftermath.

Petrification: The base speed of a character hit with petrification is reduced by 10'.  This penalty is cumulative with other petrification effects.  A creature whose base speed is reduced to 0 or less is turned to stone.  Being turned to stone imposes the following conditions: (i) resistance to all damage; (ii) paralysis; (iii) agelessness; (iv) a twenty-fold increase in weight; and (v) no need to eat, breathe, drink, sleep, or trance.  Generally, the petrification and turned to stone effects last until the end of a short rest.  Some campaigns prefer a grittier version of turned to stone.  In these campaigns, creatures turned to stone can only be restored by use of a stone to flesh effect.  Check with your DM as to which version of turned to stone is used in the campaign.  Because the turned to stone effect generally requires treasure to undo, the DM may want to consider making sure the party has additional treasure to compensate for any aftermath.
i think that emerikol's ideas are the worst ones on energy drain that ive ever seen put forth. cluttered, ugly, unusable, and pointless. imo if you are going to use energy drain, just go old school with it. otherwise, dont call it energy drain. still, if i was forced at gunpoint to come up with an 'energy drain jr', then something like wrecan's idea is at least usable (although i wouldnt use it)
You can also write it with the harsher version as the default and the lesser version as the option for "less arbitrarily deadly" campaigns, with a -25% reduction of XP for the creature.
You can also write it with the harsher version as the default and the lesser version as the option for "less arbitrarily deadly" campaigns.



i think i would prefer it that way, not bc i particularly want it to be harsh, but more bc i want it to reflect the original mechanic. i am not a fan of an established term's meaning changing dramatically between editions; unfortunately 5e does this a lot. so "energy drain is energy drain, but ____" seems the best way to do it, if they really feel the need to give some less harsh options. otherwise just call it something else and avoid the whole mess.
Alright, let's give that a try...

Energy Drain: A character hit with energy drain receives a -1 penalty to all d20 rolls.  This penalty is cumulative with other energy drains and lasts until the character receives a remove curse.  Some campaigns prefer a less arbitrary version of energy drain.  In these campaigns, the energy drain penalties may last until the end of a long rest, until the end of the next short rest, until the character uses Hit Dice to heal, or until some other condition is met as determined by the DM.  Check with your DM as to which version of energy drain is used in the campaign.  Because energy drain generally requires treasure to ameliorate, the DM may want to increase the treasure awarded in an adventure to compensate for any aftermath.

Rust: A creature that imposes rust chooses one metallic item possessed by the victim.  If armor, the victim receives a -1 penalty to AC.  If a weapon, the victim receives a -1 penalty to attacks with that weapon.  Any other item receives a -1 penalty to any dice associated with its use  This penalty is cumulative with other rust effects and lasts until the item is repaired (which can only occur in a smith's forge and costs one-third of the item's value) or is subject to a mending or make whole effect.  Some campaigns prefer a less complicated and less permanent effect.  In these campaigns, the rust causes general corruption of any material, imposes a -1 penalty to the victim's AC and weapon attack rolls, the penalty is still cumulative with other rust effects, and the effect lasts only until the end of a short rest.  Check with your DM as to which version of rust is used in the campaign.  Because rust generally requires treasure to ameliorate, the DM may want to increase the treasure awarded in an adventure to compensate for any aftermath.

Petrification: A character hit with petrification receives a ten-foot reduction in its base speed.  This penalty is cumulative with other petrification effects and lasts until the end of the next short rest.  A creature whose base speed is reduced to 0 or less is turned to stone.  Being turned to stone imposes the following conditions: (i) resistance to all damage; (ii) paralysis; (iii) agelessness; (iv) a twenty-fold increase in weight; and (v) no need to eat, breathe, drink, sleep, or trance.  Generally, the turned to stone effect can only be restored by use of a stone to flesh effect.  Some campaigns prefer a less permanent version of turned to stone.  In these campaigns, turned to stone lasts until the end of a short rest.  Check with your DM as to which version of turned to stone is used in the campaign.  Because turned to stone generally requires treasure to ameliorate, the DM may want to increase the treasure awarded in an adventure to compensate for any aftermath.
Now that I think about it, I'm not sure an XP adjustment is needed.  The only real difference between the more and less gritty effects is how hard it is to remove it.  That doesn't affect how deadly a creature is in the encounter.  It affects how difficult it is to remove the effect.  The real adjustment should not be in XP, but in treasure.  The groups with grittier effects will have to use more scrolls, ritual components, and gold to ameliorate the effects of the grittier effects.  So I'm not sure an XP adjustment is even warranted.
Now that I think about it, I'm not sure an XP adjustment is needed.  The only real difference between the more and less gritty effects is how hard it is to remove it.  That doesn't affect how deadly a creature is in the encounter.  It affects how difficult it is to remove the effect.  The real adjustment should not be in XP, but in treasure.  The groups with grittier effects will have to use more scrolls, ritual components, and gold to ameliorate the effects of the grittier effects.  So I'm not sure an XP adjustment is even warranted.



Personally along the same lines since most of the people who like these things deadly typically want a "gritter" game I wouldn't bother with an XP adjustment either.
We use rules very similar

-1 cumulative until remove curse, but with a Fort Save after each long rest to restore 1 lost level.

What is a -2 on speed, is that like 10' ?

We also use the -1 rust condition, cumulative.  @-5 the item breaks and cannot be repaired.

This is pretty much how they do it in Pathfinder and I liked how it worked.

"The turning of the tide always begins with one soldier's decision to head back into the fray"

Now that I think about it, I'm not sure an XP adjustment is needed.  The only real difference between the more and less gritty effects is how hard it is to remove it.  That doesn't affect how deadly a creature is in the encounter.  It affects how difficult it is to remove the effect.  The real adjustment should not be in XP, but in treasure.  The groups with grittier effects will have to use more scrolls, ritual components, and gold to ameliorate the effects of the grittier effects.  So I'm not sure an XP adjustment is even warranted.

Or the removal of grittier effects could be the source of additional XP for the victim.

I don't see why it should be.  Removal of effects costs treasure, in the form of gold or ritual/spell components.  So any "adjustment" should be made in the form of treasure.  If the effects caused you to lose XP, or made the encounter itself more difficult, then I think an XP adjustment would be warranted.
What is a -2 on speed, is that like 10' ?


Oops!  That's my 4e bias peeking through.  I'll go back and fix it.

Draft Three.  I think the options work better as a sidebar.  So let's try it this way.  Imagine a section in a rule book delineating the more common conditions or monster powers, with a sidebar as follows:










INSERT CONDITIONS "A" through "D"

Energy Drain: A character hit with energy drain receives a -1 penalty to all d20 rolls.  This penalty is cumulative with other energy drains and lasts until the character receives a remove curse.


INSERT CONDITIONS "F" THROUGH "O"

Petrification: A character hit with petrification receives a ten-foot reduction in its base speed.  This penalty is cumulative with other petrification effects and lasts until the end of the next short rest.  A creature whose base speed is reduced to 0 or less is turned to stone


INSERT CONDITIONS BEGINNING WITH "Q"

Rust: A creature that imposes rust chooses one metallic item possessed by the victim.  If armor, the victim receives a -1 penalty to AC.  If a weapon, the victim receives a -1 penalty to attacks with that weapon.  Any other item receives a -1 penalty to any dice associated with its use  This penalty is cumulative with other rust effects and lasts until the item is repaired (which can only occur in a smith's forge and costs one-third of the item's value) or is subject to a mending or make whole effect.


INSERT CONDITIONS BEGINNING WITH "S"

Turned to Stone: Being turned to stone imposes the following conditions: (i) resistance to all damage; (ii) paralysis; (iii) agelessness; (iv) a twenty-fold increase in weight; and (v) no need to eat, breathe, drink, sleep, or trance.  Generally, the turned to stone effect can only be restored by use of a stone to flesh effect.


INSERT CONDITIONS "U" THROUGH "Z"


AFTERMATH AND OPTIONS


Some of the conditions listed here -- most notably energy drain, rust, and turned to stone -- can only be ended or alleviated with the expenditure of gold or the use of a spell, ritual, or similar effect.  DMs may want to increase the treasure awarded in adventures that contain creatures or traps that impose these conditions to account for the additional resources the characters will have to spend. 


Some campaigns find that these conditions interrupt the flow of the game because they often require the characters to leave the adventure to restore their companions afflicted with these conditions.  In these campaigns, the group may decide that these effects are only temporary, lasting until the end of a short rest. Check with your group as to which version of these effects are used in your campaign.



Tada!
Nice stuff. 

As always, people can always choose not to use the monster. 
However, the real conflict will always come from the players who hate the more severe energy drain and rust penalties but whose DM enjoys said effects.
Having alternate less and more gritty versions doesn't really solve that problem, as the DM will opt for the version they like while the players will push or suggest (or whine for) the version they like. 

Personally, I think the easiest way to handle energy drain without wall-of-texting each related monster, is to focus on alternate means of removal. Start with a middle of the road baseline in the monster text and change that elsewhere. 
Such as having it be a hard Constitution save to remove the penalty, but in the DMG suggest that the penalty might wear off in a semi-gritty game (over several days), be permanent in a gritty game, or go away overnight in a heroic game. 
Or there could be alternate versions of said power, similar to monster themes: "Here's the carebear version of Enegery Drain and below, here's the masochist version of Energy Drain."


 

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Actually, the "default" conditions I made are pretty middle-of-the road.  None of the conditions is save-or-suck.  All of them require at least three failures before long-lasting effects are felt, even on the harsh version.

I think, given the modularity of Next, that group disruptions arising from DMs and players wanting different levels of lethality is inevitable.  In the end, the game can only give the groups dials for choosing the lethality they want.  But let me add draft four, with an expanded sidebar for even more lethal conditions.
Draft Four.  Based on the Jester's comments, I've expanded the sidebar to include an option for even more lethality.










INSERT CONDITIONS "A" through "D"

Energy Drain: A character hit with energy drain receives a -1 penalty to all d20 rolls.  This penalty is cumulative with other energy drains and lasts until the character receives a remove curse.


INSERT CONDITIONS "F" THROUGH "O"

Petrification: A character hit with petrification receives a ten-foot reduction in its base speed.  This penalty is cumulative with other petrification effects and lasts until the end of the next short rest.  A creature whose base speed is reduced to 0 or less is turned to stone


INSERT CONDITIONS BEGINNING WITH "Q"

Rust: A creature that imposes rust chooses one metallic item possessed by the victim.  If armor, the victim receives a -1 penalty to AC.  If a weapon, the victim receives a -1 penalty to attacks with that weapon.  Any other item receives a -1 penalty to any dice associated with its use  This penalty is cumulative with other rust effects and lasts until the item is repaired (which can only occur in a smith's forge and costs one-third of the item's value) or is subject to a mending or make whole effect.


INSERT CONDITIONS BEGINNING WITH "S"

Turned to Stone: Being turned to stone imposes the following conditions: (i) resistance to all damage; (ii) paralysis; (iii) agelessness; (iv) a twenty-fold increase in weight; and (v) no need to eat, breathe, drink, sleep, or trance.  Generally, the turned to stone effect can only be restored by use of a stone to flesh effect.


INSERT CONDITIONS "U" THROUGH "Z"


OPTIONS FOR CONDITIONS


More Treasure: Some of the conditions listed here -- most notably energy drain, rust, and turned to stone -- can only be ended or alleviated with the expenditure of gold or the use of a spell, ritual, or similar effect.  DMs may want to increase the treasure awarded in adventures that contain creatures or traps that impose these conditions to account for the additional resources the characters will have to spend. 


More Recovery: Some campaigns find that these conditions interrupt the flow of the game because they often require the characters to leave the adventure to restore their companions afflicted with these conditions.  In these campaigns, the group may decide that these effects are only temporary, lasting until the end of a short rest. Check with your group as to which version of these effects are used in your campaign.


More Lethality: Some campaigns may find some of these conditions insufficiently lethal.  None of the conditions can render a character harmless in single round.  For those groups that want a higher level of lethality, simply ramp it up.  Rust, for example, might utterly destroy one metallic item.  Petrification may simply cause the victim to turn to stone, without the intermediate step of reducing the target's base speed.  Groups should go into a campaign with increased lethality with eyes open.  Do not simply spring this on your players!  Creatres with increased lethality should cost award 50% more XP than creatures with the level of lethality suggestion to the left.



What do you guys think?

Ok wrecan so our only disagreement is how to display on the page the various options.  I suppose if there were only two then sure.  But if there were many, the template approach could work.   I think monsters though would increase or decrease based upon how deadly energy drain is.

I guess my point which you disagree with is that I would like things named.  And then the multiple definitions be put somewhere else.  I suggested they be templates only because they would adjust the difficulty of the monster and increase or decrease their xp value.   This goes with the OO concepts they seem to be wanting to use.  The name of something is like an interface and then each method is an implementation.  If you want to inline them on every single monster entry, that might work but would also use up a lot of space.  If we have 1 page monster entries maybe this is fine.

The nice thing about the template approach is that they could come out later with books that give you additional definitions.


Edit:  Also a minor nit, but your use of the word arbitrary is showing your bias a bit too. 
Ok wrecan so our only disagreement is how to display on the page the various options.  I suppose if there were only two then sure.  But if there were many, the template approach could work.


I think the sidebar approach works better.  (I'm assuming from your comments you've only read my first post on this thread.)

I guess my point which you disagree with is that I would like things named.


I do name them.  They're just not keywords.

Edit:  Also a minor nit, but your use of the word arbitrary is showing your bias a bit too. 


That's a really minor nit, as I used the word "arbitrary" once, in my first post, and haven't used it in any of my revisions precisely because I am trying to find the most value-neutral adjectives that I can.
Draft Four.  Based on the Jester's comments, I've expanded the sidebar to include an option for even more lethality.

...stuff...

What do you guys think?




I think that the sidebars are nice DM info.  Not sure where they go but as information somewhere I favor them.

Due to the widespread use of energy drain in undead creatures, I thought some convention might be nice.  Special Attack: Energy Drain.   Thats all you'd need on the monster.   Then the DM picks and chooses from your list of options.  I don't care what the default is.  I think the preferences are all over the place.  



Due to the widespread use of energy drain in undead creatures, I thought some convention might be nice.  Special Attack: Energy Drain.   Thats all you'd need on the monster.


I think whether the monster should have the full attack description or not is a discussion for another thread.

I don't care what the default is.  I think the preferences are all over the place. 


I agree with Hocus that the preferences should be middle-of-the road.  That way you don't have to go as far to adjust to the extremes.
Ok wrecan so our only disagreement is how to display on the page the various options.  I suppose if there were only two then sure.  But if there were many, the template approach could work.


I think the sidebar approach works better.  (I'm assuming from your comments you've only read my first post on this thread.)


I'm catching up.


I guess my point which you disagree with is that I would like things named.


I do name them.  They're just not keywords.


I think I misused the term keyword.  I just meant in the monster stat block they have a special attack called energy drain.  Then it is defined in your sidebar somewhere.  I'd say the DMG.


Edit:  Also a minor nit, but your use of the word arbitrary is showing your bias a bit too. 


That's a really minor nit, as I used the word "arbitrary" once, in my first post, and haven't used it in any of my revisions precisely because I am trying to find the most value-neutral adjectives that I can.




I said it was minor.  I know you are trying to be value-neutral and thats the only reason why I mentioned it.  The people who snark intentionally I would have just read past them.  Especially one as minor as this one.

 
Now that I think about it, I'm not sure an XP adjustment is needed.  The only real difference between the more and less gritty effects is how hard it is to remove it.  That doesn't affect how deadly a creature is in the encounter.  It affects how difficult it is to remove the effect.  The real adjustment should not be in XP, but in treasure.  The groups with grittier effects will have to use more scrolls, ritual components, and gold to ameliorate the effects of the grittier effects.  So I'm not sure an XP adjustment is even warranted.



Just for clarification.  My definition of energy drain is irreversible when it comes to the lost xp.  Sorry if I didnt' make this clear.   It is reversible though as far as the other penalties go. 
Just for clarification.  My definition of energy drain is irreversible when it comes to the lost xp.  Sorry if I didnt' make this clear.   It is reversible though as far as the other penalties go. 


How does 500 XP balance against losing an entire level permanently?  Again, if it's reversible, that means you are spending spell components or ritual components or magic item charges, or something material to reverse the effect.  That means the true cost of level drain is treasure.  So the compensation should also be treasure.  XP adjustments are appropriate if the power makes the creature more difficult to beat.  But the penalties you propose seem to be about equallypotent as obstacles.  (I'm not sure why energy drain causes a "fear effect" in option 3, but whatever.)

Also, the value of losing a level will vary by level.  500 XP is a lot of XP to a 2nd level PC facing a wight.  It's not so much compensation to the 10th level PC facing a vampire.  At a minimum the added XP should be a percentage of the creature's XP value.  But I still think XP boosts don't make sense here.

I don't care what the default is.  I think the preferences are all over the place. 


I agree with Hocus that the preferences should be middle-of-the road.  That way you don't have to go as far to adjust to the extremes.



I think at minimum they should support 1e/2e approach as one option.  The problem with energy drain specifically is that the camps are so far apart.

Just for clarification.  My definition of energy drain is irreversible when it comes to the lost xp.  Sorry if I didnt' make this clear.   It is reversible though as far as the other penalties go. 


How does 500 XP balance against losing an entire level permanently?  Again, if it's reversible, that means you are spending spell components or ritual components or magic item charges, or something material to reverse the effect.  That means the true cost of level drain is treasure.  So the compensation should also be treasure.  XP adjustments are appropriate if the power makes the creature more difficult to beat.  But the penalties you propose seem to be about equallypotent as obstacles.  (I'm not sure why energy drain causes a "fear effect" in option 3, but whatever.)

Also, the value of losing a level will vary by level.  500 XP is a lot of XP to a 2nd level PC facing a wight.  It's not so much compensation to the 10th level PC facing a vampire.  At a minimum the added XP should be a percentage of the creature's XP value.  But I still think XP boosts don't make sense here.



I did suggest somewhere that the amount of XP that is lost due a particular monster attack be static.  So instead of draining one level or two levels, the amount of XP goes up with the increasing difficulty of the monsters.  So a wight might drain 1000xp or whatever.   A vampire maybe does 5000xp.  etc..   I do think an entire levels worth of xp especially at the higher levels is too much.  But it shouldn't be trivial either.  But again this is just my flavor choice.  

I think that XP also represents risk vs reward.  If you have to fight a monster with the draining ability then even if the monsters effectiveness at "killing" you doesn't change, the creatures threat is greater.  Because losing the xp is a bad outcome.



 
I think that XP also represents risk vs reward.  If you have to fight a monster with the draining ability then even if the monsters effectiveness at "killing" you doesn't change, the creatures threat is greater.  Because losing the xp is a bad outcome.


The outcome is not the metric by which one should measure a creature's threat.  A mummy is not more deadly in the adventure because of the mummy rot.  The mummy rot's effect is only after the encounter because it creates drama and story.  In the end, ending mummy rot results in an expense (hiring a high-level cleric to remove disease).  But the mummy who inflicts mummy rot is no harder to kill than an identical mummy who does not.  And that's why I think the two mummies should be worth equal XP.

But any adventure who includes mummy rot should afford the opportunity to get a high-level priest to cure the rot.  Either give the players more money to hire a cleric, or make a cleric available in the adventure willing to perform the ritual (for a fee).
I think that XP also represents risk vs reward.  If you have to fight a monster with the draining ability then even if the monsters effectiveness at "killing" you doesn't change, the creatures threat is greater.  Because losing the xp is a bad outcome.


The outcome is not the metric by which one should measure a creature's threat.  A mummy is not more deadly in the adventure because of the mummy rot.  The mummy rot's effect is only after the encounter because it creates drama and story.  In the end, ending mummy rot results in an expense (hiring a high-level cleric to remove disease).  But the mummy who inflicts mummy rot is no harder to kill than an identical mummy who does not.  And that's why I think the two mummies should be worth equal XP.

But any adventure who includes mummy rot should afford the opportunity to get a high-level priest to cure the rot.  Either give the players more money to hire a cleric, or make a cleric available in the adventure willing to perform the ritual (for a fee).



Well I'm assuming mummy rot is entirely removable and thus I can see that example as you view it.  With level drain in particular, I just don't see the xp being recoverable so the risk reward factor I spoke of above comes into play.  If I'm going into a den of wights, vs a den of ogres, the wights are a lot scarier.
I just don't see the xp being recoverable so the risk reward factor I spoke of above comes into play.  If I'm going into a den of wights, vs a den of ogres, the wights are a lot scarier.


If the XP is not recoverable then adding a nominal amount of XP is even less rational than I first thought.  So a second level PC hit by a wight gets bonus XP that exceeds the XP he lost, and a 9th level PC hit by a vampire gets like one-thirtieth of the XP he lost?

Also, since when is level loss permanent?  Even 1e and 2e had restoration spells whose only purpose was to restore lost levels.  They were just high level, so they were very expensive to pay a NPC to cast them.

And I still don't see why a flat amount of XP is the logical compoensation for a monster that steals a lot more XP than you gain.
I just don't see the xp being recoverable so the risk reward factor I spoke of above comes into play.  If I'm going into a den of wights, vs a den of ogres, the wights are a lot scarier.


If the XP is not recoverable then adding a nominal amount of XP is even less rational than I first thought.  So a second level PC hit by a wight gets bonus XP that exceeds the XP he lost, and a 9th level PC hit by a vampire gets like one-thirtieth of the XP he lost?

Also, since when is level loss permanent?  Even 1e and 2e had restoration spells whose only purpose was to restore lost levels.  They were just high level, so they were very expensive to pay a NPC to cast them.

And I still don't see why a flat amount of XP is the logical compoensation for a monster that steals a lot more XP than you gain.



Well at lower levels, most of my groups didn't get access to restoration.  This spell wasn't available or it was too expensive.  At higher levels it became a moot point.  

If you are going to get hit every single encounter with these creatures then sure it will never pay to ever encounter them.  The assumption given good play is that the group will annihilate them without taking a hit.  It forces the using of maximum resources to finish them quickly.  It is a pace changer.  Ideally the risk reward would balance out over time. 
I just don't see the xp being recoverable so the risk reward factor I spoke of above comes into play.  If I'm going into a den of wights, vs a den of ogres, the wights are a lot scarier.


If the XP is not recoverable then adding a nominal amount of XP is even less rational than I first thought.  So a second level PC hit by a wight gets bonus XP that exceeds the XP he lost, and a 9th level PC hit by a vampire gets like one-thirtieth of the XP he lost?

Also, since when is level loss permanent?  Even 1e and 2e had restoration spells whose only purpose was to restore lost levels.  They were just high level, so they were very expensive to pay a NPC to cast them.

And I still don't see why a flat amount of XP is the logical compoensation for a monster that steals a lot more XP than you gain.



Well at lower levels, most of my groups didn't get access to restoration.  This spell wasn't available or it was too expensive.  At higher levels it became a moot point.  

If you are going to get hit every single encounter with these creatures then sure it will never pay to ever encounter them.  The assumption given good play is that the group will annihilate them without taking a hit.  It forces the using of maximum resources to finish them quickly.  It is a pace changer.  Ideally the risk reward would balance out over time. 


Emerikol, I'm trying to be patient.  I really am.  but I don't know how else to phrase the questions.

Why, specifically, should XP be the reward for level loss, as opposed to other types of reward? 

Why, specifically, should XP be the reward for level loss, as opposed to other types of reward? 



Hey this conversation seems downright rational compared to the combat superiority thread.  

I think I wasn't clear.
The monster who is capable of draining levels is a greater risk to the party than a monster who can't.  Even if what is threatened is not directly life.  It is still a valuable resource that players are loath to lose.  So in order to take such risks the reward has to be greater.  I agree you could increase treasure as another way to do the reward.  But the ability to drain levels does seem intrinsic to the creature.

This is not major by any means.  Just my opinion.  I'm sure if they have the rules written so that things like energy drain are easily changed or swapped then I'll be fine.  5e is supposedly the system to open up houseruling to the mainstream.  It's definitely not any evidence of a systemic flaw if they offer variants besides mine.  

I think there is a particular niche of players that want the game to be hard and challenging in old school ways. 
The primary motivator to adventurers is experience points. They drive the whole skinner box that is the D&D level system.

Putting in something that deprives the players of their "work" is the ultimate demotivator.

I have never seen a level drain situation where the DM didn't wind up with one of two things;

1) The necessity of putting something into the game to reverse the effect.
2) A player genuinely having less fun in the game.

Neither of these are optimal outcomes. I would rather kill a character /have a character killed - and not brought back - than have level drains. One can be heroic, the other...

Well the other just sucks.

The monster who is capable of draining levels is a greater risk to the party than a monster who can't.


Right, but as I understand it, the monsters were comparing are ones with type 1 energy drain, type 2 energy drain, or type 3 energy drain.  And all the types seem equally threatening in the combat.  The only material difference is whether and how you go about removing the condition.

So it's inaccurate to say the creature who drains levels is a greater risk than, say, the creature who imposes a penalty on attacks or the creature that makes you go running into the darkness in terror.  They all seem equally threatening and you never posited a version of the creature with no energy drain at all.

I think there is a particular niche of players that want the game to be hard and challenging in old school ways. 


Yeah.  Go that.  Not what I'm discussing here.
I feel the need to preface this by saying that I despise the permanent loss xp/lvls.  Unless a creature is actually removing the memories of a character, then characters should never lose experience or levels.  It makes absolutely no thematic sense for anything to permanently remove your experience without also permanently removing your experiences.  And that doesn't even begin to address the accounting nightmare of losing a level, or ability score losses, in combat.

With that being said, I think Wrecan is largely correct in his assessment of this issue.  As long as measures exist to remove these conditions, and these measures are available at the cost of treasure, then treasure (not xp) is the counterbalance to these conditions.  However, if the default assumption is adjusted so that these measures cannot be purchased with treasure, or so that they simply aren't available, then an xp award becomes the only reasonable counterbalance.

There are a great many problems that can be circumvented by players and DMs having a mature discussion about what the game is going to be like before they ever sit down together to play.

 

The answer really does lie in more options, not in confining and segregating certain options.

 

You really shouldn't speak for others.  You can't hear what someone else is saying when you try to put your words in their mouth.

 

Fencing & Swashbuckling as Armor.

D20 Modern Toon PC Race.

Mecha Pilot's Skill Challenge Emporium.

 

Save the breasts.

Drain really needs to remain a curious relic of the "don't name your characters until level 5" era.
Two points that occurred to me in reading the back-and-forth between Emerikol and Wrecan:

1)  A -1 to all d20 checks that's /cumulative/ works fine in a system like 3e or 4e, where checks scale rapidly with level, and the -1 more or less maps to old-school level loss.  Under bounded accuracy, it'd be over the top - perhaps un-heal-able hp loss or reduced damage would match the scaling of 5e better?  Hmm.. with each class getting it's own unique mechanics and progressions, there's on convenient thing (like d20 checks in general) that advances with level and thus makes a stand in for level drain.  There might be no real alternative other than to drain levels.

2) There have been various ways to convert treasure into exp and vice versa, over the years.  If energy drains are actually experience drains, and make/buy resources (ritual components or whatever) are expended to restore them, it'll just be another case of treasure = exp... which'd slide the system closer to needing firm treasure guidelines that 5e's trying to avoid.  Sure, it'd be treasure-by-condition-inflicting-monster-appearance rather than treasure-by-level.   :shrug:


That said, for my money, Level Drain can go in the ashcan of gaming history and stay their in perpetuity.  
 

 

 

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I'm admittedly mostly old-school.  And in 3.x I felt that the 'wimpifying' of level drain was a bad thing. And then 4E did away with it altogether.    And I'm sure if you look back you can find posts by me somewhere saying that this was another loss to the game.

And now we are at 5N.

And you know - I don't miss it anymore.  Maybe because it's been gone so long.  I dunno.

But the reality was:  The major part of my argument for level drain was that it was 'necessary' to make the party 'fearful' of the encounter.  In other words - it was based on the observation that, in AD&D, monsters like wights and wraiths created fear in the players like no other monster of their level could.  And that this was a good thing.

These days - I'm not so sure that it's necessary (although I do still think that fear a desirable goal).  I do think that these monsters need something to make them a good solid threat.  They need something that carries a lasting weight (at least until the end of the encounter, no 'save ends') and that something has to make it more likely that they will either die or be forced to flee.  These monsters are supposed to be more terrifying than Orc number 234.

But it doesn't need to be level drain.  The argument for level drain presupposes that nothing else frightens a PC so much.  I no longer think this to be so  - and thus I no longer think level drain is necessary.

But that doesn't mean I want to pull their teeth completely.  I like the idea of the reduction in max hp that we had in the last packet.  I like the idea of weakness, forcing them to fight at a disadvantage.  I like the idea of fear sapping their will to go on.  I like lots of ideas and I can come up with lots of ways of making these monsters cool, iconic, deadly and interesting.  And none of them require a level drain.

Carl
1)  A -1 to all d20 checks that's /cumulative/ works fine in a system like 3e or 4e, where checks scale rapidly with level, and the -1 more or less maps to old-school level loss.  Under bounded accuracy, it'd be over the top


That's an excellent point.  I might say that it's -3 and then you die, arising next round as a lesser version of the creature.  Sort of adapting the save-save-save-save-suck philosophy of 4e.  It can still be undone by slaying the lesser undead and raising him, so treasure remains the way to go.

That said, for my money, Level Drain can go in the ashcan of gaming history and stay their in perpetuity.  
 


I think it should be an option for those who want it.
I'd do things a little differently. I've always viewed energy drain from the story perspective. How many books and movies have undead that cause a debilitating life draining effect? In some cases it's a permanent, life altering thing, in others it's short term. It's often a defining characteristic for a particular character.

The thing I never totally accepted was a complete level drain. The idea that some things you've learned are gone didn't make sense. Certainly physical abilities make sense. Losing strength and/or constitution as well as impacting the skills that go with it make sense. Mental abilities could be, but it's usually more of an insanity thing, which is extremely difficult to write rules for.

So an alternative would be a cumulative -1 to STR and/or CON. If either reaches 0, the character starts the death and dying process. If they survive, they have permanently lost a point in that ability. Otherwise they are dead (or become undead if appropriate, similar mechanics could apply to were-creatures, etc.). As long as the scores don't reach 0, it's not permanent.

I would say that at each long rest a Constitution/Fortitude saving throw to regain one point. This is at the reduced check, so the effect could last for a very long time. If you wanted it to be more difficult you could require two or more checks to regain a point.

Obviously, various spells could be used as well.

If you want to keep it more in line with past editions, then using a blanket -1 to d20 rolls is fine. The same method for regaining the lost level could apply as well, and you could set thresholds for permanent loss if desired (if the save is failed 3x, or for every 3 points lost a save must be made to avoid permanently losing one, etc.)

Note that one of the disadvantages to any of these variants over the old 'lose a level' rule is that some characters suffer less. For example, a wizard generally doesn't have to rely on STR/CON or even a d20 roll to cast a spell. That's why the 'lose a level' thing was an easy game design option. Everybody suffers equally. On the other hand, the 'lose a level' mechanic was very difficult since you had to modify so many parts of the character.

With a STR/CON option, the fighters still suffer more, but anybody who is affected will have lower hit points. And the risk of permanent ability loss should put fear in every character. In addition, the types of monsters that typically have energy drain abilities are also the type where fighters are probably not the most effective opponent anyway. The typical scene is of the fighters fending off minions while the cleric or wizard battles the monster that is largely immune to normal physical attacks. And usually at a distance as well. Direct hand-to-hand combat is not the best option.

You could develop alternate types of 'energy drain' such as one that drains INT/WIS and causes insanity. In addition to the penalties of a lower ability you could introduce a chance of spell failure as well. But as I said, insanity is a very difficult thing to write a rules system for.

I wouldn't bump up treasure or XP directly. Instead, it's a function of the level of the monster. A monster with an energy drain capability is a higher level, which also increases XP and treasure along with it. Just because somebody suffers the effect doesn't make them worthy of more reward. A fighter that gets struck by a wizard's bolt of lightning doesn't gain more from the encounter than his companion that is spared.

One thing that I think is important in the game is that it's not all about reward or 'fairness.' Just because the characters suffer a setback doesn't require the DM (or the game rules) to compensate them. It is important to have a reasonable balance to the game so the characters can succeed. Characters (players) should treat an encounter with an energy draining creature very differently than another band of orcs. In fact, the first thing they should probably do, when possible, is run. Then plan a strategy and approach to defeating the monster. And if they can't run, they should be very, very afraid.

I don't agree that a method to remove it has to be available (access to spells or a high level cleric). But I do think a well designed adventure should take into account that one or more of the characters could be below optimum. Energy draining creatures don't make very good random encounters. 

-Randy

I like xp drain in general.  An entire levels worth is not always best.  The true hope of 5e is that the game is designed for houserules.  All of the modules are just suggested houserules that have hopefully been designed a little better.  In my case I think I can handle good houserules so no problem.  I'm hopeful that 5e can be modified more easily and thus become the game me and my group really want to play.



 
My main problem with level, and to a lesser extent stat, drains is more it's really immersion breaking to have to pause combat while everyone goes and recalulates their entire character sheet every time it happens. I would honestly prefer stats like that be "-x penalty to (stat) related checks", maybe an additional penalty depending on the stat drained(like a -x to Max HP if CON until the end of the encounter sort of deal).

IMO, level/exp/stat drains should be one of the things that go into modules, even if it's one of those "In the DMG modules".