Play as monsters and keeping it balanced

16 posts / 0 new
Last post
The wizard in my game has had an accident and is trapped inside his orb. for the time being, he has the stats of a Brain in a Jar from the Open Grave book. I mainly focus on story and roleplaying, so balance isn`t really that big of a deal to me, but do I need to alter anything if I want to keep it balanced?

In a previous game i ran that I never got to finish, one of the players was behind all the goings on and was supposed to team up with the monsters in the final climax. How would I balance it so there was a 50/50 chance who would win?

Can I take a monster straight out of the mm and let a player run it straight out of the book, ifthe player doesn`t want to pick and choose powers and all that goes in to characyer building and keep track ow all the powers and feat? For some people the 4e charactersheats are way to big:p
Can I with non or only minor and simple alterations keep it balanced somehow?


Basicaly all I`m asking is what a monster is worth compared to a player in terms of game mechanics. Is a standard, elite or solo monster the same as a player character of the same level or some levels bellow or above?

 PCs and monsters follow completely different rules and aren't at all comparable. Playing a monster straight out of the book is going to result in the character dying quickly. Monsters aren't meant to last more than one fight, while PCs are designed to last through a number of them.

Show

I am the Magic Man.

(Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.)

 

I am the Lawnmower Man.

(I AM GOD HERE!)

 

I am the Skull God.

(Koo Koo Ka Choo)

 

There are reasons they call me Mad...

So what can I do? I just want to know when a pc and a monster would have a50/50 chance in a fight! say if one pc teamed up with some monster against the rest of the characters and I wanted them to have an even chance of winning.

Also, I know I could reskin a race and class into a monster, but thats not the point. The 4e character sheat is a bit too much for some players, while others like it. Some just want to do next to nothing when it comes to mechanical character building and leveling, not pages of character sheat.
If you want you could try the companion character rules on page 27 on the Dungeon Master's Guide 2. That way they don't have to worry about picking powers and they're more or less still contributing. By the way I freaking love these fourth edition Dungeon Master Guides!
Good idea! And I know! dmg2 might just be my favourite 4e book! As a dm, 4e is great, if only a bit too encounter focused!
Good idea! And I know! dmg2 might just be my favourite 4e book! As a dm, 4e is great, if only a bit too encounter focused!



Do you mean too combat focused?   Everything is encounters in any version; investigation encounters, exploration encounters, etc.

I mean focus on structured encounters, like combat and skill challanges, over narrative focus and focus on the roleplaying. Don`t get me wrong, I love 4e, it is very smooth! But after a while I found that when I prepped for a game, I was mostly basing it all around encounter building, more so than the story, the world, the adventure and the characters. Magic items felt more like a thing built in to the mechanics of the game than something rare and special that defined the world. My players was defining their characters by all the powers they had. 
As I said, I am a big fan of 4e and I try to keep it narrative and rp-focused, but I feel that within the system it is very easy to get caught up in the mechanics, overshadowing the more organic parts of the game. The books say you should have so and so many encounters per session and you should level in this rate and find magic items of this and that level at everey level.
I know it IS a game, if you are having fun you are doing it right, but I felt the books and the system encouraged a certain style of play.

 
If you want magic items to be rare and interesting you can play with the inherent bonuses system.  That way you can make magic items very few and far between.

I try to make a point when I get my players to create something that they make a divide between /how they fight/ and /how they live/.  Basically its the distinction between "job" and "class".

A guy who takes money to kill people for a living has an assassin's job.

A guy who takes money to kill people for a living by nuking him with spells from afar is a character who is mage class, but is an assassin for a job.

A guy who takes money to kill people for a living by calling them into the open and challenging them to honorable 1v1 combat is paladin class, but is an assassin for a job. 

A guy who takes money to kill people for a living and sneaks into their houses in the dead of night, uses shadowy magic to make the threat of impending doom close around the target before leaping out of the night and strangling them to death on an ethereal rope made of pure darkness is a character who is assassin class and assassin job. 
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
Show
Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here
If you want you could try the companion character rules on page 27 on the Dungeon Master's Guide 2. That way they don't have to worry about picking powers and they're more or less still contributing.



This is absolutely the way to go. Basically you create a character that uses a monster style stat block but yet has mostly the same survivability as a standard PC (same HP, number of surges, second wind, etc.)  They are very easy to run at the table and in fact I often use them when bringing in brand new players to high level games.

Just make sure you pay close attention to the rules in the DMG2, otherwise you might end up with some crazy numbers that would unbalance the character.

Here's a sample character made using the rules and then tweaked a bit to suit the needs of my players:



Show



Helen Markelhay, the future queen of Fallcrest in my campaign, joined the party as a companion when we were down to 3 players for a while. One of the players ran her in combat along with his own character while I RP'ed her out of combat.









In my opinion, the way companion characters are built highlights the absolute best parts of 4e. The math is straightforward, easy to understand and very balanced. Although monsters and PC's are built quite differently, the way they interact is easy to predict and build around. Once you get a firm grip on the system, you can really experiment with the mechanics and some fun with them without being worried about it wrecking your game.

Style 75 seriously how did you create your own stat block like that? Can you teach me how to do it? While I reskinned a lot of monsters, I would love to learn how have that and print it on a card. I only wish this stat block was used on building characters on the phone. Sorry for going on a tangent there.
Style 75 seriously how did you create your own stat block like that? Can you teach me how to do it? While I reskinned a lot of monsters, I would love to learn how have that and print it on a card. I only wish this stat block was used on building characters on the phone. Sorry for going on a tangent there.



I used the official D&D monster builder tool (known as "Adventure Tools") which is an online only tool that is accessible if you subscribe to D&D Insider. It's a great tool and you can store your monsters on the WotC server which means they're accessible everywhere you have internet.

Unfortunately if you don't have internet, you're screwed. Which is why I always use "CutePDF" software to print all my monsters to PDF files and keep them on my laptop so they're always within reach.

Before you subscribe to DDI, be warned that WotC can pull the plug on the system at any time. Some people predict this will happen sooner rather than later, but who really knows? If you are interested, I recommending subscribing for a short term basis to see if you like it.
There is also a way to get the stat-block format for the forums.  It used to be in the houseruled and homebrew section so check whatever forum ate that one.
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
Show
Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here
Thank you both for the information. I'll check it out.

If the players like it, you can have a player operate a monster straight out of the MM. There are rules in the DM book for leveling the monsters.
The book is a reference that you as DM can use as a tool for balance. If your jar wizard gets to far behind or too far ahead, then have the jar release the player.

"Boosting a monster’s level is easy. Just increase its attack rolls, defenses, and AC by 1 for every level you add. For every two levels, increase the damage it deals with its attacks by 1. The monster also gains extra hit points at each level, based on its role (see the “Monster Statistics by Role” table on page 184 of the Dungeon Master's Guide).

Decreasing a monster’s level works like increasing it, but in reverse. For each level down, reduce the creature’s attack rolls, defenses, and AC by 1 and drop its hit points based on its role. For every two levels, also reduce its damage by 1.


This process works best for adjusting a monster’s level up to five higher or lower. Beyond that, the monster changes so much that you’d do better to start with another creature of the desired role and level range."

Though for hitpoints, you might want to pick a character class to model the hp after, like ranger. 


 

Concisely: I want a system where players don't have to pick between mechanics and roleplaying. I hope 5E fails asap so a better system can be made asap.

( I can't believe what they did to the forums. The sterile lack or color is rather depressing. )

 


If the players like it, you can have a player operate a monster straight out of the MM. There are rules in the DM book for leveling the monsters.
The book is a reference that you as DM can use as a tool for balance. If your jar wizard gets to far behind or too far ahead, then have the jar release the player.

"Boosting a monster’s level is easy. Just increase its attack rolls, defenses, and AC by 1 for every level you add. For every two levels, increase the damage it deals with its attacks by 1. The monster also gains extra hit points at each level, based on its role (see the “Monster Statistics by Role” table on page 184 of the Dungeon Master's Guide).

Decreasing a monster’s level works like increasing it, but in reverse. For each level down, reduce the creature’s attack rolls, defenses, and AC by 1 and drop its hit points based on its role. For every two levels, also reduce its damage by 1.


This process works best for adjusting a monster’s level up to five higher or lower. Beyond that, the monster changes so much that you’d do better to start with another creature of the desired role and level range."

Though for hitpoints, you might want to pick a character class to model the hp after, like ranger. 


 



Don't do this, as its a horrible plan.  Monsters aren't built to last a while, they are built to die to PCs.
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
Show
Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here



Level 8
Brain in a jar 
85 HP
22 AC 18 Fort 17 Reflex 21 Will

+11 attacks vs will
Some dominate action in there 

Matyr, it's not a Char Op pc. 
It's balanced though. 
Here is the Shoot to Thrill Char Op PC 

Level 8
Shoot to Thrill
60HP
25 AC 16 Fort  21 Reflex 17 Will
+15 to attacks vs AC

 

Concisely: I want a system where players don't have to pick between mechanics and roleplaying. I hope 5E fails asap so a better system can be made asap.

( I can't believe what they did to the forums. The sterile lack or color is rather depressing. )

 

Sign In to post comments