Checking Monster Balance

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I'm building an encounter where there are three factions: a group of lawmen/bounty hunters, the refugee/renegade, and the PCs (who, of course, walk in on the middle of things).

This creature, The Hangman, I'm planning on using almost exclusively against the refugee NPC. Even if the players side with the refugee, he's their primary target. I think the others to help make up the balance of XP will probably be stock soldiers and brutes I can find in the compendium, but I wanted some perspective on this one that I'm designing from scratch.

One of my players said I needed more than just a "save ends" effect to get out of the Executioner's Noose, which is when I added the Hangman's Boots trait, to allow a powerful option for ending the Hangman outright (...especially considering my party's average output on damage).

It's an Eberron game, and I want to reflect that the Hangman (whatever his final name ends up being) is a trained enforcer of those suspected, or proven, to carry abberant Dragonmarks, or those who would harbor one with an aberrant Dragonmark. He needs to be nasty to show that the houses and the kingdoms don't mess around with Dragonmarked people (abberant, or just unregistered), since most of my players are considering some kind of D'mark feat.

Better to let them watch what happens to someone who gets exposed, instead of just ambushing them with the consequences later, right? And even if they side with the refugee, it's exposition that will show the same thing from the other side.

Opinions, please. The party ranges from 7-9 in level, so this is certainly in-line with encounter design expectations, but I've found that not everything that falls in-budget is balanced, and I want to check myself before I open this one up on my players.

IMAGE(http://i50.tinypic.com/2hpj78m.png)

58286228 wrote:
As a DM, I find it easier to just punish the players no matter what they pick, as I assume they will pick stuff that is broken. I mean, fight after fight they kill all the monsters without getting killed themselves! What sort of a game is this, anyway?

 

An insightful observation about the nature of 4e, and why it hasn't succeeded as well as other editions. (from the DDN General Discussions, 2014-05-07)

Rundell wrote:

   

Emerikol wrote:

       

Foxface wrote:

        4e was the "modern" D&D, right?  The one that had design notes that drew from more modern games, and generally appealed to those who preferred the design priorities of modern games.  I'm only speculating, but I'd hazard a guess that those same 4e players are the ones running the wide gamut of other games at Origins.

       
        D&D 4e players are pretty much by definition the players who didn't mind, and often embraced, D&D being "different".  That willingness to embrace the different might also mean they are less attached to 4e itself, and are willing to go elsewhere.

    This is a brilliant insight.  I was thinking along those lines myself.  

 

    There are so many tiny indie games that if you added them all together they would definitely rival Pathfinder.   If there were a dominant game for those people it would do better but there is no dominant game.  Until 4e, the indie people were ignored by the makers of D&D.

 

Yep. 4E was embraced by the 'system matters' crowd who love analyzing and innovating systems. That crowd had turned its back on D&D as a clunky anachronism. But with 4E, their design values were embraced and validated. 4E was D&D for system-wonks. And with support for 4E pulled, the system-wonks have moved on to other systems. The tropes and traditions of D&D never had much appeal for them anyway. Now there are other systems to learn and study. It's like boardgamegeeks - always a new system on the horizon. Why play an ancient games that's seven years old?

 

Of course, not all people who play and enjoy 4E fit that mould. I'm running a 4E campaign right now, and my long-time D&D players are enjoying it fine. But with the system-wonks decamping, the 4E players-base lost the wind in its sails.

(1) He doesn't seem like a Lurker to me, not with those powers.  Brute, maybe Skirmisher, but not Lurker.  If he's a Lurker, he needs a way to vanish back into the shadows, or evade detection, or return to the outskirts.  The way you have him, once he grabs on, he's doing a lot of damage (3d6+19 is a huge increase over 3d6+6, especially for an At-Will power).  The non-AC defenses seem a tad high for that level, too; I'd probably consider AC 21, Fort 22, Ref 22, Will 20, or something to that effect.

(2) Just me, probably, but I really don't like the Boots thing; once a player gets it, its to the entire group's advantyage for him to fail his saves and keep using his action, so that the Hangman can't do anything at all on his turn.

I'd probably make it so that players could try to escape with a -5 to their attempt (like a Zombie).  That way they can burn a move action and still attack, and get two chances per turn to escape.  Also, since it's not a grab proper, you might need to clarify what happens if he becomes dazed/stunned; can he maintain the "grab" in that case?

(3) Also, I would not use Helpless as a condition in that.  Restrained already grants CA.  Helpless means that they can be Coup de Grace'd.  Dazed might make more sense — they're already granting CA, now they have to decide between an attempt to escape they might fail, or an attack.  Even better, drop the Save Ends and have it as Escape ends only.

(4) What's the hook for the players?  Is there a particular reason for them to get involved in this fight?  You've built one NPC with the intent for him to attack another NPC exclusively, is why I'm curious.
His nads are way to high, Seriously, level +16 defenses? 

But other than that, honestly he's knida weak: a level 9 elite that only has single target standard action attacks?
This guy screams punching bag (atleast to weapon users). So what if his big attack does 29 damage, he'll get it off maybe once. Then he's dead.


Third: i second that it shouldn't use Helpless. And teleport should get them out of the noose- even if nothing else does. Seriously, if my pc were in a noose and you told me i couldn't teleport out, it'd be our last game together.

Last: yeah, he's not a lurker. At all. He doesn't even pretend to be one.
He's either a brute or a controller.
And as a 9 brute - all 4 of his defenses should be around 21. 
FWIW [4e designer] baseline assumption was that roughly 70% of your feats would be put towards combat effectiveness, parties would coordinate, and strikers would do 20/40/60 at-will damage+novas. If your party isn't doing that... well, you are below baseline, so yes, you need to optimize slightly to meet baseline. -Alcestis
I built around Lurker because lurker mechanics have (for the most part) been 2 turns for big damage. I set the option for Hemp Dance as "limited use" since I do only expect him to do it once or twice, at most.

The numbers are generated almost solely by the Adventure Tools. I upped FORT and WILL to the "high" option (+3) on the Tools, and then popped STR, CON by the "high" option, and dropped CHA off to "low" for a -3 there. REF and AC are straight from the Tools.

Why helpless? The thought process was that if you're strung-up, in a more literal sense, you're not able to do much other than swing there, and die. It followed the flavor I was trying to establish. The guy only becomes a punching bag if a creature wants to sacrifice their turn, and get CDG each turn with Hemp Dance.

. . .

What's the hook? During the short rest after an encounter where the player brutally murder a cult in the middle of Sharn, in the cult's own temple, this guy comes running by looking for sanctua....ah, %*^$!, and keeps running.

The players haven't been terribly fond of the law, nor the law of them, to-date. And most of them are considering some kind of D'mark, and one already has one. I want to see if they'll side with the refugee D'mark NPC that's being chased through the city, or string him up and try to cover up their own marks.

If they even bother to follow him.

. . .

Team composition for this encounter will be: Halfing Blackguard/Assassin-9, Warforged Bard-9, Half Elf (Fire Spec) Sorcerer-9, and a Bow Ranger-8. Almost all of them hit 21 in their sleep, and average party damage output seems to sit around 70+ per turn, if they focus fire (granted about 40-45 of it comes from the sorc alone).

. . .

I'll play with this and see if I can make it a controller, somehow.

I don't see what's wrong with one creature, in one encounter, over the course of 20+ levels of play that says "can't teleport out of restrained." Hard to believe someone would stop gaming with a person over something that insignificant, over the long run.

58286228 wrote:
As a DM, I find it easier to just punish the players no matter what they pick, as I assume they will pick stuff that is broken. I mean, fight after fight they kill all the monsters without getting killed themselves! What sort of a game is this, anyway?

 

An insightful observation about the nature of 4e, and why it hasn't succeeded as well as other editions. (from the DDN General Discussions, 2014-05-07)

Rundell wrote:

   

Emerikol wrote:

       

Foxface wrote:

        4e was the "modern" D&D, right?  The one that had design notes that drew from more modern games, and generally appealed to those who preferred the design priorities of modern games.  I'm only speculating, but I'd hazard a guess that those same 4e players are the ones running the wide gamut of other games at Origins.

       
        D&D 4e players are pretty much by definition the players who didn't mind, and often embraced, D&D being "different".  That willingness to embrace the different might also mean they are less attached to 4e itself, and are willing to go elsewhere.

    This is a brilliant insight.  I was thinking along those lines myself.  

 

    There are so many tiny indie games that if you added them all together they would definitely rival Pathfinder.   If there were a dominant game for those people it would do better but there is no dominant game.  Until 4e, the indie people were ignored by the makers of D&D.

 

Yep. 4E was embraced by the 'system matters' crowd who love analyzing and innovating systems. That crowd had turned its back on D&D as a clunky anachronism. But with 4E, their design values were embraced and validated. 4E was D&D for system-wonks. And with support for 4E pulled, the system-wonks have moved on to other systems. The tropes and traditions of D&D never had much appeal for them anyway. Now there are other systems to learn and study. It's like boardgamegeeks - always a new system on the horizon. Why play an ancient games that's seven years old?

 

Of course, not all people who play and enjoy 4E fit that mould. I'm running a 4E campaign right now, and my long-time D&D players are enjoying it fine. But with the system-wonks decamping, the 4E players-base lost the wind in its sails.

I reset all stats to Average (+0), as well as all defenses. I made him a multi-target controller, as well as dropping the helpless status.

This multi-target version was modeled off an artifact seen in "Warehouse 13." Some of my players might appreciate the reference.

IMAGE(http://i45.tinypic.com/zn72f.png) 

58286228 wrote:
As a DM, I find it easier to just punish the players no matter what they pick, as I assume they will pick stuff that is broken. I mean, fight after fight they kill all the monsters without getting killed themselves! What sort of a game is this, anyway?

 

An insightful observation about the nature of 4e, and why it hasn't succeeded as well as other editions. (from the DDN General Discussions, 2014-05-07)

Rundell wrote:

   

Emerikol wrote:

       

Foxface wrote:

        4e was the "modern" D&D, right?  The one that had design notes that drew from more modern games, and generally appealed to those who preferred the design priorities of modern games.  I'm only speculating, but I'd hazard a guess that those same 4e players are the ones running the wide gamut of other games at Origins.

       
        D&D 4e players are pretty much by definition the players who didn't mind, and often embraced, D&D being "different".  That willingness to embrace the different might also mean they are less attached to 4e itself, and are willing to go elsewhere.

    This is a brilliant insight.  I was thinking along those lines myself.  

 

    There are so many tiny indie games that if you added them all together they would definitely rival Pathfinder.   If there were a dominant game for those people it would do better but there is no dominant game.  Until 4e, the indie people were ignored by the makers of D&D.

 

Yep. 4E was embraced by the 'system matters' crowd who love analyzing and innovating systems. That crowd had turned its back on D&D as a clunky anachronism. But with 4E, their design values were embraced and validated. 4E was D&D for system-wonks. And with support for 4E pulled, the system-wonks have moved on to other systems. The tropes and traditions of D&D never had much appeal for them anyway. Now there are other systems to learn and study. It's like boardgamegeeks - always a new system on the horizon. Why play an ancient games that's seven years old?

 

Of course, not all people who play and enjoy 4E fit that mould. I'm running a 4E campaign right now, and my long-time D&D players are enjoying it fine. But with the system-wonks decamping, the 4E players-base lost the wind in its sails.

NADS are still pretty high, but not unrealistic now.
They seem to be on the order of a human who also picked up the +1 to all NADS feat and is wearing a neck item now.

Does your Executioner's Noose hits all enemies in a close burst 10 and does damage+restrained+cannot teleport with a -5 to save? If so, that is insane! (Even doing that to just one enemy is pushing an upper Paragon-like power.)


 
This one is even worse.

His defenses are on par, so that's better. If you want fort and will higher do 22,20,22. This atleast keeps it a little more balanced.

Close burst 10 on the noose? Seriously? 
then -5 on the save and still no teleport? (See my comment above).

Hemp dance at 5d6+12 as an at-will?  

So here's the sequence:
Noose + AP Hemp Dance: 7d6+18 dmg to everyone in the party. That's only enough to bloody the entire party and maybe kill one of them, and he gets to repeat it next turn, since there is no way in hell anyone is getting out.


Try again, lol maybe the 3rd time is the charm. 
FWIW [4e designer] baseline assumption was that roughly 70% of your feats would be put towards combat effectiveness, parties would coordinate, and strikers would do 20/40/60 at-will damage+novas. If your party isn't doing that... well, you are below baseline, so yes, you need to optimize slightly to meet baseline. -Alcestis
here's a lurker elite level 9 monster.  This is an official monster in dnd and not a custom one that I've made:

Umbragen Shadow Walker


Umbragen Shadow Walker
Level 9 Elite Lurker
Medium fey humanoid (drow)
800 XP

HP 154; Bloodied 77
Initiative +13
Perception +5
Darkvision
AC 25; Fort 20; Ref 25; Will 22
Saving throws +2
Action points 1

STANDARD ACTIONS

Shadowblade (MBA) (Necrotic, psychic) - At-will
Attack: +12 vs fort
Hit: 2d6 damage + necrotic and psychic damage


Shadowbolt (RBA) (necrotic, psychic) - At-will
Attack: Ranged 15; +12 vs fort
hit: 2d6 + 5 necrotic and psychic damage


Double attack - At-will
Effect: The Umbragen Shadow walker makes two shadowblade attacks.


Soulblade (necrotic, psychic) - At-will
Attack: +12 vs fort
Hit: 3d8 + 5 necrotic and psychic damage, and the target cannot spend healing surges until the end of the shadow walker's next turn.


Dancing shadows (psychic) - Encounter
Attack: Area burst 3 within 12; +12 vs will
Hit 1d8 + 2 psychic damage, and the target is blinded until the end of the shadow walker's next turn.


MINOR ACTIONS

Cloud of Darkness - Encounter
Effect: Close Burst 1; this power creates a cloud of darkness that remains in place until the end of the shaodw walker's net turn.  The cloud blocks line of sight for all creatures except the shadow walker.  Any creature entirely within the cloud (except the shadow walker) is blinded until is exits.


Shadow Form - Recharge 4,5,6
Effect:  Until the end of its next turn, the shadow walker gains the insubstantial and phasing qualities, gains a +5 bonus to stealth checks and gains vulnerable 5 radiant.


SKILLS
stealth +14

str 12(+5)  Dex 20 (+9)  Wis 12 (+5)  Con 17 (+7)  Int 11 (+4)  Cha 17 (+7)





Ok so comparing now your monster vs this one, there's some obvious differences.  Now not all lurkers are the same.  Not all elites are the same.  This is true even when comparing two at the same level.  What is true though is that they have resemblences that are universal about lurkers.  The first is the tendency to be hit and run based.  They usually have some kind of control ish effects.  They have medium hp, high ref, high ac, low fort, medium will, high initiative.  Some can have variances but that's usually what they have.

Another notable difference is from the damage dealing.  Lurkers are not meant to be huge damage droppers.  That's the role of the brute for example that swings a great axe and does 1d12 + 17 at level 5.  Lurkers are also not supposed to be alone in combat, they are a sort of support to the monster team, hitting and running, blinding opponents in this case (which is really nasty as a burst 3 within 12 !)

Maybe this can give you a solid base to make your monster ? 
"Non nobis Domine Sed nomini tuo da gloriam" "I wish for death not because I want to die, but because I seek the war eternal"

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