4e Scaling,

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Scaling in 4e is very annoying. It seems like low level monster become practically useless because of it. Does anyone have a way of fixing this scaling problem with out completely removing it? I'm using the character builder and would like to not fiddle with houserules.

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Why not just:
Use higher level monsters? 
Make higher level versions of the monsters you want to use?
Refluff higher level monsters?

Any of those would seem to be a simpler solution than redoing the math scaling.
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Basically once you "out tier" a monster massive numbers of them are an issue.

In heroic, all monsters can be problems.  Dealing with killing monsters generally takes combat.

In paragon, heroic monsters are nuisances and paragon level monsters are problems.  Dealing with a group of heroic monsters can be a skill challenge and dealing with paragon monsters generally takes combat.

In epic heroic level monsters are not even considered to exist.  Paragon monsters not in armies are considered terrain.  High paragon monsters might be enough of a nuisance to justify a skill challenge.  Only epic tier creatures should actually be fought.

This doesn't mean you "can't" fight a creature that is far lower level than you, it just won't be a threat.  It is actually kind of nice to "cutscene" through an enemy that you fought 5-7 levels ago and was really hard because now you are out of their league.  It was still a fight, but you had no danger of failure, so you didn't play it out. 
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I guess it depends on what sort of 'threat' each type of monster is supposed to represent in your world. By default, most of the stuff you run into on the surface of the material plane is Heroic, while underdark and common extraplanar stuff being Paragon, and then the biggest badasses in the 'verse check in at Epic.

I would recommend against just trying to use whatever you like, scaling them up and down to fit the  PCs; it's that kind of auto-scale mentality that got 4e an undeserved bad rep with some folks. As a player, it feels unsatisfying that the same nameless thugs I pounded five levels ago are back and five levels beefier, yet still nameless thugs.
4e D&D is not a "Tabletop MMO." It is not Massively Multiplayer, and is usually not played Online. Come up with better descriptions of your complaints, cuz this one means jack ****.
One thought I had would be to remove the +1/2 level bonus to everything that players get, and scale the monster math down from X+Level to X+(1/2 Level).

Lower level monsters would still have low HP and damage compared to the players, but their attacks and defenses would be appropriate for longer.

This is sort of stealing the idea of "bounded accuracy" from 5E/Next. 

Poe's Law is alive and well.

Scaling in 4e is very annoying. It seems like low level monster become practically useless because of it. Does anyone have a way of fixing this scaling problem with out completely removing it? I'm using the character builder and would like to not fiddle with houserules.

There's an easy way to take care of the issue using Monter Builder.

Choose a too-low level monster you want to use (this works best with elites or solos when going from lower to higher level), click "Edit a Copy"

Note the exp the monster is worth.

Go to "Secondary Role" and change if from Solo to Elite or from Elite to Standard or even Standard to Minion if you're jumping a lot of levels.  You'll probably want to un-check "Leader" if the result is a minion.  

Increase the level until the exp value of the monster is back up to what it was before (or close to it).  If the result is within a few levels of your party, now, it's probably OK to use.  

Cut a few powers (cut 'action preservation' traits if the original was a solo, cut any aura or other 'leadery' power if you un-checked leader), and audit it to make sure it's OK for the new level.

Save your "custom" monster.

Here's an example, we start with Krayd the Butcher, an Orc Solo Brute from HS1 The Slaying Stone:

Krayd the Butcher, level 1 Solo Brute

Say Krayd escaped after his encounter with the PCs and returns to bedevil them levels later, now, by their standards, he's 'only' and Elite, and we've taken away his minor action attack, since he's not going to be facing the party alone, but he's still worth 500 exp, the 'challenge' he represents is theoretically the same, it'll just play better vs a 4th-8th level party than 1st level Solo would:

Krayd the Butcher, level 6 Elite Brute

Say he sacrifices his minions this time and again gets away with his skin.  Next time the party meet him, he's just one among several equally ferocious orcs, a "standard" monster.  Note that Ax Whirl is gone, such a whild, overconfident attack would never work on the PCs, now, and he doesn't 'need' it since the PCs won't be out-numbering him and his fellows.  Note also, he's still the same 500 exp Krayd as always, it's the party who have changed, his stats have just been adjusted to fit his new role in their story - just another tough but not so important foe to be battled.  

Krayd the Butcher, level 10 Brute

Finally, the party enters Paragon, and if they run accross orc lackies serving the terrible foes they face, perhaps one of them might by Krayd, though now he's probably litterally the butcher working in the kitchens.  Note that he's down to his basic attacks, no brutally overwhelming the PCs with his ferocious kicks and whirling axe like at 1st level, but, he's still represents that same (now minor) 500xp challenge...

Krayd the Butcher, minion level 18

 

 

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Just thinking of MM3 damage here.  Post MM3, a standard monster should do ~level+8 damage with an at will, and up to 1.5x that as an encounter.  Solos should pretend to be 4 monsters, elites 2.  Brutes should be doing 1.25x more damage.

So that level 1 solo should be doing ~11 damage on a hit (looks like he's a hair under).  As a solo, "Ax Whirl" is attacking everyone doing non-AoE damage, so that's a decent MM3 solo.

The level 6 brute should be doing ~18 damage on a hit, and should be pretending to be two monsters.  "Ax Whirl", as a limited use AoE should be doing 1.5 * 0.75x that, or around 20 damage (2d12+7).  ("Path of Blood" should have a line in there about "1/round", if you were going to publish the monster so that everyone reading could see that it became the "elite action" element)

The level 10 brute should be doing ~22.5 damage on a hit (2d12+11).  As a standard, he doesn't need "Brutal Kick" anymore.  Gratitious Violence should probably only target one creature, and should do limited damage: ~34 (4d12+8).

Krayd the Canonfodder minion should be doing 1/2 the damage a standard would do, IIRC.  A level 18 standard brute would be 26*1.25 = ~32, so I'd bump the minion up to 16 damage. And he's paragon, right?  Make that crit damage 2d12. (as levels go up, to make monsters give a nice threat I find I have to "round up" a lot more.)

Some other monster creation notes: d12s for damage dice are swingy. Crits will KILL PCs.  That may be exactly what you want... if not, you should be careful about letting the number of dice get to large, and keep more of the damage expression in the static bits at the end.

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Those were done a while back with the off-line monster-builder.  It's damage numbers could be a little... iffy.

 

 

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Scaling in 4e is very annoying. It seems like low level monster become practically useless because of it. Does anyone have a way of fixing this scaling problem with out completely removing it? I'm using the character builder and would like to not fiddle with houserules.


    The best answer is learning to live with it.  So the low level monster becomes useless?  So?  The players are not eager to be fighting orcs at 10th level and making them useless is no loss.  In fact the player is apt to deem it a benefit that he laughs at things he used to run from.
     Scaling is highly useful for them game. 

One quick solution I use is making them into 'Elite Minions':

- Scale Attacks and Defenses by 1/level

- Scale up damage as per DMG2 progression guidelines (which is roughly 8+lv, as mentioned in a post above)   

- Change HP to 2, requiring two hits (with the first making it bloodied) or a single crit to kill.

This way low level monsters are still relevant and can be an annoyance for the party, without posing a real threat by themselves.   


For more significant enemies I do the proper scaling with the monsters builder instead.  

Scaling in 4e is very annoying. It seems like low level monster become practically useless because of it. Does anyone have a way of fixing this scaling problem with out completely removing it? I'm using the character builder and would like to not fiddle with houserules.


    The best answer is learning to live with it.  So the low level monster becomes useless?  So?  The players are not eager to be fighting orcs at 10th level and making them useless is no loss.  In fact the player is apt to deem it a benefit that he laughs at things he used to run from.
     Scaling is highly useful for them game. 


Yes and no... Orcs should still be a threat... No matter the level. Its stupid that at high levels you can have 100 Orcs surround you and not a single one land a hit on you, becasue of the way the scaling works. 

Come to 4ENCLAVE for a fan based 4th Edition Community.

 

Scaling in 4e is very annoying. It seems like low level monster become practically useless because of it. Does anyone have a way of fixing this scaling problem with out completely removing it? I'm using the character builder and would like to not fiddle with houserules.


    The best answer is learning to live with it.  So the low level monster becomes useless?  So?  The players are not eager to be fighting orcs at 10th level and making them useless is no loss.  In fact the player is apt to deem it a benefit that he laughs at things he used to run from.
     Scaling is highly useful for them game. 


Yes and no... Orcs should still be a threat... No matter the level. Its stupid that at high levels you can have 100 Orcs surround you and not a single one land a hit on you, becasue of the way the scaling works. 


     A] they would land about 5 hits a round [20=auto hit]
     B] Like the players object to being superman?  No, orcs should not be a threat at higher levels and you should replace them with tougher monsters.  The very fact we have levels and greater powers shows the game wants to retire the wimps.
...


Thank you. I'm okay with a super-rare "elite clan" of orcs, and am more than okay with a particularly powerful unique individual, but there really is no point to levels, tiers, or owning a huge catalogue of monsters if you're just going to be as challenged by the same derp-style greenies two years into the campaign as you were at the beginning. It's almost a dirty trick. As a player, you learn that a type of monster has a power level of Y, so when you get more powerful and encounter it again you expect power level Y - not Z - which may lead to characters getting their ass beat for no good reason.
4e D&D is not a "Tabletop MMO." It is not Massively Multiplayer, and is usually not played Online. Come up with better descriptions of your complaints, cuz this one means jack ****.

Yes and no... Orcs should still be a threat... No matter the level. Its stupid that at high levels you can have 100 Orcs surround you and not a single one land a hit on you, becasue of the way the scaling works. 


When you get to the right levels... 100 orcs should absolutely be a minimal threat - probably at the level of being a skill challenge with surges as penalties for failure.  And not a hard one at that.  At the right level.  If you;'re talking about a level 25 PC, you're talking about a person who can and should be going toe-to-toe with gods in a couple of levels, and will now be going toe-to-toe with their toughest underlings.  A few orcs won't do that person much harm.

I really like the elegance of the design scheme for 4e - you start with a monster that is a solo at level one.  At fifth, it's an elite.  10th, a standard.  15th, a minion.  20th, a skill challenge.  25th, ignorable entirely.  This is the intended progression of 4e, in terms of how flavourfully-powerful your character is.  At level one, you're probably the toughest guy in your village.  At level 10, you're the toughest guy in the country.  At level 20, the toughest guy in the entire plane.  At level 30, the toughest guy.  Full stop, no exceptions.

But conversely, it's really easy to change it up and make it work differently.  That 23rd level solo could just as easily be an orcish seige tower as a hydra.
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Think of Aragorn in the Battle of Field of Cormallen (in the film version) - the orcs are ignorable but the troll is a real adversary.
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Think of Aragorn in the Battle of Field of Cormallen (in the film version) - the orcs are ignorable but the troll is a real adversary.



This is actually a really great example of minions and brutes.


While 100 level 4 orcs might not threaten a level 14 party much, 100 level 14 orc minions sure will unless your party is packing alot of controllers.


   
Scaling in 4e is very annoying. It seems like low level monster become practically useless because of it. Does anyone have a way of fixing this scaling problem with out completely removing it? I'm using the character builder and would like to not fiddle with houserules.


    The best answer is learning to live with it.  So the low level monster becomes useless?  So?  The players are not eager to be fighting orcs at 10th level and making them useless is no loss.  In fact the player is apt to deem it a benefit that he laughs at things he used to run from.
     Scaling is highly useful for them game. 


Yes and no... Orcs should still be a threat... No matter the level. Its stupid that at high levels you can have 100 Orcs surround you and not a single one land a hit on you, becasue of the way the scaling works. 

Aure Entuluva!

"When the battle was lost, Húrin and Huor took a stand fighting off the Orcs, allowing Turgon to escape. Huor and all the Men of Dor-lómin were slain, but Húrin fought with his battle-axe until his axe withered, he was buried under a mountain of slain Orcs and Trolls. Húrin was then bound alive by Gothmog Lord of Balrogs and brought captive to Angband."

Takes more than a few orcs to threaten EPIC heroes ;)
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Epic heroes need Epic fights, and it doesn't feel epic at all if you have to spend half an hour on the DM's turn resolving 100+ relatively weak and ignorable opponents that players are bound to cleave through anyway.  Although when you think about it, with 1d12+5 (average: 11.5) damage at a 5% chance to hit per opponent, that's 57.5 average damage per 100 orcs.  So yes, if the group is willing to grind through hours of the DM resolving turn after turn after turn, it's still possible for 1000+ level 4 orcs to eventually harm level 21 ~ 30 PCs.

Instead of running 1000+ orcs, run Gargantuan-sized Orc Hordes that are Epic level elites (or solos), who have multi-target capabilities, usually each creature adjacent to them (close burst 1?).  Think of it this way: individually orcs are a significant enough threat for adventurers, but when the gates of Helm's Deep come crashing down from the sheer mass of orcs streaming through it, that's not one insignificant orc you're fighting, but an entire mass of well-organized, well-coordinated orcs.

If you don't like Huge/Gargantuan solos or elites, then a bunch of Large standard opponents that are basically Orc Squads, which still gives the idea that they're much more threatening as a group than as individuals.  And an even simpler method of resolving mass combat with orc hordes as mentioned earlier would be to run fighting orcs as a skill challenge rather than as an actual combat encounter.

Now if you want to run heroic tier orcs in a way that, without adjusting their stats or anything, would allow them to remain threatening to even Epic tier PCs, then the only recourse is to adjust the PCs' stats, specifically by making them gain bonuses to defenses and attacks at a slower pace.  That requires a lot of player trust, as the default D&D 4E math already screws the PCs over when they aren't equipped for adventuring (rendering every monster past lower Paragon tier to be immune to mundane weapons and feeble magic attacks unless the PCs are lucky).

Speaking of which, by denying your players' PCs access to the "mandatory" feats and magic items, level 30 PCs would only have 25 + modifier bonuses to defenses, which means five level 4 Orc Drudges could use Aid Another to boost a level 9 Troll's to-hit so that he'd need only an 11 to strike the best-armored PC (36 AC with Unarmored Agility and 30 INT/DEX), dealing an average of 19 damage per turn.  If the PCs fought those Orcs at level 21, that's only 20 + modifier, which means level 9 Orc Warriors would need a 17 to hit (difficult, but doesn't need Aid Another to hit, and with Aid Another that makes a squad of four Orc Warriors a real threat to the PCs).

Remember: in the Lord of the Rings movie, only a few PCs had magic items — as far as I know it was only Frodo, and later Aragorn in the third movie, that had any magic items, and even then Aragorn didn't have any magical chainmail to protect him — so I wouldn't be surprised if, when translating the movie to D&D 4E combat specifically, the final battle would involve Epic tier PCs who were using purely mundane equipment, and a boatload of Orc Warriors (which would represent Uruk-hai, since they're more powerful than the typical orc [which in D&D 4E are mostly level 4], but in the movies they tended to die in a single hit).
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Instead of running 1000+ orcs, run Gargantuan-sized Orc Hordes that are Epic level elites (or solos), who have multi-target capabilities, usually each creature adjacent to them (close burst 1?).  Think of it this way: individually orcs are a significant enough threat for adventurers, but when the gates of Helm's Deep come crashing down from the sheer mass of orcs streaming through it, that's not one insignificant orc you're fighting, but an entire mass of well-organized, well-coordinated orcs.

Yep.  I did this with sahaugin 'schools' in an underwater epic battle with a Kraken.  They were pretty nasty, yanking characters into their space and dealing ongoing untyped damage as hundreds of blood-crazed gillmen tried to eat them alive.  


 

 

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