Drow seem to be phenomenally dangerous TPK machines

I haven't run an encounter with them yet, so I am wondering if I am misreading them or something, or maybe they aren't as bad as they appear to be. Therefore, I am posting this in this forum.

It seems like they will almost always be able to get surprise when attacking any party that is not aware in advance that they will be facing them and have taken precautions, and have many tools to gain and maintain advantage over multiple turns, which, with their +7 hand crossbow attack, seems likely to hit basically anyone. 

They don't do that much damage, but a DC 12 constitution save is never anything to laugh about in this edition, and it seems likely a tough, high HP character, like a level 10 Fighter or something, would be likely to fail four times if fire is focused on him (and a level 10 Fighter would be facing a number of 140 XP monsters large enough that they could certainly afford to focus fire on him) before he was really able to do anything about them.

Actually, while the Drow look like a particularly nasty example, I've generally noticed that a number of weaker monsters are much more dangerous than a single big monster, even accounting for the 2:1 or 3:1 XP guidelines. I've had a group of level 1s take down a Carrion Crawler with ease and get murdered by a group of 10 XP Mountain Dwarves.
I don't remember how Drow are supposed to work in the playtest packet. Do they still have sleep poison?

Since the vast majority of scaling is on damage and hit points, rather than ability scores and save DCs, it's currently kind of a problem that low-level characters who can inflict status effects are incredibly effective against high-level targets. A level 1 wizard casting color spray is operating at something like 90% of the effectiveness of a level 17 wizard who casts the same spell, and the spell is equally devastating to level 1 monsters or level 20 monsters. 
The metagame is not the game.
Since the vast majority of scaling is on damage and hit points, rather than ability scores and save DCs, it's currently kind of a problem that low-level characters who can inflict status effects are incredibly effective against high-level targets. A level 1 wizard casting color spray is operating at something like 90% of the effectiveness of a level 17 wizard who casts the same spell, and the spell is equally devastating to level 1 monsters or level 20 monsters. 


Yeah, but that is why damage scaling is such a big deal. Sure Command cast at level one has a very good chance of effectively stunning a high level monster, but when the rest of the party is only doing 10 damage a hit, the monster will hardly notice that he was out for a round.

Back on topic though, Drow are pretty powerful monsters for their level. Not Mind Flayer OP, but up there. Whether they are OP, or others of their level are weak, is up for debate. 
Drow poison (and most other status effects) should probably have a hp limit.
Their poison causes a 5 foot penalty to speed and a -1 to AC and Dex saves. Multiple poisonings stack and after being hit four times the target loses conciousness.

Looks pretty dangerous, but my players defeated three drow at level 3 without too much issue. The barbarian rushed in and took most of the fire, and he has a high Con. It all comes down to tactics.

Other monsters concern me far more. The Mind Flayer, for instance, hits once and the target is grappled, hits again and the target's brain is eaten and they die, no save.

I had a level 7 party, 1 cleric, 1 wizard, 1 druid, and 1 rogue. I was having them fight 3 drow, but that was way to weak. So I threw in a mind flayer (level 5) and two umber hulks (level 6). (Inspired by Baldur's Gate 2).


I almost got a TPK... due to a mixture of narrow underground terrain that the umberhulks could easily burrow through to get into melee range. The combination of confusion plus the AOE stun really hurt the party. The  druid  was instakilled by the mind flayer, the cleric tank was slowly being wittled down and the rogue got taken out and the wizard had to run. Cleric and Wizard got away and came back to rescue the rogue.


I even had the Drow hold back a little for story purposes so only 2 were attacking and starting 2 turns late. I also let the first brain eating only remove some intelligence, not kill him outright.


This was after weeks and weeks of sending big monsters like cyclops, hydras, etc that never really threatened them much. I was suprised how effective these low level creatures were.

So the take away message is... monsters with special abilities are much more deadly (and random) than monsters who just have normal attacks. It also depends on how coordinated your party is and whether they are willing to waste a turn to potentially save a party member. 

Drow definitely have a lot of stopping power in enough numbers.

And I agree with the general attitude of this thread: higher numbers of lower level monsters is far more challenging in this edition that one big solo fight.

I had a group of 5 PCs at about level 6 face off against sequential squads of 4 Drow at a time. It was a challenging encounter, since the Drow had the advantage of darkness, initial surprise, and a beefy set of +7 ranged attacks. The party waded through the Con saves, but it could have gone either way.

At the level they're at now, by the RAW, a tough encounter for them is about 20 drow. That's 40 attacks per round, and up to as many Con saves. I think I have a plan for this week now...
A cockatrice or basilisk in a ceiling hatch should be enough to give most groups the willies.  The trap pops open and the critter drops into combat.  Everyone is surprised and nobody is able to choose to avert their eyes.  Two DC11 CON saves later, 25% of the party is turned to stone.  

(By the way, are there any spells that can cancel petrification?  I looked through the spells and couldn't find any that explicitly cure it.)   

(By the way, are there any spells that can cancel petrification?  I looked through the spells and couldn't find any that explicitly cure it.)   


Greater Restoration does it.