Some things I've noticed about MM2...

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For starters, drakkoths are categorised as medium sized creatures. Now since centaurs are categorised as large creatures (by virtue of them being horse at their lower half); I have to assume that this was an innocent mistake that can easily be errata'd away (like pseudodragons & mezzodemons), or else them's some pretty small dracotaurs (I'm not really familiar with their presence in earlier editions, but I'm assuming they haven't always been pretty small dracotaurs).

Also, I notice that a lot of the high-end solo monsters have hit point totals considerably lower than those printed in earlier books of this edition.
For example: Demogorgon has only 1,260 hit points. Compare this to Graz'zt, another demon lord & controller role monster; who has 1,430 hit points, despite being 2 levels & 13 constitution lighter than Demogorgon.
Another example: the metallic dragons (particularly the ancient ones) have between 200-300 less hit points than their chromatic counterparts of similar level.
Now I don't keep up much with what goes on in the monster building, playtesting, & customer feedback departments of WotC-D&D, but I can only assume (or hope, as the case may be) that someone flubbed the math behind hit point calculation for this book, that D&D's suddenly gone easy-mode, or it was just generally agreed that the 'boss' monsters just had too many dang hit points (I've never had a 30th level party, so I wouldn't know from experience).

I might be grasping at straws; & for all I know, the D&D guys might already be in the process of updating this information (if they mean to update it at all); but those two things just really stuck out at me as a little odd.

Thoughts?
Also, I notice that a lot of the high-end solo monsters have hit point totals considerably lower than those printed in earlier books of this edition.
For example: Demogorgon has only 1,260 hit points. Compare this to Graz'zt, another demon lord & controller role monster; who has 1,430 hit points, despite being 2 levels & 13 constitution lighter than Demogorgon.

Thoughts?

It's been noted that Solo HP seems to be getting reduced across the board.
If that's the case, I do at least hope they'll go back & update the old soloes' HPs to bring them in line with their new contemporaries.

At least, that's what I would do.

May be unnecessary, but seems like the classy thing to do.
For starters, drakkoths are categorised as medium sized creatures. Now since centaurs are categorised as large creatures (by virtue of them being horse at their lower half); I have to assume that this was an innocent mistake that can easily be errata'd away (like pseudodragons & mezzodemons), or else them's some pretty small dracotaurs (I'm not really familiar with their presence in earlier editions, but I'm assuming they haven't always been pretty small dracotaurs).

Actually, when I look at the centaur art I don't see much justification for them being large size. While centaurs and horses are both unquestionably bigger than a human, I'm not sure that they're so much bigger as to earn a four square area of a combat map. That particular issue has always seemed a bit troublesome rules-wise as well.

Maybe horses and centaurs are both wrong and drakkoths finally got it right? Any thoughts?
D&D rules were never meant to exist without the presence of a DM. RAW is a lie.
The new formula for all levels of play for all roles of solos seems to be:

HP = ((level+1)x8+Con)x4
There have been a lot of complaints about high level solos just being walking bags of hitpoints. There's been dozens of threads on the topic in several different subforums. It's a commonly heard complaint.

And it would seem it's a valid one since the MM2 seems to be addressing it. I hope they're putting a lot more effort into making solo fights interesting and dynamic instead of just LONG.
Actually, when I look at the centaur art I don't see much justification for them being large size. While centaurs and horses are both unquestionably bigger than a human, I'm not sure that they're so much bigger as to earn a four square area of a combat map. That particular issue has always seemed a bit troublesome rules-wise as well.

Maybe horses and centaurs are both wrong and drakkoths finally got it right? Any thoughts?

I think the real problem is 4E's refusal to allow critters to occupy spaces that aren't perfectly square. The 5'x10' "horse size" in 3.5 was sensible, and shouldn't have been dropped. No real horse fits in anything like a 5' square, but they can maneuver through a 5' gap without squeezing too.

The new formula for all levels of play for all roles of solos seems to be:

HP = ((level+1)x8+Con)x4

Does look like it, doesn't it? Seemed to me like there was a slight increase in damage output for solos too, but that might be my imagination.
I think the real problem is 4E's refusal to allow critters to occupy spaces that aren't perfectly square. The 5'x10' "horse size" in 3.5 was sensible, and shouldn't have been dropped. No real horse fits in anything like a 5' square, but they can maneuver through a 5' gap without squeezing too.

Forcing all creatures onto square bases is one case where they have simplified the rules a bit too far. It is a simplification that creates more problems then it fixes.

Does look like it, doesn't it? Seemed to me like there was a slight increase in damage output for solos too, but that might be my imagination.

There had better be. Many of the solo monsters already had problems because they didn't have enough offense. If they have cut HP to make fights faster they had better increase the monsters offense.

Going back and fixing the existing monsters to bring them in line would be nice also. Otherwise players are going to have to start metagaming the tough monsters. They will have to remember "This is a MM1 monster, it will have more HPs then the other ones."

Jay
I think the real problem is 4E's refusal to allow critters to occupy spaces that aren't perfectly square. The 5'x10' "horse size" in 3.5 was sensible, and shouldn't have been dropped. No real horse fits in anything like a 5' square, but they can maneuver through a 5' gap without squeezing too.

Sorry if it's a bit OT, but I don't agree with this and I think the simplification of all square bases (which was in 3.5, by the way - the 5' x 10' horse was 3.0) works well. The square area of a 'base' is a 'fighting space', not the physical size of the creature - humans don't actually take up a solid 5' square! A horse may not have to really "squeeze" to get through a 5' gap - nor does a human really have to squeeze to pass a 2.5' gap (= an average door) - but they do suffer disadvantages from a combat perspective while doing so, because they lack room to manoeuvre. A turn or round is several seconds long - this is an age in combat. Thus facing does not make sense - and constant flexibility of facing means an effectively square/round 'fighting space'.
======= Balesir
Going back and fixing the existing monsters to bring them in line would be nice also. Otherwise players are going to have to start metagaming the tough monsters. They will have to remember "This is a MM1 monster, it will have more HPs then the other ones."

Step 1: Tell players to stop memorizing the MM.
Step 2: Apply new formula to old solo hit points.

I don't think this is worth publishing pages and pages of errata updates.
Step 1: Tell players to stop memorizing the MM.
Step 2: Apply new formula to old solo hit points.

I don't think this is worth publishing pages and pages of errata updates.

I think it might be too much effort for errata (combined with WotC not wanting to admit that they messed up). Assuming that it's true that solos receive an offensive boost to compensate- like the adamantine dragon seems to- they would need to also alter all of the MM1 solo monsters' damage output abilities.
I think the real problem is 4E's refusal to allow critters to occupy spaces that aren't perfectly square. The 5'x10' "horse size" in 3.5 was sensible, and shouldn't have been dropped.

The problem with that is it introduces facing into the system, something that should be avoided at all costs. If that means that a centaur, spinning around and kicking at its enemies in combat needs 10' around itself to maneuver, so be it.

I would have made them Medium, and given them an NPC writeup, myself. But they're Large, so it is what it is.
The problem with that is it introduces facing into the system, something that should be avoided at all costs. If that means that a centaur, spinning around and kicking at its enemies in combat needs 10' around itself to maneuver, so be it.

What's so bad about facing rules?

Yes, I did have to ask that.
I think it might be too much effort for errata (combined with WotC not wanting to admit that they messed up). Assuming that it's true that solos receive an offensive boost to compensate- like the adamantine dragon seems to- they would need to also alter all of the MM1 solo monsters' damage output abilities.

I don't believe this is required honestly. MM2 monsters are generally harder hitters but seem to have taken a hit in HP as a result. This is actually fine to be honest. MM1 monsters don't have the same ability to really hit you as hard but have somewhat more HP instead, which does compensate them.

It's not really that much of an issue.
What's so bad about facing rules?

Yes, I did have to ask that.

Just like 3D combat, it introduces an unnecessary layer of complexity, and opens the door to things like called shots (did I hit the guy in the back or the side?). It's something that I don't feel adds to the game in any capacity.
Something else I didn't bring up at first is that in addition to having less HP, I also notice that soloes now seem to have somewhat lower defenses across the board. Probably in the same vein as the HP lowering. Just felt that people who don't have MM2 yet should be aware of that as well.
Something else I didn't bring up at first is that in addition to having less HP, I also notice that soloes now seem to have somewhat lower defenses across the board. Probably in the same vein as the HP lowering. Just felt that people who don't have MM2 yet should be aware of that as well.

Good catch. Seems the defenses are about 2 lower. Attack bonuses also seem to be slightly lower (1 or 2 points). And I think an effort was made to give at least some them more actions/attacks.
Good catch. Seems the defenses are about 2 lower. Attack bonuses also seem to be slightly lower (1 or 2 points). And I think an effort was made to give at least some them more actions/attacks.

They also tend to do more damage. Shorter, more brutal fights are pretty much what people asked for.
They also tend to do more damage. Shorter, more brutal fights are pretty much what people asked for.

I don't really see the more damage part, though more attacks will likely result in more damage. Most of the damage seems on par (or a bit less actually in MM2) looking through just the dragons. There is maybe one or two entries that have slightly higher damage.
Step 2: Apply new formula to old solo hit points.

Optionally, apply the old formula to new solo hit points.
I don't really see the more damage part, though more attacks will likely result in more damage. Most of the damage seems on par (or a bit less actually in MM2) looking through just the dragons. There is maybe one or two entries that have slightly higher damage.

I would note that not all solos have reduced hit points. Compare the Young Red Dragon with the Young Adamantine Dragon. Both are level 7 solo soldier and both have 332 hit points. However the Red has AC 25, the Adamantine AC 23. NADs are similarly a bit lower.

The red does almost 2x the bite damage and has about a +2 on to-hit across the board. Claw damage is similarly higher for the red, again almost 2x as much. Tail Strike on the red does more damage too, but push 1 is probably inferior to prone (though that is situational).

The breath weapons are basically about the same, excepting the roar effect of the Adamantine.

Comparing the Ancient versions of each we see the hit point reduction, but we also see that the Adamantine can make FOUR claw and one bite attacks per round with one standard action, whereas the red can do 2 claws.

So there are no across the board generalizations you can make as far as monster design patterns go. High level solos do seem to have the newer 4x instead of 5x hit point totals and both to-hit and defense numbers generally seem to be a bit lower, but it will take a more detailed analysis to determine the whole pattern.

While it doesn't seem that dragons got this treatment I do notice that quite a few of the other higher level Elite/Solo type monsters have ways to mitigate or remove status effects too. I think WotC is simply learning to make better monsters. I see a few instances that are questionable, but overall I think the monsters will be a bit more interesting to fight than the MM1 monsters are.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
So there are no across the board generalizations you can make as far as monster design patterns go. High level solos do seem to have the newer 4x instead of 5x hit point totals and both to-hit and defense numbers generally seem to be a bit lower, but it will take a more detailed analysis to determine the whole pattern.

Conjecture, generalization, trend, gut feeling, call it what you like, it's there.

While it doesn't seem that dragons got this treatment I do notice that quite a few of the other higher level Elite/Solo type monsters have ways to mitigate or remove status effects too. I think WotC is simply learning to make better monsters. I see a few instances that are questionable, but overall I think the monsters will be a bit more interesting to fight than the MM1 monsters are.

Yup, definitely. I think MM2 is showing DM's how they should modify their MM1 monsters if they want to challenge their players more. Fortunately, a lot of the community is already ahead of the game :D
Huh, that's weird, I've been lowering the defenses/HP and attacks of the bigger monsters by about the same amount. I also came up with a lot of the new mechanics that ended up in the MM2 on my homebrew monsters. I should work for Wizards!

P.S. I won't be back on for a while so don't expect me to respond to anything you might post directed toward me.
I'm just happy that we finally have the stas for centaurs. :P
New Solo math has been confirmed in the latest Dragon article;

In your own version of this challenge, you might play these two as originally presented, or you might reconfigure Orcus closer to the newer solo monster design tenets: give him 20% fewer hit points, -2 defenses, but also increase his damage output by 50% when bloodied. Either way, if you do recreate this challenge, we'd love to hear about it at: [email]dndinsider@wizards.com[/email].