First Time Playtesting the New Packet: Is Character AC too high?

     I feel like I'm doing something wrong when I put together a homebrew adventure for a group of four level seven adventurers.  I have a monk and wizard with 19AC and, a Fighter with 22AC, and the average attack bonus is +5 or +6 but when I put together challenges and I look at monsters in the bestiary, I'm looking at level 7 monsters with an average of 13 to 15 AC, and no more than +5 or +6 attack.  Mathematically speaking, my PCs can hit the monsters on a roll of about 8 or more, but in the case of the fighter, should it really take a roll of 18 or higher?  I'm concerned the monsters aren't going to be challenging enough at the presupposed level that the monsters are identified to be challenging to.
     Is this the same experience everyone else is having? 
I'm seeing the same thing. The PCs just pound on most of the monsters because of the low monster AC and the monsters can barely hit a couple of the PCs at all. I'd agree that either player ACs need to come down or Monster ACs need to come up, as do their attack bonuses. 
What are they equiped with with? Did you use random rolling for the stats or points? I am running a group with of seven 3rd level characters that started at 1, and will be wrapping up a module soon. The highest AC you could possibly have is 20 and that is with plate armor and a shield, or class ability with stats of 20. Anything beyond that is the realm of magical equipment. Magic items should be quite rare and not given to players as they can distrupt game balance easily. This is more true in this version of D&D than any other. No mage should have AC of 19!? Without armor proficiency they would be on disadvantage to most of their important rolls.
The mage would need Bracers of Defense, Dex 20, and a Ring of Protection to get AC 19. Since you have total control on how frequent magic items are and they are not bought.......how did the mage get to AC19?
I felt this way more with previous packages, not as much now.

I've also become more comfortable with the bounded accuracy concept in which many opponents vs. 1 PC become very dangerous.   If I want to challenge the PCs, I have them encounter 2:1, or if the situation is right, I have foes focus fire.    When I want the PCs to have an easier time, I throw less foes at them, and I put the monsters in situations where they don't/can't gang up on one PC.    See if that helps you.   

     

A Brave Knight of WTF - "Wielder of the Sword of Balance"

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

It's a specific case of power gaming but it is pretty easy for a mage to get into amount of AC without magic items. They just need to be a (Mountain I think it is) Dwarf which nets them medium armour profficiency and +1 AC when wearing medium or light armour. On top of that at fourth level you could also grab the heavy armour master feat for heavy armour and some DR.

The rules for casting spells is that they just have to be profficient in the armour they are wearing. 
I said Wizard, but I meant Druid. Let me break it down a bit to see here. See if I'm doing something wrong.

Having played 3rd ed, 3.5, and 4th edition, I just got my guys to agree to try out the play test, so I'm not new to DnD at all. Have been playing it on and off for about 15 years, but its my first go at DnDNext.

Each PC is starting at level 7, so I figured a fair trade off was to give each PC one magical item (only one because I had heard about how much of a disparity is created by giving too many magical equipment).

We did rolling for stats, but strictly as the packet prescribes so there's not too much power munching on that regard.

The Druid has 19 AC (Dragon Leather Armor at 12 + DEX mod of +4 + Ring of Protection +1 + +2 shield) = 19AC

The Monk was given bracers of defense for his magical item (13 + Dex mod of 3 + WIS mod of 4) = 20AC

Dwarf Hill fighter (Mithral Plate = 18 base + Dwarf Hill bonus with heavy armor +1 + Shield for +2 + Ring of Protection +1) = 22AC

I like the idea of stacking up the challenges to 2:1, but if the message is that they were given a magical item "too soon". They only got one and they're level 7... When is a PC supposed to be rewarded with a magical item if its "too soon" at level 7? I understand that magical items are supposed to be rare, but Its one thing to guarantee everyone magical loot every level, but it can't be unheard of to give them one good item every three to four levels, much less one item at level 7.
I think these figures highlight the problem of giving mundane items, feats, and racial abilities that stack on standard armour ratings.

In my playtest, I applied half stat modifiers to dex (so max +2 dex or max +1 with medium armour) and only +1 for a shield.  Then if the PC spent their reaction to dodge against a specific attack they would get full dex, up to +2 for medium and +2 for shield.  This was the base that stacked with other reaction abilities.  Special materials are just treated as magical.  It felt ok.

e.g.  The Druid - Dragon Leather Armor +1 at 12 + DEX mod of +2 + Ring of Protection +0 (doesn't stack with armour) +1 shield) = AC15 (or AC18 if they spend their reaction extra +2 dex and +1 shield)

The Monk was given bracers of defense for his magical item (13 + Dex mod of +1 + WIS mod of +2) = AC16 (AC20 if spending reaction)

Dwarf Hill fighter (Mithral Plate +1 = 18 base + Dwarf Hill bonus with heavy armor +1 + Shield for +1 + Ring of Protection +0) = AC20 (AC21 with reaction)

Personally I'd remove the dwarf racial ability too but I think it's workable this way.  The heavy armoured dude has a high AC against all attackers, the others are more vulnerable.  One suggested ability was to allow the monk full bonus against a number of attackers based on wisdom bonus or level.
With all those AC-boosting items you allowed them to have, I think you have yourself, and not the system, to blame for your PCs high ACs.  

The system is fine. 

If you have to resort to making offensive comments instead of making logical arguments, you deserve to be ignored.

Well you gave the party 3 rare magic items so it's rather expected. At level 7 looking at the random loot tables they should just now start seeing them drop on well, rare ocasions as the random loot tables are d20+enemy level in chests and hoards come out as 27-30 for rare magic items. You should have gone with uncommons and a handful of potions.

Personally I would remove the Druid's proficiency with shields and just give them bucklers and there is no way the fighter has 6000gp to drop on mithral plate. Banded is about as much as he should be able to afford. 17+2+1 puts his AC at 20.

Druid would be 12+4+1 = 17

The Bracers of Defense don't stack with the monk's class feature as both state that his AC = X so he gets one but not the other, like the interaction of Mage Armor and Bracers/Monk's Unarmored Defense. His best AC is now 17.

Even if the Druid and Fighter pick up magic armor it will only be a +1 bonus. Fighter can still push his AC but mountain dwarves are a little silly and he's invested into his AC with his feat, though fighters have 1 more than they should IMO.
You are not alone OP. My lvl 5 group of players is also steamrolling encounters I throw at them using DM guidelines. Average encounters are more like Easy and Though are more like Average. And the rules for enemies outnumbering players are completely useless when you have a Mage and a Cleric of Light in the party.

Although I was not as happy to give them powerful magica or mundane items like you did. 
Starcraft Saga Edition: http://sc2se.wikispaces.com/
Yep my group noticed the same thing. Even without any magic a fighter can easly be at AC 18 (Scale armor + Reasonable Dex bonus +2 and a shield) A mage can cast Mage armor and again if they created a PC with a Reasonable Dex bonus your at AC 15.


Now compare that with many of the critters I threw at them. AC 11, 12, and 13.


The monsters have lower + to hit on average and at best about the same as the players so the PCs were smacking down hoards of wolves, Orcs, Ogres, even water elementals while taking some but very little damage.

Don't get me wrong I want my PC to win but it shouldn't be like going out and cutting the lawn. They even said by the end of last nights playtest that it seemed too easy.       
I think the first thing a group should do once Next is released is the talk about what kind of game they want to play and then make Next that game.

Looking at your player's choices, they picked almost entirely Defensive items so they are saying that they don't want to get hit.

The base game provides that. 

The DM is saying, "I want them to get hit, a lot".  Both sides aren't going to get their way.

If the base monster math is similar to 4e (and I don't see a lot of support for wildly varient, pre-4e math on monsters) then between BA and some sort of monster building guidelines the difficulty slider should be easy to adjust.

Raise or lower creature attacks, or damage.

Raise of lower creature defenses.


Hitting everyone's target style for difficulty will simply not happen with the printed stats.       
  
I think the first thing a group should do once Next is released is the talk about what kind of game they want to play and then make Next that game.

Looking at your player's choices, they picked almost entirely Defensive items so they are saying that they don't want to get hit.

The base game provides that. 

The DM is saying, "I want them to get hit, a lot".  Both sides aren't going to get their way.

If the base monster math is similar to 4e (and I don't see a lot of support for wildly varient, pre-4e math on monsters) then between BA and some sort of monster building guidelines the difficulty slider should be easy to adjust.

Raise or lower creature attacks, or damage.

Raise of lower creature defenses.


Hitting everyone's target style for difficulty will simply not happen with the printed stats.       
  




I agree.  So far, playtesting over the past year, it has been very easy to modify what WoTC has given me.   In my games, when I want more challenge, I give some of the creatures better armor or different weapons.   Sometimes I give them max or nearly maximum hit points.  Sometimes I give them a feat or ability that makes them unique.   Sometimes I throw just a few creatures at the PCs....sometimes I throw great numbers or waves.  Sometimes I have creatures wait in ambush stealthily gaining surprise (when possible).   I've created spellcasting varients of humanoid races in my games (and that really ups the challenge).   I've used traps and terrain to make encounters more challenging.   There are a ton of options to turn dials in this game.

The simplicity of the core system is a asset that is very valuable.    It gives us a chance to make D&D fun, fast and flexible.   (This is my new mantra).    

A Brave Knight of WTF - "Wielder of the Sword of Balance"

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

I think the first thing a group should do once Next is released is the talk about what kind of game they want to play and then make Next that game.

Looking at your player's choices, they picked almost entirely Defensive items so they are saying that they don't want to get hit.

The base game provides that. 

The DM is saying, "I want them to get hit, a lot".  Both sides aren't going to get their way.

If the base monster math is similar to 4e (and I don't see a lot of support for wildly varient, pre-4e math on monsters) then between BA and some sort of monster building guidelines the difficulty slider should be easy to adjust.

Raise or lower creature attacks, or damage.

Raise of lower creature defenses.


Hitting everyone's target style for difficulty will simply not happen with the printed stats.       
  




I agree.  So far, playtesting over the past year, it has been very easy to modify what WoTC has given me.   In my games, when I want more challenge, I give some of the creatures better armor or different weapons.   Sometimes I give them max or nearly maximum hit points.  Sometimes I give them a feat or ability that makes them unique.   Sometimes I throw just a few creatures at the PCs....sometimes I throw great numbers or waves.  Sometimes I have creatures wait in ambush stealthily gaining surprise (when possible).   I've created spellcasting varients of humanoid races in my games (and that really ups the challenge).   I've used traps and terrain to make encounters more challenging.   There are a ton of options to turn dials in this game.

The simplicity of the core system is a asset that is very valuable.    It gives us a chance to make D&D fun, fast and flexible.   (This is my new mantra).    



I agree with all of this.  My initial sentiment was that everything was too easy.  But my players don't actually feel that way.  Even though a red dragon felt dissappointingly easy to kill on my side of the screen they were terrified.  So I wonder if I have to adjust my assumptions of difficulty levels.  

Also I do a lot like Rhenny does.  I'll fiddle with the monster stats and weapon layout occasionally and that seems to work really well and keeps it surprisingly fresh for the players.

I concur that it's incredibly easy in NExt to fiddle with the dials.     
Oh, to the OP: last packet one of my characters got a dwarven thrower and attuned it, so +3.  That's fine with one attack per round but is significantly better with three (he's an 11th level gladiator).  It's problematic but occasionally I increase the AC of a threat (a death knight last game had a shield) by one or two points.
I agree.  So far, playtesting over the past year, it has been very easy to modify what WoTC has given me.   In my games, when I want more challenge, I give some of the creatures better armor or different weapons.   Sometimes I give them max or nearly maximum hit points.  Sometimes I give them a feat or ability that makes them unique.   Sometimes I throw just a few creatures at the PCs....sometimes I throw great numbers or waves.  Sometimes I have creatures wait in ambush stealthily gaining surprise (when possible).   I've created spellcasting varients of humanoid races in my games (and that really ups the challenge).   I've used traps and terrain to make encounters more challenging.   There are a ton of options to turn dials in this game.

The simplicity of the core system is a asset that is very valuable.    It gives us a chance to make D&D fun, fast and flexible.   (This is my new mantra).



Can I get a 'Praise be unto Pelor'?

I've had the same experience editing monsters. It's easy to add feats or change the gear monsters carry to increase the difficulty of an encounter. A simple change to one or two monsters makes the fight harder and much more dynamic.
Isn't dragon leather armour AC = 12 + DEX mod (max 2)?

I'm certain I read your druid adding its full +4 to its AC.
Isn't dragon leather armour AC = 12 + DEX mod (max 2)?

No, dragon leather is light armor, and does not restrict your Dexterity contribution to AC.

The metagame is not the game.

Right now I can imagine that the monsters is still on polishment.
They changed a little on the last 3 packets.
I really hope that the average unmodified monsters give a sense of challenge. 

I only die if I roll 1 -- lasts words of a 15th level fighter on a 3.5 table that I DMed.

The more I've DMd the packages, the more easy it has been to threaten even foes with AC 20 or more.    The trick is that DMs have to get used to mob tactics.   When an AC 20 PC is attacked by 3 or more foes/attacks, the probability of getting damaged starts to get more and more likely.    For humanoid creatures, I like to let them duel wield at times (just like the PCs).    That doubles the attacks.   Also, because the 2nd attack only does light weapon damage, it doesn't do tons of damage, but it feels more dangerous.


A Brave Knight of WTF - "Wielder of the Sword of Balance"

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

One thing to remember is that matching monsters to pcs level to level, that is throwing level 7 monsters at a level 7 party, should be easy encounters. The players should be able to go through about 6 or 7 easy encounters (same level), or 4 average encounters (+1 level), or two tough encounters (+2 levels) before needing a long rest. If you want to up the challenge, then throw monsters of level 8-9 at them or, like others said, just up the numbers of monsters so you hit that tougher XP threashold. One thing that is confusing, though, is that XP does not allways corrospond directly with level. So, when building encounters, look more at XP. The "level" of the monster is actually just there to make sure your are not dumping all your xp budget into one monster that is unkilliable, even though you are within the numeric boundries of your xp budget. So, when I say look at level 8-9 monsters, I mean, look at using an xp budget of about 700 points per character in the party (2800 in your case), without chosing any single monster that is more than a couple levels higher than the party (i.e., its listed level is not greather than 9 or 10). 

A tough encoutner example for your party would be the Barbed Devel (Level 9, xp 2400, still a little shy of the max for a tough encoutner but it is close enough). This monster has a low AC (14) and relativly low hps (67 average), but takes half damage from non magical weapons. So, every one will be doing have damage since the whole party went with defensive magic items (oops!). It is also immune to fire and poison and resistant to cold, so that will hurt a lot of spells, and it can never be suprised. It only has +5 to hit, but it can make three attacks and those attacks impos additional conditions. It also can make its attack do 15 flame damge even on a miss, or it can throw its flame at people. It can also summon other demons (30 percent chanch to summon another barbed devel, yikes!). 

 

Another example would be the cyclopes (xp 2720, level 9). It is a more simple brute-like monster to run. It only has AC 12 but it has an average of 138 hps and has two attacks at +7 so it can hit the fighter with his AC 22 on a 15 or better. Since its two attacks though, it will hit more often than that (I have heard two attacks is equivilint to a +4 or +5 so, probably the fighter will get hit every other round) and it does a whopoing 3d10+7 (23) points of damage per hit and chance to knock target prone. Knocking target prone is important, imagen hitting the fighter, doing 23 points of damage (thats getting close to half the fighter's average hit points at level 7) and then moving off to attack some one else with its second attack. That means next turn fighter has to waste an action to stand up, then move to the cyclopes, and wait for the cyclopes to take another swing. But of course, the best way is to have the cyclopse ambush the party and hurl boulders at them. It is only one attack at +5 but a hit can pin a target under the boulder, thus disrupting the party tacticts (hint, target the spell casters or monk with this!)

Or, you could try throwing 2-3 ropers at the party lol. 

Any way, just remember to go by xp instead of level, and remember that level equivilent means easy (7-8 fights before needing to rest), +1 level means average (4 fighter before resting), and +2 levels equals tough (about two fights before needing to rest). Check the DM guidlines on pg 22 for the full run down of how to build encounters. It is really cool actually, because you can scale an adventure to be a hack fest of running back to back combat encounters for a whole eveaning, or have more exploration/interaction, with a scary tough fight or two at the end. You can make the game feel like 4th ed (an assumed 9 encounters before needing to rest) or run it like an old school game where (at least a low level party) has to rest after just a couple of battles or so. 

I hope that helps!

 

 

Give Dex penalties to armour wearers. As in actual penalties, none of that "max Dex" or "no Dex bonus". You're fighting in full plate armour with a tower shield, one-handing a bastard sword? You're not a rogue, you won't be dodging much, and a clonk from an ogre club is equivalent to a small building falling on you. Doesn't matter what you're wearing at that point, you're taking damage. Or, make your supertank make Constitution saving throws every 1d4 rounds because full plate armour and tower shield. He's gonna get tired. Let's say if he fails, he takes 1d4 (nonlethal) damage, or moves at half speed, or makes attacks with disadvantage until next save, or attacks are made with advantage against him until next save. Make armour both a boon and a bane.

Praise the Sun.

 

I really hope Next produces a plethora of people wanting to DM.

It would be nice to be able to just move to another table when a DM says something that defines a style of play I'm not interesting in.

 

 

Fourty six hp on a 7th level fighter?  Are we reading the same packet?

If the fighter took the straight array, assigning 14 Con (and not a dwarf, hill dwarf, half orc or human), he still ends up at 56 hp without putting in any effort.  A hill dwarf fighter (again using average hp) picking the Toughness feat will have 77 hp and can second wind for 10 more.  Multiply that by the aforementioned AC, and we have a more accurate picture.  We must always assume players will do whatever you (or the rules) do not forbid.

The problem D&D is having is the old AC question:  is the number 'to hit' or the number 'to hurt'.  Without touch AC as a reference (for the record:  not saying we should bring this back), what is the difference between actually hitting say, a hill giant (AC 11) and actually hurting him?  If the question is, 'Are you strong/skilled enough to hurt a giant?'  the answer is currently always: yes.  Any dolt can hit, and inflict hp damage on, a giant. Perhaps this is working as intended, given some of the things the rule creators have written. 

But it sets up the very real problem of how we, as DMs, narrate the action.  A character shoots a Hill Giant with a bow and inflicts 19 hp damage on him with a critical (2d8 +3 for dex, rolling max).  What do we say?  The giant has only gone from 76 hp to 57 hp, not even 'bloodied' yet - to borrow that idea.  Should I reward the player's good fortune with, 'You make a good shot, but the giant shrugs it off.'?  Players expect blood to flow on crits. On one hand, the character did do nearly a third of it's hp in one shot - on the other hand the Barbarian character that goes next could double the number up on damage.

So, is AC 11 the number to hit or to hurt?  ACs need to be adjusted for toughness a bit.  I think the designers may have been worried that they nerfed PC's to hit bonuses so much and flattened the power curve, that they overcompensated with low monster AC.

Very disappointed in the last Open Playtest Bestiary.

As a rule, I think I'm going to add the Proficiency bonus (based in Hit Dice) to the Armor Class, saves, and Attack bonuses of all the non-humanoid creatures.

 

So between +1 and +6 to every thing.

That's actually what I started last night, Up to lvl 6 at least I simply add the monster's level to its attack, prof. saves and AC. Roughly following the new class progression.

Player AC is only too high by comparison to the monster's their fighting, where they get it and how it progresses is well enough on its own. They simply forgot or didn't bother to update the monsters.

At lvl 6+ it would require individual tuning per monster. Red Dragon with 15 AC is just laughable, though I didn't plan on following that stat setup before the 9/19 release.

Yeah, I have started a playtest from two or three months ago, we are only level 3 now, but I am already starting to run into this.  Monsters need +2/3 to AC and to hit across the board to even last a few rounds.  Proficiency bonus based on level seems good for a quick and easy guide, as does the inverse of their BD&D/1st edition/2nd Edition AC.

TheRustyOne wrote:

Monsters need +2/3...to hit across the board...

No, no, no!

I like where they are with regard to monsters' to-hit numbers.  If monsters hit any more often, it won't feel worthwhile to wear armour.  

Leave well enough alone.

If you have to resort to making offensive comments instead of making logical arguments, you deserve to be ignored.

Currently brute monsters are comically easy. The lvl 1-6 trick works decent for low levels. Of course Players hardly get additional armor after level 1 and thats why I've been doctoring each monster individually after lvl 6.

While I definitely don't want to see a repeat of 3.5 in which AC was all but useless its simply not in proper proportions to challenge your players at lower levels without rolling 30 attacks a round. 

My typical Fighters and Hybrids are starting with 19 AC at lvl 1.  Level 1-3 creatures have ~15% chance to hit that kind of AC.

What's even stranger are things like lvl 6 Displacer Beast 2 Attacks at +6 and lvl 13 Red Dragon 3 attacks at +7 gahuh? Sure the red dragon does much more damage but the 7 lvl difference = +1 hit from STR? And how or why would a Huge Red Dragon have less AC than a lvl 1 anything in chainmail.

A Red Dragon has a ~60% miss chance on a lvl 1 Fighter as current while that same Fighter has a ~50% chance to miss the dragon.

A fighter with 1-2 dex mod wearing Dragon Scale armor has more AC than the Dragon it was made from.

These things just don't make sense to me.

I'm completely okay with level 1-3 monsters only hitting well-armoured people 15% of the time.  

I don' t want to see a return to 4e, in which everything hurt you with a mere roll of 12+ even though you were wearing plate.  No, thanks!

If you have to resort to making offensive comments instead of making logical arguments, you deserve to be ignored.