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 Dungeons & Dra.. 4e General Discuss.. Excerpt: Minions
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Flag June 2, 2008 5:49 AM PDT

hellmute wrote:

Think of the 2 PC groups. While the dragon knows what happened, and the players, and DM know what happened and why the dragon is met by the second group at a severely weakend state, the second party will have no knowledge of the events that transpired to get the dragon to this point.

Theory of Relativity in parts says that if I had never spoken to you before on this forum, would you have existed? I had no knowledge of you, and therefore would have no way to know of your existance as it was not relative to my own. Or something like that. All things are relative based only on the observer....

So the PC parties knowledge of this draogn would be independant of the game mechanics, encounter design, and even the player knowledge of those PCs that had just died to the dragon and caused the creation of the second party of PCs that the same players are now using to "revisit" it.

Actually, your talking about the observer effect, not the Theory of Realtivity. The observer effect states that quantum variation is not determined until observed, the best example being the cat in a box.

The theory of relativity, which you keep spouting, is entirely differant and has nothign to do with what your talking about. It states that the time at which something appears to happen wil vary relative to your distance from the event. This is due to the speed of light. For example.. to people are on two differant planets, one is 1 parsec from a star, the other 2 parsecs. When the star explodes, the individual closer will see the event prior to the one farther, so it will have appeared to have happend before the one farther away. It also goes on to state that as one approaches the speed of light, time dilates, and passes slower to a person traveling at that speed then someone traveling at a slower speed.

Now please stop using either. Neither apply here.

Flag June 2, 2008 6:04 AM PDT

Samwise wrote:

Of course 5 level 9 monsters are not a 500 xp encounter, and thus in the range for a 1st level party.
This is why I reject your rebuttal.

And the designer's have specifically stated that they encounter levels do not scale perfectly, and encounters should stray more then 3-4 levels in either direction or the math gets wonky. So your scenerio simply prooves that point, not anything else. Sorry.

Flag June 2, 2008 6:05 AM PDT

Samwise wrote:

No, it is a mistake on your part, just as it is a mistake Lodestone 7's part to assume anything but what I wrote.

If you look at the table in the monster preview, a 9th level minion is worth 100 xp. That is the same xp as a 1st level standard monster.
Now if for some reason two monsters worth the same xp do not present the same challenge, then perhaps there is something a bit off in the new CR/EL system, aka "the encounter budget system".

The challenge is in the monster level, not soley the XP. Or are you missing the whole point of monsters having a level?

Flag June 2, 2008 6:07 AM PDT

hellmute wrote:

RD:

4 level 9 minions = 1 level 9 monster.
4 level 9 minions = 4 level 1 monsters.
ergo
4 level 1 monsters = 1 level 9 monster.

If a=b, and b=c, then a=c.

And please quote where they say that a minion is 100% equal in challange to a regular monster of 8 levels lower then it's level? When they specifically state that its inappropriate to use monsters more then a few levels differant from the party without making nessesary adjustments?

Flag June 2, 2008 6:29 AM PDT

hellmute wrote:

Do the minions always adhere to the constraints of their XP value being equal to that of creatures within four levels of the party level?

From all evidence so far.. yes, they do.

hellmute wrote:

What does one do when they have need of a creature not within 4 levels of the "party level"? Discard the entire XP budget system and replace it with what?

There is no reason you should need to have a creature outside of that range unless yoru creating a cakewalk or a TPK. If you are doing that YOU are going outside of the design parameters for what is considered a balanced encounter by the rules of the game. You should expect the encounters to be wobbly and unbalanced. The designers have specifically stated this.

hellmute wrote:

What if the "party" does not have a level, but different levels? Well the game doesn't allow for that, which is an entirely different flaw in the system.

Its called an average. You add up levels of the party and divide by the number of PC's in the party. 2nd grade math.

hellmute wrote:

Either of these shows that the system does not work, and NOT just for minions.

It works fine if you use it as designed. When you try and do stuff the designers tell you not to you should expect there to be problems. And that is exactly what your examples have stated you want to do.

hellmute wrote:

God I miss THAC0 and people who could actually do math other than addition....

You state this after asking how to figure out the average level of the party?

Flag June 2, 2008 6:56 AM PDT

Samwise wrote:

Acutally your assessment would hold true only if monsters were used exclusively at one level. As noted previously, they are not.
There is a very real and specific interaction of xp values of monsters of different levels. Yes, it does rather obviously, and by direct statement, break down past a certain point. What about within it? Can I use 10 5th level minions for a 1st level encounter? How does their challenge sync with their xp and the system?
Minions may well be merely a symptom of a greater systemic problem.

Actually monsters in 1st ed were assigned levels based on their xp value. This was carried forward into 2nd ed. I do not recall if it was retrofitted into later editions of Basic.
However those levels were based on a range of xp values, not a single static value. The final xp awarded for a monster was supposed to be modified by the difference in their relative power level compared to that of the PCs. This was carried into 3E with the xp table cross-referencing CR to PL. What it removed was the range of individual xp values within the 1st and 2nd ed level ranges, creating the confusion of different monsters of the same CR not being the same challenge.

4E has kept the static base value of a creature, but eliminated the modification for relative challenge, effectively declaring that all creatures of a specific xp value are an equal challenge.
It has replaced the modification by level with an adjustment to the amount of xp expected to be encountered at any time. This has the general effect of requiring you to use higher level creatures for higher level encounters, but it also means that lower level creatures remain the same theoretical challenge, provided they are used in greater numbers.
While I am sure that sounds good as a theory, as has been noted, the challenge of creatures does change over a range of levels, leading to the questions about just how sound it is in practice.

The integrated nature of the system means that xp is also an indication of power.
All 4E has done is invert the CR/EL system which was supposed to be so flawed.

No. It hasn't. Your blantantly ignoring the rules now. The challenge level of encounters are now balanced on 2 things. The number of "slots" available and the level of the monster. The slots are 1 regular monster of level X/pc of level X. 1 regular monster of level X = 4 minons of level X. 2 regular monsters of level X= 1 elite monster of level X. 4 regular monsters of level X = 1 solo monster of level X.

XP has nothing to do with balancing the encounter. AT ALL. Get that through your head please. XP is determined based on the general idea of there being approximately 10 encounters per level. each encounter is therefore meant to have approximately 10% of the XP to take it from that level to the next. This is then modified by the slot mechanic to determine how much an individual monster is worth at any given level. XP on it's own is not factored into encounter challange rating. Please stop insisting on using it incorrectly.

Flag June 2, 2008 7:08 AM PDT

Samwise wrote:

Allowing the game to be a game would mean doing just the opposite. Instead all that math is requiring the game to be a series of math tests.
Wait . . . that was a complaint about 3E.
In fact, as you note, so was the metagame thinking.
And of course the whole problem with design traps where you could do something wrong by going outside the stated spirit and intent of the game.

how does "pick x number of creatures of a level = to the party" a math test. Even when you look at the slot replacement values its nothing near as complicated as 3.X.

And its not a design trap. Its a tolerance in the system. Going outside of those tolerences causes the components to fail.

Samwise wrote:

Except the game is supposed to be unbreakable.
Yes, that is a complaint that certain 4E fans bear more responsibility for addressing, but it still remains an issue.

nothing is "unbreakable". 4E is apparently less prone to expolitation then 3.X, but thats not the same thing. When your purposesly ignoring the rules and creating encounters the designers TELL you are not going to be balanced for the party level, you should not be suprised when they are not.

Samwise wrote:

What do you expect the game is other than a self-contained universe of the particular rules?
It is an set of rules that uses probability models to simulate something, be it "realistic" combat and social interaction or movies or whatever. Within those mathematical systems you must have somefunctional constant or the system begins to spiral out of control.
And as it happens, I am very much interested in the game. That is why I bothered to learn the theory.

Then learn this - the game acknowledges the metagame limitations, and designed the encounter system to work on specific tolerances based on the level of the party. Go outside of those tolerances and the encounter system is no longer functional.

Samwise wrote:

OK, what about between the extremes?
For a 5th level encounter, both a 1st level standard monster and a 5th level minion are within the design parameters.
How do they stack up there?
Unfortunately until my PHB and June 6th arrives I cannot answer that. I have a suspicion it continues to resolve unfavorably for the minion.

Closer. But minions, again, are not intended to be used alone. the encounter would not be balanced unless you through other things in to that encounter besides the minions.

Samwise wrote:

See above.
4E appears to suggest that in making a 5th level encounter both 1st level standard monsters and 9th level minions are proper challenges worth 100 xp out of the xp budget for the encounter.
If they are not an equal threat then that entire encounter building mechanic has a rather fatal flaw.

1) your getting to be in the boundry area that is appropriate, acknowledge this please. The designers told you that encounters should be close in level to the party, and the levels you have listed are on the boundry.
2) Again, you dont balance the encounter solely on XP. you balance it on the number of monster slots and the level of the party.

Flag June 2, 2008 9:16 AM PDT

sparrowhawk4 wrote:

There is no reason you should need to have a creature outside of that range unless yoru creating a cakewalk or a TPK. If you are doing that YOU are going outside of the design parameters for what is considered a balanced encounter by the rules of the game. You should expect the encounters to be wobbly and unbalanced. The designers have specifically stated this.

It works fine if you use it as designed. When you try and do stuff the designers tell you not to you should expect there to be problems. And that is exactly what your examples have stated you want to do.

Sparrowhawk, when you create living world, it's not possible to have just balanced encounters everywhere, if you don't want to push characters as pieces on chessboard. They can do many things, sometimes unpredictable. So, sometimes there will be unbalanced encounters from designers point of view.

You know, your party started in a villiage with coming orc raiders, typical fantasy scenario, for their levels, don't know 1-5, there will be some typical minions. Balanced encounter and party wins, huray.

They move to town, helping count with bandits and some evil cult and after several years they are beck at home at 11th level. Raiding seassion just started so orc bands are back, you know what, they did some training for all those years, now all those minions are balanced against 11 level party. Hard fight, but they fall again, that's the fate of orcs.

Party rested for winter and moved across the ocean, big expedition, seeking lost civilizations, burried secrets, hurray. After many and many years, last two of them, now level 25 moved back to their villiage. You know what, raiding seassion again! This time, it looks like pure evil had to try those orc tribes for 20 years, because their minions are now so effective, they are able to smash poor old heroes to their death. R.I.P Orc-haters.

That's my two cents for "balanced encounters" and logic of the living world I hope many groups play in.
Cheers,

I think that minions should be very similar at all levels ... DM shouldn't say: ooookey, we have a 12 level party, that means these orcs are minions level X to be partners for the party. I don't like this approach as DM and even as player. If I know how to kill standard orcs at 5th level I should know how to do that better on level 20

Flag June 2, 2008 9:24 AM PDT
Call me wierd, but why all the arguing if you don't even have the books?

That's akin to complaining about a movie having only watched the trailer.
Flag June 2, 2008 9:59 AM PDT

Lurkalot wrote:

You and Samwise may wish this to be so - your argument depends on it, but the book explicitly states that it is monster level and XP that matter both. The determined ignoring of what the rulebook explicitly states is the only thing that supports your cases.

Why do you deliberately ignore it?

Why do you ignore the flaw in that? Level of a monster is meaning less. You are trying to apply two numerical values to represent the same thing.

The level tries to represent quick reference to look at a monster to know that it is within the proper XP range. As all level 9 monsters will be within some set XP range, you need not memorize the XP values of every monster in order to know what their challenge rating is. That is the only thing that level shows.

So you are still looking at the challenge only from the XP value assigned to a given monster.

Why even have conflicting representations of level? One for monsters and one for PCs.

So since all level means for monsters is the XP value which represents their challenge value, then level of the mosnter is moot and the XP value is the only determining factor in seeing whether the challenge fitsto be worthy of the player partry in order to give proper "fun" and challenge to the party and rewards for overcoming it.

You could easily take all levels away form monsters and just give them their XP values, and make a chart that has the XP range for this XP budget for each level of the party to design proper encounters.

SO....

With XP being the only real functional number within the system, if two monsters have XP values of 300, then they should be interchangeable. No matter if they are minions, or monsters.

Flag June 2, 2008 10:01 AM PDT

Alyri wrote:

Call me wierd, but why all the arguing if you don't even have the books?

That's akin to complaining about a movie having only watched the trailer.

because the topic is "Excerpt: Minions" and that was published on WoTC website long ago.
because some of us have our books from presales
because some of us saw full pdfs
because we were told to do that by some evil forces

Flag June 2, 2008 10:02 AM PDT

sparrowhawk4 wrote:

And please quote where they say that a minion is 100% equal in challange to a regular monster of 8 levels lower then it's level? When they specifically state that its inappropriate to use monsters more then a few levels differant from the party without making nessesary adjustments?

Buy me the books and send them to me and I will look through them and find what it says.

If you shouldn't use a mosnter outside of some range, then how do you know it is outside of that range?

Encounters are built using XP. Therefore a minion with XP value = to a monster should be interchangeable, because they fit within the equation set by the XP budget system.

As I just mentioend, try rewriting the whole books to remove levels form monsters and note the ranges of XP for these things. =XP should be =challenge.

Flag June 2, 2008 10:04 AM PDT

sparrowhawk4 wrote:

From all evidence so far.. yes, they do.

Then this proves XP is the determining factor, and minions are supposed to be equal to monsters with the exact same XP value.

Flag June 2, 2008 10:10 AM PDT

Zippis wrote:

Sparrowhawk, when you create living world, it's not possible to have just balanced encounters everywhere, if you don't want to push characters as pieces on chessboard. They can do many things, sometimes unpredictable. So, sometimes there will be unbalanced encounters from designers point of view.

You know, your party started in a villiage with coming orc raiders, typical fantasy scenario, for their levels, don't know 1-5, there will be some typical minions. Balanced encounter and party wins, huray.

They move to town, helping count with bandits and some evil cult and after several years they are beck at home at 11th level. Raiding seassion just started so orc bands are back, you know what, they did some training for all those years, now all those minions are balanced against 11 level party. Hard fight, but they fall again, that's the fate of orcs.

Party rested for winter and moved across the ocean, big expedition, seeking lost civilizations, burried secrets, hurray. After many and many years, last two of them, now level 25 moved back to their villiage. You know what, raiding seassion again! This time, it looks like pure evil had to try those orc tribes for 20 years, because their minions are now so effective, they are able to smash poor old heroes to their death. R.I.P Orc-haters.

That's my two cents for "balanced encounters" and logic of the living world I hope many groups play in.
Cheers,

I think that minions should be very similar at all levels ... DM shouldn't say: ooookey, we have a 12 level party, that means these orcs are minions level X to be partners for the party. I don't like this approach as DM and even as player. If I know how to kill standard orcs at 5th level I should know how to do that better on level 20

What you just described was a matter of poor encounter design on your part, not the games. The game assumes your designing the encounters to tell the story of the Pc's not the intricasies of the ecology of the planet and the local migratory movements of all things.

Encounters happen to the PC's. Backstory and plot points happen to everyone else. If you want to create a living world, your welcome to do so. But you do so with descriptive text, not encounter stats.

Flag June 2, 2008 10:23 AM PDT

hellmute wrote:

Why do you ignore the flaw in that? Level of a monster is meaning less. You are trying to apply two numerical values to represent the same thing.

Your right. Which is why you dont use XP for balancing encounters.

hellmute wrote:

The level tries to represent quick reference to look at a monster to know that it is within the proper XP range. As all level 9 monsters will be within some set XP range, you need not memorize the XP values of every monster in order to know what their challenge rating is. That is the only thing that level shows.

No, its not. The level is the determination of the various stats the monster has. The appropriateness of the encounter is based on that. XP is based on a general value of how many encounters/ level and how many monsters per encounter. XP is solely determined by level and monster type, so has no direct relation to challange.

hellmute wrote:

So you are still looking at the challenge only from the XP value assigned to a given monster.

In which case your doing it wrong.

hellmute wrote:

Why even have conflicting representations of level? One for monsters and one for PCs.

You dont. A level 9 regular monster is supposed to be on par with a level 9 PC.

hellmute wrote:

So since all level means for monsters is the XP value which represents their challenge value, then level of the mosnter is moot and the XP value is the only determining factor in seeing whether the challenge fitsto be worthy of the player partry in order to give proper "fun" and challenge to the party and rewards for overcoming it.

Only the level is a determining factor for various stats, as well as power output. XP is dependent on level, not the other way around.

hellmute wrote:

You could easily take all levels away form monsters and just give them their XP values, and make a chart that has the XP range for this XP budget for each level of the party to design proper encounters.

Or you could take away the XP values and the party level every 10 level appropriate encounters.

hellmute wrote:

SO....

With XP being the only real functional number within the system, if two monsters have XP values of 300, then they should be interchangeable. No matter if they are minions, or monsters.

Only because you got it wrong. Level defines XP. XP does not define level.

Flag June 2, 2008 10:24 AM PDT

sparrowhawk4 wrote:

Then learn this - the game acknowledges the metagame limitations, and designed the encounter system to work on specific tolerances based on the level of the party. Go outside of those tolerances and the encounter system is no longer functional.

Then learn this - Not everyone will want to play the same monsters over and over as levels progress from game to game. People will want more than just what is present. HAving to buy a new MM every year, is not a valid option.

And learn this - Not every is James Wyatt, Mike Mearls, Dave Noonan, Keith Baker, and wants to paly exactly like them. They may want different mosnters for different things rather than being bound by 8 monsters per level. (MM count? 8*30=240 is that close?)

Hell I will even go into the fact that not everyone wants to know what they are fighting against! Minions = 1/4 monster and supposed to be 5 monsters and 5 PCs. When someone sees 8 monsters in an encouter, they can figure out after a few times that those have minions in them. Not only the player, but the PCs will figure out something funny when alwyas fighting 5 monsters, and then coming across 8 and 4 of them go down quicker than a \$2 ******.

RTS, and I don't mean real-time strategy, but repetitive task syndrome. The Pcs will end up fighting the same things over and over. With a game built with combat and levelling as its foundation, these minions just make a little less repetitive, but offer no other real diversion from it, and don't even work within the system they are created for. How often would you expect to fight 20 minions? Why can you not always fight 20 minions rather than 5 monsters?

If minions represent 1/4 of a monster, then they should always be that and interchangeable at that level even if you don't think they should be interchangeable at the XP layer.

Learn this- I don't think these minions work. They are poorly designed, and riddled with flaws in the concept. The system was never built to show some sort of epic conflict on 5 vs 500, and adding these minions does not further to support this idea.

This is why BattleSystem and other minis games were created, because D&D was not meant to be a massive battle simulator.

Flag June 2, 2008 10:33 AM PDT

sparrowhawk4 wrote:

What you just described was a matter of poor encounter design on your part, not the games.

No wonder so many of them can't understand the problemw ith the minions, if they canot even understand how the world can be alive. They must have the world frozen in place for every area the PCs are not in.

Flag June 2, 2008 10:37 AM PDT

hellmute wrote:

Then learn this - Not everyone will want to play the same monsters over and over as levels progress from game to game. People will want more than just what is present. HAving to buy a new MM every year, is not a valid option.

Congrats.. because the MM and DMG apparently have plenty of rules that make creating or modifying existing monsters fun and easy.

hellmute wrote:

And learn this - Not every is James Wyatt, Mike Mearls, Dave Noonan, Keith Baker, and wants to paly exactly like them. They may want different mosnters for different things rather than being bound by 8 monsters per level. (MM count? 8*30=240 is that close?)

Again, rules for altering monsters both up and down. Or creating new ones. Like IN EVERY OTHER MONSTER MANUAL.

hellmute wrote:

Hell I will even go into the fact that not everyone wants to know what they are fighting against! Minions = 1/4 monster and supposed to be 5 monsters and 5 PCs. When someone sees 8 monsters in an encouter, they can figure out after a few times that those have minions in them. Not only the player, but the PCs will figure out something funny when alwyas fighting 5 monsters, and then coming across 8 and 4 of them go down quicker than a \$2 ******.

Which is why you mix it up on occasion. Though you seem incapable of thinking in that capacity.

hellmute wrote:

RTS, and I don't mean real-time strategy, but repetitive task syndrome. The Pcs will end up fighting the same things over and over. With a game built with combat and levelling as its foundation, these minions just make a little less repetitive, but offer no other real diversion from it, and don't even work within the system they are created for. How often would you expect to fight 20 minions? Why can you not always fight 20 minions rather than 5 monsters?

You realize that the bolded sections are the basis for EVERY edition of D&D ever right?

you fight what makes the story interesting. Minions add another option - the mook option. Your arguing against such looks like you simply dont get the point of encounter design.

hellmute wrote:

If minions represent 1/4 of a monster, then they should always be that and interchangeable at that level even if you don't think they should be interchangeable at the XP layer.

This makes no sense. At the minion's level, its worth the same XP as every other minion creature at that level. Again, you seem to be thinking XP defines level, its the other way around.

hellmute wrote:

Learn this- I don't think these minions work. They are poorly designed, and riddled with flaws in the concept. The system was never built to show some sort of epic conflict on 5 vs 500, and adding these minions does not further to support this idea.

And its not. It does alow for the 1 boss(elite) to have his leutenent(regular monster) and some henchmen(4 minions) and make it a balanced encounter for 4 players.

hellmute wrote:

This is why BattleSystem and other minis games were created, because D&D was not meant to be a massive battle simulator.

Its not. Look at the above encounter. Is that massive? and its specifically what minions are designed for.

Flag June 2, 2008 10:41 AM PDT

hellmute wrote:

No wonder so many of them can't understand the problemw ith the minions, if they canot even understand how the world can be alive. They must have the world frozen in place for every area the PCs are not in.

its not a matter of frozen in place. Its a matter of i dont need stats for it. As a DM, if the PC's arent there.. i dont need stats for it.. its my decision. I want a game.. not a planet simulator. I have no interest in keeping track of stats for stuff the pcs arnt going to encounter again.

For crying out loud.. by the time the party is at level 25.. dont they have better things to do then fight a few raiding orcs? And if they insist on doing so, why are you giving XP for a fight that is effectively an autowin?

You want the game to be a simulator... i want it to be a game..

Flag June 2, 2008 10:44 AM PDT

Zippis wrote:

because the topic is "Excerpt: Minions" and that was published on WoTC website long ago.
because some of us have our books from presales
because some of us saw full pdfs
because we were told to do that by some evil forces

Most of the discussion is coming from people who profess to not having the books.

Flag June 2, 2008 12:03 PM PDT

sparrowhawk4 wrote:

how does "pick x number of creatures of a level = to the party" a math test. Even when you look at the slot replacement values its nothing near as complicated as 3.X.
. . .
and
. . .
2) Again, you dont balance the encounter solely on XP. you balance it on the number of monster slots and the level of the party.

Look in Keep on the Shadowfell.
Look at the encounters.
They have an encounter level and an xp value.
Almost all of the encounters have creatures of a different level than the encounter level.

Flag June 2, 2008 12:12 PM PDT

sparrowhawk4 wrote:

its not a matter of frozen in place. Its a matter of i dont need stats for it. As a DM, if the PC's arent there.. i dont need stats for it.. its my decision. I want a game.. not a planet simulator. I have no interest in keeping track of stats for stuff the pcs arnt going to encounter again.

Oh BOY!

Where should I start with that problem that is only slightly related to minions..... Any CM meber that feels it should, feel fre to split this next dialogue out into its own thread, just notify us where it is so we can update outr subscriptions and be able to continue discussion on it.....

1- D&D is a planet simulator game. You should always know about the things not in direct contact with the PCs because...

2- You never know what the PCs will do, or where they will want to return to, because the PCs decide what they want to do rather than....

3- DM making deciions for the PCs as to where they ever go is railroading and trying to create some novel or narrative rather than a cooperative game with the focus on the PC players' choices.

So I would question your DMing ability and foresight.

But for those that understand the living world concept, players could return at any time to any previously visited locale. Would the players only ever expect to find the monster there to be the exact same levels and such when they return? If so then you are making a linear video game that requires to always go forward in the plot, and never being able to return to a previous locale for any reason. This is what I would consider a bad game. Definately not something that would want players to invest treasure in anything like a homestead, but only for the sole purpose of adventuring until dead.

The game needs to be able to allow players to work towards retirement. That means that people may jsut return to a previously visited locale, and such if there is a chacne for a fight to occur such as the orc encouter mentioned ealier, there are two things that can hapen.

Said orcs are no longer a worthy threat, and thus makes the encounters and constant raiding no longer neccessary for the story, or in the interest of the living world concept the mosnters can also become stronger, SUCH as the ideal behind minions is that there are some grunts that are above the normal everyday mosnter that have not fully developed into the full-blown mosnter, but can fight, unlike the common woman and child of the mosnters race.

I find it funny that in all the defense of minions; the concept of their initial design to not only add these "cinematic"/epic battles with meat-grinder foes, but present foes from the lesser ranks as a potential threat to the PC parties is also viable.

This is where the idea of attacking a city of goblins could work within the concept of the minions, as you would have more goblins that could fight other than the standing army, and less that would run away. But still the current implementaion of the rules does not meet the requirements of the fluff to execute minions use properly in the game from a mechanical standpoint.

So how can one argue for minions so strongly and not understand the basis of the design concept and the idea of the "living world" being a driving force of that concept as well as a movie simulator ( ) ?

Flag June 2, 2008 12:14 PM PDT

hellmute wrote:

No wonder so many of them can't understand the problemw ith the minions, if they canot even understand how the world can be alive. They must have the world frozen in place for every area the PCs are not in.

hehe hellmute, your skills shine on us, mighty player :embarrass
The fact you cannot see is that world is not frozen anywhere and whole tribes and realms don't move themselves away to make a place for stronger cousins looking forward to challange our heroes

Unless DM decides ...

Play your style and be happy that right now there are more players like you (don't want to say kiddish, cause you could take it as offense) and it looks like developers are going support your approach more and more

Flag June 2, 2008 12:30 PM PDT

hellmute wrote:

Oh BOY!

Where should I start with that problem that is only slightly related to minions..... Any CM meber that feels it should, feel fre to split this next dialogue out into its own thread, just notify us where it is so we can update outr subscriptions and be able to continue discussion on it.....

1- D&D is a planet simulator game. You should always know about the things not in direct contact with the PCs because...

No, its not. Its a roleplaying game. It is rules to run encounters and play pretend and tell stories about a bunch of people, played by people your playing with. Its storytelling, not world simiulation. I dont give a rat's ass what people on the other side of the planet are doing. I'm concerned about the plot and encounters I've designed.

That does not equate railroading. If my players dont want to do that story they will let me know and we will adjust accordingly. But I dont plan out what is happening in the rest of the world except in very broad vague strokes unless it directly involves the plot and story of the PC's.

hellmute wrote:

2- You never know what the PCs will do, or where they will want to return to, because the PCs decide what they want to do rather than....

If the Players dont like the plot, I expect them to say something. My goal is to make the PLAYER's have fun. I dont care about what happens to the PC's.

hellmute wrote:

3- DM making deciions for the PCs as to where they ever go is railroading and trying to create some novel or narrative rather than a cooperative game with the focus on the PC players' choices.

Cooperative play and storytelling doesnt require men to micromanage a metaplot across a whole planet. I dont care about to dogs mating 2000 miles away and neither do the Players OR PC's.

Deseigning a campaign involves having an idea of what you want them to accomplish and setting up encounters that will lead to that goal. None of this is railroaded.

hellmute wrote:

But for those that understand the living world concept, players could return at any time to any previously visited locale. Would the players only ever expect to find the monster there to be the exact same levels and such when they return? If so then you are making a linear video game that requires to always go forward in the plot, and never being able to return to a previous locale for any reason. This is what I would consider a bad game. Definately not something that would want players to invest treasure in anything like a homestead, but only for the sole purpose of adventuring until dead.

I expect them to find encounters appropriate to their level that involve the plot they are in, not random orc raids that dont accomplish anything in the storyline.

hellmute wrote:

The game needs to be able to allow players to work towards retirement. That means that people may jsut return to a previously visited locale, and such if there is a chacne for a fight to occur such as the orc encouter mentioned ealier, there are two things that can hapen.

Okay.. here is the problem. Your the DM. You determine the chances of that fight. If you dont want there to be an orc raid.. there is no orc raid. Why are you wasting time determining such if its of no importance to the plotline?

hellmute wrote:

Said orcs are no longer a worthy threat, and thus makes the encounters and constant raiding no longer neccessary for the story, or in the interest of the living world concept the mosnters can also become stronger, SUCH as the ideal behind minions is that there are some grunts that are above the normal everyday mosnter that have not fully developed into the full-blown mosnter, but can fight, unlike the common woman and child of the mosnters race.

If its no longer needed to the story, why does it exist? Why have encounters that dont further the plot? Or do you randomly roll stuff up?

hellmute wrote:

I find it funny that in all the defense of minions; the concept of their initial design to not only add these "cinematic"/epic battles with meat-grinder foes, but present foes from the lesser ranks as a potential threat to the PC parties is also viable.

This is where the idea of attacking a city of goblins could work within the concept of the minions, as you would have more goblins that could fight other than the standing army, and less that would run away. But still the current implementaion of the rules does not meet the requirements of the fluff to execute minions use properly in the game from a mechanical standpoint.

Well what is your truely viable method then mister smarty pants?

hellmute wrote:

So how can one argue for minions so strongly and not understand the basis of the design concept and the idea of the "living world" being a driving force of that concept as well as a movie simulator ( ) ?

Because i dont have 12 hours a day to work on world similation.. i want to be able to prep my game in 2-3 hours with nice broad strokes that give me plenty of leyway in what to do based on what the PC's do.

Flag June 2, 2008 3:11 PM PDT
There is so much failure to engage in actual argument in this thread. To highlight a few cases and respond to them:

I said:

Lurkalot]You and Samwise may wish this [monster level to be irrelevant to encounter balance] to be so - your argument depends on it - but the book explicitly states that it is monster level and XP that matter both.

Samwise replied wrote:

You and Samwise may wish this [monster level to be irrelevant to encounter balance] to be so - your argument depends on it - but the book explicitly states that it is monster level and XP that matter both.[/quote]
Samwise replied:

Samwise]May wish for consistency in a rule?
Yes, obviously we do.

Does that make sense to anybody else, because it certainly doesn't to me. The designers clearly state, even in the preview material available to all, that you use the Level of a monster to determine the appropriateness of an encounter. Stating "we wish for consistency in a rule" is nonsensical as a reply. The point stands. Hellmute also responded to my point. He said:

May wish for consistency in a rule?
Yes, obviously we do.[/quote]
Does that make sense to anybody else, because it certainly doesn't to me. The designers clearly state, even in the preview material available to all, that you use the Level of a monster to determine the appropriateness of an encounter. Stating "we wish for consistency in a rule" is nonsensical as a reply. The point stands. Hellmute also responded to my point. He said:

Hellmute]Level of a monster is meaningless. You are trying to apply two numerical values to represent the same thing.

Is this supportable? Hellmute is saying that we should ignore the stated purpose of monster level by the designers and that the DM is told by the books to use both XP and Level together to determine the appropriateness of the encounter. Why should we take Hellmute's word over the designers? Presumably because Hellmute's case is that using XP alone is insufficient to determine an encounter's threat level and if we don't accept his word in contradiction to that of the game's designers, his argument doesn't stand.

To summarize, we have a rule book that says use Level and XP cost to guage an encounter's threat level wrote:

Level of a monster is meaningless. You are trying to apply two numerical values to represent the same thing.[/quote]
Is this supportable? Hellmute is saying that we should ignore the stated purpose of monster level by the designers and that the DM is told by the books to use both XP and Level together to determine the appropriateness of the encounter. Why should we take Hellmute's word over the designers? Presumably because Hellmute's case is that using XP alone is insufficient to determine an encounter's threat level and if we don't accept his word in contradiction to that of the game's designers, his argument doesn't stand.

To summarize, we have a rule book that says use Level and XP cost to guage an encounter's threat level; and Samwise and Hellmute who say that they don't want to use level, but only XP and therefore the game is flawed.

Given that it is very easy for the DM to do as the book tells them to and use monsters with levels within +/- 4 of the party's, we can only attribute Hellmute and Samwise's rejection of the rules to an actual desire for the rules to be broken.

There are other non-sensical examples in this thread. One that particularly leaps out is Hellmute's response to the following:

Sparrowhawk]And please quote where they say that a minion is 100% equal in challange to a regular monster of 8 levels lower then it's level? When they specifically state that its inappropriate to use monsters more then a few levels differant from the party without making nessesary adjustments?

And the response from Hellmute wrote:

And please quote where they say that a minion is 100% equal in challange to a regular monster of 8 levels lower then it's level? When they specifically state that its inappropriate to use monsters more then a few levels differant from the party without making nessesary adjustments?[/quote]
And the response from Hellmute:

Hellmute]Buy me the books and send them to me and I will look through them and find what it says.

So let's analyse the exchange we've just witnessed:
Hellmute: Unsubstantiated claim.
Sparrowhawk: Show me where it says that.
Hellmute: I'm not substantiating it and it is your fault for not helping me to.

Quite extraordinary in its audacity. But still not in any way convincing.

And let's analyse another statement of Hellmute's from the same post wrote:

Buy me the books and send them to me and I will look through them and find what it says.[/quote]
So let's analyse the exchange we've just witnessed:
Hellmute: Unsubstantiated claim.
Sparrowhawk: Show me where it says that.
Hellmute: I'm not substantiating it and it is your fault for not helping me to.

Quite extraordinary in its audacity. But still not in any way convincing.

And let's analyse another statement of Hellmute's from the same post:

Hellmute]As I just mentioend, try rewriting the whole books to remove levels form monsters and note the ranges of XP for these things. =XP should be =challenge.

The bolding is mine. This is the crux of the argument. Hellmute and Samwise feel that XP should be the sole means of judging encounter balance. Never mind that the rule book says otherwise. Never mind that it is easy for DM's to use the system laid out in the rule book. The crux of their argument is that they personally want a simpler way of judging encounters. Why we can only guess. It's possible that they feel having to use two numbers is too complicated, but I think it is rather a desire to find fault with the new system. The numerous instances of shifting the argument to wherever it appears criticism can be made, and the quick abandonment of any criticism that has been countered in favour of new points of attack suggests such a motivation as it always does.

After this, we largely see sarcastic remarks about Sparrowhawk's ability to understand running a game and more strawmen about how players must always be fighting five monsters or minions are meant for playing battles of 300 monsters vs. 5 players. The first is not suggested by the rules in any place that I have seen - only a guideline for DM's to guage how difficult encounters will be, not rules on how difficult encounters must be. The second is absurd as even fifty minions of a party appropriate level would be several times over the recommended budget. These are strawman arguments because they are created by other people purely so that they can be torn down. The books do not demand five monsters every time or 300 monsters ever, I'm sure of that.

And if Hellmute wishes to dispute it, then he can buy me the books and send them to me so I can check them for quotes.

Criticism I am happy with. There are things I strongly dislike about 4e and I've yet to make up my mind if I'll move to it or not, myself. But biased arguments and logical inconsistency, I dislike int wrote:

As I just mentioend, try rewriting the whole books to remove levels form monsters and note the ranges of XP for these things. =XP should be =challenge.[/quote]
The bolding is mine. This is the crux of the argument. Hellmute and Samwise feel that XP should be the sole means of judging encounter balance. Never mind that the rule book says otherwise. Never mind that it is easy for DM's to use the system laid out in the rule book. The crux of their argument is that they personally want a simpler way of judging encounters. Why we can only guess. It's possible that they feel having to use two numbers is too complicated, but I think it is rather a desire to find fault with the new system. The numerous instances of shifting the argument to wherever it appears criticism can be made, and the quick abandonment of any criticism that has been countered in favour of new points of attack suggests such a motivation as it always does.

After this, we largely see sarcastic remarks about Sparrowhawk's ability to understand running a game and more strawmen about how players must always be fighting five monsters or minions are meant for playing battles of 300 monsters vs. 5 players. The first is not suggested by the rules in any place that I have seen - only a guideline for DM's to guage how difficult encounters will be, not rules on how difficult encounters must be. The second is absurd as even fifty minions of a party appropriate level would be several times over the recommended budget. These are strawman arguments because they are created by other people purely so that they can be torn down. The books do not demand five monsters every time or 300 monsters ever, I'm sure of that.

And if Hellmute wishes to dispute it, then he can buy me the books and send them to me so I can check them for quotes.

Criticism I am happy with. There are things I strongly dislike about 4e and I've yet to make up my mind if I'll move to it or not, myself. But biased arguments and logical inconsistency, I dislike intensely.

Flag June 2, 2008 3:39 PM PDT
[font="Helvetica"]Thank you, [color="DodgerBlue"]Lurkalot. I was already planning on showcasing this myself when I got home, but you beat me to it.
[/color][/font]
Flag June 2, 2008 4:14 PM PDT
Well said Lurkalot.

You are in fact the man of the thread.
Flag June 2, 2008 5:16 PM PDT

LFK wrote:

[font="Helvetica"]Thank you, [color="DodgerBlue"]Lurkalot. I was already planning on showcasing this myself when I got home, but you beat me to it.
[/color][/font]

Cpt_Micha wrote:

Well said Lurkalot.

You are in fact the man of the thread.

Unfortunately I believe it's falling on deaf ears

Flag June 2, 2008 5:34 PM PDT

Lurkalot wrote:

There is so much failure to engage in actual argument in this thread, that it's verging on pathological. To highlight a few cases and respond to them:

Yes, there is.
It would be nice if you would address the issues raised instead of constantly ignoring them in favor of refuting your own theories.

Does that make sense to anybody else, because it certainly doesn't to me. The designers clearly state, even in the preview material available to all, that you use the Level of a monster to determine the appropriateness of an encounter.

The book clearly states where?
The preview clearly states where?
I cited the first published adventure which clearly does not label the level or number of monster as determining the encounter, but the total xp value of the encounter as determining the level of the encounter.

Is this supportable? Hellmute is saying that we should ignore the stated purpose of monster level by the designers and that the DM is told by the books to use both XP and Level together to determine the appropriateness of the encounter. Why should we take Hellmute's word over the designers?

Clearly stated where?
Quote the books for us if it so clearly stated. Even quote a preview article, blog entry, or message board post.

To summarize, we have a rule book that says use Level and XP cost to guage an encounter's threat level; and Samwise and Hellmute who say that they don't want to use level, but only XP and therefore the game is flawed.

To summarize, we have a published adventure that indicates the level of encounter based on the total xp of the monsters used.
That same adventure contains a significant portion of monsters above and below the specified level in each encounter and for the expected level of the party at each time.

If you have cites from the rules, show them.
If not, then you have nothing but your own guess contradicting the information collected by others, and supported by the published adventure.
We also have previews that show encounters are based on xp.
We even have the designers saying that encounter are based on xp, and you could have a balanced encounter with nothing but minions:

In 4th Edition, your dungeons are going to be a lot more densely populated. The typical encounter has one monster per PC in the party, assuming that the monsters are about the same level as the PCs. An encounter’s total XP value determines its difficulty, allowing you a lot more freedom to mix tougher and weaker monsters. Even better, the difference between a level X monster and a level X + 1 monster is much smaller. You can create an encounter using monsters that are three or four levels above the party without much fear. Add in the rules for minions (which will be described in a future Design & Development article), and you could (in theory) match twenty goblins against a 1st-level party and have a fun, exciting, balanced fight.

http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/drdd/20070827a

And you have in response:

The books do not demand five monsters every time or 300 monsters ever, I'm sure of that.

So you do not have the books either.
I am quite sure that means you cannot give any guarantees of what they contain.

Flag June 2, 2008 6:07 PM PDT
I do have the books. I will summarize as I do not wish to do enough typing to put the entire section on here.

To build an encounter, you take the avg level of the party, decide what level of encounter you would like the party to have. usually a good guideline for balance sake is +/- 5 levels of the party avg.

Once you have figured out the desired encounter level you then look up on a handy chart the XP value of 1 normal monster of that level. Then multiply that number times the number of PCs. This will give you an XP budget for the encounter. As an example. If I want to build a fair and balanced encounter for a 1st lvl party of 6 PCs;

A 1st level normal monster is worth 100 XP. I want a first level encounter. 100 * 6 is 600 I can now feel safe spending around 600 XPs (give or take) to make a fair balanced encounter.

This encounter can then consist of any number of monsters + traps + hazards equal to roughly 600 XPs.
Flag June 2, 2008 6:10 PM PDT

Samwise wrote:

Yes, there is.
It would be nice if you would address the issues raised instead of constantly ignoring them in favor of refuting your own theories.

The book clearly states where?
The preview clearly states where?
I cited the first published adventure which clearly does not label the level or number of monster as determining the encounter, but the total xp value of the encounter as determining the level of the encounter.

Clearly stated where?
Quote the books for us if it so clearly stated. Even quote a preview article, blog entry, or message board post.

From the Minions excerpt:
When you use minions, you should use those of a level appropriate to the encounter you’re building. The concept of minions is to provide fun filler for encounters, not to provide a way for a 1st level character to gain 1,000+ XP for defeating a 23rd-level abyssal ghoul minion by rolling a natural 20. Minions are a rules abstraction, and one of the many tools a DM has to build exciting encounters

And From the Dmg
Chapter 4 Building Encounters
Page 56. Encounter Components
There is a table called Step by Step Encounters.
1. Choose an Encounter Level: encounter level is relative to # of Pcs.
easy is 1-2 levels lower
standard is equal to party level or one higher
hard is two to four levels higher
2. Determine XP Budget:....
Considerations:
Levels of Individual threats: choose threats within 2-3 lvls, easy threat is 2-4 lvls lower, hard threat is 3-5 lvls higher
Mix Roles: use the roles Brute Soldier etc.

Is that enough for ya?

Flag June 2, 2008 6:33 PM PDT

eleran wrote:

I do have the books. I will summarize as I do not wish to do enough typing to put the entire section on here.

To build an encounter, you take the avg level of the party, decide what level of encounter you would like the party to have. usually a good guideline for balance sake is +/- 5 levels of the party avg.

Once you have figured out the desired encounter level you then look up on a handy chart the XP value of 1 normal monster of that level. Then multiply that number times the number of PCs. This will give you an XP budget for the encounter. As an example. If I want to build a fair and balanced encounter for a 1st lvl party of 6 PCs;

A 1st level normal monster is worth 100 XP. I want a first level encounter. 100 * 6 is 600 I can now feel safe spending around 600 XPs (give or take) to make a fair balanced encounter.

This encounter can then consist of any number of monsters + traps + hazards equal to roughly 600 XPs.

Thanks. So in the end it is the XP that is important since the level range can be as big as any tier....

So.....Would a single 600 XP minion be a viable challenge for a group of 6 level 1 PCs?

What is the first place within the context of "encounter design" that a minion appears that could be used against the lowest possible level of PCs?

Level 1 PCs
+4 ~ 6

Is there some sort of level 6 or below minion?

What is the lowest XP value of a level 6 or below minion?

If none fit, then try level 2, 3, etc...

PC~minion
1~6
2~7
3~8
4~9
5~10
6~11

Sooner or later there has to be a minion that lower levels can face as a solo monster.

What minion would that be, what monster has the same XP, how many PCs are required to make the XP budget allow for that minion or monster to be there as a solo monster?

Flag June 2, 2008 6:35 PM PDT

Alyri wrote:

And From the Dmg
Chapter 4 Building Encounters
Page 56. Encounter Components
There is a table called Step by Step Encounters.
1. Choose an Encounter Level: encounter level is relative to # of Pcs.
easy is 1-2 levels lower
standard is equal to party level or one higher
hard is two to four levels higher
2. Determine XP Budget:....
Considerations:
Levels of Individual threats: choose threats within 2-3 lvls, easy threat is 2-4 lvls lower, hard threat is 3-5 lvls higher
Mix Roles: use the roles Brute Soldier etc.

Is that enough for ya?

Yes, that is.
So encounters are determined by an xp budget, which is based on the level of the encounter and modified by the number of PCs.
Since the xp is spent as per the monster chart, the rules do in fact hold that two monsters of the same xp value are the same challenge.
Thank you for the providing a citation that proves I am right.

Flag June 2, 2008 6:41 PM PDT

Samwise wrote:

Thank you for the providing a citation that proves I am right.

I feel so neglected.

Flag June 2, 2008 6:52 PM PDT

Samwise wrote:

Yes, that is.
So encounters are determined by an xp budget, which is based on the level of the encounter and modified by the number of PCs.
Since the xp is spent as per the monster chart, the rules do in fact hold that two monsters of the same xp value are the same challenge.
Thank you for the providing a citation that proves I am right.

What about the considerations part or the quote from the minions excerpt?

How conveniently you ignore everything that goes against your reasoning.

Flag June 2, 2008 6:56 PM PDT

Raiden Drake wrote:

What about the considerations part or the quote from the minions excerpt?

How conveniently you ignore everything that goes against your reasoning.

I acknowledged that several pages ago.
I also noted that inexperienced DMs could be expected to overlook that, and that it still does not address the issue of lower level creatures with the same xp but different levels.
Would you like to address both of those?

Flag June 2, 2008 7:21 PM PDT

Samwise wrote:

I acknowledged that several pages ago.
I also noted that inexperienced DMs could be expected to overlook that, and that it still does not address the issue of lower level creatures with the same xp but different levels.
Would you like to address both of those?

Many things can be broken when not used correctly but thats a problem with the user not the rules, problems with the interpretation of the rules happen to every game no just 4E so this is not a valid argument. So lets discus only the rules...

About the creatures with lower levels and same XP... I quote...

"Excerpt: Minions"]When you use minions, you should use those of a level appropriate to the encounter you’ wrote:

When you use minions, you should use those of a level appropriate to the encounter you’re building. The concept of minions is to provide fun filler for encounters, not to provide a way for a 1st level character to gain 1,000+ XP for defeating a 23rd-level abyssal ghoul minion by rolling a natural 20. Minions are a rules abstraction, and one of the many tools a DM has to build exciting encounters.

And from the PHB

"PHB"]Specific Beats General
If a specific rule contradicts a general rule, the specific rule wins. For example, a general rule states that you can't use a daily power when you charge. But if you have a daily power that says you can use it when you charge, the power's specific rule wins. It doesn't mean that you can use any daily power when you charge, just that one.

So minions are and exception from the rule that says every monster with the same XP are equivalent. 4 minions of level X are instead equivalent to 1 regular monster of l wrote:

Specific Beats General
If a specific rule contradicts a general rule, the specific rule wins. For example, a general rule states that you can't use a daily power when you charge. But if you have a daily power that says you can use it when you charge, the power's specific rule wins. It doesn't mean that you can use any daily power when you charge, just that one.[/quote]
So minions are and exception from the rule that says every monster with the same XP are equivalent. 4 minions of level X are instead equivalent to 1 regular monster of level X.

Flag June 2, 2008 7:23 PM PDT

Samwise wrote:

Yes, that is.
So encounters are determined by an xp budget, which is based on the level of the encounter and modified by the number of PCs.
Since the xp is spent as per the monster chart, the rules do in fact hold that two monsters of the same xp value are the same challenge.
Thank you for the providing a citation that proves I am right.

Where do you get that it proves you right?

A 26 lvl minion(highest I see) is the same xp(or close as you can get) as a lvl 15 elite or a lvl 10 solo. The odds of an entire group at lvl 15 killing that lvl 26 minion is quite remote. The Ac/Def starting from lowest to highest are, 25/22,25,21- 27/29,23,24- 40/36,40,38

From those defenses, I fail to see where they pose the same challenge to a group.

The Xp per type, standard, minion, elite, solo is simple math.
Standard: base
Minion 1/4 of base
Elite: base x 2
Solo: base x 5
each lvl goes up a base number four times then that base number doubles up four again, doubles etc. i.e.(lvl1-lvl12 standard xp would look like this) 102-104-106-108, 112-116-120-124, 132-140-148-154. (if you have KotS you see the actual progression)

take 120 as base
Standard = 120
Minion = 30
Elite = 240
Solo = 600

That is why you end up with creatures having the same or nearly the same amount of XP.

Flag June 2, 2008 7:46 PM PDT

hellmute wrote:

Thanks. So in the end it is the XP that is important since the level range can be as big as any tier....

So.....Would a single 600 XP minion be a viable challenge for a group of 6 level 1 PCs?

What is the first place within the context of "encounter design" that a minion appears that could be used against the lowest possible level of PCs?

Level 1 PCs
+4 ~ 6

Is there some sort of level 6 or below minion?

What is the lowest XP value of a level 6 or below minion?

If none fit, then try level 2, 3, etc...

PC~minion
1~6
2~7
3~8
4~9
5~10
6~11

Sooner or later there has to be a minion that lower levels can face as a solo monster.

What minion would that be, what monster has the same XP, how many PCs are required to make the XP budget allow for that minion or monster to be there as a solo monster?

It doesn't work that way.

Flag June 2, 2008 7:48 PM PDT
Just another little something to add to what Raiden Drake said.

D&D is an exception to the base rule system.

The Base is the standard creature. The minion, elite, and solo are the exceptions. It is immaterial that the minions, elites and solos xp equal another minion, elite,solo, or standard creatures xp. That does not make those creatures the same challenge. A 26 minion's xp may same near the same as an 18 lvl standard, 15 lvl elite and 10 lvl solo. That in no way means that all of those creatures are the same challenge.

If you are using lvl 26 minions against the group that group should be anywhere from 22-30
Flag June 2, 2008 7:51 PM PDT

hellmute wrote:

Thanks. So in the end it is the XP that is important since the level range can be as big as any tier....

So.....Would a single 600 XP minion be a viable challenge for a group of 6 level 1 PCs?

What is the first place within the context of "encounter design" that a minion appears that could be used against the lowest possible level of PCs?

Level 1 PCs
+4 ~ 6

Is there some sort of level 6 or below minion?

What is the lowest XP value of a level 6 or below minion?

If none fit, then try level 2, 3, etc...

PC~minion
1~6
2~7
3~8
4~9
5~10
6~11

Sooner or later there has to be a minion that lower levels can face as a solo monster.

What minion would that be, what monster has the same XP, how many PCs are required to make the XP budget allow for that minion or monster to be there as a solo monster?

there are level 1 minions

Flag June 2, 2008 8:52 PM PDT

Raiden Drake wrote:

Many things can be broken when not used correctly but thats a problem with the user not the rules, problems with the interpretation of the rules happen to every game no just 4E so this is not a valid argument.

Except 4E is supposed to be proof against that in a way 3E never was.

So lets discus only the rules...

About the creatures with lower levels and same XP... I quote...

That is not a rule, that is a suggestion.

So minions are and exception from the rule that says every monster with the same XP are equivalent. 4 minions of level X are instead equivalent to 1 regular monster of level X.

You are using that rule quote improperly.
Exception based rules refers to minions being immune to damage from misses. There is no exception for them not being equivalent to a monster of the same xp value. That is already accounted for without an exception by their lower xp value for a monster of that level.
That is a game design concept, which was touted earlier.

Flag June 2, 2008 11:59 PM PDT

Samwise wrote:

Except 4E is supposed to be proof against that in a way 3E never was.

They wanted to make the game easier for DMs, sure. But the only 'proof against breaking' I've heard is about making it so the players cannot minimax their way to Pun-Pun. And that will still require a knowledgable DM.

Samwise wrote:

That is not a rule, that is a suggestion.

Actually, it's part of the definition of minions in the glossary. Weird grey area. To me the sentence sounds like it should end with 'or we can't be held responsible for the mess you make'.

Flag June 3, 2008 12:01 AM PDT
On designing the entire world - it's a waste of time. Fill in the big details, make some backstory. Have a little better idea what's around the immediate areas where the PCs go. Make up the rest as you go. If it contradicts a bit at times it will actually sound MORE realistic. My gaming group came to be highly skilled at plotline retrofit, being able to take innocuous characters the PCs have met from their shared past and fleshing them out when needed. If you write too much ahead, you get a world that's actually less realistic and probably less interesting. Having the noble paladin accused of getting a barmaid pregnant when the party stopped at an inn 5 months ago - good for a plot hook. When the players remember the NPC, her name, interacting with her, and start filling in suspicious details on their own, then that's just priceless. Much to the chagrin of the paladin who didn't actually do anything.
Flag June 3, 2008 12:04 AM PDT

Samwise wrote:

Yes, that is.
So encounters are determined by an xp budget, which is based on the level of the encounter and modified by the number of PCs.
Since the xp is spent as per the monster chart, the rules do in fact hold that two monsters of the same xp value are the same challenge.
Thank you for the providing a citation that proves I am right.

Everything except the line that entirely refutes the entirely based on XP claim:

Levels of Individual threats: choose threats within 2-3 lvls, easy threat is 2-4 lvls lower, hard threat is 3-5 lvls higher

Which is the rule I theorized had to exist two or more pages ago. Even if it were not stated clearly (it seems fine to me at this point), this is a shortcoming in the expression of the system, but not a fault in the system itself.

DMs could ignore this rule. They could ignore any rule. They have been able to do this in every edition. I heard one guy that read a chart wrong in 1E that gave bonuses to hit, and he figured they were cumulative when the text (in a paragraph somewhere else on the page) clearly said that you look at the level to find the current bonus and that they were not cummulative. No designer can write a book that a DM could never read incorrectly, but that's what rules lawyers are for.

Note that threats include monsters, traps, and hazards, so individual monsters should be -4 to +5 in level or you are wandering outside of the recommendations. Not that you cannot do that, but a DM that is aware of this should know they can make an overly easy or hard encounter if they do that.

XP is derived from level not the other way around. XP does not define the level. You don't need the books yet for this, just look at the table and monster information (from EN World) we do have.
1. If XP defined level, then there should be a semi-reliable conversion ratio for XP to level. First level standard monster is 100XP, so multiply by ten to get level ten's XP - should be 1000, but no, it's 500.
2. Next, XP is not merely a power equivalent, or a 1st level 5 PC party could take on 1 10th level monster. We have stats for Chuul, and with 2 attacks per round, paralysis, and reach 2, I would expect TPK. Apparently a 10th level monster is overpowered for a 1st level party even though by XP alone it is selectable. It should be equivalent to a 1st level solo monster, but is not. Thus XP is not simply a power equivalent.
3. XP is not an indicator of challenge. I don't see a fight of 25 1st level non-minion monsters against 5 10th level PCs to be a worthy challenge.
4. XP has never been a good indicator of challenge. In 1E they used Hit Dice instead of monster level. They had a base XP by HD, an amount of XP per HP of monster, and then a special abilities bonus and exceptional abilities bonus. The XP base + XP/HP would give a very consistent range, so that could be simplified to a flat amount, and then monsters with more HP, more attacks, better attacks, etc. have become roughly Elite and Solo in 4E. Hit Dice (toughness in terms of damage absorption) isn't an equivalent for level, so 1E had problems in that high XP could be a tough monster with little power, or a powerful monster with no toughness. On top of that different tactics would make a hard encounter easy or vice versa. I don't see any changes in 4E that address this, but then XP has never been a good indicator of challenge for all the reasons I just mentioned.

XP is the meter to get PCs from one level to the next. In this case the developers defined that it takes 10 encounters to do that, so the XP assigned to monsters is actually derived solely from the character level. The power of a monster will vary based on attack and defense scores (which affect their level) and on special abilities and HP (which affects whether it's categorized as minion, standard, elite, or solo). The quantity of PCs in the encounter defines the final vector of monster density and changes the amount of XP alotted for the overall encounter. These three vectors (monster level, category, and quantity) interact in a complex fashion. If you decrease the category to minions, you can use more monsters (increase to solo and use less). If you increase the encounter level you can have more monsters. But a solo monster is not the same as a higher-level monster in that PCs of its level can still hit it effectively, and be hit by it. Solos are balanced so they are about all that is needed in an encounter, so their XP reflects that. Elites are similarly balanced by XP to limit their numbers. Minions and standard monsters are meant to be used in groups, and decreasing the quantity of monsters makes them less effective. So there is a tricky balance because increasing the XP given per monster level would actually decrease the difficulty of standard and minion monsters of higher than the base encounter level because the quantities of them necessary to support each other would be decreased. That's why going too far in monster level makes minions ineffective. Standard monsters catch up somehwere, but I suspect the results (player deaths vs. cakewalks) would be erratic. That such a simple rule of staying within a certain level range provides exciting and difficult challenges without adding in standard monsters that are too hard while keeping out minions that are too easy is actually fairly impressive.

So essentially this all means, the XP budget is really there to balance the monster categories so you don't have too many solos or elites, or too few standards or minions in a given encounter. The level window keeps monster quantities in check so they don't grow too large (an overwhelming peon army) or too small (those 5 9th level orc minions) or provide erratic results.

Flag June 3, 2008 12:33 AM PDT
Well, what can I say? There was a demand from Samwise / Hellmute to provide citations to back up what was said, and Lo! They did come forth in great numbers!

Though it's amusing to note the double standard that when Samwise / Hellmute stated the rules worked in a particular way it was to be taken on faith, but when someone said otherwise, the obligation was on that person to prove it. Claiming an unknown must be in your favour is another biased debating strategy. But as it turns out, it's not an unknown at all - the quotes from published material show it is as people have been saying and as Hellmute / Samwise have been denying it was.

So the argument has once again shifted, from Samwise whose position is now that the game is at fault because a GM might misread it; and from Hellmute whose perculiar brand of logic enables him to take a statement saying "determine encounter appropriateness based on level and XP" and conclude "this proves that you only use XP to determine it."

I don't think either argument needs to be addressed much longer. The only remaining things I think are to determine whether or not a GM must work out everything that's going on in the game world regardless of whether or not the PCs encounter it (the Hellmute's Proposal) and what point Samwise feels has been ignored when he accuses me of

Samwise]It would be nice if you would address the issues raised instead of constantly ignoring them in favor of refuting your own theories.

I'm willing to listen, but I don't think anything has been left unanswered. It's just an ad hominim - that is to say an attack on the person rather than the argument.

Thanks to those with the books for summarising how it works. Very interesting to know until mine arrive.

Regards,

Lu wrote:

It would be nice if you would address the issues raised instead of constantly ignoring them in favor of refuting your own theories.[/quote]
I'm willing to listen, but I don't think anything has been left unanswered. It's just an ad hominim - that is to say an attack on the person rather than the argument.

Thanks to those with the books for summarising how it works. Very interesting to know until mine arrive.

Regards,

Lurkalot.

Flag June 3, 2008 1:47 AM PDT
Well, I followed this thread up to page 4 or so because I was interested in minions.

Here's what I understand:
Hellmute doesn't like them. Samwise doesn't either, but Hellmute has a distinctive avatar so I paid more attention to the posts, and ignored most of the math since it's irrelevant to this discussion.

It seems there's a very simple solution to this. Work with your players, tell them why you don't like minions, see what they say, and bam. Don't use minions. Maybe the players will avoid weak AoEs too, maybe not.

So it goes on. Some people don't like 4E. Okay, that's fine. Play 2E. There will be annoying folks who'll harangue you for doing it, but do you really want to be the annoying chap who wants to harangue people for playing 4E?

I'm just not getting the hate. There are a bunch of us who like minions, and a bunch of us who don't. That's okay, because presumably we don't know each other in real life, and presumably we're not playing at the same table, because then we'd be talking about it over the table.

Must there be accusations of being bad at math, being poor GMs, being easily caught up my marketing, being mindless puppets who simply stick to the oldest/newest product?

Look, I don't go to the supermarket when I want mushrooms (and have some at home), see that the store has asparagus, and then go bother other customers at the store and tell them how I don't like asparagus, and I don't want other customers to come up to me when I'm looking for mushrooms and bother me about asparagus, unless there's a huge earth shattering physical or moral reason to prefer one or the other. This is assuming that I can easily get whatever product I want - presumably someone who likes 2E or 3E has played either of those, and thus has access to the books and materials with which to play them.
Flag June 3, 2008 9:44 AM PDT

Lodestone7 wrote:

They wanted to make the game easier for DMs, sure. But the only 'proof against breaking' I've heard is about making it so the players cannot minimax their way to Pun-Pun. And that will still require a knowledgable DM.

There is no may to create Pun-Pun without DM approval of egregious madness. It requires a template from one setting with a special monster from another setting and a prestige class from yet another book. That is beyond any basic approach to character design, and nothing close to an eqaul comparison.

Actually, it's part of the definition of minions in the glossary. Weird grey area. To me the sentence sounds like it should end with 'or we can't be held responsible for the mess you make'.

In which case it fails a stated design goal of making the rules unbreakable.

Everything except the line that entirely refutes the entirely based on XP claim:

Except the claim was not that it was entirely based on xp, but on the level of encounter you wanted then filled in by using xp.
And of course that quote still establishes that xp for monsters is absolutely equal.
And of course it means that yes indeed, a group of 1st level standard monsters worth 100 xp each or a group of 9th level minions worth 100 xp each could both show up as the sole monsters in a 5th level encounter, despite having vastly different threat potentials.

I still await anything in the rules that refutes that monsters of the same xp value are intended to be the same challenge, and that they can appear in a disproportionate fashion in encounters as a result of the rules structure.

Flag June 3, 2008 9:54 AM PDT

Samwise wrote:

There is no may to create Pun-Pun without DM approval of egregious madness. It requires a template from one setting with a special monster from another setting and a prestige class from yet another book. That is beyond any basic approach to character design, and nothing close to an eqaul comparison.

And this is good

Samwise wrote:

In which case it fails a stated design goal of making the rules unbreakable.

Okay. Your now outright making things up here. Nowhere did WOTC claim they were making the rules unbreakable. If you have a quote from someone from WOTC saying so - post it. Otherwise knock such statments off.

WOTC has said that if you take encounters to far from the level of the PC's it gets wonky. How hard of a concept is that for your brain to grasp? At least you have an idea now of how to accomplish a level-balanced encounter that makes sense.

Samwise wrote:

Except the claim was not that it was entirely based on xp, but on the level of encounter you wanted then filled in by using xp.

And so it is. Notice in the quote that the ranges of monsters appropraite for the encounter are within -4 to +4 the average level of the party. Additional challenge is accounted for by giving few number of a higher level creature and vice versa for a easier encounter. Such is the only mention of picking monsters via XP level.

Samwise wrote:

And of course that quote still establishes that xp for monsters is absolutely equal.

If you refer to XP meaning for each standard monster for its level.. yes.. its the same. we knew that. It does not, on the other hand, say that the challenge level is based on the XP.

Samwise wrote:

And of course it means that yes indeed, a group of 1st level standard monsters worth 100 xp each or a group of 9th level minions worth 100 xp each could both show up as the sole monsters in a 5th level encounter, despite having vastly different threat potentials.

again, minions of higher level are not ment to be solo monsters. Thats not the point of the monster. If you want a solo monster, use a solo monster and alter the level. How else can i say this - YOUR USING THE RULES WRONG

Samwise wrote:

I still await anything in the rules that refutes that monsters of the same xp value are intended to be the same challenge, and that they can appear in a disproportionate fashion in encounters as a result of the rules structure.

Did you read the excerpt that was posted below. Encounters are based on monster level, not XP. Sheesh

Flag June 3, 2008 9:54 AM PDT

Samwise wrote:

In which case it fails a stated design goal of making the rules unbreakable.

To which I say first, BS. It is only breakable if used improperly. Secondly I would say, so what? What products in the history of products have not failed at least one design goal?

The simple fact of the matter is, if you obey the clearly stated parameters, use good judgment about where or when you can stray from those parameters you will tend to meet the biggest design goal. You will have fun. Thats really the bottom line.

If Hellmute and Samwise cant have fun with it, well, last I checked the 4e ninjas won't come busting through your ceiling forcing you to change games.

Flag June 3, 2008 10:01 AM PDT

sparrowhawk4 wrote:

And this is good

Yes it is.

Okay. Your now outright making things up here. Nowhere did WOTC claim they were making the rules unbreakable. If you have a quote from someone from WOTC saying so - post it. Otherwise knock such statments off.

I am making nothing up.
If you would like off-topic posts of WotC people saying they wanted to remove design traps from the game and make it possible for anyone to play the game right away, all you need to do is look in the Concerns and Criticisms archives for multiple links to such.

And so it is. Notice in the quote that the ranges of monsters appropraite for the encounter are within -4 to +4 the average level of the party. Additional challenge is accounted for by giving few number of a higher level creature and vice versa for a easier encounter. Such is the only mention of picking monsters via XP level.

Is that what is says? Just pick monsters by level?
So an elite 2nd level monster is the same as a standard 2nd level monster in a 1st level encounter?

If you refer to XP meaning for each standard monster for its level.. yes.. its the same. we knew that. It does not, on the other hand, say that the challenge level is based on the XP.

From those excerpts, yes it does.
The level of the encounter is set by how much xp is in the encounter.

Did you read the excerpt that was posted below. Encounters are based on monster level, not XP. Sheesh

Yes I did read the excerpt.
That is not what it says.

Flag June 3, 2008 10:51 AM PDT

Lurkalot wrote:

Well, what can I say? There was a demand from Samwise / Hellmute to provide citations to back up what was said, and Lo! They did come forth in great numbers!

Though it's amusing to note the double standard that when Samwise / Hellmute stated the rules worked in a particular way it was to be taken on faith, but when someone said otherwise, the obligation was on that person to prove it. Claiming an unknown must be in your favour is another biased debating strategy. But as it turns out, it's not an unknown at all - the quotes from published material show it is as people have been saying and as Hellmute / Samwise have been denying it was.

So the argument has once again shifted, from Samwise whose position is now that the game is at fault because a GM might misread it; and from Hellmute whose perculiar brand of logic enables him to take a statement saying "determine encounter appropriateness based on level and XP" and conclude "this proves that you only use XP to determine it."

I don't think either argument needs to be addressed much longer. The only remaining things I think are to determine whether or not a GM must work out everything that's going on in the game world regardless of whether or not the PCs encounter it (the Hellmute's Proposal) and what point Samwise feels has been ignored when he accuses me of

I'm willing to listen, but I don't think anything has been left unanswered. It's just an ad hominim - that is to say an attack on the person rather than the argument.

Thanks to those with the books for summarising how it works. Very interesting to know until mine arrive.

Regards,

Lurkalot.

Nice way to twist words and read into things what you want rather than what is said.

XP should be the only determining factor. Monsters do not need levels. Is there a level 1 Pit Fiend? The use of levels is inproper use of the term. An intuative system would have the term mean the same thing throughout the game. Level for monsters means when the PCs should expect to meet them. This means the term is NOT used the same throughout the game.

What do you get from an ecnouter? XP and treasure. Does the ends justify the means? Is the reward worth the risk? Does this mosnter give the correct XP for its challenge? Does the challenge weigh enough to award the written XP.

Never once does a monster level mean anything other than some visual representation of the expectations of said monster in relation to the PCs. If you want mosnter to have levels that mean something then give them true levvels, or quit using false meaning for the term.

XP is all that matters. PCs, nay, players don't care what level a mosnter is so long as the risk (challenge) is worthy of the reward (XP). The flaw comes when the system tries to use this "level" to tell DMs how to make encounters, and confuse people like you about the importance. The level was added lastly after the challenge was made worthy, and the XP assigned. If they went through and said "I want to make a 9th level monster" and started working with a kobold, then they screwed up desgining the game. If they went through and said "How does a Pit Fiend work?", "What challenge will it be?", "How much XP should it give?", then they have designed the monsters properly.

YOU can create some level of monster because they already provide examples in the MM. Remove all the levels form the MM and tell me you cannot design proper encounters without them. I bet you anything you could. You could make the exact same functioning system without levels for the monsters or encounter equation, it just wouldn't be as easily read by humans in this new artsy look they want for it. You would just have charts telling you XP ranges for monsters, and use this range for determining which monsters you can use for encounters.

It really makes me wonder how D&D survived this long sometimes....

All this assigning levels to everything is the video game BS crossed over into D&D that is not needed. Magic items, monsters, don't need levels. It is a poorly designed system for people that can't figure out when to or not to use something.

Monsters should be added based solely on XP. Equal XP monsters should be interchangeable. That would be a stable system. Instead we have metric minions and standard monsters. Using different measuring systems to try to fit two things together, meaning they won't quite fit right when the metric nut is put on the standard bolt.

Flag June 3, 2008 11:01 AM PDT

Hergrmir wrote:

Well, I followed this thread up to page 4 or so because I was interested in minions.

Here's what I understand:
Hellmute doesn't like them. Samwise doesn't either, but Hellmute has a distinctive avatar so I paid more attention to the posts, and ignored most of the math since it's irrelevant to this discussion.

Thanks I guess. It isn't just about not liking 4th, it is about the functionality of the minions. Not because of the way an older edition did it, but the way it should work.

My point is that for their challenge and one-hit-one-kill they do not fit within the goal. If their XP means anything, then at anytime you could use any mosnter with Y XP, you should be able to use an equal minion. I don't care about the silly idea they made up for 4 minions replace one monster. That is where it is screwed up. You end up with less mosnters in a book that way. All mosnters worth Y XP should be interchangeable as the reward (XP) would always be equal to the risk.

It would be like just giving a wizard 2000 XP for learning a new spell from someone elses spellbook, or sucking powers out of someone elses implement (That sounds, bad, but I know no other way of putting it so don't be dirty minded! ) as may be in 4th edition.

It is something that just doesn't work.

System:
-Find level of encounter.
-Do some math to get a total XP for encounter.
-Buy some monsters using that XP as a budget.

No where does it say look at the level of the monsters. It says look at the level of the encouter. XP is what determines whether you can add a monster to it or not. Want a 400 XP monster/minion and only have 300 XP left in your budget? Well you can't afford it. You can add it, but only when you accept the debt you will be in. Or this case making a tougher encounter that may but the PCs in debt....

Flag June 3, 2008 12:35 PM PDT

hellmute wrote:

System:
-Find level of encounter.
-Do some math to get a total XP for encounter.
-Buy some monsters using that XP as a budget.

No where does it say look at the level of the monsters. It says look at the level of the encouter. XP is what determines whether you can add a monster to it or not. Want a 400 XP monster/minion and only have 300 XP left in your budget? Well you can't afford it. You can add it, but only when you accept the debt you will be in. Or this case making a tougher encounter that may but the PCs in debt....

Actually it does say look at the level of the creatures.
The Experience Points Awards table(on pg 56) has the header of:
Monster Level Standard Monster Minion Elite Solo

Samwise wrote:

I am making nothing up.
If you would like off-topic posts of WotC people saying they wanted to remove design traps from the game and make it possible for anyone to play the game right away, all you need to do is look in the Concerns and Criticisms archives for multiple links to such.

This doesn't seem very fair.

We had to provide actual quotes, but you only have to provide a "because I said so"?

Samwise wrote:

From those excerpts, yes it does.
The level of the encounter is set by how much xp is in the encounter.

Page 56 Encounter Components:
"Building an encounter is a matter of choosing threats [i]appropriate to the characters and combining..... [/i]"

appropriate to the characters is set by the level of the players and how many players there are.

That gives you an XP budget
the XP budget for a party level of 10:
4 players: 2000
5 players: 2500
6 players: 3000

Standard creature XP of level 10 is: 500(notice how there is one standard creature per person)

They give encounter templates on page58
Take the Commander and Troops template( like the A3 encounter in KotS)
Easy: commander of level n(n being the encounter level which is based on the party level)
4 troops of level n - 3
Standard: commander of level n + 3
5 troops of level n - 2
Hard: commander of level n + 6
3 troops of level n + 1
2 artillery of level n + 1

As I said before D&D is an exception based game.
The standard(see what they call it?) creature is the baseline. The other three types of creatures(minion, elite, solo) are the exceptions to the base creature. With these exceptions the XP reward for them has to be based upon the standard creature. Minions are worth 1/4 of the standard, elites are x2 the standard and solos are x5 the standard.

Again the Xp awards for these creatures is immaterial to other xp awards of creatures at differing levels. The game is based upon the (present) level of the players.

Flag June 3, 2008 12:47 PM PDT
And yet we must still rely on the article, as that is the information presented to everyone, and taking someone elses random word is meaningless. Nobody knows if you have illegal PDF copies of the books, or the real things to reference to, because nobody else can yet see this information. You cannot prove it.

Even then it will still be a matter of what it actually says after reading it, but I still surmise that my encounter design steps above are the root of designing encounters.

Why would XP exist if only the level is important? Again building many subsytems into one system that doesn't all work together to achieve the goal.

"Do you know what I mean by cooperative cogs Bob?"
Flag June 3, 2008 1:33 PM PDT

hellmute wrote:

And yet we must still rely on the article, as that is the information presented to everyone, and taking someone elses random word is meaningless. Nobody knows if you have illegal PDF copies of the books, or the real things to reference to, because nobody else can yet see this information. You cannot prove it.

Even then it will still be a matter of what it actually says after reading it, but I still surmise that my encounter design steps above are the root of designing encounters.

Why would XP exist if only the level is important? Again building many subsytems into one system that doesn't all work together to achieve the goal.

"Do you know what I mean by cooperative cogs Bob?"

Why do we have to 'prove' anything?  How about not posting about the subject again until Friday, then we can see if I'm right or wrong?  No, I know that isn't going to happen.  Just wishful thinking.

Are you not trying to base the whole concept of encounter design upon an excerpt for minions?

You can't bake a cake with just flour and an oven.

You are correct in the design steps.

The encounter level is based 100% upon the player's level.

Excerpt from Excerpt: Minions
When you use minions, you should use those of a [i]level appropriate to the encounter you’re building. The concept of minions is to provide fun filler for encounters, not to provide a way for a 1st level character to gain 1,000+ XP for defeating a 23rd-level abyssal ghoul minion by rolling a natural 20. Minions are a rules abstraction, and one of the many tools a DM has to build exciting encounters.[/i]

Why would anyone build a 20th lvl encounter for a 10th lvl party?

Flag June 3, 2008 2:06 PM PDT

Hergrmir wrote:

Well,
Here's what I understand:
Hellmute doesn't like them. Samwise doesn't either, but Hellmute has a distinctive avatar so I paid more attention to the posts, and ignored most of the math since it's irrelevant to this discussion.

....

I think Samwise and Hellmute love Minions. It has given them something to analize and criticize. I think they seem to be enjoying the whole debate. Remember Hergmir, everyone can enjoy Dungeons and Dragons in thier own way. I think it's wonderful they can get so much enjoyment out of the concept without having to even play. My cousin hasn't played DnD in 20years, But he has a lot of the 3e books and Knows the lore inside and out, he's not to good on the mechanics though.(In no way am I assuming Samwise and Hellmute do not really play, just stating people can enjoy Dungeons and Dragons with out playing.)

Flag June 3, 2008 2:36 PM PDT

Hergrmir wrote:

... I was interested in minions.

...

I'm interested in minions as well. Minions have only one hit point and are not affected my misses. If you look as some of the powers, like reaping strike and acid arrow do damage on a miss. So how do you play this out on the table? As a Dm describing the action in the game how do you describe the effect of such power on a minion?

I can see inexperienced Dms describing the miss in such a situation as totally ineffective. Even though mechanically the minion remains uneffected by the miss on the such powers, a Dm can still describe the effect of such powers on minions. For example:

Player (playing dwarf fighter), "Burt uses reaping strike on the kobold with the spear, right in front of him." Rolls the d 20, "I rolled 4, " mumbles to self,"a 10!"

Dm, "Burt thrusts his maul into the shoulder of the kobold making the creature squell, but as the dwarf follows the jab with a mighty swing, the kobold moves, and Burt barely misses with the punishing blow!"

Dm,"A mob of 5 kobolds rush out of the woods to your right, aiming javalins at you!"
Player (playing human wizard), "Oh , " I cast Acid Arrow at the middle kobold."Rolls the d20, " total 11." the player grimaces.

Dm, "The acid arrow misses the mark splashing in front of the middle kobold, the acid still splashes the kobolds and they yelp in pain, an acrid smoke rises from the kobolds as the launch thier javalins at the wizard." Dm pauses, "Rolf the wizard still have any healing surges?" then rolls the d20, "Oh oh I rolled a ...,

Any other advice or observations to help us DMs in using Minions. I'm not looking for a debate on how broke the minions is. I like them and looking for ideas on how to play minions well.

Flag June 3, 2008 2:53 PM PDT

sirkaikillah wrote:

I think Samwise and Hellmute love Minions. It has given them something to analize and criticize. I think they seem to be enjoying the whole debate. Remember Hergmir, everyone can enjoy Dungeons and Dragons in thier own way. I think it's wonderful they can get so much enjoyment out of the concept without having to even play. My cousin hasn't played DnD in 20years, But he has a lot of the 3e books and Knows the lore inside and out, he's not to good on the mechanics though.(In no way am I assuming Samwise and Hellmute do not really play, just stating people can enjoy Dungeons and Dragons with out playing.)

I don't really intend to play 4th edition, but want to know what the game I loved has devolved into.

As for the "minion love"...see my sig.

If only other people on this forum could take opinoins and discussion in your light that people like discussing and tearing these things apart, there would be no need for ideas such as anti or pro-4e.

Discuss it for discussions sake and the love of the game. Dont' close your mind to other opinions. (Even when those opinions are obviously wrong. )

Flag June 3, 2008 3:15 PM PDT

hellmute wrote:

I don't really intend to play 4th edition, but want to know what the game I loved has devolved into.

...

...

Discuss it for discussions sake and the love of the game. Dont' close your mind to other opinions. (Even when those opinions are obviously wrong. )

I'm open to review all opinions no matter how wrong they may be.

Keep on rockin' the old school Helmute

Flag June 3, 2008 4:15 PM PDT
My post contains a little bit of everything: A humorous story relating to the topic at hand, a useful analogy created by one of my players, and perhaps some insight into the ongoing discussion (yes, I did read every post in this whole thread).

First, in regards to how to treat minions as a DM, minion special properties lead to a very funny story in a campaign I cooked up for my players (yes, I have the books, didn't realize my store was breaking streetdate). As an introduction, it is important to know that sometimes I overload encounters on my PCs in situations where running away is a tactically sound option or would make sense. So the characters have infiltrated a keep, but have alerted the guards and one of them clearly went to warn the rest of the keep. Anyway, this scene roughly came up in combat:

DM:"You have been fighting the hobgoblin guards for several minutes. With a clatter, a squadron of predatory-looking hobgoblins rounds the corner, and rushes the party!"
Fighter:"I shift away from the hobgoblin I'm fighting to use reaping strike on the closest new foe- even if my main swing does not hit him, perhaps a followup will deal him a meager wound!"
*rolling, miss*
Fighter:"Hey guys, I think we might be a little outnumbered here! I don't know about you, but I'm not fighting the entire elite hobgoblin guard!"
*party runs away*

In this situation, they were fighting an encounter a little below their level, and I just added the last 'enemy' of four minions. However, because the minions hit and defenses are the same as normal foes, plus the can't take miss damage, they actually appeared in this situation to be the strength of elites, because they players couldn't tell if their casual ignoring of the miss damage was because of a minion ability or ridiculous HP. After they ran away, I told the players about it and we had a good laugh. The way the fighter (player) put it: "It's like fighting gorillas where the body has been replaced with sock monkey- you have to get past the business end to see just how tiny they are."

How this relates to the debate raging on:

I preface this with a question: to those who are waiting for the corebooks, esp. Hellmute: you say we are throwing things back and forth until we can read the books, and you are (premise 1)less likely to believe anyone til that time, but you also say (premise 2) that no one can prove if they have the books or not. If (premise 3) you're not going to play 4e, I assume (conclusion from premise 3) you're not getting the books. Therefore, (conclusion from premises 1, 2, and the first conclusion) you can never know what's in them, and thus no one can ever prove something in the books to your satisfaction. Is this true?

To the xp debate itself. I don't know how much of the books I'm allowed to quote on the boards, especially before street, so I'll obfuscate and paraphrase. But there are several anecdotes, and actually an entire paragraph in the DMG that talks about using monsters within the XP budget that are not challenge appropriate. Specifically, that a single [N]th level standard monster fits the XP budget of a [N-9]th level party, but because the attacks and defenses do not scale, this is not an appropriate challenge and is what solos were created for. If XP cannot do this for standard monsters, it obviously cannot for minions.

N is named in the book, again trying to obfuscate.

Ops or whomever is in control of this, feel free to delete some or all of this if it is too much information.
Flag June 3, 2008 4:28 PM PDT

hyrrn wrote:

To the xp debate itself. I don't know how much of the books I'm allowed to quote on the boards, especially before street, so I'll obfuscate and paraphrase. But there are several anecdotes, and actually an entire paragraph in the DMG that talks about using monsters within the XP budget that are not challenge appropriate. Specifically, that a single [N]th level standard monster fits the XP budget of a [N-9]th level party, but because the attacks and defenses do not scale, this is not an appropriate challenge and is what solos were created for. If XP cannot do this for standard monsters, it obviously cannot for minions.

N is named in the book, again trying to obfuscate.

That sounds like my example earlier:

2. Next, XP is not merely a power equivalent, or a 1st level 5 PC party could take on 1 10th level monster. We have stats for Chuul, and with 2 attacks per round, paralysis, and reach 2, I would expect TPK. Apparently a 10th level monster is overpowered for a 1st level party even though by XP alone it is selectable. It should be equivalent to a 1st level solo monster, but is not. Thus XP is not simply a power equivalent.

And that's not the first time I've presented something that later has turned out to be in the manual. I guess I've psychically read the DMG already.

Now if I could just pick the lottery numbers...

Flag June 3, 2008 4:36 PM PDT

hyrrn wrote:

~~~
I preface this with a question: to those who are waiting for the corebooks, esp. Hellmute:~~~

Conclusion Omega: My public library does not require the purchase of a book to read it or check it out.
So once avilable I will be able to see what is in them without purchasing a thing. Heck I could even photocopy pages from it for research purposes! IE: not full page art pages, or table of contents, but some of them to review at my leisure for the purpose of discussing the material within or diseeciton of it.

But that would mean me spending money on 4th edition, which is not very likely to happen.

So I would be able to validate/verify information AFTER the actual release of the books. Now to go back and read the remaing paragraphs of your posts and those after it.

Flag June 3, 2008 4:41 PM PDT

hyrrn wrote:

...

First, in regards to how to treat minions as a DM, minion special properties lead to a very funny story in a campaign I cooked up for my players (yes, I have the books, didn't realize my store was breaking streetdate). As an introduction, it is important to know that sometimes I overload encounters on my PCs in situations where running away is a tactically sound option or would make sense. So the characters have infiltrated a keep, but have alerted the guards and one of them clearly went to warn the rest of the keep. Anyway, this scene roughly came up in combat:

DM:"You have been fighting the hobgoblin guards for several minutes. With a clatter, a squadron of predatory-looking hobgoblins rounds the corner, and rushes the party!"
Fighter:"I shift away from the hobgoblin I'm fighting to use reaping strike on the closest new foe- even if my main swing does not hit him, perhaps a followup will deal him a meager wound!"
*rolling, miss*
Fighter:"Hey guys, I think we might be a little outnumbered here! I don't know about you, but I'm not fighting the entire elite hobgoblin guard!"
*party runs away*

In this situation, they were fighting an encounter a little below their level, and I just added the last 'enemy' of four minions. However, because the minions hit and defenses are the same as normal foes, plus the can't take miss damage, they actually appeared in this situation to be the strength of elites, because they players couldn't tell if their casual ignoring of the miss damage was because of a minion ability or ridiculous HP. After they ran away, I told the players about it and we had a good laugh. The way the fighter (player) put it: "It's like fighting gorillas where the body has been replaced with sock monkey- you have to get past the business end to see just how tiny they are."

That's a supercool "eye opening"

Thanks for sharing makes me go muwahahahaha!!!

Flag June 3, 2008 7:03 PM PDT

Samwise wrote:

I am making nothing up.
If you would like off-topic posts of WotC people saying they wanted to

Samwise wrote:

remove design traps from the game and make it possible for anyone to play the game right away, all you need to do is look in the Concerns and Criticisms archives for multiple links to such.

And they did not say they removed any and all ability to break the system. In fact, they openly admit that the game is designed to function along certain set parameters, which you are ignoring when you try and remove level from the encounter design mechanic.

Samwise wrote:

Is that what is says? Just pick monsters by level?
So an elite 2nd level monster is the same as a standard 2nd level monster in a 1st level encounter?

Please refer to what Alyri quoted from the 4E DMG, since he actually has it.

Alyri wrote:

And From the Dmg
Chapter 4 Building Encounters
Page 56. Encounter Components
There is a table called Step by Step Encounters.
1. Choose an Encounter Level: encounter level is relative to # of Pcs.
easy is 1-2 levels lower
standard is equal to party level or one higher
hard is two to four levels higher

2. Determine XP Budget:....
Considerations:
Levels of Individual threats: choose threats within 2-3 lvls, easy threat is 2-4 lvls lower, hard threat is 3-5 lvls higher
Mix Roles: use the roles Brute Soldier etc.

Lets start at 1.  This shows that the level of the encounter is directly tied to the level of the PC's.  Notice that a standard encounter is of equal level to the party or only 1 level higher.  Since we have already been told that 1 regular monster is considered a proper challenge for a single PC of the same level, this is nothing new.  This also incorporates the "monster slot" concept, with 1 regular monster per PC, with elites filling 2 slots and solos filling 4.  You do not seem to have any problem with this part.

Now for #2.  XP, as per the rewards exerpt:

Characters gain experience points (XP) for every encounter they complete. They gain action points when they reach milestones, generally after every two encounters. They gain treasure as they complete encounters—not after every encounter, but sporadically over the course of an adventure. They gain a level after completing eight to ten encounters (including quests).

We can therefore infer that the XP value of the monster is solely a measure of it's level - for a standard monster that means 1/10th that required to move a single PC to the next level.  Please note it states 8-10 encounters - they are not forcing you in to a specific value at any given point, simply a range.

Now for 3.  Your correct, it states to spend your XP Budget.  What does that mean?  It tells you.  You select monsters based on certain parameters.
Again:

Levels of Individual threats: choose threats within 2-3 lvls, easy threat is 2-4 lvls lower, hard threat is 3-5 lvls higher
Mix Roles: use the roles Brute Soldier etc.

What does that mean? The average level of the monsters should fall within that range, and should not stray too far from that range.  An ideal encounter would have a number of regular monsters of the same level of the party, 1 for each PC.  To add more variety, the designers added roles to the monsters, elites are worth 2 regular monsters, solo's are worth 5. And by giving you the XP values, you now know roughly how big of an encounter to build, while keeping within that range.

As an example:

5 PCs all at 7th level.  The encounter would ideally worth 8-10% of 15000XP(1200-1500XP).  An average encounter would be of this level.  If the DM wanted an easier encounter, he would set a lower budget, a harder one, a higher budget.  And he would also scale the monsters appropriately to do so.

Now, assuming an average encounter, the DM has to pick monsters.  The level of the monsters should fall within the range of the weight of the encounter.  Again, easy encounter - few levels lower, hard - a few levels higher.  so for an average encounter we'll say we want +/- 1 level for now.

Looking at the XP chart we can have 2 level 6 standard monsters and a level 8 elite and have a reasonably balanced encounter with the proper amount of XP for that level.

From those excerpts, yes it does.
The level of the encounter is set by how much xp is in the encounter.

Again, I refer you to what Alyri was kind enough to post from the 4E DMG

1. Choose an Encounter Level: encounter level is relative to # of Pcs.
easy is 1-2 levels lower
standard is equal to party level or one higher
hard is two to four levels higher

This is the first thing the DMG tells you to do when building an encounter.  XP    is then derived from this.

Now, as for minions, they are an abstraction for the DM to use to represent a specific cinematic trope of the henchman/mook/lowlife follower.

From the Minions excerpt:

When you use minions, you should use those of a level appropriate to the encounter you’re building. The concept of minions is to provide fun filler for encounters, not to provide a way for a 1st level character to gain 1,000+ XP for defeating a 23rd-level abyssal ghoul minion by rolling a natural 20. Minions are a rules abstraction, and one of the many tools a DM has to build exciting encounters

Minions are designed to be functional only within a specific range of encounters and as support to the encounter, the the entirety of the encounter.  The are a minion, not a solo and are not designed to be.  Solos have additonal attacks and abilities to counter the fact that they will be going up against a group of PC's.  If you want a lower level solo, you customize a higher level solo and restat it for a lower level.  The DMG and MM will have rules for this, as per the 4E customization excerpt.

Flag June 3, 2008 7:13 PM PDT
You do realize that posting actual facts in this thread is pointless anyway right?
Flag June 3, 2008 7:49 PM PDT

hellmute wrote:

Conclusion Omega: My public library does not require the purchase of a book to read it or check it out.
So once avilable I will be able to see what is in them without purchasing a thing. Heck I could even photocopy pages from it for research purposes! IE: not full page art pages, or table of contents, but some of them to review at my leisure for the purpose of discussing the material within or diseeciton of it.

But that would mean me spending money on 4th edition, which is not very likely to happen.

So I would be able to validate/verify information AFTER the actual release of the books. Now to go back and read the remaing paragraphs of your posts and those after it.

Your library has game books? My library can't even stock all of Alan Dean Foster's books, has only 1 copy of the books in the Song of Ice and fire series, and doesn't have anything that even approaches game book territory. Otherwise I would have had a good look at Shadowrun by now.

Flag June 3, 2008 8:19 PM PDT
Nothing to see here... Move along.
Flag June 3, 2008 8:28 PM PDT

hellmute wrote:

My point is that for their challenge and one-hit-one-kill they do not fit within the goal. If their XP means anything, then at anytime you could use any mosnter with Y XP, you should be able to use an equal minion. I don't care about the silly idea they made up for 4 minions replace one monster. That is where it is screwed up. You end up with less mosnters in a book that way. All mosnters worth Y XP should be interchangeable as the reward (XP) would always be equal to the risk.

What your not understanding is that there is underlying math involved in the design of these creatures.  WOTC has specifically stated what their goals were in designing minions.

from the Minions excerpt:

Goals of the minion:

Drop in one hit: the minion essentially does his job if it can keep a PC occupied for a turn. Depending on its level and role, a typical monster might take four to six basic attacks to knock out. To provide the same amount of challenge, a group of four to six minions should take about the same number of actions. For a while, we considered giving minions some small amount of hit points, a small enough number that they would drop in one hit. But then we ran into a few situations where the minion would take only a few points of damage, forcing the DM to track minion hit points anyway. Eventually, we realized that the best way to make sure they go down in one hit is by giving them a single hit point. (You could think of it as if you are always doing enough damage to kill it.)

Have sufficient defenses: A PC should hit a minion at about the same rate as that PC would hit a typical monster of the same level. If the PC only misses on a natural 1, then that part of the fight becomes trivial. Thus, the minion’s defenses are set using the same scale as other monsters of its level. Similarly, while minions are meant to be easily dispatched, we didn’t want it to be too easy, so we decided that minions shouldn’t die when missed by an attack roll, even if that attack would normally deal damage on a hit. Of course, they might still die if they take damage from other sources, like walking through a wall of fire or getting hit by a Cleave from a fighter.

Have a meaningful attack: Minions shouldn’t automatically fail at their attacks, or always be hoping for a natural 20. Their attack bonus should be similar to monsters of their level, though their damage is a fraction of other monsters. One minion attacking a PC is more of a nuisance, but a group of them can be as dangerous as any monster. The damage for minions is always flat instead of rolled, which again helps speed up play as the DM only needs to roll one die for each minion.

What does all this mean?  It means that WOTC thought about things such as how long a typical combat should last, hit ratios and damage/turn.  Not in the manner you impy - of setting fixed time periods - but rather what the average party would like, based on polling and playtesting.

Put it this way.  A typical monster will survive around 4 hits at the average damage output per turn of a PC of it's level.  Now if a PC hits roughly 1/3 of the time, that monster will last, on average 12 turns.  4 minions will last the same amount of time.  You adjust their own to hit probability and damage per turn to be slightly lower, to take into account there are going to be 4 minions, and you end up with close to the same amount of in combat tactical value as a single regular monster of the same level.

hellmute wrote:

It would be like just giving a wizard 2000 XP for learning a new spell from someone elses spellbook, or sucking powers out of someone elses implement (That sounds, bad, but I know no other way of putting it so don't be dirty minded!   ) as may be in 4th edition.

It is something that just doesn't work.

Actually, if you use it as per the rules, the minion rules work fine.  Its when you openly ignore those encounter design rules specific to minions and place them in a combat at a level they are not designed for, in a combat role they are not designed for(as a solo instead of a minion), that they do not work.

hellmute wrote:

System:
-Find level of encounter.
-Do some math to get a total XP for encounter.
-Buy some monsters using that XP as a budget.

No where does it say look at the level of the monsters. It says look at the level of the encouter. XP is what determines whether you can add a monster to it or not. Want a 400 XP monster/minion and only have 300 XP left in your budget? Well you can't afford it. You can add it, but only when you accept the debt you will be in. Or this case making a tougher encounter that may but the PCs in debt....

And this has been specifically countered by what Alyri and what he posted from his copy of the DMG.  The 4E DMG, by all apperances, states that the level of the monsters must be taken into consideration.  XP is not a fixed amount, but rather a guideline in making sure the encounters progress properly towards the next level and that they are not either too big or too small.  Furthermore, the encounter level is based off of the statical math underlying game, such as the defense scores, BAB, and other PC and NPC stats.

WOTC has specifically stated that outside of a few levels difference, the underlying math of the system breaks down, and monsters no longer function in a balanced way.  This is not a design flaw, it is an acceptable limitation of the system.  In this manner, it prevents the underpowered/overpowered issues that came into being with the CR system of 3.X.   WOTC even incorporated rules that allow the monsters that are listed in the MM to be customized to be appropriate for the level you want them, so that they will fit into the encounter.

Flag June 3, 2008 8:30 PM PDT

Holy_Beholder wrote:

They even had Dragon Magazine until the last true issue. They don't keep all editions and all games on hand, but it works across the state to spread them out, and if one of the conencted libraries has it it can be delivered to the local one for checkout.

I recall at one time they even had some video games, but that went a little sour for some reason, and maybe still have board games you can check out.

It helps promote lower income families being able to enjoy things that not everyone with tons of money to spend on expensive hobbies can afford. It won't have all the books, but the ones needed to play at least the most recent edition until they are told to swap out. So oddsa re 3rd edition is still on the shelf now even if 3,5 is not, and probably 4th edition will be there soon.

Some books are actually donated to the library through drives to encourage reading also. So whether bought or donated, they end up with copies.

So in short, yes my library has some D&D books.

Flag June 3, 2008 8:33 PM PDT

Lodestone7 wrote:

Actually a standard monster would be 1/50th of a level. A solo monster would be 1/10th. Otherwise correct.

I have to disagree with you here. For a party you are correct. 1 monster would be worth 1/50th of what a party would need. That would be based on a party of 5 PC's with 10 encounters of 5 standard monsters of equal level. But remember, I stated that the XP value was equal to 1/10th the requirement to reach the next level for 1 PC.

Flag June 3, 2008 9:11 PM PDT

sparrowhawk4 wrote:

I have to disagree with you here. For a party you are correct. 1 monster would be worth 1/50th of what a party would need. That would be based on a party of 5 PC's with 10 encounters of 5 standard monsters of equal level. But remember, I stated that the XP value was equal to 1/10th the requirement to reach the next level for 1 PC.

Oops, my bad. You were talking about encounters, then switched to 'single PC' too quick. :embarrass

Flag June 3, 2008 9:29 PM PDT

Samwise wrote:

If you would like off-topic posts of WotC people saying they wanted to remove design traps from the game and make it possible for anyone to play the game right away, all you need to do is look in the Concerns and Criticisms archives for multiple links to such.

Again, for anyone loosing track, design trap = a pitfall an inexperienced player may fall into, like trying to evenly multiclass fighter/mage in 3E. Works OK at first, then breaks down. Hence they want to make it possible to play right away as you don't have to fear, as a player, that you will be stepping on a landmine.

Breakable game = experienced players gaining unfair advantage through careful application of esoteric rules. Even in core, this was an issue in 3E. They want to prevent this as well.

Unbreakable does not mean the DM cannot mess it up, and WotC would never bother trying to push this as a goal. I can come up with the world's simplest game - 'Roll d20 to hit.' And somewhere, some joker would read it and go 'I don't have a d20. I'll just use 3d6.' And then it's DM-broken.

Flag June 3, 2008 9:40 PM PDT

hellmute wrote:

They even had Dragon Magazine until the last true issue. They don't keep all editions and all games on hand, but it works across the state to spread them out, and if one of the conencted libraries has it it can be delivered to the local one for checkout.

I recall at one time they even had some video games, but that went a little sour for some reason, and maybe still have board games you can check out.

It helps promote lower income families being able to enjoy things that not everyone with tons of money to spend on expensive hobbies can afford. It won't have all the books, but the ones needed to play at least the most recent edition until they are told to swap out. So oddsa re 3rd edition is still on the shelf now even if 3,5 is not, and probably 4th edition will be there soon.

Some books are actually donated to the library through drives to encourage reading also. So whether bought or donated, they end up with copies.

So in short, yes my library has some D&D books.

Your library is awesome. Mine has DVDs, audiobooks, and a computer lab for people who don't have internet, but no game books. If they were donated they would just be put in the discard section. Thats the public library. The school library is a joke, a bunch of books, only 5 of Alan Dean Foster's books but the entire Left Behind series, with the Quran tucked into Mythology. The mythology section has about half of a book shelf.

Flag June 3, 2008 9:43 PM PDT
That sucks. Check online to see if there is another library close that has the same sort of exchange type thing mine does with other libraries or close enough where you can get other mterials depending on your location.
Flag June 3, 2008 10:00 PM PDT
It does, but only with one other library, which has a very small fiction section, an entire floor on reference, another entire floor on genealogy, and a massive non fiction section. But since the local game shop is going to be stocking fourth edition, and they tend to be nice about browsing, its not as bad as it seems. If they would just stock Shadowrun, then everything would fall into place. And they could start stocking Fudge products, but nobody is expecting that. So I haven't really seen all that much on fourth edition outside of the forum and what wizards has shown, although minions have worked well in other systems.
Flag June 3, 2008 10:33 PM PDT

hellmute wrote:

They even had Dragon Magazine until the last true issue. They don't keep all editions and all games on hand, but it works across the state to spread them out, and if one of the conencted libraries has it it can be delivered to the local one for checkout.

I recall at one time they even had some video games, but that went a little sour for some reason, and maybe still have board games you can check out.

It helps promote lower income families being able to enjoy things that not everyone with tons of money to spend on expensive hobbies can afford. It won't have all the books, but the ones needed to play at least the most recent edition until they are told to swap out. So oddsa re 3rd edition is still on the shelf now even if 3,5 is not, and probably 4th edition will be there soon.

Some books are actually donated to the library through drives to encourage reading also. So whether bought or donated, they end up with copies.

So in short, yes my library has some D&D books.

Our Library has a subscribtion to "Sheep Herder" Magazine. Some great deal the State made with a mainland book distributer. Anyway if my public library had DnD books when I was a kid, I wouldn't have stole it from some poor kid. What punk kid I was back then:embarrass

P.S. You can always hang out at Borders, drink coffee, have a pastry and check out the books.

Flag June 3, 2008 10:39 PM PDT
If your town has Borders anyways. Or if the Barnes and Noble people would actually start to stock game books. I pretty much live in Hickville USA, so no luck there.
Flag June 3, 2008 11:32 PM PDT

Holy_Beholder wrote:

If your town has Borders anyways. Or if the Barnes and Noble people would actually start to stock game books. I pretty much live in Hickville USA, so no luck there.

We have Borders but no Barnes and Nobles and it only stocks WotC stuff. I expect to see DnD 4e there by July. Amazon don't fail me know.

Flag June 4, 2008 8:40 AM PDT
Amazon is usually pretty reliable, they delivered my Fudge 10th anniversary edition book exactly when they said they would. Not a bad book either, its one of the best game systems I have ever seen.
Flag June 4, 2008 10:58 AM PDT

hellmute wrote:

Nice way to twist words and read into things what you want rather than what is said.

Well that's not very nice and is merely an ad hominem - i.e. it attacks me personally without actually addressing what I've said. I would like you to quote where I have twisted your words and in what way, please. I don't believe it.

hellmute wrote:

XP should be the only determining factor. Monsters do not need levels. Is there a level 1 Pit Fiend? The use of levels is inproper use of the term. An intuative system would have the term mean the same thing throughout the game. Level for monsters means when the PCs should expect to meet them. This means the term is NOT used the same throughout the game.

Again, I have bolded the parts which are simply you saying you don't want to use the new system the designers have introduced. Whilst you are entitled to dislike it on aesthetic grounds, that doesn't hold any weight with the rest of us. The latter part of your quote is a non sequiter - you "this means..." but there's no explanation as to why you think this and it's certainly not a train of logic the rest of us can follow. You will have to explain yourself.

hellmute wrote:

Remove all the levels form the MM and tell me you cannot design proper encounters without them. I bet you anything you could. You could make the exact same functioning system without levels for the monsters or encounter equation, it just wouldn't be as easily read by humans in this new artsy look they want for it. You would just have charts telling you XP ranges for monsters, and use this range for determining which monsters you can use for encounters.

The bolded part above, is bolded purely for amusement purposes. I find your selection of pejoratives both entertaining and revealing. As to the substance of your remark, you are advocating a system that has two simple to read axes - level and XP with one that would have to read: At Party Level W, a standard encounter should have XP budget of X with the individual monsters having an XP value between Y and Z. Two things are wrong with this. The first is that rather than saying Level as a convenient shorthand, you are specifying "between value Y and Z" the whole time. You gain nothing except verbiage - lots more space and tables. The second problem is that you make it difficult to use minions or other party level appropriate but numerically dependent creatures as these have a reduced XP relative to what their actual appropriateness is. It therefore doesn't meet the same functionality as provided by the two axes XP and Level that you've just replaced. It is therefore an inferior system both in terms of being concise and in terms of usefulness.

And as to this:

Hellmute]And yet we must still rely on the article, as that is the information presented to everyone, and taking someone elses random word is meaningless. Nobody knows if you have illegal PDF copies of the books, or the real things to reference to, because nobody else can yet see this information. You cannot prove it.

Well if your argument has been reduced to "you might be lying about being right" then your argument is looking pretty weak and those people who haven't seen for themselves yet will shortly wrote:

And yet we must still rely on the article, as that is the information presented to everyone, and taking someone elses random word is meaningless. Nobody knows if you have illegal PDF copies of the books, or the real things to reference to, because nobody else can yet see this information. You cannot prove it.[/quote]
Well if your argument has been reduced to "you might be lying about being right" then your argument is looking pretty weak and those people who haven't seen for themselves yet will shortly do so.

Flag June 4, 2008 11:30 AM PDT

Samwise wrote:

I acknowledged that several pages ago.
I also noted that inexperienced DMs could be expected to overlook that, and that it still does not address the issue of lower level creatures with the same xp but different levels.
Would you like to address both of those?

Step-by-Step Encounters
1. C hoose an encounter level. E
Considerations
Levels of Individual Threats: Choose threats
within two or three levels of the characters’ level.
Threats in an easy encounter can be as many as
four levels below the party’s level.
Threats in a hard encounter can be as many as
three to five levels above the party’s level.

Yes the bold part is important because it addresses your exact question. The the level of each individual threat in an encounter should be within 4 levels lower to 5 levels higher. So yes if i spend 2000 xp solely on lvl one kobold minions for a level 10 party it will pass the XP math but I am ignoring the advice in the DMG saying 'don't do that' the math breaks down. The kobolds would need a 20 to hit and always get hit. The encounter would suck if I threw this at a party.
And the same is true for using a higher level minion. Its defenses and to hit are too high. It would always hit and the PCs would always miss except on the nat 20 which kills the minion. Yes I could describe as the misses as nicks and small wounds but the players would get confused on how the thing never seems to get bloodied and then suddenly keel over. The encounter would suck.

Flag June 4, 2008 11:42 AM PDT

sirkaikillah wrote:

I think it's wonderful they can get so much enjoyment out of the concept without having to even play. My cousin hasn't played DnD in 20years, But he has a lot of the 3e books and Knows the lore inside and out, he's not to good on the mechanics though.(In no way am I assuming Samwise and Hellmute do not really play, just stating people can enjoy Dungeons and Dragons with out playing.)

Yeah, I do not play.
I just run, write background, and edit 3E adventures.
I guess I do get way too much enjoyment out of analyzing, understanding, and using the mechanics of 3E.

Flag June 4, 2008 11:58 AM PDT

Gunpowder wrote:

Yes the bold part is important because it addresses your exact question. The the level of each individual threat in an encounter should be within 4 levels lower to 5 levels higher. So yes if i spend 2000 xp solely on lvl one kobold minions for a level 10 party it will pass the XP math but I am ignoring the advice in the DMG saying 'don't do that' the math breaks down. The kobolds would need a 20 to hit and always get hit. The encounter would suck if I threw this at a party.

Yes, the bold part is important.
Until I get the 4E books I cannot talk about a level 10 party, but what about a level 5 party?
The following creatures have identical xp values:
Level 1 standard and level 9 minion 100 xp each
Level 1 elite and level 5 standard 200 xp each
Level 1 solo and level 6 elite and level 10 standard 500 xp each

All of those are within the acceptable level range for an encounter of that level.
Are each of those widely disparate monsters of a particular xp value equal to the other monsters of that xp value?

The minions are the most extreme example of a lack of equivalence.
Do the others compare well?
If they do, how is, for example, a level 1 solo suitable for use up to 5th level, while a level 6 elite is suitable for use up 10th level, and a level 10 standard is suitable for use up to 14th level?
Obviously something significant is not equal about them, although they are all worth the same amount of xp no matter what level you fight them at.

Flag June 4, 2008 12:53 PM PDT

Samwise wrote:

Yes, the bold part is important.
Until I get the 4E books I cannot talk about a level 10 party, but what about a level 5 party?
The following creatures have identical xp values:
Level 1 standard and level 9 minion 100 xp each
Level 1 elite and level 5 standard 200 xp each
Level 1 solo and level 6 elite and level 10 standard 500 xp each

All of those are within the acceptable level range for an encounter of that level.
Are each of those widely disparate monsters of a particular xp value equal to the other monsters of that xp value?

The minions are the most extreme example of a lack of equivalence.
Do the others compare well?
If they do, how is, for example, a level 1 solo suitable for use up to 5th level, while a level 6 elite is suitable for use up 10th level, and a level 10 standard is suitable for use up to 14th level?
Obviously something significant is not equal about them, although they are all worth the same amount of xp no matter what level you fight them at.

I would say that the lvl 9 minions would not work very well because they are more than 5 levels higher than the party level. But using two level 5 standards should work well because it is within the 5 levels. I would however be more hesitate to use a 6th elite as a level one solo simply because elites usually lack the interrupts and multiple actions that solos usually have. Also these encounters would most likely be considered hard encounters instead of standard encounters than what the xp budget would suggest because the monsters have higher AC and to hit than normal.
So doable? Definitely. Would I want to do so on a regular basis? Maybe not. It will take actual play experience to determine exactly how these guidelines will work out in play.

Flag June 4, 2008 1:14 PM PDT

Samwise wrote:

Yes, the bold part is important.
Until I get the 4E books I cannot talk about a level 10 party, but what about a level 5 party?
The following creatures have identical xp values:
Level 1 standard and level 9 minion 100 xp each
Level 1 elite and level 5 standard 200 xp each
Level 1 solo and level 6 elite and level 10 standard 500 xp each

All of those are within the acceptable level range for an encounter of that level.
Are each of those widely disparate monsters of a particular xp value equal to the other monsters of that xp value?

yes and no. you are forgetting the slot system for determining the number of monsters in the encounter.

1 standard monster slot for each PC
1 elite slot= 2 standard monster slots
1 solo slot = 5 standard monster slots
4 minion slots = 1 standard monster slot

So all standard monsters for a level are roughly on par mechanically with each other. an elite monster of the same level will have # actions, HP, and surivablity equivalent to 2 standard monsters of that level. a solo of the same level will have that of 5.

Minions are really only meant to mechanically exist near their level, and are worth 1/4 of a regular monster in terms of expect damage output/ encounter, number of hits they can survive and avoid at their level, etc.

Samwise wrote:

The minions are the most extreme example of a lack of equivalence.
Do the others compare well?
If they do, how is, for example, a level 1 solo suitable for use up to 5th level, while a level 6 elite is suitable for use up 10th level, and a level 10 standard is suitable for use up to 14th level?
Obviously something significant is not equal about them, although they are all worth the same amount of xp no matter what level you fight them at.

A monster may only be used within a certain number range in levels or it becomes mechanical inappropriate for that encounter. The tolerances of the system allow for that to be within +/- about 4 levels from the level of the PCs.

This is the problem with the 10th level minion at level one concept. Its the equivalent of saynig you should be able to put a single tire from a tracker-trailer by itself on a go-cart because its the same total volume and weight is that of 4 go-cart tires, then saying the system is flawed because it doesnt work. Its not the system, your trying to join parts that are physically incompatible, not because they are flawed, but the design specification only work if the tires are within certain peramiters and you have the quantity required. That semi-tire is far to big, and its designed to work with other tires, not by itself. Its no suprise to anyone that it wont work when you look at it, and insisting its because all cars are designed poorly is ridiculous.

Those physical properties are like the underlying mathmatics of the game's ruleset. If you ignore the design specifications, you can it expect it to not work as intended. The designers have told you it wont. Minions are designed to work within a range based on the desired encounter level - this is shown by the level of the monster. They are designed to work in groups in conjunction of either other minions of the same level or other monstes. Using them alone is not what they are designed for.

Flag June 4, 2008 3:12 PM PDT

sparrowhawk4 wrote:

yes and no. you are forgetting the slot system for determining the number of monsters in the encounter.

What slot system? The encounter budget is built by assuming 1 standard monster for each PC and then add them all to get the budget. In fact, several of the excerpts give sample encounters (they all seem to assume the 5-person party). The undead level 4 encounter and human level 4 encounter both have more monsters than what the slot system you mentioned would allow.

Samwise wrote:

but what about a level 5 party?
The following creatures have identical xp values:
Level 1 standard and level 9 minion 100 xp each
Level 1 elite and level 5 standard 200 xp each
Level 1 solo and level 6 elite and level 10 standard 500 xp each

Should a level 5 party be able to face a level 10 standard monster and its 5 9th level minions? Or 10 level 1 standard monsters? Seems like those scenarios should be allowed under what has been leaked to us. How it works in practice is the question at this point.

Samwise wrote:

Are each of those widely disparate monsters of a particular xp value equal to the other monsters of that xp value?

No. It's not hard to see that is not how this system works. Ignore the minions for a moment.

Level indicates the basic amount of power of a monster - AC and the three ability defenses, hit bonus, and damage bonus. They have indicated that monsters scale up and down by adding another 1 point to all of the attack and defense bonuses, and 1 point to damage every other level. Extrapolating on that, I found that sure enough if you add up those 6 values standard monsters of the same class (Soldiers, Artillery, etc.) and level have about the same total power. If they go up a level then the power jumps by about 5 or 6 (5.5).

So obviously power scales linearly with monster level. Hellmute asserted earlier that monsters do not need levels, but new DMs certainly do need something to make sure they have a good encounter. Levels let them know just how powerful a monster is compared to the equivalent PC level. HP is also based off of this level value and the monster's class, so a brute and a controller may be the same level, but the brute will take more hits. HP is mostly a measure of time that a monster should last in combat, and that's why elites and solos have more. They PCs will focus more attacks on an individual monster.

Anyway, back to the XP disparity. Just look at the XP table we have and see that XP increases in a non-linear fashion. Therefore, it is tied to something other than level, or at least not just to level. XP is a value made up to make the '1 PC defeats 10 monsters of the PCs level and the PC moves to the next level' concept work. But they also wanted to be able to use larger groups of monsters than in 3E but still allow for boss fights and for the selection of monsters several levels above the PCs. Thus, the XP budget is a way to balance the monsters' power, tiers (standard, elite, etc.), and quantity.

It is a fairly complex interaction behind a fairly simple-looking facade. For instance, if they increased the XP needed to level so it was more linear then the DM could not afford as many monsters of a higher level even though the power difference is not that great. But taking it to far then has drawbacks where, as you've pointed out, a level 10 standard and level 1 solo have the same XP 'purchase cost' but are not really equal in power. It's because those two monsters are intended for entirely different purposes, and are thus weighted accordingly. The purpose of a standard monster is to be part of a group of monsters that support each other rather than solo as it has less HP. It will end up being either too easy to deplete its HP or too hard to hit and nothing in between. So they set up the XP amounts so you can have more challenging monsters, but also in sufficient quantity. But this indicates (to me anyway) they also have to limit how far up and down in levels the DM could go to keep the power to quantity ratio from being unbalanced.

Thus, XP is not linked directly to level of monsters, especially for minions (who need to be in groups). These things can all be derived from what has been released in notes and excerpts. If there is anything unclear or uncertain I can elaborate. (Like I don't type too much in a post already. :D)

Flag June 4, 2008 3:42 PM PDT

Lodestone7 wrote:

What slot system? The encounter budget is built by assuming 1 standard monster for each PC and then add them all to get the budget. In fact, several of the excerpts give sample encounters (they all seem to assume the 5-person party). The undead level 4 encounter and human level 4 encounter both have more monsters than what the slot system you mentioned would allow.

the one that says a balanced encounter is made up of one normal monster per PC. That is what im refering to as a "slot" elites are worth 2 of these, solos 5.

Flag June 4, 2008 4:09 PM PDT
So by all accounts a standard encounter at 5 PCs would have 5 slots.

5 normals
20 minions
1 solo
1 elite, 12 minions
2 elites, 4 minions
2 elites, 1 normal

correct?

So for a tougher encounter IIRC you add one normal "slot"

1 solo, 4 minions
24 minions

These would be value 6 slot encounter for a bit tougher time?
Flag June 4, 2008 4:20 PM PDT

Gunpowder wrote:

I would say that the lvl 9 minions would not work very well because they are more than 5 levels higher than the party level.

This is assuming a level 5 party, not a level 1 party.
All of those encounters are within the range of 4 lower or 5 higher than the party level.

So doable? Definitely. Would I want to do so on a regular basis? Maybe not. It will take actual play experience to determine exactly how these guidelines will work out in play.

Indeed.

Flag June 4, 2008 4:29 PM PDT

Lodestone7 wrote:

Should a level 5 party be able to face a level 10 standard monster and its 5 9th level minions? Or 10 level 1 standard monsters? Seems like those scenarios should be allowed under what has been leaked to us. How it works in practice is the question at this point.

That is what I have been saying for the past ten pages.

No. It's not hard to see that is not how this system works. Ignore the minions for a moment.

OK.

(snips to conserve space, not to dismiss your points, which I believe are correct)

Anyway, back to the XP disparity. Just look at the XP table we have and see that XP increases in a non-linear fashion. Therefore, it is tied to something other than level, or at least not just to level. XP is a value made up to make the '1 PC defeats 10 monsters of the PCs level and the PC moves to the next level' concept work. But they also wanted to be able to use larger groups of monsters than in 3E but still allow for boss fights and for the selection of monsters several levels above the PCs. Thus, the XP budget is a way to balance the monsters' power, tiers (standard, elite, etc.), and quantity.

The xp table is linear.
Standard monsters go up 25 xp per level. The minions, elites, and solos scale based on that.

Combine that with the rest of this, and that is the math behind why I am concerned.

Thus, XP is not linked directly to level of monsters, especially for minions (who need to be in groups). These things can all be derived from what has been released in notes and excerpts. If there is anything unclear or uncertain I can elaborate. (Like I don't type too much in a post already. :D)

Actually, no.
You are at a different conclusion, but that is the exact line of reasoning I was using.
As I noted, xp does scale in a linear fashion, that is why I believe there is a problem. In an attempt to get that complex interaction you note, I believe they made an error in using elites and solos in the fashion they do, and a greater error in using minions as they do.
At least we appear to "be on the same page" now as it were, even if we still have a different conclusion.

Flag June 4, 2008 4:46 PM PDT

Samwise wrote:

(snips to conserve space, not to dismiss your points, which I believe are correct)

The xp table is linear.
Standard monsters go up 25 xp per level. The minions, elites, and solos scale based on that.

No problems with correctly-used snippage.

The XP table starts in a linear fashion, but even in the first 10 levels we're given in the Economy & Reward excerpt it starts to have jumps. So it's 25 up until 5th level, then jumps to a 50-point split until 9th level, then becomes a 10-point difference at 10th. Very non-linear. I thought maybe it was logarithmic or something, but the places where it jumps on the speculative table from the pre-release guide mean it's either not logarithmic or their speculation is way off.

Flag June 4, 2008 4:59 PM PDT

sparrowhawk4 wrote:

the one that says a balanced encounter is made up of one normal monster per PC. That is what im refering to as a "slot" elites are worth 2 of these, solos 5.

While the system, as it has been presented to us, does define the XP budget in terms of the PC vs. monster 1-to-1, nothing I have seen says that if you have 5 PCs in the party you must have 5 monster 'slots'. The math makes it work out that way if you pick monsters that are of equal level to the encounter level, but we could pick a monster 2 to 4 levels lower and have more of them, or 3 to 5 levels higher and have fewer.

From what I have seen, 10 1st level monsters are a reasonable 5th level encounter. I'm not sure that it would be easy because of the numbers of them, but it seems to be allowed. Please provide a reference to where monsters are picked to fill slots, rather than just for building the XP budget.

Examples:
Level 4 Encounter (XP 951)
✦ 3 zombies (level 2 brute)
✦ 4 zombie rotters (level 3 minion)
✦ 4 kruthik hatchlings (level 2 minion)
✦ 2 wererats (level 3 skirmisher)
(Seems to be 7 'slots'.)

Human excerpt:
Level 4 Encounter (XP 889)
✦ 1 human mage (level 4 artillery)
✦ 2 human bandits (level 2 skirmisher)
✦ 2 gravehound zombies (level 3 brute)
✦ 3 zombie rotters (level 3 minion)
(5.75 slots?)

Flag June 4, 2008 5:06 PM PDT

Lodestone7 wrote:

No problems with correctly-used snippage.

The XP table starts in a linear fashion, but even in the first 10 levels we're given in the Economy & Reward excerpt it starts to have jumps. So it's 25 up until 5th level, then jumps to a 50-point split until 9th level, then becomes a 10-point difference at 10th. Very non-linear. I thought maybe it was logarithmic or something, but the places where it jumps on the speculative table from the pre-release guide mean it's either not logarithmic or their speculation is way off.

Ah yes, I see that now. You are correct.
It looks like some sort of slight curve.
However, I think that is likely to be the cause of the power balance disconnect. Because of the change in difference between levels, creatures are going to be disproportionately equal at different points, and moreso across the heroic-paragon and paragon-epic tiers.

I am now more concerned about the long term stability and ease of use of the system. :D
And of course, it is all because of minions.

Flag June 4, 2008 6:57 PM PDT
I've been reading these pages, and have disagreed with Samwise and HM, but now I think they are seeing sense. Just for the purpose of discussion, what are the "roles" and what do they try to do? By "roles" I mean artillery, brute, soldier, etc.
Flag June 4, 2008 7:08 PM PDT

Half_Dragon_Infernal wrote:

I've been reading these pages, and have disagreed with Samwise and HM, but now I think they are seeing sense. Just for the purpose of discussion, what are the "roles" and what do they try to do? By "roles" I mean artillery, brute, soldier, etc.

I have not changed any view of minions. I am just trying to uderstand the mess that creates them. Some people have access to the books, others do not. Those who do not must get [s]ammunition information from those who do.

Flag June 4, 2008 8:21 PM PDT
With monster parties they do get a little "artsy" so that players aren't bothered by cookie cutter monster groups.

People are talking about slots, but I don't think that you have to adhere to closely to slots just like you don't have to adhere to closely to level. You can use slightly higher and lower level monster then the party level and slightly less or more monsters then the party number within reason.

Some people on the boards are still pushing the mechanical building blocks methode that while sufficient may not be as "carefree" as the line the new edition is pulling.
Flag June 4, 2008 8:40 PM PDT

Half_Dragon_Infernal wrote:

I've been reading these pages, and have disagreed with Samwise and HM, but now I think they are seeing sense. Just for the purpose of discussion, what are the "roles" and what do they try to do? By "roles" I mean artillery, brute, soldier, etc.

Based off of various excerpts, there are either six or seven roles:
Artillery - Like rangers or wizards that focus on distance attacks. They tend to have average power and low HP relative to other roles.
Brute - Like a fighter, these guys form the defensive line. They have high HP but low power.
Controller - Like the PC role, these monsters have skills to control how the battle plays out. Perhaps more skills than the average monster. They have average power and HP.
Lurker - Kind of a rogue monster, it can gain concealment or turn invisible or phase or something in battle to give it an advatage. They have average or low power and low HP, but their hiding makes up for the low HP.
Minion - This one is weird because it is more of a tier akin to Elite or Solo. But they have no other role defined for them, so they are either the minion role or no role at all. They are for having larger numbers of enemies, but they are weak (1 HP) so as not to be overwhelming.
Skirmisher - The average melee monster, they tend to have average power and HP.
Soldier - Melee strikers like PC rogues or rangers that tend to have stronger attacks or a better defense. In other words they have a high power while having average HP.

Note: Power is my concoction to represent the combined attack and defense bonuses of a monster.

That's based on direct observation of the examples they've given. Now though I mentioned some PC classes that is for basic illustration only, as I've seen labels like Artillery(Wizard) and Soldier(Leader) on some of the earlier monsters that make me think it isn't clear-cut. It's a way to round out the party if you mix several of these roles together. Anything more specific will have to wait until someone posts a definition from the manual.

Flag December 22, 2012 1:57 PM PST
The link to the article is gone and takes me to the main site. Any chance this article has been published in a dragon magazine? If yes, in which one?

Also, would someone be so kind as to link me that article? Or it is a subscriber only content?

Thank you
Flag December 24, 2012 11:41 PM PST

Dec 22, 2012 -- 1:57PM, DrakonianThunder wrote:

The link to the article is gone and takes me to the main site. Any chance this article has been published in a dragon magazine? If yes, in which one?

Also, would someone be so kind as to link me that article? Or it is a subscriber only content?

Thank you

Thread Necro - Page 1 part 2.

Also, most of the Dragon/Dungeon articles are DDI only.