The title says it all: Are monsters too weak? I know MM3 went a long way to buffing them up, but I wanted to discuss the generalities of monster design. I love the monster progression table, but I'm worried that with a group of heavy optimizers, you end up with monsters that are weak by comparison. Just look at AC first; a 1st level monster has a +6 bonus to hit AC. These are the ACs of the PHB1 classes (assuming an 18 primary stat and a 16 secondary stat):
Ranger: 16 (str/wis)/17 (dex/wis)
I tossed in the companion stats from the DMG2 to illustrate a point. Companion attack and defenses are typically 1 higher than monsters. This has made me question whether the game was designed to assume that players would have a slight edge over monsters to aid in multiple fights in a day?
Then my question ends up becoming is Defender AC too high, or is that typically countered by the defenders being the most likely to be flanked? Why do the PC defenders get so much more AC than the companions, when companions get the same ACs largely across the board?
You are only doing AC how about comparing Fort, Ref, and Will?
Defenders are designed with high base AC outputs in mind to help them do their job as being a shield for their allies. If they can't take the hit, they suffer for it. That being said, it's not a bad thing that their AC is so high, as many defenders are close range sort of folk. Use a monster to target their weak defense in a few encounters per session and you shouldn't have a problem putting a scare into them. Controllers work really well for this, especially if they dominate. Soldiers are accurate, and can mark in their own ways more often than not, so they too make good enemies to throw against a defender. Artillery too are fairly high in accuracy, and some can multi target to get over the mark penalty defenders inflict. Minions are expendable foes, and what they lack in accuracy, defense and power, they make up for with usability. Try having minions aid attack for another monster against the defender to beat his higher defenses out.
Qwerty, I've been playing 4E for years now, and I haven't noticed what you have; I feel that I've targetted AC far more than F/R/W. It may just be the types of monsters I like to use.
I'm aware of a defender's role. +2 AC over the others seems like it would have been enough. Heck, having 3 or 4 AC over the rest of the party may make their mark less of a discouragement to attack their friends, as a 16 AC rogue would still be easier to hit than a 20 AC paladin, even with -2 to hit.
Soldiers aren't any more accurate than the others now; Artillery are the only ones with an accuracy bonus.
I just find it odd how the companion defender has as much as 2 lower AC over the PC defenders. As I said, flanking could make up the difference, but a companion defender can be flanked too (as can other members of the party).
Giving them +1 defenses also makes fights go longer. If you want to up the challenge but not the time the battle takes, you should just give them a bump to attack and damage.
Do you use the new MM3 and MV values or the old MM1/MM2 monsters? I think you use the new ones but if not that's an easy way to make battles quicker and deadlier.
I use the MM3/MV values. Upping defenses by +1 seems better than using ones of +1 level higher; then they don't get the hp bump (though the hp bump for one level is barely a single hit).
Oh, you and your math. If they're too weak for your players, bump the numbers up a little.
See, I'm not sure if they're too weak or if they're working as intended. The main concern of this thread is "why do defenders get +2 more AC than what would be enough?" Most defenders make a choice between higher damage and higher AC (two-hander vs. a shield), but that doesn't really feel like a choice to me; I'd always go with the AC as a defender.
That choice is probably intentional. It really depends on what the group needs. (At least, I hope that's how most players look at it.)
If I were looking to go full defender, mechanically, I would also choose the higher AC. What if that doesn't fit with the player's concept for or image of their character, though? Maybe they want their character to be a berzerker and, for that, they like the idea of marking representing that the enemy remains intimidated or that once they strike out at an enemy, they don't stop. Maybe they're even mechanically a multiclass barbarian. In that case, going for a big weapon makes sense. In this hypothetical situation, maybe this player didn't even want to play a defender class but they "took one for the team" and are playing a fighter instead of the barbarian that they wanted to play.
I guess I can't help with the nitty gritty details of what things should, ideally, be like. I think most players are like me in that, though. We have a firm grasp of the system, we may even know a trick or exploit or two, but we're not hardcore min/maxers. Since most groups are probably like that, perfection might not be intended in the design. I like that non-ideal options are left available to me.
Knowing you, this probably isn't helpful or easing in any way. Sorry about that. I'm just trying to put a different perspective on it. I might even be right and it's why things are the way they are.
PS: The guild misses you, as we do all our wandering brothers.
PPS: Didn't you start using your own system, anyway?
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