Do you wish monsters had statistics more like PCs, as they used to? Yes!, Please


Monsters and Hazards

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the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:

It may be overly logical and literal of me, but the only way I can myself see to reconcile "a monster's job is to be an obstacle" with "I develop NPC's personalities" as positions to hold is if you are regarding monsters and NPCs as different categories, because "being an obstacle" seems to me like a function that actively cuts against developing personalities, in that it would very much limit the PCs' exposure to said personalities.

Actually, it's you making an assumption that isn't true. I summed up the role of monsters in a single, short sentence.

I don't view monsters and NPCs as different categories. They're different types within the same category, though not all NPCs fall into this, but some do in tricky ways.

Are you familiar with some of the basic concepts of literary theory? If not, I would recommend exploring it, as it can open your eyes to what is possible in roleplaying. Not to say what you're doing is wrong or bad, but that humans have been telling stories for millennia, and a lot of people have put some really good work into breaking down what does and doesn't work in stories.

A story is interesting when the heroes overcome challenges. Another word for challenges would be obstacles. One extremely enduring example of this is Odysseus in the The Odyssey. In that story he travels on his ship for 10 years and encounters a series of obstacles that he has to overcome. When the cyclops Polyphemus eats his men, he isn't helping Odysseus, he is hindering him. The challenge is to escape from the cyclops with as many of his men as he can. He then goes on to face more and more challenges that try to prevent him from going home. If someone wrote that book now, it'd probably be a 9 part series.

What makes the story enduring though is that for one, his drive to just go home is very basic and appeals to a lot of people. Not everyone, but a lot of people understand that desire to go home and see your loved ones. What really helps though is that the obstacles are interesting and his foes have personality. It doesn't hurt that that can be used as an allegory by people to explain nearly any problem/solution combination you might want to explain. The real crux is that 'interesting' part though. The obstacles range from the cyclops mentioned above, to sea serpents, to sirens, to a witch, to having been gone for so long that no one (not even his wife) recognizes him any more.

Just because something is an obstacle doesn't mean it is boring, or doesn't have a personality. Saying that something must either be an obstacle OR be interesting is a false dichotomy.


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Hythlodeus wrote:
In today's playtest this did not go over very well. encountering the Goblin Pyro who cast Burning Hands I was imediatly ased if he was a sorcerer or a wizard, since Goblins are a PC race now. I told them: neither. He's just a monster with spellcasting abilities...because.

This is such an interesting difference in group dynamics.

My players would have never asked that. If it became relevant they might have tried to suss out of the goblin was a spontaneous or prepared caster, but would know they'd have to do so through some in-character means.

Even then they probably would have realized it's a spontaneous caster halfway through because "does the goblin seem to be basing their spellcasting on booklearning or natural talent?" kind of answers itself.

I can understand players getting annoyed when humanoid enemies have gained abilities PCs can't, but it's not as if players can't learn burning hands.

Anyway, thanks for the insight. It's a whole different world in other people's games sometimes.

Cheers!
Landon


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Landon Winkler wrote:
Hythlodeus wrote:
In today's playtest this did not go over very well. encountering the Goblin Pyro who cast Burning Hands I was imediatly ased if he was a sorcerer or a wizard, since Goblins are a PC race now. I told them: neither. He's just a monster with spellcasting abilities...because.

This is such an interesting difference in group dynamics.

My players would have never asked that. If it became relevant they might have tried to suss out of the goblin was a spontaneous or prepared caster, but would know they'd have to do so through some in-character means.

Even then they probably would have realized it's a spontaneous caster halfway through because "does the goblin seem to be basing their spellcasting on booklearning or natural talent?" kind of answers itself.

I can understand players getting annoyed when humanoid enemies have gained abilities PCs can't, but it's not as if players can't learn burning hands.

Anyway, thanks for the insight. It's a whole different world in other people's games sometimes.

Cheers!
Landon

Same for me; in my case, had someone asked that, my reply would have been, “You could ask, but he’s currently snarling and yelling something in Goblin right now and making magical symbols in the air.”

They could have looked for context clues such as spell books, but to me it makes no difference other than from a metagame perspective whether he’s a sorcerer, wizard, druid, or “monster, just because.” The main difference to me is purely metagame - when I design custom encounters instead of straight from an AP, I don’t have to put in an hour of work to make a 1-page spread on one NPC and have it wiped out 10 minutes later. I also don’t have to study a high-level NPC from an AP like a server configuration to figure out his tactics and hidden buffs or spells he should have running in order to present him as the CR x challenge he should be (which is something I’ve had to do with most of the Paizo APs I’ve ever run above 9th level). So many times in APs I’ve ended up making cheat sheets of just the raw numbers exactly like what the playtest bestiary ended up with.

Grand Lodge

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Lyee wrote:
I love making monsters in the new system. I've made around 30 and am not slowing down!

How do you make monsters in the new system? Did I miss the monster creation rules somewhere? :D


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Varun Creed wrote:
Lyee wrote:
I love making monsters in the new system. I've made around 30 and am not slowing down!
How do you make monsters in the new system? Did I miss the monster creation rules somewhere? :D

Unfortunately (IMO) you haven't.

Lyee has been, I believe, editing existing monsters.

We probably have enough components to make some decent homebrew by now, but it's hard to make something completely from scratch or ensure something is balanced without the actual rules or a very large amount of playtesting.


Hythlodeus wrote:
In today's playtest this did not go over very well. encountering the Goblin Pyro who cast Burning Hands I was imediatly ased if he was a sorcerer or a wizard, since Goblins are a PC race now. I told them: neither. He's just a monster with spellcasting abilities...because.

Why did they ask that? How could they characters know it?


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ryric wrote:
Hythlodeus wrote:
In today's playtest this did not go over very well. encountering the Goblin Pyro who cast Burning Hands I was imediatly ased if he was a sorcerer or a wizard, since Goblins are a PC race now. I told them: neither. He's just a monster with spellcasting abilities...because.
IMO, NPCs should be built as PCs since they have learned abilities. I don't mind a shorthand so as to not require a full build for "harbor thug #4," but an NPC with abilities that a PC can't take needs to have an exceptional explanation for those abilities. It's ok if an NPC has a weird ability because it made a pact with a demon lord or some such, as long as you're prepared to give that out to PCs who are willing to make the same pact...

I see it exactly the opposite. Every single person should be unique and have unique abilities, and their background might influece what they are and how they fight.

HOWEVER, that's not possible for player characters, because if you let players to custom build their abilities, you'll get a lot of "I can kill everything with a mean stare" abilities at lvl 1. So we need a framework for the Players to pick for their Characters. That's why we cathegorize PCs in classes, and that's why a PC ranger has different abilities than a PC barbarian, but all PC rangers pick from the same pool.

That's not needed for NPC, you can give Bob The Hermit Who Lives in The Forest NPC any ability he needs to have to live in the forest, regardless of it being a ranger ability, or a scout ability, or an explorer ability, or a lumberjack ability. You can give Bob The Hermit the ability to speak with birds, because that ability is cool, and it's useful for your story, without having to worry if Bob needs to be a Druid for that, which level of druid he needs to be for that particular spell, how that affects his HP, saves and attack, and without having to give Bob the ability to wildshape, cast druid spells, or have an order. Because Bob is not a druid, and he is not part of an order, and he doesn't cast druid spells or have an anathema, or have Will as expert save and high wisdom to cast primal spells, and he does not have the ability to speak with squirrels or foxes just because the druid spell is "speak with animals". He is Bob, the Hermit, an NPC who lives in the forests and speak with birds. Because in the story the GM wants to tell, it's good for the narrative to have a guy whose name is Bob, lives in a forest, and can speak with birds. And that alone is enough reason for him to have it, regardless of how the PC are constructed as classes for balance reasons.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

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gustavo iglesias wrote:
ryric wrote:
Hythlodeus wrote:
In today's playtest this did not go over very well. encountering the Goblin Pyro who cast Burning Hands I was imediatly ased if he was a sorcerer or a wizard, since Goblins are a PC race now. I told them: neither. He's just a monster with spellcasting abilities...because.
IMO, NPCs should be built as PCs since they have learned abilities. I don't mind a shorthand so as to not require a full build for "harbor thug #4," but an NPC with abilities that a PC can't take needs to have an exceptional explanation for those abilities. It's ok if an NPC has a weird ability because it made a pact with a demon lord or some such, as long as you're prepared to give that out to PCs who are willing to make the same pact...

I see it exactly the opposite. Every single person should be unique and have unique abilities, and their background might influece what they are and how they fight.

HOWEVER, that's not possible for player characters, because if you let players to custom build their abilities, you'll get a lot of "I can kill everything with a mean stare" abilities at lvl 1. So we need a framework for the Players to pick for their Characters. That's why we cathegorize PCs in classes, and that's why a PC ranger has different abilities than a PC barbarian, but all PC rangers pick from the same pool.

That's not needed for NPC, you can give Bob The Hermit Who Lives in The Forest NPC any ability he needs to have to live in the forest, regardless of it being a ranger ability, or a scout ability, or an explorer ability, or a lumberjack ability. You can give Bob The Hermit the ability to speak with birds, because that ability is cool, and it's useful for your story, without having to worry if Bob needs to be a Druid for that, which level of druids, and without having to give Bob the ability to wildshape, cast druid spells, or have an order. Because Bob is not a druid, and he is not part of an order, and he doesn't cast druid spells or have an anathema,...

As soon as the GM or game says "you can't have that ability because you're a player," most of the people I play with are done with that game. Pathfinder, 1e at least, isn't a system where a PC can do an experiment to determine that they are, in fact, a PC. "Specialness" of the PCs is determined by their actions, not imposed on them for metagame reasons. I'm not interested in another system where the PCs are inherently "main characters," and therefore different. I have many other systems that do that. I want Pathfinder to be a "zero to hero" system where the PCs start out as faces in the crowd, and they have to work to distinguish themselves. If the PCs follow different rules than NPCs that illusion is shattered, even if just for the GM.

I'm not telling you that your games are wrong, but I wouldn't want to play in them because they sound nonsensical to me. I lean heavily towards the "rules are physics" philosophy so having random oddball abilities just tacked on the NPCs with no rules justification would bother me too much to enjoy the game.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

The Goblin Pyro is a Sorcerer. It's spells are Spontaneous. You had your answer, just made it a problem instead of using it. Conversely I'll be making it a Wizard for roleplaying reasons (I have a Sorc Goblin PC, who will be told the dirty word reader got the promotion to Head Burner from Draskus.)


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ryric wrote:


I want Pathfinder to be a "zero to hero" system where the PCs start out as faces in the crowd, and they have to work to distinguish themselves.

I don't know why do you think that having an hermit that can speak with birds without being a druid precludes your characters from going from zero to hero.


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Pathfinder 1 is one of the few games that allow you to play any creature in the world right out of the book as PC (save for deities maybe).
That's a big pro for the old system imo.


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gustavo iglesias wrote:
Hythlodeus wrote:
In today's playtest this did not go over very well. encountering the Goblin Pyro who cast Burning Hands I was imediatly ased if he was a sorcerer or a wizard, since Goblins are a PC race now. I told them: neither. He's just a monster with spellcasting abilities...because.
Why did they ask that? How could they characters know it?

they asked sa players, not as characters, because they were playtesting a new system and tried to wrap theit heads around the new mechanics. The "So how does the Goblin Pyro work in PF2?" is a legitimate question in that context for playtesters to ask, imo


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Greylurker wrote:

I don't need full stats for generic Goblin A

I do need them for Gruu the Goblin War chief

Fortunately I think the new system accomodates both.

Certain monsters, like Dragons, shouldn't be simple though. In fact anything that is a "Boss" type Solo encounter monster should not be simple stats.

Yet somehow the Warchief ends up worse than the mooks because the monster system in the current playtest greatly benefits them over PC rules.


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Hythlodeus wrote:
In today's playtest this did not go over very well. encountering the Goblin Pyro who cast Burning Hands I was imediatly ased if he was a sorcerer or a wizard, since Goblins are a PC race now. I told them: neither. He's just a monster with spellcasting abilities...because.

And this right here is something I have experienced many times at 5e tables. It's especially the case when abilities that are similar but not really the same as PC abilities. And don't get me started on them having completely different action economy than the players (Legendary actions).


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
ChibiNyan wrote:
Greylurker wrote:

I don't need full stats for generic Goblin A

I do need them for Gruu the Goblin War chief

Fortunately I think the new system accomodates both.

Certain monsters, like Dragons, shouldn't be simple though. In fact anything that is a "Boss" type Solo encounter monster should not be simple stats.

Yet somehow the Warchief ends up worse than the mooks because the monster system in the current playtest greatly benefits them over PC rules.

Well that is false. I just built a not very good Goblin Warchief (took 5 minutes doing it so not optimized, level 1 Fighter Goblin as weak as a Goblin PC I could make.)

In comparison to the same "level" Goblin Commando Mook he has the following advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages:

18/15 AC/TAC versus 15/13
The ability to Attack of Opportunity.
The ability to Power Attack.
+2 base damage.
6 Ref vs 5 Ref
Intimidate 3 better.

Disadvantages
+5 Hit Bonus vs +7
4 Fort vs 5 Fort
3 Per vs 5 Per
Acrobatics, Athletics and Stealth 2/1/2 worse.
Cannot Goblin Shuffle

Overall they are pretty equal and I'd take the extra action options of the Warchief over the Goblin Commando's hit bonus (I'd rather have an attack routing of +5 (double damage), +0 over +7,+2,-3.) Notably I could have had better damage dice and another benefit (Fire resistance?) if I hadn't stuck to keeping the thematic Horsechopper.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Short answer: No.

Long answer:
NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnooooooooooooooooooo oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.


This making me appreciate the 5E system a lot more. It may have arbitrary stuff that doesn't add up like PCs, but at least this is used in a consistent manner.

Sovereign Court

Please don't!

I want rules to create and modify monsters easily without having to pour hours into every single encounter!

As a sidenote: it would be nice to have a simple way to create monster from classes, some kind of stream lined version, but that is quite complicated.


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Short answer: YES!!!

Long answer: I am in a campaign right now where the Monster races are allowed. A NO here would remove that option. I also want to be able to reverse-engineer the monsters and be able to tweak them as needed according to more static rules (and closer to PCs means fewer rule systems to learn, or at least fewer differences). Finally, it feels wrong for the game's arbiter to be held a LOWER standard than the players.

(TL;DR: I want an accounting of feats and which ability scores are odd/even for advancement and deviations-from-species purposes.)


Alric Rahl wrote:

I’m converting Rise of the Runelords to 2nd edition and am using PC rules to build the bosses, except they only get 2 free +2 ability boosts after ancestry, Background and Class. But in keeping the stats block simple it’s more like Str mod goes up by +1 instead of giving them a an actual score.

Seems to be keeping the power level pretty well.

What I want to know is how to add classes to monsters. Such as for Eleryium the Quasit. Since there isn’t a witch class yet I was planning on giving her Sorcerer levels with a divine spell list but don’t know how to make the adjustments.

I'm planning on converting LoF to 2e as well.

Tha way I see it, just adding X levels to a moster should raise it's CR by the same amount. Seems easy enough, since adding a class level gives HP (class HP + CON mod), increases the prof. bonus by an equal ammount, therefore raising saves, AC and attacks. Consider adding some magical gear appropriate to the CR in case the monster uses weapons, and in case of natural weapons either just increase it's base damage to match or add a handswraps (as magical gear for an NPC as usual).

Maybe not 100% exact, but should work, by my preliminary calculations...


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Hythlodeus wrote:
In today's playtest this did not go over very well. encountering the Goblin Pyro who cast Burning Hands I was imediatly ased if he was a sorcerer or a wizard, since Goblins are a PC race now. I told them: neither. He's just a monster with spellcasting abilities...because.

Dunno, it seems to me as he has 1 level of Sorcerer (no bloodline though, but that can easily interpreted as a mistake).

What I don't like is that all Bestiary goblins have the Goblin Scuttle reaction, which seems to be something goblins apparently have, but no player can have through ancestry feats. But maybe that's some leftover from the earlier version os the system the Beastiary was based upon (as stated by the devs in other threads).


Pedro Sampaio wrote:
Alric Rahl wrote:

I’m converting Rise of the Runelords to 2nd edition and am using PC rules to build the bosses, except they only get 2 free +2 ability boosts after ancestry, Background and Class. But in keeping the stats block simple it’s more like Str mod goes up by +1 instead of giving them a an actual score.

Seems to be keeping the power level pretty well.

What I want to know is how to add classes to monsters. Such as for Eleryium the Quasit. Since there isn’t a witch class yet I was planning on giving her Sorcerer levels with a divine spell list but don’t know how to make the adjustments.

I'm planning on converting LoF to 2e as well.

Tha way I see it, just adding X levels to a moster should raise it's CR by the same amount. Seems easy enough, since adding a class level gives HP (class HP + CON mod), increases the prof. bonus by an equal ammount, therefore raising saves, AC and attacks. Consider adding some magical gear appropriate to the CR in case the monster uses weapons, and in case of natural weapons either just increase it's base damage to match or add a handswraps (as magical gear for an NPC as usual).

Maybe not 100% exact, but should work, by my preliminary calculations...

That roughly works, yep, but keep in mind they also gain boosts for proficiency increases and magic equipment at the same speed PCs do. So in some levels they'll gain +2 to some stuff instead.


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Hythlodeus wrote:
gustavo iglesias wrote:
Hythlodeus wrote:
In today's playtest this did not go over very well. encountering the Goblin Pyro who cast Burning Hands I was imediatly ased if he was a sorcerer or a wizard, since Goblins are a PC race now. I told them: neither. He's just a monster with spellcasting abilities...because.
Why did they ask that? How could they characters know it?
they asked sa players, not as characters, because they were playtesting a new system and tried to wrap theit heads around the new mechanics. The "So how does the Goblin Pyro work in PF2?" is a legitimate question in that context for playtesters to ask, imo

How does a wizard cast spells?

Mind you, I'm going to keep asking "how" until you have to say "because".


ryric wrote:


Yep, I'm talking about a human coming at you with a sword or a gnome casting spells, i.e., PC ancestries using learned abilities. Those need to follow the same rules as PCs.

I'm still inclined to disagree, given a reasonably big world, and some degree of consistency as to which characters you are starting off with. Because it seems to me that a world holds together better, if, for every skillset that a PC growing up in a given culture and context has the opportunity to learn, there will be others that members of the same race from other cultures and contexts have been able to learn that that particular PC just won't have ever seen or heard of. That you can be a Cyrano de Bergerac level swordmaster and still be totally floored the first time you meet a competent samurai, and not instantly be able to learn the completely different disciplines of Musashi from scratch.

I am not offhand thinking of a PF1.0 example to back up my point; Starfinder making Greys and Reptoids playable races while having exactly what they are up to and why be major mysteries to everyone as yet seems to me to be in the same general area as regards "just because stuff is in the setting for playable races doesn't mean PCs automatically get access to it", though.


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Irontruth wrote:


How does a wizard cast spells?

Mind you, I'm going to keep asking "how" until you have to say "because".

How do you feel about "it takes an advanced degree's worth of study to understand that" as an answer here ?


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Darkorin wrote:

Please don't!

I want rules to create and modify monsters easily without having to pour hours into every single encounter!

I'm getting the impression that putting an average of an hour into making monsters and encounters every day by default is something I am more of an outlier in than I recognised. (How else do people get to sleep? Or are you all people who always take showers and never a nice long hot bath to get the kinks out of your back, or something? What do you do during your commutes to work?)


the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:
Irontruth wrote:


How does a wizard cast spells?

Mind you, I'm going to keep asking "how" until you have to say "because".

How do you feel about "it takes an advanced degree's worth of study to understand that" as an answer here ?

How does that allow you to cast spells?


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Irontruth wrote:


Mind you, I'm going to keep asking "how" until you have to say "because".

my niece was in the same phase when she was 3 years old


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On the flip side the same line of questioning was used by Socrates too so I guess there's a certain elegance in simplicity there.

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the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:
ryric wrote:


Yep, I'm talking about a human coming at you with a sword or a gnome casting spells, i.e., PC ancestries using learned abilities. Those need to follow the same rules as PCs.

I'm still inclined to disagree, given a reasonably big world, and some degree of consistency as to which characters you are starting off with. Because it seems to me that a world holds together better, if, for every skillset that a PC growing up in a given culture and context has the opportunity to learn, there will be others that members of the same race from other cultures and contexts have been able to learn that that particular PC just won't have ever seen or heard of. That you can be a Cyrano de Bergerac level swordmaster and still be totally floored the first time you meet a competent samurai, and not instantly be able to learn the completely different disciplines of Musashi from scratch.

I am not offhand thinking of a PF1.0 example to back up my point; Starfinder making Greys and Reptoids playable races while having exactly what they are up to and why be major mysteries to everyone as yet seems to me to be in the same general area as regards "just because stuff is in the setting for playable races doesn't mean PCs automatically get access to it", though.

Sorry, your example just moves the issue back one step. I'm fine with characters not knowing odd sword techniques from distant lands, but when the player wants his next character to be from distant lands using said odd sword techniques, I need a better answer than, "No, that's for NPCs only." An option that a human fighter can take is an option that a human fighter can take, and whether they are a PC or NPC should not matter because the game world doesn't know what a PC or NPC is.

PF2e already has a great mechanic for restricting things based on culture with the rarity system - the GM can declare the oddball technique Uncommon or Rare and now the player needs a justification to take it. That's great. Maybe some graveknight knows a Unique fighter feat because their entire fighting school was wiped out centuries ago. Super. But I still want it to be done as a feat with PC rules because there's a chance the PCs redeem that graveknight and he decides to pass on his knowledge to a worthy successor.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
ryric wrote:

Sorry, your example just moves the issue back one step. I'm fine with characters not knowing odd sword techniques from distant lands, but when the player wants his next character to be from distant lands using said odd sword techniques, I need a better answer than, "No, that's for NPCs only." An option that a human fighter can take is an option that a human fighter can take, and whether they are a PC or NPC should not matter because the game world doesn't know what a PC or NPC is.

PF2e already has a great mechanic for restricting things based on culture with the rarity system - the GM can declare the oddball technique Uncommon or Rare and now the player needs a justification to take...

I'm generally good with just making up custom content in my game. If there was some odd sword technique that an NPC had and a player expressed interest in it I would probably guess at how many class feats it would be worth and then require them to go get training to get access to the uncommon feat.


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I had a long rant prepared about people creating creatures too quickly, with too little mechanical oversight, and choosing the wrong numbers more often than they'd think. But let's be honest, it's difficult for people to think themselves capable of that until happens. It's easy to say that you'll fix it and that it won't happen again. That's especially easy during a playtest.

On the note of verisimilitude, it is a bit odd to see a giant clumsy ogre throw javelins with more accuracy than a third level ranger who is roughly twice as dexterous can shoot a bow. That said, if oddness like that is really necessary for balance, then that's just the way it has to be.


Irontruth wrote:


Mind you, I'm going to keep asking "how" until you have to say "because".

How is my favorite question, and I really think people should ask it more often. Dig deep enough into it, and you'll find the answers to all the others.


Hythlodeus wrote:
Irontruth wrote:


Mind you, I'm going to keep asking "how" until you have to say "because".

my niece was in the same phase when she was 3 years old

Ah, so because it's a question you can make fun of, you don't need to be able to answer it?

The fundamental point I'm getting at, is that the only reason anything can do anything in the game is: Because it is written into the game. There is no fundamental reason why Sorcerers and Wizards can cast spells, but Fighters and Goblins can't... other than the game has assigned specific abilities to each of these things.


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Irontruth wrote:
Hythlodeus wrote:
Irontruth wrote:


Mind you, I'm going to keep asking "how" until you have to say "because".

my niece was in the same phase when she was 3 years old

Ah, so because it's a question you can make fun of, you don't need to be able to answer it?

Oh, I COULD answer it, or at least I could try to, but since you clearly stated your intend of trolling, why bother?


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Hythlodeus wrote:
Irontruth wrote:
Hythlodeus wrote:
Irontruth wrote:


Mind you, I'm going to keep asking "how" until you have to say "because".

my niece was in the same phase when she was 3 years old

Ah, so because it's a question you can make fun of, you don't need to be able to answer it?

Oh, I COULD answer it, or at least I could try to, but since you clearly stated your intend of trolling, why bother?

I'm not trolling at all. The point is that the underlying principle that determines the "rules of magic" is the text of the game. Nothing more, nothing less.


ryric wrote:
the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:


I'm still inclined to disagree, given a reasonably big world, and some degree of consistency as to which characters you are starting off with. Because it seems to me that a world holds together better, if, for every skillset that a PC growing up in a given culture and context has the opportunity to learn, there will be others that members of the same race from other cultures and contexts have been able to learn that that particular PC just won't have ever seen or heard of. That you can be a Cyrano de Bergerac level swordmaster and still be totally floored the first time you meet a competent samurai, and not instantly be able to learn the completely different disciplines of Musashi from scratch.
Sorry, your example just moves the issue back one step. I'm fine with characters not knowing odd sword techniques from distant lands, but when the player wants his next character to be from distant lands using said odd sword techniques, I need a better answer than, "No, that's for NPCs only."

The thing is, a lot of what the groups I have played with get out of the game is gradual exploration of new and mysterious things. And there's only so much of that you can make available from the get go and maintain the joy of discovery. "You've just met someone with a striking new sword technique that challenges your tactical assumptions" is not really possible in a setting with the meta-assumption of "here, before you start, look over all the sword techniques that are humanly possible in this fictional universe, you can pick whichever one you like for your character." (Next character from distant lands once they have already met someone from said distant land in a previous adventure is fine so long as the options available there are only those reasonably native to whichever distant land is relevant.)


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Irontruth wrote:


Are you familiar with some of the basic concepts of literary theory? If not, I would recommend exploring it, as it can open your eyes to what is possible in roleplaying. Not to say what you're doing is wrong or bad, but that humans have been telling stories for millennia, and a lot of people have put some really good work into breaking down what does and doesn't work in stories.

A story is interesting when the heroes overcome challenges. Another word for challenges would be obstacles. One extremely enduring example of this is Odysseus in the The Odyssey. In that story he travels on his ship for 10 years and encounters a series of obstacles that he has to overcome. When the cyclops Polyphemus eats his men, he isn't helping Odysseus, he is hindering him. The challenge is to escape from the cyclops with as many of his men as he can. He then goes on to face more and more challenges that try to prevent him from going home. If someone wrote that book now, it'd probably be a 9 part series.

I think there's a more fundamental difference of approach under here somewhere, then.

I don't put monsters or NPCs in campaigns primarily as challenges to the PCs. The fictional universe doesn't know they are PCs. I put monsters and NPCs in as entities with their own agendas defined by the world they live in. How that interacts with the PCs is up to them, and me RPing the NPC. in the moment.

(Odysseus was totally making that bit up to impress Nausicaa.)


Irontruth wrote:


I'm not trolling at all. The point is that the underlying principle that determines the "rules of magic" is the text of the game. Nothing more, nothing less.

Well, provided the text of the game appeals to enough people in enough ways for the game to be reasonably successful; rather a lot of people who play the D&D-descended clade of RPG are very attached to their magic making sense at some levels, and there are ways of thinking about magic, historically and in modern fantasy, that really do not fit with the other things people expect from a magic system. (Like it being a system.)

One of these years I shall find a suitable game in which to play a character who has been in my head for a while, who is a moderately talented wizard type who is absolutely sure the world works in ways completely different from, and massively more complicated than, any rational game rules about magic; he gets it right now and again anyway in the same way that is technically possible, though ridiculously convoluted and not at all sensible, to calculate a minimum-energy flight path from earth to Jupiter using the underlying assumption of Ptolemaic epicycles.

Scarab Sages

Short answer: Nopedy-nope.
Long answer: No.

(Just make the enemies and NPCs work. I don't need or want to figure out their entire CV and what they had for breakfast.)

Also, instead of showing the full ability scores for monsters, I would rather they were removed from PCs.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Catharsis wrote:
Also, instead of showing the full ability scores for monsters, I would rather they were removed from PCs.

Seeing as how we can still get odd ability scores that will be an issue. I was originally okay with just the modifiers for monsters before I found out about that.

Also i'm seeing an issue where some animals and mindless creatures are both having a -5 Intelligence (I'm guessing taking the place of a 1 and 0 Intelligence previously), which doesn't quite feel right. Maybe give mindless creatures a -6?

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber

Monster having stats as a PC and being built using a PC chassis is a legacy of 3.x. Prior to that, monsters were just whatever the designers wanted them to be, without any real discernible formula or whatever.

And that worked really well.

I’m not a fan of monsters and PCs essentially being the same.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

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Mark Stratton wrote:

Monster having stats as a PC and being built using a PC chassis is a legacy of 3.x. Prior to that, monsters were just whatever the designers wanted them to be, without any real discernible formula or whatever.

Eh, not really in the way that 4e or other completely arbitrary monster systems are. In AD&D 1e/2e, the monster's Hit Dice determined nearly everything about it - attacks, saves, hit points. AC was picked by the designer, but there was a limited range of numbers and over half the range had a description of what armor it was equivalent to, so the designer just chose whatever matched their imagination. Similar methods were used for damage.

See, there was no CR system, so at no time were there "targets" that a monster designer had to meet. A monster had a certain AC because it's skin was tougher than steel plates, not because it was CR X and thus needs AC Y.

Scarab Sages

ryric wrote:
See, there was no CR system, so at no time were there "targets" that a monster designer had to meet. A monster had a certain AC because it's skin was tougher than steel plates, not because it was CR X and thus needs AC Y.

More likely, the designer wanted the AC to be good, so they gave the monster tough skin.


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I think that monsters don't need to be built as PCs. Not that they were previosuly, as in 3E/PF1 the system in place had several similarities to PC building but was a different beast altogether.

What I think it's important is to have a somewhat loose set of rules to building monster of a given difficulty, to ensure that the system remains consistent. I'll give some examples:

-- Monster abilities (specially humanoid monsters). Just as Half-Orc PCs can have Ferocity or Critical bonus for Orc weapons as ancestry features, I expect that Orc and Half-Orc monsters/NPCs to have similar "features". The same goes for goblin PCs and NPCs. Goblins in the Bestiary have "Goblin Scuttle" reaction, which to my knowledge PCs can't possibly have. This is completely arbitrary and inconsistent. Either make Goblin PCs capable of acquiring this ability (through ancestry feats) or change it to another PC Goblin feature, such as Very Sneaky.

-- Also, I think humanoid monsters should have base racial ability scores and a small subset of abilities to choose from, in case the DM wants to create different NPCs from what's presented by default.

-- Monster Skills, Attack bonuses, Perception and Saves all need to be tailored to fit the overall difficulty to it's level. That I get it. A particular monster might need an absurdly high Stealth modifier for it to work. Just increasing it's dexterity might skew other things (such as Hit bonus and reflex, which might no be ideal) and making it master or Legendary in Stealth might not be enough. So an arbitrary increase in Stealth is ok (call it a +4 "racial bonus" to stealth, or whatever). However, it's very useful for the DM to know when a particular subset of the monster statistic is arbitrarily skewed, so just adding a note at the end of the monster statistic (Bugbears have a +4 bonus to stealth checks) might suffice. This is particularly useful in case he needs to create a similar monster at higher level, or add NPC levels to it. It makes the math much easier and more consistent.

-- Monster Damage: for the most part, monster damage tailored to it's level. That's fine by me, with a note that I think we should have a good range of damage between monsters of the same level. Higher level monsters have higher base damage for their natural attacks, great. However, care must be taken when using monsters that use weapons. They MUST follow the same rules as PCs, for consistency sake, even if that means having them use magical weapons, which they should at higher levels. What I really don't want to see it's monsters like the Gnoll seargent (level 4) which arbitrarily uses a normal Scimitar that does 2d6 of damage. Just give it a +1 scimitar, or increase it's stregnth, it's no a big of a deal.


the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:
Irontruth wrote:


Are you familiar with some of the basic concepts of literary theory? If not, I would recommend exploring it, as it can open your eyes to what is possible in roleplaying. Not to say what you're doing is wrong or bad, but that humans have been telling stories for millennia, and a lot of people have put some really good work into breaking down what does and doesn't work in stories.

A story is interesting when the heroes overcome challenges. Another word for challenges would be obstacles. One extremely enduring example of this is Odysseus in the The Odyssey. In that story he travels on his ship for 10 years and encounters a series of obstacles that he has to overcome. When the cyclops Polyphemus eats his men, he isn't helping Odysseus, he is hindering him. The challenge is to escape from the cyclops with as many of his men as he can. He then goes on to face more and more challenges that try to prevent him from going home. If someone wrote that book now, it'd probably be a 9 part series.

I think there's a more fundamental difference of approach under here somewhere, then.

I don't put monsters or NPCs in campaigns primarily as challenges to the PCs. The fictional universe doesn't know they are PCs. I put monsters and NPCs in as entities with their own agendas defined by the world they live in. How that interacts with the PCs is up to them, and me RPing the NPC. in the moment.

(Odysseus was totally making that bit up to impress Nausicaa.)

It's still the point of your monsters and NPCs.

Here, think about your dichotomy for a moment:

A thing is either an obstacle, or it is interesting.

Right now you are claiming that your things are interesting. By YOUR logic, that means you never challenge your players. Because by YOUR logic, if it's interesting, it can't be a challenge, since these are opposite things that cannot coexist.

Silver Crusade

I prefer the new style, I had to run too many enemies with obscure feat chains, that nevertheless did not perform properly.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber

As a GM, one of the reasons I like monsters to not follow PC rules is that players do not know what to expect. I have found, in some cases, that when players know the methodology behind monster creation, it can sometimes influence their choices at the table.

A process that isn’t the same as that for a PC can be helpful to keep players on their toes.

For me, this is more of a gaming preference than it is a necessary component of the game system.


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Irontruth wrote:
the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:


I think there's a more fundamental difference of approach under here somewhere, then.

I don't put monsters or NPCs in campaigns primarily as challenges to the PCs. The fictional universe doesn't know they are PCs. I put monsters and NPCs in as entities with their own agendas defined by the world they live in. How that interacts with the PCs is up to them, and me RPing the NPC. in the moment.

(Odysseus was totally making that bit up to impress Nausicaa.)

It's still the point of your monsters and NPCs.

Here, think about your dichotomy for a moment:

A thing is either an obstacle, or it is interesting.

Right now you are claiming that your things are interesting. By YOUR logic, that means you never challenge your players. Because by YOUR logic, if it's interesting, it can't be a challenge, since these are opposite things that cannot coexist.

Since that reading of what I am saying requires both ignoring my use of the word "primarily" and treating "obstacle" and "challenge" as the same thing, I begin to wonder whether you are arguing in good faith.

It is possible to regard obstacles as inherently boring while regarding there as a great deal more to challenges than merely obstacles.


ryric wrote:
Mark Stratton wrote:

Monster having stats as a PC and being built using a PC chassis is a legacy of 3.x. Prior to that, monsters were just whatever the designers wanted them to be, without any real discernible formula or whatever.

Eh, not really in the way that 4e or other completely arbitrary monster systems are. In AD&D 1e/2e, the monster's Hit Dice determined nearly everything about it - attacks, saves, hit points. AC was picked by the designer, but there was a limited range of numbers and over half the range had a description of what armor it was equivalent to, so the designer just chose whatever matched their imagination. Similar methods were used for damage.

See, there was no CR system, so at no time were there "targets" that a monster designer had to meet. A monster had a certain AC because it's skin was tougher than steel plates, not because it was CR X and thus needs AC Y.

Well, the AD&D system is a lot closer to the PF2 one, while also being closer to the PC rules. As you said, a monsters HD determined their numbers such as HP, BAB, saves, and what could be expected of PCs facing them (Their numbers were mostly like Fighter of equivalent level, but they had special abilities). It was the analogue to the "Level" metric they have now in PF2. A Level 5 party in level appropiate dungeons would be fighting HD5 enemies (in groups). So in that aspect, it was just like PF2. Things like their health, attack and spells were pretty much just like PCs! The ACs were not that far off either, and no specific gear was assumed for anyone usually (Some adventures did say "Fighters should have a +2 weapon for this").

So the answer of "How to easily make monsters that challenge a level X party" was "Make them kinda like average level X characters, then add stuff and fudge some numbers a bit". AD&D is before my time, so it's not like I really get to play it, but I don't think their monster system was too bad. I'm not saying it's better or anything, but it did help make them seem organic while also allowing them to be different without justification.

Was their balance poor?

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