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


Monsters and Hazards

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Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

ChibiNyan wrote:

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?

Balance in AD&D was a bit...raw. You had the linear fighter, quadratic wizard issue which was exacerbated by the issue that wizards were basically pathetic until about level 5. Rolled hp at level 1 meant you could be starting with 1 hp in a world with 0 = dead, not bleeding out. Demihuman races got a whole bunch of front-loaded abilities in exchange for having level caps for most classes.


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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.)

I think that hits on a big part of this argument, for both sides.

Some DMs prefer to view their campaigns as stories, set in a world, about the PCs. Others view their campaigns as stories, about their PCs, set in a fictional world. The difference is in emphasis -- i.e. are you more comfortable with changing the world in the name of the story, or changing the story in the name of the world?

For story purposes (and also expediency) having completely different, separated rules for monsters and PCs makes it much easier to adjust a monster to do a certain thing the story needs. Maybe you need swamp ape stats in a hurry, because you've decided they live here but they need different stats than most apes. Maybe you want them to hit the PCs with Swamp Gas, but don't want to stat one out as a high-level sorc just so you can give them Stinking Cloud.

But for worldbuilding purposes, separated rules leads to a lot of uncomfortable questions (particularly if your group is the type that wants to know the mechanics of the world around them -- i.e. nitpicking nerds). Why does this one swamp ape get Stinking Cloud? Is that some kind of natural hunting mechanism? Do they all get that, or is he a separate species? Why can't I learn swamp ape martial arts, when they're clearly super cool? This is an especially large problem with humanoids, because its easy to view both random goblins and the PCs as people, and therefore potential party members (even in a purely theoretical sense).

From my point of view, the former option frequently comes at the expense of the latter. My group is the type that is likely to ask "why does this goblin get Burning Hands for free", because they want to know if that's an inherent trait of goblins, or magic he learned via a correspondence course, or what. They want to know how "goblins with free Burning Hands" affects the world. And if it doesn't, they're likely to get drawn right back out of story.


I tend to work with "that is what demon lords are for" if players ask why a goblin got free burning hands. And if they ask how come the PC's can't make a deal, I tell them they totally can. The deal is they get free burning hands, but Orcus gets to possess them two days a month (during downtime). He likes to play the horses. All the PC's worldly goods are his as far as he is concerned. Don't try to hide anything or "give away" anything, he will know, the deal will be off, and you will have a long, unpleasant vacation in the Abyss.

Remarkably enough for a demon lord, he doesn't cheat (as far as he is concerned he has a System, so he doesn't need to cheat, and he doesn't really care if he loses, he gave you free burning hands so you can get more gp's by next month). Your odds of waking up with even a pot to p*** in or a window to throw it out of are 1 in 1,000. Of course, you can create endless undead, desecrate the holy, torment the innocent, etc. and that will make you a good earner, so Orcus will find some other sucker to support his habit.


I used to be big on monsters having stats like pc:s, but it just is not feasible to put that on the GM, and big boss enemies need special rules to have boss-like hit points, or you risk having what happened in pf, with big monsters like dragons having so many hit dice that armor got rendered useless. (and other issues, but that is a big one)


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I absolutely do NOT want monsters to have to follow PC rules with levels and HP, feats and skills as per level...

From a playing perspective: Why? If a wild owlbear attacks, it gets smashed in a couple of seconds. In this timeframe it has to have rememberable and relevant (special) abilities and stats. Nothing more and nothing less.

From a creation perspective: If i want a monster with 3 special abilities that's stealthy as a level 17 challenge, I want to quickly create just that. I don't want to fill the 10 feat slots it might have due to level anf whatnot.

And as a DM I just want to clearly see what this monster can do. And this is easier if it has a few clearly stated abilities. And not if I have to search what it effectively can do from its long feat list.

Easier and monster rules please.


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For actual creature style monsters, like giant scorpions, hydrae, or dragons I'm fine with them working differently. They are different after all. My issue is with humanoid creatures using humanoid equipment. Those are things that clear and plain rules exist for. If a Drow Noble Cleric attacks with a rapier, that rapier can only do 2d6 damage if it is a +1 rapier. That's the rule. Their stats skills and everything else might be made of wacky nonsense, but if their equipment is the same equipment the PCs use, it works the same way.

Now, if they want to make bonus damage dice a function of level rather than potency runes, that's okay, but again it would apply to all equipment, regardless if that equipment was held by a PC or NPC. (In fact, such a thing would be preferable to having it tied to magical properties because it would be growth of character over growth of equipment). It's also a fine idea to not balance the system around increasing multiples of damage dice and keep things simple. What isn't a fine idea is to give rules for how equipment works, then ignore those rules in a blatantly unfair way. (Sure, life isn't fair, but a game isn't real life.)

I can honestly say were I, as a player, to encounter a humanoid opponent of the same type as myself or another party member, experience them doing an amount of damage that would require a magical weapon, then be told after defeating them that their weapon was mundane, I would probably not return to playing that system. I don't enjoy being lied to.


That's a fair point about NPC eqipment.
At that point, if they have to ignore their own magic item rules for NPCs, they should just let weapon dice scale with level and scrap it as a potency thing.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Yeah, the NPC rules are my main concern.


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Scythia wrote:

For actual creature style monsters, like giant scorpions, hydrae, or dragons I'm fine with them working differently. They are different after all. My issue is with humanoid creatures using humanoid equipment. Those are things that clear and plain rules exist for. If a Drow Noble Cleric attacks with a rapier, that rapier can only do 2d6 damage if it is a +1 rapier. That's the rule. Their stats skills and everything else might be made of wacky nonsense, but if their equipment is the same equipment the PCs use, it works the same way...

... I can honestly say were I, as a player, to encounter a humanoid opponent of the same type as myself or another party member, experience them doing an amount of damage that would require a magical weapon, then be told after defeating them that their weapon was mundane, I would probably not return to playing that system. I don't enjoy being lied to.

I agree with Scythia's points.

I don't play games with GM-cheese. I don't play TTRPGs to be in competition with the GM who can be as OP as they like. I play TTRPGs to experience challenging, engaging storytelling in cooperation with my party and GM.

I don't like different rules for NPCs, and most especially I hate it for NPCs that could theoretically be PCs. When our group ran through The Sunless Citadel back in the day, we totally adopted Meepo the Kobold Dragon-keeper into our party. PF1e commonly included and noted NPCs in their adventure paths that could easily be adopted by a PC whose character died. That trope, that playstyle, is gone per the PF2ePlaytest rules. Please see the goblins you fight in the very first adventure for the Playtest - not a single one of those can translate into a PC. If we'd had a character death (we didn't) and one of our players wanted to RP one of those goblins turning on Drakkus and seeking out the PC party to help them: welp. Sorry. No. That goblin is going to be a DRASTICALLY different creature by the time you have run them through PC generation. And that doesn't make any damn sense. It's immersion-breaking. It's limiting to the story. If I want to strictly go out and murder-pwn a stat-block with no real potential for RP - I have video games for that.

NPCs always win tied initiative (because the gods, apparently, just don't love the PCs).

NPCs have auto-hit versions of abilities PCs have to build around and for: grab is an auto-hit NPC ability, grapple is something PCs have to attempt; knockdown is an auto-hit NPC ability, trip is something PCs ATTEMPT. It's demoralizing. It feels awful.

NPCs just die at 0 hit points, which ignores the plethora of RP situations in which you might want to try to save that person/thing you're fighting. Maybe you want to question them. Maybe they're possessed: who knows? If I want different dying rules for my character/party and the entire rest of the known universe, again, I have video games for that. I can't tell you how many paladins and good-aligned clerics we have had in our groups with the attitude of "We will kill the thing trying to kill us if we must, but we'd rather disable and take prisoners where we can. Maybe we can save some of them or at least bring them to justice." That is no longer a valid, go-to tactic for good and neutral parties.

NPCs have arbitrarily huge bonuses that PCs can't even dream of hitting. Again, demoralizing.

I won't convert over to PF2e as it stands. It's 4eD&D all over again and I skipped that entire edition for a reason.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

For monsters (non-PC ancestry type monsters), I don't mind them operating off a different framework. That was functionally the case in a lot of ways in PF1 anyway, particularly once you got to higher-level critters. In fact, I really like how it opens up space for weird monster abilities.

But NPCs of playable PC ancestries should operate under the same rules as PCs, imo. Having the NPC elf not!wizard operate differently than the PC elf wizard for no reason other than "they're an NPC" causes wonky immersion issues, makes equipment function strangely if the party loots them, seems to forestall (or at least make more difficult) things such as an NPC becoming a PC or an ally working along with the party, and...really, I feel like my overall complaint can be summed up as "it feels weird."

As a GM, I have fun making NPCs and toying with what they can do and why. I have fun making them as wizards or rangers or weird multiclass combos or with cool archetypes. Our games are extremely story- and RP-oriented, and having the reason for "why does this NPC have that ability?" be "because they're an NPC" snaps me right out of that, in a way that "training in a far-off land" or "made a deal with an infernal duke" doesn't. It's an artificial flag that doesn't need to be there in the context of the story.

In Pale Mountain's Shadow spoiler:

Spoiler:

I had this issue with the Night Heralds. (I was a player in this section of the campaign, not a GM.) The GM described one of them as an anti-paladin, and, momentarily forgetting about this change, I got really interested in how they'd managed to do that without an anti-paladin class, what multiclass combination they'd done, perhaps some sort of archetype not in the Playtest core rulebook...but the answer wasn't any of those things. The answer was "just because," whereupon I went "oh...right."

Honestly, I think this might be one of my primary concerns for PF2. Most of the other things I have concerns about can be house-ruled a lot more easily than "rebuild each humanoid NPC in every PF2 AP to match my desire for world verisimilitude."


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Having just DMed IPMS it was very hard for me to stick to things as written. The players know that one of the enemies was hitting with an extra dice with an otherwise normal weapon. If it was my own game that would have been the perfect spot to give out another +1 weapon.

As someone who is pro "monsters don't need to follow player creation rules" I am very much in the camp of "but they do need to follow actual play rules." All it would take is something like giving that enemy a rule along the lines of "Instinctual Prowess: Gain an extra die of damage with melee attacks" and it would have been fine, but without out that the players were dissapointed they didn't get a +1 weapon after fighting hard against the enemy who was obviously using one.


Malk_Content wrote:

Having just DMed IPMS it was very hard for me to stick to things as written. The players know that one of the enemies was hitting with an extra dice with an otherwise normal weapon. If it was my own game that would have been the perfect spot to give out another +1 weapon.

As someone who is pro "monsters don't need to follow player creation rules" I am very much in the camp of "but they do need to follow actual play rules." All it would take is something like giving that enemy a rule along the lines of "Instinctual Prowess: Gain an extra die of damage with melee attacks" and it would have been fine, but without out that the players were dissapointed they didn't get a +1 weapon after fighting hard against the enemy who was obviously using one.

Some monsters in 5E have this ability, such as Bugbears. It was nice of them to explain it in that edition despite monsters "not following PC rules" (they do, though).

Very nasty thing to find at low levels.


God no. I like small, simplified monster stat blocks.

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