View Full Version : More offensive monsters 4e

2009-06-23, 07:02 AM
The rest of my party and I think the 4e monsters are build way too defensive. The combats take too long, and start to feel sluggish after a while. They start fun, but after a couple of rounds the monsters have used all their recharge abilities and we have used our encounter (and in hard combats also our daily) abilities and it starts to feel like a grind. My DM just sort of doubles their attack and halves their HP, but he does this a bit random and without too much thought. We are almost done with our campaign though, and I am planning to DM the next one, and I'd like to come up with a more balanced way of making monsters more aggressive.

It is obviously far from linear: the PCs daily and encounter powers probably have a bigger influence than the monsters recharge and encounter powers, and the shorter the combats the more influence they have. Therefore I should not half the monster's HP if I double their damage, but probably divide it by about 1.8 or so to make it balanced (just a rough guess).

Also, if a monster mind controls a player, I think I should double that player's damage for the duration of the mind control. If the monster's attack do double damage, then the damage the monster inflicts with the mind controll should also be doubled.

I am still at a loss about what to do with healing though. Perhaps I should multiply it with 1.8, because in a way the damage from PCs is also multiplied with that (the damage from the PCs has 1.8 times as much effect as normal, because the mobs HP is divided by that).

Or perhaps I should double it, because healing is supposed to compensate some of the damage the monsters do, and that damage is doubled.

Or maybe I shouldn't change healing at all. Healing is only half as effective then, but keeping a player alive causes the monster to die 1.8 times as fast as normal. Or actually, that doesn't fully compensate the first effect I mentioned in the previous sentence. Should I apply both calculations then? Multiply with 2 and divide by 1.8? I don't know.

Another issue is Crowd Control. Keeping a monster crowd controlled now has a much greater impact, because you prevent twice as much damage with it. Many CC effects only last one turn or are safe ends, so I really wouldn't know what to do about that.

I know it's impossible to fully balance it, but then again, the MM isn't perfectly balanced either, and I am willing to make the game a bit less balanced if it means quicker and more exciting combats. I'd like it to be as balanced as possible though, and any help with this would certainly be appreciated.

2009-06-23, 01:06 PM
This has been slightly improved in the MM2. AFAIK, all MM2 Solos and Elites have -20% HP, -2 All Defences and +50% damage output. This makes it easier to hit them with dailies and encounter powers, faster to take down, but also more dangerous. Damage output also doesn't mean just 1.5x damage on every attack - it could mean giving them an occasional extra attack each round, a bigger radius on an area attack, a powerful new recharge ability, more actions to use, or simply +damage. There are also more creative ways of creating mounting threat - the hydras from the MM2 grow more heads when they lose listed amounts of HP, giving them more attacks as they begin to die, increasing their threat level as their HP decreases. The Volcanic Dragon in the MM3 Playtest has a slowly mounting threat level over several rounds, at which point it creates a massive explosion and the timer resets, preparing its enemies for another big bang.
In addition, monsters are being given ways other than simply "+5 saves" to help with stunlocking and similar cheesey status combos. For example, Demogorgon gets two heads, and Tiamat gets five. These multiple heads protect them from stunlock, domination and other powerful effects. Other ways this is done is by giving monsters extra saves - the new Silver Dragons save against ongoing damage at the start and end of their turns, which means that sometimes ongoing damage won't affect them at all.
Overall, WotC has decided that, while the Solo and Elite mechanics are solid concepts, they encourage too much grinding, focus fire and cheese in their MM1 incarnations. So, they have improved the solo and elite mechanics (and these new mechanics will probably be updated in the DMG2 with a new DM's Toolbox).
In regular battles, there are a few good ways to prevent the grind:
Use creative terrain. If you keep the players moving, then they can't just sit down and nova/grind/focus fire the enemies one at a time.
Try not to use Stun, Dominate and Helpless too much - PCs without activations are PCs that are not attacking the monsters, which will slow down combat greatly.
Encourage your party to be at least 30% strikers, or as much as 40% or 50% - a party can survive on one defender, but strikers are what makes the encounter go faster, as their damage output is significantly larger.
Use 8 minions to one monster ratios, instead of 4 minions. Then, don't give them even numbers of minions - 5 Archer Minions and 3 Real Archers spread amongst platforms, for example, will throw the PCs for a bit of a loop, and encourage them not to use all their encounter powers early on, or risk wasting them.
Use clever traps - when a PC can help his or her allies with their skills instead of their powers, it changes up the at-will/encounter power dynamic in combat. A rogue disabling a shock trap is not using her powers; as her allies run out of their stronger powers, she will enter the fray late, still in possession of her powers.

Hope this helps (but its not really homebrew, this all uses the rules from the books really. Its all in the application and execution). I have studied this extensively since I had a rather... failed... one-off adventure that I ran for our group. We are in-between campaigns and are giving everyone a taste of DMing. Biggest lesson is learned - Don't use more than one Solo, or more than two Elites, in one encounter. Even if it fits the XP budget, there is an underlying dynamic that causes massive grinds when a lot of solo/elite monsters are used - they have High HP, low activation count and a limited amount of interesting powers. After the first three rounds, the lack of fodder to protect them means that they simply end up picking a PC or group of PCs and grinding, at-will power vs. at-will power.

EDIT: Whoa, didn't mean for that to be such a wall of text.

2009-06-29, 10:39 AM
Ok, thanks for the tips. I suppose I could also just give it a try without drasticly altering the existing mobs.

2009-06-29, 02:27 PM
How about you create new sub-categories of monsters?

Offensive: Offensives get 2 standard actions per round, and half as many HP. In addition, they can save against one effect at the start of their turn (either save ends, or 'until the end of next turn') after ongoing damage, and reroll one save at the end of their turn.

Offensives are worth the standard XP value of the monster.

Defensive: Defensives have +50% HP, 2 additional healing surges, and +1 to all defences.

Defensive monsters are worth +1 level in XP value.

Mix in normal, offensive and defensive versions of monsters, and surprise the PCs.

Mando Knight
2009-06-29, 02:39 PM
Or, if you don't feel like reworking the monsters, or don't have time to, use mostly Artillery and Skirmishers. You might want Soldiers over Brutes for front-liners, since Brutes tend to have larger HP buffers (but also higher offenses and lower defenses). Artillery and Skirmishers are built to deal out damage, but don't survive long when under heavy opposition themselves.

2009-06-29, 04:17 PM
Meh, I thought this thread was going to get naughty. ;)

2009-06-29, 04:55 PM
Thanks for the help, people, I got a lot of good tips. If I use traps in combat encounters, terrain, a lot of minions, few elites and solos, and a lot of skirmishers and artilery, the combat will probably be much faster and feel less like a grind. Also, thanks for your monster sub-categorys Yakk. I don't think I'll use the defensive one since the monsters are already too defensive for my taste, but your offensive one seems decent, especially the fact that he gets to roll twice as many saves. I never thought of that, but it makes sense, since CC is effectively twice as good on offensive mobs. I still think I'll divide the HP by 1.8 or 1.9 though, since they take less dailys and/or encounters to take down.
If I only use it on some monsters I also won't have to improve healing, it's ok if healing is a bit less effective in some encounters. I'll probably use it in situations where it fits the story if I use a high elite/normal ratio.

2009-06-29, 09:11 PM
Taunting kenders are pretty offensive. sorry

2009-06-29, 11:41 PM
Awesome stuff
Couldn't of said it better myself.

In addition, In this thread (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=110937) I discuss interesting Boss fight mechanics. A Solid read for any DM.