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2011-04-05, 09:04 PM
I felt like combat in my 4th edition campaign was feeling very slow. So as an experiment I got two of the 5 players together and we tried some sample combats where everyone had their maximum health Halved (affecting Bloodied/Healing Surge values). I always thought creature HP was grossly inflated, and I had some very interesting results.

1: Tactics were a lot more important. Getting initiative can mean the difference between getting immobilized, shot with a crossbow, and poisoned; and charging the archers and winning in 3 rounds. Defenses mattered too, since you could afford fewer hits. I imagine that in a real game things like flanking, marks, and Controllers will be turning points in the game.

2: Healing was important. Healing surges changed, but bonus healing like from Inspiring Word stayed the same value, making it a judicious resource to be distributed carefully and at critical moments to turn the tide of battle.

3: The players loved it. I usually kill off enemies early if the players are getting bored. With half health, combat resolved fast and they said there was a real feeling of danger. They used most of their dailies and encounters in each fight, but we reasoned that having a full party on your side would give more wiggle room and concentrated fire.

Anyone else have a similar problem? Try using the Half system? Think I'm right or wrong?

2 level 9 PCs. The combats were:
-Bloodspike Behemoth (Level 9) + Troll Brute (MM1) Narrow Win, would have been better if they attacked the behemoth and saved the troll.
-Dire Boar (6), Orc Chieftan(8 elite), Orc Warrior x 5 (9 minion) (MM1) Party lost initiative, got swarmed by minions. One of them got knocked prone by the boar and was quickly chopped to bits. Other gave up.
-Human Dire Beast Hunter (level 9) (MM2). Got caught by nets on first round. If they had won initiative the Warlord could have been in the enemy's face and made the fight easier. Won, though.

At the same time, can a Warlord use inspiring word on an unconscious target? It came up during the playtest.

2011-04-05, 09:07 PM
Someone proposed a similar system. 1/2 monster HP and increase monster damage by 1/2 it's level.

2011-04-05, 09:11 PM
From the looks of things you are using monster's that use the "old math". WotC updated the monster stat math for MM3 and the Monster Vault. The PC stats remain unchanged but creatures now have lower HP (not 50%) and do more damage. If you check the monster vault you can probably find updated versions of many of the previous monsters.

2011-04-05, 09:22 PM
Rather than doing the math on every encounter it seems like the faster thing to do would be to make players halve their HP but double their damage. As long as they write it all on their sheet or power cards there's nothing to figure out. If they're always looking up damage in books then ya half everything's HP instead.

2011-04-05, 09:23 PM
Look up "Monster Manual 3 on a business card". It should help you out a little with some of the more precise changes WotC did fixing the monster math.

2011-04-05, 09:28 PM
Do monsters really need a damage boost? That part of the spectrum seems just fine. Do my players just have terrible builds?

I thought that halving HP all around would preserve most of the balance. Can someone explain in more detail?

2011-04-05, 09:32 PM
The balance was the issue to begin with. Most monsters were not a threat and took too long to kill. By increasing the damage of the monsters and reducing their HPs the fights are generally faster but without making them necessarily easier.

I wouldn't want to speak to the quality of your players builds, though there are others on here who would be better able to asses that side of things.

2011-04-05, 10:19 PM
If you reduce monster HP while increasing their damage it's the same as reducing HP all around.

2011-04-06, 05:55 AM
I still have problems with solutions like this. Mostly because the result is that as a DM you limit your options with this.

To bring an example: In an ambush, players are already endangered without changing anything on the system. Some of the monsters get bonus damage, maybe extra attacks and it could happen that a single player is getting attacked 6 times before his first turn has even started if the monster has something like double attacks and an action point.

It might not kill every character, but it does bring the most characters below zero hitpoints.

Half hitpoints would mean that as a DM you can not use things like this anymore, because it would be similar to "rocks fall - your character dies."

The Problem is: A plain fight against a level appropriate monster with full health and all ressources should be easy. If you raise the difficulty, all that happens is that you do not create other fights any longer. No fights where terrain or traps can be used by the monsters against the players. No fights where the players fight stronger foes. No fights where they are surprised.

No fights where monsters have synergy effects, or work together in a clever way. In 4E power comes from the synergy of your group, and that is true for the monsters, too.

Most of the time the problem is solved best by thinking about the tactics your monsters / players use. If they are not doing enough damage you should first think about the reasons for this, before changing the system.

2011-04-06, 10:58 AM
I think the real problem is the DM not being able to make tactics for the encounters. The players only play one PC at a time and usually play together so they know how to synergize with one another, the DM on the other hand must know how to play with multiple different characters at the same time and multiple times per session. This is just too much for most DMs, they usually boil down to using the most powerful attack that the monster have on the easiest target to kill. Try putting some monsters that can use marks and have abilities that work well with their monster mates.

2011-04-06, 11:07 AM
I don't like the OPs method tbh.

You get the effect on combat - but you unbalance the game towards the healers / controllers. As their powers become very important / last % longer.

I've used the new monster vault way and found it to be very good, although sometimes I dropped the Defs by 1 more and creep the damage a little.

Doug Lampert
2011-04-06, 11:54 AM
Do monsters really need a damage boost? That part of the spectrum seems just fine. Do my players just have terrible builds?

I thought that halving HP all around would preserve most of the balance. Can someone explain in more detail?

Monsters need a damage boost.

The GOAL is that about 4 ordinary hits can kill a monster, and about 3 can kill a non-tank PC if nothing is done to stop it.

(This is why minions take one hit to kill, the goal is that it still takes 4 hits to eliminate the minions, just as 4 hits would eliminate the standard they replace).

This works fine at level 1, a typical PC has about 22 HP (12 from class, 10 from Con), a typical monster has about 29 HP, a typical non-striker PC does about 1d8+5 damage (9.5 on average), three hits MAY kill the monster, four hits probably WILL kill the monster. The monster does 1d8+4 damage or so, three hits with no healing kills.

Using the MM1 standards the monster's damage goes up by about 0.5 per level. At level 30 the monster averages 23 damage, the PC has about 184 HP (12+29*5 from class, 12 from con, 15 from toughness). It takes about 8 hits for the monster to take the PC down!

Nerf combat. The monsters, without taking any account of the massive ability of high level characters to avoid damage or impose conditions are only about 1/3rd as dangerous as they were at level 1. But it's even worse than that analysis would indicate! At level 1 the party had 2 healing words per encounter for healing resources, one healing word gave back 1-2 hits. At level 30? Three healing words (which scaled with level and are boosted by items), any number of utility powers (cure X wounds), and come back from the dead powers.

Without the errata a standard combat at level 1 is mildly threatening, the PCs will still win because they have more and better special powers and typically are more accurate. But at level 30 if the monsters concentrate fire, EVERY MONSTER CRITS, and they all used their best attacks, then one PC may be mildly inconvenienced.

Note that the change in damage and HP for MM3 wasn't really significant at low level, that level already worked and still works, it's the high level monsters that are hopelessly weak.

2011-04-06, 10:26 PM
Also, a similar discussion can be found in this thread here (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=191500). Slightly different method, same problem: combat too slow.