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    Lightbulb Is any creature without spells or class levels -really- higher than CR10?

    Greetings, all!

    Yes, I'm well aware of the challenge rating (CR) system for 3.x and Pathfinder. I'm aware that reverse gravity exists to destroy non-flyers come level 7 Wizard spells. Having participaed in debates over the actual CR of things instead of merely what was printed, I was wondering this:

    Is a creature without notable class levels or spells/spell-like abilities/psionic powers/psi-like abilities really higher than a CR10? Even the 'mighty' Hecatoncheires can't fly. The Tarrasque can't fly. And so on.

    I assume PCs are being smart about things, targeting enemy weaknesses, etc.

    I chose CR 10 because that feels like the point where casters visibly eclipse non-casters if the casters so choose. It's also about midway through the non-epic level scale, at a point where level 5 or below spells (plus, often, lots of time) could probably beat it.

    Consider things more worthy of a CR11+: Outsiders, dragons, casters, and maybe non-casters with some serious optimization, like a Warblade/Eternal Blade.
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    Default Re: Is any creature without spells or class levels -really- higher than CR10?

    Yes some monsters are still threatening without any spells. See this thread http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showt...20-%28or-so%29 for examples.

    I will give the greater storm elemental as an example for being able to do about 36d6 damage as an aoe at CR 10. Elder Storm Elementals are like that as well if you want something above CR 10

    Mind Stealers (Online article) and Deepspawn (Monsters of Faerun I believe) are also ludicriously strong by CR but thats due to some insane minionmancy abilities.

    Most need SLA or Spells but some SU abilities are outright insane on monsters.
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    Default Re: Is any creature without spells or class levels -really- higher than CR10?

    Quote Originally Posted by Endarire View Post
    Even the 'mighty' Hecatoncheires can't fly.
    Well, what if it could? Flight isn't a necessarily magical ability, and definitely isn't one necessarily rooted in spells or class levels, so if flight is the only thing keeping this creature from its current CR position, or one above ten at least, then that seems a rather trivial problem to solve within the confines of this problem. Maybe do it through a template to keep it within the rules, perhaps half-dragon as just an offhand example. We are, of course, necessarily ignoring the fact that the creature actually has fly as a spell-like ability in this assessment, but I don't see that as all that important. The important thing is that this new creature, minus its spell-likes and plus non-magical flight, would trivially justify a high CR, which means that there exists at least a hypothetical example. Of course, from there you'd want to produce real book legal examples, as Silva has done, but I tend to like to stay as close to the parameters of a claim as possible, and circle out from there.

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    Default Re: Is any creature without spells or class levels -really- higher than CR10?

    Quote Originally Posted by Endarire View Post
    Is a creature without notable class levels or spells/spell-like abilities/psionic powers/psi-like abilities really higher than a CR10? Even the 'mighty' Hecatoncheires can't fly.
    Quote Originally Posted by eggynack View Post
    Well, what if it could?
    http://www.d20srd.org/srd/epic/monst...hecatoncheires

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    Spell-Like Abilities

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    Last edited by LudicSavant; 2015-04-18 at 11:55 PM.

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    Default Re: Is any creature without spells or class levels -really- higher than CR10?

    I present two monsters for you.

    The first is a sparrow wearing spandex The Flash cosplay. It has fly 1000 (Perfect), a +50 deflection bonus to AC, Freedom of Movement, and Magical Immunity. It is immune to critical hits, paralysis, energy damage, nonlethal damage, force damage, ability damage, disease, poison, energy drain, and all mind-affecting spells and abilities. It is otherwise identical to the Raven.

    The second is the Dread Whirligig. It is a spinning whirlwind of death and destruction; all that's visible is blades. Any creature within 5 feet takes 5000D6 damage (reflex 180 half). It is otherwise identical to a Shrieker.

    Answer me the CR of these two creatures and I will tell you why CR is an ineffective means of cataloging a creature's combat abilities. Sure, many creatures made in the game are relatively "Balanced" across their various areas, at least against a prototypical party. But plenty are not, which is why attempting to accurately CR most enemies, as opposed to some enemies, will be a fruitless endeavor.

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    Default Re: Is any creature without spells or class levels -really- higher than CR10?

    On the topic of flight, what if you're enclosed in a relatively small area?
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    Default Re: Is any creature without spells or class levels -really- higher than CR10?

    This depends on the optimization level. Plenty of things over CR 10 without magic or class levels could be considered a fair fight for people over CR 10, just like a 20th level wizard could be solo'ed by a 10th or 11th level mundane.

    Build matters way to much. Considering you can get Pun-Pun at level 1, you could say nothing is ever a challenge, but that deserves the qualifier "To everyone across optimization levels", but for a caster-less low-magic world, the Tarrasque could be a challenge to a level 200 fighter (assuming he doesn't take advantage of Power Attack, scaling damage at epic levels can be pretty difficult). Additionally, in game, PCs don't always have access to all the ways to exploit weaknesses, or know what the weaknesses are.

    Optimization favors the one who knows what they are facing. It is highly unlikely that the PCs will account for anything, and various creatures can exploit weaknesses left in the PC's defenses if the DM knows what to look for. CR is a bad scale, but in certain ranges, can work, both for spellcasting monsters and more "generic" ones.

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    Default Re: Is any creature without spells or class levels -really- higher than CR10?

    I don't know the exact formulas to use, but the Flash sparrow is probably around CR 2. Against a single opponent with one attack per round, it'll do an average of 20 points of damage before dying. Against a party, or an opponent with more attacks, divide that by the number of attacks per round the party can make. Cast in that light, it's not too hard to evaluate.
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    Default Re: Is any creature without spells or class levels -really- higher than CR10?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
    I don't know the exact formulas to use, but the Flash sparrow is probably around CR 2. Against a single opponent with one attack per round, it'll do an average of 20 points of damage before dying. Against a party, or an opponent with more attacks, divide that by the number of attacks per round the party can make. Cast in that light, it's not too hard to evaluate.
    If someone has Alchemist's fire or acid they could kill it quicker. Various other alchemical items probably would help too. It is a very unconventional encounter. If the one being attacked takes a move action to go at least 10 ft away means the raven would provoke an AoO, halving the time taken to kill it. If the guy has decent AC (~15 isn't unreasonable), it'd be halved again due to half the attacks missing.

    The dread whirligig is something that belongs in Tomb of Horrors, it is no real threat in combat, however, if the DM doesn't make it clear what it'll do, it'll kill the players through no real fault of their own, like that sphere of annihilation in the mouth. It is more of a fiat than a reasonable encounter.
    Last edited by rweird; 2015-04-18 at 11:01 AM.

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    Default Re: Is any creature without spells or class levels -really- higher than CR10?

    Even if it couldn't...

    Quote Originally Posted by Hecatoncheires
    or 100 boulders +55 ranged (2d8+20/19-20)
    What about that says "This thing needs to be able to fly"?

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    Default Re: Is any creature without spells or class levels -really- higher than CR10?

    Point taken on the Hecaton. Point also taken on optimization levels.

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    Default Re: Is any creature without spells or class levels -really- higher than CR10?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jormengand View Post
    What about that says "This thing needs to be able to fly"?
    Conventional optimization wisdom does not usually account for attack lines with the phrase "100 boulders".

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kazyan View Post
    Conventional optimization wisdom does not usually account for attack lines with the phrase "100 boulders".
    Why would it? Are the boulders magical? Do they get around Friendly Fire? If the answer is no to either of those, I'm not sure why we would bother accounting for them.
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    Default Re: Is any creature without spells or class levels -really- higher than CR10?

    Quote Originally Posted by Snowbluff View Post
    Why would it? Are the boulders magical? Do they get around Friendly Fire? If the answer is no to either of those, I'm not sure why we would bother accounting for them.
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    Default Re: Is any creature without spells or class levels -really- higher than CR10?

    I am getting a bit of image of 'The creature launches 100 boulders at you' ... the druid who was waiting for this 'I cast this nice like wind spell that launches all those boulders right back at it'.

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    Default Re: Is any creature without spells or class levels -really- higher than CR10?

    PF has plenty of monsters above CR 10 without any spells or SLAs. I'd be interested to see where they stack up against a level 10 casting party. Things like Jotund Trolls, Adamantine Golems, Colossal Black Scorpions, a Viper Vine, various Linnorms etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Snowbluff View Post
    Why would it? Are the boulders magical? Do they get around Friendly Fire? If the answer is no to either of those, I'm not sure why we would bother accounting for them.
    Also, being incorporeal usually lets you shrug at boulders too. Heck, you could Gaseous Form next to an arrow slit/ crack in the wall/hole in the ground and 5-foot step into it at the end of your turn, blocking line of effect for all of them if the monster is not adjacent to you.

    Quote Originally Posted by animewatcha View Post
    I am getting a bit of image of 'The creature launches 100 boulders at you' ... the druid who was waiting for this 'I cast this nice like wind spell that launches all those boulders right back at it'.
    Most wind spells include a line about "large projectiles" or "siege weapons" though, which allow boulders to ignore them.You would probably need hurricane- or tornado-force winds to overcome that.
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    Default Re: Is any creature without spells or class levels -really- higher than CR10?

    Sorry, I've been playing other games and forgot how binary this one was.

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    Default Re: Is any creature without spells or class levels -really- higher than CR10?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kazyan View Post
    Sorry, I've been playing other games and forgot how binary this one was.
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    Default Re: Is any creature without spells or class levels -really- higher than CR10?

    Gaseous form isn't a defense in this edition, it's a weak mobility spell. At that point the boulders are hitting your cover and may be able to destroy it. I would feel much safer dropping a Force Cage on myself and zapping from in there.

    That's an interesting metric. Can a creature's offense be completely negated by a single spell at some fraction of the level at which you expect to encounter the creature?

    Thought experiment: Take a straight classed wizard or cleric. Assume access to any reserve feat via Psychic Reformation. Assume a successful scry to know what to prepare. At what level can the caster reliably kill the critter using one or two spells to negate it's attacks.
    Last edited by Telok; 2015-04-20 at 12:46 PM.

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    Default Re: Is any creature without spells or class levels -really- higher than CR10?

    Quote Originally Posted by Telok View Post
    Gaseous form isn't a defense in this edition, it's a weak mobility spell. At that point the boulders are hitting your cover and may be able to destroy it. I would feel much safer dropping a Force Cage on myself and zapping from in there.
    Right, it's not perfect by any means, but it's much lower level than becoming incorporeal or using forcecage.

    Quote Originally Posted by Telok View Post
    Thought experiment: Take a straight classed wizard or cleric. Assume access to any reserve feat via Psychic Reformation. Assume a successful scry to know what to prepare. At what level can the caster reliably kill the critter using one or two spells to negate it's attacks.
    Keep in mind that "negate its attacks" and "kill the creature" are two very different things, and often require very different spells.
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    Default Re: Is any creature without spells or class levels -really- higher than CR10?

    Quote Originally Posted by Psyren View Post
    Most wind spells include a line about "large projectiles" or "siege weapons" though, which allow boulders to ignore them.You would probably need hurricane- or tornado-force winds to overcome that.
    Yeah, you explicitly require tornado force winds for perfect deflection, with hurricane and windstorm applying penalties and anything lower doing nothing. Unfortunately, you need a CL of 15 to pull that off with control winds, but fortunately, that's theoretically reachable at level 10 with CL boosters. Alternatively, blizzard seems to hit ranged attacks universally, so that could help.

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    Default Re: Is any creature without spells or class levels -really- higher than CR10?

    CR is more of an art than a science. It's not helped by the fact that the people who would be most capable of figuring out how tough a monster actually is, are not a representative sample of the average party of adventurers. For just about anything above CR3, you could probably deduct at least 2 from the CR if you're sending it against a party of GitP posters (or most other internet boards, for that matter).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Telonius View Post
    For just about anything above CR3, you could probably deduct at least 2 from the CR if you're sending it against a party of GitP posters (or most other internet boards, for that matter).
    Things that are CR3, though, those are fine.

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    Default Re: Is any creature without spells or class levels -really- higher than CR10?

    Quote Originally Posted by bekeleven View Post
    Actually, they'd probably just use a warlock with spider climb. Touch attacks vs natural armor/out of reach. Of course, that depends on where they encounter it, but you might be surprised at some of the creativity.
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    Default Re: Is any creature without spells or class levels -really- higher than CR10?

    I think this issue is why I've started designing two sets of stats for a monster, one to be the "real" stats and one to be the "encounter" stats. Lord Fulgurite is a mighty (if low-ranking) genie lord in my campaigns, but since he doesn't actually want to kills the players yet the stats for a common Janni warrior are more than capable. When that number of hitpoints vanish, he runs, with the party successful. (Arguably a true Janni would run much sooner so this is probably a more difficult "challenge", but... doesn't seem to make it more difficult in the long run.)

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    Default Re: Is any creature without spells or class levels -really- higher than CR10?

    Endarire, much depends on context. How difficult does the encounter prove to be? If a party defeats a monster without having to roll any dice (I've done it before), the challenge is probably not worth any xp because it was no challenge at all. If the PCs have the ability to checkmate the monster tomorrow but have to fight it today with spells currently prepared, it's still worth xp. Likewise, if combo xyz could trivialize the encounter, but the players never connect the dots to figure that out and instead slog through a difficult fight in which they experience real danger, they're certainly entitled to xp.
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    Default Re: Is any creature without spells or class levels -really- higher than CR10?

    Quote Originally Posted by Psyren View Post
    Keep in mind that "negate its attacks" and "kill the creature" are two very different things, and often require very different spells.
    Lets see, Forcecage is two hours a level and seventh level so it will last twenty six hours. The epic level goober in the OP has a bit over a thousand hit points, seventy four AC, and DR plus regeneration and fast healing. It cannot harm someone in a Forcecage.
    In a fight to the death the only question left is either doing more than ninety points of damage a round or more than seventy a round with a good aligned weapon. Since the wizard has fourteen thousand rounds to kill the thing as long as he can average one point of real injury every ten rounds it's dead. I don't have enough internet right now to work out the damage method but I am quite confident that you can work out something yourself.

    So that thing is CR fifty seven and all a thirteenth level wizard has to do is win initative, Forcecage himself, and deal just enough damage to get past the regeneration and fast healing often enough.

    So for a smartly played wizard who can prepare, eyeball it at CR fifteen? For a party with a fighter type or two and doesn't get a chance to prepare? Twenty five or thirty max. If you restricted yourself to the material available at the time when the critter was published it could be closer to that fifty seven but I'm still not seeing it anything past a CR thirty five for an unprepared party.
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    Default Re: Is any creature without spells or class levels -really- higher than CR10?

    Quote Originally Posted by Telok View Post
    So that thing is CR fifty seven and all a thirteenth level wizard has to do is win initative, Forcecage himself, and deal just enough damage to get past the regeneration and fast healing often enough.
    And the hecatoncheires, with its positive-valued mental scores, is going to stand there wailing away at the cage for hours? Rather than, say, sit out of your range and wait for you to run out of ruby dust?
    Last edited by Sith_Happens; 2015-04-20 at 06:38 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sith_Happens View Post
    And the hecatoncheires, with its positive-valued mental scores, is going to stand there wailing away at the cage for hours? Rather than, say, sit out of your range and wait for you to run out of ruby dust?
    Adding to this, Forcecage is a double-edged sword because it blocks line of effect, which most of the wizard's attacks will rely on.
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    Default Re: Is any creature without spells or class levels -really- higher than CR10?

    How much damage can orbs be doing at level 10? You just need to do enough damage and get past a non-negligible touch AC.

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