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Thread: MMV: Threshold

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    Orc in the Playground
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    Default MMV: Threshold

    Great minds think alike, but that doesn't explain how WotC writers
    could've come up with it:
    Tangent: Since 2000, the design directive for monsters has shifted more toward “one memorable encounter.” When all we had was the Monster Manual, every monster had to carry a lot of weight. Especially if the monster was intelligent and social, there was a lot of pressure for that monster to have the details you’d need to build an extensive adventure site around.


    But after seven years of monster books, the DM of today has plenty of monsters to choose from. It’s OK to design a monster to be used once, memorably. Not every monster has to shoulder the weight of being an important, repeatable antagonist.
    Threshold: The idea here is pretty simple—at some point in the middle of the encounter, the monster reaches a threshold and changes. It might get stronger, it might grow tentacles, it might explode with the fury of a thousand suns, whatever. What you’re going for here is a twist on pacing: The PCs “figure out” how to fight the monster, then boom! It changes and they have to employ different strategies to earn the win.

    The obvious threshold is hit point total—and it’s a pretty good one because you know the DM is acutely aware of it. But there are lots of other potential triggers for a threshold ability.

    One other factor bears mentioning: complexity. By definition, the threshold is reached in the middle of a fight, and the DM is usually a pretty busy person right then. Go easy. It’s a huge drag for everyone at the table if the DM is saying, “OK, Strength +8…that means +4 to the primary attack and damage… oh, but it’s the sole attack, so…” You get the idea.
    A few weeks ago I started playing around with this idea for the GURPS Fantasy game I've been working on. I wanted to inject more of a mystery/horror element to fighting monsters.

    Until the PCs have spent enough time investigating or chasing the monster, it would be essentially unbeatable and run away from any encounter. But once the players had build up enough anticipation, the monster's stats would change so that it could be defeated, but it was now willing to stand it's ground and fight. I'm not sure how WotC is handling the idea of threshold, but I just planned to have two seperate write-ups for the monster, before and after.

    It's something I wanted to incorporate from the Orrorsh setting for the Torg RPG. Torg used a "Drama Deck" of cards players could use to alter combat situations. In Orrorsh, players could only play a full hand of cards (a big deal during combat) after going through all the paces of a horror story.

    I suspect in WotC's case they're going off a different inspiration, video game bosses, specifically those who can only be defeated after going through several stages of combat. It's also the backbone of Heroclix & Mage Knight combat, where characters cycle through several different sets of abilities in the course of a battle.

    Having sat through more 3x monster fights than I'd like to remember where players got bored and reduced the combat to how a running tally of damage done to the monster, I suspect the Threshold concept will end up having a greater (and more postive) impact on D&D gameplay than the designers expect.
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    Default Re: MMV: Threshold

    You know, I'm not quite sure this is a revolutionary idea...
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    Default Re: MMV: Threshold

    You know, it's not a bad idea. Might not be an original idea, but I've been doing it more or less for a while with Spells and Spell like abilities. I just don't throw out the truly deadly ones until things turn bad for the bad guys.

    Some classes already have them built in, like the Jade Phoenix Mage's explosion.
    Last edited by Ryuuk; 2007-08-04 at 09:52 PM.
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    Default Re: MMV: Threshold

    This seems extremely silly to me. Yes indeed, I'm going to change to a more powerful form only after I've been getting kicked around for a while. Because it's no fun being rational or efficient about things...

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    Default Re: MMV: Threshold

    Quote Originally Posted by Nerd-o-rama View Post
    You know, I'm not quite sure this is a revolutionary idea...
    Never said it was, but the guys at WotC might think so
    Quote Originally Posted by Ulzgoroth View Post
    Because it's no fun being rational or efficient about things...
    For a lot of successful videogames over the last 20+ years, being rational and efficient would've been a LOT less fun
    Last edited by Rob Knotts; 2007-08-04 at 10:37 PM.

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    Default Re: MMV: Threshold

    Well, it isn't a totally logic idea, from a mechanic view, bue from a cinematic perspective it tottally rocks. It's like when the Final villian/monster is getting ass-kicked and decides tu use his ultimate weapon (which he was planning to hide until nothing else could do the thing, or it is dangerous to use, even to the villian himself). I pidture it like playing the Final Fantasy (any one) in the very Final battle in wich the UltimateThreat goes through a couple of trasnformations of fighting modes, each stronger than the one before it.
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    Default Re: MMV: Threshold

    The main problem is there are very few cooldowns in D&D that are longer than a day, so no one really has a reason to save the "Uberweapon" for when they're really in trouble. If a BBEG could only activate his uber-form once a month (or year), then he'd definitely think twice about doing it at the start of a battle.
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    Default Re: MMV: Threshold

    Quote Originally Posted by heroe_de_leyenda View Post
    Well, it isn't a totally logic idea, from a mechanic view, bue from a cinematic perspective it tottally rocks.
    Oh, it can be logical or it can be ridiculous. "Now that you've cut me in half, my parts will split into two creatures, each more powerful than my original form!" That's ridiculous. On the other hand, some D&D characters -- PCs, even -- could already do this logically. The obvious example is Overchannel; after all, when you're losing, pushing your limits and hurting yourself is way better than not doing so and getting killed.
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    Default Re: MMV: Threshold

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike_Lemmer View Post
    The main problem is there are very few cooldowns in D&D that are longer than a day, so no one really has a reason to save the "Uberweapon" for when they're really in trouble. If a BBEG could only activate his uber-form once a month (or year), then he'd definitely think twice about doing it at the start of a battle.
    There are other possibilities, especially when considering something totally unique under the DMs construction. Maybe the transformation is effectively permanent, meaning it's their last-ditch survival mechanism.
    "In Case of Adventurers, Break Glass"

    Or maybe it's potentially harmful to them for prolonged periods. Or the way to transform themselves back to normal is dangerous and complicated. Or some combination thereof.

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    Default Re: MMV: Threshold

    Indeed. If you assume that the process is costly in terms of resources, or else is painful for the creature, then you can assume it won't use it unless it's necessary.

    It's really all in how they design the mechanics and the fluff around it.
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    NecromancerGirl

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    Default Re: MMV: Threshold

    Also, if the ability heals the BBEG to full HP it would be at least obvious for him to only use it after taking some damage.
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    Default Re: MMV: Threshold

    Quote Originally Posted by SilverClawShift View Post
    There are other possibilities, especially when considering something totally unique under the DMs construction. Maybe the transformation is effectively permanent, meaning it's their last-ditch survival mechanism.
    "In Case of Adventurers, Break Glass"

    Or maybe it's potentially harmful to them for prolonged periods. Or the way to transform themselves back to normal is dangerous and complicated. Or some combination thereof.
    The problem with Totally Unique is that eventually, the PCs will try to Reverse Engineer it.
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    Default Re: MMV: Threshold

    Also, there's no reason the transformation has to actually make the creature stronger. shifting from a spellcasting form to a melee based one makes sense, for instance.

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    Default Re: MMV: Threshold

    Quote Originally Posted by Borogove View Post
    Also, there's no reason the transformation has to actually make the creature stronger. shifting from a spellcasting form to a melee based one makes sense, for instance.
    An interesting creature that uses something close to this is the Thoon Solider. It deals hit point damage to its self to change aspects. One is a whirlwind attack, one is an extra damage form, one is a defense form, ones a mobility form, and one is a death throes form. Groups of them are quite deadly.

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    Default Re: MMV: Threshold

    wizards have looked at WOW, seen its popularity and taken a few pages from a very successful book. im not saying any of these ideas first came from WOW only that they do them well.

    Item sets were the first to show up, the make for a great quest line for a single PC, in the same way as legacy items. if you have one or two of the items why not go for the whole set? somthing as simple as a subsection of teh BBEG lair that you could otherwise avoid to as complex as a massive temple built only to hold the final item of the set.

    threshold monsters are the same as phased mobs or bosses in WOW. its a way to surprise the PCs half way through an encounter. the large lizard hits hard and has a lot of hit points but is otherwise an easy encounter. half way through its entire body begins to secrete a orange ooze, now its slam attack includes a contact poison that deals strength damage or causes the same effect as a rust monster.

    what i would like to see is a lot of is templates for existing mobs that have thresholds. like a divine intervention template for divine casters, when they reach low hit points (say 20% of total) the caster's god blesses its champion, restoring a few hit points (say 5% of their total) and enhancing their physical attributes so they hit harder and are more dangerous for the last 25% of their total heath. if your BBEG is a blackguard about to complete the ritual to summon his dark god to the material plane and begin a new age of darkness it makes sense that god would use his divine powers to empower and restore his minion if only for his own best interests and that he would do this only after the battle starts going south for the blackgaurd.
    Last edited by Jarlax; 2007-08-05 at 05:07 AM.

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    Default Re: MMV: Threshold

    In some cases (such as that vulture that turns into a zombie vulture when it dies), the threshold actually makes the creature worse.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: MMV: Threshold

    Quote Originally Posted by Fax_Celestis View Post
    In some cases (such as that vulture that turns into a zombie vulture when it dies), the threshold actually makes the creature worse.
    Um, I'm somewhat more afraid of a zombie vulture than a dead vulture...

    That certainly would make for a disturbing encounter.

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    Default Re: MMV: Threshold

    But from a mechanical standpoint, the zombie vulture is weaker.
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    Default Re: MMV: Threshold

    It's the circle of RPG/CRPG Life - CRPGs are constantly trying to be more like RPGs and RPGs seem to want to be more like CRPGs, probably all in a desperate effort to access one another's exclusive cliental.

    Well... whatever; I look forward to the day a successful encounter with an Orc results in a new Player asking what it transforms into next.
    Last edited by Matthew; 2007-08-07 at 12:31 AM.
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    Default Re: MMV: Threshold

    Quote Originally Posted by Fax_Celestis View Post
    In some cases (such as that vulture that turns into a zombie vulture when it dies), the threshold actually makes the creature worse.
    It bears mentioning that this was actually intended in some cases, not just a case of the stupids.
    Quote Originally Posted by David Noonan
    One of the things that intrigued me when I saw first drafts from the designers was how some monsters got weaker at the threshold point (skull lord), some got better at the threshold point (Dalmosh), and some got better in some ways but worse in others (spirrax and the magmacore golem).
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    Default Re: MMV: Threshold

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Mann View Post
    But from a mechanical standpoint, the zombie vulture is weaker.
    Wait, which is weaker, a lump of dead vulture flesh, or a rotting abomination of evil that happens to be formed of the dead vulture's flesh?

    Now, I don't doubt that a zombie vulture is actually easier to kill than a live vulture, but if the party just used up 2/3 of its resources killing the vulture in the first place, then it will be a tough fight.
    Last edited by Rockphed; 2007-08-07 at 01:37 AM.
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