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Friday, July 18, 2014

Average Monster Stats in the 5e Starter Set

So I collected info from the 5e starter set's Bestiary to work out the average stats of a monster of a given CR. This should be helpful for creating monsters for a 5e game, or else to help convert monsters from other systems. I think you'll find that conversion is more a question of recreation and has more to do with concept than transferring crunch.

This might be a little spoilery as it lists all the creatures in the 5e starter set. It's also fucking gibberish to someone without a solid grasp of the rules.

Values in italics are estimated for lack of data.

Base Combat Values

To-hit modifiers were not included because there's not a whole lot of variation. They range from +2 to +7 and average around +4. Goblins get a +4 to hit, Orcs get a +5, Ogres get a +6. So that tells you something.

CR 1/8 (Cultist, Stirge, Twig Blight)
HP 5, HD 1.5, dmg 4
CR 1/4 (Goblin, Skeleton, Wolf, Zombie)
HP 10, HD 2, dmg 5
CR 1/2 (Hobgoblin, Orc, Bandit)
HP 15, HD 2, dmg 7, 
CR 1 (Bugbear,  Evil Mage, Ghoul, Giant Spider, NPC Warrior)
HP 25, HD 5, dmg 8
CR 2 (Grick, 4th-level Wizard, Nothic, Ochre Jelly, Ogre)
HP 35, HD 6, dmg 10 – sometimes 2 attacks
CR 3 (Doppelganger, Wraith, Owlbear, Spectator)
HP 50, HD 7, dmg 15 – sometimes 2 attacks
CR 4 (Flameskull)
HP 70, dmg 17
CR 5
HP 85, dmg 19
CR 6
HP 100, dmg 21
CR 7
HP 120, dmg 23
CR 8 (Young Green Dragon)
HP 135, HD 20, dmg 26

Damage calculation for multiple attacks: Creatures with multiple attacks are assumed to do average damage for their first attack, and half average damage for subsequent attacks. (This is to factor in the possibility of hitting with one attack but not the other.)

Hit Die Type by Size
Hit die type appears, without exception, to be tied to size. This is even the case with classed NPCs: NPC mages use d8s, as do fighters. As far as I can tell, large monsters will sometimes have fewer HD to keep their HP appropriate to CR. This doesn't appear to the be the case for smaller creatures, however.

HD and size correspond as follows:

Tiny: d4
Small: d6
Medium: d8
Large: d10
Huge: d12?

Also note that HP values varied rather widely as of CR 2 or so. This is accounted for somewhat by the fact that creatures factor their Con modifier into every hit die - so a 7 HD monster with a Con score of 16 has an extra 21 hp on a 7 HD creature with Con 10.

Miscellaneous Crunch

Proficiency Bonus: Monsters have proficiency bonus factored into their math. However, it scales with Challenge Rating rather than HD - at least as far as I can tell. Every creature in the starter set bestiary has a +2 (even monsters with 6 or 7 HD, well into +3 territory for a PC) -- except for the Young Green Dragon, which has a +3, and is also the only creature with a CR greater than 4. An 8 HD PC has a +3 proficiency bonus, so proficiency-by-CR seems like the best bet.

Saves: Many creatures do not apply proficiency to any of their saves. Classed NPCs (NPC Fighter and 4th-level Wizard) have saves according to their class, and the Young Green Dragon has hella saves, but otherwise that's pretty much it. (The zombie has proficiency to Wisdom saves for reason??)

Skills: Many monsters don't have skills. When they do, it's usually pretty integral to their concept: Goblins and spiders have Stealth; Wolves has Stealth and Perception; some more majicky intelligent creatures have Arcana.

Some creatures even have double their proficiency bonus on certains kills as per a rogue's Expertise feature. The goblin, for example, has a +6 to stealth, despite having a +2 Dex modifier and a +2 proficiency bonus - so it would appear it gets double proficiency on those rolls.

Nonproficiency on Secondary Attacks: The ghoul applies its proficiency bonus with its claws but not its bite, which would suggest that it is not considered to be proficient with bite attacks. So that's a thing. As far as I can tell the ghoul is the only monster where this is the case.

Ability Scores: Ranged pretty widely according to monster concept. They rarely went higher than 16 (although the Owlbear does have 20 Strength, and the Young Green Dragon's lowest ability score is 12, its highest is 19). I tried to calculate average ability score modifier per CR but the numbers came up nonsense. These seem more an art than a science.

So here's how I would make a monster for 5e

  1. Come up with a monster.
  2. Determine CR. It seems to me like a CR 1 monster poses a serious but survivable challenge for a group of 3-5 well-prepared PCs of level 1. Someone who's played more can probably tell you more about this. This will give you the creature's proficiency bonus, where CR = effective PC level.
  3. Assign Ability Scores. Whatever feels right, keeping in mind that 10 average and 20 represents the absolute peak of human capacity.
  4. Determine size. This will determine the monster's HD type.
  5. Determine number of HD. This should usually be the average for a creature of this CR. Large creatures might have fewer to keep HP reasonable, and creatures with extraordinary powers might also have fewer. If it's supposed to be like a tank, give it a couple extra.
  6. Give it attacks and powers. For attacks I'd use average damage per CR as a guideline. Use ability scores and proficiency bonus to calculate to-hit bonus.
  7. Assign skills and saves. This is really according to concept. If a skill seems really important, give it expertise.
  8. Ok done.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Some creatures you might run into in the Bubble Palace

If you're in my group, stop reading. Don't go past the jump and look at the pictures. You'll see them in due time. You know who you are.

Are they gone?

Okay, hit the jump.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Two and a Half More House Rules

Following up on this...

A warrior-type can scream a battle-cry once per combat to get a +1 on an attack roll. The player must literally scream. If screaming is not appropriate right now, you may quietly make a hell of a show of how berserk your PC is going instead.

Rogue-types may pantomime the skill they are attempting and then strike a flashy pose for a +1 on a skill roll. This may be done once per skill per session.

Pictured: 6th-level thief????


This one won't work in my current campaign. Some day though.

Once per session, a character can try to do something totally impossible. They can work a wonder.

A fighter can jump 30 feet in the air and slice of all of a hydra's head. A wizard causes a foe to explode with a glance. A cleric commands the clouds to part and the great face of their god looms above, throwing down thunderbolts. A thief runs down a hallway, setting off and dodging every trap with her eyes closed. Something ridiculous and spectacular and kind of anime.

I don't think this image works that well unless you've seen the episode but oh well.
Roll under level.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


Putting my horrible monstrosity of a Frankenheartbreaker here if anyone's interested.

Remind me to draw some cartoon adventurers arguing over who has to go in first.

Base system is Beyond the Wall with the following (numerous) tweaks.

No Fortune Points. I've removed these because I hate metagame currencies.

Ability Scores 3d6 in order, swap two if you want. If the sum of your modifiers is less than 0, you may roll again.

HD & Damage. PC HP has been dialed down a little. Damage is according to weapon type and class.

Weapon types are:
Light - Things like daggers - one handed and concealable.
One-handed - Fairly self-evident
Two-handed - Again, pretty clear. Certain one-handed weapons can be wielded two-handed for extra damage.

CLASS     HD    LIGHT      1-HANDED     2-HANDED
Warrior     d8        d6                 d8                    d10
Rogue       d6        d4                 d6                    d8
Mage        d4        d4                 d4                    d6

HP caps off at level 10 and then increases by by 1 per level, or 2 if you're a warrior.

Skills & Non-Combat Tasks
To do a thing, roll a d12+ability mod vs target number. Target numbers are 7 (challenging) 9 (hard) 11 (very hard) 13 (expert).

Skills are nebulous and silly. If you have a skill that obviously applies to a non-combat, non-magic, non-save roll, add half your level rounding up. After level 10 your skill bonus increases slower. It increases to +6 at level 13, +7 at level 16, and +8 at level 20. You may take a skill twice to double your bonus, but it can never exceed +10. Every character begins play with two skills.

If you're wearing armour and it seems like it would get in the way, or are encumbered, roll at Disadvantage a la 5e.

Saving Throws Unified save lifted directly from Swords & Wizardry. Characters apply relevant ability modifiers to saves.

Magic Untouched from Beyond the Wall.

Inventory & Encumbrance Thanks, Arnold

Starting equipment is massively handwaved. DM chooses a bunch of shit that makes sense for you to have, you are argue about it for a while, and then you choose 3 more mundane things you have on you. Also, 10 gp.

What Happens When You Hit 0 HP? Thanks again, Arnold.

Basically also stolen in part from Arnold but I can't find the link.

Enemies have static initiative equal to 10+HD. Might get curved down ad-hoc for enemies with more than, say, 5 HD.

PCs roll 1d20 + Dex modifier. They get a bonus based on level: Rogues add their level, Warriors add half their level, and Mages add nothing. Initiative is rolled at the beginning of every round.

PCs act in groups, depending on who goes before the monsters and who goes after. So if players A, B, and C win initiative and players D and E lose, players A, B, and C, can act in whatever order they want, then the monsters, then D and E.


Rogues as BtW but since they no longer have fortune points they instead pick two skills as their "specialty skills." These skills count as having been taken twice (thanks for the idea, 5e).

Mages and Warriors essentially untouched.

Bards because I like them are mages but restricted to spells and such that are tricky. You can opt out of rituals to get a d6 hit die and an extra skill.

Elves can't have a Fortune Point penalty so they only have one skill instead.

Clerics because I like them too HD and damage as Rogue. Initiative as a Warrior. May cast spells in armour. Get spells and rituals, but no cantrips. Start with 3 spells instead of 2. Spells limited to those that make sense for deity.

Dwarves and Halflings idk I'll figure these out when someone wants to play one.

Custom classes, races, whatever Most of the time you can easily choose some configuration of class and skill selection and draw some stupid critter and your character is that.

If you want something more complicated ask and we'll work something out.

Dramatis Personae

Characters currently active in my Rappan Athuk campaign:

Curtis "The Cleaver", Trucker; Fighter

Marmaduke, Accordion Bard

Taro Bun, Elf.
Their player didn't need no stinkin' inclusivity clause to know she could pick her character's pronoun.

Handsome, Cleric.
Worships Niceness, who lives in the Field, and looks like a giant smiling Man-Baby.

Cher, Cat Witch, and her Homunculus

Don't even fucking ask.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A House Rule

A magic-user gets a +1 to all rolls associated with the resolution of a spell, provided the player introduces the spell with a short, improvised, rhyming incantation.

The rhyme need not be especially clever. However, the spell backfires horribly if the player reuses a rhyme, or rhymes a word with itself.

At the DM's discretion, the bonus may be increased to +2 if the rhyme leaves the whole table cackling.