Featured DM to DM Q&A

Discussion in 'The Lobby' started by chefTENGU, Aug 4, 2009.

  1. chefTENGU

    chefTENGU Does not approve Administrator

    Likes Received:
    377
    Local Time:
    1:42 PM
    Unconsciousness can come about from many things aside from HP loss, such as a sleep spell. Creatures that don't sleep probably can't be forcefully subjected to a condition that mimics it.
     
  2. Seegtease

    Seegtease Merciful Mage of Many Means Administrator

    Likes Received:
    330
    Local Time:
    11:42 AM
    Don't monsters actually die at -10, but it's just treated as being dead for the sake of narrative when it's apparant they have no way to recover? I mean, NPCS have fallen and Venali has healed them up. If they were enemies, I'm sure they'd still be alive, but described as bleeding out.
     
  3. Bloodcinder

    Bloodcinder Developer

    Likes Received:
    326
    Local Time:
    2:42 PM
    What you described, with negative HP and the -10 instant death threshold, is from 3.5e, which was pretty complicated and annoying.

    In 5e, HP can only go to 0, not negative. At HP 0, you become unconscious and start dying. On each subsequent turn you make a saving throw to see if you move towards death or stabilizing. A total of 3 successes and you become stable. A total of 3 failures and you die. If you're reduced to HP 0 and there's excess damage left to take that's more than your maximum HP itself, then you instantly die. For example, if you're at HP 4 and you're hit for 23 damage then there's 19 excess damage, so if your max HP is 19 or lower then you die. That's all there is to dying in 5e.

    In addition, if you reduce a creature to HP 0 using a melee hit then you can choose to knock them unconscious but stable instead of fatally wounding them. This takes the place of nonlethal damage in older editions, which just plain doesn't exist in 5e. Want to knock somebody out? No need to count up two different kinds of damage. Just decide to knock them out when you reduce them to HP 0.

    It's a lot easier to keep track of. The rules from the SRD are available here.

    The issue is that some monsters have a conditional immunity to unconsciousness, which implies that at HP 0 they don't become unconscious, they just start dying-- and since monsters usually insta-die instead of bleeding out slowly over the course of rounds, then this implies that in most cases a monster with immunity to unconsciousness would just die immediately at HP 0. However, as Kevin pointed out, other things can cause unconsciousness, like sleep effects, so it just means the monster is immune to those effects.
     
  4. Seegtease

    Seegtease Merciful Mage of Many Means Administrator

    Likes Received:
    330
    Local Time:
    11:42 AM
    Well just because there are other ways to be unconscious doesn't mean they aren't including this one.

    I'd just interpret it the same way - they have to do their three successive checks, and they are conscious for it, but incapacitated. A minor difference that changes nothing tactically.
     
  5. chefTENGU

    chefTENGU Does not approve Administrator

    Likes Received:
    377
    Local Time:
    1:42 PM
    It's a moot point because DMs don't generally bother with death saving throws for things that can't be made unconscious. Death is death.
     
  6. Seegtease

    Seegtease Merciful Mage of Many Means Administrator

    Likes Received:
    330
    Local Time:
    11:42 AM
    Is that an established rule or just general policy? I guess the kind of things that can't be unconscious (undead, constructs, I'm guessing) wouldn't have a dying phase anyway.
     
  7. chefTENGU

    chefTENGU Does not approve Administrator

    Likes Received:
    377
    Local Time:
    1:42 PM
    It's up to the DM.
     
  8. Bloodcinder

    Bloodcinder Developer

    Likes Received:
    326
    Local Time:
    2:42 PM
    The PHB suggests that most DM's will instantly kill an enemy that reaches HP 0. I do this for monsters and humanoid enemies unless the players have mentioned trying to go easy on the enemies in some fashion. For example, if they want to save a humanoid enemy or interrogate somebody later and they don't bother to just knock them out then I'll do their death saves in case somebody wants to stabilize them.

    Yes, I meant to say that if the monster is immune to unconciousness then that will primarily manifest as immunity to sleep effects but is not exclusive to sleep effects.

    However, the rules for conditions and damage don't state that you become incapacitated at HP 0. They state that you become unconscious, which as part of its definition states that you become incapacitated. So if you're immune to unconsciousness, then you don't become unconscious and therefore don't become incapacitated. You'd be dying at HP 0 and subject to death saves but you would still be functional because you would never become incapacitated. Since that would be weird and since the rules for death saves are written under the assumption that a creature becomes unconscious at HP 0 prior to the start of death saves, I think immunity to unconsciousness is intended to depend upon a DM running HP 0 as instant-death for monsters.

    Or, in other words, notwithstanding that last paragraph of analysis, which I think is fundamentally correct... it doesn't matter, because monsters die instantly at HP 0 and there aren't any humanoids that are immune to unconsciousness in order for it to matter if the DM decides they get death saves at HP 0.
     
  9. chefTENGU

    chefTENGU Does not approve Administrator

    Likes Received:
    377
    Local Time:
    1:42 PM
    Any sensible DM that made a PC race or creature that was immune to unconsciousness but might need to make death saving throws would certainly just rule it as "incapacitated while dying".
     
  10. chefTENGU

    chefTENGU Does not approve Administrator

    Likes Received:
    377
    Local Time:
    1:42 PM
    Fake Edit: or better yet, paralyzed or stunned.
     
  11. Bloodcinder

    Bloodcinder Developer

    Likes Received:
    326
    Local Time:
    2:42 PM
    Yeah, I agree. Although, just making them "incapacitated while dying" would actually be helpful for big bads who need to run away to fight another day, since they could still move and use bonus actions while they are dying.
     
  12. Seegtease

    Seegtease Merciful Mage of Many Means Administrator

    Likes Received:
    330
    Local Time:
    11:42 AM
    Nah, they just can't go below 1hp, and once they get there, they use their ultimate move that heals them fully and reduces your whole party to 1, because they had enough!
     
  13. Bloodcinder

    Bloodcinder Developer

    Likes Received:
    326
    Local Time:
    2:42 PM
    I've hard some hard scenarios where I had to rig a boss to be able to escape, and sometimes it works out about like you suggested.
     
  14. Bloodcinder

    Bloodcinder Developer

    Likes Received:
    326
    Local Time:
    2:42 PM
    Can you figure out what the Hobgoblin Iron Shadow's offensive and defensive CR's are supposed to be? This one's a bit complex, and I have a hard time reverse-engineering CR's when the offensive and defensive are different.

    I need to know what they are so that I can scale it up in the future, since I'm using it as the basis for an ongoing villain.

    (It's in Volo's on page 162. I attached it in case you don't have access.)
     

    Attached Files:

  15. chefTENGU

    chefTENGU Does not approve Administrator

    Likes Received:
    377
    Local Time:
    1:42 PM
    Judging that none of the hobgoblin's features impact its effective attributes other than where obvious, I arrive at the following:

    Defensive: 1/4 (for 32 hp and adjusted up 1 rank for extra AC)

    Offensive: 3 (for an average of 22 damage per round, the extra attack bonus is too modest to impact CR)

    The average CR would then be 1.625, which rounds up to 2.

    You could make a case that Shadow Jaunt should somehow enhance the creature's defensive CR (though I'd consider that a stretch when normal Teleport doesn't impact CR at all), but you're ultimately left with the same result unless you drastically improve the hobgoblin's HP, resistances, saves, and/or AC.
     
    Bloodcinder likes this.
  16. Bloodcinder

    Bloodcinder Developer

    Likes Received:
    326
    Local Time:
    2:42 PM
    So suppose I wanted to adjust it up 1 challenge rating at a time. For example, to CR 3. Could you tutor me in how you would do that? I'm pretty sure (based on the estimate of 1/4 defensive and 3 offensive) that I could "just" increase its defensive to 2 and its offensive to 4 by tweaking the numbers according to the CR table (basically by sliding the defensive and offensive parameters down the table), but would you do anything more than that?

    And at what point would you consider modifying stuff other than numbers, such as by adding features? Wait until CR 5 when the PC's have gotten their growth spurt?

    It doesn't exactly have the spells known and slot progression of a 2nd level wizard. It has one spell more than it should. After advancing it to another CR, how should I advance its spellcasting abilities in terms of slots and spells known?
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2017
  17. chefTENGU

    chefTENGU Does not approve Administrator

    Likes Received:
    377
    Local Time:
    1:42 PM
    You have a lot of options. The easy but boring way is to just increase its HD or tinker with its DEX and WIS until its AC is higher. That's the way I would go until the party starts improving.

    Once they get to level 5 or so, you can start to take the kid gloves off. Giving it damage resistances (perhaps from a magic item that bestows resistance to non-magic weapon damage, say) is a great way to increase increase effective HP without having to give it a bucket of extra HD.

    The hobgoblin is based on a PC shadowdancer, so find ways to enchance its abilities or add to them in a way that fits the theme. Martial Arts would steadily incrrase the damage die, but perhaps you could also give it appropriate reactions or an expanded spell list for such a character (heavy on evasion and illusions, for instance). Eventually, you could also give it save proficency for DEX and WIS, maybe even make them Legendary Resistances.

    Of course, you could opt to shake things up by giving the hobgoblin access to powers the PCs wouldn't expect, especially if it acquires a magic weapon or other such device, or you might find ways to make it "multiclass" into fighter or sorcerer abilities.

    As for how to handle spellcasting as a monster ability, you have a lot of wiggle room. While it might cast spells as a wizard, there's nothing to stop you from applying bonus spells or other things to it until it has a range of powers that you like. You won't have to worry too much about CR, either, because most spells won't influence it unduly. Note how the Archmage NPC casts as an 18th-level wizard but has a CR of 12 or so.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2017
  18. Bloodcinder

    Bloodcinder Developer

    Likes Received:
    326
    Local Time:
    2:42 PM
    That is all helpful advice. Thank you. For reference, the villain is "the Bogeyman," a recurring character who is a serial killer in the real world and literally the bogeyman in the nightmare world. He constitutes the "A plot" right now for the Silent Hill/Feral Sods-inspired campaign with my offline group and is roughly the equivalent of Doug Occam ("the man with the blue eyes") from Feral Sods or Walter Sullivan from Silent Hill For-the-Room. So evasion (being able to escape to persist another day) and illusion (being able to trick and confuse) are indeed the premise of the character. I used the Hobgoblin Iron Shadow because it allowed me to pit a CR 2 boss against them at 1st level that was thematically accurate, obviously a threat, and capable of being overcome by a party of 6. I may not stick with this particular stat block if I find another one that I consider more thematic in its powers (perhaps a vampire or werewolf or something else traditionally supernatural in the various monster books would work better), and the only thing I'm really attached to is Shadow Jaunt, but that's easy to copy, and there are several other monster abilities that are roughly similar with varying thematic touches. (They're all just specialized versions of an at-will misty step anyway.)
     
    chefTENGU likes this.