problems with monster HP: prove me wrong! or right!

This morning I claimed that monsters gain too many HP per level, based on the fact that a) PC damage increases by 1 point per attack, and b) the design intent is that monsters be killed by 4 attacks.

Check my math! I said that a reasonable average damage for level-30 at-wills is 38 HP (or slightly more for a striker). Can you guys make me some builds? (Remember, these are all-around decent character builds, not optimized-for-damage builds.) The rules are: you choose a class, an at-will power, an attribute arrangement of your choice, and no more than 4 feats and 2 magic items.

8 Responses to “problems with monster HP: prove me wrong! or right!”

  1. Charles says:

    I have been toning down high-level monster HP for a while because monsters just took too long to die. But I kept running into problems: the large number of high-level encounter powers in the group and escalating critical damage. The critical damage was easy … I increase the critical die size instead of adding new dice when you increase the weapon or implment’s + (with some adjustments for high-crit weapons). But I still haven’t figured out how to adjust monster hit points to accommodate both at-wills and high level encounter powers in the epic tier.

  2. Kensan_Oni says:

    While I can show you how easy it is using just the plain old PHB to get numbers into the mid 40’s without too much effort, that’s not really what I see as a real issue.

    I agree Monster HP gets out of hand and takes too long to take monsters down, as I have made a extensive analysis beforehand, it’s not the damage that PC’s are putting out that’s really the problem, but the amount of damage the monsters do in comparison to the HP’s a PC has. A party that has cold dice in the late Paragon levels has near no chance of recovering. In fact, late epic levels are easier then late Paragon levels, by straight math.

    I highly encourage you to expand your analysis to include seeing how long it takes monsters to kill PC’s in return. I think you’ll find the numbers telling.

  3. I think assuming that a 30th level character will be dependent on his at-wills is a problem in of itself. Other than the Rogue, I can’t see any other class being so reliant on at-wills.

    Most fights will last around 4-6 rounds. By 30th, they have enough encounter/daily powers to use those every round rather than at-wills.

  4. paul paul says:

    Do you really have level 30 fights that last 4 rounds? That would be awesome.

  5. Rory Rory says:

    I don’t know if I’d say your restrictions are entirely fair. Level 30 characters have a lot more to work with. I built a battlerager vigor kensei demigod that can do about 50+ damage with an at-will and about as many feats and items as your restrictions.

    Also, the way I see D&D, you ultimately have two paths for building a character: Do as much damage as possible/assist in doing so for your group OR prevent/heal as much damage as possible. Obviously the ways you go about doing so differ a lot (a controller prevents damage by putting down terrain and inflicting status effects, while a defender prevents damage by getting people to attack them and not getting hit), but it really boils down to those concepts.

    With that in mind, damage builds should be pretty high on everyone’s priority list! If I make a cleric that sinks all his bonuses into healing, that’s fine, but I’m not exactly doing my best to keep up with the damage curve. I’ve made a conscious choice to trade my damage for my healing.

    Also, I don’t think there are many builds that shouldn’t be thinking about dishing out damage A LOT. You should always be thinking “if I were replaced by an optimized (but not cheezy) striker, would the party be a lot better off?” If the answer is yes, then you have a problem! A big way to mitigate that is too turn up the damage. If a striker can literally double your damage output, then I think there’s a problem there! Fighters and other defenders really care about this; if a striker can double your damage, then your free attack when someone ignores your mark doesn’t count for much, since you’re barely catching up to the striker in that case!

  6. paul paul says:

    That’s a good build. I wonder if my group are just not very good optimizers. No one was doing 50+ damage with their at-wills. Maybe the barbarian was, during her rage.

  7. UHF says:

    Certainly a component of this is no different than older D&D. You must adjust based on your players capabilities and of course their characters.

    As a matter of role playing. If the characters are optimized… bring it on, and I do. If the characters are more about role playing, then I’ll tone it down based on experience and how they handle themselves.

    Putting my money where my mouth is, I run 2 parties, 1 is optimized strikers, and I generally run them 1 level higher than recommended to keep it challenging for them, and the other party is pretty average and unoptimized in any way (they use long swords! long swords!), and I run them EL-1.

    What I do find with 4e is that the fights are consistent for a DM to run. I know what the challenge level is with relative ease, and of course the players aren’t bored waiting for the wizard to finish the job for them.

  8. Armisael says:

    Quickie math to make a point here:

    Barbarian Class, uses Howling Strike, not charging
    Uses Frost Weapon, Shard of Merciless Cold
    Has Icy Heart, Lasting Frost, Fullblade Proficiency, no other important feats for damage are available.
    Uses Demigod for ED and has a stat mod of 9.

    Damage: 2d12+3d6+15 (+5 on subsequent hits).

    Average: 13+10.5+15 = 47.5 (+5 on subsequent hits, crits are not factored in).

    Conclusion? This damage is not reasonable average damage, because I’m using the second-best weapon package in the game, using a big weapon, using a power with lots of extra dice…and I just barely got past the requisite damage and without optimizing for damage on a Striker. Let’s try this again, for kicks, this time with a non-striker using mildly damaging options.

    Fighter, uses Cleave
    Uses Feyslaughter Weapon, Shard of Bleeding Wounds
    Has Weapon Focus, Marked Scourge, Cruel Cut Style, Bastard Sword proficiency
    Uses Demigod ED, STR/WIS pairings, both at 9.

    Damage: 2d10+27 (+11 ongoing damage)

    Average: 48.5 (if enemy saves against the ongoing before taking damage, 37.5)

    This would appear to disprove my results above…but ah ah ah, I’m ALSO using a damaging package here! And a better one than the one the Barbarian had, even! So, let’s do this one final time, and take a good look at what the damage output of a class that doesn’t have incredible feats is like.

    Paladin, uses Virtuous Strike
    Uses Feyslaughter Weapon, Iron Armbands of Power
    Has Bastard Sword Proficiency and a damage boosting domain feat, no other relevant feats found
    Demigod in use

    Damage: 2d10+25

    Average damage: 36

    In other words…an average character without a damage tilt FAILS to meet the benchmark, interestingly enough. This is particularly worrisome because this just assumed damage on a successful hit – this is NOT damage per attack, so to-hit isn’t factored in. Add that, and the average damage values assuming a 60% hitrate (AKA you’re fighting an enemy on your level…not the norm in Epic) are:

    Barbarian: 28.8 (31.3 on subsequent attacks)

    Fighter: 29.1 (-6.6 damage if enemies save against ongoing before it’s their turn)

    Paladin: 21.6

    Conclusion: 38 damage is too low as a benchmark for your average party. This goes double when you consider all implement users will deal less damage, and that certain characters such as wizards have a damage output that approaches zero after accounting for hitrate.

    Here’s to hoping this mathematical analysis helps you out, Paul!

    -Armisael, CharOp Handbook Writer

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