PDA

View Full Version : How Commonly do DM's use Monster INT's??



Malruhn
04-29-2008, 08:11 PM
Considering the turn in this thread (http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/showthread.php?p=30206#post30206), I have to ask the question:

How often do DM's actually use the INT or WIS of the monster when designing an adventure - or when the monster is in battle??

It certainly seems like it is pretty rare.

I hear about players that are able to have fighters singlehandedly slay 100 enemies. I hear about small groups of characters able to waltz into a dragon's lair and slay it without so much as a near-casualty. I hear stories of small groups of players able to stave off attacks of huge armies - with only stuff that might help MacGuyver.

Have things crapped out so badly that DM's don't consider the INT/WIS/experience of the monsters they use any more? If so, it truly saddens me. :tsk:

Dimthar
04-29-2008, 08:19 PM
Truth is, a lot of the battle outcome is decided by the DM capacity to deploy the full arrange of abilities and actions a Monster / NPC is capable of.

It is you (GM) vs the Players during the Combat and IMHO, "Preparation" is the best thing you can do to have a challenging duel with the party.

Since I had the same problem in the past, so I created a "Thread Series" named: Monster Boot Camp Series.

Dragon and Beholder were the first 2, perhaps it is time to add a new one.

Webhead
04-29-2008, 08:35 PM
I think it probably is a tragically uncommon thing for DMs to utilize the intelligence of the monsters, but it all depends on the DM. I, for one, definately play intelligent monsters with intelligence. I like to have monsters set ambushes, traps and actually have battle strategies when appropriate. I also tend to have intelligent monsters retreat or surrender when the odds prove to be against them. A smart monster isn't going to fight to the death unless he fears retribution by his master (if any) more than death itself. Every moment the monster spends alive in surrender is another opportunity to get the drop on the PCs or even manipulate them into aiding the monster without them knowing.

I also like to play some monsters "heroically" on occasion. By that I mean the monsters have champions of their own who will do dangerous things to protect their kind or their agenda. Some monsters will sacrifice themselves to allow others to escape or will distract the heroes so that their plan can be uninterrupted. Monsters have heroes too, albeit with their own (if skewed) view of the world.

RealmsDM
04-29-2008, 09:33 PM
I'd say that using the monsters Int & Wis score doesn't happen very often in your average adventure. Mostly becasue DMs don't bother, but also due to the fine line of a DM tailoring an encounter to be a PC meatgrinder.
Its easy for a DM to slip up while designing a monster encounter, and outfit a dragon say, with all the right spells, in the perfect environment, with just the right henchmen, and use all of these to their fullest, as if- now get this- he knew the PCs were coming & he had a detailed list of their abilities & magic powers!!! :suspicious:

Don't fall into the DM pit of omnipotence... its easier than you might think!

Kilrex
04-29-2008, 09:57 PM
I actually use the Int and Wis very often. And perhaps even more of a rarity, morale checks. I found a really nice morale system in some oddball book I was perusing once and bought. I updated the system to 3rd and have always used it. It requires no dice roles. Give every creature a base score using Wis, Int and a racial/social modifier. The actions taken by the party and environment will raise or lower the 'encounter morale' if the morale drop below 0, they flee or surrender.

Once had an army of goblins surrender after 1 round in which the fighter killed every creature within about a 40 ft range using his guisarme, wizard cleared a large spot with enlarged fireball, ranger killed the chief from 400 ft using 4 arrows, and the rogue back stabbed the goblin shaman. The Paladin and cleric didn't do much of anything to affect morale. So the party had to deal with about 300 Gob prisoners.

agoraderek
04-29-2008, 10:19 PM
i've always assumed that at the very least, most monsters would have a level of cunning, if not outright intelligence. but ive never played monsters stupid, unless there was a specific reason to do so.

dm's that use monsters as mere props are doing their players a disservice, in my opinion.

Freejack
04-29-2008, 10:20 PM
While not D&D related (well, somewhat), I would be thoughtful about the dungeons I created way back when I ran games. Several of my first "dungeons" were turned into cave complexes with wet and dry "rooms", especially after our gaming group went and toured a real cave complex (Endless Caverns in Virginia). That was a great outing. We got lots of great information on caves and living vs dead caves and understanding how they're created.

Heck, some of my worst "monsters" were the caves themselves :)

Now I have an even better handle on how to run a bad guy and have even had the team encounter her and her team during their regular missions (Shadowrun).

Carl

Digital Arcanist
04-30-2008, 12:20 AM
All of my monsters and NPC's have both an intelligence and wisdom score to determine their behavior.

It makes no sense if every orc you come across is a rampaging berserker who fights until the end.

tesral
04-30-2008, 07:49 AM
Always. However: 100 guys into a meat grinder? What is the alternative? If the alternative is worse than getting killed, you do it. If they had bows they would use them, not everyone has one. And it simply takes one good hit to knock a hero down. You might be the one to deliver that hit. Odds are in a pack of 100 Chods vs Mr Epic that 5 will hit. (Mind you no matter the Int score they are not doing the math.) One hit could be the critical that takes Mr Epic down. (again they are not doing the math, they are fighting for what ever they are fighting for. They don't have "Chod" over their head and Mr Epic doesn't have "Epic".

Now my 100 Chods are going to use the terrain and anything else. But if you don't have that, if it's a freaking choke point you cannot let them past, what do you do? My 100 Chods are (if they have them) going to present a wall of pointy things the Hero must approach. However they have the weapons that make sense for their place and time, not the weapons that are best for taking down the party.

My NPCs are not designed around "killing the PCs." They are designed around doing what they are currently doing. Thry don't have a "basket of endless weapons and/or spells I might need." That is me the DM using my INT and WIS scores. Getting around the encounter is the players using theirs.

Great Cleave is simply a sign of how broken feats are.

I don't dis the encounter unless I know all the circumstances behind it. 100 guys no missile weapons, and their mommas and babies behind them? Yea they fight the hopeless odds.

Skunkape
04-30-2008, 09:51 AM
My players are always worried about encounters with anything other than mindless creatures in the game, particularly when they're going into the enemy’s lair. While I'm not out to kill my players, there have been plenty of times when they aren't thinking nearly as well as the creatures they are fighting and it's almost cost them members of the party on numerous instances (one instance comes to mind when the cleric in the party had to take a couple of AoOs to stabilize the wizard in the party).

But I also make sure that my encounters match the encounter level of the party when the PCs decide it's time for combat. So I'd have to say that I try and think about what kind of intelligent tactics the creatures I send against the party will use, provided said creature is intelligent enough to think that kind of thing through.

cplmac
04-30-2008, 02:50 PM
Yes, you have to take these stats into consideration. Although, usually there is information on the combat strategies of monsters in the manual. If you are using a creature of your own creation, be sure to have this information wrote down, so that you are consistant from one encounter to the next.

amardolem
04-30-2008, 04:36 PM
As a side note, I think it's all in what you and your players want from a game. Some people may like to have a hero that is cutting down enemies like so much chaff, in a huge battle. Whether it be part of a scene or the end of a long fought campaign to rid demon x's influence over the land or what have you. Some players and DM's don't want a huge challenge they just want ot be creative and have a grand storylike experience. I posted something some where about a standard pt buy 25 pts. People were outraged as if I were being deprived of a "good" game by the weakness of it. But it's fun! I'm also in a PBP with generic (from the SRD) characters and almost no combat or magic, but it's fun! I love the game and I love taking down baddies with awsome magic and killer weapons too, but everybody doesn't necessarily fit that mold, so this discussion could gone on till the death of the sun without resolution! I haven't DMed in a while and my memories of those games sen through the lens of nostalgia so my old players would have to pipe up for me to say whether I played it smart or not...but I'm planning to get behind the screen soon so I'll re-up then with a somewhat more realistic idea of my style

Malruhn
04-30-2008, 10:28 PM
Please don't think that my games are just set up to kill PC's. My goal is to have the enemies act like something other than mindless zombies. If it's just a hack and slash bloodfest, I'd run a night-of-the-living-dead campaign. If the adventurers are up against bandits, the bandits are going to behave like at least modestly intelligent creatures, and will do everything they can do to survive. They will defend until they see threats and then flee. If they can't, they will defend to the second they have a chance to flee, or until they figure that surrender will keep them alive. If an attack on the PC's is the best choice, then they will attack, and will be as ruthlessly as possible.
Remember, that these guys are criminals and have nothing to lose. Even if they are addicted to lotus flowers and started off as supremely stupid, they still have a strong desire to survive.

THAT's how I run encounters.

A creature that has high intelligence - and a long lifespan - will have even more skill at survival. They will have minions, helpers, traps, devious plans, and ingenious hooks to keep themselves alive. In my world, the worst thing you can do is to take on a dragon or a vampire that is more than a decade old. They are the very best at surviving, because they have so much experience and time to get good at it.

This doesn't consider the bad guys that plan for the adventurers to have swords and fire-spells, and the party has bows and sound-spells. That counts as a huge, "Oops!" and the party will reap the benefits.

---EDITED FOR CONTENT:
Now, for the 100 pieces of cannon-fodder that were slain single-handedly, the description is that the guy was part of a long line of well-entrenched defenders, but it's obvious that it was just a "I'm gonna stand here and you guys come at me until you are all dead. In addition to feats that allow multiple AoO's after an enemy goes down, physics has to be involved. This is NOT a kung fu movie where the enemies just come at you one at a time. If the bad guys have absolutely no choice, then they will attack en masse and the goal would be to overbear the supposed hero. We're talking many, many opportunities to overbear this joker. If nothing else, the stack of bodies will keep the bad guys from continuing their attacks!!

Sorry, the battle doesn't pass the smell test for me. It was a gimme from an underwhelming DM.

tesral
05-01-2008, 06:10 AM
Remember, that these guys are criminals and have nothing to lose. Even if they are addicted to lotus flowers and started off as supremely stupid, they still have a strong desire to survive.

THAT's how I run encounters.


Except when the culture is strongly anti-surrender, and to surrender is to die a lingering death at the hands of the Law. Yea, those pirates fought like demons and fought to the last man. They had nothing to win by giving up. Everything to lose and a better death in combat than by surrendering.

There where a bunch of baby eating cannibals to be sure as well as pirates, but it is amazing what people will do when they have nothing to lose.

They fought smart, but they fought to the last. Death in battle was better than death as a condemed man.

The PCs also did things like sneak in, come in through the roof and other such not so fair tricks.

Valdar
05-04-2008, 03:02 PM
My monsters have to be less intelligent than my PCs, otherwise the game will be mighty short. So yeah, they're pretty dense. Though, typically the party has an element of surprise, and those monsters have never faced anything like a PC in their life, so by the time the monster figures out that these aren't food-grade humans, it's too late.

I've heard that there will be a few things in 4e to mitigate the unrealism here- such as designing encounters to include the dungeon room you're in, and eventually all the monsters within hearing range.

Also, 4e is getting away from the concept of monsters and PCs having the same rules, so I suspect that most monsters are going to stop having INT scores (or any scores beyond their attack and defense bonuses.)

tesral
05-04-2008, 09:12 PM
Also, 4e is getting away from the concept of monsters and PCs having the same rules, so I suspect that most monsters are going to stop having INT scores (or any scores beyond their attack and defense bonuses.)

Everything old is new again. Sounds just like the old days of 1st ed.

I am highly against separate rules for player characters and "monsters". I don't see the universe as knowing the difference. So my rules don't know the difference.

Last night a group of eight 8th level PCs took down a 40th level magician just proving the power of the many. Yes he used that high Int stat, but when you get dog piled and grappled there isn't much you can do about it. Sure he killed three of them and left the rest staggering with one spell, but they got closely and very personally intimate with keeping him from doing that again.

boulet
05-04-2008, 10:22 PM
Wow Tesral, keep it PG-13 please ! I'm all sweaty with those subliminal pictures of yours about hot promiscuity with a gray beard wizard ! I hope you mention the proper use of condoms to your players...

tesral
05-05-2008, 11:38 AM
Wow Tesral, keep it PG-13 please ! I'm all sweaty with those subliminal pictures of yours about hot promiscuity with a gray beard wizard ! I hope you mention the proper use of condoms to your players...

Dude, you have not seen me get dirty.

Valdar
05-05-2008, 12:02 PM
I am highly against separate rules for player characters and "monsters". I don't see the universe as knowing the difference. So my rules don't know the difference.


I'd rather have asymmetrical rules than have to follow the PC's character generation system for everything the party encounters. The NPCs don't need the same level of options and balance that PCs do, so it just seems like overkill to know every last stat about them.

tesral
05-05-2008, 03:15 PM
I'd rather have asymmetrical rules than have to follow the PC's character generation system for everything the party encounters. The NPCs don't need the same level of options and balance that PCs do, so it just seems like overkill to know every last stat about them.

Ya think? Like it was in 1st/2nd editions and before that?

Every thing old is new again.

I rather like having the monsters stated out. And if you know anything about your encounter you don't need to stat every every little thing. I don't use feats and I don't tend to do monster skills. It doesn't come up.

Schmall
05-16-2008, 01:48 PM
My players have long since found out that dozen hobgoblin slavers are a nasty group to be ambushed by no matter the level you are. All it takes is one enhanced net of entangling to drop on thier big melee guy and a stone with a permenet spell of 15' r of silence on it chucked at the feet of the spell casters (the hobgoblins used the stone to also sneak up on the PCs too!). Guess they should be more careful when tracking down the slavers in thier own woods....

My point, even lowly goblins and orcs can be deadly to epic charecters with the right background story. give a colony of goblins a hunderd years to build complex, deadly traps coupled with hidden arrow slit all through out the dungeon, and you have a dungeon orginally designed for 1-4 level PC to a 6-8 levels needed.

As for the 100 vs 1, unlikely unless the PC did something extrodinary or executed a superb plan perfectly. A mass of 100 can just over run him. Once pinned down, no need to roll for a dozen daggers that are slipped between the PCs armor. Instant death. hee hee hee.

cplmac
05-16-2008, 08:46 PM
My players have long since found out that dozen hobgoblin slavers are a nasty group to be ambushed by no matter the level you are. All it takes is one enhanced net of entangling to drop on thier big melee guy and a stone with a permenet spell of 15' r of silence on it chucked at the feet of the spell casters (the hobgoblins used the stone to also sneak up on the PCs too!). Guess they should be more careful when tracking down the slavers in thier own woods....

My point, even lowly goblins and orcs can be deadly to epic charecters with the right background story. give a colony of goblins a hunderd years to build complex, deadly traps coupled with hidden arrow slit all through out the dungeon, and you have a dungeon orginally designed for 1-4 level PC to a 6-8 levels needed.

As for the 100 vs 1, unlikely unless the PC did something extrodinary or executed a superb plan perfectly. A mass of 100 can just over run him. Once pinned down, no need to roll for a dozen daggers that are slipped between the PCs armor. Instant death. hee hee hee.


Comes down to how good the DM is.

Schmall
05-20-2008, 12:34 PM
Comes down to how good the DM is.


How very very true