PDA

View Full Version : DnD 3.5 Dragons: If their CR is underestimated, what is their appropriate CR?



Coidzor
2009-06-05, 11:00 AM
I've noticed this complaint/acknowledged quirk being brought up several times both around the internet and on these boards, but I have never seen or heard of any "fixes" or suggested retooling.

So I'm kinda curious. So I'm asking the questions. Possibly annoying the hell out of some of you who find this sort of thing endemic like monk threads.... *shrug*

Why are dragons said to be under CR'd? Is it reasonably arguable/agreed that they are? What would their "real" CR's be in that case? What's up with that yo?

Croverus
2009-06-05, 11:03 AM
If a dragon is played exactly how it is described in the book its being used from, then its CR is correct. The CR only takes in consideration the dragons abilities in combat most of the time. A DM that uses his dragons in creative and with less direct methods than just straight up combat tends to make a dragon seem harder (or if the DM uses his dragons poorly, easier) than their indicated CR.

Edit: That's my opinion anyway.

Saph
2009-06-05, 11:15 AM
If I remember right, dragons were intentionally designed to be the "boss monsters" of 3rd edition. At least, I think that was the term Monte Cook used. A dragon of CR X was supposed to be the toughest out of all the CR Xs.

Whether this means that they're "under-CRed" is another question, and depends on the level of optimisation your group goes in for. Against a group of newbie players, one dragon of equal CR has a good chance of TPKing them. Against more experienced players, it's not that a dragon's under-CRed, it's that most of the MM I monsters are over-CRed.

- Saph

TomKatt
2009-06-05, 11:17 AM
i My self find they are not under cr'd take the Great Wyrm Red for example.
Its cr 26 now pit it against a party of 4 lvl 26 characters. You have 4 epic lvl characters capable of dealing god knows what dmg per turn more then cabable of out flying and manuevering the dragon equally capable of hitting it and making it thru the DRedthe special abilities are mainly fluff for storytelling and the spells of the dragon will be severaly out matched by the parties caster i my self think its more then a fair fight.... even though as a kobold i always root for my dragon masters >.>

Ive never had the complaint that dragons are unbalanced cr wise in any of my campaigns and i usually run a dragon based camp.... so meh

Thrawn183
2009-06-05, 11:30 AM
Well, because you can choose the feats of the dragon, I'd say they really aren't. I've found that the parties with feat selection geared towards power in combat tend to run into dragons with the same and it ends up evening out. I'd say it's the middle range CR's that might be off. At low level dragons aren't too bad and at high level the PC's have enough options that they can do astounding things.

I've found that it's when dragons hit the 10-15 CR range that they're really tough. They have enough HP to not be taken down so easily, enough feats to start putting together some nasty combinations, and just enough spell casting that through wise spell selection they can cover their weaknesses (scintillating scales, I'm looking at YOU)

Saph
2009-06-05, 11:38 AM
i My self find they are not under cr'd take the Great Wyrm Red for example.
Its cr 26 now pit it against a party of 4 lvl 26 characters.

Yeah, but epic level balance is pretty much a joke anyway.

A better example would be a Very Young Red (file:///Games/D20%20SRD/www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/dragonTrue.htm#redDragon). It's Large and has reach, 6 attacks, and an attack bonus of +14, meaning that if it has Multiattack (and it will) it can full attack and expect to hit maybe 4 times against an AC of 20, more if the target's AC is lower. It has decent saves, a fly speed of 150, good Listen/Spot, a breath weapon that does 22 damage on a failed save against most of the party at once, and a HP score of 95, meaning it can take a pounding before it drops. It has a CR rating of 5.

Now, is that an impossible opponent for a 5th-level Fighter/Wizard/Cleric/Rogue party? No. But it's going to be difficult, and they definitely aren't going to be wanting to fight 4 of them a day. So yes, I'd say dragons are tougher than their CR rating indicates.

- Saph

raptor1056
2009-06-05, 11:48 AM
I think in the case of mid-level campaigns, before the wizard breaks the game, Dragons do have a CR lower than the other monsters at that difficulty level, and are more powerful than monsters with the same CR. This is definitely intentional, though. Dragons are supposed to be the toughest guys a party of a certain level is going to fight. Course, at level 12 or so, the wizard has so many spells that can stop a dragon in its tracks that it ceases to be a fair fight. He can essentially cast save-or-lose spells until the dragon gets unlucky, But, hey, wizards will always be broken. Deal.

AslanCross
2009-06-05, 06:18 PM
The Monster Manual mentions CR isn't an exact science, so it does give leeway for "weak" CR 10 monsters and "strong" CR 10 monsters.

As iconic boss monsters, I think their difficulty is pretty fair. Very few monsters combine excellent defense with excellent physical and magical offense (breath weapons) and mobility. I think both DM and players should expect that fighting a dragon is going to be far more difficult than the usual monster of the level.

Worira
2009-06-05, 06:25 PM
That's not how CR works. If they're harder, then they should have a higher listed CR. Otherwise, all you're doing is decreasing the XP the PCs get, not making the fight harder.

Talya
2009-06-05, 06:35 PM
That's not how CR works. If they're harder, then they should have a higher listed CR. Otherwise, all you're doing is decreasing the XP the PCs get, not making the fight harder.

Dragons are supposed to be less XP than other creatures of the same difficulty (but higher CR) provide. They instead give TRIPLE standard treasure. Think of it like a boss in a computer RPG. He may give no more experience than other encounters his level, but he's giving you some cool stuff.

Frosty
2009-06-05, 06:38 PM
The hoard/loot makes your next encounter easier, so less exp is ok.

AslanCross
2009-06-05, 06:44 PM
That's not how CR works. If they're harder, then they should have a higher listed CR. Otherwise, all you're doing is decreasing the XP the PCs get, not making the fight harder.

The Monster Manual does say it's only a general guideline, and it's widely known that CR in 3.5 is not an exact science, unlike in 4E.

Cedrass
2009-06-05, 07:00 PM
I actually hate when I fight a Dragon. In part because my DM can't play one like he should.

Any one that has read the Draconomicon once knows that any dragon, will do anything to survive the encounter. Anything, even surender, bribe, stuff like that. Well, I won't go into details but to sum it up: They should never get killed by PCs unless those PCs had a pretty solid plan and made the dragon fight on their terms which is a pretty hard thing to do.

That being said, yes the CR is ok (as in "it's not an exact science, but it works well enough") and PCs should survive if they thought about their plan before going into battle and have the right resources.

AslanCross
2009-06-05, 07:21 PM
I thought the Draconomicon said dragons would rather fight to the death than give up any of their treasure. They have extreme emotional attachment to their hoards. For the most part, they're too proud to surrender or let the PCs take anything from them, and are likely confident enough to fight to the death before they think of preserving their lives.

That said, I was never a fan of the PCs actually fighting the dragon in its lair.

Sstoopidtallkid
2009-06-05, 07:33 PM
Dragon HD(in other words, the only levels a Dragon gets) give: d12 HD
full BAB
6+int skill points
3 good savesFurther, Dragons get bettween 3 and 8 attacks per round, great stats, steadily increasing size, an AoE, DR, special senses, SR, non-magical flight, spellcasting(at between -7 and -9 levels), and massive amounts of bling. Plus any abilities I'm fogetting. They don't balance well.

Zeta Kai
2009-06-05, 07:58 PM
Their only consistent weakness is their pathetic Dexterity, which is about the only thing that never improves with age. But an intelligent dragon (is there any other kind?) compensates for that with spells & magic items, which we all know can do the job very, very well. It's the mark of an inexperienced DM to not beef his dragon's Reflex saves. :smallamused:

Sstoopidtallkid
2009-06-05, 08:01 PM
Their only consistent weakness is their pathetic Dexterity, which is about the only thing that never improves with age. But an intelligent dragon (is there any other kind?) compensates for that with spells & magic items, which we all know can do the job very, very well. It's the mark of an inexperienced DM to not beef his dragon's Reflex saves. :smallamused:But since Dragons have a good progression and 1.5x-2x their CR in HD, targetting Reflex isn't a good idea. Touch AC is better, or straight targetting of Dex.

Talya
2009-06-05, 08:04 PM
Their only consistent weakness is their pathetic Dexterity, which is about the only thing that never improves with age.

More correctly, their dexterity is their only ability score that has no bonuses. Remember that the ability scores given to any monster in the monster manual represent an average of the species. A dragon could have 3-18 dexterity, just like any PC or NPC. It doesn't make nearly as much difference to the Great Red Wyrm's strength, mind you...ranging from 38 to 53 instead of just being a flat 45, but remember that that variability can always be there if you choose. The dragon doesn't need to have 10 Dex. (Although that Great Red Wyrm has had 10 ability point increases from hit dice, and I have no idea where it put them...those could be moved around too.)

Zeta Kai
2009-06-05, 09:07 PM
It's another mark of an inexperienced DM to take the monsters in the book & not mod the hell out of them. :smallamused:

Eldariel
2009-06-05, 09:41 PM
It's another mark of an inexperienced DM to take the monsters in the book & not mod the hell out of them. :smallamused:

And not to play them up to their intelligence (or as close as humanly possible, anyways; hard to think like an Int 32 creature when your own Int, even as a supersmart human, is in the 15s tops). It's ok for average Ogres to just rush the party on sight. For a Balor, a Beholder, a Dragon or really, anything with Int above 10 however (and for things with Int 10 too, really; that means they're as intelligent as an average human and an average human god damn well can create plans and carry them out, assess whether or not a fight is winnable and act accordingly, play into their own strengths and play up opponent's weaknesses, etc.), that's inexcusable.

And for anything with a treasure higher than few thousand GPs, not using equipment is completely inexcusable. The power level becomes much more appropriate when the PCs aren't the only ones allowed to use items and create plans, ambushes and so on (in other words, the power level works out much better when PCs aren't the only intelligent creatures in the world).

arguskos
2009-06-05, 09:50 PM
It's another mark of an inexperienced DM to take the monsters in the book & not mod the hell out of them. :smallamused:
Sir, you win a well-baked cookie for being truthy and stuff. :smallamused:

On a dragony note, I'd like to say that, unless the campaign/adventure is about them specifically, I treat all dragons as unique individuals. I always rebuild them from the ground up to be unique, interesting, powerful opponents or characters. No dragon is just boring standard BossMonster #48301, they're all Varimatherci the Fierce, Scourge of the Hinterlands, Master of All Fires, Hyperbole Title Here, etcetcetc.

Dragons are powerful, special, difficult opponents who give no quarter and expect none. Only fools fight a dragon, on it's own turf or not. Even the bravest of heroes and most stalwart of warriors can fight a dragon and hope to live.

Of course, that's just my opinion. :smallwink:

Eldariel
2009-06-05, 10:05 PM
I think we can abbreviate this thread to:
"Meddle ye not in the affairs of dragons, for verily thou art crunchy and tasty with ketchupe."

Tequila Sunrise
2009-06-05, 10:09 PM
(Although that Great Red Wyrm has had 10 ability point increases from hit dice, and I have no idea where it put them...those could be moved around too.)
Come again? I wasn't aware that monsters got stat boosts from non-level HD. Am I getting premature alzeimer's or is this your house rule?

Sstoopidtallkid
2009-06-05, 10:13 PM
Come again? I wasn't aware that monsters got stat boosts from non-level HD. Am I getting premature alzeimer's or is this your house rule?This is standard. Stat bonuses and feats are based on total HD, including both monster HD and class levels.

arguskos
2009-06-05, 10:17 PM
Come again? I wasn't aware that monsters got stat boosts from non-level HD. Am I getting premature alzeimer's or is this your house rule?

Feat Acquisition and Ability Score Increases

A monsterís total Hit Dice, not its ECL, govern its acquisition of feats and ability score increases.
It doesn't actually SAY that they gain increases (unless someone with better SRD-Fu than me can check), but it seems rather likely, no?

Also from the SRD:

Those with 2 or more Hit Dice have statistics based on these Hit Dice plus Hit Dice for class levels (if any).
It seems as though HD give a monster character everything they give when you gain a level.

Coidzor
2009-06-05, 10:20 PM
Ok, so what if 3.5 CR actually meant anything at all rather than being completely meaningless?

Saph
2009-06-05, 10:25 PM
It's not meaningless at all. It's just not perfect. There's a difference. :)

- Saph

Eldariel
2009-06-05, 10:31 PM
Ok, so what if 3.5 CR actually meant anything at all rather than being completely meaningless?

CR basically means: "This creature has numbers about equal to similar characters of level X."

An Ogre matches level 3 Barbarian in terms of numbers, a Fire Giant matches a level 10 Fighter, an Ancient Black Dragon matches a level 20 Gish (theoretically, anyways), etc.

Sstoopidtallkid
2009-06-05, 10:35 PM
Ok, so what if 3.5 CR actually meant anything at all rather than being completely meaningless?It was flawed from the start. It was developed as a way of guaging power of creatures played by different people with different skill sets, who may or may not change any number of things that affect the difficulty but not the CR, against people who have their own levels of optimization, tactical skill, cash in both expendable and permanent form, party makeup, and willingness to take risks.

And then they balanced it all based on a monster run by an idiot and a party made up of Beatstick, Blaster, Skillmonkey, and Healbot. Eyeball the CR, or heck, throw darts at the wall, and you'll be more accurate. The Fleshraker is CR 2, don't forget. 4 poisoned attacks, free trip and grapple attempts, pounce, rake, and obscene hide modifiers, MMIII, for those who don't know

arguskos
2009-06-05, 10:35 PM
Ok, so what if 3.5 CR actually meant anything at all rather than being completely meaningless?
It's a yardstick, by their own admission. It's not exact, it's a good way to estimate challenges. 3.5 assumes the DM is paying attention to the player's capabilities, letting them implement something like CR as an approximation for DMs to use as guidelines.

I think it's pretty useful. Course, that's just me. :smallwink:


The Fleshraker is CR 2, don't forget. 4 poisoned attacks, free trip and grapple attempts, pounce, rake, and obscene hide modifiers, MMIII, for those who don't know
God, I hate that damn monster. That thing is AT LEAST CR 4. >_<

Eldariel
2009-06-05, 10:37 PM
Don't forget about That Damn Crab either.

Tequila Sunrise
2009-06-05, 10:39 PM
Ok, so what if 3.5 CR actually meant anything at all rather than being completely meaningless?
Well you'd have to write something like this (http://lukebuchanan.com/TS_Manual_of_Monster_Creation_3e.pdf). And then go through all your monster books and make sure they adhere to your guidelines.

Sstoopidtallkid
2009-06-05, 10:40 PM
God, I hate that damn monster. That thing is AT LEAST CR 4. >_<That's not the only thing. There's That Damned Crab, which is CR 3 but will take out 2 level 3 PCs and retreat where it's unassailable. It's about an equivalent challenge for level 5, where there are spells that can stop it and PCs with a chance against it's grapple, and by level 7 2 party members can take it apart.

Which is the other problem with the CR system, power level scales so fast that some things effectiveness can vary widly on the basis of whether the Fighter is a charger, lockdown, or AoO-killer, let alone what levels of spells the party has.

Zeta Kai
2009-06-05, 10:41 PM
CR basically means: "This creature has numbers about equal to similar characters of level X."

A more technical definition would be "This creature poses a significant challenge to a party of 4 PCs of the same level, & should tax them of ~25% of their total current resources." That's the succinct meaning of Challenge Ratings, in a nut shell.

quick_comment
2009-06-05, 10:43 PM
Any one that has read the Draconomicon once knows that any dragon, will do anything to survive the encounter. Anything, even surender, bribe, stuff like that. Well, I won't go into details but to sum it up: They should never get killed by PCs unless those PCs had a pretty solid plan and made the dragon fight on their terms which is a pretty hard thing to do.

Or the cleric points at the dragon and says "Implode!"


I think that at low levels, dragons are under CRed, and at high levels, massively over CRed. A even mildly optimized party ought to be able to kill any of the core dragons at any age category.

Now if you take a prismatic dragon, and start tacking dragon prcs onto it, then things get much much harder.

arguskos
2009-06-05, 11:27 PM
That's not the only thing. There's That Damned Crab, which is CR 3 but will take out 2 level 3 PCs and retreat where it's unassailable. It's about an equivalent challenge for level 5, where there are spells that can stop it and PCs with a chance against it's grapple, and by level 7 2 party members can take it apart.

Which is the other problem with the CR system, power level scales so fast that some things effectiveness can vary widly on the basis of whether the Fighter is a charger, lockdown, or AoO-killer, let alone what levels of spells the party has.
Oh yes, there's that. Or the Yugoloth Voor, which is CR 4 but has reach 15 ft on 4 attacks that deal massive amounts of damage. NO level 4 party can reasonably defeat a Voor. Being an Outsider grants it multiple resistances and immunities, most spells fail on it (decent SR for the level), and a solid amount of life.

So, this all just reinforces my point that the CR system is a guideline, not a hard rule. For example, That Damn Crab is defeatable by a party of lv 4's if they're smart, easily by level 5's, and past that, it's a joke. A Fleshraker is a good challenge for level 4's. These things just require the DM to take a look and realize that if the numbers don't correspond to the party, to reevaluate the matter.

Volkov
2009-06-05, 11:34 PM
A great wyrm red dragon can pretty much instantly kill the party fighter with a single maximized breath attack. Then he uses mordenkainen's disjunction, robbing the party of it's magic protection, then he full attacks the wizard, killing him. The Rogue is the next to fall against a crush attack. The Cleric is the only one left and is destroyed by a barrage of energy drain spells.

This is the unfair way to use a red dragon.

quick_comment
2009-06-05, 11:51 PM
A great wyrm red dragon can pretty much instantly kill the party fighter with a single maximized breath attack. Then he uses mordenkainen's disjunction, robbing the party of it's magic protection, then he full attacks the wizard, killing him. The Rogue is the next to fall against a crush attack. The Cleric is the only one left and is destroyed by a barrage of energy drain spells.

This is the unfair way to use a red dragon.

What sort of idiot party attacks a dragon without having elemental immunity to its energy type cast on everyone?

Sstoopidtallkid
2009-06-05, 11:55 PM
A great wyrm red dragon can pretty much instantly kill the party fighter with a single maximized breath attack. Then he uses mordenkainen's disjunction, robbing the party of it's magic protection, then he full attacks the wizard, killing him. The Rogue is the next to fall against a crush attack. The Cleric is the only one left and is destroyed by a barrage of energy drain spells.

This is the unfair way to use a red dragon.

What sort of idiot party attacks a dragon without having elemental immunity to its energy type cast on everyone? Beyond that, what sort of Fighter are you used to that can die from a single Maximized anything? What sort of DM are you that you use Disjunction, and what sort of players are they that they wouldn't retreat at that point? Who the heck uses Energy Drain at all, and no way a single attack kills the Rogue.

Volkov
2009-06-05, 11:58 PM
Beyond that, what sort of Fighter are you used to that can die from a single Maximized anything? What sort of DM are you that you use Disjunction, and what sort of players are they that they wouldn't retreat at that point? Who the heck uses Energy Drain at all, and no way a single attack kills the Rogue.

6d6 damage+30 per round will kill a rogue very, very fast. And Energy drain is perhaps, the single deadliest spell of them all, it can kill you in a few shots, with no saving throw at all.

quick_comment
2009-06-06, 12:00 AM
More likely, the battle goes like this.

Red Dragon: Maximized, Energy draining, breath. Rawr!

Fighter: Energy Immunity: Fire. Death Ward. Suck it! Is it my turn? Ok. Leaping shock trooper power attack! Over 9000 damage! Oh, did I mention that Im actually a warblade? Time stands still! Full attack again, for another 9000 damage!

Red Dragon: Contingent revanance is triggered. I live again!

Rogue: My turn, right? And you are threatened by the fighter? Shadow Blink! Full Sneak Attack. Oh. I have swordsage levels, thats how I got shadow blink.

Red Dragon: Dead again. blah.

Warblade: Aww, but I didnt even get to use white raven tactics.

Volkov
2009-06-06, 12:05 AM
More likely, the battle goes like this.

Red Dragon: Maximized, Energy draining, breath. Rawr!

Fighter: Energy Immunity: Fire. Death Ward. Suck it! Is it my turn? Ok. Leaping shock trooper power attack! Over 9000 damage! Oh, did I mention that Im actually a warblade? Time stands still! Full attack again, for another 9000 damage!

Red Dragon: Contingent revanance is triggered. I live again!

Rogue: My turn, right? And you are threatened by the fighter? Shadow Blink! Full Sneak Attack. Oh. I have swordsage levels, thats how I got shadow blink.

Red Dragon: Dead again. blah.

Warblade: Aww, but I didnt even get to use white raven tactics.
How do level 20 people get all that? And plus, Mordenkainen's disjunction>any non-epic magic defenses.

Sstoopidtallkid
2009-06-06, 12:05 AM
6d6 damage+30 per round will kill a rogue very, very fast. And Energy drain is perhaps, the single deadliest spell of them all, it can kill you in a few shots, with no saving throw at all.CR 26. You're dealing 51 damage. The Rogue has, asssuming level 24 and 14 Con, and that you got rid of his +6 Con item and he has no inherrant bonus, has 122 HP. 3 rounds, meaning more than 'a single attack'. And that's heavily tilted in your favor.

As for Energy Drain, no. Split Enervation is exactly the same, except you need to make a Touch Attack, with your massive BAB, and it is 3 spell levels lower. Beyond that, 2d4 averages out to 5 neg levels. Hurts, but not insta-gib.

Volkov
2009-06-06, 12:09 AM
CR 26. You're dealing 51 damage. The Rogue has, asssuming level 24 and 14 Con, and that you got rid of his +6 Con item and he has no inherrant bonus, has 122 HP. 3 rounds, meaning more than 'a single attack'. And that's heavily tilted in your favor.

As for Energy Drain, no. Split Enervation is exactly the same, except you need to make a Touch Attack, with your massive BAB, and it is 3 spell levels lower. Beyond that, 2d4 averages out to 5 neg levels. Hurts, but not insta-gib.

I said level 20....

Sstoopidtallkid
2009-06-06, 12:14 AM
How do level 20 people get all that? And plus, Mordenkainen's disjunction>any non-epic magic defenses....Okay, if you're using a level 20 party vs the CR 26, that's a good chunk of the problem. But what he posted is not unusual. A couple spells make the party immune to almost anything. If you're jackass enough to use MDJ, the party will have one of the counterspell defenses up for it. The Great Wyrm Red has 660 HP. That's not hard to beat. Power Attack, Leap Attack, Shock Trooper, with 5 levels of Paladin for Rhino's Rush and build for damage at all and you beat that handily. For a Rogue/Scout, TWF+any way to move as a Swift action means 7 attacks, each dealing 13d6+20+Weapon damage, meaning 455 before the weapon and any other boosts. And this is level 20 vs your CR 26.

Edit: you posted CR 26, which should eat anything level 22 and lower for breakfast. But in that case, the Rogue has 112 HP(I messed up on the earlier calculations).

Eldariel
2009-06-06, 12:35 AM
I said level 20....

They have 760k wealth. Magic items (which get a Will-save vs. Disjunction if it ever resolves, btw). The Rogue is likely to have Con of 24 or higher (+4 book, +6 item, 14 to start with; could be higher if he invested more points into it, has racial bonus or uses other sources for increasing it). That means his HP is 212 assuming averages. After Disjunction, it's still 152. If the Dragon casts a spell and does 1 attack/turn, he's toast. There's no way he can cope with 4 characters' action economy alone (of course, if he's used feats and spells to have friends, this changes).


What the Dragon needs to do is to use the tools available to it to make up for the lack of actions it normally suffers of. Assuming the Dragon uses Maximized Quickened Breath, Quickened Disjunction off Multispell, a Quickened Maze or similar at one guy and then full attack pouncing charges a guy for ~400 points of damage, the fight might get interesting.

To the above, the Breath (although it's probably used Breath Alteration already) likely falls to some Energy Immunities, or if it gets through, gets mostly negated by saves and Evasion (from Ring of Evasion) with few guys taking the brunt of it. Disjunction is likely to run into Battlemagic Perception, Duelward, Ring of Greater Counterspells, Ring of Spell-Battle or similar and get countered, while the might or might not resolve.

Chances are it hits if it resolves and might knock the guy out for a bunch of turns (I'd expect Spell Resistance to be cast on the party though; the Dragon may precede the spell with an Assay Resistance if it notices the Disjunction being countered). Chances are the second spell gets countered too though since general party has two casters all of them perfectly capable of countermagic on those levels.

Then the full attack should bring a guy low, unless it triggers some of the Contingencies or immediate action defenses, or you happen to charge the guy with AC 90. I'd expect for it to deal relevant damage though; the Dragon obviously has Permanencied +5 Greater Magic Fang on all its weapons; at +67, it should hit most things even with a bunch of Power Attack. It's also like to have something that enables True Seeing or at least Blindsight (its standard sight is mere Blindsense, meaning illusions would still get the 50% miss chance vs. it), so only Teleport-contingencies and similars (Counter Charge to make a Dex-check is pretty surefire way to knock at the Dragon) could stop this.


Chances are, the Dragon has dealt some damage to the party at this point, but all their equipment and all characters are still in action (although the Dragon might've dropped few Walls of Force or similar to at least make it a bit harder for the party to act as a coordinated whole). The party would likely then have the beatstick types full attack the Dragon rather ineffectually (I'd expect the Dragon to have at least Greater Mirror Image online along with an AC in the mid-70s), and casters will probably aim some dispels at it or summon some help, or some spells to weaken it; former probably provokes Wings of Cover or similar defenses, and if something really bad happens, the Dragon's Contingency/Instant Refuge likely whisks it away. Scintillating Scales, Awaken Spell Resistance and an assortment of other buffs though ensures that the casters are probably unable to beat any of the Dragon's saves or hit it with Touch Attacks (I'd expect the Touch AC to be about 60, slightly above the expected capabilities of True Striked Ranged Touch of a Wizard (20 Insight+10 BAB+~8-9 Dex+1 Haste+some Morale; if the Cleric has Divine Power online though or if the arcanist is a Gish, this is different) so none of the truly nasty effects are like to take place before the Dragon is hit by some dispels).


Round 2, the Dragon can't Breathe, but thanks to Animate Breath, the last Breath acts on its own for now wreaking some more havoc. The Dragon might also be lacking its Swift Action, but thanks to Multispell, it can still use a Full-Round while casting spells. The Dragon might change tactics and hit the caster with some Chained Dispelling before trying to land a Dimensional Lock to secure a successful charge.

It might also try to repeat round 1, but meh.


My point is that both sides are like to survive the fallout of round 1, but on these levels, there are so many variables and so many options that it's almost impossible to tell what could happen. The Dragon could easily trounce 10 weak level 20 parties, but even a single strong one could put up a fight (unless the Dragon is using Epic Spellcasting, in which case the party better be level 21).

Tequila Sunrise
2009-06-06, 04:59 AM
It doesn't actually SAY that they gain increases (unless someone with better SRD-Fu than me can check), but it seems rather likely, no?

Also from the SRD:

It seems as though HD give a monster character everything they give when you gain a level.
So do you folks restat every 4+ HD monster you use to take those stat boosts into account, or just dragons?


Ok, so what if 3.5 CR actually meant anything at all rather than being completely meaningless?
[Let's try this again, as my first response was somewhat flippant.]

CR can be more than a frustratingly vague guage of power, but it requires that someone sit down and write a solid set of rules for monster creation. Or at least, more detailed guidelines than those in the MM. For example, how many hp should a monster of any given CR have? How much of a difference should there be between a dumb melee beastie and a ranged or stealthy critter, or a smart melee beastie? How should saves scale with CR? Should a monster's poor save be an Achilles heel and its good save a mere deterrent, or should it's poor save be a deterrent and its good save be a virtual immunity?

Once you answer these questions you can write up a set of actually useful CR rules/guidelines. My only strong suggestion is: Decouple HD from other stats. It'll make it sooo much easier to tweak and create monster stats. And also, don't design or tweak monsters to be "realistic."

mostlyharmful
2009-06-06, 06:09 AM
I said level 20....

It also massively depends on how broken your DM is allowing magic to be, a hamfisted nerfing of it can change the whole thing to a TPK, a fast and lose reading of RAW can lead to the party wizard having killed it before it knows they're coming (I assume they're the one's iniating the confrountation. Always dependant on Epic Spellcasting not being in use on either side, that's a game wrecker.

That being said an encounter played to a great wyrms Int score with 9th level casting is a whole lot more important than the CR26 bit, it's a ready built Gish that can either be run as a supergenius caster/skillmonkey/chargemoster or as a big dumb lizard that anyone can knock over, depends on the skill of the DM.

derfenrirwolv
2009-06-06, 07:29 AM
I think the setting of the CD is deliberate. A fight with a couple of ogres is supposed to be fair. A fight with a dragon is supposed to be "HOLY BLEEP HE ALMOST KICKED OUR BLEEEEEEEEEEEEEp"

The way to simulate a dragons 32 int is to spend 2 hours coming up with a plan that will completely screw with how your party operates. You've gamed with them, you know their standard operating procedures, you know how to mess with that. If you know the paladin likes to charge on his mount at the site of combat, have the dragon use an illusion of himself getting ready to fight... while he's standing over a pittrap.

Then remember that the dragon thought of that in 3 seconds.

raptor1056
2009-06-06, 08:37 AM
Volkov: a level 18 wizard can almost always kill a red dragon solo. How? Gate on a djinn of some sort. Get three wishes. Use them to 1. Isolate the dragon in a tiny demiplane wherein time stands still, 2. get a bunch of portable holes, and 3. grow a 14 inch dong. If your DM is tricky, you can just make your familiar incorporeal and use it to deliver Chilling touch a few times. Both of these are cheese, yes. But if you want a dragon to be unfair, even if you're fudging the numbers ridiculously into your favor, just remember that magic is less fair. Oh, also: enlarged forcecage. Stand far away. Cast a bunch of debuff (ie, empowered enervation.) Now cast finger of death or something. It aint that hard.

mostlyharmful
2009-06-06, 08:40 AM
Volkov: a level 18 wizard can almost always kill a red dragon solo. How? Gate on a djinn of some sort.

Stop. There's no need to resort to that sort of level of cheese, you start throwing gates around for SLA abuse you may as well use a scroll of it to do it and say anyone with casting or UMD can do it from level 11 or get a candle of cheese and they can do it from level 7. meh.

Eldariel
2009-06-06, 08:41 AM
Volkov: a level 18 wizard can almost always kill a red dragon solo. How? Gate on a djinn of some sort. Get three wishes. Use them to 1. Isolate the dragon in a tiny demiplane wherein time stands still, 2. get a bunch of portable holes, and 3. grow a 14 inch dong. If your DM is tricky, you can just make your familiar incorporeal and use it to deliver Chilling touch a few times. Both of these are cheese, yes. But if you want a dragon to be unfair, even if you're fudging the numbers ridiculously into your favor, just remember that magic is less fair. Oh, also: enlarged forcecage. Stand far away. Cast a bunch of debuff (ie, empowered enervation.) Now cast finger of death or something. It aint that hard.

This would work much better if Great Wyrm didn't have 19th level Sorcerer casting and access to epic feats, thus easily being able to outcast the Wizard simply on the back of Multispells et al. Even without Epic Spellcasting (which of course ends the Wizard's chances in half a second).

EDIT:
Stop. There's no need to resort to that sort of level of cheese, you start throwing gates around for SLA abuse you may as well use a scroll of it to do it and say anyone with casting or UMD can do it from level 11 or get a candle of cheese and they can do it from level 7. meh.

Or call Pazuzu and do it on level 1.

Talic
2009-06-06, 08:44 AM
This is standard. Stat bonuses and feats are based on total HD, including both monster HD and class levels.

Stats and bonuses only come from HD gained as a result of standard HD advancement. By RAW, if the creature has a stat listing for its HD, that's the modifiers. You don't take a half dozen of them and shuffle them around.

THAT is standard.

woodenbandman
2009-06-06, 09:22 AM
Dragons are supposed to be less XP than other creatures of the same difficulty (but higher CR) provide. They instead give TRIPLE standard treasure. Think of it like a boss in a computer RPG. He may give no more experience than other encounters his level, but he's giving you some cool stuff.

But with the inclusion of Wealth by Level guidelines, which I don't think even existed in previous editions, all they're really doing is decreasing the treasure you get from your next 2 encounters.

EDIT: By the way many DMs unwisely ignore the Wealth By Level guidelines, which makes Dragon fights much closer to TPKs. In our party we fought a red dragon of some kind at level 10, which was played fairly smart, and had the help of a half-dragon guy. It did not go well, and we kinda lucked out in terms of not dying. I was the most heavily optimized group member (a druid), but I'd had some nerfs too (Couldn't summon). One thing that made the encounter really hard is that we got so little money throughout the campaign.

Tehnar
2009-06-06, 09:27 AM
Heh that triple standard treasure is there to ensure that the dragon has nifty items to help him defeat you all the more soundly. You don't think dragons leave all the magic items in their horde and attack you naked, do you now?

Talic
2009-06-06, 10:40 AM
A standard level 20 mage can usually solo CR 26 Red's. They're under CR'd up high.

arguskos
2009-06-06, 11:10 AM
So do you folks restat every 4+ HD monster you use to take those stat boosts into account, or just dragons?
Yeah, pretty much. If it has more than four HD, I do give it ability score increases as it should have. It's a little extra work, but not too bad.

shadow_archmagi
2009-06-06, 11:17 AM
Heh that triple standard treasure is there to ensure that the dragon has nifty items to help him defeat you all the more soundly. You don't think dragons leave all the magic items in their horde and attack you naked, do you now?

Oh god, that's hilarious.

Torgoth The Barbarian/Warblade: Torgoth loots dragon!
DM: You find a helmet of disintegrate!
Torgoth The Barbarian/Warblade: Torgoth wears helmet!
DM: It doesn't fit at all. If you put your arms through the eyeholes, it might make a decent shirt.
Torgoth The Barbarian/Warblade: TORGOTH RAAAGE!
Hegurow The Wizard: What else is there?
DM: There's also a ring on his claw; it's about two feet in diameter.
Hegurow The Wizard: I wear it as a belt.

Talic
2009-06-06, 11:21 AM
Yeah, pretty much. If it has more than four HD, I do give it ability score increases as it should have. It's a little extra work, but not too bad.

That's actually against RAW.
From Improving Monsters (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/improvingMonsters.htm#):


Ability Score Improvement

Treat monster Hit Dice the same as character level for determining ability score increases. This only applies to Hit Dice increases, monsters do not gain ability score increases for levels they "already reached" with their racial Hit Dice, since these adjustments are included in their basic ability scores.

Chronos
2009-06-06, 02:19 PM
The triple standard treasure on a dragon just brings it up to more or less the normal amount of treasure for the CR that the dragon is supposed to be.

I can understand the notion that a dragon should be an overwhelming encounter, but the proper way to handle that is to give them the CR they should have, and then tell the DMs that if the party is fighting the dragon, it should be one with a CR a few above the party's level. That way, the party gets the appropriate amount of experience for an overwhelming encounter, and you don't get newbie DMs accidentally TPKing their parties with four "CR-appropriate" dragons.

arguskos
2009-06-06, 10:21 PM
That's actually against RAW.
From Improving Monsters (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/improvingMonsters.htm#):
Huh. Well, it doesn't usually add much, since I toss it at weak stats like Dex or Wis for most critter. Thanks for letting me know though. :smallsmile: Learn something new everyday.

Worira
2009-06-06, 10:56 PM
The triple standard treasure on a dragon just brings it up to more or less the normal amount of treasure for the CR that the dragon is supposed to be.

I can understand the notion that a dragon should be an overwhelming encounter, but the proper way to handle that is to give them the CR they should have, and then tell the DMs that if the party is fighting the dragon, it should be one with a CR a few above the party's level. That way, the party gets the appropriate amount of experience for an overwhelming encounter, and you don't get newbie DMs accidentally TPKing their parties with four "CR-appropriate" dragons.

This is what I was trying to say, only better.

Sstoopidtallkid
2009-06-06, 11:00 PM
Huh. Well, it doesn't usually add much, since I toss it at weak stats like Dex or Wis for most critter. Thanks for letting me know though. :smallsmile: Learn something new everyday.Note this isn't saying HD doesn't give ability score increases to monsters, it does, but monsters already have them factored in. The 10 bonus stat points from levels already boosted a score, the game just never mentions which. I assume it's Str, though there is no indication.

Coidzor
2009-06-06, 11:16 PM
A fair number/most(?) of monsters' stats are based on either the elite or non-elite arrays though, right? So if you figured out which of those two arrays were used then maybe you could extrapolate ability increases from that and size?

Sstoopidtallkid
2009-06-06, 11:22 PM
A fair number/most(?) of monsters' stats are based on either the elite or non-elite arrays though, right? So if you figured out which of those two arrays were used then maybe you could extrapolate ability increases from that and size?Size increases don't matter unless you're advancing monsters. Monster stats are based on an array of 11/11/11/10/10/10. You could backtrack from that to their stat mods, but determining whether the Collossal Red Great Wyrm's +34 to Str comes from a +24 with 10 level-ups into it, or a +34 with the level-ups used on Wis is impossible. I assume Str, just because that's what they seem to focus on, but it's really unknown.

Deepblue706
2009-06-06, 11:57 PM
I think the only monster stats that are strictly based on any set are humanoid ones, which use the Warrior Array:

STR 13 DEX 11 CON 12 INT 10 WIS 9 CHA 8

But other monsters, I'm pretty sure, have no specific code they adhere to.

Edit: Actually it seems at the very least, a few giants use the suggested 11/11/11/10/10/10, or at least match that more closely.

So, I've got no damn idea.