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ArmorArmadillo
2007-05-24, 06:59 PM
In what I think was a great series of articles by WotC, they took a look at some iconic, but poorly functional monsters and made some pretty big improvements.

Following up, I'd like to do the same.

You spent months thinking of an awesome character, found a bitchin' piece of art for him, and learned to roleplay him excellently. You excitedly bring him to your first session; and he dies-to a CR 1 creature!

Death is always pretty bad, but it'll always be a possibility. However, at lower levels, your characters are so fragile that it's way too possible.

Now, it's hard to really remedy this within the current system, but we can take a look at some of the worst offenders: Ghouls

Ghoul
Medium Undead
HD: 2d12 (13 hp)
Init: +2
Speed: 30
AC: 14 T 12 FF 12
BAB/Grp: +1/+2
Attack: Bite +2 (1d6+1 plus Paralysis (DC 12) plus Ghoul Fever) and 2 Claws +0 Melee (1d3 plus Parlysis (DC 12))
Qualities: Darkvision 60, +2 Turn Resistance
Saves: Fort +0, Ref +2, Will +5
Abilities: Str 13, Dex 15, Con -, Int 13, Wis 14, Cha 12
Skills: Balance +6, Climb +5, Hide +6, Jump +5, Move Silently +6, Spot +7
Feats: Multiattack
CR: 1

3 Attacks and Paralysis; GAHH!!! Their hp is good for their CR, so they'll usually last long enough to get several attacks, and usually a full attack or two off before dying. Of course, one lucky attack and or even one average full attack will take a character out of combat for a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 6 rounds. Not only is this bad for the character, but if the party damage dealer or Tank is paralysed, this could turn a bad encounter into a TPK.

Plus, Turn Resistance takes away the only real defense players of this level have against the undead. Top it all off with Ghoul Fever, they seem to get it all, don't they?

God forbid characters face 3-4 of these, even at 2nd-3rd level this is a far too possible TPK.

There is hope, however, if we can deal with Paralysis, I think we can handle this.

Ghoul
Medium Undead
HD: 2d12 (13 hp)
Init: +2
Speed: 30
AC: 14 T 12 FF 12
BAB/Grp: +1/+2
Attack: 2 Claws +2 Melee (1d3+1 plus Ghoul Fever)
Special Attacks: Chomp
Qualities: Darkvision 60
Saves: Fort +0, Ref +2, Will +5
Abilities: Str 13, Dex 15, Con -, Int 13, Wis 14, Cha 12
Skills: Balance +6, Climb +5, Hide +6, Jump +5, Move Silently +6, Spot +7
Feats: Multiattack
CR: 1

Chomp (Ex): If a Ghoul hits an opponent both claw attacks in one round, it may immediately attempt a Bite attack against that opponent. Attack bonus +0, damage 1d6 plus Paralysis (DC 12, 1d4+1 Rounds)


Now the Ghoul feels a little more fair, it can still do damage and it can still cause problesm with multiple attacks, but now it's main attack is less likely to work. Also, it's paralysing attacks becomes a potential, rather than a constant threat. Also, dividing Paralysis and Ghoul Fever between attacks, it makes the encounter less of a endless storm of fort saves.

I think Paralysis is iconic enough for Ghouls that it should stay in some form, and I think this is a dramatically more usable version.

So, the Ghoul goes from party annihalator to a potential threat, like a CR 1 should be.

Matthew
2007-05-24, 09:27 PM
Haha! It's like you read my mind. This is almost exactly how my Home Brewed Ghouls worked...

aaron_the_cow
2007-05-24, 09:35 PM
good idea!!!

Dryad
2007-05-24, 09:52 PM
I really don't think the ghoul needs that much work.. If you get two melee classes charge in with two-handed wielding... 13 hitpoints isn't much, and let's say str 16 + 1 bab +2 charge grants a nice +6 on a charge. That's a sixty percent hit chance. Dealing at least 1d8+4 damage. (Average: 8,5 dmg)
The ghoul's attack has only a +2 bonus on attacks (+0 on claws), and most PC's start with AC 16.
So the only real threat is the rot and paralyse. A huge setback, yes, but for a party of four first level players, this is not all to scary. Ranged attacker pins for another d8 damage, and the caster can probably come up with something painful, too. It should be all over in one round, two rounds tops. If you have a party that co÷perates well. The trouble arrives when there are more than one ghoul. But hey; put a ghoul as leader of a small squad of zombies, and you've got yourself a great looking evil challenge, which will be scary and exciting!

Corolinth
2007-05-24, 10:46 PM
CR1 means it, by itself, is a balanced challenge for a level 1 party. They should fight no more than one or two, with two being a serious challenge. Alternatively, your "big fight" could be composed of a ghoul and several zombies. Considering that, the ghoul isn't really all that bad. The turn resistance isn't really as imposing as it looks. While +2 effectively makes a 2HD undead unturnable to a level 1 party, turning a 2HD undead is already fairly unreliable without a high charisma when you're level 1. However if the ghoul is accompanied by zombies and/or skeletons, it is unlikely to get turned regardless of your roll, as you will turn the lower HD undead first. The turn resistance just makes the ghoul a decently fearsome creature for a higher level party long after skeletons and zombies have fallen by the wayside, like a level 5 to 6 party facing a pack of ghouls led by a ghast.

The paralysis doesn't effect elves, which a typical adventuring party has one of. It's also only a DC12. That's fairly scary (but realistically possibile) for a low fort save type with an average constitution score, but your fighter or barbarian with a decent constitution stands a good chance of success. It looks nasty on paper, and screws you if you get unlucky, but it's hardly unfair. Bear in mind, a level 1 party is intended to be facing packs of CR 1/3 and CR 1/2 creatures. There is also the point that in order to use its paralysis, the ghoul must hit you. With a +2/+0 attack bonus, that's fairly difficult, considering the typical level 1 character can expect an AC in the 14-16 range without a shield. The ghoul has a harder time hitting you than you do saving against its paralysis.

The variant you propose, while interesting, effectively removes the ghoul's ability to paralyze. While it still has some token ability to cause paralysis, it's exceedingly rare for two claws to hit at +2, followed by a bite at +0 - even against a level 1 party. Furthermore, in the extremely unlikely event that this does happen, the ghoul has dealt 9-10 points of damage, which is already enough to incapacitate all but the hardiest of level 1 characters, and this assumes they haven't taken damage yet. Even the fighter is going down from raw damage if he's been wounded previously. By the time your players are level 2 or 3 with enough hit points that the paralysis is even an issue, everybody's AC is up around 18 except possibly the arcane spellcasters.

ArmorArmadillo
2007-05-24, 10:59 PM
Well yes, if you have two chargers with 2-handed weapons you shouldn't have too much of a problem with the ghoul, but even if you do, there's about a 36% chance the ghoul won't die from those attacks, and if two people have charged the ghoul that turn, that means a full attack for the Ghoul. The ghoul has about a 25%-35% chance of hitting each attack, that's still a good likelihood of paralysis.

However, what if your party is caster/rogue/cleric heavy and melee light? Your situation is even worse, and if your one or two tanks get paralysed, you're in a pretty terrible bind.

The problem isn't that Ghouls will kill you, it's that if your party isn't well set up for the encounter, they can kill you far easier than a CR 1 monster should be able to.

Matthew
2007-05-26, 03:44 PM
Oh, by the by, the Ghoul no longer needs Multi Attack if it's only using Two Claw Attacks (odd, I know, but true - see the Skeleton entry).

The only other thing is that this should probably work like Improved Grapple - i.e. a successful Claw Attack may automatically start a Grapple, during which a Bite Attack may take place.

Dryad
2007-05-26, 10:48 PM
That's improved grab.

Matthew
2007-05-26, 10:51 PM
Haha, so it is. My mistake.

onxy9600
2007-05-26, 11:39 PM
what ever happened to low levels not getting ready for a fight, flasks of oil, and an archer with a real fire arrow usually works pretty effectively on them. Or a thief with the oil and a standard flaming hands spell. Efficively you can get 4d4 from that and one more round of burning. If it is still standing, chuck a couple of rocks at it, or feed it some more oil.


Or even better (for those that like the +20 STR stat at the start), go grab the table, casket, or any really large improvised weapon and use it as a battering ram. Still, the nearest brick seems like the best option (if they are not right on you) 1d6 +5 (str) usually brought them down (and I said brick not rock). bowling for Skeletons also works well.


I fear the horde of goblins more than the few ghouls you could meet up with. each goblin armed with a sling and a dagger can kill off a party in a hurry as well... and if they have bows with a poison. 20 opponents is much more a problem at low levels. chances are one will roll a 20, and goblins are not unthinking undead. So your low level wizard just took a crit hit from a goblins sling, he is probably out. If not, a second shot will probably get through. Next, if your tank made the mistake of rushing them, he will go down overpowered. the goblins' knives will most likely finish him. The remainder of the goblins will likely target any ranged weapon holders if the tank stays home, or the ones that don't gang up on him will keep chucking rocks. If you stay at range, you suffer the "stone rain". If you close you risk being overpowered. I'd say that this is the most difficult random you could face.

Dartonus
2007-05-27, 06:04 AM
The ghouls are fine as they are. Nerfing them takes the fun out of your Necromancer PCs creating a horde of them to attack a kobold den while he sits back and watches.

Yes, I did do this when I played D&D.

ArmorArmadillo
2007-05-27, 01:02 PM
The ghouls are fine as they are. Nerfing them takes the fun out of your Necromancer PCs creating a horde of them to attack a kobold den while he sits back and watches.

Yes, I did do this when I played D&D.
Monsters are anti-PCs first, for PCs second (if at all.)

Banning Time Stop may take the fun out of playing an Uber-Time Stop wizard, but that doesn't mean that Time-Stop is a balanced spell by any means.

Matthew
2007-05-28, 04:44 PM
Yes, indeed. There's a lot of disagreement about what makes an appropriate Challenege Rating. Ghouls, in particular, are notrious for TPKs, generally through the use of their Multiple Paralysis Attacks. That doesn't mean they will every time or they are a perpetual danger, but I have to agree that as they stand they are borderline CR 2.

ArmorArmadillo
2007-05-28, 06:17 PM
Yes, indeed. There's a lot of disagreement about what makes an appropriate Challenege Rating. Ghouls, in particular, are notrious for TPKs, generally through the use of their Multiple Paralysis Attacks. That doesn't mean they will every time or they are a perpetual danger, but I have to agree that as they stand they are borderline CR 2.
Nothing ALWAYS TPKs. The problem isn't that Ghouls are invincible, or that a properly outfitted party can't beat them, the problem is that they're too strong for a CR 1. When you're dealing with Beholders, Mind-Flayers, or other creatures at higher levels, there's more opportunity for parties to prepare (divination, items to buff saves and touch ACs, useful spells), but at CR 1, if your party isn't well-prepared already, there isn't much they can do either to predict the encounter or to deal with it.

Frankly, no CR 1 monster on their own should risk TPK unless things go very wrong for the party, and worse in the case of Ghouls is that most of those TPKs involve party members standing there paralysed well undead eat them.

Matthew
2007-05-28, 06:30 PM
Er, yeah, I know. I was agreeing with you.

ArmorArmadillo
2007-05-28, 10:39 PM
Er, yeah, I know. I was agreeing with you.
And I was agreeing with you, there were a lot of others who seemed not to. :smalltongue:

Matthew
2007-06-11, 01:02 PM
So, thought of any better names for this Ability than Chomp? (I can't, but I think there ought to be).