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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    Default That's ONLY CR 9??? Let's Read: The Monster Manual II

    So, we've all heard the horror stories of a particular book. The book whose creatures, with the CR currently assigned to them, would either be so tough that they rip right through PCs, or so weak that they die in droves. Among the most complained about books in all of 3.X edition, the Monster Manual II.

    In this thread, I intend to read through and summarize every monster entry in the book, from overpowered to underpowered (and even the few in between). In addition, I intend to work with participating posters to come up with new Challenge Ratings for every creature in this book.

    Currently, I expect to update every Monday and Friday. There will be three chapters, just like the book: Monsters, Templates, and Bonus OGL monsters.

    So, anyone interested?

    EDIT: 3.5 adjustments to the 3.0 stats will be marked in red.

    I will be using the Vorpal Tribble's CR calculator to determine the base CR. For those who don't know it:

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    #1. Divide creature's average HP by 4.5 to 6.5.
    4.5 for 5 HD or lower, 5 for 6-10 HD, 5.5 for 11-15 HD, 6 for 16-20 HD., 6.5 for 20-25 HD.

    #2. Add 1 for each five points above 10 its AC is, subtracting 1 for every 5 below.

    #3. Add 1 for each special attack (+2 to +5 or more if its got a decent number of spells in its spell-like abilities).

    #4. Add 1 for each quality unless you deem it worthy of more. Add 1 for each resistance and 10 points of DR it has, and 2 for each immunity. Subtract 1 for each vulnerability.

    #5. Add 1 for every two bonus feats it has.

    #6. Divide total by 3. This should be its rough CR


    Chapter I: Monsters
    Abeil
    Ash Rat
    Asperi

    Automaton
    Avolakia
    Banshee

    Bladeling
    Blood Ape

    Boggle
    Bogun

    Bone Naga
    Bone Ooze

    Braxat
    Breathdrinker
    Bronze Serpent

    Catoblepas
    Celestials
    Chain Golem
    Chaos Roc
    Cloaked Ape

    Clockwork Horror
    Cloud Ray
    Corollax
    Corpse Gatherer

    Crimson Death
    Darkmantle


    Chapter II: Templates

    Chapter III: OGL Monsters

    Bonus Monsters (Not in the MMII, but terribly CRed)
    Monstrous Crab
    Last edited by LOTRfan; 2011-06-28 at 07:32 PM.
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    Default Re: That's ONLY CR 9??? Let's Read: The Monster Manual II

    I am interested in learning about how to make ass kickery monsters so please I say do this.
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    Thumbs up Re: That's ONLY CR 9??? Let's Read: The Monster Manual II

    Go for it!

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    Default Re: That's ONLY CR 9??? Let's Read: The Monster Manual II

    I'm willing to help if you need another set of eyes? Monsters that seem particularily tricky I could evaluate on my own, seperate from any input on your part. If we come to the same conclusion, then you have confirmation of the monster's true CR.

    In any case I'm very interested in seeing this project completed, either by helping or just by waiting and watching.

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    Default Re: That's ONLY CR 9??? Let's Read: The Monster Manual II

    If you are not already aware, fiendish codex revises the crs of fiends found in MM2 (amongst other sources), so a bit of the work is already done for you.

    I am not sure if it is possible to come up with reasonable crs for every monster, since I find that some of them have quite lopsided designs. For example, the phoenix has great damage potential, but very fragile (having few HD and anemic stats), so it is a glass cannon in that aspect. Conversely, the teratomorph has a lot of HD, but extremely crap AC and a single attack with rather variable results.

    I suspect many of them might need revisions to make them more compatible with 3.5e design philosophy (eg: fewer but more combat-specific SLAs, more HD, better stats).

    For me, a resounding 'AYE!!!'. Do you mind if we start discussion first, or would you prefer this be done in another thread so yours does not get cluttered up?
    Quote Originally Posted by Tvtyrant View Post
    I can never understand WOTC's reasoning; taking RAW as a whole is like grabbing a book filled with fortune cookie sayings and basing your life off of them.
    My humble efforts at re-cr'ing MM2
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    Default Re: That's ONLY CR 9??? Let's Read: The Monster Manual II

    Very interested. Please go through with this.
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    Default Re: That's ONLY CR 9??? Let's Read: The Monster Manual II

    Will you be using the MM2 as-is, or using the 3.5 update?

    Edit: Update is available here for those playing at home. (Don't worry, there's still plenty of horrible stuff!)
    Last edited by OracleofWuffing; 2011-02-11 at 07:24 PM.
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    Default Re: That's ONLY CR 9??? Let's Read: The Monster Manual II

    I am in. The MMII was my first book, and boy was I surprised that other people found it so... not balanced.

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    Default Re: That's ONLY CR 9??? Let's Read: The Monster Manual II

    Clutter up the thread as much as you want. I'm planning on having a list of links to the monster posts in the first post, so you can comment away without having all the monsters lost somewhere in the thread.

    The Abeil should be up shortly. I may need some help with the Queen Abeil CR (though, for the most part, the other two variants seem okay CR-wise. I'll include math to show how I reach the CR conclusions, but I'm definitely willing to take as much advice as I can get).

    Quote Originally Posted by OracleofWuffing View Post
    Will you be using the MM2 as-is, or using the 3.5 update?

    Edit: Update is available here for those playing at home. (Don't worry, there's still plenty of horrible stuff!)
    I was going to use the book as-is, except for monsters that were changed drastically in the update booklet (such as type changes or ability adjustments).
    Last edited by LOTRfan; 2011-02-11 at 07:27 PM.
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    Default Re: That's ONLY CR 9??? Let's Read: The Monster Manual II

    Abeil

    The first monsters of the book, the Abeils are insectoid Monstrous Humanoids based on bees, both appearance- and culture-wise. Like the Formians, the Abeils are divided into castes, each with a separate statblock. Abeils have three different castes presented: the Vassal, the Soldier, and the Queen.

    Before we get into each one, let’s go over the basics of the race itself: they are as peaceful as expansionists plotting to take over the areas surrounding their hives can be; they dislike bloodshed, and prefer to overcome rivals through resourcefulness and industry. Those who can’t compete with the Abeils (which is most) generally move away. No matter the caste, Abeils look like elves with matted fur with black and yellow patterns (along with insect-like eyes). They are usually lawful (no surprise, considering bees live in a well-ordered society), have hiveminds, and have stingers secrete poison.

    The Vassals compose the backbone of any Abeil population. This seems odd, since the name seems to be a reference to the vassals of the Middle Ages, owners of land who, while swearing fealty to lords, still ruled over serfs (who the Abeil Vassals seem to have have much more in common with). Whatever. Anyways, they gather pollen and live to serve the Queen’s every command. Others are more specialized, performing more advanced tasks and ruling the other Vassals (like real feudal vassals) for the queen. Some even become adventurers (more on that later).

    Soldiers compose roughly “a third of a Abeil’s hive-city population.” Y’know, for a race that doesn’t like combat, that’s a lot of soldiers. Still, it fits in with the bee theme, trying to protect the hive and all. Don’t expect a warm welcome if you attempt to enter a hive-city, as these guys respond to supposed threats within a moment or two of being spotted, and they are *really* unfriendly when it comes to strangers (and they don’t die after they sting, like real bees).

    The Queen rules a hive city. Not really much to say. Just an anthropomorphic queen bee.

    Challenge Ratings? As given, the Challenge Ratings are: Vassal 2; Soldier 6; Queen 12. The first one seems appropriate, but Soldier should be CR 5. I am not sure on the Queen. Usually I’d say no, she's not that powerful, but the druid spells does give it a significant advantage (especially considering she casts spells as a druid with 2 more Hit Dice than her would).

    Spoiler
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    Vassal
    4 hp divided by 4.5 (1 HD): .88 (about 1)
    Armor Class: 11 (+0)
    Special Attacks: Drone, Improved Grab, Poison (+3)
    Special Qualities: Darkvision 60 ft., Hivemind (+1)
    Bonus Feats: None (+0)
    Total 5 divided by 3: 1.6 (about 2)
    End Result: On the weak side of CR 2.

    Soldier
    45 hp divided by 5 (6 HD): 9
    Armor Class: 10 (+0)
    Special Attacks: Drone, Improved Grab, Poison, Stormwing (+4)
    Special Qualities: Darkvision 60 ft., Hivemind, Special Enemy, Damage Reduction 5/Magic (+2)
    Bonus Feats: None (+0)
    15 divided by 3: 5
    End Result: CR 5 creature.

    Queen
    105 hp divided by 5.5 (14 HD): 19.09 (about 19)
    Armor Class: 11 (+0)
    Special Attacks: Drone, Improved Grab, Poison, Spells (+?)
    Special Qualities: Darkvision 60 ft., Hivemind, Damage Reduction 10/Magic (+2)
    Bonus Feats: none (+0)
    ? divided by 3: ?
    End Result: CR ?



    As Characters: Honestly, with the hivemind and strict social order, I’m having a hard time seeing these guys as player characters. But, I guess outcasts or explorers for the hive could work. Anyway, when using them as a player character, Vassals have their 1 RHD replaced with a class level. They have +3 LA. Soldiers have 6 RHD and +5 La, for a total ECL of 11. To play a Queen is to play an epic character, as it has 14 RHD and +7 LA, a grand total ECL of 21. Yikes. Wouldn’t want to play that, even for the druid casting.

    Coming Next Week: The Ash Rat/Asperi.

    Anyone want to help with the Queen CR?
    Last edited by LOTRfan; 2011-02-12 at 09:39 AM.
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    Default Re: That's ONLY CR 9??? Let's Read: The Monster Manual II

    Some observations of my own.

    Deathbringer sucks compared to horned devil!
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    Deathbringer: An attack rating of +16 sucks for a cr17 foe (By this time, PCs have 30+ AC min). Its AC isn't very good either, and 195hp doesn't amount for much when it lacks dr, resistances or sr. Damage sucks as well, averaging 11/hit. Greater dispelling gives it some tricks against a fully-buffed party, but negative aura does just too little damage to be of any threat.

    Recommendations:
    1) Assuming its dispelling SLA is treated as a 6th lv spell, bring in quicken-SLA, letting it use greater dispelling as a swift action 3/day.
    2) Improve str to 30, This improves its attacks to +26/+21/+16. Consider giving it magical flails to further increase its attack/damage values.
    3) Improve HD to 32, giving it +16bab and consequently, 4 attacks).
    4) Some other good passive feats include improved toughness.
    5) Negative energy aura is a swift action to use.
    6) Revise cr to 13-14?

    Feats: TWFing, Improved TWFing, 2-weapon pounce, 2-weapon rend, exotic weapon prof: dire flail, weapon focus: dire flail, power attack, improved sunder, dire flail smash, improved toughness, armour specialisation.


    Mountain giant: A much weaker tarrasque, since it lacks regeneration or its fearsome array of natural attacks.
    Max of cr16. Give it steadfast determination if you worry for its paltry +10 will save.
    Quote Originally Posted by Tvtyrant View Post
    I can never understand WOTC's reasoning; taking RAW as a whole is like grabbing a book filled with fortune cookie sayings and basing your life off of them.
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    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=215727

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    Default Re: That's ONLY CR 9??? Let's Read: The Monster Manual II

    Yes yes we get it.

    As for the Abeil I think that we should work on making them better a player characters.
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    You are making the assumption of rational planning. After 37 years of dungeon crawling, I still have zero evidence that the average dungeon was designed by the sane.
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    Default Re: That's ONLY CR 9??? Let's Read: The Monster Manual II

    Quote Originally Posted by Vknight View Post
    Yes yes we get it.

    As for the Abeil I think that we should work on making them better a player characters.
    That is with better LAs. In the 3.5 conversion, Vassals have +5, Soldiers +7, and Queen +9 (I think). I think that the original LAs are much better, in comparison.
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    Default Re: That's ONLY CR 9??? Let's Read: The Monster Manual II

    Oh I know.
    I'm suggesting, you know what I actually forgot what I was suggesting with my earlier post but it was a good idea I remeber that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Miscast_Mage View Post
    You're a frickin' ninja below me, too!? You got mad skills, Vknight.
    Quote Originally Posted by Arbane View Post
    Rogue vs. Dog. (The new Cat vs. Commoner, only not amusing!)
    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    You are making the assumption of rational planning. After 37 years of dungeon crawling, I still have zero evidence that the average dungeon was designed by the sane.
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    Default Re: That's ONLY CR 9??? Let's Read: The Monster Manual II

    Okay, so when it comes back to you, be sure to post it.
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    Default Re: That's ONLY CR 9??? Let's Read: The Monster Manual II

    I will but sometimes I just lose these things. Had a great campaign idea and lost it then about a month later I was on these forums and so a similar campaign idea someone else posted and it came back.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    You are making the assumption of rational planning. After 37 years of dungeon crawling, I still have zero evidence that the average dungeon was designed by the sane.
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    Default Re: That's ONLY CR 9??? Let's Read: The Monster Manual II

    Quote Originally Posted by LOTRfan View Post
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    Vassal
    4 hp divided by 4.5 (1 HD): .88 (about 1)
    Armor Class: 11 (+0)
    Special Attacks: Drone, Improved Grab, Poison (+3)
    Special Qualities: Darkvision 60 ft., Hivemind (+1)
    Bonus Feats: None (+0)
    Total 5 divided by 3: 1.6 (about 2)
    End Result: On the weak side of CR 2.

    Soldier
    45 hp divided by 5 (6 HD): 9
    Armor Class: 10 (+0)
    Special Attacks: Drone, Improved Grab, Poison, Stormwing (+4)
    Special Qualities: Darkvision 60 ft., Hivemind, Special Enemy, Damage Reduction 5/Magic (+2)
    Bonus Feats: None (+0)
    16 divided by 3: 5
    End Result: CR 5 creature.

    Queen
    105 hp divided by 5.5 (14 HD): 19.09 (about 19)
    Armor Class: 11 (+0)
    Special Attacks: Drone, Improved Grab, Poison, Spells (+?)
    Special Qualities: Darkvision 60 ft., Hivemind, Damage Reduction 10/Magic (+2)
    Bonus Feats: none (+0)
    ? divided by 3: ?
    End Result: CR ?
    You're clearly using some sort of formula here to determine CR, but I've not seen anyone use a formula like this before. What is the formula and where did you get it?
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    Default Re: That's ONLY CR 9??? Let's Read: The Monster Manual II

    Quote Originally Posted by Savannah View Post
    You're clearly using some sort of formula here to determine CR, but I've not seen anyone use a formula like this before. What is the formula and where did you get it?
    I think it's Tribble's:

    #1. Divide creature's average HP by 4.5 to 6.5.
    4.5 for 5 HD or lower, 5 for 6-10 HD, 5.5 for 11-15 HD, 6 for 16-20 HD., 6.5 for 20-25 HD.

    #2. Add 1 for each five points above 10 its AC is, subtracting 1 for every 5 below.

    #3. Add 1 for each special attack (+2 to +5 or more if its got a decent number of spells in its spell-like abilities).

    #4. Add 1 for each quality unless you deem it worthy of more. Add 1 for each resistance and 10 points of DR it has, and 2 for each immunity. Subtract 1 for each vulnerability.

    #5. Add 1 for every two bonus feats it has.

    #6. Divide total by 3. This should be its rough CR.
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    Default Re: That's ONLY CR 9??? Let's Read: The Monster Manual II

    More of my 2 cents.

    Famine spirit - very weak attack bonus, bite is not as threatening now that vorpal activates only on a natural 20. No idea what to make of it, since its damage dealing capabilities is basically nil unless you are trained to roll 20s on command.
    Quote Originally Posted by Tvtyrant View Post
    I can never understand WOTC's reasoning; taking RAW as a whole is like grabbing a book filled with fortune cookie sayings and basing your life off of them.
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    Default Re: That's ONLY CR 9??? Let's Read: The Monster Manual II

    Quote Originally Posted by Savannah View Post
    You're clearly using some sort of formula here to determine CR, but I've not seen anyone use a formula like this before. What is the formula and where did you get it?
    Volt is correct. Vorpal's formula is very efficient.


    Quote Originally Posted by Volt View Post
    #1. Divide creature's average HP by 4.5 to 6.5.
    4.5 for 5 HD or lower, 5 for 6-10 HD, 5.5 for 11-15 HD, 6 for 16-20 HD., 6.5 for 20-25 HD.

    #2. Add 1 for each five points above 10 its AC is, subtracting 1 for every 5 below.

    #3. Add 1 for each special attack (+2 to +5 or more if its got a decent number of spells in its spell-like abilities).

    #4. Add 1 for each quality unless you deem it worthy of more. Add 1 for each resistance and 10 points of DR it has, and 2 for each immunity. Subtract 1 for each vulnerability.

    #5. Add 1 for every two bonus feats it has.

    #6. Divide total by 3. This should be its rough CR.
    Last edited by LOTRfan; 2011-02-12 at 10:21 AM.
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    Default Re: That's ONLY CR 9??? Let's Read: The Monster Manual II

    Nifty. That'll be useful Do you know if that formula is designed to determine CR against your "typical" low-optimization party (fighter, rogue, healbot cleric, blaster wizard) or against something a little more optimized?
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    Default Re: That's ONLY CR 9??? Let's Read: The Monster Manual II

    I don't know. My group isn't optimized, and it works fine. But I'll ask Vorpal Tribble.
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    Default Re: That's ONLY CR 9??? Let's Read: The Monster Manual II

    Quote Originally Posted by OracleofWuffing View Post
    Will you be using the MM2 as-is, or using the 3.5 update?

    Edit: Update is available here for those playing at home. (Don't worry, there's still plenty of horrible stuff!)
    I'm pretty sure they didn't even change any of the CRs.


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    Default Re: That's ONLY CR 9??? Let's Read: The Monster Manual II

    Quote Originally Posted by AslanCross View Post
    I'm pretty sure they didn't even change any of the CRs.
    They didn't? That's upsetting, to say the least.
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    Default Re: That's ONLY CR 9??? Let's Read: The Monster Manual II

    Quote Originally Posted by AslanCross View Post
    I'm pretty sure they didn't even change any of the CRs.
    I wish I could speak more in reference to the 3.5 update, but the only thing I've come into that was relevant in game is that the entry for the Stained Glass Golem gives it magic immunity as is regular for a Golem, but the description of it is just copied and pasted from the Brass Golem. So, arguably, by RAW, a Stained Glass Golem wouldn't benefit from its own Magic Immunity, because the entry specifically says it's for Brass Golems. Now, yeah, I know, Wizards has done a few copy-paste errors now and then, but the thing is... Before the Stained Glass Golem and after the Brass Golem, they have the Dragonflesh Golem, and there they actually put in the right golem name in the copy-paste.
    "Okay, so I'm going to quick draw and dual wield these one-pound caltrops as improvised weapons..."
    ---
    "Oh, hey, look! Blue Eyes Black Lotus!" "Wait what, do you sacrifice a mana to the... Does it like, summon a... What would that card even do!?" "Oh, it's got a four-energy attack. Completely unviable in actual play, so don't worry about it."

  26. - Top - End - #26
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    Default Re: That's ONLY CR 9??? Let's Read: The Monster Manual II

    Bonus Monster: That Damn Crab
    Okay, boredom has brought the next CR evaluation a little early. To keep with the schedule, I will not be posting another Monster Manual II monster (that will be every Friday), but occasionally I may go over another ridiculously over-CRed or under-CRed creature from other sources. Specifically, today will be the infamous CR 3 killing machine, That Damned Crab (a.k.a. the Monstrous Crab).

    So, we start off with a crab. Vermin. Doesn't sound too bad, right? It's large. Still, no big deal. 7 HD.... Its still possible to defeat....

    Yeah? How about killer claws that always applies 1.5 its strength modifier to damage, has improved grab, and can constrict every round? I ask you, fellow playgrounders, does that sound so bad? No, it doesn't. I mean, any party above level 8 or so could kill that thing in no problem, right? But wait, I forgot to add one more thing; it's listed as CR 3.

    What????

    After doing the math, it should have been CR 7. WotC gave it less than one half the CR it deserved. Remember folks, don't send this monstrosity against your poor 3rd level adventurers. Let them gain a level or four first, okay? For sanity's sake?

    Spoiler
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    66 divided by 4.5: 14.66 (about 15)
    Armor Class: 19 (+1)
    Special Attacks: Constrict, Improved Grab, Powerful Claws (+3)
    Special Qualities: Amphibious, Darkvision 60 ft., Vermin Traits (+1)
    Bonus Feats: None (+0)
    20 divided by 3: 6.66 (about 7)
    End Result: CR 7 monster
    Last edited by LOTRfan; 2011-02-17 at 11:49 PM.
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    Default Re: That's ONLY CR 9??? Let's Read: The Monster Manual II

    Quote Originally Posted by LOTRfan View Post
    Bonus Monster: That Damn Crab
    Spoiler
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    66 divided by 4.5: 14.66 (about 15)
    Armor Class: 19 (+1)
    Special Attacks: Constrict, Improved Grab, Powerful Claws (+3)
    Special Qualities: Amphibious, Darkvision 60 ft., Vermin Traits (+0)
    Bonus Feats: None (+0)
    19 divided by 3: 6.3 (about 6)
    End Result: CR 6 monster
    Further stupidity: the official 'correct' tactic for the Damn Crab is to grab a party member in either claw and *run away to eat them.* Now, it has to use the grapple-without-grappling option to do that, which brings its grapple mod to a much more manageable -1 instead of a nigh-unbeatable for the level +19.. but if it succeeds even once, chances are you're about to go from engaging it on land to trying to recover your party mates from 20 feet of water, and I'm betting nobody invested in Swim.

  28. - Top - End - #28
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    Default Re: That's ONLY CR 9??? Let's Read: The Monster Manual II

    What book is the crab from? I've heard of it many times, but I'm unsure of the source.

    EDIT: Nevermind. I followed the link.
    Last edited by Lord Loss; 2011-02-13 at 06:59 AM.
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  29. - Top - End - #29
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    Default Re: That's ONLY CR 9??? Let's Read: The Monster Manual II

    If no one has invested in Swim, only the most evil of DMs would even think about using that monster. Which means I would totally use it....

    Didn't they fix it in Stormwrack, though?
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    Default Re: That's ONLY CR 9??? Let's Read: The Monster Manual II

    The Stormwrack one is a completaly different beast, more in line with the likes of the monstrous centipede/spider/scorpion. It's a big bag of hitpoint with decent attacks, and a mean grapple, but it's nothing extraordinary.

    It's not even related to it's primordial, men-snatching, PC-killing ancestor...
    The Age of Warrior, a ToB expansion.

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