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    Default My attempts at recalibrating the MM2 beasties

    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=187046

    After some feeback from another thread, I came to the conclusion that my efforts were better served in a separate thread, where it would not clutter up the original discussion.

    By now, it would be no small secret that many of the monsters in MM2, while fun from a flavour/coolness perspective, were not assigned appropriate crs. In light of new insight gleaned in 3.5, we noticed a few common trends which we will try to work around. The goal is to have their crs serve as more accurate indicators of how challenging they should be in combat, and maybe iron out a few kinks along the way.

    1) Higher lv monsters tend to be given tons of weak SLAs they will never find a reason to use in combat, yet this counts towards their cr.
    2) Monsters with a ton of HD, but poor defenses (eg: no dr/sr/weak saves) and attacks (few attacks, low damage), making them little more than a speed bump.
    3) Asymmetrical design. For example, the teratomorph has 28HD, but only a single attack with extremely variable effects. Or a monster may have a very powerful ability that merits a certain cr, but its stats are too weak for a monster of that cr (eg: the phoenix).

    I am not going to take the trouble of redesigning each monster from the core up. For most part, I feel that many of the MM2 monsters are still usable as is. Some just need a change in cr, others a bit of restatting, and a few need more drastic makeovers (but we will address this when we get there).

    Second, I am not addressing them in order, nor will I likely touch on each and every one. If any wish to contribute, by all means feel free in any way you deem fit. Your feedback would also be much appreciated.
    Last edited by Runestar; 2011-09-17 at 06:45 PM.
    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
    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=215727

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    Default Re: My attempts at recalibrating the MM2 beasties

    Monsters tackled this far

    By LotrFan
    Abeil to Darkmantle

    By Wotc
    Demons:
    Abyssmal Ravager - Reduce cr from 5 to 3
    Zovvut - Reduce cr from 9 to 7
    Kelvezu - Reduce cr from 18 to 14

    Devils:
    Malebranche - 2 versions exist. The MM2 version was revised upwards from 9 to 12, while FC2 improved its stats to make it a more worthy cr14.

    Giants
    Hellfire wyrm
    Leviathan
    Linnorms
    Megapede
    Ocean Strider
    Last edited by Runestar; 2011-09-19 at 07:17 AM.
    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
    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=215727

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    Default Re: My attempts at recalibrating the MM2 beasties



    Leviathan - Obviously too high at cr25, especially when elder evils has a similarly-named creature, which at cr16, has more attacks, and just more useful overall in a straight-up fight. I would recommend that you forget this ever existed but if you wish to use it, then I feel its 'real' cr should be closer to 15 instead.
    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
    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=215727

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    Default Re: My attempts at recalibrating the MM2 beasties


    Hellfire wyrm - First thoughts is that its attack routine is utterly worthless at its level, averaging just 40 damage, and at a paltry +30 to-hit (at a point where PCs average 45-50 AC). So in the end, you get a dragon-shaped spellcaster of sorts. At this point, low-lv SLAs like charm, suggestion, hold person, unhallow, desecrate, misdirection, pyrotechnics and wall of fire just don't cut it, due to the PCs' likely high saves and resistances.

    Not only that, but its caster lv of 20 means that its blasphemy/dictum SLAs won't affect PCs of 21th lv or higher, leaving improved invisibility, firestorm, greater dispelling, teleport and unholy aura as its more useful abilities. So it is essentially relegated to the role of an aerial bomber. However, its key attacks can easily by negated (freedom of movement counters crush, heroes' feast makes frightful presence moot, resistances/immunitues negate firestorm/breath weapon). So you need quickened dispels to get rid of the players' buffs first.

    Suggestions -
    1) Advance its HD to 25 to increase its size to gargantuan.
    2) This improves its physical stats (str38, dex10, con31), hp 412, AC38.
    3) Attack routine (+35/+35/+35 with improved multiattack)
    4) Damage: Rapidstrike/rend (draconomicon), improved natural attack
    5) Crush affects up to medium sized targets.
    6) Replace feats with quicken sla: greater dispel, snatch, power attack, rend, flyby attack, rest your choice (suggest multiattack/rapidstrike/INA: Claws).
    7) New cr is likely closer to 18-20, ensuring its blasphemy/frightful presence remains relevant, using the chichemic (ELH) as a yardstick.

    Let me know what you all think?
    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
    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=215727

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    Default The linnorms


    It seems that the disparity in cr becomes all the more extreme at higher lvs, so I will try to focus more on the supposedly more powerful monsters. The linnorms are up next.

    General observations: The designers seem fond of giving dragons powerful spellcasting abilities. While this does undeniably make them stronger, it also has the unintended side-effect of making them less draconic in nature, and more like casters with more hp, as their already weak physical attacks cannot keep up with their new cr boost.

    The linnorms appear to suffer from having too few HD, so they are still fairly fragile spellcasters. As such, they should never ever engage in melee, instead relying on their spells/breath weapon to whittle down the PCs. Also, the assumption here is that you use their spellcasting like an intelligent spellcaster would (eg: long duration buffs already in place, buff extensively prior to battle). They are thousands of years old, after all.

    The dread linnorn has made an appearance in dungeon 149, where its cr was revised downwards to 21 (or 22 or with the elite array). This was in addition to it receiving inherent stat bonuses via wish and +4 enhancements to its various stats via extract gift, making it significantly stronger than its 'naked' MM2 entry. In addition, the swamp linnorm has 22HD, druid17 spellcasting and is cr24. I shall be using these as precedents.

    Gray Linnorm: Cr16. Taking into account its low HD, I will comparing it to the planetar (MM, cr16, cleric17 spellcasting). It lacks the planetar's glut of SLAs, but let's be honest, you won't have the opportunity to use half of them in battle anyways. Make sure you give it quicken spell so it can cast 2 spells/round.

    Dread linnorm: Cr21 (as stated above). Arcane spellcasting is so much more readily amusable, so I will leave its tactics to your imagination.

    Corpse tearer: Cr23-24. My biggest reservation was its cleric17 spellcasting, as this doesn't really give it a lot of high lv spells to throw around. Compare with the solar, at 22HD, cleric20 spellcasting, cr23. It does have 28 HD though, making it significantly more durable than the gray linnorm and more importantly, allowing it to qualify for the epic spellcasting feat. One slot can be used for epic mage armour (+20AC), giving it more staying power. Other 2 slots, perhaps contingent resurrection, a custom spell granting +16 enhancement bonus to a stat of your choice, and an attack spell?

    Though at this point, PCs should be more or less immune to attacks like paralysis, grapple, energy drain and to some extent, spellcasting (between high saves, blanket immunities and ample ways of countering/negating their effects). So don't get too hung up over those.
    Last edited by Runestar; 2011-09-17 at 06:57 PM.
    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
    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=215727

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    Default Re: My attempts at recalibrating the MM2 beasties

    Quote Originally Posted by Runestar View Post
    By now, it would be no small secret that many of the monsters in MM2, while fun from a flavour/coolness perspective, were not assigned appropriate crs. In light of new insight gleaned in 3.5, we noticed a few common trends which we will try to work around. The goal is to have their crs serve as more accurate indicators of how challenging they should be in combat, and maybe iron out a few kinks along the way.

    1) Higher lv monsters tend to be given tons of weak SLAs they will never find a reason to use in combat, yet this counts towards their cr.
    2) Monsters with a ton of HD, but poor defenses (eg: no dr/sr/weak saves) and attacks (few attacks, low damage), making them little more than a speed bump.
    3) Asymmetrical design. For example, the teratomorph has 28HD, but only a single attack with extremely variable effects. Or a monster may have a very powerful ability that merits a certain cr, but its stats are too weak for a monster of that cr (eg: the phoenix).
    Why are all these examples of under-CRing? What about lower-CR monsters with SLAs that they should have no business at all of having, like the infamous Adamantine Clockwork Horror? Or monsters with stats far more powerful than their CR would indicate, like The Damned CrabTM the Monstrous Crab?
    Last edited by NNescio; 2011-09-17 at 07:00 PM.
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    Default Phoenix

    (Note: Unable to find a picture for it yet. Contributions are welcome).

    Observations: At first glance, the phoenix doesn't seem to have much going for it. Its main tactic seems to be to immolate itself every round, dealing fire damage to everyone and healing itself of all damage. This effectively puts the players on a 1-turn clock. They have to defeat it within that time, or all their efforts will have been for naught as the phoenix 'refreshes' itself. Though with a casting time of 1 full round, the players can just move out of range, and 15-ft radius isn't really that wide.

    However, this isn't as tough or daunting a feat as it may sound, given its pitiful 150hp and negligible 23AC. A fighter can't help but full-attack for much more, and a wizard can easily one-shot it with a metamagick'ed damage spell. The players are never going to let it cast for 10 rounds uninterrupted, and let's be honest, what's the point of dispel magic at caster lv40?

    As was the norm for many higher lv monsters in 3e, the phoenix received a glut of low lv SLAs it will likely never use in combat, but are flavourful to have. Why bother with CLW when it already has heal at-will? Indeed, most of them are redundant in combat, and generally inferior to just exploding every round, making the phoenix somewhat of a 1-trick pony.

    Its slowing screech can be effective as slow is something that is almost impossible to counter, barring haste. Again, don't bother attacking in melee.

    Interestingly, the phoenix is not immune to fire. Remember that with the 3.5 update, it gets dr 15/magic cold iron and maxes out 6 skills.

    Recommendation: I am going to cheat a little here by assuming defensive aura applies cha mod to AC instead of a flat +5, and apply the monster of legend template (MM2) to the phoenix. My reason is that its base stats are way too weak for a high-cr entity, yet its signature ability is too powerful for a mid-cr foe. It's basically a quick and efficient way of improving its stats across the board. This changes its type to outsider, increases the phoenix's hp to 250, AC to 33, an additional skill to max out, and saves are less anemic (Fort+22, Ref+21, Will+12). For special abilities, you are free to customise; I went for frightful presence (the rest don't seem thematically fitting), enhanced attributes (+4DC to abilities) and immunities (mind-affecting/polymorph, as it will save just sucks).

    Remember that with death ward at-will, it should never enter combat without one active. Final cr, I would peg at 18-20? This one, I need some feedback.
    Last edited by Runestar; 2011-09-17 at 06:57 PM.
    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
    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=215727

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    Default Re: My attempts at recalibrating the MM2 beasties

    Quote Originally Posted by NNescio View Post
    Why are all these examples of under-CRing? What about lower-CR mosnters with SLAs that they should have no business at all of having, like the infamous Adamantine Clockwork horror? Or monsters with stats far more powerful than their CR would indicate, like The Damned CrabTM the Monstrous Crab?
    I may start working on them at a later date, however, as you will notice, similar work has been done on another thread (link is in the first post), and I see little point in duplicating his work. The clockwork horrors and crab have already been addressed there.
    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
    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=215727

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    Default Re: Phoenix

    Quote Originally Posted by Runestar View Post
    Remember that with death ward at-will, it should never enter combat without one active. Final cr, I would peg at 18-20? This one, I need some feedback.
    I think the defining feature here is that its immolation isn't too large, and that means its going to be difficult to use it effectively as a full-round action if the party is wise to its antics. So as intimidating as it might or might not be defensively, once you know its trick, it isn't threatening at all offensively really.

    Blink and Blur would actually make it sort of threatening defensively if it didn't lose them when it immolated (which it does). It should be noted it also has Polymorph, which means it could be a real jerk about sneaking up near the party and then dismissing it behind a rock or something and immolating itself.

    I would err more towards the side of low CR (16-17 even? DC 22 Reflex half is sorta laughable for its main ability), since for this thing to accomplish anything the party really needs to be asleep at the wheel. They may not kill it but it isn't really a huge threat.

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    Default Re: My attempts at recalibrating the MM2 beasties

    The phoenix does lose polymorph as part of a splatbook-wide errata which basically removes all shapechanging powers from monsters unless it is integral to their fluff.

    The crappy DC was partly why I mulled over the monster of legend template. Between the +10con and +4 DC ability, this raises the final DC to 31 (or 33 if you give it ability focus), much more respectable but the small radius is still an issue.

    Else, I can't really see how the phoenix fights. Holly berry bombs are cumbersome to spread and do pitiful damage, while the rest of its SLAs are either defensive or healing in nature.

    And wow did it take a lot of time and effort typing out and organising those entries. My respect for all those thread handbook authors just went up a few notches!
    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
    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=215727

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    Default Re: My attempts at recalibrating the MM2 beasties

    I guess DC 31 isn't so bad, but Rogues are still going to Pounce into its face and Evasion out of the blast pretty much with impunity it they're buffed and geared decently (though I guess the uncanny dodge is its own headache for them.)

    Losing Polymorph really hurt here more than it did to a lot of creatures, because it added some much needed versatility to its one trick pony-tude. I can sort of picture a situation where the party can't kill it and it just follows them around with its 200 foot fly speed making a complete nuisance of itself, and it might be really annoying to deal with a horde of them all together or supporting a bigger monster or guarding a puzzle-trap, but its going to take that sort of a goofy situation for it to really shine.

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    Default Ocean Strider

    I view polymorph as a necessary change, to get monsters to fight in their own forms rather than changing into a stronger form, which kinda defeats the purpose of using that monster in the first place. For example, an advanced night hag could simply polymorph into an astral deva for the superior stats. Kinda anti-climatic, if you ask me.

    Next up, the Ocean Strider.

    The art is spiffy, I give you that. It is a giant with a whale for a head. If you have just finished watching Kamen Rider OOO, it looks like a giant version of one of its protagonists, Mezool, making it that much cooler.

    Again, it seems the designers were not sure what to make of it. For a Cr18 monster, it has very low AC (19!), attacks (+18/+13/+8), stats (just 19str for a huge-sized opponent?) and hp (only 165). Another interesting thing is that because of its low str mod (+4), it has no chance of taking apart of sailing ship or larger vessel (as the DC is 25 or greater), and faces difficulty sinking even a rowboat. Perhaps it is better for water-based combat than I am giving it credit for; I don't know, as that is not an aspect I am familiar with.

    Its updated entry gives it whirlwind, but again, with its crap attack bonus, it isn't hitting anything.

    On the other hand, it does have an impressive array of SLAs (elemental swarm, horrid wilting, SNA9, cone of cold and acid fog), so it is in essence yet another high lv spellcaster masquerading as a credible melee threat. And with so many uses of its SLAs, the combat will be long over before it has exhausted them and finds itself forced into melee.

    Recommendation: The cr is probably okay (17-18, comparable to a high lv caster slinging those spells around). If you are just going to use it to spam horrid wiltings and don't plan on ever actually fighting, then you can likely just run it as is, though I suggest doing the following as well.

    1) Advancing its stats by 2 size categories (ie +16str, +8con, +5NA)
    2) Give it magical mithral scalemail (as suggested in its entry)
    3) Equip it with a magical huge falchion to further boost its attack bonus. It is tempting to add the skillful weapon property, given the fey HD's poor bab, but do so at your own discretion.
    4) Swap in quicken SLA: cone of cold. If you are feeling particularly nasty, maximize or empower SLA: horrid wilting could work wonders as well.
    5) Contemplating whether to limit how often it can spam its SLAs, so as to give it some reason to actually enter combat.

    Assuming +5 mithral scalemail, this improves the Strider's AC to 33 (base10, +9AC, +1dex, +15NA, -2size). Its hp increases to 285, and its attack bonus rises to +31/+26/+21, 3d6+23 (still not that desirable, but at least it has a decent chance of hitting things). With a +12 str check, it now has a fair chance of succeeding at the tasks its entry lists.

    It's poor fort save is another issue (now+16), may want great fortitude as well.

    Next up, the megapede.
    Last edited by Runestar; 2011-09-17 at 10:48 PM.
    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
    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=215727

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    Default Megapede

    Next up, a very big centipede.

    In a nutshell, way too weak for what it does. Dr 15/adamantine, mindless, can't fly, basically even worst off than the tarrasque. There is no way this is anywhere near its listed cr of 20.

    The MM has the colossal centipede, which is cr9, albeit with weaker stats (24HD, lower speed, poorer str and only a single bite compared to the megapede's additional 5 tentacle rakes). However, I think it serves as a stark reminder that mindless vermin basically have no place in a dnd game past mid-levels, however impressive their physical stats are. Plus, if it is extra attacks you want, I can have a pseudonatural (ELH) colossal centipede at cr19, which blows the megapede out of the water.

    Recommendation: I would suggest not using this at all, instead falling back on the default MM centipede. If you insist however, I feel another +2 cr would be in order (basically advancing the giant centipede by another 8 vermin HD), and assigning another +1cr for the extra attacks, defenses and str, for a final cr of 12. Though for the same cr12, I may as well just use the colossal scorpion.
    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
    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=215727

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    Default Giants

    To be honest, I have always found 3e giants a tad bland. Take a base giant, slap on a few extra HD, improve his stats a little, maybe give it 1-2 extra abilities, and you have a new giant variant. It was only with the advent of MM3 that we actually received some interesting giants with fun abilities.

    Another personal gripe, why bother giving giants a ranged attack when they suck at it so much, given their crap dex scores? If you want them to hurl rocks with some degree of accuracy, at least give them the brutal throw feat, letting them apply their str mod on attacks instead of dex.

    Looking at the MM2 giants, I am having trouble understanding how they received the crs they did, considering they are only marginally better than their MM cousins. One thing to note: They don't have a penchant for wearing armour, which is why their ACs are pretty much the same even though they tend to have better dex and NA. If you opt to equip them with simple armour, the boost in AC may make them tougher. A simple breastplace already adds +5AC after all.

    Anyways, my recommendations are as follows.

    Forest Giant: Basically a hill giant, advanced to huge size, with poisoned arrows that will likely never hit due to its crappy +8 attack bonus. MM2 gave it cr11, I would give it cr8 or 9 max (the MM guidelines recommend +1cr to a size increase+stat boosts).

    Sun Giant: A reverse frost giant increased to huge size (with accompanying stat bonuses) is all I can say. I would peg cr at 8+1(huge)+1(SLAs) = cr10, down from its original cr of 12.

    Ocean Giant: Perhaps there is some premium for facing underwater, but as it stands, this beast is simply a storm giant (cr13) who also happens to be immune to blunt weapons. This is definitely no cr19. I would place him at cr14 tops.

    Mountain Giant: This monster is infamous for being notoriously weak. At cr26, his pitiful will save of +10 means he will almost assuredly fail the first dominate spell that comes his way (Any self-respecting wizard can manage a save DC of at least +30 by then). Not to mention he has no defenses like immunities, dr or sr. +30 attack isn't that strong either, especially for a bruiser who is expected to power attack some. It seems here that being colossal may be more of a hassle than a boon, considering the massive attack/AC penalties it bestows.

    And why is his str only 43, when a huge giant already has 39str? By extension, his str should be at least 50. I would peg it at no higher than cr16, and even that is a tossup because at this point of the game, you don't really go far as a dumb melee brute with no magical support.
    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
    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=215727

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    Default Re: My attempts at recalibrating the MM2 beasties

    Also, some sort of feedback would be appreciated as well. For example, your experiences with using these monsters in general, your thoughts, any areas for improvement? For example, are there anything else you would like to see, or feel could be done better?
    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
    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=215727

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    Default Re: My attempts at recalibrating the MM2 beasties

    One thing I've seen in general is that even at high levels, dumb melee brutes have their uses if properly supported. Not to say that those poor excuses for giants are any good, but in general big melee beasts can do well if buffed and geared up and supported in combat by casters. Due to all the anti-casting investment that gets more and more intense at higher levels, simple melee monsters often benefit from having less build resources dedicated to dealing with them.

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    Default Re: My attempts at recalibrating the MM2 beasties

    You hit it on the Ocean Strider. That picture is really awesome when I'm flipping through the books looking for a monster. Then I look at its stats and its CR and I just keep looking. You haven't done any that I've used yet.

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