Friday, July 20, 2012

Expertise Feats and Buffing Monsters

Expertise Feats and Buffing Monsters

Player's Handbook 2 gives us the Implement Expertise and Weapon Expertise feats.
They give a +1 to attack at level 5
                   +2 to attack at level 15
                   +3 to attack at level 25

Player's Handbook 3 gives us Versatile Expertise which
works for both implements and weapon groups.

I dislike how the expertise feats are done:
  • Characters with different weapon or implement types need to take the feats multiple times.
    For example: Cleric with weapon and implement or rogue with melee weapon and ranged weapon.
  • Characters with racial abilities are also at a disadvantage.
    For example a Dragonborn breath attack will not benefit from the bonus.
  • Casual players who don't like to take too much time building a character  or like more flavourful feats are also at a disadvantage.

My Solution

In my games I just lower the monster defenses
  by 1 at level 5
  by 2 at level 15
  by 3 at level 25

The levels refer to character levels and assume that everyone in the party
has the same level.
Characters can't take any expertise feats.
Players in my group don't use Essentials expertise feats, which if I'm correct give additional bonuses.
If players want to take those feats, a group discussion about this subject is warranted.

What about the poor monsters

The solution proposed above also makes characters more powerful.
At higher levels the PCs absolutely trash an equal level encounter.
So I make the monsters more threatening.

Depending on the party composition some monsters are easier to defeat.

Divine characters: because most undead are vulnerable to radiant damage
                   I usually give them additional hit points to compensate.

Controllers: are good against minions,
             so I usually add a greater amount of them.

I give all my monsters
  • Attack bonuses, usually 1 (heroic tier) to 3 (epic tier)
  • Double damage

Some monster abilities may be frightening to PCs:
  • draining healing surges
  • redirecting attacks
  • eating magic items (see Rust monster in Monster Manual 2)
    use this with care
  • underwater fights which can be hard on PCs
  • transmitting diseases
  • create spawn: create a copy of themselves
    whenever they kill a humanoid creature (see wraiths).
  • attacking dying PCs - it's best to discuss this beforehand with the players.
    For example: zombies, ghouls, etc may want to eat a fallen PC.

Faster Combat

All these changes make combat more aggressive and faster.
This changes the pace of combat, which is why I allow players
more freedom to change feats or powers.
This is so they can adjust to the different pace.

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