Author Topic: Effects of Adding a Template to a Solo Monster  (Read 1723 times)

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Effects of Adding a Template to a Solo Monster
« on: July 25, 2008, 11:32:41 PM »
The DMG details the effects of adding a template to both a "normal" monster and an "elite" monster.  No mention however is made of the effects on a "solo" monster.

By definition, a Solo monster is able to pose a challenge to an entire party of the appropriate level all by itself.  Adding a template can only make it more able to do so.

But how much more difficult does it make the monster? Does it correlate to an increase in level? Or perhaps just a modifier to the amount of xp the encounter is worth.

We should keep in mind that the more we head up the ladder of monster difficulty, the more the rules are likely to become less steadfast.  It is entirely possible that through practice we will find that the value of each template to solo monsters (or even among different solo monsters) may be very different. Frost Adept and Lich for instance offer very different benefits, and Lich will usually be the stronger choice, particularly when put on solo mobs.

But we will never know until we investigate.

There are several questions that arise however, about how the template would be applied in the first place.

Take Lich for example:

The Lich template adds
a) +2 AC/+4 Fort/+4Will  - Fairly straightforward, these are simply added.
b) Some minor immunities and resistances - Again straightforward, add the immunities and resistances, if there is overlap, use the better of the two values.
c) Bonus to Saving Throws - Mentioned in the DMG, the bonus to Saving Throws changes whether you are adding the template to a normal or elite monster, so it stands to reason that it would be different when applied to a solo as well.  But how? As a solo monster, +5 is already being added to saving throws, so the maximum benefit of this template would be another +5 (automatically succeeding on every saving throw). 
d) +1 Action Point - Fairly straightforward, normal -> elite and elite -> solo give +1 action point, so this probably would too.
e) Hit Points - Another fuzzy area, as the DM guide says very different things for the normal -> elite and elite -> solo transitions. 
f) Regeneration - Again straightforward, add the regeneration, if there is overlap, use the better of the two values.
g) Powers - Add them, if theres overlap, get additional uses.

So the big questions are Saving Throws and Hit points.  So lets look at 3 points of view on the issue:
1) Minimum or no gain in these areas
2) Maximum gain in these areas
3) Average gain in these areas

1) Minimum - No saving throw bonus and no additional HP.  Here we're adding a template, and we mostly want to just add on some cool powers and make the monster a harder to hit. The Monster is still pretty much just a solo monster.
2) Maximum - Monster automatically makes all saves and gets another 50% HP ( the amount it "gained" when it went from elite to solo).  This makes the monster into a whole new tier of difficulty. 
3) Average - Another +2 bonus to saving throws (+7 total), and another 25% HP. This is the compromise area, the monster is obviously a lot tougher than a solo monster, but not incredibly so.

Comparing those three options, I have to favor the minimalist approach. Both 2 & 3 trivialize saving throws, and with the boost to defenses, any increase in HP could stretch the fight to a point of boredom at best and TPK at worst.

So for my part in this thread, I will be assuming option 1.  If anyone would like to argue that another option is more appropriate, I will certainly think over any suggestions.


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Re: Effects of Adding a Template to a Solo Monster
« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2008, 11:32:55 PM »
So what are the effects of the Lich Template?

a) +2 AC/+4 Fort/+4Will 
b) Some minor immunities and resistances
c) No additional Bonus to Saving Throws
d) +1 Action Point
e) No additional Hit Points
f) Regeneration
g) Powers

We'll look at the effect that this template has on two solo monsters: The Beholder Eye Tyrant and the Elder Green Dragon (level 19 solo monsters).

Beholder Eye Tyrant
a) Defenses: 35 AC/34 Fort/32 Reflex/38 Will
b) Full effect of lich immunities and resistance. 
d) 3 action points
f) Regeneration 10 - May seem minor, but we must remember that this has a cumulative effect with the increase in defenses.
g) Spellmaster - Assuming we let this apply to Eye Ray Frenzy
   Necrotic Aura - Little extra damage
   Necrotic Master - Little effect, Searing Ray only attack that really benefits much.

What would the probable attack bonus of someone at level 19 be?
+9 for level
+5 or 6 for Ability score
+4 for weapon (maybe +5 if they got a drop of a plain magic weapon very recently)
+2 for Combat advantage (flanking)
+3 for Weapon Proficiency
+1 for class bonus if rogue or fighter
+24 total (+26 with starting 18 and lucky weapon drop)

Sadly, I have to run, so I will have to work on this later.  If anyone has any input on what I have so far, I'd love to hear it!

« Last Edit: July 26, 2008, 12:05:13 AM by Eepop »


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Re: Effects of Adding a Template to a Solo Monster
« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2008, 11:33:05 PM »


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Re: Effects of Adding a Template to a Solo Monster
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2008, 12:21:15 AM »
Are you looking to find what an appropriate change in practice would be? I'm fairly sure there aren't any actual rules about it, (and that's probably because they don't want to have it done) but I also think that it depends highly on the monster in question and the combination (template) in question.


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Re: Effects of Adding a Template to a Solo Monster
« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2008, 07:09:48 AM »
I would assume the reason there are no rules for adding templates to a solo monster is because this would easily lead to TPK, unless you're talking about a solo SEVERAL LEVELS BELOW the appropriate level for the party (I.E. level 5 solo vs level 10 party, and so on and forth). In my short experience on 4e, solos can be absolutely brutal, if anything based off their defense values alone.

That said, however, I think adding 25% chance of a monster passing a saving throw is a great boost already -- consider how many dailies the average party would blow on this guy, only to see the DM saying "he makes the save".
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Re: Effects of Adding a Template to a Solo Monster
« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2008, 07:48:14 AM »
Unless, y'know, there was no save.  Like on most powers.

I'm tempted to say that the several levels below thing might be a good reason -- one of my main gripes in 3X was the inability to scale monsters easily, and adding a template is much more reliable for a solo than "+1 AB and DEF, wooo!"
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Re: Effects of Adding a Template to a Solo Monster
« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2008, 08:05:58 PM »
There are three types of methods you can use to make templated solo monsters work.  In a level method, the monster gains level and stays solo.  In a super-solo method, a new type of monster is defined that is heavier than solo, and the monster becomes one of these.  In an exchange method, the monster stays the same weight and level, and gets a mixture of their original abilities and those of the template.

Personally, I'm in favor of a level method, so I'll describe one of those.  If somebody designs a super-solo and an exchange method, we can compare them all and have a good idea of what will actually work.

To start, if we look at the guidelines on creating monsters (DMG 184) we can figure out how much a monster's statistics increase and compare those to the bonuses templates offer.  The template bonus that most readily translates to the values on the chart is their defense bonus.  If you read through the templates, you'll notice that this boost is generally +2 AC and +2 to two other defenses, although it's generally higher for undead and lower for brutes and such.  According to the chart, all defenses increase by +1 per level.

Although +2 to all defenses is better than most templates give, I'm going to suggest that solo templates are worth +2 to level because of what the rest of the template offers.  Because attacks also scale with level and the template generally applies no bonus to these, attack values should also get a +2 bonus.

The HP bonus obviously cannot be translated into a level bonus, as it's effectively +50% HP and HP scales linearly.  It would be best, here, to simply recalculate the HP based on the monster's new level.

The extra action point and the bonus to saving throws never scale with level: these are parts of how solo monsters work.  So these stay the same.

Finally, template monsters obviously need all the powers granted by their template: that's why we use them in the first place!  We made their defenses average out a little weak on purpose in hopes of balancing this.  Just add these normally.

Summary: solos with templates get:
- +2 to level for purposes of experience, encounter building, and level-dependent template abilities.
- HP recalculated according to their level.  Total HP is 4 * (Con score + n * level + n) where n is: 8 for skirmishers, soldiers, and controllers, 10 for brutes, and 6 for lurkers and artillery.
- +2 to hit with all attacks
- Defense bonuses as accorded by the template
- No change in saving throws or action points.
- All other abilities from the template.

It's not perfect at all, but I think it's close to the best you'll get with a level method.  Any takers on super-solo or exchange? (Or on making me feel silly by coming up with one that doesn't fit one of those categories?)
« Last Edit: July 26, 2008, 08:13:46 PM by Squash Monster »

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Re: Effects of Adding a Template to a Solo Monster
« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2008, 08:29:18 PM »
I wondered the same thing on the Ask thread.
SQ-mon , that makes sense.

Lich + Solo = about 2 levels advancement on some things, perhaps more on others.
Lich + Beholder = that's one of the examples in the Lich entries, but where's the encounter power for the template to boost?
... nope ... it doesn't help much.

So "level" it up , and then check whether that kinda works.

Easier is to ignore sticking a template on a Solo.
That 29th level Elite colussus thingy, can have a Class Template stuck on it. Might be tricky, too.

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Re: Effects of Adding a Template to a Solo Monster
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2008, 10:41:58 PM »
hmm ... I looked at the Encounters XP section (iirc around p.60 dmg).

2 Solos of Level X  are equal to 1 Solo Level (X + 4)
which kinda makes sense along the lines of
standard + template = 2 standards
elite + template = ~2 elites

So ... Solo + Template = Solo+4 or thereabouts  ???
Obviously there'd be a wide variance in how effective a given combo would be.