May 25, 2010

Greater and Lesser Gods of PoLand

So I figured I'd jot down my thoughts about the power levels of the gods of D&D 4E. So far, a bunch have got stats, but the great majority hasn't, so it's worth figuring out which would be "lesser" and thus low enough in level that they're fightable.

So without further ado:

Confirmed lesser gods (source in parentheses):

  • Tiamat (Draconomicon I) - merely half of the original god Io.
  • Bahamut (Draconomicon II) - Same deal as Tiamat
  • Vecna (Open Grave) - Possibly the youngest god, started out as a mortal and progressed through lichhood into godhood.
  • Torog (Underdark) - Beaten up and imprisoned in the Underdark, away from the Astral Sea. You figure that does a number on a god?
  • Lolth (Monster Manual III) - Cast down into the Abyss, acting as a demon queen rather than a goddess.

Confirmed greater god:

  • Bane. He got an article in Dragon #372, statting his aspects, and in the aftermath the writer spoke up, mentioning that Bane was officially to high level to stat up.


  • Asmodeus, Avandra, Corellon, Erathis, Gruumsh, Ioun, Kord, Melora, Moradin, Pelor, The Raven Queen, Sehanine, Tharizdun and Zehir.

So let's speculate a bit:

  • Asmodeus - Newish, like Vecna, and sealed up in Baator. On the other hand, he did take down a god, and probably has great personal power within his prison. In the interest of making a great villain available as a campaign capstone, I'd err towards Lesser God.
  • Gruumsh is locked in battle with Bane and that guy hasn't walked over and killed him yet. It could be because even gods balk at wading through entire armies, but I'd still peg the guy at Greater God. Going back alphabethically, that implies that...
  • Corellon would be a Greater God, since he beat Gruumsh in a duel.
  • Tharizdun - yeah, I'm skipping a lot of good gods here, going straight for the one that's been locked up in the Cosmic Loony Bin for aeons. Taking him down in the first place took most of the other gods, but maybe he's been weakened during his imprisonment. For the same reasons as with Asmodeus, I'd tag him as a Lesser God.
  • Zehir, finally, is a tricky one. He's waging a constant war with Tiamat (though not quite as violent as the one between Gruumsh and Bane) who is already pegged as Lesser. One could assume he's a terrible foe if he's prepared, but if you corner him without his strongest poisons available, he's a Lesser God. The Batman of the Gods, so to speak.

May 17, 2010

Monster Powers Triggering Off Other Monsters' Actions

Once upon a time, in a play-by-post game, we fought a huge executioner with an axe, and his "daughter" (a nasty little skeleton). When the nasty skeleton finally died, the executioner went nuts and started swinging his axe in big arcs, hitting everything around him. I guess you had to be there, but my point is that you don't see many instances of creature abilities keying off other creature's actions.

Which is quite understandable, of course. Monster Manuals, and even monster-themed books like Open Grave are written to be generic, and having monsters give bonuses to other specific monsters goes right against that. At most, we'll get things like the Azer Beastlord, which gives bonuses to "beasts". That's still a huge group, and a thematic pairing with a "beastlord".

However, for the aspiring homebrewer, it's a good thing to keep in mind. Take, for example, a big nasty that gets even nastier when its minions die. That might upset the usual tactic (kill the normal monsters first, since that's a faster way of eliminating a source of damage) and make it a good idea to focus on the leader (so you don't have to deal with him when boosted).

(Note that the "usual tactic" is dramatically appropriate - the BBEG dies last.)

In summary - giving monsters interacting abilities makes them more interesting and can shape the combat.

May 13, 2010

Against The Solo Grind

...or What We Learn From Zelda: A Link to the Past.

Well-designed solo monsters for D&D 4E flip out and gain nastier attacks when they are bloodied. Even some regular enemies do that - my favorite example would be the angels, who as a rule drop their angelic stoicism and go bananas when you've hurt them enough.

Zelda: A Link To The Past had an interesting twist on this over a decade earlier. There are certain bosses that are really separate creatures, and when only one of them remains, that one gets a serious boost in speed or damage output. The last Armos Knight gets faster, the last Lanmola shoots more rocks when it emerges from the sand*, etc.

*) Not that it's not still one of the easiest bosses.

What this encourages is - at least when fighting the Armos Knights - to spread out the damage a little between the creatures. That last Knight is a royal pain in the behind, so if it can be damaged before it goes nuts, so much better. That's obviously more pronounced in a 4E fight where an individual monster takes four hits to kill rather than two (as in Zelda).

Also, 4E has encounter powers and dailies. Having the last man standing get vastly more powerful encourages saving the more powerful attacks to kill that one quickly. Obviously, this needs to be telegraphed in advance, maybe by boosting the remaining monsters slightly everything something dies (this requires at least three monsters, of course).

May 12, 2010

Long Time No Blawg

Working on remedying that.