Scaling isn’t just statting monsters to a certain amount of power. Scaling is creating appropriate challenges for each character level. Elsewhere we’ll cover how to create dynamic challenges that players of all levels can participate in. This section talks about the math of scaling – rather than creating monsters which are too hard for one group and too easy for another, we’ll create middle-range monsters which challenge characters regardless of their level.
Here is one mechanic for scaling:
Most monsters should die in about 5-8 hits. But body points are tricky. If you just keep adding body onto a monster, it makes damage spells and low level characters exponentially less useful.
Take the average number of damage the people on the module / field are swinging – say 10s. Multiply this number by the difficulty of the encounter:
- 3 for an easy fight = 30 body
- 5 for a tough fight = 50 body
Then add a few “lesser parries” – melee defenses which may be used against normal weapon swings, but shouldn’t be called against times-per-day skills like slays and assassinates.
Lesser Parries are a MUCH BETTER way to scale melee monsters than adding body. Here’s the math which explains why:
A monster with 100 body…
- dies in 5 hits if you’re swinging 20s
- dies in 20 hits if you’re swinging 5s
- takes two flame blasts and a magic missile to kill (19 levels of spells)
This means that if you swing 5s, you might as well not bother. You have to swing four times to equal one swing from the 20Magic guy! And if you’re a low or mid level caster, you probably shouldn’t bother with damage spells, they’ll barely dent the creature.
But a monster with 20 body and 3 “lesser parries”..
- dies in 4 hits if you’re swinging 20s
- dies in 7 hits if you’re swinging 5s
- only takes one 4th level spell to kill
That’s a lot more fair fight for everybody involved!
A quick way of scaling up: add a bless spell and a magic armor — now the creature dies in 7 hits from the 20 guy and 9 hits from the 5s guy. And all it took was three levels of spells.
When the melee monsters have low body + a few lesser parries, everyone can participate and feel like they’re actually helping.