I must create a system, or be enslaved by another man's. I will not reason and compare: my business is to create.

- William Blake

Friday, April 06, 2018

Giant Monster versus Angry Mob

Take a look at this great post from Cruel & Unusual Punishment:

[...] I don’t appreciate the lack of tactical variety arising from combat with foes drastically larger in size than player characters.
This is not about pushing an agenda that large creatures should by rights be tougher to beat, rather that, as a challenge, they should feel different and require a distinct approach rather than the mended old hat of getting the cudgels out and whacking away at the ankles of the Hp piñata until it keels.
[...] In DnD all that is absent: the gameplay surrounding combat with large monstrous opponents mostly plays like Times New Roman twelve, wrong-headedly reduced to a slugging match with a large juicy bag of Hit-points saddled with a bad action economy, leading to the mechanical juncture of monstrous foes, due to being single targets, being actually easier to face than an equivalent challenge made of multiple smaller ones (the DMG’s guidelines on CR copping admission to this very fact). Occasional legendary and lair actions feel like just a tacked-on mitigation device.

Great points there.

To be honest, while I like 5e, I am a bit disappointed about bounded accuracy going too far - a tribe of goblins should be a bit weaker, I think, and the tarrasque A LOT tougher.

It bothers me that "the most dreaded monster in the Material Plane" feels a bit like it could be taken down by a hundred determined, well-positioned 1st level fighters with the Sharpshooter feat (no, I have no idea how accurate this is).

And I like the idea that armor might be less useful than Dexterity against huge foes - although I wouldn't want it to be completely useless, since Dexterity is already a bit better than Strength in 5e as it is.

So, if you want to know his solution, click the link above.

Here is mine - largely inspired by his, but a bit simpler.

When a huge creature makes a melee attack against a target, the target and up to 1d4 random  creatures within 5 feet of it must make a Dexterity saving throw (the DC is equal to the attack roll) or suffer an amount of damage equal to half the creature's Challenge. A gargantuan creature affects all creatures within 5 feet of the original target and 1d10  random  creatures within 10 feet of it, instead. 

A sufficiently large rock, piece of rubble or weapon hurled by the creature might have a similar, but smaller and rarer, effect (GM's call). Likewise, a large creature with a big two-handed weapon can occasionally deal damage in the same way.

Even easier if you use minis....
In short, if an angry mob of villagers decides to take down a giant, they are going to have a bad time. Godzilla is coming? Better bring out the big guns.


  1. Thanks for the shout-out, Eric, much obliged.

    I'm presently doing a twice-over on my inventory system and your musings too were of use.

  2. Parsing the posts for your replies, it struck me: I come across as a complete boor, self-plugging like I do. Please accept my apologies, Eric, both replies were made amid a work pause and the things that were bouncing inside the box were what came out, you deserved better.

    Now that I'm sitting confortably,

    Your idea definitely seems workable. Might borrow the bit about tying damage (or other effects) to the creature's Challenge Rating.

    I'll admit, I didn't quite plant my flags at the extremes, as I don't really view things such as a Kraken or a Tarrasque to be given fair representation by a mere MM entry.

    As low-level fantasy is more my speed, I was thinking of Ogres, Giants and Minotaurs, the kind of adversaries that have mythic pull and that suffer from acute "I have all of one attack, plump for your shield-specialized fighter to deflect and then you lot are welcome to plant daggers on me 'til the display marks tilt" syndrome.

    Such mechanics are, of course, rarely neatly applicable, as you well note: an oversized two-handed cleaver or a hurled boulder in the grip of a large creature would definitely already merit a DEX check to avoid rather than any layer of armour being of whatever use.

    1. No apologies needed! I do agree about the ogres, Minotaur, etc. Maybe extending the above rules to large creatures to allow them to hit at least two medium enemies at one would make sense.