Thursday, 18 September 2014

D&D 5e Monsters: Part 7: Construction: Damage

D&D 5e Monsters: Part 7: Construction: Damage

Surf branches from Spellcasting into Damage...


Part 7: Construction: Damage

I had really wanted to cover Damage in Part 6, but simply ran out of both time and space. And the analysis of Damage represents a fair investment of both time and space. And there seems to be a lot of demand for the Damage post. So in this case I am going to give Damage an instalment all of its own.

To compound matters I had nearly completed this post when I discovered minor mistake in Damage calculations for about 5% of the data. That meant I had to review all Damage data to make sure it was solid... A further delay!

So let's get right into Damage, and then see how this fits in with our Example Monster.



First, an up-front reminder. As I have said before I believe that D&D 5e has somewhat decoupled the Damage/HP axis from the AC/Accuracy axis. As such I believe that it's not necessary to factor these into Damage calculations. The proof is in the pudding, or the numbers in this case, and you'll catch a glimpse of some of that here...

There are a several ways we can calculate Damage for the same creature and this consumes quite a bit of time at the data entry stage. What do we include as Damage? Just the stable "At will" standard actions each round? Do we factor in attack and defense modifiers? Critical hits? How do we factor in variable damage like spell lists? How about recharge actions and other "once off" type attacks? How do we best calculate the damage of area effects? Because of things like spell lists and recharge attacks what do we assume about the number of rounds in an "average combat"? How do we allow for saving throw clauses?

There is a lot to consider and we need to be as thorough as possible... But even with a strong desire to be thorough and a relatively small number of samples we still can't consider every possible variation. We need to lean on previous works, community feedback... sometimes we must resort to trail & error and sometimes even to gut instinct. When we follow these non-statistical leads we must pour time into validating them with good solid math.

The methods I use for calculating Damage are fairly close to the methods used by the wider D&D community for DPR and the community has had some exposure to it via my PC Stats thread on the Wizards of the Coast forums. As repeatedly highlighted the principal differences are that I have intentionally removed both attack bonus and critical hits from my Damage calculations.

These haven't been removed due to the difficulty of including them or through laziness, including these simply isn't very difficult. It's simply a matter of adding a couple more columns in my spreadsheets, which were in fact present until relatively recently. No these have been removed because including them increases data spread and data skew. The data becomes more spread out and single values significantly above or below the median carry disproportionate weight. In simpler terms, the data becomes less meaningful with these factored into the calculations. That's fairly solid evidence that their inclusion simply isn't a significant part of the foundational monster math. This may or may not have been a conscious design decision on the part of Wizards of the Coast, but it is statistically evident in the resulting D&D 5e monsters.

Monster Misc Stats Score Scatter
Monster Regular Damage Scatter
Monster Misc Stats Score Scatter
Monster Average Damage Scatter

Explaining every aspect of every decision step-by-step would take a lot of space and chew through a lot of time. So I'll go through the process for one aspect of it here. Let's assume for a moment that the way that I am calculating Damage is basically correct. But should we focus on "Regular" (or "At Will") Damage or on overall Average Damage? Let's look at the two...

So what we can do is create two almost identical scatter graphs. These have the same boundaries, axis values, formatting, size, trendlines and source the same rows in our spreadsheet. One will source the "Regular" Damage column, which we'll show in blue, and the other will source the "Average" Damage column, which we'll show in red.

If we place these next to one another, what differences are there?

The first thing most folks will notice is that the trendline is significantly higher in the red scatter graph, a reflection of the higher numbers resulting from including the damage from recharge actions and other "alpha attacks".

The next thing the attentive eye will notice is that the data points in the red graph tend to cluster around the trendline more evenly, that many of the data points on the blue graph tend to be scattered below the trendline.

Monster Misc Stats Score Scatter
Monster Regular Damage Scatter
Monster Misc Stats Score Scatter
Monster Average Damage Scatter

Let us now consider the consolidated data. We have some big pivot tables that encompass all of the data in our main worksheet. We can trivially average both perspectives on Damage by CR and then create the exact the same graphs from that summarized data. That makes it very natural to compare these summary graphs with the two detail graphs, and to one another.

The trendlines have clarified a little, but haven't changed a whole lot. This isn't a big surprise and is mainly due to the relatively sparse higher level data we have.

The data points in both graphs have evened up significantly compared to their unsummarized versions, of course.

The data points in the blue graph now tend to wander back and forth. First above the trendline for a while, then below for several levels, then crossing back a forth a few times. But the data on the red graph is now fairly close to a consistent line. There is, of course, some variation but the scattering is fairly close in most cases and pretty evenly on both sides of the trendline. The variability isn't anywhere near as pronounced as in the blue graph.

We also need to consider how both sets of data compare against PC Hit Points. My principle way of analyzing this was by manual comparison - I enjoy the flexibility this provides and the opportunities it affords to drill into and expand out various aspects of data. But I realize that isn't going to appeal to many readers, so I'll summarize what I saw and provide some graphs for visual purposes.

Monster Damage vs PC HP Scatter
Monster Damage vs PC HP Scatter
Monster Damage vs PC HP Summary
Monster Damage vs PC HP Summary

For these purposes I've created two scatter graphs. The first graph plots the PC Hit Point progression along with the raw data for both regular monster Damage and average monster Damage. I added a trendline to each of these data sets, of the same color as its data points. The second graph is the same, but shows summarized data.

These graphs let us see the data we have just been discussing in one place and how that data relates to PC Hit Point progression.

It's pretty obvious from this that Damage is less than PC Hit Points, which will be no surprise to those with experience from earlier editions. But the question is what percent of PC HP should they be? What's not immediately obvious from a graph is what these numbers shake out to under closer scrutiny.

So a useful tool at this part of the analysis is determining the percent of the average PC HP progression that the summary monster Damage accounts for. This involves several avenues of further investigation.

This brings us to something interesting that's not immediately evident on any of the graphs - the relatively high damage of CR1 monsters. The average Damage for these is a whopping 120% of average PC HP! Regular Damage only lags behind this a very small amount at 117%. Since CR2 creatures are pretty much at normal I believe this is an artificial spike that produces a feeling of greater lethality at first level. Why is this the case? Well the data shows that the CR1 creatures have relatively low HP (less than 4 times that of an average PC's Damage, instead of the more normal 7-8 times that of average PC Damage). So the CR1 monsters' high Damage is balanced by their low HP. Since we have 26 CR1 monsters it seems a bit of a stretch to call this coincidence, so I'd have to say that the intent is for monsters at this level to play out this way.

If we consider the current CR1 creature statistics to simply be a result of a general monster design decision (like "We will make most CR1 creatures Glass Cannons") then this has very little impact on producing an appropriate progression formula. We simply need to ensure that they generally fall near the parameters we end up with and rely on our CR assessment to produce an appropriate ranking.

But for the purposes of determining baseline monster Damage as a percent of PC Hit Points we have to be careful to consider the implications of this spike. One way of doing this is checking two versions of certain stats, one version that includes CR1 and one that excludes it. For simplicity we will simply ignore CR1 in the remainder of this post, but be assured that I did consider it in my analysis.

One useful technique for determining which percentage to use is to select a sliding window of a set number of adjacent values (I used 4 for a total of 5 in the sample) and move through the entire range, allowing us to enumerate the most common groupings of percentages. As we'd expect this tends to wander to a bit for regular monster Damage and is comparatively stable for average monster Damage. That said there is a general trend to tapering down as we progress from CR2 through to CR30.

Another useful "tool" is to determine the average, median, standard deviation and variance percentages for both regular and average monster Damage. We can use these in conjunction with our sliding windows to make decisions which are better informed.

Regular monster Damage has an overall average of 59.4% and a median of 61.4%, with a StdDev of 15.5% and variability of 2.3. The average for the mapped percentage groups is 59.4% with a median of 66.2%. These percentage groups have a StdDev of 10.5% and variability of 1.1.

Average monster Damage overall average is 80.3% and median is 78.8%, with a StdDev of 11.7% and a variance of 1.3. The mapped percentage group average for these is 81.5% with a median of 82.0%. These groups have a StdDev of 4.6% and a variability of 2.1.

These numbers do more than just identify possible target percentages, they tell us what level of confidence we can have in those percentages. We can see that regular monster Damage has a good deal more variability and uncertainty than average monster Damage. We can be pretty confident that it's somewhere in the 45% to 75% range and probably in the 50% to 70% range. If we needed to we could take a punt on it being 60%, but we could be wrong. Average monster Damage looks a good deal more stable though, we can have high confident that it's in the 70% to 90% and almost certainly in the 75% to 85% range.

Can we gain any more confidence than this? Perhaps, but the thing is the sparse data at the higher CRs does lend a certain amount of skew to the data and gaining a higher level of confidence takes progressively more effort and analysis. There is one shortcut we can use though. The spreadsheet this analysis is in has a provisional CR evaluation built into it. This still isn't complete and requires more refining, but Damage is a big part of CR. We can try different values in this range and see how that impacts the CR assessment of the current crop of monsters.

CRAverage Damage
Note: Typical boundaries shown.

The results of this suggest that 75% is the closest match to existing data and so we'll go with that until we have enough data to make a more accurate assessment.

Now, PC Hit Point progression can be expressed pretty simply as...
    HP=8 × Level + 1
So it's easy to calculate monster average damage, we just have to ask ourselves "what is 75% of 8?"...
    Damage=6 × Level + 1

If we add this progression to our average monster Damage graphs we see it's very close to the trendlines we have on that data series. After a little experimentation an overlap of around 15% between adjacent CR values seemed like a good fit.

As always the boundaries shown are what most monsters at a given CR should generally fall within. It's possible to have monsters above or below the given damage parameters that are still within CR by compensating elsewhere.

Prediction: Damage will prove to be concerned with average Damage and this will be closer to 75% than to 80%.


Example: Human Pyromancer

Since our Pyromancer achieves all of its damage through spells what we need to do is assess the profile of its likely spell use. I always assume a creature that is played fairly intelligently by a DM who is somewhat familiar with it.

Let's assume that the Pyromancer generally lasts 3 turns in combat. This seems fitting because we've designed it to attack with surprise and from a distance, using some allies and/or the terrain to shield it from its enemies.

At this point some readers are probably thinking "but what if it only lasts two rounds". Well the answer is its average Damage will increase, because we calculate the most powerful attacks it is probably going to use and its spell slots prevent it from using its most powerful attack (Fireball) more than twice.

So we'll calculate two uses of Fireball and one use of Flaming Sphere.

Fireball: A fireball does 8d6 damage and a d6 is worth 3.5 average damage. We'll assume it hits 2.5 targets on average (about the standard for AoE damage calculations). It's a spell with a "half damage on save" clause so we'll multiply that base by 1.5 (in the DPR world we'd multiply by 0.75, but that's because we normally multiply by 0.5 for misses and in this case we aren't factoring in misses just extra damage). That gives us...
    Damage=3.5 × 8 × 1.5 × 2.5=105

Flaming Sphere: This is 2d6 so we use the 2.5 base average again. Again it's a "half damage on save" spell so we use the 1.5 multipler and assume the standard 2.5 targets. It is a concentration spell though and the most elegant way to factor in it hitting another creature is to simply increase its number of targets by 1. This gives us...
    Damage=3.5 × 2 × 1.5 × (2.5 + 1)=36.75

Human Pyromancer

Medium humanoid (human), any alignment

Armor Class 12
Hit Points 77 (14d8+14)
Speed 30ft

9 (-1)
14 (+2)
12 (+1)
19 (+4)
12 (+1)
12 (+1)

Saving Throws Dex +5, Int +7
Skills Arcana +7, Perception +4
Damage Resistances Fire
Lanuguages Common, Ignan
Challenge 5 (1,700 XP)

Spellcasting. The pyromancer is an 5th-level
   spellcaster. Its spellcasting ability is Intelligence
   (spell save DC15, +7 to hit with spell attacks). The
   pyromancer has the following wizards spells

   Cantrips (at will): dancing lights, fire bolt
   1st level (3 slots): burning hands, disguise self
   2nd level (2 slots): invisibility, scorching ray
   3rd level (1 slot): fireball

That gives us an average of 82.25... Which is very, very high for a CR5 monster. Even allowing for our very low Hit Points it is probably too high. What can we do to reduce this? Dropping down the number of times Fireball can be cast is obviously going to be important. What if we add Scorching Ray and reduce Fireball to a single casting?

Scorching Ray: This level 2 spell creates three separate rays that each do 2d6 damage on a hit (the caster makes a ranged spell attack). That gives us...
    Damage=3.5 × 2 × 3=21

Introducing this opens up some different possibilities.
For one Fireball, one Flaming Sphere and one use of Scorching Ray this gives us...
    Damage=(105 + 36.75 + 21) ÷ 3=54.25
And one use of Fireball with two uses of Scorching Ray results in...
    Damage=(105 + 21 + 21) ÷ 3=49

We could go with either of these options and having both spells available to the Pyromancer would let the DM make that call. However I prefer simplicity so I will opt for the Fireball/Scorching Ray only option.


Now there are a few things to note here.

First up, some DMs and certainly some players are going to cry out "but that's not a valid Wizard spell progression!". Correct, it's not. I invite those especially concerned with this to show me the rules that say monsters must follow exactly the same progression as PCs. I believe that monster Spellcasters based on the Wizard are just that, based on the Wizard.

Secondly, some folks are going to observe that a monster that does an average 50-ish Damage each round with an "alpha strike" of over 100 damage is very powerful and going to be quite a challenge for a same-level party. That is correct and I guesstimate that this monster will be in the upper end of its CR. But I believe it will fall within its CR boundaries. This is based on the provisional CR evaluation formula I am currently using, which will be refined and presented a couple of posts from now.


As a final note I start three weeks' vacation in a couple of days. The next post (Attack Actions, Bonus Actions, Moves, Reactions) is looking fairly straightforward and I do plan on working on it during this time. But do be aware that posts may be less frequent during this time than some might hope.


Monday, 8 September 2014

D&D 5e Monsters: Part 6: Construction: Traits & Spellcasting

D&D 5e Monsters: Part 6: Construction: Traits & Spellcasting

Surf digs into Traits and takes a closer look at Spellcasting...


Part 6: Construction: Traits & Spellcasting

Traits are a crucial part of many creatures, serving to provide both grit and flavour. Many creatures also rely on these exclusively for their combat relevance in the game. This can be the case with Spellcasting, which is an incredibly flexible Trait.

We'll start with a broader Traits Overview - the types of Traits, how those impact other areas and their distribution across levels. From there we'll consider how Spellcasters are typically implemented in D&D 5e.

Looking at Spellcasting leads naturally into an analysis of Damage and my original plan was to include that on this instalment. Unfortunately I ran over on both time and content before I could cover this. So I will do a post on Damage all on its own, just as soon as it's ready.

Finally we'll apply what we have determined to our Example Monster.


Traits Overview

Traits are facets that alter the way game rules apply to creatures with that Trait. The implementation of Traits is evidence that D&D 5e's modularity is underpinned by an exception-based ruleset. It is also one of the main areas where templating is evident, since so many Traits are trivially transportable and we see them used by many unrelated creatures.

Conditional vs Simple

All Traits can be considered enablers and the majority are conditional.

Conditional Traits enable a benefit (or occasionally a penalty) based on a specific circumstance being met. Let's consider the following...

  • While the gargoyle remains motionless, it is indistinguishable from an inanimate statue.
  • The badger has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on smell.
  • The crab can breathe air and water.

In the first case the condition is that the Gargoyle is motionless. In the second the Badger only gains Advantage on a Perception check if that check relies on smell. The third case is more subtle yet it is still conditional - the Crab must be breathing either air or water in order to not drown. It would still drown in oil or a vacuum, for example.

Traits that are not conditional can be considered simple enablers - they apply a flat modification to a creature without any prerequisite condition. Examples include the following...

  • The elemental can enter a hostile creature’s space and stop there.
  • The banshee can magically sense the presence of living creatures up to 5 miles away. She knows the general direction they’re in but not their exact locations.
  • The crocodile can hold its breath for 15 minutes.

These simple enabling Traits generally have minimal impact to the way the creature performs in combat and are relatively uncommon. That said some non-conditional Traits have direct combat impact. Some Traits can act as attacks (like the Medusa's Petrifying Gaze) or provide access to attacks and/or utility Actions and Reactions. The Spellcasting Trait being the most common of the latter.


A complementary way of viewing Traits is by their use or impact, as I see it these fall into three broad categories...

  • Combat Traits: Have a direct bearing on combat. Examples include Pack Tactics, Sneak Attack and in many cases Spellcasting.
  • Stat Boost Traits: Serve to provide some kind of boost to a creature's basic stats, including providing advantage on skill checks and possibly saving throws. Examples include Freeze, Keen Sight and Regeneration.
  • Utility or Flavour Traits: Provide additional modifications to creatures for purposes that don't directly relate to combat or other mechanical considerations. Examples include Shapechanger, Water Breathing and in some cases Spellcasting.

Because the two approaches are complementary they can be used togethor. What I see is that most combat and stat boost Traits are conditional, while most simple enabling Traits are of the utility/flavour type.

Note that the Spellcasting Trait is very flexible and variable, so we'll take a closer look at that shortly.

Impact On Calculations

It's important to note that Traits can impact basic stat calculations and that combat Traits and stat boost Traits sometimes need to be considered when assessing a monster's actual CR. For example the Regeneration Trait appears to factor into a monster's HP count and attack-type Traits (including Spellcasting in some cases) factor into a creature's Damage assessment.


OK so that's all important and very good, but "How many Traits should I give my monster?" I hear you ask! Let's have a look at the numbers...

Monster Traits Scatter
Monster Traits Scatter

If we create a scatter graph showing the number of Traits each creature has we can see that the data is tight and at a pretty low level. If we then drop a couple of trendlines on this, one Linear and one either Power or Logarithmic, we can see that the variability of data is also fairly low. That is the data generally has a low Standard Deviation and Variability. While there are exceptions at a couple of CRs, Var and StdDev are mostly 1 or less, occasionally making it as far as 2.

That's a fancy way of enumerating what you can see plainly - on average monsters have 2 Traits and the normal variation is +/- 2.

Monster AC Averaged
Monster Traits Averaged

If we summarise the data, take the result and use that to produce another scatter graph with the same two trendlines... Does this change much? Well no, it really doesn't. This only serves to condense the data points, but it has no significant impact on the trendlines... on the shape of the data.

This essentially leaves us with two options. The first is a Logarithmic (or Power) formula that starts at a couple of Traits at CR1, plateauing by CR5 and only very slowly progressing from there.

0 1
1 2
2 2
3 2
4 2
5 2
6 2
7 2
8 2
9 2
10 2
✝ Varies by +/-2

The other option is a simple Linear formula. Based on the current crop of monsters I think we'll see that this is, in fact, a fairly flat Linear progression.

So exactly what kind of progression do I expect we'll see in the Monster Manual? Well after rounding we'd want CR1 to hit 2, but under CR1 we want 1. So we want to start CR1 at 1.5. At CR30 I believe we'll want to just hit 4, after rounding. So that at CR30 our target is 3.5.

A moment's work in Excel suggests something similar to this...
    Number Traits=0.07 x CR + 1.43

When using this formula it's important to keep in mind that that a variation of +/-2 is easily within the normal ranges. And realistically one can go to +/-4 by exercising a little care. What do I mean by that? Well adding six or eight combat-oriented Traits to a CR1 monster can produce creature much stronger than its CR indicates. Complementary and synergistic Traits can also be problematic here if not carefully considered.

Prediction: Analysis of the Monster Manual will reveal that number of Traits is a slow linear progression, as we have outlined above.



The Spellcasting Trait effectively grafts the core PC system for spellcasters onto a monster. Spellcasting and its close relative Innate Spellcasting are arguably the most versatile and powerful Traits commonly found in the current crop of D&D 5e monsters. There are several caster archetypes obvious in the current crop of monsters and we'll have a look at these once we've considered the structure of Spellcasting.

Spellcasting Overview

Spellcasting and Innate Spellcasting are discussed on pages 5 & 6 of the DM Basic Rules v0.1 available in Basic D&D. This section sheds a little light on how to use monsters with this Trait and, if we read between the lines, even gives us a few clues to how they are built. Combined with the elements of Spellcasting that we see on monsters with that Trait we gain a pretty clear understanding of how that Trait is implemented. The components are...

  • Spellcaster Level is used to index several elements of the Trait from the appropriate class. It is usually several levels over the CR of the creature (typically 3 levels higher), but I don't believe there's a simple formula applied to this. Instead I think it serves as a type of "dial" to tune in damage, support or utility reuqirements for the monster. Spellcaster Level is normally followed by several dependant attributes...
    • Spellcaster Ability is usually the highest of Int, Wis or Cha.
    • Spell Save DC in most cases is calculated as...
          DC=8 + Proficiency_Bonus + Spellcaster_Ability_Modifier
      The occasional creature seems to have a bonus or penalty on top of this. I suspect this is either a racial bonus or a manua "tweak" to adjust particularly powerful or weak casters.
    • Spell Attack Bonus is simply calculated as...
          Bonus=Proficiency_Bonus + Spellcaster_Ability_Modifier
    • Spellcaster Class dictates the cantrips, spell slots, available spells, etc as detailed below
  • Cantrips are gained as normal for a PC caster of the appropriate Class and Level.
  • Spell Slots are applied as normal for a PC caster of the appropriate Class and Level.
  • Spell List details the spells the monster knowns or has prepared (as per its Spellcaster Class). Note that these are usually fewer than for a PC of the same caster class and level, typically one fewer at each spell level, however it may be up to the same number as the equivalent PC caster class and level. My suggestion is that only spells that fit the monster's underlying design concepts are added. Simply adding spells to match the number that PCs of that Class and Level have might seem intuitive, but ultimately it makes the monster more difficult to operate and therefore less effective.
  • Domain Features available to the class may also be added to the monster.
  • Note that Monsters may cast spells using a higher slot if one is available and if that spell allows casting at a higher spell level.
  • Note the section on modifying a monster's spell list and the warning that this may impact that monster's strength relative to its CR, making it stronger or weaker than its CR indicates. An obvious reason for this is that many monsters with the Spellcasting Trait achieve most of their damage via their spells.
Archetype: Attack Caster

Some monsters with Spellcasting achieve most or all of their combat relevance through this Trait, with the primary focus being on spells that inflict damage and/or conditions. For example, the Evil Mage from page 57 of the Starter Set only does 3 damage each round without its spells. But look at its Spell List...

  • Cantrips (at will): light, mage hand, shocking grasp
  • 1st Level (4 slots): charm person, magic missile
  • 2nd Level (3 slots): hold person, misty step

So this monster can cast Magic Missile using a level 2 slot three times, allowing it to do 14 Damage each round.

Archetype: Defense Caster

Some monsters don't use Spellcasting for direct aggression, instead their spells focus on assisting their allies. These creatures often play support roles in combat, healing and buffing, or rely on buffing their own attacks (ala "Gish" creatures). The Acolyte on p53 of the DM Basic Rules v0.1 is a good example of this archetype...

  • Cantrips (at will): light, sacred flame, thaumaturgy
  • 1st level (3 slots): bless, cure wounds, sanctuary

While the Acolyte does achieve its best damage using Sacred Flame that isn't its main role in combat. Instead this creature's best use is casting its 1st level spells.

Archetype: Utility Caster

Some creatures with a casting Trait don't use their magic skills for purposes that directly impact combat calculations, which isn't to say that that their spells have no direct impact on combat. All current examples of this are creatures with Innate Spellcasting, but there's no reason this can't be equally well implemented using Spellcasting. Let's consider the Rakshasa's spell list...

  • At will: detect thoughts, disguise self, mage hand, minor illusion
  • 3/day each: charm person, detect magic, invisibility, major image, suggestion
  • 1/day each: dominate person, fly, plane shift, true seeing

The Rakshasa's spell list clearly is not intended for head-on combat. Instead it is well suited to the creature's preference for working behind the scenes and for infiltration. This isn't to say its spells have no combat application, but in that context they are focussed on safely escaping confrontation rather than defeating enemies.

Archetype: Flavour Caster

We can expect to see the odd creatures with Spellcasting or Innate Spellcasting where the spells have no combat application whatsoever. The example that currently jumps to mind is the Yuan-ti Malison from the Horde Of The Dragon Queen...

  • At will: animal friendship (snakes only)
  • 3/day: suggestion

Very thematic, but with little or no combat application.

Archetypes vs Real Monsters

The thing is actual monsters closely matching the Archetypes listed above are pretty rare. There are some, as our examples show, but few of these are "pure" examples of their type. What's most common is for monsters to mix types. So a creature that is primarily an Attack Caster will frequently dabble in defensive casting and may also have a dash of utility casting.

This kind of selective, well-thought-out mixing is fine and can result in a more robust opponent. But I would again caution against going overboard and giving a Spellcaster too many spells. I feel a clear, succinct monster is easier to operate than an overly complex one. Of course, this is my own perspective and preference, not something based on any particular analysis or metrics.

Prediction: When we see casters of the Flavour archetype their Caster Level will be relatively lower (for their CR) than that of casters that focus on Attack or Defense casting.


Example: Human Pyromancer

OK let's apply this all to our pyromancer. Now what Traits do we want to give this monster? Spellcasting is obvious, as we've alluded to in both this and previous installments. But what about other Traits? I did toy with the idea of giving the Pyromancer something to mitigate damage to its allies, but I don't think that's really in keeping with the ideas behind this monster. Likewise some kind of spell penetration Trait could be appropriate, but I think that's simply going to complicate things without yielding any real benefit. So I've opted simply to go with Spellcasting.

Human Pyromancer

Medium humanoid (human), any alignment

Armor Class 12
Hit Points 77 (14d8+14)
Speed 30ft

9 (-1)
14 (+2)
12 (+1)
19 (+4)
12 (+1)
12 (+1)

Saving Throws Dex +5, Int +7
Skills Arcana +7, Perception +4
Damage Resistances Fire
Lanuguages Common, Ignan
Challenge 5 (1,700 XP)

Spellcasting. The pyromancer is an 8th-level
   spellcaster. Its spellcasting ability is Intelligence
   (spell save DC15, +7 to hit with spell attacks). The
   pyromancer has the following wizards spells

   Cantrips (at will): dancing lights, fire bolt
   1st level (4 slots): burning hands, disguise self
   2nd level (3 slots): flaming sphere, invisibility
   3rd level (2 slots): fireball

The pyromancer is an intelligence-based caster loosely modelled on the wizard. We'll peg its Caster Level at 8 for now, 3 higher than its CR. The remaining stats are trivial to determine, as described above.

This brings us to its Spell List. We already know we are doing a fire-themed caster and as a glass cannon it makes sense for it to focus on the attack caster archetype. All this makes the core of spells we would choose pretty obvious: fire bolt, burning hands, flaming sphere and fireball. This works pretty nicely for the pyromancer being a ranged caster without a lot of close-quarter options - fireball will account for most of the pyromancer's damage and burning hands gives it some melee relevance.

Next we'll splash in some flavour and utility with dancing lights, disguise self and invisibility. I did think about adding mage armor or shield, but that makes our monster a lot more resiliant in melee combat than our original design. Instead I will be adding an interesting litle reaction in a later installment.

In the forthcoming Damage installment we'll reflect on how our example creature shapes up damage-wise and see if we need to make any adjustments.