Salamanders and Giants and Gnolls (Oh My!)

Discussion in 'General Modification' started by Kalshane, Nov 15, 2005.

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  1. Kalshane

    Kalshane Local Rules Geek

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    I download the ToEE World Builder and have been playing around with it a little bit. So far, the only thing I understand is the Proto editor portion.

    Looking around, monster stats, particularly their CRs are pretty wacky. Giant class creatures, as a whole, have CRs 1 lower than listed in the 3.5 Monster Manual. (Scorrp, as I mentioned elsewhere, is even wierder, with no CR rating, meaning only his 2 fighter levels count towards the XP award of beating him. Wuh?) Gnolls have a 2 more points of AC. Stuff like that.

    So far, though, Salamanders take the cake. What we seem to have in the protos is something that's somewhere between a regular Salamander (CR 6) and a Noble Salamander (CR 10) that weighs in with a CR of 5, according to the protos. 10d8 hit dice (1 more than a normal Salamander), 10' reach (like a Noble), 20 Strength (2 less than Noble, 6 higher than regular) 18 Con (2 higher than a Noble and 4 more than a regular), the mental stats of a regular, DR 10/Magic (as per regular) and the ability to cast Fireball (as per Nobles). I have no idea what Troika was trying to do here, all I know is the CR rating for the creature as it stands is way too low. I'd say give them a CR of 7, at least.

    That doesn't even go into the other stats, like to hit and whatnot, because I'm not sure what the game does and does not calculate on the fly, based on the creature's ability scores, and what it reads as listed from the protos. If it adds the strength bonus onto the already high +12 (+11 after all bonuses for regular, +18 for noble) to hit and Dex bonus onto the really high AC of 22 (18 normally for both noble and regular) then these things mean serious business.

    So here's my question: does anyone care? It was mentioned in the Co8 4.0 thread that some CRs were intentionally changed for whatever reason. If I were to go through and "fix" the monsters listed in the protos (CR, Ability scores, AC, saving throws, feats, etc.) would it be worth it, beyond my own satisfaction? (And frustration of having to do it all over again the next time a Co8 patch is released. :) ) Or is someone already working on this and I'd be stepping on their toes?
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2005
  2. Shiningted

    Shiningted I want my goat back Global Moderator

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    Well Orion did it once...

    Yes, it would certainly be worth doing. But one thing Troika were clearly worrying about was game balance. Did you ever hit the Salamanders and think, "these guys are too easy?" While many monsters did not fight to their potential (and Liv did a lot toward fixing that - she didn't make it perfect but it is better) Troika clearly approached with a computer-gaming mentality of making each successive bunch of monsters harder than the last, whatever their stats were meant to be 'officially', and I think they did a reasonable job (certainly the lower levels were harder than the upper levels, nodes had SOME harder fights than the dungeon etc).

    If you wanted to fix it, I would definitely recommend a one-at-a-time approach, at least until u r 100% sure u know how everything is being calculated (you were completely right in suggesting some things might get calculated other ways than just reading from the prototype). Take the salamander - replay the encounter, see if the numbers are coming up as it seems in combat (to hit bonuses and AC and such), see how many XP are awarded, calculate how many SHOULD be awarded for CR whatever, stick that in and test it. If it works, post on here and it will certainly go in the next patch :) If things work funny, try and figure out what is being done then let us know. And yes folks have done some of this in the past and there are some threads around to compare - Orion's stuff on how HP are calculated, for instance (uncovered a bug fixed by Drifter) - that are well worth reading.

    A pain in the ass lot of work to be sure, but then the alternate route - change everything in site to what it 'should be' then post your protos.tab and hope for the best - has also been tried, and it just don't work that way...
     
  3. Kalshane

    Kalshane Local Rules Geek

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    Well, the fight with the Salamanders in the fire temple is one of the toughest in the game if you don't know it's coming, IMO. My first time through the game, my party got wiped out. Of course, once you know it's there and dump fire resistance on everyone, it's a lot easier, so it's a toss-up, really.:) I'll tinker around and leave a backup of my protos to revert to if necessary.
     
  4. Kalshane

    Kalshane Local Rules Geek

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    Thinking about game balance, the game already awards less XP per CR than the PNP rules. It seems to be something like 75-80% of normal XP. (Didn't someone, back in the day, say they had changed it that way in one of their mods? Maybe even moebius's temple.dll. I'm not sure.) So the game is already taking into account that things are going to be easier than PNP. At that point, CRs should be consistent with each other. A tougher monster should yield more XP than a weaker monster, obviously. Which means the baselines set in the PNP rules are a good place to start.

    There's also the fact that while it's true that there are quite a few monster abilities that aren't implemented correctly in ToEE, there's a lot of spells that aren't either on the player side and in an average fight a monster is only going to be able to use 2 or 3 special powers before they or the party is dead anyway. So the effect of those missing powers could be minimal in some cases.

    Another thing is equipment-using monsters (goblins, hobgoblins, bugbears, gnolls, giants and ogres) get a distinct advantage in the game engine because their AC is coded into their stats, instead of coming from actual armor with its attendant movement restrictions and skill check penalties. Plus, that's treasure the player doesn't recieve, that they would in a PNP game. (While a party would have no use for giant's club or suit of hide armor, there's no reason they couldn't use a bugbear's chain shirt or a gnoll's axe.) Not that the game suffers from a treasure deficiency, by any means, but it's just another example of where the game is actually "harder" than it's PNP counterpart.

    Now, I'm not saying we should convert everything directly to the PNP rules, damn the consequences. But I don't think setting things to their PNP counterparts and tweaking from there (or in some cases looking at the pre-tweaked monsters and adjusting their CR accordingly) is a bad place to start.

    I've been going through the bugbears: elemental temple, greater temple, generic, etc and there's some wierdness going on their as well. Extra hit dice. Less hit dice. Extra feats. Missing feats. Ridiculously high ACs. Etc, etc and been changing them to match their PNP counterparts. I've made them all 3d8 hit dice and CR 2, as per the 3.5 MM. Those with extra hit dice, I've been looking at what the designers were trying to do and trading them out for levels in an appropriate class on a 1 for 1 or 2 for 1 basis, depending, and adding feats as appropriate. I'll give things a test run and see what happens. I have a feeling in some cases they're going to be nastier (the ones with extra hitdice that are setup as tumbling flankers have been given Rogue levels, for example.) and in others just make more sense. I'll see how it goes in practice.
     
  5. bradrinwi

    bradrinwi Established Member

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    if you make the effort to change monsters .. to more reasonable CR ratings etc i for one would be interested .. my understanding is No it's not just you... But it is a lot of work.. unless you're going to blanket change everything to 3.5 MM X standards and even that would be a huge task


    but yes very interested..
     
  6. Shiningted

    Shiningted I want my goat back Global Moderator

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    By all means try it out!

    The bugbears are a great example of where extra HD have been added to make the game harder in later levels. While a 70-80hp bugbear is a far cry from the monster manual, if the Dungeon level 3 & 4 ones were only 3HD it would be pretty weak. Probably the extra HP etc would be better done as extra levels (eg rogue, as u suggested).

    Allyx has done a lot of work in this area, u might wanna PM him. Good luck!
     
  7. Kalshane

    Kalshane Local Rules Geek

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    Arghlragglefrag! :censored: My protos.tab got corrupted somehow and ToEE won't load when I tried to test it. Had to replace it with the back-up. There goes all my changes.

    Thanks, Ted. Sent him a PM. Guess I'll wait to see if Allyx has anything to say before I try again. No sense in duplicating his work since I'm already having to duplicate mine.

    I will say, the bugbears having 3 to 4 weapons assigned to each model (which I can only assume the game randomly chooses from) is a major PITA, as the ones with Fighter levels would likely have Focus and Specialization in their weapons of choice, but there's only so many feat slots in the protos. Before the protos died I was starting to put WF and WS (where applicable) for each of the weapons listed in the inventory.mes for each model with Fighter levels. It's odd Troika didn't program a kludge "Weapon Focus: All"-type feat to work around that. (Or maybe they did and I'm missing it. :grin: )
     
  8. Gwythur

    Gwythur Member

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    The miscellaneous weapons for the bugbears (and various other mobs) are coded into InvenSource.mes in the /data/rules directory. If it bothers you enough, you could modify that file and restrict the types of weapons the bugbears carry. The format should is pretty easy to figure out. If you're especially motivated, adding new lines to the file is pretty trivial, and you can set the mob's inventory-to-load in column 44 in the protos. This would allow you to specify the proper weapon focus for the individual mobs. Then again, having a room full of bugbears with longswords is a bit more boring than a room full of bugbears with random weapons, but it would be an alternative option.

    You also might want to take a look at Orion's mod. I know that Orion is heavily pooh-poohed around here for making some rather arbitrary changes to other people's work, but he did do a nice job of adjusting feats, skill points, and stats for many of the protos entries. I've played through a fair portion of his mod, and although it has some bugs, spelling errors, and questionable changes, I really do believe that he had some good ideas.

    Also, you might want to wait on major changes for a couple of days. Shiningted mentions in another thread that an update to Co8 4.0 will be coming out soon.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2005
  9. Kalshane

    Kalshane Local Rules Geek

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    I'll take a look at Orion's work, but I'm concerned about changes he made slipping past me. But it's definitely worth giving a look.

    I definitely agree that the random weapon assortments among the bugbears is a good thing. It just makes feat selections difficult.

    If there's a new protos on the way, then I'll try to just get a better feel for how things work rather than making a lot of changes for the time-being.
     
  10. Kalshane

    Kalshane Local Rules Geek

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    I haven't done an in-depth look at Orion's protos.tab yet, but I glanced over it and I've noticed a couple of mistakes and head scratchers already. It looks like (I haven't checked them all, but this is the case for everyone I've checked so far) he gave every single bugbear Weapon Focus (Morningstar) regardless of their weaponry. Granted, that's one of the feats listed for the bugbear in the MM, but the bugbear in MM carries a morningstar. WF: [weapon carried] would make a lot more sense. He also really loved giving them 1 level in Rogue. Also, all the hill giants are still listed as CR 6 instead of CR 7.

    Reading through the thread about Orion's mod, there was some concern about adding missing feats and skills for creatures with character levels because it's "arbitrary". Is this really a concern for most people? While there is no feat progression set in stone for characters, there are plenty of logical feat trees based on character class and ability scores. I personally think it's more arbitrary to leave those feats and skills off and make the creature weaker than their CR suggests than it is to follow from the feats/skills already listed or extrapolate based on the AI and weapons assigned to the creature.

    If I update the protos.tab, whether using the base Co8 one or Orion's existing corrections, Should I just be worrying about the hard numbers, or should I feel free to "arbitrarily" assign skills and feats creatures are missing based on what I feel are logical choices, based on my 17 years of DMing experience and the information presented within the game itself?

    I'm not a programmer by any stretch of the imagination, but I think I have a decent grasp on how the protos.tab, at least, works. Based on my own tinkering and what I've read on this board, it looks like for all creatures, the game looks at the ability scores listed in the protos.tab and applies the appropriate ability modifiers to AC, saving throws and hit points.

    For creatures with natural weapons, it applies the attack and damage numbers directly from the protos.tab, but will break them down in the game rolls window by separating out the ability modifier.

    For creatures with manufactured weapons, the game looks at their hit dice, strength/dexterity and character levels (if applicable) and calculates the attack and damage rolls on the fly.

    Is this correct so far?

    The only place I'm unsure of is skills. Does it apply the appropriate ability modifier to the values listed in the protos.tab or does it only take the value listed under the skill? I believe it does the former, but I'd like confirmation.

    Other questions:

    Actually adding worn armor and other equipment to a creature requires the appropriate mob file be edited. Is this correct? (If so, this is currently beyond my skill/understanding.)

    If this can only be done by editing the mob file, is there a way to reduce a creature's movement speed in the protos.tab to kludge in the effect of heavier armor, or is this again in the mob file? A lot of the bugbears have ACs that can only be achieved by wearing medium or heavy armor, but they still act normally because their armor is "virtual".

    Does changing the longdescription.mes text for a creature have any in-game effect? I know for items it gives people the shift-click option for more information. If this has no effect on creatures, would it be logical to note any kludges being used in the creature's long description so later moddders can see what was done and why?

    Of no real importance, why does the no dachi use bastard sword proficiency, instead of greatsword? It's no more an over-sized katana than a bastard sword is an over-sized longsword. I'm just curious.

    Do we have an ETA on the new "official" protos.tab?
     
  11. Cujo

    Cujo Mad Hatter Veteran

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    I made it and made it bastard sword - it seemed like a good idea at the time as its an exotic weapon in my opinion altho from playing with the nodachi it doesn't make any difference (as you can't ever wield it one handed anyway) just so long as you know what weapon type it is so you can get the right weapon focus for it.
     
  12. Kalshane

    Kalshane Local Rules Geek

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    It just seems weird. A bastard sword is considered a two-handed martial weapon. If you take exotic weapon: bastard sword, you can use it one-handed. Anyone who takes EWP:BS is probably going to want to stick with using a bastard sword or a katana, since they spent the feat to have a larger than normal one-handed weapon in the first place. In the game itself, the no dachi is just a cool-looking curved masterwork greatsword. It just makes the proficiency requirements a little odd.

    In the end it really doesn't matter much, especially since the only place I've even seen the no dachi is the pre-game shop, so anyone taking it is going to probably know what they're doing. It just made me go "huh" when I saw it. (Then again, it might be in Ah Fong's shop for all I know. The man is apparently hiding from me.)
     
  13. Gwythur

    Gwythur Member

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    Honestly, I think that the dissatisfaction with Orion's modification stemmed less from the fact that many of his changes were arbitrary, than the fact that he changed some things that probably never should have been changed to begin with. Mucking about with Otis and Elmo is bad enough, but he changed some of Livonya's stuff without permission and was both unrepentant and argumentative when he was told that this was a no-no.

    If you'll read Allyx's poll on Orion's fixes here, it seems that people would like to see changes in feats, skill adjustments, and (less so) ability score modifications such as Orion did. Although there are some who have never played D&D, many of us are old-school tabletop players from way back, and would like to see things kept as accurate to the rules as possible. I personally think that 17 years of DMing experience speaks for itself, and I think you should use your best judgement.

    As far as a kludge to changing monster movement rates and skill penalty checks, have you tried adding the armor to the InvenSource.mes for the mobs in question? I believe that the inventory for most mobs is added "on-the-fly" by the game when the mob is created (by entering a map for the first time) and they usually wear whatever is in their inventory. I think only certain mobs are hard-coded, typically those crucial to game flow. Of course, I could be wrong, since I haven't actually tested this, but try making the changes and using the console to "create" a mob. You obviously know how to look at the rolls history to see the modifiers, but if you cast suggestion on it to make it a party member, you should be able to look at the inventory as well.

    Keep in mind that most mobs don't have mesh pictures for the armor, and they wouldn't look different, but they should act different if they're wearing armor. Of course, this would mean a whole lot more loot for the player to carry. Considering that I've played in tabletop games where the players have stripped anything not nailed down as treasure, that might not be unreasonable.
     
  14. Shiningted

    Shiningted I want my goat back Global Moderator

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    Well I am writing a tutorial on adding .mobs, should be finished in a few hours, u guys might wanna check it. In the meantime, yes spawn in critters from the console to test them, don't worry about the .mobs.

    Unless I am mistaken badly, u can't add armour to bugbears etc anyways, the models aren't designed for it. Cujo could say for sure.

    Orion annoyed us over a few different things, not least his failure to test things before release. He also got a lot right, of course. If you're prepared to do all this Kalshane, more power to u and u certainly sound like u have the experience, but it'll be a big job.
     
  15. Cujo

    Cujo Mad Hatter Veteran

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    Yes bugbears can't change their spots, I mean armour, well no matter what armour they're wearing they'll always look the same. (have you used kella's ring before its same diff).
     
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