“Creating a monster isn’t just a number-crunching exercise. The guidelines . . . can help you create monsters, but the only way to know whether a monster is fun is to playtest it.” p.275, Dungeon Master’s Guide Fifth Edition

Last night I tried to figure out the “Quick Monster Stats” section of the 5e DMG. I think I get it. The above sentiment is expressed at the end of the section.

Duly noted.

After close to two months of 5e, a friend and I concluded that it might not be difficult enough. So I’m trying to figure out how to calibrate encounters for greater difficulty. Ideally, we do this within the context of the rules.

And without turning the game into “padded sumo.” (See: 4e D&D)

Now, the table on page 174 is notoriously unhelpful. See, it provides a sample AC, hit point range, attack bonus, and damage range. But while hit points are easily understood as a range, damage . . . is not. Damage is expressed in dice.

Right? Am I crazy?

So I figured what I’d do is create another table of per-level monster stats, comparable to my previous work on 3e and 4e. I have a slightly different goal in mind for this one though. It’s going to be mostly for NPCs, not monsters.

Initially I was concerned that the expression of ‘damage per round’ was intended to reflect the damage a monster would inflict if it hit, based on its probability to hit. It took some work, but I figured out how to calculate it.

Then I wondered if instead, perhaps they meant the maximum possible damage a monster could inflict per round. Both of these turned out to be wrong.

After a more careful reading of the following section about monster design, I realized that the range expression was only meant to reflect the uh, average damage of the monster’s most-damaging attack routine.

So, a kobold’s d6 spear deals an average of 3 damage. Therefore it should fall within the 2-3 damage-per-round range of a CR 1/8.

I’ve found from previous campaigns that a monster should be able to deal enough damage per round to knock off about a third of a character’s hit points. So from here, I need to calculate the average hit points of a character at each level.