Monday, January 28, 2008

The detail is in the devil

I know what they're doing... they know that the pit fiend is one of my iconic monsters from my experience computing monster stats, and they're just trying to suck up. But it won't work. Will it?

Pit Fiend Level 26 Elite Soldier (Leader)

We've known for a while now that it was coming, but this just reeks of a computer RPG stat, not our loving D&D. Level 26 - CR was something that belonged to D&D, and now we're just levels for everything. Elite Soldier. Leader. I could go on and on about the roles, but Griff has done that justice. Time to embrace it -- it's here to stay.

Large immortal humanoid (devil). Outsiders are now immortal humanoids - I think we knew that. Are they all? Does the "humanoid" portion of that type mean that they're more susceptible to spells and effects that target humanoids?

XP 18,000. Hrm. For everybody? Regardless of their level? The XP chart in 3.5 was needed to represent the Law of Diminishing Returns in a levelling-up game. If the XP granted upon defeating a monster is fixed, then grinding becomes a possibility in D&D: "Hey, let's go wipe out a few planes of Hell so we can all level up and get an extra feat!"

Initiative, Senses, Auras. All nice and familiar. "aura 5"? Just kill me now -- I'm sure that's "5 squares".

HP 350; Bloodied 175. I actually like this idea of "bloodied", where the monster gains/loses certain abilities based on how wounded they are. It does make me worry a little about that "line" -- if I smack the pit fiend down to 170hp, and realize I've given him some extra-nasty ability (I have to wait until below to see what those might be), can I actually heal him to take back that ability, until my party's ready to wipe out that last 175hp in one big attack?

AC, Fortitude, Reflex, Will. Phew -- I think I'd have to kill someone if they decided saving throws had to change.

Saving Throws +2. A bonus? Then why not just add them in to the above numbers? Curious.

Speed/fly/teleport - will I ever get used to this squares terminology? Should I just switch the D&D Miniatures now and throw my pencil away for good?

Action Points 1. Well good on you, pit fiend! Why should players be the only ones that get to have those.

They've changed the layout of the attacks a bit, but they're readable. The to-hit is interesting to see - "+31 vs. AC". It is what it has always been, but it's actually nice to see if standardized in this way. What I don't like about this new attack format is that it's not consistent with spelling out the source of the attack. The first one says

Melee Flametouched Mace (standard; at-will) • Fire, Weapon

Okay, good, it has Weapon on the end there. But the next one has

Melee Tail Sting (standard; at-will) • Poison

with no sign of "Natural Weapon" or anything. How do I tell the difference between that and

Melee Pit Fiend Frenzy (standard; at-will)

where as far as I know, "Tail Sting" is just a special attack that the pit fiend does, and doesn't really mean that it involves his tail at all. Perhaps it's just an oversight, and there should be a Natural Weapon on that one, but if not, they're losing some consistency in their drive to label everything (which, don't get me wrong, I'm all for).

The Flametouched Mace and Tail Sting have "Fire" and "Poison" respectively, and both mention that a save ends the effects, but there's no in-line mention of what the save DC (if that's even a concept in 4e) is. Perhaps it's later on, but statblocks are meant to be concise sources of information, and that's some pretty important info.

Ranged Point of Terror (minor; at-will) • Fear
Range 5; +30 vs. Will; the target takes a –5 penalty to all defenses until the end of the pit fiend's next turn.

I think it has been mentioned before, but I'm old and forgetful - "to all defenses" means to saves as well, doesn't it? "Minor"? Is that like a free/immediate/I've-lost-track-of-them-all kind of action?

Ranged Irresistible Command (minor 1/round; at-will) • Charm, Fire
Range 10; affects one allied devil of lower level than the pit fiend; the target immediately slides up to 5 squares and explodes, dealing 2d10+5 fire damage to all creatures in a close burst 2. The exploding devil is destroyed.

Cooool. Well, except for the "slides" bit. Is this some sort of miniature terminology, where "slide" requires an unobstructed path, yadda yadda? "close burst"? I'm sure it affects how it works around obstacles, etc.

Infernal Summons (standard; encounter) • Conjuration
The pit fiend summons a group of devil allies. Summoned devils roll initiative to determine when they act in the initiative order and gain a +4 bonus to attack rolls as long as the pit fiend is alive. They remain until they are killed, dismissed by the pit fiend (free action), or the encounter ends. PCs do not earn experience points for killing these summoned creatures.

Interesting about the initiative. Scary about the +4 bonus. I'd saddened that they have to spell out that the PCs do not earn XP for them -- this is a rule about summoned creatures, and is just going to take up line after line throughout every book that the idea appears in.

Tactical Teleport (standard; recharge 4 5 6) • Teleportation

I can guess what "recharge 4 5 6" means, but what happens after the third use? Does it stay at 6 rounds to recharge? Does it run out? Does it start back at 4?

Alignment: Evil. I remember hearing that alignment was changing -- does this mean no second axis?

Languages: Supernal? Superwhat?

Skills: Religion +24. I have to admit, dumping the Knowledge (xxx) style makes programming D&D a bit easier (you had to handle "subtype" for skills). Have they done the same for Profession, Crafting and Perform?

Str 32 (+24) Dex 24 (+20) Wis 20 (+18)
Con 27 (+21) Int 22 (+19) Cha 28 (+22)

This is interesting. So much for ((ability - 10) / 2) for bonus? Now it's (ability / 2) + 8? Okay... I wonder if they'll explain the reasoning? It gets my developer sense tingling!

Darn. No mention of what happens when the pit fiend is bloodied. Over all, I'm happy with this; it's still the pit fiend, and none of the things we've gleaned from this block have upset me any more than I already was (about squares and roles and ...)


Griff said...


Is this 4th Edition D&D, or 2nd Edition Miniatures?

moJoe said...

"Recharge 4,5,6" is the way that Wizards is dealing with the concept of per encounter or per day abilities for monsters. Since monsters are not likely to ever see another encounter (let alone another day,) it makes their more iconic abilities of those monsters homogenized. Per encounter and per day become the same thing, in effect. You don't want your Ancient Red Dragon to only be able to breath fire once in the encounter, but you sure as HELL don't want him doing it ever round, so NPC monsters get recharge. From my understanding, this means that at a certain point in the round, the DM rolls a 6 sider for the monster if it has abilities on recharge, for the ability on the pit fiend, if the result is a 4, 5 or 6, the ability is recharged and ready to use again. If not, it is still expended. There are also abilities that are just plain old "Recharge 6," which will be reserved for the nastier ones, I am sure.

This is what I have heard, but I have not seen an official ruling on it yet.

Crwth said...

That sounds reasonable, and goes along with their idea of removing book-keeping; if I don't have to roll 1d4 and remember when the dragon gets his breath weapon back, but can instead roll every round to see if it is back yet...

Well, then I just have to remember to check each round. *:^)