Talk:King Marak (3.5e NPC)

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Skills not Adding Up[edit]

  • You forgot to add in the bonus from the ioun stone to all the skills.
  • Without any ranks, Intimidate should have a +11; +2 (Bluff synergy) +1 (ioun stone) + 2 (Persuasive) +6 (Cha mod)
  • The highest Sense Motive can be is +27; +19 (max ranks) +1 (ioun stone) +2 (Negotiator) +3 (Skill Focus) +2 (Wis mod)
  • Even with the above corrections, unless this character has used tomes of clear thought and/or miracles/wishes to increase his Int, he is missing (at minimum) 3 skill points. His total skill points should be either 94, 100, 104, 108, or 114 (depending on starting Int and when the Int increases were applied).

Sledged 11:06, 10 January 2007 (MST)

Update:
  • Corrected ious stone bonus.
  • Changed. Thanks!
  • Yes, this slipped past. Changed-- Thanks!
  • He has 95 skill points. Without the headband of intellect, his int is 13, or +1. This is 5 points per level, or 5*15+(4*5), or 95. These have been allocated as follows: 19 ranks over five skills (19*5=95).
You wrote down the breakdown for Intimidate above. The rest follow:
  • Knowledge Skills (same for both): +3(int) +19(ranks) +1(ioun stone) = 22
  • Diplomacy: +6(cha) +19(ranks) +3(skill focus) +2(Persuasive) +2(synergy bluff) +2(synergy Sense Motive) +1(ioun stone) = 35
  • Sense Motive: +2(wis) +19(ranks) +2(Negotiator) +1(ioun stone) +3(skill focus) +2(synergy bluff) = 29
Is this correct? I may have invented one of the synergy bonuses (if so, please tell me), but otherwise my math seems to check out. I wrote it out so that a problem, if any, could be pointed out. In any case, thank you. I had done the skills slightly incorrectly; now the character has significantly higher bonuses. Thanks for your vigilance! --EldritchNumen 00:15, 11 January 2007 (MST)
You forgot the skill points for being human; (16 lvls + 3) x (4 + 1 Int mod + 1 human) = 114.
  • The ioun stone bonus wasn't applied to Bluff, Listen, or Spot.
  • Bad math with the Knowledge skills; 3 + 19 + 1 equals 23 (not 22).
  • Sense Motive does not get a synergy bonus from Bluff; +27.
  • Diplomacy gets a synergy bonus from Knowledge (nobility and royalty); +37.
If you throw the extra 19 skill points into Intimidate, you get the following totals: Bluff +28, Diplomacy +37, Intimidate +30, Knowledge (nobility and royalty) +23, Knowledge (history) +23, Sense Motive +27.
Lastly, he has the Leadership feat. Is Jaida his cohort? —Sledged 09:17, 11 January 2007 (MST)
Jaida is not his cohort, though she is (generally) allied with him. The characters were created for the Zokusho's Sword (DnD Quest) quest; Marak certainly has followers and cohorts, but their exact makeup is up to a particular DM. In addition to these loyal followers, he (as a king) has access to a great many additional followers, including an entire army. He also has a large group of high level allies, (a weak) one of which is Jaida (DnD NPC). Leadership was included because it is an important aspect of his character, and translates his ability to attract followers into game terms.
You are right-- I forgot the skill points for being human. This is corrected by adding Intimidate as a skill with ranks. Thanks for noticing; I tremendously appreciate you looking him over, especially since his skills are an extremely important part of his character. Does anything else seem to be missing?
--EldritchNumen 18:50, 11 January 2007 (MST)
I've found skill points are the easiest stats to miscalculate. In fact many of the SRD creatures have oddly allocated skill modifiers. I've also found it's easier to for someone else to do the math of the final result (at least for me) because the NPC may go through several changes before you get to the final stats. I try to look over all the NPCs when I can. Some are easier than others. Epic-level multiclassed spellcasters are the worst. —Sledged 19:02, 11 January 2007 (MST)
:) I know what you mean. It is especially hard at the higher levels. When I always stumble is when I calculate everything correctly and then buy magic items, which causes changes, and I often drop something important, like a humans' skill points. And when I'm creating an NPC on the fly (without play-testing or a careful second look at the final draft), like I did this one, I often make mistakes. Like you said, it's much easier for someone else to notice errors (especially math errors), and especially when several updates of a character have been made. In any case, both I and the community appreciate the double checking you do. --EldritchNumen 19:42, 11 January 2007 (MST)
Thanks. After a while, we all find our little niches in the wiki. —Sledged 09:30, 12 January 2007 (MST)

The "How to assign a proper CR" debate[edit]

You changed Marak's challenge rating to 1/2 his character level? Why? It should be equal to one less than his character level (see pg 38 of the DMG). --EldritchNumen 17:59, 12 January 2007 (MST)

What's in the DMG is (A) not in the SRD, and (B) conflicts with what's on page 294 of the MM. Combined with the fact that what's in the MM is duplicated in the SRD (here), and that WotC's policy of "primary sources vs secondary sources" says that the MM is the primary source for creatures, it stands to reason that the DMG has incorrect information on the subject of determining CR based on NPC class levels. —Sledged 19:13, 12 January 2007 (MST)
I strongly disagree. The discrepancy disappears if the language in the SRD (which uses "creature" and "monster" interchangeably) is interpreted to apply only to monsters with class levels. I think this is appropriate, considering that the section of the MM to which you refer is titled "Advanced Monster Challenge Rating." If interpreted this way, adding warrior or aristocrat levels to a troll or frost giant or bronze dragon only raises the challenge rating of the creature by 1/2 per level. This makes sense, and-- most importantly-- in a playtest the standard group has a moderately difficult challenge. However, the rule in the MM does not apply to cr 1/2 humanoids, since they are not "monsters." In situations with these most common characters, the rule about CR in the DMG applies. Further, the DMG is both A) a more primary source book, which should take precedence, and B) the section that details this explicitly addresses experience points, which are where CR adjudications really matter.
In the end, this matter can easily be resolved. Give Marak his several 6th level cohorts that he deserves (in fighters and wizards should be fine) and have him engage a group of four 15th level characters. You will see that the party actually has a rather difficult time in this scenario, especially if he is played correctly (aka the scenario needs to be urban based where he can use his skills and influence, not just a straight combat, though he will hold up in combat about as well as a 1st level Kobold sorcerer does against a party of 1st levels). In the same scenario and with the same tactics, have him fight a group of 8th level heroes. He will demolish them. His minions alone will likely kill one of the PCs, and may even destroy another. Coupled with his skills (intimidation, diplomacy, etc.), the group has no chance of actually overcoming him if he is played even moderately intelligently. Thus, I strongly believe that the CR 15 is what ought to be applied in this case. --EldritchNumen 00:54, 13 January 2007 (MST)
There are several discrepencies with the "humanoids are not monsters" line of reasoning:
  • I can't find anything that supports the claim that humanoids are not monsters. In fact, "monster" is not even defined in any of the glossaries. What reference are you using as source for this claim? As best as I can tell humanoids are monsters just like every other creature in the SRD/MM, and are presented as such. Elves, orcs, halflings, kobolds, dwarves, goblins, gnomes, gnolls, bugbears, etc... all monsters.
  • The DMG does not share your distinction between humanoids and other types with regards to CR calculation. It even gives an ogre (giant) warrior as an example.
  • The CR of a humanoid with NPC class levels would eventually exceed other creatures with the same number of NPC class levels. A human warrior 10 would have a CR 9, but a centaur (monstrous humanoid) warrior 10 would have a CR 8, and an aasimar (outsider) warrior 10 would have a CR 5.
  • A commoner 20 would have the same CR as a wizard 19/commoner 1.
As for the DMG being a primary source, for some issues it is, for others it's not. The beginning of every 3.5 errata document says the following:
The Player’s Handbook, for example, gives all the rules for playing the game, for PC races, and the base class descriptions. If you find something on one of those topics from the Dungeon Master’s Guide or the Monster Manual that disagrees with the Player’s Handbook, you should assume the Player’s Handbook is the primary source. The Dungeon Master’s Guide is the primary source for topics such as magic item descriptions, special material construction rules, and so on. The Monster Manual is the primary source for monster descriptions, templates, and supernatural, extraordinary, and spell-like abilities.
So if the CR was for a trap, riddle, or something other than a creature, then the MM wouldn't take precedent. But this is specifically a creature's CR, and class levels or no, creature CR's are the MM's domain.
Rules aside, I say compare how much of a challenge King Marak would present to PCs compared to other creatures. Do you think he would be as challanging as facing a mature adult brass dragon (CR 15), a juvenile brass dragon (CR 8), or something in between? Other than playtesting, the best way to get an accurate measure of CR is to compare it to a creature that has been playtested.
Having said all that, if you want to justify the CR 15 with the cohort and followers from the Leadership feat, I think it's perfectly reasonable. Leadership is the monkey wrench of CR calculation. This feat has its own set of issues with CR. By the rules, a storm giant can have a human cleric 17 as a cohort, but the giant will still only have a CR of 13. —Sledged 15:32, 14 January 2007 (MST)
I must admit that I agree with most of your counter-arguments. The point about Leadership, especially, is salient. And I think that Marak (with his 14th level cohort) is definitely capable of a CR 15 encounter (if not more!). This is further illustrated in the face of his ability to (theoretically) take a -10 to automatically make any NPC go from hostile to unfriendly (and likely better, if he rolls well). I know this doesn't apply to the PCs, but it does represent that they should be greatly encouraged (out of character) to act as if his diplomacy roll succeeded. I also wanted to quickly point out just one minor thing-- the point about the storm giant is slightly inaccurate, since (to take leadership) a giant would need to be at least sixth level' and, according to the text of leadership, "Regardless of a character’s Leadership score, he can only recruit a cohort who is two or more levels lower than himself." So, unless the giant had 19 levels, he could not have a 17th level cohort. In any case, I'm comfortable with Marak being CR15 (I playtested twice with my friends and they agree that he was even a slightly-more-difficult-than-average encounter). In any case, unless anyone has any major objections, I'll leave him at CR15, since (no matter what, as the MM reminds us), CR generation is as much an art as a science. Sledged, I owe you the utmost gratitude for all your help with my NPCs and your tireless patience to engage in a discussion with me on these points. Thank you-- --EldritchNumen 00:35, 15 January 2007 (MST)
You're welcome. I'm glad that I know I'm helpful around here. I like to think discussions like these improve the quality of the material on this wiki.
As for the storm giant, it has 19 monster levels (though the term "monster level" is rarely used in lieu of "racial HD"), and the PHB defines "character level" as "a character's total level." So it's not just the number of class levels. This is even clarified in the FAQ where "character level" is defined as "the total number of class levels you have, plus any racial HD you have." —Sledged 16:02, 15 January 2007 (MST)
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