Category: Dungeons & Dragons

Posts related to Dungeons and Dragons, including Pathfinder.

Story First, Then Numbers

Well, my attempt to put aside GMing doesn’t seem to be going so well; for the past few weeks I’ve been grinding away on a campaign idea that won’t leave me alone. It’s nothing new under the sun– essentially a Lord of the Rings clone, with the main item of note being that it really is a Lord of the Rings clone, right down to singing (well, chanting) goblins and all sorts of detailed fiddly world notes and linguistic flourishes (like as an elvish dictionary that I use for creating consistent, meaningful place names and such). Assuming I can pull it off, it’d be very much a literary campaign, rather than a gamey one.

One of the issues with it, however, is finding the balance between making the world distinct from the Generic D&Dland of every other game, and making so much work that I might as well be running some other game. For instance, I don’t want there to be bags of holding, fireballs, and magic missiles flying around, so I banned arcane casting classes for PCs (except for bards). But I also made that important thematically: arcane magic is the arrogant imposition of the caster’s will over the natural order of the universe, and as any good Tolkien scholar knows, that’s bad juju. Divine magic, by contrast, is allowing yourself to be the conduit of a higher power and is essentially a humble thing. The exception to this is loremasters (i.e., bards), whose study of the world has taught them how to skillfully work within the natural order, rather than to just override it, so to speak.

Admittedly, it’s kind of a kludge. But again, it’s striking a balance between the needs of the story (i.e., flashy, blasty magic should be rare and mostly in the hands of badguys) and the need for an easily playable game (I don’t really want to spend a month editing the spell list for every class in the universe).

The biggest place where this is going to be an issue, in the long run, is going to be in scenario design– because D&D (and by D&D here I mean Pathfinder, but you get the drift) has an established progression of standard foes by level, e.g., kobolds, then goblins, then orcs, then gnolls, then hill giants, blah-blah-blah. But I don’t want to use that standard progression. In fact, in this setting, large swaths of the usual Monster Manual menagerie just don’t exist or are very different from the usual canon. (Chromatic vs. metallic dragons? What does that even mean? And what is this “astral plane” of which you speak?)

This means I can’t just call up call up the bestiary and start picking random critters to toss in and build a scenario around that, nor would I want to. I’m building the skeleton of a story here (with the players providing the flesh and soul), so I need to come up with what will be there and then make numbers to suit.

For instance, in one of the very early scenarios for the campaign I have in mind for the players to be confronted by an ettin as a dangerous “boss encounter.” (Why an ettin? Because they’re cool, strange, frightening monsters that fit the folklore/fairy tale/epic fantasy feel that I’m going for while still being unusual and exotic.) Unfortunately, a by the numbers ettin is CR 6, way way over the heads of any starting party.

For a regular campaign, as a sacrifice to ease of prep, I’d just say “screw it” and go with an ogre instead. But like I said above, this campaign is different. This campaign is a story first, and for the encounter I want, it pretty much has to be an ettin. What to do? One possible answer is something I’ve talked about many times before: reskinning the monsters.

I mean, I could just take the stats for an ogre, swap out its Iron Will feat for Two-Weapon Fighting, give it an arbitrary +4 to Perception checks, describe it to the players as having two heads, and call it an ettin.

Alternatively, I could craft a workable “Lesser Ettin” monster that hits the CR spot I want by stripping hit dice and stats off of the standard ettin. That would probably take 30-60 minutes all told and give me a new critter I could use indefinitely.

Either approach will satisfy the needs of this particular campaign and I haven’t yet decided which one I will use. But the crux of the problem is that either one takes more time than simply taking an existing critter and running with it– and prep time is what killed gaming for me before.

I’m not sure what to do about that problem. It’s every clear that my brain wants to do this game and isn’t going to leave me alone until I at least give it a shot. But I barely have time to do the things I’ve already committed to, much less add a time-consuming delve into Deep Fantasy Geekery that will only be enjoyed by a handful of people.

On the other hand, I could always use the variant statblocks I come up with for blog content. 😉 Maybe I’ll start doing Monster Monday posts where I put up the critters I’ve come up with… after the players fight them. 😉

-The Gneech

Encounter Building in Pathfinder

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A couple of my friends have mentioned being a little shaky on the process of building encounters in Pathfinder, which is probably a residual effect of the “WTF?” model of EL/CR in D&D 3.x. So I figured I’d write up some quickie notes for it here.

The good news is, you don’t need wonky calculators or bizarre algorithms to build encounters in Pathfinder. It’s an easy-peasy three-step process and can be done with a pocket calculator or even just a rough eyeballing. There’s a nice summary right here on the d20pfsrd site, but I’ll go ahead and write it up here anyhow.

Step One: Average Party Level

This is just what it sounds like, the average level of every member of the party, rounded to the nearest whole number. (So, for example: Ftr 3, Clr 2, Rog 3, Wiz 3 = 11/4 = 2.75 = 3.) There is one wrinkle to this:

  • If the party is 3 or fewer characters: APL = APL-1.
  • If the party is 6 or more characters: APL = APL+1.

For the purposes of building an encounter, the “party” consists of any characters who are going to help the PCs. So if the local constabulary is going to come running to the PCs’ aid (say, four level 3 warriors), they should be factored in. Thus, using the sample party above, the final APL would be (Ftr 3, Clr 2, Rog 3, Wiz 3, 4*{War 3} = 23/8 = 2.9 = 3, +1 for being 6+ characters =) 4.

“Well hold on,” you might say. “All those disposable NPCs only add an effective +1 to the APL? But I want a big fight that will tear them up!” Well that’s easy enough to deal with. If you’ve got a party full of redshirts that you don’t mind obliterating in order to make the encounter big and dramatic, you simply up the challenge rating (CR) in the next step.

Step Two: Challenge Rating (CR) and XP Budget

Encounters are rated as “Easy,” “Average,” “Challenging,” “Hard,” or “Epic.” In any given adventure, most (but not all) encounters should be either Average or Challenging, with a few Easy ones thrown in for variety, then trending towards Hard as you build up to a climactic finish. You should only use Epic encounters very sparingly, because they will almost certainly kill PCs.

Once you’ve determined the APL in Step One, determining the encounter CR is easy:

Encounter Difficulty CR
Easy APL-1
Average APL
Challenging APL+1
Hard APL+2
Epic APL+3
CR is expressed as a whole number for 1 or higher. CR 0 = “1/2”; CR -1 = “1/3”; CR -2 = “1/4”.

Thus, for our example APL 3 party, an Average encounter would be CR 3, while a Challenging encounter would be CR 4. An Epic encounter would be CR 6 and might very well be a TPK.

Once you know the CR, you then use that to figure out your XP budget. You’ll use the XP budget to “buy” critters or hazards to put into your encounter.

CR XP Budget CR XP Budget CR XP Budget
1/8 50 6 2,400 16 76,800
1/6 65 7 3,200 17 102,400
1/4 100 8 4,800 18 153,600
1/3 135 9 6,400 19 208,400
1/2 200 10 9,600 20 307,200
1 400 11 12,800 21 409,600
2 600 12 19,200 22 614,400
3 800 13 25,600 23 819,200
4 1,200 14 38,400 24 1,228,800
5 1,600 15 51,200 25 1,638,400

So for our sample party, a Challenging encounter (CR 4) would have a budget of 1,200 XP.

Step Three: Build the Encounter

From here, you simply “buy” critters, hazards, skill challenges, etc. with your allotted XP budget, starting with the most expensive item first. Everything than can be an encounter element should have an XP value (listed right in the stat block for things that have a stat block). For instance, say you wanted our sample party to have a Challenging encounter with an ogre and his goblin cronies. Your XP budget is 1,200, so you might then build the encounter like so:

Encounter Element XP Budget
Ogre (CR 3) 800
Goblin Adept 2 (CR 1/2) 200
Two Goblins (CR 1/3) 270 (135 ea.)
————————————
Total XP Value of Encounter 1,270 XP

Yes, it sneaks over budget, but not by much, and you can always mitigate that with environmental conditions (perhaps the goblin cronies run away at 1/2 or fewer hit points or as soon as one is killed, for instance).

Encounter Design Philosophy: More Bang for Your XP Buck

The way the d20 system in general works (and to some extent, the way all tabletop RPGs work), you’re almost always worse off outmanned than outgunned. So don’t use a single CR 4 opponent to build a CR 4 encounter, because the PCs will quickly swarm over it and stomp it to jelly unless you’ve really beefed it up. Instead, think in terms of encounters with multiple foes, such as the ogre and goblins example above. Granted, the goblins in the example are mostly speed bumps that will probably die in the first round or two– but that gives the ogre another round more than he would have had to be interesting on his own.

Remember also, that Average and Challenging encounters aren’t there to actually defeat your players. They’re there to whittle ’em down. “Resource management” is a big part of the D&D/Pathfinder game system. It’s not the ogre that finally defeats a PC… it’s the cure spells the party ran out of in the last room.

More Encounter Design Philosophy: Making the Most of Minions

One downside of XP budgets is that you always run out of XP way before you have what you feel like are enough critters. Especially after you’ve noticed that critters that are a CR of 2 or more levels below the APL tend to have a really hard time hitting PCs with much of anything. What to do? We need some “minion” rules for this!

…Well, no, not really. It actually works fairly well with just a bit of tweaking.

First, if you have 9 kobolds swarming over a PC, for the love of Mike, don’t roll nine d20s hoping one of them will get the 20 they need to hit that PC. Have six kobolds use Aid Another instead of attacking directly: suddenly you have three kobolds each with +6 to hit, which is much more dangerous!

Second, use your minions where they’re most effective, i.e., going after the squishy party members. Nine kobolds swarming a fighter = nine soon-to-be-dead kobolds. Nine kobolds swarming a wizard = a wizard who’s in trouble. Three kobolds grappling a wizard with +6 = a wizard who is completely shut down.

That said… don’t bother adding elements that are CR-5 or lower to an encounter. Or if you do, treat them like flavor text and don’t actually bother with the math involved.

Rewards (Experience, Treasure, etc.)

This depends on your campaign model. The default is to divide the XP value of the encounter equally among those who participated in it. To keep characters in the general vicinity of the expected wealth per level, you should also either place treasure in the encounter (“Loot the bodies, yay!”) or arrange for the party to receive the appropriate amount of treasure as a quest reward (“The ogre and his goblin cronies didn’t have anything but fleas, but the duke had a price on their heads of 1,000 gp!”). The amount of treasure each encounter earns varies depending on the Slow/Normal/Fast XP option chosen for your campaign, and that info can be found here.

And There You Have It!

Really, that’s it in a nutshell. Very simple– much simpler to do than it actually was to write down. There’s more nuances and all sorts of add-on topics, particularly on the topic of ad-hoc APL or CR adjustments for terrain, gear, etc., but most of those boil down to judgement calls anyway. If you’re fighting ice giants in a lava pit, guess what: their CR is actually much lower than it would be if you were fighting them in a blizzard, and you should adjust accordingly. Similarly, if that ogre is armed with a +4 vorpal humanslayer… he’s probably higher than CR 3.

So get on out there and build some encounters! 😉

-The Gneech

Old-Schoolifying the Pathfinder RPG

Well, the “sandbox” bug is going around the gaming community and it’s bitten me as well. I’ve decided to see if I can run and enjoy a sandbox game for a while. [1] And, as sandbox games are a very “old-school gaming” idea (like “1978 blue box old-school”), I have implemented some house rules to underscore this aspect of it.

First and most obvious, is to use the “slow progression” XP chart. Leveling back in the old days took forever, and a new level was a big deal when it finally hit.

Second, and related to the first, is to institute Class Training. Once upon a time, you didn’t hoard gold in order to purchase magic items, you had to spend it in order to go up a level. As I recall, none of the games I was ever involved in actually used that rule, because you had to earn the XP and spend the money for training, which seemed like paying for the same ground twice. But from a game-design point of view it does have some interesting wrinkles, not the least of which is that giant gems behind obvious deathtraps suddenly become enticing, instead of something that the players shrug at and move on as not being worth the time expenditure. (“Let’s go find some monsters to crack open for XP, shall we?”)

In order to avoid the “paying for the same ground twice” feeling, my house rule is very simple: between adventures the players can “trade in” treasure, at the rate of 1 GP = 1 XP, on “training.” Whether that training was actual drilling at the martial arts academy, studying tomes in the library, or blowing it all on ale and wenches, doesn’t really matter. The point is that treasure is now actually useful for something besides just buying another +1 for your battleaxe.

Third, and this one is a little more out there, is that a character may not progress past 10th level in any single class. At 11th level, should the game reach that point, they can multiclass, or they can take prestige classes as desired, but 10 is the cap for every class. This means that a lot of upper-end class abilities are just not available, and unless you are in a prestige class that gives the “+1 spellcasting level” there is no way to ever get a 6th-level or higher spell. It also mucks around with spell penetration at higher levels, so if that becomes a problem I’ll probably either nerf critter SR or provide some other way around it, but we’ll get to that later.

The next step, for me, is to create a bunch of hooks and/or adventure sites ranging from levels 1-5. Back when the model was “the DM has a signature dungeon,” you’d pretty much create a single dungeon where the first level had critters with 1-2 hit dice, the second level had critters with 2-4 hit dice, and so on downward, and the players would either fight, sneak, or negotiate their way through going up or down … and the GM would repopulate the place periodically to account for the new vacancies in dungeon population created by rampaging PCs. I have in mind to get around this by having a small handful of thematic “dungeons” where most of the action will take place, and the PCs can bounce around from one to another as they see fit. As they “get to know” these dungeons I’ll add new locations and probably toss in the occasional “big event” adventure for variety.

The key to it all, however, and something I’ll need to make sure to impress on the players, is that they’ll be the ones driving the campaign plot, in as much as there is one. As such, I may institute something similar to the “goal” mechanic from Ghostbusters: each character has a self-defined but explicit and measurable goal, and when they achieve something related to that goal, they get a bonus reward (probably in the form of XP). For example, a wizard might have the goal of “study magic phenomena,” and whenever they encounter something weird (like a magic fountain randomly tucked into a dungeon room for no apparent reason) they get an XP bonus for figuring it out. A fighter might have “defeat notable foes” and get bonus XP for fighting bosses, that kind of thing. Knowing the players’ specific goals can also give me ideas for encounters to throw at them. If the paladin has “slay demons” as their goal, I know I need to put demons into the game; if the rogue has “pick pockets” as their goal, I need to put them into situations where pocket-picking is feasible. That kind of thing.

I’m hoping this will be fun and a bit different. I’m also hoping that this will get me back in my GMing groove again for a while, ’cause I always miss gaming when I don’t get enough.

-The Gneech

[1] As for exactly what that entails, the definition is pretty vague. But my interpretation is mainly that instead of coming up with plotted adventures, I simply create a setting and a handful of “adventure locations” and let the players figure out where they want to go and what they want to do there.)

Encounters, Resources, Difficulty, and Uber PCs

Feh … bad sleep for two nights in a row makes The Gneech an unhappy camper. -.- But that’s not what this post is about! This post is about my Pathfinder game.

The characters hit 12th level after last session, right in the middle of their assault on the hill giant fortress. On the one hand, this is a good thing, as they will gain extra resources (in the form of new hit points, spells, and so on), and I was a bit concerned that this scenario would use them all up ‘cos they don’t get a rest until they rescue Lord Jaarmath from the giants’ clutches.

On the other hand, this means I also have to refactor the rest of the scenario to account for the fact that I’ve now got a 12th level party instead of an 11th. I could just leave it as written and let them faceroll through it (after all, it’s the same giant fortress they were in 5 minutes ago, right?) … but I know from experience that my players generally prefer to be chewed up, and they tend to tear right through anything I throw at them anyway.

Some of that is due to the nature of traditional D&D encounter design: the idea is that instead of one or two “do-or-die” encounters, you have several different encounters that eventually use up your spells, hit points, healing, and so on. This model worked fine in the context of going down into self-restocking dungeons of rooms connected by corridors populated by wandering monsters … but it doesn’t really go quite so well in a story-building context. In a game where you’re making quick strikes into monster territory to achieve a specific goal, then getting out again, it suddenly becomes a much more effective strategy to pour everything you’ve got into every encounter, then get the heck out and rest up.

Thus was born the “15-minute workday,” which itself led to 4E’s radically altered nature of being balanced by encounter, rather than by day. That makes it much easier to build and balance cool encounters, but unfortunately, it also leads to one of 4E’s biggest problems, namely that any given encounter doesn’t really make a difference. Unless someone uses one of their daily powers or by some quirk of fate a character actually manages to die, you’re in exactly the same shape at the bottom of the dungeon as you were in the first room: fresh as a daisy and rarin’ to go.

Navigating the tricky path of making it tough enough on the party that they feel like they’ve had a fight, versus not making each encounter so hard that they use up all of their resources and retreat, is further complicated by a systemic imbalance in Pathfinder, which it inherited from 3.x: the sheer uberness of fighters.

In previous editions, fighters were something of a pointless class, because all they did was fight, and not that much better than anyone else. Yeah, they had the best one-on-one combat stats, but not by so much that it really made them stand out. Once the wizard got fireball, the fighter was pretty much relegated to the role of “speed bump.” So when the new edition came, they decided fighters needed a boost, and what a boost they got! Nowadays, against most opponents, a decently-built fighter can just tear through anything at-level, and kills things below their level simply by flexing their biceps. Other than a well-placed confusion spell, the only thing that slowed fighters down in 3.x was, quite literally, being slowed down: armor gimped their movement … at least until they found those boots of striding and springing.

Pathfinder has removed even this restriction, by giving fighters the ability to move at-speed in increasingly heavy armor as they level up (thus causing the paladin to lose their “mobility on the battlefield” edge … but that’s for another post).

Now, I’m not begrudging fighters their day in the sun; I like playing fighters myself. But the simple fact of the matter is that in the majority of encounters, I have to design it with an eye on “what to do about the fighter” first. Fighters do a ton of damage — so I have to make sure every non-mook critter in the encounter has enough hit points to not get one-punched. Fighters also have real high defenses — so I have to make sure every non-mook critter in the encounter has some way to actually hit, either from bumping their stats or doing a lot of “Aid Another.” It usually takes two on-level opponents (typically a spellcaster and their bodyguard) just to keep the fighter engaged for more than a round or two, which by itself blows away the encounter XP budget. Adding additional foes to give the rest of the party something to do means that every combat encounter is APL+1 or APL+2 at a minimum.

This can also lead to a certain amount of “why are we here”-ing from other party members. Wizards’ AoE can hurt lots of foes at once, giving them something useful to do (assuming there are lots of foes to hurt); but rangers and rogues especially find themselves playing a distant second fiddle once the combat starts. A good adventure should hopefully have something other than combat in it, of course, giving the stealthy-skillster types the opportunity to do their thing, but let’s face it: the phrase “kill monsters and take their stuff” didn’t come from nowhere. D&D is a very “fighty” game, and the occasional Disable Device check is never going to make up for being consistently outclassed in every fight.

I also have to contend with the fact that half of my party has resistance to fire. How are all those drakes and fire giants going to hurt them now? >.< They can go swimming in lava for cryin’ out loud!

-The Gneech

The Intersection of Pathfinder and 4E

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These days for my fantasy gaming I’m reasonably content with Pathfinder. It’s not “the perfect game,” but it works and irons out some of the kinks from D&D 3.5, so I’m fine with it. Particularly as Hero Lab continues to develop into a smoother, easier-to-use desktop tool, I’m getting back into my “3.5 + E-Tools” happy place.

I will be the first to admit, however, that before their recent abandonment by WotC [1], the 4E desktop tools, especially the monster builder, were mighty nice. Looking back at the scenario I came up with for our 4E playtest, I gotta say that being able to quickly bang out sea devils and harpies that could be used against 1st-level heroes with the click of a button was pretty sweet.

The Pathfinder community has been making strides in that direction, especially with the concept of “simple templates” and emphasis on “reskinning.” For instance, if I wanted to make a 1st level sea devil for PF, I could slap a “negative advanced template” on it once or twice or even just take an orc, replace “Ferocity” with “Blood Frenzy,” and go. The players are never going to see the stat block, so the fact that the weapon entry says “falchion” instead of “trident” doesn’t really matter.

But the big thing is training yourself to think that way. Back in my HERO System days, thinking of the game stats and the “special effects” as separate entities was as natural as air, but there’s just something about having books full of monster stats (and very detailed tables about just what size hit die undead should have as opposed to monstrous humanoids) that makes it easy to get caught up in all that fiddly-to-no-real-good-purpose math.

If anything, that was 4E’s brilliant mental breakthrough: figure out the mechanics for what you want the creature to actually do, and then skin it to suit. What makes a sea devil a sea devil, besides the green skin and flippers? It’s going into a shark-like (or piranha-like) frenzy at the smell of blood, not that they have 2d10 hit dice. So once you’ve got that aspect, all you need to do is tweak the numbers up and down to give your players a good fight. And the Monster Builder software made that very easy, in a way that Hero Lab just doesn’t quite at this time.

In a similar vein, I’ve started taking to putting in all kinds of things that make the stat block work mathematically, and then changing the part the players actually see. For instance, I tried a variety of ideas to bring the minion mechanic into Pathfinder and never really did come to a conclusion that was the quick-and-easy convert I wanted. So what I started doing instead was using low-CR monsters and giving them cheesy equipment — Ogre with a +3 greatclub, baby! — so that they’d actually have a chance to hit the AC 30+ monster PCs I’ve got. But then when the ogre goes down, what actually “drops” is the regular gear you’d expect to see on an ogre.

Does this hurt the game? I’d say no. Remember that the rules are there to facilitate having a good time, not as an end to themselves. Tearing through an army of ogres that are still at least a little dangerous is fun; tearing through an army of ogres that can’t possibly hit back is just a math exercise. But at the end of the day, being able to loot two dozen +3 greatclubs would neither make a lick of sense, nor be good for the long-term gameplay due to the out-of-whack treasure reward.

What I’d really like in the game “out of the box” would be to be able to control every stat a critter has, independent of every other stat. Pathfinder, being based on 3.x, has all kinds of intricate rules for building critters based on their type (“Aberrations” have good Will saves and mediocre hit dice, while “Constructs” have good hit dice and great BAB, but rotten saving throws, etc.). I can see why this was done, but I don’t actually think it adds enough to the game to be worth the hoops it makes you jump through. And of course, as the GM, if I want a construct to have an awesome Will save, there’s no reason I can’t say “Sim salabim, it is done!” But I do think that the 4E model, in which a critter’s stats are based on whether it’s going to be a melee bruiser or a stealthy sneaker, and then you give it “signature” abilities to establish its theme, is a better model overall.

I am working on a “Quickie Monster Generator” program that will do some of these things that I’m wishing for, largely as an exercise to keep up my programming chops as much as anything. But I hope to be able to release it as a freebie utility for other Pathfinder GMs in time.

-The Gneech

[1] This is not strictly accurate … WotC is redoing them as an online-only subscription service. But as I am no longer subscribed and doubt that I’m likely to subscribe again for the foreseeable, the net result is the same.

“Page 42” for Pathfinder (Revisited)

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(Note: This is an update of material originally posted to my LiveJournal.)

If you’re familiar with D&D 4E, then you’re probably familiar with the famous “page 42” of the DMG, which contains your “go to” table for quickly figuring skill DCs, improvised hazard damage, and whatnot. This is a GM’s second best friend (after +2/-2), and I was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t something similar for Pathfinder. So I put this together using the “Monster Stats by CR” as my starting point.

Traps/Hazards/Skill Challenges by CR
Desired
CR
Trap/Hazard Attacks
Low Saving
Throw DC
High Saving
Throw DC
Low Attack
Bonus
High Attack
Bonus
Low
Damage
Medium Damage High
Damage
1 9 12 +1 +2 1d6+2 1d6+2 2d6
2 9 13 +3 +4 2d6+1 2d6+2 3d6
3 10 14 +4 +6 3d6 3d6 3d6+2
4 10 15 +6 +8 3d6+2 4d6 4d6+2
5 11 15 +7 +10 4d6+1 5d6 5d6+2
6 11 16 +9 +12 5d6+2 6d6 7d6
7 12 17 +9 +13 6d6+2 7d6+2 8d6+2
8 12 18 +11 +15 7d6+2 8d6+2 10d6
9 13 18 +12 +17 8d6+2 9d6+2 11d6+2
10 13 19 +13 +18 9d6+2 11d6 13d6
11 14 20 +14 +19 11d6 12d6+1 14d6+1
12 15 21 +15 +21 11d6+2 13d6+2 15d6+2
13 15 21 +16 +22 13d6 14d6+2 17d6
14 16 22 +17 +23 14d6 15d6+2 18d6+2
15 16 23 +18 +24 15d6 17d6 20d6
16 17 24 +19 +26 17d6 19d6+2 23d6
17 18 24 +20 +27 19d6+2 22d6 25d6+2
18 18 25 +21 +28 21d6+2 24d6+1 28d6+2
19 19 26 +21 +29 23d6+2 27d6 31d6+2
20 20 27 +22 +30 25d6+2 29d6 34d6+1


Skill Challenge DCs
Desired CR Ability Check/
Very Easy
Easy Medium Moderate Hard Heroic
1 10 12 16 16 20 30
2 11 13 16 17 21 31
3 11 13 17 18 22 32
4 11 13 17 19 23 33
5 11 14 18 20 24 34
6 12 14 18 21 25 35
7 12 14 19 22 26 36
8 12 15 19 23 27 37
9 12 15 20 24 28 38
10 13 15 20 25 29 39
11 13 16 21 26 30 40
12 13 16 21 27 31 41
13 13 16 22 28 32 42
14 14 17 22 29 33 43
15 14 17 23 30 34 44
16 14 17 23 31 35 45
17 14 18 24 32 36 46
18 15 18 24 33 37 47
19 15 18 25 34 38 48
20 15 19 25 35 39 49

(larger, printable version –>)

The skill check values are based on the following assumptions:

Very Easy: No skill ranks, low or no ability score bonus, etc.
Easy: Minimal skill ranks, +2 in buffs/aid another help.
Medium: 1/2 level skill ranks (or high ability scores, buffs, aid another, etc.).
Moderate: 1/2 level skill ranks, +5 in training/buffs/aid another help.
Hard: Full skill ranks, +9 in training/buffs/aid another help.
Heroic: Full skill ranks, +14 in training/buffs/aid another help, roll 15+.

The attack rolls, damage, etc., are all taken from the monster stats by CR. Generally speaking, you should stick to a CR 2-3 points lower than your average party level.

Thoughts?

-The Gneech