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I realize this may be a subjective question, but I'd really like to know what the consensus is. I know that WotC changed the way they calculate monster damage from MM3 and onwards, but there's isn't much errata for the first books. So:

Do I use the old damage values?

Do I completely recalculate the numbers based on their tables?

Do I double the non-rolled damage?

Do I use some other method?

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2 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Sly Flourish has created a cheat sheet that handles adapting every monster-by-level both for damage and HP.

You might also want to see his posts: 4e Damage Dice Calculator and Tools of the Lazy Dungeon Master

Here's an excerpt:

Lvl Low DC Med DC High DC Low dmg Med dmg High dmg High Ltd dmg Minion dmg Avg AC Avg Def Low HP Med HP High HP  Atk vs AC Atk vs Def
1      8      12     19    1d6+3   1d8+4  1d8+6     1d8+8             5      16      14      24     30     38        +6        +4
2      9      13     20    1d6+4   1d8+5  1d8+7     1d8+9             5      17      15      30     38     48        +7        +5
3      9      13     21    1d6+5   1d8+6  1d8+8     1d8+10            6      18      16      36     46     58        +8        +6

Update: In A Suite Alternative, WotC's Chris Perkins also includes a similar table of monster damage, including dice alternatives:

Chris Perkins' Damage Chart

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nice, that's not only useful in MM conversion, but also if you want to create custom monsters. –  wax eagle Jul 4 '12 at 2:47
Yup. Thanks for the reformatting.. –  F. Randall Farmer Jul 4 '12 at 5:48
Maybe Chris Perkins reads this forum? He's just posted his own damage chart over at WotC (now included in this post.) –  F. Randall Farmer Jul 5 '12 at 15:45
There doesn't seem to be any more answers coming, so I think this one is my favourite. I particularly like how the Suite Alternative offers different damage expressions for the same average damage (for example 4d4+11 and 3d8+8), where the other tables only had one expression per level. The Suite table allows for die rolls that 'feel' more like the weapon being used (like d12s for greataxes). I can't find anything in the rules that supports Oblivious' claim that HP should be cut in half, though. The damage seems to be buffed but the hp stays more or less the same. –  Ravn Jul 17 '12 at 9:26
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Depends on whether you're wanting to use MM1/2 monsters or make new ones.

If you're looking to use MM1 & MM2 monsters with little or no work converting them, then you want to divide their HP and multiply their damage (all of it, not just rolled) by 1.5 or 2. My experience has been that that MM3 is actually around a 1.67 to 1.75, but that's a lot harder to calculate in a hurry. A 1.5 is obviously going to make things feel closer to the old style and be less of a shock to your players, while a 2 is going to make combat very fast and deadly, and might not be a good idea if your players aren't running relatively optimized builds (my DM specifically allowed people to rebuild their characters a fair amount to account for the change after a session or 2 of trying it out).

If you're making new monsters, you can use the errata-ed monster creation tables found here (warning: that goes directly to a PDF); that should bring the DMG monster creation in line with the MM3 monsters.

Alternately, you can use the tables from that PDF and the damage expressions here which have been specifically maintained to keep monster damage high through level 30 (normally monster damage as a % of player HP drops as the players gain levels, with the most powerful damage expression, limited, going from about 55% of player HP at level 1 to about 33% of player HP at level 30).

Above all, remember that MM3 increased monster damage and reduced monster health. If you use the updated MM3 damage expressions but the old MM1/2 health values, you're making the monsters harder than they're intended to be.

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Divide the HP by 2? Really? That seems like a LOT! So if it's 2d8+4, it's 4d8+8? Does it change crit damage too, like a Yuan-ti Malison Sharp-eye's Scimitar? 2d8+12 -> 4d8+24 –  Ravn Jul 3 '12 at 21:44
We usually calculated damage as normal, then doubled it (so instead of 2d8+4 becoming 4d8+8, you roll 2d8, add 4, then double the result; I'm not sure if this works out the same from a probability standpoint). For crit damage you would max their normal damage, then double it. –  Oblivious Sage Jul 3 '12 at 21:53
@ObliviousSage, if you roll the dice once and double it, everything is equally likely from high to low. If you roll the dice twice, the middle numbers are more common, while the highs and lows are less common. –  Joe Jul 4 '12 at 3:09
I don't know, I chose a Githyanki Mindslicer (level 13 artillery) from MM1 and tried to convert it, following the steps in your first link. The calculated HP pool was EXACTLY the same, but the damage from a standard ranged attack went from 2d8+3 to 3d6+11. –  Ravn Jul 8 '12 at 11:27
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