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In a series of three questions involving the largest flying pancake of D&D, I am looking to gain some insight into the balance for a conversion of the Cloud Ray.

In this question, I ask about the balance of the Cloud Ray Pup. Now it's time for the Adult.

For context and credit, this conversion comes from Redditor Jambrose22/ Youtuber Dungeon Dad.

Is CR 14 accurate for this conversion of the Cloud Ray Adult?

Specifically, are there any concerns that pop out as making this monster too strong or not strong enough?


Cloud Ray Adult

Huge monstrosity, unaligned

Armor Class: 17 (natural armor)
Hit Points: 311 (23d12 + 149)
Speed: 20 ft., fly 60 ft. (hover)

STR - 22 (+6)
DEX - 20 (+5)
CON - 20 (+5)
INT - 3 (-4)
WIS - 23 (+6)
CHA - 8 (-1)

Damage Resistances: thunder, lightning
Condition Immunities: prone, stunned, paralyzed
Senses: Passive Perception 16
Languages: —
Challenge: 14 (11,500 XP)

Traits

Gaping Maw. Any creatures grappled by a cloud ray adult are dragged with it wherever it moves, and do not cause any form of hinderance to movement.

Actions

Gliding Strike. To use this action the cloud ray adult must fly at least 60 ft. during its turn. The cloud ray adult uses the bite and sting action at two separate points during its movement. It does not provoke attacks of opportunity this turn.

Sting. Melee Weapon Attack: +11 to hit, reach 20 ft., one target. Hit: 18 (2d10 + 7) thunder damage, and the target must make a DC 16 Constitution save, or suffer 11 (2d10) lightning damage at the start of each of its turns. The target may attempt this saving throw again at the end of each turn. If the target fails their saving throw by 5 or more, they are also paralyzed.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +11 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 28 (5d8 + 6) bludgeoning damage. Any Large or smaller creature hit with this attack is grappled. If the cloud ray elder is already grappling a creature, it must drop that creature to use the bit action against another target.

Wing Storm. All creatures within 15 ft. of the cloud ray adult are pushed 15 ft. away and take 28 (4d10 + 6) thunder damage, or half as much on a succesful DC 16 Dexterity save. Any creatures who fail their saving throw are also knocked prone.

Bonus Actions

Crush. As a bonus action the cloud ray adult crushes a creature it has grappled in its mouth. Melee Weapon Attack: +11 to hit, one creature grappled. Hit: 29 (5d8 + 7) bludgeoning damage.

Dream Flight (1/long rest). As a bonus action, the cloud ray adult teleports up to 75 ft., taking with it any creatures it has grappled. Any creatures within 10 ft. then take 15 (2d8 + 6) psychic damage, or half as much on a DC 16 Wisdom save. Any creature who fails this save is also stunned. They are allowed another saving throw at the start of each turn to recover recover.


Related:

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This creature appears to be closer to CR 17

Let's break it down. The total CR of a creature comes from the average of two calculations; Offensive CR and Defensive CR, and details for calculating each can be found in the DMG p.273. Some monster abilities can cause changes to CR calculations, but in this case its only non-attack ability is related to movement, and since movement doesn't factor into CR calculations, we can safely ignore it.

Defensive CR: 16

The starting point is to determine the base Defensive CR of the creature. In this case 311 HP falls in the CR 17 range of 311-325 HP. We don't modify its effective HP from Step 9 (DMG p. 277) based off its resistances since it only has resistance to 2 types. Next we compare its actual AC of 17 to the suggested AC of 19. Since its actual AC is 2 points lower, our Defensive CR is brought to 16

Offensive CR: 16

To calculate Offensive CR, we need to look at the average damage per round of the first 3 rounds of combat, assuming the use of its most damaging moves. Many of these moves also come with status affects, which we will detail lower.

Gliding Strike: 40 (sting) + 28 (bite) = 68

Sting: 17 (2d10 + 6) + 11 + 11 = 39

Since there doesn't seem to be a rule for determining damage over time effects, this calculation will go off a rule of 2. Just like how Breath Weapons are assumed to hit 2 targets and a Swallow action is assumed to have a creature being digested for 2 rounds, we'll assume they take 2 rounds of lightning damage. We'll be applying rule of 2 to Wing Storm and Dream Flight as well.

Bite: 28

Wing Storm: 28 + 28 = 56

Crush: 29

Dream Flight: 15 + 15 = 30

During round 1 the most damaging thing to do is Gliding Strike and Dream Flight, dealing 97 damage. Rounds 2 and 3 use Gliding Strike and Crush for 96 damage. On average we have 96 damage/round, landing this creature in the Offensive CR 15 range of 93-98. At CR 15, the suggested attack bonus is +8. With a +11, our Offensive CR is brought to 16

Averaging the Defensive CR of 16 and the Offensive CR of 16, we get the final CR of 16, though there is one final consideration to take into account.

This creature is capable of inflicting a lot of status affects (paralyzed, grappled, prone, and stunned) which have no parallels within the table of Monster Features (DMG p.280) and thus fall into DM interpretation, but still influences how difficult the creature actually is. While an individual condition might not be enough of a burden to matter, having this many may well cause the fight to be harder, especially with powerful conditions such as stunned and paralyzed. The only reference I can see is the Constrict monster ability that for our purposes effectively increases Defensive CR by 0.5

Constrict. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: (1d8 + 2) bludgeoning damage. The target is grappled (escape dc 14) Until this grapple ends, the creature is restrained, and the snake can't constrict another target

This creature has much stronger abilities than that, and can use multiple each turn to aid in dealing more damage so it's safe to assume that it would increase its Offensive CR by 1, increasing the overall CR to 17. They might be powerful enough to raise the Offensive CR by 2, and the status effects lack the normal maximum duration generally found on these abilities (Usually 1 minute) which make them marginally stronger, but the save DCs are relatively low for an average CR 16-17 monster, and it would still result in a CR 17 creature in either case.

Why is it so powerful?

Its health/AC. With more than average health, the creature can take a beating while dishing it out, and while its AC is relatively low, its not enough to reduce the effective CR. Consider reducing its health to the 266-280 range, or reducing its AC to 16 and health to 281-295. Either of these will reduce its overall CR by 1.

Multiattack. Gliding Strike, especially combined with bonus action attacks allows for a much higher damage threshold than you'd usually see. Combined with a higher to-hit modifier and additional condition modifiers on top of the damage, it has the potential to be much deadlier than expected. Consider removing Gliding Strike, or removing the damage/round effect of Sting, and making it so the paralysis is the only effect to be saving from. Either of these options would reduce the overall CR by 2.

Reducing both its offensive and defensive capabilities in these ways would allow it to be a CR 14 creature.

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