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From the PHB Spell attack modifier = your proficiency bonus + your intelligence modifier

So shouldn't this Mage https://roll20.net/compendium/dnd5e/Mage#content have +7 Spell attack (rather than +6 as quoted)?

Ie +3 from INT and +4 proficiency bonus from being 9th level.

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Monsters do not have levels. Their proficiency bonus is derived from their CR

DMG274:

Pick the expected challenge rating (CR) for your monster. Knowing the monster's expected challenge will help you figure out the monster's proficiency and other important combat statistics.

There is a table on the same page of DMG, from which you can infer that monster CR corresponds to character level for purpose of calculating proficiency bonus.

The Mage final Spell Attack modifier is +3 (from 17 INT) +3 (from being a 6CR monster) = +6

The spellcaster level mentioned in the description relates only to his Spellcasting trait. In particular, Mage has the same amount of spell slots and have access to the same levels of spells, as 9th-level full spellcasting class would.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is dead on, though for clarity I would amend your answer to show how the Mage's stats are calculated based off the information you provided. \$\endgroup\$ – Andrendire Dec 17 '19 at 17:57
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Proficiency and spell attack are correct, but you use NPC tools, not PC to verify.

You are correct in that a 9th level PC spellcaster should have a proficiency of +4.

But the Mage NPC (MM, 164) has a +3 proficiency.

If we were calculating as a PC.

But this is a NPC and we use the NPC rules around proficiency modifiers.is most likely a result of the proficiency modifier differences between PCs and NPCs.

Page 8 of the Monster Manual covers the Proficiency Bonus by CR and it lists a CR6 Monster with a bonus of +3. It isn't until CR9 that they achieve the +4.

So while the Mage is listed a 9th level caster, their proficiency is based off of that table and is +3.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Isn't monster proficiency bonus determined by CR, not spellcaster level? \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Dec 17 '19 at 17:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 That's a good question. It seems like a potential chicken/egg issue. Do you build your monster and then figure out it's CR, or do you go the other way? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Dec 17 '19 at 17:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ I just know the Monster Manual has an entire chart "proficiency bonus by CR" \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Dec 17 '19 at 17:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 Yup, you're right - thank you! UPdated the answer, although it still has the weirdness regarding spell slots. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Dec 17 '19 at 18:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 down dating includes, given my age, only taking my wife to the movies during matinee times since that saves us money on the tickets. :-) \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Dec 17 '19 at 18:08
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Monsters do not have to follow the rules for players.

You are correct that a player who is a 9th level Wizard with an Intelligence of 17 would have +7 to spell attack. You would add their spellcasting ability modifier (+3) to their proficiency bonus (+4) for a total of +7 to spell attack.

However, monsters are not player characters, and so do not have to follow the rules for character creation and power so strictly.

Monsters get the stats that they say they have. Since the monster you have linked has a +6 to spell attack, that's what they get. See, for example, the violet fungus creature which has a +2 to melee attack rolls despite having a -4 strength modifier and a -5 dexterity modifier.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The violet fungus in particular can be explained away as somehow using Constitution for its attack, though this doesn't change the answer since that's also something a PC wouldn't do \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Dec 17 '19 at 17:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, but players cannot do that. The point of my answer is that monsters don't always follow the same rules players do, which your comment reinforces. \$\endgroup\$ – Baron Dec 17 '19 at 18:00

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