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So I made a monster for D&D 5e. It's a multi-elemental elephant called the Elementalphant and its CR comes out to be about 8-9, but that kinda seems low. If I were to throw it against my party of six level 5's it would destroy them in only a few turns, without taking much damage. Here are all of its stats:

  • HP 178 (20d12+48)

  • AC 16

  • Resistance to fire, acid, lightning, cold

  • Immune to poison

  • Move speed 40ft, fly 20ft

  • Gore +7 to hit 3d8+7 piercing + 1d6 lightning

  • stomp +7 to hit 3d10+7 bludgeon + 1d6 force, only on prone targets

  • fire breath 30ft(from mouth) dc 16 dex save 10d8 fire 5~6 recharge

  • cold breath 30ft (from trunk) dc 16 dex save 10d8 cold 5~6 recharge

  • lightning "breath" 120ft line (from tusks) dc 16 dex save 10d8 lightning 5~6 recharge

  • Multi attack Gore x2

  • Acidic blood: when slashing damage is dealt to this creature a small spray (5ft) of blood deals 1d6 acid.

  • Trampling charge: if this creature moves 20ft in a straight line then uses Gore target creature needs to make a dc 16 str save or be knocked prone, stomp can then be used as a bonus action.

  • Quaking stride: if a creature is within 10ft when this creature moves they must make dc 13 dex save or be knocked prone.

So what should be its CR? I want to throw this monster at my players, but I don't want to wipe them out and I want to give them a fair amount of XP when they do eventually kill it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ How did you work it out? \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M Apr 29 '15 at 5:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is it intentional to have all the breath weapons on separate recharges? I ask because using a single ability where they choose an element is also viable and would likely help keep the creature lower in challenge (drastically, actually). Also, your multi-attack is a bit vague. Is it 2 gores or 1 breath weapon? or is it supposed to be 2 gores or 2 breath weapons? I think the question needs a little refinement. \$\endgroup\$ – Aviose Apr 29 '15 at 16:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, it is intentional to have the breath attacks on separate charges. I don't want the fight to be easy but I don't want to throw it at my players, (six level 5s) without a chance of defeating it. Should I change the numbers on the recharge so that it would get one back a turn instead of all of them at once? I also clarified the multi attack. \$\endgroup\$ – bloodmonarcy Apr 29 '15 at 23:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ I LOVE THIS THING! I think it should be simplified a little as described in the answers, but that's a lovely lovely monster. I wish I could tone it down enough to use in my low-level sessions :) \$\endgroup\$ – Jack V. Jul 10 '15 at 15:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jack V. I don't see why you couldn't scale it down for lower level characters, you could call them baby elementalphants. \$\endgroup\$ – bloodmonarcy Jul 10 '15 at 22:37
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You are quoting expected CR - the final CR is much higher.

On base hp 178 × 1.5 for immunities gives 262 - so defensive CR 13. Expected AC is 18, so an AC of 16 gives no adjustment.

Expected damage per round (~45-55) from its breath weapons (3 with a 1/3 recharge chance - it will have one every round) plus some acid blood splash against 1 PC - assume it can hit 2, so 90-110 or Offensive CR 16. This is an "effects" monster so any adjustment to this should be on its save DC which is 16 instead of the recommended 18 so no change there.

Averaging and rounding up gives a CR 15.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ On a turn with a successful use of trampling charge, the monster may deal gore (3d8 + 7 + 1d6) and stomp (3d10 + 7 + 1d6) damage to one target or divided between them, i.e. 22 - 80 damage. Does that affect these calculations? \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 30 '15 at 5:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Possibly relevant, the modal value of 3d8 + 3d10 + 2d6 + 14 from gore+stomp is ~51. The modal value of one of these breath weapons (1d10) is ~45. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 30 '15 at 5:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ No, a) this is an unlikely scenario - the monster has to knock the PC over for the trample to happen, b) its less than the breath weapon anyway - you use the greatest damage per round for this calculation c) the whole CR calculation is a back of the envelope "it fits about there" thing anyway. \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M Apr 30 '15 at 5:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DaveM Ok, cool, sounds fine. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 30 '15 at 5:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ With trampling charge would it not Gore twice then stomp, because of multi attack? \$\endgroup\$ – bloodmonarcy Apr 30 '15 at 17:13
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I agree with the accepted answer in conclusion, but it makes some departures from the DMG in terms of calculations.

Since the CR ended up a multiple of the Expected CR, we should use the "11-16" instead of the "5-10" multiplier for the resistances, giving the monster 223 health. This brings its defensive CR to 11, where an AC (suggested=17) discrepancy of 1 does not change it.

On the damage front, there will statistically be a breath weapon available every turn. The monster should be able to catch at least 3 (with 6 PCs, possibly 4 or 5) of them every time with this - the extra 45 damage from hitting another PC is well worth even 3 opportunity attacks (expected damage of 3d8+15 = 29) - not forgetting these may miss, while even a save deals half damage. Betting on 2 hits with slashing weapons a turn, and 2 PCs in meelee, we add an extra 14 damage each turn. Summed together, this monster should output exactly 150 damage a turn - offensive CR 21.

Averaging the two yeilds 16.

It is worth noting that this monster scales better than most with a bigger party due to its area attacks. If the monster can catch 4 PCs each turn in its breath, its CR jumps to 18, and if it can catch 5, 19. Opportunity attacks will still often activate its acidic blood trait, and since it does not seem to be limited to once per turn, the mosnster would actually like to up the ratio of meelee weapon to all other type of attacks it is hit with.

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