Are the save bonuses of some monsters in the Monster Manual (5E) miscalculated? Looking at the dracolich (pg 84) for example, I see that it's save bonuses seem to be calculated as ability bonus +5. However as its CR is 17, the appropriate proficiency bonus for that challenge rating should be +6, based on the table on page 8.

Shadow dragons (pg 85) similarly seem to be off too, with a CR of 13 but a proficiency bonus apparently being +4 rather than the +5 appropriate for CR 13 to 16.

Are there errors in the stat blocks, or am I misunderstanding something here?

So far, every monster I have checked—with the exception of these two—follow the expected correlation between CR and the underlying proficiency bonus in stat calculations. This makes me strongly suspect that they are calculation errors, based on CRs of 16 and 12 respectively. Perhaps the developers made a last minute fudge to their CRs without updating the stats, as this discrepancy seems unique to them. My initial confusion was that for some reason these two were the first monsters I looked at, as I was just starting to figure out how monster saves worked.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The most likely answer is the reverse - they calculated the CR based on the guidelines in the DMG, and then playtesting showed that it was actually tougher or weaker than those guidelines would suggest. \$\endgroup\$ – anaximander Jan 25 '16 at 14:54

As long as it is internally consistent, then there is no error.

When you build a monster, you pick the Proficiency bonus, attacks, defense, etc. Then based on those, the CR is set. According to the DM's guide the CR has nothing to do with the Proficiency Bonus, but rather the average of the offensive and defensive equivalent CRs.

The DM's guide has some best guesses at what you should start out with, but it is clear there that that is adjustable depending on your creation.

For example you might create a giant sloth, with low proficiency, low attacks and high HP. This would generally give a higher CR, due to high HP, which won't necessarily line up with the suggested proficiency bonus in the DM's guide based on CR.

  • \$\begingroup\$ If you think there is an error, you can always throw a tweet out to JC. \$\endgroup\$ – ohmusama May 22 '15 at 23:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ That makes sense, giving the DM's guise ppp \$\endgroup\$ – Ciridian May 23 '15 at 0:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Naturally this assumes the DM's guide is accurate as well ;) \$\endgroup\$ – ohmusama May 23 '15 at 0:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ach, I was trying to say, given the DM guide's rationale regarding CR not being based on a pure statistical formula, it makes sense. However I do also note that the saves, skills, and to hit bonuses do show a clear relationship between CR and a base proficiency bonus derived therefrom. With a few exceptions, which IMO are actual errors (the previously cited examples and Banshees, MM p.23 where the Cha save is off by 1, for instance) \$\endgroup\$ – Ciridian May 23 '15 at 4:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ciridian They are planning errata releases. If you get the information in front of them, and it is an actual error, they would then include it in the errata. \$\endgroup\$ – ohmusama May 27 '15 at 1:03

Both the Dracolich and the Shadow dragon are templates. The finished stat blocks appear to be using the same proficiency bonus as the creature the template was applied to. Since the template does not say to change the creature's proficiency bonus, this does not look like an error.


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