Ratings & Levels
This supplement uses Monster Levels as a fast and easy way to gauge a monster's power. However, there is another alternative—challenge ratings.
If you want to mix-and-match monster levels (ML) with challenge ratings (CR) in your encounters—or you just want to give your existing CR monsters a little boost with some new tricks and abilities—this chapter will help guide you through the conversion process.
To mix CR and ML monsters in your encounters, you first need a way to compare challenge ratings with monster levels—this will help you to balance your creatures and encounters more easily.
For simplicity's sake, we do this by comparing XP values—matching the XP of a CR monster to the level XP values listed in the Monster Templates.
Ratings (CR) to Levels (ML)
If you have a CR monster, it's easy to find the equivalent monster level—simply take your monster's CR value and look through the Challenge Rating to Monster Level table until you find a matching level and rank.
For example, to find the equivalent ML of a CR 11 remorhaz (5e Monster Manual, p258):
A remorhaz is a CR 11 monster worth 7,200 XP. It has 17 AC / 195 HP, and can deal around 50 damage per round with a +11 attack bonus.
From the conversion table, we see that this remorhaz (CR 11) may be used in place of a ML 11 Solo, a ML 16 Elite, a ML 20 Standard, or a ML 28 Minion.
As another example, here we try to find the ML of a CR 17 dragon turtle (5e Monster Manual, p119):
A dragon turtle is a CR 17 monster worth 18,000 XP. It has 20 AC / 341 HP, and can deal around 58 damage per round with a +13 attack bonus.
From the conversion table, we see that this monster (CR 17) may be used in place of a ML 17 Solo, a ML 22 Elite, or a ML 26 Standard. It is too strong, however, to be used as a minion.
This isn't an exact system—monster threat varies greatly depending on traits, powers, and the abilities of your adventuring party—but it should give you a rough idea as to your monster's rank on the battlefield.
Levels (ML) to Ratings (CR)
To get an idea of your ML monster's challenge rating, follow the same conversion steps—take your monster's level and rank and find the equivalent CR in the Challenge Rating to Monster Level table. CR reference values can also be found in the Monster Templates.
As with other conversions, keep an eye on your ML monster's attack / defense attributes to make sure they're not out of place in their new CR role.
The GM has created a new monster—an orc berserker—for their adventure. The orc is an ML 12 Standard Striker with 14 AC, 144 HP, and it deals 35 damage with a +10 attack bonus.
From the table, we can see that this orc (standard ML 12) may be used in place of a CR 5 monster.
Monster Level (ML)
A GM is running a pre-made 5th-level adventure for 4 players which features a standard CR gnoll encounter:
- 4 gnolls (CR 1/2)
- 1 gnoll pack lord (CR 2)
- 4 gnoll fang of Yeenoghu (CR 4)
The GM wants to use monster levels and stat blocks in their adventure—they change the encounter to:
- 4 gnolls (minion, ML 5)
- 1 gnoll pack lord (standard, ML 5)
- 4 gnoll fang of Yeenoghu (elite, ML 6)
You may find that your CR monsters don't pack enough punch—especially as an elite or solo—or that your ML monsters are a little too strong as a CR counterpart.
When converting monsters, compare the CR monster's basic stats against the corresponding ML template. You may wish to:
- Adjust AC / HP to give your monster staying power.
- Add Paragon Actions to Elite and Solo monsters.
- Add a trait or power for variety.
- Boost damage to keep your players on edge.
A GM wants to use a CR 17 dragon turtle as a ML 17 Solo Defender versus 4 players. They replace the turtle's 20 AC / 341 HP with 25 AC / 1,050 HP, give the turtle 3 Paragon Actions, and add the "Heavy Defense" defender trait. They leave the turtle's attacks as RAW—58 damage can still pack a punch, especially when multiplied across the new Paragon Actions.
With 27 AC and 1,050 hit points, the dragon turtle is now ready to fight four 17th-level adventurers.
Example: Dragon Turtle
Below is a stat block for a partially-converted CR dragon turtle. The monster use ML armor class, hit points, and traits—but continues to use the original CR attack bonus, damage, spell DCs, saving throws, and skills.
In this way, you can make quick, minor adjustments to your existing CR monsters without first having to do a complete overhaul of the monster profile.
|Armor Class25||Attack Bonus+12|
|Hit Points1,050 (3 x 350)||Damage58|
|Speed20 ft||Spell DCs20, 18|
|Saving Throws Con +10, Wis +6, Dex +5|
|Skills Initiative +0, Perception +1, Stealth +0|
You may take 3 Paragon Actions per round to either move or perform an action.
When reduced to 66% and 33% hit points, you may remove all on-going effects on yourself and trigger your next phase transition.
You may spend a bonus action to gain +2 AC until the start of your next turn.