by Mike Shea on 7 September 2009
During the Wizards of the Coast Epic-Level seminar at the 2009 Gencon, the group discussed the differences between Monster Manual 1 and Monster Manual 2 creatures. One of the members of the audience asked "How do we monster-manual-2-ize our solos?" The following tips outline the response from the panel with some slight modifications for myself. These house rules go hand-in-hand with the tips for running a solo encounter.
Tip 1: Cut hitpoints to 80%. The first and easiest modification to make with older solo monsters is to multiply their hitpoints by .8, cutting them down to 4/5 of their original hitpoints. Older solo monsters took far longer to kill than intended, usually burning encounter and daily powers until all players have left are at-will powers. This reduction in hitpoints keeps the battle moving along.
Tip 2: Reduce defenses. Original solo monsters had increases to three of the four defenses including AC. These higher defenses drastically reduced the number of actual hits PCs landed. Remove two points from AC and two points from two other high defense scores of the monster to get them back in line with their smaller Elite brothers.
Tip 3: Add some sort of power when bloodied. This is where things start getting creative. The reduction in hitpoints and the reduction in defenses will make it easier to kill a solo monster but the solo monster needs something in return. The panel jokingly suggested an explosion at blooded that stole one healing surge from the party. While this lacks creativity, it gives us the right idea.
When modifying your creatures, consider adding a burst attack dealing the DMG page 42 limited high damage amount. Come up with a good reason your creature has this power or, better yet, tie it to an environmental effect of some sort.
A quicker and easier way is to increase the damage done by your modified solo creature by one die. This will improve the overall damage of the creature without having to track anything more. This could even be done in our head while playing.
With these few tips, DMs everywhere can modify the original monster manual 1 solo creatures to reduce the grind and increase the threat faced by our heroic PCs. Enjoy!