If you use “Monstrous Adventurers” from “Volo’s Guide to Monsters” for a PC, do you use a background?

I was looking at “Volo’s Guide to Monsters”, the section on “Monstrous Adventurers”, and wondered whether you include a background when you use that to create a character of one of the species listed there. It doesn’t say in the section, and there aren’t any sample characters. I think that many of the backgrounds listed in the PHB wouldn’t be applicable for some of the species.

Ranged-attack initiative and sequencing for monsters and NPCs

How interesting that after over 20 years of playing RPGs, new basic rule questions still crop up…:

The PC group I’m DM-ing got into a fight with two bugbears and eight goblins in a long 10-foot wide tunnel with corners, etc, where it’s more advantageous for the gobos to shoot their short bows than go melee straight away.

I roll collective initiative for the monsters which is incidentally super high, so monsters come first.

Their starting position is all bunched up in adjacent squares. So on their initiative, I move the monsters one by one closer to their PC target. Each one, after his movement, fires their short-bow.

Here is where it gets tricky: Moving the monsters individually on their collective Initiative creates straight lines-of-sight to the first PC target, enabling more than just the two goblins who stand in the front row to shoot at the PC without incurring a penalty for cover (for being in the way of each other’s lines-of-sight).

The players protest, saying that given the monsters all move on the same initiative, I should assume they move at the same time and maintain their initial formation, and therefore I should assume the goblins shoot before they move, giving all goblins, except the two standing in the front, partial cover penalties. Alternatively, I should roll initiative for each monster individually…

I do admit that I probably should have separated the two bugbears from the eight goblins, in this case, however, it would have made no difference in terms of the numbers being able to get a clear shot.

I hope I’m making myself clear? Am I not playing RAW? Am I unintentionally making a house rule here?

How is Challenge Rating (CR) calculated for a mixed group of multiple monsters in regards to the Treasure Table?

I understand that encounters are balanced around exp thresholds in the DMG (e.g. https://rpg.stackexchange.com/a/105360).

With that said, there are loot tables in the DMG 136-139 that have “Challenge Rating” ranges for how loot should be distributed.

I understand CR is not supposed to be summed or multiplied, but if the party kills 20 CR 3 monsters, in the loot table, what would the challenge rating range be for these monetary loots?

As a tangential note: the DMG item loot tables don’t really explain which table to use “A vs B vs J, vs K…”.

Algorithm to minimize the damage received from the monsters [duplicate]

I have been puzzled by the following question on an exam for quite a while: given a set of monsters with their health and attack damage (per second), design an algorithm that minimizes your overall damage received given that you can do one damage to one monster each second. Note: all monsters that are alive attack simultaneously, and the game ends only when all monsters are killed.

Since a greedy algorithm is not going to work, my guess is that there might be a dynamic programming solution to it. The DP algorithms we covered are the knapsack type of problems that are more or less in the form of subset selection, where the only decision made is to determine whether to include the current element in the set or not. However, the problem posted here is about the ordering of the elements (the order I attack the monsters). So it seems to me knowing the optimal solution to a subproblem of any kind would not help me obtain the solution to a larger problem.

I would appreciate hints on how to think about this problem.

Can monsters live in society?

If a monster lives up to the law for a certain city, would they be allowed to live in it? I’m not talking about basic monsters like orcs and goblinoids, or shape-shifters (including dragons), but more like liches, mind flayers, beholders, and other intelligent yet scary monsters. It doesn’t matter if they are feared or accepted, just is it plausible to say they could live inside a town or city?

How does the ability to cast healing spells affect a monster’s CR?

I’ve been making a few homebrew monsters for my current D&D 5e campaign, and I ran into a problem when I wanted to create a creature that used healing magic. There were general rules for offensive spells in the DMG, but none for healing or utility. I’ve looked around at several RPG forums and discussion boards, but all that I found just talked about offensive spellcasters or the monster didn’t really act like a healer. The latter instance was actually on this forum (How do I calculate the CR of a monster that spends their turns healing?) where the monster was a cleric, but that cleric didn’t do any healing in the first three rounds of combat. All they did was cast buff spells, so that doesn’t answer my question. I’m hoping someone can shed some light on this issue for me.

Here’s a stat block for the creature I’m wanting to make:


Medium ooze, chaotic neutral

Armor Class: 15 (natural armor)
Hit Points: 120 (16d8 + 48)
Speed: 30 ft.

STR 11 (+0)
DEX 13 (+1)
CON 16 (+3)
INT 12 (+1)
WIS 17 (+3)
CHA 9 (-1)

Skills: Medicine +5
Damage Resistances: Acid
Senses: passive Perception 13
Languages: Common
Challenge: 3 (700 XP)


Innate Spellcasting. The slime’s innate spellcasting ability is Wisdom. The slime can innately cast the following spells, requiring no components:

4/day each: cure wounds, healing word

1/day each: aid, lesser restoration, mass healing word


Whap. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 3 (1d6) bludgeoning damage and 2 (1d4) acid damage.

My main question breaks down into two parts:

  1. If the monster primarily uses their action to heal, how should I calculate their damage-per-round? I would assume that I would just use the most healing & damage possible across the first three rounds of combat, but I’m not sure if healing is treated different from damage when calculating damage-per-round.

  2. How should I handle calculating the average amount of healing for the spell mass healing word for the CR calculations? Since it can target multiple creatures, I would assume I have to multiply the average value rolled, which is 5.5 (1d4 + Wisdom), by some number to account for multiple creatures being healed at once. Do I treat it like the spell fireball or a dragon’s Breath Weapon and just multiply it by two, or should I multiply it by the max number of creatures that can be healed by this spell divided by two, which would be three?

I realize that sometimes it just has to come down to play-testing, but I feel like this is something that could more-or-less be calculated without any guesswork.

Does a single PC who is stealthy get to surprise monsters when the rest of the group is not?

The rules for a surprise round, seem to be focused on the people being surprised. (They lose a turn) rather than being focused on the people doing the surprising (They get an extra turn)

The rules are clear, that each person in a group can be surprised, even if other people in the group are not surprised. So if a party is ambushed by a single stealthy carrion crawler, some members of the group will lose a turn (be surprised) and others will not (they get to act normally).

However, I’m not clear what happens if two groups approach each other, were some members are being stealthy and others are not.

For example, I have a Rogue who is being quiet and stealthy and rolls a 20 on their stealth check. The rest of the group however (Fighter and Wizard), is just marching along at a slow pace. They turn a corner, and see a group of 4 goblins, with a passive perception of 13. Do the 4 goblins lose their first turn because they are surprised by the rogue? Do the Fighter and Wizard get to act on that first turn?

Another example, Same two groups. Two of the goblins rolled a 20 on their stealth, and the other two rolled a 5. Are the Fighter and Wizard and Rogue surprised? (They lose their first turn) Or can they only attack the two goblins with a stealth of 5?

Spotting monsters in caves/corners/passage/etc

My group likes to stop and peek inside caves to look for monsters before proceeding through. They like to surprise all the time.

I already know how to spot something inside closed doors using Perception. But I’m not sure whether I should use Stealth (to peek in corners to prevent getting spotted by monsters) or just plain old Perception check.

What check should one use if you just want to peek in a corner/hallway/open cave area/passage to look for possible monsters without engaging combat.