Designing challenging and engaging situations in which player characters come into contact (and often conflict with) NPCs, monsters, or other potential opponents.

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1answer
327 views

How to have Goblins Spring Out of Barrels

I would like to make an encounter in a storage room which is full of barrels and chests. The room is, seemingly, only guarded by goblin archers. When a PC runs past certain barrels, I would like ...
2
votes
1answer
120 views

How can I improvise battle encounters on the fly? [on hold]

As of late, I've been very busy with college now that my schedule forces me to stay pretty much all day long, so I've had to stick with "low prep" games like Savage Worlds, and improvise adventures on ...
9
votes
2answers
870 views

Does the Challenge Rating of a monster assume a party or a single PC?

I'm reading through the new DM D&D Basic Rules, but I'm confused about the challenge rating of a monster. Does the challenge rating assume a single PC or a group of PC's? As a CR3 a challenge for ...
7
votes
2answers
296 views

How can I make non-violent combat alternatives actually fun and interesting? [closed]

Most of my group and I share a trait: We all hate the idea of monsters who can be talked or negotiated with, it kills the scary, dangerous part of a monster; that combined with the fact I suck at ...
7
votes
3answers
357 views

How can I design encounters that appeal more to stealth based characters and are fun for me to run?

I'm currently running a levels 1 to 20 campaign with my friends, and one of them is a Ninja (Pathfinder's class using the Basic Rogue Template). Functionally it's pretty much the same, and the thing ...
4
votes
1answer
125 views

How is treasure determined randomly for CR 21 or higher creatures?

The Magic Item Compendium says Step 1: Roll on Table A-1: Treasure, using the monster's CR to determine which row you will use. (265) Table A-1: Treasure only goes to Challenge Rating 20. The ...
2
votes
3answers
176 views

Advice for making an adventure entirely based on “boss” battles? [closed]

we're currently playing D&D Next using the Basic rules and covnerted Pathfinder monsters covnerted based on the Playtest monster stats. Next session my players (Monk, Ninja (Pathfinder converted ...
1
vote
1answer
137 views

Any tips for running more action based and less tactical encounters?

I've been using "tactical minis" games for all my games as of now, specifically Savage Worlds and 4E which has been my bread and butter. Just recently we picked up D&D Next Playtest (Oct 2013) to ...
6
votes
6answers
2k views

How to create a hard challenge for my group?

I did let the PCs of the game I am hosting receive too many treasures, so I would like them to lose at least some (or even all) of them. I thought about a simple ambush somewhere in the woods, where ...
3
votes
1answer
168 views

Need a Mental Challenge [closed]

I am running a custom campaign and I have run into an issue. The group got to a quest where the ruler of the country is dying of old age and a has no heir. So someone needs to prove themselves to both ...
2
votes
2answers
182 views

How do you determine the challenge rating of an encounter in 4e?

Recently my players decided to make the game as hard as possible for themselves by planning a jailbreak that will make them fugitives before they complete their mission to spy on the King. To make ...
14
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3answers
1k views

Defending a house against demons

I'm a fairly rookie GM and I'm running a campaign in which the characters are going to eventually become a group of professional monster hunters. We are at present low level we are starting off with ...
8
votes
5answers
498 views

How to get the most out of an encounter by combining foes

I am an new GM playing DnD-4E and i am looking for advice on how to compose challenging encounters. I have played with my group ~10 times so far and what i really like is to challenge them. Not a TPK ...
5
votes
3answers
567 views

How to handle some new NPCs who enter a fight in progress?

I am GMing for the second time in my life, and do not know how to handle this situation: There are 5 PCs who walk through this map. In almost every room there are a couple of NPCs who might or might ...
22
votes
9answers
3k views

Way to prevent teleportation

My party (average level 10) just had a pre-boss fight. That was an opportunity for me to make them spend some of their resources, because they thought that was actually the big bad boss fight. So we ...
1
vote
3answers
370 views

How do I make my fights more interesting? [closed]

Sometimes my combats are too boring, just a bunch of dice rolls. I want my fightings to be fast and various. Often is all about "you See the enemy, roll the dice a few Times, go on". This takes too ...
7
votes
5answers
1k views

How do I make an interesting escape from a fire?

So, the last session I tried to make an encounter where my players had to escape from a burning house. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a boring bunch of pass-or-suck checks. How can I make this ...
7
votes
1answer
118 views

Under What Circumstances Do Additional Creatures Add to EL?

Question The Dungeon Master's Guide explains that DMs Do not award XP for creatures that enemies summon or otherwise add to their forces with magic powers. An enemy’s ability to summon or add ...
3
votes
2answers
230 views

What's the best way to DM semi-large battles (~50 guys on each side)?

In one of the campaigns I'm running, the players are about to enter a large fight (~50 vs ~50). This includes around 40 regular units, and 6 Player Characters versus around 45 regular units and 5 ...
3
votes
3answers
314 views

How can I quickly come up with random encounters and puzzles?

I'm DMing my first campaign in D&D 4e using my own setting, and I need to create some random encounters throughout the map surrounding the starting village. I only have a week available between ...
4
votes
3answers
235 views

Designing Puzzles Requiring Halt Undead and Animate Dead

I am currently designing an adventure filled with several puzzles. The point of each puzzle is to get a character to use a power they don't know that they have in order to proceed. For example, for ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

How do I balance an encounter for my party?

I'm currently DMing some games in the D&D 4e Adventure Series. We started with H1, Keep on the Shadowfell, and we're just about to start H2, Thunderspide labyrinth. I have six players who are all ...
14
votes
7answers
838 views

As a DM, how to save a creature from being killed by players and not be cheap?

If you put a creature you want to use at a later date in an encounter, how could I save that creature near the end of the battle without sounding cheaty. E.g. The evil mage has only 1 hit point left ...
6
votes
2answers
255 views

How do you scale up a premade adventure's difficulty when you have additional PCs?

I am going to be running the D&D 4e Redbox premade adventure and a couple other premade adventures for 5 PCs. However at the beginning of the explanation for the adventures they say it is for a ...
3
votes
3answers
220 views

Battle on Lightning Rail, Movement Rules

The setup: the PCs work their way through a moving lightning rail, fighting off pirates that are attempting to rob the passengers. They get to the cargo hold, fend off their leader, and chase him up ...
6
votes
4answers
264 views

Balancing encounters for faster feat progression

I'm DMing a group right now in Eberron (so I already have to take Action Points into account for encounter design), and my players, who are fairly new, are super intrigued by all of the interesting ...
3
votes
2answers
151 views

Designing challenging combats for Mythic PC

This is related to my earlier question, Superman in Dresden Files. Cliff's notes, my players in DF take the building block powers, and I wanted to know why and what to do about it. That gave me a ...
3
votes
1answer
287 views

How Much XP is an NPC worth?

I'm trying to add an NPC (as explained on pages 186-188 of the DMG) to a DnD 4e encounter, and I'm having trouble finding any information on how much XP to subtract from the XP budget for the ...
9
votes
3answers
2k views

How can I tune encounter difficulty appropriately in D&D Essentials?

Two of my friends and I recently played our very first game of D&D using the Essentials kit. I DM'd, getting them through the Red Box create-your-own character story. It was all good fun, they ...
33
votes
5answers
1k views

How can we make overcoming a language problem interesting?

I am currently involved in a game of Fate Accelerated, and one of our goals is learning the system and experimenting with it. In this game, two characters may have a language barrier to overcome. One ...
5
votes
4answers
707 views

How many enemies can one Lvl 1 PC handle?

In the start of my adventure the PCs will not be together. I plan to have all them fight 1-3 encounters alone before finally meeting up. I read in the book about setting encounters but the minimum I ...
36
votes
7answers
3k views

What do you do when a player intimidates your campaign boss to surrender?

So my players recently fought a big bad campaign boss. The (custom made) boss was a kind of solo beserker king, and the encounter difficulty was designed to be fairly moderate until the boss became ...
13
votes
2answers
1k views

My players almost die in my encounters every time. Does this mean my encounters are too hard?

I'm running my first campaign with three friends. This is the first time any of us have done any table-top role-playing. I'm working the party through the H1: Keep on the Shadowfell campaign using ...
11
votes
2answers
433 views

Reducing a monster below CR 1

There are many instances in Pathfinder and other 3.5 based systems when you might need to reduce a monster below 1 or 1/2. For example, if I'm using a CR 1/2 monster from a 3.5 source in Pathfinder, ...
5
votes
2answers
181 views

How can I gauge the strength of my PCs in Legend?

I've been trying to run Legend on and off lately, and I find myself faced with a frustration. Though I find the Mook rules easy enough to comprehend, I can't seem to create appropriate challenges for ...
4
votes
1answer
132 views

How to factor the xp cost of poison/magic weapons into an encounter

I'd like to design a 4E encounter with some monsters using poisoned weapons, but I am a little unsure of how to factor this into the XP budget. The DMG (pg 50) gives the GP cost and level for various ...
12
votes
5answers
407 views

How can I balance an enemy that my players might encounter at different levels?

My story revolves around 8 angels that my players must defeat. The thing is I want them to look for them in no particular order. How can I balance an enemy easily in advance, since they may encounter ...
9
votes
1answer
157 views

Do I need both DMG1 and 2 to create adventures?

I'm working on my first custom campaign for my players and I am wondering if I should read both DMG1 and 2 or if it's possible to just use DMG2 as a guideline. I have previously run modules out of ...
4
votes
2answers
115 views

Monsters of Encounter Levels below 1 in Legend

In legend, antagonists/monsters/loot-on-legs are made the exact same way as PC's, though less restricted. I have always loved hordes in epic fantasy, but the rules make this hard to portray at lower ...
16
votes
2answers
2k views

Creating solo monsters

One thing I haven't found in 4th edition online is a plethora of solo monsters. The idea of these fights are fascinating! Sadly though, all the products in 4th focus on multiple opponent fights (with ...
15
votes
5answers
486 views

As a GM, what aids could I use to create adventure scenes on the spot?

As a GM, many a time I run into a situation that I know nothing of, am not prepared about, and need something, NOW! Maybe it is a freeform adventure and plot was not prepared, maybe I prepared some ...
3
votes
3answers
283 views

Non-magical wilderness (forest) threats

What are some ways that a group of several agile and fit individuals can be (mortally) threatened in a large forest in the autumn? Temperate climate, realistic setting , low magic - I would prefer to ...
2
votes
1answer
319 views

Encounter templates

A standard encounter for a five man party is determined by the formula n + (2/4) What I don't understand is what I'm supposed to do when the party I'm making the encounter for is level 1. Let's take ...
7
votes
1answer
407 views

How to balance the numbers and equipment of an encounter in Shadowrun 4E?

I'm having trouble creating NPCs for my game, especially regarding their number and their equipment. Their skill level is ok, but these points are problematic. I know that most of the time, the ...
8
votes
3answers
766 views

Do monsters higher or lower level than the PCs play well in combat?

In D&D 4e, an encounter's XP budget suggests one standard monster of the player's level for each party member. Does it work well to spend the XP budget on smaller number of high level opponents, ...
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votes
4answers
2k views

What encounter features make low CR enemies challenging?

I'm planning an encounter where a mid level party would be assaulted by a a large number of lower level characters. We've all read Tucker's Kobolds, but what makes this kind of encounter actually ...
20
votes
4answers
424 views

How to run an encounter where PCs have different observations of the same events?

Some of the discussion in this question got me to thinking about an encounter design that sounded fun but I couldn't figure out an elegant way to pull it off: In some situation where one or more PCs ...
7
votes
4answers
2k views

Adjusting Modules for More Players (D&D 3.5)

I am planning on running a D&D 3.5 campaign soon. I underestimated how many of my friends would be interested, and my group of 4 has quickly turned into a group of 6. I have seen various ...
17
votes
8answers
860 views

My necromancer keeps dying (and can't raise himself)!

Sometimes in the course of running an adventure you will run into an encounter that calls for a summoner to bring on a horde of undead (often minions). I have a simple problem: My summoners die in ...
7
votes
2answers
156 views

Best practices for balancing separate enemies in an encounter?

I'd like to run a game where a Mage has killed a necromancer, who has re-animated himself and is after the mage. The mage himself is evil. The necromancer makes up the majority of the session. The ...