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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9
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6answers
2k views

How can I give sufficient XP per session for 7 high-level PCs without encounters being a slog?

In the DMG it suggests that the DM levels players at a rate of about 3 sessions per level past about level 5 or 6. My players' characters are currently level 8 and there are 7 of them. That would ...
5
votes
1answer
173 views

Confused about how CL is calculated for multiple and single enemies

New GM here and I'm not quite sure how CL is calculated. So, the CL of an encounter (involving multiple enemies) is suppose to be the combined CL of all enemies/3. But that doesn't make sense. That ...
54
votes
17answers
12k views

How do I challenge my PCs who fight every battle like Mongol horse archers?

In my last few game sessions, my players have begun adopting a strategy which is working wonders in the campaign we are playing. In this Planescape campaign, we are on the Outlands, which has a lot of ...
25
votes
3answers
5k views

My PCs are too strong for a published adventure. How can I fix the content so it isn't trivial?

This is my first time DMing a D&D game and I'm learning as I go. I'm running Tyranny of Dragons, and here's my situation: Through a series of lucky events and other phenomena, the party is one ...
3
votes
3answers
150 views

Are XP award for one large encounter vs. lots of smaller encounters different?

Suppose my five level-2 player characters (PCs) face 10 CR2 challenges/encounters in a given Pathfinder session. To be concrete, let's assume these encounters are monsters that are each worth 500 XP. ...
10
votes
5answers
3k views

Is there a name for putting OP enemies against OP characters?

Suppose that a DM realizes that the PCs became OP due to several reasons (optimization, lucky rolls, too many magic items) and battles that are supposed to be deadly became easy. Then, he decides to ...
6
votes
4answers
6k views

Guidelines for appropriate challenges in a Cyberpunk 2.0.2.0 game

I've owned a copy of the 2nd edition of Cyberpunk (Cyberpunk 2020) for years now but never had the ability or gumption to run a game (same for gurps). Lately though I've been playing and DMing a lot ...
4
votes
1answer
99 views

How do you judge the difficulty of an encounter in Strands of Fate?

I recently found Strands of Fate and it looks like a really fun system; so, naturally, I want to run a short campaign in it to try it out. Unfortunately, the book doesn't seem to give any tips for how ...
3
votes
1answer
107 views

How can I run an interesting council meeting? [closed]

The Story so Far The end is nigh for planet earth! The sun is running out of fuel and life on earth only has about 100-500 years before it gets burnt to a crisp as the sun expands. Several years ago ...
5
votes
1answer
1k views

Are there any free tools for designing encounters or traps? [closed]

I'm trying to design a module and I was wondering if there were any free or open source encounter or trap designers for D&D 4e Mostly I just like something that lets me fill in the blanks and ...
3
votes
3answers
192 views

How much higher can I make a enemy boss than the party?

I'm looking to introduce an recurring enemy in my new 4e/Ultramodern4 campaign that's an on-going, ruthless opponent. I want this specific opponent to be an exception of the normal 4e pattern of all ...
11
votes
5answers
593 views

What would be the CR of a battle where PCs have to fight their duplicates?

Imagine a situation where PCs meet some magical, evil duplicates of themselves. The duplicates are exact copies of the PCs (stats, equipment, spells, feats and so on). Therefore, I suppose that the ...
2
votes
3answers
316 views

Experience point calculation for encounters

I am likely missing something very obvious but I cannot find a reliable way to figure out how much XP to give my players for encounters anywhere, currently I'm using a factor of 5 encounters of a ...
13
votes
4answers
28k 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 ...
14
votes
4answers
334 views

Should I adjust encounter challenge for PCs with damage immunities?

Recently, two of my PCs became afflicted with lycanthropy (of the wererat variety). According to the Monster Manual, characters with lycanthropy acquire the damage immunities of their respective ...
1
vote
2answers
381 views

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

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 ...
7
votes
2answers
276 views

How do the PCs' magic items factor into challenge ratings?

Everyone knows that a CR 10 monster is meant to be a perfectly balanced challenge for a party of four 10th level PCs. But does that mean it's balanced for a party of four PCs with no magically ...
2
votes
1answer
105 views

How well are low level PCs able to defeat high level NPCs in B/X D&D?

For a Basic/Expert game, I want to populate the campaign area with important and influential NPCs, who are doing their things independent of the player's activities. The goal is to have the players ...
14
votes
3answers
1k views

Do different monsters cooperate? Do I need to justify it when they do?

I'm new to GMing, and am having difficulty with understanding how often different types of monsters interact cooperatively (so to speak). In keeping with trying to give my PC's variety, and to also ...
8
votes
2answers
366 views

Where can I find online playtesters to test encounters before presenting them to my group?

I'm setting up the end of my campaign and I have 4 "mini-boss" fights (& Final BOSS fight) that I'm trying to make extremely tough but also winnable. I don't want to just slaughter my PCs after ...
7
votes
1answer
162 views

How do I structure an in-game tournament to rank the participating parties of adventurers?

As part of my existing Pathfinder campaign, I want to run an in-game tournament between twelve adventuring parties. The PCs would form one team. The other 11 are NPC teams put forward by NPC nobles. ...
2
votes
1answer
333 views

How would removing tail spikes from a manticore affect its challenge rating?

One creature omitted from the 5th Edition MM is the Dragonne, and I have considered modifying stats for the manticore to create a 5E dragonne. Most of the changes would be cosmetic except for removing ...
2
votes
0answers
130 views

How do I appropriatly stock this dungeon to make it challenging but not impossible? [closed]

I'm a new DM. I built a dungeon for my players' second set of encounters. They will need to clear it in order to gain knowledge from a Copper Dragon (a passive ally) at the end. We are using ...
5
votes
1answer
170 views

Help me with my battlefield design [closed]

Setup One of my weaknesses as a DM is probably battlefield design. I often forget about this completely, and have to make up a map on the spot when we roll initiative. I try to avoid this before ...
6
votes
2answers
239 views

Is this DnD4E fight level appropriate?

Yesterday we had a DnD4e session to kill the final boss of a, now in total, 4 session dungeon. This fight took us 7 hours (irl). The boss had an AoE ability that would shoot a fireball for 1d100 ...
2
votes
2answers
201 views

How to decide if traps in OSR play should be obvious? [closed]

Obvious traps emphasize interaction with the traps, which is often interesting. Hidden traps make unexplored regions of a dungeon far more dangerous and reward careful play and cunning, as players ...
17
votes
9answers
3k views

Should encounters be adjusted to a full-magic party?

I am still a new GM and I am building a session for 3 first-time players. After discussing the game, rules and setting, all of them are interested in playing magic characters (Draconic Sorcerer, Druid ...
9
votes
3answers
306 views

Train chase sequence

In my next session, I want my players to have a chase sequence followed by a battle on board a moving train. They'll be chasing Githyanki, so their mage hand, jump, and misty step spells will all ...
3
votes
3answers
283 views

How do I calculate a suitable combat encounter under 5e based on the CR values in the Monster Manual?

In my 3rd ed book, there is a table of CR against the number of monsters a party can fight based on their level. In 5e I cannot find this table. There is some mention of encounters being based on the ...
39
votes
5answers
3k views

How do I make engaging Man vs Wild encounters that aren't excercises in rolling dice?

I like wilderness adventures. My earliest games as a player (in AD&D 2e) featured wilderness adventures, and I really enjoyed them. I try to use them in my games (We're playing Pathfinder right ...
6
votes
2answers
209 views

How much does Petrification Ray modify a monster's CR?

I'm working on a custom monster right now and I want to give it a Petrification Ray, as seen on the Beholder, as an action: Petrification Ray. The targeted creature must make a DC (8+Spellcasting ...
3
votes
2answers
191 views

How to modify a bulette to challenge a level 10 party?

In my campaign, the PCs have been tasked with removing a group of bulettes from a mining claim. I plan on using standard bulettes as a lead-up to a 'boss fight' where I would like a larger (perhaps cr ...
6
votes
1answer
327 views

How do I adjust Part 8 of The Traveller Campaign for more powerful characters?

I've just gotten to Adventure 8 in The Traveller Campaign and I have a problem: the characters are far too powerful for the adventure. The main problem is that The Privateer Fleet that the characters ...
13
votes
3answers
820 views

Would motivating a Stout Pacifist to join a war be a Compel or Invoke?

Assume the following situation: The player wants to convince an NPC to help them in battle. However, the NPC has the aspect "Stout Pacifist" and would rather avoid being dragged into a war. This ...
21
votes
2answers
558 views

Tarrasque: Rush & Jump Skill Interaction

Background I am having a little trouble wrapping my brain around the Jump skill. I want to plan a battle with my players and the Tarrasque; two of them have the ability to fly - and it does not. I ...
16
votes
5answers
2k views

How can I create reasonably challenging encounters for large groups?

I'm running a 5e campaign that has become quite successful to the point that everyone wants in and I have 6-8 players at my table every other week. It's awesome, but I'm having troubles with creating ...
4
votes
1answer
177 views

Can an animated cannon fire itself?

In Pathfinder I am currently trying to design a few encounters with a supposed ghost ship (actually a Colossal Animated Object) complete with a crew of Haunted Objects (again, Animated Objects), but I ...
14
votes
5answers
1k views

How can I dissuade my players from attacking a deadly foe who isn't meant to be attacked? [duplicate]

I will be taking over as DM of our group in a few weeks. Our party right now has a large number of magic items, and while I don't have a problem balancing that, I would rather replace lesser ones ...
11
votes
4answers
2k views

Can players handle Deadly encounters if they don't engage in any other danger?

The DMG suggests that Player Characters are generally going to be able to handle about 6 encounters between long rests; the difficulty comes from the cumulative strain of multiple consecutive ...
5
votes
2answers
258 views

How do I handle the encounter difficulty for a three-sided battle?

I'm running my first real campaign. The idea I have for the first dungeon involves the PCs coming upon two sides already engaged in combat. One side is losing and weaker than the other, though not in ...
6
votes
5answers
329 views

Balancing undead encounters against large party with a cleric

I'm a new DM (and a relatively new player as well) and I'm leading a pretty large (6 players) group of newbies. We've done a few demos and whatnot just to show them the basics of combat, but now we're ...
2
votes
0answers
170 views

Designing a low-level NPC mage [closed]

So, I am working on a dungeon for a small party: (Tweaked) Drow Sorc2 -- good stats and a decent spell selection Human Rgr2 -- has a bit of healing, but more of a tanky/hack-and-slash type so far ...
10
votes
3answers
514 views

How can I avoid making extended/prolonged encounters boring?

I have run this campaign for just over a year. Many encounters later, I have come to one snag; If I run an encounter that lasts for more than a few rounds, I lose all my flair. I just resort to "hit" ...
10
votes
6answers
751 views

How to keep the group engaged when the party is split?

I recently pitched a game to my group, to which they were receptive. However they pointed out some problems I would have to solve before the game started. The Pitch The game is set in the near-...
17
votes
1answer
494 views

How to set up a battle with a God?

I have a campaign (D&D 2nd Edition) that has been running on and off for about 22 years (real life). Characters have finally reached super-high levels (some are 30, multi-classes are lower). I'm ...
2
votes
1answer
259 views

How do I calculate encounter difficulty for PCs with allied monsters? [duplicate]

I'm currently running a mega dungeon in 5e D&D, and my players have recruited some monsters into their service. I have been building encounters using the dungeon masters guide rules (pg. 81-84), ...
5
votes
1answer
346 views

How do I calculate the CR of a monster that spends their turns healing?

My question is about magic and monster CR. I was building a CR 10 Cleric with capabilities of healing himself and others, but I don't see any rules about calculating CR for a monster that expends his ...
3
votes
3answers
541 views

How to make a low CR villain more dangerous

My PC's in one campaign are currently traveling to their first major town and, unbeknownst to them, there is a Rakshasa, disguised as the town mayor, using the town to feed and kill as he pleases ...
3
votes
1answer
198 views

How can I boost the AC of a ghost dragon?

I am in the process of making a ghost dragon as a challenge for a mythic campaign, with a party of a druid, an alchemist, and a paladin. Applying the ghost template drastically reduces its AC from ...
0
votes
0answers
34 views

What is an appropriate encounter in Deathwatch [duplicate]

I am wondering how to judge what kind of encounter will be right for my group. I would like to design challenging encounters, but not ones which will be impossible or far too easy. How will I know if ...