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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Pathfinder encounter building checklist

I have been GMing in pathfinder for a little under a year now and I have recently realized that I have not been taking full advantage of certain aspects of combat encounters such as terrain effects ...
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3answers
207 views

How to Run a Trial Based on Skills? [closed]

So I will be putting my group through a final exam in their knight training. I wanted to have each trial in the exam based off of one of the six Dungeons and Dragons attributes. I figured that ...
11
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3answers
6k 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 ...
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5answers
472 views

Determining “level” of an NPC ally for purpose of budgeting encounter XP

Hypothetical party: 1st level human wizard (PC) 3x guard NPC 1x acolyte NPC This is the player's first time, and it's a solo campaign. The first mini-adventure involves recovering the cargo of a ...
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9answers
3k views

Should I scale the difficulty after the party recruits a boss?

A year ago or so, I was DMing a DnD4e campaign in which the leader of the players' party (Sariel) managed to convince a powerful (6 levels higher) adversary (Pieter) to join them temporarily; their ...
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1answer
65 views

What items can I have my players hunt for to prove the blight is back upon Ferelden?

We're playing a Dragon Age game. I have the framework for a campaign that will take the players all over Ferelden looking for allies and preparing the populace for the blight but I'm stuck on one ...
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2answers
1k views

How can I make simple tasks more challenging without involving combat?

I want to delay my players for one session while we wait for the last player to become available. My plan is to send them to a wise old man (aka crazy hermit) for advice, and then to delay them for ...
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6answers
2k views

How do you handle combat in Pathfinder when there are too many foes to even count?

I have offered to take a turn at running a game for our group. I have a story that I think they will find interesting, mechanics to cope with the fact that some players sometimes just don't show up ...
3
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1answer
373 views

How to plan to avoid combat deaths for NPCs that aren't obvious railroads? [closed]

I am playing a Pathfinder campaign based on the Beginner Box materials. The party were relatively diplomatic in the first adventure and didn't fight and kill the goblin boss King Fatmouth in Black ...
6
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4answers
310 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
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3answers
309 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 ...
10
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3answers
777 views

How to make combat more tactical?

How can I help combat be more diverse? I'm a player, but I'm open to suggesting things to my DM. We are a party of 5th-level PCs. What we run into is the classic tactical situation every time: the ...
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6answers
262 views

How to prevent players from using guns in a particular combat?

I am running an adventure that is based on a Vampire-like universe, set in present-day Venice. It's a homebrew story telling system with just a bit of mechanics (the domains of vampires and k20 roll ...
4
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3answers
609 views

My party is struggling in every way!

I am new to Pathfinder, and after playing a few times all my friends voted for me to DM, so I cracked down and spent a week straight reading and learning everything. I started my first campaign ...
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5answers
413 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 ...
8
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1answer
117 views

Are there any “linked” creatures that can only be defeated in tandem?

I am planning on building an encounter based on this post about a zombie and a ghost coming from the same body. The idea is the players will have to defeat both the body (the zombie) and then do ...
10
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4answers
528 views

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

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 ...
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5answers
909 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
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4answers
627 views

What is the CR/XP-Character Level relationship for opponents?

I can't seem to find information in the Monster Manual for how to design an opponent with class levels of an appropriate challenge for my 7th-level party. Perhaps this appears in the DMG? I want to ...
4
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3answers
416 views

Is there any tool to calculate the Encounter XP in D&D 5e?

I've seen online tools that make random encounters for you as the donjon's one. What I need is a tool where I can select the party level and the monsters and it will tell me if it's an easy or hard ...
3
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1answer
125 views

How can I balance my Earthdawn encounters?

I am having a great deal of trouble making my encounters challenging, fast and non-stalemate. Added to the problem of exploding dice that can turn the whole fight upside down in a single blow. I have ...
50
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17answers
10k 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 ...
11
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1answer
318 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 ...
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3answers
1k views

How to design combat for an overpowered character in a normal party?

I'm running a Savage Worlds game in a rugged sci-fi genre (think Firefly or Guardians of the Galaxy), and I've got a problem. One of my player characters is wildly over-powered in combat, (multiple ...
2
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1answer
75 views

What kind of Den can I use to design a fair fight against the post-Vault Dragons? [closed]

So, everybody knows the Dragons are Stronger since Monster's Vault came out. My question is simple. What kind of geographic solution can I use to make my group have a fair fight against a Dragon ...
4
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1answer
341 views

How can I use the updated Dragons against my players without absolutely killing all of them?

Dragons in D&D 4e used to be weak, and were easy for my party to defeat. Solos were rarely much of a challenge, or so it was before Monsters Vault showed up with the new/updated Dragons. They are ...
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1answer
158 views

Encounter Budget in D&D 4e after Essentials

When the first 4e books came out, the encounter building chapter suggested to limit the enemies' level: from party level -2 to party level +4 Has this changed over the years, especially after ...
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3answers
520 views

How should I go about blowing up a bridge?

My players are setting up to defend a village from a (small) invading army and they want to have some form of explosives, most likely would be barrels full of pitch or the like, placed under the ...
9
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3answers
273 views

How do I make Puzzle Bosses more interesting than a Knowledge Check or tedious pre-research?

Puzzle bosses — those with hidden weaknesses to discover and exploit — have been a recurring problem no matter the system we use. As a GM, I've never been able to wrap my head around how ...
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5answers
224 views

How can I run a 5 character adventure with fewer players?

So, looking to run a D&D 4e adventure with some of my friends, but we've only got the four of us — myself and three players. The adventure I want to run, named the Slaying Stone, recommends ...
14
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11answers
5k views

Creating an easily-defeatable dragon

For the group I am GMing I am in need of a blue dragon which should be defeatable by a group of six PCs having levels 3-4. The classes of my PCs are barbarian, bard, cleric, fighter, rogue and witch. ...
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3answers
203 views

How do I estimate puzzle durations?

I'm looking to run an immersive/ARG style LARP and I'm trying to block out the time that I'm estimating players will spend on different tasks. One part of this is going to involve puzzle solving, and ...
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4answers
303 views

Am I suppose to change the difficulty of my npc as needed

I'm a DM for a 5 PC group. I think we all read the rules correctly and made the characters properly. Yet for some reason, if we're to use the monsters proposed in the player handbook, my PC's would ...
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3answers
615 views

Is encounter balancing/creation in 5e different to previous editions?

I have been GMing for a group for a few sessions now and I have had a lot of trouble balancing encounters. I go by the rules that it should be the xp the party needs to level as a "balance" and you ...
1
vote
1answer
127 views

In Emerald Spire, is a room or entire floor an encounter, and when should I give out treasure?

This is my first time as a GM, and our second session played, and I need this answered: how big is an encounter? I'm doing the emerald spire and I'm trying to figure out: is the entire level an ...
7
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2answers
334 views

What do you do with a drunken sailor early in the morning?

Seriously though, I need help creating a drinking contest. One of my player's characters has high Endurance and in one of our previous sessions challenged a tavern half full of bad guys to a drinking ...
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6answers
667 views

How do I challenge extremely strong 1st and 3rd level characters?

I've got a very strong group: Lvl 3 two weapon ranger noble drow AC: 26 (10 base + 6 from dex + 10 from armour the armour is an artifact with ...
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4answers
350 views

How to stat up and judge the challenge of supernatural NPCs

I'm a fairly new ST, though I've tried my hand at it before. I think I'm doing better this time but I'm realizing that I'm having trouble statting NPCs. I'm not sure how strong to make them in ...
9
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2answers
934 views

How to manage character arguments / conflict?

I'm a new DM and have just started a 4e game as Play by Post. The game has started with one character (Bob) recruiting in a pub and the first response was from another character (Al) wanting to ...
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4answers
3k 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 ...
9
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2answers
1k views

Would a fight against a higher level minion work out well or badly?

I have a level 8 party in a thieves guild/pirate campaign and I was wondering how it would play out if I gave them a high level minion like a level 11 "Ogre Thug" or a level 15 "Grimlock Minion", both ...
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3answers
2k views

Why don't players get extra xp for large encounters?

Based on the table Encounter XP Multipliers from the Basic Rules' DM section, Page 57, when you're building encounters in 5E, you include an XP modifier depending on the number of creatures your PCs ...
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3answers
3k 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 ...
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2answers
2k views

How do I build an encounter for level 5 D&D characters? [closed]

I'm running a session tonight and I made a huge magical prison. I have everything ready to drop the players inside (boss fights, puzzles, status conditions on different floors), but I didn't populate ...
3
votes
3answers
377 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
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1answer
436 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 ...
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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 ...
2
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1answer
155 views

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

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 ...
5
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3answers
665 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 ...
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 ...