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63

AngryDM Says Something About This Once your characters are obviously going to win, end the encounter/fight. That's tough, but I'm going to sum up what he said. (You should still read it, though) You need to figure out what the main question the encounter is trying to answer, and when the answer becomes obvious, end the encounter! Yes, I know AngryDM's ...


58

Congratulate your player on solving a problem without fighting. Really. It does not often happen in FRPGs and yet even ancient cultures managed to avoid fighting most of the time. Talk to the group about whether they would like you to craft encounters where not-murdering-everyone was a viable solution. Incidentally this seems very much the way a bard ...


51

Spells A fair number of spells prevent teleportation; a wizard will struggle to gain access to some of them, but the skill Use Magic Device and a wand or staff will solve that. The 4th-level Sor/Wiz spell dimensional anchor [abjur] (PH 221) for 1 min./level prevents 1 creature from using any extradimensional movement if a ranged touch attack succeeds ...


44

Sometimes a skill-focussed player can bypass entire obstacles with that skill. This is a shining moment for them (which you don't want to step on), but boring for the rest of the group. The general principle I'd follow here is "Yes, but...", useful throughout GMing: Don't say no, but do say what obstacles arise as a result. First, take a look at the ...


32

The Dragon Needn't Be a True Dragon As Aaron's answer indicates, dragons that have appropriate CRs for the party will be at most Medium. Although that means the dragon could be, potentially, the size of a professional wrestler, for a dragon that's sort of... unimpressive. I suggest the following. Use a creature that could be mistaken for a dragon Were ...


26

I see a lot of insightful comments in the answers here; but, I think that there is a key element that hasn't been explicitly. PCs get angry when something that they like is threatened. Players get annoyed when something that they like is taken away. The best way to engage your players is to threaten something dear to their characters, and give them a ...


26

'Pray I don't alter the deal further' That doesn't seem like even a particularly tough encounter for a group of PCs like you describe, especially if they have above-average gear. Without knowing more about your characters, their skill at tactics, their normal approach to things like ambushes, ambushing, traps, knowledge of enemies, enemies having knowledge ...


24

They should run away along prepared routes when they're bloodied or the fight being lost in their eyes. Creatures that, rightfully, fear for their lives shouldn't fight "until the last moment." Instead, like most sensible creatures, when the fight becomes a lost cause (when they're bloodied, and/or when 20-30% of the group is down, depending on how loyal ...


21

It's been a while since I dealt with 3.5, but couldn't enemies armed with missile weapons just ready actions to "shoot them when they come into range"? That's certainly not a "screw you" approach. As a way to mix things up, you could also introduce terrain that makes this strategy less viable (much reduced line of sight, for example.) or NPCs who are ...


21

Think in terms of how you—as a player, not a DM—might tackle an opponent doing what your players are. There are several things I can think of. Spellcasters with Protection from Arrows and Slow or Grease are good start points. Protection from Arrows removes their attacking options while Slow and Grease, among other spells, are excellent for taking away ...


20

The problem, basically, is that PC defenses and to-hit values increase every other level, and monster to-hit and defenses increase every level. So if you're L8 party (on average) hits 60% of the time, and gets hit 40% of the time. If you face a L15 minion, your party's going to be hit 75% of the time, and is only going to hit 25% of the time. Your PCs will ...


19

Keep on the Shadowfell is balanced for parties of 5 players The default party size for 4e is 5 players, and all the official modules are designed to be an appropriate challenge for a party of 5. This is not to say that the game won't work well with 3 players (my experience has been that it starts having trouble when you have 2 or less players or 8+ ...


19

You don't. I feel that one of the great strengths of role playing games is the fact that the players can actually influence the story...so let them. If they manage to kill a character you had plans for, it's ok. The villain is bound to have allies, or minions that could take over. The ghost of the villain might haunt them. And don't forget that this is ...


19

How about a permanented (or maybe, immovable because it is activated by something too large to move, like an obelisk) Mordenkainen's Magnificent Mansion (PHB p256, Mage's Magnificent Mansion in SRD)? It's a 7th level spell, it is nearly perfectly safe (it can be entered only through ONE portal, which only opens at caster's will). It's a perfect lodge, and if ...


18

Really getting people in emotional place IC involves a bit of currency with the players and a little bit of trust. I have a few rules of thumb I always go for first when creating situations: Plot and punishment are not the same thing. I could just be sensitive about this but sometimes when a GM gives me plot by destroying something my character has ...


18

You Can't Strictly speaking, you can't balance them at all in advance, since the players could not only fight them in any order, but could conceivably fight any number of other things in any order, meaning they could be any level at all when they reach any given angel. You should build a template for each angel with each of its powers in advance, and ...


17

Teamwork, resources, environment, and planning. Defenders have a tremendous advantage. They don't have to carry stuff in. They don't have to scout. And they have reserves. Defenders with an established structure have all sorts of capital: Human Capital Infrastructure Temporal capital Human Capital Human capital is the first trick. An adventuring party ...


16

Be Prepared If the party makes a bunch of noise on the way in, the summoning should be completed just as they arive. To get this effect, simply have an encounter outside the necromancer's room - plenty of warning. Cover / Line of Sight The necromancer should have easy access to cover, and the other monsters should provide barriers to line-of-sight. ...


16

MANDATORY STUFF Crowd Control Immunity: By early paragon, a few classes can have stunning encounter attacks, and many have stunning dailies. Solos need to be either outright immune to stun & daze (and possibly blind), or have some easy way to get rid of them (like an at-will interrupt to negate a just-applied effect, or an extra save at the beginning ...


14

Fractal is the way to go here. Try this on for size, some trimming may be needed for it to fit perfectly. I'm going to be assuming she speaks Latin fluently, and the rest of the party speaks modern English where assumptions need to be made. High Concept: Language Barrier Aspects: Romance Language Family, Ancient Tongue, Seeming Similarity ...


14

The DMG talks about how to do this, but I've found that it needs some tweaking to be really effective. What level should an encounter be? DMG 56 says: An easy encounter is one or two levels lower than the party’s level. A standard encounter is of the party’s level, or one level higher. A hard encounter is two to four levels higher than the ...


14

You're right that the basic initiative rules just kinda assume everyone's in the fight at the beginning of the battle and don't say more than that, so the addition of late arrivals requires some interpretation. In general, as new arrivals become aware of and desire to participate in the battle, they should just roll initiative for the first round they're ...


14

A possible (and sufficient) motivation is to avoid encouraging players to game the difficulty system for greater experience gain. A player aware of the XP system might be tempted to fight enemies in as large of a group as possible to ensure maximum XP gain. This would result in an over-difficult campaign and less fun for everyone, as the GM would have to do ...


14

Put the dragon in a bad situation The dragon doesn't need to be able to lose in a fair fight if it doesn't get a fair fight. There are a few ways circumstances could conspire to give the PCs a significant edge: Have the dragon already be fighting something else when the players show up (something it would be able to defeat if not for the players' ...


13

Make it a climax instead of an anticlimax This was the bard's crowning moment of awesome, I would treat it that way. Now, instead of having the barbarian king's head, you have his surrender. This would be better in most situations, and I would play that up heavily. Now depending on the reason for the fight the players have options including making him ...


13

Nothing stays the same forever. The players won't be expecting to 'get away with' this tactic much longer. If it was my group, I think I'd let them enjoy it while it lasted. When the campaign was ready to move away from the wide open terrain into tight, cramped dungeons, I think we'd all laugh about the good old days on the wide open Outlands and enjoy ...


13

There is a Wyrmling Blue Dragon that is only a CR 5 encounter that might suit what you are after more than redesigning a creature, though that is a very young, Small sized dragon that might not fit the backstory. If you need to design a monster that is meant to be a weaker/younger version of a monster you can also use templates such as the Young Template to ...


13

You Just Nerf Them Adventures do this all the time. Take the creature you want and then weaken it. This can be via templates like Young or Drunk as @Aaron suggests. It can also be done simply by wounding it or messing it up. Take as an example the feared Crag Linnorm. Well, in the Jade Regent AP there was this variant "wounded" crag linnorm with missing ...


12

Betrayal Depending on whether or not you've already begun to run the campaign, betrayal can be engineered with a bit of setup. Give the PCs an NPC companion of some kind. Perhaps it's a creature of some kind that the players rescue. Perhaps it's the ghostly remains of the last adventurer the wizard was infatuated with. Perhaps its a fragment of the ...


12

This is one area where playing online does have an advantage, as you can send messages to individuals via the same medium you're sending messages to everyone. But in any case, in a situation like this I think your best bet is to get the ones with the perception in the minority to feel like they are "in" on it. Pass them notes about what they see and ...



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