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57

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 ...


50

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 ...


43

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 ...


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 ...


23

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 ...


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 ...


18

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+ ...


18

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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


12

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 ...


12

Brutes And Soldiers slow down combat A Brute or a Soldier is fine, but more than 1 of either is simply going to drag combat out. Soldiers tend to have very high defenses meaning the party will miss more often. Brutes have a lot of health which will take awhile to drill down. Both Brutes and Soldiers often have useful forced movement abilities, but these are ...


11

No It does not work well to spend the XP budget on a lot of much lower level opponents or a small number of much higher level opponents. The ability to hit the creatures also matters and also greatly depends upon the level of the characters. You should attempt to keep the levels withing 3 levels of the party, otherwise you will quickly make things too ...


11

You can get away with only DMG 2, though both DMGs offer valuable advice and you may get more value from the Rules Compendium (though balanced for Essentials, it contains the most recent advice on most mechanics). The key point here is that you don't need either DMG to build adventures, especially if you have access to the D&D Insider tools like the ...


10

I have a completely different idea. Rather than making it so "tight" that there has to be an XYZ progression of encounters, why not set up your session with several goals, make those clear at the beginning and let the players decide what they want to do? When I wrote my Quick Start dungeon, I designed it so that the players could do a number of things - ...


10

There is a fantastic encounter building design philosophy that is fairly agnostic for most D&D systems called 5 Room Dungeons. This philosophy is easily implemented into 4th edition encounter design and doesn't really have much of a learning curve. The only real learning curve with it will be actual encounter design for each room, but thankfully due to ...


10

Use the maxims of a party against them; Hit them from surprise. The guards attack the party when they're asleep, when half of them are out shopping ("Bob didn't come back from the alchemist, and Fred is still at the armourers...") Split the party up (Drop a portcullis between them as they go through a gate, roll a wagon between them, use the 1st level ...


10

Autumn non-magical hazards: Weather: With the change in seasons, occasionally you will have a warm day that then gets very cold when a front comes through. Hypothermia is a danger. Mechanical injury: If the characters are walking down a hill after the leaves start falling, a rain shower can cause those leaves to get slick causing characters to fall and ...


10

Depending on how many can cast teleportation, all the party need to be touching to teleport away. One suggestion would be to have him divide the party as they enter the cave preventing them all from being within touch range of each other.


10

Neither and both. Unlike in Previous editions, CR isn't used to directly create combat encounters, instead the XP values of the creatures ( which is tied directly to CR) is used to determine how many creatures can be used in the encounter. Instead, CR tells you the upper maximum difficulty of the monster, assuming a party of 4. One of the reasons why they ...


9

If you want them to experience combat as a individuals first I would say that running through the character creation scenario that is published in the new Red Box would be a good idea. If you would rather introduce them as a group there are several solid L1 adventures already published by Wizards. Either the Red Box (goes through L1) or the Keep on the ...



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