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41

I grapple with this question all the time. I'm not sure this is the best answer, but I try to start by having the enemy negotiate with them. Early in a campaign, I'll have the enemy surrender on reasonable terms. The trick is to implant the idea that negotiating doesn't lead to a worse outcome, and that the "bad guys" may want something the PCs are ...


36

Lead by showing. Have the enemies talk during fights, shouting threats or bantering. Make sure that this is relevant to what's going on (or about to happen) and not just throw-away one-liners: have the enemies snarl angrily and promise painful death to the PC who wounded them, declare revenge for their fallen comrades, shout quick instructions or ...


32

In an "anything is possible" game, this is fair. In this kind of game, it is necessary for players to actually, truly believe that they can get themselves into so much trouble that they will not have a "final warning" that their PC is about to die, and Death is the most (and often only) effective teacher in this regard.* And fortunately, players always get ...


26

From a 4th Edition perspective, none of this is interesting. You're talking about stuff that happens between the encounters, where the rules are largely silent. Role-play, have fun, whatever -- but don't get stuck on how to handle it with rules. 4th Edition PCs are heroes. They don't have to worry about where to pee. They don't have to worry about how far ...


23

As the GM, you have the burden of considering the game, not just the moment. Believing you don't have a choice, as indicated by saying: "...I only did what any city guard would have done given the situation." smacks of "My Guy" syndrome, and is something you need to watch out for, since you're responsible for a lot of "guys". As GM's, we all develop ...


22

The tendency of hikers to spread (or lack thereof) has a lot to do with WHY they are hiking. Modern recreational hikers tend to spread because they can do so safely, and part of the enjoyment for many is being out of sight of other people; the earshot rule is a matter of safety, but very lax, and in most places people hike, large predators are long since ...


22

Location. They will live near a water source, and probably near their fields... Neolithic hill forts are fairly common. It's a walled village atop an artificial hill, built on the floodplain. It may also have a cistern and/or a well down through the motte/tel. Walls are likely wood, possibly also dry-fit stone for part of the height. I can tell you from ...


21

If you want to ask your players beforehand if this is okay with them, then do it, but in general, this is a Bad Idea. As a rule, never remove the opportunity for a player to control their character, beyond what the rules already say. I'd go no further than "You see 5 large men appear from the shadows" without giving the players a chance to turn around, roll ...


19

Lead by showing. Have the enemies talk during fights, shouting threats or bantering. Make sure that this is relevant to what's going on (or about to happen) and not just throw-away one-liners: have the enemies snarl angrily and promise painful death to the PC who wounded them, declare revenge for their fallen comrades, shout quick ...


17

It sounds like you are an experienced DM, who has been successful so far without using the EL/CR rules. That being the case, I don’t think they’ll help you. Monsters’ CRs are often terribly inaccurate. Monster Manual II is particularly egregious, such as the CR 9 Adamantine Horror that has at-will Disjunction. Dragons are under-CRed ...


17

This is defined in Pathfinder's Glossary: Encounter An encounter is a short scene in which the PCs are actively doing something. Examples of encounters include a combat with a monster, a social interaction significant to the adventure’s plot, an attempt to disarm a trap, or the discovery of a mystery or clue requiring further investigation. ...


17

Involve the players What strikes me as I read both of these situations is that the players seem only tenuously involved in the events that occur. The major action seems to be on your side of the screen, or in the hands of the dice. In any game, this will tend to make players dissatisfied, because there seems to be little reason for the players to actually ...


16

The world reacts, and people within the world react. With the world reacting, you're looking at first order effects that have two purposes: to signal the presence of an artifact of great power disturbing the natural order to the players to signal that presence to other people Thus, you'll have the artifact animating a bunch of zombies in the night, ...


14

According to the rules, the XP to be given to each player is the sum of the Monsters' XP, divided by the number of players. See the Dungeon Master's Guide page 120, under Earning XP: Characters earn XP for every encounter they overcome. The XP reward for completing an encounter is the sum of the XP values for each monster, NPC, trap or hazard that makes ...


13

I hear you, but don't forget, this is in their lair. All creatures should be nastier on their home ground, where there are more of them, better organised, prepared, watchful and knowledgable about the territory, than when a couple are encountered in the wild. I want my players to be wary of going into lairs. I want them to go "the scroll says that the rod ...


12

There are a few ways to deal with this: Give the players sufficient warning before stumbling upon the main Trogs encampment. Perhaps a patrol, or guard post, will give the players indications a larger lair is ahead. If they happily skip in then, let the dice fall where they may. Remember, earlier editions of D&D are not as forgiving as later ...


12

I'll take a crack at answering the first question. (I'll do it with Pathfinder, since I'm more familiar with it, but it should be about the same for 3.5e). I'd estimate he'd need to be at minimum 12th level to handle that encounter. The easiest way to do that is calculate the CR of the encounter you're proposing. Let's assume you've got 2 of the Giants ...


12

General Rule: a party of 4 characters at level X can be expected to win an encounter of level X using a moderate amount of resources. Three or four of those encounters in one day should exhaust the party. One monster at CR X produces an EL (Encounter Level) of X. Adding a second monster of the same CR usually increases the EL by 2. I usually somewhat ...


12

I'm pretty new to this sort of thing as well, and I've had to seriously consider this threat for thundertree (especially considering the damage the dragon can pull off with breath weapons). If you don't want the dragon to follow them, just come up with a good role play reason for that reaction. Dragons are territorial, and maybe he doesn't want the ...


11

A lot of this depends on the amount of time you want this to take and how much this would affect the story arc. I did just finish a few year story arc with three such items in a town that needed to be found. I really hate any heavy handedness as a GM, so I like using light touches and foreshadowing when I can get it. Major necromantic items/action near ...


11

This depends on a number of things. Do your players like to favor combat over other forms of role-playing? How long are your sessions? Do your players understand the rules well enough to where things are going to move by quickly (sounds like no, in this case)? Do you as a DM mind running a lot/a little/no combat in any given session? This sort of thing is ...


11

Be Reactive If you're just starting as a DM, don't try to adjust things in your first few encounters. Balancing encounters is something that gets a lot easier with experience, and if you get it wrong early you may just wipe the party out by overdoing it. It also depends on how optimized the party is. If the party is full of experienced players playing very ...


11

Mobs tend to not be very effective in 3.5 As you noted, the orcs were torn to shreds. The party had powerful, area-affecting debuffs available, and used them. Meanwhile, due to the extreme degree to which the orcs outnumbered the PCs (5:1), we expect that the orcs were commensurately low-level (the CR guidelines would suggest that their numbers alone ...


10

when you play D&D, you are not supposed to chat with the enemy during encounters. The system is made for fighting. That's your problem, right there. I do not believe this to be true, and it's not the way I run my D&D games. As a result, I don't have this problem. If that's how you run the game, then that'll be the players' expectations, ...


10

One possible answer is to consider resources: a lair of 10 monsters will have different resource requirements (and therefore area requirements) than 100. If the party is facing 100 monsters, significant numbers should be engaged in resource-gathering activities, tilling mushroom fields, hunting cave beasts, etc... Of course, if the party happens on the ...


10

It is highly unlikely a party would stumble on the lair only to be overwhelmed by dozens of troglodytes. Well before they reach the lair there would be signs of inhabitants along with chance encounters with patrols, hunting and gathering groups. There should be plenty of warning for the party to take it slow and careful. Or to avoid the main lair altogether. ...


10

The adventure actually gives you a great rationale for the dragon staying put in or very near to his tower. Venomfang does not want to give up such a promising lair... (p33). This is basically all you need as a DM to know that the dragon doesn't really want or need to follow your PCs (you really don't even need this much, but it's a good hint). There ...


10

There were three entry ways into the hall all of which were entered by 8 guards each. I rolled fairly low on the initiative for the three sets of guards but none as low as the character that was killed. The party all made their escape through the various windows at which point the character was the last option as a target. If the players had the ...


9

They're not meant to fight them all. Should the players decide on that sort of foolish enterprise at a low level, shrug, continue, and make their characters' inevitable deaths at least entertaining. Then ask them what in the name of Gygax where they thinking?!


9

Conley seems to be suggesting that you build the world first, populate it with creatures, and ignore scaling the enounter difficulties to the players. That is, if you place a level 20 dragon in a cave, and the players decide to explore said cave at level 5, they're still going to have to deal with that level 20 dragon. This is opposed to the "normal" style, ...



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