The question isn't strictly bound to rules - although sometimes there are mistakes about those too, the GM is kind of a novice - but is mostly related to reading some statblocks in the book. To better explain, we are playing a specific AP in which the party encounters a vampire wizard. In the book, a fight is contemplated and so there are stats for such enemy. It should have been a nightmare (a CR 14 against a lvl 6 party), but a very good build on my part plus some unlucky rolls on the vampire side (bless burst of radiance btw) allowed the party to win, although with serious wounds. But from previous experiences, I remembered:

1 - APs usually don't put enemies of that caliber at that level

2 - if APs do contain such enemies, they put them in some obscure location after some obscure conditions (think of a "secret boss" or a "you effed up boss")

So in my curiosity I looked at the stats of the enemy (I know, it's meta, but I didn't read anything other than dead enemies' statblocks, so it shouldn't be that bad) and found out the GM used the stats for the same enemy but in a different AP (seems the vampire would have returned with more levels and abilities).

So that's that, the party won thanks to an EXTREME dose of luck, because we were supposed to encounter a CR 10 (maybe 11, if an adjustment for extra players was needed) instead of a CR 14, but I understand this stat-swapping accident may happen again and we may not be that lucky next time. Now if my character dies it's no problem, but I don't know how the rest of the party might react in that case. Should I warn the GM or not?

Since someone asked in the comments, I'll add details. First of all, I didn't bring up anything during the game and didn't plan to, if something must be done it will be done out of game, always politely of course. Second, while I understand wanting to give a good challenge to the party, it seems unlikely that a 4-CR power-spike was needed seeing the composition of the party. To be clear, the party was composed of:

Me - Glass cannon phoenix/dragon sorcerer (healing and high damage output)

Sorcerer N.2 - Standard fire elemental sorcerer (good damage)

Bard - In this occasion all that was needed from him was inspire courage

Vigilante - Fights like a rogue. I'd say he deals good damage, but he has a finesse build and uses a bastard sword while having a +1 STR score (so not really top of the class) so it's kind of a coin flip (managed to be useful because of a lucky burst of radiance that allowed free sneak attacks)

Gunslinger - Dealt like 6 damage to the vampire, killed himself right after the fight for "story reasons", i dunno

Fighter - Actually good whip master (Good damage and battlefield control)

And I'd add that yeah, we managed to win, but the vampire was not the end of the dungeon. After that we had to fight 2 CR 9 (and some mooks) and 1 CR 8. I fought one of the CR 9 and the CR 8 with only a Magic missile wand, no healing, and as explained the gunslinger offed himself right after the vampire.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Commented Nov 30, 2020 at 10:23

5 Answers 5



In private would be better.

I'm gonna keep this short and simple:

I don't know how close (friend/stranger) you are with the DM, but if you are indeed polite with the DM, you can ask him if he wants to hear your opinion/tips/remarks you have about his ruling.

If he says yes, go for it but keep in mind the DM is ''the boss'' so he can do whatever he wants in his game.

If he says no: well... you got your answer and if that does not please you/the rest of the group, you'll have to decide on what you do with that.


-As pointed out by @Hey I Can Chan, maybe the DM actually wanted to give the party a good challenge for this fight in particular.

-You can't know for sure that it wasn't just a test from the DM to test the abilities/interactions of the group to evaluate how tough you guys are (you did a good job after all!).

-That being said, I think an exchange with the DM to see what he thought and combining it with your experience/observation on that might be the best thing to happen if he is indeed open to that discussion. So you'll see, maybe he had a back up plan, an NPC coming to the rescue or whatever if it was indeed a test fight, if not maybe the DM was indeed reckless because he lacks some experience. But he probably already observed that and realized a few things, just talk to him in a friendly manner, I don't think he'll try to bite you like the vampire you fought...


It's too soon to say anything

If I were you, I'd keep my concerns to myself. Once is a fluke, twice is coincidence, and three times is a trend. This encounter is once. Sure, it sucks to have to make a new PC if your PC dies during the coincidence, but usually it sucks more to find a new group to play with.

See, revealing that you know that the monster was too tough on account of you having read the adventure path—even just a defeated villain's stat block—may hurt your standing in the group. Your concern is that the GM may have made a mistake and used the wrong villain, but to reveal why you're pretty sure this was a mistake, you must also reveal that you read the adventure path, and that may wreck your reputation. This is doubly true if the GM didn't actually make an error and, instead, chose to use the harder villain than the one in the adventure path against your bigger-than-average and decently optimized party. That is, if the GM didn't make a mistake, then your revelation hasn't helped the GM and has only hurt you.

And, even if the GM made an error, the party still won and was rewarded appropriately. Essentially, you benefitted from this error. I mean, the fight was hard, but the rewards substantial, and it's not like you have to keep on having that same fight to keep the rewards. Let it go. For now.

This one incident probably isn't worth getting kicked out of the group because you broke its (admittedly unspoken and unwritten) social contract by reading the adventure (despite having read only one dead villain's stat block). In fact, I'd probably never mention to anyone in the group that I read the adventure path even a little bit. I also wouldn't consult the adventure path again without the GM's permission. Let your instincts and the notes you take during play guide you rather than consulting the published material.

In short, I'd keep my concerns to myself, keep playing, and see what happens. Then, when the same thing happens a third time, come back here and ask again. Finally, if your goal with this group was playing an adventure path exactly as written—you wanted that specific experience for whatever reason—, it sounds like you should find another group: not because this group's GM is a relative novice who may make mistakes, but because this group's size means that the GM must modify the adventure path so that it remains challenging—you just won't have the normal, printed four-players-one-GM adventure path experience with six players instead.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Well this has a lot of details... it really depends if the dm is a stranger or a close friend, the approach would not be the same for sure. I think the best approach is to ask if he wants your opinion and tips whatever first, and if he says yes then it’s in the DM’s hands to reveal what he wants to make it clear if he has what it takes or not, he does not have to reveal a lot, “yeah I might need help” “everything is under control don’t worry” I think the DM has the bigger end of the stick. \$\endgroup\$
    – Maxpire
    Commented Nov 13, 2020 at 19:17
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @MaximeCuillerier Close friend or stranger, I don't think that just asking the GM if they need help will assist the asker in resolving the issue. The asker seems worried that the GM is making mistakes with the adventure. So if the asker offers to help and the GM says anything besides, "O, yeah, I could really use some help! I screwed up big time with last week's vampire!" (like, "No, thank you," or, "Yeah, I need a dungeon for tomorrow") then the asker's back in the same position they were in before the asker posed the question here. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 13, 2020 at 19:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well then I guess the GM should ask for help online/fellow other DM or check some guide or something or the player could indeed help him or if the GM does not care the player has his answer. The Asker has no power after the GM responds unless he indeed asks for tips. Your answer is good sure, even great I would say, but too much details in my opinion, but that's just mine. \$\endgroup\$
    – Maxpire
    Commented Nov 14, 2020 at 5:50

Changing the contents of a published adventure is not just allowed, it should be expected.

I have been DMing D&D and Pathfinder for 40 years. I own approximately 60 published adventures and have run all of them at least once, most of them twice, and several of them three or more times. Do you know how many times I have run a published adventure exactly as written? Zero.

Altering encounters, changing treasure, cutting or adding NPCs, and even modifying maps are all completely legitimate ways for a DM to shape an adventure in ways that make the game more fun for his particular group. It’s also a way to make adventures fun for people who already played them or who have sneaked a peek at them.

Your DM did nothing wrong. The vampire encounter was tough and the depletion caused by the vampire (and your gunslinger’s weird decision, which the DM probably did not foresee) made the later encounters tougher... well, being a hero is a hard job! Frankly, if you don’t have to drag yourself across the finish line once in a while, the game gets pretty stale pretty fast.

  • \$\begingroup\$ That is true, but we're not talking about changing a wolf with a worg. It's more like changing a goblin with a troll. And don't treat me like i look at adventures all the time, it happened this once because i was seriously worried it might hamper the progress of the campaign (a modification that leads to a TPK is not a good modification) or make it frustrating and generally not fun. \$\endgroup\$
    – Snakehelm
    Commented Feb 7, 2021 at 12:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, the final boss was already hard to fight, but this improvisation (let's call it that) made the gm play the final boss kinda like a chump. Still hard to beat, but not played at full potential. To me, it does not make much sense. IMHO, better play everything at full potential and use every ability at my disposal to make the encounters tactically difficult, not just beefing up previous encounter's CR like crazy and then scrambling to not TPK the party. \$\endgroup\$
    – Snakehelm
    Commented Feb 7, 2021 at 12:22
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Apologies if that came across as accusatory, that was not my intention. I'll change that. As for changing a goblin for a troll, there's nothing wrong with that. I amp up (or down) the strength of module encounters all the time. Sometimes quite significantly. In this case, it sounds like you have a pretty inexperienced DM. He was probably experimenting with monster strengths. Or he recognized he wasn't good at tactics and tried to compensate with a stronger monster. \$\endgroup\$
    – ruffdove
    Commented Feb 7, 2021 at 17:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's alright, i just wanted to clear things out. I don't necessarily agree on beefing up enemies that much, especially if you still have to learn some rules, but anyone has fun their own way. As written though, yeah, the gm is somewhat inexperienced. I guess he will improve with time. \$\endgroup\$
    – Snakehelm
    Commented Feb 8, 2021 at 2:38

If you talk to him privately, outside of the game, you could indeed ask about this. But, it is also possible that the GM used the stronger version on purpose becouse the party is stronger than expected. (your claim that it is a new/inexperienced DM makes this unlikely, but it is still a possibility)

DM's are people, and people make mistakes. If you aren't allowed to point them out, nobody would ever learn. Just be careful to not come across as if you are berating him for making an (understandable) mistake


It's generally a bad idea to start debates with the DM during the game.

  • It ruins the pacing of the session. While you are debating the DM, the game doesn't go on and everyone else at the table gets bored.
  • The DM might actually have a good reason for what looks like a mistake on their part. Perhaps they want you to lose that battle. Perhaps they want to use it to set up a deus ex machina. Perhaps the opponents have a hidden disadvantage you don't know about. Obviously the DM can not tell you about that, because that would spoil the plot. That leaves them no other option but to invoke rule 0 ("the DM is always right") and tell you to stop complaining.
  • The best way to learn is through experience. When you let the DM make their mistakes and learn from them, then that's a much more efficient learning experience than just telling them what to do.

But giving no feedback at all to the DM is not good for them either. Our group made very good experience with having retrospectives after every session. After closing the session, we take another half hour to discuss openly what we liked or disliked about the session and what we could have handled differently. This is also a place to offer constructive criticism to the DM regarding how they designed encounters and how they interpreted the rules.


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