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we're currently playing D&D Next using the Basic rules and covnerted Pathfinder monsters covnerted based on the Playtest monster stats.

Next session my players (Monk, Ninja (Pathfinder converted class), Druid and Cleric) will win tickets for a resort island with a circus and an amusement park; however, there are legends that some people can cross a portal to another reality of the amusement park/circus... however no one knows when they've crossed the boundaries until it's too late.

The thing is, they're going into a hellish version of the rides and attractions, based on some Horrorclix figurines I found laying arround. Like, Hungry Bertha, a woman that will eat ANYTHING, or a ghost tiger tamed by a succubus, a ghost girl on a carrousel that fights to steal the souls of her prey with her demonic toy horse and the lights and sounds, a giant boa constrictor, etc.

The thing is, they must attain "Hapyness Tickets" by surviving the rised or defeating the bosses, and that's the only way to get out... that or defeating the mastermind, a demonic sort of meatball made of many corpses.

So, how can I make an adventure entirely consisting of battling strong monsters something fun and not that slumber-inducing combat?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by SevenSidedDie, BESW, doppelgreener, Ernir, Joshua Aslan Smith Jul 7 '14 at 12:03

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You might want to take a look at the 3.5 module Carnival of Tears for ideas. I haven't read it in years, so I can't give you specifics right now, but if I manage to dig it out, I'll turn this into a full answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Bobson Jul 7 '14 at 0:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ I was going to give this an edit to clean up the spelling and cut out the background that's irrelevant to the core question, but it turns out that all that was left was one sentence: "How do I make combat not boring." So I'm voting to close as too broad. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 7 '14 at 4:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ This isn't enough for a full answer, but what differentiates a "boss" battle from a regular one isn't that it's necessarily harder, nor even that the foe is mechanically unique; It's that the foe has a name, and is a character in its own right, and - most importantly - that defeating it changes the world somehow. To put it another way, the way to make your boss battles interesting is to give each one a unique personality, motivation, mannerisms and place in the world that make them memorable and interesting beyond the mechanical threat and +1 happiness ticket they represent. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Jul 7 '14 at 4:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's Ok, I saw a preview of Carnival of Tears and got the PDF version, and it's pretty much what I was trying to do, so this works as a guideline to future adventures I decide to make using the same style :) \$\endgroup\$ – Aldath Le'Carde Jul 7 '14 at 6:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you've answered you own question since asking it, you can post an answer detailing your solution. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 7 '14 at 7:29
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What gives combat meaning is context. If two guys are fighting with fists, it means completely different things if one context is a prize fight, and the other is a father defending his child from a thug.

To make the fighting interesting you have the make the context interesting. In your case is why does the hellish version of the amusement park exist along with how can the players deal with it? Perhaps it is unchanging eternal things with no resolution but it serves as a springboard for later adventures as the players meet various evil big baddies visit it for enjoyment.

Regardless of the plot the fights themselves are the immediate complications that the players have to survive to discover the larger plot. The trick for you will be the balance the discovery of the larger plot vs. the fights. To many fights the players will feel they are in the grind. Discover the larger plot to soon the fights lose their urgency.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ We have a larger campaig going on, this is meant to be some sort of short adventure that will take a couple sessions. The park exists because that demon used to be a mage that ran an alternative version of the park to make people value their lives if they made it out, a-la-Saw; then he just strated enjoying the suffering he caused. \$\endgroup\$ – Aldath Le'Carde Jul 6 '14 at 22:26
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(1) Can you make the boss of each place be tougher than the previous boss?

(2) Maybe add an NPC between each ride/attraction. Have the NPC give a warning or clue.

(3) Perhaps the "entrance" into the dark version of each boss encounter needs to be found separately.

(4) Maybe add some wandering evil creatures as random encounters disguised as normal people, like a lost little girl holding a red balloon ... hehehe

BTW: it sounds like your Master Mind creature might be the "boss" and all others are just monsters.

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My 2 cents, this combat MUST NOT BE TREATED as regular combats: If you do so that would end in Attack vs CA, Save rolls for spells, until the monster dies...

The "bosses" must have ways to test players different skills by using the enviroment maybe, or some way that makes the common attack impossible. If there is ghost girl on a carroussel maybe its protected in a way that you must go onto the carroussel while is going round and round, so you make some ability checks, to jump in, to make it possible the Druid has to "slow" the carrousel using magic to allow any pc go in, meanwhile there are some energy going wild from the carrousel that makes a random PC make a save (Reflex, will, fort) or start spinning like crazy... etc etc...

The usage of minions is very helpful, while you try to reach the boss lots of mini monsters swarm upon you difficulting the task(s)

Think about these combats like in videogames where there are some "action" scenes that requiere some specific buttons to push to advance, after several scenes, you could end on a regular combat versus the monster, or maybe passing the scenes end with the monster defeated.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This answer is valid to any game other than D&D. A cyberpunk game with characters running away from an helicopter with a minigun ends on a series of actions scenes where PC's try not to be killed, and after several scenes they find a way to destroy the chopper or running away. Using regular combat could be boring or worst, PC's getting killed. \$\endgroup\$ – Corven Dallas Jul 7 '14 at 11:41

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