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I am running an in-game tournament.

The qualifiers are pit fights with the last two standing going through. Hopefully all of the party will qualify so it seems like I'm not doing endless pit fights until they all do.

After that it will take place as teams of three. Its fine to reduce everyone to 0 HP to incapacitate them to win. Evil entities may kill though it is not required.

So assuming that all of my players are level 2 and are now in three-man teams of level 2 players, how can I create teams to face them?

Other teams of three level 2 NPCs or a level 3 NPC and two level 1 NPCs are easy to balance. The problem is when I try to add monsters in.

A gargoyle, for instance, is C2 making a team of three seemed a great team but it looked way over powered.

The normal encounter building rules don't work as they're based on a party size of four and resource management. The players will have a long rest before every fight.

How can I modify the encounter construction rules to make teams for my tournament?

Should I reduce the XP limits of each character, avoid certain properties, set a limit on the HP?

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My suggestion:

Mirror PC stats, abilities and numbers to give them a challenge. If you have a fighter, wizard and rogue group, and you want to put them up against monsters, you'll need to set them against something tanky, something ranged, and something that can hit hard and fast.

Alternately, you could design special monsters like a Colossal Scorpion. Give the torso the tanky stats, and make each pincer a rogue type damage dealer. In addition, the stinger could be considered limited ranged (30'/60'). This would give the scorpion 3 distinct parts that can be targetted, as well as a main body that will kill the whole thing.

You can apply this to any set of monster enemies as well. An Ogre, axe throwing orc, and orc shaman would be a good trio to set up against PC's if you balance their stats according to the PC stats.

The problem you're going to be facing with trying to balance this is something you've already pointed out, the CR ratings don't mesh with single fights. It will take a good amount of experimentation to get a feel for it, but if you start with PC stats and incorporate those into monsters, you should be fine using that as a baseline.

Numbers version of level 6 characters:

Fighter - 65 HP - 2 handed weapon

Wizard - 32 HP - evocation

Rogue - 40 HP - Whip, throwing knives

Creature battle:

Colossal Scorpion +7 to hit (Mutli-attack, this creature attacks with two claw attacks and a stinger attack)

Legendary Resistance 1 - Once per encounter, this creature can turn a failed save into a success

Regenerate - As a bonus action, the scorpion can sacrifice 40 Torso HP to fully regenerate a destroyed claw or stinger. That claw or stinger only becomes available for use on the creatures next turn.

Torso - 150 HP - damage resistant non-magical

Left Claw - 40 HP - Pincer attack 1d10 + 3

Right Claw - 40 HP - Crushing Grip 1d10 +3, auto-grapples

Stinger - 40 HP - Acidic spray, ranged 30'/60' 1d8 + 4 acid damage

If you kill the claws and stinger, the scorpion dies. If you kill the torso, the scorpion dies.

That's just one suggested battle to keep things interesting. The main point is that a battle like that enables a monster to take as many actions as your players can, and it doesn't destroy the creatures ability to remain a challenge.

If you break the enemy down into trios as well, consider giving them similar abilities to player characters. This will ensure the challenge rating is appropriate. Try to avoid making the mistake of jacking up their AC, to hit bonus, HP and resistances. Keep it consistent with what the PC's have to maintain the arena feel to the tournament.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I down voted decause i dont feel you answered the question i asked. A) i want teams of 3, not a monster that can fight 3 players B) i want existing monsters, i can easily roll a wizard and reskin it as an orc shaman and know it's balalnce, C) I dont want always fair fights, a team of 3 wizards hideing in the corner spaming fireball might get through the first few rounds on lucky match ups but die horribly against an anti magic enemy. What i want is a way to say this is the team now what level is the team so i can see if it an easy, medium, hard or impossible match up. \$\endgroup\$ – Skeith Jul 28 '15 at 11:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Teams of a druid and two treants or a vampire and two gouls are both much stronger then that 3 level two players, but which is stronger team vampire or team druid ? how do you calculate that when the normal rules (C rating) do not apply \$\endgroup\$ – Skeith Jul 28 '15 at 11:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Skeith - then I recommend you open up the Monster Manual and do the research work yourself. I've provided numerous recommendations on how to approach this problem, if you don't like the answer that's fine. If you want unbalanced and unfair fights, that's easy, add 6 to whatever CR level the characters are at. If you're looking for existing stats, you won't find them. The CR's are meant for parties of 4 to encounter on average 6 encounters at that CR level per day. You won't be able to challenge a group who gets a long rest in between bouts. It's too easy for PC's at full rest. \$\endgroup\$ – Lino Frank Ciaralli Jul 28 '15 at 11:45

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