Questions tagged [encounter-design]

For questions about designing challenging and engaging situations in which player characters come into contact (and often conflict with) NPCs, monsters, or other potential opponents.

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6
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2answers
172 views

What is the best way that I can provide a challenge to a PC that can fly? [closed]

So I am a new DM and I am running a campaign in Curse of Strahd. I have a PC that is doing a long range build and has picked the Aarakocra race and I want to build encounters that will threaten him as ...
9
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2answers
377 views

How is the Old Bonegrinder supposed to be appropriate for 4th level?

Spoiler Warning This question is about Curse of Strahd. It is essentially a completely-spoiler question, so, if you plan to run it (as a player) and you do not want to get spoilers, avoid reading this ...
2
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0answers
109 views

Instructions to make combat a combat encounter with a Chimera more interesting [closed]

I'm looking for tips for creatures or obstacles that could spice up an encounter. Background: The battle's purpose is to be an entrance test for the organization the campaign is centered around. The ...
3
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1answer
111 views

Calculating the XP threshold for a party with “monster” companions

Suppose that a member of an adventuring party has a companion. I can think of the following broad categories ... Something that came with his/her class (familiar, beastmaster companion) Part of a ...
2
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1answer
55 views

Are there any published guidelines on how much PCs' expensive/magical gear affects the EL of which challenges are appropriate for them?

Page 40 of the DMG suggests that a large quantity of CR 1 enemies has the potential to challenge a 10th-level party that had lost their equipment. That's an interesting idea, but written kind of ...
7
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2answers
615 views

Would Swimming be a Dex or Str Saving Throw

Im making a small challenge for my party on the way to a Dwarven camp. While travelling they encounter a 20ft wide river that they must cross. I'm just gonna improvise the whole thing to give them ...
28
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7answers
4k views

How can a DM make a low-level melee rogue feel useful in combat when the party has no tank who triggers sneak attack for her?

I'm going to DM a short adventure for two players who have little experience with pen and paper role-playing games. One will be a druid, one will be a dual wielding melee rogue, and it was their ...
13
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3answers
1k views

How can I best run a cinematic battle with three opposing factions?

I am running a game of 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons. Due to the players' manipulations of events, it is becoming clear that I will have to run a climactic battle that has three factions- one will ...
9
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1answer
148 views

How would Undead Fortitude and Regeneration work in tandem?

I've created a custom undead for a campaign I'm running called a dread zombie. The idea is for it to have a bit of a "you've got to be kidding me" factor with how resilient the seemingly weak enemy is....
5
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2answers
994 views

What CR would this level 5 wizard “mini-boss” be?

I'm about to start the first session of a big campaign tomorrow night. I have three experienced players and one newbie and I've got a big opener planned. The way things will most likely go in the ...
1
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1answer
303 views

Can level 1 characters survive a fall of several miles? [duplicate]

I'm going to start a new campaign soon, and I thought it would be fun to scare my players in the first session by having them start the game falling from the sky. The thing is, I don't wanna kill ...
2
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0answers
132 views

How can I keep combat from becoming a boring brawling match? [duplicate]

Background I am DMing for a group of brand new players who come into D&D without really much of any role-playing experience, even as far as video games. The group is small with 3 players; A ...
18
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4answers
1k views

How do I make a creature feel impressive without scaring my players away?

At the end of the homebrew campaign I'm running, I plan to have the characters face off against a big, scary monster. It's designed to be (almost) impervious to regular weapon attacks, but there will ...
9
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1answer
116 views

Do mounts impact party XP threshold for the purpose of building combat encounters?

The 5e DMG has rules and a process for developing combat encounters of an appropriate level: https://www.dndbeyond.com/sources/dmg/creating-adventures#CreatingEncounters However, mounts can take ...
42
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15answers
13k views

Accidentally let party wander into a high level situation, how do I help them get out without cheesing?

TL;DR - due to poor planning on my part in my sandbox-esque game, a party of four Level 5s (fighter, warlock, non-healer bard, wizard) is about to wander into a high level situation and I'd like them ...
12
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6answers
1k views

How can I make my Sith Lord Boss fight have multiple enemies?

So, as you may have seen from my earlier question about this campaign, I am a DM in a Star Wars D&D campaign. The climax of a long series of adventures is a fight with a Sith Lord. After ...
3
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1answer
93 views

How to create a class-level-defined monster

I would like to create some small groups of kobolds for my players to tackle with. The idea is to have some "standard" kobolds copied directly from the Bestiary 1, but to also have some "special" ones ...
2
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3answers
127 views

How should you adjust Encounter Levels for underequipped PCs?

In two campaigns I play our PCs are equipped far below the guidelines given in the DMG, p. 135 ("Character Wealth by Level"). We keep getting into trouble and are overwhelmed with situations we should ...
0
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1answer
214 views

Can you help me with some tips or experience on how to play a necromancer against a party of players?

I am a rather new dungeon master and I don't have a lot of DnD experience myself. Especially I have never played wizards or necromancers. From a story point, there is currently a good opportunity to ...
4
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3answers
256 views

How can a GM introduce tactical play to ostensibly safe activities?

The party is going to travel long distances for story reasons, which will take multiple weeks by horse. Likely paths include stretches of wilderness that are not dangerous to characters of their ...
7
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1answer
119 views

How big/little of an opening does a boggle need to use its Dimensional Rift ability?

I'm creating a giant wasp hive in the boughs of a tree in the Feywild, and it happens to have a boggle in it. The upper sections of the hive have smaller, narrow, rigid, doorway-type openings ...
22
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4answers
4k views

What is a good way to challenge a Warlock with the Agonizing Blast invocation?

In my session I have a Warlock with a Charisma score of 20 that's been using the Eldritch Blast spell with the Agonizing Blast eldritch invocation to rather spectacular results, decimating everything ...
8
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1answer
3k views

Is this a deadly encounter?

My DM is insisting that he is not giving us DEADLY encounters, so I am bringing one example to this community to see if I am calculating incorrectly. I am in an adventuring party as one of THREE ...
12
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8answers
7k views

Is this homebrew CR 12 monster too difficult an encounter for two level 4 characters?

I'm about to lead a raid into an orc camp for a party of two characters. Both are level 4, one is a bard and the other is a barbarian/warlock multiclass. I found a CR12 homebrew monster, the Orc ...
4
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2answers
391 views

Is my DM stacking the odds against us? [closed]

So, I'll set the stage. We're a party of 4, level 8 at the moment, with an allied NPC. In our most recent encounter we went up against: ~20 "minions", (<35 HP, +4 to hit) 1 Winter wolf (75 HP, +5 ...
2
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3answers
356 views

How do I design balanced encounters when one PC vastly out-performs the rest of the party?

I'm having some serious balancing issues with my current campaign. Mostly due to the Barbarian. My entire party consists of the Barbarian, a Bard, and a Druid, all recently turned lvl 6. So one ...
6
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3answers
587 views

How to balance encounters after the loss of the frontline fighters?

I've been running a pathfinder game for some time. Up until now I think I have done a fairly good job of balancing encounters, the party is about to reach level 7 and there have only been 2 deaths but ...
3
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1answer
393 views

How hard is a Deva boss fight for two level 10 characters?

I'm planning a one shot for two level 10 characters and I'd like a challenging boss fight for the end of it. The plan at the moment is that they will fight a corrupted Deva in the tomb of a Beholder ...
35
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8answers
8k views

What do I do with a party that is much stronger than their level?

We're playing D&D 5E. The party consists of 5 players, all currently level 11 (however, I've noticed this problem since they were level 8). I've been using the Goblinist random encounter ...
7
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2answers
781 views

Picking the right CR for a tier two party's boss encounter?

I am currently writing an adventure for D&D 5e, for character levels anywhere from 5 to 10, and am trying to find the right boss. A Mummy Lord is the perfect monster for the plot, however the CR (...
6
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2answers
330 views

Is there a guide on how to create a monster as a solo combat challenge for a PC?

I have read all about how to create an encounter or "boss" monster for a group of PCs to defeat based on challenge rating, but I have not seen any guidance on how to create/modify a monster to make it ...
12
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1answer
2k views

How can I design a witch (or other enemy) that summons/controls lightning birds at sea to attack the party while hidden on a ship?

The PCs (3 of them, at 3rd level) are on a disabled, abandoned pirate ship at sea in a storm. I want them to have hard encounters that become somewhat predictable and that they can put a stop to, so ...
6
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4answers
1k views

Gold per encounter with looted equipment

Here's my scenario: CR 1 encounter (fast-paced) party is to receive 400 gold for the encounter. If I use, for example, a troglodyte, equipment is listed as 1 club, and 3 javelins for a total equipment ...
3
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3answers
561 views

Is it OK to make an encounter too hard for your players? [closed]

My party is very good at combat since they just kill whatever is in front of them that looks at them wrong. I want to try and make an "encounter" that's harder than any fight they've had previously, ...
5
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3answers
2k views

How can I help my PCs fight against a Mind Flayer's psionic blast?

I am running a pathfinder campaign for a group of 5 players. I have a half-elf wizard, human druid, dwarf barbarian, halfling bard and half-orc paladin. The party were all level 5 at the time of this ...
18
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4answers
3k views

Encounter design and XP thresholds

Our DM gave us what seemed to me to be a very hard encounter so I checked out the DMG to see whats up. Note this was the only encounter of the day and we generally have 1-4 encounters per day. We are ...
27
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7answers
7k views

How to make a villain when your PCs are villains?

The main premise of the campaign I am currently DMing is that the PCs need to level up to become powerful enough to take over the world. It's an open world(ish) campaign with a set end goal but no set ...
8
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2answers
390 views

How should I balance having Magic Shops in my world?

I want to give my world the presence of magic shops that can be used by players. From this other question: Default 5e assumes that "magic shops" pretty much won't exist, and even goes on to ...
14
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3answers
1k views

How can a dance-off be run in 5e as a combat encounter? [closed]

My players will be soon be encountering a fight that will unfold as a dance-off against a group of magical dancers. Ideally, I would like to be able to run the encounter as something that allows the ...
5
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4answers
481 views

How can I justify not giving my villain the Wish spell? [closed]

Basically, I have a wizard as a villain who is ambitious, powerful, and has access to nearly unlimited resources. How can I justify giving him any ninth-level spell but not giving him Wish? Or, ...
11
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3answers
545 views

Are there rules for shortening the adventuring day and reducing the number encounters without unbalancing them?

The problem In a few groups I'm DMing, sessions last about 3h. During that time, we usually have about half the adventuring's day worth of encounters (so at level 10, about 18k XP out of the 36k XP ...
10
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1answer
342 views

Should I adjust the Starting Encounter for Lost Mines of Phandelver for this party?

The Lost Mine of Phandelver adventure is described on its first page as "an adventure for four to five characters of 1st level." However, I will only be running three players through the campaign (or ...
12
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1answer
680 views

Do I include animal companions when calculating difficulty of an encounter?

I have a player who is playing a beast master ranger and I was wondering: do I calculate the level of the animal companion when making encounters?
6
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0answers
227 views

I'm making a warlock main villain [closed]

If I make a warlock villain, would giving them PC features be unbalancing, for example, pacts and invocations AC 11 HP 115 Str 10 Dex 14 Con 12 Int 14 Wis 16 Cha 20 CR 12 Resistance to damage from ...
3
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2answers
183 views

How do I compute an encounter level of monsters with vastly different CR?

In D&D 3.5, how do you add creatures with different CR which are more than 2 CR apart? The table in the DMG 3.5, p. 49, describes how to calculate the encounter level of a mixed pair creatures ...
7
votes
1answer
945 views

Can you just subtract the challenge rating of friendly NPCs?

The party have bitten off more than they can chew and the DM wants to help them out to avoid a likely TPK by adding a friendly NPC to an encounter. Can they get a good sense of how difficult the ...
4
votes
1answer
125 views

How do you calculate CR for running battles?

I am creating an encounter for a game I am DMing and am wondering how you calculate CR for a running battle. What I mean by this is that characters will be fleeing through a zombie infested town, with ...
16
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5answers
4k views

What method can I use to design a dungeon difficult enough that the PCs can't make it through without killing them?

The first 'round' of my campaign will end with the deaths (and resurrections) of all of the players. Their role before catastrophe strikes is as teachers in a philanthropically funded school in an ...
10
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2answers
599 views

How many encounters can a party handle in a day, without breaks?

I'm currently working on some homebrew for a Starfinder game. I've read the pages 388 to 393 of the core rule book several times, but might just be missing something. It gives details on how to craft ...
8
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3answers
3k views

How to make a mimic a challenging fight for high level party? [closed]

After posted this question, it turned out that mimics might be weaker than I though first. As said in this linked question, I really like mimics and I'd like to use "a lot" of these (without going ...

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