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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How would resistance to non magical weapons change a creature's challenge rating?

Suppose we took a normal monster - say, perhaps, a lion (CR 1) - and gave it resistance to non-magical slashing, piercing, and blunt damage. How much would this affect the threat to a party? I'm ...
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8 votes
2 answers
800 views

What's a reasonable Green Hag Coven encounter for a party of 3 level 8 PCs?

Novice DM trying to make my bad guys intimidating. My party is fighting a Hag Coven and I want to make this fight pretty hard without killing anyone hopefully. So three Green Hags (Coven Variant) are ...
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9 votes
5 answers
2k views

How to calibrate combat encounters for high level play?

The DMG contains recommendations for the XP values of encounters that are supposed to help you create engaging but survivable combat encounters (page 82). They work pretty well for low- and mid-level ...
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7 votes
1 answer
239 views

Non-Combat Encounter Rewards - A Homebrew Review

Awarding non-combat encounters with XP consistently for the party level - A homebrew review A frustration I have had for a long time is how D&D claims that there are three pillars to the game, ...
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6 votes
2 answers
843 views

What printed spells and magic items would be especially useful for an 8th level Wizard to cast or craft to create a fortress?

The scenario is as follows - an 8th level Wizard, Dormouse Bladefist, has a cave mouth he wants to defend at all costs. He has some money and magic materials, and can probably craft some weaker magic ...
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1 vote
2 answers
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How many ghosts can I use for an ambush?

I'm trying to set up an ambush in a tower where there are ghosts or some creature like them that has the ability to walk through walls. If I had a room 20 feet by 20 feet and a party of 5 Medium-sized ...
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  • 4,036
31 votes
9 answers
5k views

How to have enemies that use tactics while also making sure that the encounter is fun for all players?

I am currently running a 5e game for a party of 5 players (level 3). I tend to make my enemies use tactics. My encounters involving a large number of low-CR enemies tend to have roles (so a tank, some ...
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13 votes
3 answers
2k views

How can I avoid accidentally deadly encounters from monsters that are more deadly than their challenge rating suggests?

Monster Deadliness: In the DMG (p.82) there is guidance about the calculating encounter deadliness. This is entirely based on the XP of the monsters encountered, and each challenge rating (CR) has a ...
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6 votes
2 answers
525 views

Can CR be directly lifted from 3.5 to 5e?

I am looking to convert a few modules from 3.5 into 5e and while I am going to change the nature of the creatures encountered I am not 100% sure how. Does 3.5 follow the same kind of encounter and ...
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4 votes
2 answers
258 views

As GM, how to implement an enemy that erases the PC's memory [closed]

I like the idea of an innocent-looking enemy, or even just a zone, in some dangerous place, that slowly erases the memories of anyone near it, whether randomly or starting from the newest memories. ...
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13 votes
1 answer
463 views

How to calculate D&D 5e challenge ratings when party has improvised weapons and no armor

I'm running a game where the players are planning to attend a grand ball. At this ball, the players will not be able to wear their armor with their finery or smuggle in their weapons. The players are ...
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22 votes
15 answers
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What magic items would best make a (corrupt) city guard competitive with Paragon tier heroes?

The Problem Assuming that the guards in and of themselves are not worthy of being Paragon-tier, what magic items would best justify giving them Paragon-tier stats, narratively? I want to convey the ...
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9 votes
3 answers
1k views

Is this encounter in the Frozen Sick adventure unbalanced?

In the DND 5e Critical Role source book Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, there is an adventure Frozen Sick. One of the encounters in it seems a little strong to me. (The adventure is also available ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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How to calculate Adjusted XP for heterogenous monster groups?

To recap my understanding... The point of Adjusted XP is provide a metric with which to judge the difficulty of a combat, to give your party well-balanced encounters and well-balanced adventuring ...
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34 votes
4 answers
6k views

Petrification at low levels

I was considering using a Medusa in my home game against a group of 4th-level characters. With a CR of 6, a Medusa is well within the proper XP range for such a group. However, I'm nervous about using ...
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25 votes
5 answers
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How can I give my players more short rests without breaking immersion?

While there are a lot of questions concerning how to give players fewer resources (usually by reducing the frequency of rests), this question is the inverse: I've had issues at my table with the ...
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16 votes
4 answers
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How to handle breath weapon recharge when combat is interrupted?

I have a question about monster abilities that recharge, like a dragon’s breath weapon. Is the ability considered “charged” on the first round of combat, no roll required? If the answer to that is “...
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11 votes
1 answer
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How do asymmetric PC exhaustion levels affect the difficulty of an encounter?

As a DM, I have planned a medium encounter for my party of 5 characters. Before this encounter, as a consequence of some non optimal choices, one of them suffers from 4 exhaustion levels, and there ...
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24 votes
2 answers
4k views

How do I make a fourth-level Fighter a deadly challenge for a party of four level-ones?

I'm planning an adventure in which the antagonist is a schlubby first-level Rogue who has drawn the Knight card from the Deck of Many Things and is using his new, perfectly obedient fourth-level ...
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4 votes
3 answers
709 views

What can I do to make a Kobold encounter interesting? [closed]

I have painted myself into a bit of a corner here. My party is approaching an encounter with a gang of Kobold thieves who have been stealing from local church groups - they've been tasked by the 'mob ...
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8 votes
5 answers
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Which CR 5-13 monsters can I use against an all-flying party? [closed]

If I run a 5e game for a crow-man party who naturally have all-day flight as part of their basic movement modes, which existing published monsters / encounter types am I left with who have either ...
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2 votes
2 answers
677 views

How to handle a party's bad choices? [closed]

Not too long ago I started a campaign in Pathfinder 2e, and at a certain point I hinted at an enemy group's location and (superior) strength, while telling the party to go somewhere else and complete ...
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  • 1,690
1 vote
0 answers
172 views

Should players know the name of monsters when they are encountered? [duplicate]

This is a question that I frequently ask myself as a DM. I usually play a (home made) rule that you must first succeed on an intelligence check with a DC that varies depending on the knowledge of the ...
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  • 489
12 votes
4 answers
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How do you balance encounters between NPCs?

Right now, I’m planning a situation where faction “a” is going to fight faction “b” and the players pick a side, and the side which the players choose is fairly likely to win, in which they have to ...
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4 votes
1 answer
298 views

How should a GM go about handling a combat encounter against an enemy team of runners?

I have a group that is about to encounter another runner team in combat. They both want to do the same job and are going to be fighting for the package. The two thoughts I had were to make some of ...
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  • 581
4 votes
2 answers
370 views

Is the encounter in area 11 of the "Isle of the Abbey" adventure in Ghosts of Saltmarsh overly difficult?

I did the math for the encounter in area 11 in the Isle of the Abbey adventure from Ghosts of Saltmarsh (p. 108), and I came up with an encounter difficulty of 7200 XP. This is way, way more difficult ...
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  • 571
6 votes
2 answers
464 views

How would you challenge a party of 8 players characters without killing them?

I have a party of 8 players, and more continue to join (against my wishes). How would you recommend challenging low-level (4 or lower) players that are in a large group? How do I give everyone a ...
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6 votes
3 answers
469 views

Balancing Encounters around a very proficient Necromancer

In a game I am a part of there is a player who considers themself a necromancer. They are fully specced and invested around the spell "Animate Dead". They are very effective and efficient at ...
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3 votes
1 answer
136 views

Am I correctly calculating the difficulty/XP for this encounter for a 15th-level party of 5 PCs?

I am putting together a campaign and have been experimenting with the guidelines for creating encounters and managing difficulty. I've done the math for quite a few encounters at each of the "...
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13 votes
2 answers
285 views

How do I recalibrate this encounter from D&D 3.5e's Red Hand of Doom for D&D 5e?

I'm running D&D 3.5e's Red Hand of Doom updated for 5e. So far it has been effortlessly straightforward. I've been keeping the basic combat encounter structures and simply swapping out 3.5e ...
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8 votes
2 answers
762 views

How to design a level 1 encounter with 7 level 1 characters

Me and my friends decided to play some D&D 5th edition. The issue is, though I am a long term DM I am only well-versed in the rules for 3.5e and Pathfinder 1st, same as Open Legend but it uses a ...
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6 votes
2 answers
326 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 ...
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11 votes
2 answers
4k 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 ...
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2 votes
0 answers
125 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 ...
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3 votes
1 answer
354 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 ...
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2 votes
1 answer
68 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 ...
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  • 3,413
7 votes
2 answers
1k 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 ...
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  • 93
29 votes
7 answers
5k 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 ...
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13 votes
3 answers
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 ...
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  • 3,463
9 votes
1 answer
247 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....
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5 votes
2 answers
4k 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 ...
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1 vote
1 answer
367 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 ...
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2 votes
0 answers
161 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 ...
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18 votes
4 answers
2k 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 ...
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9 votes
1 answer
193 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 ...
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44 votes
15 answers
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 ...
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12 votes
6 answers
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 ...
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3 votes
1 answer
130 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 ...
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  • 1,381
3 votes
3 answers
154 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 ...
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  • 5,040
0 votes
1 answer
288 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 ...
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