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.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
23
votes
2answers
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 ...
4
votes
3answers
274 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 ...
8
votes
5answers
2k views

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 ...
2
votes
2answers
622 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 ...
1
vote
0answers
153 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 ...
12
votes
4answers
2k views

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 ...
3
votes
0answers
165 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
305 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
393 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
375 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
119 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 "...
13
votes
2answers
242 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
425 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
222 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
2k 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
votes
0answers
117 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
votes
1answer
205 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
votes
1answer
60 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
votes
2answers
807 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
votes
7answers
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 ...
13
votes
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
votes
1answer
186 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
votes
2answers
3k 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
vote
1answer
346 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
votes
0answers
151 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
votes
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
votes
1answer
155 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 ...
43
votes
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
votes
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
votes
1answer
97 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
142 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
votes
1answer
242 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
votes
3answers
267 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
votes
1answer
132 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 ...
25
votes
4answers
5k 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
votes
1answer
4k 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
votes
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
votes
2answers
412 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
381 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
votes
3answers
657 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
votes
1answer
587 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
votes
8answers
9k 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
votes
2answers
1k 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
votes
2answers
650 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
votes
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
votes
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
votes
3answers
1k 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
votes
3answers
5k 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
votes
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
votes
6answers
8k 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 ...

1
2 3 4 5
8