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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.

18
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4answers
2k 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
154 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 ...
28
votes
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
votes
2answers
277 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
294 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 ...
14
votes
3answers
473 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
votes
4answers
281 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, ...
10
votes
1answer
175 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
votes
1answer
520 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
votes
0answers
105 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 ...
28
votes
10answers
3k views

Should I scale the difficulty after the party recruits a boss?

A year ago or so, I was DMing a DnD4e campaign in which the leader of the players' party (Sariel) managed to convince a powerful (6 levels higher) adversary (Pieter) to join them temporarily; their ...
3
votes
2answers
108 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 ...
21
votes
9answers
8k views

Should encounters be adjusted to a full-magic party?

I am still a new GM and I am building a session for three first-time players. After discussing the game, rules and setting, all of them are interested in playing magic characters (Draconic Sorcerer, ...
7
votes
1answer
853 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
109 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
votes
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 ...
30
votes
14answers
29k views

How do I design exciting, fun boss fights for my players?

So I've DM'd three separate games, of which one that I'm largely happy with. However, one consistent problem I run into is designing fun, exciting, and interesting boss fights. I've run into two major ...
10
votes
2answers
288 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
votes
3answers
922 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
2k views

At what level can a party fight a mimic?

I'm actually starting to get into DnD and I may be soon buy the DnD starter set. Mimic is a monster whose concept I love, and I would like to put at least one as soon as possible when I'll DM, even if ...
1
vote
0answers
76 views

Help balancing a dragon fight for an 8th-level party [closed]

When my 5 players go up to 8th level, they will be encountering their first dragon. I need help building an encounter that will feel tense without a TPK. To create a deadly encounter using Kobold ...
71
votes
12answers
8k views

What is the purpose of easy combat scenarios that don't need resource expenditure?

This is something I've been thinking about as a DM in my encounter design: Why have easy/medium/etc combat encounters that don't really require resources to successfully complete? Given the limited ...
13
votes
7answers
3k views

How do you kidnap a PC?

Here's where my group is currently at: We are reaching the end of a campaign and we are going to be switching GM's. I have been playing a (secretly) evil Psion who has plans to betray the party ...
6
votes
1answer
219 views

How should I account for traps when calculating the adventuring day budget?

I'm wondering whether a trap should be considered an encounter and how should they be rated in terms of easy/medium/hard/deadly. This is not a question about whether traps should award PCs experience,...
49
votes
6answers
6k views

How can I make my enemies feel real and make combat more engaging?

As a newer DM, I have trouble making some of the more routine combats feel unique or urgent. I believe this is because the enemies my PCs are fighting tend to act like an AI, or just attack until they ...
6
votes
3answers
374 views

How to make a “Catch the monster” tabletop encounter properly challenging?

How do I make a DnD 5th edition "Catch the monster" tabletop encounter properly challenging for the PCs? Specifically, what are good ways to thematically prevent a pair of level 6, 5th edition rogues ...
6
votes
1answer
140 views

How would strategic but non-damaging actions affect monster CR?

I'm in the middle of designing a dungeon with heavy fire and ice elemental themes influencing a lot of undead enemies. I'm relying on CR a lot to rough out encounters, as I don't have a super great ...
11
votes
1answer
272 views

Estimating difficulty of continuous encounters (no short rest / waves of enemies)

For a level 10, 4-player party, the daily difficulty budget is 36k, so they could have 6 encounters of a CR 10 monster. However, I think this assumes they have time to patch up after a battle or even ...
57
votes
6answers
6k views

Handling encounter elements that would realistically cause instant death

Creating an encounter often plays out the same for me: I come up with ideas for making the experience epic, find myself unable to solve the "what if they fail" problem, and then minimize or eliminate ...
0
votes
2answers
442 views

How does one design encounters that accommodate a high burst damage build?

There are some really powerful burst damage builds out there that can pretty easily one shot the biggest threat in the room. As a DM how do I counter high burst damage builds so that the main threat ...
12
votes
6answers
7k views

How can I make the final boss of the LMOP a memorable and exciting fight for my group?

This post contains spoilers for the Lost Mines of Phandelver. I have been DM'ing a group of six new players through the dnd 5e starter set and they have just entered the eponymous 'Lost Mine' where ...
1
vote
1answer
178 views

How to create a powerful boss fusion of an artificial dragon and a lich?

I am currently thinking how to build a sheet for a powerful villain in my campaign. This creature was created by an ancient people as a way to control artificial dragons and to kill powerful real ...
5
votes
0answers
535 views

How can I rig a game where dice will always roll poorly? [closed]

I'm planning an encounter with the owner of a hotel casino who loads his dice, and for this encounter only I want my players to use special dice to roll poorly. If there is no website to purchase ...
59
votes
10answers
11k views

How can I engage players with melee monsters when players keep their distance?

So I am running a campaign as a DM, and one session my players were in a dungeon and spotted a Chuul in a water-filled area. The Chuul stayed deep in the pool, so the characters decided to drain the ...
5
votes
0answers
256 views

Planning a one shot for my group for one of my player's birthday [closed]

So one of my player's birthday is coming up soon and it so happens to fall on the day we usually do our sessions, I was planning on doing a one shot based around her Druid character and all my other ...
10
votes
2answers
794 views

How to make monsters level appropriate during a session?

While running dungeon crawls in D&D 5e, I have found that balancing encounters often takes far more prepwork than the storyline does. It's necessary to account for all the exp players may receive ...
2
votes
1answer
123 views

How should I budget encounter XP for a single PC?

In the photo I've shared, it starts the XP budget for a party of 4 PCs. At 1st level, the budget is 400. For 5 PCs it's 500. And 600 XP for 6 PCs. So I guess it's safe to assume that I can divide the ...
8
votes
3answers
351 views

Scaling encounter difficulties in Rolemaster

Rolemaster is by it's very nature a rather deadly rule system, up to the point where there are even some passages in the rule books mentioning this - alongside some advice for players to not neglect ...
19
votes
3answers
9k views

Is the first encounter of the starter set really “deadly”?

Reading the DMG I'm confused by the encounter difficulty chart. It seems straight forward, but upon really testing it I've found that according to the chart, the very first encounter in Lost Mines of ...
19
votes
6answers
25k views

Do 5th-edition D&D PCs consistently outmatch level-appropriate encounters?

I have a group of PCs that started at level 1. The group varies in size between 6-8 PCs and they have a good spread of classes (healer, tanks, damage dealers, 2 arcane casters). They are level 5 ...
20
votes
1answer
7k views

What's the difference between XP and adjusted XP?

What's the difference between XP and adjusted XP in D&D 5th edition?
7
votes
2answers
568 views

Is an Adventurers League DM allowed to adjust an encounter to max out the combat XP reward?

I DM an AL group of four. They agree to create new level 1 characters (they are experienced), but ask me to adjust the combat to give maximum possible XP in an adventure, in case they miss out the non-...
57
votes
13answers
13k views

How to challenge a pacifist party

Ok, so the title is a bit of hyperbole. But my party has recently been using persuasion abilities (backed with RP) to turn otherwise combat encounters into social ones. To be clear, I have nothing ...
9
votes
3answers
7k views

Modifying Multiple Monster XP Encounter

I'm a new DM and finding it a bit difficult to challenge my group that wants the glorious battles style of game play. When I asked them what they wanted from the campaign, the consensus was that they ...
-3
votes
2answers
474 views

Are 3 wolves too much of a challenge for a single level 8 monk?

I've never DMed before, and would like to ask any experienced DMs if they think 3 (regular) wolves are too much for a level 8 monk. It's a solo "party" with one Way of the Four Elements monk. He has ...
5
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the best number of combat encounters for a 6-player level-3 party in one adventuring day? [closed]

Soon, I'll be hosting a D&D session for six 3rd-level characters, but I was having some difficulty on deciding the amount of encounters. Our sessions typically last 6-8 hours. Everyone has some ...
37
votes
7answers
10k views

How do I deal with a DM that throws encounters at us that are way above the party?

I'm not sure if the question was worded in a coherent way, but I have recently played in a Pathfinder game and a 5e game and both times the DM (same one both times) gave us overpowered encounters. ...
22
votes
3answers
14k views

If I design a PC for use as an NPC, how much XP should he give when killed?

As part of an early quest, my PCs are likely to face off against a wizard. The problem here is that the stat block for Mage NPCs listed in the Basic Rules has a Challenge Rating of 6, while the PCs ...
12
votes
1answer
572 views

Under What Circumstances Do Additional Creatures Add to EL?

Question The Dungeon Master's Guide explains that DMs Do not award XP for creatures that enemies summon or otherwise add to their forces with magic powers. An enemy’s ability to summon or add ...
3
votes
3answers
327 views

How to balance combat with a couple of min/maxed characters in the party?

I have a party of 4 freshly minted level 7s for an upcoming game. 3 of the players have been playing for a while and one person is a relative newcomer to the group. The problem I'm having is that 2 ...