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Questions tagged [encounter-design]

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

1
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1answer
162 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
498 views

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

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 ...
0
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0answers
44 views

Need some help with the final encounter [closed]

So I'm DMing my first campaign and have a plan for the final battle between the PC's and this massive Bio-Mech created by the ancient gods, but I want to know if anyone knows IF this idea is even ...
58
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
83 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
620 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
97 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 ...
7
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3answers
283 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
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3answers
8k 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
21k 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 ...
19
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1answer
1k views

What's the difference between XP and adjusted XP?

What's the difference between XP and adjusted XP in D&D 5th edition?
6
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2answers
477 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-...
56
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 ...
29
votes
13answers
27k 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 ...
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
334 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
599 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
9k 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. ...
21
votes
3answers
11k 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
545 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
273 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 ...
13
votes
13answers
2k views

How to balance combat encounter for magic user group that suddenly can't cast magic? [closed]

My campaign is set on a low-magic setting, meaning magic is not common. Magic users are generally welcome, although at some places they hate magic users. Most (80%) of my players start off as a magic ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

How many CR 1/4 does it take to challenge a level 3 party?

I'm running my first campaign and I'm confused about the CR of monsters. I started out with five level 2 characters. I have a few encounters that work so far, but theres one I'm confused about. If the ...
10
votes
5answers
3k 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
730 views

Should the DCs for skill checks be higher or lower than saves?

I'm homebrewing a rotten, collapsible staircase. I want there to be a Dex check to climb it, but if they fail the check, they can make a save to avoid falling. Should the check or the save be of a ...
5
votes
7answers
753 views

How to use a werewolf as boss for a party of 4 first levels?

Note: First time DM with first time players, using Basic Rules. Story: I am planning a story which involves wolves and werewolves. 4 PCs would investigate an incident in a forest that caused a NPC's ...
6
votes
4answers
458 views

How many enemies will challenge my party of four 1st-level characters, but not result in certain death?

I was asked to DM for a one-shot with people wanting to try and learn the game. I have created a not-too-complicated world in which they can run around and interact with its inhabitants. The problem ...
2
votes
1answer
259 views

Is this encounter too difficult/easy for 5 level-5 PCs and an NPC? [closed]

I have used CR calculators to get an idea of the difficulty of this encounter, but I thought the collective knowledge here may provide me with a better answer than I could find myself, as the ...
19
votes
9answers
7k views

Should encounters be adjusted to a full-magic party?

I am still a new GM and I am building a session for 3 first-time players. After discussing the game, rules and setting, all of them are interested in playing magic characters (Draconic Sorcerer, Druid ...
13
votes
6answers
1k views

As a DM, how can I best design a combat encounter in a stealth mission for a fighter?

This happened in a multisession one-shot (a game that only consists of one arc/mission/goal that spans multiple sessions) a while ago. It is advertised as a heist mission, thus generally you'll pick ...
5
votes
2answers
439 views

Can an animated cannon fire itself?

In Pathfinder I am currently trying to design a few encounters with a supposed ghost ship (actually a Colossal Animated Object) complete with a crew of Haunted Objects (again, Animated Objects), but I ...
14
votes
3answers
2k views

How does the summoning ability affect the encounter difficulty?

The Drow Mage (CR 7) has the Action Summon Demon (1/day), which allows him to summon a shadow demon (CR 4). Is the shadow demon already included in the CR of the Drow Mage, or do I have to count the ...
2
votes
2answers
240 views

How do you balance this necromancer encounter for a 5th level party? [closed]

I am running a one-shot and have everything ready but the final battle. This details an epic fight where the party (3 players at 5th level) encounter a circular chamber with a rampart and a large ...
21
votes
5answers
3k views

How can I create encounters that encourage players to use non-Attack actions?

In D&D 5e, the players have lots of actions they can take within combat encounters besides attacking. I'm trying to figure out how to encourage them to use a greater variety of actions, especially ...
8
votes
3answers
553 views

How do players defeat the coin dragon in Gorgoldand's Gauntlet?

There is a one-shot adventure called Gorgoldand's Gauntlet, originally designed to be run with 3.5 rules. The adventure mostly consists of a series of puzzles, traps, and a few encounters. However, ...
5
votes
2answers
158 views

How do I ensure tactical combat is interesting for my large party?

I am writing a custom PbtA hack to reboot an old play-by-post-RPG that I used to run on a lightweight, but overly random original system. The party contains 8-9 players (which worked out before the ...
10
votes
4answers
1k views

Can I use the Monster Stats in the DMG to estimate a party's damage output?

I'm designing an encounter where the party has to hold off hordes of baddies that are trying to break through a set of doors, so designing the encounter really hinges on how much damage per round the ...
10
votes
1answer
340 views

Effects of Non-Damage Spells (Antimagic Field) on CR

General Background The Dungeon Master's Guide contains copious rules for estimating the effects of traits on a creature's Challenge Rating. Some, of course, have greater effects than others. The DMG ...
13
votes
5answers
4k views

What would be the CR of a battle where PCs have to fight their duplicates?

Imagine a situation where PCs meet some magical, evil duplicates of themselves. The duplicates are exact copies of the PCs (stats, equipment, spells, feats and so on). Therefore, I suppose that the ...
13
votes
4answers
2k views

How much XP does a monster created by Animate Objects add to an encounter?

I am making a boss fight. The boss can cast animate objects, a spell that can animate statues. The spell gives information for, eg., 1 Large Construct: Large - HP: 50, AC: 10, Attack: +6 to hit, ...
14
votes
3answers
307 views

How can I quickly adjust encounters for variable party sizes?

Problem I'm running a campaign with 6 players, but they can't always show up1. That, by itself, would not be a problem, if I knew how many would come with enough time to prepare for it. The thing is: ...
0
votes
2answers
171 views

Balancing Different Level PCs in PVP Pathfinder Combat

I have just spent altogether too much time trying to answer a simple question in my arena combat game: Would a level 1 group like to take on a level 4 character, PVP? How many players do you think ...
23
votes
7answers
9k views

Depowering a high AC PC without killing the rest of the group

I am a relativly new DM and we are playing Pathfinder. We are playing a pre-made adventure, Rise of the Runelords. My group consists of a Bard, a Sorcerer an Alchemist and a Knight on Level 7. Problem ...
9
votes
1answer
235 views

How to design a combat encounter for 20 characters? [duplicate]

Over the course of the last 30 month, I GMed ongoing campaigns for three different groups. One of them had to be disbanded due to one problematic player. Another one dissolved because we couldn’t find ...
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votes
2answers
1k views

Is a young black dragon enough of a challenge alone for group of five level-5 characters?

I have a 5-member party in D&D 5e (ranger, fighter, sorcerer, rogue and bard) who are all level 5. They will soon be meeting with the "big bad", a young black dragon, in his lair which contains ...
7
votes
4answers
1k views

What's a good method of giving a certain monster resistance to ranged attacks made against it?

I'm creating a monster of my own and I ran into this problem. So, the monster is a giant, venomous Starfish, largely inspired by the Crown of Thorns starfish in real life. It's about 20-30 feet in ...
3
votes
0answers
279 views

Is this possibly deadly encounter fair to run? [closed]

The Situation One of my players angered a very dangerous guild of assassins, by killing one of their members, that of course got him a nice bounty for his head. In a attempt to deceive the guild, ...
11
votes
5answers
2k views

How to balance encounters for unbalanced parties?

I am running a D&D 5e West Marches style game. We have a pool of around 10 players, who all have one character. This game kills off a character around once every 1.5 months due to the nature and ...
0
votes
4answers
530 views

How do I stop my players from ganging up on my Monsters? [closed]

For all my D&D scenarios, my players decide to gang up on one or two monsters at a time. Most of the time I have six or more players, all level 12. The reliable party consists of 2 Barbarians, a ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

Is there a monster that can summon other lesser monsters?

I'm currently designing a 5th edition campaign with an antagonist who's sorta like this sociopathic mix between Jafar and the Joker. He's always got some plan to escape unscathed and has tons of ...