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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.

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0answers
76 views

Is this homebrew dragonborn king final boss encounter balanced? [on hold]

I'm planning on making a homebrew campaign for D&D 5e that has a complex final battle against a dragonborn king who can call in guards every five turns. These guards are very weak. I want to know ...
30
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14answers
28k 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
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2answers
222 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
713 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
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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 ...
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0answers
67 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
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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
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1answer
201 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
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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
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3answers
356 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
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1answer
133 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
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1answer
261 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
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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
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2answers
423 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
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6answers
5k 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
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1answer
174 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
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0answers
524 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
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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
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0answers
144 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
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2answers
669 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
110 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
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3answers
322 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
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6answers
23k 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
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1answer
3k 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
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2answers
533 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
377 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
874 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
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3answers
12k 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
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1answer
553 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
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3answers
291 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
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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 ...
6
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2answers
3k 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 ...
11
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2answers
807 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
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7answers
957 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
761 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
283 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 ...
20
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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 3 first-time players. After discussing the game, rules and setting, all of them are interested in playing magic characters (Draconic Sorcerer, Druid ...
13
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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
448 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
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2answers
300 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
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3answers
586 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
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2answers
202 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
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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 ...