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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.

19
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6answers
7k views

Determining “level” of an NPC ally for purpose of budgeting encounter XP

Hypothetical party: 1st level human wizard (PC) 3x guard NPC 1x acolyte NPC This is the player's first time, and it's a solo campaign. The first mini-adventure involves recovering the cargo of a ...
22
votes
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 ...
37
votes
11answers
15k views

Way to prevent teleportation

My party (average level 10) just had a pre-boss fight. That was an opportunity for me to make them spend some of their resources, because they thought that was actually the big bad boss fight. So we ...
28
votes
2answers
228k views

Does the Challenge Rating of a monster assume a party or a single PC?

I'm reading through the new DM D&D Basic Rules, but I'm confused about the challenge rating of a monster. Does the challenge rating assume a single PC or a group of PC's? As a CR3 a challenge for ...
22
votes
5answers
10k views

Why don't players get extra xp for large encounters?

Based on the table Encounter XP Multipliers from the Basic Rules' DM section, Page 57, when you're building encounters in 5E, you include an XP modifier depending on the number of creatures your PCs ...
15
votes
5answers
942 views

As a GM, what aids could I use to create adventure scenes on the spot?

As a GM, many a time I run into a situation that I know nothing of, am not prepared about, and need something, NOW! Maybe it is a freeform adventure and plot was not prepared, maybe I prepared some ...
17
votes
3answers
6k views

Typically, how many combat encounters should a low-level party have before they are expected to take a long rest?

I'm trying to improve the pacing of my encounter design. (I suspect that I've been making them too easy for my players, or that I haven't been paying close enough attention to how many resources they ...
17
votes
5answers
5k views

How can I make an engagement with a high-level monster fun for my party?

Related: How can I make a multiple engagement encounter fun for my party? For clarification; by "fun" I mean make the encounter challenging, yet not deadly, and not feel like a "rinse-and-repeat" of ...
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 ...
12
votes
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 ...
30
votes
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 ...
21
votes
4answers
774 views

How to run an encounter where PCs have different observations of the same events?

Some of the discussion in this question got me to thinking about an encounter design that sounded fun but I couldn't figure out an elegant way to pull it off: In some situation where one or more PCs ...
28
votes
6answers
20k views

How can I create reasonably challenging encounters for large groups?

I'm running a 5e campaign that has become quite successful to the point that everyone wants in and I have 6-8 players at my table every other week. It's awesome, but I'm having troubles with creating ...
15
votes
6answers
1k views

How to keep the group engaged when the party is split?

I recently pitched a game to my group, to which they were receptive. However they pointed out some problems I would have to solve before the game started. The Pitch The game is set in the near-...
8
votes
3answers
42k views

What is the CR/XP-Character Level relationship for opponents?

I can't seem to find information in the Monster Manual for how to design an opponent with class levels of an appropriate challenge for my 7th-level party. Perhaps this appears in the DMG? I want to ...
5
votes
3answers
7k views

How do I balance an encounter for my party?

I'm currently DMing some games in the D&D 4e Adventure Series. We started with H1, Keep on the Shadowfell, and we're just about to start H2, Thunderspide labyrinth. I have six players who are all ...
11
votes
3answers
5k views

Are the rules in the DMG for calculating encounter difficulty inaccurate? [closed]

I recently DM'd a module. It seems the characters were easily able to get through encounters that the DMG considered “Deadly,” even without factoring in the “encounter multipliers” for multiple ...
10
votes
3answers
5k views

How can I tune encounter difficulty appropriately in D&D Essentials?

Two of my friends and I recently played our very first game of D&D using the Essentials kit. I DM'd, getting them through the Red Box create-your-own character story. It was all good fun, they ...
42
votes
5answers
3k views

How do I make engaging Man vs Wild encounters that aren't excercises in rolling dice?

I like wilderness adventures. My earliest games as a player (in AD&D 2e) featured wilderness adventures, and I really enjoyed them. I try to use them in my games (We're playing Pathfinder right ...
20
votes
4answers
6k views

What encounter features make low CR enemies challenging?

I'm planning an encounter where a mid level party would be assaulted by a a large number of lower level characters. We've all read Tucker's Kobolds, but what makes this kind of encounter actually ...
28
votes
4answers
3k views

How do I telegraph that an encounter that was too difficult before is now achievable?

Assuming you used the techniques from How can DMs effectively telegraph specific dangers in D&D? and How can I make my PCs flee? to telegraph danger and the need to improve the characters skills/...
17
votes
5answers
7k views

How can I create an introductory D&D encounter intended for teaching the rules?

For my next D&D campaign, I want to introduce the players to the ruleset by having them play through a sample combat encounter. All of them have prior RPG experience, but they haven't played any ...
31
votes
4answers
15k views

My PCs are too strong for a published adventure. How can I fix the content so it isn't trivial?

This is my first time DMing a D&D game and I'm learning as I go. I'm running Tyranny of Dragons, and here's my situation: Through a series of lucky events and other phenomena, the party is one ...
10
votes
3answers
2k views

Train chase sequence

In my next session, I want my players to have a chase sequence followed by a battle on board a moving train. They'll be chasing Githyanki, so their mage hand, jump, and misty step spells will all ...
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 ...
19
votes
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 ...
18
votes
8answers
1k views

My necromancer keeps dying (and can't raise himself)!

Sometimes in the course of running an adventure you will run into an encounter that calls for a summoner to bring on a horde of undead (often minions). I have a simple problem: My summoners die in ...
10
votes
5answers
1k views

How do I handle the encounter difficulty for a three-sided battle?

I'm running my first real campaign. The idea I have for the first dungeon involves the PCs coming upon two sides already engaged in combat. One side is losing and weaker than the other, though not in ...
25
votes
8answers
23k views

How does a DM deal with a PC with an abnormally high Armor Class?

One of the Fighters in my party, who is level 5, has an AC of 21. He wears chainmail (AC: 16), has the Defense Fighting Style which gives a +1 to AC when wearing armor, and a +2 shield (found in an ...
8
votes
1answer
696 views

Why is the XP awarded from an encounter the sum of monster XP values and not Adjusted XP? [closed]

The Dungeon Master's Guide presents guidelines for gauging encounter difficulty based on the Adjusted XP of monsters faced. The Adjusted XP is the sum of the monsters' experience values, modified by a ...
7
votes
4answers
3k views

Adjusting Modules for More Players

I am planning on running a D&D 3.5 campaign soon. I underestimated how many of my friends would be interested, and my group of 4 has quickly turned into a group of 6. I have seen various ...
7
votes
3answers
2k views

How to handle some new NPCs who enter a fight in progress?

I am GMing for the second time in my life, and do not know how to handle this situation: There are 5 PCs who walk through this map. In almost every room there are a couple of NPCs who might or might ...
3
votes
6answers
6k views

Scaling a game for a large group

I have read How do I run a game for a larger group?, and while it gave helpful advice it is not the problem I am having. I have 6 players and an observer. They understand they need to have their ...
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 ...
24
votes
6answers
47k views

How do I build interesting dungeons? [closed]

I'm a new GM and I need to undestand how to build enjoyable locations. I don't get how to build interesting dungeons. For example, I need to explore a castle. But a castle is not as complicated as ...
66
votes
18answers
15k views

How do I challenge my PCs who fight every battle like Mongol horse archers?

In my last few game sessions, my players have begun adopting a strategy which is working wonders in the campaign we are playing. In this Planescape campaign, we are on the Outlands, which has a lot of ...
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 ...
14
votes
3answers
359 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: ...
22
votes
2answers
7k views

When does an encounter go from “deadly” to “instant death”?

The encounter table in the DMG has 4 listed difficulties; "easy", "medium", "hard" and "deadly". Because the difficulty is set based on the last threshold you passed, there is also an implicit 5th ...
27
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 ...
16
votes
5answers
1k views

How to abstract a trial?

A session I am writing for my gaming group will take the characters through a murder trial. One of the players is the accused, and he and his companions will need to build a case and defend themselves....
16
votes
2answers
6k views

Creating solo monsters

One thing I haven't found in 4th edition online is a plethora of solo monsters. The idea of these fights are fascinating! Sadly though, all the products in 4th focus on multiple opponent fights (with ...
8
votes
2answers
617 views

Where can I find online playtesters to test encounters before presenting them to my group?

I'm setting up the end of my campaign and I have 4 "mini-boss" fights (& Final BOSS fight) that I'm trying to make extremely tough but also winnable. I don't want to just slaughter my PCs after ...
21
votes
2answers
18k views

Why are all of the encounters in the Lost Mine of Phandelver campaign Hard or Deadly?

Even with 5 players assumed, the adventure seems quite brutal. Could someone please explain why the Lost Mine of Phandelver campaign has so many deadly encounters? Some examples: The very first ...
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 ...
15
votes
2answers
3k views

How do the PCs' magic items factor into challenge ratings?

Everyone knows that a CR 10 monster is meant to be a perfectly balanced challenge for a party of four 10th level PCs. But does that mean it's balanced for a party of four PCs with no magically ...
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 ...
10
votes
2answers
979 views

How far below the average CR should I count monsters when determining encounter difficulty?

DMG82 says "When [calculating encounter difficulty multipliers], don't count any monsters whose challenge rating is significantly below the average challenge rating of the other monsters in the group."...
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 ...
8
votes
1answer
1k views

How to balance the numbers and equipment of an encounter in Shadowrun 4E?

I'm having trouble creating NPCs for my game, especially regarding their number and their equipment. Their skill level is ok, but these points are problematic. I know that most of the time, the non-...