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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.

4
votes
2answers
6k views

What level should my players be when they face mind flayers?

I'm running an adventure for 3 level 2 (at this time) players. They've come to a town that is overtaxed and starving, and the government hasn't made a move. It turns out that most of the leaders are ...
20
votes
2answers
12k 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
581 views

Is this Library-encounter balanced?

I'm about to run a Wizard tower. I really wanted to run a Living Spellbook from Redditor /u/StoneStrix but had to scale it down. Since low level spellcasters are kind of hard to find, I thought an ...
2
votes
0answers
247 views

Can 3 level 20 PCs take on Baphomet? [closed]

For future ideas, I was just wondering if a party of 3 level 20 PCs could take down Baphomet? This would be a 5e campaign using his stats from a published adventure (spoilered below).
1
vote
2answers
511 views

Balancing my boss encounter [closed]

I am planning my first GM story for a group of 7 friends and I am preparing a possible boss encounter as the climax of the story. I could use your help balancing the encounter so that it is deadly, ...
2
votes
0answers
236 views

Will 10 PCs find this homebrew creature a speedbump or a slaughterhouse? [closed]

An upcoming boss fight sees the PC fight a darkfathom (see below), a homebrew creature based on this miniature. The encounter will take place in the darkfathom's underwater lair, a large chamber ...
26
votes
4answers
4k views

How much more dangerous is an encounter with the PCs outnumbered and how do I balance around it?

I want to build an encounter after defeating the "boss" of the dungeon that the PCs are currently in, where the skeletons in the crypts they had previously passed through begin to rise from their ...
5
votes
2answers
784 views

What minions would balance the final Curse of Strahd encounter with this party?

I'm a fairly new DM and have trouble properly balancing combat encounters sometimes. For the final battle in Curse of Strahd, the players have managed to The party consists of a sorcerer, monk, ...
8
votes
2answers
173 views

Is there any way to accurately increase CR based on an excess of party wealth?

If playing milestone leveling a ramping of treasure can occur in which the party gains gold and magical items far beyond what their normal wealth would be at a level. And yes this issue can be ...
3
votes
1answer
225 views

How do I determine the levels for some NPCs I'm building to fight the player characters?

I want my PCs (which there are 4 of) Level 5 Warrior, Level 5 Cleric , Level 4 Druid (healer) and Level 4 Bard to fight some NPCs that will be the right Challenge rating. I am going to use the PHB ...
16
votes
8answers
3k views

I want my players to face clones of themselves as a Boss. How do I run them without making it too hard or going easy on them?

I'm running a custom RPG (based on the universe of Boktai, an old GBA game) with a group of six players. We are pretty far into the campaign and the players are getting pretty close to face the final ...
2
votes
2answers
182 views

Should single-encounter allied NPCs be monsters or have class levels? [closed]

I'm building an encounter in which a party of 4 PCs has recruited another adventuring party to help them fight in a single battle against a powerful enemy. What should I consider when deciding ...
3
votes
1answer
185 views

How do set the CR of encounter against a fully armed Level 17 Illusionist Wizard that the party isn’t expected to win

Party I think will be three level 11 characters. Party will encounter him at end of the adventure probably (hopefully) not at full power. https://www.myth-weavers.com/sheet.html#id=1436929 So I ...
5
votes
2answers
222 views

Help determining the CR of a “doppelganger” encounter

I'm creating the final encounter in a magical tower. When the party enters the room, an exact copy of the members appear in the center of the room. Everything will be exactly the same, what spells ...
4
votes
1answer
539 views

How do I determine appropriate challenges for a solo PC? [closed]

Two out of three of my 5th level characters quit for finals week. For the one who still wants to play, how do I figure out what monsters can he handle?
3
votes
2answers
427 views

How do I adjust combat encounters for a solo PC?

I am having one of my friends who wanted to join play solo so that I can get him to join the group but I am having trouble adjusting combat. He is an alchemist sorcerer. How can I create an encounter ...
1
vote
1answer
134 views

Monster CR adjustment based on item outside its treasure allotment

I know that monsters often have treasure, and that if a monster has say a +1 magic longsword as part of the hoard described in the treasure entry he will likely use it, and this is figured (somewhat) ...
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 ...
2
votes
3answers
1k views

Reducing an elephant's power

I am planning an encounter for a story driven campaign. A 4 player second level party encounters an escaped war elephant, who is making a farmer's life miserable and wrecking his crops. A war elephant ...
5
votes
3answers
7k views

How are low CR undead with nasty abilities and impossible resistances level-appropriate? [closed]

I've been playing in a campaign involving an Undead theme. I've come up against a few CR4 and CR5 monsters which have abilities that are absolutely hard uncounterable by a party of this level. ...
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 ...
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/...
7
votes
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 ...
9
votes
2answers
1k views

How many waves of 20 zombies and skeletons make a hard encounter?

I'm preparing a "horde" combat, where a lot of zombies and skeletons charge against the party. The problem I have is that I don't know exactly how many units I should place, because it has some ...
2
votes
3answers
532 views

How to plan the CR of an encounter your PCs can't win?

I'm going to create a combat encounter that my PCs are very unlikely to win, with the ultimate result of their "dying" in combat leading to their capture by a yet-to-be-revealed villain. I don't want ...
2
votes
0answers
57 views

Are controlled undead already counted in the CR of the caster? [duplicate]

So let's picture ourselves a pretty drow priestess of Lolth, CLR3 which would make her a CR4 creature. Add to her entourage Cuddles, an Owlbear Skeleton, CR 2 according to the MM and "Useless lot", ...
14
votes
6answers
8k views

Player vs. Player Fight

I'm a fairly new DM and am trying to plan my own story, I'm having trouble envisioning an important part however. I have the group getting separated and eventually meeting up. Before they realize it'...
9
votes
1answer
716 views

How do traps affect encounter design budgets?

When you're designing an encounter and you plan on traps being part of it, how do you calculate the CR of that? Does 5e take that into account some where? Or do I just ignore it and calculate the ...
28
votes
10answers
2k views

How do I telegraph the difference between life-hating and faithful-guardian undead at a distance? [closed]

(In my world...) Some undead are raised for evil purposes, and are motivated to extinguish any life they encounter. But some undead were so dedicated/faithful in life that they do not leave their ...
0
votes
0answers
52 views

How do I calculate the difficulty of a multi-sided encounter? [duplicate]

From looking through the DMG for encounter building (p. 81-85), it seems clear to me that the rules for how to calculate encounter difficulty assume that there are only two sides in an encounter: PCs ...
13
votes
5answers
4k views

What is the point of weapon type resistances?

I recently read the monster manual and every creature I came upon that had resistance or immunity to bludgeoning/slashing/piercing damage followed this with "from non-magical attacks" (may not be ...
-6
votes
1answer
925 views

Challenge Rating's 2+2=4?

Hey guys thinking of making my own encounter. Pretty new to DM'ing. If I have 4 1/4 CR skeletons fighting a 4 man party of level 1's. Is it equivalent to a CR 1 Ghoul fighting the party? And does ...
4
votes
1answer
326 views

How can I make a multiple engagement encounter fun for my party? [closed]

Related: How can I make an engagement with a high-level monster fun for my party? For clarification; by "fun" I mean make the encounter challenging, yet not deadly, and not feel like a "rinse-and-...
17
votes
5answers
4k 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

Party of 6 Level 12 PCs against a Gold Adult Dragon?

I am a new DM and am trying to create a mini campaign for an all-night D&D session. The problem I keep running into is how hard should I make the campaign, or what my players will be able to ...
24
votes
3answers
9k views

What standard party size is D&D 5e designed for?

4th edition Dungeons & Dragons had a standard party size of 5 players. I can't seem to find an equivalent definition of what the standard party size is in 5th edition. The tables in the DMG ...
5
votes
1answer
648 views

What are Adventurers League DMs empowered to do for encounter scaling purposes?

In D&D Adventurers League, I know that DMs can do the following for encounter scaling: Add or remove monsters from an encounter Adjust monster HP because the modules usually have scaling ...
25
votes
4answers
7k views

How can I make combat challenging, without simply making it take longer?

My players and I like to have fewer, harder combat encounters, as we'd rather be roleplaying than working through combats that we know the PCs will win. It seems hard to arrange for this in 5e. I ...
11
votes
6answers
2k views

Combat without HP

Question Our group finds that combat takes too long, and part of this is down to HP grinding. At first we thought it might be due to too many dice rolls, but that's not the problem; the problem is ...
6
votes
2answers
497 views

Would a Satyr in a level-one campaign be too much for the party to handle?

I am creating a level one D&D campaign. At this point, they will have defeated two Awakened Shrubs, a Giant Rat, a Giant Owl, and possibly a Giant Centipede (it depends on whether someone keeps ...
3
votes
5answers
1k views

How can I design an engaging combat with 4 tanks and one glass cannon?

Before I elaborate on the question let me first tell you my situation. I've started to DM a D&D 5e game last weekend, and thats my first D&D 5e game ever. So I kinda lack the intuitive gut ...
11
votes
2answers
477 views

How do I add player agency to a canned adventure?

Our current GM is going to be out of town for a few weeks, so I have decided to try my hand at GMing our group using the We Be Goblins module from Pathfinder. The module is short and has good reviews ...
1
vote
2answers
383 views

How much higher should a boss level encounter EL be than the party level? [closed]

I am looking at CR's and stats for an upcoming boss fight for my level 2 players. The party consists of a bard using the harbinger variant acting as a debuffer, a cleric who primarily functions as a ...
20
votes
3answers
6k views

How do I design an assassination mission, that is a challenge for the rogue, but not impossible for the other party members and requires teamwork? [closed]

My level 11 rogue/assassin player talked to me after our most recent session, because he feels that he cannot play the character as he planned him to be. He wants to use his rogue abilities and sneak ...
3
votes
1answer
174 views

Is there a feat that can change ability damage dealt by a creature's special attacks to ability drain?

Recently, to my dismay, I discovered that my longstanding understanding of the Dire Weasel's Blood Drain ability was incorrect. As Blood Drain deals Constitution damage, the weasel does not gain ...
1
vote
4answers
226 views

What are existing environmental rules for fighting on a raging river?

I want to set up a climatic battle for my players battling opponents on multiple rafts while everything rushes down a raging river. Has someone already set up environment rules that would cover this? ...
3
votes
0answers
127 views

How can I better describe how dangerous an opponent is to players without ruining immersion by simply telling them statistics? [duplicate]

Yesterday I was running the 5th Edition Hoard of the Dragon Queen adventure and one of the players was separated from the party. He entered a room in the dungeon and saw three blue guard drakes as ...
10
votes
3answers
4k 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
555 views

Creating a hard-level encounter with an npc enemy [closed]

I want my party of two nps and 3 pcs, all level 10, to fight an npc of mine (a sorcerer) but I don't know what level to make him in order to give them a hard-level encounter.
21
votes
2answers
6k 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 ...