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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.

34
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9answers
8k views

Players better at dealing damage than taking damage

I'm currently DM'ing a high powered D&D 3.5 game with 4 PCs (Wizard, Druid, Rogue/Assassin and Bard) and a DMPC (Minotaur Barbarian) at ECL 11. My concern is that whenever I try to create a ...
-1
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the CR of a monster with class levels?

I can't find very clear rules about how adding class levels affects monster CR in the books, or maybe i just didn't understood clearly. I aim to make more memorable intelligent creatures like dragons ...
11
votes
2answers
1k views

Is there published guidance in 5e on the number of monsters appearing?

The monster statistics and descriptions in earlier editions provided information about the typical numbers of monsters of each type, the social and leadership structures for humanoids (e.g. for each ...
12
votes
5answers
2k views

How could a group of people defend their fortress against an airship attack?

Introduction I'm GM, and my 7th-level players are planning to assault a fortress with an airship at night from a distance of roughly 100–2000 feet. Background The fortress is an academy for ...
1
vote
3answers
2k views

As a DM, how do you maintain an appropriate difficulty? [closed]

I have been a DM for about a year and am trying to get better at it. I have been using a houserule in which adjacency provides a bonus to AC. I use it for monsters too. I have 3 players. All of them ...
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 ...
24
votes
8answers
19k 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

How hard are consecutive encounters? [closed]

I'm a rather new 5e DM and I would like to ask how accurate is the encounter difficulty multiplier (amount of enemies) and how consecutive fights stack up in terms of difficulty. Consecutive encounter ...
17
votes
7answers
5k views

How to subtly hint at “Boss Fight mechanics”

There was a question about making Boss encounters more engaging, possible answers included adding several stages, or for example shifting immunities to a certain type. But the answer didn't go into ...
5
votes
1answer
706 views

Moving Caravan Encounters

I have to set up a few encounters where my players are part of a small caravan, about 4 small wagons being pulled by horses and oxes. I am needing some help on if there are any rules pertaining to ...
9
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the XP and difficulty of an encounter when a monster can transform?

At some point in the near future, the party are going to be facing a half-dragon enemy that at half health can transform into a full dragon (with full health). The half-dragon has no healing ...
6
votes
3answers
6k views

I feel like my encounters are too easy, even using the encounter tables

For example, just recently gave my PC's an encounter in a dungeon setting. I had four 3rd-level characters (A fighter, a barbarian, a rogue, and a ranger admittedly with a beast companion) against two ...
1
vote
2answers
224 views

What's the CR of this group of poachers?

The PCs are a 5th-level party that includes a two-weapon-fighting ranger with the feat Cleave and a druid that usually prepares the spells entangle and charm animals. The foes are a family of ...
5
votes
1answer
155 views

How much XP is an NPC built as a PC worth for encounter budgeting?

I'm running a session with a party of five level 2 characters: a paladin, bladesinger, thief, cleric and psion. The session is going to play on a religious rivalry and so I've made a level 3 paladin (...
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 ...
20
votes
8answers
3k views

How do I balance combat encounters for an unequipped group?

There are a number of ways for a group to end up under the power of an enemy or adversary. If the group survives such a situation at all, it seems very reasonable to expect said enemy to imprison the ...
3
votes
1answer
343 views

Designing forced-loss encounter for skilled level 1 group [closed]

I'm designing an encounter for a skilled group of level 1s. What I'm trying to do is set up a villain that the party would have to fight later; thus, this encounter is supposed to be a forced loss. (...
7
votes
7answers
5k views

How can I stun or hold the whole party?

Coming up to the end of the current story arc, I would like the main villain to become a recurring enemy, popping up at the most inconvinient of times as they do. There is going to be a large scale ...
-5
votes
2answers
2k views

What is the CR of this custom Drow Elite Assassin?

What would be the challenge rating for this custom NPC enemy? It's definitely more than 8 but I don't know what. In essence, it's a Drow Elite Warrior combined with an Assassin: Drow Elite Assassin ...
2
votes
1answer
147 views

What would be the Challenge Rating increase of these template-like changes?

I have a campaign with a region of undead where the element of fire is so prevalent that it has become part of some of the monsters. That is, I have some fire-based property sets that I would like to ...
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 ...
7
votes
2answers
5k views

How many level 20 PCs with Tiamat (CR 30) on their side would treat Asmodeus (CR 40) as a Hard encounter?

I am planning on running an epic-level campaign with a party of indeterminate size. The idea is they will be fighting Asmodeus with a custom stat block who will be approximately CR 40. They will have ...
18
votes
3answers
10k views

Are there guidelines for creating a lower-level Legendary Creature?

A recent Wizard’s article, Unearthed Arcana: Encounter Building, states: If you want to use a single monster, you’re typically best off using a legendary monster, all of which are specifically ...
2
votes
1answer
171 views

DC for fallen tree [closed]

The party has to bring the wagon through the forest. During a storm the previous night, a giant tree fell across the path blocking the road. They have to get the wagon and 5 horses through the ...
26
votes
8answers
15k views

How can I keep repeated arena combat from getting boring?

In a campaign world I am creating, I want the characters to be given a plot hook to start into the primary campaign at about level 5, but since some of the players are new, I think it would still be ...
9
votes
6answers
4k views

How can I give sufficient XP per session for 7 high-level PCs without encounters being a slog?

In the DMG it suggests that the DM levels players at a rate of about 3 sessions per level past about level 5 or 6. My players' characters are currently level 8 and there are 7 of them. That would ...
3
votes
3answers
446 views

Are XP award for one large encounter vs. lots of smaller encounters different?

Suppose my five level-2 player characters (PCs) face 10 CR2 challenges/encounters in a given Pathfinder session. To be concrete, let's assume these encounters are monsters that are each worth 500 XP. ...
10
votes
5answers
4k views

Is there a name for putting OP enemies against OP characters?

Suppose that a DM realizes that the PCs became OP due to several reasons (optimization, lucky rolls, too many magic items) and battles that are supposed to be deadly became easy. Then, he decides to ...
3
votes
1answer
122 views

How can I run an interesting council meeting? [closed]

The Story so Far The end is nigh for planet earth! The sun is running out of fuel and life on earth only has about 100-500 years before it gets burnt to a crisp as the sun expands. Several years ago ...
3
votes
3answers
270 views

How much higher can I make a enemy boss than the party?

I'm looking to introduce an recurring enemy in my new 4e/Ultramodern4 campaign that's an on-going, ruthless opponent. I want this specific opponent to be an exception of the normal 4e pattern of all ...
7
votes
2answers
355 views

Confused about how CL is calculated for multiple and single enemies

New GM here and I'm not quite sure how CL is calculated. So, the CL of an encounter (involving multiple enemies) is suppose to be the combined CL of all enemies/3. But that doesn't make sense. That ...
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 ...
14
votes
4answers
587 views

Should I adjust encounter challenge for PCs with damage immunities?

Recently, two of my PCs became afflicted with lycanthropy (of the wererat variety). According to the Monster Manual, characters with lycanthropy acquire the damage immunities of their respective ...
15
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
536 views

How well are low level PCs able to defeat high level NPCs in B/X D&D?

For a Basic/Expert game, I want to populate the campaign area with important and influential NPCs, who are doing their things independent of the player's activities. The goal is to have the players ...
14
votes
3answers
4k views

Do different monsters cooperate? Do I need to justify it when they do?

I'm new to GMing, and am having difficulty with understanding how often different types of monsters interact cooperatively (so to speak). In keeping with trying to give my PC's variety, and to also ...
0
votes
5answers
1k views

Is it normal for a 2nd/3rd-level party to face a sub-boss that has AC 20?

My party of mixed 2nd and 3rd level PCs were stuck in a fight versus what was essentially a town guard (plus friends) with 20 AC, leading to multiple players wasting multiple turns rolling to hit and ...
7
votes
1answer
447 views

How do I structure an in-game tournament to rank the participating parties of adventurers?

As part of my existing Pathfinder campaign, I want to run an in-game tournament between twelve adventuring parties. The PCs would form one team. The other 11 are NPC teams put forward by NPC nobles. ...
2
votes
0answers
192 views

How do I appropriatly stock this dungeon to make it challenging but not impossible? [closed]

I'm a new DM. I built a dungeon for my players' second set of encounters. They will need to clear it in order to gain knowledge from a Copper Dragon (a passive ally) at the end. We are using ...
5
votes
1answer
216 views

Help me with my battlefield design [closed]

Setup One of my weaknesses as a DM is probably battlefield design. I often forget about this completely, and have to make up a map on the spot when we roll initiative. I try to avoid this before ...
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 ...
6
votes
2answers
326 views

Is this DnD4E fight level appropriate?

Yesterday we had a DnD4e session to kill the final boss of a, now in total, 4 session dungeon. This fight took us 7 hours (irl). The boss had an AoE ability that would shoot a fireball for 1d100 with ...
2
votes
3answers
11k views

Experience point calculation for encounters

I am likely missing something very obvious but I cannot find a reliable way to figure out how much XP to give my players for encounters anywhere, currently I'm using a factor of 5 encounters of a ...
2
votes
2answers
563 views

How to decide if traps in OSR play should be obvious? [closed]

Obvious traps emphasize interaction with the traps, which is often interesting. Hidden traps make unexplored regions of a dungeon far more dangerous and reward careful play and cunning, as players ...
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 ...
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 ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

How much does Petrification Ray modify a monster's CR?

I'm working on a custom monster right now and I want to give it a Petrification Ray, as seen on the Beholder, as an action: Petrification Ray. The targeted creature must make a DC (8+Spellcasting ...
3
votes
2answers
343 views

How to modify a bulette to challenge a level 10 party?

In my campaign, the PCs have been tasked with removing a group of bulettes from a mining claim. I plan on using standard bulettes as a lead-up to a 'boss fight' where I would like a larger (perhaps cr ...
4
votes
3answers
17k views

How do I calculate a suitable combat encounter under 5e based on the CR values in the Monster Manual?

In my 3rd ed book, there is a table of CR against the number of monsters a party can fight based on their level. In 5e I cannot find this table. There is some mention of encounters being based on the ...
30
votes
4answers
14k 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 ...