173 votes
Accepted

What is the purpose of easy combat scenarios that don't need resource expenditure?

Others have mentioned other reasons, but here's another that I find particularly compelling. In a game of D&D, it is generally accepted that the DM will build combat encounters to be difficult ...
user avatar
  • 1,486
136 votes

How can I engage players with melee monsters when players keep their distance?

The players may have gotten out of the boss fight I had intended Excellent - I love it when players outsmart me, giving players the chance to feel clever and empowered is what being a DM is all about....
user avatar
  • 187k
130 votes
Accepted

How can I engage players with melee monsters when players keep their distance?

Play the monster like the ambush predator it is If a monster is slow and has no ranged attacks, then it is most likely an ambush predator that relies on the element of surprise to catch its prey. ...
user avatar
83 votes
Accepted

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

AngryGM Says Something About This Once your characters are obviously going to win, end the encounter/fight. That's tough, but I'm going to sum up what he said. (You should still read it, though) You ...
user avatar
  • 10.7k
83 votes
Accepted

How do I deal with a DM that throws encounters at us that are way above the party?

Talk to the DM Give non-accusatory feedback Express your point of view using neutral language and I statements. E.g. "When the encounter with 9 ogres ended in the death of all the characters, I ...
user avatar
  • 32.2k
81 votes
Accepted

How do I keep presenting progressively more challenging encounters to my PCs without making them think that the world is gaining Levels as they are?

There are many ways this could be explained, here are a few good story drivers that work: Different areas have stronger and stronger enemies Different areas in the world grow rougher and tougher as ...
user avatar
  • 6,242
79 votes
Accepted

How can I make my enemies feel real and make combat more engaging?

at the same time I have a hard time understanding exactly what else they would do. That is the core of your problem. To make them interesting, or boring but "alive" you must understand why they are ...
user avatar
  • 20k
70 votes
Accepted

Way to prevent teleportation

Spells A fair number of spells prevent teleportation; a wizard will struggle to gain access to some of them, but the skill Use Magic Device and a wand or staff will solve that. The 4th-level Sor/Wiz ...
user avatar
70 votes

How to challenge a pacifist party

Treat difficult social encounters like combat Any encounter shouldn't be finished in one roll. The bandits guarding the bridge aren't going to roll over and let the party pass just because you asked ...
user avatar
  • 11.8k
69 votes
Accepted

Accidentally let party wander into a high level situation, how do I help them get out without cheesing?

Telegraph the problem in advance It sounds like the real danger here is that the group might communicate sincerely with the spymaster, and this could lead to the spymaster killing them all. You can ...
user avatar
  • 76.5k
68 votes
Accepted

What do I do with a party that is much stronger than their level?

CR and Encounter Building are not an exact science If you find that your group is too effective (or too ineffective) in dealing with enemies, you will have to improvise and adjust the difficulty. ...
user avatar
66 votes

How can a boss enemy prevent being the most obvious target?

Don't make the boss the target until after the minions die. Some of the most memorable encounters I've been in have involved powerful enemies that weren't the ones in charge. A simple fix to your ...
user avatar
64 votes

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

Zero XP If your boss can cast Animate Objects, that’s already factored into the boss’s own CR. Spells are always part of the caster’s CR, including spells that can add new opponents, whether by ...
user avatar
63 votes
Accepted

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

Hit your fighter in the NADs1 AC isn't the only way to cause damage to a fighter. Utilize creatures that force saving throws. High AC won't save you from a fireball Give them hard choices. AC won't ...
user avatar
63 votes

Is this homebrew CR 12 monster too difficult an encounter for two level 4 characters?

Absent Extenuating Circumstances, Yes According to Kobold Fight Club, which gets its information from the DMG, a party of two level 4 characters would consider 250xp worth of monsters Easy, 500xp ...
user avatar
  • 829
62 votes
Accepted

Petrification at low levels

This pit-fall of Challenge Rating is anticipated in the Dungeon Master’s Guide. The DMG gives some guidance for designing encounters, and there is a sidebar on p. 82 that mentions exactly the problem ...
user avatar
61 votes

How to make a villain when your PCs are villains?

Build a criminal network as your BBEG I have had success over the years in using the Organized Crime family model (an example is mentioned here) to provide scalable challenges to parties of good, ...
user avatar
61 votes

Is this homebrew CR 12 monster too difficult an encounter for two level 4 characters?

Try it yourself If you have a copy of their character sheets, run the encounter by yourself a few times playing both sides. You should get a decent idea about how outmatched the PCs might be.
user avatar
  • 24.2k
60 votes

What is the purpose of easy combat scenarios that don't need resource expenditure?

Combat as a mechanical resource If you are using XP progression (which is the default way to play, according to the PHB) and you want to give your player characters some catching-up, then you could ...
user avatar
  • 31.1k
59 votes

Handling encounter elements that would realistically cause instant death

Group Checks, Success with a Cost, and Skill Challenges These three concepts are meant to be used in tandem, but can be cherry picked to suit your style of play. I have the most experience using them ...
user avatar
  • 19.9k
56 votes
Accepted

Is this a deadly encounter?

Carcer and I can independently verify that all your math checks out. That said, take a deep breath. I doubt this question was prompted by your lack of faith in your own math and reading skills, but ...
user avatar
54 votes
Accepted

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

I used to play a game that was fun and exciting: you rolled a dice and depending on the result moved up some ladders or slid down some snakes and the first one to the top won, its name escapes me for ...
user avatar
  • 187k
53 votes
Accepted

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

First things first, you have to identify the problem. If his AC is too high, you could review his sheet and check if he didn't calculate something wrong (it happens more often than you could believe). ...
user avatar
  • 60.8k
53 votes
Accepted

How can a DM make a low-level melee rogue feel useful in combat when the party has no tank who triggers sneak attack for her?

For Druid + Rogue at level 1; combat is not necessarily required. Focusing on the rogue's DPR is, IMO, you as DM viewing this party through a very narrow lens. I suggest that, since (1) you only ...
user avatar
52 votes
Accepted

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

Neither and both. Unlike in Previous editions, CR isn't used to directly create combat encounters, instead the XP values of the creatures ( which is tied directly to CR) is used to determine how many ...
user avatar
  • 31.9k
51 votes

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

Quit being the DM. Be the monster. From what you've said so far, you think like most DMs. This isn't surprising - it's how the modules and books train you to DM. You design encounters based on the ...
user avatar
  • 6,846
51 votes

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

You are screwed Sorry to be the bringer of bad news, but you've painted yourself into a corner here. You told your players that magic users are "generally welcome, but some places hate them"....
user avatar
  • 35.4k
49 votes
Accepted

How to have enemies that use tactics while also making sure that the encounter is fun for all players?

Monsters aren't perfect . . . so don't play them that way. The PCs make mistakes, so should the monsters. In any battle, from a street fight to the Battle of Endor, mistakes will be made. The PCs ...
user avatar
  • 26.1k
47 votes

Players better at dealing damage than taking damage

This is normal. This is how the game works. Sorry? Unfortunately, the way the numbers in the game are laid out, most fights are decided in the first 2-3 rounds. Even if they aren’t finished that fast,...
user avatar
  • 318k
47 votes
Accepted

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

As you're aware, the DMG's guidelines for building encounters are designed for parties of three to five characters: The preceding guidelines assume that you have a party consisting of three to ...
user avatar
  • 141k

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible