49

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 have two players, and (2) neither of them is from a warrior archetype, the adventures that you run for them until they get to second level should focus more on ...


17

Depending on what the players try to do, you could call for saving throws and/or ability checks. Saving throws are generally made to resist some consequence, and success means avoiding or reducing that consequence. Dexterity saving throws usually imply trying to move away, and Strength saving throws usually imply trying to not move. Either could come into ...


17

The athletics skill "covers difficult situations you encounter while climbing, jumping, or swimming" such as when you "struggle to swim or stay afloat in treacherous currents". This suggests to me that you should ask your group for Athletics skill checks. If you definitely wanted to have them make saving throws instead, it should probably be in Strength. ...


17

You say "TPK" like its a bad thing ... There are groups that adopt a style of play where the onus is on the players to assess risk and to pay the price when they get this wrong. These groups scoff at your namby-pamby ideas of "level-appropriate challenge". Curse of Strahd is explicit that this is an appropriate and encouraged style of ...


13

Don't use CR I don't think CR is going to solve your problems. It would be great if you could plug in all the info into a calculator and pull out a number which will tell you how challenging the fight will be. And to be fair, there are a lot of very good CR calculators around. However, the problem I have with them is that CR isn't very good from the start....


13

Get a second GM I have been in a game where there was a three-way fight. One team was the players' party. Our GM ran the second team. And our GM brought in her partner (also an experienced GM) to run the third team. There are a couple of benefits to having another person run the third team. One major benefit is that it reduces the load on you as the GM ...


12

Showing That a Monster Is Dangerous The most important thing to remember when trying to convince your players of a fact or emotion is to show, not tell. So, how to show that your monster is dangerous? You can invoke the oldest trick in the books: Surprisingly Sudden Death. Have the group be accompanied by one or more relatively powerful NPCs. Then, in ...


10

Don't do that There is a couple of reasons why this probably won't go well. I am going to run a climactic battle that has three factions- one will be the players, one will be their main antagonist, and the third will be an additional antagonist It seems you've already established an important detail: players will engage the fight between their foes. ...


8

The Dread Zombie should make the Undead Fortitude save each time that it drops to zero hit points. Like the Troll, this means that the Dread Zombie will have the Incapacitated condition in the time between being reduced to zero hit points and regenerating health via Regeneration. Essentially, the Dread Zombie uses its Undead Fortitude feature to stave off ...


7

First, a note on dealing with the Aarokocra - don't do the following tips in every fight. Every player wants the chance to shine so let them have it. The ability to fly around the battlefield unimpeded is a lot of fun so remember to sometimes let them do just that. Create scenarios where their ability to fly is instrumental to a quick, clean victory. But don'...


7

When I started with AD&D in the early 80-ies, one of the first things they mentioned in DMG, was that as a DM you can do pretty much whatever you want. There are no rule you can't change, remove or bend to your liking. The whole point of RPG is for the players to have an adventure and being part of a story. The "rules" are there just to get you going ...


6

It no longer matters. The current DDAL rules (Season 9, as of March 2020) do not use XP, they simply award a level at the end of a module or after 8 hours of hardcover play (4 at tier 1). Players can accept or decline the advancement as they please.


5

Engage the PCs first, then add the second antagonist. This prevents players from just waiting out until both antagonists have nearly killed each other. PCs could then just finish them off. It also feels less railroad-y for players, the second antagonist was just waiting for their chance. Antagonists should assume PCs are also enemies. Your big baddie ...


3

Avenues of Sneak Attack Ally adjacent to the enemy Having advantage on attack roll Provide an front line NPC. Your concern about NPCs doing the heavy lifting is well founded. I suggest taking a page out of the Ars Magica books and providing them with a "shield grog" or two. Essentially, an NPC that does little but provide a front line for the ...


3

In a comment on this question, you've written: Putting a strong emotional reason to fight still leaves them the option not to - and face losing the thing they care about. The game continues and they face the consequences. It sounds to me like "the game continues and they face the consequences" is not going to be a fun outcome for the group. It sounds to ...


3

Yes if the mount is an intelligent ally. Otherwise no. There isn't a hard and fast rule for this, since the rules for building combat encounters are just guidelines to begin with. With that said, I think the important question here is whether the mount is simply a tool that the player uses to enhance their movement, or an intelligent ally who will move, ...


2

You don't need to do anything If all of your players could fly then you would need to build your encounters accordingly. If you only have one flying player then they will naturally balance out. The key advantages of flying are: Increased mobility Getting around cover Avoiding melee with grounded enemies Increased mobility is helpful but, unless your ...


2

Tracy Hickman, in the forward to CoS, says that "the vampire genre has taken a turn from its roots in recent years. The vampire we so often see today exemplifies the polar opposite of the original archetype: the lie that it's okay to enter into a romance with an abusive monster because if you love it enough, it will change...[Our hope in CoS is to] ...


2

The easiest way to make the party engage with something they perceive as possibly beyond their league is to have the creature attacking a place and people the party cares about. Do they have a town with NPC's that they are fond of, place them in peril and the party is either forced to have them die or try and fend the beast off. Alternatively if you do not ...


2

Encounter difficulty is not an exact science. (Companions from spells and class features are considered in the power level of the characters. Do I include animal companions when calculating difficulty of an encounter?) NPC allies or allied monsters that are gained in the story, i.e. not from the characters' powers might be relevant. This analysis ...


1

There is not, and really couldn’t be—if it existed, it would be wrong How wealth affects a party’s power in D&D 3.5e is extremely complicated, and it depends so much on the party’s composition, level, the foes they face, and so on. Some classes are, even at high levels, inconvenienced at worst—a cleric might really like their greater metamagic rod of ...


1

Give your rogue a horse The rogue can ride up (from a great distance away, thanks to the horse's speed) and Sneak Attack an enemy, thanks to the (obviously) adjacent horse. A riding horse has terrible AC, but has comparable hitpoints to your 1st-level PCs. A warhorse would be sturdier - even more so with barding. Advanced tactics There is some disagreement ...


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