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63 votes
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What is the lowest level character that can unfailingly beat the Lost Mine of Phandelver adventure's starting encounter?

Level 5 Variant Human Wizard The Build The wizard has the Elemental Adept (Fire) and Alert feats The wizard prepares Shield, Mage Armor, and Fireball The wizard has 16 CON and 16 DEX (using the ...
Joshua's user avatar
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56 votes
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How can I add encounters in the Lost Mine of Phandelver campaign without giving PCs too much XP?

I'm going to challenge your premise a bit - why not drop XP-based levelling altogether and use milestone levelling instead? In my time as a DM and a player, I've found milestone has a few advantages: ...
jambrothers's user avatar
56 votes
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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 ...
Stop Being Evil's user avatar
46 votes

How can I balance encounters with a party consisting of a sorcerer, monk, rogue, and fighter?

You need do nothing. Having a healer is nice, but it's far less necessary in 5e than it used to be. It's actually pretty difficult for characters to die in this version. A few potions will be a ...
Phil Boncer's user avatar
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43 votes
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How can I reduce the number of encounters per day without throwing off game balance?

I'm currently running a West Marches style game. I realised before I even began that, if I were to use the standard resting times, I would either have to run an excessive number of random encounters, ...
Ladifas's user avatar
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42 votes
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Is this monster in Lost Mines of Phandelver too much for a group of level 3 characters?

If I may indulge in a frame challenge. A group of wandering murderers who, without provocation, attack an intelligent sentient being deserve what they get. This is especially so since, earlier in the ...
Dale M's user avatar
  • 212k
40 votes
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Are there any mechanics to guess CR or learn encounter difficulty in-game?

Yes, and maybe The use of "CR" is an out-of-game term and there really isn't a way to learn that specific value using in game rules. But what you may really be asking about is whether it is possible ...
NotArch's user avatar
  • 125k
40 votes
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How does the 'five minute adventuring day' affect class balance?

I'll step through each of the classes individually, but first the broad strokes: [Most] Spellcasters will fare much better than everyone else The main check on the power of a Spellcaster is their ...
Xirema's user avatar
  • 52.7k
39 votes

Remembering to add tracks and signs of wandering monsters

It's always easy to remember the flashiest effects of any roll. Everyone remembers rolling a 20 is a crit, right? Get into the habit of putting signs and tracks everywhere Since you mention your ...
eimyr's user avatar
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37 votes
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Is Glasstaff and the entire Redbrand Hideout supposed to be this easy?

No, you did nothing wrong. There are a few things here that stand out to me regarding the Glassstaff fight on which I can elaborate a bit. Surprise is very powerful Average damage and healing numbers ...
ammut's user avatar
  • 4,744
35 votes
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Non-Combat XP, with combat later

The reason only matters if it matters to you. XP is awarded for challenges overcome. Thus, if the troll presents a challenge both times, then yes, you should likely award XP both times. So lets ...
wax eagle's user avatar
  • 104k
32 votes

How do you make an NPC villain to battle high level characters in 5e?

D&D 5e monster and villains are rarely, if ever, built like Characters, and this is actually a very good thing for you. That said, you need a starting point. Start with the Archmage from the NPC ...
Aviose's user avatar
  • 8,493
31 votes
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How to run an encounter against a sleeping party, utilising a homebrew system

Remedy this by actually following the rules for initiative and surprise. You’ve got so many free attacks against the party because you’ve added an entire free round for the goblins that the rules don’...
Thomas Markov's user avatar
30 votes
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Should I cram all travel encounters into one day?

You could do away with the dice rolling and just start a 'random' encounter when you feel like it's a good moment, for example, when they just returned from the goblin lair, exhausted and spent. This ...
Dennisch's user avatar
  • 904
29 votes
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At what level can a party fight a mimic?

At level 2 (on average). From here, CR tells you the upper maximum difficulty of the monster, assuming a party of 4. Since the Mimic has CR2, it's a challenge for a level 2 party. That being ...
BlueMoon93's user avatar
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26 votes
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What are the options for my restrained and overwhelmed spellcaster NPC?

Your spellcaster could have escaped. Your spellcaster wasn't gagged, so he/she could have cast the second-level Misty Step, which is verbal only (and a bonus action to boot!). This allows the caster ...
Icyfire's user avatar
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25 votes
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Encounter design and XP thresholds

You were just over "1 day's XP budget" (five minute adventure day) In the Basic Rules p. 166/DMG p. 84, there's another table that lays out the estimated "adjusted XP" for an entire adventure day. ...
KorvinStarmast's user avatar
25 votes

What is the lowest level character that can unfailingly beat the Lost Mine of Phandelver adventure's starting encounter?

So there's a couple observations we can make about this scenario: The PC will miss with every attack or cantrip: rolling the lowest possible value on a d20 attack roll always results in a miss, even ...
Xirema's user avatar
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23 votes
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Can leaving and returning to an encounter make you roll a new initiative?

Encounters are like the Hotel California You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave. Just because you are no longer participating in the encounter for whatever reason doesn't mean ...
NotArch's user avatar
  • 125k
23 votes

How can PCs estimate the power of opponents?

Here are the rules (PHB p.6): How to Play The DM describes the environment The challenge of the creature before them is part of the environment so it is incumbent on the DM to describe it. How they ...
Dale M's user avatar
  • 212k
22 votes

How can I reduce the number of encounters per day without throwing off game balance?

Encounters are not necessarily combat What page 84 in the DMG actually calls for is "6-8 encounters" not "6-8 combat encounters." You state that the party is into things other than ...
KorvinStarmast's user avatar
22 votes

How can I balance encounters with a party consisting of a sorcerer, monk, rogue, and fighter?

There are several ways forward with this situation. An NPC (or "DM-PC"). You can introduce an NPC into the party, to fill this role. Not only does this introduce that extra buffer against ...
Ben's user avatar
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20 votes
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Is it possible for both sides of an encounter to be surprised?

Surprise is very much up to the GM How does surprise work? The section on "The Order of Combat" states: COMBAT STEP-BY-STEP 1. Determine surprise. The DM determines whether anyone involved ...
Exempt-Medic's user avatar
  • 76.2k
20 votes

How to run an encounter against a sleeping party, utilising a homebrew system

There is no “surprise round” in D&D 5e Instead there is a first round of combat, during which some, none, or all creatures might be surprised. So delete the “surprise round” from your sequence. So,...
Dale M's user avatar
  • 212k
19 votes
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Remembering to add tracks and signs of wandering monsters

Change the order of evaluation. Currently it is determine "random encounter" or "signs and tracks", then roll on table. The payoff of rolling on the table for mere "signs and tracks" is low. ...
Yakk's user avatar
  • 15.4k
19 votes
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How to determine CR of a group of enemies?

The answer to this is slightly more complicated than I think most would like. There's no easy way to calculate the total CR of an encounter; CR is one factor used in assessing Encounter Difficulty. (...
Glenn Driver's user avatar
  • 2,769
19 votes
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Does the 5e DMG discuss encounter distance?

In 5e, with few exceptions, this is left to the DM Combat Step by Step on page 189, PHB states: Determine surprise. The DM determines whether anyone involved in the combat encounter is surprised. ...
Nobody the Hobgoblin's user avatar
18 votes

How can PCs estimate the power of opponents?

The previous two answers haven't mentioned some skills which should be relevant: Perception This skill should detect big danger signs. Perceptive PCs should realise when they are moving towards a ...
Tenryu's user avatar
  • 3,308
17 votes

Remembering to add tracks and signs of wandering monsters

Take a spare 6-sided die. If you don't have one, buy a cheap one at a dollar store. Print out two monster footprint icons like these and one monster icon like this. Cut out the icons into small ...
SPavel's user avatar
  • 15.7k

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