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136

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. Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win. Sun Tzu Take a step back and ask: what is ...


130

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. This seems to be the case for a chuul, which has many abilities well-suited to ambushing adventurers: it can sense magic (including the magic items that ...


93

Doorway dodging is a valid tactic and comes up a lot in computer games; dragging everyone in the room into a small spot where they can be burned down in a hail of AoE (Area of effect) damage works. I have a few ways this can be dealt with: Close the door This works best for boss fights since it will get old fast but the door closes automatically, the first ...


91

You could break out of the loop if the druid had any healing potions and 1 spell slot remaining upon realizing the loop existed. Here's the general flow: Enemy orc's turn finishes, with friendly orc having 2 failed death saves. Friendly orc's turn comes and goes, hopefully without a failed death save. (Not much to do if this fails!) Druid's turn comes. ...


66

Allow your players to use these tactics. It's entirely legitimate for player characters to take advantage of mobility and cover, and if your players enjoy the game this way, you've succeeded in the primary job of a Dungeon Master, which is to keep the players happy. Allow opponents to use cover tactics. If the PCs can take cover, so can opponents. Place ...


62

"Focused Fire" is a legitimate technique. But there are many ways to deal with it. If your Combats are small skirmishes, with all participants within reach of each other then the PCs all piling on to one foe at a time will work. And this sounds like the "less fun" problem you are having Some of the techniques I have used are: Use the same tactic ...


49

RAW, tactics are broadly determined by monster type. There are no generic rules for how a monster behaves in combat. However, the monster manual does detail specific tactics for specific types of monsters. For example, the Hobgoblin (MM 185): Hobgoblins have a strong grasp of tactics and discipline, and can carry out sophisticated battle plans under the ...


48

If ramping up tactics/strategy is what you're after I've got to suggest you take a look at "The Angry Guide to ... Combats", parts 1, 2, and 3. Some takeaways: Two of one monster and two of another is much more interesting--for all involved--than four of the first. Even if the CRs are the same any variation in abilities, ranges, &c. lead to strategic ...


41

Each Game Is Different It sounds like your problem is with 'play style'. You want a game where your cool scouty guy can go and scout, scrag a few guards, and get the players into the enemy fortress with none the wiser until the alarm gets raised - when the players are already in the mage's sanctum. Killing him. Messily. Instead, what you've got is ...


41

Add allies that move, fly, or have ranged attacks Your players employed good tactics to deal with a particular challenge. Using ranged attacks is such a great advantage in combat that in real life, ranged weapons keep on getting better over the years. Since you want to challenge your players, you as the DM need to set up a situation that forces them to ...


39

The Rogue could attempt a Grapple. Athletics may not be a Rogue's strong suit, but you mentioned that the Rogue was having trouble dealing damage anyway. So instead of attacking, the Rogue could attempt to Grapple the Orc (contesting their Athletics check with the Orc's Athletics or Acrobatics). The nice thing about this is that where AC is fixed, with a ...


35

The rules allow this, but... There's nothing in the rules that prevents this from happening. However, there are a few things to consider about this tactic before employing it. It can be immersion-breaking Although it is technically within the rules of DnD to abuse the turn-based combat system for janky things like this, for some players this can break the ...


34

Effective does not require Intelligence (and vice versa) Creatures can use effective, even devastating tactics without relying on intellect. A simple example is Wolves, which have an Intelligence of 3 but also have the feature: Pack Tactics. The wolf has advantage on attack rolls against a creature if at least one of the wolf’s allies is within 5 feet ...


33

You could always learn from real life. The US Army has field manuals available online. For example, FM 3-06, Urban Operations might be of interest to your specific needs. There are countless other sites that will sell you training manuals of varied usefulness. I do not recommend any of them, mostly because I am no expert there. Erik Schmidt recommended FM ...


33

If you're using dice, this is a roughly 50-50 fight With the same statistics and abilities, and randomness in the form of Dice, cards, or something else, you have a roughly 50% chance of a TPK, and nearly guaranteed at least one player will die. This is probably way above the normal encounter guidelines for any system to consider a "Deadly" encounter. If ...


32

The problem isn't that your players have found an exploit to trivialize the game. The problem is that your tactically-minded players have already found an optimal strategy that works for every encounter, so they are likely to lose interest. Don't punish your players by forcing them to abandon their strategy - reward them by presenting new tactically ...


32

As long as the fight is solely about killing the enemy before they kill the PCs, focussing is a strong tactic. So look for ways to make it about something other than just attrition. For example, one that I ran a while back involved PCs (plus a few helpful NPCs under their command) helping to retake a dwarvish fortress that had been overrun by traitors. The ...


31

You can't For the situation you've described and based upon the motivations of the enemies involved, you cannot practically escape the loop you are in. For thematic story reasons, the orc will continue to pummel you into the ground until you are dead even while being slowly whittled down by the Rogue from range. The best thing that could be done is for the ...


30

There are a number of tactics but it boils down to creating situations where the other actions are necessary to continue to fight effectively. Here are some examples. The Dodge action: "On the far end of the room is a large repeating crossbow attached to the wall set to fire on you as you approach. The cultists are continuing the ritual, daring you to ...


30

Beating an encounter can include the enemies fleeing or surrendering. Role playing NPCs or enemies where murder or death are not the only options is an effective way to mitigate the tendency toward murder-hobo player parties. An enemy that surrenders and/or flees counts as defeated. Make that clear from the outset session 0. They party gets the same ...


28

It is in the hands of the DM. You usually gain advantage or disadvantage through the use of special abilities, actions, or spells. [...] The DM can also decide that circumstances influence a roll in one direction or the other and grant advantage or impose disadvantage as a result. (PHB 173) Consider granting advantage when: Circumstances not ...


27

Roleplay The roleplaying aspect in tabletop RPG's often gets somewhat lost during battle. This causes combat to become mundane. It is no longer a party of fresh adventurers clearing a mine filled with kobolds while carefully avoiding their traps, it's become numbers. A whole lot of numbers. You can probably agree that numbers are simply boring, so we will ...


26

If you've got a group that are using creative combat solutions you are going to need to do the same thing to challenge them. In general, a slow melee monster needs to contain or immobilise faster opponents. So you want to think about setups that trap or corner the players with the monster. How that is set up will be completely dependent on the situation. ...


25

If you want your players to stop using hammers, then don't make every obstacle look like a nail. Most challenges in D&D are combats, which consist of killable things that want to kill the players. In these scenarios, killing the monsters quickly is generally the best strategy. So if you want players to try using other action types, then you have to ...


24

You are correct in your rules understanding. There are of course missile and reach weapons, though in this situation both usually will incur a cover penalty to hit. And splash weapons, and spells - but this definitely isn't a rules exercise, it's an exercise in tactics. A bottleneck isn't necessarily bad. Keeping enemies bottled up at a chokepoint allows ...


22

There are multiple ways to defeat a web spell. For clarity, I am addressing the statement: I need to find reliable ways for enemies to deal with a spellcaster who can cast Web 7x/session. This appears to be the core of the question. Countering the spell: If one of the creatures can cast counterspell, this would be a good way to prevent the restraint and ...


22

It's good that your players are using tactics, just remember you can as well. Players will always try to fight safely so it helps to design encounters that make that less attractive. You have lots of options for keeping fights close. Ambush: predators and villains want ambushes so have them set up for them. Spider webs, burrows, camouflage, there are ...


21

There's a few options: Don't put monsters near the door. Rather than having the hobgoblins open the door, have them hide behind cover ready to ambush the players if they come in. Put them around a corner, or make the hallway wider such that bottlenecks don't happen. Have the monsters use tactics to break the deadlock. Grapple the character in front and pull ...


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