Hello again my fellow Gamers. Nerdarchist Ted here to bring yousome Game Master tips. When it comes to planning an encounter you need to look beyond the stats on a page .
We look through the monster manual and see all the options there and can be intimidated. We see monsters of all levels and quantities.
Each edition of Dungeons and Dragons has a some sort of system to help guide you to making the right power level, but each encounter needs to go beyond that.
First and foremost not all encounters need to be combat. And all combat encounters should have some kind of role playing element to it.
When you plan a combat that is not supposed to be combat be prepared that some blood thirsty players might try to attack it anyway. I know I had an encounter where the DM explained, “A giant crashes through the trees.”
We had no combat all night and it was getting late. As a second level character I charged in and had my ass kicked, literally into a tree. The giant swung its foot at me and I collided with the tree and died.
The encounter was planned that the giant was injured and was seeking aid.
Had we just sat back and offered assistance we would have had a nice little reward and probably made a useful ally. Instead 2 members of the party attacked. One died, me, and the other barely survived.
When you do have an encounter with combat that have intelligent monsters the creatures should communicate in some format. It could offer threats, insults and jibes or when it starts going against them surrender. Intelligent monsters rarely fight to the death.
When planning an encounter in dungeons and dragons you should have some of this prepared ahead of time.
What is the surviving percentage before they surrender, what kind of quibs and jibes could they offer during the fray.
You should always make sure that random encounters are thrown into each session. Random encounters should not be something that is level dependent, but be something that is relevant to the area that they are in.
If a Dragon lives in the area it could fly over head. Let the party react how they may. Make sure you have the dragon stated out in case they are stupid enough to fight it
Your set of random encounters should be part observation, part role playing, part combat, and part pcs need to run for their life for survival.
Your Role playing encounters can devolve into combat should the wrong thing be said and let the consequences of that be as they may.
When you are planning an encounter make sure you take terrain and/or hazards into account. When the very ground or environment is a threat that the party cannot use swords, words, or gold coins on it, it is just a challenge that must be endured or survived. You just have to make sure you do not do this type of thing all the time or your players will get upset with you.
When you create a dungeon make sure you have a reason to have it filled with the monsters an creates that you do. If you have orcs and kobolds in the same dungeon is there a reason for it? Are the kobolds hirelings or slaves of the orcs or is it something else?
Doing so will help you create a world that is full of environments and ecosystems that will breath a life all their own. Doing so will give your players a place that they cannot wait to get back to for the next gaming session.