@Kevvinn101THIS IS A AN AUTOMATIC CAPTION TEXT from YouTube, so it’s not “perfect”.
My advice is to use it just to help people like me that are not english speaking, to understand the Video/Podcast
MATT: Hello! My name is Matthew Mercer. I’m a
voice actor and the dungeon master for Critical
Role here at Geek & Sundry, and while we may have
touched on it in the past, today’s GMing Tips is
going more in depth about the idea of customizing
your creatures and characters for encounters.
Whether you’re running a party sized larger or
smaller than the system was actually balanced for,
or you want to create your own strange new beasts,
or have veteran players who have memorized the
entire Monster Manual and you still want to
surprise them, there’s a lot of good fun to be had in
occasionally customizing the creatures you use in
your campaign. I’ll be using mostly Dungeons and
Dragons examples here, especially Fifth Edition,
but the general ideas and functions work for
pretty much any gaming system out there.
So, for smaller party sizes of one to three
players, first off, consider the party makeup. Do
they have a decent healer? Do they have a lot of
damage-dealers without a lot of defensive
capabilities? You want to make sure you don’t
create encounters or customize creatures or put
creatures in that will wipe them out immediately
without some of those usual party dynamic
abilities. But you might want to consider
adjusting some creatures to have attacks that
inflict conditions over just direct damage.
Perhaps a smuggler throws sand as an attack that
blinds a player until they clear their eyes as an
action. You could add a trip attack to some
combatants that knocks a target prone. Maybe a
direwolf has a howl that can instill the
Frightened condition on a nearby target. These are
examples of attacks that heighten the sense of
danger without directly overwhelming a small party
And if you want to add a powerful enemy for story
flavor, but it could clean up against them? Scale
down a number of statistics to bring it a little
closer to the party level. Lowering HP by a
fraction could certainly help, but the general
defenses across the board can also take a little
hit, such as a reduction of saving throws, spell
DC, and armor class. Gauge which enemies at their
level seem to give them a tough fight, and adjust
your boss foe to be comparable, if a bit nastier.
Because nastier’s always fun.
Now, attacks that can affect and lock down the
entire smaller party can lead to an unfair TPK if
you aren’t careful. Consider adjusting some of
these abilities to affect a smaller line or cone
area, or perhaps reduce the Paralysis status it
inflicts to just Restrained, if most or all can be
hit at once. Just in case.
You can even instill a story reason for the
creature’s weakened state, leaving a fear of the
healthy version to eventually come. (evil cackle)
For larger party sizes of six, seven-plus players,
adding more hit points can help, but it isn’t
always the answer. Just adding more HP to a foe
only drags out a less-than-dynamic fight if you
don’t find other ways to make the battle more
interesting for the larger scope of combatants.
Here are a few ways that you can up the ante
without dragging out the battle too much longer
than it’s intended to be.
So for larger party sizes, that usually means
fewer rounds of combat, so make sure those rounds
hurt. Consider a small bump in damage to most
creatures. If it’s a solo or small number of
villains, perhaps customize existing attacks or
adding a new one that can affect multiple PCs. A
sweeping cleave that hits all creatures adjacent
to them, or a slamming tail attack that hits
everything in a 15-foot line. An arcane ability
that summons up crushing vines from the ground in
a 20-foot radius, grappling and damaging those
caught in it. Stuff like that.
This allows your overwhelmed monster to keep up
with the onslaught of many, many combatants around
them. And with that many PCs in the field,
mobility for creatures can also be difficult.
Consider abilities that can allow it to escape or more
quickly move about without a storm of attacks of
opportunity tearing its head off. Perhaps have an
attack ability that also pushes the target back
ten feet, now allowing them to move about safely.
Or a move ability that lets them teleport or leap
30 feet without fear of retaliation.
Here’s also some fun general tweaks you could
possibly add to it as well to liven up the combat.
You can implement damage milestones for the
creature, which means when a foe gets below a
certain threshold of damage, they gain new
abilities, or transform, like some crazy video
game boss fight. They begin to regenerate or grow
a new limb, allowing additional attacks, or they
enrage and deal even more damage per hit while the
combat drags out. Abilities that can add or change
the terrain of the battlefield are also a lot of
fun. A salamander who leaves an ever-burning trail
in their path when they walk, and anyone who
crosses that previously walked path now bursts
into flame and takes damage.
You can also implement minor lair actions for
non-solo encounters. These are all experimental
ideas and mistakes will be made and you’ll learn
from them to find the real balance for the game.
That’s part of the fun of running these larger or
smaller games. I would recommend erring on the
less and then scale higher as you progress. That
might help prevent an unintentional TPK on your
party when you were in the middle of just trying
to get them in the mood.
Anyway, hope you enjoyed and learned something
from the episode. You will see me on other
episodes of GM Tips here on GeekandSundry.com.
I’ll see you guys on the internet.
What to do if I’ve accidentally established foes far too powerful, told the party they’re too powerful, and they fight anyway Emphasize that some battles must be fled from. To stay may be to die.
— Matthew Mercer (@matthewmercer) November 10, 2016