Rise to the challenge: how do you balance encounters in your system?
Encounter Balance is a much more important feature in my 4e game than it is in my old school games. In 4e there’s the expectation that the PC’s are “Heroes!” able to overcome nearly any challenge. “Heroes!” don’t run from dangerous monsters, they face them, usually head on!
This takes some work, but because my players are so good at character building, I usually have to make things harder than they are as written in the adventures that I've been running them through.
In my old school games… there are things that are best run away from. Many of them. They can be overcome, but not usually by running in like a hero. Careful planning and preparation is the way to go if you want your characters to survive.
That isn’t to say that I’m just going to drop an ancient red dragon on my players without any warning. I mean, it isn’t like an ancient red dragon is going to sneak up on anyone… They tend to make an impression on the local area. The same holds true with lesser monsters too. Ogres, orcs, goblins, and just about every other monster out there will mark their territory in some way. The PCs just need to pay attention to the signs, and then interpret them correctly.
It’s up to the PCs to balance their greed with their ability… If they want to take on a dragon, that’s up to them!
The flip side to this is that even a lowly goblin with a rusty knife, when the blood moon rises, and the constellation of the lady of luck is in the shadow of the dark cloud, and the DM's dice are hot, and the players are not... Encounter balance doesn't mean a thing.
This post is #13 of the 30 Days of Gamemastering Challenge
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