Saturday 17 September 2011

Want a good encounter? Get tough on your players {4e}

In my last 4e session I had what I think was the best encounter I've ever run. There are multiple reasons for this, including random events (a skiff falling into a building during the fight), a strong reason for the encounter and player co-operation. However, I do think a main factor in the success of the encounter was that it was a bitch.

It's been repeated before throughout the community and I've echoed it here on numerous occasions - it's hard to kill players in 4e. This isn't because we're 'doing it wrong', but because the mechanics are fashioned in such a way that the PCs get distinct advantages over their enemies. Matching levels in an encounter can produce some good results in Heroic, but mid-Paragon upwards things start to get stale.

So last session I threw in a fight that included a monster over 4 levels above the PCs, with other monsters being a couple higher. I did have to dial it down a notch due to the party's tank being otherwise engaged, but it still worked out in the end. It wasn't just the enemy difficulty that I upped though. The PCs had to also deal with re-enforcements appearing and helping innocents to boot. The whole experience brought out the tactical best in my group, who are all intelligent guys with a good degree of strategic know-how, and it was great to see them discuss which powers they need to save and how their abilities can compliment each other.

The next encounter is going to be tougher still, so I expect to see them pull out all the stops to take down their foes and handle everything else I throw at them.

As a side note, I've finally finished my latest Tunnels & Trolls adventure for Elder Tunnels Halloween 2011, which is why I've not been posting this week. It's pretty much a love-letter to Evil Dead 2 and I hope you guys pick it up when it's out and let me know what you think.


  1. I have to agree, the most fun my group has is when the encounter is at the bleeding edge of possible. I had an encounter in my last session with kidnappers that grabbed the casters and used big shift abilities to move them to opposite sides of the room this encounter dropped both my strikers to 0 very quickly and nearly dropped the tank as he was panicking trying to get things in control. even with half the group on the ground we all had a ton of fun.

  2. @aamedor that sounds awesome. I love controlling the PCs and watching the looks on their faces. The encounter I was talking about included a lot of dominating abilities, so every other turn the striker was turning around and Twin Striking the Wizard.