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Do fights have to be deadly? How to balance them if game has 1 fight per session?

Content of the article: "Do fights have to be deadly? How to balance them if game has 1 fight per session?"

So I noticed a problem here…

While the DM manual says that a group should be able to handle 6-8 medium/hard encounters per day I am running a very NPC/Social interaction campaign (Waterdeep: Dragon Heist) that at most has 1-2 encounters per day (also per session).

This means I have to make the encounters waaay higher than the deadly treshold (for example 1.5 or 1.7 times the deadly treshold) which is fine but also…very deadly.

So I was thinking about this and I think the problem can be summed up in this way:

Speaking of this: How many Hard+ Encounters do you guys have per 4 hr session ? It seems that my players might tolerate 2 MAX 3 if they are fighting some epic end boss.

  1. "How many session in a row I want to focus 80% on fighting?"
    This line of thinking comes from the fact that if I ever want to squeeze in more than 2 fights in a day I need to do this by splitting this "day" into more than 1 Session (players usually are tired after 2 fights in 1 session, typical session lasts 4 hrs).
    Now if we follow this line of logic it basically comes down to the following statement:

  2. "How much variety do I want in my Games?"
    Well to be honest I'd say that ideally I'd want 3 types of sessions and ideally I'd like to rotate them:
    a) Intense Danger Session (75%+ of the session will be spend fighting or sneaking around in some dangerous place) <- In sessions like these it is possible that players might die
    b) Moderate fight session (~50% of the session will be spent in some type of danger, like talking to gangster or solving mysteries. 1 Fight might break out) <- players might be knocked unconscious
    c) Light fighting Sessions (These types of sessions are more for the players to run around in some city, relax, maybe solve a puzzle, make new friends with npcs, forge alliances etc.) <- players are safe

  3. So now that we have the 3 types of sessions established I come to 1 conclusion. If I want to rotate session like these I really sometimes have no choice as to have MAX 2 fights (pre-fight, mini-boss fight) in 1 session. Now this wouldn't be a problem but as I said if I do it this way, I have to basically go double the deadly treshold. I play-tested it. It works but it is very risky and might kill some players. I mean so far they are very cocky so 1 dead would not be the end of the world, but I am still somewhat worried.

  4. Finally, maybe this is more a theoretical question: How do I make fights challenging/interesting without putting the lives of my PCs in danger? Any tips on that?

Read:  Advice please! Either the party is super reckless or I'm pretty terrible. How should I scale this?

Ps: I honestly dont understand why anyone would ever make easy/medium difficulty encounters. They seem boring since they are basically decided before the fight begins. Can anyone give me a few clues here?

So general advice on this?

Source: reddit.com

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