Content of the article: "It’s Ok to Let Some Monsters Have Low Hit Points Against High Level PC’s"
I'm a dungeon master and this is what learned from playing in a game with a friend, who is DMing, and a few other acquaintances playing.
During mid to high level play, give foes normal hp or lower so the party can really feel their progression of power. I'ts ok. Just let some enemies die "easily."
If you "scale" every fight to feel "challenging" you render the idea of leveling up pointless. It can get frustrating. What's the point of leveling up if every fight is going to feel just as difficult as the last? Some encounters should start to feel easy.
High level play sees a shift from the player mentality of "killing this thing might be difficult" to "killing this thing is easy, is it the right thing to do, though?" Just trust your players to role play. The alternative is analysis paralysis, and assuming everything will be very tough to do and require a long rest just before, to even attempt with a chance of success.
Your players watch movies where the heroes fell hordes of minions while only allotting one or two strikes to each underling before facing off against the boss. Common everyday folk in D&D have like 10-20 hp. Don't feel the need to give every shopkeeper or city guard 60 hit points so they're harder to kill.
If the group wants to murder everyone, they're going to murder everyone. More hit points wont stop them. Try to get them to think, "is it ok for us to murder this guy?" not "How hard is it going to be to murder this guy?" Easy, it's going to be easy to kill this person, but the Shambling mound that is eating his cow, not so much. Sounds like a job for.. these-blokes-here-who-really-want-to-kill-something-good-thing-they-can-just-kill-this-monster-and-not-the-innocent-bystander!
(The best advice I can give to have fun DMing for actual murder hobos is 1. to start having shopkeepers, kids on the street, rookie beat cops, etc.., fear the players instead of disrespect them, and 2. have monsters appear for them to kill, terrorizing townsfolk while the party is present to witness it.)
If everyone is a big bag of hit pints it will slow up combat and encourage your party to try and use their complicated high level spells (slowing up combat further), as well as instill a sense of paranoia and desire to long rest in between each encounter due to how hard they all seem to be.
Let the challenge be in the monsters as opposed to the people. Abominable bags of hits points with cool abilities will not be out of place taking many rounds to defeat. Every hostile humanoid doesn't "need" to feel tough. You can have a monster at the end of the quest do that.
Imagine how boring combat would be if every foe was confident enough to run up next to the players, prevent them from moving anywhere new, and then hit them until vanquished, as opposed to foes who realize, "If I run up next to that guy, he's going to kill me like I'm nothing. I should think of something else to do that might give me a better chance of surviving"
Imagine how epic combat would feel being able to run hordes of enemies and not having to worry about tracking hp, knowing that one or two good hits will easily kill any of them, Your players feeling like they could stand up to an army. I'm talking about level 9~ish pc's and above. Kings ask you to do away with Kings. gods would ask you to do away with prophets or popes, or challenge the monsters wrecking havoc in the name of other gods, in exchange for treasures or powers..
Will it be more satisfying for a player to sit back and realize "That only took 1 of my high level spells. I could do that 5 more times today." or "That took more than half of my spell slots. I don't think I could do that again today."
Always try to consider how it feels from the other side of the table.
TLDR: Let stuff get killed in one hit. It'll solve a lot of problems. Or don't, I'm not sitting at your table.
- Does anyone else find that spellcaster enemies to be a complete pain to run?
- The limiting (and sometimes boring) nature of creating high level encounters
- How do I keep combat engaging and challenging to a player without creating a overtly difficult one for others?
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