In my homebrew campaign, the players caught the attention of a blood magic cult by discovering the lab of one of the cult members and fighting him. Now, the cult has survived for a while because they don’t want to be found out, which makes the PCs a loose thread to trim out. The cult posed as the PCs and burned down the building that was over the lab, and the players were arrested, but then were broken out by the person investigating the blood cult.
The investigator wasn’t too happy that the party interferes with his investigation, as their actions have cost the lives of a few people. So he helped them out of the city so they won’t meddle in his investigation anymore. The cult, having a large network, found out the party left, and as cults do, they can’t let them live. And the group has been itching for combat for a while now.
So they sent out a hit force to go after the party, and this is where I accidentally made an absurd encounter. The goal was to have one CR 2 Wizard, a CR 1 cleric, 2 barbarians, and 2 monks. The party had 2 level 4 and 4 level 3 PCs, which would make this a hard encounter. Well, I forgot that barbarians count as enemies that have damage resistance, and their HP was in the 60s. The other classes had their HP in the 40s and 50s according to their classes. Well, the barbarians’ effective health was around 120 instead, which after punching them in a CR calculator, made them CR 5 enemies instead of my intended CR 1. Had I halved their HP, they would still be CR 1.
The party lived with some very lucky nat 20 death saves, and they played smart with the use of mirror images and phantasmal force to mitigate a lot of attacks. However, the encounter had an absurd rating, which blew all of our minds, but I happily awarded the party all of the combat’s XP (775 for this encounter) to bring the 4 party members to level 4, which was well deserved. The players were fatigued, but energized, after that session-long fight, and were forgiving of my error. At least I know the worst I can throw at them. The positive spin to this is that the party is very well aware that the cult is out for blood and is not afraid to chase after them. I suppose they’ll think again before they ask for more combat. Now that I’ve seen how “normal” HP works for enemies with weapon resistance, I’ll be sure to adjust their HP so that they won’t last as long.
- “Mirror of Life Trapping” makes a great all-purpose “trap” and encounter that works for any group of any level.
- I made a revenge-bent character second guess himself, and I’m rather proud of myself.
- Death in the early game (TPK)?
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