Dungeons & Dragons Online

Power Scaling and Encounter balancing Issues

Hey Folks, this might be a long one and I've not really posted here often so I'm not completely sure on the formatting. TL;DR at the bottom.

So to sum things up to this point regarding the campaign, we went into this current campaign in a homebrew world with 6 players, planning on going from level 5 to 15 or 17 depending on how things go. Throughout the campaign we have lost a few players for a variety of reasons, as we are now down to 4 shortly after reaching level 10. We went into this campaign with the possibility of a full party wipe being completely possible, and that was what everyone wanted when we first started. Granted, I am a rookie DM and so balancing isn't something I'm entirely experienced with and Kobold Fight Club has led me astray many times. I also prefer using out of the book monsters, with little to no modifications and this has worked relatively fine up to this point, but we will get to that.

The plot synopsis up to this point is that the BBEG wants to collect these 21 shards of an ancient being to harness their power to do something bad. The players are racing against the BBEG to find and bring these stones to a group of archmagi who plan on using the shards to destroy the shards. So the party made a deal with a dwarven kingdom to clear out one of their mining locations in exchange for a shard. Once they deal with the stone cursed dwarves, they reach a door and inscribed upon it is "Property of Levistus. Keep out!" and after rolling history/religion they have no reason to believe it is untrue. So the 4 man party decides to delve into the room, but right as they are going one of the players has to go, and we decided to play with only 3 and so I removed 2 of the 4 minions from the fight, in an attempt to balance it. Once they entered the devil in the room was not Levistus, but a devil sent to guard his hoard and watch over the cursed subjects, however this devil had already decided to abandon his post prior to meeting the party, and was looking for somewhere to retire using the hoard of wealth. The PCs talk to him and suggest a place that they had recently cleared out which was similar in disposition to the mines he currently resided. But as they were leaving, having peacefully resolved the issue, the players decided to turn around and fight the devil, who had clearly wanted nothing to do with them. One player Twin spells haste onto himself and the fighter and the fighter rushes in. A few turns pass and the fighter gets knocked unconscious and so the player concentrating on haste runs in to heal him, but is then opportunity attacked on his way out and he fails his concentration check, stunning both Hasted party members, so the devil takes another turn, getting both of them low health and offers a truce, but they decline. So as another set of rounds go by, the player who hasted them both gets knocked unconscious and the devil again asks if they would just stop the menial fighting, seeing as the devil was bloodied at this point and one player was down, of which they accept the offer and leave frustrated at their defeat.

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This is the 2nd encounter they have had to flee from, the first being someone who was hunting the BBEG down, and they did not believe him so they tested his strength and lost. Again no one died in either of these encounters because neither NPC had any real reason to kill them, but it has left my players with a bit of a sour taste in their mouths. And as the fights become against more and more powerful beings, and the plot escalates with the BBEG razing a city on the back of a dragon, the players raised a concern that they felt out of place in the campaign. We mentioned potentially using the sidekicks added in Tasha's to assist them, or to somehow train themselves or craft better equipment to be more prepared for the oncoming fights, but I'm not entirely sure on how much that would assist in the out of place feeling. I'm also not sure how to deal with characters existing that are more powerful than the players, as they seem to think "Why am I doing this when Mark the Dragon Slayer could be doing it instead?"

TL;DR The campaign is escalating in scale a decent bit faster in scale than the players expected/wanted and they have begun to feel out of place. What can I do to boost them up without just saying you all level up or here have some magical items laying around?

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Source: reddit.com

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