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 DMing Tips and Tricks

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Verbannon
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PostSubject: DMing Tips and Tricks   Mon Apr 20, 2015 3:01 am

This is a thread for posting any neat tips and tricks you like to do when DMing that isn't in the books.

For instance at low levels I like to use 3/4 level and 1/2 level monsters by reducing them by using the standard level reduction guidelines. Good way to ensure the party is facing a decent size group of enemies without resorting to just minions.

And sometimes I want my party to face an enemy that is either way too high or way too low for their level. I do this by adjusting their 'minion, standard, elie solo' roles. For instance I wanted my party to deal with an ice devil.

An ice devil is normally a level 20 standard enemy. So I could reduce its level to 15 and make it an elite or to 10 and make it a solo. I made it a solo. I can also go the other way and increase its level to 25 and make it a minion. This way I gain a much greater breadth of monster options while making high level enemies continue to feel high level without overpowering the party.

So if they hit level 20 and fight some ice devils now, they won't be thinking "wow these guys seem to be as hard now as they were 12 levels ago" they'll be thinking "wow we are a lot stronger now, just one of these guys used to be a solo enemy for us, now they are standard."
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Chris24601
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PostSubject: Re: DMing Tips and Tricks   Mon Apr 20, 2015 9:30 am

I'm just going to cut and paste something from my encounter building guidelines from T&T here because they apply equally well to 4E and is one the biggest keys I've found to making fights interesting.

Use the Environment: Fighting in a featureless rectangular room time and again can make even the most interesting of monsters boring.

Each time you set up an encounter try to have at least one piece of interesting terrain. Even something as simple as a staircase that soldier or brute can position themselves at the bottom of while some artillery or other ranged creature fires at the party from the landing above can help make a combat more distinctive and memorable.

Furniture that can be used as cover (or improvised weapons), alcoves or other irregular shapes, piles of treasure (possible cover), rickety bridges over a raging river (or lava), gouts of steam, giant turning clockwork gears and concealed traps are all examples of terrain that will make fights interesting.

Plus, if you use elements such as these consistently and then DO put them in a featureless empty room, the players will get exceedingly nervous and wonder what’s REALLY going on. Personally, when I've done this I always ask if anyone wants to make an active Perception check and after hearing the results, pause and then tell them “You don’t notice anything unusual.” The look on their faces is ALWAYS worth it.

What's REALLY fun though is give them two featureless empty rooms in a row and only ONE of them actually has something interesting going on... and then make the order of interesting and empty random.
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