dnd 5e – Is it a fair boss / encounter for 5 level 5 PCs?

My DM made an encounter with a boss like monster. I felt that that was too hard for us, and I wanted to tell him, but he told me, that this was a balanced encounter for level 5 PCs, but I think it was way too hard for us. Could you please review the session, based on the following information, and explain, why was it balanced or too high CR.

Situation: DnD 5e, 5 level 5 PC with very high stats (avg. was 16-17 / stat). Everyone had at least one extra Feat and one +1 Armor or Weapon. Furthermore, we have some buffs (e.g.: my PC get extra mobility, uncanny dodge, and 22 DEX) BUT also one debuff (e.g.: my PC get double damage from all sources).

The Boss: had three phases, 600 HP and +7 to attack rolls. In the 1st phase it had 22 AC and it used a longsword to attack us, and had a shield (+2 AC). When we reached 400HP it gone to 2nd phase where he dropped the shield, but attacked with versatile property. Again when we reached 200HP it changed to 3rd phase, where he get two handaxes, and doing DEX Save (16) whirling attack (with half damage on success) damaging everyone who got in line of it.

After the boss I mentioned that it definetly not under CR 10. My DM said that it is CR5, because a CR10 would kill us in one round. What do you think?

monsters – Are there any official references to the “a cat is a deadly encounter for a commoner” meme?

I have encountered several times the claim that cats are rather deadly encounters for any commoner and the difference between a commoner and an adventurer is, that the adventurer actually would have a fighting chance to survive a one on one encounter with a cat. That does not seem to hold true for a lvl 1 wizard, so wizards elongate their lives by petting cats instead of trying to kill them. Evil Hat claims that bags full of cats were Mage-killer weapons due to statistics for a long time – but apparently 5E seems to fix that – but yet again, that thread mentions, that cats are or used to be utter commoner-killers since at least AD&D 2nd Edition (or older). The Commoner-killing properties of cats even found their way into Order of the Stick and got it mentioned on TVtropes Cats are Mean under Tabletop, pointing to 3.5 as the source.

Is there an official source, like a Dragon magazine article or a blog post, that references this joke/story/meme? In case of multiple finds, the oldest official source wins.

dnd 5e – Is the XP for an encounter split among the party members or not?

Total XP is divided amongst the players participating in the combat

The “Experience Points” section of the Dungeon Master’s Guide says (p. 260):

(…) When adventurers defeat one or more monsters — typically by killing, routing, or capturing them — they divide the total XP value of the monsters evenly among themselves. If the party received substantial assistance from one or more NPCs, count those NPCs as party members when dividing up the XP. (…)

This rewards players based on the relative difficulty of the combat rather than the empirical size of the opposition. 10 goblins is more of a challenge to 4 players than to 10 players, for instance; thus, each player gets a larger piece of the XP. Otherwise, an army of player characters could amass absurd XP from swarming a high-CR monster and all benefit as if they had single-handedly taken it down.

In terms of survival, the DMG never distinguishes between alive or dead combatants for XP division. Thus, XP is divided amongst the living and dead with no differentiation. By nature of being a PC, players are considered as providing “substantial assistance” regardless of their actions (so long as they participate in the combat). Survival has no effect for NPCs that provided “substantial assistance” and are still rewarded XP accordingly if killed.

Thus, in your example of four players facing an encounter worth 400 XP total, each player would receive 100 XP whether they survive to the end of combat or not.

shadowrun – How should a GM go about handling a combat encounter against an enemy team of runners?

I have a group that is about to encounter another runner team in combat. They both want to do the same job, and are going to be fighting for the package. The two thoughts I had were to make some of them (3) prime runners, but I worry that will be a significant undertaking in combat to reference sheets for each of them. The other thought was to use regular blocks of stats, but I worry that it might make the encounter too easy.

What is a good tactic for creating enemy runners teams to fight against that will hopefully deliver a significant challenge?

When will we encounter gimbal lock in unity

The gimbal lock should be in the same gimbal system, right?

In my tests, every time I call the transform.rotate() function, Unity determines a gimbal system based on the current local coordinate system. So let’s say I call transform.rotate() twice, just two separate gimbal, and they don’t interfere with each other, right?

I know that when I adjust the value in the Inspector, the gimbal lock will appear, because no matter how you adjust it, it’s in the same gimbal system.

Now my question is if we’re going to encounter other gimbal locks in game development. If so, can you give me one or two examples?

I am not sure if my understanding is correct, if I have any mistakes, please point them out.


dnd 5e – Is the encounter in area 11 of the “Isle of the Abbey” adventure in Ghosts of Saltmarsh overly difficult?

It depends on the party’s make up

(*Based on the original question, location 12)
The party I DM’d for in that one handled it pretty well. Here’s the line up:
1 Barbarian, Bear Totem
1 Sorcerer, Shadow Magic
1 Druid, Shepherd
1 Artificer, Artillerist
1 Monk, Drunken Master

Tactical Points: artificer’s protector canon was up, and the Monk Stunned the

minotaur statue {aside, the monk was wearing the medallion, not sure if that is the plot hook that you are referring to, I suspect that it is)

twice. They had just dealt with

a bunch of traps

and were not at full resources, but they also were not at the end of their rope either. IMO, the stun was a significant difficulty mitigation. If your party fights well as a team, they’ll probably handle it unless the dice hate them.

No, it’s not overpowered for your party of 6 PCs.

As you noted in a comment, the adjusted XP is 7300 for 5 in area 12, but since the party has 6 party members, it’s 5475 adjusted XP; between hard (4500) and deadly (6600) for 6 fifth level PCs.

For location 11, they dealt with it in a non combat manner. Also, since your party has six PCs, per the DMG and the Basic Rules

If the party contains six or more characters, use the next lowest
multiplier on the table.

you use a 1.5 rather than a 2.0 multiplier. The 5400 ajusted XP puts it between ‘hard’ and ‘deadly’. In my experience, the addition of that sixth party member is a significant benefit to any party. (I have a memory of hearing that the encounter math in the DMG is based on a 4 PC party, as an estimate, I can’t find where I had heard that. I have even found that with a fifth member in a party the extra ability to do a thing or two during a round can make a substantial difference unless, as above, the dice hate the party during that encounter … )

The adjusted XP method is for estimates, and has soft edges

A few points:

  1. using the d20 system is by it’s very nature ‘swingy’ – if you miss
    that hold person save the burst of damage that can hit your
    character really spikes.

  2. Some party combinations are better than others (Example: in area 11, if the party has a cleric there are some abilities that mitigate the numbers better than if the party has no cleric).

  3. Some players are a lot better at applying synergistic effects and party combinations than others.

Use those numbers as a ‘best estimate’ rather than ‘this is written in stone’ for your encounter assessments and creation.

dnd 5e – With the lifespan of elves, would you ever encounter a low-level elf?

Elves don’t get their first character level until age 120. That means they spend a lot of time until then doing… well… something.

If we look at humans and what they learn in their first 15 or so years, we can come to quite a range of different subjects.

As toddlers, we learn to communicate. This takes quite a few years to do proficiently. Making yourself understandable to your parents is one thing, but talking to other people is quite complicated, and that’s on simple topics.

Then at some point we learn actual social interaction with others; not just words, but form and etiquette. How to address people how to bring up subjects, what is acceptable to talk about and what isn’t, etc.

When we go to school, we learn the basics of writing, mathematics, history, art, science, our culture, and many other things. Plenty of people learn to write in cursive for who knows what reason, learn to play some kind of instrument, learn painting, maths, algebra, the history of their own nation, other nations, the world, about great people of the past, get some knowledge about basic science and the stuff the world is built out of.

Then after that, we specialize, learning either a profession or maybe to become a researcher which requires indepth study of a very narrow topic. After that, we’re ready to explore the carreer world and start doing our professional thing. Or, slightly before we reach that point, we decide “sod it, give me a sword and something to stab”.

Now… pull that whole thing into the realm of Elves; creatures of immense grace, almost limitless lifespans, with a culture and history to rival any other. After the first decade or so, your Elf child (they grow a bit slower, after all) reaches their true “toddler stage”. They know how to do basic communication, they’d probably be able to pass as a young human and if they learned their early communication in Common they might be as proficient as a human of that age.

But they’re not learning Common, they’re learning Elven. And being able to talk to a Human simply will not do. After learning basic communication it’s time to be drilled in proper Elven etiquette. They’ll need to learn to speak with that unmatched Elven grace and beauty that seems to come so easy to them, because Elven don’t usually tell Humans that it takes them 30 years to speak like that. Humans wouldn’t understand anyway.

(You know why Elves are always so aloof and arrogant to you? Because you are pissing all over their established etiquette. But they sort of accept that because you don’t live long enough to learn it, anyway.)

So now our Elven “child” is already into their early 30s or 40s. They can talk like a true Elf. If you put them in a Human community (and teach them Common, but that’s a vulgar tongue, so you don’t.) they would speak in words like a diplomat but have the wordly understanding of a child. Lots of words, but no substance.

To fix that, it’s time for basic education. If you are looking for forward to living to 500 and you have a reputation to uphold (remember that the Elven arts are the best there are, always) then this is going to take a while. Not only that, but whenever you learn about a famous Elf (there’s plenty) you have hundreds years of history to learn. And your nation probably spans thousands of years, and with the life spans of those involved you probably have really good records of most of it, so there’s loads and loads of information to learn.

Then you have art. Learning how to read notes and play the flute is, of course, not worthy of an Elf. Basic education involves learning to play the flute, harp, lute, violin, piano, drums, as well as voice. And proper drilling, too. You need to play each of them excellently. Of course this is all traditional Elven music… it’s longwinded and requires patience to listen to; songs taking 30 minutes are no exception. Dreadfully boring to a non-Elven audience and mundane to an Elven audience, so while you can play all this instruments, those crude humans won’t appreciate the sheer beauty of your perfected Harmonious Symfony and any Elves you meet can play it just as well as you can.

Then of course, other than instruments you’ll also learn to paint, sculpt, write stories and four other disciplines of your choice. Again, all of these are traditional Elven arts (there’s a lot of them) which aren’t very interesting to other races, but they belong with a proper Elven upbringing. Some of them might even involve works of art that take over a hundred years to fully appreciate. While Humans perform crude arts like making bouquets of flowers, Elves learn to till a garden to perform beautiful flower art on their own, with no interference. As long as you’re willing to wait a few years for them to grow, anyway. It doesn’t really catch on with most races.

And finally, there’s magic and science. After all, an Elf needs to understand both the history of magic, the theory of magic, and the broad applications of magic. Nobody ever tells you that 95% of magic isn’t made for combat and adventuring, of course. After learning at the very least a bunch of simple spells and the theory of magic itself, Elves can probably hold an hour-long boring lecture on the theoretical applications of abjuration auras for the purposes of growing stone that lets itself be sculpted more easily than any human expert in that field. If there were any. There aren’t, for obvious reasons.

So now that we’ve had another 50-60 years of basic education, we’re approaching a hundred years of age and we have an Elf creature that has more experience than any Human will collect in their life! It’s just all fairly pointless outside of Elven society, but then most Elves don’t actually leave Elven society so obviously they’re being trained to fullfill their role inside of it. The only thing that is left is to train for their assigned profession (perhaps another 50 years of smithing various pieces of jewellery, or maybe another 100 years or so to learn to play a chosen instrument even better, or maybe just more about the lifecycles of various plants so they can learn to plant a field of grain without disturbing a single creature, or another such Elven profession.)

Or they might learn the history and creed of their deity and set their first steps into Divine magic and go out to help the world. Or perhaps they’ll learn some utility or combat magic and prepare a quest to recover some forgotten tome of knowledge. Or they’ll learn to wield all sorts of weapons and armor and sign up for military duty. Of course they’ll approach with that same Elven dedication as any other task and learn all of the involved theory, history, form and everything involved with their future task.

And then, around 120 years of age, they are ready to set out to bring glory to the Elves in the outside world. To an ordinary Human, they seem woefully underprepared for someone their age, but then the Humans don’t appreciate the Elves’ enyclopedic knowledge (of non-adventuring knowledge), their grace and understanding of language (mostly lost on said Humans, especially when speaking in the crude Common tongue, which takes them days to learn at worst), their theoretic understanding of magic (“just shut down the trap, we don’t need another lecture.”) or their ability to play a host of instruments (“this marching tune takes how long? Don’t you have anything shorter?”) or all sorts of art (“whaddaya mean it’ll take you 6 months to paint me? why on earth would you wait for each individual brush stroke to dry before you make the next?”)

Now of course, it would be perfectly feasible to take a young Elf (say, 15 or so), give him a sword, drill him in the ways of combat for 20 years, and then use him as a reasonably trained soldier. Other Elves will consider that child abuse, obviously, so you won’t get away with it for very long. Maybe if humans raised it like that, but then you’re looking at what (to any other Elf) is basically a pointy-eared Human, culturally. If they ever find a 40 year old Elf who is travelling the country with a band of Humans and getting his adventuring on, he’s going to be apprehended, disarmed, and sent back to school where he belongs. And the Humans will (at the least) get a very stern talking to about abusing a child like that.

(Sorry for the length of this, I got carried away!)

dnd 5e – How do I recalibrate this encounter from D&D 3.5e’s Red Hand of Doom for D&D 5e?

Seeing as there have been no other answers, I will provide an answer from my own experience actually running this encounter.

To preserve the spirit of the original 3.5e encounter under 5e rules, the challenge of the non-combat objective needs to be reduced if the PCs are below 9th level.

The original encounter presents options — not many, and not easy, but clearly more than just a single railroaded approach. The PCs can take out the defenders first and then turn attention to the main objective, of course. Or they can try to sabotage the objective first, probably with magic, which is presented as the most effective means of affecting it directly.

However, many of the sabotage tools a party would’ve had in 3.5e are simply not available, or are available only at higher levels. As written for 3.5e, RHoD names two spells available to PCs of 5th level or lower that are effective for this sabotage task. Soften earth and stone, available to 3.5e PCs of 3rd level, can theoretically do the job in one casting:

The weak spot under the southeast tower needs only 40 damage to collapse the bridge, whereas each other 5-foot section of the bridge has a whopping 270 HP. Soften earth and stone, if used on the ground under the bridge, deals 1d4x10 damage to the bridge section above it. RHoD, p. 33. If used on the ground under the weak spot, this spell has a 25% chance of dealing 40 damage and collapsing the bridge in one turn.

But as mentioned in the question, soften earth and stone doesn’t exist in 5e. Likewise, stone shape, available to 3.5e PCs of 5th level, is explicitly described as being able to do the job in one “clever” casting, RHoD, p. 33 — but that “clever” casting depends on the spell’s area being larger in 3.5e than it is in 5e. Besides, in 5e, stone shape is a 4th-level spell only available to PCs of 7th level or higher.

As a result, using 5e rules, PCs heading into this encounter would need to be significantly higher-level to have tools of equivalent “one shot” efficacy. PCs in 5e get access to transmute rock at 9th level, which — as the questions states — can easily do the job in one turn. No lower-level 5e spell, as written, will do so. Worse, RHoD encourages DMs to limit tools the PCs do have, saying 1st- and 2nd-level spells in general “won’t do much to the (objective).” RHoD, p. 33. Taking that instruction literally, a party of 5e PCs under 9th level has even fewer spell options that might be effective.

Granted, spell scrolls in 5e can give PCs access to spells above their level — but they are not guaranteed to work. Using a scroll to cast a spell of a higher level than the caster could normally cast requires an ability check, and failure means the scroll is wasted. That is dangerous in itself, but more so given that 5e assumes a smaller distribution of magic items than 3.5e did overall, at least in my many years of experience playing both systems.

Moreover, casters in 3.5e typically could cast more spells in a day thanks to bonuses from ability scores, but those bonuses no longer exist in 5e. So even if a 3.5e party only had lower-level, less-effective spells available, they probably could cast them a greater number of times in the encounter before exhausting their resources.

When my 5th-level PCs faced this encounter, the only spell they had available that even came close to the parameters for efficacy originally defined in the adventure was shatter — and only if upcast with a 3rd-level spell slot, of which the party’s wizard had a total of two. As written, an upcast shatter would’ve been incapable of dealing the damage necessary to do the job in one casting, and meanwhile it was competing with 3rd-level spells that could’ve provided serious support (e.g., hypnotic pattern) or utility (e.g., fly) in the sabotage effort. In short, the party really had no option other than to fight. Nothing they had access to would’ve given them the chance a 3.5e party of equivalent level would’ve had to hit the objective hard in one turn and get out.

Had I to run the encounter again for a party of similar level, I would

reduce the HP of the normal bridge sections by 50% to 135 HP, and rule that the bridge’s weak spot has vulnerability to thunder damage such as that dealt by spells like shatter.

These adjustments would give a 5e party more options, while still providing substantial challenge. After all, the PCs would still have to

find the weak spot before they can target it,

and the defenders surely won’t make that easy.

dnd 5e – Need help with coming up with ideas for an encounter

TLDR: I’m looking for suggestions and ideas to meet expectations of my players. I run out of ideas for a possible encounter with some deep dwellers.

Hi, i’m runnig a 5e game, it is a mix of the SKT adventure with an addition of homebrow story elements, it does not take place on the Sword Coast, but around Vaasa, Thar and the likes.

My party has recently arrived in a minnig town inhabiteted mainly by gnomes and dwarves. The town lies above many Underdark entrances. The ones that are known are heavily guared by the town guards. Of course most of them are guarded by the deep dwellers, which given the localization of the town would mostly be duergars or svirfneblin. The underground part of the town has been closed due to arrvival of an unexpected fugitive.

The party doesn’t know it yet, but it is a half elven woman who has almost miraciulsly escaped from a mind flayer colony, which lies somewhere below the town within 25-35 miles. The mind flayer colony has been attacked by a rouge powerfull mind flayer (and its followers), which is on a good path to becoming an illithilich in the future. It’s attack was an atempt to kill the elder brain of the colony, which the rogue one came from. The attact has shaken the colony and given a chance mind flayers’ prisoners to escape (one of them is the half elven woman mentioned earlier).

I described my players that the underground part of the town has been closed and that the guards have taken precautions for the possible arrival of pursuit after the half elven woman. It looks like my players are now expecting some big and epic encounter and I am not sure what to do. They don’t know about the mind flayers, but I think that the illithids wouldn’t pursue after a mere prisoner.

dnd 5e – Am I correctly calculating the difficulty/XP for this encounter for a 15th-level party of 5 PCs?

You calculation is correct.

15th level party, medium difficulty, 5 PCs

XP Threshold: 5(2800) = 14,000 xp  
4 monsters so 2x Encounter Multiplier:  
1 fire giant 1(2)(5000 xp) = 10000 xp  
1 ogre       1(2)( 450 xp) =   900 xp  
2 ettins     2(2)(1100 xp) =  4400 xp  
                             15300 xp  

  1. Determine XP Thresholds. First, determine the experience point (XP) thresholds for each character in the party. The XP Thresholds by Character Level table below has four XP thresholds for each character level, one for each category of encounter difficulty. Use a character’s level to determine his or her XP thresholds. Repeat this process for every character in the party.

  2. Determine the Party’s XP Threshold. For each category of encounter difficulty, add up the characters’ XP thresholds. This determines the party’s XP threshold. You’ll end up with four totals, one for each category of encounter difficulty.

Consulting the XP threshholds table, Medium for a 15th level character is 2,800, so with 5 characters that’s 14,000 for a medium encounter, and 21,500 for a hard encounter.

3. Total the Monsters’ XP. Add up the XP for all of the monsters in the encounter. Every monster has an XP value in its stat block.

A fire giant, an ogre, and two ettins is 5,000+450+1,100+1,100 = 7,650 XP.

4. Modify Total XP for Multiple Monsters. If the encounter includes more than one monster, apply a multiplier to the monsters’ total XP. The more monsters there are, the more attack rolls you’re making against the characters in a given round, and the more dangerous the encounter becomes. To correctly gauge an encounter’s difficulty, multiply the total XP of all the monsters in the encounter by the value given in the Encounter Multipliers table.

Consulting the table:

Number of Monsters Multilpier
3-6 x2

We double 7,650 to 15,300.