D&D 5E Adapting Combat on the Go


No rule is inviolate
Thought I'd share from last session and see if anyone else has a story to share.

Running a 5E conversion of Dragonlance, and at the bottom of Skullcap the 6th level party tangled with a CR10 wizardly apparition, immune to normal weapons. Skullcap was a ruined centuries-old base where the wizard Fistandantilus instigated a war between dwarves and ended up blowing up both armies. The bad guy cast a version of Spirit Guardians that could not be disrupted. The only other feature of note in this area were three golden circlets that were used to create and control three elite skeletal soldiers that weren't a part of this battle.

The kender rogue in the party lamented she had a non-magical hoopak for a weapon and decided to launch an enchanted coin she'd retrieved ages earlier, sandwiched between the pages of a Fistandantilus spellbook. Completely on the fly I decided the coin was created by him, and being struck by his coin caused it to explode like Wild Magic. She rolled on the Wild Magic sorcerer table and drew a somewhat useless-sounding "you can see invisible stuff for a bit" ability.

Completely on the fly, I decided that she should get something for blowing up a useful magical item and said she could now see three dwarven soldiers standing guard beside a hale-looking wizard in ebon robes (Fistandantilus 300 years ago). The soldiers each wore a golden circlet, and one caught her eye, then gestured as if breaking the golden circlets. She ran up, grabbed the nearest one, and broke it. For each break, on the fly, I figured the Spirit Guardians would weaken by 1 die until nothing was left to guard the wizard. Visually, the spirits were freed from their servitude, bowed to her, and went to their final rest.

Anyhow, it was a much cooler way for the battle to go than I could ever have guessed, and 100% on the fly. I came up with a few morals of the story:
  • Randomness often leads to fun
  • Monsters as puzzles, used sparingly, can lead to players trying unusual things such as the coin toss
  • The more I reward creative play, the more likely I'll get players in the future to try innovative stuff

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This is the kind of game style that I enjoy running. Others might say that the best way to play is have all the monsters and encounters set and not add/subtract/change anything because it's like "cheating" to have things just "show up"... but I personally do not enjoy being hamstrung in that way. I think what you did is right on.

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