Combo menu encounter design

Asmor

First Post
Fear the Boot recently had a bonus show where listeners sent in their own GM profiles, descriptions in their own words of how they GMed.

One of the profiles featured an idea I found very intriguing. In a nutshell, when he was designing encounters, he took a look at his players' character sheets and selected something to feature in the encounter. It could be absolutely anything, and it needn't be the only way to solve the problem, but it was a good way to solve the problem. A specific example he gave was that if he decides to focus on a PC's adamantine weapon, they're going to come up with an unattended object that they've got to hack up.

He said that by the end of his last D&D campaign, his characters had used every skill, every class ability, every racial ability, every magic item, everything.

Maybe this is obvious to others, but I just think that's a fantastic tip. It gives the DM inspiration, it gives you an actual method of planning for PCs to shine, and most importantly, it lets the players make use of the choices they've chosen.
 

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greyscale1

First Post
Definately a great tip. Thanks for pointing it out!

I think most good DMs do this unconciously at least in part, but making a concious effort to do so is definately a great idea.
 



Betote

First Post
That's a very standard way to design adventures (not encounters). Loot at your PCs and let each of them shine once.

Did one player invest in Knowledge (architecture & engineering)? Have dungeons be built in strange ways. Does he have Perform (oratory)? Make up a scene where someone has to give a speech.

What I wouldn't do is focus on items.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
The title of this thread immediately made me think of combat encounters (I guess I am just a hack n'slasher at heart ;)), and how I like to go through one or more of my monster books pick two to four monsters and then based on that combo figure out how the heck to thematically string them together to make something interesting, or make the choices in such a way that the monsters' powers complement each other (like a tribe of grimlocks (who are blind) serving a medusa).

Anyway, as for this method - definitely an old standard, and I try to give each PC something to engage with that takes advantage of the character's interests and quirks (character backgrounds really help with this sometimes) and gives them a chance to shine.

My thing, though, is that I put it out there to be interacted with - I try not to make so central that it is a requirement of the encounter/adventure.
 


justanobody

Banned
Banned
The title of this thread immediately made me think of combat encounters

You are not alone, as that is all I call encoutners. Random encounters = wandering monsters, etc.

I am fine with things like that over the course of the adventure,a nd actually put many things into games that make use of every allowed aspect in my worlds. But each "encounter" is not really going to be something tailored just for the characters in it, because you never know when the player of the dwarf character will be missing form the game.

I also don't center in on where there are chances to use anything on a character sheets. That is something for the players to decide where and when they want to try anything, and the results will follow depending on how they use anything.

I never target a players items. That to me would be like telling the players to hand me their wallets and I will order what we are having for snacks and spend the money I feel like from each by some arbitrary reason.

You also never know in advance what a player may do with an item just prior to an encounter.

Fighter: I will leave these extra weapons behind and hide them here to keep less clutter until we return.

That sword now no longer appears in the character inventory where it was designed to be needed or used.

I prefer much more to allow anything to be tried and let the players shine on their own, rather than me guide specific places for a player to shine, as this sometimes can quite easily come off as favoritism.
 

Gilladian

Adventurer
I don't think the original writer was saying that he selects things that HAVE to be used; in fact, one thing he specifically said was that the use of his "idea item or ability" was optional; he simply used it as a jumping off point.

I've done this (as I think we all do) - for example, I have a fighter now who seems to be specializing in mounted combat. So I moved one encounter from in the dungeon's first room to an outdoor location, where he could be mounted and use his selected feats. In the end, the PCs left their horses a mile away in a sheltered spot, so he was on foot after all, but the option was there.
 

Asmor

First Post
I don't think the original writer was saying that he selects things that HAVE to be used; in fact, one thing he specifically said was that the use of his "idea item or ability" was optional; he simply used it as a jumping off point.

Exactly.
 

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