D&D 5E Upping Challenges for 7 Players


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Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
A good option is to have your BBEG more ''segmented''. Divide your dragon into 3-4 different creatures, each with its own HP pool, speed, and action allotment. A dragon would have: Core (head), Wings, Legs and Tail.

Once the Core is destroyed the beast dies.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him) 🇺🇦🇵🇸🏳️‍⚧️
I've got a potentially large number of players in my Thursday night game too (up to 11 if everybody is available - I usually have 6-8 due to conflicts). The things I do:

1) I increase hit points - sometimes a lot, without generally increasing anything else like AC or damage it can inflict. I don't want to skew the impact of the creature in ways that can grossly raise their offensive CR - I just want it to last longer for a fight that gives more PCs more interesting things to do and accomplish. If they don't have proficient saves (and a lot of monsters in the Monster Manual don't), I define them so that their saves aren't quite as terrible.

2) For significant encounters, particularly with big bads, I use legendary actions. Even for relatively low CR stuff. This is about tweaking the action economy so that the BBEG doesn't get cacked before he even gets an action due to poor initiative rolling on my part. I don't know of any rule preventing a legendary action from being performed before the monster itself gets its first initiative action. And if there was one, I'd ignore it.

3) For things in its home territory, I would use lair actions (they go on initiative 20 so a poor initiative roll doesn't feel so bad).

4) I add minions - generally at a lower CR than the BBEG or solo - to try to separate the group's focus. Yes, this will increase the time it takes to play out an encounter, but that's a reasonably price to pay if I'm successful at keeping everyone busy with something to do.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
This is the adventure thingy. Party Composition Party Strength 3-4 characters, APL less than Very weak
3-4 characters, APL equivalent Weak, 3-4 characters, APL greater than Average
5 characters, APL less than Weak, 5 characters, APL equivalent Average
5 characters, APL greater than Strong, 6-7 characters, APL less than Average
6-7 characters, APL equivalent Strong, 6-7 characters, APL greater than Very strong

What generally happens is module Add extra monsters and extra HP for strong. Or Upgrades to a different monster. What I do if I have a strong group is all monsters roll with advantage, which only sometimes help. And minor minions which this forum tells me was done in 4 E.
You have a 7 person table, any body got any good combat encounters thingy to post a link to help the OP.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
When looking at the length of combat, there are two sides. How long to run the DM's turns, and how long to run the PCs turns.

The PCs turn time can be worked out as the damage per second of Player time (per SECOND not per TURN) divided into the total HP of enemy monsters.

For the DM's side, you ideally want it to be tight and small. This is why monsters are (ideally) very easy to run.

One trick on the DM's side is to realize you are in control of the monster power budget. So you can and should play monsters sub-optimally in order to make the game go faster. Playing sub-optimal tactics on a monster with more power is just as dangerous as less optimal play with a weaker monster!

So arranging for ideal positions for aoes, focusing fire, etc might make your big monster more effective, you should save table time by making the monster more effective and less tactically tricky to play on your side.

Setting up tactical problems for your players, on the other hand, is great.

---

The next problem is having enough rounds for interesting stuff to happen, and the fight not being a long sequence of PCs working out damage mechanics with the situation not changing.

Legendary Actions on solos exist for this reason. The idea is that the monster changes the tactical situation multiple times per turn, which should help keep the players engaged and interested.

It also spreads out the monster's damage budget over (game) time, allowing response from players, and not "monster goes, one PC dead, your turn" if you focused it all at once. A monster that dropped a PC per round, but died on round 3, would be a balanced fight in a sense (PCs reliably win), but might not be what you are aiming for in a fight.

---

So we want fast to play monsters that pose tactical problems for PCs, not DMs. We also want a dynamic battlefield, one that doesn't get locked down and ends.

My suggestions:

1. Tweak the dragon so it isn't doing the AOE breath alpha strike. Instead, on each legendary action, roll 1d6 and see if it inhales. On a 6, it prepares to use its breath weapon.

2. Ensure your boss has mobility baked into its legendary actions. "The dragon moves its speed and makes a claw attack on up to two different creatures. The claw attacks can be at any point during the move, and a creature attacked by the claw during this legendary action cannot make an opportunity attack on the dragon."

3. Have legendary resists. For extra fun, tie some mechanics into using them to keep the battle dynamic.

Legendary Resists: The dragon can choose to succeed at a save instead of failing one. When it does so, it must suffer one of the following consequences. It can only choose a consequence once before completing a short rest.

* Wing shield. The dragon's wings are damaged, and it cannot fly nor wing buffet until it completes a short rest. If it is flying, it falls and takes 1d6 damage for every 20' it falls, but so do all of the creatures it falls on.

* Bloody eye. The dragon's vision is impaired. It can no longer make perception checks as a legendary action, creatures more than 30' away from the dragon at the start of its turn have advantage on saves the dragon imposes.

* Wounded claw. The dragon can now only make 1 claw attack instead of two.

4. Bake in recovery to legendary actions. "When the takes a legendary action, if there is an effect that would end by the end of a creature's next turn, the effect ends after the legendary action. If it could end after a saving throw, the dragon may make a saving throw after the legendary action. A failure on that saving throw has no consequences."

"Legendary Action: Recover. The dragon may take this action even if unconscious or otherwise incapacitated. The dragon gains advantage on all saving throws until the end of the next opponent's turn."

5. Give it more HP, and more spread out damage. HP is a measure of how long the players spend dealing damage to it. As you want 3+ rounds, you need enough HP to soak 3 full rounds of players pounding on it.

6. Mix AOE damage with spread out damage and at least one "spike" damage. Make applying that spike damage optimal difficult, and be the player's goal.
 

DavyGreenwind

Just some guy
Last night we had a rather anti-climactic end for a big bad. Even though the fight would be memorable and humorous (trapping her under a folding boat and wailing on her), it wasn't much of a challenge.

Essentially the dragon lost Initiative, got pulled down by two summoned dire wolves, pinned to the ground, and was killed in less than two rounds. A monster that had a 70% chance of outright killing the entire party with a breath weapon, died before making a second attack and couldn't even move to reach a party member with an attack. It was a joke. The players (teenagers) were laughing around the table until they were snorting and falling out of their chairs.

The party is large but definitely not optimized (for example, the melee paladin has like a 12 Strength).

Here's the problem. I can't whittle down the group to fewer than 7 players. Doubling the number of monsters will slow down the game, not fit in the dungeon, and will also make boss fights too dangerous (in the case of the CR 10 dragon above, having 2 of them would have been too much).

What do I do? Would giving solo boss monsters two turns of Initiative take care of it?
Don't forget your legendary resistances (probably could have negated the dire wolves) and legendary actions. And remember, the given HP is just an average. You can always maximize the HP (max number on each dice) and even give the creature extra hp (because you're the DM)
 



tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
Last night we had a rather anti-climactic end for a big bad. Even though the fight would be memorable and humorous (trapping her under a folding boat and wailing on her), it wasn't much of a challenge.

Essentially the dragon lost Initiative, got pulled down by two summoned dire wolves, pinned to the ground, and was killed in less than two rounds. A monster that had a 70% chance of outright killing the entire party with a breath weapon, died before making a second attack and couldn't even move to reach a party member with an attack. It was a joke. The players (teenagers) were laughing around the table until they were snorting and falling out of their chairs.

The party is large but definitely not optimized (for example, the melee paladin has like a 12 Strength).

Here's the problem. I can't whittle down the group to fewer than 7 players. Doubling the number of monsters will slow down the game, not fit in the dungeon, and will also make boss fights too dangerous (in the case of the CR 10 dragon above, having 2 of them would have been too much).

What do I do? Would giving solo boss monsters two turns of Initiative take care of it?
3.5 style damage reduction & resistance is your friend as it will apply a flat reduction to every attack & spell by every player. That will allow you to push players to getting more diverse than GWM gwf great sword & fireball /scorching ray/repelling agonizing eldritch blast or whatever thru grouped up around. Unfortunately 5e won't offer you much help if you have more than a couple players & you have much more than a couple
 

Rabbitbait

Grog-nerd
Without much information about your PCs (particularly there level) it is hard to say. Also, are you looking for a general guideline or guidelines for solo monsters? A couple of general suggestions I have seen, but have not used myself, is to modify a monster as follows:
  1. for each PC over 4 add 25% monster HP*
  2. for each PC over 4 add 25% monster damage or 1 attack*
  3. for each PC over 4 add +1 to all defenses
You might need to tune those dials to your particular group.

*Note: this can be by adding a monster(s) or increasing an individual monster

So your dragon would have 75% more HP, +3 to all defenses, and 3 additional attacks. This is assuming the CR 10 dragon was an appropriate challenge. I can tell that from the information provided

Very handy. Thank you. I have 7 people in my game and some of those battles drag on much longer than they should as I have to add a bunch of flunkies for the big bad. This will help.
 

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