Not-So-Random Encounters - Act III

Not-So-Random Encounters - Act III

"We Meet At Last..."
 
Creating a memorable final encounter is perhaps the most challenging aspect of rounding off an adventure.
 
Too easy and the whole build up is wasted; too hard and your party end up deceased or irritated.
 
Here are a few tips to manage that final encounter flexibly to strike that balance.  Think of them as turning a dial between "Easy" and "Hard".  You can adjust these in-session as required to match the roles and approach of your players.
 
Numbers:  No Boss worth their name will be unguarded.  Create NPCs ranging between low level to equal in level to the players.  Adjust the mix and call in reinforcements as needed to keep things exciting.
 
If unsure, start with a ratio of 2 low level guards per player character.  You can quickly judge the difficulty and adjust accordingly when they meet the next set of guards.
 
Remember that ranged weapons are a great equalizer. Even very tough parties will need to use caution if they are under effective flanking fire and taking damage.
 
Space: In a confined space, the tactics of a party are limited but so too are the number of attackers who can approach. A wide arena space requires a party to defend 360 degrees and is much more challenging.
 
Create an environment with different types of space to allow the players to exercise good tactics and different approaches in their final encounters.
 
Modifiers: Creating an unexpected or unorthodox handicap forces players to adapt.
 
Wading through waist-high sludge will encumber a heavily armored character, for example - neutralizing their "tank" abilities to some extent.
 
An environment in which all sound is muted (including conversation between players) forces players to communicate by different means. 
 
Time: Imposing a real-life time limit to the encounter (with a timer on the table) can add extra suspense to proceedings.
 
It keeps out-of-character activities to an absolute minimum (since the timer ticks on regardless) bringing focus to this most important of sessions.
 
Finally, try to ensure a good exchange of verbal sparring between the party and ultimate Boss.  If the adventurers are suitably bashed and battered from the previous dust-ups they should have a suitably challenging job of finishing the Boss off.
 
If you have managed the difficulty well, they will feel as though they have beaten the odds and earned their victory. Satisfaction comes from overcoming challenge and settling a few scores!
 
Don't be afraid to leave the party with a few lingering injuries or damaged property.  A party that feels invulnerable is very difficult to run games for!
 
Finally, for a Boss your players will never forget, check out Villains you love to hate!
 
Happy Gaming,
-Stolph (Ed)
 
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