Cellion wrote:Based on my experience with 2E, I very much agree with the big single enemy encounters don't feel all that fun to play….Basically, I feel like the encounter building guidance we have right now leads to fights that are technically "balanced" but are rarely a good time. The more I GM 2E, the more I find myself leaning back on the encounter building principles I learned back in PF1E.[snipped for clarity] Any chance you could list or comment on those PF1 encounter building principles?
I don't really have a good source to point at (though the GM's Guide to Challenging Encounters from Alexander Augunas is always good reading), or an organized list of everything, but broadly and in no particular order:
- CR is a starting point. After a few encounters you know better how much your PCs can handle, as well as what kinds of encounters are easy and hard for them. If a particular kind of threat is harder for your PCs, then consider it higher CR. The same is true in the inverse (for example, you can throw any number of mundane archers at the PCs if they're always packing wind wall).
- Players are always more stressed about the difficulty than it seems on your side of the table.
- Action economy is king. A foe with fewer actions only wins if it can control the PCs action economy. (Generally less true in 2E, though still valuable to keep an eye on)
- Complicated monsters are best used as bosses, mini-bosses or solo threats. Especially if they have auras, things that trigger very frequently, and action economy advantages. (In PF1E terms, you should sparingly use encounters with things like 4x mummies, or 4x enemy casters with slow or confusion, or 4x high level dragons)
- Simple monsters serve as better minions. Feel free to cut abilities off a monster to make it more minion-like.
- Variety in creatures, objective and terrain is mandatory.
- You can throw any amount of very weak foes into an encounter without adjusting the encounter difficulty. PCs will find a way to AOE them down, bypass them, or ignore them. They'll still provide "texture" and serve as body blockers. You can even treat them as having a damage threshold for KO rather than HP, to reduce bookkeeping.
- Unfair encounters are A-OK and strongly contribute to both narrative and game feel, so long as they are A) telegraphed both ahead of time and within the encounter itself and B) able to be escaped from in a way that is clearly shown.