How to kill my players' characters


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Scarab Sages

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My players are complaining i'm too easy on them.
Part of it is mechanical (they are min maxed and use good tactics), but part of it is me. It is just hard for me to "let loose" and go after them. I really don't like the killer GM style as a player, but I find myself going too far the other direction.

They are 3rd level, 5 PCs with 2 animal companions, and are all new classes out of the ACG (except the Barbarian), 3 have darkvision, so it's hard enough just from a mechanical perspective. A lot of what I do just slows down the encounter, or they find ways around the smarter stuff. More hp, poison, more monsters, just makes it take longer. So that is my problem mechanically: how do I make an encounter harder without making it boring? (I assume there are tons of threads on this)

But secondly how do I get over an aversion to killing PCs?


why not combine things? traps, hazards and monsters all at the same time, or give them a crazy encounter that is obciously out of their league, if they stay they die. Monsters can be smart too, kill casters, healers and rangeds first.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

I got rid of my aversion to killing PCs by making raise dead not have a material component.

also, use ranged combatants. Many parties strangely don't have an answer when there's a group of good archers against them.


Terrain and environment make a big difference. Archers atop a wall, monsters with reach in the middle of a muddy patch where nobody can 5' step, something with blindsense or tremorsense attacking them in a fog...

Also, many encounters shouldn't be fundamentally hard by themselves; it's the cumulative effect of multiple encounters wearing the players down that makes them difficult.

Sovereign Court

As to the 2nd (since - as you point out, there are tons on the first) - the key I've found is to be a killer GM in-game.

When designing encounters etc - have most encounters with CR equal to their APL. (With 5 characters & 2 ACs you can consider them a 4th level group pretty easily.) So - have most encounters be CR 4-5, with the occasional 6ish. And include situations etc in the CRs.

However - once in the game - play the foes as the vicious bastards they are and try to crush the group!

There's a squishy guy in the back of the group? A nimble foe will tumble past the tanky characters to get up in his grill.

Someone in the party ran ahead of the rest of the group? Gang up on him and try to put him down fast!

If your players enjoy tactics etc - they likely won't get frustrated/annoyed - they'll take it as a challenge. (Admittedly - there are groups that will just get frustrated, but it doesn't sound like your players are among them.)

Also of note - while likely not an issue at level 3 - often fights are easier than they should be because the GM consistently allows time for the party to buff up, but at the same time don't have their foes do the same.


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What your players are looking for is the challenge of overcoming difficult opponents. They are looking type of game that will be remembered and talked about for years. Many people who make optimized characters do so because they want to be real hero. A real hero is someone who takes on things so tough that people are in awe. Without a suitable villain the hero is just some guy with interesting abilities. By going easy on them you are actually denying them the chance to be a hero.

You don’t actually have to kill the characters but there should always be a chance they can be killed. The real trick is to get them almost to the point of death. The closer you come to that the more heroic the game will seem. Think of movies like lethal weapon where the hero is beaten and bloody but still manages to win in the end. After the fight he may be barely able to stand, or even have to be taken away in an ambulance.

Since the characters are using good tactics you should be doing the same. Don’t put them up against weak mindless opponents. This is your chance to pull out all the things that you thought were too powerful and use them. Chances are their tactics are going to be better than yours anyways because they have 5 heads to your one.

Once understand your players actually want a greater challenge it becomes easier.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

The thing that I recommend the most, read the monster you are using and see what they actually like to do. Sometime just using the monster/creature usual tactics is more than enough.

If you put an aboleth in a room where the fighter can just charge the creature...this isn't even a challenge. Now if you put the aboleth hiding in a lake/fountain using illusions so most people wouldn't see it, the aboleth can take his time and dominate party members etc...

Basically most monsters aren't nice or fight fair, and that's actually fine.


I am in agreement with using terrain and good enemy tactics. Also, special abilities from some monsters can make or break PCs. Think incorporeal creatures, monsters with guerrilla-style tactical abilities /hit-and-run, etc.


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Send ME!

I'll CHOMP!!! them, I'll STOMP!!! them, I'll BELLY-FLOP!!! them! I'll eat them up and spit them out so I can eat them up again.

And then I'll take a nap.


I hear you. I'm the same way. And sadly, my experience has been that when I do throw a good BBEG and minions against them, it winds up in a TPK.

I'm trying to allow myself to risk killing 1 of them, and not go all out to finish off the rest. Unless they simply refuse to do the smart thing and RUN!!


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Berti Blackfoot wrote:

how do I get over an aversion to killing PCs?

Practice. The first one is always hardest, after that it gets easier.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Are your player's non-mythic? If so, then use mythic opponents on them. That's really the best use for mythic, not for players, but for GMs who need to challenge their players.


I think the biggest obstacle for a GM in being more of a challenge for the party is mindset.

Try approaching your next session like this: You're the player running all of the creatures as your characters, and the players are actually a team of GMs running the encounter.

If this were the situation, what would your "characters" do to overcome the "encounter" within their abilities?

Too often, especially with less experienced (but often with very experienced) GMs, encounters seem to consist of creatures charging the nearest character and standing around swinging until they're dead.

There really isn't a way to give specific examples without having a sample encounter to work with. But, if you think along the lines of "how would this encounter work if the encounter were actually the players," then you'll find yourself doing different things. One or two will attempt to engage and stall the melee types, maybe even fighting defensively or with total defense, while the rest run around to pound on the casters. Or, they'll set up a multi-stage ambush with an apparent combat to draw the party's attention while springing a supporting attack from behind. In combat, your creatures will always maneuver for flanking position or to draw attacks of opportunity with reach weapons. If the party has a dedicated ranged specialist, sunder the weapon.

It's much easier to get "mean" as a GM if you think like a player.


Berti Blackfoot wrote:

My players are complaining i'm too easy on them.

Part of it is mechanical (they are min maxed and use good tactics), but part of it is me. It is just hard for me to "let loose" and go after them. I really don't like the killer GM style as a player, but I find myself going too far the other direction.

They are 3rd level, 5 PCs with 2 animal companions, and are all new classes out of the ACG (except the Barbarian), 3 have darkvision, so it's hard enough just from a mechanical perspective. A lot of what I do just slows down the encounter, or they find ways around the smarter stuff. More hp, poison, more monsters, just makes it take longer. So that is my problem mechanically: how do I make an encounter harder without making it boring? (I assume there are tons of threads on this)

But secondly how do I get over an aversion to killing PCs?

up the CR by 3.

If they still insist it is to easy then up the CR by another 3.
Continue this trend until they stop complaining it is to easy.


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Or, just up the CR by 20... (hint: ME again!!!)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
DM_Blake wrote:
Or, just up the CR by 20... (hint: ME again!!!)

I understand you should never use just a sole big bad, so I suggest adding in a least one other spawn as well.


Dave Justus wrote:
DM_Blake wrote:
Or, just up the CR by 20... (hint: ME again!!!)
I understand you should never use just a sole big bad, so I suggest adding in a least one other spawn as well.

Add Blake's buddy, the Ancient Time Dragon.

(Or a Great Wyrm, just if you feel like have 3 Time Stops each day.)


Dave Justus wrote:
Berti Blackfoot wrote:
how do I get over an aversion to killing PCs?
Practice. The first one is always hardest, after that it gets easier.

Just like real life. O.o lol wut?

Um what I have done is have an encounter that appears easy at first sight, a couple of hardy monsters i.e. a couple of trolls. Then have some stealthy monsters make an appearance mid-combat from behind.


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OK, I've been kidding around, it's way too easy to kill low-level PCs by sending a Tarrasque. Or puny lesser creatures like upper-CR dragons, demons, etc.

Any GM can do that and there's no art to it - it's just murder. Nothing wrong with (in-game) murder; I do like to sink my armored incisors into PC flesh and feel their sweet lifeblood flowing across my armored tongue and down my armored throat...

But I'm sure you want a more equitable challenge, hmmm?

Remember the guidelines for good encounter building.

First, figure out their APL. That stands for "Average Party Level" - not, as some tarrasques might tell you, for "Appetizing Party Lunch".

Base APL literally equals the average of their levels. If they're all level 3, then it's easy, their Base APL = 3. But since there are 5 of them (that's a four-PC main course and an extra PC for dessert), add +1 to the base APL. You really shouldn't add to the APL for those two scrumptious appetizers animal companions since they are just hors d'oevres class features, but sometimes I do anyway since a well designed canapé animal companion can be nearly as yummy capable as another PC, and certainly two of them could be considered equal to another +1.

Tip: you mentioned that they're good players with min/maxed characters so based on that, you might be justified bumping it up with another +1, but for now, I won't do that. However, if you follow these steps and the fights are still too easy, try adding in this tip.

So assume their adjusted APL is a 5.

Second, remember this chart:

Table: Encounter Design
Difficulty..........Challenge Rating Equals…
Easy................APL –1
Average...........APL
Challenging......APL +1
Hard................APL +2
Epic.................APL +3

Now simply decide how hard you want the fight to be (easy, average, challenging, hard, or epic) and set the CR of the fight to match what the chart says.

Remember, they should be able handle 4 average encounters per day, or 3 challenging encounters, 2 hard encounters, or 1 epic encounter. So try different styles: on one day give them four CR 5 battles, on the next day just one CR 8 battle, on the next day give them two CR 7 battles, etc.

Final consideration: A battle of CR X (any value for X) is always harder if there are several enemies whose CRs all add up to X. It's always easier if it is just one enemy of CR X (unless it's ME!!!), so if you try an epic CR 8 battle with one, oh I don't know, let's say Gorgon (CR 8) and it seems too easy, then next time try two Ettins (CR 6) or maybe three manticores (CR 5), etc.

Hopefully if you do this, they'll feel challenged. If not, see my extra tip above. If still not, send ME!!!


1. Better tactics from enemies (have them flank, use combat maneuvers to trip, disarm, grapple,, etc.)

2. Use terrain (overturned tables or corners for cover, stealth, bonuses to attacks from higher ground, surround them, etc.

3. Use spell casters to crowd control the party, split them up, blind them, trap them, etc.

There are infinite combinations of the above facets of more dangerous encounters for PCs. You don't have to fall into the trap of pitting "bigger, badder, and more" enemies against the party. Just use the enemies more wisely.

An example:

You have a group of goblins at level 1 versus a part of 5 PCs and their 2 animal companions.

You have 7-8 Goblins, equaling a fairly decent CR for the encounter. The goblins can either be on the offensive or defensive, either way...

They should have 1-2 druids among them, able to cast entangle and perhaps have wolf companions to trip the party members that avoid the entangle. The warriors should use cover to avoid attacks from any ranged PCs and target squishy PCs in the entangle. Once the goblins throw their javelins or shoot their shortbows, they should charge any PCs who have made it out of the entangle, thus avoiding attacks of opportunity. They can use 5 foot steps to set up flanking.

Even prior to combat if the goblins are expecting the party they might put down caltrops, place a snare trap (however poorly crafted it might be) etc.

It doesn't have to be a grand or complex set of tactics they use, but I guarantee the above setup will be far more challenging that a simple rushing swarm of goblins getting cut down like hay.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

If we are going to get serious about this, my suggestion is to look at where your PCs are strong, and selectively bump the stats of their opponents to deal with that.

If they hit easily, bump ACs up a bit. If they do a lot of damage, then bump up hit points. If they have incredible saves, increase DCs etc.

I like this method better than just upping challenge ratings, because even strong PCs and parties usually aren't equally strong in all ways. Just because a party can really deal out the damage doesn't mean they are incredible at making saves or have high DCs for their special abilities. An across the board challenge rating increase might appropriately make AC and hitpoints mesh with the party, but mean that the monsters always save against PC spells and the PCs rarely do. This can lead to quite a bit of frustration, and greatly limit effective choices.

Obviously this is more work, and you can never be perfect since even in a strong party different PCs have different strengths, but I think if done well it achieves better results than the generic upping the challenge rating.


Dave Justus wrote:

If we are going to get serious about this, my suggestion is to look at where your PCs are strong, and selectively bump the stats of their opponents to deal with that.

If they hit easily, bump ACs up a bit. If they do a lot of damage, then bump up hit points. If they have incredible saves, increase DCs etc.

I like this method better than just upping challenge ratings, because even strong PCs and parties usually aren't equally strong in all ways. Just because a party can really deal out the damage doesn't mean they are incredible at making saves or have high DCs for their special abilities. An across the board challenge rating increase might appropriately make AC and hitpoints mesh with the party, but mean that the monsters always save against PC spells and the PCs rarely do. This can lead to quite a bit of frustration, and greatly limit effective choices.

Obviously this is more work, and you can never be perfect since even in a strong party different PCs have different strengths, but I think if done well it achieves better results than the generic upping the challenge rating.

I disagree with this route. It's an inflationary one, that encourages min-maxing. If you boost ACs and HP across the board, the party will just further focus on dealing more damage and hitting more often.

In my mind, the solution is simply to make it more difficult for them by challenging their traditional route to combats. If they are used to just running up and hitting things, place enemies on a ledge, overlooking the battlefield. Place them on difficult terrain where they can move freely but the party is slow.

Use spell casters to frustrate the fighter who can't get in melee range to cut them down. Have enemies hit and run, and pull the PCs into traps. Use combat maneuvers, flanking, and other tactical tools to make the fights more dynamic. This will not only make it more difficult, but should make it more interesting.

If you boost AC and HP across the board, it will just become more of a DPS race and will get old fast.


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I also don't like to pick on PCs for having particular strengths. The paladin SHOULD have good saves, the fighter SHOULD be able to hit easily and hit hard, and the wizard SHOULD have good spell DCs.

Boosting enemy saves, AC, or HP seems almost predatory as opposed to challenging PCs tactically.


I liked what was mentioned previously about using special actions. Total defense might keep a fighter occupied 1 round longer on a puny goblin while his buddies shank the fighter in the back.

Swapping out a few feats from the generic templates will shake things up a bit too.


Fight #1 1 medusa CR 7 & 2 Morlock CR 2

Fight #2 2 Troglodyte Skulker CR 2
1 Troglodyte Beast-Speaker CR 3
1 Advanced Troglodyte Sorcerer CR 5

Fight #3 1 Giant black widow CR 3
3 Giant Spider CR 1
3 Spider Swarm CR 1

Fight #4 2 Hell Hound CR 3
5 Lemure CR 1
1 Imp Sorcerer 5 CR 6


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Gregor Greymane wrote:
I disagree with this route. It's an inflationary one, that encourages min-maxing. If you boost ACs and HP across the board, the party will just further focus on dealing more damage and hitting more often.

Essentially that is what higher CR creatures are compared to lower CR ones. They have bigger numbers. A more optimized party, compared to the baseline one needs bigger numbers than the standard ones baked into CR. If you don't like a game where as you gain experience, the challenges also get harder, then Pathfinder probably isn't your cup of tea, as that is much how it works.

Gregor Greymane wrote:

In my mind, the solution is simply to make it more difficult for them by challenging their traditional route to combats. If they are used to just running up and hitting things, place enemies on a ledge, overlooking the battlefield. Place them on difficult terrain where they can move freely but the party is slow.

Use spell casters to frustrate the fighter who can't get in melee range to cut them down. Have enemies hit and run, and pull the PCs into traps. Use combat maneuvers, flanking, and other tactical tools to make the fights more dynamic. This will not only make it more difficult, but should make it more interesting.

I think these things are fine, but in moderation. Every fight shouldn't be a crazy tactical challenge. And shutting down a PC, especially repeatedly doesn't make for a fun game. Once in a while it can work, but it should be used carefully and with a purpose just beyond 'frustrating' someone.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Gregor Greymane wrote:

I also don't like to pick on PCs for having particular strengths. The paladin SHOULD have good saves, the fighter SHOULD be able to hit easily and hit hard, and the wizard SHOULD have good spell DCs.

Boosting enemy saves, AC, or HP seems almost predatory as opposed to challenging PCs tactically.

I agree completely. But if, for whatever reason, every PC in the party has saves a several points above what is expected, then raising the DCs across the board makes sense. The Paladin will still have better, but it will matter more because instead of everyone always saving, it is him that is always saving.

The wizard should have high DCs. But that is relative. If every monster pretty much always fails every save, then somehow the baseline assumptions of the game have gotten skewed and if you want it to be a challenge, you should adjust. That doesn't mean shut down, just take it from 85% failed saves to 50% or something similar.

As I said, it can be tricky to properly balance out monsters, and you need to look at the whole party and not just one character to make things a challenge but keep and fair and make sure you haven't just invalided someone build, but if you do it right, it is better than just upping the CR and increasing the numbers across the board.


I'm not suggesting shutting anyone down. And I am no saying that EVERY battle needs to be some sort of crazy master plan tactical piss-fest.

You don't need to pick higher CRs to make it more difficult. I guess I was not clear in this regard.

And you wouldn't pick on say, the fighter every combat. Switch it up. You can still have some fights where the enemies just run up to die, that's okay. But the OP is looking for ways to change this, and I think that just picking higher CR monsters is a poor choice. Also, inflating their ACs/HP is equivalent to boosting their CRs in my mind.

The idea is that combat is more multidimensional. If you simply boost a few stats you pigeonhole them into further boosting their attack bonus and damage and really don't do anything to solve the issue long-term.


I agree with not counter-building the party. Instead, I think DM_Blake's response is spot on. Higher CR = exciting, challenging, and quick. Just watch the excitement when one normal hit from a monster takes 75% of a front-line fighter's hit points.

Another key element is attrition. Don't let them rest. If the barbarian still has rounds of rage left, the adventuring day isn't even close to over. Watch the challenge and excitement sky rocket when the barbarian has no rage, the spell casters are left with cantrips, and anyone else with X/day abilities is out.

As for the second thing, you have to remind yourself that below 0 hit points is not death. Believe it or not, it is really hard to kill a PC without attacking them while unconscious (which is crappy). New GM goal: someone goes below zero every fight!! Don't be afraid to gang up on one PC to make this happen.

I think it is great that you are obviously secretly (or not so secretly) rooting for the PCs - as a GM, you should. But when initiative is rolled, you need to become "alternative evil universe" GM (with or without goatee, as appropriate). You can go back to your normal self once the encounter is over.


Probably the best solution is a mix.

Some fights are more tactical, some fights you throw a rare higher CR beasty at them.

Unexpected types of fights can really catch people off guard and boost the difficulty, too. :)


make a trap that teleports people to the top of a room, instantly the moment they touch the floor. so quickly this will happen a few times in a round, however, when they reach terminal velocity they'll go slightly faster than the trap can reset for that particular person, making them take 20d6 damage every 2-3 rounds or so.

Sovereign Court

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Dave Justus wrote:

If we are going to get serious about this, my suggestion is to look at where your PCs are strong, and selectively bump the stats of their opponents to deal with that.

If they hit easily, bump ACs up a bit. If they do a lot of damage, then bump up hit points. If they have incredible saves, increase DCs etc.

That's basically just punishing them for being good at stuff. Why figure out a way to boost one's saves if all DCs are simply going to magically (pun intended) increase in direct proportion? Why boost my accuracy if everything will suddenly be harder to hit?

Frankly - I believe that to be just about the worst way to deal with the situation.


Dave Justus wrote:

If they hit easily, bump ACs up a bit. If they do a lot of damage, then bump up hit points. If they have incredible saves, increase DCs etc.

I like this method better than just upping challenge ratings

Since others are voicing preferential disagreement, I'll offer a mechanical disagreement.

The flaw with dong this is that things like XP and Loot are based on the CR of the encounter. Higher CR means more XP and more loot. Your way of bumping the monster's stat blocks doesn't come with a compensatory bump in the monster's CR, so you're adding challenge without adding reward.

An alternative way that falls somewhere right in the middle is to use Templates. Every template comes with a CR adjustment (although a few of them are zero), so find a template, even if is just the Simple Advanced Template, then adjust the CR appropriately, then adjust the XP and loot accordingly.

Yes, this ultimately "just ups the challenge rating", but it does so without changing what creature you're fighting and it is mechanically sound.


have a trap where they have to navigate a narrow bridge with pendulums swinging back and forth as archers shoot at them.


Think about the creatures that you had a hard time against as a player. Use those.

Look at the composition of the party: where are their weaknesses? Exploit those.

When in doubt, a flock (herd? murder?) of erinyes devils is usually quite effective, especially at night and in the open. Even if they have effective ranged weapons (most parties don't), they need a way to see past 60 feet in the dark as well as overcome DR, energy resistance, and SR. (If you're really in a bad mood, give them Haste.)


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Bandw2 wrote:
make a trap that teleports people to the top of a room, instantly the moment they touch the floor. so quickly this will happen a few times in a round, however, when they reach terminal velocity they'll go slightly faster than the trap can reset for that particular person, making them take 20d6 damage every 2-3 rounds or so.

If want to do that then just have planet sun explode and say game over and let some else GM.


At their level it is easy to engineer a situation they cannot flee (cave collapse, tunnel flooding etc), once you block off their exit route, begin to grind them down, hordes of skeletons and zombies are simple but effective, once they begin to panic searching for an exit a few poisoned traps / pitfalls, or some ghasts and ghouls should paralyze one or two, don't forget to continue the skeleton onslaught, finally as they drag their friends in desperation, give then some hope that soon they will find the exit(smell fresh air, some natural light is in sight) but throw the big bad necro with his antipaladin bro and shadow pet.

It can be a bit cheating but you can stretch or condense their nightmare underground depending on resource exhaustion. The important thing is to not let them find safe haven to rest, force them forward, harry them constantly, use crippling status effects to drag them down, then swoop in with some heavies for the (attempted) kill.


Tom S 820 wrote:
Bandw2 wrote:
make a trap that teleports people to the top of a room, instantly the moment they touch the floor. so quickly this will happen a few times in a round, however, when they reach terminal velocity they'll go slightly faster than the trap can reset for that particular person, making them take 20d6 damage every 2-3 rounds or so.
If want to do that then just have planet sun explode and say game over and let some else GM.

have a trap that opens a gate to the sun for exactly one second, all the PCs gain cancer and die in 1d10 years.


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in an aquatic campaign, have a trap that drains the water out of the room and then lowers land sharks into the air tank with the PCs.


Bandw2 wrote:
in an aquatic campaign, have a trap that drains the water out of the room and then lowers land sharks into the air tank with the PCs.

Now that funny right their. I stealing that.

Sovereign Court

Gwen Smith wrote:
When in doubt, a flock (herd? murder?) of erinyes devils is usually quite effective, especially at night and in the open. Even if they have effective ranged weapons (most parties don't), they need a way to see past 60 feet in the dark as well as overcome DR, energy resistance, and SR. (If you're really in a bad mood, give them Haste.)

Especially since an Erinyes is CR 8 & his party is level 3. A flock of them would definitely be deadly. :P

I'd be impressed if they could deal with one.


have a trap that is a plain blank room, when the PCs enter the doors slam shut and a small ball the size of about an eye is shot in through a hole in the wall, this ball will bounce off of everything slowly gaining speed after each bounce. this ball however is extremely soft and only does 1 point of non-lethal damage to any PC it hits, however, all PCs must make a DC 10 will save to not become fascinated by the ball for the rest of eternity(roll every round) or until the ball is destroyed. the ball has 1 HP but has an AC of 20 and increases by 1 AC every round.


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The best thing I could say is to rp the enemies. This makes things more diverse. But it puts the onus of responsibility on the villain not you.

For instance if the party fights assassins I will ruthlessly coupe de gras.

If the party fights what basically amounts to an animal it will run when it feels it is beaten. But it will might also FEEd. If the giant alligator drops the rogue unconscious. The beast will bite down and drag the victum away from the party trying to protect its kill.

Thugs will flee.

Enemies who expect to fight or defend their home will have and use tactical advantage and utilize surroundings, call for help, and so on.


Bandw2 wrote:
have a trap that is a plain blank room, when the PCs enter the doors slam shut and a small ball the size of about an eye is shot in through a hole in the wall, this ball will bounce off of everything slowly gaining speed after each bounce. this ball however is extremely soft and only does 1 point of non-lethal damage to any PC it hits, however, all PCs must make a DC 10 will save to not become fascinated by the ball for the rest of eternity(roll every round) or until the ball is destroyed. the ball has 1 HP but has an AC of 20 and increases by 1 AC every round.

Magic Missile. Can't miss. What do I win?


have a trap that is a room made out of mirrors, everyone makes a will at the beginning of battle with a DC of 20-their charisma modifier. they are then promptly attacked by revenants, if anyone dies after failing the will save in the next 24 Hrs they will raise as a revenant and haunt the trap. the revenants count anyone in the mirror room as their murderer but will not pursue them outside the room.

Sovereign Court

DM_Blake wrote:
Bandw2 wrote:
have a trap that is a plain blank room, when the PCs enter the doors slam shut and a small ball the size of about an eye is shot in through a hole in the wall, this ball will bounce off of everything slowly gaining speed after each bounce. this ball however is extremely soft and only does 1 point of non-lethal damage to any PC it hits, however, all PCs must make a DC 10 will save to not become fascinated by the ball for the rest of eternity(roll every round) or until the ball is destroyed. the ball has 1 HP but has an AC of 20 and increases by 1 AC every round.
Magic Missile. Can't miss. What do I win?

Not dying a slow and painful death?


Charon's Little Helper wrote:
DM_Blake wrote:
Bandw2 wrote:
have a trap that is a plain blank room, when the PCs enter the doors slam shut and a small ball the size of about an eye is shot in through a hole in the wall, this ball will bounce off of everything slowly gaining speed after each bounce. this ball however is extremely soft and only does 1 point of non-lethal damage to any PC it hits, however, all PCs must make a DC 10 will save to not become fascinated by the ball for the rest of eternity(roll every round) or until the ball is destroyed. the ball has 1 HP but has an AC of 20 and increases by 1 AC every round.
Magic Missile. Can't miss. What do I win?
Not dying a slow and painful death?

yes


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have a trap where the party sees an open doorway about 6 feet high and is a perfect circle. In fact this is a colossal sized Cursed ring and anyone attempting to move through the doorway equips the ring. trying to move out of the doorway is the same as trying to unequip it, the ring may only be removed with a remove curse, limited wish, wish, miracle or what ever the else does this sort of thing. However, while in the ring they are under the effects of a ring of sustenance. people already wearing all their ring slots are immune to the rings power.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
DM_Blake wrote:
Dave Justus wrote:

If they hit easily, bump ACs up a bit. If they do a lot of damage, then bump up hit points. If they have incredible saves, increase DCs etc.

I like this method better than just upping challenge ratings

Since others are voicing preferential disagreement, I'll offer a mechanical disagreement.

The flaw with dong this is that things like XP and Loot are based on the CR of the encounter. Higher CR means more XP and more loot. Your way of bumping the monster's stat blocks doesn't come with a compensatory bump in the monster's CR, so you're adding challenge without adding reward.

An alternative way that falls somewhere right in the middle is to use Templates. Every template comes with a CR adjustment (although a few of them are zero), so find a template, even if is just the Simple Advanced Template, then adjust the CR appropriately, then adjust the XP and loot accordingly.

Yes, this ultimately "just ups the challenge rating", but it does so without changing what creature you're fighting and it is mechanically sound.

I don't think that a strong party should get more rewards for a challenging encounter than a weak party should. This is running the red queens race where more experience and money have to spiral to higher and and higher challenge ratings. If that is what you want, sort of a strong party means monty haul game, then that is fine, but I think there are a lot of other options.

I have though stopped using XP a long time ago, and I provide treasure based on how much I want the party to have (usually pretty close to WBL) so CR of a monster means nothing to me in terms of treasure or level advancement.

The simple template is one way to do what I said. It is less blanket than just grabbing a higher CR monster, but more than just upping up one single aspect. In point of fact, that is often exactly what I use in this situation. In some cases though, it isn't appropriate.

I'll give a concrete example. One of the easiest things for players to get is ACs that are much higher than expected by the game. This leads to a whole lot of otherwise CR appropriate encounters that just can't really hit the PCs. If it is one PC I just roll with it, but if it is all, or the majority (or as usually the case, everyone who uses AC as a defense) then I adjust the base to hit numbers of the bad guys. If everything else with my party is in line (hit points, to hit, damage etc.) then that is all I adjust. The monsters hit more than they would of, but not harder and their special abilities are not more dangerous.


make a trap that turns the player's with no saves into goo's. In reality this is a complicated misdirection illusion spell that only effects those under it's effect. they believe their a goo and each other, when everyone else just sees crazy people screaming that they don't want to be a goo anymore. they get a will save (DC10) every night after resting to realize the ruse.

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