Tuesday, 25 May 2010

The danger of death

As a DM to a regular Labyrinth Lord game, I often revise my encounter strategy for the adventures I create, continually trying to improve the experience. Both me and my players enjoy a bit of strategy in the battles and a bit of danger and excitement too.

I have discovered that short battles are generally better than long ones and often battles where the player is massively outnumbered by the enemy, or is able to gang up on just a few powerful enemies, work well. Surprise is a big element in battles going well so I often throw monsters in to the fights that have never been encountered before... and some of my players have been playing D&D for a very long time so it's always fun to throw something at them that makes everyone of them go 'what the hell is THAT?'

One of the things that has been going through my mind recently is the danger of death. I'm wondering, is there really any point in simulating battles that really have no chance of hurting the party? Might it be better to handle those fights with some simple narrative texts 'You quickly overcome the bodyguards, who prove no match for your skills, leaving you with the champion who slowly draws his glowing sword - and far from being cowed by your martial prowess - leaps right at you!' and simulate only the battles that might actually pose a real risk to the group as a whole?

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