A blog about my 2nd edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons campaign using Paizo's Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path.

Please note that there are spoilers throughout.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Encounter Design

The party recently encountered a large bugbear. In 3.5E terms it was a bugbear with 1 level of ranger - CR 3 and part of an EL 2 encounter. Now I have no real deep experience with 3.5E and a good feel for that editions CRs and ELs but I believe that an EL 2 encounter is one that is appropriate for a second level party that would use up something like 25% of their resources.

In converting the bugbear I used a leader bugbear from the Monstrous Manual and the method described in the DM Options: High Level Campaigns to add +1 toughness. So he looked like:

Bugbear Leader (AC 3, Mv 9, HD 4+4, hp 27, Thaco 15, #AT 3/2 footman's flail, Dmg 1d6+5, SA -3 surprise penalty for opponents, SD nil, MR nil, Morale 13)
I figured he would be fairly tough.

He was dead in 3 rounds. He did manage to knock Gabriel the swashbuckler unconscious in the process however. I can tell already though that if I want a dangerous and dramatic fight I either have to make single monsters tougher or increase the number of monsters in the converted encounters.


  1. This is where D&D gets into unfamiliar territory for me. I always wing it, as a DM, when it comes to monster encounters. The 3.5 and 4 systems for designing encounters seem so, well, clinical.

  2. I agree with you.
    I have a much easier time gauging the difficulty of encounters for B/X. I am still trying to get a handle on what challenges these 2E characters though.

  3. Patrick, may we see how you would write the leader up in B/X terms, just as a comparison?

    Please. :)

  4. Honestly, the bugbear leader would likely look very similar to the one above. The full encounter was made up of the bugbear and four goblins.

    However, I think that the problem I am having is gauging the strength of the party of 2E characters relative to my normal benchmark of a party of B/X characters.

    I think that an encounter with a 4+4 HD bugbear and 4 goblins would be a really tough encounter for a party of five 2nd level B/X characters. Assuming, of course, it devolved into a combat encounter.

    Not a bad analog would be the goblin guards and ogre in the Caves of Chaos. Not an impossible fight but likely not an easy one.