Friday, November 22, 2019

Discussion: One Monster or Groups?

When it comes to encounters do you prefer using one monster or groups of monsters?

Do you like systems where you can make a single, giant boss monster into an epic encounter for the whole group? Or do you prefer to put your PCs up against armies?

In general I prefer groups. It is a little harder to run at times, but PCs being outnumbered helps the PCs feel stronger - they're fighting a lot of people - and it helps them use tactics to help turn the tide in their favor. Reducing who can attack what. Taking out key targets to strengthen their position, and all that.

At the same time, there is a lot to be said about the titanic, single final boss. The ending of a game that boils down to "Can the PCs stop Darth Vader?" or "Can the PCs stop the literal, actual Titan?" Critical Role capstoned their first campaign with a bunch of epic level PCs versus Vecna for a fight that was absolutely amazing in how well it was handled.

Fantasy in a lot of ways is built on the idea of a single, final big bad. You see it come up all the time in movies, books, comics, and everything else.

But which do you prefer?


  1. In general, I find two or three enemies the best. But, then, I've run a lot of L5R where one enemy is easy to take out and, at least in 4e, outnumbering the party makes it too easy to overwhelm the party. I don't like rolling a bunch of dice, so fewer enemies better. As player, hordes are boring, single big bad often boring as well as accomplishment is only attained once (if at all). Again, 2 or 3 major enemies allow for decisions and accomplishment.

    1. I haven't given a lot of thought to a 2-3 enemy encounter in the game I'm running now. The times one has happened, they've tended to blow through it. Though I like what you're saying. And I think a carefully crafted 2-3 enemy encounter might be that nice sweet spot between the two.