I had a couple of strange turns of events in the meta-game of the weekly campaign that I am DMing. One of my players could not play this week due to work obligations and I had a plot branch that was centered around him going to a town, back to home base as it were. We also had added a new player and most of my encounters were a bit off as a result.
So, I tossed my prepared materials and decided to wing it with an outdoor mega-encounter. A chance encounter with a lad riding for help that would pit the players against a small goblinoid army.
The heavily themed encounter list appears as:
Encounter Map One (woods and pasture) 6 x Orc, Orog - Total XP: 1,050 Adjusted XP: 2,625 Deadly Orc Eye of Gruumsh, Orog, 3x Orc -Total XP: 1,200 Adjusted XP: 2,400 Hard Encounter Map Two (wooded roadway ambush) Goblin Boss, 5x Hobgoblin, 4x Goblin - Total XP: 900 Adjusted XP: 2,250 Hard 12x Goblin, Goblin Boss - Total XP: 800 Adjusted XP: 2,400 Hard 2x Bugbear, 2x Hobgoblin, 6x Goblin - Total XP: 900 Adjusted XP: 2,250 Hard
The gaming group pushed through the encounters which were chained together one after another after another on each map. They got no breaks and pushed on hard, trying to save the lad’s family. I chained the encounters so there was almost no rest and to create a sense of urgency to get the groups down quickly before the next one arrived.
It was night fight, so they could hear the enemies drawing near, but had no sense of the composition or numbers of enemies. Instead of the players assaulting the monsters, the monsters were ambushing or attacking them and it made for some wild fighting.
The warlock was down to shocking grasp and was all but dry-humping armored opponents
By the end of the second battle map, they were spent, almost every spell fired off, hit points low. They had to take a long rest or be at risk of not surviving the next map. The warlock was down to shocking grasp and was all but dry-humping armored opponents, for pities sake!
Anyhow, the players had really nuked the first couple of encounters and frankly wasted a few spells. I think that by the time the evening of adventure was drawing to a close, that the casters might be a bit more hesitant to commit the big stuff in future fights, but we’ll see.
Good mages knew when to toss darts or daggers and when to unleash the big spells.
As a guy that played OD&D and AD&D 1e and then pulled a Rip Van Winkle until D&D 5e, it seems like spell casters have much more spells to cast these days. Way, way back in the day when I actually had hair on the top of my head, the timing of a fireball, for instance, was critical. Good mages knew when to toss darts or daggers and when to unleash the big spells. Maybe those days are long past, and perhaps good mages today know what the right spell is to cast. Regardless, there has been a major shift in active magic casting.
Next week the players will advance on to the third and final map of the encounter chain. After a long rest will the boy’s mother and grandpa still be among the living? Will they survive what might be a lethal encounter with the forces of evil?