Thursday, August 8, 2013

Making Fights Tough(er) in DF

Back in March, I wrote about how to make DF fights tough.

Here is another couple of ways to make things tougher.

Mixed Enemies - Instead of just one kind of enemy, mix some together. An example of this came in my last session, but the players diffused it. Had they not managed to fight their enemies piecemeal, they'd have fought a combination of strong but slow stone golems (very high damage melee fighters) while fending off swarming ash spirits (moderately damaging blinding clouds of evil ash). The weakness of one (moderate damage, fairly obvious weakness vs. wind) is covered by the other (high damage, can walk through a Windstorm without difficulty). The strength of one (blinding attack) feeds into the other's attack (high-damage moderate skill flail strikes).

Set foes - literally put there as guards - should generally have some mix or have some terrain to make them viable foes. Otherwise it's too easy for a diverse group to stand off and kill them (or charge in and kill them) once the weak point is discerned. A diverse group of guardians, guards, assassins, or what have you, is a much greater threat due to the need to deal with multiple avenues of attack.

One I discussed before, but which needs some reinforcement:

Magical Support - Even if the enemies don't have allies, or pets, or coincidentally occurring inadvertent aid, and even if they're a homogenous mix (a tribe of orcs, a pack of stirges, etc.), they might have a supernaturally adept member. The foul bats from DF2 have their own special leader types. Certain demons have spellcasting versions. Orcs might have shamans, or holy men, or demon-summoning spirit-callers. Defensive spells (Missile Shield, Shield, Bless) or dispelling attacks (Dispel Magic or Purify Air vs. Fog or Stench) can keep the PCs from being the only ones to bring magic to the battlefield.


  1. Your post is exactly the reason I have made the ogres, trolls, goblins and so on into faerie. I can add supernatural powers to them and made them much tougher than flesh and blood monsters. There are inbetweeners and I use ideas from GURPS Faerie and Ars Magica to beef them up to challenge 250 point DF PCs.

    1. To be clear, I'm not saying take monster X and make it X+1 or +2. I'm saying, have a mix - monster X, some of monster Y, monster Z, etc. or monster X, with a few members that are X+1 mixed in.

      If you just amp up all the monsters, it's fine, but it's a different issue - that's scaling, not a mixed group encounter.

    2. Well faerie goblins have a chance for some magical power like darkness, blindness, fumble, sickening touch etc. Trolls can be accompanied by troll-wives who are very adept at magic. So with faeries you can have a mixture of powers to challenge PCs naturally because faeries often have some unusual powers.

    3. Yeah, that's the kind of thing I'm talking about.

    4. When Gygax wrote Lejendary Adventures I think he went out of his way to change the goblins, trolls and ogres into faerie monsters. They often had some random supernatural power based on dice rolls. Plus they were much tougher to begin with. In my games I don't use monsters for fodder instead I use humans like bandits because I don't like monsters to be boring slaughters.

    5. I think that GURPS separates low tech from high tech a lot more than AD&D because GURPS tries to simulate realism more. Thus low tech monsters are at an even greater disadvantage than in AD&D. For that reason monsters need to be juiced up to have much of a chance against a DF party which is really a special forces team with magic items in place of hi tech weapons. Dragons, chimerae, sphinxes and so on need to be far more supernatural to pose much of a challenge to DF PCs. The same goes for ogres and trolls who are low tech barbarians wielding primitive weapons fighting a high tech special forces team so they need to be upgraded with special powers and invulnerabilities to offer much challenge.

  2. I suggest finding a copy of Space Gamer #42 and reading "Combined Arms in D&D" for a much earlier statement of the mixed enemies suggestion you put forth here.


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