A while ago I gave a guide for designing a combat encounter in about 5 minutes. But what if you can’t be bothered to wait that long? What if your players are itching for a fight and you want to deliver it right now?
Follow these simple steps to get started immediately:
- Pick up the Monster Vault or Monster Manual of your choice.
- Go to the index. Spend about 20 seconds looking up a standard monster of the party’s level or up to +4 levels higher.
- If there happens to be another monster around the same level on the same page, you’ve lucked out and can add it to the encounter. Either way, you are using a number of monsters equal to the number of players in the party.
- If you have D&D dungeon tiles, draw 3 random tiles from your supply and arrange them in an interesting configuration. If you don’t, draw a weirdly shaped room on your grid map and put a couple of pillars in it.
- If you have minis, pick random minis the same size of the monsters you plan to use. Otherwise, use whatever tokens or dice you would normally use.
- Make everyone roll initiative while you describe the scene! If you are at a loss for words, say the following: “On your travels you suddenly encounter a group of horrible [INSERT MONSTER NAME HERE]. They are in no mood to talk. It would be a shame to die today, but every hero meets his or her end eventually!” See, it’s nihilistic. The players like that.
- Do your best to kill the players. That will really piss them off.
I recommended printing this list out and keeping it in your back pocket in case of an emergency.