286 Non-combat Encounter Design

"Episode idea, don’t make encounters about “combat” what are yalls thoughts on that?" - Sky on Discord


No matter what encounter I want to give my players as they travel, I always make the players roll a d20. It makes them think that something good or bad could be happening, when really, either way, it could be both depending on how the conversation between the PCs and the NPCs they meet.

For example: they were traveling down the road and rolled a 10 on a d20. They encountered two guys with a long pole and skinned aniumals hanging fro mit. They passed by each other, and ended up buying meats from them. The ecounter did generate one of my favorite couple of lines recently:

NPC: “Hey, you wanna buy anything?” gestures at the meats

PC: “How much for that pole?”


When I build encounters they may have a particular slant towards battle or non battle. But the players always have a way of switching it around about 50% of the time. So when I build any encounter I don’t presume too much. I really never know which way the players will go in my group. So I just build encounters and direct the consequences or rewards from there.

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I believe the straightforward answer is “yes” you should have multiple types of encounters that allow the party to exercise their array of skills.

Each archetype is going to excel in various areas. It is also important to know what your players want. Maybe they want more investigative / role playing or perhaps they just want to see how high they can pile up Orc corpses.

It can also be fun to give the fighter types a technical challenge where a big to-hit-bonus and lots of DMG isnt useful. This could be on purpose or a happy accident. A more recent session I ran was interesting because they left the smarter character outside to protect their transport while they sent the two toughs into an abandoned fuel depot to see of they could get the fuel transfer system back up to fuel their space ship.


I agree. Don’t make combat encounters. Don’t make non combat encounters. Make situations, and see what happens.


This is Wisdom. Yes allow for different success paths. If the characters want to sneak around the Ogre give them a chance. If they want to offer the party Halfling or Bard as a snack or payment for passage see how that plays out!

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