I want to spend this post talking about another homebrew idea that I am working on. While not unique at all, I think it will help make my boss encounters feel different that the normal or random encounters. I believe that my combat is the weakest part of my campaign. Part of that is because I am not a very good war gamer, but mostly because I seem to have been cursed by the dice gods themselves. I must have been horrible in a past life with all the 1’s I roll. Sure I could simply fudge the dice or fix the modifiers, but my players don’t really appreciate that. Instead, I came up with an inspiration system for the boss fights.
I got to thinking, why can’t monsters and earn inspiration for the good they do while the players are off doing their adventure. Here is what I propose, bosses and mini bosses should have access to inspiration points that they can bestow to their minions. This is a finite resource that will be based on the PC’s level when they face the boss. This means that a boss facing a level 5 party will have 5 points to spend on re rolling attacks and saves. Mini-bosses will have access to half of these points rounded down. I think this will be al little more fair than fudging dice and it will at the very least make the boss fights seem harder. With my luck however, I will probably waste all the points re rolling only to get a 1’s.
In the future I think I would like to be able to exchange these points to give the monsters different tactics. This is similar to how it works in Warhammer where spending a certain amount of points will give the monsters access to different tactics. For example, maybe I can spend two points and gain an extra attack or three points to cast a spell.
A lot of the time I feel I spend my time researching and working hard to make a cool encounter for my party, only to have them cheese it in one go because I roll like terribly. I want to make it clear, I am not out to kill my players. The main focus of my campaign is not the combat but the collective narrative that we are creating. The problem is that I have players who like combat and as a DM I need to make sure that these players have their needs met. I think introducing this system into my campaign will make it the choices they make valid and still have the randomness that makes the game enjoyable. It is good to fail, but I have had my players look for the boss after they have killed him because they cheesed the whole encounter quickly.
I think most importantly, I spend hours working on a campaign, I should be able to have fun and do cool stuff too. Are there any ways that help you with your encounters? Do you fudge rolls? Let me know.