Creating an Encounter

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Creating an Encounter

When designing a balanced combat encounter, add up the total level of all of the adventurers involved. Divide that number by two. The total Monster Level (ML) of all of your monsters added together should be equal to this number. If the ML total is higher than 2x the adventurers’ character levels, then the encounter will be more punishing; if the total ML is less than 2x the adventurers’ character levels, then the encounter will be easier.

More ideas for designing and balancing your encounters can be found in the MythCrafter’s Guide.

Monster Strategies

Consider the type of monster that you’re using when you run a combat. A pack of wolves is likely to fight with some level of instinctive strategy, and a group of skilled highway robbers will act with even more strategic nuance. By contrast, a bear is more likely to fight using simple, straightforward tactics. The monster’s tactical skill should be taken into account when you decide what a monster does on its turn.

Not All Figures are Fair

Note that while the majority of your combat encounters should be reasonably balanced, sometimes the adventurers stray off the beaten path. If they head into an area that you have clearly communicated is above their caliber, they might find themselves facing one or more monsters that are significantly too deadly for their current level. In such cases, retreat should usually be an option for the adventuring party.


Combat begins when all creatures involved roll Initiative. You typically roll initiative when a monster or adventurer takes some form of aggressive action.

Initiative determines the order in which creatures take their turn during combat.

Initiative is an AWR check: each creature rolls 1d20 and adds their AWR. The one with the highest roll goes first, followed by the second-highest, and so on. After the last creature takes its turn, the first creature takes its second turn. Initiative order is repeated until combat is resolved.

In the event of a tie between one or more creatures, the creature with the higher AWR goes first out of those creatures. If one or more creatures tie and have the same AWR, roll unmodified d20s for each tied creature; the highest roll goes first out of those creatures, then the second highest, etc.