Powering Up! Bringing D&D Monsters, Villains and Campaigns Up to Your Party’s Level

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By The 3 Wise DMs. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Whether you’re playing a book Dungeons & Dragons campaign or just have big plans for a couple uglies in the Monster Manual, there’s a level window where your PCs will have a good, balanced encounter with those threats. But what do you do when the party isn’t in that window?

Maybe through the course of their adventures, the PCs have explored everything and leveled up too fast, so now Strahd or Auril or whatever big bad is looking a little wimpy? Or maybe your players have characters they’ve been playing for a while and love, but the campaign they want to play is lower level, so it’ll need some adjustment? Either way, you may find yourself looking for ways to scale up the danger so that climactic battle still has some bite.

In this episode, Thorin, Tony and Dave talk about how they approach these problems. Listen on to hear 3 good ways to bring underpowered villains’ power up to par, Dave’s dilemma with Strahd and the jacked level-10 party of 6, and whether or not level-adjusting modules is worth the effort in the first place.

1:00 A Listener Question: How can you scale up Rime of the Frostmaiden’s Auril for higher-level play?

2:00 Leveling out of the window: How do you keep your BBEG challenging for a party that’s powering up faster than expected?

7:00 The 1st Way to Boost Your Villain: Leveling up their monster type

10:00 “I want to play it the way it’s Done”: Why DM Dave is Reluctant to modify Strahd in Curse of Strahd or Auril in Rime of the Frostmaiden, even though the players may be higher level

13:00 Be careful just increasing Villain hit points and making the fight longer, and what to do instead

17:00 BBEGs like Strahd and Auril should not just get smoked — they have more stuff going on

20:00 The 2nd Way to Boost Your Villain: Giving Strahd additional forces or power-ups to make sure the fight is interesting

23:00 The 3rd Way to Boost Your Villain: Upgrade its raw stats and powers, but try to keep the length of the fight the same — and what’s wrong with the DMG on this?

26:00 A few Final Fantasy 7 spoilers and how to use them with your villain

29:00 Monster Benchmarking: Go look at things that are the kind of threat you want your villain to be

35:00 Your BBEG should know the party and plan to beat them specifically. But how well should the party know them?

45:00 Is it worth scaling up a pre-made adventure to fit a higher-level party, or is that wasted effort?

53:00 How the unexpected makes for some of the most memorable D&D moments

58:00 It depends on the room: Giving your players what they want

60:00 Initial impressions of Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft: Did we just buy homework?

63:00 Final thoughts

65 episodes