Howlin' Mad

|All of us are crazy in one way or another|

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Dungeons & Dragons
Aside from a lot of school stuff I'm also working on my first ever Dungeons & Dragons campaign this holiday. It takes place in the city I drew a few months ago (the drawing that was ruined by the coffee spill).
I have a cool story idea, which needs some work, because not everything fits perfectly yet. I have some NPC's, I even have PC's, lol!
I have a hard time figuring out the challenge ratings and encounter levels though. Are four Dire Rats enough of a challenge for four 3th level characters? What level does my enemy rogue or fighter need to be and how many of them are acceptable to fight against?

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Four dire rats aren't enough of a challenge for four 3rd level characters. :) You'd need about eight of them, possibly ten. Dire rats only have an AC of 13, and only get +6 to hit, so look at the AC and attack bonuses of the party and adjust to suit. If they'll hit the things on a roll of six or less, that's way too easy, and if the rats will need to roll 15 or more to hit, that's also way too easy, IMO.

But then, sometimes it's good to throw in an easy encounter here and there. They can't all be survive-by-the-skin-of-our-teeth difficult.

When sending a single foe against a party, I usually like to make it a couple levels above the party level to compensate for the fact that it's a single foe vs. many. They'll get more attacks per round than the enemy will.

What I find really handy is subscribing to the D&D Insider service. You get all the "Dragon" and "Dungeon" magazines, plus access to their Adventure Tools (including an Encounter Builder that helps you build the right level of encounter), and the Compendium, which I find EXTREMELY useful. You can look up the stats for any creature, ritual, item, etc.

I've been running D&D 4e for over a year and a half now, and I'm full of advice, free for the asking! :)

Thanks for your reply!!

I looked up the rats in the DM guide Encounter number table (we play 3.5e), but it just felt wrong to use only four rats. Now I realize the table probably only takes one player's encounter level into account, not three (d'oh). 8 or 10 dire rats sounds much better.

Do you ever use those tables or do you just look at the AC and To Hit stats?

If I'd set my group up for battle against a similar group of foes, would I make those enemies higher or lower level characters than my group? Or does it simply depend on how hard I want to make it for them?

I'll look into the D&D Insider service, thanks for the advice.

I've been playing (3.5e) for about 5 years now. I've always had a hard time working out the stats for characters and that's what's always stopped me from trying to DM a game. This time I have a cool story and I really want to try and make it work.

N00b alert! Thanks again for your advice!

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