If the campaign story requires that the party win every fight, it can be tempting to hold back punches to ensure the party survives. But what’s the point of playing the game if you already know what will happen?
In order to allow for the possibility of failure, we need combats that are not fights to the death. Introducing different stakes to combat encounters helps keep them exciting and memorable.
- The players are trying to stop cultists from completing a ritual which progresses each turn they maintain concentration.
- Members of a Thieves’ Guild are trying to escape with an artifact they stole.
In these scenarios, the enemies have other objectives other than just killing the party, so it’s not the end of the world if the enemies succeed. It takes the story in a different and interesting direction. As a DM, you can give both sides a legitimate chance and see how it turns out. Success is only meaningful if there is chance of failure.
What other encounters or stakes have you used to great effect?