Fri 14 Apr 2023, 01:22
I ran Raven's Purge for three players, three years of weekly game sessions. One or two character deaths but revived by the druid, so no loss of XP there. Needless to say, they where quite experienced at the end. We even played for months, not bothering with raising talents/skills, just accumulating XP, because my players didn't feel the need to train that often any more. Now, I don't give out a lot of artifacts, magic/master crafted weapons and armor, but of course they managed to find the odd one here and there during the campaign. It worked quite well till the last couple of months of the campaign, much thanks to there being three PCs and without excessive armor, a few good hits will still be a threat. That said, it took some effort to build encounters, with various mixes of ranged/close combat enemies. Also, enemies with talents ups the opposition quite a bit. Don't forget that most monsters can be made much more efficient if they get more than one initiative per round. Or toss a few more monsters in there.
Also, I started to use the environment as a part of encounters, with collapsing ceilings or floors, innocent bystanders in danger and so on. Let the PC fear for other peoples lives if they don't feel threatened themselves. To give bigger monsters, like dragons and manticores more strenght and armor works quite well. Biggest problem I found, was that one of my players is a real min-maxer and the others, not so much. This made it worse for me because I had to balance encounters to challenge the min maxer but at the same time, I didn't want the others to be doomed if he went down. Took some thinking to do right.
Don't forget that if the PCs are too powerful, people will no doubt hear of them and most enemies will try not to fight them but rather sabotage their plans, use subterfuge or manipulation to get to them. Or magic. There are ways to challenge them still. But sure, most often, the combats grew bigger over time, with more and more opponents.
Right before the end of the campaign, my players spend all their XP, got really good equipment and so on. The final sessions where... interesting. They where so powerful, there was no way the fight against the BBEG and his minions would have been more than a breeze, had I ran the finale out of the book so to speak. I had to do some serious changes to strenght, armor and action economy in order to keep the game interesting and challenging.
That said, most games are prone to a constant arms race between the players (PCs) and the GM. Seems I have to have a talk with my players, in every campaign we do, as to why I don't throw powerful items at them. I try to keep them satisfied with what they have, so we don't have to do the arms race in order to keep the game interesting and when explaining it thusly, they agree. At least for a while, then we need to have the talk all over again. The game is most fun when the players feel their characters are powerful, but the world still poses a threat to them. I try to find that point and then keep us there.
So, for my table, I rather keep tweaking the adventures in order to have them challenging and interesting to the end.