inexperienced SL to combat difficulty

  • I am currently running a group of my friends in DSA5, we have played 6 times over the last year, but we want to find a regular time to play soon.

    However, I have the problem that I can very badly judge how difficult a fight for my troop of 4-5 heroes and a familiar animal (played by the 6th player) will be.

    At the first meeting, I nearly killed the assembled troop with 4 glanders. In the second session, I wanted to make it a little easier, and two harpies were decimated within a few laps. Even the 5 robbers that I presented to them in the next session were done quite fast.

    As you can see, I just do not have the balance of fighting, so in the last few rounds I've been more focused on character play, but I'd like to put some fights back on my group soon.

    So my question: How can I tell how difficult a fight could become? Are there any values that tell me if an opponent is more difficult to defeat? I know that there is no system like D & D Difficulty (as well as without level?). But are there a few tricks that could help me find the right enemies? FetLife

  • Hey,

    I can quite imagine it to be very difficult.for a beginner. Also it is not possible in DSA5 to describe a unit's difficulty by a single number.


    Because what is true when having a single fight doesn't simply add up to make a large fight. Two very weak units will smash a strong with ease and a mob of peasants will kill a smaller army.

    Is that good?

    I leave that to yourself but it's definitely not that bad. Often a strong fighter will lose against two weak ones - so it is realistic.

    Enough talking! What shall I so?

    At first I want to mention that - if your group agrees on it - you can just change your attackers' values. If they turn out to be too strong, why not change it?

    I can understand that this looks like cheating and maybe it is, but doing that wisely will make it more interesting for everyone. I will not take this agreement as granted and the following points will not rely on cheating.

    One after another

    Often units are spread out in a wide area and the heroes will not know how many enemies will there be (one might think of a pub where there are more bandits downstairs or a forest where some are still hiding waiting for the perfect moment to shoot a hero down). If the bandits turn out to be to strong you can simply change your view of the scene and remove the waiting units (this will not change the players view since they never knew about the enemys in the first place). Also by sending single units you can get a feeling how hard it gets.

    Going more than 1for1

    They are heroes! So they shall fight more than one apponent, one might think and wrongly so.

    Fighting more than one opponent will high likely lead to a lot of damag done to the hero. Remember: Defense is reduced by THREE for ever defense that has been done already in this round. Therefore getting two or even more opponents will eat up those health points like nothing else.

    You can make this more reliable by sending 8 enemies against 6 heroes and let them switch targets from time to time. By that you can keep the whole group alife, not killing one by sheer force. You can storytell it by saying something like "One of your opponents shout for help and the large one comes running towards you. You are now facing two opponents". Then of course send them to the strongest hero or one who still has a lot of hp.

    Last but not least

    DSA is not DnD. Fights are ruff and you cannot expect to slash laughing through your enemy's forces. If you go and have a fight it will be an important one and there is a chance to die. Being aware of that we shall emphasize every battle even more. A single interesting fight is more interesting than boring slaughter.

    Short guide:

    Shields will stretch the fight without increasing its lethality largely.

    'Two weapons' increases lethality largely while potentially acxelerating the fight.

    Range combat (spells, bows ...) are lethal. Be very careful when using them. But crossbows have long reload time giving the heroes a fair chance after suffering the first wave of massive damage (more intense?)

    Feints increase the damage a lot.

    High armour slows the fight without increasing lethality largely.

    Slow but strong, deadly enemies are great. Smart heroes can run away and shoot them from the distance or simply escape their death.

    The environment can give heroes an advantage. Describe it briefly and give them hints how they can use it (better positions (+2/+2).is very nice), if they are new to the game.

    Enemies can run away.

    By killing their leader you can discurague the rest and might win a battle already lost.

    Unexpected aid (use that rarely).

    Dead enemies can have health potions with them (or similar).

    Heroes can lose and losing doesn't have to be the end. They can be captured (use that rarely) or just robbed.

    Always know the HP of your heroes (doesn't have to be exact).

    (I'm not native English and play the game in German so I am sorry for mistakes and the possible use of different terms for describing in-game functions)

    Enjoy playing it's great :)

  • My addition to Natan 's post:

    Usually, a figth between Number of Heroes+1, 2, 3 enemies (depending on the party's capability in combat) and the party is a fight that can end in both ways (heroes can defend multiple times). Of course this is for humanoid or comparable opponents. Concerning this, could you elaborate on the party's composition and on the familiar being played by a player in particular? What kind of creature is the familiar? Did you adjust any stats?

    Now, what is probably more difficult is the balance in a figth with beasts, demons, chimeras, undead, faerie, ghosts, ...


    Ghosts first, because they are pretty easy: Ghosts are immune to normal damage, take only half of all magical and most sacred damage. Only weapons sacred to a god of death (i.e. Boron, Tairach) do normal damage. Therefore, a single ghost can take out every party without supernatural chars. If there are some, you can go with 1 or 2 ghosts per spellcaster/blessed one.


    I would compare hitpoints to determine the number of Undead you can throw against your party. Usually I have 2 zombies, 1.5 skeletons and 1 mummy per char. If there is a blessed one of boron with a sacred raven's beak, I give him at least twice as many enemies, because he can usually destroy one per hit.

    Note: I assume that vampires have not been published in English yet, but they are ... crazy.


    My faerie usually do not figth. They flee and cast spells. If they do fight, I would consider them to be 1.5 humanoid enemies if they have ~30 HP or as one humanoid if they have <20


    Can be considered beasts/humanoids in most regards


    are fun. I like to have one lesser demon for every 3 mundane party members, horned demons normally do not need assistence to kill those. For any char that sacred or magical damage I have one lesser demon of a third of a horned one.

    Well... size, HP and PRO as well as the number of actions are your indicators for their difficulty. Note that any additional action a creature migth have can only be used to attack. If they are already published in English, use the rules for swarms if you want to have tiny beasts.

    Some examples from encounters I had:

    • one bear can take out a party of 5 heroes if they do not wear a lot of armor
    • a pack of 6 wolves will be a good encounter for 4 heroes of which one wears mail armor
    • 40 rats in swarms of 8 were quite easy for five chars

    Of course, all these numbers are rather crude approximations as there is nothing like the DnD CR. They are only based on my experience, not on any calculations. And of course TDE offers a ton of other abilities which can be used to manipulate any encounter (combat or not) in creative ways which might end a fight before it even started.



    Ich schreibe aus der Warte eines mit DSA5 eingestiegenen Aventurologen. Mein Wissensstand basiert auf 5 allein.

    „Knie nieder! - Sei ohne Furcht im Angesicht deiner Feinde, sei tapfer und aufrecht, auf das Gott dich lieben möge, sprich stets die Wahrheit, auch wenn dies den eigenen Tod bedeutet, beschütze die Wehrlosen, tue kein Unrecht, dies sei dein Eid (ohrfeigt Balian) Und das ist dafür, dass du ihn nicht vergisst.“ - Königreich der Himmel