Rules Index | GM Screen | Player's Guide

Chapter 1: Gamemastery Basics / Encounter Design

Enemy Motivations

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 47
Every encounter should happen for a reason. Consider a creature’s motivation to fight. Is it defending its lair? Robbing to enrich itself? Following sadistic impulses? Simply being paid to fight? You may realize a creature doesn’t have a compelling motivation, or that the PCs have done something that eliminates the impetus to fight. In that case, the encounter doesn’t need to happen! Your game might be more satisfying if the PCs’ clever actions avoid the fight—provided you award them XP accordingly.


Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 47
Think how an enemy reacts when a fight is going poorly for them—or well! Enemies who do something other than fight to the death make an encounter more dynamic and believable. While PCs occasionally encounter truly fanatical zealots or single-minded creatures that would never back down from a fight, most creatures—even nonsapient creatures like animals—back down from a battle they’re obviously losing. This normally means foes fleeing at a certain point, potentially ending the encounter, but if the PCs need to capture those opponents, it could add a secondary objective and split their focus. Look at how differences in morale between participants impact the fight. For instance, after the necromancer’s living allies surrender to the PCs, she might activate a latent magic she implanted within them, killing them and merging their bodies into an enormous undead abomination. An enemy’s morale could even change the encounter from combat to social, as the PCs enter negotiations over a surrender or try to convince their foes of the errors of their ways.