Creating encounters for a large party of low level characters

I’m about to start a campaign with 8 players (4 adults and 4 kids). I want one particular boss encounter to be challenging but I’m concerned that doubling the total player level (making a level 16 boss) may be way too strong for 8 lvl 1 characters…leading to lots of 1-shot knockouts to my players…

Am I unnecessarily worried?

lower the boss level and give him a few minions, or allies.

8 actions is a lot, so if you had at least 4 to 6 allies for the boss, then the boss level could be a lot lower.

Do I read correctly that a Boss Npc should be 1/4 the levels of regular npc encountetlr totals?

so if you are just building an encounter with a Boss NPC (which btw, boss NPCs should be very rare in your games for the most part), then:

8 level 1 PCs

Easy Encounter:
Boss Level 1

Moderate Encounter:
Boss Level 2

Hard Encounter:
Boss level 4

However, the reality of this is, your PCs will mow over a Level 4 boss b/c of actions.

Even with Boss Edge, the boss has 3 major actions vs the 8 that the party has. That’s virtually no contest, honestly.

Hence just throwing a few minion NPCs in there.

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Doesnt that sort of imply that the mechanics for Boss level Npcs is broken? Or is it just with large parties that this is the case?

It’s a problem with large parties. There’s a concept called “action economy” that stops encounter difficulty from being completely linear. A party with more players has more actions, which gives them more versatility, more opportunities to apply different Banes, and more chances for a series of dice explosions to kill the boss in one hit. The boss meanwhile has its focus split 8 ways; while a lone boss could probably beat a lone PC, that same damage divided by 8 is really not very effective.

The solution is as @Great_Moustache says, make the boss a lower level and give it some allies. Personally I favour having one or two higher level lieutenant NPCs and then a mob of minions to keep things varied.

The level of a boss is worth 4 times the level of an equivalent minion for balancing encounters, you are correct. I would use a level 1 boss with plenty of feats and defenses skewing towards the high end, two lieutenants with 6 levels between them and 2 levels worth of minions for a level 12 encounter designed to make the players think but not give too much risk of them failing. That’s just a guideline though, you know your party better than we do.

Remember to make the environment interesting, with plenty of cover and terrain so it doesn’t just turn into chess, and make the enemies act in different ways depending on their skills and behaviours so it doesn’t turn into just standing in the middle rolling dice at each other. Make it memorable for your party, give them a chance to flee but a reason to keep fighting, and do come back and let us know how it goes.

Also to remember, the things presented for NPC and even Boss NPC are just guidelines to help you along the way. It can never be perfect or exact because there are so many different factors that will make an individual encounter easy or hard, like many of the things that @SamWilby mentioned.

There is no catch all b/c everyone is different and there is player ingenuity. This post I made on another thread goes into what to really consider for an encounter as well, which is basically saying that the feats you choose are hugely important too.

In fact, we usually say that the feats you choose are more important than higher attributes. The thing that isn’t mentioned on that post is Action Economy that Sam spoke about and I eluded to with the 3 vs 8 comparison.

This particular boss really needs to be a lone-monster for the sake of story. Would it be horribly unbalancing to make him a lvl 4 boss with more than the normal amount of boss edge actions?

That could work. Maybe give it a few more Boss Actions without increasing the advantage from Boss Edge?

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