How High level encounters 5e become anime

high level encounters

There has been a lot of questions online regarding what to do in high level encounters 5e.

People say that the game balance is destroyed at high level encounters 5e in every single edition. So make it like anime to fix this problem!

Dungeons and Dragons tries to make the game most balanced around levels 1-13/14. Any other playtesting is extra since players do not end up spending most of their time at levels 15 and above, or if they reach max level rarely continue to play these characters. I know that this is not universal and there are stories of groups playing a single game for decades and killing gods, but these are a minority.

If a company makes a product they generally will make that product the best it can possibly be for their consumers. If you make a great product you will focus on what will be used the most, and this is no different in Dungeons and Dragons. Most games, time, and players play at lower-mid tier levels and do not play long if at all in high level games.

This is why Many people are confused at how to handle high level encounters and the gameplay loop is completely broken.

Gameplay loop

Whenever you play a video game it has a gameplay loop. This loop can be something simple like get a quest, kill, get rewarded, repeat. These loops are often simple and easy to expand upon. The whole game is based around this loop and developers simply add a little bit here and there to make the game more interesting. The same thing happens in Dungeons and Dragons.

Dungeons and Dragon’s gameplay loop is that you get a quest, encounter some trouble, and solve this trouble. Players can do a terrible job at solving the trouble and cause themselves a problem later on. This setup adds a personal touch to the new scenario, but the game is still based upon this gameplay loop.

Many typical gameplay loops are expanded in these technical ways ways:

New monsters

-New big bad enemy personally angers the players

Environmental change of a dungeon layout (forest, sewer, abandoned civilization etc)

A preset dungeon/encounter map

Gameplay anticipated by your players (backstories, chaotic personalities etc)

These are basic ways to expand your gameplay loop, but there are a few problems when the loop is expanded this way.

A major problem

High level encounters 5e break the typical gameplay loops because players have so many resources at their disposal. A great example of this is the wizard tower.

A group of players is tasked to kill an evil wizard lives in a tower. The players reach the tower and fly up to the top completely skipping the dungeon. The dungeon master doesn’t like this and the tower now has anti-flying defenses by shooting lightning bolts at flying intruders. The players now gain lightning resistant gear, and the dungeon master implements something new. The cycle repeats but with a new element. This is a new loop that isn’t very fun or intended by the designers and it breaks the game.

The players can also try a different approach with their vast resources. Instead of flying they teleport into the castle or scry to find out relevant information to make every encounter easy. Either way, the core gameplay loop is broken and many people do not know how to deal with this.

Fixing the problem

I have a youtube video that describes a high level fight that my players had. That fight became anime with people flying around, trying to destroy power siphons in order to bring down the enemies power level, and it just became ridiculous. Why do I mention this? You need to know that the system is broken and embrace what makes the game amazing at this point.

Do not get into an arms race with your players like I described with the wizard tower. The game is not fun and no one wants that. Instead, embrace it. Let the players use what they have rightfully acquired, and make something amazing await your players.

If your players are able to do something then the enemy is able to do that as well. Your players did not get this high level by going solo so why should your big bad enemy? The enemies allies may not be there right now, but they will try to seek revenge or help their ally out. Why would evil people want to lose a potential ally who is a great resource? They would not, and evil people will protect each other.

This is one way to spice up fights but it still does not solve the fundamental problem.

High level stats

We generally when thinking about high level encounters envision a fight that involves high numbers, stats that end up wowing a calculator, and many actions. There is some truth to this, but the reality of high level encounters 5e is that they are slow and take forever.

Combat in normal and mid tier levels already takes a long time, and just increasing the time is not great. If you at high levels are just fighting a monster with more hit points the game is boring.

Remember the wizard tower example? Remember all those creative options? Embrace those creative options and make the whole encounter be one amazing scene that will be remembered.

How do you do make combat interesting though?

Making combat interesting

Your players have a ton of items and fighters can permanently fly at this stage. If your party wants, a fighter can fly in the air and go toe to toe with a dragon. A wizard can pull out enough tricks to surprise a clown, and a cleric can heal a nation. Embrace every aspect of this.

I had a group of players fight the god Cyric in my youtube video , and that god had so many tricks. Cyric was an assassin so I wondered what a high level assassin would do and have. It ended up with him making demonic pacts since he was once a god and this let him become some character from an anime.

Lower level fights focus on min-maxing damage, what you can get per action etc but in this fight, that was only a minor aspect of what was happening. Every player had enough tricks and options that they were trying to outdo each other.

Let me give an example.

An example Encounter

The seeker of the song (amazing bard support) was on the ground giving out different melodies to the party, constantly adjusting to the new enemies attacks. He on his turn ended up going invisible with greater invisibility in order to buy time against the demons that tried to kill him.

The cleric who wielded a bow was shooting the demi-god who was now wreathed in blue energy, trying to draw his attention as his side was ripped out by demons. That was perfectly fine though, since he was regenerating. Still hurt a lot, and at times he needed to heal the others on the ground.

The barbarian was enchanted with fly and did her best to stop the greatest of the demons from killing the two support characters by shattering stones, creating new terrain for her allies to hide behind, and became an unyielding bulwark.

The last member of the party, the eldritch knight/abjurant champion was fighting the demigod who was wreathed in blue flame whilst they were in the air. She still wasn’t fast enough to evade the demigod, and used a combination of teleport, blink, and improved invisibility to blink in and out of existence while she destroyed the demigod’s power conduits.

The lesson

Were mechanics used in this fight? Yes, they were but the mechanics were secondary to the player’s decisions. At no point was the focus on ‘what did you roll.’ Instead, the focus was on what the players would do. How would they fight and survive against hordes, a powering up demigod, and other demon elites at the same time?

Rolls and stats do not become the focus of good high level encounters 5e. Stats are good to have, but you need ideas and actions. These are what make up high level encounters. Don’t make your high level encounters focus on the health, attack, damage, or other stats that a monster has. Those are secondary.

Try to make your players use their arsenal of items, abilities, and spells to survive. Do not punish them or create an arms race when they use these tools that they have spent a long time to acquire.

Make high level encounters about the actions and decisions players make, not the rolls.

Becoming anime

Many animes use power levels or strength to measure their characters and show that they have improved. We do the same thing in Dungeons and Dragons. Animes do not focus on that power in a fight unless the difference is utterly laughable. If a level one fighter faces a level nine fighter, this still applies in Dungeons and Dragons.

Unfortunately, one thing that we do not take from anime is that the fights are not usually about who is the most powerful. Almost all the time in anime, the fighters do not sit there and just exchange blows. The combatants are always thinking, trying something, and being creative when they make decisions.

Combatants in anime don’t just hit each other and hope that they hit harder or more accurate this time. Instead, they make a decision and don’t leave the fight up to random chance.

We need to make our fights more about the decisions that our players make instead of what they roll. Stats are important, but they should not be the main focus in a high level fight. Stats are never the main deciding factor of a high level encounter, decisions are. Make your encounters so that players can use the tools that they are given and make meaningful decisions.

This is why high level encounters 5e become anime.


I personally love high level encounters 5e and think that high level Dungeons and Dragons is amazing, but you need to understand that it is broken. The game is not meant to really be played this way, but the system also does not support roleplaying that well and we adapt just fine.

I am confident that you can make your high level encounters be something to be remembered if you focus on the decisions that players can make instead of stats.

If you are not high level yet and still want to improve combat, I recommend reading this article to help you out until you get to higher levels.

This has been Wizo and keep rolling!

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