This is my dirtiest DM secret:
I don’t fudge dice. I fudge entire monsters.
They don’t have an Armor Class (AC) until they’re hit. They don’t have Hit Points (HP) until they take damage. They don’t have weapons until they deal damage.
When you throw a horde of orcs at a party, it’s tough to tell how the tide of battle will flow. A failed saving throw or a critical hit can quickly send the party into a death spiral. On the other hand, a high damage roll on an area of effect (AoE) spell or an item you forgot the party had can quickly make your climactic battle fall flat.
Curb this uncertainty by putting the monster AC, HP, and weapons into a superposition before battle. Only narrow the possibilities as necessary.
The key is having the flexibility to manage your encounter, while keeping things realistic. Don’t just…
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