Help with Encounters

I’m curious to hear if anyone has any tips on making encounters more challenging for players. As is, the PCs cakewalk most combat encounters. Unless I throw unrealistic hordes of denizens, combat is usually over in one or two turns and with only a little damage to the PCs (my PCs are level 4 and without any super awesome weapons/armor).

I’ve taken to adding turrets were logical, or resorting to giving higher HP & DR just to make it slightly more dramatic.

Any other tips? Anything else that other folk find helpful?

Use your AP, group up enemies, do called shots, spend ammo (where applicable). If the PCs have a flamer, spread out so the Burst affect isn’t as useful.

How many PCs will also factor into it.

It depends on what your PCs have, where your encounters take place, and what they’re fighting. For many creatures I find it hard because at most they might flank the group, but most should be aggressive and rush the group. For smarter enemies, such as humans, Ghouls, and robots you should try to make sure they can’t attack all of them at once, make some that are out of range or behind total cover taking pot shots or lobbing grenades. To weaken some PCs effectiveness try putting them at a distance disadvantage if they have melee or close range weapons while giving partial cover. For medium or long range PCs put them in close quarters with melee attackers right in their faces. Try ambushing them, a wastelander who pleads for help and then explodes catching all PCs who are then attacked by Raiders. Almost every human enemy should have some type of advantage over the group, the Wasteland is unforgiving and any human or Ghoul should fight dirty if they think they might be in danger

Thanks. Had not thought about called shots, but that’s a GREAT idea. PCs do it, so why shouldn’t I? Muahahaha

Thanks! I like the idea of ambushing more. It also gives me the idea of using more mines, trip wires, explosives, etc. to soften them up before they engage in combat.

Mongrel dogs will attack as a pack and often go for the weakest. For example 5 dogs vs 4 PC. One goes for the melee fighter and defends. Two others take one PC each. The last two dogs attack one who looks weak, probably a ranged fighter.

Feral Ghouls attack in waves from cover and often with surprise, Three Ghouls play dead in the street. As PCs get close one stands up. If PCs get close enough the other two attack from prone. Meanwhile two more come out of hiding from behind. Further complications could be the three were laying in a radioactive puddle.

Mercenary/ raider/ Supermutant camp - use walls or obstacles to block LoS and define range zones. Ladders or even ramps can require extra AP or actions to move up. Delaying the melee fighter from sneaking up on a sentry gives the enemy more time to detect them. Defensive wall as a zone edge can make moving a couple steps a full move and entering a building past the wall a sprint action (maybe with AP to open door). It can also increase the difficulty of ranged attacks, pistol w/ range C from other side of wall becomes range M, or encourage the PC with rifle to back off for optimal range L which splits the party. Mines and grenades are also viable options. Use cover and ways of limiting PC movement. In a camp with a two story building and a defensive wall play games with range zones. From outside shooting at targets inside wall is range M and building range L. Shooting out from the wall is range C and from building C or M (easily shoot over wall so not edge of range zone). In a camp you may not see everybody present, especially if there is a building. When attacked some may circle around behind the players.

So not be afraid to include leveled or boss enemy.

I really like the idea of using enemies on different levels, especially since one of our players is a melee build SM.

Made liberal use of called shots in my last session to great advantage. I think the PCs finally felt challenged. I had all the baddies gang up on the squishy Vaultie and just kept going at him with called shots. None were able to cause an injury, but the repeated damage eventually brought him down (and caused the team to rally and help him, for nice drama).