Highest Challenge for Hardcore & Unfair game mechanics


So, getting ready to get my Curse of Strahd game in Hardcore campaign off the ground; life permitting and all that.
Currently, I ran a normal version off the internet where the players get up to level 15 and Strahd is a CR 27 threat
But, with Harcore, is there a particular CR rating that is to hard for players?. Level 15 is basically gods, so there really is no limit to it. But, for Hardcore, what sort of rating would you say is still “Hard” for the players but not impossible?

Also, is there any thing in normal 5E that is to OP in Hardcore?. I’m looking at Traps that can’t be disarmed like pit traps where the players just fall in and instantly take damage as well as spells that do damage the current round and then automatically the next round and nothing can be done to prevent it


Hard core characters should only go to 10. Maybe cap CR to 10?

Not sure myself about hard core. Just coming off a long hiatus, prepping for a return to Iron Kingdoms (using D&D + Hard Core). Looking at some CR’s, not sure if they seem balanced.

I plan on doind a small dry run to test HC out.



Full disclosure, I’ve not run 5e Hardcore mode as often as I’d like so I’m not as experienced in it as other posters here.

Having said that, in like the fifth session I ran I learned that Shadows were a lot more OP than I expected. With 3d6 down the line, strength stats were just a lot lower than I had become accustomed to in regular 5e. Ability damage is very rare in 5e though, so that’s probably a fairly isolated issue.

As far as broad issues to be aware of, it seemed that enemy spellcasters seemed to be more OP than in regular 5e. Specifically if they used the spells that are already known as the sort of gold standard for damage dealing. I had a recurring villain whose magic missile spell was feared by the entire party. Although I never dropped a scorching ray or fireball on the party in game, I suspect they could be pretty devastating.

Thanks for your question,

Dice Goblin