How to handle powerful Parties



I’ve been pondering how to challenge my players, because I have been liberal with loot and milestones, and last session my players bested two of my bosses without a scratch. I need to modify some things and make some serious challenges for next time.

My monsters had many hearts, but because of the crazy gunplay rules of Ghost Mountain, the damage is insane. I think I’m going to change them, because they make guns better than every other type of weapon and make damage too great.

How do you deal with overpowered Parties? Do you ever change things on the fly?


How is the damage insane? I mean, most folks are still rolling d6 weapon damage, right?


With the special rules, if a player rolls 15+ on an attempt it does maximum damage, and if a player shoots at point blank range it also does maximum damage. This means if the Target is something like 12, it’s unlikely to not do maximum damage when hitting. Also, one of my players is a Gambler, and his maximum damage is 9 I think (because face cards aren’t counted in damage rolls). Then we add any bonuses.

So while fighting my big boss, they dispatched him so quickly that I made a reason to add 3 more hearts, and they destroyed those quickly too (my monster rolled horribly too).

I’m gonna make some changes for next session to make bosses more threatening and make Melee weapons more viable.


Hey there, sounds to me that with players with the ability to 1-2 shot enemies you need to put in MORE enemies and not more Hearts.

Overwhelm them, make 1 HP enemies to keep it simple and less keeping track of health. And endless horde of enemies is also a good way to push players toward an exit.

Keep bosses at a distance, and provide cover for them to hide behind.

and environmental dangers. the map itself is dangerous and keeps the players moving and rolling to survive it.


I think a big balancing factor with the gunplay rules is ammunition. Make sure you STRICTLY enforce the ammo rules, and finding places to buy ammo in Ghost Mountain is also difficult. Sure, they do max damage, but when the nearest town is three days away and you only have six bullets left, you choose to spend them much more carefully.

The guns are only over powered if you let them get away with continuously shooting. Melee weapons also become more useful once you are low on ammo.

Or you could always make some DIY rules about reloading or misfires or what not.

Hope that was helpful :slight_smile:


I’m really bummed my boss monster was so easy and rolled so badly, because it had a lot of terrifying abilities, like AOE damage and Loot destruction. And it had AI patterns and everything. :rofl:


Don’t sweat it man. It sucks when it happens but consider it part of a learning to dm curve. You’re here trying to do better and I applaud you for that…

Couple things… I know it sucked for you. Talk to your players and see how they felt about it… maybe it was really cool they just blasted his ass to smithereens! lol If not then adjust. I dont adjust on the fly. That feels like cheating a little bit… make a note and get em next time when your better prepared.

Adjusting on the fly doesnt sit right with me, i think because i feel like your moving the goal post. The players wont realize its happening unless you say he is suddenly immune to something. I’ll have to think more about it.


Got it. You’re using Big Slugs and all that stuff.

Okay, here are ten ways I challenge players in ICRPG:

  1. Adjust the target up. The target is always the great leveler. If they’re crushing everything, it’s time to leave 12 behind. I suggest 15. The Old West is wicked tough.
  2. Bosses have large bonuses to hit players and do tons of damage. It’s funny, when people think of making boss fights tougher, they immediately think hit points. But I think that thinking is wrong. A one heart boss in a 16 target room with three actions, +8 to hit, and +6 damage will terrify players. I might even make all boss damage a D8 instead of a D6.
  3. Increase Range. Enemies who can shoot at your players from far will be wicked hard to stop, even with the optional rules.
  4. As someone else pointed out, minions. Make sure your bosses have minions who compliment them. If the boss does a ton of damage at range, make the minions melee fighters. Or vice versa.
  5. Movement and Terrain. If the players can’t quite get to the enemies because of terrain, and they take damage the whole time, the fight will be tough. This damage can be from ranged attackers or even environmental disruption. Or have an area on the map that’s simply instant death. If a PC falls from the rickety rope bridge during the fight, she’s a goner.
  6. Add in some special boss moves. Maybe this one throws packs of lit TNT that damage every PC in an area. Maybe this boss has a sniper that drops a player to zero hit points on a successful hit.
  7. Threaten gear. Come up with a boss that destroys gear every time he successfully attacks. That will make players think twice and knock them back down a peg if they are too tough.
  8. Put innocents in peril with a timer. There’s nothing like watching players try to save innocents while your boss drills them every round.
  9. Have your enemies use the players’ abilities and rules. If your players get to roll again on a 15+, it’s time for the enemies to do that too.
  10. Have enemies that force players to make saving throws instead of the bosses rolling against the PC armor. If a coiled rattler leaps at - a PC, that player needs to make a Dex save or take instant damage AND be poisoned.

Finally, this is just a general tip. I am the PC’s biggest ally, and I want them to succeed, but you can’t fear killing them; otherwise, you risk making life too easy on them. If you’re worried about it, have a plan if they TPK: they all wake up in the town jail, or tied to a train trestle, or surrounded by dynamite in an old mine shaft. They don’t have any gear. Now start a timer and have them try to make good on a second chance. This tactic also allows you to remove gear AND frees you to become a terror to behold.

Good luck!


It worked ok with my monster because it made sense. It had three hearts, which went very quickly (would have been kind of a drag since the monster was hyped up a fair bit), but since this monster was possessed I gave it three more in a sort of undead state, and that went fast too.
My players seemed to have fun, and the facts is that IF the monster rolled better they would have been in trouble.