Enemies and obstacles

Along with the responsibilities of creating tests, as a gamemaster you will likely need to create enemies and obstacles for your players to overcome. You can use the character creation process to create the characters your players will tangle with, but there are a number of things on a character sheet that don't really matter for a character who only shows up for a maximum of a couple of scenes.


I like using emoji in my stat blocks to make it easier for me to read them at a glance. These are entirely optional, but the examples listed here will use them. I recommend including some kind of graphical component in your enemy and obstacle notes -- I mostly play digitally so emoji are ideal, but consistent doodles or stickers would be great for paper play!

Here's a quick rundown of the symbols I use:

Symbol What it means
A special ability which requires one action per symbol to use
A special ability which reacts to circumstances
A special ability which telegraphs danger
Activate telegraphed danger symbol A telegraphed danger
A special ability that provides some kind of passive benefit
A space in a telegraphed danger that won't be affected
A space in a telegraphed danger that will be affected
A space in a telegraphed danger that contains the character using it


Enemies are simplified characters -- you usually don't need to know their attributes, skills, legacies, or backgrounds. Instead, an enemy will rely on their level and you can just assume that they have the appropriate skills, legacies, and backgrounds to always roll a number of d12s equal to their level. To make an enemy more interesting, you can give them strengths and weaknesses in the form of different levels for different attributes or basic abilities.

Enemies are usually either bosses or minions. There are many differences between the two, but one major is that bosses may take multiple injuries before they are defeated, but minions only get one.

Ruffian (level 1 minion)

6/6 Health

Attacks at level 2.


  • Defeated

Bandit Leader (level 1 boss)

6/6 Health

Hinders at level 2.


  • ________
  • ________
  • Defeated: ________

Enemy special abilities

Once you've got the hang of enemies, you can start introducing special abilities to your enemies to make them still more interesting. It can be tempting to go overboard, but even just one special ability can make an enemy interesting to fight. Three is often the most they need, unless you're making a particularly epic boss fight.

Enemies don't work as well with ability points as player characters because they only tend to use their special abilities in the scene where they antagonize a character. If you do choose to give them ability points, make sure to only give them a small number. Alternatively, consider limiting enemy special abilities with requirements, such as putting a used special ability on cooldown for a certain number of turns, or only unlocking some of their special abilities after they've taken a certain number of injuries.

Kaiserwulf (Level 9)

54/54 Health

  • Defeated: ________

Maw of Mort: Attack for 9d12, then Hinder your target with chomped d12s using the same roll. They can't Move while chomped.

Feral Lunge: Move 5 spaces, then make two 9d12 attacks against all targets within close range.

Squads of enemies

If the players are outnumbered by low-level enemies but you don't want the strength in numbers to feel too overwhelming, try marking a group of those enemies as a squad! Squads are simply a set of enemies that will always pass their action to another enemy in their "squad" until none are available. This helps your players (and you!) so the turn can be passed to "the bandits" instead of needing to specify which specific bandit they're referring to.


Obstacles are like enemies, but even simpler. Usually they can perform one or two basic actions, and often in response to players doing something. Unlike enemies you usually can't just hit obstacles until they are defeated, so they'll have some other condition for defeating them.

Trapped Hallway (Level 1)

To defeat: Pass a difficulty 5 test to disarm the tripwire.

If the party doesn't defeat the trap, the traps can't be deactivated! After each player's turn, activate the traps!

Activate: Swinging blades attack anyone in the hallway for 2d12!

Obstacles can also be almost indistinguishable from an enemy, except the party needs to do something clever to defeat them!

The Devouring Tree (Level 6)

To defeat: You can't defeat the Devouring Tree, but you can escape it! Roots block the stairs up from where you came and the stairs down deeper into the labyrinth. You can Make Progress until you clear them, then escape beyond!

60/60 Entrance

60/60 Exit

Aversion to Flame: If a character uses fire as a part of a test against the tree, they get +10 to their roll.

Branches and Vines Entangle: Hinder a target by entangling them as if you rolled a 60. They can't Move while they are entangled.

Devouring Maw: Drag anyone who is entangled a short distance towards the maw and attack them for 9d12.

Telegraphed danger

If you want to create a dangerous effect that your players can react to, you can telegraph the danger by giving it its own turn after a character does something to trigger it. Maybe a countdown started and you want to give your players a blast radius to scramble away from or a boss is going to unleash a powerful attack and you want them to be able to evade.

 | Roar and Unfurl Wings

The telegraphed danger Curtain of Flames can be passed to this round.

| Curtain of Flames

Attack the shaded spaces below for 7d12.

A 3x3 miniature strikes all spaces within close range to its front, left, and right.

If you want to give a boss an attack pattern, you can create telegraphed dangers that lead into more telegraphed dangers.

Roar and Unfurl Wings

Create the telegraphed danger Blazing Takeoff.

| Blazing Takeoff

Lift off and ignite the ground beneath you, attacking the shaded spaces below for 7d12, then lift off ten spaces into the air. Then, target a 3x3 area to land within 10 spaces and create the telegraphed danger Meteor Slam.

A 3x3 miniature strikes all spaces within close range to its front, left, and right.

| Meteor Slam

Slam into the area targetted by Blazing Takeoff, landing there and attacking the shaded spaces and anything you land on for 7d12.

A 3x3 miniature strikes where it lands and all spaces adjacent to it.

Bosses, action economy, and telegraphed dangers

As you may have already guessed, bosses and telegraphed dangers work together beautifully. Firstly because telegraphed dangers make a boss feel more dangerous, and secondly because bosses often have the initiative order stacked against them -- there's usually only one of them versus however many people are in your party! Giving the boss a telegraphed danger turns a boss's turn into two turns, and telegraphed dangers that build on other telegraphed dangers gives them even more.

If the boss doesn't feel like one that would do telegraphed actions, try giving them more turns to even out the number of participants in an encounter, perhaps one per player. If giving them additional full turns feels too strong, limit what the boss can do on each turn-- maybe they only get 2 actions per turn, or on their first turn in a round they get their full 3 actions, but every other turn that round the boss has only 1 action.