This edition of Unearthed Arcana introduces an alternative set of encounter-building guidelines for D&D.

Though this approach uses the same basic math underlying the encounter system presented in the Dungeon Master’s Guide, it makes a few adjustments to how it presents that math to produce a more flexible system. These guidelines will be of interest to DMs who want to emphasize combat in their games, who want to ensure that a foe isn’t too deadly for a specific group of characters, and who want to understand the relationship between a character’s level and a monster’s challenge rating.

You can think of the material presented in this series as similar to the first wave of the fifth edition playtest. These game mechanics are in draft form, usable in your campaign but not fully tempered by playtests and design iterations. They are highly volatile and might be unstable; if you use them, be ready to rule on any issues that come up. They’re written in pencil, not ink. For these reasons, material in this column is not legal in D&D Organized Play events.

The material presented in Unearthed Arcana will range from mechanics that we expect one day to publish in a supplement to house rules from our home campaigns that we want to share, from core system options to setting-specific material. Once it’s out there, you can expect us to check in with you to see how it’s working out and what we can do to improve it.