DMs Guild Review – SWAT: Special Wizards and Tactics

The party are forced to defend themselves against a raid in this urban encounter for 4th level.

dms guild

A review copy of “SWAT: Special Wizards and Tactics – 5e Encounter” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using affiliate links for shopping and pledging via Patreon.

Designed by: Oz Mills

An urban-focused adventure involving the local authorities is a great recipe. SWAT: Special Wizards and Tactics is only a single encounter, but it’s a memorable one that pits the players on the defensive against a police-like raid in their own home.

Picture this: your party is chilling in their home base, rented apartment, or favorite inn. Suddenly the door busts open, and a nearby wall explodes. Guards with big shields and crossbows come barreling through. A mage poofs inside in a puff of smoke, upholstering a pair of wands, while a halfling swings into the balcony or window.

Roll for initiative!

In SWAT, the players are being targeted by the local authorities. The single encounter offers a few story hooks, including corrupt authorities or a crime-prone party. Whatever the reason, they’ll need to defend themselves.

The enemy force is made up of a trio of unique humanoid statblocks: the bulwark, the wandslinger, and the martial artist. These forces are designed to capture, not kill; the martial artist can blind targets with a flash phial, and the wandslinger comes equipped with spells like Command and Hold Person.

Special tactics and fun flavor text are provided to run the encounter, which could take place in any of three different areas: an apartment loft, a town marketplace, or a tavern. Maps are provided for all three, but they’re the black and white, Dyson Logos-style.

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The only real problem I have with the encounter is the power level of the new NPCs. They’re all CR 1/2 and have fewer than 20 hit points each, yet the encounter is supposedly designed for 4th level parties. There’s no way a 4th level party, presumably fully rested at home, would even break a sweat against these guys.

Unless the idea is to allow your players to wipe the floor with the local police, these enemies need to be massively scaled up to pose any kind of threat – at the very least doubling or tripling their hit points.

It would be particularly effective to prove to the players that they can’t just throw their weight around a town with an established martial force. The fact that these enemies aren’t trying to kill them also gives more power to the DM to TPK and drag them into custody.

Thankfully the balance issue is a relatively easy fix. The concept of attacking your players with the local authorities when they think they’re the most safe is a great idea, though it’s also important to be aware of the very real-world implications of police brutality and home invasions.

Pros:

  • Detailed home invasion encounter.
  • Three NPC unique statblocks and tactics.
  • Two extra ambush locations.

Cons:

  • Simple black and white maps, no separate map handouts.
  • Way too easy for a fully rested 4th level party.

The Verdict: The party is on the receiving end of a home invasion by the local authorities, resulting in a dynamic encounter in the underused Urban setting.

A review copy of “SWAT: Special Wizards and Tactics – 5e Encounter” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using affiliate links for shopping and pledging via Patreon.

Author: roguewatson

Freelance Writer

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