Tribal Knowledge: Sculpting a Boss Fight

I’m taking a week off from the history of the Ranger class to talk about encounter design, an under-appreciated art within the broader work of game-running. Tabletop games, like video games, have long had a concept of a “boss fight,” a climactic end to an adventure or series of adventures. Starting from that similar position, though, video games have done far more creative things with the concept, while tabletop games have scarcely advanced beyond what MMO players would call “tank & spank.” There are exceptions, and I’ll be noting the ones I can think of, but in general I’m interested in expanding the range of options people consider when they design climactic encounters.