View Full Version : Please help with feedback to prevent future wipes

2016-11-27, 06:47 PM
Our group just wiped in the very first session of the "Way of the Wicked" adventure path for Pathfinder. We all have decided to try again later, but before that, i'd wish to get an outside opinion of what possibly went wrong and which precautions in general we could argue upon to prevent wiping the second time.

I have assembled this list of our actions after some talking (and yelling) at each other, which, as i think, hindered us during the session. Warning: minor spoilers to the adventure path.

1. One player claimed he had better ideas of what to do, but he could not tell them because of his in-penalty range mental stats.
1a. Poor judgement due to the low mental stats was also the reason why he knocked unconcious two party members, one of who was under charm effect. (However the IRL reason was because he got tired of the game in which he had to wait several hours before getting back up and by overall incompetence of our party)
2. Another player forgot about almost all of his racial and class traits, making him as effective as a buffed NPC class in hindsight. The most notable ones were how he forgot to add his Favored enemy bonus versus humans for the entire session and extreme case of selective deafness over the word "bow" in loot tally three times.
2a. In addition, since he lacked humanoid subtype, then, by the wording of the spell, he could not be charmed in a first place.
3. GM refused to tell what the magic item does after successfull spellcraft check, as he believed we can't determine that like so, which resulted in a mass panic among the players when one part did not work as they though it would, which in turn resulted in hastily improvised escape instead of carefully planed one.
4. Third player has been brooding about how he did literally zero damage in combat as an undead lord cleric. (Personally i think he did fine as his obscuring mist was a great help)
4a. To note, gauging the effectiveness of the PCs by how much DPR they do and their AC value.
5. Fourth player thought the things have went completely south and ditched the party to save himself alone (and he actually did it, through not for long), using the most of his spellcasting ability to do so while deliberately(yes, he said so post-session) holding back before.
5a. In fact, entire party got scattered after meeting a strong resistance from the guards, and most of the playtime the PCs were on their own.
6. A decision to heal a fallen party member to bring him back into the game was perceived as borderline-OOC because "we are supposed to be evil characters" despide repeaded warnings in player's guide that we should be working together after all.
7. General lack of in-game communication resulted in PCs not knowing what each of them can do.
7a. It was also the reason for a trouble with a certain magic item which led to a panicked escape.
8. Several players had trouble with desicion making, prolonging the game way too much. One in particular was so slow in it, he barely participated in team communication, as he could not think of an plausible for him desicion in time compared to others.
9. DM had confessed that he altered NPC placement to make things a bit more difficult for the group.
9a.He also noted how we lacked creativeness in our desicions and what it had hinderes us even further. Notably, by how we went guns blazing (figuratively speaking) at the content after we all though we grabbed all the attention after said magic item mishap.

My question is, which of these items in the list are simply instances of emergent gameplay or group style of play, which actually make the game more fun and personal and there is no need to worry about those, and which are the surface of a serious problems where we should focus our attention if we are to prevent wiping out in the next try. I understand that nobody but us can tell us for sure, but i think the feedback from other people will be helpful regardless of that.

Thanks in advance for advice and replies.

2016-11-27, 11:39 PM
I think a recounting of what happened would serve us better than a list of what you think went wrong. While useful, it's not providing us anything more than a vague idea of the big picture and thus I really can't point to what were the fatal flaws.

I will say that the guy who ran away and the guy who forgot all of his abilities? Those probably hurt you the most.

How much do you guys actually cooperate in a fight? I'm not talking everyone running into the thick of things and hitting the enemies until they die, I'm talking making use of positioning and timing to optimal effect.

2016-11-29, 12:13 AM
6. A decision to heal a fallen party member to bring him back into the game was perceived as borderline-OOC because "we are supposed to be evil characters" despide repeaded warnings in player's guide that we should be working together after all.

Healing is NOT an inherently good act and to take care of your fighting force is just sound tactical reasoning. Arguing about "yeah, your cleric is evil. He mustnt heal people evar!" Is a brazen misunderstanding about what evil actually entails! Redfel, redfel, redfel. :smallbiggrin:

I have no clue who your party is but on the limited information given i have to make a judgement call that your party is torn with evil wannabe roleplayers, who look on their character sheat, see "alignment chaotic neutral", and let that selfish behaviour dictate how to operate in the group, which frnakly is bollocks. Alignment is descriptive, not rpescriptive.

Evaluate how much of your party problems actually stem from a perceived party conflict of interests and how much stem from legit disinterest. I mean, not being involved into the game enough to even bother looking up things on your character sheat is quite harsh.

So, to clear things up:
1)did the players have fun? Did the gm?
2)have a sessions zero, were all character abilities are demonstrated in an academy like environment. "Spellcaster x is casting 'sleep' on your character, roll save will vs. Enchanment and don't forget your half-elf bonus" - along these lines.
Gm should have a copy of the sheats if hes not familiar with the group, so he/she can plan something.

If people can't be bothered to go through an hour or two of tutorials then maybe they are not invested enough. Not enough info about your party here. Friends? Longtimr? Strangers meeting in a local gamestore?

2016-11-29, 12:28 AM
This seems like a mismatch between the party and the DM.

There's a reason why playing evil parties is discouraged unless the players know what they're doing. And in this case, it sounds like no, they didn't know what they're doing. They still need to learn the system, what their class abilities do, how to effectively use your options in combat (it's not only damage that counts), that just because you have a penalty in a mental score doesn't mean you play a moron who can never have a good idea, how to rally when you face substantial difficulty instead of running for the hills immediately, and especially that an evil party still can and should work with each other, especially if they have a good motivation to do so - and if the DM plays an evil adventure, it's the DM's duty to provide that motivation too.

Speaking of the DM, at the same side we see them being one of the "ambitious" types. The type that will change things around to make them harder, who refuses to tell players all information they have the right to know because "that makes more sense". And this can work if you're playing with an experienced party that likes to be challenged. But for the players we had here, already playing by the book is challenging enough, no need to make it even harder! The DM needs to realize it and ease off. And the players need to realize that one way or the other they're in this together and to cooperate better.

2016-12-01, 08:09 PM
Introduce a formal Party Retreat rule, to let the party escape, at a cost. Low Fantasy Gaming RPG has such a rule, as does 13th Age.

2016-12-01, 08:23 PM
This reminds me of the good old days when I first started DMing. I allowed my players to be whatever race, class, gender, alignment, etc. they wanted, and all of them chose to be Chaotic Evil bastards. Needless to say campaigns in those days rarely lasted longer than one session. We were all idiots when it came to the game system back then, and it was complete chaos. Meta was out of control, players with out-of-game beefs attacked each other in-game for no good reason, and they treated my NPCs like garbage, even the ones that were trying to help them. Bah. Things are so much better now.

2016-12-01, 08:59 PM
While I understand your frustration, I don't think you have as much to worry about as you fear. From what you said here I see 2 problems, both of which stem from inexperience. 1) People who just start open world games, especially if they are young, tend to over-do everything. If they are portraying happy, they end up being one of those irritating people you just want to smack. If they are portraying evil, they will do the worst things they can imagine. 2) They need to be invested in their characters. If their characters are just a bunch of numbers, it's difficult for them to be invested.

For the first, they just need experience. Let them each know your views. Tell them how you view the various alignments, and let them tell you their views. And just stress that cooperative combat is always more fun than chaos. But, and this is the most important part, do so one on one. Never criticize someone in front of their peers. If I have troubles with a few people, I try to catch up with them sometime during the week. If you pull someone aside, he may be embarrassed. It takes a bit more effort, but will result in far more enjoyable games.

For the second, mandatory backgrounds is a great starting point. Your character starts with +10 in move silently? Why? How did he get that good at it? At first, the backgrounds will likely be simplistic and uninspired, but the more you ask them about it, the more they have to think about it. Your charisma is 3? Why? Is he really antisocial? Really obnoxious? Does he always stink? Eventually, they will be doing detailed backgrounds on their own. The trick is to get them to build their background without telling them to. If you say, "Make a background," 9 times out of 10 you will be disappointed with the result. Ask probing questions scattered throughout each session.

Don't worry. I think most people started like that. It's important to not over-react. Gentle probing questions and in character guidance is the key. And don't be afraid to laugh. I think most people would agree that the most memorable moments in their rp history were times they got their buts kicked. Overcoming adversity is what it's all about. It's not satisfying to win if there's no chance you'll screw it all up.