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xyamius
2017-07-12, 12:49 AM
Okay well i set up a find and extraction/report back plot for my players all are level 1's.

The party's mission briefing from their guilds leader is locate and report or extract a party that was send out to scout and find out why caravans where going missing in and area north of them. The missing party is described as being brash and overconfident when out on missions and where 24 hours over due from reporting in about any findings they had come across which warrants a scout party sent out to find out why.

The party goes out and as they enter the area where the prior party was last at they decide to send out the parties scout to check out down the road. The scout while moving through the trees and using stealth noticed a goblin ambush where 11 of the goblins have taken up defensive locations around a downed tree that goes across the road but decides to not check out the areas further past or on the other side of the road. The area around the road is wooded and gives good concealment so 3 of them take advantage to hide and stealth while one player who rolled up a samurai strolls right down out in the open.

The ambush party doesn't engage at first but one of them goes out and yells to the player walking down the road in horrible common about how there is a toll and it needs to be paid to pass along with some insults. Basically me giving the players the option to still get out before getting into a fight that is way over what they should be against or attempt some diplomacy since D&D isn't just kill creatures, level, rinse and repeat.

Instead they choose to engage before doing any further recon and instead of staying at range to take the goblins out charge into melee with them.

The encounter was supposed to be set up for them to do some recon and figure out where the goblins camp was which held the missing prior party and then figure out how to stealth extract or go back and report what they discovered, but they barrel in and find out that it was 14 goblins and an ogre at the ambush spot and choose to duke it out. After about an 8 round fight they actually survived thanks to me rolling horrible on both attacks and initiative and putting a 6 round delay on the ogre willing to get in and deal with this threat. The samurai is the only one that didn't get almost killed in the party due to just being lucky with me rolling poorly with the Ogre and Goblins vs him. (i had the Ogre on delay to engage since the party didn't look like a threat either until they started killing off a bunch of the goblins so the Ogre sat and waited for 6 rounds)(3 out of 4 of them where dropped into the negatives but where lucky to stabilize before death.)

I did explain to the players after that you didn't have to engage, your parties mission wasn't to clear out any and all threats it was to locate and extract/report back your findings not go gung-ho into combat against an over whelming encounter. Which the players are still upset with the encounter feeling as if i was setting everything up to just kill them off right out of the gate. (i did give them double xp for the battle which was a level since they should have died twice over but where very lucky.)

Still concerned that the group will do stuff like this again since players will do what ever you least expect most of the time. Any suggestions?

Beneath
2017-07-12, 01:27 AM
Threat assessment is a skill people have to learn, and re-learn for each different game. It's very rare, in any game, for the first set-up where it's possible to fight to be one you're supposed to assess your options and run from (video games that do this might go so far as to restrict your options and force you to run, or provide an NPC leader telling the player what to do); in part because at that point in the game, you can't expect the player to be able to look at a situation, look at their own resources, and come up with a plan to handle it because they don't have the experience to know what their resources are worth in the particular context of that game. In a game where you start off as heroes, going four against eleven sounds like a good set-up for a first fight.

So your first problem is to figure out if they want to bite off more than they can chew or if they just don't know how much they can chew. The second problem will solve itself after a few battles at different difficulty levels.

Skelechicken
2017-07-12, 01:28 AM
While I am firmly in the "it isn't necessary for the DM to keep the party alive" camp, I think this experience alone may be enough to dissuade them in the future.

The fact that they were almost TPKd should be enough to introduce them to the idea that some fights aren't for them yet/at all.

If you are looking for more active ways to dissuade this in the future, I'd stick to using really dangerous descriptions. I am running an open world campaign right now and my level 6 party almost wandered into an area that I want them to avoid until around level 11. I managed to dissuade them with descriptions. Bodies of creatures that they had faced before and who were natural enemies to the things in the dungeon littered the area. A dense fog settled. The steps seemed lightly trodden and the more perceptive or instinctual among them could feel their hair standing on end.

Once when a player was about to try and attack a lich with a wand of magic missile I simply asked, "do you do that?" and it was enough to give them pause. Something about that "confirm" dialogue is really intimidating :smallwink:

In the end, sometimes no amount of description or warning is enough and your players will get in over their head. IF you aren't willing to wipe the party you may need to think up some sort of intervention. "The goblins capture you and a smaller contingent of them transport you to their chief the next day" sort of things. I caution against doing this too many times though since it can sort of harm the tension in the game.

ShedShadow
2017-07-12, 02:52 AM
What I would personally do is fudge the numbers. You said the scout only saw 11 eleven goblins and no ogre, and thus it would not harm your story to leave out the 3 extra goblins and the ogre. I would simply get rid of them. Otherwise, I would have them all lose 1 attack bonus and 2 hit points. That will dramatically decrease the goblins' effectiveness and basically it is just the players vs. the ogre with cannon fodder standing somewhere on the field. Either of those seem good options to me.

Also, what Skelechicken said is a good method.

Mutazoia
2017-07-12, 03:17 AM
What I would personally do is fudge the numbers. You said the scout only saw 11 eleven goblins and no ogre, and thus it would not harm your story to leave out the 3 extra goblins and the ogre. I would simply get rid of them. Otherwise, I would have them all lose 1 attack bonus and 2 hit points. That will dramatically decrease the goblins' effectiveness and basically it is just the players vs. the ogre with cannon fodder standing somewhere on the field. Either of those seem good options to me.

Also, what Skelechicken said is a good method.

That is ONE way to do it. I've never really been fond of the "DM retcons encounters to fix player stupidity" theory, however. If you do this too often, then the players get complacent, they start to think that everything is going to go their way, they can't "lose" etc. This is especially dangerous for new players..they think this is how ALL games are supposed to go. And then they play with a DM that doesn't pull punches or fudge rolls, and they whine like stuck pigs, accuse the new DM of cheating, or just playing to kill their characters, etc.

It is far better, IMHO, to use tough love and let them learn to be cautious, than to hand them rose colored glasses.

Naturally, you should probably let your players know ahead of time that you don't intend to pull punches or fudge the die to protect the stupid.

Vitruviansquid
2017-07-12, 04:56 AM
Okay well i set up a find and extraction/report back plot for my players all are level 1's.

The party's mission briefing from their guilds leader is locate and report or extract a party that was send out to scout and find out why caravans where going missing in and area north of them. The missing party is described as being brash and overconfident when out on missions and where 24 hours over due from reporting in about any findings they had come across which warrants a scout party sent out to find out why.

The party goes out and as they enter the area where the prior party was last at they decide to send out the parties scout to check out down the road. The scout while moving through the trees and using stealth noticed a goblin ambush where 11 of the goblins have taken up defensive locations around a downed tree that goes across the road but decides to not check out the areas further past or on the other side of the road. The area around the road is wooded and gives good concealment so 3 of them take advantage to hide and stealth while one player who rolled up a samurai strolls right down out in the open.

The ambush party doesn't engage at first but one of them goes out and yells to the player walking down the road in horrible common about how there is a toll and it needs to be paid to pass along with some insults. Basically me giving the players the option to still get out before getting into a fight that is way over what they should be against or attempt some diplomacy since D&D isn't just kill creatures, level, rinse and repeat.

Instead they choose to engage before doing any further recon and instead of staying at range to take the goblins out charge into melee with them.

The encounter was supposed to be set up for them to do some recon and figure out where the goblins camp was which held the missing prior party and then figure out how to stealth extract or go back and report what they discovered, but they barrel in and find out that it was 14 goblins and an ogre at the ambush spot and choose to duke it out. After about an 8 round fight they actually survived thanks to me rolling horrible on both attacks and initiative and putting a 6 round delay on the ogre willing to get in and deal with this threat. The samurai is the only one that didn't get almost killed in the party due to just being lucky with me rolling poorly with the Ogre and Goblins vs him. (i had the Ogre on delay to engage since the party didn't look like a threat either until they started killing off a bunch of the goblins so the Ogre sat and waited for 6 rounds)(3 out of 4 of them where dropped into the negatives but where lucky to stabilize before death.)

I did explain to the players after that you didn't have to engage, your parties mission wasn't to clear out any and all threats it was to locate and extract/report back your findings not go gung-ho into combat against an over whelming encounter. Which the players are still upset with the encounter feeling as if i was setting everything up to just kill them off right out of the gate. (i did give them double xp for the battle which was a level since they should have died twice over but where very lucky.)

Still concerned that the group will do stuff like this again since players will do what ever you least expect most of the time. Any suggestions?

You should not be worried that your group will blunder into a combat...

Let's look at the ambush scenario:

You set up an ambush for the players. An ambush is when you are attacked at a disadvantage by guys who hide that you are disadvantaged in order to corner and kill/capture you. Now, if you wanted to rob people, you would likely not set up an ambush, but would probably instead reveal that you are at an advantage in order to intimidate people into giving you their money before starting a fight at all.

Also, you did not telegraph this ambush. In fact, you telegraphed that the players were, in fact, at an advantage, by giving them intelligence that there were 11 goblins rather than 14 goblins and an ogre. As far as I can tell, the players knew nothing about an ogre.

You can't blame the players for not being cautious enough here. As far as they understand, they have taken all the due precautions. They understood there were 11 goblins because they scouted it. Presumably, you allowed the scouting player to know what his character should've known - that he didn't scout the entire area - or at least make a Perception (or counterpart) check to determine whether he noticed the hiding goblins or ogre.

... you should instead be worried that your group will NO LONGER blunder into a combat

What you are training your group now is to expect tricks from you. They are now going to go an extra mile from what they've done before. Rather than scouting an opponent before attacking, you are now training your group to scout the opponent, scry them if possible, set up ambush points of their own and wait a few days to see if the enemy would go and trigger *their* ambush, buy life insurance before engaging in combat, and so on. You are training your players to take 1 hour to do whatever you plan for them to take 10 minutes.

The endpoint of this is either that your players quit because you stay a step ahead of them and they realize you are using GM power to keep them feeling stupid and cheated every session, or that your players quit because they realize they will spend an hour in your games and not really get anything of note done.

____

As to the topic of retconning:

You don't retcon to protect players from their own stupidity. You retcon to protect players from GM stupidity.

Deliverance
2017-07-12, 05:10 AM
So, a bunch of fresh level 1's being sent out to discover and report back on whatever could have happened to a party of brash and overconfident people just like them who went missing decide upon detecting an overwhelming numbers of enemies that they know of that this isn't the time for further scouting, but to charge in, because, "hey, the are only goblins" or possibly "what could go wrong"?

In my book that's a recipe for TPK and the next bunch of fresh level 1's being sent off to discover whatever happened to the TWO parties of brash and overconfident adventurers lost, and with the guild leader sternly telling them that he desperately needs information more than heroes.


As to what you could have done differently beforehand, perhaps more of an emphasis on the danger and information-gathering aspects of the mission? Of the "You are a SCOUTING party, we need INFORMATION. The missing guys were more numerous and better armed than you" variety.

I know you already told them that but you also mentioned extraction, and that's a dangerous thing to do, rousing expectations of heroism. That's obviously said with hindsight, yet some players really need to be hit over the head with the idea that fighting isn't the be-all and end-all solution to every problem they face.

In the given situation, when they had discovered 11 goblins, I am with Skelechicken that a bit of confirmation dialogue after a dangerous-sounding intro can go a long way. You shouldn't make it a habit unless you also occasionally use it for false positives rather than only warning of danger, but for level 1's who are about to go in seriously over their depth it makes sense.

One example - when the player scouts initially, emphasize to the scout that getting accurate information in a forest is difficult and that he'll need to spend more time/effort with attendant risks for more accurate information.

Koo Rehtorb
2017-07-12, 05:53 AM
It's not your job to protect the players from themselves. A generic warning at the start of the game that not everything in the world is tailored for them to fight is sufficient.

Darth Ultron
2017-07-12, 06:25 AM
Still concerned that the group will do stuff like this again since players will do what ever you least expect most of the time. Any suggestions?

This simply is not true.

A more accurate one would be: By default the group of players in D&D will be murderhobos.

D&D has a horrible, horrible stigma: The game is all about combat and murder death kill and loot. It has had it forever. Nearly any player that sit down to play a game of D&D is thinking "Ok, it has been a couple seconds, when will we combat and murder death kill and loot." So as soon as ANY encounter even vaguely comes across the players path, what to guess what they will do? Combat and murder death kill and loot!

And this will not be ''unexpected'', it will happen every time. A somewhat easy ‘’Red Flag’’ is: Did the player make a combat type character? If they used a point buy (another Red Flag), optimized (Red Flag), Gesault (Red Flag) and only picked combative feats, skills(if they whine Spot and Listen should be class skills for all and/or max out both skills, Big Red Flag), and spells.

So when a player with a pure combat roll playing character has that character go into any situation, what will they do? Fight, combat and murder death kill and loot!

It is really very simple.

Deliverance
2017-07-12, 06:30 AM
Also, you did not telegraph this ambush. In fact, you telegraphed that the players were, in fact, at an advantage, by giving them intelligence that there were 11 goblins rather than 14 goblins and an ogre. As far as I can tell, the players knew nothing about an ogre.

Possibly they are playing a game system, where 4 level 1 characters are not considered to be at an advantage over 11 goblins?

Yes, goblins are typically designed weak, and this is some edition of D&D (we don't know which) but even so 4 level 1 characters against 11 sounds like an excellent way for any tactical misjudgment or bad dice luck to cascade into disaster. Even when making good tactical calls and everybody rolling average die rolls or better, there'd surely still be a risk of a party wipe if the opposition also made good tactical calls and made average die rolls, so I don't see why anybody would expect to get out of it without taking serious casualties. It takes very little to whittle 4 down to 3 when you are 11, and that's when the problems start.

That's without even considering the possibility that one of the goblins might be a higher level leader type, say a level 2 or 3 leader of the band, which is not unreasonable when meeting 11 of them.

Taking on nearly 3:1 odds when you are a fresh-faced adventurer is something to do when you are fighting rats. Not intelligent beings with weapons. (Unless you are playing some superhero type of game where a level 1 character stands heads and shoulders above common enemies, it goes without saying.)

redwizard007
2017-07-12, 06:40 AM
It's not your job to protect the players from themselves. A generic warning at the start of the game that not everything in the world is tailored for them to fight is sufficient.


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In all seriousness, that wouldn't work for any group of players I've ever had. Caution must be learned. To do so, players must experience the world for a while to accurately gauge threats.

Alternately, a strongly worded intro about how combat will OFTEN not be a viable solution can be effective if delivered before character generation, and reinforced before play.

Beastrolami
2017-07-12, 10:52 AM
One thing to be conscious of is where you're running your game (online, or in person). In person, you can coach players a bit more because generally they will commit unless they can justify the time and effort to find a new group, or they dislike the game enough to quit the hobby. Online, there are so many games available, you have to cater your game to the players, or they will get bored and move on to something else. Even if you are dming "correctly" most players I've run into online tend to focus more on the game than the role-playing and are very often murder-hobos looking to see what crazy new monster they will get to kill. It sounds to me like you did everything correctly, but at the end of the day, the party controls where the adventure goes, and you may find yourself forced to plan out a hack n slash adventure for the party because they can't/don't want to handle anything else.

Aneurin
2017-07-12, 11:11 AM
If you don't want them doing something like that again, then the best thing I can suggest is to change how you award experience.

You said you were playing D&D of some description, and D&D incentivises combat heavily by only really offering experience gain for getting involved in combat (except for some older editions where you got it for loot gained, I think?). You don't get it for diplomacy; you don't get it for completing plot objectives; you don't get it for sneaking past your enemies. The only reliable source of experience and cash is combat, so... of course your players are going to make a beeline for it whether it's a good idea or not since they're getting rewarded for it. And that ridiculous challenge rating system makes them think they're supposed to win, but that's a separate issue which is a lot harder to fix.

How to make the PCs willing to avoid extraneous combat? Don't give them experience for it. They can get experience at plot milestones, and what they get is unrelated to what they've killed or what they haven't killed, but is based on what they've achieved. You'll find they start weighing up their choices; is the risk of getting killed worth the payoff? Is the loss of resources less than the gain in loot?

With any luck, you'll start to see them thinking their way around encounters rather than just carving their way through them.

Jay R
2017-07-12, 11:35 AM
If the players "shouldn't" do something the DM thinks is stupid and maybe get themselves killed, then they are not making any meaningful choices at all, and you don't need them. Run the game without them.

If the players are allowed to make meaningful choices, then sometimes those will be stupid choices that get them killed.

The players' right to make choices that can actually affect the party's fate carries a price. Sometimes their choices will actually affect the party's fate.

TheYell
2017-07-12, 11:44 AM
Robert Heinlein wrote a book (Tunnel in the Sky) where scouts were sent out naked. Because that was to remind them their job was to avoid contact altogether.

So you might have an exasperated NPC make them leave their weapons and magical items behind next time as a reminder that they're not to engage.

Also have some goblin scouts come after the party, and have them behave the way you want a proper scouting party to behave. No reason they can't learn from the enemy.

Deliverance
2017-07-12, 01:48 PM
You said you were playing D&D of some description, and D&D incentivises combat heavily by only really offering experience gain for getting involved in combat (except for some older editions where you got it for loot gained, I think?). You don't get it for diplomacy; you don't get it for completing plot objectives; you don't get it for sneaking past your enemies. The only reliable source of experience and cash is combat, so... of course your players are going to make a beeline for it whether it's a good idea or not since they're getting rewarded for it. And that ridiculous challenge rating system makes them think they're supposed to win, but that's a separate issue which is a lot harder to fix.

Obligatory OOTS reference (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0125.html)

Apart from 1ed D&D and its gold-value XP rule, combat is the only thing D&D has hard and fast XP rules for, but that does not mean the GM shouldn't issue XP rewards for good roleplaying or resolving problems without combat if doing so fits the campaign theme and feel.

If the GM doesn't award XP for anything but killing he should expect people to focus on that, but he is certainly not required to be so limited in his XP awards by the rules in the editions I have played (1-3.5) and, in fact, in the earlier editions story and quest reward XP is mentioned as something you should probably be doing. Has newer D&D editions entirely done away with the principle that the adventure is the important thing, not the combat?

Actually, that might make an interesting topic here on on GitP - "how and when do you award non-combat XP".

Vitruviansquid
2017-07-12, 02:55 PM
Possibly they are playing a game system, where 4 level 1 characters are not considered to be at an advantage over 11 goblins?

Yes, goblins are typically designed weak, and this is some edition of D&D (we don't know which) but even so 4 level 1 characters against 11 sounds like an excellent way for any tactical misjudgment or bad dice luck to cascade into disaster. Even when making good tactical calls and everybody rolling average die rolls or better, there'd surely still be a risk of a party wipe if the opposition also made good tactical calls and made average die rolls, so I don't see why anybody would expect to get out of it without taking serious casualties. It takes very little to whittle 4 down to 3 when you are 11, and that's when the problems start.

That's without even considering the possibility that one of the goblins might be a higher level leader type, say a level 2 or 3 leader of the band, which is not unreasonable when meeting 11 of them.

Taking on nearly 3:1 odds when you are a fresh-faced adventurer is something to do when you are fighting rats. Not intelligent beings with weapons. (Unless you are playing some superhero type of game where a level 1 character stands heads and shoulders above common enemies, it goes without saying.)

The problem is really not that the players wanted to fight 11 goblins.

It's that the players decided to fight 11 goblins, and as far as they can know, the DM threw in the 3 more goblins and an ogre in an unfair way. For all they know, the DM threw in those extra baddies out of spite. For all they know, any future fight they take will have ultra-badass reinforcements lurking somewhere juuuuust beyond where they decided to scout.

CharonsHelper
2017-07-12, 02:59 PM
"Then let them die and decrease the surplus population"... of adventurers?

Tanarii
2017-07-12, 03:30 PM
Depends. Did you warn them before the first game that you're not going to hold any hands, and if they bite off more than they can chew and get killed, it's on them?

I think it's ridiculous you have to state this clearly in session zero. As far as I'm concerned it's the default state for an RPG game unless the game itself either directly tells you otherwise, or extensive game-play itself makes it clear it's not the case (ie D&D 4e, or the way most people play 5e). But different people have different expectations, so it's important to do.

I'm guessing not, since you had to tell them after the session they should have backed off. In that case, state it clearly and simply at the beginning of the next session. Then emphasize they got a lucky break on the dice, and that's the only reason they're still alive. Next time they'll probably end up dead. And it's their fault if that happens, not yours. If they really want to roll up new characters, they can just keep playing recklessly.

Also, IMP IMO it was a HUGE mistake on your part to give them extra XP for doing something that you consider a reckless mistake they were lucky to survive. Extra XP should be reserved for things you want to encourage. Not discourage.

xyamius
2017-07-12, 04:12 PM
For my Dming to award xp i do it based on RP and also plot award also so it's possible to gain xp and level without doing any combat if you decide to be creative and think things through in order to figure out alternative solutions to a problem.

I also adjust to what my party is wanting to do sometimes since one option i offered at the start was for the group to start out as a level 0 party and then would be level 1 after completing a basic training course for the group since i was actually wanting to do that with them so they could get a better understanding of each others characters and some party tactical skills. They instead after being offered that and explained why all wanted to pass on it and instead just get into playing characters in the world i created.

D&D since i started has always been about creative thought and thinking things through instead of just kick down the door kill everything, rinse and repeat (it's a role-playing game not a roll-playing game). Monsters are intelligent creatures also with lives outside of doing what they do so that always has to be accounted for. It's always possible to bluff, negotiate (diplomacy), intimidate your way through an encounter which would be role-playing. It's why you have so many other skill options instead of just combat,survival and athletic skills.

I think it might be a good idea to put them on a defense mission guarding and have the enemy teach them via tactics or maybe send a low level npc with them to give advise on how to do things for a bit.

Tanarii
2017-07-12, 04:38 PM
D&D since i started has always been about creative thought and thinking things through instead of just kick down the door kill everything, rinse and repeat (it's a role-playing game not a roll-playing game). Monsters are intelligent creatures also with lives outside of doing what they do so that always has to be accounted for. It's always possible to bluff, negotiate (diplomacy), intimidate your way through an encounter which would be role-playing. It's why you have so many other skill options instead of just combat,survival and athletic skills.While I completely agree that D&D is about more than combat, more recent editions have moved more towards Combat-as-Sport and an emphasis on rewarding combat over any other approach. And players will do what they are rewarded for. You say you're trying to do what with your XP awards for "RP and also plot award" ... but then you gave them double XP for the combat they (apparently) shouldn't have gotten into in the first place.

That said, role-playing != talky-time. Combat IS role-playing. Role-playing is making decisions for what your character will do in the fantasy (ie not real) environment of the game. Choosing to engage in combat is a decision. Ergo, it's role-playing. That you'd refer to combat as 'roll-playing' shows your bias (as in strong preference). That's not necessarily a bad thing, but you need to make sure you're on the same page as the players.

So ... given you have a strong bias, you really need to sit down and talk to the players. Because when the DM has a bias, like yours towards talky-time not roll-playing or mine that PC death is expected and normal, it's almost certain you'll end up having different expectations from any sample of gamers. This is especially true given we tend to think ours is the 'default' way to play the game (respectively).

Aneurin
2017-07-12, 04:38 PM
Obligatory OOTS reference (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0125.html)

Apart from 1ed D&D and its gold-value XP rule, combat is the only thing D&D has hard and fast XP rules for, but that does not mean the GM shouldn't issue XP rewards for good roleplaying or resolving problems without combat if doing so fits the campaign theme and feel.

If the GM doesn't award XP for anything but killing he should expect people to focus on that, but he is certainly not required to be so limited in his XP awards by the rules in the editions I have played (1-3.5) and, in fact, in the earlier editions story and quest reward XP is mentioned as something you should probably be doing.

The fact that those are the only hard and fast rules are really why combat is so incentivised - it's the only sure fire way for players to get experience. Yes, they might get experience for completing some plot objectives - might, mind you - but they definitely would for getting into a fight, as well as getting guaranteed loot RAW for almost everything. So why, then, would they pass up any opportunity to get into a fight?

I'm not saying "don't take threat level into account" when assigning plot rewards, by all means do, just don't award it exclusively for getting into combat. And by awarding it at plot milestones, the players a.) get an inventive to move through the plot, and b.) don't actually know what exactly they got that experience for so they don't try and do it again every single opportunity.

So, say the PCs were journeying between two points - the whole plot point was getting from a to b and they get experience for accomplishing that. The GM decides that it's going to be a difficult journey, and decides they'll potentially face, I dunno, a CR 7 gang of bandits, and CR 5 band of goblin raiders, a CR 7 irate druid and a CR 9 gang of, say, angry turnip-creatures or whatever. When the players get to Point B they get experience for those encounters, regardless of whether they killed everything they met, talked them into submission, or just ran away and hid. They'd even get that experience if they managed to avoid encountering some or all of those things at all through being clever, or even just by being boring and taking the safe routes, since the goal was to arrive safely at Point B rather than wander off and start killing the local wildlife.


Has newer D&D editions entirely done away with the principle that the adventure is the important thing, not the combat?

I haven't the faintest idea whether new editions of D&D have changed things at all. It's not a system I play these days, or played with much enthusiasm when I was still willing to play it years ago.

Lord Torath
2017-07-12, 04:48 PM
On the one hand, you told them they need to be more careful picking fights. On the other hand, you gave them double XP for not carefully picking their fight. You're giving them mixed messages, and you need to stop.

If you completely stop giving XP for combat (and clearly inform you players of this fact), I bet you will suddenly see them much more thorough when scouting, and much choosier about the battles they actually participate in. If that's too drastic, you could try halving the combat XP, or quartering it, while giving XP for gold, roleplaying, and completing "missions". For whatever definition of "mission" you want to use.

Jay R
2017-07-12, 05:02 PM
Has newer D&D editions entirely done away with the principle that the adventure is the important thing, not the combat?

Doesn't matter what the edition says. Most players are focused on the combat in any case.

Tanarii
2017-07-12, 05:33 PM
Doesn't matter what the edition says. Most players are focused on the combat in any case.
IMX this has been the case since they removed XP for GP. In fact, even before then it was a common to house-rule that out, which (again) tended IMX to massively increase combat. I was shocked when I got a chance to go back and play some BECMI mostly BtB at how strongly the combination of super weak lvl 1 characters, the (comparatively huge) amount of XP needed to level, and the incredibly small amount of XP awarded from creatures, all came together to make combat something to be avoided at all costs. (Edit: to be clear, the goal becomes to get as much loot as possible while fighting as little as possible, at least for the low levels.)

I've carried that lesson over into 5e. If you want players to place less emphasis on combat, the quickest way to do that is make combat less rewarding. Either in reduce or remove combat XP, or decrease the player perception of assuming they can always be victorious. Or both.

But it's best to make sure the players are on board. For example, I sure wouldn't try to bring that to running an AL table.

Sacrieur
2017-07-12, 06:16 PM
Let them suffer the consequences. If they die because of it, that's on them.

FreddyNoNose
2017-07-12, 09:16 PM
If the players "shouldn't" do something the DM thinks is stupid and maybe get themselves killed, then they are not making any meaningful choices at all, and you don't need them. Run the game without them.

If the players are allowed to make meaningful choices, then sometimes those will be stupid choices that get them killed.

The players' right to make choices that can actually affect the party's fate carries a price. Sometimes their choices will actually affect the party's fate.

Plus coddling like so many of the modern GMs to cheats them of the experience!

RazorChain
2017-07-13, 12:41 AM
Has newer D&D editions entirely done away with the principle that the adventure is the important thing, not the combat?


Hahaha that really made me laugh, D&D was always about combat, even when I started playing 30 years ago. Combat and loot!. No they made more spell options for classes that didn't and did have spells before because everybody complained over how powerful the wizard was.

Mutazoia
2017-07-13, 01:57 AM
Hahaha that really made me laugh, D&D was always about combat, even when I started playing 30 years ago. Combat and loot!. No they made more spell options for classes that didn't and did have spells before because everybody complained over how powerful the wizard was.

I don't know what vesion you were playing....it must have been a personal group choice for you and your friends. But then, there has always been those who play the game just to kill stuff. D&D was just as much about avoiding combat as it was about geting into it. Even after they scrapped the gold-for-XP mechanic (back when the entire rule book could fit in an 11x17 folded and stapled booklet), players were always encouraged to find creative solutions to encounters, and not always run in, swords swinging.

RazorChain
2017-07-13, 03:17 AM
I don't know what vesion you were playing....it must have been a personal group choice for you and your friends. But then, there has always been those who play the game just to kill stuff. D&D was just as much about avoiding combat as it was about geting into it. Even after they scrapped the gold-for-XP mechanic (back when the entire rule book could fit in an 11x17 folded and stapled booklet), players were always encouraged to find creative solutions to encounters, and not always run in, swords swinging.

We played 2nd edition, I still play with the guys, the core of our group started playing around 25 years ago. We played a lot of modules and adventures from Dungeon Magazine. We then drifted into S&M...erm I mean other systems like Runequest, Ars Magica, Gurps, oWoD, Cyberpunk 2020, CoC, WFRP, Theatrix, Amber, Star Wars, Traveller and explored plethora of other systems.

I will state this and remember this is my opinion and my expericence: No system that I have played has encouraged violent solutions and combat more than D&D with the sole exception of Macho Women With Guns/Renegade Nuns on Wheels/Batwinged Bimboes From Hell (which are parodies and different takes on the same system)

I don't remember any other system I've played that rewards XP for killing things. Sure they may have reworded it in 3.x getting XP to overcoming encounters...but whatever.

Anonymouswizard
2017-07-13, 06:21 AM
This simply is not true.

A more accurate one would be: By default the group of players in D&D will be murderhobos.

This is true. I've met players who'll tend more towards the bard diplomacy style, but 90% of the time the group will tend towards murderhoboing.

One of the best groups I was in never played D&D, but the GM had a system that worked wonders for encouraging what he wanted. If we tried to move the plot forward, at the end of the session we got 3XP (I'd bump this to about a quarter of a level in D&D, 1 level/session for the first two levels of 5e). If we roleplayed well we got an XP then and there, unless the system had a metagame currency in which case we got that.

You also get games like Traveller. In Traveller fights can actually take away from your rewards. Sure you might be able to loot stuff, but it's easier to get resources by trading or even mining then by combat (I'm fairly certain a free trader that works as a contract fuel refiner rather than a merchant could still make a tidy profit), and if you need more you could always flit towards a system that needs a few asteroids brought into an easier mining system. Even worse getting into combat might get you seriously injured, and time in hospital cuts into study time (and study is the only way to improve skills). In space combat you might end up having to repair your ship, which also cuts into profit margins (especially if you can't land on a planet, because you can be certain that I'm applying a markup for boosting materials and components into orbit). Fights are really something to avoid unless they'll help you complete an objective, and even then wear body armour.

(Not that fights don't happen in Traveller, there's just little reward compared to D&D)

My suggestion to stop them biting off more than they can chew is the same as everybody else, reduce the reward for combat and increase the reward for other stuff. Look into the XP values for 2e monsters for inspiration, it'll be a long time to level up on just that.

Tanarii
2017-07-13, 10:16 AM
We played 2nd edition Which is the edition that dropped XP for GP, and increased the XP reward for defeating creatures in combat significantly. In other words, 2e was the edition that officially made D&D all about combat.

Of course, unofficially it was an extremely common house rule to drop XP for GP as 'silly' even before that. Depending on what the house-rule replaced it with, that could make that table's game far either more about combat (most common IMX) or far less (if using milestone or mission or 'RP' XP instead).

Jay R
2017-07-13, 10:56 AM
Hahaha that really made me laugh, D&D was always about combat, even when I started playing 30 years ago. Combat and loot!. No they made more spell options for classes that didn't and did have spells before because everybody complained over how powerful the wizard was.

Not quite. Early D&D was about loot and combat. Modern D&D is about combat and loot.

Alcore
2017-07-15, 12:07 PM
I will state this and remember this is my opinion and my expericence: No system that I have played has encouraged violent solutions and combat more than D&D with the sole exception of Macho Women With Guns/Renegade Nuns on Wheels/Batwinged Bimboes From Hell (which are parodies and different takes on the same system)

I don't remember any other system I've played that rewards XP for killing things. Sure they may have reworded it in 3.x getting XP to overcoming encounters...but whatever.yep. No other system I've found rewards combat than older editions of DnD. Notice I said older and then notice how you claimed it was reworded. It both was and wasn't. That is because your expectations of what an encounter is has not changed.


I started with 3.5 so i have a different perspective. Encounters are "challenges a party must overcome".


the party reaches some weathered ruins hosting goblins by the door they must reach to get in. Every character has a weapon and the magority have armor. Plan A is a no brainer but lets list situations that *I* would give XP for;

1a.go in, kill them all!
1b. Go in under cover of night and kill them
2. Sneak past them
3. Ask them to let you through
4. Kill a deer or two, grab some beer and become their best friend with a cookout. Then walk in through the door.
5.Turn around and go back to town and report to local authorities. [Not a lot of XP there but a good red flag that they want to do something else]
6.Roll a knowledge check on the ruins, or/and the goblins if tribal affinity is visible. [Mainly for crafters but the whole party gets it if roller shares knowledge]
7. Trick the goblins into killing each other.


All are viable because it's not a "combat" but an "encounter".


Pathfinder gives CR ratings for the weather (3.5 does so with the newer scourcebooks, at least, when it comes to hazzards). Party wants to travel across an open plain wearing metal during a thunderstorm? Smile, tsk at them jokingly and award XP when/should they reach point B.



Nothing can happen if the RPG community doesn't move away from the older definitions. It's that way even in the real world.

RazorChain
2017-07-16, 02:21 AM
I started with 3.5 so i have a different perspective. Encounters are "challenges a party must overcome".


the party reaches some weathered ruins hosting goblins by the door they must reach to get in. Every character has a weapon and the magority have armor. Plan A is a no brainer but lets list situations that *I* would give XP for;

1a.go in, kill them all!
1b. Go in under cover of night and kill them
2. Sneak past them
3. Ask them to let you through
4. Kill a deer or two, grab some beer and become their best friend with a cookout. Then walk in through the door.
5.Turn around and go back to town and report to local authorities. [Not a lot of XP there but a good red flag that they want to do something else]
6.Roll a knowledge check on the ruins, or/and the goblins if tribal affinity is visible. [Mainly for crafters but the whole party gets it if roller shares knowledge]
7. Trick the goblins into killing each other.


All are viable because it's not a "combat" but an "encounter".



Well to me an encounter is something you....encounter. You know something you chance upon or meet unexpectedly, it may be hostile/friendly/neutral. Next time I'll tell my players they'll get XP for overcoming those traveling minstrels they chanced upon the road or that traveling peddler :)

Talakeal
2017-07-16, 03:23 AM
Looks fairly typical, both the DM and players could have handled it better, but neither side really handled the situation poorly either.

The only thing that jumps out at me is why it was a goblin rather than the ogre demanding tolls. A. Ogre tells you that they mean business, while a goblin isnt very intimidating and is likely to get killed by trigger happy would be victims before backup can arrive.

redwizard007
2017-07-16, 09:32 AM
Looks fairly typical, both the DM and players could have handled it better, but neither side really handled the situation poorly either.

The only thing that jumps out at me is why it was a goblin rather than the ogre demanding tolls. A. Ogre tells you that they mean business, while a goblin isnt very intimidating and is likely to get killed by trigger happy would be victims before backup can arrive.

I think that's actually the most realistic (um, contextually speaking.) Ogres are lazy as ****. I think this is exactly how they would play it out.

icefractal
2017-07-16, 01:51 PM
D&D since i started has always been about creative thought and thinking things through instead of just kick down the door kill everything, rinse and repeat (it's a role-playing game not a roll-playing game).First off, boo on "roll-playing" - can we just retire that stale phrase?
Secondly, would people please stop equating non-combat with roleplaying? That's just objectively incorrect.

What the OP was looking for from their players, was - insofar as that model even applies - a type of gamist thinking: acting as a well-oiled team and making tactically-smart decisions. There's nothing wrong with that style - I play that way myself a good chunk of the time - but it isn't really roleplay-centric. It's putting the success of the mission as a higher priority than the characters' motivations (if the characters are all dedicated and level-headed soldiers there's no conflict, of course).

And, you know, Monopoly has no combat at all, but it does have negotiations, so I guess it's the ultimate role-playing game? :smalltongue:


But for example, let's look at how this situation might play out in one of the various RPGs that doesn't focus on the tactical success of the party:
Foster was sent out to scout, and after catching the initial glance of eleven goblins he returns to the party. He knows that there could well be more than eleven, but he resents Newton's leadership and won't take on any more personal risk by sneaking closer to them.
On hearing the report, Dremmer wants to attack immediately. She despises goblins, which means both that she'd prefer killing them to avoiding them and she doesn't consider them a real threat in almost any number.
Newton knows this is risky, but tensions have been rising and his position of command is shaky. He's inexperienced, only in charge because his uncle is the Duke, and rest of the team is increasingly looking to Dremmer (a seasoned veteran) as the 'real' leader. He agrees, figuring that if they succeed it'll bring this grinding trek through the swamps to an early close, and if a certain hothead dies in the process, or in the retreat, then all the better - he's kind of a slimy person.
Bowdy is dumber than a bag of hammers, and knows it, so just goes along with whatever the others decide.

Sounds like roleplaying to me, but the end result is they charge in, attack the goblins, and probably lose. Roleplaying only means smart decisions if you're playing as the type of characters who would make smart decisions, and there's a whole world of concepts beyond that available.


Also ...
*casts Resist Energy (Fire)*
*casts Protection from Energy (Fire)*
...
Combat as War is not necessarily any more of a "thinking man's game" than Combat as Sport.
I mean, I think it has a higher ceiling, but the ranges overlap considerably. "Let's make that big obvious stalactite fall on the ogre who is standing guard right under it" does not involve more brain-power than a complex tactical situation with a synergistic mix of foes and a changing battlefield, and pretending it does is ridiculous.

Tanarii
2017-07-17, 09:58 AM
Also ...
*casts Resist Energy (Fire)*
*casts Protection from Energy (Fire)*
...
Combat as War is not necessarily any more of a "thinking man's game" than Combat as Sport.
I mean, I think it has a higher ceiling, but the ranges overlap considerably. "Let's make that big obvious stalactite fall on the ogre who is standing guard right under it" does not involve more brain-power than a complex tactical situation with a synergistic mix of foes and a changing battlefield, and pretending it does is ridiculous.
It's a different kind of thinking. It makes players better / smarter at a specific kind of strategic and tactical thinking, not at all strategic / tactical thinking.

But the main reason I like it is it induces player paranoia. :smallamused: Because they can't just assume that any given potential combat is winnable, given smart enough tactics. They have to proceed on the basis that sometimes it will be flat out impossible to win a combat, and incorporate their strategic and tactical thinking. Generally in CaS the assumption is that the players will almost always find a way to win any combat they actually engage in, if they play tactically smart enough.

That said, the line is blurry, because sometimes the assumption is 'combat' shouldn't be assumed to be beatable, and other times it's that 'encounter' shouldn't be assumed to be beatable. For example, in most published or GM designed adventures, the assumption is the party can always find a way to progress forward, regardless of if the combat style is more war or sport. Ie any given encounter can be 'defeated' somehow, even if not necessarily by force at arms. Which is why you end up with stuff like 'fail forward', at the encounter level.

In a combat as war (including encounters may not be beatable assumption) sandbox, this party might have had to just retreat and tell the person who hired them 'sorry, no can do, this is beyond us' and go find something else entirely to do.

goto124
2017-07-17, 10:11 AM
CaS often means that you have to get into battle to make any progress, and once in you can't get out of battle until you win or die. There are variations on this, but it is rather different from CaW where you are supposed to pick fights and run away from mispicked fights or ambushes.

Anonymouswizard
2017-07-17, 10:53 AM
CaW and CaS are also a spectrum. I've played under GMs who will make encounters fair, on the assumption you're scouting and planning ambushes but that you won't try to flood the forest just to get rid of the bandits.

I'd also argue CaS can take a lot more effort from the GM side. I once had a GM attempt to give us exciting CaS gameplay, in a campaign I managed to stay in for two combats, the first encounter we go up to the enemies, scout, get information, and begin the fight. Next thing we know we're fighting completely different enemies for some reason (although the bait and switch was fair in it's own right), and then about three rounds later discovered only one party member (the Sorcerer) could do a decent amount of damage, as everyone else had nonmagical weapons. The second combat the oppoenet appeared within melee range of the Barbarian, Fighter, and spear-using bard, went down in about a round via a simple 'unload every attack' and the GM complained that the super tough enemy died because we were a bit lucky on our attack rolls.

lacco36
2017-07-18, 03:51 AM
Well to me an encounter is something you....encounter. You know something you chance upon or meet unexpectedly, it may be hostile/friendly/neutral. Next time I'll tell my players they'll get XP for overcoming those traveling minstrels they chanced upon the road or that traveling peddler :)

And this is something I would love to see somehow formalized (if only basic guidelines) - possibility to gain XP from neutral/friendly encounters. For example, pumping the minstrels for information, or swindling the peddler.

Need to check Ryuutama how it does these things... and shamelessly steal them for my games get inspired :smallsmile:


Pathfinder gives CR ratings for the weather (3.5 does so with the newer scourcebooks, at least, when it comes to hazzards). Party wants to travel across an open plain wearing metal during a thunderstorm? Smile, tsk at them jokingly and award XP when/should they reach point B.

Interesting... I'll have to take a look at this.

Can you point me to the book where these are? Is this in the core rules...? (haven't read them yet :smallredface:)

Alcore
2017-07-18, 12:46 PM
Interesting... I'll have to take a look at this.

Can you point me to the book where these are? Is this in the core rules...? (haven't read them yet :smallredface:)core rule book. Environment chapter/section.
http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/coreRulebook/environment.html



While i didn't make a complete liar out of myself i did notice a thunderstorm in particular does not have a CR.
Cave in=8
Various fungi= 3-4
Tornado=10
Dust storm= 3
Avalanche=7
+more


If you want 3.5;
Fiend codex I & II, Frostfell, complete mage.
I don't have my collection on me so names might be incorrect or missing. Few hazards are natural in the books i mentioned.

xyamius
2017-07-19, 01:04 AM
okay how i handled it; and from what i could tell it did get some positive response and kind of made the players think to no longer just kick down the door and kill everything..

The party came into the Keep through an alternate route and i started giving clues that they where not the first ones in and another adventuring group might have arrived before them and may still be there. The players characters are all good aligned which i am playing with.

Their party came across fresh humanoid boot size tracks and then found some monsters that where recently killed using arrows and spells. During their walk through the players where making so much noise chatting, yelling and smashing things instead of using pick locks and stealth the npc party heard them and set up an ambush to trap the players without doing any harm so they could keep the players from crawl stealing.

The players are set up in a good aligned mercenary house while there are two other competing houses for contracts so it gives me a bunch of political and fame options to screw with that will make life easier or harder on the party to get things done.

The whole plot was that the players had unknowingly dropped in on another party's contract to clear out a location. Now as a good aligned party if they just rushed in and killed everything (which they kind of did) they would have to deal with muscling in and killing off another adventuring group (not exactly a good aligned thing to do) and dealing with the political fall out and getting branded as a group that has no problems killing for coin anyone that gets in their way.

The biggest problem was that the party (all the players failed checks to identify who the npc's where except one player and that one player didn't tell the rest of the party) choose to not attempt to negotiate but instead after seeing another adventuring groups colors and emblems charge after them into a trap (bad dice rolls on my side and good dice rolling on the players caused the trap to fail). Now my party is thinking they need to have a color scheme and emblems set up to be easily identified. The NPC party didn't know about what group the other adventurers where in due to the players are still running around in run of the mill gear and haven't thought out a way to easily be recognized. The Npc party just assumed they where another adventuring party attempting to steal their crawl after clearing out a bunch of it and being down on resources would be easier to pick off. So the best way to handle it is not engage but box them in and see if they could find out information or get an advantage over the other group so they can save resources.

The pc's rushed in and managed to almost kill two of the npc team members before getting an option to negotiate from the npc team leaders side who was covering his parties rear so they wouldn't get stuck between monsters and a hostile party. This was due to the Npc's kept attempting to block the pc's in but through brute force and better dice rolls managed to keep breaking through doors right after the npc's closed them until the two that where there to stall out the players had retreated back to where the npc party leader was.

how the trap was set up is the parties take chase after one of the npc party members down a long corridor that the npc party had already cleared while one npc team member hides behind the open door and the wall going in so they could lock and bar the players into the room while the npc members stayed out of the room while the one being chased runs through the exit and another npc party member closes and locks the doors after he made it through. There are only murder holes facing towards the outside of the keep so escaping wouldn't be an easy option the npc team would be down one member but could still keep baring doors behind them as a worst case until they could get out.

The Npc party left the players at the keep after the NPC teams leader told the players they did to much damage to their group making it impossible for them to finish the crawl. (It's a smart move on the npc's leader side to pull out instead of risking the loss of several team mates.)

The npc parties leader's starting negotiations in a nut shell was that the players could have the crawl if they would let them leave peacefully. That they hadn't finished clearing all of it out but now all he wants to do is get out with his party members lives intact.

This now at least gave the pc's an understanding that sometimes they might come across non hostiles in a crawl to interact with, that knowledge and charisma based skills have some value and not to take just combat and survival based ones only, and sometimes you have to cut bait and run for the good of the party such as retreating from a crawl to keep the party alive.

TheYell
2017-07-20, 04:27 AM
Sounds like a good learning experience.

Did the party learn to pass on identifications of other mercenary groups? I take it that was just a newbie mistake, nothing malicious?

Herobizkit
2017-07-24, 05:50 AM
New (and old) players with new characters want to 'kick the tires' and see what their characters can do. They won't know their limits until they test their limits. D&D does this most efficiently via Combat Encounters - the sooner the over-eager players get their proverbial rocks off (their dice rolling), the happier they'll be.

Once they shake the initial excitement of murderhobo, they can relax and THEN can listen to important information and consider other options.

xyamius
2017-07-25, 05:26 PM
Looks like they learned i tossed a hoard of orc's vs them that had just finished off sacking a bunch of farms and where on their way back home. The party instead of running head on figured out a plan, looked at their resources and evaluated the terrain and other options before charging in.

Level 2 party vs 36 orcs and one orc boss the party killed off the orcs with use of materials and spells.

CR 9 battle vs a level 2 party.

They used sleep spells, defense buffs, the tank was boosted to pull the hoard in on a him so they could aoe easier and the tank was defense buffed to make it tough to harm him. They engaged at range to start so they would force the orc's to close the distance and be unable to attack for the first round and majority of the orcs where still out of range during round 2. They used terrain to force a bottle neck to reduce attacks on them and later mixed some hit and run tactics with spells to keep the advantage on range.

In all they did an excellent job thinking the combat through vs a higher threat and ended up coming out on top with the whole party still standing at the end.

They captured 11 of the orcs due to the use of sleep spells and could easily be knocked out and recovered a large deal of the stolen goods. One out of four of the party members was dropped and almost killed only due to a confirmed critical that landed with max damage nearly killing him in one shot but the party's healer made sure to get them stable the next round and had them back up and running later on.

I did have one member going you are cut off from Running due to the crazy fights that keep being throwing at them but that tune changed after he realized if you plan it out and unless i roll really well and the party really poorly they should come out beaten up but still alive if they use their resources and figure out a plan. The party is realizing they are getting better at thinking things through and it's giving them an ego to go with it. I have a ton of plot and the players are liking that knowledge skills, diplomacy, insight, bluff and more are all factored into the campaign so they have started to take roles in the party since one character can not handle all the stuff thrown at them.

The players are still sometimes stuck in 5e mode though so it sometimes confuses them the difference between 5e and 3.5 but beyond that they are starting to come together really well as a group.

My goal when i started dming this group was to get them to think and figure things out better, work as a group and balance off each other so there wasn't a party of everyone wanting to be the star but instead they work together to be a massive powerhouse. I have multiple plot's running in this story arch also that require non combat based skills to find out what is going on.