Somehow I suspect that most who favor fumbles would scream bloody murder if it was suggested that:
In most of the dungeons I run---those controlled by one or more active factions, this is how things usually go down.
Pretty much everything we understand about God, other than what he has explicitly told us, is through metaphor. God as Father...God as King...God as Author...and, my favorite, God as Gamemaster, which is one with very interesting implications for those who think that the universe may be a simulation.
If you're a believer of any of various stripes, my opinion and experience is that you can get a better (note, I say better, NOT good) handle on what God is and His perspective by running a fair number of games in a fairly strict simulationist style---which is to say, any interference from you has to be credibly laundered, perhaps occasionally through some divine entity's machinations. You could also do the same by writing fiction in the 'world building genre', but frankly, more of us have the chops to run a game than write a book, and players are generally less cooperative than are literary characters.
If you run a simulationist style game, and you have magic item creation rules anywhere near RAW, it is VERY hard to prevent a magic item business from arising. If nothing else, your PCs will invent it and wonder why nobody else had done so before (been there, done that).
Even with 2nd and 1st edition rules where magic item creation was much more difficult, magic items were still bought and sold, just not generally 'to order'. Anyone ever wonder why even in the 1st edition DMG items had a 'gp sale value'?
In a lot of borderlands we call grave-robbing Salvage. If a previous gravesite isn't under the control of 'civilization', it is fair game. But if you're in a borderland as opposed to a total wilderness (i.e., civilization is providing a reasonably safe base camp for you), you are of course expected to pay a 20% salvage tax to whoever the local lord might be. This salvage tax isn't just expected of tombs you raid but loot in general. In some circumstances, that tax is reduced to 10%---for instance, the borderland in question is heavily beset by enemies from the wilderness and is keen to have adventurers do some attrition, or maybe the lord just likes you and your group. In a few circumstances the tax is waived entirely, as in the lord has asked you to do this and tells you that you can keep all the swag.
What do you get in return for paying the salvage tax...besides tax collectors not looking for your head?
Back in 1st/2nd edition days, in my experience, parties tended to run larger. 8 was a pretty common party size back then, plus henchmen, hangers-on, and the like. Thus the personality type that doesn't mind being a total support-oriented class wasn't seriously oversubscribed to supply each group with a cleric, and occasionally two.
Since then party sizes have gone way down. Hell, back in the early 80s you could buy D&D stuff through the Sears Catalogs! A lot of the changes made in 3rd edition-Pathfinder--4th edition are made with that metagame reality in mind. Players who are naturally healers are probably a bit thinner on the ground also compared to back then.
Typical gamist/narrativist contract includes stuff like this:
If you're captured, you'll be given an opportunity to escape.
Feigned rout---with cries of 'run away, run away', is also a time-honored method of luring your foes into an ambush, or at least straggling out a large group and separating their heavies from their skirmishers. Do this a few times, giving them a bloody nose, and you'll teach even a gamist GM to be judicious in offering pursuit :-)
Hehe are you a gamist or a narrativist mostly in your GM style? If so, perhaps your players are just thinking meta or 'no first use'. I mean, after all, say they adopt consumables in a big way. You'll just ratchet up the challenges right, having your opponents using many of the same consumables. Then they'll be right back to the same spot they were before, with more swingy and volatile fights, and have the burden of inventory management which they didn't have before.
Of course, if you're a simulationist, the world doesn't give a damn whether you use consumables---OPFOR will use them if they have the means, motive and opportunity to do so regardless of things like CR or whether your party uses them.
Sebastian---not totally novel. I've actually done that one before---teleporting would remove 6 hours of duration from any buffs. I handwaved it as transporting via the Astral plane screwed with the buff's internal clocks. Also you were unable to act for at least a round after any non-LOS teleportation and the arrival was VERY noisy.
They'd probably be better off trying to trip him (perhaps aiding another on the trip attempts) while others just attack exploiting the prone bonuses. That's more along the lines of what wolves typically do---don't they have built-in trip attacks?
Some weeks ago, I was joking with one of the associate pastors of my church (who is still a gamer) about how nice it was when we had few enough problems that D&D actually registered on our radar.
On teleportation and scrying and the like:
I generally run sandbox campaigns---being a simulationist, it kind of goes with the territory. Here's how I handle wealth by level:
Your wealth by level is the point that the world and society will tend to gravitate your wealth (by this I only count the stuff on your person typically, if you own a castle or an inn, I don't normally count that) towards.
You see, players are typically fairly high order predators in most games. But they're NOT the only predators by any stretch of the imagination. What do predators do?
They look for the most favorable balances of risk to reward in the targets they are aware of (and specifically look for easier ones).
That young commoner that just inherited the sword of dreadful destruction? SIGN US UP.
Your PC's understand this---they go after the targets where the reward outweighs the risk.
So too do the other predators of the world.
But the more you are above WBL, the more you are perceived as being a juicy target. You're also perceived as having stuff that is 'beyond your station'.
You see this sort of boom-bust cycle in a lot of the foundational literature of games like ours---e.g. Conan.
Given that identical twins do not always have the same sexual orientation, it's safe to say (except from a political perspective) that same-sex attraction is not 100% genetic.
But having a same-sex attracted twin does predict a significantly higher probability of being homosexual for the other twin, moreso if it's an identical twin. So it's probably safe also to say that it isn't 100% environmental either. I believe that holds even when the twins are raised apart (WWII gave us TONS of twin studies in its aftermath because of the deluge of DP---displaced persons).
Nearly every trait that is actually interesting seems to be this way---genetics supplies a predisposition but very rarely a hard coercion. Lots of people, for instance, are genetically predisposed to be easily addicted to alchohol. But many, if not most of them don't become so. There's plenty of room in the real world to attribute all three, genetics, environment, and choice, as working in conjunction or opposition to form the person.
If you really want to remove someone in a world with resurrection, the best way is to imprison them. Since they're not dead, they can't be raised. Every wonder why there are so many freaking dungeons in the world?
There's your answer.
Kingmaker tends to drag most GMs into simulationist territory. That's why your point 2 is a bit surprising to you.
I believe that they overvalue consistent DPR relative to spike DPR or situational DPR when they make balancing decisions. This tends to put the onus on the GM to artificially create additional encounters in many instances purely for metagame reasons if they want to balance against this feature (some call it the 15 minute adventuring workday).
I don't have any issue with PC's making a profit off of other PC's. Nor do any of my present players (although some of them DID when they were younger, now they've got jobs, wives, and kids of their own also their perspective on this has changed). In essence, none of them would have a problem with what you outlined. However, all of them know this:
All of the various predators in a campaign world, of which the PC's are one example (thieves guilds, noblemen with taxation powers, dragons, etc are others), generally tend to gravitate as much as they're able to targets that have low risk relative to the potential reward. If you start getting much greater than the wealth by level, YOU become considered a favorable risk to reward target (the archetypical example of this is the really low level guy who inherits his uncles cool magical sword). Normally such predators RARELY will attempt to 'red cell' you as a PC, you're a way unattractive risk-reward proposition. But if you're much above wealth by level, you're fair game.
You see this dynamic in a lot of Conan stories honestly, and similar genre stories---the hero regularly grabs insane amounts of wealth but can rarely hold onto it, at least until his station radically increases (becoming a King, in Conan's case).
The way we generally do diplomacy in games I'm running or where I've influenced the GM substantially is this:
First off, we pigeonhole your character based on what your total diplomacy add is into one of several brackets. These brackets are named for people that the GM and players are pretty familiar with that have high (or low) persuasiveness.
Then, we consider how hard it would be for the person you've been bracketed as to accomplish said feat of persuasion. Most of the time a roll isn't even required. Only when the estimate is something like 'Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton could do this on a GOOD day' do we ask for a roll.
Frankly, we've yet to find a published system of social mechanics that we're willing to allow meaningful success or failure to hang on. This approach is the closest we've gotten that doesn't horrify our sense of aesthetics.
A lot of the other 'dick moves' similarly aren't considered dickish if done for simulationist reasons in a group where your simulationist cred is fairly strong (some groups refer to this as scrupulous GM neutrality). For instance, if your party gets captured via a simulationist chain of events---e.g., you take on foes that you couldn't handle that your party CHOOSE to put themselves in the path of, you almost never get player hostility as a result.
If, on the other hand, the capture is railroaded because the GM thought it would be fun or narratively appropriate, you very frequently get blowback. And God help you if you see a simulationist GM do something and then naively think you can get away with it in your own game where you have a much more gamist implicit contract. That's the worst of all possible worlds---railroaded by a gamist into a capture scenario and then imprisoned in a simulationist manner---logically you'd very very rarely escape if you couldn't handle those foes at your best.
When I was younger, there was a strong split over level draining undead in the community. In general, players in gamist/narrativist campaigns absolutely loathed them whereas the simulationist gamers didn't waste too much worry on them---except sometimes for the meta nature of the power. Why was that?
I'll tell you why. In a simulationist game, you typically have a LOT of choice as to what adventures you go on. If you're afraid of undead, well, you try to avoid going on Castle Ravenloft. Yeah, there's some fantastic treasure available there, but many parties would rather go pick on the giants instead. However in an archetypical gamist/narrativist game, you go on whatever adventure your GM happens to want to run (typically a module back in the day or something he homebrewed). That's the implicit game contract---that you go on the adventure set before you. That contract doesn't mix well with stuff like permanent level draining for most players.
Is a Rogue “skimming” treasure as he finds it “Role playing” or is he stealing from his adventuring companions?
He's doing both actually. Roleplaying is not a defense against in-game retaliation for in-game actions. Expecting to get away with something solely because of the invisible PLAYER CHARACTER tattooed on your forehead is the most infuriating sort of metagaming there is, IMO. Ask yourself, what would the PCs do if a hireling or NPC were to do this? Expect no better treatment if a PC happens to be the offender.
Hmm, I'd consider making it a flat-cost enchantment instead of a + based enchantment. Probably 2000 or so gold.
I'm not a fan of pulling my punches or fudging in favor of player characters. As a fairly heavily simulationist GM, I try pretty hard for neutrality. That said, my game is--as befits its very old school roots---heavily influenced by medieval traditions as regarded prisoners and ransoms. Very frequently, your enemies ARE the treasure, and they realize that often times, you are as well. I try pretty hard---usually through a flashback scene where the PC is a 3rd party in a ransom negotiation scene--to familiarize new players into the cultural expectations that are common to the Non-KOS races of the world. Ransoms usually run around 3x the annual income of a person of your social station. Most people in non-KOS cultures also view such negotiations as pretty sacred. So yes, in a the majority of cases, you can surrender, and it's not viewed as a dishonorable thing. How many kings in our worlds were ransomed? Enough that 'a king's ransom' has entered the vernacular.
One of the basic pillars of a simulationist game is that PCs can to a great extent decide on what level of risk they want to hazard, generally looking to the possibility of commensurate rewards. Sometimes they judge...poorly, and being captured and held for ransom as a result isn't all that uncommon. I'd say the majority of PC's in my games have been ransomed once, and some are serial offenders (there's a story in the old Pendragon rules about a knight whose wife, through her excellent manor administration, manages to pay his ransom again and again).
So what happens to a party when it's largely unequipped after being ransomed and perhaps 50K gold in the hole (some local noble having made the loan to pay their ransom)? It can't take foes of its normal CR anymore. The answer is it sets its sights lower and goes after what it can beat, ratcheting itself back towards normal wealth by level.
Of course there are foes that aren't interested in ransom and who don't take prisoners (even very lucrative ones). This adds an extra element of dread when facing them---because they're alien to the players' cultural expectations.
Paladin codes are pretty heavily god-specific and culture-specific. What it sounds like is that your party did the equivalent of a counter-terrorism style dynamic entry raid to rescue some hostages. Some might question whether this approach was prudent, but few codes would say it was dishonorable.
If you look at 3.X edition vs earlier editions, you'd notice that mercenaries and other hired followers are far less prevalent in most people's games than they once were. I'm going to argue that they can, and should, be used much more often.
A look at the economy in vanilla 3.x shows that among level 1's, skilled people typically make about 1 gp/day (half their craft or profession roll per week, if we assume a +4 bonus and a take 10, this is 7 gp/week or 1 gp/day). Unskilled people make 1 sp/day. Most of the people that a group of PC's might want to hire fall into the skilled category (frequently profession:soldier), so let's consider that group.
Let's look at your typical level 1 warrior with profession:soldier. If you make 1 gp/day, you've got an income on the order of 365 GP/year. One could reasonably assume that your government shakes 20% out of you and your church another 10%, those aren't terribly uncommon numbers in the real world. Your income is approximately 10x the average unskilled laborer's, so you're not doing badly at all. You probably even have a servant or two at home making 1 sp/day. So, aside from your living expenses, what might motivate you to consider exceptionally dangerous but highly lucrative employment with a band of adventurers?
The biggest ones, as I see it, are affording magical (specifically priestly) services. Cure disease, remove blindness/deafness, and remove curse are the biggies, and these are nontrivial hazards in a non-modern world. They're level 3 spells castable by a level 5 cleric, so they run about 150 GP each---probably half a year's salary for said warrior. That's a lot of money. For a comparison to today, imagine a 30k medical bill, that has to be paid in advance, for a family with an income of 60k/year....ouch. But is it worth it? Most people would say oh hell yes. Imagine your number one son has been blinded, perhaps in a combat or just a not terribly uncommon accident. Lots of soldiers would accept a fairly high level of risk to pay for that. Or to remove a curse, or fix a debilitating disease, or the like.
So it's pretty clear that there are going to be a fair number of people that would be willing to accept difficult and dangerous work for very high pay. There are in the real world too, look at what offshore oil workers make sometime, mercenaries for outfits like Blackwater, or just civilian contractors in war zones.
So what sort of money would a typical such 'contractor' want to make? Assuming we're not talking any more than the usual sort of desperation, probably we'd be starting at 10 GP/day when on active duty. In addition, they'd probably want some sort of combat pay. This could take the form of a 'share of the booty', which would range from a high of around 1/3 of a share if we're talking a level 1 party to around 1/100 of a share if you're talking a very high level party. Or they could instead ask for a fixed payment per fight where they meaningfully participate, if they'd rather not take the luck of the draw. In addition, they're probably want assurance that healing and the like would be provided them free of charge subject to what the party has available and some sort of death or dismemberment benefit, should they not make it back intact.