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A GM's Conundrum: To Kill or Not to Kill?


Advice

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1. It depends on the monster itself, why it is attacking the PC, and other factors. In my games the creature might not make the last attack if it is an animal, and would move on to the last threat. If it was an intelligent creature with backup it would make the last attack to make sure the PC was dead. In a land where clerics can heal people making sure people can't be healed is not a bad strategy.

2. It depends on the playstyle of the group/


To the OP, for me it is about 'group expectations' and 'fun.'

In a WoD game I was mauled to death by two dogs; that was fine, we expected the game to be deadly and none of us really had any way to combat the dogs effectively (without accidentally shooting my character as well).

If I was playing Pathfinder and I was mauled to death by two dogs, that would not be fun; the party should be able to deal with it better and it's not the sort of 'fun' I want to have with a classic fantasy game.

Others like to play a gritty and realistic and mortal version of classic fantasy, but that's not what I want from Pathfinder.


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I have one player who would accuse me of intentionally killing her character if I went through with it. In her case, I might have the creature toss her prone body aside for effect, giving somebody else at least a chance to get to her before she's totally gone.

I have another player who would accuse me of intentionally keeping him alive if I didn't follow through with it. In his case, the question answers itself. His guys dies.

Both of those players are unreasonable, but this is what they want, and how they like to play. There is no wrong or right here. It is a matter of fun. There is no universal end-all answer, because no two players are exactly the same.

All the other players understand when I play a creature the way it is written. I tend to play by the whole picture: alignment, Intelligence, Wisdom, weapons, fears, situation, etc. If the thing hates wizards, it may let the fallen rogue live by accident, in its rush to get to the wizard. If it's not wise or smart enough to kill completely, it might shift its attention to the others as soon as the hit PC falls. Maybe it is very hungry and finishes the fallen character off by devouring him/her.

You can't listen to the people who say, "yeah, kill him! It's what he gets for playing!!!" Pathfinder is not you against them, and it is not a means for teaching your friends a lesson, and it is not a game everybody plays the same way for the same reasons. Overall, it's a storytelling and roleplaying game, and death is in YOUR purview to mete out when necessary. Not something Joe Forum can dictate to you for his own sick amusement.


If you're using a GM screen you could always just 'flub' the final rolls. Oops, fumble, and it decides to leave the unconscious/dying target to go focus on the other threats.


When does the player character drop from loss of hit points? Does the character take the two attacks then fall to the ground unconscious or does the third attack take place before the character falls? Would the monster attack a creature on the ground or move onto a new target? (and what I think was snex's point: If it attacks an unconscious character on the ground with its third attack, why wouldn't it continue to attack the creature after it's dead?)


One of our dogs likes to kill our chickens whenever she gets loose. She'll attack one and when it goes down she quickly runs after another while the first one lies dying. I would assume most low intelligent monsters would do the same. I usually one attack dying pcs with AOEs that happen to hit them.

Shadow Lodge

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I'd say your first consideration should be whether you (and your players) want it to be the kind of game where a PC can easily go from up and fighting to dead in a round. Realism comes second.

If you're OK with killing the PC, then a monster that is motivated to kill the PCs rather than just disable them should always take the last attack if there are no other available targets. A monster that is motivated to take prisoners should never attack an unconscious opponent. If it's natural attacks rather than iteratives I'd err on taking the full sequence because as NobodysHome pointed out those things are delivered so close together that it's hard to interrupt the set. For a warrior making iterative attacks... I don't think it's metagaming to say that the warrior is aware that they have started some sort of attack sequence that they gain no advantage from interrupting, but it's also not unreasonable for such a warrior to automatically disregard any dropped opponent even if they have an easy opportunity to hit him again (as many PCs will also do this rather than keep hitting an unconscious foe).

NobodysHome wrote:
But the three attacks are always within a half-second or so of each other, so in this case, with natural weapons that are typically clustered, I'd say the creature goes for the kill because it doesn't have time to do anything else. (And I wouldn't allow a coup de grace, it would just be its natural third attack because it wouldn't have time to know any better.)

That final iterative attack can't be a Coup de Grace even if the monster really wants to finish the PC off, because a CdG is a separate full-round action, not just any attack against a helpless opponent. Sneak attack or any other bonuses to melee attacks vs helpless opponents (such as the -9 to AC) would apply, though.

On a related note, I'd only recommend taking the time to CdG a fallen PC whose allies are fighting if it was a particularly brutal play style and your players knew this ahead of time, or if you're high enough level that death is more of an inconvenience.


Bill Dunn wrote:


From my perspective, this approaches the rules to RPGs backwards, as if they define everything that is possible. Rather, I approach RPGs from the perspective of asking what the character would do and then apply the rules to put the plan into effect. Players understand the rules, but they are invisible from the perspective of the PCs. PC lives aren't segmented into actions, rounds, and stop-motion animation. One action, on six-second round flows into another, seamlessly.

Hi Bill

I think we're approaching it the same way but focusing on different things. The two primary answers to the OP were :
1. It depends on the monster motivation
2. It depends on the play style and expectations of the table

Once posters decided which camp they were in, they looked at the decisions that should be taken combat, which they communicate in game mechanics.

cheers


Bill Dunn wrote:
One action, on six-second round flows into another, seamlessly.

But they actions don't flow into one another seamlessly. They happen one after another. Actions happen consecutively so trying to flow the actions together really doesn't work.

For instance, if 5 players are fighting one enemy, how long do each of their actions take? What if 11 players are fighting an enemy? With enough people, you can have someone moving 240 feet in .1 seconds. Alternately, if each action is taking 6 seconds you run into issues with where players are in relation to each other. Trying to analyze Pathfinder combat as real fighting won't work.

Sovereign Court

johnlocke90 wrote:
Bill Dunn wrote:
One action, on six-second round flows into another, seamlessly.

But they actions don't flow into one another seamlessly. They happen one after another. Actions happen consecutively so trying to flow the actions together really doesn't work.

For instance, if 5 players are fighting one enemy, how long do each of their actions take? What if 11 players are fighting an enemy? With enough people, you can have someone moving 240 feet in .1 seconds. Alternately, if each action is taking 6 seconds you run into issues with where players are in relation to each other. Trying to analyze Pathfinder combat as real fighting won't work.

Everything happens simultaneously.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I don't have the monster make the last attack unless it would both make sense to do so, and would somehow make the game better for everyone involved. If it doesn't meet those two criteria, I don't kill the PC.


Logically the creature would kill the PC, no matter how smart it is. It's in the middle of a flurry of strikes and can be assumed to have already killed the pc before he hit the ground and even if not, an enemy going to ground is not necessarily an enemy neutralized, it would instinctively or otherwise use the chance and attack further, before it has actually realized that the target was already neutralized.

Personally I'd go for it. Fighting without a chance to die is just idle dice rolling without challenge.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

A creature attacking 3 times in one round is no more "a flurry of strikes" than it is when it attacks twice in one round and once on the next or three times across three rounds.

The creature has no concept of rounds, regardless of its intelligence. All it knows is that it is still attacking, or it is not.


When the PC reaches a negative number the monster would probably assume he is dead. I can only see a monster "making sure" if it is intelligent, and knows someone might bring it back to life. If the party is fighting a pride of lions. One of the lions may try to drag the PC away to eat in peace. I can also see a ghoul starting to eat someone in combat, if it is very hungry and the party is losing. If the ghouls are losing then it should join its buddies to down another PC. Either way things can go bad for the players. Taking out the one PC can have the rest of the party fighting less enemies. Having the ghoul not leave the encounter, means he can help gang up on another PC, and take him out also.

In either case I can see a GM being accused of "playing it wrong", which is why I try to get like-minded players that don't want to die, but don't take it so bad if they do die*.

*This assumes they had a fair chance at winning, which I always provide.

Silver Crusade

When it comes to iterative attacks, they are happening in probably a second or two. It's not hit.....see what happens.......hit.....see what happens.......hit.......see what happens.

It's hit, hit, hit, or miss, hit, miss etc....


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To add to what shallowsoul said, and that may contradict my last post, if someone goes unconscious you may not know if they just fell or they went unconscious. Standing over them trying to figure it out may take more time than just taking another swing.

This happens in MMA fights when someone is "out of it" before they hit the ground. The guy delivering the blow normally follows them to the ground to "finish them off". If not and the other guy recovers that might lead to them losing the fight.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
shallowsoul wrote:

When it comes to iterative attacks, they are happening in probably a second or two. It's not hit.....see what happens.......hit.....see what happens.......hit.......see what happens.

It's hit, hit, hit, or miss, hit, miss etc....

That's a matter of interpretation, I'm afraid. You'll do yourself an injustice talking about it in absolutes.

I agree, that it is fast, but adventurers and monsters are fast. Doesn't mean they aren't aware of the damage they are doing.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting Subscriber

I have a simple answer to this: give me an excuse not to.

If a player is on his own facing a monster alone then it sucks to be him. On the other hand if there's an alternate viable target then the monster should concentrate on that new target.


The only real reason to hold back that third attack is if the goal of the attacker is to capture the PCs.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Aranna wrote:

The only real reason to hold back that third attack is if the goal of the attacker is to capture the PCs.

Or if he already thinks the PC is dead. Or if there are other threats present. Or he has a policy against killing. Or...really, there are a million other reasons why PCs might be spared.


How much is really going to be wasting by taking "just one more swing" and then moving on? I do agree that almost any point can be justified if the GM does not want to kill a PC, but that goes back to group playstyle and the exact situation which I think we agree on.

When I run games PC's make sure the monsters are dead before they move on, and this has happened in more than one group.

PS:No, I don't normally include clerics/bards/etc as bad guys so it is not like I had the bad guys stand up again so they(PC's) had a reason to do it.

Silver Crusade

When sparring in Taekwon-Do and I do a combination I don't do two hits, wait to see if the person goes down before I throw my third. I follow through with all three. Now if I knock the person out with a spinning side kick to the face on the second kick I will still follow through with the third if I am moving fast enough. Now my foot may fly through empty air but it still happens.

Technically we all metagame because we don't want to waste attacks so we assume our PC's know how many hit points the enemy has followed by our minimum damage output tells us that after my first attack I can swing at someone else with in reach.

I guess it would also depend on how your DM describes each attack, if he does describe it that is. If he says your first attack takes his head off then you know you can focus your attack some place else.


Play it strait.
When the PC's mow down scores of badies no one bats an eye.
When the badies take advantage of a unlucky roll or a poor tatical decision... so be it.
The PC's are well equiped to deal with aney situaition, and yes running away is a tatical decision.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Shallowsoul, what level of Tawkwon-Do are you at?

An adventurer is to a black belt what a black belt is to a grade-school kid that watches power rangers.

Point being, highly trained martial artists are more "aware" of what they are doing, the ramifications of their actions, and have more control (and thus can stop from making the third hit if necessary.

You saying that you can't (or that you wouldn't) stop only speaks to your lack of self control and martial discipline (which, in all fairness, could never match that of a fantasy character anyways).


Hama wrote:
johnlocke90 wrote:
Bill Dunn wrote:
One action, on six-second round flows into another, seamlessly.

But they actions don't flow into one another seamlessly. They happen one after another. Actions happen consecutively so trying to flow the actions together really doesn't work.

For instance, if 5 players are fighting one enemy, how long do each of their actions take? What if 11 players are fighting an enemy? With enough people, you can have someone moving 240 feet in .1 seconds. Alternately, if each action is taking 6 seconds you run into issues with where players are in relation to each other. Trying to analyze Pathfinder combat as real fighting won't work.

Everything happens simultaneously.

How would this work with threatening and attacks of opportunity? For instance, if I move up to someone on my turn then they move away on their turn, I get an attack of opportunity.

In order for me to melee attack them like this, I have to complete my movement before the enemy even starts his movement(otherwise I wouldn't be in range to melee attack).


Ravingdork wrote:

Shallowsoul, what level of Tawkwon-Do are you at?

An adventurer is to a black belt what a black belt is to a grade-school kid that watches power rangers.

Point being, highly trained martial artists are more "aware" of what they are doing, the ramifications of their actions, and have more control (and thus can stop from making the third hit if necessary.

You saying that you can't (or that you wouldn't) stop only speaks to your lack of self control and martial discipline (which, in all fairness, could never match that of a fantasy character anyways).

Depends on the character...It can't match all fantasy characters is a more accurate statement.

My MMA post is based on people in an actual competition.


The Rot Grub wrote:

This question specifically concerns a monster/NPC using the Full Attack action. Here's the scenario:

You're running a monster that has 3 attacks -- two claws and a bite -- and it's standing within 5 feet of a PC. It carries out the Full Attack action. You adjudicate its attacks, and the first 2 knock the PC down into negative HP. There are no other PCs nearby to attack: do you carry out the third attack, which has a reasonable chance of killing the PC?

I have my own thoughts on this but want to hear what other people think.

I try to stay away from the "what would realistically happen" and focus more on "what do my group enjoy", or "what can make a good story". Sometimes, some degrees of realism, or at least verisimilitude to real-life situations is what the group enjoys, or what makes the game fun. Sometimes not.

Juggling between keeping the story believable and enjoyable can bring its lot of conundrum like this one. Being ruthless doesn't make it fun for everyone. "Cheating" in the favour of players can be equally unsatisfactory.

Between a deeply disappointed player and a deus ex-machina situation, I'll typically choose the later. But the eagles can only come so often before it also become a source of dissatisfaction and disappointment in its own. For me its always a case-by-case analysis.

'findel


Ravingdork wrote:

Shallowsoul, what level of Tawkwon-Do are you at?

An adventurer is to a black belt what a black belt is to a grade-school kid that watches power rangers.

Point being, highly trained martial artists are more "aware" of what they are doing, the ramifications of their actions, and have more control (and thus can stop from making the third hit if necessary.

You saying that you can't (or that you wouldn't) stop only speaks to your lack of self control and martial discipline (which, in all fairness, could never match that of a fantasy character anyways).

Raging barbarians, hungry gray renders, zealous paladins, and even trained fighters in the middle of a battle are not martial artists though. And really, if making that additional attack is not really an inconvenience to you, you go for it.

The scenario at hand is a creature making a full attack against the only target in its reach. At this point both in real life and in the game mechanics it is little more than an off-hand back-hand to make that third attack because the two seconds time you save by not making it, aren't going to make any difference when there is no-one else you even need to concentrate on.

If there are multiple enemies in attack range, its feasible, i would potentially have pretty much any creature go for the next target (unless someone really needs a lesson taught to them) as soon as the first one drops, but if that one is the only one in reach and there is nothing else to do, i don't see why the attacker wouldn't spare the PC's life, other than moral or utilitarian reasons.


I generally pull that last attack.

I want character death to be dramatic and memorable, and not just a speed bump. Therefore, aside from breath of life, there's no way short of miracle or something comparable to bring a dead person back to life.

That being the case, and particularly wanting PC death to be dramatic and memorable, I find it in poor taste to hit an already dying PC again just to make sure he's dead. If nothing else, both story continuity and attachment to one's character suffer when we've got the sorceress hiding behind the mound of dead bards.

On the other hand, while I think bad luck is generally not a good reason for killing off a PC, I've no compunctions about killing off a character who does something monumentally stupid.


I also forgot to add this:
OP, do you consider the PC's to already be heroes, or do you see it as them earning the right to be called hero's. Many potential hero's die on the way to gaining the title of hero, sometimes to disease or some other calamity instead of in combat or to some great and noble deed.

I had a group complaining about not wanting to die to a random encounter or other non special fight, so I took all of those fights out. Every fight advanced the story in some way, and therefore if a PC died he died for a good reason. That satisfied both of us. They got to die for a cause, if they died, and I did not have to spend time setting up a fight that had no purpose.


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I think a lot of factors come into play, such as whether a player makes a stupid mistake, and the significance of death in a campaign. I think there can be too much death in a campaign so that death only becomes a speed bump and the PCs only become bunches of stats, and there can be too little death as well so as to make the risk of adventuring meaningless.

I think that terrible decisions should have consequences, even in a random encounter.

And there is the other issue of player expectations. Now, if I had a group of players who threw a fit simply because someone died despite poor decisions, or who demand that all encounters be balanced for character level and/or complain that an encounter was "unfair" even though the PCs had been fairly warned that a monster was too much for them to take on, well in that case I would consider not gaming with that group anymore.


I'd say you have two options here:

A) Make a houserule that prevents the killing blow in these sorts of situations (ie, full-attacks cannot be used against prone targets, or maybe alternate negative HP rules that essentially mandate the full-round coup-de-grace for killing blows)

B) Accept that players will die in these situations, and most monsters simply would never hold back from making that killing blow.

I don't like pulling my punches with monsters. It means that either the encounters I'm using are too powerful, or that there's something wrong with the rules that's getting in the way of the enjoyment of the game.

Quote:
I want character death to be dramatic and memorable, and not just a speed bump. Therefore, aside from breath of life, there's no way short of miracle or something comparable to bring a dead person back to life.

When running campaigns like this, I'd say you REALLY should go with the house-rule solution. The death rules in Pathfinder basically presume that death is just a wealth tax from level 5 onwards, and if you want to ban resurrection effects without turning PC's into fruit flies you need to do some house-ruling.


snex wrote:

I have to wonder why this question only occurs with respect to iterative attacks, and not attacks on the next round. The scenario is the same whether or not iterative attacks exist.

The enemy dropped a PC. Should he continue hitting that dropped PC or not? The answer to that question has to be the same *whether or not* iterative attacks exist.

I agree with you when it comes to iterative attacks with the same weapon -- once you knock a man down, that's it.

However, if we have a monster that is attacking with several limbs at once, or a humanoid attacking with two weapons, I would treat them as (relatively) simultaneous.

Relatively, in that I would use my house rule above of determining randomly whether (and how many) of their remaining limbs/attacks they would use. If the monster/NPC is set on killing this particular PC for whatever reason (which includes a golem or other mindless creature still following a simple order to simply "attack person X"), then that trumps the randomness.

And trumping ALL of this is the Rule of Fun.

Just recently, I held off on a full attack:

Spoiler for the Beginner Box Starter Dungeon:

Spoiler:
In my middle-school club, I was running the final encounter against Black Fang. One of the students was the only PC within melee range, so I started a Full Attack against him. The bite missed, and the 1st claw scored a critical hit that knocked him down to near death. I held off on the 2nd claw because this was his first experience with Pathfinder and I hadn't yet set expectations for a deadly dungeon. Also, the main point of the encounter was to showcase a powerful monster and that was accomplished without killing anyone.


Dasrak wrote:
When running campaigns like this, I'd say you REALLY should go with the house-rule solution. The death rules in Pathfinder basically presume that death is just a wealth tax from level 5 onwards, and if you want to ban resurrection effects without turning PC's into fruit flies you need to do some house-ruling.

Yeah. My house rule is basically "once the PC is down, there's usually no need to keep beating on him." =) The code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.


First and foremost, think about game considerations: How difficult is it for the player to bring in another character? Will that player effectively be sitting with dead time? How does the death serve story and plot?

The lack of a character can sometimes ruin games - if the PCs are rushing to save the world by exploring some far off, isolated demi-plane for instance, it could be potentially damaging for further play if one of them dies and is thus unable to support the others.

If you've planned sufficiently for risk and fatality in setting up your adventure, consider the motivations for the monster in question:
* Some creatures may attack the PCs out of hunger. These are probably pretty likely to continue attacking after one goes down, since their eventual goal is to cut the PC down into consumable pieces.

* Some creatures may attack the PCs because they feel that their lair has been threatened. These are less likely to kill after dropping an enemy.

* Some creatures attack because that's how their minds are wired. A cat, for instance, instinctively focuses on moving (appropriately sized) animals or objects. An animal that sits still is less of a priority. A shark on the other hand might try to eat anything that looks and smells like food regardless of whether it's hungry.

* To some intelligent monsters, the PCs may be worth more alive than dead. Hobgoblins or Orcs for instance, might keep the downed PCs alive in hope of obtaining ransom or slaves. Though if the odds start looking long for these types, downed PCs become increasingly attractive as a "parting blow".

* Some sadistic creatures might wish to keep the subject alive to torture later.

* Then again, some intelligent creatures may well be aware of the possibility of healing magic rendering the downed creature still a threat, and take the opportunity to end it.


Sometimes people die on the way to being a hero. Not every death is going to have your name written in a bard's song. When I was just getting into the game I often had a backup character because I had a really brutal GM. That really limited by "non play" time, especially at higher levels.

Having a party member die does cut back on resources, but a GM can just cut back on the encounter, but then again if you are plane hopping you are normally high level. That means a plane shift and a teleport spell gets you to a cleric who can revive the character assuming the party can't do it. If you are saving the world I would think you are least have access to raise dead and restoration, and the material components needed. If not that is bad planning by the GM and/or the party.

I agree with the list but those have been mentioned. Most GM's have the PC's motivations setup in advance. Does NPC X fight to the death or run away? Does he make sure the enemy is dead, or move on to someone else? Does he normally target casters or martial types first?

I am not advocating allowing a PC to die just because you can. I also don't think GM's kill PC's. NPC's kill PC's, when the player makes errors and/or runs into bad luck. The GM can be nice and save the PC, but it is not his job. He should however let the players know how much he is willing to cover for them and/or how long, if possible. I am easier on new players as an example than experienced players.

In the end you have to decide as a GM how to handle the situation. If you have a mixed group the hero point system is nice to use. It lets those that really hate dying get additional chances to not die/fail, and for those that don't like to be saved they get an extra feat. I am considering using it if I get another group that really does not want to die.

PS:I have let players live, if I knew it would kill the mood of the session, but it is not something I always do. Normally the player was having a hard day or other RL problems.


snex wrote:
That's a horrible way to GM.

And that's a horrible way to start a discussion.

That said, in my games it would greatly depend on the specifics. On the first session of my Runelords campaign, I had the paladin player get to negatives during a goblin fight. An adjacent goblin was up, and he simply dropped his weapon to the ground and lunged at the paladin's neck with his teeth (Coup-de-graceing him in the process). The thing was hungry and mean and almost insane. At that moment, the entire table stood up and every eye was on the dice. That quickly set the point that the gloves were off and the dice would fall where they may. Also, suddenly goblins were not only "funny" and "stupid".

For those wondering, the attack dealt very little damage (like 2 or 3 points), but even then a DC 12 Fortitude save at first level is quite risky. He survived, but never again would he look at goblins the same way.


The Rot Grub wrote:


This question specifically concerns a monster/NPC using the Full Attack action. Here's the scenario:

You're running a monster that has 3 attacks -- two claws and a bite -- and it's standing within 5 feet of a PC. It carries out the Full Attack action. You adjudicate its attacks, and the first 2 knock the PC down into negative HP. There are no other PCs nearby to attack: do you carry out the third attack, which has a reasonable chance of killing the PC?

I have my own thoughts on this but want to hear what other people think.

I have no particular problem with killing a PC, if it makes sense. Or not killing them if it doesn't for that matter. People have discussed what intelligent / unintelligent monsters would do, but that's only part of it. What type of monster are we talking about? I need to think of the reactions / situation of the specific monster before I could say. Some things enjoy killing, others not so much. More specifics on the tactical situation would be nice as well. Does it have an out? Is it cornered? Does it have fallen to avenge? Does it have any reason to kill / not kill? Not enough information...


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It occurs to me that the main reason we even have this discussion is that once someone takes that second attack, there is no mechanical reason for him not to finish the full attack. Some kind of house rule like

I wrote:

When taking the full attack action, for each attack you forego, you may move 10 feet, up to a maximum of your speed

might provide an appropriate mechanical incentive. If, in the course of doing that, it increases the mobility of melee types, I'm fine with that.


The Rot Grub wrote:

This question specifically concerns a monster/NPC using the Full Attack action. Here's the scenario:

You're running a monster that has 3 attacks -- two claws and a bite -- and it's standing within 5 feet of a PC. It carries out the Full Attack action. You adjudicate its attacks, and the first 2 knock the PC down into negative HP. There are no other PCs nearby to attack: do you carry out the third attack, which has a reasonable chance of killing the PC?

I have my own thoughts on this but want to hear what other people think.

If the monster is attacking and doing lethal damage, it wants to kill the PC. Otherwise it would be attacking and doing NON lethal damage. That said, if the first two attacks hit and take the characters down then the creature will use the last attack to make sure the character is dead.

Animals either attack to defend themselves or feed. Since the vast majority of normal animals will prefer to run rather than fight, unless defending their territory or hunting, if they are in active combat with a PC and put them down, then they will kill and feed or kill the character and drag it off to feed on safely.

If it is an intelligent opponent I see no reason he would not make sure his opponent is dead and not 'trying to play possum' in the situation you cite.

As someone else said, if characters never die them the risk of combat and adventuring in general becomes meaningless.

I can see nearly no case where an opponent attacking a PC and dealing lethal damage to the PC, would not finish the PC off in battle with that extra attack without other extenuating circumstances coming into play. If the encounter has come down to combat, the point is to make one side dead if possible.

Shadow Lodge

Gilfalas wrote:
As someone else said, if characters never die them the risk of combat and adventuring in general becomes meaningless.

Which isn't a problem if the players don't care about there being a risk in combat, because it was already meaningless.


Also, I think we're getting a bit too caught up at times with the mechanics of combat. I mean, 'real combat' isn't "My turn, your turn, my turn, your turn" but thats how it is in Pathfinder or DnD in general. Its either simultaneous, or variations of ALOT of interrupt actions if we wanted to be 'realistic'.


Quote:
Yeah. My house rule is basically "once the PC is down, there's usually no need to keep beating on him." =) The code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

I guess I tend to view that approach as GM fiat. I don't want to be placed in a position of arbiter over something as contentious as a PC death, so I want clear-cut rules for when and how the monster can finish a downed PC. That way I'm free to play the monster honestly in the situation.


Gilfalas wrote:
If the monster is attacking and doing lethal damage, it wants to kill the PC. Otherwise it would be attacking and doing NON lethal damage.

Not really, no. For example: A creature that doesn't care enough to waste energy concentrating on subduing the enemy but has reason not to finish them off. Or realizes that holding back (i.e. taking that -4 penalty) is a liability in a life-and-death situation.

Dedicated Voter 2013

Kill zem, kill zem all.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber
Jubal Breakbottle wrote:

It depends on the motivation of the monster:

1. Low intelligence should kill to ensure that an enemy doesn't get back up, as well as to whet the appetite for supper.

Some creatures would just stay there and eat the character until attacked or guard its food from other creatures.

2. Enjoys killing should kill for the pleasure.

3. Anything that can find value in an unconscious but living enemy, whether for slavery or fun, should not kill.

Not to mention info on the Party, who sent them, etc.

I too am old school. Without the probability of character death, the simulation of danger makes the game less fun.

This is how I prefer to play the various creatures/ NPCs during play.


Let me add something else:
If you don't ever go and take that last shot, what short of TPK or very unlikely hits, that take the pc from positive HP straight to death, is ever going to threaten a PCs life?

Turin the Mad wrote:
Kill zem, kill zem all.

Vhat vas dat, sandvich?


The only question/issue I have with an overwhelming portion of the posts on this thread is that some have made the inference that the Full Attack is a simultaneous action or an action that happens together (such as the two claws coming down at the same time).

While I don't disagree (or agree) with this interpretation, I am just supremely curious at how many of those particular people would immediately abandon that logical argument if that same bite/claw/claw monster could drop an opponent with the first two hits then take a 5 foot step then take that last attack against another foe.

Trying to interpret the mechanics of the game and the physics of the game I fear sometimes lead to metagaming. If you assume those attacks are simultaneous or part of series and you take a full round against a PC, then it shouldn't matter if the first two hit and bring the creature below 0 or below 10 or below 100, that third attack per your action should already be reserved to follow through.

However, if you assume that attacks are meant to follow more the rules and less the physics, then you are more likely to let the creature drop and move to another prey.

I know in my opinion, I prefer as a player to have the option to break up my full attack if the first or second attacks hit. If that first attack is a critical, I want to be able to call the bite a standard action and maintain my move. And it is by that same game play that as a DM I would not take the final attack. Even steven between player and non-player. How can my monster know that downed creature is 1 HP more for total death or 15? How many more attacks should I make to be certain without a check and should I waste another round to be sure? What if the first hit was enough to render them unconscious... my simultaneous full attacks should now waste a potential move to finish two claws against him as opposed to dealing with others?

Just curious as to this scenario and any thoughts those that speak of the iterative attacks in a full attack as simultaneous and "wasted" if not used. Seems to me it shouldn't matter if there is an adjacent foe or not with the logic that is out there...but it is.


The option to break up the full attack is within the rules so they can't really be simultaneous. The option to 5 foot step while making a full attack action supports taht.

Dedicated Voter 2013

Threeshades wrote:


Turin the Mad wrote:
Kill zem, kill zem all.
Vhat vas dat, sandvich?

"Let me show, fraulein, what kind of people you are dealing with." :)

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