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Roleplaying NPCs as they would act vs pulling punches for PCs


Advice

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Scarab Sages

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
johnlocke90 wrote:
I meant random encounter from the players perspective. There is no particular reason a giant eel that 2 shots players would be hanging out in this spot of the ocean.

Where should it be?

Up a tree?


Snorter wrote:
johnlocke90 wrote:
I meant random encounter from the players perspective. There is no particular reason a giant eel that 2 shots players would be hanging out in this spot of the ocean.

Where should it be?

Up a tree?

I would have rolled a D100 to see what is in the shipwreck(unless the shipwreck is haunted or something). D1-80 nothing worth fighting(as most random hiding spots won't have anything worth fighting), and then progressively harder encounters as the roll got harder. I just think its bad design that almost every abandoning hiding spot has some CR appropriate monster in it. It makes the world harder to take seriously and leads to treating the game more like a video game.


johnlocke90 wrote:
Snorter wrote:
johnlocke90 wrote:
I meant random encounter from the players perspective. There is no particular reason a giant eel that 2 shots players would be hanging out in this spot of the ocean.

Where should it be?

Up a tree?
I would have rolled a D100 to see what is in the shipwreck(unless the shipwreck is haunted or something). D1-80 nothing worth fighting(as most random hiding spots won't have anything worth fighting), and then progressively harder encounters as the roll got harder. I just think its bad design that almost every abandoning hiding spot has some CR appropriate monster in it. It makes the world harder to take seriously and leads to treating the game more like a video game.

But you're OK with an occasional TPK from ambush when a much higher than CR monster is rolled? Or do you top the roll off with a hard but CR appropriate encounter? Or make sure the really hard ones are avoidable.

What does this have to do with video games anyway? Not springing unavoidable fights they can't win on the PCs is good game design. Back to the earliest modules at least. Video games can do it easier than published modules, since they can adjust on the fly, but that doesn't mean it's exclusive to them.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
johnlocke90 wrote:
Snorter wrote:
johnlocke90 wrote:
I meant random encounter from the players perspective. There is no particular reason a giant eel that 2 shots players would be hanging out in this spot of the ocean.

Where should it be?

Up a tree?
I would have rolled a D100 to see what is in the shipwreck(unless the shipwreck is haunted or something). D1-80 nothing worth fighting(as most random hiding spots won't have anything worth fighting), and then progressively harder encounters as the roll got harder. I just think its bad design that almost every abandoning hiding spot has some CR appropriate monster in it. It makes the world harder to take seriously and leads to treating the game more like a video game.

So your solution for a "random" encounter like the eel, is to use a random encounter chart. Wow.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Except that the eel isn't a random encounter at all, it's an encounter set up in the AP, the DM didn't choose to put an eel there to screw over anybody. The eel was part of the AP in a logical place that an eel would use as a lair.

For me, having run a modified (heavily) Kingmaker campaign for the better part of a year and 3/4s I had a similar situation happen early on. One of the PCs, a halfling rogue, went off scouting on his own to try to get some extra gold or treasure of some kind he wouldn't have split with the party. He came upon a warg while scouting (at level 1 for the PC) and ran up a tree (smart PC) then peppered the worg with little arrows until it started to run off. At this point the little thief wanted to hop from tree to tree chasing the worg and keeping up with the arrow peppering, so I said ok and the PC promptly failed an acrobatics check to jump, ended up prone, and was eaten by the warg.

While the PC in my example pushed things further than yours, the lesson is the same, when you are facing a dangerous situation alone your options are severely limited, as is your margin for error. In the Undine's case the margin was as small as 3 rolls: a failed perception, a successful attack roll, and an inability to escape the grab. Lesson learned, PCs who scout alone far from the party have less contingencies for escape. It's sad that a PC died and can't be raised, but it's not GM malice or "BS", the PC put himself in the situation which could have been avoided easily, perhaps as easily as having a second set of eyes (another PC to make a perception check) or an ally who was close enough to distract and wound the eel once it had grabbed the PC.

I would add that there are playstyle differences. Some people prefer to play in such a way as their heroes are central to the story and plot and thus can never die. I, personally, have 0 fun with this method of gaming but a lot of people do. Having gamed with people who prefer this method, and disliked Kingmaker's sandbox where their PCs could, and did, find themselves over their head, I think it's important to talk with PCs at the start of a campaign about playstyle differences to avoid situations like this one. If you make it clear that PCs who do foolish things sometimes will die if it makes sense, then when it happens even if a PC calls "BS" (and some still might) you have already laid out for them exactly how things work. Or, on the other hand, you might find all your PCs want a world where they, by virtue of being PCs, are assumed to be a cut above and won't die except if they choose to do so for plot reason. In that case you can adjust the game appropriately or suggest a different DM, as I would do. The key is not to be condescending or superior about your playstyle differences, just acknowledge that there is a difference, try to compromise, and if that doesn't work just go your separate ways so everyone can enjoy the game they want to play in the way they want to play it.


wraithstrike wrote:
Chaos_Scion wrote:

In the Eel example I would never kill a PC because of a failed check like perception. Maul the hell out of him maybe but that's harsh because the dice went against him. This is why i role behind a screen so if that encounter would have killed him I would have fudged the rolls. He didn't necessarily do any thing wrong. He was doing his job and got unlucky and I wouldn't punish him for it.

Then again I've played in groups that would kill him. If that's cool with your PC's fine but i think most people probably would be put out by that result.

He was not punished. It was just a result of the die.

I also don't see it as him dying because of the failed perception check. That is why he was attacked. He died because he could not escape the grapple.

He also went solo by not staying in the boat. Splitting the party is often seen as a mistake.

If I understand what your saying you don't seem to think having a scout in the party is a good thing. My understanding was he was out in front re-coning which can be invaluable for the group. Yes its dangerous but the rewards are great. The taboo about splitting off is generally because it makes the role playing much harder not necessarily because it suicide. But he did die because he failed the perception roll. He didn't know the monster was there so he couldn't escape or get aid (I assume he wouldn't have been dumb enough to fight it if he knew it was there). He was killed very quickly so he had very little attempt to escape the grapple. That seems a little harsh for 2 failed die rolls to me in an encounter he had little opportunity to avoid.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The only mistake I see you made was the rewind.

If your players can't take losing a PC because they failed the save that would have given them a chance to avoid the encounter then they are BS players.

Let's not forget the initiative roll was probably poor too, and the monster rolls for damage were probably good also.

PC's die, it's how the game is.


He wasn't scouting for the group. He was adventuring alone.

A scout is always within warning range of the party. The whole point being that he can warn them if he finds something dangerous. And the scout isn't so far out ahead that the group can't get to him in time to help when warned. Since the Undine was not in a place that he could warn anyone of trouble and possibly too far underwater to receive aid anyway then this wasn't a scouting attempt it was a solo adventure.

Sczarni

Quote:
If I understand what your saying you don't seem to think having a scout in the party is a good thing. My understanding was he was out in front re-coning which can be invaluable for the group.

What Aranna said. The group as a whole went out in a small boat to the wreck, and the decision was made to have the Undine go in alone since he could breath underwater and the others couldn't.

There was no recon, no scouting, just the suggestion of "You go down and check it out since we can't breathe like you can. We'll wait here."


Ouch, I feel a little more understanding for the Undine player's reaction, since the other PCs pushed the character into the deadly situation. Not that he should've called out the DM for a BS encounter, since it wasn't, but it's less his own stupidity than the other players' that got him into that situation. I still wouldn't replay the scenario, the PC got himself into something and the dice all went against him, that happens sometimes.


It's also the trouble with playing a character like that. You're the guy who can breathe water. You want to sometimes take advantage of that, not just to save the party the cost of 1 water-breathing potion when the whole group goes under. What's the point of being a water-breather if you always stay with the group.

Star Voter 2013

Maybe the next ime that player goes it alone, they'll take 18 seconds instead of 6 and roll 3 Perception rolls, just to be sure...


beej67 wrote:

Never pull punches.

Ever.

Pulling punches with the NPCs just makes the PCs feel like they're being led along the Yellow Plot Road, and it makes them disrespect the world they're playing in.

If the PCs need some kind of miraculous help, then have it be from some other unforeseen circumstance that breaks in their favor, and make it seem like the dice dictated it, instead of you.

Not even when you've made a drastic mistake and thrown something at them that they have no chance against?


Im not sure if the OP is asking about specific monsters or just a general sence of how to run his game.

but when I ran into that problem I had a simple solution,

I gave my players Hero Points.

and I told them specifically, "I am giving you guys hero points specifically so that I can play the monsters more realistically and not feel bad if they kill you" that way if they waste the points or are repeatedly stupid they are less likley to feel targeted.

in fact I also implemented another house rule to avoid death... on the flip side I removed all resurrection, raise dead, reincarnation effects from the game except by direct divine intervention, so if they truly die they are truly dead no cashing out.

I dont go out of my way to kill my players but I pull... fewer, punches than I had to in the past. whats even better is when I THINK I am going to kill players and some how they pull out of it.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Corren28 wrote:
This works both ways though. Some time ago they were fighting a spider in its web and the fighter took a few too many hits and failed a few too many saves and his strength dropped to 0 from the poison. Instead of finishing him off or dropping him into the expanse below, I just stuck him to the web, because that's what a spider would do.

I'd probably do the same. There will be an in-game reason the creature has Str-damaging poison, instead of hp- or Con-damaging, and that will be because it wants to keep trapped live prey, to eat later, or use as an incubator.

It's still a GM call whether the spider has fed recently; if it has, he gets a few days grace to be rescued, if it hasn't, well, sorry, but you looked delicious.

I, as GM, am going to either randomise it, using the tried and tested 'roll any die, high is bad, low is good' method.
Or I'm going to just choose.
But if I just 'choose' to give the spider a full belly and a poor appetite, the player has to acknowledge that I did him a huge favour.
And not be upset, or call 'BS!', when he finds out later, that his belly is full of hundreds of wriggling eggs.

Star Voter 2015

littlehewy wrote:
Maybe the next ime that player goes it alone, they'll take 18 seconds instead of 6 and roll 3 Perception rolls, just to be sure...

A cunning strategy. Roll perception every round for the rest of the game too, since any sort of ambush scenario is disadvantageous.

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