Do you find battles / encounters boring? I do - please help


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


I am new to pathfinder - I abslutely love the story telling and hanging out with pals. I love building the characters and the modules.

But when we have a battle, I am just not all that excited? Why?
- I am never afraid we will die - there is no tension.
- I am a rogue, and I am a little weak at fighting, but there is not a whole lot of tactics? We just basically line up and start rolling the 20 sided dice. I do try to flank the enemy to get my sneak attack bonus in, but beyond that - there is just no tactics.

What am I missing? Do you guys describe in detail what your combat actions are to make it dramatic? I just feel like we are going through the motions -

It is my turn - I shoot my cross bow. I roll 17 and hit....same thing over and over. I exagerate a little, but want to get my question across.

What do you think? How does combat work for your group?


Combat can get boring if all you do is the same thing over and over.

If your characters have no sense of danger then perhaps they should try doing riskier things because they're confident they can pull them off.

Example from the game I DM:

In my current game, the fighter has boots of Spider Climb and the barbarian just has a very good climb skill, so the two of them climbed over a hut rather than going around it when the combat was expected around the building.

The fighter delayed taking his action while the barbarian attempted to jump on the back of the four-legged fiend that was attacking the party. The barbarian botched his landing and fell off of the monster, so was prone and on the ground between that creature and another of its kind. The barbarian, rather than risking getting attacks of opportunity when he stood up, instead opted to attack from the ground, slashing up at the monster.

The fighter jumped on the creature's back and succeeded.

The creature had a paralyzing bite attack and it was attacking the druid. It hurt him pretty badly but the barbarian (still on his back) and the fighter (on the creature's back, trying to ride it and attack it) managed to kill the creature. The druid was healed by the NPC cleric they rescused several sessions ago.

Oh, did I mention that this battle was going on along a five-food walkway beside of a sheer 180 ft drop into darkness? Well, after the first fiend died, the druid decided he would try to jump on the second creature. He gave it a go and failed, slipped off the cliff and fell.

I gave him the opportunity to use Wild Shape (hoping he would pick a bird) and he picked a shark. He took all kinds of falling damage when he hit the water but he barely managed to survive. (I actually thought he had died initially.)

If the combat is too mundane, perhaps the DM could try spicing it up if the players aren't. If he's content to just sit there and roll dice too, then so be it, but more than likely, he would love for things to be more exciting too. He can help by having the monsters do unexpected things. Even low INT monsters will attempt to flee when near death. Intelligent enemies should focus their attacks on whoever appears their biggest threat.

Also, if combat is too easy, he should also consider trying some higher CR'd enemies, perhaps some's with multiple abilities.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
noblejohn wrote:

I am new to pathfinder - I abslutely love the story telling and hanging out with pals. I love building the characters and the modules.

But when we have a battle, I am just not all that excited? Why?
- I am never afraid we will die - there is no tension.
- I am a rogue, and I am a little weak at fighting, but there is not a whole lot of tactics? We just basically line up and start rolling the 20 sided dice. I do try to flank the enemy to get my sneak attack bonus in, but beyond that - there is just no tactics.

What am I missing? Do you guys describe in detail what your combat actions are to make it dramatic? I just feel like we are going through the motions -

It is my turn - I shoot my cross bow. I roll 17 and hit....same thing over and over. I exagerate a little, but want to get my question across.

What do you think? How does combat work for your group?

We have had phases of this happening to us too. Some thoughts:

1) The players and DM describing what's actually happening (Rather than you're hit for 8 damage) makes it more engaging in my experience - plus can convey some idea of how close to death the monsters are, how significant "10 hit points damage" is and so on

2) Under-familiarity with the rules - if your group are all new and are struggling to get the correct ruling every round (without missing any bonuses and so on) this might be bogging the game down. My advice is to not stress too much (though this is obviously a matter of taste between groups) - spend effort describing the action rather than making sure you've exhaustively accounted for every possible modifier on every action every round.

3) Over-familiarity with the rules - if your group spends too much time thinking in terms of bonuses/resistances/tactics instead of "we're in a fight for our lives against this eldritch evil!", maybe this would contribute to a certain lack of engagement (again this depends heavily on the group's preferences)

4) Maybe the encounters are too easy for you - if there's never any risk then it might just be a case of "rolling dice until we win" rather than "rolling dice to get that desperate lucky break in this tough battle which has turned against us" (which is part of what I find exciting anyhow)


Thanks for the reply.

Our enemies usually just stay around until they are dead. The outcome seems predictable. So yes, I would like to suggest to our DM that the enemies get a little more creative. And its not that I want party members to die, but there is never any tension or unknown to the outcome of our battles? And since we are not competing with each other, the whole excercise sometimes seems a little blah.

But I love the story lines and some of the moves we pull are cool I guess. It just seems like we are missing something.

You description of your battle was cool - thanks for sending.

Also..

I read some interesting Rogue builds on this forum. But in the end, I am like - it doesn't really matter - we are never going to lose a fight and its not like we are keeping score or anything.


Combat is as exciting as the group makes it.

If there is no fear of character death, either the GM is pulling punches, or is not presenting appropriate challenges. Not that every battle has to be a skin-of-your-teeth affair, but there should always be the possibility of losing more than a few hit points.

Is your group new to fantasy role-playing, or just new to Pathfinder? There is a wealth of options in Pathfinder for something other than stand and swing.

Perhaps have an out-of-character chat with the other players and GM and create some tactics that make sense for your group of characters.


You guys are making great suggestions - thank you for posting.

As I sit here and think - one of the elements that seems to be missing is competition - RPG is not really competition so my normal drive for playing games is not there.

We are competing against the enemy in a sense, and they should be tougher in my opinion than what we are facing...but we aren't getting graded or scored. We do get EXP....but we all share that. I almost feel like there should be another party going through the same module and we should be racing them.

Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy the mystery and the story...we are figuring out how to get into Delhaven now...but I feel like it should be more fun when we fight.


One thing you could try if looking for ideas is peruse some of the play-by-post games. PbPs tend to be more narrative and role-playing heavy, even in combat, as people strive to find ways to flesh out their attack roll posts and make them interesting.


As for tactics, think about what your allies can do, and think of how to use them to greater effect. When the game starts, throw out suggestions. Also, more challenging encounter will increase both the excitement and thewant/need for tactics, so ask the DM to make the battles a little tougher (out of hearing range of the other players at first, if he doesn't go along with it, recruit some allies). That's my opinion. on a side note, adopt a quirk for your character, especially one that will affect combat. That'll liven things up!


A lot of it, in my opinion at least, rests on the shoulders of the DM. When I run a game I try to get encounters in interesting areas, where the environment can play a part. Having porcelain dishes thrown at the party by mad goblins raiding a high society dinner...intense sword duels on rickety scaffolding surrounding a massive marble statue still under construction...running through a burning orphanage while both trying to rescue wailing toddlers and avoid the bombs of a mad alchemist...All interesting scenarios to be in. At least, more interesting than coming across half a dozen hobgoblins in a line fifty feet away from you on an open plain.

As stated above, if the party gets in the rhythm of "I attack the nearest enemy, I rolled an x on the d20, plus my bonus of y. If I hit I did z damage." then they need to get with the program and liven things up. Even if it doesn't always make the absolute most tactical sense, some actions make for good excitement, and are in keeping with the character. Rogues and monks can use tumble to dive through combat, getting at archers and spell casters, and should describe the action as more than what they got on their tumble check. Wizards should be grandiose in their use of area affect spells, taking out mobs of grunts with sleep, fireball, black tentacles...and describe how their character, with a sweep of his hand and an arcane pronunciation, slays the lesser beasts threatening his companions.


Kierato wrote:
on a side note, adopt a quirk for your character, especially one that will affect combat. That'll liven things up!

Adopt a quirk? Hmm, never thought of that. Like what? I am a rogue and I will only attack if I am on higher ground...somethting like that? Or I am a rogue that only attacks from a flank position?


As an example of exciting combat, tonight with my high level (13th-14th level PCs) game, the group came upon a Cultist Barracks. (This is actually from a Dungeon adventure from about 6-7 years ago "Prison of the Fire Bringer." So maybe I'll "spoiler" it in case someone, somewhere plans on "Pathfinderizing" this for his/her high level group...)

Spoiler:
I added several levels of barbarian to the advanced worg (size large) "Slaver" and he was quite a terror to the elf ranger. Biting and tripping (I gave him Improved Trip as one of his feats), I even did a bite and trip attack against the half-orc bbn/ftr on a couple occasions. The elf ranger all total, took roughly double his hit points in damage (the group's wizard has a staff of life, and a high UMD, and kept the ranger from getting chewed up completely) but the player was worried at several points about his ranger (possibly) dying in the encounter). It was a fairly tough encounter too. They could have easily been overwhelmed. (12) 6th level fighters (ranged specialists), the advanced worg barbarian 8, an ogre ftr4/exp4, a half-fiend minotaur cleric 9, a human oracle (of flame) 9, and a slaadi witch 9. (I'm using the slaadi as a race the proteans created... something on the order of a servitor race. I would have subbed the slaadi for proteans in general... but the BBEG "Bazim-Gorag" is just too awesome to completely re-work as a protean... although having said that... hhhmmmm.

Anyway... I think it's totally in the players and the GM's hands to keep things exciting, engaging, and interesting.

Dean; The_Minstrel_Wyrm


More like a rogue with a signature move (he always throws a random tumble into his approaches, especially when it's not needed), or he always has some corny line he recites before entering the fray, or he's really terrified of combat and utters a girly shriek everytime an enemy takes a swing at him.

Or, if you want something actually mechanical instead of fluff, find an interesting weapon besides rapier or short sword, a special feat, or use a alchemical item like dosing your longsword with alchemists' fire (just make sure you have a large supply of replacement swords).

Shadow Lodge

Nazard wrote:

More like a rogue with a signature move (he always throws a random tumble into his approaches, especially when it's not needed), or he always has some corny line he recites before entering the fray, or he's really terrified of combat and utters a girly shriek everytime an enemy takes a swing at him.

Or, if you want something actually mechanical instead of fluff, find an interesting weapon besides rapier or short sword, a special feat, or use a alchemical item like dosing your longsword with alchemists' fire (just make sure you have a large supply of replacement swords).

Look at your feats. For example my current character is a battle oracle and is in many ways simular to a charisma build rogue. I got weapon specialization at first level from my class features. I followed it up with dazzeling display. I then got combat expertise. I am I looking at improved trip at 3rd level.

For you you might also look at things like combat expertise, or perhaps dodge and a whole set of feats from that, or improved initiative, or whatever.

After you have an idea, go to your GM, tell him about your problem and then ask him if you can make some changes to your character. If not, consider other options.

All the best,

Kerney

The Exchange

Out of interest, what is the make-up of your party?


noblejohn wrote:

I am new to pathfinder - I abslutely love the story telling and hanging out with pals. I love building the characters and the modules.

But when we have a battle, I am just not all that excited? Why?
- I am never afraid we will die - there is no tension.
- I am a rogue, and I am a little weak at fighting, but there is not a whole lot of tactics? We just basically line up and start rolling the 20 sided dice. I do try to flank the enemy to get my sneak attack bonus in, but beyond that - there is just no tactics.

What am I missing? Do you guys describe in detail what your combat actions are to make it dramatic? I just feel like we are going through the motions -

It is my turn - I shoot my cross bow. I roll 17 and hit....same thing over and over. I exagerate a little, but want to get my question across.

What do you think? How does combat work for your group?

This could be an issue with the GM not describing the gritty nature of people getting bloody and trying to save their skins.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32

noblejohn wrote:
As I sit here and think - one of the elements that seems to be missing is competition - RPG is not really competition so my normal drive for playing games is not there.

I once saw a pair of fighters compete to see who dealt the most damage to monsters. And a glory-hound rogue compete with both of them to score the most kills (usually by swooping in and finishing off monsters the fighters had already beat down).


kingpin wrote:
Out of interest, what is the make-up of your party?

We have a Spell Caster (can't remember which), Druid, Ranger, Fighter and me, the rogue. 3 of the guys have a lot of experience. They seem to be most interested in the story and seeing their character advance in level. They don't seem concerned with challenge or making battles interesting somehow.

We used to play board games - and while I love RPG for the story and the characters, I miss the challenge - the challenge of figuring out the game or winning the game.


Epic Meepo wrote:
noblejohn wrote:
As I sit here and think - one of the elements that seems to be missing is competition - RPG is not really competition so my normal drive for playing games is not there.
I once saw a pair of fighters compete to see who dealt the most damage to monsters. And a glory-hound rogue compete with both of them to score the most kills (usually by swooping in and finishing off monsters the fighters had already beat down).

I like this idea.....I don't know if my guys would initially do this, but I might start trying to be a glory hound and make my own competition of sorts....

The Exchange

I think Pathfinder needs a degree of challenge to it to make it work. If you are looking for an RPG where you can breeze through it and focus on the story then I think there are better games suited to that.

I agree with an earlier post that recommended having a chat with the rest of the group to see if they feel an increase in challenge would be good.


"As you enter the room you see 10 Orcs, 2 for every one of you. Start rolling..."

It's pretty much this I guess.

My advice for GMs:
- use a method to easily determine who is where (paper, whiteboard, miniatures)
- make believable opponents with a story
- think about a tactic beforehand that fits thge mood and capabilities of the opponents
- roleplay these opponents, shout what they would shout, describe them during combat ("wild eyed he looks at you then smiles as he draws a wand. The last thing you see before a bliding flash is the immense amount of spittle from his toothless mouth as he shouts a strange guttural word.")
- invent unusual settings. If all encounters are in a 5x5 room then this is booooring ("as you advance upon the wraiths you hear a mad laughter from one of the balconies followed by a loud grinding sound. the wraiths get agitated and howl with a terrible glee as the ceiling starts sinking towards the floor.")
- know what your PCs can do and try to give every PC a time in the spotlight every now and then

If the GM uses homemade adventures suggest for him to buy a module and look up the encounters there to get some inspirations.

Additionally you all need to get the rules straight. Combat is the time when the most rules are needed in the shortest time - this is often a problem and bogs down the action.

Finally, if you want big damage as a rogue you need to be either a finesse dualwielder rogue who focuses on flanking/sneak attack or a brutal rogue with a two handed weapon and decent strength.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
noblejohn wrote:
Epic Meepo wrote:
noblejohn wrote:
As I sit here and think - one of the elements that seems to be missing is competition - RPG is not really competition so my normal drive for playing games is not there.
I once saw a pair of fighters compete to see who dealt the most damage to monsters. And a glory-hound rogue compete with both of them to score the most kills (usually by swooping in and finishing off monsters the fighters had already beat down).
I like this idea.....I don't know if my guys would initially do this, but I might start trying to be a glory hound and make my own competition of sorts....

If you like to compete against your friends, then the above approach is likely the best one, and you can have several going at the same time.

You could keep track of damage, of kills, of spectacular moves/saves, etc..

And you could also roll that into the RPG part as well. When you are roleplaying, your character could talk up how they are a better fighter than the ranger or fighter, etc..


Do something different than you usually do. I always find that when my players are tossed something they don't usually see, it makes their ears perk up. Like, the cheesy smiling Orcs with Nets and pitchforks. My group LOVES them. Well, when they're done rolling on the ground that is!

The competition idea is always a good hook. My group likes doing the whole Michael Jordan / Larry Bird thing: Okay, Sword in the Off Hand, Offside Foot Forward, Nothing but Orc! THe Rogue and the Ranger are constantly doing things like this in fights.

Also, as mentioned above, an out of game chat with the DM about your concerns is never a bad thing.

Hope some of this helps

Have Fun out there!!

~ W ~


MicMan wrote:


Finally, if you want big damage as a rogue you need to be either a finesse dualwielder rogue who focuses on flanking/sneak attack or a brutal rogue with a two handed weapon and decent strength.

Thanks - good points about knowing the rules - I need to learn them a bit better.

To your point above - I initially didn't think I wanted to focus on combat, or didn't feel a need to, but combat makes up about 90% of our dice rolls at least.

Our GM does use a module - It is a good module and he knows it inside and out. Our combats do make situational sense.

I might post something separate to poll people on how their campaigns are split between fighting and skill check challenges.


Some things you can try:

5 things your character is afraid of, in order 5 (very minor), 4 (minor) 3 (medium) 2(open fear) 1 (outright terror)
4 things your character loves, in order 4 (minor) 3 (medium) 2 (love) 1 (would die for)
3 things that your character considers highly embarrassing, could be their fears or their loves included in this, 3 (can laugh it off with some effort) 2 (would prefer to it to not be spoken about) 1 (It will never be spoken of again. Ever.)
2 things that are the result of your 1st level class, in any order.
1 thing that your character will not do, no matter what.

Rev up your descriptions of the combat scenarios, as well as the talking situations. "The Orc Chieftain swings his broadsword in a powerful, murderous arc at your character, the point of the notched blade screeching across your breastplate loud enough to make your teeth clench from the painful noise that carries over his roars of slow, agonizing death in broken common. His return swing is slightly slower, but still reeling from avoiding the first swing, your Fighter cannot dodge as swiftly as before, and the leading edge of the blade slices into your thigh, a shallow wound but one that makes you nearly scream aloud with pain as the jagged edge of the blade has not made a clean cut at all."

Somewhat better than "The 7th level Barbarian swings at your Fighter with his +1 Keen Bastard Sword. He rolls a 15 with his first swing, but gets a 20 on the second. Take ... 6 damage from the sword plus 5 from his strength modifier. You are now at 24 hitpoints, what do you do?"


Mistwalker wrote:


And you could also roll that into the RPG part as well. When you are roleplaying, your character could talk up how they are a better fighter than the ranger or fighter, etc..

That is a great idea, I like it the ideas about having this sort of inter party duel where we try to outclass each other.

My only challenge right now is that my rogue is horrible at combat. My biggest modifier at 5th level is +6 for my heavy cross bow. I need to look at the rogue builds if I want to focus on battle.

There have been a few moments where I used disguise and bluff, but most of my skills are under utilized.


May we get a quick peek at your Rogue? Perhaps the more learned (Advanced?) Forumites can offer some more support on that front!


HalfOrcHeavyMetal wrote:
May we get a quick peek at your Rogue? Perhaps the more learned (Advanced?) Forumites can offer some more support on that front!

How do I post my character? I have hero builder.


In my experience, #1 thing is to consider it the terrain (this is mainly up to the DM and the way he describes encounters). If terrain changes, is dangerous and interesting, then every thing that follows (monster tactics, PC maneuvers) will rock.

If you are sneaky, instead of fire the crossbow, you could go past the enemies an make a chandelier fall on them from the ceiling (just to say). be imaginative.

Other thing to consider is synergy with other players. Waiting for the fighter perform a Greater Feint, a monk a Stunning fist, and then deliver a decisive attack, a deadly full attack with a bunch of d6.

And a question.. how can you be not afraid of die? This game, with maximized disintegrates and x4 critical weapons, can be very deadly for the PCs in some instances..


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Like others have said, combat is what you make of it. As a player, make sure you say more then 'i got a 18 do i hit?'. I describe my hits, how i swing where i connect (if i hit). Maybe i shout a battle cry, a curse, or something else. As a mage i make up magic words when i cast spell and come up with somatic movements (my old wizard's spell book was a binder that illustrated basic hand movements and words written in greek, spanish and russian and latin for verbal components. it was alot of work, but it was a really enjoyable piece of the game for me.

Unfortunately alot of this has to come from the dm. Terrain, monster tactics, detailed descriptions of the action, and dynamic combat is really something the dm has to work for as well. Talk to him and tell him you are finding some of the combats dull. But speak about it from a positive angle. Dont say 'i dont like this and this'. Approach it from the angle of 'Here are some ideas I think would add to the fun of the game'.

Dark Archive

Nazard wrote:
Or, if you want something actually mechanical instead of fluff, find an interesting weapon besides rapier or short sword, a special feat, or use a alchemical item like dosing your longsword with alchemists' fire (just make sure you have a large supply of replacement swords).

That's something that might be more effective in some cases, particularly if you don't have flanking and can't get a good sneak attack in, tossing a tanglefoot bag or some alchemist's fire into the mix. Even judicious use of caltrops can change the tenor of a combat, particularly against a mobile foe.

Use Magic Device opens up a huge range of possibilities, if you've got the skill points and Charisma for it, as you can throw low level spells like grease from a wand that can have huge effects on a combat, even at CL 1. Make sure to have an effect that targets each saving throw, or effects that don't allow saves at all (such as buffs or allies), so that in any specific encounter, you've got at least three options, any one of which might be more specifically effective than 'shoot crossbow.'

When you do sneak attack, don't just say, '17 damage.' Describe the crossbow bolt lodging into the upper arm, and a dark venous blood sluggishly pouring from the wound, providing a hint as to it's surgically precise and life-threatening nature, unlike the battering and bruising that a smaller damage or less well-aimed hit would inflict. (Obviously, you should avoid a flavor description that suggests that you've applied some condition to your foe, like blindness or crippling a leg, but you can describe wounds that sound cool without necessarily conveying any mechanical disadvantage apart from the hit point loss.)

Whatever Rogue talents you've got could play into these descriptions. If you've got the bleeding strike talent, you could describe precise blows to arteries that cause bright red spurts of blood, and if you're a 'finesse rogue,' you could describe how the weapon dances through the air faster than would seem possible, perhaps even making a whine through the air, like the green steel sword from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Decorating gear, armor, weapons, etc. can also help to add some descriptive value. If your armor is embossed blackened leather with dark blue highlights, you can describe how blood (your own, or a foes) runs down the sculpted leather like rivers through a thousand tiny valleys. If your crossbow has a feathered hawk motif, with the arms of the bow resembling wings, and the front having a sculpted eagles head and beak, you can go a step further and say that the special bolts you've purchased make a whistling sound in flight similar to a hawk's cry.

Tattoos, piercings, clattering bits of shell, bone, etc. dangling from your hair, etc. can also serve as descriptive text. Accustomed to working at night, perhaps your Rogue keeps the skin under his eyes blackened with sootblack, to prevent glare from messing with his night vision, causing him to look like he's got a permanant shiner and giving him a more gaunt, hollow-eyed look than he would otherwise have.

Shadow Lodge

kingpin wrote:
Out of interest, what is the make-up of your party?

1 Fighter

1 Rogue
1 Druid/w black bear animal companion
1 Battle Oracle (me)
1 Witch
1 Sorcerer, not well designed.

All the best,

Kerney

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

noblejohn wrote:

I am new to pathfinder - I abslutely love the story telling and hanging out with pals. I love building the characters and the modules.

But when we have a battle, I am just not all that excited? Why?
- I am never afraid we will die - there is no tension.

This is an issue you need to (politely) bring up with your GM. Maybe he's holding back since you're new to the game, or maybe he's using a module that's keyed toward the easy side. This is generally a storytelling/adventure design issue rather than a failure of the system itself.

Quote:


- I am a rogue, and I am a little weak at fighting, but there is not a whole lot of tactics? We just basically line up and start rolling the 20 sided dice. I do try to flank the enemy to get my sneak attack bonus in, but beyond that - there is just no tactics.

Your tactics are in your hands. The first place to start is to put the book aside and think about the things you'd like to do. What is your character's fighting style? What kinds of weapons does he prefer? Does he prefer to stay out of the way and assist others? Does he want to dance around the battlefield poking at his enemies as he goes? Does he want to give flamboyant performative actions or--indeed, does he just want to stand there and shoot? Look at the issue first from a roleplaying perspective. Think of how the combat can continue to show your character's personality.

THEN: Re-read the combat system. Look at things like combat maneuvers, how to get in attacks of opportunity, fighting defensively, etc. etc. Think about how your character might take advantage of some of these things. Review the combat feats and how they might add some punch to your fighting style.

Some things that combine flair with the tactical mechanics available to you:
-- The opportunist: You're a rogue, so you probably have a high dexterity. Take Combat Reflexes. Not only does this allow to to make attacks of opportunity when you are flat-footed, it also allows you to make multiple AOOs a round. Put skill ranks in Acrobatics (and build up to get the Dodge and Mobility feats at some point--and Spring Attack while you're at it) so you can maneuver around the battlefield easily. Focus on always getting yourself in just the right position so you can force combatants to move and/or do other things to constantly provoke AOOs. This will force you to think tactically and use the abilities at your disposal. While your character may not do a lot of damage per attack, it will add up to contributing a lot to the damage an enemy overall takes.

-- The cinematic swashbuckler: Use the environment plus creative use of Combat Maneuvers to make the fight more interesting. Now, "I make an Acrobatics Check and a Bull Rush attempt" sounds boring, but a "I leap up and grab the chandelier, swinging to kick and knock my foe over" sounds pretty awesome. The two are the same thing--it's just how you bring it to be that's the fun part. Trips, Disarms, and other maneuvers can also be dealt with creatively. Look at weapons and feats that will help you perform them effectively.

-- The Intimidator: Be all bark, with maybe some bite. You have Intimidate as a class skill; you can use this to render foes shaken. As you level, take Weapon Focus and the Dazzling Display tree--this allows you to Intimidate multiple foes at once and then do things like render them flat-footed (enabling you on your next turn to sneak attack them).

These are just ideas. The weakness of many of them is that to make them truly powerful, you do have to level a bit to see the idea come to fruition--but you can start fighting concepts like the opportunist fairly early on and just see it get more powerful as you go. I'm sure if you think about it, you'll come up with other ideas as well.

The game is designed that if you're not into getting complicated, you can just say, "I fire my crossbow." But if you want to do more--that's up to you. You just have to think about combat more than just doing damage--it's also about maneuvering, mobility, battlefield control, etc.

ALSO AND PERHAPS MOST IMPORTANTLY: Chat about this with your friends. Work on group tactics ideas and character builds that can help each other shine. Pathfinder tactics often come through most strongly via party tactics rather than individual abilities---learning to set up flanks, protecting the arcane caster, manipulating the battlefield to your advantage and the enemy's disadvantage.

If you work on this and find yourself continuing to be frustrated, chat about it with your GM and maybe consider playing a different character. Maybe you would have more fun with a battle-controller wizard or a feat-driven fighter.


I just wanted to mention that Deathquaker has some awesome suggestions - thanks for the in depth suggestions - outstanding. I have some stuff to think about and research.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

Thanks, noblejohn. Good luck and let us know how it turns out.


From some of your earlier posts, sounds like one of your issues is with the transition from other types of gaming to pen and paper RPGs, with the focus moving from competing with your fellow gamers to cooperating with them. The rewards are different, and you're not feeling the adrenalin surge direct competition can bring.

The competition in an RPG comes from the encounters and challenges the DM throws at you. As a player you need to refocus some of your desire for "payoff" from individual to group success, as you are now part of a team (kind of like the difference between playing golf, an indiviudal sport, vs. soccer, a team sport). That doesn't mean there are no individual rewards, of course, and most gamers get really pumped by the whole leveling experience, or finding new magic items to make their character more effective.

As others have suggested you can certainly go to your GM and suggest he pump up the volume on encounters to bring more of the adrenalin that comes from near death experiences more frequently. It's easy enough to do, but you might want to check with your fellow players first to make sure they are feeling the same way. One important thing to remember, however, is that you do not want it to turn into a DM vs. players competition. That usually becomes destructive to a campaign pretty quickly. The DM controls the bad guys, but he isn't the bad guy himself. When you kill the creatures he creates, you aren't "beating" him. A good DM will want you to be challenged, but have a strong chance of success, and should get much of his enjoyment from the PCs working together creatively to overcome obstacles, rather than from killing characters and "defeating" the party. That said, an occasional character death, or at least the constant and credible threat of it, is vital to really making the game exciting. Particularly players should know that if their characters do something stupid, they may pay the ultimate price.

I also think it is fair to go to the DM and say you would like to see more non-combat challenges in the game, since it sounds like you have built your character more as a traditional 1st or 2nd edition rogue focused on non-combat skills. 3rd edition and onward into Pathfinder have made almost all characters more competent in combat, so many rogue builds now are heavily combat-focused, as they can actually be quite effective. It doesn't mean you have to, though. There's nothing wrong with playing a character designed to excel outside of combat, if that's what you want, and nothing wrong with asking that the balance between combat and non-combat challenges be adjusted to give your character a chance to shine.


I think its mostly up to the GM, at least once per session I try to mix combat with something else, like:
* fighting while the place is falling apart,
* having a kidnap happens and some rogues blocking the way
* once they had to blow up a wall, run in, face some ghost and get a sample of the plant, but once the wall blow up I told then the structure would hold only up to 7 rounds and fall apart, and just to make things a bit more interesting I had a hole in the middle of the room and some ghost flying over it, so the couldn't just run to the other side and take the plant.
* another time, the players had an ambush waiting for then outside the cave, I set am ambush that could easily kill an unprepared group (as ambush should be) but a npc outside manage to warn the players of what was going on, so the players had to scout and plan before the combat.
* Players running away from the prison and a certainly deadly among of guards running after then

Of course, sometimes (quite often) players do characters that knows nothing but to stay in the same place and hit so they end up having a hard time with a more dynamic fight... but that is a different matter.

Silver Crusade

Making your character more "combat effective" isn't going to cure the problem of boring combat.

Talk to your DM, introduce them to some back articles of Dungeon Magazine. There's some fantastic articles about how to make your adventures come alive.

If the DM is hesitant, take the initiative. Ask if you can describe YOUR character's actions. Instead of "I hit/I miss", tell everyone what you're doing: "Stand back. With a hiss, I withdraw my lucky blade, orckiller, and point it at the nearest brute. There's a promise of death in my eyes and a little blood still left on the blade from the last orc who messed with me." When you miss, on occasion say something, such as "ack, sweat drips in my eyes and for a second I lose focus."

Also consider studying the terrain. While you don't have to make an A-Team quality invention from the surroundings, use it. Duck behind a barrel for cover, taunt your opponents. A lot of it is "fluff" but adds to the atmosphere.

In a recent combat (from a 3.5 dungeon adventure), the party was in the hold of a listing ship, partially waterlogged and searching for a particular crate. Under the water, they see the ripples of movement (Perception) as something begins swimming to them, spined back partially exposed. No one knew what we had coming, terrain made for a great setup. When the two ghouls sprung from the water in a terrific splash, our caster gasped and declared she was headed back up the hold's ladder (where she lobbed a spell or two). Meanwhile, between bobbing crates and leeching saltwater, the remaining members fought back-to-back, knowing one hit could paralyze them and cause them to drown (Knowledge: Religion). One ghoul eyed the dwarf, licking its partially decayed mouth with a long, leathery tongue. The emaciated ribs showed it was hungry, and its desparation for a meal caused it to attack with fervor but little tactic (explaining some hits and misses).

Anyways, add in some battle music and a simple fight becomes exotic.

A good DM will listen and want to make their game better for you.


Tactics?

First you are a rogue. Which means that unorthodox tactics are your friends. You probably have ranks in acrobatics and stealth. You are pretty mobile thanks to that and it allows you to slip around the heavy weights to reach squishier targets like wizards, disrupting their spellcasting. You can also poke clerics and disengage if they try to return the favour (which means that by following you they don't have the opportunity to do any healings or some other worse spell nastiness). You are probably also quite skilled with traps and you should certainly consider making them. A mere tripwire can give your friends a major advantage at this level (prone target, interrupted charge...). If you do't necesarily have to deal all the damage yourself, you can also follow the bluff/feint tactics, which denies Dex bonuses for the target, setting the enemy for an easier kill again. And guess who can waltz around through slippery terrain when you smash a few oil bottles on the floor?

Tactics are only limited by your imagination.

Grand Lodge

Ok, I might have missed this up earlier in the thread, but I have to wonder if the GM is building the encounters correctly. You have six players, if he is playing published adventures, they only account for 4 players.

He should look through the PRPG and the Bestiary to adjust the encounters accordingly.

Sorry in advance if I'm rehashing.


I have seen this happen. Dm please put thought into the battle tactics and feats that the bad guys have.

I have seen DMs run published encounters where a BBEG has power attack/cleave feats but never uses them...

Really make sure you are not missing anything..

Reminds me of the sleeping dragon scenario, where we all have time to surround the dragon get into position to make our best strikes hoping the dragon never wakes up.......

Only to swing as a group into an illusion and the real invisible dragon was (levitating/spider climbing above us)

He breathed fire on us.......

So the sleeping dragon likely knew we were there from alarm spells or something.......

If you have ever killed a dragon that way then your DM made your encounter boring!

Sovereign Court

I'd agree that a great deal of the tension that comes from an encounter rests with how the GM is handling the situation.

This could be from inexperience, the GM needs to learn solid tactics just like the players, and learn them about a host of characters and creatures.

It could be from GM temperment. The GM simply may not have any desire to kill characters, so they run the combats rather soft. There is a way to get around this. If the GM is really flavorful with descriptions and chooses to have opponents do wild and interesting stunts, often times these stunts are quite sub-optimal, allowing the characters to mathematically stay ahead of the curve.

I just ran a game where I got to play with some enemy monks. The combat was great with trips going on all the time, half the party was laying on the ground at one point. When players would flank a monk, he'd use flurry to do a "split kick" to hit both players. It looked great, but it was hardly going to be dangerous to the PCs.

Another easy way to give players an edge but still do interesting things is let the monsters provoke AoO from players if in doing so will lead some crazy combat maneuver or stunt. The monsters get wacked on by the players with these free extra attacks, but they can do some splashy stunt to liven things up.

Still, despite all of that, if players want real tension then it's about the GM presenting more difficult challenges to the players.

There are a lot of great suggestions on here how to Role-play to help up the drama of the conflict. However you could have a game with egregious out of character discussions where the game is primarily being treated as a boardgame, or Roll-playing as it were. These can be incredibly tense moments for the players, likely more so than the roleplay garnishing where everyone at the table to some degree is "pretending" to be filled with tension, when they all know that the encounter is really a cake walk.

If it is a published module then, as was suggested, using the Core rules and the Bestiary you can easily modify the encounters to be tougher. As was noted, if the table is six characters plus an animal companion, and the module is written for four players, then it really isn't a surprise that combat is going to be pretty easy. The party has three turns worth of actions (two players and a companion) each round, along with three sets of extra hit points to soak up damage. If someone drops at a table with six players you've got plenty of support to step up and fill whatever role just evaporated. So going and using the rules to at least up the CR by 1 for the encounter would help.


Great advice from everyone here. I feel it is worth considering the characters’ level. As the PCs level they get more abilities that allow for more tactics. Same for the enemies. In the beginning any PC/NPC/monster is really only going to be good at one thing in combat, but by end game they will have multiple viable options to choose from to include flavor and tactics in the fight. So some of your indifference is going to dissipate naturally as everyone gains power.

However no matter what action you take in combat it will pretty much come down to roll your D20 and see what happens. The rest is in your imagination. Try putting yourself into your character more. Is ‘Mr. Rogue’ so sure he is invincible? If not, try seeing the fight from his perspective. It is hard to be bored sneaking up to stab the goblin king while it is going toe-to-toe with your friend ‘Ms. Fighter’ and colorful spells are going off all around you.

At the end of the day, the players are going to win and the enemies are going to lose 99.99% of the combats. Even if your character or the entire party dies you just roll up a new one and off you go. To a large extent you have to create your own excitement. The game won’t do it for you, because unlike traditional games you cannot really win or lose and that is the way it is supposed to be.

Good Luck!


You should bring this up with your DM as well. he may want the same things you do, and not know how to get there.

Some ideas:

1) Don't make visibility automatic. Fight in the fog, or in a cornfield.

2) Don't have all the bad guys visible. Start with 2-3 visible, and the rest under bushes, out of range, etc.

3) Don't have all the bad guys arrive at once. Attack a group of huts, and have 3-5 out in the open. More bad guys arrive each round, until they are all there.

4) Don't have blank terrain. If the map is a flat square, then there's NO reason to have ranks in swim, climb, acrobatics, etc. To swing from a rope, there needs to be rope, ladders, etc.

5) Have the map change. Fight on a ship that is leaning back and forth. Fight on a bridge where pieces are falling off. Fight on a sheet of ice that is cracking.

6) Don't tell the players what they are fighting. "It's a humanoid, with a bitter smell and a sharp spear". If you want to know more, make a Knowledge check.

Shadow Lodge

As I GM I feel like it's my job to make the players fell like there is a genuine danger to their character. The more likely a character is going to drop the quicker they focus on the situation. Dropping a character's hit points in half in a single round, putting a character into negative HP, the closer you come to killing a character the better. It's better to have the occasional character death than to have no risk at all.

As a player your options are much more limited. Adding more role playing to the encounter might help but IMO doesn't really add to the tension or excitement much. Try to limit resting and push the pace a bit is about the only thing you can do.

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