All my plans! Ruined!


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Have you ever spent hours planning, researching, and building an NPC for a campaign only to have the players destroy it within seconds?

In the last campaign (today) we went up against a possessed mayor. He was possessed by a magical stone. I was told the GM had planned, plotted, and created this npc for over an hour.

I killed the man in one shot. When he rose again it was because the stone was using his body. It realized it had been used by the mayor and now it was free. It recruited us to gather it's brothers...(plot hook, if we don't we die). We agreed and those that didn't...we don't have to worry about them any more.


I think everyGM has this happen, maybe even every campaign, it's definitely a reason why you have lots of plot arcs.


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xanthemann wrote:

Have you ever spent hours planning, researching, and building an NPC for a campaign only to have the players destroy it within seconds?

In the last campaign (today) we went up against a possessed mayor. He was possessed by a magical stone. I was told the GM had planned, plotted, and created this npc for over an hour.

I killed the man in one shot. When he rose again it was because the stone was using his body. It realized it had been used by the mayor and now it was free. It recruited us to gather it's brothers...(plot hook, if we don't we die). We agreed and those that didn't...we don't have to worry about them any more.

Welcome to rpgs.

An hour to make an NPC by scratch seems pretty low actually for an important character. I have to spend several hours to prep a module, and at least 30 minutes learning how to run premade NPCs for a single encounter.


Well, I dunno... I mean I've had lots of NPCs one-shotted by PCs, but NPCs I've spent an hour or more on? I really can't remember that happening.

But that's because most, if not all, of the NPCs I spend that much time on are generally going to have an entourage of mooks and minions that are there to prevent exactly this from happening.

But then again, I don't spend THAT much time constructing most of my NPCs, usually if I'm spending that much time on one, it's a really, really important NPC. And if they are that important, they generally do a lot of "behind the scenes" stuff, so that even if they ever do get into battle and are "one-shotted" in the fight, they've had plenty of interaction with the PCs and the plot before the PCs ever even laid eyes on them.


That's when you stop the game for a moment and say, "OK, you guys kill it and get it's xp and treasure. But that could be a really cool encounter and I worked hard on it. Let's just say it's identical twin steps out and we will play out the encounter?"

Also, always expect a single opponent to get taken out like a chump in the surprise round when it is against the whole party. Never do 1 vs 4 if it is supposed to be a serious encounter.


My group and I have a habit of almost always nearly dying to mid-bosses, followed by mopping the floor with the main boss. Usually this is just a function of knowing and preparing for the "devil we know", while not being as prepared for his flunkie...

Shadow Lodge

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Fergie wrote:
That's when you stop the game for a moment and say, "OK, you guys kill it and get it's xp and treasure. But that could be a really cool encounter and I worked hard on it. Let's just say it's identical twin steps out and we will play out the encounter?"

I don't think I could ever agree to that.

Fergie wrote:
Also, always expect a single opponent to get taken out like a chump in the surprise round when it is against the whole party. Never do 1 vs 4 if it is supposed to be a serious encounter.

Well, unless it is a dragon about 4 CRs higher than they are.

That was a fun battle. :)


Yeah, so I ran an adventure with a lead villainess who headed the town, and the PCs had to "investigate the evil". One player quickly suspected the female running the town was the villain and killed her... in the first five minutes... in the middle of the town square. Needless to say, he did solve the adventure, but the whole town rallied and kicked them out. Needless to say, the adventure changed tone really quickly on that one.
Funny thing, the players kept trying to figure out ways to sneak into her mansion because they figured all her treasure would be holed up there and they wanted "to loot the encounter". They jump the gun, then complained they didn't get any gear. That was a strange session.


It happens to all of us. Such is the life of the NPC.


in the fear of sounding like a dick, you gm was foiled by his lack of knowledge of the game, not you one shotting his npc.

things he should have used to prevent his npc's death:
*heavy fortification or rearrange organs(spell in PFS guide)
*traps to prevent players from bing able to charge right to him
*minnions or summoned creatures to slow down the assult.
*knowing the party compisition to play on weaknesses of the group.

these are just a few tricks that he could have used to stop you guys from killing the npc so quickly. i learned of player unpredictablility a long time ago.

Sczarni RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32

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GM 101

Never expect your NPCs to survive.
Never expect the PCs to do something predictable.


Orc Boyz wrote:

in the fear of sounding like a dick, you gm was foiled by his lack of knowledge of the game, not you one shotting his npc.

things he should have used to prevent his npc's death:
*heavy fortification or rearrange organs(spell in PFS guide)
*traps to prevent players from bing able to charge right to him
*minnions or summoned creatures to slow down the assult.
*knowing the party compisition to play on weaknesses of the group.

these are just a few tricks that he could have used to stop you guys from killing the npc so quickly. i learned of player unpredictablility a long time ago.

In his defense...we almost always play good aligned characters. This time we have 2 GMs. One for the good characters and one for the evil. We play each on alternating weekends. 2 of our characters failed their Wil saves and became entranced by the magical stone. My character passed her save and at that time the BBEG summoned his guards.

This is when the good characters who made their save would try and snap their friends out of it...I remind you, we were playing evil characters. Thinking of herself, my archer shot the man in charge.

The GM figured I would do what I would normally do running a good character.


You ever just.......as dungeonmaster let some npc keep going past the point of no return, like, totally cheating, just to see how long it'd take them to notice?

You should try it, just to work on your bs'ing skillz.


In the AP my group is playing now (level 13), our GM routinely just outright triples or quadruples the HP of any monster or NPC that's supposed to be a challenge because if she doesn't, the battle is over in less than 3 rounds. I haven't played at this high a level since early days of 3.0 D&D, so I have no idea if this is a common problem, this thread makes it sound like it is.


I'd just pat the chap on the back and tell him to chock it up as a further learning experience (I have them all the time and I've been playing for...jeeze...way too long).

You really can't figure out how you could have played an oponent better/different until you either mop the floor with the players or have the reverse situation presented in the OP occur. A GM can pretty consistently end up being let down by their big-bad if they spend more time building him/her/it than they do ruminating over the types of players (first and foremost) and characters that they will be going up against. But, that can go the other way too...where the players show up and their opponent is immune to everything they typically do and has all the right moves to send them gurgling into their imaginary afterlives.

Sometimes baddies trip and hit their heads on the edge of a cliff and end up laying crumpled at the bottom of said chasm in soiled underwear.


He followed up that part of the mission with a random encounter of bugbears (we are using AC as DR and we are 2nd level). This was near time for us having to pack up and leave the hobby shop (the Hobbit). Fortunately I had made friends with a dire wolf because the GM had overcompensated and the bugbears had a DR we could hardly get past. To cut it short my 'friend' showed up and the bugbears thought better of the situation and left.


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Ah, a classic example of super-villain misconception.

As Caleb said; never go into ANY encounter expecting that someone will survive. And certainly do not base the game from that point onward on the survival of a villain. It is cheap, bad writing, and a terrible railroad type of thinking that is a common side-effect from exposure to comic books and bad TV writing.

Make your villains memorable, sure, but never give them plot armor, and never be obvious about them. If you want them to survive, have them be VERY smart about it: Minions, well chosen items, three different escape routes and a contingency to the back-up plan of plan B, if you catch my drift. If you want a villain to be a thorn in the PCs side, the best way is to never go himself. Send mooks, have their name be tied to everything bad that is happening, leave the villain's mark on the world. And when they finally meet, the villain will have had his spotlight, and people will remember.


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Bob_Loblaw wrote:
It happens to all of us. Such is the life of the NPC.

Doesn't happen to me! (yes, nanner-nanner-boo-boo to all of you - please don't take that as a serious insult, I am being silly and covering my tracks in case it wasn't obvious).

The only reason I can say that, however, is because I have a rule that I adhere to very, extremely, unfailingly strictly to: Never spend more than 5 minutes trying to come up with ANYTHING related to your game.

If it is going to take me longer to plan out an NPC, I invent a shortcut instead so that I can get there faster - ignoring the NPC creation rules and assigning values quickly eyeballed from the Monster Statistics by CR table and powers only vaguely equivalent to actual class level is more enjoyable in the long run than fiddling with every last little piece of the NPC... especially when you consider that NPCs, like Monsters, should be expected to die quick and brutal deaths on their first outing against the PCs.

I don't even spend more than 5 minutes coming up with a plot line or plot twists... or anything, really - if it doesn't come to me in 5 minutes, I quit thinking about it and move on... no idea I have ever felt proud of has come out of forcing myself to spend more time on it, so I quit bothering a long time ago.

Note: I run games that players keep returning to week after week for months and months until they reach a conclusion, everyone has fun, and I never do any planning before sitting down at the table to run a session except when I am running a module or AP - then I dedicate about an hour to skimming the whole book once, and 15 minutes checking over the upcoming parts before each session.


thenobledrake wrote:
Bob_Loblaw wrote:
It happens to all of us. Such is the life of the NPC.

Doesn't happen to me! (yes, nanner-nanner-boo-boo to all of you - please don't take that as a serious insult, I am being silly and covering my tracks in case it wasn't obvious).

The only reason I can say that, however, is because I have a rule that I adhere to very, extremely, unfailingly strictly to: Never spend more than 5 minutes trying to come up with ANYTHING related to your game.

If it is going to take me longer to plan out an NPC, I invent a shortcut instead so that I can get there faster - ignoring the NPC creation rules and assigning values quickly eyeballed from the Monster Statistics by CR table and powers only vaguely equivalent to actual class level is more enjoyable in the long run than fiddling with every last little piece of the NPC... especially when you consider that NPCs, like Monsters, should be expected to die quick and brutal deaths on their first outing against the PCs.

I don't even spend more than 5 minutes coming up with a plot line or plot twists... or anything, really - if it doesn't come to me in 5 minutes, I quit thinking about it and move on... no idea I have ever felt proud of has come out of forcing myself to spend more time on it, so I quit bothering a long time ago.

Note: I run games that players keep returning to week after week for months and months until they reach a conclusion, everyone has fun, and I never do any planning before sitting down at the table to run a session except when I am running a module or AP - then I dedicate about an hour to skimming the whole book once, and 15 minutes checking over the upcoming parts before each session.

That does not work with every group though. Some groups don't mind the GM fudging(in this case it includes incomplete characters), and some never catch on, but many people will catch on.

PS:I need to start making incomplete characters, but I just can't bring myself to do it, even when I know it makes sense, and it will save me time. :(


In the campaign following one that I have done a lot of prep for, I will occasionally muse on what they missed, what they didn't follow, what could have been...

Course, I should recycle the unexplored into my new games, but I head in other directions.


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xanthemann wrote:

Have you ever spent hours planning, researching, and building an NPC for a campaign only to have the players destroy it within seconds?

In the last campaign (today) we went up against a possessed mayor. He was possessed by a magical stone. I was told the GM had planned, plotted, and created this npc for over an hour.

I killed the man in one shot. When he rose again it was because the stone was using his body. It realized it had been used by the mayor and now it was free. It recruited us to gather it's brothers...(plot hook, if we don't we die). We agreed and those that didn't...we don't have to worry about them any more.

No battle plan survives contact with the enemy!

That said, some players take great delight in derailing plots 'just because' and it can be a nightmare. It can also lead to unintended consequences:

pobbes wrote:

Yeah, so I ran an adventure with a lead villainess who headed the town, and the PCs had to "investigate the evil". One player quickly suspected the female running the town was the villain and killed her... in the first five minutes... in the middle of the town square. Needless to say, he did solve the adventure, but the whole town rallied and kicked them out. Needless to say, the adventure changed tone really quickly on that one.

Funny thing, the players kept trying to figure out ways to sneak into her mansion because they figured all her treasure would be holed up there and they wanted "to loot the encounter". They jump the gun, then complained they didn't get any gear. That was a strange session.

In such circumstances I've allowed the player to do what they want, and just switch the 'evil' to somebody else being behind it. Now the party still have to find the evil, but are wanted as homicidal maniacs. Doing things based on suspicions alone is not a clever way to make important life decisions, like murdering the person paying your wages...

Original thinking and clever planning on the part of PCs should be rewarded with success and phat loot; acting like a douche should be punished with appropriate in-game consequences, such as wanted posters and a lack of reliable employers.


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When I DM'd I never had anything like that happen to me, though mostly because I read topics like this and never bothered to write lots of details up and just went with generalizations so I could try to change it up easily as needed. My success varied >_<

Also reminds me an old campaign I played in. It was 4E and we were around level 15 and I was a caster. We were in some arcane ruins and entered to find a Lich who started monologuing about how we were dead and he was invincible. While he was talking I started looking around to see if anything looked obviously magical in a phylactery sort of way and a nat 20 perception check later told me that the windchime above the door we entered did, and I interrupted the lich to tell the barbarian to smash it. He did, the lich, crumbled, and after a minute of thought the DM said that no, his loot was destroyed with him.


Dabbler wrote:


No battle plan survives contact with the enemy!

That said, some players take great delight in derailing plots 'just because' and it can be a nightmare. It can also lead to unintended consequences:

Early in my GM days, I ran a Shadowrun game. The characters were all supposedly good friends that grew up together. One character learned the "special" information to solve a puzzle to let the group progress to the next encounter. The character told the others, he learned nothing. My face went blank. I passed the player a note, spelling out the information, reminding him that his character "knew" otherwise. He sent back note, " I know. I just don't want to tell them."

I was flabbergasted and flumoxed. Nowadays, this kind of thing wouldn't even be a passing thought. But that night, I had to stop the game right there. I just could not think past that point.

As to the original post, Yes, I have worked on elaborate plans only to have the PC's go leftfield and skip everything to win the day. Used to bother me, now it is a happy instance. What bothers me more, is to have a Bad'un get a few crits in a row or the party all roll insanely low vs a minnion's spell. But thems the breaks.

Greg


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Danny Kessler wrote:
In the AP my group is playing now (level 13), our GM routinely just outright triples or quadruples the HP of any monster or NPC that's supposed to be a challenge because if she doesn't, the battle is over in less than 3 rounds. I haven't played at this high a level since early days of 3.0 D&D, so I have no idea if this is a common problem, this thread makes it sound like it is.

It is quite a common problem, one which the developers seem to have a problem recognizing. I already said as much during the beta, but instead even dragons got their HP downsized.


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It's one of the reason I am adopting the Island Design Technique

It makes your plans looser and able to be shuffled around more.


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wraithstrike wrote:
That does not work with every group though.

No logical reason it shouldn't.

wraithstrike wrote:
Some groups don't mind the GM fudging(in this case it includes incomplete characters), and some never catch on, but many people will catch on.

This is not fudging that I am talking about, it is changing the rules I use to create encounters... I'm also fond of completely ignoring entire sections of a monster's stat block in a bestiary entry because it doesn't add anything notable to the encounter with the creature... such as feats.

It's not that I am fudging the results on the fly - it's a standing house rule. The book is the only thing that says NPCs and monsters are and must be built near-exactly like PCs... and the book, in this case, is dead wrong.

There is a reason that NPCs and monsters in the majority of other games (and editions) ever made don't follow the exact same rules as PCs.

Silver Crusade

xanthemann wrote:
It recruited us to gather it's brothers...(plot hook, if we don't we die)

It's the only part that irked me.


All of these suggestions are fine. Individually they all do some good. Individually they're all destined to fail.

I don't take any one aproach. I create a rough outline in 5 minutes. I take hours and obsess over game details. I create linear plots that leave openings for sandbox style. Bottom line I do it all... and the players STILL break my toys.

I have had 2 extremes to the op's scenario. I had one game at 2nd level in 3.0 where the villain was an intelligent spellstitched ghoul (CR4). It had some skellie minions and I thought I had things buttoned up pretty tight. My uber-tactical player with a cleric of Pelor (sun god, very anti-undead) had never turned undead in his life; even still it had pretty decent resistance. He remembers "oh yeah, I can turn, and I add a bonus for being a Pelorite." WTF? Anyway, he rolls...nat 20; villain by RAW is "destroyed". It was humiliating.

On the other hand I had a PF game w/a forlarren fighter more recently. She was dead even w/the PC's level, no minions, but lots of traps on the way to her lair. The players were sick and tired of the dungeon so when they figured out her lair was at the end of a hall and up a winding stair they just stopped looking for traps. They were literally crawling into her chamber. She had really good AC as her one claim to fame; the fight took an hour 15 in realtime. All totaled she dropped one person with barely any damage to them (traps did most of the work) and then she succumbed to her remorse and the fight was finally over.

The thing is this is a game of chance. I've watched in horror as the barbarian I'd counted on to mop up the mooks misses not once, not twice, but FIVE rounds in a row and the necromancer's skeletal champion cohort had to save the day in a throwaway fight. I've secretly cursed the dice as all five characters ignore the mooks, go straight at the school-bus sized chimeric worg and all hit for close to max damage.

It DOES happen to all of us. Maybe not EXACTLY as the OP stated but in the spirit of that situation. We've ALL had a concept of where the fight/plot/non-combat encounter was going only to have our players either take it a different direction or by sheer chance either epic fail or Sheen-win everything. As I say; there's an element of chance here that can't be ignored.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Fergie wrote:
Never do 1 vs 4 if it is supposed to be a serious encounter.

Absolutely.

The campaign I most recently wrapped up, the "final" encounter was a 1-on-1 fight followed by a 7-on-7 fight followed by a 7-on-1 fight.

Basically, the BBEG had seven mooks. The players fought a gestalt avatar of all seven while inhabiting a similar gestalt avatar of themselves (1 on 1). Once establishing supremacy and breaking the evil avatar, they got to fight the individual mooks. Once they survived that, the collectively got to fight the BBEG himself. Technically this end-battle took two sessions but it certainly wasn't a one-shot.


El Cid Vicious, AnarkoPaladin wrote:

You ever just.......as dungeonmaster let some npc keep going past the point of no return, like, totally cheating, just to see how long it'd take them to notice?

You should try it, just to work on your bs'ing skillz.

I started doing this after my players kept asking how close to death the villain looked WAY TOO many times. I also have a GM rule when I run that for every attack that misses the bag guy, he gets a temporary boost to his AC equal to the number of missed attacks. The bonus lasts until the end of the following round or until the villain gets hit, whichever comes first. If it's just a mook that gets the luck of being hit, but not taking a lot of damage with each hit AND the mook survives for 3 rounds of this, the mook gets a +10 morale bonus to HP and a +1 bonus to AC and saves for the remainder of the encounter OR their demise, whichever comes first.

Liberty's Edge

Yeah, we've all been there.

Happily, with Herolab, it doesn't take me an hour to craft these characters anymore, though I do still take some time developing backstory and plot hooks which can be undone in a flash. Still, it's usually only a 10-15 minute loss, tops. Backstories and plot hooks can get repurposed, fast.

It was far worse back in the day when we were running Rolemaster. That system literally took an hour to generate a high(er) level NPC. (RMSS was worse and it could take twice as long under RMSS as it did in RM2). Having those NPCs die was exceedingly annoying...


I had a GM who had created a Ranger in 3.5..., an evil ranger who had spell casting abilities far greater than my magic user of 5th level. This ranger had gotten the better of several of our party members individually and even some older elven archers. This all came to an end when he tried to attack my fighter EBB. EBB killed the familiar of said ranger and pinned this evil ranger until help arrived. With the party together the ranger wouldn't stand a chance, so the GM had him make a break for it...invisible. My mage used detect thought to 'track' his movements and used ever spell at her disposal to do him in.
After his death the GM had said he was doing everything he could to have him escape. We didn't ever want to see him again and kudos to the GM for not arbitrarily letting him escape, just because he said so.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Fleshgrinder wrote:

It's one of the reason I am adopting the Island Design Technique

It makes your plans looser and able to be shuffled around more.

Goes hand in hand with 'Don't Prep Plots'.

I think it's just another name for Node-based Design.


TOZ wrote:
Fergie wrote:
That's when you stop the game for a moment and say, "OK, you guys kill it and get it's xp and treasure. But that could be a really cool encounter and I worked hard on it. Let's just say it's identical twin steps out and we will play out the encounter?"
I don't think I could ever agree to that.

Really? Would it matter if the GM kept it in game and said the Son of BBEG hears his fathers death and comes running out to attack?

I just want to point out to everyone that doubling the monsters HP is basically making martial characters worse, and save-or-suck magic better. It would be far more fair to give it the advanced template or better yet, the young template and add another one to the encounter.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Fergie wrote:
Really? Would it matter if the GM kept it in game and said the Son of BBEG hears his fathers death and comes running out to attack?

That's not the situation you described. If the DM is good, I'd never know that this new opponent didn't exist until we killed the first one. But if I found out, I'd be a little put off. And if he asked before he did it, I'd tell him no, I don't think we should do that.

But yes, really. Is it so hard to believe I play differently than you?

Scarab Sages

The dice roll both ways though, and sometimes your minor monster or mook will wreak havoc on your party. I recall a fight where I I had 3 lvl 2 half orcs with great axes were the mooks of a fighter 1/troll, and their primary job was to act as speed bumps so the fight wasn't over in 1 round (party was about 5th lvl). One of the half-orcs crit twice and rolled max damage once and simply laid out three party members into the negatives, including the main tank fighter. By contrast in that same fight, the troll was one rounded by a barbarian and rogue.

My best advice would be to :

1- Let the party enjoy the complete destruction of an enemy and take their victory lap and drink their celebratory beers. Sometimes its nice to feel uber, even if for a moment :)

2- take advantage of the instant slaughter of your bad guy to advance the story. If it happens in public or where the effects can be seen, perhaps rumors spread of powerful heroes, which may draw strong opponents to try their luck. If it is an arcane or divine opponent, maybe a mentor discovers the destruction and seeks revenge. None of this is to punish the party by any means, just cause and effect that tie back to this awesome shot made by a PC, which could make the 1-round kill that much more "famous" in your gaming group.

And Rolemaster- I totally agree, making those characters was a bit of a time sink...


I'm not sure, but I think I am seeing a sort of a trend here, which may explain why this particular scenario (the PCs one-shotting a complex plot-dependent character) hasn't happened to me.

Looking at my current campaign, I've got almost a dozen NPCs I have spent more than an hour on. One, of course, is the BBEG. Two more are high-level minions of his. One is the NPC "protagonist" of the plot, the NPC the players are supposed to help. Two more are his adult children. Finally I have the head of the secret police, an actor/playwright who is building a playhouse in the main town and a powerful wizard who has stumbled onto the BBEG's plans but isn't sure where, how, why or what the BBEG is going to do. Also, and most significantly, I have a custom "monster" that I have not only created and statted out, I have made a custom miniature for. So that's a pretty significant investment of time.

So I've got a bit of time tied up in all these NPCs.

Could the PCs "one-shot" one of them into oblivion, wrecking my carefully laid out plans?

Yes and no. "Yes" because they could surprise one of the NPCs and attack them out of the blue while the NPC has no expectation of being attacked and has no defenses up. "No" because even if they did, the plot would move on.

The PCs have met and interacted with several of these NPCs already. Including the BBEG. However, they have no clue that the BBEG IS the BBEG. So far he's just one of the people they have met who has done nothing but try to help the PCs so far. In fact the NPC they most likely view as the "BBEG" is actually a powerful force for good whose death would create real problems for the PCs and would advance the BBEG's plans significantly.

The BBEG has already sent several waves of minions against the PCs. The custom monster has already fought the PCs once, but the battle was a draw as the monster's minions tied up the PCs forces while the monster himself went after one PC he managed to separate from the party. While the rest of the party fought the minions, the real battle was going on between the targeted PC and the monster. Just as the monster was about to defeat that PC, the rest of the party defeated the minions and came to the targeted PC's rescue. Faced with that threat, the custom monster fled to fight again in the future.

By the time the PCs defeat the custom monster, they will likely have had three encounters against it, and will have defeated more and more powerful minions until the final showdown with the custom monster. By the time they face off with the actual BBEG, they will have met with him, discussed strategy with him, fought with him against his own minions, eaten with him and no doubt mourned with him.

Even if they do one-shot him when the final battle unfolds (a highly unlikely circumstance since he will likely be engaging in duplicity even then) I will have utilized his skills, spells, abilities, miniature and plot hooks for several months.

Most of my campaigns go that way.

The idea of building out a special custom NPC which could be blown away in the first encounter just strikes me as silly. Why would you invest that much time in something that is so vulnerable to instant death? There are plenty of ways to avoid that.


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TriOmegaZero wrote:


But yes, really. Is it so hard to believe I play differently than you?

Hmmm, you must be doing it wrong, and not having any fun.


Fergie wrote:
TOZ wrote:
Fergie wrote:
That's when you stop the game for a moment and say, "OK, you guys kill it and get it's xp and treasure. But that could be a really cool encounter and I worked hard on it. Let's just say it's identical twin steps out and we will play out the encounter?"
I don't think I could ever agree to that.

Really? Would it matter if the GM kept it in game and said the Son of BBEG hears his fathers death and comes running out to attack?

I just want to point out to everyone that doubling the monsters HP is basically making martial characters worse, and save-or-suck magic better. It would be far more fair to give it the advanced template or better yet, the young template and add another one to the encounter.

In my experience, Gm's who play the "double the HP" game, are the one's rolling saving throws behind screens... and their BBEG's have amazing luck.

Silver Crusade

pad300 wrote:


In my experience, Gm's who play the "double the HP" game, are the one's rolling saving throws behind screens... and their BBEG's have amazing luck.

I'm ok with DMs rolling dice behind the screen ; because it also probably saved my ass more than once. I'm also ok with a bit of unremarkable cheat from times to times if it means the big bad is able to make us suffer a bit and provide us with a fun game session. Finishing an important fight too quickly or without tears and blood sometimes just leaves a bad aftertaste.

And I speak about my DM, who rolls anything touching his DMPC (his own rolls and rolls made against him) in front of everyone so we're sure that there is no advantage coming from his position.


I tend to give my BBEG max HP, but I dislike fudging dice. Leaves a bad taste in my mouth.


Adamantine Dragon wrote:
Lots of Stuff!

That's rather impressive, I want to play in one of your games heh.

But it is a good point, I think alot of people just have the BBEG as a singular point at the end, not someone/thing that you ever interact with before hand. Most pre-made adventures are set that way too.

Fleshgrinder wrote:

It's one of the reason I am adopting the Island Design Technique

It makes your plans looser and able to be shuffled around more.

I didn't even realize there was an official name for how I ran most of my games. I've been doing that for years.

I'm usually pretty good at interpreting what actions my PCs are going to do, and usually have multiple scenarios created in my mind for their actions, but usually they end up choosing the exact path I expected them to. Even when they don't there are plenty of "Islands" that can be situated to fit whatever mess they ended up making.


Lets get back to what the OP said and something Redcelt said. The whole point of the thread is that there's a GM, and he spent an hour on an NPC, and it took a few seconds to end him. Redcelt said the luck rolls both ways on the dice.

I've had plenty of these flip flops. As a player in 4e my GM put us against 1 elite and 6 minion bullywugs at level 2. We were unlucky in that we couldn't hit the broad side of a barn, and the GM was lucky in that the bullywugs NEVER missed. All rolls were made in the open. This supposed "optional diversion" became a bloodbath AGAINST the party that burned 2 dailys just to run like little girls!

That same game we got to the ruined temple we were seeking. We fought our way inside and ended up starting the place on fire in the process; perfect opportunity for the GM to strand us in the dungeon, which was his plan all along. After the game we found out we were meant to to take so long below ground that the upstairs would've collapsed and we'd have to fight our way out through the remainder of the dungeon.

Anyway, the reason that didn't happen was luck. We get into the room we're supposed to be stranded in, thief rolls well and spots a beholder in the corner. He and the fighter go ape on the thing in round one while the rest hold the stairway, warning of imminent collapse. Thief gets a decent hit and fighter throws daily, crits, deals max damage x3. The thing literally exploded!

Bottom line we all fled right back out through the burning, pulling off a decent skill check that left us charred but still kicking. The GM still ended up getting us into the dungeon with an adlibbed NPC and some digging but I'll never forget the look on his face when our fighter PC announced his thirty-something damage roll.

It happens. You can't plan for it. It happens on both sides too. The bullywugs changed the entire course of the adventure; we stopped parlaying for a while and just either ran from or murdered every monster we encountered. The beholder fight meant to keep us in the chamber didn't happen and so we escaped so the GM found another way to get us where he needed us and we were then better prepared for the battles and he had to modify some stuff.

I don't think the plan around the beholder was sound in the first place and I wouldn't have done it; that GM is relatively inexperienced. But aside from that most of this stuff could've happened to ANY of us, at any time. I think one of the MOST important skills of a good GM is tap-dancing; being able to roll with the luck of these situations. Beholder having a twin brother just off camera would've been hateful, but timely NPC meeting us in the bar after hearing of our harrowing escape and just HAPPENING to know something of the "unknown" temple ruin? A tad far-fetched but still acceptable. He might be inexperienced (the beholder-GM) but he's got potential.


Thank you Mark Hoover.

All this typing and linking has given me some insight, though. That mixed with a little Burn Notice, but that comes in a little later.

What if the BBEG you killed was a simulacrum? What if there are a hundred Big Bad Evil Guys?

In the Burn Notice scenario, what if you killed who you 'thought' was the main guy. In Burn Notice there is always another tier of Bad.

Would this not be a solution? Kind of a 'kill all you want! I'll make more!'


Yeah, but look at the current season of Burn Notice: all that's done is gotten one of the NPCs captured and made the main PC darker and harder than ever.

I like putting an end to certain stories, certain arcs. I like the idea of a beginning, middle and an end so that the players have closure. That being said I don't have a problem with one evil leading to another or something to that effect. Like Uncle telling Jackie not beat the BBEG at the end of season 2 of the Jackie Chan cartoon because all that does is leave a vaccuum for a greater evil to take his place.

This is why its so easy to just write dungeon hacks. Lots of BBEGs all over the place, plenty of explanation for replacements and its all so well contained.


thenobledrake wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:
That does not work with every group though.

No logical reason it shouldn't.

wraithstrike wrote:
Some groups don't mind the GM fudging(in this case it includes incomplete characters), and some never catch on, but many people will catch on.

This is not fudging that I am talking about, it is changing the rules I use to create encounters... I'm also fond of completely ignoring entire sections of a monster's stat block in a bestiary entry because it doesn't add anything notable to the encounter with the creature... such as feats.

It's not that I am fudging the results on the fly - it's a standing house rule. The book is the only thing that says NPCs and monsters are and must be built near-exactly like PCs... and the book, in this case, is dead wrong.

There is a reason that NPCs and monsters in the majority of other games (and editions) ever made don't follow the exact same rules as PCs.

It might work because if a player like myself who is also a GM will know when monster X has bypassed a certain number of HP. I also pick up quickly on how people run games. It is not really hard to figure out.

As for the fudging thing, I mentioned "in this case" to point out that it was for the purpose of this post, not a general definition to everyone. The book is not wrong either. Most GM's I know or have met, have no issues with it on a consistent basis. Yeah every once in a while things happen, but that happens in other games also.

What exactly is your standing houserule?


Has anyone looked into the Advanced Game Masters Guide? Even the pros recommend some fudging by the GM for the sake of the campaign/story.
It is all a matter of what may bring the best memories/stories out of the game.


Maxximilius wrote:
pad300 wrote:


In my experience, Gm's who play the "double the HP" game, are the one's rolling saving throws behind screens... and their BBEG's have amazing luck.

I'm ok with DMs rolling dice behind the screen ; because it also probably saved my ass more than once. I'm also ok with a bit of unremarkable cheat from times to times if it means the big bad is able to make us suffer a bit and provide us with a fun game session. Finishing an important fight too quickly or without tears and blood sometimes just leaves a bad aftertaste.

And I speak about my DM, who rolls anything touching his DMPC (his own rolls and rolls made against him) in front of everyone so we're sure that there is no advantage coming from his position.

see im in the boat that if you should die, you should die. the gm shouldnt save me by cheating. also when the gm rolls behind a screen and a warrior npc saves against blindness/deffness, bestow curse, flesh to stone, and hold person wasting 4 rounds in a row, then fails something minor just to save his precious npc... that will get a table flipped in my games.

Grand Lodge

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xanthemann wrote:
Has anyone looked into the Advanced Game Masters Guide? Even the pros recommend some fudging by the GM for the sake of the campaign/story.

Counterpoint.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
xanthemann wrote:
Has anyone looked into the Advanced Game Masters Guide? Even the pros recommend some fudging by the GM for the sake of the campaign/story.
Counterpoint.

Nice counterpoint!

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