New GM seeking advice for dealing with player's 'creative' solutions.


Advice


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Okay, as the title of the thread says I am new to GMing and I have already found that it is an entirely different beast sitting behind the screen than on the player side of it. I've come across a few situations in this that I really had no idea how to respond as a GM to some of their ideas.

My group of four players (myself included) has decided to run through Rise of the Runelords together and switch off GMs for each book so no one has to GM for the entire campaign. I drew the first book (Burnt Offerings) and before I go any further I feel that I should place a warning that there may be some spoilers ahead.

Two situations, in particular, come to mind. The first is in the Catacombs of Wrath part of the first book. The party allowed Erylium to escape from the initial encounter (which they had gone to almost immediately) and she later ambushed them in the room with Koruvus. With all of her spells activated the PCs were struggling to lay a hand on her. The Paladin who had used smite on her earlier couldn't even seem to hit her. After several rounds the Rogue takes down Koruvus and I mention that Erylium seems to be about to flee. On the initiative the Paladin decides to remove his cloak and attempt to grapple/entangle Erylium in it. Unsure of how to respond I allowed it to go forward telling the Paladin that if he wishes to attempt it he will need to make a reflex save to avoid stepping on one of the lids on the floor and falling 20 feet like the cleric already had. He agrees and makes his grapple check and beats her CMD significantly but ends up falling in the hole with her. The scene goes downhill quickly as he (while getting attacked by a zombie) proceeds to pin and then use rope to tie her up.

The second involves a more absurd scenario at Thisletop. The group had already killed the druid and his animal companion before fighting the other group of goblins and taking one of them alive. While the Paladin was away from the table the group questioned the goblin getting what information it had. And learning what was at the bottom of the hole the group came up with the idea to use their three 50ft segments of hemp rope to tie up the goblin along with several swords and to make a make-shift fishhook and lower the goblin down the roaring hole to get the Bunyip from its lair up to them. When the Paladin came back they had already secured the goblin below and told the Paladin to pull on the line they secured to some trees and proceeded to make opposed strength checks to pull the creature up from its lair. Not having any idea how to respond to the idea of "Goblin Fishing" I made them roll a survival check followed by I offered them a craft Trap or Profession Fisherman to actually make it.

So I'm asking for input from other GMs to see how you might respond to a party who insists on such measures that aren't covered in the rules?


I'd say well done on the Paladin's part in regards to getting the person tied up. If the Paladin averts his eyes from his captive at any time, you can casually mention that they turn to the captive and she's missing. You're the GM, she could have made an escape artist check and gotten away while they're trying to fish up the Goblin, but for the others you might want to alignment check them in regards to using the Goblin as live bait. That sounds like an evil act willfully risking a living creature's life to lure something out. Good or Lawful aligned characters would likely object to that considering it's pretty cruel.


The pathfinder books are fairly clear that you shouldn't regard the goblins life as worth more then an earthworm. They are creature of malice made to hurt others. As far as I know hunting and fishing aren't evil act.

Also you respond the same way you did. Link it to the closest stats or skill check and go with it. The fun of role-playing is the liberty it gives.


I am failing to see the problem here. Just roll with it, metaphorically speaking.


Those are great ideas. And they should be proud.

If they start thinking of a sapient creature like a Goblin with the same regard as an earthworm just because a f#$+ing book told them to do so, then they are the monsters. Good for them!

For the first part, I usually don't even hint at that kind of thing. If it's campaign breaking, I'd just let them know the enemy escaped.

PLUS, remember to use the Withdraw action! They won't be able to catch anyone through Withdraw, much less a heavily armored Pally.


They don't think its an earthworm because a book told it. The book define the reality in which they go, in this reality goblins are at best animals, more realistically they are worse (since animals, even carnivore don't have intentional malice.)

I would actually be tempted to penalize (i probably wont do it however) Someone who say because he is good he has to take care of goblins. Unless of course hes role-playing this kind of guy that don't want to hurt any living being including insect and all the rest.

But the chances are, they eat meat, they kill mosquitoes that bother them and punish evil doers swiftly. Using it as a bait ain't really that much more cruel then just strait up killing it.


zapbib wrote:
They don't think its an earthworm because a book told it. The book define the reality in which they go, in this reality goblins are at best animals, more realistically they are worse (since animals, even carnivore don't have intentional malice.)

So, like, humans?

Gonna leave this here, but I do think that the world is made by how your players react to it. I'd take modules and paths as just a guideline.


If the Pally tries using his robe for future grapple attempts again and you don't have environmental hazards, you could give a circumstantial bonus to the CMB attempt to grapple, or apply non-proficiency penalties unless he has things like Catch off-Guard, Rough and Ready, or Equipment Trick: Cloak. Or, penalize the CMD of the target by a circumstantial -2 because she wasn't expecting that. Of course, then you get into whether or not stripping your cloak is a swift/immediate/standard/free action, and whether it provokes, and then there goes the element of surprise...

It really depends on how complicated you'd like to make things, sounds like your doing fine though, and you'll get better with experience. No DM is confident AND capable straight out of the box :)


To be fair, remember that he had pulled it off on a Quasit. Doing the same on anything bigger is unlikely to have similar success.


I was there, it was shenanigans.

Admittedly creative shenanigans.


Don't be afraid to improvise skill rolls for unorthodox tactics. Also, seconded on double-checking alignments with regards to Goblin-Fishing (or would that be Bunyip fishing?).

Scarab Sages

Eh, killing a goblin that's trying to kill you is fine. Torturing it by using it as live bait, thus unnecessarily prolonging its fear and pain? Yeah, that's evil.

Sovereign Court

Isn't cruelty always evil? There might be degrees, making a difference between cruelty to animals, very cute animals, goblins, and humans, but cruelty is still evil, right?


Goblins, for the purpose of that AP, are soulless monsters, irredeemable and cruel. You can worldbuild however you want at home. In this AP, you have to be a complete nutjob to think Goblins can be "fixed" or reasoned with. They're chaotic evil by definition, yes all of them, yes exactly like the stat block.


Their alignment isn't in dispute here. But they remain sentient creatures, and as such anything that essentially breaks down into torture becomes a violation of the paladin code. Even needlessly harming animals without humanoid intelligence should be a violation of the code.


SunsetPsychosis wrote:
Their alignment isn't in dispute here. But they remain sentient creatures, and as such anything that essentially breaks down into torture becomes a violation of the paladin code. Even needlessly harming animals without humanoid intelligence should be a violation of the code.

This isn't a question of the paladin code. The paladin wasn't at the table for when it was thought up and performed, and thus the paladin themselves had no input into it. Its on the rest of the, admittedly less morally bound, party.


I am not say a goblin can be redeemed but a paladin would insist on a quick death.

Using the body as bait might be okay.

Let a cool thing work once. After the game make sure that the players know it worked due to cool and not to expect it work again.


The rules can never, ever cover every possibility. Adjudicating creative approaches like this is part and parcel of GM'ing. Get used to it.

I think you handled the Erylium scenario exactly right. It's generally best to let players try things; but if the situation warrants it, or even if you just want to complicate their lives, you are totally free to impose reasonable extras, such as the reflex save to avoid the zombie pit. The party dealt with it, and now they'll have a new story to tell.

As for the second scenario, the solution itself was clever. The morality of it is debatable, and I'm sure lots of people will debate it. Ultimately it's up to you as GM to decide whether using a goblin as bunyip bait is an act evil enough to cause your Paladin alignment trouble.


My players are constantly coming up with shenanigans opps, creative solutions. It sounds like you’re doing a good job. The key is to do the best you can while keeping the game running smoothly. Fun is the main purpose of pathfinder, so what if a skill check is not done 100% right as long as everyone is having fun. Sometimes I don’t even require checks like diplomacy if the characters are having fun role playing. If my players come up with a solution to a situation that makes the encounter super easy, like dragging a mean monster out of the cave with a goblin on a makeshift hook, then I scale down the xp I award. Or if it was done in a clever way I might award additional xp it would depend on the shadiness of the players. Ultimately the pcs are the main characters in the story how they want to solve the conflicts facing them is on them, but that doesn't mean that I have to give them full xp for using shady tactics to make encounters easier.


Yeah, the goblin fishing line is a little messed up, but grappling is actually a great way to handle those damnable imps and quasits at low levels, if you've got the strength to keep it up. Otherwise, a well-played quasit could easily wipe a party that lacks a good magical option to incapacitate it.

As far as handling creative solutions in general, be they brilliant or utterly stupid... Well, that's something that only practice and experience is going to help with. The only thing I'd recommend is taking a serious moment to fully think over what the players are asking to do -- don't let the heat of the moment pressure you into quick decision that you might not be happy with later. And shenanigans don't have to be successful, or even possible, to be hilarious and awesome.


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PALADIN IS INVOLVED IN QUESTION ON ADVICE FORUMS
PALADIN FALLS


DominusMegadeus wrote:
Goblins, for the purpose of that AP, are soulless monsters, irredeemable and cruel. You can worldbuild however you want at home. In this AP, you have to be a complete nutjob to think Goblins can be "fixed" or reasoned with. They're chaotic evil by definition, yes all of them, yes exactly like the stat block.

Goblins are 'usually'(I'm using this term lightly they are sentient and can make their decisions to be Good, Lawful, etc.) Neutral Evil not Chaotic also since they are sentient they can be redeemed, they can be Good, they can just be Neutral they can be whatever the player and GM want them to be this is a system and setting where there are Fallen Angels and Risen Demons heck it even has a Fallen Deity nothing is irredeemable or incorruptible.

As for the morality of this I think it is cruel and stepping into Evil territory unless for some reason the Goblin willfully asked for this it'd be better to give it a quick death then use it's body for bait.

As for the OP's question I'd say good for them I think it's nice to see creative ways to solve things but OP if this kind of behavior is bothering you maybe you should sit down and have a chat with your group tell them that while it's nice(if you think this) that they can find creative ways to do things other than to just kick in the door, kill things, and get loot; but you're not comfortable to try to make things up on the fly like that and would rather go by stuff that is defined in the book.


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Kobold Cleaver wrote:

PALADIN IS INVOLVED IN QUESTION ON ADVICE FORUMS

PALADIN FALLS

In my game I intentionally send optimized Trip specialists against Paladin characters. And then when they fall I take away their class features and make them into Warriors.


DominusMegadeus wrote:
Goblins, for the purpose of that AP, are soulless monsters, irredeemable and cruel. You can worldbuild however you want at home. In this AP, you have to be a complete nutjob to think Goblins can be "fixed" or reasoned with. They're chaotic evil by definition, yes all of them, yes exactly like the stat block.

How dare you?


By the way, the only logical reason goblins aren't Chaotic Evil is that Paizo didn't want to change the balance of the "goblin trinity". :P


I like the grappling thing :)

The goblin-fishing sounds like something my last group would do, and those characters were at best neutral and had two of evil alignment among them (on a side-note: evil parties are not much as much fun as some people may think, and bloody hard to motivate).
I am not so good with the ethics, but I think that it matters what one does to another is what counts, and not what the other is. If you are good, you don't use other beings as bait, no matter what they are. And we talk absolute alignment here, something we don't have in the real world.


Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Traskus wrote:
The party allowed Erylium to escape from the initial encounter (which they had gone to almost immediately) and she later ambushed them in the room with Koruvus. With all of her spells activated the PCs were struggling to lay a hand on her. The Paladin who had used smite on her earlier couldn't even seem to hit her.

I think you handled the cloak well - basically you can think of it as an improvised net - which gives a +2 to the grapple, but a -2 for the improvise. I'd have a problem with the goblin fishing in one of my games, but by the setting standard, they are evil monsters.

Just checking - the paladin was still getting his/her smite bonus against Erylium, right? Because...

Paizo PRD/Paladin's Smite Evil wrote:
The smite evil effect remains until the target of the smite is dead or the next time the paladin rests and regains her uses of this ability.

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