Death Attack Vs. Sleeping PC (Question?)


Advice

Sovereign Court

Scenario: Assassins enter through the windows of a tower. Two sleeping persons in room. 1 NPC drow female fighter sleeping with a PC Inquisitor.

Rules say sleeping perception is +10 DC +1/10 feet.

Would the following be a fair way to adjudicate this:

Assassins stealth +15. + Roll of 13 = 28.

Allow the PC and the NPC to each roll perception with a +11 to the DC of 28. This means they would need to roll 39 to perceive the Assassins in round 1.

If they fail. The Assassins enter the tower room and 2 begin to study the NPC and PC respectively.

NPC rolls 15. PC rolls 14. They add their perception to these rolls. Totals (for example) might be 23 and 31 respectively.

The two assassins successfully study them for the round.

Rinse and repeat... two more times.

QUESTION: Is is just me, or would GMs be real dicks if they run this scenario of assassins entering a tower bedroom. I don't see how the +11 sleeping penalty can be overcome by a 6th level PC.

BACKGROUND: I once had a GM do this to me. And I hated it. But my current campaign story just happens to warrant this exact scenario today!

PLEASE SAVE MY GAME. Any thoughts? Am I missing anything?

-Pax

Silver Crusade

How about instead of Assassinate they could deliver a story poison or curse? Ya know something that takes a quest or great deal of effort to cure? Alternatively as a fear tactic the assassins could simply leave something behind, like an arrowhead on top of a pillow as a warning and to let the characters know they are not safe.

Just trying to think of alternatives, because yes, getting coup de graced in your sleep f~@#ing sucks.

Sovereign Court

Or you can cast the spell alarm every night like a paranoid person.

Sovereign Court

Nothing says that death attack prevents someone from screaming out in pain as they die! Just have them go for the NPC first, then give PCs a perception check vs their deathcry.

Sovereign Court

Ouch, I like this option. Kill the love interest first, alerting the PC. Functionally this would jolt the PC awake.

However, with several assassins available in the scenario... I would think they would assassinate both at once for just that reason.

Hmmmn.

Nope. Seems like a "gimme".

Perhaps this just truly sucks.

Maybe the only way to "survive" this scenario, is for the PC to not be tempted to sleep in the tower chamber that night. Really the only way to avoid death is to avoid the scenario.

Truly this sucks.

Mechanically, there's really no "saving grace" (pun intended) to this type of scenario is there?

If a GM wants a PC dead, assassins while sleeping are pretty much a guarantee, aren't they?

Silver Crusade

While the victim does get a Fort save vs the death attack this does bring back around of why you're throwing things with levels in the Assassin PrC against level 1s?????? (Just now occurred to me the significant level difference)

IF you need assassins have them be level 1 or 2 rogues, slayers, or inquisitors. Having high level enemies come and attempt to kill lower level PCs in their sleep is just all around a dick move.


This is why most adventuring groups keep a watch. Sleep makes you very vulnerable.

Sovereign Court

well that's without counting that 6th level assassin have quiet death, so not like hearing a death attack would even come into play.

Well it depends really, if you were in the known for awhile that assassins were after you, you basically need to take the proper precaution. Usually a dm for a sense of fair play would give you hints and the likes that assassins are after you.

Now if it is the first time that an assassination attempt happens to your character...well yeah that sucks, but well at least the fighter might succeed on the fort save from death attack which is pretty low around these levels.

Silver Crusade

Eltacolibre wrote:

well that's without counting that 6th level assassin have quiet death, so not like hearing a death attack would even come into play.

Well it depends really, if you were in the known for awhile that assassins were after you, you basically need to take the proper precaution. Usually a dm for a sense of fair play would give you hints and the likes that assassins are after you.

Now if it is the first time that an assassination attempt happens to your character...well yeah that sucks, but well at least the fighter might succeed on the fort save from death attack which is pretty low around these levels.

From the OP I believe Pax is the GM in this situation.

Sovereign Court

Oh he is, well then let me put on my DM hat:

Just don't do it like that at least. At the end of the day, it's an adventure, it's actually way more interesting and entertaining if you setup an ambush or maybe have them fight the assassin while their drink/food have been poisoned so they are all in a weakened state.

From now on the players will most likely keep watch and prepare themselves to face assassins in the future never knowing when they will strike. This would keep an interesting tension and thrill for the players and everybody would have fun on the table.

Sovereign Court

Pax Veritas wrote:


If a GM wants a PC dead, assassins while sleeping are pretty much a guarantee, aren't they?

If the GM wants a PC dead - they're dead. There are a million ways to make it work.

Natural lightning bolt.

Meteor falls from the sky.

A massive dungeon cave in.

Etc.

Just don't run stuff where any PC is almost certain to die. It's a jerk move.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Heh I've had an assassin PC do this exact thing to sleeping NPCs before. But it's no fun to just off and kill a PC this way.

The scenario you describe is very plausible and that's pretty much how it will go down if you let it. But you're the GM - if you don't want that to happen it doesn't happen that way.

First, it's poor planning if the PC knows he has assassins after him and takes no precautions whatsoever. If the PC has no way to know there's a price on his head you might want to let that come out in game somehow to warn the PC to take precautions. If he does know and he still sleeps unguarded perhaps he earned what he got. A lot there depends on the maturity level of your game and player.

If there are assassins coming in the night to get this guy and he has no idea that this is even a possibility, you could always rely on luck to save him. Sometimes people wake up in the middle of the night. He could awaken with the assassins right there in the room, which is a bad situation but not instant death. Maybe a guard or maid in the tower checks on him at just the right time. That sort of thing.


Let's look at the scale here...

So, Assassin PrCs are minimum 6th level (CR5, though generally underwhelming except in the very specific circumstances you are using).

You're using two CR5's (a CR7 encounter for a group of 4-5 PCs) against a 6th level PC and a 1st level NPC (which is effectively not even a combatant). I think it's fair to say that the situation you're describing is definitely optimal for the assassins, so at least a +1 CR mod on top of that. So, CR 8.

If 4-5 PCs were involved, this would be a "Hard" encounter.

Yes, as described, it's pretty fair to expect the PC to get slaughtered.

-TimD


My one rules idea (so far):
- Do the assassins have some way to see the targets? If it is dim lighting in the room, the targets should have concealment, which would negate the death attack since it is a form of sneak attack. You could grant a favorable bonus to the targets perception if the assassins have to create light, for example.


Why is no one taking watches? Just take watches. My group ALWAYS take watches. Just have someone take watch to just... watch. Then switch watches in the middle of the night so someone else takes the rest of the watch and watches for the assassins.

It's not complicated.

watch

Scarab Sages

1. KISS: Coup de Grace does not require a study period and usually has a higher DC.

2. Don't be surprised if your players get pissed.


You're correct rules wise - it turns out that killing a sleeping character is really easy. Just use a Coupe de Grace even.

The real question: is the player in this position because they ignored the warning signs and did something stupid, or because you're GMing badly?

Also: are the PC's high enough level/wealthy enough for a raise spell? If so the assassination is just a monetary b&~*+ slap that tells the players they did something wrong.

Sovereign Court

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Assassins are half elves CR5 each (4@CR9)

Two persons in room: 1 CR6 PC (Male human Inquisitor), and 1 CR6 NPC (female DrowFighter).

Scenario: I'm pretty sure this is a dick move, just like Charon's Little Helper mentions.

When this happened to me, I felt it was stupid.

Now, even though I can and probably should I think a better way is in order:

Some IDEAS based on input from thread (above):
>Give the clue that an assassin's dagger was found, along with some poison.
>Have an NPC as the PCs, "Are you aware of any reason any one of you might be wanted dead? We have reason to believe there is an assassin, or assassins in or around the Keep tonight."

Then, have the PCs take any necessary precautions....
If the target PC must choose either A) Have sex with the drow elf and sleep or B) post a watch near where he sleeps and ensure someone is awake all night watching for assassins.

Then, I can spring the assassins on the target PC in his new environment.... might not be the Keep Tower room as I would like it to be... but hey, at least it isn't a "jerk" move... and the result can be a battle with other PCs or alone, but still a very viable fighting chance.

I completely agree, if the GM wants a PC dead, it happens. Boom. And this is something I can't stand as a player... dunno why I struggled with this today as a GM. I was just amazed that the rules have the PCs dead-to-rights when it comes to a scenario like this.

PC CR6+NPC CR6= CR8 vs. 4 Assassins at CR5 = CR9, so its really only a hard encounter, but when you add ***SLEEP*** plus Assassins, its pretty much overwith, isn't it?

Pax

Sovereign Court

actually the rules don't work like that for pc vs npc...yeah I know it's a mess.

If there are only two players PC level 6 + npc level 6 = APL 6 -1 (for three and fewer players) = APL 5

4 assassins at cr 5 = CR 9.


Pax Veritas wrote:


QUESTION: Is is just me, or would GMs be real dicks if they run this scenario of assassins entering a tower bedroom. I don't see how the +11 sleeping penalty can be overcome by a 6th level PC.

BACKGROUND: I once had a GM do this to me. And I hated it. But my current campaign story just happens to warrant this exact scenario today!

PLEASE SAVE MY GAME. Any thoughts? Am I missing anything?

I don't think GMs would be real dicks if they ran that scenario in a grittily-realistic campaign. There's a reason that the President of the United States doesn't sleep in a tower with an open window, and that the Secret Service still has agents on during the night shift. If you're going to assassinate someone, doing it while they sleep is both effective and appropriate.

.... but uncinematic and rather disappointingly anticlimactic. If you're running this kind of scenario, don't be surprised if someone tries to use a Dexterity poison on the next dragon they run into.

From a mundane perspective -- why is there no one on watch? Why are there no guards deputed? Why aren't there bars on the windows of the tower?

From a magical perspective, that's why spells like alarm and keep watch exist. So an intelligent PC in a realistically gritty universe would know that this is a possibility and choose to take that risk (or not).

The big question is -- are you running such a universe? If the universe has been running on cinematic rules so far, then you're breaking your own ruleset by suddenly going "real world" on them. And that is being a dick.

Sovereign Court

There is no one on watch because they are having sex. That didn't even cross my mind the first time, I read it but would have been simpler to just come out and say it.


This is an absolute dick move.

This is described as a tower, so where are the guards?
Also, what about windows and/or shutters? Stealth allows you to move around silently, but the same check should not allow you to manipulate objects silently. And those objects could have penalties to associated stealth checks (i.e. rusty hinges).


Eltacolibre wrote:
There is no one on watch because they are having sex.

So? Obama doesn't send the Secret Service agents to Maryland because he's having sex in DC. The Queen's Guard still surrounds Buckingham Palace even when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are in bed.....

Sovereign Court

Orfamay Quest wrote:
Eltacolibre wrote:
There is no one on watch because they are having sex.

So? Obama doesn't send the Secret Service agents to Maryland because he's having sex in DC. The Queen's Guard still surrounds Buckingham Palace even when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are in bed.....

A group of CR 9 assassins, considering the average guards are cr 1-2 when lucky...frankly killing a bunch of guards wouldn't be the biggest issue here.

But then again, we don't have a lot of details, are the other party members in the keep? are the guards actually higher levels?


A much more interesting scenario is when the assassins burst in while the two are in the middle of sex rather than when they are asleep. Still gives advantage to the assassins and much more likely to be a memorable fight.


I was going to suggest the window/shutter be squeaky and be unexpectedly loud for the assassins entry, negating a chunk of the perception penalty.

Silver Crusade

thorin001 wrote:
A much more interesting scenario is when the assassins burst in while the two are in the middle of sex rather than when they are asleep. Still gives advantage to the assassins and much more likely to be a memorable fight.

I am greatly in favor of this.


First of all was the Window locked? Did the inquisitor use any kind of preparation at all? The inquisitor is probably one of the most likely classes to be paranoid about this type of thins so should have not just gone up to the room and fell asleep.

The DC to hear a key turning in a lock is 20. If the Window was locked the Assassin will have to make a disable device roll to open it which would give both characters a roll to hear the window being unlocked. I would say that that roll will be against the base of 20 with the +11 being added in that makes the DC a 31. This is before the window is even open, so they will also get another roll to hear the windows being opened. If the inquisitor has half a brain then he would have put something on the window that would get knocked over when the window was opened. A big heavy object or a fragile glass that is sure to shatter on the floor is probably best. Both characters should at this point get another perception roll to hear the disturbance. This will probably be against a base of 10 at best, adjusted for the characters being asleep for a total of 21. If the assassin manages to get this far then the rest of the story happens like the original post.

Keep in mind the inquisitor is probably the most paranoid and cautious class in the game. He knows how easy it is to get the jump on some so will know a lot of tricks to prevent it from happening to him. This is also without using any kind of magic like the spell Alarm.

Shadow Lodge

Don't surprise kill the characters without a combat, even if it is because they are unprepared.

Sure it's realistic. It's also really unenjoyable. By killing the characters like this, you lose sight of the fact that this is a game where everybody is supposed to have fun.

Sovereign Court

I like Mysterious Stranger's ideas for modifying the DC contextually based on shutters and noise. I figured the STEALTH skill would account for that, but hadn't considered penalties.

Also Rysky and Thorin001 also like the idea of assassins bursting in during sex. So do I.

Orginally, I didn't come out and say it, because I'm technically uncertain of the PC choice in this matter. But assuming sex...

Sex and assassins would make for a very memorable encounter. Modifications down to DC21 for noisy shutters, hinges, crumbling wall structure, etc. might make for a great encounter.

The PC AC will be 10+Dex. Depending on his "position" he might be "prone"... But hey, at least they stand a chance...

Perhaps the studders are so strong, the assassins climbing the outer tower wall cannot hear the passion inside... so they don't wait long enough to burst in...

Dunno.


Putting on my GM hat ... I think throwing this at the PCs out of the blue is kind of a dick move. I would make sure my players KNOW that there's an assassin out to get them (or that they should reasonably expect an assassin) before pulling this.


Stealth is for hiding and moving silently. I don’t think that stealth should cover other things besides the character using stealth. Would wearing an elven cloak make the sound of the windows being unlocked any less? Another thing that could be done is to string a bunch of bells on the inside of the window so that anyone opening the windows causes the bells to ring.

The point is that there are a lot of mundane things that can be done to thwart stealth. Good security does not rely on only a single method of detection. If the inquisitor knows he is being hunted he could even put grease of some sort on the window to make anyone coming through the windows fall.

Sovereign Court

I agree pennywit. Total dick move. And I'm not going to do to them what was once done to me.

I'll have the PCs discover that the Paladins have uncovered an Assassin's Dagger and poison on the grounds of the keep.

This should alert the PCs and provide some interesting roleplay as they try to surmise who has come for whom?!?

Then, it will be up to the PCs to take precautions that evening.

This way, I can be prepared to:
>Run the above encounter OR
>Skip the above encouter if the assassins call off the attack due to the precautions OR
> Run the same enemies in a more favorable territory, have the alarms and whatnot go off, wherever the target PC decides to sleep (with one eye open ;)

Thanks everyone, you really helped today!

Pax

Sovereign Court

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Pax Veritas wrote:

Scenario: Assassins enter through the windows of a tower. Two sleeping persons in room. 1 NPC drow female fighter sleeping with a PC Inquisitor.

Rules say sleeping perception is +10 DC +1/10 feet.

Would the following be a fair way to adjudicate this:

Assassins stealth +15. + Roll of 13 = 28.

Allow the PC and the NPC to each roll perception with a +11 to the DC of 28. This means they would need to roll 39 to perceive the Assassins in round 1.

If they fail. The Assassins enter the tower room and 2 begin to study the NPC and PC respectively.

NPC rolls 15. PC rolls 14. They add their perception to these rolls. Totals (for example) might be 23 and 31 respectively.

The two assassins successfully study them for the round.

Rinse and repeat... two more times.

QUESTION: Is is just me, or would GMs be real dicks if they run this scenario of assassins entering a tower bedroom. I don't see how the +11 sleeping penalty can be overcome by a 6th level PC.

BACKGROUND: I once had a GM do this to me. And I hated it. But my current campaign story just happens to warrant this exact scenario today!

PLEASE SAVE MY GAME. Any thoughts? Am I missing anything?

-Pax

Honestly I avoid certain tactics vs players, but I won't say its "wrong". It depends on how gritty of a game the players are used to. If you have been playing "nice" and then suddenly switch gears I don't think it is a good move. If this is tone you have established early on, and the players did not have someone on guard that is on them.

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