Tactics, rules and bad player attitude


Advice

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Malag wrote:
Chengar Qordath wrote:
I do think it might have been a bit much to use that same tactic multiple times in one session. I would've given them some time to think over that encounter and figure out how to handle those sorts of tactics in the future before springing it on them again. That way, ideally, they have time to figure out a solution, think tactically, and can enjoy beating a trick that worked on them last time.
Well, it was only 1 encounter of such type. 2nd encounter was resolved under normal conditions. Mercenaries rushed into melee. A fairly regular combat encounter overall, but two managed to escape via already mentioned Stealth tactics.

Ah, thanks for clarifying that. Though I think your players were still frustrated by the same "Withdrawal+stealth" technique being used again, even if the overall encounter design was different.


I don't even think withdraw is particularly salient to the issue here.

You had an enemy double move and use stealth to retreat. It's not a crazy tactic. Withdraw would simply mean if the enemy did manage to become adjacent they wouldn't get an AoO as the enemy left. The proper response again is to use ranged weapons, even if you're bad at it.

Players also need to learn to accept that they cannot defeat/kill every enemy. Sometimes they will escape if played intelligently. Sometimes PCs escape even when a battle goes poorly and a few PCs are killed. From the enemy's perspective it is similarly frustrating.

The PCs just need to learn to have a more diverse set of actions then hitting it with a melee weapon or damaging spell.

Obscuring Mist could have pretty much ended the first encounter with no damage. You create fog which last minutes per level and provides total concealment (aka can't target the PCs). Sure, the archers would have known where they are but they also would have had to travel to them and engage in melee. Or they would have had to wait and ready actions to attack. This would have given the PCs more time to determine the next course of action.

Had they had something as simple as a wand of obscuring mist they could have created a long line of fog to reach wooded cover and continued on using stealth. Theoretically the PCs can even use the concealment provided from the fog to use stealth and move out of the fog remaining hidden until they end the turn out of concealment or do something else that negates stealth.

This is 1 very simple tactic that could have been employed but wasn't.

The PCs got so used to putting the square peg in the square hole, that when they found a round hole they tried to hammer the damn thing in and instead hit themselves with the hammer.


The tactics are fine, but it definitely becomes abusive when the CR for the fight was already MORE THAN TWICE THE PARTY LEVEL.

As was already pointed out, having the enemies split into two groups made it so the enemies could keep their range better, and get off more shots even if they weren't firing every turn. But because they weren't firing every turn they kept even more distance. I can see how that would become frustrating very quickly. (Also, at those ranges were you giving the archers their negative to hit for range increments?) You made the party run through rough terrain which slowed their movement and gave the archers an even bigger advantage.

I'm guessing the players didn't use ranged weapons because they just wouldn't have been able to hit. Especially if you were making them take their move actions to even find the enemy.


Also, you keep pointing out that the encounter would have ended after a certain number of rounds or certain amount of damage to the attackers.

Why these limitations? The second one makes some sort of sense but the first one doesn't at all. What's the purpose of attacking the players just to run away after a few shots?

Also, you knew these limitations so it might have seemed more fair to you but the players had no way of knowing this. If you were walking in a valley and random people started shooting at you your reaction wouldn't be "Oh I'll just wait it out, they'll leave in a bit." It would be to kill them before they can kill you. Even if they didn't use the best tactics for the situation, you're blaming them for not knowing things they had no way of knowing.


Other than the move action Perception checks I don't have a problem with this style of encounter. Point of fact I often use this sort of encounter though generally I use it with 'cowardly' low level critters with dex boni such as goblins. The fact you had already determined that this was a tick tock (max number of rounds, though to be fair they wouldn't have known that) encounter that they only had to survive should have been easy. A simple obscuring mist spell combined with prone would give layered defenses that were likely enough to foil the ambush entirely.

Let's face it every time I've been a player and the GM describes an area as being heavily wooded on either side of a central feature (valley road whatever) not only do I expect an ambush but I often try to move using the cover of the woodlands. Just makes since worst case I stumble onto the baddies or they ambush me where there are lots of trees for cover and concealment enabling a chance at escape, but it stops them from dictating every aspect of the fight.

These guys are adventure's, spellcasters adventurers to boot, their lack of paranoia is the problem here.

Only thing I suggest to do in the future, before running a game sit down and tell your players what kind of game you tend to run. If they have it in their head they are playing Heroic fantasy where they run up to the giant climb upon its back and stab it to death, but you are envisioning a gritty game where that giant nonchalantly flicks the bugger of his back and then stomps him to mush its going to be bad times. As long as everyone is on the same page and realizes that it is entirely possible for a PC to die in ambush from an arrow to the neck, at least it will be expected and players can plan accordingly.

Regards,
DRS

Sczarni

@Lilith Knight

I have enough confidence in my GMing skills to say that encounter was no higher then CR6 due to specific tactics. We can disagree if you wish, but lets not blow it out of proportions.

If you wonder what's the purpose of attacking target just to run after few shots, I am not sure what to answer. Maybe watching some old Vietnam movies might clarify it better, but in short, enemy was out to test the PCs, make them waste resources and force them back from the area. If you are however right about anything, it's that I haven't probably explained PCs situation well enough but considering I had explain every detail more then 2-3 times, I eventually gave up. They weren't exactly paying enough attention.


Do the PCs realize they are deep in enemy territory? Essentially surrounded on all sides by a group that are individually substantially weaker than the PCs, but can use their combined strength and tactics to defeat them.

Because that's what I'm taking away from this. It seems like it should be obvious to the PCs that they are in hostile territory. But perhaps as suggested earlier you should drop a note, or journal, or some orders or something that will provide a little more direct detail to the PCs.

Also keep in mind the rule of 3. Give the PCs three chances to find out some details. They might only ever find 1, but don't provide so much (or the same details) in all 3 places so that if they find more than 1 it's still helpful.

Perhaps orders found will make it clear the PCs are wanted dead and are known to be too powerful to take in a straight up combat. Hinting that guerrilla tactics will be de rigueur.

Perhaps a note can drop hints about the groups base of operations or other important locations.

Perhaps a journal entry can mention a fall back point that will be used to ambush the PCs again if the current ambush fails (which it already has).

Scarab Sages

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Malag wrote:
All party members are special snowflakes with darkvision really and they had special spell which enables them to sleep with armor on while being awake.

Okay. I'm going to say it. At this point it really feels as if your players don't want to play the kind of game you want to run. You want to run a relatively gritty realistic game where enemies think intelligently and heroes can die if they do something stupid. Your players sound like a bunch of powergamers* who want to play on "Easy Mode" (whatever that is) by eliminating anything that would inconvenience them by way of using spells such as the ones you mentioned. Those spells exist. That's fine. Many people want to play that way. That's also fine. Not everyone does.

This is not an ideal situation. You might need to all have a sit down and discuss what kind of game you're wanting to play together.

* Back in the day (before Monte Cook tried to kid us all that being a powergamer was respectable) this was not a term of endearment. Apparently we now all have to call powergamers twinks or tweakies or rules players or somesuch fiddle faddle just because other more respectable players want to be called powergamers but don't want to be associated with the really bad examples out there :p. In the above paragraph I was not using the word in a very positive light. That being said I was using it to possibly describe a strong conflict of play styles between your players and yourself. Your tastes seem to differ.


Malag wrote:

@Lilith Knight

I have enough confidence in my GMing skills to say that encounter was no higher then CR6 due to specific tactics. We can disagree if you wish, but lets not blow it out of proportions.

If you wonder what's the purpose of attacking target just to run after few shots, I am not sure what to answer. Maybe watching some old Vietnam movies might clarify it better, but in short, enemy was out to test the PCs, make them waste resources and force them back from the area. If you are however right about anything, it's that I haven't probably explained PCs situation well enough but considering I had explain every detail more then 2-3 times, I eventually gave up. They weren't exactly paying enough attention.

This sounds like a communication gap between you and your players. You should probably discuss it with them. Perhaps you and they are looking for different things in a gaming experience.


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Balgin wrote:
Malag wrote:
All party members are special snowflakes with darkvision really and they had special spell which enables them to sleep with armor on while being awake.

Okay. I'm going to say it. At this point it really feels as if your players don't want to play the kind of game you want to run. You want to run a relatively gritty realistic game where enemies think intelligently and heroes can die if they do something stupid. Your players sound like a bunch of powergamers* who want to play on "Easy Mode" (whatever that is) by eliminating anything that would inconvenience them by way of using spells such as the ones you mentioned. Those spells exist. That's fine. Many people want to play that way. That's also fine. Not everyone does.

This is not an ideal situation. You might need to all have a sit down and discuss what kind of game you're wanting to play together.

* Back in the day (before Monte Cook tried to kid us all that being a powergamer was respectable) this was not a term of endearment. Apparently we now all have to call powergamers twinks or tweakies or rules players or somesuch fiddle faddle just because other more respectable players want to be called powergamers but don't want to be associated with the really bad examples out there :p. In the above paragraph I was not using the word in a very positive light. That being said I was using it to possibly describe a strong conflict of play styles between your players and yourself. Your tastes seem to differ.

Anytime your analysis boils down to "One side of this disagreement is a perfect paragon of pure righteousness, and the other is subhuman scum that is trying to ruin roleplaying games for everyone" you might want to take a second look at how you're evaluating things.


Malag wrote:
Dave Justus wrote:


In response to the original topic, I do think that enemies that run away and hide and use cover tends to make for very long, very slow, very frustrating encounters. They aren't unfair exactly, but they can be un-fun, especially when overused. One thing I can promise you is that players HATE bad guys getting away.
I am aware it might be un-fun, but I simply felt that PCs have to experience it and boil up the hate against them so later, when they reach final encounter, feel the satisfaction of complete victory over them. Encounter was moderately hard in the end. If PCs stayed on spot and used ranged weapons, they would pass unscathed. Also, if 4 or more mercenaries received 50% hp injury, they retreat from combat, so the less of them are, the less harder it is.

Honestly just my .02 copper, this would not boil up hate in me for anyone but my GM.

These tactics are 100% cool and realistic, but also would make the game zero fun. IMO

Liberty's Edge

I am no GM myself so I wouldn't be able to put a CR rating on the encounter, I try to stay oblivious to those things.

However, I do believe the penalty of (-5) when stealthing might have been too low.
And as stated, the reactive perception check when anything stealth is something that might have been overlooked in the heat of the encounter.
Concerning distance modifiers for Perception vs Stealth, I'd roll stealth for the location where the stealthing character first benefits from concealment/cover, while moving.
Then, I believe there is a -1Perception penalty/10 feet so there is a chance the PCs know the enemy sneaked 10ft into a specific/general direction, but then they couldn't notice/follow/apprehend the targets continued path (though they might guess if they know the layout).
Ex Stealth: 19
Perception 19
Advancing Stealth, 19+1 (per10ft)

Here are a few penalties to consider when stealthing (being invisible or not);
(These should stack/overlap/complement the flawed stealth rules.)


In combat or speaking –20
Moving at half speed –5
Moving at full speed –10
Running or charging –20
Not moving +20
Using Stealth Stealth check +20
Some distance away +1 per 10 feet
Behind an obstacle (door) +5
Behind an obstacle (stone wall) +15

"It's impossible to use Stealth while attacking, running, or charging."

Sources:
http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/skills/stealth.html
http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/glossary.html#invisibility

Btw, being invisible doesn't necessarily mean you have 'invisibility' cast upon yourself, just being non-visible is enough.


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Malag wrote:

All party members are special snowflakes

I'm sorry, I'm not familiar with this race. I know a lot of people apparently play PCs of it, though. What is the "special snowflake" race, and why is it only brought up by irritated GMs?

Anyways, "move + stealth" is a bit questionable, but the real problem is it's annoying as f&*@. It's like having NPCs go on total defense—use it sparingly. It's not fun for the players to have to slog through round after round trying to resolve a combat. And it sounds like that was your actual intention—make most of the adventure un-fun so the resolution will be extra satisfying. Um...GMing?


Seems like a standard game to me, maybe a little weak since the first group of ambushers didn't have traps set up (whenever I run into a missile ambush I make bets on where the traps are before we find out with the charge). As long as the players get the nice juicy XPs for defeating the enemies who run off, what are they complaining about? Those ghoulish mercenaries might even come back for a rematch and give more XPs. If the PCs choose to allow the NPCs get to places where they can stealth (hard to do if the PCs put any effort into positioning) then the PCs should pay the price of that choice, which in this case was only NPCs running off. If these sort of encounters weren't fairly likely then the crossbow would not be a part of the standard wizard kit, good for firing into the backs of fleeing enemies. That said, I would try to avoid ambushes from two locations when the NPCs outnumber the PCs - while it makes tactical sense it also makes for difficult combat calculations when the NPCs in one location are firing at the PCs mixing it up with the NPCs in the other location.

I've come to realize that the game I play is non-standard, but there isn't anything unfair about the tactics, just not what lots of players seem to expect.


Malag wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:
Yes you can withdraw(rules definition) and stealth, but not in the same round that you attack.
They never did attack. While characters chased two targets who were constantly withdrawing, two other archers sniped them down. So attacking while withdrawing never really happened. They had advantage in numbers.

I notice you said you were using the sniping rule. I don't see that anyone else specifically mentions it, but I apologize that I have skimmed a bit and may have missed it. Is this what you meant?

Sniping: If you've already successfully used Stealth at least 10 feet from your target, you can make one ranged attack and then immediately use Stealth again. You take a –20 penalty on your Stealth check to maintain your obscured location.

I agree the tactics are not bad, but execution could have been better. The PC's should have received reactive Perception rolls, especially when the ambushers tried to dip back into cover after shooting. If they could see the ambushers at that time, with the -20 to the ambushers' Stealth, then should the ambushers have been able to immediately get a Stealth roll while withdrawing, until the round after, now that they have more distance and terrain between them and the Party? Because you can't Stealth when people can see you.


Ask yourself what you would have done in their place. The fight, as written, isn't reflective of the CR, that's true. However, the PCs have no way of knowing that going into the fight (nor should they) and you have to keep in mind that the players will (or should) react as if they believe their PCs are about to die. Not only do they not know the fight is for 8 rounds, but you should expect them to react appropriately. If that means a death-or-glory charge through the underbrush, then you should see it coming.

Also, you're not playing to your mercs' high intelligence if, after 8 rounds of no serious resistance, they retreated instead of continuing to harass the party, perhaps to the point of one or more deaths. A hit and fade strategy revolves around fading at the first signs significant resistance, or anticipation of significant resistance. If 8 rounds of sniping tells the ghouls that the PCs have no effective means of fighting back, they should take that as the go-ahead to crush them. In the middle of enemy territory, they know there's no reinforcements coming, and in Pathfinder, 8 rounds is an eternity. If the PCs haven't done anything useful in 8 rounds, the foes should assume that nothing threatening is forthcoming. 4 rounds is enough for the vast majority of combats to have a clear winner, even if it takes a couple more rounds to mop up.

Obscuring Mist would only buy time, and a wand of it is hilariously far out of the realm of reasonable in-combat adaptation. I mean, a failure to plan is to plan to fail, but if you're running that kind of game and you see the PCs showing up with a greatsword and 2 throwing daggers or whatever at level 1, you need to tell them they weren't listening and make them understand.

Let's be honest, if you're using ranged attacks even though they're "bad at it", 4 players shooting 1d8 arrows is going to be a miserable failure against 8 ranged specialist ghouls. They've got more bodies to work with, probably Deadly Aim and maybe another ranged feat. And in an area where everyone has cover at a bare minimum.

The fact that you call your PCs "special snowflakes" suggests to me you're not writing out of a disinterested place of concern for your game.

Gaming is a social contract. No outside party can tell you whether your GMing is okay or not okay, we can only make suggestions that will allow your players and you to hopefully have more fun at the table. So while it's cliched to say talk to your GM, I'm going to go ahead and invoke that old chestnut: talk to your players. Make sure you explain what you're thinking, and also make sure you listen to what they say. Both steps are crucial.


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Having recently played in a game where encounters like this were fairly common, I have to say that while not "abusive" the tactics are certainly OBNOXIOUS.

There is absolutely NOTHING fun about fighting a bunch of dicks who hit and run. You end up sitting there for 3 hours at a table, round by round going "I ready an action to hit them/cast at them/whatever when they reappear" and sighing unless you happen to have a real battlefield controller on hand who can shut that kind of thing down completely which not every party has or wants.

*Wanders off and punches a wall thinking about f*@#ing Blink Dogs in mazes AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA*


Jaunt wrote:


Also, you're not playing to your mercs' high intelligence if, after 8 rounds of no serious resistance, they retreated instead of continuing to harass the party, perhaps to the point of one or more deaths. A hit and fade strategy revolves around fading at the first signs significant resistance, or anticipation of significant resistance. If 8 rounds of sniping tells the ghouls that the PCs have no effective means of fighting back, they should take that as the go-ahead to crush them. In the middle of enemy territory, they know there's no reinforcements coming, and in Pathfinder, 8 rounds is an eternity. If the PCs haven't done anything useful in 8 rounds, the foes should assume that nothing threatening is forthcoming. 4 rounds is enough for the vast majority of combats to have a clear winner, even if it takes a couple more rounds to mop up.

Depends on the objective of the ghouls and their supply lines. A quiver of arrows is 20 shots. Assuming rapid shot that means after 8 rounds they are down to 4 arrows. If they are staggering fire then they are down to 12 arrows. If they only have 1 quiver of arrows each 8 rounds of staggered fire without inflicting any real or noticeable causalities the ghouls might just say "Eh we aren't doing anything here but wasting ammo, lets draw off, meet at the rendezvous point, and see if we can't figure out a better plan." Also the engagement taught the mercenaries that these guys are not prepared for ranged combat as of this time and can factor that in future ambushes. I know a lot of individuals say that ranged combat is the best style but a high level fighter can blow through a quiver of arrows in like 3 rounds. Endless ammunition enchant is +2 so a total of a minimum +3 weapon likely out of these mercs price range. Keeping missle weapons fed is a chore. Furthermore the whole idea of a ranged ambush is so that you don't have to go meet them in melee until the victory is a foregone conclusion, if they survived 8 rounds of bombardment and were still on the right side of the dirt then said ambush was not effective enough to warrant an advance.

As for the ambush "If you ever find yourself in a fair fight then your tactics suck"

Regards,
DRS


Rynjin wrote:

Having recently played in a game where encounters like this were fairly common, I have to say that while not "abusive" the tactics are certainly OBNOXIOUS.

There is absolutely NOTHING fun about fighting a bunch of dicks who hit and run. You end up sitting there for 3 hours at a table, round by round going "I ready an action to hit them/cast at them/whatever when they reappear" and sighing unless you happen to have a real battlefield controller on hand who can shut that kind of thing down completely which not every party has or wants.

*Wanders off and punches a wall thinking about f%!@ing Blink Dogs in mazes AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA*

Look, that only happened, like, twice! Three times, top—oh, blink dogs? Nevermind.

Kinda a neat trick, though...should probably remember that...

Liberty's Edge

Whether the tactics were abusive or not is immaterial. Forcing PCs outside their comfort zone on occasion is fine but this sounds like a pattern and it's a pattern your players are not having fun with. Fun is ultimately all that matters. A DM with players that aren't having fun soon doesn't have a game at all.


Feral wrote:
Whether the tactics were abusive or not is immaterial. Forcing PCs outside their comfort zone on occasion is fine but this sounds like a pattern and it's a pattern your players are not having fun with. Fun is ultimately all that matters. A DM with players that aren't having fun soon doesn't have a game at all.

As a player I have never been in the comfort zone with a new tactic the first time I encounter it, simply because I was not ready for it. What really matters is are his players the "adapt and overcome" type or not. If they are not then he may have to tell them how to handle it if it ever comes up again, or they might just always hate the tactic, even if they can overcome it. In that case he has a decision to make.


@DRS: They were ghouls with maybe a class level. One ghoul shooting every other round has 40 rounds until he's dry. At the end of this encounter, each ghoul is only going to be down to 80% ammo. If ammo was a concern, they wouldn't be rapid shotting.

OP hasn't described how effective the ambush was. For all we know, the PCs were at half health and had used up all their healing. They split the party and did not encounter any serious resistance. That sounds like a very successful ambush to me, but if they missed every shot, you're right, forget it.


Jaunt wrote:

@DRS: They were ghouls with maybe a class level. One ghoul shooting every other round has 40 rounds until he's dry. At the end of this encounter, each ghoul is only going to be down to 80% ammo. If ammo was a concern, they wouldn't be rapid shotting.

OP hasn't described how effective the ambush was. For all we know, the PCs were at half health and had used up all their healing. They split the party and did not encounter any serious resistance. That sounds like a very successful ambush to me, but if they missed every shot, you're right, forget it.

Going half in on an ambush is kinda foolish but okay say they started in ammo conservation mode that's fine even ups them +2 to hit. With one class level assuming fighter because easiest that gives them weapon finesse (MM entry could be changed for all we know) and 2 more feats likely point blank shot and either precise shot or rapid shot. Roughly 20-21 hp assuming average ac 16ish. Likely in light armor, so chain shirt or leather llamalar, maybe even leather lets not speculate too deeply on it. Obviously the group is more built for ripping things up in melee (Melee Druid and Magus) the melee could drop em in 1 shot (undead so gone at 0) if they are semi optimized at level 4. I might have even drawn off as the ghouls if I had inflicted some harsh casualties and murdertized them during the night, when we likely had more of an advantage, and could start close enough for an ambush shot, charge and hope for a para claw.

Regards,
DRS

Shadow Lodge

Malag wrote:
Weirdo wrote:

I agree with gnoams, Dave Justus, and Chengar Qordath. This isn't abusive, but guerrilla tactics can be frustrating. Heck, they're designed to be frustrating in order to cause the enemy to make mistakes or give up. Such encounters are best used sparingly or they'll get in the way of the group's fun.

Having two such encounters in the same session was overdoing it.

As for what next, dropped papers are a good way to clue players in to what to expect. Then have a chat with them. I'd explain what you were trying to do, apologize for taking it too far, and indicate that you have faith in their ability to overcome this challenge, especially if they change up their own tactics. Remind the druid and shaman in particular that they have access to their entire spell lists, which include good spells for detecting or setting ambushes. The druid may also want to consider wild shape forms that have benefits other than just raw combat power, and everyone should consider mundane actions such as concealing or fortifying their campsite.

There was but one such strained encounter over long terrain distance. 2nd encounter was resolved normally per PF rules. Perhaps I didn't clarify it enough in my first post. My apologies.

Your suggestion is what I had in mind. I'll suggest several helpful spells and ideas. It's not the first time they will encounter someone ambushing them.

I did misinterpret that, sorry. However, closing to melee in the second fight was apparently not enough for the players to feel they had worked off their initial frustration - the ambush and the two surviving mercenaries' successful withdrawal may have resulted in them feeling that even if they'd won they had been made fools of.


re: 8 rounds and retreat.

even without the testing aspect it is not unreasonable. having a plan to disengage after so long makes sense when the ambushers are split into two (or more) groups without reliable communication. if an ambush is able to wipe out a party it should be able to do it in eight rounds, and if it is unable to wipe out a party in eight rounds it is unlikely to ever be able to do so.


Malag wrote:

@Lilith Knight

I have enough confidence in my GMing skills to say that encounter was no higher then CR6 due to specific tactics. We can disagree if you wish, but lets not blow it out of proportions.

If you wonder what's the purpose of attacking target just to run after few shots, I am not sure what to answer. Maybe watching some old Vietnam movies might clarify it better, but in short, enemy was out to test the PCs, make them waste resources and force them back from the area. If you are however right about anything, it's that I haven't probably explained PCs situation well enough but considering I had explain every detail more then 2-3 times, I eventually gave up. They weren't exactly paying enough attention.

The abowe post suggest 3 things.

First you seem to Think that the split up drink potions and attack the party with hig and run tactics should lower the CR of the encounter?
Second your players are not totally in to your game, since they seem to give you the DM og the ring treatment?
Third you have allowed PCs that you somehow should not have allowed since you Call them special snowflakes?

If you Think use of limited resources like potions(8 potions represent 8lbs gold so not a little thing) and a tactic that make victory very unlikely for the PCs should lower the CR? Think again.
If you are hard on your players for giving you the DM of the ring treatmemt? Reevaluate your monologes.
If you make annoying encounters to punish the players that made snowflakes. You should stop.
And a properly non functional link to the comic strip i refer to: http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=612
And good luck:)


Cap. Darling wrote:


If you make annoying encounters to punish the players that made snowflakes. You should stop.

Erg, you do realize it was Malag who created the special snowflake characters by giving them special powers, a special spell, an extra feat, GM traits etc. So the players made characters according to Malag's specifications and he wants to punish them for doing what he wanted them to?


cnetarian wrote:
Cap. Darling wrote:


If you make annoying encounters to punish the players that made snowflakes. You should stop.
Erg, you do realize it was Malag who created the special snowflake characters by giving them special powers, a special spell, an extra feat, GM traits etc. So the players made characters according to Malag's specifications and he wants to punish them for doing what he wanted them to?

I realize he gave them special powers, but i dont Think that is what he talker about when he called them special snowflakes. It seems i ditent quote the post where he talk about them being special snowflakes.

But it seems clear that they are not doing what he want them to do?


Malag wrote:

Hello paizonians,

[... I was criticized by my players for using] "intelligent NPC guerilla tactics“ against the party.

If your players decided that chasing people down while wearing armor that slows them down is a good idea, then they should be kited to death.

In past eras of Earth history forest bandits were so feared because they were agile. Helmets got hot, and knights tended to take them off or have the visor up so they could breathe. A well placed arrow or bolt was death, then the shooter would just run away into the forest before the more heavily armored defenders of whatever caravan was being attacked could respond.
The point is that guerrilla tactics are not new, and they should show up in Pathfinder since people tend to attack based on their strengths. The big thing with Pathfinder and Table Top Roleplaying games in general is that the PCs tend to be invading a static structure of some sort, e.g. a dungeon, fortress or defensible location. To that end the enemies stand and fight because that is their job. They can't indulge in hit and run tactics because they are supposed to hold the line. Of course, this doesn't mean that they are not going to call for reinforcements. I love the idea that if the PCs attack a position, the moment someone on the defending side dies one of the defenders runs off to get help from the guard captain who rallies more or less the entire dungeon or sets up ambushes.

The point is that if your archers are going toe to toe with fighters in full plate, then something is wrong. You either end up making all of your villains into characters that actually can go toe to toe with the fighters, which is absurd, or ask yourself how each enemy, based on its statistics, would act in accordance with its class, gear and abilities.
Liches, for example, have no problem wading into melee considering they have touch attacks that are actually deadly that can either bestow negative levels or paralyze someone permanently.
However, those rogues who have hand crossbows are not going to shoot once, whip out their daggers and try to stab the heavily armored knight to death. They're probably going to ignore him and go after everyone else, preferably with the least armored looking person possible.

Your players are just used to the enemies not using any tactics what so ever. I had players like that once, then they learned why most armies have forward scouts and put such a huge emphasis on intelligence. Walking into ambushes tends to end with lots of people getting killed.


To those calling the canyon ambush a CR 8 or 9 encounter... Eh. I tend to think the CR of class levels is overvalued, particularly at low levels. From what I read (rotating attack pattern, self-preservation instinct, ect.) this encounter seems perfectly within the scope of of an APL ~4 party, not even remotely close to being an 'epic' challenge and not at all comparable to fighting, say, a bodak or a juvenile black dragon. In my mind it was only unmanageable for the party due to an utter failure of tactics and prior planning. A party with an oracle, a magus, a druid, an arcanist, and a shaman should have been able to do SOMETHING at range, rather than try to get into melee. Spells like acid arrow, hold person, create pit, or glitterdust come to mind. Try running away and hiding when you're blind and rocking a sparkly -40 on stealth checks.


For a level 4 party using a level 2 spell pr enemy vs 8 enemies dosent seem realistic. All the spells you mention have short duration and wouldent really turn the tide but would annoy a single opponent at range for max 4 turns.(6 if the arcanist spend a point and had the exploit)
What special powers, stats and equipment the party have is important to undestand if they are a APL 5 or 6 or even 7 but if you take 4 of the iconics at level 4 and let them run the encounter i dont see how they Can win.


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kestral287 wrote:

Realistically, not a CR9. If all eight were attacking, I'd buy the CR9. But with only four shooting at once, in terms of danger to PCs the threat is halved. Further, the terrain hindered PCs and enemies both-- the PCs were benefiting from significant AC bonuses. And they only had to last eight rounds, not win, which further decreases difficulty.

I'm curious: did they get exp for surviving that encounter?

No, all 8 were participating at all times. 4 attack from stealth and 4 reacquire stealth. Next round they swap. So even though only 4 are attacking each round they are always attacking from stealth. Also the damage that the PCs do has to be spread across at least 2 targets, one from each group.


Thorin is right. Even though not all attacked every round, they still benefited from each others' presence.


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It seems to me that the PCs are simply morons here. There is obviously cover to be had, so why not take it? There is obviously concealment to be had, so why not make use of it yourself?


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Still not sure why the Druid didn't throw out an Entangle or two. When in a forested setting, there's really no good reason for a 4th lvl Druid to not have at least one Entangle prepared; it's just too useful of a spell (at 4th level, a moderately optimized Druid should have 4 1st level spell slots).

At 4th level, it has a 560' range. It has a 40' RADIUS spread, and since this is a forest, there's plenty of undergrowth for the spell to make use of. With the size of the area of effect, it should have encompassed all four of the opponents on either side of the valley. The DC should be, at 4th level, no worse than 15 (could be more with different feats or such). A typical CR2 combat type creature is probably only going to have a Reflex Save of +2, assuming they were built on like a Fighter chassis. This spell would have significantly impacted the offensive capabilities of the enemies within the radius and would have made it far easier for the party to close the distance with one of the groups.


Kobold Cleaver wrote:
Thorin is right. Even though not all attacked every round, they still benefited from each others' presence.

Of course they did-- but that's still not the same as all eight of them firing every turn (with further posts from the OP, it seems like the encounter was halfway over before we even got four of them shooting).

If it wasn't for the timer, I would agree that having fewer shooting at once is not worthy of a CR cut on its own, because the ones that aren't shooting are just making life more difficult. But with the timer, the 0-2-3-4-4-4-4-4 shooting pattern means that the PCs only had to, at worst, eat 25 arrows fired at long range into, according to the OP, PCs with "massive AC bonuses". Realistically with the timer the party wasn't going to catch and kill the ambushers anyway; even moving decisively if they got three I'd be shocked. From a CR perspective, that makes the whole "stealth and move" strategy less of an issue because it wasn't really introducing any new danger or difficulty.

Annoying as all hell, sure, but dangerous? Not really.


There are a lot of tactics that -could- have been employed, from an Obscuring Mist, to summoning something with better senses, to liberal use of smokesticks.

Or, to keep it REALLY simple, why not just kick at the flanks of your horse, and gallop away? The run speed of a horse should get you at least 150 ft away, and possibly 200 or 240, depending on type of horse and encumbrance.

So, you can be a range increment away, possibly two, in six seconds. Why select a fight where you're at a huge disadvantage starting off?

---------------------------------------------------------------------

My guess it's a mismatch of expectations. If the players are expecting to be be big damn heroes, then this...isn't the game they signed up for. Personally, I would really enjoy facing off against intelligent enemies in a logically sensible campaign world, but some players want the four-color comic book version, where bad guys get defeated by the last page.

So, there is no solution to this in the rules. The solution is to be found sitting around the table and talking about it. What sort of game and game world do we want?

You may find the Same Page Tool helpful:
https://bankuei.wordpress.com/2010/03/27/the-same-page-tool/

And don't be afraid to let players rebuild, now that they know what sort of campaign they'll be facing. I've been there as a player, and I build a character for the campaign that was described. Sadly, that wasn't the campaign I got, and what had been promised as palace intrigue was instead 'go fight this guy, for the king'.

That's a fine campaign and fun, IF you have a character who can do that. But skill ranks in obscure foreign language don't help you with that.


kestral287 wrote:
Kobold Cleaver wrote:
Thorin is right. Even though not all attacked every round, they still benefited from each others' presence.

Of course they did-- but that's still not the same as all eight of them firing every turn (with further posts from the OP, it seems like the encounter was halfway over before we even got four of them shooting).

If it wasn't for the timer, I would agree that having fewer shooting at once is not worthy of a CR cut on its own, because the ones that aren't shooting are just making life more difficult. But with the timer, the 0-2-3-4-4-4-4-4 shooting pattern means that the PCs only had to, at worst, eat 25 arrows fired at long range into, according to the OP, PCs with "massive AC bonuses". Realistically with the timer the party wasn't going to catch and kill the ambushers anyway; even moving decisively if they got three I'd be shocked. From a CR perspective, that makes the whole "stealth and move" strategy less of an issue because it wasn't really introducing any new danger or difficulty.

Annoying as all hell, sure, but dangerous? Not really.

It is properly fair to assume that the bad guys would have kept shooting, until the time for them to leave, for no real reason would have come, if the PCs ditent give chase.

Amy way the CR is not really important since they dont give XP. And they seem to have several house rules in play.


A big lure of fantasy RP is to feel in control, If you take that away and make the players feel helpless they will be having a different experience that they signed up for (eventually the gaming group grows and demands more challenging, engaging games, but for some that is an acquired taste. Take it slow.)

In the archer encounter, one miss-ruling destroyed the player action economy. An unfortunate mistake that only made any feelings of helplessness worse.

An lastly, to many above challenge rating encounters can feel be fatiguing, always struggling to survive when they are meant to be the big heroes. Some times you just want to kick in a goblin's teeth, or finish your chicken leg while the wizard blasts the bandits.

Sczarni

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So many responses, I'll try to answer them all as best as possible.

@Claxton
They know it's enemy territory but I will add some direct clue through paper orders. It should give them enough insight and I'll make sure it's clearly written.

@Balgin
Actually, you are wrong completely. I am a softy GM who prefers to cheer on his players while they beat the bad guys down. When I used the term "special snowflakes" I was mostly joking because players all have characters of uncommon races (oread, tiefling, dwarf, half-orc, undine) in Tian Xia setting. Players are actually enjoying the game with widespreaded eyes really. There is not much to say in that regard.

@Kobold Cleaver
"Special snowflakes" was a joke term, but jokes tend to translate badly on internet.

@Manwolf
That's correct. Enemies used sniping in first combat.

@Jaunt
After 50 posts in this topic, I have realized that I spent too much time in planning the combat instead of focusing on execution from player's perspective. Besides possible mechanical mistakes on Perception checks, that's probably my biggest fault. The tactic of 8 rounds of combat was there to reduce CR simply and that was it. A small skirmish with ghoul archers. The idea was great, at least I wish to believe so, but execution poor. For the reference, ghouls had level of ranger, +8 to hit and 1d8+2 damage per hit. Overall, their arrows were hitting with 30-40% chance on lightly armored targets.

@Wierdo
You are most likely right.

@Captain Darling
My players have always been like that. It's not uncommon that I have to repeat things because they aren't paying attention. This was one and only encounter where such tactics were employed. I can't really recall that I ever made it unpleasant, in fact, 99% of time I am very generous.

"Special snowflakes" was refered to in joke kind of way. They all have darkvision as well as 3 characters with 5 Cha so I tend to tease them a bit for it. Besides that, they always have my undivided attention. None of them are displeased with their characters really.

I know people also might think that CR wasn't exactly how I imagine it, but only pressure put during entire fight was due to two lucky criticals. One character did almost die, but he never actually dropped below 0. I am still saying that I have confidence in my GMing skills.

@thorin
There was easily obtainable cover and concealment. A mere move action was all I requested to search for better cover (+4) and dropping prone would probably make them literally unhitable.

@Saldivien
They weren't expecting it. A shaman usually prepares Entangle which helped them out a ton before, but didn't this time.

@Anonymous Visitor 163 576
The horses they have are regular and not exactly combat trained which caused them a problem on numerous occasions. I tried to softly reward them with war trained mounts in regular bandit attack once, but they ended up using them as rations ironically.

I'll have a chat with players again as I said before. All expectations from the start of the game were clear so it's unlikely that they can complain. I am trying to keep it heroic mostly, but this one fight seems to have made opposite effect.


Malag wrote:

...

@Captain Darling
My players have always been like that. It's not uncommon that I have to repeat things because they aren't paying attention. This was one and only encounter where such tactics were employed. I can't really recall that I ever made it unpleasant, in fact, 99% of time I am very generous.

"Special snowflakes" was refered to in joke kind of way. They all have darkvision as well as 3 characters with 5 Cha so I tend to tease them a bit for it. Besides that, they always have my undivided attention. None of them are displeased with...

I loose patience very quickly if some one is not paying attention. But i also ask why and try to fix it if is is somthing on my part. Spending time preparing as a GM is not a Instant ticket to awesomeness but not paying attention is rude.


The archer fight was fine, except that the perception check to locate them doesnt cost you a move action. And once they shoot they are automatically detected if they do not use the sniping rules, which give a significant penalty.

These two critical mistakes turn the whole encounter around from being a fight against opponents actually using their INT/WIS stat instead of being INT 5 slaughtermea, into a pain encounter for your players. If you want to chase someone and need to give up your Move Action constantly it get much MUCH harder then it should be had the rules been properly applied.

The ghoul encounter seems fine to me.

Tell your players that you misapplied a rule for Perception and that this made catching hiding enemys massively more difficult to catch that it should have been. The tactic by itself is fine, it just becomes much less "abusive" if you actually apply the correct rules.

Sovereign Court

Other than a couple minor issues others have mentioned - my only issue is one with the Pathfinder system - not your tactics.

In Pathfinder - the range increments for bows are FAR too long. Even with a rifle - hitting something past about 50ft starts to become exponentially harder, much less with a bow. With a bow you have to start to arc shots and take wind into account. As a battlefield weapon, bows were used at the long ranges viable in Pathfinder only in volleys, where they relied upon having dozens of arrows shooting in the general direction of dozens of targets.

Hunters using modern bows rarely take shots past about 40-50yrds even when their target is standing still, much less a moving target with armor etc. And that's with modern bows using modern materials and pulleys etc - far superior to the bows of Pathfinder. (Though I could see an argument that magic bows should gain longer range in addition to +to hit & damage - like they gain hardness/hp.)

It feels abusive to me - only because hitting something consistently at that range is stupid. But - again - that's a system issue, not an issue with your tactics specifically.

(And please - nobody say something along the lines of - 'there's magic - so realism doesn't matter'.)


Rynjin wrote:
*Wanders off and punches a wall thinking about f!+%ing Blink Dogs in mazes AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA*

Blink Dogs? I was thinking more along the lines of ghosts. Players love it when they are trying to rest before the coming of an inevitable undead siege and ghosts bound to the necromancer decide to play possession tag all night with them and their men and then escape into the floors/walls before the PCs can reasonably react.


Charon's Little Helper wrote:
(And please - nobody say something along the lines of - 'there's magic - so realism doesn't matter'.)

But Legolas! :P

Or is he just a special snowflake?


kestral287 wrote:
Charon's Little Helper wrote:
(And please - nobody say something along the lines of - 'there's magic - so realism doesn't matter'.)

But Legolas! :P

Or is he just a special snowflake?

MAGIC WEAPONS ARE MAGIC SO NOT REALISTIC ANYWAY


chaoseffect wrote:
Rynjin wrote:
*Wanders off and punches a wall thinking about f!+%ing Blink Dogs in mazes AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA*
Blink Dogs? I was thinking more along the lines of ghosts. Players love it when they are trying to rest before the coming of an inevitable undead siege and ghosts bound to the necromancer decide to play possession tag all night with them and their men and then escape into the floors/walls before the PCs can reasonably react.

At least ghosts usually don't have Sorcerer levels and blink in, cast a lightning bolt, and blink out.


Rynjin wrote:
At least ghosts usually don't have Sorcerer levels and blink in, cast a lightning bolt, and blink out.

Instead they can have Malevolence aka "Magic Jar BUT..."


chaoseffect wrote:
Rynjin wrote:
At least ghosts usually don't have Sorcerer levels and blink in, cast a lightning bolt, and blink out.
Instead they can have Malevolence aka "Magic Jar BUT..."

Yeah, but Magic Jar can be entirely negated by the casting of one spell by one character (Magic Circle against <Alignment>), assuming not everybody has a Clear Spindle in a Wayfinder. And even then, if you save once you're safe.

It's a much easier to weather war of attrition.


I always found range increments to be fairly decent in pathfinder. A composite longbow fires accurately at about 36-37 yards with no penalty in Pathfinder. From 38-72 yards you are at a -2 to hit which represents roughly 10% more difficulty, and this is assuming there isn't wind, winds apply penalties to ranged combat listed under environment in the CRB, and those can just outright make ranged attacks impossible but if they were shooting in the strongest wind pathfinder models that allows for bow shots at 200 foot with regular longbows they are at -8 to hit with composite they are at - 6. After the first range increment the penalty doesn't increase quick enough for my liking either but at that rate you are likely engaging someone that can't fit on your battle-mat unless you change the scale, assuming longbow/composite longbow of course.

Regards,
DRS

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