Does your GM ignore your immunities?


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Demonknight wrote:

I really try as a GM to ignore PC immunities.

As in the monster does not know they are immune...
In my last session (i'm doing Rise of the runelords), one player was having his 3rd level barbarian flanked by goblins , much to the surprise of the player (a newbie), saying that "don't they know i cannot be flanked?".
No they don't. Period!

A Barbarian 3 with Uncanny Dodge can indeed be flanked, barring unusual cases (other class levels, etc.). It's only Improved Uncanny Dodge that makes it much harder to flank a character.


Charon's Little Helper wrote:
LeesusFreak wrote:
Certain amounts of this is expected by any intelligent enemy-- anything with an intelligence of 2 or higher should be going after the unarmored caster types before the turtled-out enemies, especially in a setting where magic is commonplace.
That makes the tanky monk even better! (Yes - my monk does wear a pointy hat with stars & moons on it. :P) It'll work even better next level when he starts opening fights with a blast of Scorching Ray.

Interesting idea... I'm stealing this. Dress the character as another class, heh. :D


Umbral Reaver wrote:

I've occasionally seen a related but slightly different phenomenon:

A player picks up an immunity or powerful defense, then starts encountering enemies that are specifically built to bypass that immunity.

You're immune to disease? You encounter an obscure disease that your immunity doesn't apply against because of some reason.

You're immune to fear? You encounter something so supernaturally scary that your immunity doesn't count.

You're immune to enchantment effects? You encounter something that can dominate person as a transmutation effect or something.

I hate when GMs do this. I have run into it a few times, not much, but enough to prompt face-punching.


As a GM, I have my monsters react according to their intelligence, and what they have observed.

If an ogre figures out that the unarmed caster he is attacking is virtually impossible to hit, he might switch targets.

If an enemy caster uses fireball and only one party member seems damaged, he will switch to something else.

Long-term/recurring NPCs build up knowledge and adjust tactics right from the start.

It is hard to resist the temptation to metagame, but I try to keep it fair.

As a player, I have run into this (having immunities ignored) more than once, and it is infuriating.


Bellona wrote:

A Barbarian 3 with Uncanny Dodge can indeed be flanked, barring unusual cases (other class levels, etc.). It's only Improved Uncanny Dodge that makes it much harder to flank a character.

Very much true, but my rolls for the poor goblins were so low that the one+2 would not helped! I'm still rusty after a period of mourning for 4ED


alexd1976 wrote:
Umbral Reaver wrote:

I've occasionally seen a related but slightly different phenomenon:

A player picks up an immunity or powerful defense, then starts encountering enemies that are specifically built to bypass that immunity.

You're immune to disease? You encounter an obscure disease that your immunity doesn't apply against because of some reason.

You're immune to fear? You encounter something so supernaturally scary that your immunity doesn't count.

You're immune to enchantment effects? You encounter something that can dominate person as a transmutation effect or something.

I hate when GMs do this. I have run into it a few times, not much, but enough to prompt face-punching.

On rare occasions the ability to bypass immunities can make a monster seem really frightening, but such tools should always be used sparingly. When the big, bad, god-dragon can do things like that I understand. When each acquired immunity is meet shortly by something that can bypass it such abilities stop being special - on BOTH sides of the equation.


Had a gm do this to my 3.5 divine mind. I had incredibly high saves, good ac, a lot of hp so the gm decided to go for the squishies that were behind me. I had to keep working on the build until I had it rigged to the point of "if you don't hit me you will rue the moment I had time to wind up."


I think this thread is misleading. I blame RD, as usual.

Ignoring your immunities would be if you are immune to fire, poison, polymorph or somthing else the DM forcing you to take damage.

Your DM targeting others who happen not to have your immunity is entirely something else.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

This is part of a several pronged problem I have seen in GMs that have gotten good enough to actually 'plan' based on the players, but have forgotten we're all here to have fun. It also happens when an insecure GM feels overwhelmed at the table and retreats into his 'two year old NO' existence. He must beat back the horde with tactics he would object to as a player.

As I see it, this has three variations.

1) This thread was founded on the GM not using certain spells due to resistances, so it gets to be #1.

2) The corollary is the GM who tracks the feats and other abilities of players. Never bum rush the guy with Combat Reflexes. Chaotic humanoids of low Int who surround the fighter in Full Defense with parade ground precision. The NPC that won't try to lie to EITHER the Paladin OR the Sorcerer, 'cuz both have 10 ranks in Bluff. At this point, let me say that in my mind, a PC should be able to figure out a Classed foe, and they can at my table. Note that real NPCs can too, commoners less so. That is what disguise is for. An Arcanist will have enough doo dads and wiz-bangs pinned to his lapels and sewn into his vest that a commoner might think him a Wizard, the castle guard might think him a specialist and an opposing Wizard or Sorcerer having a reasonable shot at Class level. But the first you know he has Quick Spell is a surprise if you don't know him from the bar.

3) This is a bad one. Fish out of water games can be great opportunities for RP, but it breeds discord with players who rarely have opportunities for another game. Where several games are available, most of these games start shedding players who prefer a more normal game. The GM tells everyone its going to be a wilderness campaign, hardly any social, politics or undead, then drops them in as mediators between the zombie king, a lich or three and a coven of vampires. When this happened to our crew, our Cleric was built to front rank, the Ranger FEs were goblins and animals and we had no Paladin. Great chance to roleplay? How can you when half the foes you meet are at least advantaged against you. His wife ran the same campaign for the local tweens and they built for what they expected and rocked. And she's a nastier GM than her husband.

All three of these are GM caused and something I have done too many times to recall, but they are all universally BAD. In the GM section of one of the Hero Games books, the suggestion is made to drop a building on a super who can shrug it off, so when he does he can make a presence attack. I saw how the Bricks puffed up afterwards AND how a PC quailed before one villain after she heaved a dump truck off her. I'm not saying to GIVE the PCs everything, but neither should you maliciously target valid player choices. Now if you warn they are going into the midst of war among the undead, and they build sailors, I have no simpathy for them.


Grey Lensman wrote:
I played under a guy who loved having giants grapple people and use them as bludgeons and missile weapons based on their high bonuses (this was before Pathfinder. Once my warrior got a feat that gave him an attack of opportunity against such things (even bypassing improved grab and similar effects, and as an added bonus adding all damage dealt to the check) he was never again targeted by such an attack (never used the feat even once). The group still comments on it.

I loved that feat. All my warriors took it.


I feel there's something to be said for intentionally wasting attacks on immune or resistant PCs so that they feel like their abilities are being used; it's not fun to not be able to use your abilities.

BUT...

I also feel that most players forget that NPCs can make knowledge checks too.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Had a group of enemies prepped with scorching rays see my ifrit first. They chose to switch to magic missile. I didn't complain.


Yes, impartiality and the ability to restrain yourself from acting on metagame knowledge are key skills for any Game Master.

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I've been frustrated with a DM who didn't put a single evil enemy against my paladin for a couple of levels. The paladin had replaced an inquisitor that was eaten by an owlbear, and then we went through a bunch of dungeons filled with Neutral magical beasts, aberrations, vermin, etc., but no Evil monsters. I don't think it was on purpose, but it was definitely frustrating.

In 5th Edition, he also has a tendency to not target my dwarf that is resistant to poison with poison attacks. Again, not on purpose, just weird luck of the draw.

That said, I actually love occasional the challenge of fighting a foe that is resistant to standard attacks. In 3.5, we once fought fire-immune constructs. My 2 characters were a shadow whisper gnome ninja and a chaos gnome brass dragon shaman. So I couldn't crit or sneak attack OR blast with my fire blasts. Even lassoing them or pushing them into the convenient rivers of lava wasn't practical. It was very challenging.

Another time in a different campaign, we had to deal with a golem. The gnome cleric/rogue cast stone shape to make a ramp under it, the aristocrat/bard cast grease on the ramp, the paladin bull rushed the golem, the ranger/wizard/truespeaker was the bait, and my scout lassoed the golem, drank a potion of enlarge (for the x8 weight), and jumped off the cliff, pulling the golem after me. Use a one-use feather token I'd been carrying for 6 levels to save me from falling.


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I remember a game some 10+ years ago, AD&D 2nd edition. We had such DM.

Moment you gain Mace of Distruption (was more powerful then later weapon enchant) you will no longer encounter undead. Fighter wearing Frostbrand (you take half damage from all fire attacks) is never targeted by fireball or any fire attack anymore.

We joked that such items are giving us real immunity, and if we continue to gather them, DM will run out of monsters. Good old times!


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I do think it's worth considering how obvious the immunity is.

The handful of comments about throwing fire at ifrits, for example-- I, as a GM, would (almost) never have an intelligent NPC do that.

Might he throw a fireball at the party, and it catches the ifrit? Sure.

Might there be some Flaming weapons scattered about? Sure, of course. Flaming is a very popular and common weapon enhancement, and you can't change those on the fly-- but no, if they fight a Magus he isn't going to activate the Flaming property on his weapon and charge the ifrit.

Intentionally aiming at something that is well known as fire-resistant? Not unless there are no other options, or the guy has a lot of fire (heh) power at his fingertips.

Now, you wear a Ring of Fire Resistance? Unless you give the NPC reason and opportunity to Spellcraft-check it, he's not going to know.

Of course, I lump this in the same "the guy in robes is probably easier to hit than the guy in armor" theory, so a bit of polymorphing magic could play with this (for bonus points, wear a Ring of Fire Immunity and polymorph into an Aasimar, who resists the three basic elements that aren't fire).


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I try not to do this, but I do fall into the "subconsciously" category at times, I'm sure.

EX: I have a player who is a Shadowdancer with an insanely high Stealth. He loved to HiPS and sneak attack over and over again. But I had a segment of the game take place in a workshop of a guy who creates constructs, very much like a modern manufacturing plant with plenty of lighting on the main floor. So this meant there were no areas of dim light for him to HiPS easily, and constructs were immune to precision/SA damage. I didn't design this specifically to thwart his character, it just turned out that way.

A few games later, they found themselves on Dune - bright sunlight during the day, no shadow, and lots of creatures with tremor sense. Again, not deliberate to counter his character, but it was a case of "Yep - yet again, I can't do X, Y, Z!"

On the plus side: I do have most of my foes fight non-optimally. I'll target based on closest, who damages me most, etc. Rarely will I have a BBEG smart enough to target based on what will cause the most damage or havoc best.

It's trying to find a balance. It's not fun to GM for players who don't experience a level of threat because of their immunities. And you have to throw something at them from time-to-time that blunders so that their immunities come into play.


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As a dm, you can make the players a bit pleased by throwing some things at them that bounce off their immunities. Can make them happy with their build and the class, but be sure to challenge them later.


Cheapy basically already said what I intended to. Sure, the monster precog sucks, but in a game with combats that last 4 rounds, if the villain spends the first two rounds trying to beat an unbeatable AC, the fight is over. Even adding underlings wouldn't help much, as they'll annihilate the BBEG during those couple rounds and then clean up trash with no significant threat.

I'm GMing an extremely high level/fantasy godwar type campaign right now. In order to make PC abilities sometimes work on powerful creatures where appropriate, I give those powerful creatures hundreds more HP than they'd normally have so they can waste a couple rounds and still make an interesting opponent.

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Pandora's wrote:
I give those powerful creatures hundreds more HP than they'd normally have so they can waste a couple rounds and still make an interesting opponent.

Why not just boost their defenses without cheating? A few low end items make monsters FAR harder to kill.

ex: for a mature White Dragon -CR 11- a belt of con +2 / chain shirt barding +2 / cloak resis +2 / AoMF +1 - the gear is but a fraction of his horde, and suddenly he's WAY harder to kill - all without cheating the system. Not to mention actually have him cast Shield - which is on his list already. (40AC[with Shield] vs 30AC, extra 15hp, and +3 Fort/+2 Will/+2 Ref, and raise his breath weapon DC by 1)


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Charon's Little Helper wrote:
Why not just boost their defenses without cheating?

Actually players prefer to kill a high HP monster in X rounds over killing a high resistance monster in the same amount of rounds. That way they can enjoy many hits and high damage per hit. Players usually don't think 'Hey, I have taken away 10% of its HP, 90% to go', they think 'Cool, I did 35 damage!'.

Of course resistances can be interesting to overcome and high HP monsters all the time get boring. But I'd rather boost HP than resistances for the majority for my encounters. So I usually use full dice - which is roughly a 75% HP boost on low levels. And my players are happy with it.


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Pandora's wrote:

Cheapy basically already said what I intended to. Sure, the monster precog sucks, but in a game with combats that last 4 rounds, if the villain spends the first two rounds trying to beat an unbeatable AC, the fight is over. Even adding underlings wouldn't help much, as they'll annihilate the BBEG during those couple rounds and then clean up trash with no significant threat.

I'm GMing an extremely high level/fantasy godwar type campaign right now. In order to make PC abilities sometimes work on powerful creatures where appropriate, I give those powerful creatures hundreds more HP than they'd normally have so they can waste a couple rounds and still make an interesting opponent.

That is only a problem if you think of each battle separately.

If you are raiding a dungeon, or a bandit hideout, or a military base, then you are going to see multiple battles with numerous enemies each. And one of the small fries might escape in order to report what happened.

"What? Some guys busted in the front door? I thought we had that Enchanter guy posted there to take care of this kinda thing. Hmm? They resisted all his spells? Well damn....guess we better try something else".

You just start the whole dungeon with the usual things people use to kill eachother- stabbing, mind control, and fire balls. There is no reason for enemies to not even try those things... at least at first. It is meta gaming madness for enemies not to think of things like that as the bread and butter of battle. Of course, those are also the ones that people build up the best defenses against (AC, saves, etc.).

Just do some light encounters based around general things like that, since those are the usual go to strategies in war. After the enemies see that didn't work, then you move onto battles where they are entrenched and using the tricky stuff. By having the first few battles target the typical defenses, you get the players to feel like they are useful (since their defenses made the early fights easier, and thus saved resources for the big fights later)

And you do not turn this into a system where trying to find ways not to die actually makes you less effective at fighting.

Sidenote:

SheepishEidolon wrote:
Actually players prefer to kill a high HP monster in X rounds over killing a high resistance monster in the same amount of rounds. That way they can enjoy many hits and high damage per hit. Players usually don't think 'Hey, I have taken away 10% of its HP, 90% to go', they think 'Cool, I did 35 damage!'.

999s are cool. Lets not lie to ourselves and say that we don't feel good when you get a bunch of digits on videogame RPGs. Lets be honest- human minds are not made for math. We just get excited when we see big numbers, even if you could take two digit places off and still get the same result.


Derek Vande Brake wrote:
kestral287 wrote:
Ha. My players go the other way with this one. They seem to get annoyed when the NPC says something, they Sense Motive, and the NPC is being absolutely honest.
Yeah, this gets tricky, because players learn that when you ask for a check, the NPC isn't being honest. So you can always ask, which bogs down the game, or never ask, in which case players complain that you never gave them a sense motive roll.

I never "give" rolls. If a player wants to sense motive they can pipe up and tell me.

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lemeres wrote:
SheepishEidolon wrote:
Actually players prefer to kill a high HP monster in X rounds over killing a high resistance monster in the same amount of rounds. That way they can enjoy many hits and high damage per hit. Players usually don't think 'Hey, I have taken away 10% of its HP, 90% to go', they think 'Cool, I did 35 damage!'.
999s are cool. Lets not lie to ourselves and say that we don't feel good when you get a bunch of digits on videogame RPGs. Lets be honest- human minds are not made for math. We just get excited when we see big numbers, even if you could take two digit places off and still get the same result.

*shrug* - I work with #s for a living - so the psychology of math is probably different for me. I always think in %'s. I'll take your word for it though. (re-read it - looked a bit sarcastic - that was NOT intended)

Of course - jacking up HP instead of defenses reward entirely different builds.

For example - PA tends to be far more dominant in the former than the latter. Also - save or die/suck are better in the former as they don't care about HP.


Charon's Little Helper wrote:
lemeres wrote:
SheepishEidolon wrote:
Actually players prefer to kill a high HP monster in X rounds over killing a high resistance monster in the same amount of rounds. That way they can enjoy many hits and high damage per hit. Players usually don't think 'Hey, I have taken away 10% of its HP, 90% to go', they think 'Cool, I did 35 damage!'.
999s are cool. Lets not lie to ourselves and say that we don't feel good when you get a bunch of digits on videogame RPGs. Lets be honest- human minds are not made for math. We just get excited when we see big numbers, even if you could take two digit places off and still get the same result.

*shrug* - I work with #s for a living - so the psychology of math is probably different for me. I always think in %'s. I'll take your word for it though. (re-read it - looked a bit sarcastic - that was NOT intended)

Of course - jacking up HP instead of defenses reward entirely different builds.

For example - PA tends to be far more dominant in the former than the latter. Also - save or die/suck are better in the former as they don't care about HP.

Hmmm...since we are discussing homerules anyway, why not combine the two by changing the SLA as spell casting ruling. That way, a fighter could grab arcane strike (more damage per hit) and then grab riving strike (-2 to saves vs spells on anything hit with arcane strike). But this might just be my bitterness talking since I had a rather nice reach/debuffer build fighter that was 86'd by the changed ruling.

Anyway, one problem with viewing it as percentage is the fact that you don't know the percentage (as far as I am aware). The only legal method of doing enemy hp is via blood reading from slayers- otherwise, you don't know their current HP.

You might play things differently, but the fact that you do not known exact hp is a built in part of the game- you don't know whether an enemy has 50 more hp or 5, and you can only guess based off of how much damage you are throwing around. That means you have to decide- do you go all in and risk wasting actions on an enemy that dies in one hit...or you only do the one hit, and risk wasting actions not actually killing it.

Now, if there was a health bar, I would totally go with that. As I said, the lizard part of our brains just goes with size. If half the bar goes away, then it is happy, and the actual numbers means nothing. But in lieu of that, big numbers works too.

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lemeres wrote:


Anyway, one problem with viewing it as percentage is the fact that you don't know the percentage (as far as I am aware).

No - but if my GM was constantly jacking up the HP of everything we fought - I'd catch on real quick.


Charon's Little Helper wrote:
lemeres wrote:


Anyway, one problem with viewing it as percentage is the fact that you don't know the percentage (as far as I am aware).
No - but if my GM was constantly jacking up the HP of everything we fought - I'd catch on real quick.

Oh, I didn't mean it like that, where he secretely changes hp

No, I mean, the satisfaction you cited while working under traditional DR and resistances came from the idea that you were taking off a percentage of the enemy's health

But that percentage is unknowable- you typically cannot know the health until after you have done the damage. So while logically, you are taking off a percentage...it is unknown and unseeable, which does not please lizard-monkey brain

Lizard-monkey brain want big. Give big number. Is shiny. Big pieces hacked off enemies. Lizard-monkey brain bathed in much blood.

Lizard-monkey brain also demands banana flavored mead and baboon barmaids with REDDEST BUMS. Lizard-monkey brain admits that this is unrelated to the discussion, however.

...sorry about that. Channeling the part of my brain where I go to for many barbarian characters.


jacking up defences may ruin some builds
jacking up HP won't ruin as many.

Let's say we have a 5th lvl rogue. with a dex of 20, a +1 sword, even with taking wf has an attack of +8/+8 with twf.

going against a 85 hp ac 20 (average cr 7) mob means he hits about half of his attacks if he gets flank.
going against a 160 hp ac 20 mob (jacking up the hp to a cr 12 creature and letting the rest the same) means he hits as much but the monster can take twice as many hits.
going against a 85 hp ac 27 (jacking up the defences to a cr 12 creature) means that even with flank, and even forfeiting his twf, he only hits on 15+, 17+ if he goes twf. So every 4 rounds 1 hit. This is disheartening to a player and not really enjoyable, especially since he needs multiple hits in to kill it.

same thing with DR. Slapping DR/- on a creature will ruin "multiple hits/low damage builds" but wont affect "low #attacks high damage builds as much" and etc


Charon's Little Helper wrote:


Why not just boost their defenses without cheating? A few low end items make monsters FAR harder to kill.

Ideological difference, I guess; I don't consider anything the GM does when designing encounters to be cheating if the players are having fun. Fudging rolls during an encounter? You've got an argument. But the game even encourages GMs to create custom monsters. What's cheating at that point? HP that its hit dice + CON wouldn't give? Tell that to the official Baba Yaga statblock's 300 extra HP.

Charon's Little Helper wrote:
No - but if my GM was constantly jacking up the HP of everything we fought - I'd catch on real quick.

So advancing a monster by 10 hit dice, increasing nearly every other stat on its sheet, is fine, but "jacking up the HP" isn't?

There's no reason that a GM needs to be fettered to the rulebook; a GM merely needs to establish fair expectations for his players. When a GM makes a change to the rule mechanics that affects the players, that's called a houserule and is made known to the group ahead of time. In my group, it's understood that they don't know anything about the creatures they face except what their knowledge rolls tell them. There are no expectations besides a fair and potentially challenging fight, and I'm free to design as needed to make that happen.


lemeres wrote:
That is only a problem if you think of each battle separately.

Sure, and that definitely happens in my game, but what if I don't want every combat situation to have to be set up that way? What if I want the feeling of that one colossal battle that they prepare for days and it is still challenging? What if they're in a political situation that goes south rather than a typical dungeon crawl?

I don't want the story and encounter design to be dictated by needing to throw what amount to trash mobs at the PCs just to explain how the BBEG knows how to deal with them. What if I just gave the BBEG enough extra toughness to last a couple more rounds, and then the players also get the satisfaction of their powerful tricks working on the BBEG rather than the "immune to everything but HP damage" paradigm common in many published high-level BBEGs? I guess I don't understand why modifying stats, with discretion, is such an issue.

lemeres wrote:
"What? Some guys busted in the front door? I thought we had that Enchanter guy posted there to take care of this kinda thing. Hmm? They resisted all his spells? Well damn....guess we better try something else".

A couple of trash fights isn't going to reasonably ferret out all the information needed to make better tactical choices later, especially when the PCs are saving their big tricks for the boss. Once per day auto-save? Yeah, that's not happening against mooks. These extra fights also take extra time that unnecessarily drags out the game. Why is it preferable to waste my players' time on mooks when I'm not designing for an attrition/survival feel, rather than modifying the creatures they face?


Charon's Little Helper wrote:
lemeres wrote:


Anyway, one problem with viewing it as percentage is the fact that you don't know the percentage (as far as I am aware).
No - but if my GM was constantly jacking up the HP of everything we fought - I'd catch on real quick.

It depends on how they do it. One guy who would occasionally run a game in your group felt every fight should be a knock-down, drag out fight that the party feels fortunate to have won, and would up AC, add piles of HP, and add already used potions to the monsters pretty much every single fight, even when the scenario was running the gauntlet. The gaming group basically revolted on him, he came in and someone else was behind the screen.

By having no sense of moderation he made the issues obvious. Other GM's who do stuff more rarely can get away with it.


Manwolf wrote:

Yes it's bad when the GM uses "well everybody knows the fighter would be susceptible to mind affecting spells, but sorry about the TPK because the BBEG used Charm Person on the fighter in the first round and he killed the wizard using his full attack, then killed the cleric in the second round, then..."

I prefer to randomize the targets sometimes. If the bad guys don't know who they're dealing with, sometimes instead of simply picking the weaker looking one or stronger looking one, they just pick one based on a roll of the die.

That's not possible is it? I thought the fighter would be too busy carrying the wizard's bags while his hasted summon fights.

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Pandora's wrote:
Charon's Little Helper wrote:


Why not just boost their defenses without cheating? A few low end items make monsters FAR harder to kill.
Ideological difference, I guess; I don't consider anything the GM does when designing encounters to be cheating if the players are having fun. Fudging rolls during an encounter? You've got an argument. But the game even encourages GMs to create custom monsters. What's cheating at that point? HP that its hit dice + CON wouldn't give? Tell that to the official Baba Yaga statblock's 300 extra HP.

It's different because in Pathfinder the players and monsters all play by the same rules. That was one of the flaws of 4e. You're having the monsters break the rules.

As to Baba Yaga - mythic rules are crazy-go-nuts and I wouldn't touch them with a 39 and a 1/2 foot pole. (bonus points if you get the reference)


Was it something said by Boris Karloff?


Grey Lensman wrote:
Was it something said by Boris Karloff?

It's from How the Grinch Stole Christmas as far as I know.


mplindustries wrote:
Grey Lensman wrote:
Was it something said by Boris Karloff?
It's from How the Grinch Stole Christmas as far as I know.

I was trying to answer the trivia question by adding more trivia. Mr. Karloff was the narrator (and the Grinch) for the animated Grinch.


Pandora's wrote:
Charon's Little Helper wrote:


Why not just boost their defenses without cheating? A few low end items make monsters FAR harder to kill.

Ideological difference, I guess; I don't consider anything the GM does when designing encounters to be cheating if the players are having fun. Fudging rolls during an encounter? You've got an argument. But the game even encourages GMs to create custom monsters. What's cheating at that point? HP that its hit dice + CON wouldn't give? Tell that to the official Baba Yaga statblock's 300 extra HP.

Charon's Little Helper wrote:
No - but if my GM was constantly jacking up the HP of everything we fought - I'd catch on real quick.

So advancing a monster by 10 hit dice, increasing nearly every other stat on its sheet, is fine, but "jacking up the HP" isn't?

There's no reason that a GM needs to be fettered to the rulebook; a GM merely needs to establish fair expectations for his players. When a GM makes a change to the rule mechanics that affects the players, that's called a houserule and is made known to the group ahead of time. In my group, it's understood that they don't know anything about the creatures they face except what their knowledge rolls tell them. There are no expectations besides a fair and potentially challenging fight, and I'm free to design as needed to make that happen.

It depends on when the critter was altered. If it was during encounter design I tend to agree with you. If after round 2 the DM realizes that the critter is going to die sooner than expected and adds another 100 hp then I call shenanigans.


thorin001 wrote:
It depends on when the critter was altered. If it was during encounter design I tend to agree with you. If after round 2 the DM realizes that the critter is going to die sooner than expected and adds another 100 hp then I call shenanigans.

I'd say it all depends on group expectations. If the group wants to explicitly say "by the rules, no fudging or alterations at all, all dice rolled out in the open," etc, then I'd agree that adding 100 hp during the counter is poor form.

More often, GMs are trying to achieve suitably difficult or epic encounters. Sometimes the way the GM designed the encounter turns out to be a pushover. Some players would like the encounter to remain a pushover as this shows that their ingenuity, luck, what-have-you had an affect. Others would prefer a bit of fudging to keep things going.

Think of it the other way - if a GM designed an encounter that was too hard for the players, would the players want the GM to fudge or perhaps have the monsters make poor combat choices in order to allow the group to flee or survive in some other way?

The answer should be the same for both, IMO.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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Ideally, the encounter is fun. Each group has its own definitions of fun, and a good GM tries to meet all (or as many of) those expectations (as possible).

I'm a big fan of "if the monster is a pushover, maybe his two late friends aren't" philosophy. Just have a couple more monsters show up a couple rounds after combat starts if the combat is going to be TOO brief. But not Advanced Giant Half-Dragon Half-Fiendish +5 full plate-wearing versions of the original monster. ;-)


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Tormsskull wrote:
thorin001 wrote:
It depends on when the critter was altered. If it was during encounter design I tend to agree with you. If after round 2 the DM realizes that the critter is going to die sooner than expected and adds another 100 hp then I call shenanigans.

I'd say it all depends on group expectations. If the group wants to explicitly say "by the rules, no fudging or alterations at all, all dice rolled out in the open," etc, then I'd agree that adding 100 hp during the counter is poor form.

More often, GMs are trying to achieve suitably difficult or epic encounters. Sometimes the way the GM designed the encounter turns out to be a pushover. Some players would like the encounter to remain a pushover as this shows that their ingenuity, luck, what-have-you had an affect. Others would prefer a bit of fudging to keep things going.

Think of it the other way - if a GM designed an encounter that was too hard for the players, would the players want the GM to fudge or perhaps have the monsters make poor combat choices in order to allow the group to flee or survive in some other way?

The answer should be the same for both, IMO.

Here is an interesting thought- making a campaign where GM shenanigans are an actual part of the plot and game design.

Think of it like a mythic creature (without actually opening that can of worms)- Lets call it a kind of 'divine intervention' by an evil god (who are not well known for playing fair)

The monster can, once per day, pull off weird bull like that. Add 100 hp. Gain immunity to an element or mind control. Suddenly get a one use SLA of a certain spell. Get +10 touch AC. Remove the need to breath for the rest of the day. Gain pounce (or that one ability that gives an extra move action). Pretty much anything, and it can be a different thing every time it is used- but it is only once per day

Imagine what monster that could just randomly ignore any countermeasure you have against it? That sounds like a scourge that threatens an entire kingdom. That sounds like an interesting challenge to form the basis of a campaign.


lemeres wrote:
Tormsskull wrote:
thorin001 wrote:
It depends on when the critter was altered. If it was during encounter design I tend to agree with you. If after round 2 the DM realizes that the critter is going to die sooner than expected and adds another 100 hp then I call shenanigans.

I'd say it all depends on group expectations. If the group wants to explicitly say "by the rules, no fudging or alterations at all, all dice rolled out in the open," etc, then I'd agree that adding 100 hp during the counter is poor form.

More often, GMs are trying to achieve suitably difficult or epic encounters. Sometimes the way the GM designed the encounter turns out to be a pushover. Some players would like the encounter to remain a pushover as this shows that their ingenuity, luck, what-have-you had an affect. Others would prefer a bit of fudging to keep things going.

Think of it the other way - if a GM designed an encounter that was too hard for the players, would the players want the GM to fudge or perhaps have the monsters make poor combat choices in order to allow the group to flee or survive in some other way?

The answer should be the same for both, IMO.

Here is an interesting thought- making a campaign where GM shenanigans are an actual part of the plot and game design.

Think of it like a mythic creature (without actually opening that can of worms)- Lets call it a kind of 'divine intervention' by an evil god (who are not well known for playing fair)

The monster can, once per day, pull off weird bull like that. Add 100 hp. Gain immunity to an element or mind control. Suddenly get a one use SLA of a certain spell. Get +10 touch AC. Remove the need to breath for the rest of the day. Gain pounce (or that one ability that gives an extra move action). Pretty much anything, and it can be a different thing every time it is used- but it is only once per day

Imagine what monster that could just randomly ignore any countermeasure you have against it? That sounds like a scourge that...

i've actually run a similar campaign.

an archdemon had taken residence in the place where fate was written. when he got wind that the party was trying to get to him to stop him, he used his (limited) control of that place to actually change events as they happened (player X: i attack the monster, doing 200 damage. dm: you see the monster's form blur for a second, and a second afterwards you see it appearing 10ft away. you actually remember it ALWAYS being there, and you are dumbfounded as to why you were swinging you sword away from it).

it was great fun.


Charon's Little Helper wrote:
Pandora's wrote:
Charon's Little Helper wrote:


Why not just boost their defenses without cheating? A few low end items make monsters FAR harder to kill.
Ideological difference, I guess; I don't consider anything the GM does when designing encounters to be cheating if the players are having fun. Fudging rolls during an encounter? You've got an argument. But the game even encourages GMs to create custom monsters. What's cheating at that point? HP that its hit dice + CON wouldn't give? Tell that to the official Baba Yaga statblock's 300 extra HP.

It's different because in Pathfinder the players and monsters all play by the same rules. That was one of the flaws of 4e. You're having the monsters break the rules.

As to Baba Yaga - mythic rules are crazy-go-nuts and I wouldn't touch them with a 39 and a 1/2 foot pole. (bonus points if you get the reference)

The Baba Yaga change had nothing to do with being mythic and everything to with the AP writer wanting an NPC with class levels, not even a monster mind you, to have a ton of extra HP. It was put in her stat block as a special ability exactly like a monster would have. This tells me the encounter designers at Paizo don't want to be held back by the rules; the monster creation rules are a general framework, not a straightjacket. In fact, one of the tips for monster design during RPG superstar was don't bother giving monsters feats that increase their stats to the correct levels if you're running out of feats to let them do what they're designed to do. Instead, add the stats they need in some other way, like an arbitrary AC bonus or stat increase.

Regardless, templates, adding hit dice, adding class levels, and adding inherent stat bonuses are all rules legal. So, honestly, would you prefer me to add a +4 inherent bonus to con and 2 levels in barbarian to get 50 HP instead of just adding 50 HP? Because one ripples to other stats and one doesn't. I would think that more finely focused design is preferable.


shroudb wrote:

i've actually run a similar campaign.

an archdemon had taken residence in the place where fate was written. when he got wind that the party was trying to get to him to stop him, he used his (limited) control of that place to actually change events as they happened (player X: i attack the monster, doing 200 damage. dm: you see the monster's form blur for a second, and a second afterwards you see it appearing 10ft away. you actually remember it ALWAYS being there, and you are dumbfounded as to why you were swinging you sword away from it).
it was great fun.

That does sound like an interesting campaign idea. I'd be cool with that, but I wonder how other players would feel?

It seems like a vocal population of players prefer that the GM not be able to go beyond the rules, so to speak, and instead simply act as a referee when it comes to the mechanics of the game.


Tormsskull wrote:
shroudb wrote:

i've actually run a similar campaign.

an archdemon had taken residence in the place where fate was written. when he got wind that the party was trying to get to him to stop him, he used his (limited) control of that place to actually change events as they happened (player X: i attack the monster, doing 200 damage. dm: you see the monster's form blur for a second, and a second afterwards you see it appearing 10ft away. you actually remember it ALWAYS being there, and you are dumbfounded as to why you were swinging you sword away from it).
it was great fun.

That does sound like an interesting campaign idea. I'd be cool with that, but I wonder how other players would feel?

It seems like a vocal population of players prefer that the GM not be able to go beyond the rules, so to speak, and instead simply act as a referee when it comes to the mechanics of the game.

when you design a campaign, the players who sit on your table are as much as important a factor as anything else.

moderation is always the key. Ofc having p.e. monsters keep avoiding lethal hits would be aggravating to a player, and on the other hand, having the BBEG only do it once or twice each chapter wouldn't be memorable enough. The key is finding that golden balance where the players are on their toes because they don't know if their efforts would succed, and how their actions will actually play out, but not to be so meta-gamey that their efforts seems null.

Sovereign Court

Pandora's wrote:


Regardless, templates, adding hit dice, adding class levels, and adding inherent stat bonuses are all rules legal. So, honestly, would you prefer me to add a +4 inherent bonus to con and 2 levels in barbarian to get 50 HP instead of just adding 50 HP? Because one ripples to other stats and one doesn't. I would think that more finely focused design is preferable.

Yes - I would definitely prefer you actually using the mechanics of the game to do what you want instead of making stuff up on the fly. That's kind of what I said initially - I just used items instead of levels: unlike items, giving levels boosts their CR. (Plus I've never understood why extremely rich & intelligent monsters run around essentially naked.)

As to the inherent bonus - no - that would annoy me. It's one thing to create your own monsters from scratch with such things (like with the monster design you mentioned) - but it's another entirely to alter current monsters in such a way (and it begins to reek of GM vs Player). Of course - I don't see why a +4 inherent bonus is somehow preferable to the critter wearing a belt of con +4. *shrug*


Charon's Little Helper wrote:
Yes - I would definitely prefer you actually using the mechanics of the game to do what you want instead of making stuff up on the fly.

I'm not making stuff up on the fly; I'm adding HP and stats at encounter design, not during the fight.

Charon's Little Helper wrote:
That's kind of what I said initially - I just used items instead of levels: unlike items, giving levels boosts their CR. (Plus I've never understood why extremely rich & intelligent monsters run around essentially naked.)

Giving more wealth does increase CR, and giving monsters equipment out of their treasure should also count. That full PC wealth raises a classed NPC by one CR shows how approximate the CR system really is. Another example of how ludicrous the game gets when applying the mechanics and no judgement.

Charon's Little Helper wrote:
As to the inherent bonus - no - that would annoy me. It's one thing to create your own monsters from scratch with such things (like with the monster design you mentioned) - but it's another entirely to alter current monsters in such a way (and it begins to reek of GM vs Player). Of course - I don't see why a +4 inherent bonus is somehow preferable to the critter wearing a belt of con +4. *shrug*

Why should it annoy you? Should an extremely rich and intelligent monster not have access to Wished stats just like a PC? Inherent is preferable to a +4 belt because adding enough items to make a monster appropriately challenging could throw PC WBL way out of proportion, and I don't like the great serpent that guards the forest wearing a +6 belt of constitution when it has 2 int.

So what I'm getting from you is that you wouldn't be happy with my GMing unless I advanced a monster many levels to get enough HP, and if that throws it's AC, saves, and BAB so high it'll wipe the floor with you, oh well. A likely response would be to level it less and let the other stats compensate for having lower defenses than if I just added HP. That ends up with too much offense for the defense of both sides, creating what I believe is called rocket tag. In a thread discussing letting BBEGs run into PC defenses the hard way and still have enough turns to be a challenge, 5 hit dice of HP won't be enough.

My GMing is not adversarial at all. Maybe you've been burned by bad GMs, but that doesn't make my customization of monsters "GM vs PC." You obviously don't trust your GMs with keeping the game fun while exercising creative license, but I think that's an issue with you and your GMs. My players have never complained; they do recite stories of epic encounters and occasions they fooled the BBEG with their defensive tricks, both of which are facilitated by my design methodology. It works.


I have had good experiences with adding class levels to monsters... I created a 'terrorist' faction of orcs that were highly trained... so when the level 15+mythic 6 party saw a party of orcs, they thought it would be an easy fight...

Until they realized that the orcs had arcane casters, clerics, tactics and gear.

All by the rules, and very neat. Made for a good recurring villain-type campaign.

As a DM, you can make sub-optimal choices and it's okay, it can be very thematic. Create an appropriate CR by having more of the goons around!

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