Newish GM second-guessing himself / Should I have offered a hint.


Advice


I ran an encounter tonight with 4 person party (ECL 7) plus a level 6 NPC. They went up against a Level 10 NPC Oracle, a level 6 quasit-possessed NPC ranger (guide) and a couple of [cold] undead minions.

It was probably the hardest fight the party has faced in the campaign, and the party's I Ifrit Elemental Bloodline Sorcerer went down after taking repeated blows by a Spiritual Ally conjured by the oracle. Technically, the sorcerer was knocked unconscious and was dying before being revived... Then got knocked unconscious and was dying yet again, and was revived.... And THEN was killed.

All of this is precursor to the fact that the Sorceror LOVED casting Fireballs. And he had not hidden his love for fire upon entering the village in which this battle went down.., as such, when the campaign book said the oracle was to cast Protection from Energy before the combat began, he chose to protect vs. Fire.

Over the course of the encounter, the Sorcerer sent 3 different Fireballs at the Oracle, and due to the Protection from Energy, the Oracle never even took a single HP of damage.

Should I have provided a hint that the fire wasn't harming him? The sorcerer never once rolled a knowledge or spellcraft check to learn anything about the Oracle. Should I have prompted a roll? Described the lack of damage? I know PCs are gonna die, but this one seems extra sucky that he sacrificed himself to do one more big blast in the hopes of finally offing the guy, and the entire encounter he didn't ever even have any impact..,

Thoughts?


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Sure, describe the flame wreathing the oracle, but not singing his clothes. That would be totally reasonable.


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I would've described how the oracle looks remarkably unburned considering what he went through. In fact, not giving him the slightest hint was probably a bit cruel. Try something like:
"The ground around him was scorched, but the oracle (or whatever you were calling this oracle) doesn't seem to have been touched by the blast. His flesh is burn free, and he laughs at the foolishness of your attack"


Actually i think it is a bit weird that no feedback was given by default.

Usually when your PCs are fighting and he tosses a fireball at the enemies , you dont describe them getting hurt at all?

I can only assume this is the case , since he probably would have noticed if this one guy just didnt care about getting hit over and over and didnt show any sign of damage.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Good old villain gloating would have been appropriate too. And forcing the player to quickly find alternatives to his usual tactics is far more fun than just killing his character :-)


I use the opportunity to raise the tension and get some good descriptions in. The same goes for DR and other spells negating effects.

You could play it that the spell casters need to identify spell auras with either detect magic or arcane sight. But that would be a pretty hardcore mode.

I think describing th effects of the PCs actions is important. It is a little unfair for them to co tinge trying their attack method and not know it is doing absolutely nothing.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Maps, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

While obviously not the quite the same as Energy Resistance, a character is generally aware if their attack isn't as effective as it should be due to Damage Reduction. I'm not a DM but I would personally use a similar ruling for Energy Resistance by telling the player that the creature was remarkably unscathed by the attack.

DR rules I'm referring to: "Sometimes damage reduction represents instant healing. Sometimes it represents the creature's tough hide or body. In either case, other characters can see that conventional attacks won't work."


Unless the party couldn't see the oracle for some reason, invisibility, fog or illusion, then YES, you should have told him that his fireball wasn't being effective. If I were the player I would be really upset if you didn't tell me such important and obvious information.


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there is no yes/no answer to this, both sides can be advocated.
so I'm going to pick the "Yes, But ... "-side
ahem:
Yes you could have given slightly more description to highlight the fact that the attack was not having an effect.
But the players are responsible for asking questions too, and they could have been paying more attention as well.

All in all, you're good - the fact that you're asking youself the questions: "was I fair? am I making the game fun for everybody?" means you're most likely not a powermad 'Killer GM'.

Keep up the good work.


If they had clear line of sight to him (not obscured by smoke/fog or other factors) then it should be pretty easy to spot him not taking any damage from the fireball.

Perception check, maybe DC 5? Modified by range, of course...

It's feasible that they wouldn't notice, but they should have had a chance...


yep, a little feedback would have been good.


LuxuriantOak wrote:

there is no yes/no answer to this, both sides can be advocated.

so I'm going to pick the "Yes, But ... "-side
ahem:
Yes you could have given slightly more description to highlight the fact that the attack was not having an effect.
But the players are responsible for asking questions too, and they could have been paying more attention as well.

All in all, you're good - the fact that you're asking youself the questions: "was I fair? am I making the game fun for everybody?" means you're most likely not a powermad 'Killer GM'.

Keep up the good work.

I disagree. There isn't really two sides to this.

The players only knowledge of the world around them is in your descriptions. If you provide no description of attacks or events, they don't know what is going on.

So yeah, he screwed up. He didn't have to say that the NPC had a given protection, but failing to describe the lack of effect by the PCs actions represents a mistake.


Is this a Jade Regent campaign?


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Yes you should have told the player that the BBEG was not taking damage. AS a GM you have to give your players the information they would be able to perceive if they were there. Do you tell the fighter when he misses with a melee attack or the rogue when he fails to open a lock? You should also be telling your players how the attacks affect the target. While many GM’s like to hide information from players doing so is a kind of unfair. If you can describe the effects of combat well enough to inform the players what is happening then great. Personally I cannot so I am fairly free as to how the effect (spell or otherwise) affects the target.


So - I am glad to hear that there is an overwhelming opinion on one side of this issue.
I hadn't said it when I made the post last night (mainly due to being so tired) but my lack of saying something had been a conscious decision. I do give hints about DR, as those are inherent qualities of the creature. I will often prompt a Knowledge check after the first attack is reduced, to see if anyone can advise the player that just whiffed. but in the case of the Oracle, this wouldn't have been an inherent quality, and the players had not been there to see him cast it. Quite the opposite, he cast it particularly to foil the PCs, as he knew that Fire was going to clearly be ONE of their favored attacks. This was an intelligent decision made by an intelligent man - gloating about how "YOUR WEAK FIRE ATTACKS CAN'T HURT ME FOOL! MWAH HA HA HA HA!" seemed like it would be totally counter to what the oracle would do. He would WANT the sorcerer to keep spamming him with fire. He would go out of his way to make the sorcerer believe he was being effective.

In retrospect I suppose this could have been an opposed bluff/sense motive check.

Since people asked, of the three fireballs, the first one hit the oracle while he was invisible. Before the next round, the oracle was coated in sparkly glitterdust. While this made it so people could see him, it also completely covered him up in sparkles, making it even harder to determine his actual physical condition. When the second fireball then hit, the oracle had enshrouded himself within an obscuring mist - and while the fire ball did burn away the mist by the end of the spell, at the moment of impact, nobody could actually see the oracle. Only the final firebal hit the guy with a clear shot, while in sight of everyone else. It also occurred 1 turn in the initiative order before the sorcerer was killed for good.

Nobody else in the party was using fire attacks.
(And yes - Jade Regent, The Hungry Storm, Battle against Tanuak in Iqaliat)


Oddman80 wrote:

So - I am glad to hear that there is an overwhelming opinion on one side of this issue.

I hadn't said it when I made the post last night (mainly due to being so tired) but my lack of saying something had been a conscious decision. I do give hints about DR, as those are inherent qualities of the creature. I will often prompt a Knowledge check after the first attack is reduced, to see if anyone can advise the player that just whiffed. but in the case of the Oracle, this wouldn't have been an inherent quality, and the players had not been there to see him cast it. Quite the opposite, he cast it particularly to foil the PCs, as he knew that Fire was going to clearly be ONE of their favored attacks. This was an intelligent decision made by an intelligent man - gloating about how "YOUR WEAK FIRE ATTACKS CAN'T HURT ME FOOL! MWAH HA HA HA HA!" seemed like it would be totally counter to what the oracle would do. He would WANT the sorcerer to keep spamming him with fire. He would go out of his way to make the sorcerer believe he was being effective.

In retrospect I suppose this could have been an opposed bluff/sense motive check.

Since people asked, of the three fireballs, the first one hit the oracle while he was invisible. Before the next round, the oracle was coated in sparkly glitterdust. While this made it so people could see him, it also completely covered him up in sparkles, making it even harder to determine his actual physical condition. When the second fireball then hit, the oracle had enshrouded himself within an obscuring mist - and while the fire ball did burn away the mist by the end of the spell, at the moment of impact, nobody could actually see the oracle. Only the final firebal hit the guy with a clear shot, while in sight of everyone else. It also occurred 1 turn in the initiative order before the sorcerer was killed for good.

Nobody else in the party was using fire attacks.
(And yes - Jade Regent, The Hungry Storm, Battle against Tanuak in Iqaliat)

If you want to get really mean, have them be under the effect of an illusion (Hat of Disguise, for example) that CONCEALS damage they are taking. :D

"You feel your sword bite deeply into his flesh, but don't see any wounds open up!"

Is it regeneration? Is it illusion? Make them wonder! :D


I would have told them as soon as they had a clear line of sight to the Oracle that he looked remarkably unhurt, and after the third fireball that it didn't seem to do any damage at all. Let them see the effects of the spell going off, and the effects it had on the Oracle, in this case, none.

Now I would make them do a knowledge check to see WHY he wasn't hurt, whether arcana to see if it was a spell, or nature/local/etc to see if it was a creature ability. But just seeing that the attack didn't do anything is something anyone without any knowledges could see. Same with DRs.

"You notice your attack doesn't seem to do as much damage as you expect."

"While you hit the creature, your weapon barely seems able to penetrate it's hide."

"Your rapier stabs the skeleton right in the heart... or what would the heart, if it wasn't a skeleton. As it is you just scrape the edge of a rib, leaving a little nick instead of doing a lot of damage."

"The mist burns away to reveal the Oracle, who appears to be completely unsinged by the blast."

All visual clues to the players that what they're doing isn't working, without telling them why or what they need to do to fix it.


Oddman80 wrote:

I ran an encounter tonight with 4 person party (ECL 7) plus a level 6 NPC. They went up against a Level 10 NPC Oracle, a level 6 quasit-possessed NPC ranger (guide) and a couple of [cold] undead minions.

It was probably the hardest fight the party has faced in the campaign, and the party's I Ifrit Elemental Bloodline Sorcerer went down after taking repeated blows by a Spiritual Ally conjured by the oracle. Technically, the sorcerer was knocked unconscious and was dying before being revived... Then got knocked unconscious and was dying yet again, and was revived.... And THEN was killed.

All of this is precursor to the fact that the Sorceror LOVED casting Fireballs. And he had not hidden his love for fire upon entering the village in which this battle went down.., as such, when the campaign book said the oracle was to cast Protection from Energy before the combat began, he chose to protect vs. Fire.

Over the course of the encounter, the Sorcerer sent 3 different Fireballs at the Oracle, and due to the Protection from Energy, the Oracle never even took a single HP of damage.

Should I have provided a hint that the fire wasn't harming him? The sorcerer never once rolled a knowledge or spellcraft check to learn anything about the Oracle. Should I have prompted a roll? Described the lack of damage? I know PCs are gonna die, but this one seems extra sucky that he sacrificed himself to do one more big blast in the hopes of finally offing the guy, and the entire encounter he didn't ever even have any impact..,

Thoughts?

As a GM, I try to drop flavorful hints here and there as the PC's combat monsters.

If they didn't roll the appropriate knowledge rolls, if a creature has regeneration or fast heal, I will say something like "The creature, though have taken wounds before, seem to be closing up and healing at an accelerated rate"

if a creature is immune, I state something like "(insert character's name) throws one of his mightiest fireballs and lands his spell perfectly. After the smoke clears the target of the attack seems... (pause for a bit of dramatic affect) Unscathe! Small singes and wisps of smoke come off his body, but it is unclear why he does not grimace in pain."

Also, be sure to also try to relay high fort and reflex saves. Whenever I do not give descriptions(Not all GMS are perfect) of attacks and attemtped attacks, PC's continue a certain tactic over and over wasting precious time and eventually health.
I had a PC continually trying to cast Burning gaze (through his familiar) at a troll. The save was fort based. Trolls have a pretty significant fort save. After a couple of attempts I realized that I needed to say something about this and said something like "The trolls mighty regeneration abilities seem to be working in his favor, as his great physical prowess is no problem for the spell being cast on him"

What PC's dont know, or understand... Literally hurts them.


Oddman80 wrote:

So - I am glad to hear that there is an overwhelming opinion on one side of this issue.

I hadn't said it when I made the post last night (mainly due to being so tired) but my lack of saying something had been a conscious decision. I do give hints about DR, as those are inherent qualities of the creature. I will often prompt a Knowledge check after the first attack is reduced, to see if anyone can advise the player that just whiffed. but in the case of the Oracle, this wouldn't have been an inherent quality, and the players had not been there to see him cast it. Quite the opposite, he cast it particularly to foil the PCs, as he knew that Fire was going to clearly be ONE of their favored attacks. This was an intelligent decision made by an intelligent man - gloating about how "YOUR WEAK FIRE ATTACKS CAN'T HURT ME FOOL! MWAH HA HA HA HA!" seemed like it would be totally counter to what the oracle would do. He would WANT the sorcerer to keep spamming him with fire. He would go out of his way to make the sorcerer believe he was being effective.

In retrospect I suppose this could have been an opposed bluff/sense motive check.

Since people asked, of the three fireballs, the first one hit the oracle while he was invisible. Before the next round, the oracle was coated in sparkly glitterdust. While this made it so people could see him, it also completely covered him up in sparkles, making it even harder to determine his actual physical condition. When the second fireball then hit, the oracle had enshrouded himself within an obscuring mist - and while the fire ball did burn away the mist by the end of the spell, at the moment of impact, nobody could actually see the oracle. Only the final firebal hit the guy with a clear shot, while in sight of everyone else. It also occurred 1 turn in the initiative order before the sorcerer was killed for good.

Nobody else in the party was using fire attacks.
(And yes - Jade Regent, The Hungry Storm, Battle against Tanuak in Iqaliat)

When you put it like that... You cant really give sensory and story telling details on what the PC's clearly cannot see... You can't tell if a creature is regenerating fast, or shrugging off certain energy attacks if they are invisible.

That last fireball should have had a bit of finesse in its description, but at that point, such information would have been useless to the PC.

you did good.


Thanks everyone.
I will try to keep what you all said in mind moving forward.
As for hinting at strong/weak saves - the game is being played over ROll20, and I do all my rolls openly - so the players know very clearly what type of stats the NPCs and Monsters have after a few rolls. The only rolls I don't do openly are the initiative rolls for creatures that are currently hidden from view, so that the party isn't tipped off that more are coming/or that there are things they can't see, etc.


"When the fire dies down, the man stands where he stood before, untouched by the flames" should be enough. If they want to know more they'll have to roll. You should give some kind of hint when something like this doesn't work, as fire slinging maniac probably notice when someone isn't burning.


Fernn wrote:
Oddman80 wrote:

So - I am glad to hear that there is an overwhelming opinion on one side of this issue.

I hadn't said it when I made the post last night (mainly due to being so tired) but my lack of saying something had been a conscious decision. I do give hints about DR, as those are inherent qualities of the creature. I will often prompt a Knowledge check after the first attack is reduced, to see if anyone can advise the player that just whiffed. but in the case of the Oracle, this wouldn't have been an inherent quality, and the players had not been there to see him cast it. Quite the opposite, he cast it particularly to foil the PCs, as he knew that Fire was going to clearly be ONE of their favored attacks. This was an intelligent decision made by an intelligent man - gloating about how "YOUR WEAK FIRE ATTACKS CAN'T HURT ME FOOL! MWAH HA HA HA HA!" seemed like it would be totally counter to what the oracle would do. He would WANT the sorcerer to keep spamming him with fire. He would go out of his way to make the sorcerer believe he was being effective.

In retrospect I suppose this could have been an opposed bluff/sense motive check.

Since people asked, of the three fireballs, the first one hit the oracle while he was invisible. Before the next round, the oracle was coated in sparkly glitterdust. While this made it so people could see him, it also completely covered him up in sparkles, making it even harder to determine his actual physical condition. When the second fireball then hit, the oracle had enshrouded himself within an obscuring mist - and while the fire ball did burn away the mist by the end of the spell, at the moment of impact, nobody could actually see the oracle. Only the final firebal hit the guy with a clear shot, while in sight of everyone else. It also occurred 1 turn in the initiative order before the sorcerer was killed for good.

Nobody else in the party was using fire attacks.
(And yes - Jade Regent, The Hungry Storm, Battle against Tanuak in Iqaliat)

When you...

I agree - in the circumstances you describe - invisible or shrouded in fog I wouldn't give details as to what if any damage had been done.

You definitely acted reasonably based on the information you have presented.


Still not buying not giving out any information, even with added detail. Visual is not the only cue. When the opponent is literally taking no damage, you can find a way to make it clear. "The fireball explodes around the dust coated figure. How dearly he is hurt is unclear, hidden by the invisibility, but... there is no reek of burning flesh in the air."

So, you did still mess up, though it isn't as bad as it sounded at first.


I am pretty explicit when a spell is not as effective as expected. Casters know when their save based spells (like charm person and slow) fail, so I am pretty explicit in describing the effects. If they take lower damage because of a successful save, I simply say something like "They dodge the worst of it but are still burned" or in the case of evasion say "They manage to dodge all of it!" Resistences or immunity is described much differently. Casters know how effective their spells are, so if they aren't as effective as normal the caster should be able to tell. I'll usually say something like "Even though he was caught in the blast, he's not burned nearly as badly as you expected him to be". Now I won't tell them if it's fire resistance naturally or from a spell (without a detect magic or a spellcraft if they saw it being cast), but I make it very clear their spell is being at least partly shrugged off.

I think having the caster's main form of DPS mitigated is bad enough without having them waste a lot of turns and spells doing nearly nothing.

That said, to each their own. Just remember to keep your ruling consistent, meaning enemies won't know about PC resistances either.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

I think you did fine, in no small part because you have a reasonable rationale behind it. That said, I'd have probably offered a bit more feedback because it's hard to tell when a player has enough information to make decisions and observations their characters would be able to make - I prefer to err on the side of too much information. I think the results, on the player's side, are generally more favorable when I do.


Since people generally get progressively better at noticing patterns after successive iterations, I think you a GM should probably give a moderately subtle hint the first time something happens, a less subtle hint the second time something happens, and probably a mostly unsubtle hint the third time something happens.

So you might want to let the first fireball fall under "well, maybe I just didn't have enough juice in that one" but a player who's paying attention should probably realize after the second one damages scenery and little else that something's up.

I don't think it's at all unreasonable to expect the GM to let players know if their attacks are not as effective as their characters had expected them to be. Like if a character is trying to stab a skeleton with a rapier, it's probably reasonable to point out "with no fleshy parts to skewer, your blow kind of bounces off, but you nicked one of its ribs a bit." The player may well know it has DR 5/- bashing, but the character would not without knowledge or experience, but the character should still be able to figure out "this isn't working that well" on short order.

After all "figuring out that X doesn't work here" is not the primary challenge of having an opponent who is resistant/immune/whatever to X. It's "figuring out how to get around using X."


Yeah I also would have tried to drop a hint somehow. Most players I know have the most fun when their PCs have lots of agency in the game. Agency comes from having information to work from. In a situation like this where it's the toughest battle the characters have faced, and especially if they're taking a lot of hits, I'd give them lots of information to work from so they can puzzle their way out of the situation.

The opposite end of the spectrum is just having players roll dice, and marking down HP losses without describing anything. One of my old buddies does this when he DM's. It drives me mad. I'm constantly probing him to "paint a picture" of the situation, and the reaction of my enemies, so I have something to work with tactically and in my imagination. (I'm not saying you did this, but maybe helpful to point out the extreme end of 'no info'.)

Liberty's Edge

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I would have given him something the first time around and the third time around. It seems a bit vindictive to not tell the party anything about how their attacks are effecting an enemy because of Glitterdust, a spell specifically meant to make opposing units more visible.

That said, invisible and shrouded in mist, you did right not to tell the party how he looked. Should be obvious that they can't see him.


But yeah, as far as not being able to see the oracle when the fireballs hit, I think you did well. However once he was fully revealed I would say something like "You notice he doesn't look that burned!" Which means either he is resistant to fire or has been healing off the damage, and I would let them figure that out on their own.

tl;dr You did good in the circumstances!


Fair enough.

If the players couldnt see the oracle , then it is fair to say they wouldnt get this kind of feedback.

Glitterdust doesnt break invisibility what it is does is : "visibly outlining invisible things" , which means they wouldnt know if the NPC was hurt or not.

Only on the third hit i would have made clear for the players that it just wasnt working.

On a future note , if you think a fight is really , really hard , then you might want to give your players the chance of a freaking high perception check , to notice little details , like the smell or in the glimpse of the oracle notice she isnt hurt... This will atleast give them a chance , even if small one.


Nox Aeterna wrote:
Glitterdust doesnt break invisibility what it is does is : "visibly outlining invisible things" , which means they wouldnt know if the NPC was hurt or not.

An argument could be made that you would be able to tell, from the outline of the oracle, that he wasn't very hurt by it. Speaking as an animator, body poses and silhouettes say an awful lot.

Shadow Lodge

Oddman80 wrote:
This was an intelligent decision made by an intelligent man - gloating about how "YOUR WEAK FIRE ATTACKS CAN'T HURT ME FOOL! MWAH HA HA HA HA!" seemed like it would be totally counter to what the oracle would do. He would WANT the sorcerer to keep spamming him with fire. He would go out of his way to make the sorcerer believe he was being effective.

So the oracle counters one of the sorcerer's spells with preparation. Great. Point one for intelligent NPC.

Then by being sneaky, he tricks the sorcerer into wasting another spell. Point two for intelligent NPC.

Now, the NPC is going to want to keep stringing along the PC, but you don't. Your goal is at this point basically achieved - the NPC has gained a significant tactical advantage. Since you're posting here, your goal clearly wasn't to have the sorcerer die while trying to get off yet another useless fireball spell.

So yeah, more hints would have been good.

Oddman80 wrote:
In retrospect I suppose this could have been an opposed bluff/sense motive check.

Yes, that would have been a good idea. Even if the oracle was obscured, Sense Motive could have revealed that any sounds of pain in response to the fireball were faked, or that his posture as revealed by Glitterdust suggested he was in better shape than expected. Keep in mind that if the sorcerer specializes in magical fire, he should have a pretty good idea of what the damage it does actually looks and sounds and smells like. In particular...

Oddman80 wrote:
Only the final fireball hit the guy with a clear shot, while in sight of everyone else.

If the sorcerer had a clear shot for his final fireball, he should have been able to see that the oracle was not as burned as someone who has just been hit by two fireballs should have been.


Peter Stewart wrote:
LuxuriantOak wrote:

there is no yes/no answer to this, both sides can be advocated.

so I'm going to pick the "Yes, But ... "-side
ahem:
Yes you could have given slightly more description to highlight the fact that the attack was not having an effect.
But the players are responsible for asking questions too, and they could have been paying more attention as well.

All in all, you're good - the fact that you're asking youself the questions: "was I fair? am I making the game fun for everybody?" means you're most likely not a powermad 'Killer GM'.

Keep up the good work.

I disagree. There isn't really two sides to this.

The players only knowledge of the world around them is in your descriptions. If you provide no description of attacks or events, they don't know what is going on.

So yeah, he screwed up. He didn't have to say that the NPC had a given protection, but failing to describe the lack of effect by the PCs actions represents a mistake.

It really is about balance. In the midst of raucous combat like this, things are going to escape the combatant's attention. While yes, DM's should give as much description as the players present (players tell DM what attacks they choose and how it looks, DM provides an answer on what the attacks look like when they land). I've always done this with my players. But here, from the sounds of it, the players asked no questions, so the DM wasn't obliged to give them any answers. If that's what was happening here and he wasn't giving any feedback, yes he's at fault.

With that said, maybe the Oracle's vestments and gear was indeed burning, but his FLESH was unscathed. No amount of Perception in combat (unless you wanna apply stupid high modifiers to it) is going to notice that s~#!.
Absolving the players of all responsibility here is a douchebag move. Players have to ask questions, they have to observe their surroundings. If they don't, a DM has no choice but to assume that they just aren't paying attention.
I will only let players roll a skill check if they ask a specific question that prompts it (unless it's called for in a published module or adventure path). Otherwise, the group is assumed to be just wandering about, minding their own business, which seemed to be the case here.

Shadow Lodge

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I am generally not in the habit of asking my GM "does my attack appear to be hurting my opponent" every time I attack an opponent. And I don't think it's reasonable to expect that. It bogs things down.

And the rule for DR does suggest that you should notice whether your attack is dealing damage to an opponent without making a Perception check.


Even the glitterdusted outline of an invisible dude who's been hit by three fireballs should be wincing a little bit. Like people who are in pain have very different body language than people who are wholly uninjured.


Xenre the Vague wrote:
...[snip]...

Just my perspective, but I wouldn't play in any of your games.

I absolutely dislike when a GM forces me, as a player, to try to act like I am my character. I don't play RPGs in order to pretend to be myself. I could stay at home and be myself. When I design characters, they are meant to be really good at certain things; probably certain things I, myself, as a player, am not good at. I'm not a particularly strong, dexterous, healthy, intelligent, wise, or charismatic person. At best, I'd say I'm fairly average across the board, with maybe an extra point or two in intelligence.

The reason this matters is that I, as a player, am not in a room in a dungeon fighting a monster. I might not think to ask if there is a lever in the room and a trapdoor under the monster, but if I were in the room, I'm fairly certain I would immediately notice, so I think my character, who has a 14 Wisdom and maxed out Perception ranks would too, no questions asked.

As has been pointed out, the GM has a responsibility to provide the players with a description of the world their characters are in; at the very least for anything that isn't meant to be a hidden feature.

If you start requiring your players to act/speak/think like their characters, you're essentially turning this into a less-strenous LARP with a dice mechanic added. I might as well dump Int/Wis/Cha and max Str/Dex/Con and play a martial, because in your game, I could just ask 3 hours worth of questions to figure something out that my Int 5 Fighter couldn't. And that's fun for everyone; spending hours of precious gaming time asking inane questions, because the GM wants to withhold every speck of information that you didn't specifically request.

This is also why I despise text-based MUDs; they often require such precise wording of commands that it's nearly impossible to get anything worthwhile accomplished.

Example Anecdote:

I recently switched characters in a campaign because of a similar problem; I had built a face-type character, which is very unusual for me, as my characters tend to be very combat-oriented. It was a gestalt, and rather than give him a combat half and a non-combat half, he was a Bard/Rogue, so he was very focused around non-combat, specializing in Bluff and Diplomacy. I spent the first few sessions watching the rest of the party (things like Shocking Grasp magus's and perma-invisible Ninjas) decimate combat encounters because that's what they were good at. I felt like my time had come to shine when we were infiltrating a drow dungeon in a drow city. We were very well disguised as drow and when we come upon the door to the jailers room at the bottom and he opens the slot and asks why we want in, I feel like "this is great, my character will fast-talk us right past this guy, no problem". The GM asks what I say, so I give an excuse as to why we are there. The jailer slams the slot door in my face and sicks his spider minion guards on us; no questions asked, no Bluff rolls, no nothing. Apparently my excuse wasn't good enough; the excuse that I, the player, came up with. My character should have been able to talk circle around this guy; but alas, his player failed him.

I learned my lesson; I'm a Barbarian|Brawler now, and can't see myself ever trying to dip into the RPing side of the game again any time soon.


To be fair the oracle was completely invisible when the first fireball hit and enshrouded in fog when the second hit. It seems pretty reasonable not to give the visual clues that people are expecting.

As for other senses, there were other people in the first fireball do burning flesh wouldn't give it away and as for wincing, the fog would hide that.

Descriptions of areas and monsters are very important to give players the ability to problem solve. I am generally against having to make Perception checks to find treasure or normal searching - but at the same time I do expect to specify they take the time to search.

I layer descriptions - superficial description of the area with key places of note, more detailed descriptions of items of interest and then hidden things that would require a perception check.

I have just started playing the Witcher 3 and it has really opened my eyes to the impact descriptions and clues of monsters have in increasing tension and immersion in the game. Like finding a dead horse and inspecting the wounds dealt and the blood etc.


Fair enough. There is a balance to strike. I just feel like a GMs description should include any important pieces of information or items of interest that aren't meant to be hidden. And perception checks should be allowed/requested for anything the GM knows about but the players don't. If you like immersion, feel free to roll their Perception checks for them. Heck, if only some of the players pass, pass them a note with the description of what they see instead of saying it out loud to the party, and you get even more immersion.

But don't make your players play 20 questions. It's no fun when they get it right, and it's definitely no fun when they get it wrong, and it's just a waste of time. If there is something for the characters to notice, ask for a Perception check; don't sit back and inwardly smile and cackle as the players try to enjoy themselves while being blissfully unaware of whatever you aren't telling them.

All that being said, I'm getting a little off topic, as the question at hand is whether or not a character could notice an invisible/concealed enemy not being injured by flames. I agree that if they can't see it, they can't tell if it's hurt or not. If the second fireball cleared the fog, but the enemy was still invisible, I can see nothing being mentioned. If the enemy was invisible, but glitter-dusted, I see where some people are coming from about "posture" and "wincing", but that's not the sort of thing most people would think of on the spot.

Also, when comparing DR to energy resistance, remember that a martial who swings a weapon into a target has more than just sight to go off of; they can probably feel the difference when their weapon hits, see that the blade didn't sink in very far, see that very little blood came out despite the strength of the blow, etc.

For energy resistance, you only have the enemies reaction to go off of. If you can't see anything, then you don't have much to go off of. I suppose the LACK of the enemy shouting in pain COULD be a tip off, but that goes back to GMs providing information, and I wouldn't fault a GM for that because I wouldn't announce a grunt/sound of pain every time a player hit an enemy, both because of laziness and because I just wouldn't think to do so every time. At the same time, when I have subtract damage because of DR or some other resistance, it does make me think "how would the characters know this is happening?" which makes me think of how I could relay that information.

As a GM, everything you do in response to a players actions, you should be thinking "how does MY world, that I've created and am in control of, respond/react to this stimulii?". If the reaction/response could be noticed in anyway by the characters, you should do your best to explain that response/reaction.


RaizielDragon wrote:


Example Anecdote:

I recently switched characters in a campaign because of a similar problem; I had built a face-type character, which is very unusual for me, as my characters tend to be very combat-oriented. It was a gestalt, and rather than give him a combat half and a non-combat half, he was a Bard/Rogue, so he was very focused around non-combat, specializing in Bluff and Diplomacy. I spent the first few sessions watching the rest of the party (things like Shocking Grasp magus's and perma-invisible Ninjas) decimate combat encounters because that's what they were good at. I felt like my time had come to shine when we were infiltrating a drow dungeon in a drow city. We were very well disguised as drow and when we come upon the door to the jailers room at the bottom and he opens the slot and asks why we want in, I feel like "this is great, my character will fast-talk us right past this guy, no problem". The GM asks what I say, so I give an excuse as to why we are there. The jailer slams the slot door in my face and sicks his spider minion guards on us; no questions asked, no Bluff rolls, no nothing. Apparently my excuse wasn't good enough; the excuse that I, the player, came up with. My character should have been able to talk circle around this guy; but alas, his player failed him.

I learned my lesson; I'm a Barbarian|Brawler now, and can't see myself ever trying to dip into the RPing side of the game again any time soon.

Unrelated to the current discussion; but I'm really sorry that you had an experience like that.

they are unfortunately not that rare, If it happened to me I would at least talk to the Gm about it ...
Oh well, I hope you're having fun with your Barbarian/Brawler. :)


RaizielDragon wrote:

Fair enough. There is a balance to strike. I just feel like a GMs description should include any important pieces of information or items of interest that aren't meant to be hidden. And perception checks should be allowed/requested for anything the GM knows about but the players don't. If you like immersion, feel free to roll their Perception checks for them. Heck, if only some of the players pass, pass them a note with the description of what they see instead of saying it out loud to the party, and you get even more immersion.

But don't make your players play 20 questions. It's no fun when they get it right, and it's definitely no fun when they get it wrong, and it's just a waste of time. If there is something for the characters to notice, ask for a Perception check; don't sit back and inwardly smile and cackle as the players try to enjoy themselves while being blissfully unaware of whatever you aren't telling them.

All that being said, I'm getting a little off topic, as the question at hand is whether or not a character could notice an invisible/concealed enemy not being injured by flames. I agree that if they can't see it, they can't tell if it's hurt or not. If the second fireball cleared the fog, but the enemy was still invisible, I can see nothing being mentioned. If the enemy was invisible, but glitter-dusted, I see where some people are coming from about "posture" and "wincing", but that's not the sort of thing most people would think of on the spot.

Also, when comparing DR to energy resistance, remember that a martial who swings a weapon into a target has more than just sight to go off of; they can probably feel the difference when their weapon hits, see that the blade didn't sink in very far, see that very little blood came out despite the strength of the blow, etc.

For energy resistance, you only have the enemies reaction to go off of. If you can't see anything, then you don't have much to go off of. I suppose the LACK of the enemy shouting in pain COULD be a tip off, but...

I understand where you're coming from, I really do

- and we've all played at one time or another with that GM that loved to fool us by withholding info or outright lying.
yay. that was fun.
Because everybody loves to spend their entire game night proving why one of the group is more clever then the rest of the gang.
in a rigged game.
good times.

But ... I've also played with what I could describe as "Passive" players:
dudes that are borderline comatose (with their eyes rested at a book or a screen) untill you say the word 'initiative',
and then they grab for their dice and start rolling with barely a declaration of intent let alone description
- and that is a different kind of annoying.

So in the interest of the balance that we've both been talking about,
I propose that the players have some responsibilities as well in making the game fun,
in developing the narrative, and in asking follow up questions if something grabs their attention
or imagination.


That's a good point. I'm probably pretty close to one of those comatose players you describe. When a GM get's into a long-winded monologue of an NPC or an incredibly detailed description of a new place we are visiting (especially if I have a feeling that the details will little matter) my eyes tend to glaze over. It's probably some kind of ADD, but it's also based on how I absorb information; I don't get much from someone talking my ear off. When I was in school, I had to meticulously take notes to get anything out of a class, because the act of writing it down and then re-reading over it (often immediately, when the teacher would backtrack to repeat something for another student) made it stick better in my mind than hearing it.

This makes me a bad candidate to argue for "more description", but I'm also not representative of all players. If my GM gives me the information I need, but I miss it because I wasn't paying attention, that's my fault, and hopefully someone else in the party caught the necessary details. If they don't give it at all, that's their fault.

I should probably take up the practice of taking notes during a game; it would also help with my horrible memory when it comes to things like NPC names.


The way I see hit points is not in physically damaging but is avoiding damage. If you take 30 points of fire damage you don't get 3rd degree burns. You just burn you hit point to avoid getting burned. So taking 30 damage or being protected by energy would appear much the same because you can't tell how many hit points person has. That's why the spell death watch exist so you can.

A spell was cast the sorcerer should have tried to identify that spell then realized the Oracle was protected from fire. Hinting at this would be what I'd do.

That's just how I run it though.

Shadow Lodge

If the signs of taking damage aren't obvious, how is it that you're supposed to automatically notice DR?

RaizielDragon wrote:
At the same time, when I have subtract damage because of DR or some other resistance, it does make me think "how would the characters know this is happening?" which makes me think of how I could relay that information.

This. If the enemy has some kind of special resistance or ability that is making the party's usual tactics ineffective, they should have a chance to figure it out. This is because it's more fun when you're aware of the need to change up your tactics and when you can trust your GM to make sure that you have the information that your character might have. Which isn't to say these things always need to be super-obvious, but the characters would have the opportunity to notice a lot more details than the players do simply by virtue of being there. This is especially true if some of the characters are supposed to be particularly perceptive. And that means the GM needs to be aware of the kinds of cues that might be available to the party even when the obvious ones might be obscured.

voska66 wrote:
A spell was cast the sorcerer should have tried to identify that spell then realized the Oracle was protected from fire. Hinting at this would be what I'd do.

As I understand, the protective spell was cast before combat, which makes it hard to suspect that the spell exists let alone identify it without a description of the effects (Detect Magic is extremely impractical in combat).

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