[Closed] The new wounded condition and monsters dead-set on eliminating a dying PC


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Vidmaster7 wrote:
Taking the game as if your an AI who has to follow the letter of the rules and do your best to try and eliminate the party while keeping in set parameters is absolutely the wrong way to run a table top RPG by my definition. Its a story telling game and dm and players are suppose to work together. That said actual game design should still be solid even with that caveat. However if the DM wants to kill some players he's going to kill some players no matter what he's running.

This!

PF/D&D/whatever RPG is a storytelling game, with rules written to be the framework for the story.

Just putting the limit how far the story can go. Anything in-between is up to you.


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Colette Brunel wrote:
Again, maybe it is just me, but if a game is being balanced around the idea that people will not treat it as a game, then that is flimsy game design.

How can that be true? It's a ROLE Playing Game. You are supposed to be playing roles. The Playing Game part is just to say that it isn't real, obviously.

That doesn't mean you're supposed to play it as if there are no consequences or the characters within are just mindless bots with a singular objective. If you do then you're omitting the ROLE part of the game you are playing.

I see this problem with players and GMs. Players don't use tactics, don't think of preservation, there's no sense of danger. If that's how they play then RPGs aren't for them. GMs on the other hand treat it as them vs the PCs. They play it as if it's a game where defeating the PCs is the final objective. The NPCs always fight to win because running away would be "too easy" for the players. And the GM can always spawn in new NPCs so who cares if they die? Again if this is the way you are GMing then RPGs aren't for you.

I hated nothing more when I played 3.x all these years when GMs went out of their way to kill players or screw them over. What's the point of that?

Also on a side note. The fact that you had Lvl 10 players killing CR monsters twice their level is terrible. THAT is a flaw within the system if that's possible.


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Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Another aspect is that in this system, creatures that go down from a lethal attack don't typically come back. In general, they are dead at 0 hp. Only PCs and some exceptional NPCs get that privilege of being knocked out.

So, NPCs, and especially less intelligent creatures, no matter how vicious, should typically assume that a downed opponent is dead, unless they have first hand experience of someone getting back into the fight, especially if there are other dangerous opponents left standing.


I'm not saying the rules shouldn't work or that its the DM's job to fix the rules, Mind you but if the DM wants his players dead they tend to die. So maybe looking at your play-tests as a stress test is the way to approach them.

I just hope that's now how you always run that game. It stresses me out just thinking about it.


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PF1 has enough exploitable/broken mechanics that experienced players can often survive against a killer GM running a pre-written adventure.

With inexperienced players playing a game that has fewer options for power-gaming, TPK is pretty much what I'd expect when the GM plays to win.


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Colette Brunel wrote:
Back in December to February, I was running a playtest game for Pathfinder 1e, for a third-party product, Dreamscarred Press's voyager class. I had only two players, and both were playing different builds of voyagers. I ran about ~20 combats over the course of that game, in between various skill-oriented challenges. I played with the exact same philosophy above, and they won ~19 out of ~20 of their combats. Even then, the one combat they lost was a result of blatantly bad tactics caused by both players having had a very bad day, and when I called for a rematch just for playtesting's sake, they blazed through it without an issue. I was constantly surprised by just how much the two players and their PCs could improvise, adapt, and use their class abilities to overcome bizarre new challenges each time.

^ this.

I cannot agree more.

When I GM Path 1, I use a variant of hero points (a variant I created before the APG); the reason is: I don't want to hold my hand as a GM; I want my monsters to play nasty, and hero points allow me not to fear a TPK or a "lucky" kill of a character.

And the fact is: Path 1 characters are incredibly resilient; they often stand and have option after heavy punishment, and in the end they win without the need of hero points. It's easy to make a fight memorable and hard, but an actual TPK is hard - even CR +4 encounters (with several monsters, we all know the action economy problem for solo monsters) aren't that deadly. This resilience is a combination of the PC having many options, of each player knowing every option of his character, and of creative use of skills (four brains are more creative than one) (in other words: the GM has time to create an interesting encounter/situation before the game starts; but once the game begins, the four brains of the players quickly adapt to any new situation, while the GM and his only brain doesn't adapt as quick to the reaction of the players).

In path 2, characters haven't many options during play (many things that were class ability are now feat), skills aren't high enough to be useful against equal or higher level opposition, and the monsters often deal kiloton of damages. It's more common for a monster to OTK a character, and once this happens, this quickly snowball to a TPK thanks to the lack of options and the weakness of skills. Path 2 is probably playable, but not as Path 1 - an AP going from 1 to 16 can't be won in Path 2, at one point or another you'll be out of luck and it will degenerate into a TPK.


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I am very much on the autistic spectrum.

I do not see what that changes. I am participating in the playtest because I want to discover flaws and point out those flaws. I am running the game as I normally would, and that means playing enemies to the absolute best of my abilities and going for the kill.

If Pathfinder 2e crumbles apart just because a GM opts for that, then perhaps a few mechanical safeguards could be implemented... but then again, Hero Points removing the wounded condition could very well solve that. I will have to test it and see.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

There does seem to be a big divide in the approach to Fantasy RPGs here, doesn't there? Some of us emphasize Role over Roll, and the more nebulous Fun over Competition.

As a Role favoring GM more interested in seeing Fun reign supreme at my tables, I do find it curious that some GMs have that me vs. them, metagaming attitude. Seems like there are games more suited for that PvP approach. I can only assume players metagame as well to keep up with a GM whose focus is to use the rules to kill them.

In my groups, we still actively treat PF/D&D as a Role-Playing Game, even in combat. Not saying that’s the “right” way to play, much less the only way to play, just that we maintain the spirit of the Role element of RPGs through all aspects of the game.

I have had TPKs over the years (not a lot, but a few) and character deaths as recently as last month (PF1). Even in 5E, we had a bad stretch last year where the group lost 4 characters in one campaign (some due to the open-world nature I campaign and their lack of caution). That said, I really regret when it happens because we spend a good deal of time on the Roles of the Characters and making them come to life. I absolutely never strive to kill characters, but sometimes the dice (especially the dice) and circumstance puts me in that unenviable position. And more times than I can count, I’ve given outs or even done the “bad guy narrative taunt” routine where I could have simply pulled the trigger and killed them.

Being an adventurer is a deadly occupation with a high mortality rate, I figure (otherwise, there’d be hundreds of wealthy, ex-adventurers of level 20 running around), so that element of risk needs to be maintained in my campaigns – not to mention, that risk is part of the fun. However, I am in this WITH the players, not AGAINST them, so I actually view their defeat as my defeat, too.

PS: I did play with a "killer" GM once in a Ravenloft campaign (he viewed Barovia as a place where it should always be constantly trying to kill players in the extreme). The challenge was intense and the terror of Ravenloft was quite real. I was the only player who ever made it to level 5 (other than the GM's wife, but there was obvious reasons for that). In the 16 months of play, I'd say there were at least 50 deaths. It eventually burned me out, to be honest. I knew early on that there was going to be no happy ending for my character.

I am 100% sure I could do the same as a GM, I just don't want to.


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Colette Brunel wrote:

One GM plays enemies as though they were not vicious manner.

Another GM plays enemies in as if they were vicious.

The latter GM causes TPKs. Is this supposed to be surprising?

Except it doesn't even say "vicious", it says the following:

Quote:
Adversaries typically stop attacking someone who’s knocked out.

So already unless otherwise specified, you are not supposed to attack someone that is knocked out. Going out of your way to do so without an explicit exception is against RAW.

But it also goes on to say:

Quote:
Even if a creature knows a fallen character might come back into the fight, only the most vicious creatures focus on helpless foes rather than the more immediate threats around them.

Not "sometimes an opponent might...", it says the word ONLY.

That means, that there are literally a limited selection of creatures that will do this.

And those creatures aren't just "vicious", they are THE MOST vicious creatures in the game. Not kinda vicious, not even pretty vicious, the MOST vicious creatures.

Deliberately attributing every creature to be "the most vicious creature" goes against the entire concept of the words "most" and "only".

I have been seeing people quote your TPK's in earnest to justify certain positions on this game. Seeing that you not only didn't realize Hero Points removed the Dying condition, but that you were deliberately going against RAW for the way NPC's interact in a combat (even discounting the fact that it's entirely meta-gaming for an NPC to know whether or not a PC is actually Dead or Dying) makes me pretty upset.

If I had any inclination that you had done this on accident or in good faith, I would probably be able to stomach it, but since that's not the case I hope Paizo entirely discounts a lot of your submissions for playtesting, as they clearly were skewed by wanton disregard for the rules.


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It ought to be no surprice that "killer GMs" exist, and that many groups play that style. It is not a style I personally prefer or sympathise with, but I've heard so many claim that the game is not exciting unless the GM tries their utmost to kill you. It's all over various RPG forums, social media, and in a gazillion memes. You have GMs bragging about how many dead PC's character sheets they've nailed to their wall as trophies, and I feel like half the jokes are about this every time I browse through a friend's Knights of The Dinner Table collection.

So, a robust game engine ought to handle that style. I mean, as a software developer I know that you don't test for robustness by going easy on the system.


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IN THE PLAYTEST I HAVE SO FAR ONLY KILLED FOUR OF MY PLAYERS.

AND ALL TWELVE OF THEIR CHARACTERS.

I CONSIDER THIS TEST EXTREMELY SUCCESSFUL.


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Midnightoker wrote:

Not "sometimes an opponent might...", it says the word ONLY.

That means, that there are literally a limited selection of creatures that will do this.

And those creatures aren't just "vicious", they are THE MOST vicious creatures in the game. Not kinda vicious, not even pretty vicious, the MOST vicious creatures.

Deliberately attributing every creature to be "the most vicious creature" goes against the entire concept of the words "most" and "only".

Is it really so implausible to attribute such a high degree of viciousness to the difficult fights of an adventure? For all we know, those fights really are against the most vicious creatures around.

Midnightoker wrote:
Seeing that you not only didn't realize Hero Points removed the Dying condition

You will see my clarification in previous posts that that was a typographical error. I was talking about how it is easy to miss that the 1.3 update has Hero Points remove the wounded condition in addition to the dying condition.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Despite our vast differences in approach as GMs (I am a narrative, role-first, storyteller and she's a me vs. them, in-it-to-win-it GM), I find Colette's reports to be insightful and intriguing.

I also think Colette serves some good as a stress testing, metagaming extreme GM to see where the rules fall apart most easily.

I don't think that style can be entire accounted for when making an RPG, because (frankly) I have no earthy idea how any group of players could survive long in that scenario. As a GM, I could literally TPK my group on a nightly basis using any published material while staying within the rules simply because I have much greater forces and knowledge at my disposal.

That said, she has pointed out some potential flaws, some imbalances, and quite a few awkward rules that have value. And to her credit, she doesn't seem to care or back down when confronted with those of us who think she'd be a difficult GM to play under.


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ShadeRaven wrote:
Despite our vast differences in approach as GMs (I am a narrative, role-first, storyteller and she's a me vs. them, in-it-to-win-it GM)

There is a false dichotomy between the two. I try to implement a strong narrative and "production values" outside of combat. Good descriptions, good interplay between PCs and their environment, always prompting players for action, and so on.

Some of that even bleeds into combat itself. For example, I use individual portraits and tokens for enemies with unifying aesthetics for the sake of identification. Every single one of the undead had unique appearances.

It is just that grid-based tactical combat is a whole different beast.


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Colette Brunel wrote:

If all it takes for the dying rules to crumble apart is for a GM to decide, "Hmmm, maybe these enemies are vicious, and they are quite tired of PCs coming back from seeming defeat," then that is a very flimsy balancing point for the dying rules.

Colette Brunel wrote:
Spending a Hero Point as part of heroic recovery actually removes the dying condition. That is easy to miss, and I certainly missed it. Maybe this is not as bad as I first thought.
Let me correct myself here: wounded condition. Not dying condition. Of course, heroic recovery removes both. I think that is a very important saving grace in update 1.3.

Okay, what do you want? Making PC death impossible? Having a rule that makes downed PCs immune to damage for 10minutes?

Because of course, if an enemy really actively tries to kill a PC, the PC should die. Otherwise you can just rule that PCs can't die, full stop. I would complain about the rules if characters would basically be unkillable.

It's the choise of the GM how to play enemies. If your excuse is that this is more effective for the enemies, you can also let the lvl20 villain outright attack the lvl5 players at the beginn of the adventure because thats more effective. Nothing in the rules forbids that, too. Do adventures "crumble" because of that?


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Thebazilly wrote:

Wait... so... you've been going out of your way to have monsters TPK your players... then complaining about the amount of TPKs in the system? The rules pretty clearly tell you not to do this.

I'd like to note that while monsters that focus on killing downed PCs will definitely increase individual player kills, they will in many circumstances reduce total party kills. Wasting actions to kill someone out of the fight can help the conscious party members win the fight (potentially wasted or inefficient healing actions by the remaining players put aside - that's why "many circumstances" and "can help"). If they end up TPKing it's not usually going to be the decision to kill the downed PCs that was the issue.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Colette Brunel wrote:
ShadeRaven wrote:
Despite our vast differences in approach as GMs (I am a narrative, role-first, storyteller and she's a me vs. them, in-it-to-win-it GM)

There is a false dichotomy between the two. I try to implement a strong narrative and "production values" outside of combat. Good descriptions, good interplay between PCs and their environment, always prompting players for action, and so on.

Some of that even bleeds into combat itself. For example, I use individual portraits and tokens for enemies with unifying aesthetics for the sake of identification. Every single one of the undead had unique appearances.

It is just that grid-based tactical combat is a whole different beast.

I respectfully disagree. The narrative nature and role (not just images but actual roleplaying) is still quite maintainable in combat. Once I break out of that and become a metagamer, the whole thing falls apart to me. My players should feel as attached to their "characters" in combat as they do in social encounters.


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Fuzzypaws wrote:
I believe it makes sense for mindless creatures like skeletons to keep attacking a downed target until it is dead.

Does it make sense for mindless creatures to be able to tell when an unconscious, unmoving (and perhaps barely breathing) creature is still alive? Why not just have them keep hitting dead creatures? Unless they pull of a perception or medicine check, they can't KNOW it's dead...


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Colette Brunel wrote:
I am very much on the autistic spectrum.

So am I. I don't see how that's relevant.

Quote:
If Pathfinder 2e crumbles apart just because a GM opts for that...

Literally any game with a GM can fall apart if you aim to kill your players at any opportunity, because you always have that power. As such, any anecdote that starts with "I killed all their characters, therefore X is bad" is automatically suspect if every session is "I actively try to kill all their characters and usually succeed".

(Frankly, if you couldn't kill all their characters when you're the GM despite trying to, you're not just trying hard enough.)


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Nettah wrote:

It also seems somewhat meta gaming for creatures (that don't work the same themselves) to know that this particular person is really easy to finish off while he is laying dying but might become a threat again if left to his own.

Heck even if you are fighting for your life against enemies as soon as you have rendered them unconscious it would make more sense for the monster to start neutralizing his allies. Of course in our world magic isn't a thing that suddenly lets the unconscious person get back in "tip-top" fighting shape, but most unintelligent foes would never plan for that even in a world where magic is "normal".

But yea, it solves the mystery of a lot of TPK's (or a lot of player death) if monsters are played with every attack focusing the downed player, while the rest of the team is still fighting.

Given that in "our world" it is really easy to finish off a dying person by shooting the unconscious enemy in the head, I'd say that many people would choose that method.

In terms of a world where the Cleric might just heal the unconscious person up to be fully functional from 30 feet away with the two action Heal, I'd say finishing off dying opponents would be much, much more common than before.


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Colette Brunel wrote:


Is it really so implausible to attribute such a high degree of viciousness to the difficult fights of an adventure?

Implausible? no. Against RAW? yes.

Feel free to do as you please with your games, as we all do, but what you're doing is effectively house ruling.

As with most house ruling, don't expect your experience to be valid to testing the game for normal conditions or that it even remotely applies to anyone else.

Quote:
For all we know, those fights really are against the most vicious creatures around.

Oh please.

If all of the creatures you fight are "the most vicious creatures", then it would say "all creatures" or "most creatures will attack helpless.."

It does not say that. If you can't use your judgement to determine when a creature merits this behavior, then maybe consider whether or not you have enough judgement to be running the game at all.

Of the multitude of things the GM has to make calls on, being able to realistically narrow down the most vicious creatures to a small percentage should be an afterthought.

Quite frankly, you're playing the game the way you want, which is fine. However, when you represent your blatant changes to the rules as if they were ingrained in the system during a playtest it ruffles my feathers.

And if you had simply said "I am stress testing the system for this style of GMing" then I would have been all for it, but you were not at all transparent nor was that your actual line of thinking.

PS: Please rationalize how your NPCs/Monsters have perfect knowledge of when PCs are actually dead vs just unconscious? As someone else said, unless they have permanent Death Watch, you are 100% meta gaming their actions based on GM knowledge.


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Xenocrat wrote:
I'd like to note that while monsters that focus on killing downed PCs will definitely increase individual player kills, they will in many circumstances reduce total party kills.

You make a good point; for that combat. I only say that because I don't know many adventures that end in one combat. After characters have been killed each subsequent fight is much harder. So those individual player kills very quickly lead to total party kills.


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Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I really hope you're talking about character kills, not player kills. :D


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Colette Brunel wrote:

While I appreciate removing the slowed condition from the dying rules, I cannot help but think that the wounded condition will make it even easier for a gang of determined enemies to beat down on a massively-AC-debuffed, dying PC in order to finish them off once and for all. That is a tactic I have been using in my playtest games to force TPKs, and the new wounded condition will make it even easier.

According to the playtest rulebook, "only the most vicious creatures focus on helpless foes rather than the more immediate threats around them," but then, how are PCs supposed to survive those vicious creatures exploiting the wounded condition?

Smart adversaries would indeed eliminate a dying creature, it's one less potential problem for them if they are revived and return to the fight. Smart enemies would not simply let a wounded character be, that's absolutely absurd. Chaotic adversaries would likely loot the dying corpse before moving on as well, all that shiny stuff could help them eliminate the rest of their foes.

I don't know why anyone would assume smart or well prepared adversaries wouldn't finish the job. PCs do. It stands to reason that bad guys who have brains or common sense would as well.

I can thin of a particular campaign, 'The Night Below' where PCs did not want to go down alone or without being in arm's reach of a comrade. You'd never see them again.


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masda_gib wrote:
Okay, what do you want? Making PC death impossible? Having a rule that makes downed PCs immune to damage for 10minutes?

Something a little more narrativist wherein a monster who wishes to finish off a dying PC has to use a special activity to do so, and that activity resolves only at the start of the monster's next turn and can be disrupted. Thus, other PCs have a chance to save their friend, and in general, it makes it highly impractical for a monster to try to take out a PC mid-combat.


Colette Brunel wrote:
masda_gib wrote:
Okay, what do you want? Making PC death impossible? Having a rule that makes downed PCs immune to damage for 10minutes?
Something a little more narrativist wherein a monster who wishes to finish off a dying PC has to use a special activity to do so, and that activity resolves only at the start of the monster's next turn and can be disrupted. Thus, other PCs have a chance to save their friend, and in general, it makes it highly impractical for a monster to try to take out a PC mid-combat.

I was actually just thinking of something just like that. My thoughts were to introduce something like this,

Go For The Kill [AAA]
You attempt to kill a fallen, helpless, or paralyzed foe. If you are not attacked or effected by a outside source, such as a spell requiring a save, before the beginning of your next turn, or the target creature is not healed in some way, the target creature is slain.

I think something like that would be an awesome thing to implement. It makes killing immobile, sleeping, or fallen characters a thing but not exactly something you would do in the middle of combat.

Shadow Lodge

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Nathan Hartshorn wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
I'd like to note that while monsters that focus on killing downed PCs will definitely increase individual player kills, they will in many circumstances reduce total party kills.
You make a good point; for that combat. I only say that because I don't know many adventures that end in one combat. After characters have been killed each subsequent fight is much harder. So those individual player kills very quickly lead to total party kills.

From what I understand, after each TPK, Colette resets the PCs and they continue on.

I agree that this needs to be emphasized. The PCs' ability to win cannot be tied up in their ability to get back up after being knocked unconscious, otherwise it will lead to whack-a-mole. In PF1, continuing to attack a downed PC leads to a a dead PC, but also a dead NPC, which doesn't help the NPCs' survival. Colette is making the case that this actually helps the NPCs survive. This may be because the NPCs have high enough numbers that they can weather a few attacks making sure the enemy stays down.

Colette, how are your NPCs determining whether someone is dead compared to just unconscious? This isn't something that one can tell at a glance. What happens if the NPCs assume that a downed PC is out of the fight until shown otherwise? That is, give the PCs one free fight re-entry before the NPCs wise up and make sure they stay dead?


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Colette Brunel wrote:
masda_gib wrote:
Okay, what do you want? Making PC death impossible? Having a rule that makes downed PCs immune to damage for 10minutes?
Something a little more narrativist wherein a monster who wishes to finish off a dying PC has to use a special activity to do so, and that activity resolves only at the start of the monster's next turn and can be disrupted. Thus, other PCs have a chance to save their friend, and in general, it makes it highly impractical for a monster to try to take out a PC mid-combat.

If that is the case I have to disagree. It should be possible to kill a character simply by applying damage in any flavor.

It should not require some coup-de-grace action. Otherwise you make it basically impossible to get killed by anything except creatures. What about falling into a volcano? Can it coup-de-grace you? If not, you float in the lava dying until you starve... IF starving can kill you.

If you want other characters to have a chance to save the downed PC, give them the chance by not instantly killing them. Let the villain gloat, let the wolves try to drag the downed one away... That is also a narrative solution.


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Rameth wrote:

I was actually just thinking of something just like that. My thoughts were to introduce something like this,

Go For The Kill [AAA]
You attempt to kill a fallen, helpless, or paralyzed foe. If you are not attacked or effected by a outside source, such as a spell requiring a save, before the beginning of your next turn, or the target creature is not healed in some way, the target creature is slain.

That makes slowed creatures completely unable to kill someone. And since zombies are permanently slowed, you can have 10 zombies clawing at a downed character for days without the character having a chance to finally die. What a cruel world. :(

Such an required action will always have weird side effects. It is an (I think) unneeded rule solution to a playing-decission problem.


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Xenocrat wrote:
I'd like to note that while monsters that focus on killing downed PCs will definitely increase individual player kills, they will in many circumstances reduce total party kills.

Oh, no, I disagree. In my experience, I have found that trying to take out multiple PCs is very tough when there are multiple healers in the party and Hero Points exist. I have found it more effective to simply take out characters one at a time.

During my second playthrough The Rose Street Revenge, when one PC died to a trap outside of combat, I allowed that PC to be replaced. However, in future games, I decided to revoke that generosity. This is why, when the second encounter of Affair at Sombrefell Hall caused one PC to be killed, I simply moved on with only three PCs.


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Arakhor wrote:
So am I. I don't see how that's relevant.

Someone was asking earlier in this thread. I saw fit to respond.

Arakhor wrote:
Literally any game with a GM can fall apart if you aim to kill your players at any opportunity, because you always have that power. As such, any anecdote that starts with "I killed all their characters, therefore X is bad" is automatically suspect if every session is "I actively try to kill all their characters and usually succeed".

You are forgetting that in this case, I am constrained by the limits of a premade adventure, and I do my best to try to eliminate PCs using the options offered by that premade adventure and no more.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Colette Brunel wrote:
Arakhor wrote:
So am I. I don't see how that's relevant.

Someone was asking earlier in this thread. I saw fit to respond.

Quote:
If Pathfinder 2e crumbles apart just because a GM opts for that...
Arakhor wrote:
Literally any game with a GM can fall apart if you aim to kill your players at any opportunity, because you always have that power. As such, any anecdote that starts with "I killed all their characters, therefore X is bad" is automatically suspect if every session is "I actively try to kill all their characters and usually succeed".
You are forgetting that in this case, I am constrained by the limits of a premade adventure, and I do my best to try to eliminate PCs using the options offered by that premade adventure and no more.

Except you have been breaking the rules by using GM knowledge to know whether a PC is dead or just dying, and you have not been running it as the rules state that typically most creatures don't keep attacking downed PCs. You're probably lucky that these adventures are all one or two shots or else I'd doubt you would have any players willing to play with you left. If you were pulling this in an AP where Orcs are all ganging up on my character and killing him after he's already downed I'd be outta there real quick.


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Sometimes TPKs happen. See the beginning of Infinity War. The end was pretty rough too.
You can spend a hero point to do something cool, it doesn't mean you get to live.
Off course, that villain certainly qualifies as Most Vicious.


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Serum wrote:
Colette, how are your NPCs determining whether someone is dead compared to just unconscious? This isn't something that one can tell at a glance. What happens if the NPCs assume that a downed PC is out of the fight until shown otherwise? That is, give the PCs one free fight re-entry before the NPCs wise up and make sure they stay dead?

If we continue to get radio silence on this question, I'm going to assume meta gaming was the method.

It has been brought up a few times and it seems to keep getting dodged.

How pray tell did you monsters have with certain knowledge that the PC was still alive? When the PC was killed out right (or already dead) did you at any point spend additional actions attacking the already dead PC?


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Dire Ursus wrote:
Except you have been breaking the rules by using GM knowledge to know whether a PC is dead or just dying, and you have not been running it as the rules state that typically most creatures don't keep attacking downed PCs. You're probably lucky that these adventures are all one or two shots or else I'd doubt you would have any players willing to play with you left. If you were pulling this in an AP where Orcs are all ganging up on my character and killing him after he's already downed I'd be outta there real quick.

I do not think there is any rule that stipulates that monsters are ignorant on whether a PC is dead or simply dying.

Furthermore, I have already fielded the matter of viciousness above. Is it really so implausible to attribute such a high degree of viciousness to the difficult fights of an adventure? For all we know, those fights really are against the most vicious creatures around.


Xenocrat wrote:
Fuzzypaws wrote:
I believe it makes sense for mindless creatures like skeletons to keep attacking a downed target until it is dead.
Does it make sense for mindless creatures to be able to tell when an unconscious, unmoving (and perhaps barely breathing) creature is still alive? Why not just have them keep hitting dead creatures? Unless they pull of a perception or medicine check, they can't KNOW it's dead...

A mindless creature is too stupid to know an opponent is dead until that opponent's guts are in its mouth or that opponent's head separates from its body. It is too stupid to know other creatures are a threat unless they are actually threatening or attacking it - in which case yes it would respond to those foes who are baiting it instead of continuing to attack a downed foe. It is a different kind of threat because it can't use tactics at all but is too dumb to quit.

A mindless creature acting under its own recognizance should basically be driven by a single overriding instinct, usually hunger. A mindless creature animated as some sort of Guardian might have a few simple commands which override this, like "guard this room and make sure no one gets through it," but beyond its programming can't make determinations, and such commands should probably be limited to a total number of words equal to the Charisma of the necromancer / golemcrafter in question.

If it is acting like some kind of sophisticated hunter killer AI, it isn't actually mindless and would have at least Int 1.


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Colette Brunel wrote:


I do not think there is any rule that stipulates that monsters are ignorant on whether a PC is dead or simply dying.

There it is folks.

Every NPC/Monster has perfect and certain knowledge of the exact status of all PC characters and all creatures are "the most vicious creatures".

Meta gaming and blatant disregard for RAW caused 11 TPK's, not the playtest.

I appreciate your candor in revealing this, now any time someone brings up your results I can happily refute them with the above.


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Honestly, sometimes I get down when a session I DM goes rough or something I set up isn't quite as impactful as I intended. But, well, I can always look to threads like this and realize that my table is pretty darn good compared to some others.

Liberty's Edge

The current state of the rules aside, I am very hard pressed to think of a TTRPG where someone that gets knocked to the equivalent of 0 HP and isn't a round (or maybe two) from death if the enemy decides to finish them off. D&D has pretty much always been that way. PF1 was that way. Even a lot of the narrative-focused games I've played have been that way.

If the elimination of downed PCs is a system problem, how would you actually fix it? What systems are doing it "right"?

Personally, I don't go after downed PCs except in very, very rare cases (such as the assassin being sent specifically to kill That Guy or the like). I can see it in the case of starvation-type situations, as well, where the thing REALLY HAS TO EAT RIGHT NOW AND YOU ARE THE MENU, but those are so very rare.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Midnightoker wrote:
Colette Brunel wrote:
I do not think there is any rule that stipulates that monsters are ignorant on whether a PC is dead or simply dying.

Every NPC/Monster has perfect and certain knowledge of the exact status of all PC characters and all creatures are "the most vicious creatures".

Meta gaming...

That's where it falls apart for me, too. I see a lot of metagaming involved. If creatures attack downed characters, it would only make sense to me that they would therefore also attack dead creatures because they couldn't be certain when dying 3 turned into dead. And there would also be times when they'd mistake dying 3 as dead. Etc.

So even if I was inclined to want to play to kill, as a GM, roleplaying them out as tough as possible to challenge the players, I still wouldn't go to that extent because if I am to discourage metagaming by the players, blatantly metagaming myself would be hypocritical.

Not to mention that I just don't get this us (GMs) vs them (PCs) attitude that someone mentioned earlier. Tacking dead PC sheets to the wall? Bragging about TPKs? I wonder if they have mounted lollipops taking from babies and stuffed fish they shot in a barrel, too?

GM: Oh man, how awesome am I?!? I just totally wrecked my 4-year-old niece in an arm-wrestling contest! You should have seen her tears as she ran off sobbing! I doubt she'll be able to use that arm for weeks!


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Colette Brunel wrote:
Maybe it is just me, but after the first instance of a PC abruptly popping back into a fight thanks to a Hero Point or some healing, monsters will wise up to that.

My group did figure out during the first chapter that the most efficient way to spend their hero points is to use them when their character hits 0 HP, so that way they didn't go down and stay longer in the fight. Now I wonder, did your players do it in the same way, and if so how do your monsters and NPCs notice that a PC was at 0 and should have gone down? Do you make medicine or perception checks for them? Or do they notice that hero points are being spent? Or do they know, because you know?

Colette Brunel wrote:
The moment initiative is rolled, my thought processes shift to the following: "I am now playing a win-at-all-costs wargame. My goal is to make the PCs lose and TPK. I do not want them to lose and TPK, but I have to do my best and try, because otherwise, I will not be pushing the players and their PCs to the absolute limit, and they will never discover how they can handle pressure. I will play enemies under the best tactics possible...

Have you considered that NPCs and monsters don't apply the best tactics at all times, because they aren't apt enough or aren't smart enough, and don't have your bird's-eye view on the battlemap? Also, they are supposed, at least in my mind, to behave like actual beings, so maybe a goblin might have a grudge against the wizard that landed a devastating magic attack on them, and is now tunnel-visioning onto that wizard? Or that a beast might try to go after the archer in the background, because of a good shot and now sees the archer as the biggest threat, even though getting to that archer might not be the most efficient move?

I would love to hear the answers to those questions, because it sounds like you are running your monsters like highly efficient battle-machines, which breaks in my opinion the verisimilitude of many encounters.


Collette, can I ask you if you are new to PF with this Playtest? Or do you have had this TPK-problem also with PF1 and DnD3.5?

Because also in earlier versions
- downed PCs can be easily killed
- adventures get impossible if dead characters don't get replaced
- a creatures conditions (like dying) are not always clearly visible to observers

Shadow Lodge

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ShadeRaven wrote:

Not to mention that I just don't get this us (GMs) vs them (PCs) attitude that someone mentioned earlier. Tacking dead PC sheets to the wall? Bragging about TPKs? I wonder if they have mounted lollipops taking from babies and stuffed fish they shot in a barrel, too?

GM: Oh man, how awesome am I?!? I just totally wrecked my 4-year-old niece in an arm-wrestling contest! You should have seen her tears as she ran off sobbing! I doubt she'll be able to use that arm for weeks!

You really think that is what is going on here? A GM that is happy about killing PCs? The topic alone suggests otherwise.


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Midnightoker wrote:
Serum wrote:
Colette, how are your NPCs determining whether someone is dead compared to just unconscious? This isn't something that one can tell at a glance. What happens if the NPCs assume that a downed PC is out of the fight until shown otherwise? That is, give the PCs one free fight re-entry before the NPCs wise up and make sure they stay dead?

If we continue to get radio silence on this question, I'm going to assume meta gaming was the method.

It has been brought up a few times and it seems to keep getting dodged.

How pray tell did you monsters have with certain knowledge that the PC was still alive? When the PC was killed out right (or already dead) did you at any point spend additional actions attacking the already dead PC?

It isn't that hard to figure out. Anyone with an intelligence of 10 should have a pretty good guess without checking.

The creature/character went down. Was it a normal hit? dying 1 or was it a crit? dying 2.
Same attacker continues attack sequence on the downed opponent or second attacker hits before downed creature acts. Normal hit? = +1, crit = +2. Does the total add to 4? Creature is dead. Given how easy it it to critically hit a downed creature, it probably takes two hits after they go down. If you started with a critical hit then it might take only one.


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Zaister wrote:
I really hope you're talking about character kills, not player kills. :D

Depends on the post combat thumbs up or down from the GM.

Shadow Lodge

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masda_gib wrote:

Collette, can I ask you if you are new to PF with this Playtest? Or do you have had this TPK-problem also with PF1 and DnD3.5?

Because also in earlier versions
- downed PCs can be easily killed
- adventures get impossible if dead characters don't get replaced
- a creatures conditions (like dying) are not always clearly visible to observers

PCs in PF1 are less likely to go down in the first place, the remaining PCs are actually dangerous enough that ignoring them to go after the downed PC is harmful, and reviving a dying PC to go back into the fight makes it likely that the PC will go straight from living to dead the next time they get hit.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Snickersnax wrote:
Midnightoker wrote:
Serum wrote:
Colette, how are your NPCs determining whether someone is dead compared to just unconscious? This isn't something that one can tell at a glance. What happens if the NPCs assume that a downed PC is out of the fight until shown otherwise? That is, give the PCs one free fight re-entry before the NPCs wise up and make sure they stay dead?

If we continue to get radio silence on this question, I'm going to assume meta gaming was the method.

It has been brought up a few times and it seems to keep getting dodged.

How pray tell did you monsters have with certain knowledge that the PC was still alive? When the PC was killed out right (or already dead) did you at any point spend additional actions attacking the already dead PC?

It isn't that hard to figure out. Anyone with an intelligence of 10 should have a pretty good guess without checking.

The creature/character went down. Was it a normal hit? dying 1 or was it a crit? dying 2.
Another creature hits again while its down. Normal hit? = +1, crit = +2. Does the total add to 4? Creature is dead. Given how easy it it to critically hit a downed creature, it probably takes two hits after they go down. If you started with a critical hit then it might take only one.

Well now you're mixing game mechanics with setting. Do Monsters know the difference between a "critical hit" and a normal hit? Do monsters know specific conditions and their effects? Do monsters know the exact mechanics of dying? I would say probably not. Especially the dying part since only PCs and specific boss creatures ever actually use the dying rules. Otherwise all normal creatures just die at 0 hp.


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Snickersnax wrote:

It isn't that hard to figure out. Anyone with an intelligence of 10 should have a pretty good guess without checking.

The creature/character went down. Was it a normal hit? dying 1 or was it a crit? dying 2.
Another creature hits again while its down. Normal hit? = +1, crit = +2. Does the total add to 4? Creature is dead. Given how easy it it to critically hit a downed creature, it probably takes two hits after they go down. If you started with a critical hit then it might take only one.

I really can't tell if you're being intentionally obtuse or not, but might I ask what the point of Deathwatch the spell is if "everyone with an INT of 10 can tell?"

The fact that you are using out of immersion terms to describe how a creature immersed in the game "knows" a creature is dead or dying is basically meta-gaming in explanatory form.

A Manticore (one of the listed creatures he said he used this tactic with) quite literally has an INT of 7, so already your paper thin circular logic doesn't hold up.

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