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


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Mats Öhrman wrote:
David knott 242 wrote:


But since PCs don't usually coup de grace their fallen foes (unless the foes are trolls or other regenerating creatures), there is no good reason for NPCs to be doing that unless they have superior knowledge about PC capabilities.

I've known plenty of players who would whack a fallen monster a few extra times "just to make sure".

The group I play in does it regularly. In fact, in last week's session, the PCs coup de graced two fallen adversaries and another pc used Death Knell to suck the life out of a third. It happens regularly in our group, the players tend to want to ensure that no one comes back, and are really 'dead'.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
Gaterie wrote:

For all those who say it's metagame if the monsters can determine if a PC is dead: when was the last time your healbot has spend a spell slot to cast heal on your dead body?

... In my experience, in Path 1 it's even worse than that:

I have defended Colette's position, even if I think it is very metagamey because it's still a valid way to play. Conversely, I think it's dangerous to assume everyone does the same as players...

In my groups, players are encouraged to play their characters with emotion and passion as appropriate to their character. A point of emphasis is always not to worry about playing your character "perfectly", but as a living creature. I don't want 2 hour combats where everyone tensely plans out each action for most efficiency, I want my players to just do what makes sense to their character and in the heat of battle, act quickly (players will lose turns if they linger too long trying to come up with a "best plan").

It is for that reason, in my campaigns, you do see players rush foolishly to a dying ally ("I charge in to save my sister!"). It is also why I narrate with details ("you see Edrick go down, a terrible raking slash from the troglodyte's claws leave him dying, if not dead, upon the ground, his life giving fluids leaking out at an alarming rate").

When there are Hit Points to read, conditions applied, etc., I realize it's impossible to not recognize their impact on roleplay, but don't assume that all players break role because we all know it's a game we are playing.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Mats Öhrman wrote:
David knott 242 wrote:


But since PCs don't usually coup de grace their fallen foes (unless the foes are trolls or other regenerating creatures), there is no good reason for NPCs to be doing that unless they have superior knowledge about PC capabilities.

I've known plenty of players who would whack a fallen monster a few extra times "just to make sure".

I have only seen that happen when the character is doing a full attack and can't do anything useful with their remaining attacks otherwise -- and then only if they aren't considering taking prisoners.

But that shouldn't come up much in PF2 because of the discrete nature of most attacks.


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On a break @ work, so no time to read the whole thread (so someone might have already made this point)… but "let's treat these 4-6 people one way, but the rest of the universe works differently" in the rules is part of the problem here.

Why would *any* creature continue to attack a downed PC, vicious or not? Because how the heck would they know that this particular being is one of the handful in existence that can get back up after 'death' (hitting 0 HP)? Because literally billions of other beings (from mayflies to dragons) just can't do that.

Did I mention I really loathe this divide in the rules? It's not just the dying rules - it's a bunch of them. And you get this kind of meta-game, immersion-breaking scenario over and over - why does a thing work one way for that goblin, and another way for this goblin, based on something as nebulous and changeable as "currently allied to PCs? yes/no"?

/rant over, break over


ShadeRaven wrote:
Blake does something I have no interest in, for example. Playing an entire world as equally focused and important as the “title characters.” Egad, that just sounds exhausting to me. My games are more story-telling oriented with the protagonists (PCs) as the stars and everything else existing only as necessary to serve that story. I am sure Blake would say that’s not pure Role-Playing, because I don’t RP the Ankheg or the Kobold Slinger like I do more important NPCs or Antagonists, and that I only generally concern myself about the living world beyond what the PC encounter – and to be honest, only so far is it helps evolve the story.

That's not what I do at all. You seem to have misunderstood.

Nothing I said implies that the kobold or ankhrav is as important to the story as the PCs.

What I'm saying is the kobold is exactly as important to himself as the PCs are to themselves. That kobold will fight to LIVE. It wants to live. That is the only one single common goal of all living things: to live and reproduce more life.

So I tell my stories, I said that in my wall of text. I design encounters that are part of those stories. I have monsters and NPCs make decisions as if they are living breathing entities who demand to remain living and breathing (undead and constructs excluded). They avoid fights because they don't want to die. They prepare for fights as much as possible because they don't want to die. They fight as hard as they can because they don't want to die. They ruthlessly slaughter their enemies because they don't want to be ruthless slaughtered.

And they don't pull punches or suddenly become suicidal because the PCs are losing a fight. They don't forget their instincts, their core abilities, their intelligence (as much or as little as they have), or especially their will to live, just so that some other aspect of the story can live instead of them.

That would be bad story telling.

For me, I design encounters carefully. I make sure they are appropriate and fun challenges for the PCs. Once the encounter starts, those enemies will fight with all their might to survive. Just like all living things always do.

If a PC dies, that player gets to raise his character or make a new one. He learned a lesson that it is possible to lose. But in this game, death is usually just an inconvenience. A condition to be removed. Lesson learned.

All this, so that when they win, they actually feel like they accomplished something.

And on that note, no, it's not "I win or the players win". It's "We all win if the game is fun and especially if the players are able to overcome fun and interesting challenges". Which means I, the GM, win if I'm able to entertain us all with a fun and interesting game that is REWARDING (which includes having a sense of accomplishment for overcoming challenges with a real chance to lose).


Colette Brunel wrote:
Otherwise, you have an absurd situation wherein a PC reduces an enemy to 0 hit points or fewer, only for the GM to step in and say, "But does your PC really know that the enemy is dead? You had better spend an action and a Medicine check to find out, or else you cannot be sure whether or not that enemy will pop back into the fight!", when it is plainly obvious to both the players and the GM that the enemy is staying on the ground.

But they only pop back up if there's an enemy healer. So you can usually get away with moving on and not caring if they're dead or not.

I know there were plenty of times in PF1 where I made sure to deselect monsters from my channel because it was unclear whether they were dead or not. Same with PF2 (although it was more of a hesitance to channel as I have not played with selective yet). I've also definitely spent time in both versions stabilizing enemies that I was unsure of the status of when playing "don't kill people unless necessary" characters.

The only difference is that in PF1, with negative hit points, there were a plethora of enemies that turned to "fine red mist" in the higher levels of play (hit below x2 neg con) due to the damage output at those levels.


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Requielle wrote:

On a break @ work, so no time to read the whole thread (so someone might have already made this point)… but "let's treat these 4-6 people one way, but the rest of the universe works differently" in the rules is part of the problem here.

Why would *any* creature continue to attack a downed PC, vicious or not? Because how the heck would they know that this particular being is one of the handful in existence that can get back up after 'death' (hitting 0 HP)? Because literally billions of other beings (from mayflies to dragons) just can't do that.

Did I mention I really loathe this divide in the rules? It's not just the dying rules - it's a bunch of them. And you get this kind of meta-game, immersion-breaking scenario over and over - why does a thing work one way for that goblin, and another way for this goblin, based on something as nebulous and changeable as "currently allied to PCs? yes/no"?

/rant over, break over

I agree here.

Everything in the universe dies at zero HP except a few random people who met one day at a tavern and decided to give up their day jobs to become rich murder hobos. These, just THESE few people, have special rules to keep them alive.

Made even worse the by the terrible Whack-a-mole nature of the PF2 ruleset where some PCs take enough damage that it would kill any equivalent NPC of the same class and level but get right back up and take it again and again, over and over, in just one fight. Then they heal up and go to another fight and do it again.

Some PCs flaunt their "nothing can kill me at zero HP" invulnerability a half dozen times in a single adventuring day.

The gameist in me says "It keeps them alive to keep the story going" while the simulationist in me rails against the absolute lack of verisimilitude in this setup.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Dire Ursus wrote:
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.

A simple Medicine check should be enough to determine that. Then a free action to announce it to your comrades.

I can't wait for the comments claiming that NPC's can't use Medicine at all. ^^


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Colette Brunel wrote:

The problematic sentence is the "only the most vicious..." sentence, which gives a GM permission to declare that, "Yes, this is indeed an especially vicious enemy" and go to town on dying creatures.

Again, I do not think it matters too much in update 1.3, seeing how spending a Hero Point eliminates both the dying condition and the wounded condition.

For me, the problematic sentences are, "I am now playing a win-at-all-costs wargame. My goal is to make the PCs lose and TPK."

Pg. 328 - Choosing Adversaries’ Actions

Quote:

Players often coordinate and plan to be as efficient as

possible, but their adversaries don’t always. As the GM,
you’re roleplaying these foes, including deciding their
tactics. Most creatures have a basic grasp of tactics like
flanking or focusing on a single target. Yet, you should
remember that they have emotional reactions and make
mistakes, even more so than the player characters.

Use adversaries’ knowledge about the situation when
selecting targets or choosing which abilities to use, not
your own. You might know that the cleric has a really
high Will modifier, but a monster might still try to use
a fear ability on her. That’s not to say you should play
adversaries as complete fools. They can learn from their
mistakes and make sound plans, and smarter villains
might research the player characters in advance.

Right before the part people keep quoting. Also, right after that part, same page:

Quote:


...Think of it like a movie or a fight scene in a novel. If the
fighter taunts a fire giant to draw its attention away from
the fragile wizard, it still might be tactically more sound
for the giant to keep pummeling the wizard. Ask yourself
whether that’s the best choice for the scene, or whether
you’d rather have a scene in which the giant redirects its
ire to the infuriating fighter.

Rather than taking a win-at-all-costs wargame attitude, the rules emphasize the individuality of creatures, of their capability for mistakes in combat, for their choosing suboptimal strategies at times. Adversaries CAN learn from their mistakes, but to learn from a mistake, they must MAKE it first.

Becoming what Gary Gygax used to call a "Killer DM" can cause frustration, can add hostility between players and GMs, and cause people to want to give up. As DM, you CAN win the game at any time, even with so-called "balanced" encounters. No ruleset can stop this, even PF1; though you note you've had different experiences in PF1, I've seen extremely optimized foes rip apart a party quickly. In my opinion, the goal is to aim for "challenging circumstances" without making the encounters battles of attrition, because in even normally-engineered scenarios, never mind the stress-testing that is incorporated into Doomsday Dawn, a GM can accidentally stack the deck against their players just by using powers of omniscience.

Silver Crusade

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A threatening, ready for some fightn PC foe is a preffered target for npcs comparing to the dying(1-2-3) pile of meat... (We should notice that this thread has a good idea of "mindless machine habit", which i'd use in the next game.)

Also, for most npcs there's no need to kill a dying enemy if they believe she will die without their "help". Moreover, taking prisoners is a good idea, so a particular evil (but not stupid) npc might stabilise dying PC and, afterwards, make an offer the PC party will have to take (or have some alignment bad news/anathema troubles). This situation might be even more resource-draining than ordinary combat, with less dice-rolling. "Parlu... parlee... parlshhh... YES! PARLAY!" (and socialising is kinda relief in from-combat-to-combat scenarios)

TPK is not a good goal in GM practice - let a dying PC live and give your party some pain accordingly is always better.


Gaterie wrote:
For all those who say it's metagame if the monsters can determine if a PC is dead: when was the last time your healbot has spend a spell slot to cast heal on your dead body?

I mean never, but that's not really relevant. I do not let my players know whether for sure the monster is dead, or if it's just knocked unconscious; I will just say "it slumps to the ground" and if they want to know whether or not it's liable to get back up, they will need to investigate further.

So analogously, I do not let NPCs know whether PCs are "For sure dead" or "just unconscious and liable to get back up again" because I shouldn't give NPCs information that I would not extend to PCs.

Basically it's fine if PCs know the status of other PCs, and it's fine if NPCs know the status of other NPCs, but you don't get free information about "the other team."


Mats Öhrman wrote:
David knott 242 wrote:


But since PCs don't usually coup de grace their fallen foes (unless the foes are trolls or other regenerating creatures), there is no good reason for NPCs to be doing that unless they have superior knowledge about PC capabilities.

I've known plenty of players who would whack a fallen monster a few extra times "just to make sure".

Heck, once I know that "Villains, powerful monsters, enemies with healers or regeneration, and any other NPCs at the GM’s discretion are knocked out like a PC", I can see using a 3rd attack on a downed creature: a -10 hits a lot better on a "blinded, deafened, flat-footed" enemy that also has a –4 conditional penalty to AC instead of fishing for a natural 20 to hit. This is especially true if a lower level creature/effect knocked them out like a lower level summon monster.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
ENHenry wrote:
Rather than taking a win-at-all-costs wargame attitude, the rules emphasize the individuality of creatures

Generally, the type of drama I want to implement in my games is "The enemies are actually playing to win, and the players and their PCs have to pull out all of the stops to win themselves." When I ask myself whether or not that is the best choice for the scene, I always say, "Yes."


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Colette Brunel wrote:
Generally, the type of drama I want to implement in my games is "The enemies are actually playing to win, and the players and their PCs have to pull out all of the stops to win themselves." When I ask myself whether or not that is the best choice for the scene, I always say, "Yes."

Have you ever tried it any other way? Note that this is not a presumption that you would enjoy something else more than you enjoy the way you currently play, only a question asked out of genuine curiosity.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Colette Brunel wrote:
ENHenry wrote:
Rather than taking a win-at-all-costs wargame attitude, the rules emphasize the individuality of creatures
Generally, the type of drama I want to implement in my games is "The enemies are actually playing to win, and the players and their PCs have to pull out all of the stops to win themselves." When I ask myself whether or not that is the best choice for the scene, I always say, "Yes."

As long as you admit that is at odds with RAW, that is fine. It's a fine way to play the game.

But please don't claim to be a strict-RAW GM and then casually toss out the rules you don't like.

Because that section doesn't say "you may want to use" or "you could choose to use". It says "Use adversaries’ knowledge about the situation when selecting targets or choosing which abilities to use, not your own," making it a clear, non-optional rules instruction the GM.


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Regarding "GM playing to win" I think it's a little like professional wrestling- everyone in a pro wrestling match knows, in advance, what the outcome is going to be, but they work together in order to tell a story and create artificial drama. As the GM it's not my job to win, but my job to create a credible threat and get some offense in, before I invariably drop the title to our heroes at Wrestlemania.

Sure there are some fights that the PCs should have a real chance of losing, but those are fights which happen at significant narrative climaxes. But if the PCs are going to be driven off so the cult can complete their dark ritual, this is only ever going to happen when our heroes have breached the ritual chamber and they fight the big heavies. All the fights up until they meet the dread cult leader face to face are primarily a matter of resource attrition to see if they have enough juice to win in the end.

So in 90%+ of fights it's my job to try to get some offense in, and then to lose.


magnuskn wrote:
What I mean to say, PC's not dying at 0 HP is an arbitrary PC advantage and makes the entire game lack one more step of verisimilitude. IMO, monsters and NPC's should be affected by the same dying rules as PC's. In which case, since magical healing is known to exist and now easily exists at a range of 30 feet, opponents would be more prone to finishing off downed PC's.

I think they should too. But, most people can't use healing magic. And it's doubtful things like wild animals/secluded monsters have ever encountered it.

Unless the enemies know that the group has a healer in it (either by experiencing said magic or making some sort of knowledge check to recognize a holy symbol or something), then stopping to finish someone off is inefficient as they will not get back up without magical healing.


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MaxAstro wrote:
Colette Brunel wrote:
ENHenry wrote:
Rather than taking a win-at-all-costs wargame attitude, the rules emphasize the individuality of creatures
Generally, the type of drama I want to implement in my games is "The enemies are actually playing to win, and the players and their PCs have to pull out all of the stops to win themselves." When I ask myself whether or not that is the best choice for the scene, I always say, "Yes."

As long as you admit that is at odds with RAW, that is fine. It's a fine way to play the game.

But please don't claim to be a strict-RAW GM and then casually toss out the rules you don't like.

Because that section doesn't say "you may want to use" or "you could choose to use". It says "Use adversaries’ knowledge about the situation when selecting targets or choosing which abilities to use, not your own," making it a clear, non-optional rules instruction the GM.

I've seen people point out the *advice* that says 'be gentle' - but please point to the *rule* that says monsters shouldn't kill.

There isn't one - because 'shouldn't' isn't even a rule. It's a subjective thing - that by very definition means there is no wrong way to do it. I agree with the sentiment that playing adversarial isn't my idea of fun - but to act like this is against RAW is flat out wrong.

The rules give some guidance - it's not hard to make the rules say what ya'll think they actually say - here is an example:

Monsters stop attacking a character that is at 0 unless they have the 'vicious' trait.

That's even less words than the 'advice' - so it'd save page count.

They didn't do this.

The rules don't say this.

The rules say 'play how you want - here is a suggestion' - so all of you that are trying to browbeat this poster into the ground over RAW need to go find a real rule to sit on.

Liberty's Edge

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I still think the fundamental question is "What is the alternative?"

1) Having to sit out most of a combat because you got knocked out sucks.

2) Having to sit out most of a session because your character died sucks harder.

3) Having to do the above frequently makes many people not want to play at all.

Given that the above are probably true (and if you disagree with them, I'd like to hear why), how would PF2 need to change to make this not a problem?

Dark Archive

Yes, there are real people with real feelings behind every single one of these posts. But, not correcting blatant misinterpretations, aggressively if need be, does no one here any favors. All involved know exactly what they are writing and have made the choice to be provocative - there are no villains to castigate or victims to rescue in these largely wasteful exchanges.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Ckorik wrote:

The rules give some guidance - it's not hard to make the rules say what ya'll think they actually say - here is an example:

Monsters stop attacking a character that is at 0 unless they have the 'vicious' trait.

I don't see how changing the tone of the wording changes the meaning of the words. "Only the most vicious monsters continue to attack an unconscious character" is exactly the same as what you wrote, mechanically, save for moving the "vicious" definition from the tactics block to the traits block (it belongs in the tactics block, imo).


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MaxAstro wrote:
Ckorik wrote:

The rules give some guidance - it's not hard to make the rules say what ya'll think they actually say - here is an example:

Monsters stop attacking a character that is at 0 unless they have the 'vicious' trait.

I don't see how changing the tone of the wording changes the meaning of the words. "Only the most vicious monsters continue to attack an unconscious character" is exactly the same as what you wrote, mechanically, save for moving the "vicious" definition from the tactics block to the traits block (it belongs in the tactics block, imo).

One is a hard rule that says that they *will* stop attacking unless they have a trait. The other is a suggestion that leaves it up to whoever is running the game to decide if a monster is vicious.

That's not even a tone change - it's a straight up mechanics vs flavor change. When saying something is RAW - then you must point to the specific rule - there is nothing in the rules that say monsters you fight are or are not 'the most vicious' - because that block of text isn't a rule - it's a suggestion. People are acting like it's RAW that monsters will NOT go for the kill - when that's 100% GM style. It's very easy to make it RAW (as my change shows) - where if the published adventure had monsters without the trait, people would have a valid point. That isn't the case - and it's very poor form to beat someone up over their play style, but in my opinion it's worse when you try and say they are not following the rules, when they are.

Silver Crusade

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Vidmaster7 wrote:
Yeah I'f I told a golem that I controlled to crush that person I could see it just doing that well after the person is dead.

I've been at a table where this happened. And then the controller got killed before the golem did. I breath-of-life'd the target the first time, but it just kept pounding until there was only paste left.


I thought people were complaining about unnecessary traits.

What benefit does it bring, given that in a lot of cases, whether the monster is vicious or not depends on the situation? A cleric of Sarenrae wouldn't be considered vicious in most cases, but they're definitely going to make sure a cleric of Rovagug trying to summon one of the spawn is dead.

Paizo Employee Customer Service & Community Manager

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Folks, I've removed some posts and replies to posts and gone ahead and locked the thread. There are many different styles and types of play and game mastering. It's important to keep your tone calm when trying to learn why another gamer chooses or enjoys a particular style. Avoid aggressive questioning or insults. If you suspect someone of trolling, please contact community at paizo.com, do not accuse people of this on our forums.

While we encourage every GM to play to their strengths, we recognize that some styles might not be to everyone's taste. Debating these styles is not really in the best interest of the playtest boards or the people participating. We request that you instead focus on playing your games and reporting the results via the surveys we have provided. If you want to carry out a respectful debate or conversation about a particular style of GMing, it would be a good idea to find a more appropriate section of the forums.

Lastly, when starting a conversation or thread about an aspect of the game that you feel needs changing, it would likely behoove the atmosphere of the thread and people's ability to discuss it in a relevant manner, if you include relevant details about how you GM or GM'd the sessions you are using as examples. If you are wanting to change or discuss the deadliness of a rules version, it would be relevant to include that your style of GMing is to make the encounter as hard or deadly as possible for PCs.

Paizo Employee Customer Service & Community Manager

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And please do not use real world medical conditions such as schizophrenia as descriptors.

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