[Closed] Is it wrong to play monsters in an optimal & deadly fashion


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Earlier today a thread on death and dying was locked because passions ran too high. I got home too late to add to the thread before it got locked. I wanted to add my two coppers to the conversation.

Monsters being more deadly to dying PC's was initially thought of as a PF2 playtest idea where each monster was assigned a DC death save for unconscious characters. Presumably, goblin DC's were easy. A Red Dragon or Balor would be very difficult. I have no idea what happened to this idea.

Do I feel that it is unfair for a monster to go after helpless PC's. Yes, in most instances I do. I do feel that there are obvious exceptions to this rule that I will outline below. I do not think these should be common exceptions but your game may vary

1) The monster is incredibly evil and foul. Demons delight in causing misery and pain. Ghouls hunger for flesh, Red Dragons would probably eat you in heart beat just to show its dominance and inspire fear in its opponents. The Rancor monster in Return of the Jedi ate the poor Gamorian Guard after it had killed it. Monster do attempt to intimidate players in order to cause them to panic and flee. Certain monsters would revel in this.

2) A monster notices that the PC's heal grievous wounds through magic, potions, innate ability and such. Let me ask you this. If a troll or a vampire regenerates, you will probably focus on finishing it off instead of letting it slowly come back to life. IF PC's just pop up like moles in a whack a mole arcade game, a monster will be within its rights to then attempt multiple attacks on said PC until the person is dead, dead, dead!

3) The PC exhibits such an overwhelming power or ability that the monster feels it has to KILL that individual and make sure they are DEAD! Kill the wizard first is a common symptom of this as monsters will try to avoid martials to kill a weak controller or healer making the combat more painful than it used to be. This can also be the case for martials such as paladins or clerics channeling radiant or good damage vs undead and fiends.

Now there is one simple rule that Paizo can institute to avoid this unfortunate situation. PC's as a general rule DO NOT awaken from unconsciousness during combat regardless of the amount of healing they receive or the results of the death save. The best a PC can hope for is to stabilize during combat so they don't bleed out. If a PC cannot return during combat a monster will have no incentive to attack said character and this could even benefit a character if they cast a spell that would allow them to feign death or if they were hit by a paralyze attack that would knock them prone.

Now could there be exceptions to my proposed change? Of course! PC's by definition are the exception to the rule. Maybe a primal or divine spell exists called resurgence that allowed the PC to function with hit points equal to their constitution score. Or perhaps allow a PC to spend one or two hero points to awaken from unconsciousness to help their companions. Hero fiction has plenty of examples of PC's fighting on in the face of death or defying death to protect their loved ones. Conan is saved by Belit's spirit in the stories and by Valeria's in the Conan movie. Boromir fights heroically to defend the hobbits even though it costs him his life. Obi-Wan sacrifices his life in his duel with Vader. Just be careful about these options for monsters will become aware of them and do their utmost to stop them.


Regardless of how you may feel about my thread, please be civil. I too get very protective of our game and I try to remind myself that the exchange of ideas is important and even people whom I strongly disagree with have a right to their ideas. The exchange of ideas is important and encouraged in all threads. Getting a thread locked does not help this endeavor. Thanks


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As a GM, it's my job to lose but make it look good.

I really dislike killing PCs, and will not direct NPCs to do it if I can find any excuse not to. We often play with "death flag" rules where a PC cannot die unless they choose to expose themselves (by "raising the death flag", and gaining mechanical benefits for doing so.)

I would not choose to sit at a table when I feel I have a "Killer GM" on my hands. I would rather not play, honestly. But if someone has players who are all into the whole "adversarial relationship" mode of gameplay, and everybody is upfront about what they want, I don't see why it can't work; it just won't work for me.


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I guess there are two distinct issues here:

Combatants Motivation: Combatants should fight in a way that makes sense given their goals and abilities. An assassin should kill (not disable, but kill) his one target and then get out of there. A cornered animal should do enough damage that it can get away and not care about killing or not. An orc raiding party might take pains *not* to kill so they can capture slaves or prisoners for ransom. An outnumbered fanatic might prefer to murder one of his hated foes over disabling two or three. Etc... Combatants will try to kill or not as makes sense for their goals...

System Assumptions: Realistic violence is deadly. Cinematic tropes require heroes who survive a gunfight a week. What are you trying to model? The default for Pathfinder is (I think) heroic action and adventure where the PCs face dangerous monsters and perils four times a day and live to the end of a six book AP. They need to be pretty resilient. The system should make it pretty hard to kill someone.

I've played in games where an unlucky crit can one shot a character from full health to death. I've played in games where the combat rules literally couldn't kill characters (at 0 you're "out of the fight", but only deliberate and non-mechanical coup-de-grace execution could kill). Those are mechanical choices independent of what NPCs should be trying to do.

Problems, obviously, arise when the two are in tension. How do you do a sniper in d20 Modern (basically 3.0 in modern day)? Death Attacks with saves? The fiction says a bullet to the head should kill. The rules say the target is a 10th level character with 100hp and the assassin does d8 + 10 + some sneak attack.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:

As a GM, it's my job to lose but make it look good.

I really dislike killing PCs, and will not direct NPCs to do it if I can find any excuse not to. We often play with "death flag" rules where a PC cannot die unless they choose to expose themselves (by "raising the death flag", and gaining mechanical benefits for doing so.)

I would not choose to sit at a table when I feel I have a "Killer GM" on my hands. I would rather not play, honestly.

Mostly the same for me, though I will accept death due to a preponderance of bad rolls, but usually that occurs only if the party doesn't try to keep the downed player from dying (which tends to be rare, unless in a dramatically difficult fight, such as a boss or the like, where trying to revive a teammate might result in more deaths). But in average fights, yeah, for me it's losing with threat. Which is actually one of the reasons I conceptually prefer the Treat Wounds thing to the Wand of CLW from 1e. In 1e, that threat is largely negated past the initial fight, since wands of CLW are cheap and so comparatively quick. With Treat Wounds, it's slower, so some of the threat still lingers longer.

But to the OP, I rarely go after a downed PC, as a GM, because it doesn't make much sense to me in most cases. An especially smart or cruel enemy might, but even then, only if they don't really sense an immediate threat from other PCs, as even a smart enemy knows that taking time out to finish off a PC that might come back just lets the other teammates take pot shots at them. Except in very few circumstances would your 1,2,3 examples apply, in my opinion. For 1), only if the demon was certain of losing (and thus, probably mostly dead), do I see much of a case there, as there's greater misery and pain to be caused by beating the heroes entirely, and running rampart through the relatively weak common populace. For 2) I don't necessarily see the logic, as finishing off each PC one by one is almost certainly a worse proposition than trying to knock down the healer, and finishing them off at their leisure, and for 3) ideally the game is designed around the fact that only in certain circumstances is one PC so deadly to that foe that they fear them, unconscious, more than the conscious allies. I'm not saying there aren't corner cases where any of these aren't reasonable, but I don't think they're that common.


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I think it comes down to a simple question: what kind of game do you and yours enjoy? You likely don't agree 100% but you probably have some overlap. If part of that overlap is "hyper-intelligent and merciless villains", then cool. Go nuts. Nothing wrong with it or its opposite, as long as everyone involved in on-board.


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There is no right or wrong way to do it. It's just a matter of preference. What's really important is that the GM and the players are on the same page.

Some people hate for their characters to die. Some hate for GM's to pull punches. Some don't mind death, but hate spells like charm person or dominate person since they lose control over the character.

Often on the forums people who advocate for a certain way being right haven't played any other way so they are not aware that others play differently.

They think mostly everyone plays the way they're used to playing.

The idea of a someone easily accepting their character dying or conversely, the idea of being saved by the GM, and the players liking it, is foreign to them.


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In her first battle of The Lost Star, a player who had missed the first session, wondering about the best strategy after she downed a foe, asked, "Should I coup de grace?" I was too shaky about the dying rules to speak with certainty; nevertheless, I promised, "Even if that goblin stabilizes, he is not going to wake up for an hour."

Because that was what was necessary to keep the game interesting. Dealing with an unconscious foe in the middle of combat is one of the most boring combat actions possible. I don't want it to be a routine part of good tactics.

And if coup de grace is bad tactics for the party, then it will be bad tactics for the enemy, too.

Arrow17 wrote:
2) A monster notices that the PC's heal grievous wounds through magic, potions, innate ability and such.

I have played PvP in MMOs. The response to that action is, "We found the enemy's healer. Kill the healer!" Killing the person on the ground is trivial.

Pathfinder has weak mid-combat healing so we don't need to play Kill the Healer. This is part of keeping the game fun.

Arrow17 wrote:
If a troll or a vampire regenerates, you will probably focus on finishing it off instead of letting it slowly come back to life.

Our usual Pathfinder 1st Edition strategy for killing a regenerating monster when the party does not know the method of preventing the damage is to assign a low-damage individual, such as a wizard who wishes to conserve spells, to keep stabbing that creature to keep it at negative hit points while the rest of the party deals with the other creatures. After the battle we can leisurely determine how to permanently kill the regenerating creature.

Ring_of_Gyges wrote:
Combatants Motivation: Combatants should fight in a way that makes sense given their goals and abilities. An assassin should kill (not disable, but kill) his one target and then get out of there. A cornered animal should do enough damage that it can get away and not care about killing or not. An orc raiding party might take pains *not* to kill so they can capture slaves or prisoners for ransom. An outnumbered fanatic might prefer to murder one of his hated foes over disabling two or three. Etc... Combatants will try to kill or not as makes sense for their goals...

I houseruled Quick Diplomacy for everyone in Pathfinder 1st Edition becuase the enemies with sensible motivations would often make deals rather than fight. Likewise, some minions would rather run away than fight to the death. The variety is more fun.


Mathmuse wrote:


Pathfinder has weak mid-combat healing

I wonder what strong mid-combat healing looks like to you. In the PF2 games I've played so far a healer can fully heal another character from knocked to full health in a single round and can sustain that for several fights.


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Snickersnax wrote:
Mathmuse wrote:
Pathfinder has weak mid-combat healing
I wonder what strong mid-combat healing looks like to you. In the PF2 games I've played so far a healer can fully heal another character from knocked to full health in a single round and can sustain that for several fights.

I meant Pathfinder 1st Edition. I have not yet seen anyone play a healer that powerful in Pathfinder 2nd Edition, but my group is only up to Chapter 2 in the playtest.

By the way, the enemies would be perfectly justified in trying to kill that healer before he gets another turn.

I think you have identified a design goal for Pathfinder 2nd Edition. Do not paint a target on the healer.


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In general it's up to the DM and his players to play the game they find the most enjoyable, that said he is my view on the issue:

The enemy should be played like what they are. There have been made several good examples of what that might be in previous posts, but in general low intelligence or wisdom will likely mean that overly complicated strategies shouldn't be used and monsters aren't necessarily aware of who's the healer, the caster and the unbreakable tank before the fight breaks out.

Personally it would be quite rare to attack a downed player (unless he keeps getting back up in this particular fight) and I especially wouldn't do it if the other players were actively hitting the monster. Most monsters drive to survive is larger than their drive to kill one specific PC.
(In some cases it might be more "useful" for the monsters to kill a PC, to prevent him getting healed by a character the monsters don't know is a healer; however that is knowledge I have as a DM and not knowledge the monsters are likely to have, so I would feel that would be metagaming, which I don't care for.)
So I would never have ranged attacks focusing the downed PC (do they even know if he's alive or not) and I generally avoid using save or die effects, unless the players have been "warned" about the particular user and can take steps to prevent just dying on a single bad roll.

But while a lot of people don't care for a DM that is going out of his way to kill the PC's (even worse if it's just a specific player he is targeting) I do think the opposite is also a thing to avoid. I wouldn't want the DM to pull punches and say the dragon suddenly can't use it's breath attack anymore just to avoid using it where it would hit the remaining players and the downed one. Death, or the very real threat of death is important for combat and the game to "matter" (at least to me), because otherwise the consequences of a series of bad decisions/ or rolls is completely voided.

Still if a certain play style is fun for your table got nuts. But if playing with players you don't know, it's probably a good idea to make sure they are on the same page on this issue.


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My whole problem with playing them like they're *insert whatever* is as soon as you say anything except "realistically" I immediately become un-immersed and lose interest. Because that person is now playing it like it's a game. Like it's chess or checkers. It loses the Role aspect of the game. If I wanted to play a game where none of that matters I would play a console game. I play TRPGs to become immersed.

For instance imagine the most hectic time of your life. Remember the fear? The confusion? Anger? Remember possibly not (re)acting within the best of your ability? Now do you remember every detail of that situation? Do you remember the color of the other cars around you? Or do you remember what that random street witness was wearing? No. You don't.

Now that is exactly what the PCs and NPCs are going through every battle they get in. Realistically they would barely know what was happening 10 feet away from them, let alone whether someone was waving their hands around to heal or kill them or if the person who fell down is actually dead or not.

Now if they had a leader who watched from afar, giving orders and advice that's a different story.

I regularly have my threats make mistakes, run away or make suboptimal decisions. Thatales it so when someone actually does do that the PCs are like "Damn, these guys know what's up. We better not screw around"

Plus there are also very easy ways to "defeat" a group without killing them. That Manticore drops your party? Well it takes one of your group away as a snack, letting the other ones wake up and regroup, not knowing they are still alive. On the way you say the snatched player wakes up and stabs the Manticore, he drops into a river and floats away. The broken and ragged party now need to find a way to regroup all the while avoiding the Manticore, which after losing its snack is still probably hungry and goes and searches for a new one, giving them some time.

Party gets dropped by a bunch of Goblins? The Goblins don't kill them, they instead think it would be fun to torture them or present them to their leader, only he's uninterested and leaves them to be dealt with later. The party wakes up in chains and has a chance to escape.

Being narrative about defeat creates a much better story then just "Uhh well the Orcs just kill you because they have no need for you" Create a reason. Unless the players are being purposefully stupid or they fail at a critical moment don't wipe them. Let them build their story.


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Arrow17 wrote:
Do I feel that it is unfair for a monster to go after helpless PC's. Yes, in most instances I do.

I think one of the biggest things people took exception to in Colette's thread, was that murderbot was the default setting for all monsters. Whether it was a poor choice of language or not, "to force TPKs" also didn't go down well. This probably wouldn't really be an issue in a home game with a reputation or something like the background chapter of the All Guardsmen Party, but this is a playtest.

While the playtest has issues, Skynet for all combats probably isn't representative of the expected range of feedback and for some of us I think it has just been a little annoying that "I intentionally try and kill the PCs as best I can" wasn't made clearer early on, as it exaggerates the issues specific to that playstyle. Still, it has been confirmed that some fights can be resolved socially so maybe there is more room for extremes than I was expecting.

There should definitely be an extreme case playtesting of some of the rules I think, but there's a time and a place and it needs to be made clear.

Back onto your current topic. I think zombies and scavengers like hyenas going for downed people is completely fair. Players are going to expect that the shambling dead or wild animals will tear them apart the moment they get a chance. I think you're right in assuming demons would do so as well.

Outside of ravenous creatures and spiteful supernatural entities, the other main example I can see is a group of soldiers that see the PCs like horror movie monsters. With explicit instructions to not stop shooting the body until its guts are smeared across the room.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber

I have often seen PCs making tactical mistakes through miscommunication and getting in each others' way.

I have NEVER seen NPCs do this.

The game is already loaded against PCs because of this. I see no need to take it to 11

And I feel most justifications for going after a downed PC are flimsy at best. After all I never saw a NPC keep on hitting a dead PC just to make sure either. They go straight to the next target.
Unless it is the GM's way to prevent further PC death. Similar to hitting the Companion rather than the Druid

In the same vein, NPCs should have their own survival as a higher priority than the PCs' death. Far too often it is "to the death, cannot be reasoned with" tactics, which are even encouraged in PF1 by the system itself. Not sure if withdrawing from a fight is still suicide in PF2 though


I actually had to hold back on my monsters; partly as only 3 out of the standard 4 was used.

Secondly as the PCs did *nothing* wrong; I was just rolling really REALLY well, and they were rolling really poorly. AC 15/16 across the party but almost every third attack was a crit.

In fact; against the vampire I never bothered in doubling the damage of crits but he stll took down 2 of the party before finally sucumming to a flanking (no more) rogue's raiper - after spending the last 3 rounds in missing all of his attacks.

No spells were used, just longsword and claw; if I played him correctly he would have murdered the entire party in the first, maybe second round


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Rameth wrote:

Plus there are also very easy ways to "defeat" a group without killing them. That Manticore drops your party? Well it takes one of your group away as a snack, letting the other ones wake up and regroup, not knowing they are still alive. On the way you say the snatched player wakes up and stabs the Manticore, he drops into a river and floats away. The broken and ragged party now need to find a way to regroup all the while avoiding the Manticore, which after losing its snack is still probably hungry and goes and searches for a new one, giving them some time.

Party gets dropped by a bunch of Goblins? The Goblins don't kill them, they instead think it would be fun to torture them or present them to their leader, only he's uninterested and leaves them to be dealt with later. The party wakes up in chains and has a chance to escape.

It works at level 1, it doesn't work at level 5. PF2 characters are even more dependent to their magic items than their PF1 counterparts; if they lose with their magic weapons and armors, there's no way they can win without.


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If the expectation is that the PCs will fight multiple enemies, multiple times a day, and that all enemies will try to mercilessly kill PCs at all costs, then the end result is going to be a lot of dead PCs.

Which is fine for a certain style of game. Paizo Adventure Paths are not built around that style, because they tend to assume that the party Helpful Questgiver met in Book 1 is largely the same party when Helpful Questgiver returns to assist them in Book 3. Repeatedly TPKing the party leads to a lot of story holes.

More broadly, assuming that all monsters will work as efficiently and dangerously as possible drastically alters the world building. All dragons should convert their hordes into magic items, making them vastly more dangerous. Humans should only ever level in top-tier classes. BBEGs should make an immediate effort to wipe out low level adventuring parties who cross their paths as fast as possible, before they can become a threat to the evil plan. A dungeon full of monsters should all descend on the first room when the sound of combat breaks out and wipe out the party, rather than fighting in conveniently CR-sized groups. Is this sort of world going to be more fun to adventure in that current Golarion?

A players-vs-GM game can be a great deal of fun if everybody's up for it, but it certainly isn't the standard default for Pathfinder.


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Like many other things in the game, it's all about playstyle preferences.
What Colette was saying was probably that when the 'deadly' playstyle chosen by her group meet the PF2 rules, a lot of TPKs happen, while it wasn't the same in PF1. So, regardless of realism or intended monsters behavior, she feels that for how her group likes to play, the playtest is too deadly.

It's true that with everyone having the option of making three attacks, if you take down an enemy on your first hit you can easily kill it on the same turn. If your allies pile on the helpless enemy, it's even worse.
But even in PF1, when you were knocked below 0, you were likely killed outright by the blow - except for the lower levels; in case you were still in the negatives, another single hit was largely sufficient to finish you off.
So I guess that the TPK problem is mostly due to monstere being too strong, rather than to the dying rules.


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Reverse wrote:
If the expectation is that the PCs will fight multiple enemies, multiple times a day, and that all enemies will try to mercilessly kill PCs at all costs, then the end result is going to be a lot of dead PCs.

This is the expectation of the game. Seriously, look at the xp table: a level 1 party is supposed to kill 25 level 1 monsters to level up; then at level 2 they have to kill 25 level 2 monsters; etc.


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Gaterie wrote:
Reverse wrote:
If the expectation is that the PCs will fight multiple enemies, multiple times a day, and that all enemies will try to mercilessly kill PCs at all costs, then the end result is going to be a lot of dead PCs.

This is the expectation of the game. Seriously, look at the xp table: a level 1 party is supposed to kill 25 level 1 monsters to level up; then at level 2 they have to kill 25 level 2 monsters; etc.

Being expected to fight 25 enemies over the course of a level and fight 25 enemies that are dead set on murdering you with no regard of their own lives as soon as they see you over the course of a level are two very different things.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I think it's wrong unless your players are all completely fine with it. And you let them know there ARE different ways of playing that are more popular. I myself like to challenge my players, but I don't use cheap tactics that make no sense for the creatures. Creatures aren't going to just kill themselves to kill a PC unless it's under very specific circumstances. Most creatures have survival instincts.

I just hope Colette has told her players that there are different ways to play. But idk, just from her tone and her posts earlier about how her players were losing interest because of the TPKs... She seems to be playing Pathfinder more of a game where the players have to overtake the evil overlord GM that controls everything, which might be a fun way to play the game for like a one shot or two but an extended campaign? Nah I'd run away as fast as possible.


Folks play the game differently. As long as everyone in the group is on the same page, it shouldn't matter. The rulebook is a guideline, individual groups adapt and change to fit their styles all the time. My group likes having the specter of death hanging over us, we play a game where smart villains and monsters, and where savage, flesh eating creatures will absolutely take out a downed pc unless there is something preventing it, and our group routinely coup de graces out of it combatants.

Also, we do all dice rolls out in the open, so there's no wiggle room for fudging dice rolls, as my group says, let the dice fall as they may.


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There's absolutely nothing wrong with playing some enemies for deadly keeps and as extremely competent. However, GMs should be mindful of the power they wield when using metagame knowledge and playing all opponents as super-coordinated, because in a fight, organized forces still have to take great pains to STAY organized forces. Too much in this direction, and the GM could start playing enemies as a hivemind-style mentality with 21st-century military command and control; if aiming for versimilitude, it takes magical coordination to achieve this, even with a small cadre of individuals.


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As many have said, there is no wrong way to play the game if that's what everyone wants.

What people were upset about in the other thread was that the findings of that playtest were being used in good faith despite them going outside of RAW on several sections. The playtest results were used as citations for flaws in the current playtest and were counted among logged feedback.

Since the developers told us not to houserule when giving feedback, this frustrated people.

I don't think you will find anyone that disagrees that the game should be played how the GM and players decide it should be played. After all, the game is about making bonds with your buddies and having a good time.

I could even see putting a campaign on "Dark Souls" mode and going ham like that playtesters group just for fun a few times (after all if the expectation is to die, then no one gets upset).

How anyone plays the game is totally up to them, but when giving test cases and feedback during a development period, I think it is of utmost importance that feedback remain totally transparent.


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Whether fights should be played as deadly as possible or as deadly as nessecary for drama is up to the group playing.

Do players like rolling up new characters? Go kill them.

Do players have attachement to their characters and want to expierience the story? Let them live.

I mean the lethality of the game world will have an influence on player choices. If they are asked to fetch a artefact from a hidden tomb and they know every rabbit and zombie is an efficient murder machine... they can just say no. Or insist on grinding rats until they gain 3 levels.

So, as others say, the expectations of GM and players have to match. Then everything is fine.


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Megistone wrote:


So I guess that the TPK problem is mostly due to monstere being too strong, rather than to the dying rules.

Collette mentioned that "she likes the PCs to be pulling out all the stops to succeed..."

As a player that likes to have layers and layers of stops. I think the TPK problem may also be pointing to a system problem where many of the stops that players may be accustomed to just aren't there.

This is partly true because the monsters are strong (which I enjoy). But the other side is the characters have access to fewer stops:

The ability of the players to be able to control the transition from exploration to combat to social mode is extremely awkward and forces fights to start or continue with few outs.

Spells with get out of jail free cards have been heavily nerfed. Except for clerical healing.

Super-optimizing can lead to better results due to the tight math. Some classes seem to offer more options for super optimization than others.


I personally don't enjoy it, but to each their own.

I will say that it doesn't seem to be more of an issue than it was in PF1. You could do the exact same thing in that version. And being low on HP was definitely more deadly than it is in PF2.

Also, with spells being as nerfed as they are, a lot of other deadly things are much less deadly.

I made the mistake of comboing Black Tentacles with Stinking Cloud when GMing a highish level caster for the first time. I felt really really bad about it afterwards because I hadn't considered the implications before doing that. Luckily only one person died, but it was very much almost a TPK.


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I will say that thread and this one, along with discussions about the healing rules, have inspired me to want to write a "Dark Souls" ruleset for PF2e. I think it would be pretty doable, honestly. You could even take the basics of Resonance and turn it into an Estus Flask system (heh... imagine if Charisma determined how many drinks your flask has? Talk about making it not a dump stat).

Probably would use Bounded PF2e for it... Or maybe bounded players but monsters still add 1/4th their level? That would get brutal fast, though.


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Even the most cruel, evil beings probably want to stay alive. If there is one guy on the ground and out of the fight at the moment but other combatants still engaging them then clearly the current threat is the people still trying to kill you. Once most if not all opponents are KO'ed then sure it makes a lot of sense that they go around finishing people off.


I always keep thinking of the ability to "tank" healing. As a mirror image to redirecting damage to something capable of absorbing it, you keep the dying, debuffed (prone, missing weapons, etc) fighter around to absorb the healer's spell slots and time.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
The Sideromancer wrote:
I always keep thinking of the ability to "tank" healing. As a mirror image to redirecting damage to something capable of absorbing it, you keep the dying, debuffed (prone, missing weapons, etc) fighter around to absorb the healer's spell slots and time.

Can confirm this is a thing. I have absolutely used this tactic on my PCs. It's particularly beautiful because they almost never notice it happening, unlike more obvious control strats. :P


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After our party stomped DD part 2, mostly because we avoided every encounter that we could, and since we finished 5 days early the DM asked if we wanted to fight the night heralds just to see how it would go.

It was a very tough fight, and as our side began to win our party immediately began to think about giving downed opponents an extra hit or two to make sure they stayed down, even in the face of immediate and very large threats. It becomes a calculated risk, and even in a situation where we didn't see any clear evidence that healing on the other team's side was possible, an extra action to create assurance that someone isn't going to be popping back up weighed heavily in our calculations.

If you take down the main damage dealer or healer and aren't so worried about some of the lesser threats, you want to make sure he's not coming back, especially since a good healer can take a knocked character to full health in a single round.


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I believe it is the GMs job to create a fun and interesting story that includes interesting and challenging encounters of all types. No, not every encounter should be a down-to-the-last-blow life-or-death battle. But they should all bring something to the story and make it more interesting.

Then the GM and players work together to make this story come to life.

But once the initiative is rolled and the battle is joined, those interesting and challenging encounters MUST do their very best to win.

People talk about "enemies that are dead set on murdering you with no regard of their own lives" as if that's unrealistic. I agree.

But I also think that enemies who deliberately choose sub-optimal strategies, splitting up, failing to focus fire, never wiping out squishy mages and healers because that's "no fun", who suddenly start rolling (fudging) terribly bad luck when the PC in front of them might die if he gets hit again, or they suddenly switch targets instead of finishing him off, or whatever else GMs do to help the PCs "win" - I think doing that is also unrealistic.

Enemies should CARE about themselves. They should WANT to live, DEMAND to live, and FIGHT as hard as they can to live. Every living thing on earth does that, why shouldn't every living thing on Golarion.

I've done my job. I've created an interesting and challenging encounter that the PCs can win and that hopefully furthers the story in a fun way. Now it's time for the PCs to do their job and defeat that encounter. But it's also time for that encounter to do its job and actually challenge the PCs, push them, make them earn a sense of accomplishment for defeating it.

Anything less and it stops being a game, loses the challenge, loses the sense of accomplishment, loses the triumph, loses the glory, loses the meaning. Encounters just become a speed bump that get in the way of telling the story.

90% of the book is devoted to combat/encounter rules. This IS a tactical game most of the time.

If the GM is "letting you win" then it's just about as satisfying as playing checkers with your grandma who always lets you win. Where's the sense of accomplishment in that? I loved my grandma, but I quickly got tired of playing checkers with her.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Midnightoker wrote:
What people were upset about in the other thread was that the findings of that playtest were being used in good faith despite them going outside of RAW on several sections.

Which parts of the findings were breaking RAW on several sections, exactly?


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Lest you think I'm adversarial, or a "killer GM", I'm not. I'm very cooperative and story-driven and I hate replacing PCs mid-story.

Understand that my last campaign went up to 14th level with two deaths. The first one, that player did something horrendously foolish and even he admitted he deserved what he got and didn't mind making a new character. The second one was a teleport spell that failed the % roll and landed them in the hands of the arch-villain who killed one PC as a show of strength. I think I shocked them all with that one. But he let the group have the body so that PC was raised soon after. He also geased them to do something they didn't want to do, so it all worked into the story and fun was had by all (best part was, now they really had a reason to hate that villain; he stopped being just a faceless bad guy to be overthrown and became a personal, hated nemesis).

Sure, once they got easy access to Raise Dead, there were a few random PC Deaths in combat, but by then "Dead" is just another condition to remove like "Blind" or "Diseased". These PCs were dead for only a few minutes of real life time - the only real inconvenience was the price of gems to cast the Raise Dead spells.


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Colette Brunel wrote:
Midnightoker wrote:
What people were upset about in the other thread was that the findings of that playtest were being used in good faith despite them going outside of RAW on several sections.
Which parts of the findings were breaking RAW on several sections, exactly?

Colette I'd rather not rehash this again in a new thread. It was explicitly stated to you a few times by multiple persons in the thread.

I will not respond to this line of questioning further.


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Also, in defense of Collette, this is a playtest of a new rules system. Sure, sure, Doomsday Dawn feels like a story but the idea is to TEST these rules. Mainly the combat rules.

Roleplaying from one game system to the next. Players speak to the GM, we try to stay in character, occasionally some roll is made. It's mainly a conversation to move the story along.

Combat is the cores system that takes up 90% of the book. Almost every feat and class ability and spell and piece of equipment and magic item and monster, etc., has in-combat uses. Many of the non-combat features are used between combats to sneak, heal, transport ourselves to the next combat, etc., so even these things have combat-related usage.

We should be playtesting Combat.

But if every GM is pulling punches, under-playing the monsters, letting the PCs win, then reporting "Hey, this combat system is perfect, the players had fun, nothing went wrong" then we as playtesters have failed the entire purpose of the test.

At my table, we have agreed to fudge zero rolls. The GM is not using any screen to hide behind. If the monster is going to win, then let it win.

By doing it this way, maybe we can expose some flaws in the combat mechanics.

So I applaud Collette for pushing the system to its limits. I would chastise her for doing that in a regular campaign, but I approve of her doing that in a playtest setting. Now we know - the combat system is deadly and GMs may need to make extra effort to avoid TPKs, perhaps more effort than we did in PF1.


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DM_Blake wrote:


But if every GM is pulling punches, under-playing the monsters, letting the PCs win, then reporting "Hey, this combat system is perfect, the players had fun, nothing went wrong" then we as playtesters have failed the entire purpose of the test.

I don't think it's really "pulling punches" to play monsters to the outlined Adversary Rules defined in the book.

Especially playing creatures unrealistically to their intelligence level or giving monsters GM/OoC knowledge.

The rules are explicit and outlined in the book. At the very least, advising that those rules are being fudged in favor of a more deadly approach should be mentioned upfront as an indication of the differences from a standard game.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

Q:Is it wrong to play monsters in an optimal & deadly fashion?

A:It depends. How smart are these monsters?

I've always used at that as my baseline guide. A dragon with very high intelligence has the capacity to act very tactical, making every action count, spending its resources wisely, evaluating risk accurately, and in general... being very, very deadly. A zombie with no intelligence is working purely on the urge to feed, and has no capacity to exceed that.

Once I determine what a monster can do, I find the question of what it would do is easily determined by its roleplay scenario.

Highway robbers aren't out to kill. They're out to steal.
Evil cultists aren't necessarily out to kill. They might not want to get caught.

Bottom line is... start with ability, then move to motivation.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Midnightoker wrote:

I don't think it's really "pulling punches" to play monsters to the outlined Adversary Rules defined in the book.

Especially playing creatures unrealistically to their intelligence level or giving monsters GM/OoC knowledge.

The rules are explicit and outlined in the book. At the very least, advising that those rules are being fudged in favor of a more deadly approach should be mentioned upfront as an indication of the differences from a standard game.

Page 328 states, "Adversaries typically stop attacking someone who’s knocked out. 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."

It is the GM's prerogative to decide that, hmmm, yes, the enemies the PCs are indeed facing an especially vicious enemy, then something is wrong.

The GM is free to do this with any given encounter. If 2e's combat balance crumbles apart the GM decides to play enemies as especially vicious, then something as wrong. At the very least, that should be noted as an increased difficulty factor in the bestiary's encounter-building guidelines.

It is a bit of a moot point as of update 1.3, anyway. Enemies played especially viciously will find it difficult to genuinely kill a PC when that PC's Hero Points are clearing away both the dying and wounded conditions.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Optimal and Deadly are actually two different things, since having Enemies singling out a target and spending Actions/Turns to CDG them when they go down is Deadly, but it certainly isn't Optimal. It's a rather easy fight for everyone not being targeted. The difficulty of the next fight has gone up though, not because the enemies got stronger, but because the group is now down a character.

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