What is a "reasonable" post-fight downtime?


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Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Most adventures are written with a little room-by-room fighting clear without the enemies getting much chance to react. I ran Fall of Plaguestone over the weekend, which had a few dungeon-like areas, and I hit a few points where the party's delays due to the new healing left me a little unsure of how I should handle it.

In 1E a GM mostly had to worry about this if the party decided to rest the night before proceeding. 2E has introduced a lot of 10-minute activities post-fight activities... and I've started wondering just how long a party should be able to stall mid-dungeon before as a GM you should realistically start going "Ok, things may be getting harder because this place is on alert & you've given them a ton of time to be ready"?

It seems pretty clear to me that taking 10 minutes to catch your breath after your average fight is at a minimum what the game's designed around, but what about when a failed medicine check stretches this out to 1-2 hours? And what if, like happened in my game, really bad luck stretches that to 4 hours downtime inside the enemy base while they can't pass a medicine check to save their lives...

To clear a bit of the "it depends", let's look at this as a typical group of bandits in a hideout. If the party kills the lookouts in a combat that's not especially noisy or quiet, and hence likely was overheard inside, how much downtime would you allow while still running the next fight as planned? And if more extreme downtime was in play what kind of advantages would you give the enemies?

If I didn't have a more obvious ticking clock I've kinda been working on a 30 minute mark for your average human-level intelligence enemy who might have been alerted as the "Ok, they've stopped being worried and starting being very prepared" line, with my go to impact of delays being bonuses to initiative for the enemy & letting them use things like stealth for initiative & be in more advantageous spots (to reflect preparing an ambush) unless there's some obvious actions they could take.


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I've been struggling with this myself. I've been dabbling with the concept of using a tension pool, but the feedback I've gotten is that adding a dice for every 10 minutes is too much. We are gonna try a dice per half hour and see how it feels.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I hadn't heard of that idea & did a bit of googling, seems interesting. Essentially amounts to building up a "risk of bad things" to build tension and give spending time weight, but not unleashing them until a time where the GM actually has an interesting downside available rather than just "Um... the chart says d3 bears... roll initiative".

It's a little gamey but I might give it a try as it seems like it could be positive way to handle it.

I feel like 30 minutes might be about my mark for adding a dice, I think allowing a 10 minute breather after a fight is definitely what the system is designed assuming (Not that you couldn't run that style, but you'd probably have to make the average encounter easier to make the party not need any recovery time).


Ok let's "PF2" the tension pool concept. Bear with:

1) Each time the party takes a 10-minute rest in a dungeon, roll a flat check vs DC = 10 + number of dice currently in the tension pool.

2) On a failure, add a die to the tension pool. On a critical failure, roll the pool.

3) Depending on how "high traffic" and how "noisy" the PCs are, vary the type of dice accordingly (ex. Main Hallway and PCs use Blasting Spells and Ki Shouting = d4's; Isolated Corner and PCs use Stealth Tactics and/or Take Out their Foes during First Round = d12's)

X) For larger and/or less populated dungeons, start the flat check base DC lower (at DC 5 or DC 0).


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rainzax wrote:

Ok let's "PF2" the tension pool concept. Bear with:

1) Each time the party takes a 10-minute rest in a dungeon, roll a flat check vs DC = 10 + number of dice currently in the tension pool.

2) On a failure, add a die to the tension pool. On a critical failure, roll the pool.

3) Depending on how "high traffic" and how "noisy" the PCs are, vary the type of dice accordingly (ex. Main Hallway and PCs use Blasting Spells and Ki Shouting = d4's; Isolated Corner and PCs use Stealth Tactics and Agile and Finesse Weapons = d12's)

That sounds complicated, I think I’ll just stick with the base mechanic.

For early adventures I’ll be arranging them such that players can essentially rest an unlimited amount. While we are all learning the game, it seems prudent. Once I get an idea of how much a fight takes out of the party, I’ll probably start tightening things up.


Captain Morgan wrote:
I've been struggling with this myself. I've been dabbling with the concept of using a tension pool, but the feedback I've gotten is that adding a dice for every 10 minutes is too much. We are gonna try a dice per half hour and see how it feels.

It being too much is kind of the point. Also a complication happens when you roll them. Not a fight. But something the players have to react to. It could just be a random patrol. If they hide, complication dealt with.


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

The first dungeon in the adventure was written with 10m gaps as cavern distance - that gave both healing time and distance. The BBEG is stealthily waiting at the end for the ambush with his crossbow and traps. He is in a better position even if he has to wait all afternoon because they took hours to heal. He knows the party is in there, as he let the dogs out to soften them up.

After a while the party will think he left and get distracted when they see the boxes to loot.

So that is one way to deal with it - sometimes the BBEG is better off staying at the end of the dungeon waiting for the party. To go searching for them without the minions and traps set in place could be suicide.

I would not worry about them being fully healed, monsters are designed to take out all your HP (unlike 5e). They have however expended some consumables and spells, so that is where the challenge will be.

I think it is fair if the GM wants to use the exploration rules for the NPCs to spend better time to get better prepared. Especially if the encounter assumption was the PCs would have been softened up without long healing, but they did heal.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Thanks for the suggestions rainzax & John. I think I prefer the more loose base mechanic than the "DC X and it happens" thing. My favorite aspect was that it essentially banked the tension for when the GM actually had a meaningful way to have an encounter, and saying "It happens at X" kinda removes that.

You may be right that the idea of just giving all the time in the world while learning - but with no sign the world reacts it kinda guarantees they'll bandage up and refocus everyone to 100% before each encounter. The phrase from a player of "Well if 20 minutes didn't do anything we may as well spend another 4 hours and get to full health before we do the next room" made me flinch and feel like it was very much a meta choice as a read that the GM didn't want to run a random event here.

I felt simultaneously like I didn't want to encourage this behavior but also I didn't have a fun way for the world to react so I didn't. I use random encounters sometimes, but never the "3 bears arrive, they're cranky" ones & there was no "fun" way to do something here. If I do a random encounter I want it to contribute to the story - and essentially banking the tension for when something can add meaningfully to the story sounds like it could work well.

It seems like the general consensus lies somewhere between 30-60 minutes as a "worthy of some response" levels (And adding a dice is an interesting approach to a response :) )


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I haven't run, as a DM, PF2. But hours of rest look crazy to me.
For me, there are 3 types of dungeons:
- Urging one. You have to run through the whole dungeon, as you have some kind of time limit. No rest allowed, healing only through consummables/spells. I would just allow quick search in important rooms, that's all.
- Normal dungeons. 10 minutes between fights to loot the room, get a focus point back or heal the obvious. Players have to choose. That would be the rythm I'd put on a bandit hideout.
- Slow dungeons. Ruins, catacombs, many dungeons are not reacting much to the PC presence. PCs can take their time as long as it's less than an hour.
If PCs want to spend hours healing, they better go back to town. For such long rests, you exit the dungeon, find a proper place to rest and spend the hours needed here. Clearly, I would make an encounter for each hour of rest inside a bandit hideout.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Little more detail than I'd put outside spoilers Krazmuze but yeah, the first chapter I didn't find the BBEG too tough to work with in that one as:

Spoiler:
He was already so prepared I was able to just track time ominously and watch the players think their delays gave him the time to prepare - then just run it as written anyway.

My only problem there was:
Spoiler:
Holy crap those traps are nasty! I actually ended up with a dead character from massive damage rules on a crit from those. I'd recommend to other GM's perhaps toning those down slightly, but that's a bit off topic.

Also worth noting:
Spoiler:
15 minute walks are not that useful for healing up because treat wounds is a once-per-hour thing. It means that on average you can use it on a character one every 4 encounters unless you take longer breaks.

krazmuze wrote:
I would not worry about them being fully healed, monsters are designed to take out all your HP (unlike 5e). They have however expended some consumables and spells, so that is where the challenge will be.

Well that's the thing, they failed the medicine checks 3 times running & the reply is just "Well let's spend another hour". If the system is designed around being fully healed, treat wounds could be DC 0 and heal your full HP. This is where I'm wondering just how much leeway the system assumes you should give - do you think it's designed around always 100%? (Based on adventures built to the suggested difficulties & using the modules/AP's as examples)

I honestly could believe it is - they are definitely feeling brutal enough, but I do also think a lack of system mastery is making it harder than it necessarily is once we all get more experience.


Yeah timing when party should move varies about situation are they in dungeon, a forest, on a caravan travelling. It might be right around 10mins-20mins and make secret checks in background with you warning players the noise approaching in the cases patroling enemies. If player not doing anything but keeping watch maybe let them stay longer.


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Also, remember that a dungeon can react in another way: After a few hours of healing, when the PCs arrive in the final room, everything is empty, the boss's gone and the mission's failed as the bandits are just relocating somewhere else. Not everyone wants to face a party of competent adventurers.


Wonder if shift for really long dungeons will encourage players to set up camp with traps and such. So they spend alot of time their making multiple incursions deeper into dungeon. Be useful if dungeon have lots of paths and nasty battles.


It definitely is a trick of understanding your players and giving them the right incentive to stay in the game and not outside it. I echo the idea of finding ways to make time matter beyond more encounters/ more difficult encounters by having bad guys willing to escape and regroup. That happens once and the party will at least start to go to lengths to think about the dungeon as a part of the world rather than its own isolated ecology.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Any time the PCs pause to heal, regain focus points and so on, their adversaries have time to react. This can go from sending in skirmishers, to grouping up to spring a big ambush, to running away through the back door. It all depends on what the DM wants to do with the adversaries' available resources.


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Just steal the Fronts and Countdown Clocks concepts from Apocalypse World.

In short...

Fronts: Groups/individuals/animate concepts/etc have motivations and things they want to accomplish.
Countdown Clock: A graphical clock with different complications/consequences that a given Front accomplishes due to the party taking specific actions, during downtime, etc.

Soooo...

Front: Mine-Dwelling Kobold Clan (they like to mine, set traps, be surrounded by other kobolds)
Countdown Clock:
3 o'clock: More traps get set in the "dungeon" as the kobolds sneak around doing their thing.
6 o'clock: A new, much more lethal trap gets constructed at an important place in the "dungeon".
9 o'clock: Kobolds swarm the player camp in waves or take proactive steps in getting rid of the intruders.
12 o'clock: Add a "boss" to the dungeon.

Disclaimer: This kind of thing is for when time should be a meaningful narrative constraint. If you don't care about the passage of time, let them rest however long they want.


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Tim Schneider 908 wrote:

To clear a bit of the "it depends", let's look at this as a typical group of bandits in a hideout. If the party kills the lookouts in a combat that's not especially noisy or quiet, and hence likely was overheard inside, how much downtime would you allow while still running the next fight as planned? And if more extreme downtime was in play what kind of advantages would you give the enemies?

If I didn't have a more obvious ticking clock I've kinda been working on a 30 minute mark for your average human-level intelligence enemy who might have been alerted as the "Ok, they've stopped being worried and starting being very prepared" line, with my go to impact of delays being bonuses to initiative for the enemy & letting them use things like stealth for initiative & be in more advantageous spots (to reflect preparing an ambush) unless there's some obvious actions they could take.

I've always thought the amount of down time in dungeons was unrealistic. I never liked the concept of "we're resting in the dungeon". Even with things like rope trick, I've always figured that some enemy should spot this odd thing, know that they've been attacked (unless players went to great lengths to clean up the battlefield), and set all sorts of traps for the PCs, move anything important out of the base, or potentially just leave for another "secure" base location.

If an enemy not in the combat would realistically have a chance of hearing the battle the players probably shouldn't even have 10 minutes to rest. If no one is in ear shot of the fight, then maybe its 10 minutes before someone walks through the area.

I think "dunegons" are intended to be endurance runs with little down time. But that may mean running them with challenges of CR-1 or CR-2 enemies until you get to the boss. So players aren't topped off, but are still entering the boss fight with a chance to win.

Scarab Sages

Claxon wrote:
Tim Schneider 908 wrote:

To clear a bit of the "it depends", let's look at this as a typical group of bandits in a hideout. If the party kills the lookouts in a combat that's not especially noisy or quiet, and hence likely was overheard inside, how much downtime would you allow while still running the next fight as planned? And if more extreme downtime was in play what kind of advantages would you give the enemies?

If I didn't have a more obvious ticking clock I've kinda been working on a 30 minute mark for your average human-level intelligence enemy who might have been alerted as the "Ok, they've stopped being worried and starting being very prepared" line, with my go to impact of delays being bonuses to initiative for the enemy & letting them use things like stealth for initiative & be in more advantageous spots (to reflect preparing an ambush) unless there's some obvious actions they could take.

I've always thought the amount of down time in dungeons was unrealistic. I never liked the concept of "we're resting in the dungeon". Even with things like rope trick, I've always figured that some enemy should spot this odd thing, know that they've been attacked (unless players went to great lengths to clean up the battlefield), and set all sorts of traps for the PCs, move anything important out of the base, or potentially just leave for another "secure" base location.

If an enemy not in the combat would realistically have a chance of hearing the battle the players probably shouldn't even have 10 minutes to rest. If no one is in ear shot of the fight, then maybe its 10 minutes before someone walks through the area.

I think "dunegons" are intended to be endurance runs with little down time. But that may mean running them with challenges of CR-1 or CR-2 enemies until you get to the boss. So players aren't topped off, but are still entering the boss fight with a chance to win.

Unless I'm misunderstanding something, aren't those the CRs you should be running anyhow? I've been under the impression that on level challenges are supposed to be "boss" type encounters.


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Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Imagine if SWAT teams behaved the same way while clearing rooms.

Liberty's Edge

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

SWAT teams aren't paid by the loot they take off their targets. At least, not officially.

Scarab Sages

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Asset forfeiture, that pile of gold/stack of money was clearly committing a crime, and will be used to buy the department a tank.


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Playing Age of Ashes we already had 5 fights in one day (plus we omitted an additional one) and have currently suspended our campaign just before the 6th. We are out of in combat heals, have medicine and battle medicine timers on most players because we did some 10min breaks (not more yet) and we still have not explored more than 50% of the first dungeon level, which makes me already dislike the design.

How the hell can you throw a dungeon at a group of level 1 players, that by sheer size alone ensures that you can not clear in one go? Resting in dungeons here we go again...


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

You aren't mean to clear the entire complex in one trip. It is close enough town, or to the camp that the goblin could set up for you, that you can return to town to rest up in safety. I'll avoid more direct spoilers, but with a bit of observation of the actions of the locals you could also find and predict very safe spots.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber
SuperBidi wrote:
- Normal dungeons. 10 minutes between fights to loot the room, get a focus point back or heal the obvious.

You can get focus point backs while you are healing - you have to be doing a related activity. A paladin using lay on hands is in the service of their god so they get focus points back.


Angel Hunter D wrote:
Claxon wrote:
Tim Schneider 908 wrote:

To clear a bit of the "it depends", let's look at this as a typical group of bandits in a hideout. If the party kills the lookouts in a combat that's not especially noisy or quiet, and hence likely was overheard inside, how much downtime would you allow while still running the next fight as planned? And if more extreme downtime was in play what kind of advantages would you give the enemies?

If I didn't have a more obvious ticking clock I've kinda been working on a 30 minute mark for your average human-level intelligence enemy who might have been alerted as the "Ok, they've stopped being worried and starting being very prepared" line, with my go to impact of delays being bonuses to initiative for the enemy & letting them use things like stealth for initiative & be in more advantageous spots (to reflect preparing an ambush) unless there's some obvious actions they could take.

I've always thought the amount of down time in dungeons was unrealistic. I never liked the concept of "we're resting in the dungeon". Even with things like rope trick, I've always figured that some enemy should spot this odd thing, know that they've been attacked (unless players went to great lengths to clean up the battlefield), and set all sorts of traps for the PCs, move anything important out of the base, or potentially just leave for another "secure" base location.

If an enemy not in the combat would realistically have a chance of hearing the battle the players probably shouldn't even have 10 minutes to rest. If no one is in ear shot of the fight, then maybe its 10 minutes before someone walks through the area.

I think "dunegons" are intended to be endurance runs with little down time. But that may mean running them with challenges of CR-1 or CR-2 enemies until you get to the boss. So players aren't topped off, but are still entering the boss fight with a chance to win.

Unless I'm misunderstanding something, aren't those the CRs you should be running...

well, not quite, standard creature is between PL-2 & PL, and boss is between PL & PL+4, what they are would probably come from how many other fights there's been and the specifics on the creature


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber
Ubertron_X wrote:


How the hell can you throw a dungeon at a group of level 1 players, that by sheer size alone ensures that you can not clear in one go? Resting in dungeons here we go again...

It was designed for skimming and milestone leveling. Metagaming to clear the dungeon would be more encounters than needed to level using XP.


krazmuze wrote:
Ubertron_X wrote:


How the hell can you throw a dungeon at a group of level 1 players, that by sheer size alone ensures that you can not clear in one go? Resting in dungeons here we go again...
It was designed for skimming and milestone leveling. Metagaming to clear the dungeon would be more encounters than needed to level using XP.

Will see how that works out in the end, however at the moment we are handed out XP for each encouter / hazard and are roughly at half a level up.


NielsenE wrote:
You aren't mean to clear the entire complex in one trip. It is close enough town, or to the camp that the goblin could set up for you, that you can return to town to rest up in safety. I'll avoid more direct spoilers, but with a bit of observation of the actions of the locals you could also find and predict very safe spots.

Don't worry, even while the roleplay in town did not went well (we literally started with the main event) we are aware of the goblin camp. However from the overall situation that was presented to us by our GM using any of those option does not make much sense.

Situation:

* We are chasing a fugutive, so resting does not make much sense.
* We need to make contact with the missing goblins a.s.a.p., so resting does not make much sense.
* The landscape is seemingly overrun with roaming monsters, so resting in the open (goblin camp) does not make much sense.
* Because the keep is seemingly inhabited by a lot of roaming monsters resting does not make much sense because if we do we might very well need to clear out everything again the next day.

The whole scenario screems urgent in our faces and we are currently bashing our heads in, in a futile attempt to do the impossible. Can't say if our GM did everything right, however this is the mostly frustrating player perspective.

If we do not get wiped in the upcomming battle we will rest nonetheless, because anything else will be a total party kill for sure.


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Angel Hunter D wrote:
Claxon wrote:
Tim Schneider 908 wrote:

To clear a bit of the "it depends", let's look at this as a typical group of bandits in a hideout. If the party kills the lookouts in a combat that's not especially noisy or quiet, and hence likely was overheard inside, how much downtime would you allow while still running the next fight as planned? And if more extreme downtime was in play what kind of advantages would you give the enemies?

If I didn't have a more obvious ticking clock I've kinda been working on a 30 minute mark for your average human-level intelligence enemy who might have been alerted as the "Ok, they've stopped being worried and starting being very prepared" line, with my go to impact of delays being bonuses to initiative for the enemy & letting them use things like stealth for initiative & be in more advantageous spots (to reflect preparing an ambush) unless there's some obvious actions they could take.

I've always thought the amount of down time in dungeons was unrealistic. I never liked the concept of "we're resting in the dungeon". Even with things like rope trick, I've always figured that some enemy should spot this odd thing, know that they've been attacked (unless players went to great lengths to clean up the battlefield), and set all sorts of traps for the PCs, move anything important out of the base, or potentially just leave for another "secure" base location.

If an enemy not in the combat would realistically have a chance of hearing the battle the players probably shouldn't even have 10 minutes to rest. If no one is in ear shot of the fight, then maybe its 10 minutes before someone walks through the area.

I think "dunegons" are intended to be endurance runs with little down time. But that may mean running them with challenges of CR-1 or CR-2 enemies until you get to the boss. So players aren't topped off, but are still entering the boss fight with a chance to win.

Unless I'm misunderstanding something, aren't those the CRs you should be running anyhow? I've been under the impression that on level challenges are supposed to be "boss" type encounters.

Pretty much, but I've encountered way too many people with the PF1 mindset where they think that they need to run CR + 2 creatures at minimum to challenge the party, only to TPK the party and didn't quite understand what happened.

But there's no accounting for people who carry over PF1 baggage into PF2. The CR scale is much more tightly aligned. CR equal to APL is actually a challenging fight in my experience. CR+2 can give a significant chance of PC death.


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
Ubertron_X wrote:
NielsenE wrote:
You aren't mean to clear the entire complex in one trip. It is close enough town, or to the camp that the goblin could set up for you, that you can return to town to rest up in safety. I'll avoid more direct spoilers, but with a bit of observation of the actions of the locals you could also find and predict very safe spots.

Don't worry, even while the roleplay in town did not went well (we literally started with the main event) we are aware of the goblin camp. However from the overall situation that was presented to us by our GM using any of those option does not make much sense.

** spoiler omitted **

Age of Ashes stuff:

I think one of the issues is if your group does left-hand wall, or right-hand wall by default. One option is likely to have a few tough fights, but resolve the time pressure aspect quickly. The other option has a greater number of combats, but maybe simpler ones, but nothing to relieve the time pressure. Sounds like your group went North first, as did the group I'm GMing.... They've decided to head back to town after clearing the north half.

I feel like there should have been something (visible tracks, etc) that a fairly easy check detects to encourage south first.


Tim, I hope this tension pool conversation is relevant to your interests. If you consider this off topic, let me know and I'll make a new thread to discuss further with John.

John Lynch 106 wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
I've been struggling with this myself. I've been dabbling with the concept of using a tension pool, but the feedback I've gotten is that adding a dice for every 10 minutes is too much. We are gonna try a dice per half hour and see how it feels.
It being too much is kind of the point. Also a complication happens when you roll them. Not a fight. But something the players have to react to. It could just be a random patrol. If they hide, complication dealt with.

These are fair points. Part of my issue last night was I did a poor job of communicating expectations to my player. They thought any time they got the dice pool it was a random encounter that offered no XP. The fight last night was written into the AP, with the monsters hunting the players and choosing a moment they are already weakened to strike. The tension pool worked in their favor there because it didn't trigger until after they had finished healing up, but they weren't really aware of it and got really salty.

I think your idea about a patrol that can be avoided is a good one. I think sharing that with my players would be a good idea. Making it clear that the complication isn't always as severe as a story driven encounter might temper their expectations and make them more ok with the 10 minute interval.

One issue with said interval though is it doesn't player nicely with overland travel. Rolling 8 times for 8 hours walking seems excessive... Though having the complications be lower stakes for the safer context could work. Like a complication might just be a ravine they have to cross, involving some skill checks or perhaps a spell to fly folks across.

Do you always use d6s, or do you vary it based on the ambient danger level? The Angry GM seems to go back and forth on this point.


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I tend to assume the players can get ten minutes of time to heal/whatever assuming they do, well anything, to mitigate risks.

In an arbitrary dungeon, if they stop and make camp amid the still cooling corpses, then yes nearby creatures who may have heard them will likely find them mid-break.

If they pull back to the entrance/several rooms away and are quietly treating themselves they'll have some time to themselves. I consider most enemies to be using exploration activities when they respond to distant combat, or sudden dead bodies. They would search the room to figure out what happened, then they scout/avoid notice/however they're following the PCs.

So, depending on how the PCs have pulled back or forted up for medicine, they likely have 10-20 minutes before a wandering patrol gets close. If they need to heal more than they can in 10 minutes, they had better pull back further, or use their resources to heal quickly.


It will vary. Not all enemies have tactics and defense plans. If I recall correctly the first mini boss in Fall of Plaguestone has an incentive to stay where he is, and if the party retreats he can set up traps or craft or otherwise improve his defenses. In Age of Ashes, a lot of the enemies in the first dungeon will not seek out and investigate noises.

I would just let the chips fall where they may depending on the dungeon, and yes I would have intelligent adversaries who have an incentive to investigate, do so in less than 10 minutes...


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Can't answer to the Age of Ashes. Thank you for the spoiler tags.

It seems to me that there shouldn't be a "normal downtime" because time is so subjective to the narrative and it sort of kills immersion if encounters are on a set schedule with proper allowance for PC wants.
One of my most disappointing RPG moments was when a friend was running through my new Neverwinter trial dungeon and just plopped down in the middle of a hallway and slept. What?! You can do that? So lame.

It seems the Age of Ashes author(s) did not address what time pattern they had engineered, which would've made a nice sidebar with a new system. With a low-level dungeon I'd expect few linked encounters, but as PCs leveled up I'd expect to see a variety of options from enemy bases that responded w/ harassing troops & extra traps, maybe summoning in allies. Others would have a specific clock to work against, so you have X amount of downtime for the whole arc, so spend it wisely.

Even the earliest of D&D modules accounted for camping behavior with patrols & hunting parties that would return, traps & tactics that would be set up, an alarm status that shifted behaviors or enemy locations, and advice on where enemies might flee (sometimes even to a different module!).
If you took long enough, there were sometimes recruitment rates to replace lost minions. And of course there were the maligned "wandering monster" charts, whose purpose was to keep PCs on their toes.

As for wandering monsters, they don't have to be the "3 bears" variety, with classic charts having atmospheric events, ones that would trigger paranoia. And there were wandering encounters directly tied to the underlying setting, like an actual patrol or X going to visit room Y for reason Z (which meant if you weren't on that path, you were fine). It made the setting more vibrant, not inundated w/ haphazard obstacles.

Another frequent feature was a room to rest. Arguably some of these were a bit metagamey, but there'd often be an obvious sanctuary. Or there'd be a footnote about how a room was distinctly off the beaten path so parties that hadn't stirred up too much chaos could rest. Hopefully we'll see much of that integrated back in natural ways.

As for countdown clocks, why have randomness?
It seems there would be a reasonable point where the leader would rally the remaining troops and hunt down intruders (depending on the safety of the final room that is). I recently adapted & ran an old module where the final encounter had no location. It was the leader, her bodyguards, and whoever she'd picked up along the way facing the PCs when and where most suited. This could vary a lot given the loops in the fortress, yet gave the GM the option of giving the PCs a short rest or not.

Thank you for reading as I mention one more aspect: the darker dungeon below the dungeon. Often the Gygaxian classic dungeon would be a nest of active evil, a beehive you poked at your peril. And then below that would a passive evil, often Lovecraftian, but which you could explore on your own clock, at even more peril. So you'd get two or more different clocks.

And I almost forgot the most important part! The encounters should be balanced for how much rest time there will be. It'd be kind of cool if the dungeon even played easier if rushed. An easy example is troops resting being given time to armor up and reinforce others. Or even troops who have their own medic to run to. (Rise of the Runelords had this in an Oracle w/ a ridiculous amount of healing. She could heal every monster on the level that fled to her.)

Cheers


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber
Ubertron_X wrote:
Will see how that works out in the end, however at the moment we are handed out XP for each encouter / hazard and are roughly at half a level up.

FYI there is a spreadsheet link floating in reddit that calcs XP for Plaguestone that says it tracks closely. They also did one for the AP. At work so do not have the links handy. I am finding that whoever wrote the Fantasy Grounds version of it has all the XP wrong (severe, severe, moderate XP was given as extreme, extreme, extreme)

Sovereign Court

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Ravingdork wrote:
Imagine if SWAT teams behaved the same way while clearing rooms.

Well the idea of a SWAT team is basically that they're higher level characters than regular police and get sent in to clear out enemies that would be challenging for the regular cops. Instead of the local cops having a challenging dungeoncrawl they send in folks four levels higher who roflstomp it. Also, they tend to have dozens of people in support roles backing them up.

For a good impression of a SWAT team that's going up against a dungeon that's actually more challenging than anticipated, see The Raid.

Sovereign Court

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So my take on this is: it should vary and be semi-predictable for the players.

Yeah, after a typical encounter you probably need a breather to regain health/focus/shields. So the baseline is having some breaks in between encounters. That ties in well with encounters not normally being nextdoor - if the noise from the encounter is likely to draw in reinforcements, then it also doesn't make sense as a resting location. Note that that conflicts a bit with the drive to fit a dungeon on single map that fits on a table! Although some creatures (golems etc.) are quite unwilling to leave their room and patrol/intervene in a fight in the next room, so those can be clustered more.

But you shouldn't have only typical encounters because then things get predictable and less exciting. It's good to push the tempo up higher sometimes or down at other times.

Raising the pressure, making recovery harder:
* Encounters that get reinforcements halfway through are a way to challenge characters and test their stamina, without overwhelming them by having all enemies come in all at once. It also limits the effectiveness of AoE strikes against all enemies if reinforcements come in later.
* Patrols that come in while the PCs are recovering can make for a challenging situation (shield off the arm and on the workbench, HP not fully restored yet).
* The enemy is mobilizing a counteroffensive or trying to evacuate and the PCs have to press on before they accomplish that, so the PCs themselves initiate new combats without resting.

Slower burn, necessitating more recovery:
* Heavy fight that depletes more than the usual amount of resources
* Fight against an enemy tailored to have much more HP/resilience than normal. Not necessarily hitting twice as hard, but definitely lasting twice as long.

I started out by saying semi-predictable. The semi is key. Players should have some idea of whether it's okay to rest at a given time and place, but shouldn't be entirely certain either. You don't want them to feel secure in the middle of the dungeon because they need a rest and you're such a kind GM who never lets anything bad happen to them. On the other hand, you don't want to have TPKs because you just couldn't stop pressing them.

Random encounters, tension dice or similar mechanisms are useful here. They give you a kind of deniability - "look, it wasn't me saying you'd get attacked while already wounded, it was the dice!", that also makes it so that players know that just being tired and wounded won't protect them per se. So the process of rolling for random risk should be visible, it's intended to make them nervous, it's stagecraft. But you have total control over what exactly shows up, you can pull forward a weaker enemy if you as a GM can see that they're already running on fumes. You never let the players see what's on your random encounter table, you just insist that you really have one.

The other side of semi-predictable risk of problems is that the players do have enough knowledge to have some agency in it. They can get an idea of how well-traveled an area is using Survival or some relevant Lore (gnoll tactics) or whatever, or by interrogating prisoners. That gives them information to let them decide whether to press on, retreat, or camp.

Also, just because you rolled a random encounter doesn't mean it has to devolve into a full-on fight. Random encounters are by definition not required for your story to progress, so it's okay if the PCs manage to dodge it. If they have guards (or scouts, while traveling) they can have a chance to see it coming and try to hide or negotiate the encounter away. That's fine, the players feel good because they were at risk but handled it. And you as a GM get to show off some monster that reinforces the flavor of the area ("look, it's the wilderness, owlbears!") without spending time on an encounter that's not the main thing you wanted to do this game night.


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Yeah, a good point about SWAT is that they tend to have lots of people supporting them with information. SWAT teams also tend to be larger than whatever force they would be going up against, having more combatants than the enemy is a really big deal. They also have lots of recon tools to know where high value targets are.

If you threw SWAT into a situation without their support teams, without their recon in advance, and without superior numbers you end up with the average sort of adventuring party team.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

While it's interesting to read ideas on how to run random encounters, and likely great advice for newer GM's, it's more the 2E specific element around how long people think the core game assumes is a reasonable time I was looking at here (Both in terms of the first-party adventures and also in terms of the standard difficulty calculations). Tension pool seems cool to me as it gives an option of "You risked a random encounter, but I don't have fun one I want to do so I'll bump up the tension instead", but as useful as it is it's basically just kicked the question down the road to "When is it reasonable to add tension dice".

I feel like it's fairly clear they don't assume a 4 hour delay to fully treat wounds every encounter any more than 1E expected you to go back to town & sleep after each encounter. In 1E a GM has to adapt things if the party starts doing that, I don't know what the line is for "need to adapt for balance" in 2E first-party adventures & the mechanically impacting delays are far more granular at 10 minute intervals. Judging purely off the sheer difficulty they are seem to be assuming at least 10 minutes after each fight.

I've had conversations with players who struggle with working out how long is reasonable even thinking thematically, cause they can see the mechanical obvious need for 10 minutes and start going "wait... but if I can take 10 minutes here surely 20 is safe? 10 minutes is a lot of time... maybe 2E's just balanced around spending a few hours between fights bandaging, cause we don't have our CLW stick anymore...". And to some extent I kinda felt where their pain came from in the balance - the front liners were getting hit for more than they could reasonably bandage at a 10 minute pause per fight by a decent margin, and wounded conditions added up when medicine checks failed. And back-to-back fails, which at 30%+ failure aren't that unexpected - the players started investing in assurance with medicine to auto-pass at level 3 which I think worked nicely but the 2d8 heal per hour started falling further behind the damage output too. It's obviously supplemented by magical healing but my initial assumption of 10 minutes per fight being "reasonable" seemed to be hitting a difficulty curve that was demanding more. And the players, who to their credit didn't want to meta by resting 4-5 hours per fight, were turning to me for what seemed reasonable. & I was at a loss to balance the thematic with the mechanical - hence making this thread.

Answers that talk in vague terms around thematics aren't really helpful to me personally - I'm looking at mechanics here, the part I lack is a "feel" for 2E mechanical difficulty. I've got enough GM experience across other game systems to handle making the thematics match what I need the mechanics to do. As a possible way to cut through the thematic aspect, let's try this rephrasing:
If I was setting up an adventure that had the party in an arena facing 3 Moderate threat encounters followed by 1 Severe threat boss, totally railroaded, how much downtime between encounters do you believe the system assumes when calling them Moderate and Severe? If they take on each with a 4hour break it'll be fairly easy, if they take on all of them with no rest they'd get massacred. What level of rest is implicitly there in calling the next fights "moderate" and "severe" rather than needing further difficulty scaling for the wounded party?


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Tim,
Unfortunately I haven't seen any dev input on this. I would love to see an answer for how they tuned the game, though I suspect this is a question for the Game Master's Guide under developing a set of encounters.

The difficulty measure of the fights is only in the context of those monsters in that environment. It doesn't account for whether everybody has a Focus Point back or not, whether they're fully healed or not, etc.
You have to calculate whether the party's moved down a notch.

Since the party's core abilities: attack, AC, melee damage, etc. will remain "at level" it really is about h.p. and Heals which will vary across parties because some players will build counting on rest(s) while others build for gauntlets. A party w/ a Barbarian frontliner needs more rest than the one with the sword & shield Champion, though the latter's support might exhaust more of their "per day" offense. Some of the advice on these boards assumes you'll always get a Focus Point back for a key ability every battle. Um, nope.

So if we string together fights, we probably have to aim low until we get a gauge of how tough "Moderate" is. And maybe avoid railroads toward a Severe threat. I think a decent rule of thumb is to count each following encounter as one notch tougher if there's limited rest. Maybe two notches after a Severe combat or thereabouts, and maybe none for Easy.
Technically this doesn't lead to more XP, but would aid in designing the whole. If there are no 10-minute lulls, you might even lump all the enemies together to determine the difficulty, then subtract one notch for spreading them out.
On the flip side too, some of those 10 min. buffs like Heroism will last multiple battles. If they have any. So much variance.

I just wonder if I should bother taking Continual Recovery or Ward Medic for Medicine or simply linger between battles longer? Or should we all have emergency in-combat healing for those days without breaks? How often would/should Second Wind be useful for a Barbarian?
Dunno yet.


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I'm not sure PAIZO actually has the answers worked out yet. They haven't figured out some pretty important core assumptions yet, like how Settlement statblocks should work this edition. They might still be working out how to best pace the adventuring day around the new 10 minute increments. I'm sure eventually they will figure it out and we will be able to gleam it from how they write adventures, but they might not get it right on the first try.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I don't really think they intend for there to be an official answer. Much like encounters per day in this edition individual groups are expected to find a cadence that works for them, the skill levels of the players, and the decisions players make.

In many ways I think the answer for how long should we rest is whatever we can get away with according to the situation. I think it is meant to be a decision for players to make based on the risks involved.

Honestly I am seeing somewhat of a return to the mentality of earlier editions of Dungeons and Dragons in Pathfinder 2.


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Reziburno25 wrote:
Yeah timing when party should move varies about situation are they in dungeon, a forest, on a caravan travelling. It might be right around 10mins-20mins and make secret checks in background with you warning players the noise approaching in the cases patroling enemies. If player not doing anything but keeping watch maybe let them stay longer.

I think we need another word besides "downtime" for Tim Schneider's post-fight downtime, because "downtime" has an official meaning in the rules as time spent safe in town with no danger. I shall call a stopover to rest in a danger zone a "respite."

The amount of respite time the party receives depends on the enemy. And it communicates important details to the party about the organization of the enemy.

If the party is raiding a castle held by a known professional mercenary band, and that band has sentries walking the walls on a regular schedule, then don't expect a 10-minute respite. The enemy is always alert and a missing sentry will cause them to respond in force. And the party should have watched the sentries on their rounds for at least an hour to notice that they patrol like clockwork.

If the party is raiding goblins living in a ruined castle, and they come upon the first room of goblin soliders and no goblin runs away to raise an alarm, then they could take a 10-minute respite in the first room, but after 20 minutes some other goblin will wander by to talk to the first group and spot the party. However, if a goblin successfully ran away, expect a goblin warband to organize and arrive in 11 minutes.

If the party is guarding a caravan traveling through territory known for gangs of bandits, and they fight off an ambush of a dozen 1st-level bandits, then they should have a few hours before the rest of the bandit gang wonders why the ambushers did not return home.

If the party camps in the woods for the night and wolves attack at 10pm, the party should go back to sleep after killing the wolves because the other wolf packs in the forest are not watching out for the first wolf pack. But don't leave dead wolves at the campsite, because the scent of blood might attract other pests.

If the party enters an ancient temple and battles a strange humanoid species, such as morlocks, and they know nothing about the nature or organzation of morlocks, the party would be well advised to put sentries during their 10-minute respite, because how long the respite lasts depends on the unknown culture of these morlocks.


I am a little worried about the codification of the common phrase downtime as a specific rules activity that does overlap into exploration mode type of activities like short rests and recovery of focus points, especially because the phrase "exploration mode" does not really seem to describe the activity of sitting still for 4 hours while characters try to make medicine checks.

I also agree strongly that hard set rules for determining how much time to give are going to be nearly impossible without railroading adventure writers into a single mode of approaching adventure design. I do hope to see in the GMG some help for determining how to handle plotting out gauntlet style encounters that run over multiple waves, because those are particularly fun encounters to play through, but throwing waves of much lower level monsters at PCs is not really going to keep that up, and the XP budget for encounters makes it difficult to plan for throwing 20 monsters at the PCs over 20 rounds in a manner that will feel exhausting but not murderous.

As far as the balance in the first AP and module, I think it is probably necessary to cut the writers some slack because the rules for the "respite" changed over the final months of the playtest into 2nd edition and they were probably designing the dungeons and encounters before all of that had been settled into.


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I wouldn't add it as a known or expected mechanic. I don't play pnp rpgs to have the world bend to my expectations and I believe a big part of the experience is struggling against time restrictions and dangers.

Having the world pause for game mechanics is an issue imo.

That is to say, have npvs react naturally... if npcs would rush in from another room because the players are shouting at the top of their lungs, do so. Having them stand sttic and ready in the next room until triggered sounds way too static to convince any player of a living breathing world.


The Gleeful Grognard wrote:

Having the world pause for game mechanics is an issue imo.

That is to say, have npvs react naturally... if npcs would rush in from another room because the players are shouting at the top of their lungs, do so. Having them stand sttic and ready in the next room until triggered sounds way too static to convince any player of a living breathing world.

I think we can all agree with that in theory, but in practice it is sometimes hard to figure out how to make the world feel alive. PF1 had a lot of enemies that explicitly just chill in their respective rooms, regardless of whether or not the alarm is raised. And we don't see a lot of mechanics for wandering patrols within a dungeon, or even just stuff like NPCs wandering from one room to another to pee or whatever.

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