Strange play patterns during combat have emerged.


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Excaliburproxy wrote:
@Mathmuse What if the orcs are harassing the mage or healer rather than slapping the tank like a bunch of mouth-breathing orcs?

A cleric or a rogue would probably have AC 19, too, but would deal less damage. Thus, the orcs have less reason to avoid their attacks. That champion I threw together is not a tank, he is a damage dealer without Attack of Opportunity, the best reason to try the Spring Attack tactic.

A wizard with Mage Armor and Dex 14 would have AC 17, so the orc warriors would fare better against him on their attacks. However, the wizard has ranged spell attacks, so keeping their distance would be no advantage. Instead it would be a disadvantge because they miss out on Attacks of Opportunity (which they have) to disrupt his spells. Anyone with an Attack of Opportunity should breath down the necks of the spellcasters.


Mathmuse wrote:
Excaliburproxy wrote:
@Mathmuse What if the orcs are harassing the mage or healer rather than slapping the tank like a bunch of mouth-breathing orcs?

A cleric or a rogue would probably have AC 19, too, but would deal less damage. Thus, the orcs have less reason to avoid their attacks. That champion I threw together is not a tank, he is a damage dealer without Attack of Opportunity, the best reason to try the Spring Attack tactic.

A wizard with Mage Armor and Dex 14 would have AC 17, so the orc warriors would fare better against him on their attacks. However, the wizard has ranged spell attacks, so keeping their distance would be no advantage. Instead it would be a disadvantge because they miss out on Attacks of Opportunity (which they have) to disrupt his spells. Anyone with an Attack of Opportunity should breath down the necks of the spellcasters.

Makes sense. I still feel like moving away to make character Burn actions should somehow work out when the orca outnumber the party. Maybe this is all falling apart because the “orcs” are burning two actions to move in and out while that Paladin is just slapping the orc left over.

How about monks and rogues without max Dex?

Or how about a case where nobody stays behind to set up flanking and the Paladin is slower than his harriers (so the Paladin would need to move twice in his heavy armor to attack an orc once)?

Or maybe a case where one “orc” stands by the Paladin with a shield and better armor and the other “orcs” dart in and out (denying melee characters easy access to the quickest-to-kill targets)

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I agree with the presented logic that typically this tactic is not actually optimal at all & rarely in character for the enemy (which as mentioned, each to their own on how they play, but that's what they design around).

If the party has no ranged capability, no battlefield control options, no abilities that improve in a limited action environment (like flurry of blows), is versus an enemy who has those abilities, has no AoO's and is slower base movement than the enemy... then yes the tactic will wreck them.

And somewhere along that continuum is the point where it becomes an optimal tactic, but if it gets used every fight either it's not actually optimal most the time or your party is seriously limited in options to counter such a threat and if it's a problem for you then perhaps some party changes can counter the tactic.


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Excaliburproxy wrote:
Or how about a case where nobody stays behind to set up flanking and the Paladin is slower than his harriers (so the Paladin would need to move twice in his heavy armor to attack an orc once)?

That is one of the cases where the Spring Attack tactic works. If the enemy can force the player character to also move twice, then the battle comes down to single Strikes for everyone. As Tim Schneider 908 mentioned, some classes have once-a-turn attacks that thrive in such a combat.

That would be a flavorful battle against elves, who have a naturally high speed. Given them classes with flourish abilities, and some trees or rocks to interfere with ranged attacks, and the players will have to puzzle out a way to counter the tactics.

My players like to be clever. Different enemies using different tactics gives them opportunities to cleverly learn how to counter new tactics.


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Didn't expect this much conversation over my post.

One thing that came up a lot is "orcs wouldn't fight like that" or "look at their INT they wouldn't do that" or "that seems like hivemind tactics"

I'm curious how many players out there have ever had their DM (or group) disallow on action they took because it wasn't in-character for their character or race?

Or not a allow a PC to move to flank because their INT was 6?

Also, not sure what groups you guys play in, but my group plays in total mind-link level when we are planning our turns even if we are hundreds of feet apart in the dungeon.

Forgetting (for a moment) the effectiveness of such a tactic (someone did the math and it seemed like it's actually lower DPR, but again I believe the point of the tactic is to target softer targets such as the casters or in chokepoint scenerios).

Also, lastly, not white box but this happened a bunch throughout the Plaguestone adventure.


SuperBidi wrote:
Monsters have to be played according to their respective intelligence and mindset.

Sorry excaliburproxy, he got ya there. Guess your group just has to stop playing the way you enjoy it.


BellyBeard wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:
Monsters have to be played according to their respective intelligence and mindset.
Sorry excaliburproxy, he got ya there. Guess your group just has to stop playing the way you enjoy it.

I mean I think you’re allowed to play however you want, but when you start interpreting your personal play style (which is not supported by really anything but personal preference) as an issue with the system itself, that’s where it’s fair to be critical.

These orcs operating this way is not a function of the system, it’s not even a function of the meta, it’s just the way they’re doing it and the way PCs are responding. That’s not the systems fault or anyone else’s problem.

Play how you want but don’t blame the rules/system, IMO obviously.


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Midnightoker wrote:


Play how you want but don’t blame the rules/system, IMO obviously.

Nobody has "blamed the system" for anything, not sure what there is to blame the system for. The idea that combat against a bunch of enemies must happen this certain way? I don't think anybody suggested that's something the system dictates. On the contrary, I pointed out up thread that the system suggests to do otherwise.


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BellyBeard wrote:
Midnightoker wrote:


Play how you want but don’t blame the rules/system, IMO obviously.
Nobody has "blamed the system" for anything, not sure what there is to blame the system for. The idea that combat against a bunch of enemies must happen this certain way? I don't think anybody suggested that's something the system dictates. On the contrary, I pointed out up thread that the system suggests to do otherwise.

Fair enough but I do feel the tone of the OP was most certainly putting the results of their play on the rules themselves influencing it as a “good” choice.

Perhaps not dictates but encourages through meta.

I’m all about meta but I still don’t know that I have the meta fully realized in this edition. The longer it takes to realize, the more evidence that there is to suggest it’s well balanced. So far I find combats to be fun and well balanced.


AsmodeusDM wrote:

Didn't expect this much conversation over my post.

One thing that came up a lot is "orcs wouldn't fight like that" or "look at their INT they wouldn't do that" or "that seems like hivemind tactics"

I'm curious how many players out there have ever had their DM (or group) disallow on action they took because it wasn't in-character for their character or race?

Or not a allow a PC to move to flank because their INT was 6?

Also, not sure what groups you guys play in, but my group plays in total mind-link level when we are planning our turns even if we are hundreds of feet apart in the dungeon.

Forgetting (for a moment) the effectiveness of such a tactic (someone did the math and it seemed like it's actually lower DPR, but again I believe the point of the tactic is to target softer targets such as the casters or in chokepoint scenerios).

Also, lastly, not white box but this happened a bunch throughout the Plaguestone adventure.

Just out of curiosity, what classes/builds you guys play?


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AsmodeusDM wrote:

Didn't expect this much conversation over my post.

One thing that came up a lot is "orcs wouldn't fight like that" or "look at their INT they wouldn't do that" or "that seems like hivemind tactics"

I'm curious how many players out there have ever had their DM (or group) disallow on action they took because it wasn't in-character for their character or race?

Or not a allow a PC to move to flank because their INT was 6?

Also, not sure what groups you guys play in, but my group plays in total mind-link level when we are planning our turns even if we are hundreds of feet apart in the dungeon.

Forgetting (for a moment) the effectiveness of such a tactic (someone did the math and it seemed like it's actually lower DPR, but again I believe the point of the tactic is to target softer targets such as the casters or in chokepoint scenerios).

Also, lastly, not white box but this happened a bunch throughout the Plaguestone adventure.

For me, the combat style of an enemy tells a story about the enemy. If the combat has each foe acting independently, that means that the enemy is not organized. If they use obvious formation tactics, that means that they drilled like an army. If they heal their downed comrades, that means they have compassion. These are all clues about how the party should view the enemy. Will the enemy fight to the death, or will they surrender and squeal on their buddies deeper in the dungeon in exchange for their lives. Did they send a messenger deeper into the dungeon to return with reinforcements soon? Could the enemy be a potential ally who attacked because of suspicion of all strangers?

Given a choice between telling a story through actions or optimizing combat, I chose the story.

The tactics of the 7 orcs did not sound like they cared about their lives. They would fight to the death in order to damage the party as much as possible.

Checking my copy of Fall of Plaguestone, I see that the orcs are scattered, but "If the orcs spot anything, their first action is to sound an alarm, alerting ... the other orcs that there’s trouble. Within a few rounds, all of the orcs are roused and in the yard." The orcs raising an alarm should have been a notable moment in the campaign. It means that they are organized unlike most orc warbands, so they have non-orcish leadership. But they aren't warriors with practiced tactics. Perhaps the GM meant their retreats to indicate that they are afraid of the PCs.

As for my PCs, I don't forbid any actions that are legal by the rules, but the fellow players and I will embarrass a player who fights out of character. "You say that you are a protector of the weak, so why did you kill the goblin slaves that the hobgoblins slave-masters used as living shields?" My wife once played a sorceress who was raised as a laboratory experiment. When the ranger told her, "Stop setting things on fire!", the sorceress legitimately asked, "Is that bad?" She learned to stop setting thing on fire--she used acid instead.

My players are masters of teamwork. They can push their characters to their limit because they know their teammates will support them. Their tactics are not so much mind-linked as improvised on the spot based on local conditions. The enemy has damage reduction, then the party's heavy hitters are the spearpoint and the rest of the party flanks, bluffs, and other support.

They also create eccentric parties. My Iron Gods campaign had a human fighter who used homebrew weapon designs (Lemmy's Custom Weapon Generation System), a human bloodrager who thought she was a wizard, a dwarf gunslinger who traded away her high-damage ability to become a master of battlefield control, a strix skald who liked to hold concerts, and a brooding half-elf bladebound magus named Elric. What would the expected behavior of this party be? They usually fought in a highly mobile skirmishing style. My new Ironfang Invasion party has an elf Chernasardo-hopeful ranger, a halfling animal-whisperer rogue, a gnome herbalist druid, a lizardfolk world-weary champion, and a goblin alchemist protecting a town of humans and dwarves. Once again, no expected behavior is obvious.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
AsmodeusDM wrote:

I'm curious how many players out there have ever had their DM (or group) disallow on action they took because it wasn't in-character for their character or race?

Or not a allow a PC to move to flank because their INT was 6?

Haven't gone as far as disallow, but I have frequently seen players not take actions that may be more optimal because of character and as a GM I will remind a character if they're making a choice based on info not available to their character.

It's a role-playing game not just a tactical combat simulator & as a GM I work to try and create an environment where the role play continues even once a map is down without having to forcibly say "you can't do X".

That said I have played games like you describe, and they're fun in their own right so long as everyone's on the same page. Generally the GM sets the tone & I've found most players follow suit... but it's definitely true that first party adventures consider the actual creatures and their tactical inclinations when balancing the styles of combats for variety & a GM not following this may need to do more work to ensure varied combats if that matters to their group.


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Yeah, while I think it's about off topic from the main thrust of the OP, the discussion of tactics is less about "don't let these enemies use optimal tactics" (especially since, as established, this isn't even a very good tactic most of the time).

It's more about adding layers of verisimilitude to a setting by translating the personality of enemies into fighting styles. It's just like in a video game, there are enemies that are more aggressive, more defensive, suicidal, enemies that work together and so on.

You could figure out the best strategy that every enemy could employ, but that would be... kind of boring.


puksone wrote:


Just out of curiosity, what classes/builds you guys play?

Dwarf Fighter

Dwarf Cleric (Warpriest)
Humans Sorcerer (Occult list)
Goblin Monk


Squiggit wrote:

Yeah, while I think it's about off topic from the main thrust of the OP, the discussion of tactics is less about "don't let these enemies use optimal tactics" (especially since, as established, this isn't even a very good tactic most of the time).

It's more about adding layers of verisimilitude to a setting by translating the personality of enemies into fighting styles. It's just like in a video game, there are enemies that are more aggressive, more defensive, suicidal, enemies that work together and so on.

You could figure out the best strategy that every enemy could employ, but that would be... kind of boring.

And specifically to that end I do enjoy verisimilitude in roleplaying games; specifically when rules and mechanics back up and dictate a certain course of action that necessarily leads itself to advantages.

The best example; say you want a monster (say a wolf) to fight like a wolf...pack tactics, pulling the creature to the ground, surrounding it and attacking the downed foe... that kind of thing.

You could

a.) simply describe that's the way the wolves fight

b.) not describe much about the wolf at all and leave it up to the player/DM to decide it

or

c.) you could grant the wolf a cumulative +1 bonus to hit a foe for each other wolf adjacent to itself target and have it do an additional 1d6 precision damage to a prone target.

In other words. It's a
[Roleplaying]
[Game]

I believe that both elements should inform one another; there's no inherent bonus or penalty to the orcs attack in the manner described (other than the questionably tactical bonus) so I see no reason why you would play otherwise.

I mean what's the game rule on what INT you need to be to seek a flank or to go for a disarm? At what point (as a player) would your belief be unsuspended if a foe of Int X began doing Y type of action?

Perhaps, as a prior poster mentioned, shaming people is the answer:

"but the fellow players and I will embarrass a player who fights out of character"

Perhaps shaming the DM is the best option. /s


AsmodeusDM wrote:

The best example; say you want a monster (say a wolf) to fight like a wolf...pack tactics, pulling the creature to the ground, surrounding it and attacking the downed foe... that kind of thing.

You could

a.) simply describe that's the way the wolves fight

b.) not describe much about the wolf at all and leave it up to the player/DM to decide it

or

c.) you could grant the wolf a cumulative +1 bonus to hit a foe for each other wolf adjacent to itself target and have it do an additional 1d6 precision damage to a prone target.

The abilities that Paizo gave the wolf for pack behavior are:

PF2 Bestiary, Wolf, page 334 wrote:

Melee [one-action] jaws +9, Damage 1d6+2 piercing plus Knockdown

Pack Attack The wolf’s Strikes deal 1d4 extra damage to creatures within reach of at least two of the wolf’s allies.

However, five days ago, during an Ironfang Invasion session, I had two wolves attack the party in the black of night as they were camped on a scouting mission. The party had deliberately not lit a fire to avoid attention. The Pack Attack ability was useless because the pack had only two wolves. This was a 1st-level party caught mostly sleeping, so I did not want to try three wolves. Nor did Knockdown matter, since the attacked PC was already prone.

The displayed pack behavior was that the two wolves remained adjacent to each other, and when one heavily injured wolf ran off, the other uninjured wolf followed. I just asked two of my players and they said that the wolves acted like wolves, except that two wolves seemed too few for a pack and too many for an outcast wolf.

The Knockdown ability on a wolf is important, because we wouldn't want a wolf creature penalized by needing a separate Trip action for following the insticts of a wolf.


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
AsmodeusDM wrote:

I'm curious how many players out there have ever had their DM (or group) disallow on action they took because it wasn't in-character for their character or race?

Or not a allow a PC to move to flank because their INT was 6?

For us it's self-policing. Each player plays their PC according to their PC's abilities and the DM plays the monsters according to their abilities.

It's definitely skewed in the players' favor though. I can't think of a time someone has critiqued another player's choice - the line of what's reasonable and what's metagaming is one we each draw for ourselves.

Quote:
Also, not sure what groups you guys play in, but my group plays in total mind-link level when we are planning our turns even if we are hundreds of feet apart in the dungeon.

In general, we follow the rule that in round one the NPC can have as long as they like to deliver their monologue and in future rounds the PCs can take as long as they like to play out their turn (including speaking to one another). As a consequence, the level of coordination amongst the PCs is quite unrealistic. We don't subscribe to the view that this implies the monsters should be equally well coordinated. The way we play there's a fundamental difference between the stars of the show and the extras.


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Steve Geddes wrote:
The way we play there's a fundamental difference between the stars of the show and the extras.

Well put.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

As a gm I dont allow mind linked characters in combat.

1) it leads to less confident players getting their characters played by more confident players.

2) it makes combat, already the slowest part of the game, even slower.

3) distant third point here, its metagamey and detrimental to roleplaying.


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Malk_Content wrote:

As a gm I dont allow mind linked characters in combat.

1) it leads to less confident players getting their characters played by more confident players.

2) it makes combat, already the slowest part of the game, even slower.

3) distant third point here, its metagamey and detrimental to roleplaying.

Well the thing is, all of the monsters are mind-linked via the GM!

So to be on even footing you either have to a) allow mind-link-like play by the players or b) play the monsters as individuals too to the best of your ability.

In my point of view either both sides mind-linked or both sides individual works best. If you mix them up you either make the fights harder or easier.

Otherwise you can easily run into problems like the OP, where one side plays like robotic damage machines, always applying "optimal" group tactics and going as far as sacrificing themselves just to get that additional strike(s) in and on the other hand you have the players playing as living, breathing people.


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AsmodeusDM wrote:
Or not a allow a PC to move to flank because their INT was 6?

Got it around one of my tables. A Charisma-damaged character, getting under 5, forgetting to flank as he was not seeing the point of coordinating with other people.

My 7 Intelligence Druid's spell list is full of Bull Strength and Barkskin, and rarely more "intelligent" spells unless someone points out that it could be useful.
My Paladin taking all the swarms on himself.
My CN Alchemist having other characters telling him to stop putting everything on fire (and him very reluctantly switching to cold damage).

Yesterday, my Mechanic lost his drone to lava. He fell on his knees doing nothing during one round until our Soldier took his action to get him back on his feet, telling him it was not the best moment to grieve.

AsmodeusDM wrote:
Also, not sure what groups you guys play in, but my group plays in total mind-link level when we are planning our turns even if we are hundreds of feet apart in the dungeon.

Not in the games I play. If you are hundreds of feet appart you don't know anything of what happens, and I got situations where the DM was asking Perception checks to realize one of our comrades was crying for help.

I know, as a player, that I would not stay in a group where combat is only viewed from a tactical point of view.


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Your DM played his pawns in a good way.

Imo the point which needs to be discussed instead, is "what the party managed to do":

-positioning
-composition
-tactics
-realizing that they couldn't afford to defeate them and try to flee
-use of the environement

And so on.

There is no perfect tactics, as there is no guarantee that nobody will die.

Remember also that, knowing how heals and downing stuff work, it is reasonable that even enemies will consider to terminate a character before moving on another one.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Ubertron_X wrote:
Malk_Content wrote:

As a gm I dont allow mind linked characters in combat.

1) it leads to less confident players getting their characters played by more confident players.

2) it makes combat, already the slowest part of the game, even slower.

3) distant third point here, its metagamey and detrimental to roleplaying.

Well the thing is, all of the monsters are mind-linked via the GM!

So to be on even footing you either have to a) allow mind-link-like play by the players or b) play the monsters as individuals too to the best of your ability.

In my point of view either both sides mind-linked or both sides individual works best. If you mix them up you either make the fights harder or easier.

Otherwise you can easily run into problems like the OP, where one side plays like robotic damage machines, always applying "optimal" group tactics and going as far as sacrificing themselves just to get that additional strike(s) in and on the other hand you have the players playing as living, breathing people.

Well a gm should be able to play adversarys as individual agents. They presumably do it all the time outside of combat.


But that's the rub of it right? At the end of the day, combat and it's presumed lethality is really just all at the discretion of the GM and their whims at that moment.

I'm not talking about straight cheating fudging (aka misrepresenting a die roll), I'm talking about fudging by omission or by omission.

The best example I can think of in PF2 (as well as in PF1) is how monsters (including intelligent ones) treat downed PCs. Knowing that a heal spell will bring a PC back up into the fight the "smart" play of any reasonable intelligent humanoid foe would be to completely eliminate a PC once set to dying.

e.g. you have two creatures at the same initative; one attacks a PC and crits her down to negative and Dying 2. The second creature strides over and makes two quick Strikes to finish her off.

That's not even game-cheese that's actually roleplaying; namely that's how PCs would certainly handle their tactics vs. foes that had healing capabilities.

But GMs (myself included) will typically do ANYTHING but that.

We'll see the PCs are all down on HP and realize that each monster can just use their AOE attack and it should finish the whole party off... but we'll instead choose to use a claw/claw/bite attack routine ... knocking one PC down but leaving the others up.

I'm not really complaining here, I'm just saying that trying to act like the GM is some impartial referee and just "playing the monsters as is" is pretty much a bulls*** argument.


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Out of curiosity, for those DMs who encourage their PCs to play to their ability scores, how do they deal with high int and wis PCs (Like a 20 Int and 18 Wis Wizard around level 10) in and out of combat? Are they not allowed to take sub-optimal actions and the group suggests better options? Or simply don't allow people with less than perfect system mastery to play such a character?

If you are willing to tell a player that the action they're taking is too "smart" for the character, are you also willing to tell another player that the action they are contemplating is too "dumb" for the character? Or does this kind of thing only go one way?

In any case, I'd argue wisdom is probably a better stat to use instead of int for determining what a character or NPC can or cannot do in combat. Common sense, awareness and intuition strike me as more important in a chaotic and fast paced combat which can be over in 6 to 24 seconds, then say your ability to learn and reason. Reasoning takes time and 6 seconds is not a lot of time to think.


Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Hiruma Kai wrote:

Out of curiosity, for those DMs who encourage their PCs to play to their ability scores, how do they deal with high int and wis PCs (Like a 20 Int and 18 Wis Wizard around level 10) in and out of combat? Are they not allowed to take sub-optimal actions and the group suggests better options? Or simply don't allow people with less than perfect system mastery to play such a character?

Oh, that's easy. I straight up give extra hints and help to intelligent characters. Once I even let them retroactively buy some spell scrolls when they were in a dungeon.

But really, players get to slide a lot more in how they behave with regard to their character's stats as long as they're having fun.

When piloting enemies as a GM I get really into acting them out realistically. The moment when the cowardly bandits break and flee. The animal that attacks the scrawny, slow member of the party from stealth. The over-confident Ogre boss who straight up killed his own team mate as it tried to flee.

My players would get fed up if I played all enemies the same.


Hiruma Kai wrote:

Out of curiosity, for those DMs who encourage their PCs to play to their ability scores, how do they deal with high int and wis PCs (Like a 20 Int and 18 Wis Wizard around level 10) in and out of combat? Are they not allowed to take sub-optimal actions and the group suggests better options? Or simply don't allow people with less than perfect system mastery to play such a character?

If you are willing to tell a player that the action they're taking is too "smart" for the character, are you also willing to tell another player that the action they are contemplating is too "dumb" for the character? Or does this kind of thing only go one way?

Maybe I missed it somewhere in this thread, but I don't think anyone was advocating that. Obviously no player is likely to have an INT of 20 (unless you're playing with the ghost of Stephen Hawking or something, which would be totally cool). When actions require a particular stat or skill, players roll and the results either allow their character to do the smart/strong/DEXy thing they're attempting, or not. So that's all taken into account by the dice and modifiers for the roll.

In my experience, many players find it fun to have their character attempt things that their character would do, given their stats, background, etc., and I personally find it fun when the GM does that from the point of view of the monsters/npcs as well. For those who find it fun to do something else, that's great. PFS sessions usually have a mix of people with preferences across the spectrum for role-playing, and the rules and mechanics of the game seem to work just fine for everyone.


AsmodeusDM wrote:

I'm not really complaining here, I'm just saying that trying to act like the GM is some impartial referee and just "playing the monsters as is" is pretty much a bulls*** argument.

That's never been the argument, just an observation that the GM in this case wasn't exactly playing the orcs as realistic.

It's still, objectively, not a fantastic tactic in about 90% of scenarios and certainly isn't one that can be repeated endlessly if the opponents compensate counters to the tactics.

If you want to be totally honest, attacking down allies is strictly defined as an unlikely thing for enemies to do (unless particularly malicious, are the exact words in the book).

But, I will say, this whole "Orcs would kill people if they were down because of healing!" I would argue that is not the strategy that gets them a fighting chance, just the strongest way to punish the players.

Once a person is down they are effectively not a threat to the orc (Hero points are specifically unique to PCs) and that's something the Orc would know. Now the orc might also know that a healer can bring them back, but that just means they need to prevent that healing from happening (not spend 2 of their actions in a high intensity combat to ensure a kill).

By effectively performing a coup de grace, they are actually making themselves less likely to survive.

So really, when you kill someone that's downed and spend several actions to do that, unless the enemy derives a value from specifically death (or is again, playing to their character such as a demon) then they are doing it because the GM has said "Yeah I know this orc isn't going to last, but I want to punish the PCs with a death".

It's not "pulling punches", it's not playing the orcs like brain dead zombies. The orcs want to stay alive. That's realistic.

Playing them as if they are pawns on a chess board to be traded from their perspective is a disservice not only to realism, but it takes advantage of the fact that the PCs do not have the same luxury (A PC gains almost no benefit from doing the same to an Orc outside the same scenarios mentioned).


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

I would agree, better to attack or impede the healer than attack a non threat. The goal of NPCs isn't too kill enemies but to ensure a win.


AsmodeusDM wrote:

The best example I can think of in PF2 (as well as in PF1) is how monsters (including intelligent ones) treat downed PCs. Knowing that a heal spell will bring a PC back up into the fight the "smart" play of any reasonable intelligent humanoid foe would be to completely eliminate a PC once set to dying.

e.g. you have two creatures at the same initative; one attacks a PC and crits her down to negative and Dying 2. The second creature strides over and makes two quick Strikes to finish her off.

That's not even game-cheese that's actually roleplaying; namely that's how PCs would certainly handle their tactics vs. foes that had healing capabilities.

That is bad tactics if no healer is actively healing in the middle of combat. A downed character is harmless, so deal with the party members who are still standing and dealing damage now, cut throats later. And if a healer is bringing people back into combat, kill the healer! Or knock him out.

Do you notice the PCs stopping to coup de grace the monsters in the middle of combat? Only those with fast healing or regeneration, since they will be back on their feet in a single round. I repeat: kill the healer, even those who only heal themselves.

In addition, humans are vengeful folk. If a bunch of neophyte adventurers return from the kobold caves alive but beaten up, the local authorities would say, "Serves you right for messing the the kobolds. Leave them alone." If they return dragging a dead body, the local authorities would instead say, "They killed one of ours. Let's burn them out of their caves."

One battle in Night of Frozen Shadows was mostly NPC raiders versus NPC caravan guards, with the PCs on the side of the guards (Amaya of Westcrown - Night of Frozen Shadows). One raider kept getting bad rolls and could not hit anyone. So he started coup de graceing downed guards. When the raiders lost and their leader was beheaded, the living raiders where given a chance to surrender by the blood feud laws--except for that guy. He was killed painfully.

AsmodeusDM wrote:

But GMs (myself included) will typically do ANYTHING but that.

We'll see the PCs are all down on HP and realize that each monster can just use their AOE attack and it should finish the whole party off... but we'll instead choose to use a claw/claw/bite attack routine ... knocking one PC down but leaving the others up.

I don't pull the monsters' punches against the PCs. I carry combat to its conclusion. However, I carefully calculate the challenge the party can handle, and the monster's tactics are part of that challenge rating. Sometimes the party dives headlong into a bigger challenge than I intended, such as skipping the level-up material to start the boss battle a level early, so matters could turn deadly, but that is what hero points are for.


mrspaghetti wrote:
Hiruma Kai wrote:

Out of curiosity, for those DMs who encourage their PCs to play to their ability scores, how do they deal with high int and wis PCs (Like a 20 Int and 18 Wis Wizard around level 10) in and out of combat? Are they not allowed to take sub-optimal actions and the group suggests better options? Or simply don't allow people with less than perfect system mastery to play such a character?

If you are willing to tell a player that the action they're taking is too "smart" for the character, are you also willing to tell another player that the action they are contemplating is too "dumb" for the character? Or does this kind of thing only go one way?

Maybe I missed it somewhere in this thread, but I don't think anyone was advocating that. Obviously no player is likely to have an INT of 20 (unless you're playing with the ghost of Stephen Hawking or something, which would be totally cool). When actions require a particular stat or skill, players roll and the results either allow their character to do the smart/strong/DEXy thing they're attempting, or not. So that's all taken into account by the dice and modifiers for the roll.

In my experience, many players find it fun to have their character attempt things that their character would do, given their stats, background, etc., and I personally find it fun when the GM does that from the point of view of the monsters/npcs as well. For those who find it fun to do something else, that's great. PFS sessions usually have a mix of people with preferences across the spectrum for role-playing, and the rules and mechanics of the game seem to work just fine for everyone.

I have a player with Int 20. John is a retired biophysicist. When we adopted Spes Magna Games' Making Craft Work rules because the players planned on a lot of mundane crafting, we decided to drop the calculations about how long crafting would take and instead ask John, because he would know how long such crafting took in history.

I myself have an Intelligence of at least 18. Rolling 18 on 3d6 is one chance out of 216, so ignoring racial modifiers one person out of about 200 has Int 18. That is not rare.

Once I played a high Wisdom elf cleric who nevertheless was an elf supremist. He maintained his compassion but said aloud that elves had an obligation to help the lesser races. Then he acquired a Periapt of Wisdom and his Wisdom went up to 20. He changed his tune, "All races have their merits, but the merit of elves is the clearest to me."

That same elf, back at 1st level, solved a math puzzle. I am still embarrassed about that bit of using my own abilities instead of the character's abilities. The GM running The Burning Plague had exaggerated the terrain and put the bad guy not on a rock in an shallowunderground pond, but on a stone spire in an 60-foot-wide underground pond that had too much current to wade across. No-one in the party knew how to swim. One six-foot-tall barbarian tried to wade across and was almost swept away into the underground tunnel that served as an outlet (the inlet must have been an underwater spring, since no stream flowed into the pond). But I knew what to do. My elf borrowed 50 feet of rope, tied it to his 50 feet of rope, secured one end, and walked around the pond with his rope. When he reached the opposite side, the rope was pressed against the stone spire. He secured his end, so that party members could use the rope to pull themselves to the spire. It was a trivial puzzle for a mathematician, but would a cleric have thought of it? This elf cleric had Int 16, so maybe.

As a GM I occassionally have to play super-smart NPCs. I spend a lot of preparation time on them to that their plans and tactics look well thought out.


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Mathmuse wrote:
I myself have an Intelligence of at least 18

And your Modesty score is even higher, no doubt


mrspaghetti wrote:
Mathmuse wrote:
I myself have an Intelligence of at least 18
And your Modesty score is even higher, no doubt

While it is a bit boastful, mathmuse has written scientific papers on mathematics that have been published. They are definitely of high intelligence, though I hesitate to translate that to direct numbers.


Mathmuse wrote:
That same elf, back at 1st level, solved a math puzzle. I am still embarrassed about that bit of using my own abilities instead of the character's abilities. The GM running The Burning Plague had exaggerated the terrain and put the bad guy not on a rock in an shallowunderground pond, but on a stone spire in an 60-foot-wide underground pond that had too much current to wade across. No-one in the party knew how to swim. One six-foot-tall barbarian tried to wade across and was almost swept away into the underground tunnel that served as an outlet (the inlet must have been an underwater spring, since no stream flowed into the pond). But I knew what to do. My elf borrowed 50 feet of rope, tied it to his 50 feet of rope, secured one end, and walked around the pond with his rope. When he reached the opposite side, the rope was pressed against the stone spire. He secured his end, so that party members could use the rope to pull themselves to the spire. It was a trivial puzzle for a mathematician, but would a cleric have thought of it? This elf cleric had Int 16, so maybe.

Apologies for going off topic, but you've got me. I don't understand what part was the "math puzzle" that required significantly above average character intelligence that you should be embarrassed about. Perhaps I'm missing something.

I'm pretty sure eyeballing the distance across a pond and comparing it to the total amount of rope you have on hand doesn't require a modern graduate math degree when viewed in character. In character it'd be like:
"We need something to hold on to while crossing since we can't swim."
"Well, we've got a 10 foot pole and two 10 pound ropes."
"Hmm. We can walk around the pond, so we might be able to string the rope across. Although my rope doesn't look long enough. We can use a double fisherman's knot to tie my rope to your rope, and then I'll use a double loop bowline to secure one end here to a conveniently large stalagmite, or perhaps we have hammer and pitons to create a temporary anchor point, and walk around"

Strikes me as a perfectly reasonable answer to a problem that many average or Int 10 characters might come up with. Especially those used to traversing the outdoors, climbing, spelunking or simply used to using rope. I think it would have been obvious to your typical modern boy scout, let alone fantasy adventurers used to relying on that equipment for their livelihood and their lives on a daily basis. I feel like you might be underestimating the average human (or above average elf in this case), and I don't think you should feel bad to have suggested it in character.

Although perhaps experienced outdoors type characters might have thought of using a 3rd rope (assuming they had it and willing to cut it into 4 or so pieces) to tie themselves to the rope once strung in case they lost their grip on the wet and slippery rope during the crossing. Presumably there was an athletics or strength check even with the rope's help.

More on topic, many tactics may become obvious to lower intelligence characters or monsters when they see others using them successfully, or simply through trial, error and experience. If they've successfully fought 10 battles, even a low int character is likely to have learned something about tactics, and what does and doesn't work for them.


Hiruma Kai wrote:
More on topic, many tactics may become obvious to lower intelligence characters or monsters when they see others using them successfully, or simply through trial, error and experience. If they've successfully fought 10 battles, even a low int character is likely to have learned something about tactics, and what does and doesn't work for them.

Corrida bulls fight only once. A bull who already fought once is deadly danger to a matador.

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