A lot of monsters in Paizo APs sit in their room waiting to die


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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I am running 5 Paizo adventure paths at the moment (Age of Ashes, Agents of Edgewatch, and 2e conversions of Rise of the Runelords, Shattered Star, and Hell's Rebels). I enjoy Paizo APs for the wealth of story, locations, encounters and other material that I can tailor for my needs.

However, I see a prevalence of "monsters sitting in their room waiting to die" in most dungeons in APs. I like to play monsters with at least a modicum of intelligence, so when they hear that life-and-death struggle in the next room, they will consider joining in or at least check out what's happening.

This is more of a problem in 2nd Edition, where combining encounters makes for Extreme and often even more-difficult encounters when you combine them. And 2e's expectation that the party will take heal between encounters makes the idea that NPCs will stay in their room for 2 hours while their burglars/murderers sit down and "heal up" in the next room all the more unbelievable.

In Age of Ashes as we enter the final encounters of Chapter 2, this has been really prevalent. I chalked it up to growing pains with the new RPG. But as time has gone by, the AP designers seem committed to this pattern of moderate to severe encounters with intelligent enemies being clustered together. (Spoiler for the new Beginner Box: they encounter kobolds early on who are written as being unaware of the party, even though the party had just had a fight about 80 feet away, in an otherwise-silent dungeon no less.)

It's not like the designers are unaware that monsters can respond dynamically to the PCs' actions: there are a number of places, particularly in Age of Ashes volume 2, where the text describes how enemies will respond to a fight breaking out in other areas. (Still, even running as written it can quickly get out of control, as there are about 11(!) encounters, most of them ready to reinforce some of the others, all in a single open-air area. With 2e's tight encounter math this can quickly get deadly even with smart play.) )

It seems as if the designers of 2nd Edition have found a winning formula for making individual fights tense and exciting, but the AP designers are designing dungeons like they used to in 1st Edition, where you could combine encounters without killing the party. You could gather 12 Goblins in 1e, but that Fireball or that Black Tentacles could handle it. Not so in 2e.

So what I do, is when preparing for an area in 2e, I anticipate when encounters will combine and lower the difficulty of individual fights with the expectation that some of them will combine. It keeps the dungeon dynamic, and it rewards the party for finding ways to isolate groups of enemies. 2e at least has the advantage of giving us the tools so we can predict how hard things will get.

Still, I think it would be better if the designers didn't assume that every monster sat in their room waiting to die. The overarching stories in Paizo's APs can be strong; this seems like a story weakness.


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It really never feels worth it to combine encounters. Most adventures seem to provide some kind of justification as to why encounters don't mix.

Plus, if every single dungeon had enemies acting realistically and all getting together as a group to beat up the PCs... That's pretty boring.

This is a game and not a simulation of anything.


I seem to remember Rise of the Runelords at least having a specific note of "if the players are unlucky enough to attack the goblin lair on this specific day of the week, literally everyone is in one room & it's a cr 10 encounter."


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I definitely feel that it is "thematically weird". The main issue is though if monsters used hearing and made smart decisions to make strategies the game becomes very bad for players.

Just for example the logical thing to do is if fighting is going on next door the monsters would go tell their "boss" then the entire army or elite guard would pop up to fight you. Of course this wouldn't be fun at all so that is why they have the "sit in a room" thing that many monsters do.

For homebrew it wouldn't be as hard since as you mentioned you can easily change things as the game progresses. I have no idea how you would write in a book that feels dynamic though, if GM's want to put lots of effort in the APs they could do it too.

Also isn't combining encounters in PF1/5e/PF2 all pretty much just as bad? PF1/5E for the most part in combat healing was super weak so players would just slowly lose hitpoint.

Only difference in PF2 is combats for the most part are actually quite easy to make challenging fights. PF1/5e have the issues of some "hard fights" ending with one spell/crit. PF2 imo has really hit the sweet spot so far where bosses at least feel somewhat threatening. Of course bosses in 2e can rolls crit fails on spells but that is a lot less likely than in PF1 where as far as I can tell many bosses just lose if they fail a spell. 5e had the same issue where anything without legendary resistance normally was trivial.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Grankless wrote:

It really never feels worth it to combine encounters. Most adventures seem to provide some kind of justification as to why encounters don't mix.

Plus, if every single dungeon had enemies acting realistically and all getting together as a group to beat up the PCs... That's pretty boring.

This is a game and not a simulation of anything.

I think this is a bit narrow. Setting up encounters that are close together as individually weak but able to chain together can provide a way for things to play out differently, and will reward parties that find a way to prevent their initial conflict from being detected.

When not doing that, it does help with suspension of disbelief if the barrier between two groups that don't reinforce each other is more than "they're just on the other side of that door" and if creatures will sometimes walk in if the party is spending hours after a fight instead of minutes.

Every dungeon doesn't need to be a single unified front, but there's a lot of middle ground thats worth using, between the two extremes.


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HammerJack wrote:
Grankless wrote:

It really never feels worth it to combine encounters. Most adventures seem to provide some kind of justification as to why encounters don't mix.

Plus, if every single dungeon had enemies acting realistically and all getting together as a group to beat up the PCs... That's pretty boring.

This is a game and not a simulation of anything.

I think this is a bit narrow. Setting up encounters that are close together as individually weak but able to chain together can provide a way for things to play out differently, and will reward parties that find a way to prevent their initial conflict from being detected.

When not doing that, it does help with suspension of disbelief if the barrier between two groups that don't reinforce each other is more than "they're just on the other side of that door" and if creatures will sometimes walk in if the party is spending hours after a fight instead of minutes.

Every dungeon doesn't need to be a single unified front, but there's a lot of middle ground thats worth using, between the two extremes.

This.

A unified group of monsters that pour in in waves can be quite exhilarating! (That is, if balanced against the terrain, PCs, and other context.) Look at Jacobs' own Red Hand of Doom siege in 3.X. Hardly time to Refocus there.
Plus such a setup rewards alternate solutions like stealth or negotiation, even withdrawal. The greater effectiveness of under-level creatures in PF2 (as compared to 3.X/PF1), allows for some significant encounters with (modest) hordes nowadays. Better in waves than clumped up in Fireball formation (that is unless the party sets that up, gaining a reward from doing so).

The earliest DnD modules were built to chain if one made a mistake (often w/ leeway), and the party was expected to retreat, w/ monster strategies on how well they pursued, adapted, or even reinforced w/ new troops if given enough days, or if there some patrol (et al) bound to return. Ex. One Orc tribe would align with a rival if depleted enough in one early instance (B2), making the second set of encounters (where hopefully the party has more gear, maybe even levels) harder though the tribes could be attacked in either order.

I find the fight/lull/fight/lull/etc. routine to be most boring.
You mean we're in the enemy base and get to chill to our leisure???
Where's the cinema? The suspense & tension?
And one PFS scenario had a smart, very aggressive boss w/ ranged magic about 40' away down an open passage from another, maxed out encounter. (Due to using a premade map). Ruined the story's ending and risked a near auto-TPK. If a player had merely ducked around the corner for safety (a likely tactical option given the AoEs & line-of-sight effects in the difficult first battle), then they'd trigger the boss and friends (including Bards which could buff w/ songs while remaining in their designated spot).

More grognard talk...
And there were subtleties woven within. Like in the Hill Giant base which looks very straightforward. The main enemy group was so rowdy they wouldn't notice combat in other rooms if the PCs cut off escape which was fairly simple given other giants were drunk, asleep, in rooms easy to cut off, would be assumed to be playing, or had personality traits that kept them from acting effectively. The PCs could (and by map design likely would) commando all the support before hitting the big room that was easy to hear, and hence avoid until one set one's plans in action. These may include retreat, or penetrating into the underlevel to ignite a slave rebellion of a hundred or so Orcs! Those levels of options were pretty cool IMO.

In 3.X, Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil, there was a huge megadungeon with four entrances, one for each element. And the assigned guards were the same strength & composition at each doorway, even though the PCs would have gained many levels between them. Yet the battles did ramp up because of the guards in higher level encounters having access to a better alarm system, or more allies and/or monsters nearby to come to their aid. Made the place feel more plausible.

Chaining was also one reason many early major dungeons like that had Chaotic Evil themes, so that the villains could be written as explicitly not helping each other (or in fact hindering if PCs inflamed such internal conflicts!). Lawful Evil villains were definitely distinct, i.e. the Fire Giants responded very effectively and wouldn't be caught in a drunken revelry!
A majority of modules would feature a dynamic first half, generally against waves of creatures the heroes knew about beforehand. Then the second half would be more exploratory: rooting out ancient evils, facing imprisoned or unaffiliated monsters, sousing out traps, hunting down hidden masterminds loathe to join the early battles (for in-game reasons). And there'd usually be a sanctuary somewhere where the party could recover, often overnight. And it'd have a backstory that made its existence plausible. Just make sure the sanctuary wasn't a trap. :)

/grognard

Tl:dr: Focusing on building encounters only at the room level deprives us of many other possible configurations of monster encounters at other scales and timeframes. A dynamic series of encounters (naturally each weaker on its own) would be a refreshing change of pace, as would adventures with a time pressure.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I think this is valuable criticism, and AP designers might do well to keep it in mind. Even just throwing in a few extra reasons why fights don't mix could go a long way (one group is noisily partying, the tunnels between two rooms are longer than shown, strange acoustics dampening noise, etc.)


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I do think more justification needs to be provided why everyone with hearing range of a fight doesn't end up grouping together to kill the PCs.

I mean, we want the PCs to win, as a GM I don't want to run 30 enemies (even if weak) against the PCs because it's a lot of tracking....however adventures as written tend to omit any sort of logic or reasoning why (in universe) that doesn't happen.

Like first combat, one of the enemies should probably have the job or running away and alerting everyone else in the building to come and get the PCs. And then it should probably end up with all of the enemies searching for/chasing the PCs to death.

Grand Lodge Contributor

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I think this level of detail is best handled the way the OP has handled it: looking at the areas, determining which ones may/should react, and adjusting to make sure PCs aren't overwhelmed.

The great thing about Adventure Paths is, they're your game. Some player groups may enjoy the fight-rest-repeat dynamic, so they are usually at their best when fighting. Other groups like the gritty survival of always being harassed while trying to rest up, and going into the boss fight with a real chance of death. You can alter the AP to match your group, but Paizo can't create the AP to cater to your group because they have thousands of other groups to cater to as well.

That's part of the effort (and joy!) of GMing a Paizo AP. A lot of the heavy lifting is done, but I always go in and tweak things, either based on player preferences, my preferences, or how leveling goes.

(As an example: I recently gamed out a WW1 trench raid at the individual soldier level. 75% casualties. Realistic, with lots of realistic enemy reactions to player actions, but probably not fun if you only got to play one of those poor folks who died leaving their own trench in the first turn. Games have to be fun for the players and GM or they're not really games.)


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

As a PF2 GM, I combine encounters all of the time (when it makes sense to do so). My players love the extra challenge of it and it makes spell casters a lot more valuable to the party because a singular fire ball against 12 level 2 goblins could make a huge difference in the fight with the level 5 boss that comes into the room 3 rounds into the fight, if they can't find any allies to flank with.

I have played through the first book and a half of Age of Ashes, and have GM'd the first book of Agents of Edgewatch (well nearly to the end), as well as homebrew one campaign. So much depends upon the playstyle and maturity of your players so I don’t think there is one right way to run PF2 encounters, but a lot of players can learn pretty quickly to start thinking about things like, "what is our escape route if things go south?" and "how can we create a perfect killzone/choke point by luring enemies away from their initial encounter sites,” and that is when the dungeons can really start feeling alive.

Age of Ashes, the first major dungeon, stacks a lot of slightly higher level enemies on top of each other, but not in a way where they would coordinate and work together, meaning that combined encounters can make for dynamic situations where the tides turn as the enemy must turn to face a new threat, allowing the GM to really tailor the pace of the dungeon to the party/

The math of PF2 is tight, but I have seen my level 3 and level 4 parties handle well encounters of up to 350 xp stacked right on top of each other, to the point of overlapping on to each other and they have been some of the most fun and challenging encounters of the campaigns so far. The places you really want to be careful of doing this is with much higher level solo creatures, but very rarely do those creatures seem to be fully unified with the encounters around them, at least as far as I have seen thus far in the APs. It is important to get a feel for your players, and it is super duper important to pay attention to what encounters could stack a whole lot of poison and persistent damage on the PCs in a hurry because that can result in a lot of deaths, but overall, PF2 handles flexible encounters pretty well. PCs that want always to attack and be bold, never retreating, are going to experience some casualties, but again that isn’t really a deal breaker for every party, some may enjoy playing their characters to their natural end and making a new one when their tactics get them killed. With more mature and experienced players, As long as they feel like it was fundamentally down to their own choices and tactics and not just an impossible situation, they usually will enjoy the story that is created by encounters that feel alive and challenging more than a static labyrinth of set piece encounters. At least, that has been my experience.


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Castilliano wrote:


This.
A unified group of monsters that pour in in waves can be quite exhilarating! (That is, if balanced against the terrain, PCs, and other context.) Look at Jacobs' own Red Hand of Doom siege in 3.X. Hardly time to Refocus there.
Plus such a setup rewards alternate solutions like stealth or negotiation, even withdrawal. The greater effectiveness of under-level creatures in PF2 (as compared to 3.X/PF1), allows for some significant encounters with (modest) hordes nowadays. Better in waves than clumped up in Fireball formation (that is unless the party sets that up, gaining a reward from doing so).

The earliest DnD modules were built to chain if one made a mistake (often w/ leeway), and the party was expected to retreat, w/ monster strategies on how well they pursued, adapted, or even reinforced w/ new troops if given enough days, or if there some patrol (et al) bound to return. Ex. One Orc tribe would...

Excellent stuff.

Perhaps the Abomination Vaults would be the perfect time to start exploring this kind of design?

By the way some of the discussion here reminds of a thought-provoking post from several years ago over at EN World. Worth taking a look:

[Very Long] Combat as Sport vs. Combat as War: a Key Difference in D&D Play Styles...

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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When we build adventures, we do so with the expectation that a GM is running them and can adjust things as the plot unfolds to keep things dynamic and reactive to how the party is doing, what they're doing, and what the expectations of the players might be.

As such, we can't anticipate every different table's reactions, nor do we want to hard-code into the text encounters that could well bloom out of control for the group as entire dungeons mobilize against the characters.

And so we present our adventures in sort of a "snapshot" of how things are the instant before the PCs are introduced to the mix, at which point things go increasingly off the rails in ways that we can neither accurately predict nor satisfyingly accommodate for every possible group.

That said, if a GM simply runs the adventure as is, with the monsters "sitting in their room waiting to die" then the game still plays out fine. And in fact, that's the better way to play the game with new players who are still getting into the idea of roleplaying.

More complicated elements are better saved for experienced groups, and in theory, an experienced group will also have an experienced GM who can adjust the adventure as needed to be reactive to the evolving storyline as it plays out at their table.

Of course, seeing GMs chat about how they adjust adventures here is great, because it's proof that the GMs running our adventures ARE looking at things with a critical eye on how to adjust the published words of the adventure to fit their table the best.

To me, this is a valuable feature of a published adventure, not a flaw. The more an adventure makes assumptions about PC choices or scripts complex events or tactics based on guesswork about how a group might react, the more that published adventure runs the risk of being less usable for a larger number of GMs whose players might go in drastically different directions.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
James Jacobs wrote:


To me, this is a valuable feature of a published adventure, not a flaw. The more an adventure makes assumptions about PC choices or scripts complex events or tactics based on guesswork about how a group might react, the more that published adventure runs the risk of being less usable for a larger number of GMs whose players might go in drastically different directions.

It's that style of writing that has me continue my subscription to the APs, even during ones I don't care for the premise of. They're written so well and I enjoy the base story, but they're also loose enough that it's easy for me to make changes for my group to cater the experience to them. If they were more rigid in their writing, I'd consider them too railroad-y and the amount of rewriting or changes I'd have to do wouldn't make them worth it. The APs provide a large toolbox and framework story, and our table adds their own flavor to it all.


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The ability for living, thinking beings to decide something scary is someone else's problem, so long as they can't physically see it, is no joke.

As irrational as it is for an observer, it is absolutely realistic for something to actively decide that those sounds that sound like combat? Its probably just those guys arguing over something stupid again.

I mean, after all imagine how silly they'd look if they burst in there, ready for violence and it was just a card game gone bad?

Awkward or Negative events being "someone else's problem" is a Very Real problem that results in Very Real dangerous encounters going ignored and unreported all the time.

I dont find it particularly unreasonable for monsters or inhabitants of dungeons not to meaningfully respond to something happening rooms away...


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Dunno, in contrast to the door to door encounters of earlier chapters our group found the outdoors dungeon in AoA volume 2 the more pointless type of encounter arrangement by far...


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Most Paizo dungeons are non sensical, too long, and require too much buy in/suspension of disbelief. They are still the best out there.

They are brilliant as a skeleton, I use them as a pick and choose. I select the encounters that make most sense, elicit most interest out of me, and tweak/empower them as necessary, dropping at least 60% of each dungeon.

The task of making a good dungeon is tough. Though I think the more interesting and worthy conversation is:
Do we really need dungeon fightfests for most of the AP volume, or complete issues with just that (modules 4-5 in most APs).

I would rather see the page count giving more life to the story, side plots, modularity, small game systems, unorthodox tactics.


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Monsters start in their rooms and are written so DMs can bring them to life to act as they prefer or what seems sensible. That is how I run them. I don't leave them sitting in their room waiting to die.


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Errant Mercenary wrote:

Most Paizo dungeons are non sensical, too long, and require too much buy in/suspension of disbelief. They are still the best out there.

They are brilliant as a skeleton, I use them as a pick and choose. I select the encounters that make most sense, elicit most interest out of me, and tweak/empower them as necessary, dropping at least 60% of each dungeon.

The task of making a good dungeon is tough. Though I think the more interesting and worthy conversation is:
Do we really need dungeon fightfests for most of the AP volume, or complete issues with just that (modules 4-5 in most APs).

I would rather see the page count giving more life to the story, side plots, modularity, small game systems, unorthodox tactics.

I've been doing the same running Age of Ashes. I cut all of what I call "spiders in the cupboard" encounters, basically any encounter where:

1. The players have no potential for speaking with the enemy
2. The enemy's presence is inconsequential to the plot or world
3. And the foes or the fight itself involved are mechanically simple

If all three are the case, I nearly always remove it. On occasion I'll keep it, for instance I kept a fight with a lot of low level enemies because my players hadn't been in a fight like that for a while, but for the most part this has been a good way to trim down the number of encounters. My players have been enjoying the faster pace of level ups, too.


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A quick fix is to add a few extra corridors and rooms that are of no consequence between the encounters you absolutely can't have merging - you can do this by just narrating "beyond this room you navigate a series of corridors and vacant rooms"

or make the tunnel between two encounters in a cave system long and winding.

The only time this doesn't work is if the GM is making the mistake of running the entire dungeon on the grid (which is terrible pacing).

Another alternative is to not feel beholden to keep encounters from stacking and becoming extreme - if the players aren't smart about how they do things, let them face the consequences.

There are plenty of ways the players can handle this - they can have someone bar the door, or someone can use a spell to block the entrance so the next group can't get in until they finish the first fight, or they can be stealthy or use spells like silence. Failing all of that, they can run away and regroup to come up with a new plan.

Dataphiles

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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Paizo monsters are clearly reflective of real life, we're all just sitting around waiting to die

Dark Archive

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Look up "Tucker's Kobolds" for a good understanding of why making monsters act too tactically and logically makes the game no fun for anyone except a DM who hates his players and wants TPKs.

Dark Archive

Combining weak encounters together often still can work out fine(like if you have extreme encounter of 16 trivial enemies at high enough level, they still all die to fireball or single hit from fighter :p), but combining any encounter with severe encounters tend to be really deadly yeah.

Like you can combine encounters in 2e but it requires for GM to be really keenly aware of how 2e mechanics work


Not sure about 2ne ed, but being overwhelmed happens way too easily in 1st ed.


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It wouldn't take many exceptions to spice the modules up. The encounter might even only look chained from the players' POVs. In the AP, it could be "the fight in this room represents the total response of the warrens" and then the fight could come with predetermined dynamic waves that suit the power level of the party. The later rooms could work under the assumption the players fought in the first room, with a sidebar or notation for how to adjust if otherwise including how to move the "all the warren" fight to another area (though the map should make alternate paths rare).

And many APs used to have notable PCs that could be in multiple rooms depending on several factors or rooms where the EL could change depending on villains' movement. It wouldn't take too many of those to make a larger dungeon feel less static.

I don't mind so much the XP grind (which isn't what I'd call it either), as it lends my groups practice in making swifter, smarter choices in combat and seeing how well they play out in less severe situations. The players gain their own XP to match their PCs. :) And then perform better when it matters, as well as feel they don't always need to strain for victory as if they or their PCs suck. (An actual complaint in the PF2 playtest, though I found the hard difficulty tuned to my tastes.)

I think flipmats add to the problem.
Still rolling my eyes at the Starfinder AP planet where everything notable happened outside w/ within a football field's space packed with apex predators and a sniper. There were several locations to investigate, all distinct yet could be searched fairly reasonably from one of the other sites they were so close and there was clear line of sight for much of the map. And don't establish more range during combat, as there's a huge creature (that you don't see because of encounter balance) that's 30' or so away.
That's obviously an extreme case, but it was published.
Even before Pathfinder, Paizo maps tended to fit on one battlemat. I used to appreciate that for the simple preparation, at least when it was a single leg of encounters/one night of play. I'm not so sure now.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
KrispyXIV wrote:
Awkward or Negative events being "someone else's problem" is a Very Real problem that results in Very Real dangerous encounters going ignored and unreported all the time.

As an example most of us can relate to, when was the last time you heard a car alarm and thought "someone is trying to steal a car!"


I combine encounters all the time. At low level this can be a problem, at higher level parties usually have the means to break up a monster group piecemeal. You can have quite a few encounters come together, especially given how long it takes for another area to hear and respond. Combat in PF2 is pretty fast and furious, it won't take a party long to carve through some equal level creatures, maybe 3 or 4 rounds. By that time you can pound through them and be ready for the next bunch. AOE damage also ends at level or lower encounters quickly.

The encounter mixing is mainly a low level issue. At higher level you can combine more encounters with the party having more tools to counter.


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AnimatedPaper wrote:
KrispyXIV wrote:
Awkward or Negative events being "someone else's problem" is a Very Real problem that results in Very Real dangerous encounters going ignored and unreported all the time.
As an example most of us can relate to, when was the last time you heard a car alarm and thought "someone is trying to steal a car!"

LOL After the hundredth time one goes off, I'm HOPING someone steals that darn car. I have yet to see one go off because someone was actually committing a crime but I can't count the number of times I've heard car alarms go off.


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The Rot Grub wrote:
However, I see a prevalence of "monsters sitting in their room waiting to die" in most dungeons in APs. I like to play monsters with at least a modicum of intelligence, so when they hear that life-and-death struggle in the next room, they will consider joining in or at least check out what's happening.

My players prefer dynamic dungeons. If the sentries sound an alarm, then reinforcements will rush in. This means that taking out the sentries silently by stealth or deception is worth the roleplaying effort and investment, so the game develops more strategic dimensions. Some dungeons are disorganized, such as goblins without a leader, and cannot muster a defense, but most strongholds have a planned response to enemies.

My players and I have an informal agreement. If they gather intelligence, through Gather Information or scouting or Recall Knowledge or talking Diplomatically to the enemy, then I will give them useful information. This allows them to play at a high strategic level. Monsters sitting in a room must have interacted with the other dwellers in the dungeon, unless they are mindless or the other dwellers avoid them, so I roleplay those connections. They often learn that some monsters won't interfer with their mission and leave them alone.

Thus, my player characters in Iron Gods sat down to a picnic with a chuul. That challenge was supposed to be a monster waiting in ambush but instead it became a Diplomatic encounter.

"James Jacobs' wrote:
When we build adventures, we do so with the expectation that a GM is running them and can adjust things as the plot unfolds to keep things dynamic and reactive to how the party is doing, what they're doing, and what the expectations of the players might be.

My players changed the plot in 3 modules (out of 21 modules and playtest chapters that I have run) so heavily that the modules became sourcebooks about the setting rather than an adventure to follow. The modules are written to also serve as sourcebooks with a wealth of setting material in the adventuring areas and in articles in the back. I think this is one of James Jacobs' design goals for the modules.

Consider what happened this November in Fangs of War, the 2nd module of Ironfang Invasion. Two new players joined my game, and to aid their integration into the party I gave them a heroic role of escorting three refugees. The refugees had news of the hobgoblin invasion, that the hobgoblins had taken out the village of Redburrow and were advancing on Radya's Hollow. The party was supposed to learn this weeks later in the 3rd module, Assault on Longshadow, after the hobgoblins succeeded. The ranger in the party grew up in Radya's Hollow. They were going to save the Radya's Hollow.

I had to convert a conquered town into a town under siege. I took the Assault on Longshadow mission for Radya's Hollow (rescuing prisoners sent by the hobgoblins to work in a deadly haunted mine) and changed the story to fit earlier (rescuing two volunteers who entered the mine to scavenge a lost case of healing potions).

My players don't let me play a module without the enemy responding sensibly. They want verisimilitude to build up their strategic picture. Besides, the improvisation and the re-invention are a fun part of running a campaign.

In addition, my party can defeat a Beyond-Extreme-Threat encounter because of their teamwork and adaptive tactics. Therefore, I have no qualms about combining two Moderate-Threat encounters together into an Extreme-Threat encounter.


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One thing to think about are the map constrains. If you want several encounters in the same location and you want a more plausible behavior of the cretures, the encounters should be placed far away. In enclosed locations (dungeons, caves, castles, etc), this means drawing tons of rooms/corridors or big ones, and then putting "something"bin them(descriptions, items, information,etc)so it doesnt feel wasted space. Right now this kind of maps are the big ones, but they would need to be bigger.

In open locations(cities for example), the distances between point A (the dock) and point b (the town square) are big and dont need to be drawn. You will have X small maps.

Investing in maps cost money and page count.


I'd definitely look at dungeon maps as approximations that fit on a page or two more than a complete floor plan.

As great as the APs are deviating from the plan/formula is part of the fun of TTRPGs for both DMs and players.

Grand Lodge

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Quote:
"monsters sitting in their room waiting to die"

Meh. It’s a pretty standard gaming trope that has worked for decades. For the most part, the point is for PCs to encounter, fight, and defeat “bad guys”, take their loot, get better, rinse-repeat. You can bundle that up in a well-told narrative, and there are certainly exceptions to the rule but at the end of the day, that’s what this game is all about. It’s essentially a board game combined with your favorite fantasy novel. It might be more realistic for all those monsters to rush together and fight you in force, but is that necessarily a better game? Only you can decide that for yourself, but given the trend for the last 50 years, it seems to be pretty effective.


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KrispyXIV wrote:

The ability for living, thinking beings to decide something scary is someone else's problem, so long as they can't physically see it, is no joke.

As irrational as it is for an observer, it is absolutely realistic for something to actively decide that those sounds that sound like combat? Its probably just those guys arguing over something stupid again.

I mean, after all imagine how silly they'd look if they burst in there, ready for violence and it was just a card game gone bad?

Awkward or Negative events being "someone else's problem" is a Very Real problem that results in Very Real dangerous encounters going ignored and unreported all the time.

I dont find it particularly unreasonable for monsters or inhabitants of dungeons not to meaningfully respond to something happening rooms away...

I agree. And I'll add in that combat is usually taking less than 1 minute. So the group in the next room hears like 30 seconds of muffled noises. Without other information, their first reaction isn't likely to be "our friends in the other room are being attacked by adventurers, we should bust in there and help them."

It is going to be several rounds of wondering what's going on, talking between themselves about it, etc. Then when it stops, thinking "well I guess that's all settled. Weird."


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
TwilightKnight wrote:
Quote:
"monsters sitting in their room waiting to die"
Meh. It’s a pretty standard gaming trope that has worked for decades. For the most part, the point is for PCs to encounter, fight, and defeat “bad guys”, take their loot, get better, rinse-repeat. You can bundle that up in a well-told narrative, and there are certainly exceptions to the rule but at the end of the day, that’s what this game is all about. It’s essentially a board game combined with your favorite fantasy novel. It might be more realistic for all those monsters to rush together and fight you in force, but is that necessarily a better game? Only you can decide that for yourself, but given the trend for the last 50 years, it seems to be pretty effective.

That is interesting. I don't think, in 25 years of playing, I have ever had a GM that just leaves monsters to sit in a room and be unresponsive to potential dangers and food sources that they become aware of.

Now lots of creatures respond to the potential threat of dangers differently, and having every creature always rush battle prepared into strange sounds ahead would be just as unbelievable and eventually boring as never having them respond, but there is little that is more exciting to me about RPGs than a dungeon that feels like a living ecosystem.

As I say that, I do think that the GM is the one that has to shoulder a lot of responsibility on to how to make the dungeon feel alive, and that entirely depends upon making sure that the difficulty of encounters matches the needs of the players for making sure everyone is having fun, so I totally get what James Jacobs was talking about in needing to make sure published material is ready to run for new GMs and new player, allowing experienced GMs to do the work necessary to make the dungeon more dynamic and less static as they feel out their player's abilities and desires for game pacing. Once you've got that figured out though, you can really design some wild and dynamic encounters.

I had my party stumble upon a large slaver galley capturing a river side village of lizardfolk. The party was level 3. Spread out through the small village were about 16 level 1 NPCs and 4 level 2 NPCs. I figured the party might try to sneak in and see if they could liberate a group of lizardfolk, which they did, but they botched the stealth checks badly and raised the alarm. Instead of retreating, which is what I expected them to do, they charged. The villains took about 4 rounds total to start really ganging up on the PCs but there was definitely a round or two of 4 on 1 against every PC. 2 players went down once, but others got them on their feet and eventually the tide started to turn. The enemy decided to retreat after losing half their number, from the village onto their boat. I thought the PCs would let them go, but no! On to the boat they fought to the last slaver, even though another PC fell for a second time. In total it was 440 xp of enemies without a pause, which is more than 2 extreme encounters combined into one and the players absolutely loved every minute of it. I ended up having to script a whole big social encounter with the Lizard folk to entertain the heroes for the night with a massive feast, and it definitely became a highlight of the campaign thus far.


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TwilightKnight wrote:
Quote:
"monsters sitting in their room waiting to die"
Meh. It’s a pretty standard gaming trope that has worked for decades. For the most part, the point is for PCs to encounter, fight, and defeat “bad guys”, take their loot, get better, rinse-repeat. You can bundle that up in a well-told narrative, and there are certainly exceptions to the rule but at the end of the day, that’s what this game is all about. It’s essentially a board game combined with your favorite fantasy novel. It might be more realistic for all those monsters to rush together and fight you in force, but is that necessarily a better game? Only you can decide that for yourself, but given the trend for the last 50 years, it seems to be pretty effective.

i think this post highlights one of the core things about pnp rpgs in general, and a point that a lot of people seem to miss often:

not everyone enjoys playing the same game the same way.

The beauty of pnp rpgs is that the way they are designed someone might:
a)enjoy them as more complex board games
b)enjoy them as abstract narratives
c)enjoy them as pure role play
d)any combination of the above

Each player likes different things, and the most important thing is finding a group that enjoys what you enjoy most as well.

For some, the quoted post would be an instant red flag, ofr others it would point to a favorable player that enjoys the same things as you.

As written, static encounters encourage the "board game" mentality. And that's because it's one of the simplest ones, and one that you can use a base to go to the other mentalities as well.

Just in this thread, just a few posts above, a poster says how their group liked the removal of the "non important encounters". This is a way to strip the "board game" towards a more "narrative one" as an example.

Others posters made mentions of grouping the monsters, or simply put, making the monsters actual act out their role. That's changing the "board game" to a more role playing focused one, one where the monsters act out their roles.

And etc.

I think from a purely marketing view, it is indeed better to have the printed material as the "bare bones board game" (with lore printed in sections so that people can make it more narrative, with details on important figures so that people can adjust those to a more role playing setting, and etc) since this way it's easier for more people to adjust it to their liking, so capturing a wider audience.


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Most enemies have languages, most others can express distress, so I don't understand the "We don't know what that kerfluffle is next door" when your allies should be telling you exactly what's happening.
"Oh no, a paladin!"
"It burns! It burns!"
(refer to YouTube videos showing a mother animal crashing through the trees in response to their child's cry, even if the baby's safe.)
Combat's typically far more than the sounds of horseplay and banging, especially cinematic fantasy combat.*
Add that Perception quickly ramps up with level to beyond our mundane abilities so these folk can discern even more than we would.

Many dungeons are packed like dorms, where if there were shouts of distress from another wing (and in some cases your neighbor!), people would investigate. Add in a bestial, military, or exploitative mindset for quicker response. For the most part, these aren't normal human citizens living cozy lives.

On the flip side, I'd think it quite cunning if the PCs took strategies that masked their combat. Silence is the obvious choice, but it'd be cool adding loud laughter, party music, jokes in the correct language, apologies for making a disturbance, and so forth.
"Combat? No, we're playacting over here."
"Oh, okay, but keep it down, will ya? Some of us are working on how to justify why we're sitting around waiting to die, yet are still ready and alert for immediate combat. We've almost got it."

Some of this could be as easy as a room having X creatures.
If surprised, they first have to stand and draw their weapons. If not, they'll have their weapons ready and have flipped the tables for cover.

Then again, in the playtest where it was explicit that some goblins were bickering while working and would rush the PCs, many parties were dying because the GMs had the goblins quiet, with weapons out, and maintaining their distance because that made more sense w/ bows. And then many of those GMs complained about how tough the fight was. Well, duh.
There were several threads about that one room, so maybe Paizo's working around such GMs?

*I'm reminded of an adventure where the archer was whispering to the group to be very, very quiet as they approached an encounter. Next attack he lands a critical hit with a bow that exploded w/ sonic energy when critting. Whoopsie. That sure stirred up the fort of trolls.

ETA: And I've always described RPGs to my non-RPGer friends as half chess and half improv storytelling.


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Castilliano wrote:

Most enemies have languages, most others can express distress, so I don't understand the "We don't know what that kerfluffle is next door" when your allies should be telling you exactly what's happening.

"Oh no, a paladin!"
"It burns! It burns!"
(refer to YouTube videos showing a mother animal crashing through the trees in response to their child's cry, even if the baby's safe.)
Combat's typically far more than the sounds of horseplay and banging, especially cinematic fantasy combat.*
Add that Perception quickly ramps up with level to beyond our mundane abilities so these folk can discern even more than we would.

The best example I can think of living somewhere urban is, "Were those gunshots - or just a car backfiring or fireworks?"

Generally, I think you'd be disappointed by the number of thinking, rational people that decide that sounds indicating danger or violence are non-dangerous sounds instead, because they perceive it to be safer for them and because such a determination lets them avoid being involved.

Animals, as you note, are actually far more likely to react with violence if something they care about is in danger - but far more likely to flee potential danger if they can avoid it and have no stake in it (ie, territory) than sentient creatures.

Remember as well that very few dungeons (excepting like, Hobgoblin dungeons or similar) are full of creatures that have anything resembling military training or conditioning. Most are populated by armed rabble or cultists, independent dangerous creatures that are by nature selfish and cruel and don't care about their 'allies', or mindless dangers that aren't going to react to much of anything.

I'm not saying people can't run their home games how is best for their players - I'm just saying that I dont find dungeons where creatures take hours to venture out to find out "what that ruckus was" particularly hard to believe. In many cases, thats a far more relatable reaction than goblins, cultists, or other bad dudes springing into action unless an alarm has specifically been set off.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

I agree that having everyone respond like trained soldiers is not a lot fun for players or for the GM, but having one person come to take a look, spend a few actions seeking, investigating and recalling knowledge to figure out what is going on, and then leaving to go warn their allies can create a pace and go a long way to making the dungeon feel alive, without just making it more dangerous. Have the NPCs approach by sneaking (and moving very slowly), or try to be stealthy but not be very good at it, or have them ask questions loudly from the other side of the door immediately after the combat sounds die down to give PCs the opportunity to use skills to buy themselves time to rest or move on, or engage the sentry. Make it so the players can choose to try to push on past an encounter that is feeling a bit easy, or start falling back because they no reinforcements are on their way.

Very few Paizo AP dungeons have room after room of creatures that are all on the same side with the same motivations, at least before very high levels, and even then, with evil creatures like demons, some of them might like watching a rival get destroyed and then stepping in to be the hero of what they perceive to be an easy fight. I have found my players absolutely love the little mysteries of long past encounters that paizo regularly throws into their dungeons and usually there is plenty of material to justify having NPCs and monsters respond exactly enough to the presence of the PCs to keep it from feeling too much like a video game or a board game. I definitely agree that the most important thing to remember as the GM though is that the important part is making sure everyone is having fun, not that every creature that the adventure planned to have in the dungeon be there, exactly where it is supposed to be. If the party gets the snot beat out of them too hard, have the big scary solo creature that is a little off on its own get itself into trouble with the organized enemy within the dungeon and draw attention away from the PCs for a short break. Yeah you can just remove some or all of the creatures from a section ahead in the adventure, but turning some of those combat encounters into social encounters or easily navigated around infiltration encounters can help break up the slog of fighting and show that you really are willing to let PCs solve problems with skills instead of weapons.


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Krispy, my opinion overlaps with yours. You noted "unless an alarm has specifically been set off" and my examples were such alarms, verbal cries of warning or despair, pleas for help, often as close as your neighbor's house, or your own driveway. Using a shared language, not merely battle sounds.

And I do appreciate when wild, less-monstrous creatures have a built-in morale level where they break away. This goes for any less disciplined creature actually. Morale has always been a major factor in real warfare.

One's relationship with a neighbor will vary a great deal, so it'd be nice if the text addressed the status in the text so we know the designer's intent (and it'd add some flavor). If my neighbor cried out for help and I was armed and ready for battle (as nearly all dungeon denizens are) I would investigate. I'd be obliged as a neighbor, but also for my own defense, and because I know and like them. Especially if she called me by name! "He's got a knife, help me, Castilliano!"
Which would be weird, since I don't expect any to know my online nym. :)

And yes, there are tons of exceptions!
Maybe even where the opposite occurs and they flee! (Which I've seen.)
"They've all got AK-47s, help me, Castilliano!" would get a different reaction from me! And hopefully they'd be crying for others to run if faced with such a severe threat. Or to call the cops/boss/reserves.
I'm thinking more of the intelligent monsters who are thematically linked, i.e. forts, warrens, bandit camps, etc., not those only nearby by happenstance.

The point isn't to flip the design of dungeons to always be dynamic, but to include variety. Or notations ("He's too arrogant to cry for aid.") that inform the GM as to the designer's intent (with more flavor as another bonus). "This wing of the dungeon will (or won't) investigate nearby combat because (reasons). Be wary of overloading the encounter and perhaps stagger arrivals to come as enemies fall."
Modules with less word count per encounter than normal Paizo products have succeeded at this (as have tons of Paizo products, so they're familiar with the concept).

When I think as a player about why did or didn't a monster respond to events around them, I actually expect an answer in the setting/story. It doesn't have to be a particularly profound answer, but I don't accept we should assume a default of "doesn't respond" simply because of mechanical balance. Also "doing nothing" is pretty flavorless. It'd be nice to see creatures passing the time, even if it's just lurking in ambush or gnawing on bones.
(One of my favorites, which I've seen a couple of times, is preparing to raid a nearby enemy. Then they bump into the PCs, oops. A decent excuse for buffs spells. :) Also like when a dominant monster comes to explore noise, with the intention of eating both sides. Then you've got cannon fodder and/or potential short-term allies.)

----

The final stage of Rise of the Runelords is a good example of how single site can contain a good mix of dynamic and static encounters.
There's a guard battle which sort of alerts the next room which can coordinate under the major leader who can assemble allies from adjacent rooms (and doesn't respond to the guard battle). Nearby independent monsters have their own agendas, yet some may or may not join, some explicitly won't even though they're guests of the bigwig.
The second major leader, an ally of the first, has her own group of monsters around her, and seems kind of close on the map until you look at how the passages loop around. She's actually way too far away for the two major encounters to interact. Yet she also has a ridiculous amount of healing! She can patch up any stragglers that do make their way to her (and that's pretty likely when the mostly intelligent villains realize their side's collapsed.) Yet she's also so powerful that stragglers will hardly nudge the encounter difficulty.
And the final boss, a Runelord, would most certainly coordinate w/ his generals except he and his group are completely cut off, even in such a way that encourages the party to rest (and it'd be easy enough to take a major rest between the other two as well).
Three distinct spheres of dynamic response, cut off from responding directly on behalf of each other, and with an assortment of individual encounters off to the sides.

Now imagine a different map layout where these three major players, all tactical geniuses who've ascended into the highest PC-class levels by working as a team could interact with each other, maybe were adjacent. And the designer had zip to say about their coordination or lack thereof. Should we assume the bad guys are static and waiting to die?
We don't need that kind of design where the XP value/severity is the main indicator of whether to combine encounters. That sort of foresight should be hardwired into the layout or have reasoning delineated via flavor text. Perhaps it's in a sidebar if complex and needing GM adjudication to maintain balance/verisimilitude/whatnot. This seems like a core purpose of having professional dungeon designers, people who can sculpt such masterpieces.

Again, Paizo has a history of being conscientious of such things. I hope they'll continue to be.

Dark Archive

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I remember one of the 3.5 games i ran, there was a +2 flaming burst sword in the treasure and i thought "well it's dumb for the monsters to have a magic weapon and not USE it" so i added it to one of the sword wielding monsters.

The players were not best pleased by that.

"Why does this random grunt have a magic sword!?"
"Well there Boss is a caster and it'd be stupid to just leave a good weapon sitting in a chest"
"But that's not fair!"


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TiwazBlackhand wrote:

I remember one of the 3.5 games i ran, there was a +2 flaming burst sword in the treasure and i thought "well it's dumb for the monsters to have a magic weapon and not USE it" so i added it to one of the sword wielding monsters.

The players were not best pleased by that.

"Why does this random grunt have a magic sword!?"
"Well there Boss is a caster and it'd be stupid to just leave a good weapon sitting in a chest"
"But that's not fair!"

Even Gygax so long ago asserted if you get a randomly generated treasure the monster could use, the monster should use it.

When bad guys swig a potion, my PCs often say, "NO! They're drinking our treasure!" (And given 3.X and beyond, they really are.)


Pathfinder Card Game, Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

I am always a little surprised by these type of discussions. It is assumed that a human GM will be bringing an encounter to life with the tools they have available.

This is how RPGs work. Has nothing to do with any particular ruleset. A GM is assumed to be responsible for bringing the world to life (Creatures, NPCs, etc).

Now, with that said, PF2e supports these dynamic encounters quite nicely in my experience. I can rely upon the threat levels, which makes them ultra valuable.


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Castilliano wrote:

Most enemies have languages, most others can express distress, so I don't understand the "We don't know what that kerfluffle is next door" when your allies should be telling you exactly what's happening.

"Oh no, a paladin!"
"It burns! It burns!"
(refer to YouTube videos showing a mother animal crashing through the trees in response to their child's cry, even if the baby's safe.)
Combat's typically far more than the sounds of horseplay and banging, especially cinematic fantasy combat.*
Add that Perception quickly ramps up with level to beyond our mundane abilities so these folk can discern even more than we would.

Many dungeons are packed like dorms, where if there were shouts of distress from another wing (and in some cases your neighbor!), people would investigate. Add in a bestial, military, or exploitative mindset for quicker response. For the most part, these aren't normal human citizens living cozy lives.

On the flip side, I'd think it quite cunning if the PCs took strategies that masked their combat. Silence is the obvious choice, but it'd be cool adding loud laughter, party music, jokes in the correct language, apologies for making a disturbance, and so forth.
"Combat? No, we're playacting over here."
"Oh, okay, but keep it down, will ya? Some of us are working on how to justify why we're sitting around waiting to die, yet are still ready and alert for immediate combat. We've almost got it."

My players did this in Trail of the Hunted. Their mission was to clear a cave system of evil xulgath cultists. I added an escapee to confirm that the xulgaths were performing human/elven/dwarven sacrifices to their evil god.

They asked the escapee for information. He told them about the cult, its leader, and the PF1 Shrieker Mushrooms at the front entrance, which would sound an alarm so loud that no-one could talk over it (the PF2 Shrieker is not suitable as an entrance alarm because it deals sonic damage).

The scoundrel rogue Sam, who began the campaign working as a goat herder, sneaked up to the entrance and mimicked loud goat bleating sounds. He overheard the two xulgath guards just past the entrance talking in Draconic--and by sheer luck Sam spoke Draconic. One guard decided to go outside to hunt the goat for fresh meat, but first he had to warn the others about the alarm going off. The party waited in ambush and the guard died in one round.

When the shriekers' cry died down, Sam overheard the 2nd guard called after the first, "What's taking so long?" Sam, with a high Deception roll, answered in Draconic mimicking the first guard's voice, "It climbed up the rocks before it died. Could you come out and help me?" The 2nd guard ran back to an adjacent room and recruited two replacement guards before he went out. And of course, his departure into an ambush set off the shriekers again so that the replacement guards did not hear the combat.

Before the shrieking stopped, the party took time to kill all the shriekers on one side of the entrance so that they could sneak in without setting off the alarm for the entire 1st level to hear. Therefore, the party successfully surprised the replacement guards. The others from the adjacent room ran in when they overheard combat, but that group had been depleted due to two of them serving as replacement guards.

The party was 3rd level and the guards were 1st level, so they would have had no trouble just rushing in and fighting. But we had fun with the clever deception.

One unmentioned detail about not waiting around is how many rooms rush toward combat? The adjacent 2nd room can hear combat in the 1st room, but rooms further away might not. If no-one alerts the 3rd room, then those people are caught unaware after the party sneaks through the empty 2nd room.

I exploited that in Night of Frozen Shadows. The Frozen Shadows ninja clan had sworn fealty to their leader Kimandatsu on Oathtaker, an enchanted tetsubo. The blood geas of Oathbreaker would kill anyone who broke the oath. I decided that Kimandatsu was an awful leader who viewed messengers bearing bad news as betrayers, and many bearers of bad news died from the blood geas. When the party invaded the stronghold of the Frozen Shadows, no defender was willing to go back to Kimandatsu to ask her to fight and lead. They were not willing to retreat at all and warn other rooms, lest they encounter Kimandatsu.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
Elorebaen wrote:
I am always a little surprised by these type of discussions. It is assumed that a human GM will be bringing an encounter to life with the tools they have available.

On the other hand, I'm not at all surprised by these kinds of discussions. By my experience, GMs that inflexibly follow the letter of the source material (and players that want their GMs to follow the letter of the source material) are very common. Many GMs cut their teeth on running Society adventures, where deviating from as-written encounters is severely discouraged. Other GMs started with APs rather than homebrew, and never learned the skills to bring dungeons to life.

And yes, bringing a motley collection of denizens in a dungeon to life is a skill, and its not one that anyone is teaching. Its something that experienced GMs have to learn by trial, error and intuition over the years. Many times I've heard stories of novice GMs deciding to go off the rails and laying out a TPK or leaving salty players in their wake to complain on reddit or message boards. One or two bad experiences like that, and for some newbie GMs the lesson learned becomes "Trust in Paizo's adventures to be balanced, never deviate".

Upthread, JJ mentions that dungeons are presented as a "snapshot" and that Paizo tries to avoid complicated scripts to make denizens react dynamically. I totally agree that any prewritten scripts are doomed because they can't account for how players will behave. But I think that leaves a lot of room for APs to provide guidance or suggestions.

Something as simple as "This group of foes regularly goes between two locations, consider having them encounter the party if they're between those two locations and not otherwise engaged with another encounter. If the party is engaged in an easy encounter and beating it handily, consider having this group arrive as reinforcements." is very rare in APs, but would help coach and guide GMs less experienced in the craft into presenting more exciting and fun games that aren't just room-to-room monster mash.

I'd love to see richer and more varied "morale" entries, more groups of foes with specific allegiances and motivations, and just some GM sidebars with overviews of an area and its potential dynamics. Stuff to give GMs both ideas and ammunition, but also warning them against throwing the entire dungeon at the PCs.


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

While its absolutely true what some people have said about the GM being the key component in making monster behavior more realistic, one of the major values of pre-written adventures is not just in running them (with our varying levels of modification), but in the way they can serve as tools, examples and idea mines for GMs that are teaching themselves to put together their own adventures.

Having examples of ways that different creatures might react to a commotion, and encounters that are scaled together because they have a high likelihood of overlapping, helps to add to that value.


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I don't see any of this as a PF2-specific problem.

Typically it's better than the computerized cousins, the MMOs, where enemies are literally within line of sight, 20 yards away, doing nothing at all while you slaughter their comrades. Compared to that, a closed door is perfect justification for not engaging!

Regarding the OP's specific case, I justified things by having a monsoon on. So much rain makes a ton of noise.

And, incidentally, my players managed a good clean fight against the enemies outside of the location. Then as they entered, they had a sloppy fight and had to rest for an extended time. They chose to do so in the very room they fought in, taking no defensive precautions. This really surprised me as it's a group of veteran - roleplayers. So I gave them their 1st 10 minutes worth of recovery for free as it's a game after all, and I gave them another 10 minutes out of pity, and then I rammed the next room's encounter down their throat, because come on people, you're better than that! They got roughed up, so they spend ANOTHER extended period of time recovering, so I threw the NEXT room at them. Finally they re-learned what they had forgotten - if you want to recover in peace, take some precautions. They withdrew from the area to rest without (as much) danger.

Upon returning, the remainder of the enemies had responded to the prior incursion by redistributing themselves and lying in wait for the party's next attempt.

Reactive and dynamic.

As a side note, I never bother writing up wandering monster tables for when a party abuses the resting mechanics. I just pull in the next encounter when they get too lax with it. Easy peasy!


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To the people that are saying, "Well you can just modify the dungeon so that people who would hear the combat or be altered to it would come and join the fight". I respond with the fact that the combat will be much more challenging. Especially in PF2 (comparing to PF1). To which I guess the response will be "But you can just weaken the enemies".

My response to that is, I'm buying a product and I would like to see these sorts of things accounted for.

Maybe start writing it so the the whole "dungeon" is actually just one long fight with enemies showing up in waves, and planned out that way. And if the PCs manage to outsmart the enemies in a way that removes their ability to have successive waves join the combat then congratulations, the PCs get multiple easier combats to deal with.

I'd rather see stuff written like that, or at least a pretext as to why the other enemies don't join in than the current lack of guidance (IMO) as they're currently written.


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Pathfinder Card Game, Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
Cellion wrote:
Elorebaen wrote:
I am always a little surprised by these type of discussions. It is assumed that a human GM will be bringing an encounter to life with the tools they have available.

On the other hand, I'm not at all surprised by these kinds of discussions. By my experience, GMs that inflexibly follow the letter of the source material (and players that want their GMs to follow the letter of the source material) are very common. Many GMs cut their teeth on running Society adventures, where deviating from as-written encounters is severely discouraged. Other GMs started with APs rather than homebrew, and never learned the skills to bring dungeons to life.

And yes, bringing a motley collection of denizens in a dungeon to life is a skill, and its not one that anyone is teaching. Its something that experienced GMs have to learn by trial, error and intuition over the years.

I 100% agree that GMing is a skill, and you can get better at it. Also, I 100% agree that discussions about improving one's GM skills are important, even necessary. But that wasn't how this whole thread was presented, and that was primarily what I was responding to.

I wish there was more discussion about GMing on the forums to be honest.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Elorebaen wrote:
I wish there was more discussion about GMing on the forums to be honest.

Amen to that!


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Claxon wrote:

To the people that are saying, "Well you can just modify the dungeon so that people who would hear the combat or be altered to it would come and join the fight". I respond with the fact that the combat will be much more challenging. Especially in PF2 (comparing to PF1). To which I guess the response will be "But you can just weaken the enemies".

My response to that is, I'm buying a product and I would like to see these sorts of things accounted for.

Maybe start writing it so the the whole "dungeon" is actually just one long fight with enemies showing up in waves, and planned out that way. And if the PCs manage to outsmart the enemies in a way that removes their ability to have successive waves join the combat then congratulations, the PCs get multiple easier combats to deal with.

I'd rather see stuff written like that, or at least a pretext as to why the other enemies don't join in than the current lack of guidance (IMO) as they're currently written.

It completely depends on the monster. I run multiple rooms together all the time and the party does fine. Fights take roughly 4 rounds which is is about 24 seconds of game time. It's not at all unrealistic for another room to not react to roughly 30 seconds of activity in another room unless they are associated with the creatures.

The main concern of things going bad in PF2 is if the party is fighting a lvl+2 monster while a bunch of other things run in the room. Or if the creatures have some particularly devastating attack like a group of same level casters running in the room and dropping AoE spells can get quite nasty. But a group of regular melee monsters with moderate attacks you can stack a few rooms on the party and they will still likely win.

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Castilliano wrote:
TiwazBlackhand wrote:

I remember one of the 3.5 games i ran, there was a +2 flaming burst sword in the treasure and i thought "well it's dumb for the monsters to have a magic weapon and not USE it" so i added it to one of the sword wielding monsters.

The players were not best pleased by that.

"Why does this random grunt have a magic sword!?"
"Well there Boss is a caster and it'd be stupid to just leave a good weapon sitting in a chest"
"But that's not fair!"

Even Gygax so long ago asserted if you get a randomly generated treasure the monster could use, the monster should use it.

When bad guys swig a potion, my PCs often say, "NO! They're drinking our treasure!" (And given 3.X and beyond, they really are.)

Yeah, Gygax was also into generating ability scores by rolling 3d6 in order. We all know how popular that is these days.

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