Playtest Report: With Summation and Number Crunching

(Quick note, if you just want to see combat numbers, skip to post #2 in this.. this part will be kind of long despite me trying to keep it abreviated).

The Principles:



  • Virgil – Human Paladin (Protector Fighter, Acolyte, Knight)

  • Drunkey – Dwarven Sun Priest (real name is unknown to the group)

  • Aly – Halfling Rogue with Cute Smile but Nasty Reputation (Thug)

  • Rickard – Human Wizard, slightly insane, talks to a skull (Necromancer, Noble)

  • Tai’Marvee – Elven Archer (Sharpshooter Fighter, Archer)

  • (Later) Dunkin – Dwarven Honor Guard (Protector Fighter, Guardian)


First, a quick synopsis of how the evening went:

The group’s adventuring career starts with them all gathered at young Lord Virgil’s family estate where he’s brought some friends of his over to discuss how they can best serve the greater good.  Drunkey is there simply because the Temple of Pelor hopes some vigorous activity will break him of his alcohol problem and he was pretty much forced upon Virgil (who believes he can set a shining example for the cleric).  Aly finally pushed the wrong buttons in the local thieves’ guild and needs to get out of town fast.  Rickard, well, no one is quite sure what his motivations are, the skull seems to be his only confidant.  Tai seeks to do more than watch quietly from the forest and is maybe the only one there who sees Virgil’s aspirations as worthwhile.

After some nice “meet and greet” roleplay, eventually they set for the borderlands where Virgil’s Chapter of Knights indicated trouble was stirring.  The journey was more than cool and wet, it eventually was not without conflict as a group of starving wild dogs, lead by a rather large mongrel, desperately attacked the party on evening. Fortunately, the ever-alert Archer gave ample warning to the imminent danger and the group was ready enough for the attack.

Combat 1 Summation: Really, the group did extremely well, though it wasn’t too difficult a scenario.  Their Initiatives were pretty high, so they took out quite a few of the dogs before they had much time to react, and the desperate animals must have been weakened by their starved state based on their poor attack rolls in general (ironically, the only attack to actually hit was the one on the best defensive character, Virgil – and he deflected over half of it with Parry (8 reduced to 3)).  With barely a scratch, they settled in comfortably for the rest of the night.

From there, the group travels safely to the borderlands keep.  However, not long after reaching there, a desperate farmwife shows up in town, clearly distraught by the sounds of her wailing. Her husband and oldest son are dead.  Bandits on the road as they came to market with their goods.  Youngest son, daughter, and her escape to town.  With so little militia to spare at this keep, Virgil volunteers the group to help.

With Tai’s ability to track and scout, the group quickly finds the crumbling, deserted guard tower that the bandits call home.  Expecting trouble, though, the bandits were not surprised by the group’s arrival.

Combat 2 Summation: There were 8 bandits at the ready outside the tower, more dangerous at range, they engaged the group from distance at first.  Unfortunately for them, one important turn of events happened when the Wizard rolled extremely well for initiative (17) and then equally well on his Sleep spell (15).  Four were put to sleep right away. Virgil closed on two quickly, leaving only 2 free to do what they wish.  Alarm was raised, and the Bandit Leader, a couple of Elite guards, and 2 more regular bandits would enter on round 3.  With thirteen total creatures, this seemed like it would be a tough fight… but it wasn’t.  Parry deflected 4 damage, the Rogue (Aly) was knocked down (dying), but a small heal got her to her feet, and of the 13 attacks against the group, only 4 landed,  Meanwhile, the group made good use of spells (sleep + many MMs and Radiant Lance), Deadly Strikes, and Parry, along with generally decent attack rolls.  Fight lasted only 5 rounds.

Having avenged the farmer and son’s death, the group returned to the keep, reported the success, and settled in at the Lord’s residence in the inner keep as honor guests (deeds plus Knight’s feature).

Unfortunately, Virgil needed to stay and discuss interests of the kingdom the next day, so when the group set out looking to do good deeds, he had to stay behind (player departed).  Luckily, a hill dwarf heard of the group’s good deeds and decided to join them knowing they already welcomed as an equal another dwarf into the party.  Thus entered in Dunkin.  Unfortunately, Tai fell sick with an unexpected illness and he, too, had to remain behind.

After a bit of rumor gathering, research, and investigation, the group decided to head towards the infamous Caves of Chaos in the area.  Reports were that another adventuring bad had met there end out there and also that a merchant was being held captive for ransom by goblins, so they decided to follow up on the information gathered.

Reaching the caves, the quickly scout the area and find clear evidence of a great battle in or around one of the closer northern caverns.  Investigating, they find a smoldering pyre with the remains of many bodies but some further evidence of recent activity, so they enter the caves.  After finding most of the small warrens deserted, they happen upon a chamber where a large group of enormous beetles pick through the remains.

Combat 3 Summation: Eight fire beetles were trapped in an area with one exit.  When the group came upon them, the beetles reacted by trying to bash their way through the party to reach safety.  With Dunkin now at the point, the first couple tried to blast their way through him, but failed to get through.  Again, Rickard had a good initiative score but an even more impressive Sleep spell roll, putting 6 into slumber immediately.  The two remaining were fairly easily dispatched and it was quite a boring encounter.

The group debated letting the sleeping six go free, but decided against it as they couldn’t be sure that the creatures wouldn’t harm others if let loose.  After Rickard recovered glands from the beetles to test their uses and properties, the group continued on with their exploration.

What they failed to notice was a simple, yet evidently effect, trip wire trap that let loose a simple swinging blade that also created quite a lot of noise.  Worse yet, the trap managed to find a vulnerable spot in the dwarf guardian up front (hit for crit).  Unable to parry the blow, he took the full brunt of the sweeping battleaxe. It also lead to an immediate conflict with the remaining kobolds of the complex.

Side Note: There were 7 kobolds left in total, 4 normal and 3 elites.  They had been out of the caves scouting and foraging for food when the first group of adventurers had come through and slain most of their numbers. They were debating on whether or not they should just scavenge and leave or try to find other survivors when the party showed up.  Luckily, they had set a pretty simply trap to help warn them of intruders and it worked to perfection.

Combat 4 Summation: Combat started with 4 outer room kobolds reacting to the intrusion by carefully investigating.  Unfortunately for them, what the dwarf missed with a bad spot on the trap, he more than made up for it by catching glimpse of the kobolds ahead. Combat ensued with both sides ready (though the fighter had moderate wounds already after that axe strike, 8 of 18 HPs left).  Dunkin managed to get a very high initiative and closed on the kobolds fast, engaging two of the four and effectively closing off escape at the entrance to the narrow hall. Aly, who had been expecting trouble, opened up with a quick kill from advantage as she has been stealthing along using the dwarf in front of her for cover.  Dunkin’s close and attack, killed another, but he took a thrown dagger in a soft spot (crit) and only a parry kept most the damage off of him (only 2 of the 5 damage went through).  The battle was really joined when the backroom elites entered combat at the start of round 3.  In the end, Dunkin had to get some healing and go into Dodge while Drunkey supported him and the two damage dealers hopped in and out of full cover to strike at the pinned foes.  The fact that the kobolds could use Mob Tactics and ranged weapons as often as not helped them, but Dunkin’s defense and parries were too tough get through, especially when he started to Dodge.

That was it for the night… all-in-all, the group did pretty good.  With 5 in party, I tossed them a warm-up fight (9 creatures worth 650 XPs, but not overly dangerous) then a more challenging one (13 worth 1030 XPs) and both were handled fairly easily despite the mobs having some advantages.  The party of 4 ran into a natural encounter (8 creatures worth 400 XPs) then a bit of a tougher one (7 creatures worth 640 XPs).

As you will see in the chart report to follow, Dunkin & Virgil took the most abuse (21 times attacked), with Aly and Drunkey each getting targeted some and Rickard avoiding the most notice (mostly because he used some very poor magic missiles and hid a lot).  Winning Initiative and Sleep both played key rolls in two battles, though.  The fighter classed characters dominated damage done, but when the rogue can line up a sneak attack, she really deals it out.  The wizard averaged the least damage of all, but that’s not counting how battle turning sleep is.

I’ll post the summation of combat results next.
































































































































































































































































Defensive Numbers
Character Wounds     WPB      Hit %       Hit     Atkd   Crits   DyingHealing         HPBBattles
Aly82.0040.00%25114
Drunkey10.2520.00%15112.754
Dunkin157.5038.46%513294.502
Rickard30.7533.33%134
Tai0.002
Virgil31.5025.00%28194.502
Offensive Numbers
CharacterDamage      DPR      Hit %Effects      Kills     Hits     Atks     Crits      Crt %RndsBattles
Aly766.9172.73%78110.00%114
Drunkey383.4550.00%45100.00%114
Dunkin416.8380.00%4450.00%62
Rickard393.25100.00%101520200.00%124
Tai479.4085.71%5670.00%52
Virgil224.4060.00%2350.00%52


Couple of notes:
Healing includes damage avoided by Parry, Protect, and similar powers.
WPB: Wounds per battle.
HPB: Healing per battle.
DPR: Damage per round.
 
Couple of notes:
Healing includes damage avoided by Parry, Protect, and similar powers.
WPB: Wounds per battle.
HPB: Healing per battle.
DPR: Damage per round.
 



What are the hit point max of each character
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
That was fascinating. You could teach DnD my friend, that was text book. The level of detail in your data is quit brilliant. Not sure if anyone else is taking notes like this...I haven't but I will next time just for comparison. I don't think Wotc have asked for this data but they really should have because despite the ability to crunch the numbers in theory, that can never replace data gathered from humans 'working the system' reacting emotionally instead of optimally and combining an inexhaustible variety of tactical options with stupidity and blind luck! Averages do win out though, in he end, it just never feels like it at the coal face.

I suspect (oh how we love to presage rather than rely on facts after the case) that the numbers will reflect that, despite some wild variation in threat and damage in spikes, the party will often succeed with little challenge. That in itself is nothing new but whereas earlier editions have us hitting less and lasting longer or hitting more and doing less damage, the fights are simply faster.

My thesis is thus; since initiative is often lumped as one roll for DM but the players roll 5 times (1 each obviously) the chances are the PCs will get 2 or 3 attacks before the monsters, each is likely to hit and kill due to high 'to hit' and low 'AC' and high 'Dmg'. That leaves the monsters reduced to 2/3 or half strength half way through round 1. Even if this state is not predictable the most likely fall back is the same situation by round 2. The party makes short work of most encounters once the PCs outnumber the enemy at same or lower levels.

so taking into account some freak hits from the monsters (that really hurt) you can expect that most fights will seem like breeze until a fighter goes down and suddenly the stench of fear fills the air.

Honestly I like this. It replicates a far more heroic/cinematic level of threat where the heroes are mostly unscathed and tear through the bad guys in single hits but knowing that the enemy can be deadly if allowed to take a fego solid swings of their own.

Anyway thanks for the report, I got a lot out of it.
 
That was fascinating. You could teach DnD my friend, that was text book. The level of detail in your data is quit brilliant. Not sure if anyone else is taking notes like this...I haven't but I will next time just for comparison. I don't think Wotc have asked for this data but they really should have because despite the ability to crunch the numbers in theory, that can never replace data gathered from humans 'working the system' reacting emotionally instead of optimally and combining an inexhaustible variety of tactical options with stupidity and blind luck! Averages do win out though, in he end, it just never feels like it at the coal face.

I suspect (oh how we love to presage rather than rely on facts after the case) that the numbers will reflect that, despite some wild variation in threat and damage in spikes, the party will often succeed with little challenge. That in itself is nothing new but whereas earlier editions have us hitting less and lasting longer or hitting more and doing less damage, the fights are simply faster.

My thesis is thus; since initiative is often lumped as one roll for DM but the players roll 5 times (1 each obviously) the chances are the PCs will get 2 or 3 attacks before the monsters, each is likely to hit and kill due to high 'to hit' and low 'AC' and high 'Dmg'. That leaves the monsters reduced to 2/3 or half strength half way through round 1. Even if this state is not predictable the most likely fall back is the same situation by round 2. The party makes short work of most encounters once the PCs outnumber the enemy at same or lower levels.

so taking into account some freak hits from the monsters (that really hurt) you can expect that most fights will seem like breeze until a fighter goes down and suddenly the stench of fear fills the air.

Honestly I like this. It replicates a far more heroic/cinematic level of threat where the heroes are mostly unscathed and tear through the bad guys in single hits but knowing that the enemy can be deadly if allowed to take a fego solid swings of their own.

Anyway thanks for the report, I got a lot out of it.
 



In order to get accurate information from this kind of feedback they would have to run the numbers for each combat around 4000 times. In other words if 4000 people played this encounter they could get slightly better information than just using damage averages...
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
I am pretty ignorant when it comes to numbers so I can only bow to your x4000 estimate even though that seems excessive to a layman such as myself.

In all I was only postulating the difference between the bare math of combat (statistical probability based on raw hit vs AC x damage etc) vs the actual data of hits to kills (party survivability) when you take into account human player and DM decisions. You can get a lot from anylising the data of human players over and above the expected outcomes of the pure mechanics. That's partly what this playtest is about (apart from it being a very cost-effective and targeted marketing campaign of course).

In video game development human testing often makes a nonsense of the numbers because human behaviour is hard to account for until you can witness the patterns it produces to a set of specific stimuli. Running monkey builds that check the critical path automatically are a great way to regularly make sure the mechanics still work but only when you get a clumsy, imaginative or stupidly persistent human in there do you suddenly realise that you are setting up all the wrong signals, teaching bad lessons or as is most often the case, making it too hard because you credit them with waybtoo much intelligence. As a creator the raw data means very little until you get the humans in there making it all look stupid and difficult.

IMHO, and I could be way off, but once intelligent, dumb, imaginative and crazy humans get stuck into the mechanics, the math changes and the difference of a tiny percentage can mean the difference between fun and frustration.
Thanks for the replies (especially the high praise from Tezman).

@Iokaire: Aly (rogue) has 8 HPs.  Drunkey (cleric) has 9. Dunkin (fighter) has 18 (20 Con, Hill Dwarf).  Rickard (wizard) has 6. Virgil (fighter) has 14. As you can see, no one ignored CON in character creation.  13 being the lowest score, and that was because the guy rolled his stats straight down the line, taking what he got.

@Iokaire: You can be sure I am not getting paid enough to run this adventure 4000 times. ;)

@Tezman: I drew one thing from 4E and that's the use of Lore to help get insight on enemies.  Rarely did the intelligent creatures have good enough INT scores (much less the skill itself) to get "lore" off of players.  It's why I don't metagame as a DM.  Just because I know what each character, class, AC, and HP is, doesn't mean the creatures do.  Conversely, players also use Lore to try to get quick tidbits about foes... it rewards players who take "bookworm" backgrounds.

Of course, all bets are off once you see something visually undeniable to indicate what a creature or character does.  Blast of Burning Hands or the Glow of Cure Light Wounds will certainly gain the attention of even low intelligence creatures.

I'll keep running the numbers for fun, though.

Oh... and lest anyone thinks PCs were just getting lucky...

PCs delivered a grand total of zero, yes zero, critical hits.  Enemies deliver 4.  PCs won initiative a bit more (though not as much as you might think), but keep two things in mind - (1) I don't ALPHA STRIKE players, trying to kill off weak links and (2) right now, PCs get an Inititive bonus/modifier.  There was at least a smattering of good DEX in the group.

But, yes, the more data the more reliable the results.  But a small sample is better than none, yes? Or just disregard it and move on.  I did this just as a fun exercise and some reading for those who find some interest in it.
Wow...I just re-read this thread, and I'm impressed.  I've learned a lot from all of you (Shade and Tez especially).   Kudos.

A Brave Knight of WTF - "Wielder of the Sword of Balance"

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

(1) I don't ALPHA STRIKE players, trying to kill off weak links and (2) right now, PCs get an Inititive bonus/modifier.  There was at least a smattering of good DEX in the group.



So the numbers were tilted in the parties favor AND you went easy on them. Nice to know.

I do like the idea of giving the monsters a lore chance versus party members to see which one they strike first...
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
(1) I don't ALPHA STRIKE players, trying to kill off weak links and (2) right now, PCs get an Inititive bonus/modifier.  There was at least a smattering of good DEX in the group.

So the numbers were tilted in the parties favor AND you went easy on them. Nice to know.

I do like the idea of giving the monsters a lore chance versus party members to see which one they strike first...

roflmao.

Seriously?  If I play creatures in a logical, non-TPK manner, you call that "tilting" and "going easy?"

Okay.. trying to turn off sarcasm here and just respond respectfully.

First: Where does it say every Creature the party faces knows everything about the party?  Do monsters have a hidden Player Character Lore +10 score I am missing?  They see a threat and respond to it with almost no time to react.  First, most obvious, threat is where I go first.  It just seems logical to have creatures react quickly and instinctively at first.

Second: Group formation.  I ask players to set their party order... for a reason.  Not so I can disregard it and just go for whomever I think is weakest right away.  Sure, if the Wizard steps forward and blasts with Burning Hands or the Cleric heals someone dying or severely injured, that's a red flag and target marker, but before then?  At combat start?  I don't play that way.

As much as I have been argued against that I am going easy, being soft, and playing nice... well... to be honest, I just don't see it.  I feel like I am playing D&D with some thought as to (a) what makes it fun and (b) what's reasonably logical that allows players to determine their own fate.

Again, let's face it... as DM.. if I *want* players to die, they will die. 

I guess the problem is that I feel like I should help other DMs who are constantly killing their players off... trying to give them tools or different ways to look at combat and roleplaying situations to justify actions that aren't tactically perfect and cut-throat.

Maybe the problem is that they don't want that advice, so my input is unwelcome.

I am not a perfect DM (far from it!) or even the best DM ever, but I have experience and some input to offer.  That's all I am doing.  Take it or leave it. 
Shade, did you by any chance note the # of rounds each combat took?  I'm going to record that when I playtest.
Shade, did you by any chance note the # of rounds each combat took?  I'm going to record that when I playtest.

yeah, the spreadsheet that pulls and combines the numbers has all the individual details from each comat.

Encounter 1: 2 Rounds
Encounter 2: 4 Rounds
Encounter 3: 1 Round
Encounter 4: 5 Rounds

This does not include "finishing them off" rounds against sleeping or dying creatures.  Or when they revive a dying creature to question it.  So when Sleep took down 6 of 8  beetles, it was a very fast encounter, to say the least. 

In looking at it, man, battles seem to be quick... but that's how low levels go.  It's not just PCs that can be a bit frail... monsters of similar level are really easy to dispatch.  Even an elite kobold with 17 HPs isn't hard to bring down.  The three (plus four normal) I tossed at the group took 4 rounds to finish (once they entered the fray) in one battle, and the 3 (plus ten regulars) I tossed at them in another battle took 3 rounds (once they entered).

I am okay with that.  Instead of spending the evening in 1 hour battles, the 2 groups are both roleplaying more and interacting with the environment (exploring, scouting, talking to NPCs, listening to rumors, interacting with each other, etc). 
(1) I don't ALPHA STRIKE players, trying to kill off weak links and (2) right now, PCs get an Inititive bonus/modifier.  There was at least a smattering of good DEX in the group.

So the numbers were tilted in the parties favor AND you went easy on them. Nice to know.

I do like the idea of giving the monsters a lore chance versus party members to see which one they strike first...

roflmao.

Seriously?  If I play creatures in a logical, non-TPK manner, you call that "tilting" and "going easy?"

Okay.. trying to turn off sarcasm here and just respond respectfully.

First: Where does it say every Creature the party faces knows everything about the party?  Do monsters have a hidden Player Character Lore +10 score I am missing?  They see a threat and respond to it with almost no time to react.  First, most obvious, threat is where I go first.  It just seems logical to have creatures react quickly and instinctively at first.

Well, I'd say it's about a roll of 0+ so see what armor is being worn. The logical thing IMO is for the bad guys to take out the weakest looking target, turning the numbers in their favor while staying away from the most dangerous target for last to mob it. The guy in really thick cloth looks like a good start... It's seems odd that you have creatures with abilities like Mob Tactics, and they don't use mob tactics...

Second: Group formation.  I ask players to set their party order... for a reason.  Not so I can disregard it and just go for whomever I think is weakest right away.  Sure, if the Wizard steps forward and blasts with Burning Hands or the Cleric heals someone dying or severely injured, that's a red flag and target marker, but before then?  At combat start?  I don't play that way.

As much as I have been argued against that I am going easy, being soft, and playing nice... well... to be honest, I just don't see it.  I feel like I am playing D&D with some thought as to (a) what makes it fun and (b) what's reasonably logical that allows players to determine their own fate.
 

If they can use tactics to keep the weaker people out of harms way then good for them. However, lost initiative/ambushes and ranged attacks made tactics for our group pretty meaningless. We found that 6hp and low AC ment that the wizard took a nap quite often. The only way we could think that the wizard might not always be the first target is if he carries a tower shield(mobile cover) and cowered behind it to get cover and sadly his AC only gets up to the lowest AC of the other PC's so even doing that leaves him a tempting target...

If they can use tactics to keep the weaker people out of harms way then good for them.

Again, different DMing styles is probably at the core.

Honestly, I play as a storyteller, not a combat simulator.  I could pick apart just about every good book or movie every created by pointing to places where enemies didn't tactically, logically, or reasonably act at their highest intelligence.

So, yeah, sometimes the kobolds just see threat and attack the first thing... they don't see "clothie", kill it because it's a caster, the weakest, the easiest to hit, and a linchpin for taking out the group.  I can justify it just enough with roleplay to have it make sense (not intelligent, not wise, reactionary, not perceptive - all of those are below average scores for them).  And Mob Tactics has a specific use, so I don't give it more than it includes.

In the end, though, it really is just styles.  I am sure I could change my perspective and change my intent to come to the same conclusions as you and others, turning the tide and killing off players much easier.  For better or worse, I don't want to in this case (although, there are plenty of areas and ideas I've gotten off these boards that have altered my view and style)... just like you don't want to change how you DM either in this case.

I'm with Shade on this one.

While the two biggest play styles that emerge are cooperative (DM subtly facilitates the heroes so failure is mitigated) and competitive (DM plays his team by the rules to challenge players and will kill them if he can) both have their place but we often tend to one or the other. It must be said that an even smattering of both is the ideal but in game designed to encompass any concievable outcome for any setting, the rules rely heavily on the wisdom of the adjudicator (DM) to make them function well. 

A DM's style is very important to any game and I'm sure we have all played in games where the DM has either broken what would otherwise have been a great game or brought to life an otherwise flavourless list of encounters. I've had the benefit of playing with some top DM's from whom I have always managed to steal a at least one great tip. I've always been a story teller, like Shade, so its easy for me to see the player's as heroes in a story and they rarely fail, that's no fun. When they do, make it heroic/tragic/funny...that's your job. This isn't a board game, its more than that and the players have a right to expect that the DM will adjudicate fairly and with their best interests at heart - otherwise as has been pointed out, he has the power to kill them pretty much as he wants.

My top Don'ts list for an exciting encounter:

Don't railroad: The players want to play DnD because they can do what they want so bend with the flow, If they want to take on the entire horde rework the encounter in your head to offer them some out or failsafe like a rescue or a parlez.

Don't over plan: Have some ready to run encounters of a few different sorts (RP, ambush, puzzles etc) to intergrate into your adventure when the players take an unexpected course, let them.

Don't say 'no': ...without working out why you want to say no: It is often simply due to lazyness or fear on your part and improvisation is the very best part of DnD imho.

Don't target the weakest characters: Unless it would be dumb not to, (as they are attacking or the only ones in range etc) because the guy in plate with a shield has a bad time when he doesn't get to tank for his friends and the dead wizard thinks it was a dumb game too. 

Don't let the rules break the game: You know the rules, the rules however do not know your game and they will mess it up occassionally if you don't tweak and bend on the fly. This isn't because they are bad, but simply because they can't account for how imaginative and stupid you and your players are. That's why the DM has so much power to change them.

Sorry I'm rambling again...parting shot...then I gotta go something constructive in the real world....

One game we decided to try Round-robin type DM'ing (2 sessions each) rotating all the players through DM. This was brilliant and I recomend it for any group with players and DMs who are willing put their money where their mouth is ;) As long as you aproach it with humility (as you may be in for a shock when the players have more fun under other DMs) you instantly learn a heap about your game from the other side of the table and have to grapple with improvisational story telling and keeping the fun going (as you want the PCs to live long enough to play your next round as DM so you can fix the plot and spring a new surprise the last DM inspired you to create). I changed the way I played after that.
Don't railroad: The players want to play DnD because they can do what they want so bend with the flow, If they want to take on the entire horde rework the encounter in your head to offer them some out or failsafe like a rescue or a parlez.

Don't over plan: Have some ready to run encounters of a few different sorts (RP, ambush, puzzles etc) to intergrate into your adventure when the players take an unexpected course, let them.

Don't say 'no': ...without working out why you want to say no: It is often simply due to lazyness or fear on your part and improvisation is the very best part of DnD imho.

Don't target the weakest characters: Unless it would be dumb not to, (as they are attacking or the only ones in range etc) because the guy in plate with a shield has a bad time when he doesn't get to tank for his friends and the dead wizard thinks it was a dumb game too. 

Don't let the rules break the game: You know the rules, the rules however do not know your game and they will mess it up occassionally if you don't tweak and bend on the fly. This isn't because they are bad, but simply because they can't account for how imaginative and stupid you and your players are. That's why the DM has so much power to change them.

Nice post, Tez.  Not for agreeing, but for the clear intent and well posed thoughts.

A few things I want to highlight.

The "Don't Railroad" really is important.  Players are playing small pieces of themselves as characters.  They want self-determination and a feeling of having fate in their own hands.  That's part of the charm of being a heroic figure in a fantasy world.

Similarly, the "Don't Target the Weakest Character" isn't about protecting the poor Wizard... it's as much about letting the Guardian Knight do what she came to do.

If I invited someone over to Roleplay, and they spent a good hour coming up with a wonderful character that's a fireball tossing, master of elements with a deep desire to create a college of wizardry to unite the magic thinkers of the world, he'll be pretty disappointed when I tell him he can play the character, but the entire world is devoid of magic, so he'll be just a guy with a staff and a sling.

When I completely ignore the intent of the gal who created that Human Knight, protector of the weak and friend to the needy, it's detracting from her enjoyment of the game.  

Karen: "I take the point, standing before my mates to protect them from the coming goblins."
DM: "That's great.... they all ignore you, going for the wizard instead."
Karen: (Thinks to herself, well, this isn't fun... I am pretty useless other than for the damage I am going to do and as someone to carry the bodies back to town).

All that said.... the truth of the matter is that some players don't give one iota about roles and intent.  It's a game about tactics, powers, and surviving.  Karen wouldn't fit in there unless she had specific powers that prevented enemies from attacking others she's guarding (or at least, diminished the effectiveness).  She can say, "I am a Knight!" all she wants, but without an aura that forces others to attack her or a power that intercedes attacks against allies, she's just a bunch of wasted hot air.

5E has a very tough task ahead of it if it wants to give the Karen's of the world a setting with rules to cater to her while also having rules and a setting for the guys who want more than "roleplay" and "intent" to indicate what can be done.

But I think that *is* their intent... and with the limited playtest options and rules we are being given, it's not happening.  Which is why we see such dramatic differences in opinion on how well the game is being perceived so far.
Bang on, Shade. I think I'll stop posting for a bit as it's quite addictive and I'm in danger of either talking down to folks who already know this stuff or want to get into the numbers again.

I agree with you totally Shade, and I look forward to seeing all your thoughts here collected (and paraphrased of course) in the last part of WotC's playtest mission which is to get feedback on their 'advice on how to run a game'.

To your last point about intent; The 5e module format will supposedly add detail to tactical, encounter, world building and character options that offer finer degrees of rule management for those that require it, without altering the math of the core system for those that don't. I can see how this would be achievable. What I can't see them pulling off is the bizarre expectation of some players that the core rules can be swapped out for different systems (choose your 'alternate casting rules for Wizards' has a been a great debacle) and I'm pretty sure this was never intended, the sorc and warlock classes have shown how they want to handle this which I think was both brave and practical on the part of the designers (IMHO).

Right that's it, just wanted to thank you for hilighting those points really. I be shush now. 
Just wanted to say I appreciated the number crunching. Even if, like someone said, it needs 4000 examples to make it median. It still gives an indication on a simple session what to expect.

I myself tends to be the cursed GM (heritical! I mean DM), by rolling 20 a lot. And I mean a lot. Not a lot when u statistically see on how many rolls u do as a GM, but in moments of importance they are a lot.
 What I wanted to say by that is, yes it´s pretty easy to kill of your players as a GM and not something u EVER want to strive for. If anything, I want my players to LIVE.
Cause u know, I have this great adventure I spent hours on writing and I want my players to experience it! Not die and never know anything.

At the same time I dislike monsters being stupid. Intelligent creatures should get it, especially when they have a competent leader. And ofcourse! You shouldnt feel EVER that "It doesnt matter what I do, its a piece of cake".
Players should feel that they are in danger and they have to dig deep in their resources to survive.
 Its a fine line, that any GM has to thread.

I have digressed long enough, but again, I really appreciated it as a comparision for my own player group. 
At the same time I dislike monsters being stupid. Intelligent creatures should get it, especially when they have a competent leader.

Thanks, Skeigor.  I'll be posting more in the future.

I did want to ask you a quick question...

What do you consider "intelligent"?  Does an 8 INT qualify as high enough to determine all the variables involved in a combat round and determine the strengths, weaknesses, and key points of all present and visible?

The whole... what is Intelligence and how is the score of it used is an intersting one to pose just to see what various people think it is.

[And to be fair, I'll give my answer...]
If you are familiar with Football (or any fast paced sport with quick decisions being necessary), there are Quarterbacks with okay intelligence who fail because they don't read and react to the speed of the game very well.  Sacked, intercepted, etc.  In the 5 seconds they have to see all the information that around them and changing quickly, they have to understand it all and make snap decisions that are the difference between success and failure. 

For me, 8 INT is someone a little slow witted.  Doesn't process large amounts of data quickly, especially if it's very dynamic.  Thus, kobolds aren't natural great battle leaders and tactically superior amidst the ever changing chaos of battle.

A kobold is more likely to be overwhelmed, panic, and run (unless they have an advantage in numbers, thus feeling as if the odds are in their favor) than see that subtle weakness to exploit.
^ I'll agree with you about kobolds in most situations, but I feel I should point out there is an exception: When kobolds set traps and ambushes, and can make the battle follow their "playbook," there can be very deadly consequences for even higher level players (up to 6-7, even). Reading Races of the Dragon from 3.x gave me my view of kobolds, and that's how I like them.
(1) I don't ALPHA STRIKE players, trying to kill off weak links and (2) right now, PCs get an Inititive bonus/modifier.  There was at least a smattering of good DEX in the group.

So the numbers were tilted in the parties favor AND you went easy on them. Nice to know.

I do like the idea of giving the monsters a lore chance versus party members to see which one they strike first...

roflmao.

Seriously?  If I play creatures in a logical, non-TPK manner, you call that "tilting" and "going easy?"

Okay.. trying to turn off sarcasm here and just respond respectfully.

First: Where does it say every Creature the party faces knows everything about the party?  Do monsters have a hidden Player Character Lore +10 score I am missing?  They see a threat and respond to it with almost no time to react.  First, most obvious, threat is where I go first.  It just seems logical to have creatures react quickly and instinctively at first.

Second: Group formation.  I ask players to set their party order... for a reason.  Not so I can disregard it and just go for whomever I think is weakest right away.  Sure, if the Wizard steps forward and blasts with Burning Hands or the Cleric heals someone dying or severely injured, that's a red flag and target marker, but before then?  At combat start?  I don't play that way.

As much as I have been argued against that I am going easy, being soft, and playing nice... well... to be honest, I just don't see it.  I feel like I am playing D&D with some thought as to (a) what makes it fun and (b) what's reasonably logical that allows players to determine their own fate.

Again, let's face it... as DM.. if I *want* players to die, they will die. 

I guess the problem is that I feel like I should help other DMs who are constantly killing their players off... trying to give them tools or different ways to look at combat and roleplaying situations to justify actions that aren't tactically perfect and cut-throat.

Maybe the problem is that they don't want that advice, so my input is unwelcome.

I am not a perfect DM (far from it!) or even the best DM ever, but I have experience and some input to offer.  That's all I am doing.  Take it or leave it. 



Yes, but after the first round any monsters that are thinking at all should either target the Wizard or flee like crazy. Also after the first fight word would get back to the rest of the monsters that there is a Wizard in the group and they would then target them first. The Necromancer would recognize another Wizard on sight and direct their zombies to attack the Wizard. I mean if you are playing the 'logically in the world' game, then you will see that after the first round of the first fight they would target the Wizard/Cleric. Being in the back row just means +2 to AC for each intervening creature. Which puts the Wizard's AC on par with the Cleric or the Rogue, but the low hit points means near instant death.
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
Bang on, Shade. I think I'll stop posting for a bit as it's quite addictive and I'm in danger of either talking down to folks who already know this stuff or want to get into the numbers again.

I agree with you totally Shade, and I look forward to seeing all your thoughts here collected (and paraphrased of course) in the last part of WotC's playtest mission which is to get feedback on their 'advice on how to run a game'.

To your last point about intent; The 5e module format will supposedly add detail to tactical, encounter, world building and character options that offer finer degrees of rule management for those that require it, without altering the math of the core system for those that don't. I can see how this would be achievable. What I can't see them pulling off is the bizarre expectation of some players that the core rules can be swapped out for different systems (choose your 'alternate casting rules for Wizards' has a been a great debacle) and I'm pretty sure this was never intended, the sorc and warlock classes have shown how they want to handle this which I think was both brave and practical on the part of the designers (IMHO).

Right that's it, just wanted to thank you for hilighting those points really. I be shush now. 



Don't railroad: The players want to play DnD because they can do what they want so bend with the flow, If they want to take on the entire horde rework the encounter in your head to offer them some out or failsafe like a rescue or a parlez.

Don't over plan: Have some ready to run encounters of a few different sorts (RP, ambush, puzzles etc) to intergrate into your adventure when the players take an unexpected course, let them.

Don't say 'no': ...without working out why you want to say no: It is often simply due to lazyness or fear on your part and improvisation is the very best part of DnD imho.

Don't target the weakest characters: Unless it would be dumb not to, (as they are attacking or the only ones in range etc) because the guy in plate with a shield has a bad time when he doesn't get to tank for his friends and the dead wizard thinks it was a dumb game too. 

Don't let the rules break the game: You know the rules, the rules however do not know your game and they will mess it up occassionally if you don't tweak and bend on the fly. This isn't because they are bad, but simply because they can't account for how imaginative and stupid you and your players are. That's why the DM has so much power to change them.

Nice post, Tez.  Not for agreeing, but for the clear intent and well posed thoughts.

A few things I want to highlight.

The "Don't Railroad" really is important.  Players are playing small pieces of themselves as characters.  They want self-determination and a feeling of having fate in their own hands.  That's part of the charm of being a heroic figure in a fantasy world.

Similarly, the "Don't Target the Weakest Character" isn't about protecting the poor Wizard... it's as much about letting the Guardian Knight do what she came to do.

If I invited someone over to Roleplay, and they spent a good hour coming up with a wonderful character that's a fireball tossing, master of elements with a deep desire to create a college of wizardry to unite the magic thinkers of the world, he'll be pretty disappointed when I tell him he can play the character, but the entire world is devoid of magic, so he'll be just a guy with a staff and a sling.

When I completely ignore the intent of the gal who created that Human Knight, protector of the weak and friend to the needy, it's detracting from her enjoyment of the game.  

Karen: "I take the point, standing before my mates to protect them from the coming goblins."
DM: "That's great.... they all ignore you, going for the wizard instead."
Karen: (Thinks to herself, well, this isn't fun... I am pretty useless other than for the damage I am going to do and as someone to carry the bodies back to town).

All that said.... the truth of the matter is that some players don't give one iota about roles and intent.  It's a game about tactics, powers, and surviving.  Karen wouldn't fit in there unless she had specific powers that prevented enemies from attacking others she's guarding (or at least, diminished the effectiveness).  She can say, "I am a Knight!" all she wants, but without an aura that forces others to attack her or a power that intercedes attacks against allies, she's just a bunch of wasted hot air.

5E has a very tough task ahead of it if it wants to give the Karen's of the world a setting with rules to cater to her while also having rules and a setting for the guys who want more than "roleplay" and "intent" to indicate what can be done.

But I think that *is* their intent... and with the limited playtest options and rules we are being given, it's not happening.  Which is why we see such dramatic differences in opinion on how well the game is being perceived so far.



I'm with Shade on this one.

While the two biggest play styles that emerge are cooperative (DM subtly facilitates the heroes so failure is mitigated) and competitive (DM plays his team by the rules to challenge players and will kill them if he can) both have their place but we often tend to one or the other. It must be said that an even smattering of both is the ideal but in game designed to encompass any concievable outcome for any setting, the rules rely heavily on the wisdom of the adjudicator (DM) to make them function well. 

A DM's style is very important to any game and I'm sure we have all played in games where the DM has either broken what would otherwise have been a great game or brought to life an otherwise flavourless list of encounters. I've had the benefit of playing with some top DM's from whom I have always managed to steal a at least one great tip. I've always been a story teller, like Shade, so its easy for me to see the player's as heroes in a story and they rarely fail, that's no fun. When they do, make it heroic/tragic/funny...that's your job. This isn't a board game, its more than that and the players have a right to expect that the DM will adjudicate fairly and with their best interests at heart - otherwise as has been pointed out, he has the power to kill them pretty much as he wants.

My top Don'ts list for an exciting encounter:

Don't railroad: The players want to play DnD because they can do what they want so bend with the flow, If they want to take on the entire horde rework the encounter in your head to offer them some out or failsafe like a rescue or a parlez.

Don't over plan: Have some ready to run encounters of a few different sorts (RP, ambush, puzzles etc) to intergrate into your adventure when the players take an unexpected course, let them.

Don't say 'no': ...without working out why you want to say no: It is often simply due to lazyness or fear on your part and improvisation is the very best part of DnD imho.

Don't target the weakest characters: Unless it would be dumb not to, (as they are attacking or the only ones in range etc) because the guy in plate with a shield has a bad time when he doesn't get to tank for his friends and the dead wizard thinks it was a dumb game too. 

Don't let the rules break the game: You know the rules, the rules however do not know your game and they will mess it up occassionally if you don't tweak and bend on the fly. This isn't because they are bad, but simply because they can't account for how imaginative and stupid you and your players are. That's why the DM has so much power to change them.

Sorry I'm rambling again...parting shot...then I gotta go something constructive in the real world....

One game we decided to try Round-robin type DM'ing (2 sessions each) rotating all the players through DM. This was brilliant and I recomend it for any group with players and DMs who are willing put their money where their mouth is ;) As long as you aproach it with humility (as you may be in for a shock when the players have more fun under other DMs) you instantly learn a heap about your game from the other side of the table and have to grapple with improvisational story telling and keeping the fun going (as you want the PCs to live long enough to play your next round as DM so you can fix the plot and spring a new surprise the last DM inspired you to create). I changed the way I played after that.



All of these posts fall under the "a good DM can..." Fallacy. They assume you have a good DM. The game needs to take into account mediocre DMs and new DMs and DMs that don't have 10 years of experience. It can do this by making a balanced game where the DM doesn't have to change the rules or go easy on the players just so they can survive past 1st level...
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
Bang on, Shade. I think I'll stop posting for a bit as it's quite addictive and I'm in danger of either talking down to folks who already know this stuff or want to get into the numbers again.

I agree with you totally Shade, and I look forward to seeing all your thoughts here collected (and paraphrased of course) in the last part of WotC's playtest mission which is to get feedback on their 'advice on how to run a game'.

To your last point about intent; The 5e module format will supposedly add detail to tactical, encounter, world building and character options that offer finer degrees of rule management for those that require it, without altering the math of the core system for those that don't. I can see how this would be achievable. What I can't see them pulling off is the bizarre expectation of some players that the core rules can be swapped out for different systems (choose your 'alternate casting rules for Wizards' has a been a great debacle) and I'm pretty sure this was never intended, the sorc and warlock classes have shown how they want to handle this which I think was both brave and practical on the part of the designers (IMHO).

Right that's it, just wanted to thank you for hilighting those points really. I be shush now. 



Don't railroad: The players want to play DnD because they can do what they want so bend with the flow, If they want to take on the entire horde rework the encounter in your head to offer them some out or failsafe like a rescue or a parlez.

Don't over plan: Have some ready to run encounters of a few different sorts (RP, ambush, puzzles etc) to intergrate into your adventure when the players take an unexpected course, let them.

Don't say 'no': ...without working out why you want to say no: It is often simply due to lazyness or fear on your part and improvisation is the very best part of DnD imho.

Don't target the weakest characters: Unless it would be dumb not to, (as they are attacking or the only ones in range etc) because the guy in plate with a shield has a bad time when he doesn't get to tank for his friends and the dead wizard thinks it was a dumb game too. 

Don't let the rules break the game: You know the rules, the rules however do not know your game and they will mess it up occassionally if you don't tweak and bend on the fly. This isn't because they are bad, but simply because they can't account for how imaginative and stupid you and your players are. That's why the DM has so much power to change them.

Nice post, Tez.  Not for agreeing, but for the clear intent and well posed thoughts.

A few things I want to highlight.

The "Don't Railroad" really is important.  Players are playing small pieces of themselves as characters.  They want self-determination and a feeling of having fate in their own hands.  That's part of the charm of being a heroic figure in a fantasy world.

Similarly, the "Don't Target the Weakest Character" isn't about protecting the poor Wizard... it's as much about letting the Guardian Knight do what she came to do.

If I invited someone over to Roleplay, and they spent a good hour coming up with a wonderful character that's a fireball tossing, master of elements with a deep desire to create a college of wizardry to unite the magic thinkers of the world, he'll be pretty disappointed when I tell him he can play the character, but the entire world is devoid of magic, so he'll be just a guy with a staff and a sling.

When I completely ignore the intent of the gal who created that Human Knight, protector of the weak and friend to the needy, it's detracting from her enjoyment of the game.  

Karen: "I take the point, standing before my mates to protect them from the coming goblins."
DM: "That's great.... they all ignore you, going for the wizard instead."
Karen: (Thinks to herself, well, this isn't fun... I am pretty useless other than for the damage I am going to do and as someone to carry the bodies back to town).

All that said.... the truth of the matter is that some players don't give one iota about roles and intent.  It's a game about tactics, powers, and surviving.  Karen wouldn't fit in there unless she had specific powers that prevented enemies from attacking others she's guarding (or at least, diminished the effectiveness).  She can say, "I am a Knight!" all she wants, but without an aura that forces others to attack her or a power that intercedes attacks against allies, she's just a bunch of wasted hot air.

5E has a very tough task ahead of it if it wants to give the Karen's of the world a setting with rules to cater to her while also having rules and a setting for the guys who want more than "roleplay" and "intent" to indicate what can be done.

But I think that *is* their intent... and with the limited playtest options and rules we are being given, it's not happening.  Which is why we see such dramatic differences in opinion on how well the game is being perceived so far.



I'm with Shade on this one.

While the two biggest play styles that emerge are cooperative (DM subtly facilitates the heroes so failure is mitigated) and competitive (DM plays his team by the rules to challenge players and will kill them if he can) both have their place but we often tend to one or the other. It must be said that an even smattering of both is the ideal but in game designed to encompass any concievable outcome for any setting, the rules rely heavily on the wisdom of the adjudicator (DM) to make them function well. 

A DM's style is very important to any game and I'm sure we have all played in games where the DM has either broken what would otherwise have been a great game or brought to life an otherwise flavourless list of encounters. I've had the benefit of playing with some top DM's from whom I have always managed to steal a at least one great tip. I've always been a story teller, like Shade, so its easy for me to see the player's as heroes in a story and they rarely fail, that's no fun. When they do, make it heroic/tragic/funny...that's your job. This isn't a board game, its more than that and the players have a right to expect that the DM will adjudicate fairly and with their best interests at heart - otherwise as has been pointed out, he has the power to kill them pretty much as he wants.

My top Don'ts list for an exciting encounter:

Don't railroad: The players want to play DnD because they can do what they want so bend with the flow, If they want to take on the entire horde rework the encounter in your head to offer them some out or failsafe like a rescue or a parlez.

Don't over plan: Have some ready to run encounters of a few different sorts (RP, ambush, puzzles etc) to intergrate into your adventure when the players take an unexpected course, let them.

Don't say 'no': ...without working out why you want to say no: It is often simply due to lazyness or fear on your part and improvisation is the very best part of DnD imho.

Don't target the weakest characters: Unless it would be dumb not to, (as they are attacking or the only ones in range etc) because the guy in plate with a shield has a bad time when he doesn't get to tank for his friends and the dead wizard thinks it was a dumb game too. 

Don't let the rules break the game: You know the rules, the rules however do not know your game and they will mess it up occassionally if you don't tweak and bend on the fly. This isn't because they are bad, but simply because they can't account for how imaginative and stupid you and your players are. That's why the DM has so much power to change them.

Sorry I'm rambling again...parting shot...then I gotta go something constructive in the real world....

One game we decided to try Round-robin type DM'ing (2 sessions each) rotating all the players through DM. This was brilliant and I recomend it for any group with players and DMs who are willing put their money where their mouth is ;) As long as you aproach it with humility (as you may be in for a shock when the players have more fun under other DMs) you instantly learn a heap about your game from the other side of the table and have to grapple with improvisational story telling and keeping the fun going (as you want the PCs to live long enough to play your next round as DM so you can fix the plot and spring a new surprise the last DM inspired you to create). I changed the way I played after that.



All of these posts fall under the "a good DM can..." Fallacy. They assume you have a good DM. The game needs to take into account mediocre DMs and new DMs and DMs that don't have 10 years of experience. It can do this by making a balanced game where the DM doesn't have to change the rules or go easy on the players just so they can survive past 1st level...




A game requiring skill to play is not a logical fallacy stop trying to pretend it is.  Also it doesn't take 10 years of experience to figure this stuff out.  I have about 4 years of experience and I know all of these things.  Also they could very well put all of the stuff like this in the DMG to guide new DMs.  Don't dumb it down and remove complexities and skill requirements, just provide the knowledge needed to perform the role of DM.  Design to the expert then provide materials to become an expert.  Just like any other game this one requires skills to play, and building those skills contributes in some way to self betterment.  Taking that aspect out of the game ruins the intrinsic value of the game and just makes it a time waster.
Bang on, Shade. I think I'll stop posting for a bit as it's quite addictive and I'm in danger of either talking down to folks who already know this stuff or want to get into the numbers again.

I agree with you totally Shade, and I look forward to seeing all your thoughts here collected (and paraphrased of course) in the last part of WotC's playtest mission which is to get feedback on their 'advice on how to run a game'.

To your last point about intent; The 5e module format will supposedly add detail to tactical, encounter, world building and character options that offer finer degrees of rule management for those that require it, without altering the math of the core system for those that don't. I can see how this would be achievable. What I can't see them pulling off is the bizarre expectation of some players that the core rules can be swapped out for different systems (choose your 'alternate casting rules for Wizards' has a been a great debacle) and I'm pretty sure this was never intended, the sorc and warlock classes have shown how they want to handle this which I think was both brave and practical on the part of the designers (IMHO).

Right that's it, just wanted to thank you for hilighting those points really. I be shush now. 



Don't railroad: The players want to play DnD because they can do what they want so bend with the flow, If they want to take on the entire horde rework the encounter in your head to offer them some out or failsafe like a rescue or a parlez.

Don't over plan: Have some ready to run encounters of a few different sorts (RP, ambush, puzzles etc) to intergrate into your adventure when the players take an unexpected course, let them.

Don't say 'no': ...without working out why you want to say no: It is often simply due to lazyness or fear on your part and improvisation is the very best part of DnD imho.

Don't target the weakest characters: Unless it would be dumb not to, (as they are attacking or the only ones in range etc) because the guy in plate with a shield has a bad time when he doesn't get to tank for his friends and the dead wizard thinks it was a dumb game too. 

Don't let the rules break the game: You know the rules, the rules however do not know your game and they will mess it up occassionally if you don't tweak and bend on the fly. This isn't because they are bad, but simply because they can't account for how imaginative and stupid you and your players are. That's why the DM has so much power to change them.

Nice post, Tez.  Not for agreeing, but for the clear intent and well posed thoughts.

A few things I want to highlight.

The "Don't Railroad" really is important.  Players are playing small pieces of themselves as characters.  They want self-determination and a feeling of having fate in their own hands.  That's part of the charm of being a heroic figure in a fantasy world.

Similarly, the "Don't Target the Weakest Character" isn't about protecting the poor Wizard... it's as much about letting the Guardian Knight do what she came to do.

If I invited someone over to Roleplay, and they spent a good hour coming up with a wonderful character that's a fireball tossing, master of elements with a deep desire to create a college of wizardry to unite the magic thinkers of the world, he'll be pretty disappointed when I tell him he can play the character, but the entire world is devoid of magic, so he'll be just a guy with a staff and a sling.

When I completely ignore the intent of the gal who created that Human Knight, protector of the weak and friend to the needy, it's detracting from her enjoyment of the game.  

Karen: "I take the point, standing before my mates to protect them from the coming goblins."
DM: "That's great.... they all ignore you, going for the wizard instead."
Karen: (Thinks to herself, well, this isn't fun... I am pretty useless other than for the damage I am going to do and as someone to carry the bodies back to town).

All that said.... the truth of the matter is that some players don't give one iota about roles and intent.  It's a game about tactics, powers, and surviving.  Karen wouldn't fit in there unless she had specific powers that prevented enemies from attacking others she's guarding (or at least, diminished the effectiveness).  She can say, "I am a Knight!" all she wants, but without an aura that forces others to attack her or a power that intercedes attacks against allies, she's just a bunch of wasted hot air.

5E has a very tough task ahead of it if it wants to give the Karen's of the world a setting with rules to cater to her while also having rules and a setting for the guys who want more than "roleplay" and "intent" to indicate what can be done.

But I think that *is* their intent... and with the limited playtest options and rules we are being given, it's not happening.  Which is why we see such dramatic differences in opinion on how well the game is being perceived so far.



I'm with Shade on this one.

While the two biggest play styles that emerge are cooperative (DM subtly facilitates the heroes so failure is mitigated) and competitive (DM plays his team by the rules to challenge players and will kill them if he can) both have their place but we often tend to one or the other. It must be said that an even smattering of both is the ideal but in game designed to encompass any concievable outcome for any setting, the rules rely heavily on the wisdom of the adjudicator (DM) to make them function well. 

A DM's style is very important to any game and I'm sure we have all played in games where the DM has either broken what would otherwise have been a great game or brought to life an otherwise flavourless list of encounters. I've had the benefit of playing with some top DM's from whom I have always managed to steal a at least one great tip. I've always been a story teller, like Shade, so its easy for me to see the player's as heroes in a story and they rarely fail, that's no fun. When they do, make it heroic/tragic/funny...that's your job. This isn't a board game, its more than that and the players have a right to expect that the DM will adjudicate fairly and with their best interests at heart - otherwise as has been pointed out, he has the power to kill them pretty much as he wants.

My top Don'ts list for an exciting encounter:

Don't railroad: The players want to play DnD because they can do what they want so bend with the flow, If they want to take on the entire horde rework the encounter in your head to offer them some out or failsafe like a rescue or a parlez.

Don't over plan: Have some ready to run encounters of a few different sorts (RP, ambush, puzzles etc) to intergrate into your adventure when the players take an unexpected course, let them.

Don't say 'no': ...without working out why you want to say no: It is often simply due to lazyness or fear on your part and improvisation is the very best part of DnD imho.

Don't target the weakest characters: Unless it would be dumb not to, (as they are attacking or the only ones in range etc) because the guy in plate with a shield has a bad time when he doesn't get to tank for his friends and the dead wizard thinks it was a dumb game too. 

Don't let the rules break the game: You know the rules, the rules however do not know your game and they will mess it up occassionally if you don't tweak and bend on the fly. This isn't because they are bad, but simply because they can't account for how imaginative and stupid you and your players are. That's why the DM has so much power to change them.

Sorry I'm rambling again...parting shot...then I gotta go something constructive in the real world....

One game we decided to try Round-robin type DM'ing (2 sessions each) rotating all the players through DM. This was brilliant and I recomend it for any group with players and DMs who are willing put their money where their mouth is ;) As long as you aproach it with humility (as you may be in for a shock when the players have more fun under other DMs) you instantly learn a heap about your game from the other side of the table and have to grapple with improvisational story telling and keeping the fun going (as you want the PCs to live long enough to play your next round as DM so you can fix the plot and spring a new surprise the last DM inspired you to create). I changed the way I played after that.



All of these posts fall under the "a good DM can..." Fallacy. They assume you have a good DM. The game needs to take into account mediocre DMs and new DMs and DMs that don't have 10 years of experience. It can do this by making a balanced game where the DM doesn't have to change the rules or go easy on the players just so they can survive past 1st level...




A game requiring skill to play is not a logical fallacy stop trying to pretend it is.  Also it doesn't take 10 years of experience to figure this stuff out.  I have about 4 years of experience and I know all of these things.  Also they could very well put all of the stuff like this in the DMG to guide new DMs.  Don't dumb it down and remove complexities and skill requirements, just provide the knowledge needed to perform the role of DM.  Design to the expert then provide materials to become an expert.  Just like any other game this one requires skills to play, and building those skills contributes in some way to self betterment.  Taking that aspect out of the game ruins the intrinsic value of the game and just makes it a time waster.



I'm sorry but it is a real fallacy.

Its the part of one group does not equal the entire group fallacy. Its a well known fallacy. So instead of 10 years we can say it takes 4 years to learn those skills. It means the same thing. New DMs, mediocre DMs, and other types of DMs are not going to be able to use 5E to game with. In fact anyone that is not super experienced and familiar with D&D will simply abandon the game for something else after having 2-3 TPKs in a row...
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
Yes, but after the first round any monsters that are thinking at all should either target the Wizard or flee like crazy.

Unless, of course, they were engaged by others already.  At that point, they'd have no real avenue for attacking the Wizard.

All of these posts fall under the "a good DM can..." Fallacy. They assume you have a good DM. The game needs to take into account mediocre DMs and new DMs and DMs that don't have 10 years of experience. It can do this by making a balanced game where the DM doesn't have to change the rules or go easy on the players just so they can survive past 1st level...

Actually, they will include nice guidelines for even new DMs in the DMG so they know these basics to DMing.  And you are not giving new DMs enough credit. You assume they'll play to "win" and automatically try to kill players.  Honestly, my experiences are that new DMs are nicer than usual and it's after experience that they begin to understand how to push the challenge envelop.

Its the part of one group does not equal the entire group fallacy. Its a well known fallacy. So instead of 10 years we can say it takes 4 years to learn those skills. It means the same thing. New DMs, mediocre DMs, and other types of DMs are not going to be able to use 5E to game with. In fact anyone that is not super experienced and familiar with D&D will simply abandon the game for something else after having 2-3 TPKs in a row...

See above.

I do agree with one thing...

They need some sets of optional rules that allow DMs prone to TPKing a chance to run a less lethal campaign.  The Wizard that starts with CON Score + CON mod + Max HD probably survives in your campaign.  He's happy.  You're happy.

Plus optional rules to give "roles" a better chance at what they do.  If the Fighters in your Campaign had marking, auras, etc., something to give them a mechanic to actually get and hold "threat", it would help your campaign out tremendously.  Plus giving better defensive spells (Mage Armor, etc), better features, etc., all would go a long way to making the game much more pleasant for all involved.
I'm with Shade on this one.

While the two biggest play styles that emerge are cooperative (DM subtly facilitates the heroes so failure is mitigated) and competitive (DM plays his team by the rules to challenge players and will kill them if he can) both have their place but we often tend to one or the other. It must be said that an even smattering of both is the ideal but in game designed to encompass any concievable outcome for any setting, the rules rely heavily on the wisdom of the adjudicator (DM) to make them function well. 

A DM's style is very important to any game and I'm sure we have all played in games where the DM has either broken what would otherwise have been a great game or brought to life an otherwise flavourless list of encounters. I've had the benefit of playing with some top DM's from whom I have always managed to steal a at least one great tip. I've always been a story teller, like Shade, so its easy for me to see the player's as heroes in a story and they rarely fail, that's no fun. When they do, make it heroic/tragic/funny...that's your job. This isn't a board game, its more than that and the players have a right to expect that the DM will adjudicate fairly and with their best interests at heart - otherwise as has been pointed out, he has the power to kill them pretty much as he wants.

I'll disagree with you here. My players expect me to play the enemies smart, not tip things to be in thier 'best interests'. They'd be insulted if I didn't play to my fullest and 'pulled punches'. They don't enjoy me letting them win.

Second, why do you assume I'm not a storyteller? I don't recall saying about the story/roleplaying elements of my game, just the combat elements.

My top Don'ts list for an exciting encounter:

Don't railroad: The players want to play DnD because they can do what they want so bend with the flow, If they want to take on the entire horde rework the encounter in your head to offer them some out or failsafe like a rescue or a parlez.

I'm all for not railroading but that's different that pulling punches. Not all players WANT punches pulled and expect you to run things as they are. So don't 'let them win', it's up to them to earn a win.

Don't over plan: Have some ready to run encounters of a few different sorts (RP, ambush, puzzles etc) to intergrate into your adventure when the players take an unexpected course, let them.

Planning is good, but always have a backup plan. Better yet, use the carrot on a stick. It's not a railroad if they want to go down that path. Make them want too.

Don't say 'no': ...without working out why you want to say no: It is often simply due to lazyness or fear on your part and improvisation is the very best part of DnD imho.

I have very little use for most improvisations. I'm fine with out of the box thinking. (you know that barrel of oil we found two encounters back. Can I use that to smoke the monster out?) but trying the wring out an in-game mechanical advantage is a no-go for me (I take my spiked chain and strangle the spellcaster so he can't cast spells!).

Don't target the weakest characters: Unless it would be dumb not to, (as they are attacking or the only ones in range etc) because the guy in plate with a shield has a bad time when he doesn't get to tank for his friends and the dead wizard thinks it was a dumb game too.

This is a BIG no go for us. It's ALWAYS smart to attack the person that's the easiest to kill (doesn't have to be the weakest). It's dumb to shot the guy you have the least chance of hitting and will most likely take several hits. Goblins/kobolds KNOW they go down in one good hit, so the best way to survive is to turn/keep the numbers in their favor. It's simple math/tactics.

Just to make it plain, OUR wizard thought is was a dumb game that started him out with too few HP to take a single hit, NOT that the monsters used smart tactics. The fighter had a bad time because of constant rests, not his lack of abilities. It'd didn't take him long to figuer out the system didn't expect him to kepp anyone alive at 1st level.

Don't let the rules break the game: You know the rules, the rules however do not know your game and they will mess it up occassionally if you don't tweak and bend on the fly. This isn't because they are bad, but simply because they can't account for how imaginative and stupid you and your players are. That's why the DM has so much power to change them.

In a normal game I'd agree, but this isn't a normal game; It's a playtest, so it seems  wrong to bend/alter rules you are trying to test. Well at least on the first few tries. It was 3 or 4 games after the start that I tried adding survivor for free as a test. It's kind of the point of testing to see if the rules DO break the game, so houserules out of the gate seems counterproductive.


Sorry I'm rambling again...parting shot...then I gotta go something constructive in the real world....

One game we decided to try Round-robin type DM'ing (2 sessions each) rotating all the players through DM. This was brilliant and I recomend it for any group with players and DMs who are willing put their money where their mouth is ;) As long as you aproach it with humility (as you may be in for a shock when the players have more fun under other DMs) you instantly learn a heap about your game from the other side of the table and have to grapple with improvisational story telling and keeping the fun going (as you want the PCs to live long enough to play your next round as DM so you can fix the plot and spring a new surprise the last DM inspired you to create). I changed the way I played after that.

I'd also like to see 'PCs to live long enough to play your next round', but I don't want it to be because I fudged the results and let them win. That said, I agree it's useful to play as well as DM. If nothing else, it's nice to just go with the flow and leave the background work to someone else. Can't say I'd be excited about a round-robin running the ssame campain. I'd like a bit of mystery about what's ubder the hood on the world/adventure.
That was a great work ShadeRaven, thanks for sharing !
I do agree with one thing...

They need some sets of optional rules that allow DMs prone to TPKing a chance to run a less lethal campaign.  The Wizard that starts with CON Score + CON mod + Max HD probably survives in your campaign.  He's happy.  You're happy.

Plus optional rules to give "roles" a better chance at what they do.  If the Fighters in your Campaign had marking, auras, etc., something to give them a mechanic to actually get and hold "threat", it would help your campaign out tremendously.  Plus giving better defensive spells (Mage Armor, etc), better features, etc., all would go a long way to making the game much more pleasant for all involved.

+1 Now this is something I can get behind! Agree on all counts.

Buffs on AC would make it so that the monsters wouldn't have the wizard as an auto-pick for first kill.
Real threat would also let the wizard stick close to the fighter without worrying about the bad guy just moving around the fighter to smack the wizard.
HP buff would let wizards be tougher that the common commoner. Right now the commoner has a better chance of making it through an encounter...

This thread really highlights the idea that DMing is an art, not a science.  DMs need to learn, experience and grow.  That will be part of the challenge that good DMs relish, and to a point, any new player who decides to be a DM will need to accept this great joy and great responsibility.   

There is a way to satisfy both aspects of the game...make it challenging and deadly...make it cooperative and keep the PCs alive to develop the shared story.  

I love watching the Chris Perkins DMing videos.  Those will really help new DMs.   He is sometimes really nasty, turning the tables and making it difficult for the players...but at other times, he fudges the outcome, or gives PCs everything they need to extricate themselves from a horrible position.  He's terrific with roleplaying and he lets the players explore the world (and their own character strengths and weaknesses) without restricting them (too much).

With my playtest tonight, I kind of want to run it twice.   Once as it is with PCs and monsters from the bestiary unmodified, and once with the monsters gaining +2 to hit (but also giving the PCs CON+HD starting hit points).   That being said, I'm not going to swarm the players with monsters.  Out of 6 combat encounters...most will be 4-6 monsters (vs. 3 or 4 PCs).  One encounter will feature a bugbear and 6 goblin grunts (this will be the challenge), and another will feature 8 stirges.  

If we have time, we'll do it both ways.   Or just try out 1 or 2 encounters with modifications.

    

    

A Brave Knight of WTF - "Wielder of the Sword of Balance"

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

@elecgraystone: Again, there's a subtle difference between what you and I consider as "pulling punches." To me, pulling punches is not doing what *I* think is natural, but what I think is natural for creatures is different than you.  So, it's not pulling punches when the kobolds attack the fighter that just charged into their midst as a first-threat reaction, because that's how I RP the kobolds.  you see that as pulling punches because you RP the kobolds differently, and they'd ignore the fighter in favor of an easier target (even if, by my thinking, he's not obvious, not easily visible, and not been made a threat).  I would assume your players are used to your style, so they would perceive me as pulling the punches, whereas I wouldn't actually be doing that at all.  Make sense?

Oh, and it's another viewpoint thing probably... Storyteller... A good story is driven by plot, not realism.  So, for me, having every creature act at the highest degree of intelligence, ruthlessly, and tactically sound doesn't always work for me.  Sometimes, Dr. Evil needs to put the PCs on a disk in the middle of a pool full of sharks with frinkin' laser beams on their heads!  (Okay, that's over the top, but hopefully you get my meaning).

Sometimes, I do things for dramatic effect or to drive the story, not because it's the most logical, tactically smart, and a "winning" move.

I am not sure how you and your players would feel about that.  I am guessing they'd hate the idea that I wouldn't go for a killing blow or that creatures are affected by a taunt, racial hatred, or the desire to kill the fighter because he just killed the hobgoblin's brother.  None of that would be the smartest tactical, cold-blooded decision.

@Plaguescarred:  Thanks!  Expect more to come soon.  

@Rhenny: It's always good to hear and see other DMs in action.  Even if it doesn't work for you, it's entertaining and thought provoking.

That said, there are some here (not naming anyone to protect the innocent) who would absolutely hate (and that's not too strong a word) the idea of fudging, pulling punches, twisting fate, and/or any gimmick to cut players a break or avoid a death/TPK.

I've come across more vehement disagreement by simply saying, "not every creature goes for the easiest kill, coup de grace, or sees the entire battlefield in all its detail" here than all my other suggestions combined.  By a long shot.
 
Gah...mustn't post...on...forum...

I can't reply better than you already have Shade, it's fun watching the conversation flow though. However I have an addendum to 'storyteller' here though if you'll indulge me.

I read the recent Chris Perkins article concerning TV shows as his primary inspiration and it struck a chord since I'm very much influenced by this medium too, who isn't? I try to stage my encounters like episodes of a show, in fact more than once I have provided a ship for character's to use as a home base so I can fly them to new and unique locations for new stories each week a la Star Trek or Firefly so I can mess with context and continuity. That said, taking lessons from TV shows...

Victory is a reward that keeps the story alive:
Heroes win, usually. When they fail, it's for a reason. Tragedy is great but far better when it is poignant, through sacrifice or when it achieves something. I dont prevent character death but I avoid it if I can and substitute lesser failure unless it feels right for the group. If they all die, the story ends...why would any of us want this? I have the power to prevent it as long as the players don't know I fudged it (I'm subtle) we can all win.

Plot Armour:
Bad guys sometimes wear plot armor (though credibility is key so just don't put them in harms way if you absolutely must keep them alive). I do allow players to kill or disable boss's before their time if they are clever enough or I'm dumb enough to let it happen because it empowers the players, they got one up on me! They still talk about the time the bard cast hideous laughter at my necromancer boss and all he could do for 4 rounds was lay on the floor laughing hysterically while they cut him to pieces with their biggest hits...half way through the campaign...I just switched to the, er, OTHER big boss behind it all...you get the idea.

Backstory is long term investment:
I tend to make each characters indevidual backstory an integral part of the main plot, revealing it (in collaboration with the player concerned) a bit at a time, sometimes during encounters, other times as short narrated flashbacks that bring to light some key element of their past which can influence what happens next in the story. Players LOVE this...and you can't do it if they died during a random goblin ambush in chapter 2.

Gandalf
'I told you bro I can't touch the ring, it's like, gonna make me the big bad, or something, right?'

Elrond
'so, we cause a distraction, then, get that one eyed sucker to concentrate on, say, Mini Territh, er whatever it's called, got it written on my sheet here somewhere...the white city place? Well there anyway. He looks at that and we sneak the ring into the mountain of dooooom, yeah?'

Gandalf
'Aw yeh, get the halflings to go, they are way small, no one will see it coming! I'll summon the eagles to drop them off at the mountain. High five!'

The end.

sometimes reality is dull and you have to fudge it and make unrealistic decisions to make it fun, that's storytelling
 


Don't target the weakest characters: Unless it would be dumb not to, (as they are attacking or the only ones in range etc) because the guy in plate with a shield has a bad time when he doesn't get to tank for his friends and the dead wizard thinks it was a dumb game too. 




I mostly agree, but this is wrong.

The "defender" (it's a useful term, even if you hate 4th ed and everything it stands for) should have mechanical systems to encourage foes to target them, it should NOT be totally at the whim of the DM. 
@Admiral
You are right of course, but in liue of the availability of good defensive abilities I still think it's insane to target the weakest character just because you can or because it makes tactical sense for your monsters to do so.

I'm not suggesting you don't hit them - just don't hit them first BECAUSE they are the weakest...unless you have good reason i.e. they are toe - to - toe with a bad guy, they just cast a huge flashy spell...

...or she thinks it's hilarious to just run in first yelling 'LEROY' while everyone else is whispering a plan of attack - seen that  - dropped her with one shot - never did it again.
I see that point Tezman.

Though I do agree that more intelligent foes WILL target the weakest first.

But it's not exactly "default setting" for all foes.   
I don't necessarily agree with attacking the weakest first. In battle you should attack strengths, but exploit weaknesses. The fighter is the strength - you have to focus your strength on theirs in a straight up fight. If you can't win that way (or don't think you can, at least), you don't fight. You do something different instead - plan an ambush to give you an advantage or try hit and run tactics. But as long as the fighter is there, he's the one you should be focusing on.

Another way to look at it: You cannot leave the fighter alone to run rampant on the battlefield - he'll cause too much havoc. He is the single strongest enemy, the hardest to hit and the hardest hitting. You cannot stop him by cutting at him while he's in the middle of swinging at you (like you can the wizard) and if he hits you, you're dead. Allowing him free-reign is a death warrant.
DM targetting strategies have always varied from DM to DM.
I think its fair to point out that the current setup makes wizards very vulnerable.
3.5 and 4e had reach tripping  and defenders to control melee attacks.
Next has Guardian Specialism which covers a similar roll.
The issue seems to be that wizards are very, very vulnerable to ranged fire, (which occurs if a GM uses a low strat. scattered fire plan or a high strat take down the squishy caster.)  It only doesn't occur if the GM decides not to target them for whatever reason.

If nothing else, casting one sleep/burning hands/whatever and then being turned into a pincushion of arrows by the survivors may be an issue.

(On targetting strengths, the wizard is a great strength who can change the course of an engagement with one spell.  They also have a weakness, (very squishy,) you can exploit.  So removing her quickly is often a viable plan.  Target the glass cannon before the tank etc.)
Good reading....

@Tezman: I hear ya, but ... I actually don't watch much TV (except sports) Tongue Out  Anyway, for some, Chris Perkins and you have it all wrong.  For them, the story is never greater than the realism.

@Admiral: 4E did that extraordinarily well... but having to mechanically build in features that ensure "roles" are maintained starts to weigh the system down.  More and more to keep track of. 4E D&D was the science of RP. You didn't have to roleplay a character at all... you let the powers speak for you.

Maybe it won't work, I don't know, but I kind of hope 5E returns D&D to the Art of Roleplaying.  Where creativity is rewarded, imagination is stirred, and stories are told.

And then they add accessories/modules/options to bring all the science into it that those who can't live without it can use.

At any rate, Tez said it well... I pound away at anyone who leaves themselves vulnerable, open, and obvious - I don't pull punches.  I just don't go for the low blow right off the bat because it's the "winning" move (and it *is* the winning move... all's fair, as they say). All for a number of RP reasons I have listed time and again.

@channingman: Interesting take.  I'm going to mull that over and probably consider it as another RP opportunity.

@Ebron: Yep yep! Pretty much right on all counts.

The key to Glass Cannons is whether or not you assume they are glass cannons before they even prove to be cannons or, for that matter, glass.  I personally don't always assume that, therefore, Wizards have been known to live through round 1 in my campaigns.
 



Don't target the weakest characters: Unless it would be dumb not to, (as they are attacking or the only ones in range etc) because the guy in plate with a shield has a bad time when he doesn't get to tank for his friends and the dead wizard thinks it was a dumb game too. 




I mostly agree, but this is wrong.

The "defender" (it's a useful term, even if you hate 4th ed and everything it stands for) should have mechanical systems to encourage foes to target them, it should NOT be totally at the whim of the DM. 



In my games, players know that they can try to draw fire by taunting the monsters or flexing their muscles to challenge foes.   Any PC can do it not just defenders.   If they want to get attacked, they just roleplay a taunt or challenge, and if I'm in doubt as DM, I make the player roll a charisma or strength check depending on the way they roleplay it...Then I roll an Int check for the monsters.   If the monsters fail...they take the bait..hookline and sinker and they go right for the PC who challenges.   This could be used for great effect, and it gives PCs another option in combat.

A Brave Knight of WTF - "Wielder of the Sword of Balance"

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

I love these threads.

Quick question for those participating DMs who have their goblins/kobolds/assorted mooks/whatever "know" good tactics for fighting adventuring parties:

What do these low-level monsters prey on in your campaign worlds?  It's a playstyle question.  In mine, they tend to typically encounter other monsters or commoners/caravans/etc.

Adventurers are rare, right? So why would a typical low-level goblin party ever have encountered one and triumphed, much less encountered a lot of them and won every time, enough to train their metaphorical Adventurer Lore skill?

Just my 2cp.
What do these low-level monsters prey on in your campaign worlds?  It's a playstyle question.  In mine, they tend to typically encounter other monsters or commoners/caravans/etc.

Adventurers are rare, right? So why would a typical low-level goblin party ever have encountered one and triumphed, much less encountered a lot of them and won every time, enough to train their metaphorical Adventurer Lore skill?

You know, that thought occured to me last night... and then, I decided what the answer was.

Remember Lokaire talking about killing off 23 adventurers trying to do one encounter?
Or elec saying it's impossible not to get TPKs?
Etc?

In the worlds where Kobolds, Goblins, etc., dominate adventurers, they have all sorts of experience in recognizing what is in front of them. Tongue Out 

In fact, a better question would be...  Why aren't Kobolds, etc., all higher than level 1?  They are killing so much and have so much combat experience, shouldn't their level really reflect something better than what it is at?

For you and I (and other similarly minded), the know-it-all kobold or goblin would be out of place.  As I meantioned in another thread, their primary threat are other "monster" clans, brutish types with more brawn than brain typically (look at Caves of Chaos... not a single spellcasting monster there (hobgobs, gobs, orcs, kobolds, etc... nothing).  They'll see a threat and react to it as normal... intruder... defend or flee.  

The first time a wizard threw a sleep spell in my Caves of Chaos playtest, I actually had the kobolds left standing confused about their sudden, inexplicable collapses.  They didn't automatically know it was a spell (no luck on magical lore checks) or what the source might be (battle is chaos and there's far too much going all at once on for enemies to notice everything).

But yeah.  Different takes and different styles.  I am 100% sure they'll have an answer that's logical to them in their world.
Sign In to post comments