The One True Solution

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I'm sure we've all played with DMs that will present a challenge and then have a single solution in mind. Perhaps the riddle has a only one right answer or the trap needs to be disarmed just so. The clue that points toward the murderer can only be obtained by doing this one thing. The king can only be convinced to care about the PCs' concerns if they approach him in a certain way. These One True Solutions are obfuscated as a way of making it "challenging" to the players with hints provided to varying degrees. Failure to guess these solutions can mean a lot of blocking from the DM until you get it right or sometimes outright defeat for guessing incorrectly.

Perhaps you think this is a good approach. Perhaps you don't. It's going to come down to preference.

For those of you like me who think this is not a good approach, how would you compare the above to a combat scene in which the DM's implied or stated solution to a presented challenge is "Kill all monsters?" (For the purposes of this comparison, it's important that the One True Solution is "Kill all monsters," not the fact that the DM may allow you to determine how you "Kill all monsters.")

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I think player creativity, enginuity should always be rewared even if the DM initially decided for 1 solution to the problem. That said, sometimes (not all the time) its ok, even expected, to have only 1 solution to the problem at times and opponants do try to kill or be killed to the end at times. I think DM should always try to be fluid (if it means better player expereince), adaptable to the situation, and use varity of response in combat. Imo
I think that with combat, at least the players know exactly what the solution is, without having to waste time searching for ways to get past it that the DM plans to block. Everyone is on the same page-the page that says these monsters need to die. But just like if you give the same problem to five different groups you get five different stories resulting from how they solved that problem, if you give 5 different groups a combat, again, they'll all have 5 different stories to tell about that time they beat the ogre in the volcano. It's all these little stories put together that make up a campaign.

"Encouraging your players to be cautious and risk-averse prevents unexpected epic events and-well-progress at a decent pace in general."-Detoxifier

"HOT SINGLES IN YOUR AREA NOT REGENERATING DUE TO FIRE" -iserith 

"If snapping a dragon's neck with your bare hands is playind D&D wrong, then I don't want to play D&D right." -Lord_Ventnor

I think that some of the blame for 1 true solutions lies in the rules and conventions of early editions, where there were particular spells that would counter one another, oppossed skill checks, and in general far more linear play (kill the monsters, take the treasure).  Couple this with the approach to gaming that was taken during that time, the DM typically was prep heavy and had a clearly superior role at the table. 

Much of this has encouraged or conditioned many DM's (and players) to expect linear playstyles.

Obviously, control/fear and railroad maintenance factors into the one true approach as well.  I also get the feeling that many DM's (subconsciously) expect their players to exclaim "Oh you are so clever!  I'm really impressed with how well you stumped us and completely halted the flow of the game so we could revel in your intellectual superiority and awesomeness!" upon solving said puzzles. 

A friend of mine relayed a story to me once about how his DM refused to allow him to level up with the rest of the group because he (as a player) did not know the answer to a riddle that the DM had found in a novel-he was the only one at the table who had not read the book.  He promptly quit playing with them.
...and in the ancient voice of a million squirrels the begotten chittered "You have set upon yourselves a great and noble task, dare you step further, what say you! What say you!"
I'm sure we've all played with DMs that will present a challenge and then have a single solution in mind. Perhaps the riddle has a only one right answer or the trap needs to be disarmed just so. The clue that points toward the murderer can only be obtained by doing this one thing. The king can only be convinced to care about the PCs' concerns if they approach him in a certain way. These One True Solutions are obfuscated as a way of making it "challenging" to the players with hints provided to varying degrees. Failure to guess these solutions can mean a lot of blocking from the DM until you get it right or sometimes outright defeat for guessing incorrectly.

Perhaps you think this is a good approach. Perhaps you don't. It's going to come down to preference.

For those of you like me who think this is not a good approach, how would you compare the above to a combat scene in which the DM's implied or stated solution to a presented challenge is "Kill all monsters?" (For the purposes of this comparison, it's important that the One True Solution is "Kill all monsters," not the fact that the DM may allow you to determine how you "Kill all monsters.")

I don't mind the riddle with one right answer scenario so long as a failure to guess the riddle doesn't auto-end the session.

When Gandalf couldn't guess the riddle, it was kind of funny watching the faces of the rest of the party wait for him to guess the answer.. because that's how such scenarios tend to play out in games as well. But if that same scenario were presented to me as a player and I couldn't answer after the umpteenth try... I wouldn't mind so long as the DM understood that I didn't really want to go into the Mines of Moria in the first place and will now attempt to once again steer the rest of the party away from the wretched place.

In other words... as long as all game-play isn't being blocked by the DM for failure to guess a riddle/find a secret door. We might not go through the Mines of Moria part of the adventure, but a treacherous journey through the Mountains of Moria adventure would still be available... and if Gandalf was an NPC the DM was trying to get rid of, he could have him (EDIT: him = THE BALROG) come out of the cave at the OTHER END of the Mines of Moria

As far as other types of ONE TRUE SOLUTIONS, such as killing all the monsters... I don't mind as long as there is at least a marginal chance of victory or at the very least a means of escaping from the monster's clutches and so long as the monster's motivations aren't obviously related to the fact that we are Player Characters.

You know... this scenario:

MONSTER LEADER:  Most timez, we band of goblin bandits is just be robbing peoples of their golds and flee at first signs of troubles, but I SMELLZZZ PLAYER CHARACTER... MUST.. FIGHT...TO THE DEAAAAAAAAAAATHHHHH!!!!! KILL THEM ALLLLZZ!!!

A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
and so long as the monster's motivations aren't obviously related to the fact that we are Player Characters.

You know... this scenario:

MONSTER LEADER: Most timez, we band of goblin bandits is just be robbing peoples of their golds and flee at first signs of troubles, but I SMELLZZZ PLAYER CHARACTER... MUST.. FIGHT...TO THE DEAAAAAAAAAAATHHHHH!!!!! KILL THEM ALLLLZZ!!!

Shush! We're supposed to say that that's More realistic than having other goals and motivations, not Less realistic!

Founder - but not owner - of Just Say Yes!

Member of LGBT Gamers

Odds are, if 4-6 people can't figure out an answer you thought was obvious, you screwed up, not them. - JeffGroves
Which is why a DM should present problems to solve, not solutions to find. -FlatFoot
Why there should be the option to use alignment systems:
Show
If some people are heavily benefiting from the inclusion of alignment, then it would behoove those that AREN'T to listen up and pay attention to how those benefits are being created and enjoyed, no? -YagamiFire
But equally important would be for those who do enjoy those benefits to entertain the possibility that other people do not value those benefits equally or, possibly, do not see them as benefits in the first place. -wrecan (RIP)
That makes sense. However, it is not fair to continually attack those that benefit for being, somehow, deviant for deriving enjoyment from something that you cannot. Instead, alignment is continually attacked...it is demonized...and those that use it are lumped in with it.

 

I think there is more merit in a situation where someone says "This doesn't work! It's broken!" and the reply is "Actually it works fine for me. Have you considered your approach might be causing it?"

 

than a situation where someone says "I use this system and the way I use it works really well!" and the back and forth is "No! It is a broken bad system!" -YagamiFire

and so long as the monster's motivations aren't obviously related to the fact that we are Player Characters.

You know... this scenario:

MONSTER LEADER: Most timez, we band of goblin bandits is just be robbing peoples of their golds and flee at first signs of troubles, but I SMELLZZZ PLAYER CHARACTER... MUST.. FIGHT...TO THE DEAAAAAAAAAAATHHHHH!!!!! KILL THEM ALLLLZZ!!!

Shush! We're supposed to say that that's More realistic than having other goals and motivations, not Less realistic!

OH CRAP! Are players reading these forums? Umm.. yeah... Player Character Sense... it's a FEAT!

PLAYER CHARACTER SENSE
Pre-requisites: NPC.

Benefit: NPC gains damage reduction to Common Sense.
DR is 10000, and is possibly overcome by DM bribe or flattery.

Also, NPC gains any other feat he is eligible for. Essentially, the NPC gains a free feat with this feat.

Normal: NPC's, as characters in a story, will have reasonably consistent and believable motivations.

Essentially, this feat changes the NPC's motivation to: hindering the PC's in achieving their goals.
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
and so long as the monster's motivations aren't obviously related to the fact that we are Player Characters.

You know... this scenario:

MONSTER LEADER: Most timez, we band of goblin bandits is just be robbing peoples of their golds and flee at first signs of troubles, but I SMELLZZZ PLAYER CHARACTER... MUST.. FIGHT...TO THE DEAAAAAAAAAAATHHHHH!!!!! KILL THEM ALLLLZZ!!!

Shush! We're supposed to say that that's More realistic than having other goals and motivations, not Less realistic!

OH CRAP! Are players reading these forums? Umm.. yeah... Player Character Sense... it's a FEAT!

PLAYER CHARACTER SENSE
Pre-requisites: NPC.

Benefit: NPC gains damage reduction to Common Sense.
DR is 10000, and is possibly overcome by DM bribe or flattery.

Also, NPC gains any other feat he is eligible for. Essentially, the NPC gains a free feat with this feat.

Normal: NPC's, as characters in a story, will have reasonably consistent and believable motivations.

Essentially, this feat changes the NPC's motivation to: hindering the PC's in achieving their goals.



That was before revision to...

Benefit: NPC gains immunity to Common Sense, and gains the "PK" trait. This NPC is now a "Player Killer" and lives only for that reason, as part of a collective agency, who uses the power "WHO_OWN_U" to track and kill ALL denizens not created by the DM.

Within; Without.

and so long as the monster's motivations aren't obviously related to the fact that we are Player Characters.

You know... this scenario:

MONSTER LEADER: Most timez, we band of goblin bandits is just be robbing peoples of their golds and flee at first signs of troubles, but I SMELLZZZ PLAYER CHARACTER... MUST.. FIGHT...TO THE DEAAAAAAAAAAATHHHHH!!!!! KILL THEM ALLLLZZ!!!

Shush! We're supposed to say that that's More realistic than having other goals and motivations, not Less realistic!

OH CRAP! Are players reading these forums? Umm.. yeah... Player Character Sense... it's a FEAT!

PLAYER CHARACTER SENSE
Pre-requisites: NPC.

Benefit: NPC gains damage reduction to Common Sense.
DR is 10000, and is possibly overcome by DM bribe or flattery.

Also, NPC gains any other feat he is eligible for. Essentially, the NPC gains a free feat with this feat.

Normal: NPC's, as characters in a story, will have reasonably consistent and believable motivations.

Essentially, this feat changes the NPC's motivation to: hindering the PC's in achieving their goals.



That was before revision to...

Benefit: NPC gains immunity to Common Sense, and gains the "PK" trait. This NPC is now a "Player Killer" and lives only for that reason, as part of a collective agency, who uses the power "WHO_OWN_U" to track and kill ALL denizens not created by the DM.


I like the revision. It more accurately portrays many NPCs.

Sealed
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
DMPC:  TOOOT, TOOOOT!!!!  Train has arrived, ALL ABOARD!!!

Within; Without.

For those of you like me who think this is not a good approach, how would you compare the above to a combat scene in which the DM's implied or stated solution to a presented challenge is "Kill all monsters?" (For the purposes of this comparison, it's important that the One True Solution is "Kill all monsters," not the fact that the DM may allow you to determine how you "Kill all monsters.")



I wouldn't. That is isn't the most creative goal is irrelevant, kill all monsters is just as decent a goal for a combat encounter as any other alternate goals you can use to describe the drives and motivations of an enemy. Especially when the situation is less about solving a problem from the PCs end and more about surviving against an appropriate threat. Some enemies just want to see the PCs die, and care little enough about themselves that they don't fear death by the hands of the PCs to stop fighting after a while or seek something other than kill all (or at least one of) the PCs. Being cornered and assaulted by mindless undead with no master to direct their actions while the players are out of options is a perfect example. Some game settings even make it the primary focus, such as monster hunting campaigns.

Would I suggest that this be used for every enemy group in every game? Absolutely not. But there's nothing wrong with a good old trounce all the badguys fight every now and again, especially if the players enjoy it.
Would I suggest that this be used for every enemy group in every game? Absolutely not. But there's nothing wrong with a good old trounce all the badguys fight every now and again, especially if the players enjoy it.

Nothing's wrong with it when it's the players doing the trouncing, and when the trouncing is fun instead of a drag. When it goes bad and the players are being trounced, or the trouncing is taking forever, people wind up here asking for help.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Why is it that no one has yet to put forth the fact that it's perfectly valid to order a retreat in a bad situation?

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

Why is it that no one has yet to put forth the fact that it's perfectly valid to order a retreat in a bad situation?

I don't know about anybody else, but I thought it was self-evident.

Founder - but not owner - of Just Say Yes!

Member of LGBT Gamers

Odds are, if 4-6 people can't figure out an answer you thought was obvious, you screwed up, not them. - JeffGroves
Which is why a DM should present problems to solve, not solutions to find. -FlatFoot
Why there should be the option to use alignment systems:
Show
If some people are heavily benefiting from the inclusion of alignment, then it would behoove those that AREN'T to listen up and pay attention to how those benefits are being created and enjoyed, no? -YagamiFire
But equally important would be for those who do enjoy those benefits to entertain the possibility that other people do not value those benefits equally or, possibly, do not see them as benefits in the first place. -wrecan (RIP)
That makes sense. However, it is not fair to continually attack those that benefit for being, somehow, deviant for deriving enjoyment from something that you cannot. Instead, alignment is continually attacked...it is demonized...and those that use it are lumped in with it.

 

I think there is more merit in a situation where someone says "This doesn't work! It's broken!" and the reply is "Actually it works fine for me. Have you considered your approach might be causing it?"

 

than a situation where someone says "I use this system and the way I use it works really well!" and the back and forth is "No! It is a broken bad system!" -YagamiFire

Why is it that no one has yet to put forth the fact that it's perfectly valid to order a retreat in a bad situation?

I don't know about anybody else, but I thought it was self-evident.



Then how must every deadly situation result in murder of one side or the other? I have had foes retreat. I have seen players retreat. As a player I have ordered a retreat. As a player I've also cut & run all-together.

It happens.

If the foe desires to kill you, killing them is only one option to prevent them achieving their goal...retreat also keeps them from killing you so it is equally valid. Sometimes more-so!

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

I'm sure we've all played with DMs that will present a challenge and then have a single solution in mind. Perhaps the riddle has a only one right answer or the trap needs to be disarmed just so. The clue that points toward the murderer can only be obtained by doing this one thing. The king can only be convinced to care about the PCs' concerns if they approach him in a certain way. These One True Solutions are obfuscated as a way of making it "challenging" to the players with hints provided to varying degrees. Failure to guess these solutions can mean a lot of blocking from the DM until you get it right or sometimes outright defeat for guessing incorrectly.



A game world is a world. In the world there is never ONE answer to any question or situation. Ergo, if a DM is running a game, and that game has a world, and a situation exists with only one possible "answer" the DM has already failed.
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I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

Would I suggest that this be used for every enemy group in every game? Absolutely not. But there's nothing wrong with a good old trounce all the badguys fight every now and again, especially if the players enjoy it.

Nothing's wrong with it when it's the players doing the trouncing, and when the trouncing is fun instead of a drag. When it goes bad and the players are being trounced, or the trouncing is taking forever, people wind up here asking for help.



The mechanics that makes such a combat goal turn into a slog are a whole different basket of eggs if you ask me. All groups will go through it anyways until they figure out a way to make such encounters quicker and more effective for their particular groups.

Or, y'know... they don't, and it's a pain in their collective hind ends forever... Either or...
I'm sure we've all played with DMs that will present a challenge and then have a single solution in mind. Perhaps the riddle has a only one right answer or the trap needs to be disarmed just so. The clue that points toward the murderer can only be obtained by doing this one thing. The king can only be convinced to care about the PCs' concerns if they approach him in a certain way. These One True Solutions are obfuscated as a way of making it "challenging" to the players with hints provided to varying degrees. Failure to guess these solutions can mean a lot of blocking from the DM until you get it right or sometimes outright defeat for guessing incorrectly.



A game world is a world. In the world there is never ONE answer to any question or situation. Ergo, if a DM is running a game, and that game has a world, and a situation exists with only one possible "answer" the DM has already failed.

This. Definitely This.

Founder - but not owner - of Just Say Yes!

Member of LGBT Gamers

Odds are, if 4-6 people can't figure out an answer you thought was obvious, you screwed up, not them. - JeffGroves
Which is why a DM should present problems to solve, not solutions to find. -FlatFoot
Why there should be the option to use alignment systems:
Show
If some people are heavily benefiting from the inclusion of alignment, then it would behoove those that AREN'T to listen up and pay attention to how those benefits are being created and enjoyed, no? -YagamiFire
But equally important would be for those who do enjoy those benefits to entertain the possibility that other people do not value those benefits equally or, possibly, do not see them as benefits in the first place. -wrecan (RIP)
That makes sense. However, it is not fair to continually attack those that benefit for being, somehow, deviant for deriving enjoyment from something that you cannot. Instead, alignment is continually attacked...it is demonized...and those that use it are lumped in with it.

 

I think there is more merit in a situation where someone says "This doesn't work! It's broken!" and the reply is "Actually it works fine for me. Have you considered your approach might be causing it?"

 

than a situation where someone says "I use this system and the way I use it works really well!" and the back and forth is "No! It is a broken bad system!" -YagamiFire

..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />The mechanics that makes such a combat goal turn into a slog are a whole different basket of eggs if you ask me. All groups will go through it anyways until they figure out a way to make such encounters quicker and more effective for their particular groups.

Or, y'know... they don't, and it's a pain in their collective hind ends forever... Either or...



It's funny. I always hear about these "slogs" and laugh because I think the average time for combat in my games is...maybe 3 or 4 rounds. Makes me laugh every time.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />The mechanics that makes such a combat goal turn into a slog are a whole different basket of eggs if you ask me. All groups will go through it anyways until they figure out a way to make such encounters quicker and more effective for their particular groups.

Or, y'know... they don't, and it's a pain in their collective hind ends forever... Either or...



It's funny. I always hear about these "slogs" and laugh because I think the average time for combat in my games is...maybe 3 or 4 rounds. Makes me laugh every time.



Alas, average rounds does not equal average time. Even a 3-4 round combat encounter can devolve into a 45 minute slog if the group is making mistakes, being too uptight about rules, not paying full attention or being indecisive about their in turn actions during their turn.

It's mostly a YMMV sort of thing. Kudos on you if you've never had to go through it on either side of the DM screen
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />The mechanics that makes such a combat goal turn into a slog are a whole different basket of eggs if you ask me. All groups will go through it anyways until they figure out a way to make such encounters quicker and more effective for their particular groups.

Or, y'know... they don't, and it's a pain in their collective hind ends forever... Either or...



It's funny. I always hear about these "slogs" and laugh because I think the average time for combat in my games is...maybe 3 or 4 rounds. Makes me laugh every time.



Alas, average rounds does not equal average time. Even a 3-4 round combat encounter can devolve into a 45 minute slog if the group is making mistakes, being too uptight about rules, not paying full attention or being indecisive about their in turn actions during their turn.

It's mostly a YMMV sort of thing. Kudos on you if you've never had to go through it on either side of the DM screen



See my players will spend a lot of time planning their attacks...and it's off to the races from there. They try to fight pretty much as smart as possible (including deciding when a fight is or isn't necessary)...and that usually means very powerful alpha strikes. The "Kool-Aid" strategy...smash in through a wall while screaming "OH YEAH!" to surprise the enemy. Usually...usually. Other strategies also pop up quite a bit including ambushes, distractions and the like. It definitely helps when pretty much anything in the world can (emphasis on CAN) be killed by a group of even moderate level if they have a really good plan.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

See my players will spend a lot of time planning their attacks...and it's off to the races from there. They try to fight pretty much as smart as possible (including deciding when a fight is or isn't necessary)...and that usually means very powerful alpha strikes. The "Kool-Aid" strategy...smash in through a wall while screaming "OH YEAH!" to surprise the enemy. Usually...usually. Other strategies also pop up quite a bit including ambushes, distractions and the like. It definitely helps when pretty much anything in the world can (emphasis on CAN) be killed by a group of even moderate level if they have a really good plan.



I could be wrong, but I believe you play 3.5?  My understanding is that combat slog is an issue that arose with 4e.
I could be wrong, but I believe you play 3.5?  My understanding is that combat slog is an issue that arose with 4e.



From experience watching/playing/running hundreds of 3.5 encounters at pretty much every level imaginable I can assure you that your understanding is flawed. Slog is an issue with players and/or DMs that is much more related to the levels and the options involved in the combat. The editions have some influence, but its minor in comparison. 
To DME, or not to DME: that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous powergaming, Or to take arms against a sea of Munchkins, And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;No more;
See my players will spend a lot of time planning their attacks...and it's off to the races from there. They try to fight pretty much as smart as possible (including deciding when a fight is or isn't necessary)...and that usually means very powerful alpha strikes. The "Kool-Aid" strategy...smash in through a wall while screaming "OH YEAH!" to surprise the enemy. Usually...usually. Other strategies also pop up quite a bit including ambushes, distractions and the like. It definitely helps when pretty much anything in the world can (emphasis on CAN) be killed by a group of even moderate level if they have a really good plan.



I could be wrong, but I believe you play 3.5?  My understanding is that combat slog is an issue that arose with 4e.



I currently play Pathfinder.

There are definitely design decisions in 4E that would contribute to a rise in it's average combat length. Those design decisions are some of the reasons I really don't like 4E. Now, of course there are a lot of bad design decisions in Pathfinder (and 3.5/3 in general) just like in prevous editions...but I find them easier to deal with and less detrimental overall to the game experience. It's stuff that is easier to patch.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

I could be wrong, but I believe you play 3.5?  My understanding is that combat slog is an issue that arose with 4e.



From experience watching/playing/running hundreds of 3.5 encounters at pretty much every level imaginable I can assure you that your understanding is flawed. Slog is an issue with players and/or DMs that is much more related to the levels and the options involved in the combat. The editions have some influence, but its minor in comparison. 



The funny thing is that it's a direction that has increased with the editions. A side-effect really of seeking "balance" in the wrong ways. I haven't been following the development of 5E (I have little interest in it...though will still check it out, of course) so we'll see if that design aesthetic continues to stick around and to what extent...it will really help determine the combat flavor of the upcoming edition.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

Pffft. I don't care what this thread's about.

We all know as DMs that the only one true solution in any roleplaying game is a total party wipeout. ;) Mwuhahahahahahaha.... 
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
Combat slog is a performance issue in my view.  As a group we have taken steps to improve the combat pacing.  It is imcumbent upon players to have a reasonable expectation of what actions they will take before it comes to their turn and to roll their dice and have the totals ready accordingly. 

Also, I've taken to doing an initiative array.  Before the game players roll 5 sets of initiative and I arrange them into order, we then add in a single array of their scores +10.  When a combat starts I roll a d6 and select the respective array.  Combat starts immediately, no delay to determine order. 

Keeping the combat pacing faster prevents players from losing focus and cuts down on 'combat conversations' where everyone but the guy reading through the PHB to choose his spells has moved on to another topic. 

If anyone takes more than ten seconds to make a decision I move onto the next player and come back to them at the end of the round.  It frustrated a couple of (experienced)players at first, who thought me a huge dick ( I won't do this to new people), but they quickly shaped up and now know their characters abilities much better-and they no longer take 20 minutes on their turns.
...and in the ancient voice of a million squirrels the begotten chittered "You have set upon yourselves a great and noble task, dare you step further, what say you! What say you!"
Why is it that no one has yet to put forth the fact that it's perfectly valid to order a retreat in a bad situation?



My group has retreated before, but they never let "the bad guys" retreat. They doggedly pursue any NPCs that attacks. The players have spun their wheels for a great deal of time while they have tried to run down every last cut throat, group of bandits, or orcs that has the temerity to attack them. They could have been run ragged by a group and have no healing surges left, but they will pursue them to the ends of the known world and a few planes thereafter. Letting bad guys retreat is not something that is in their vocabulary. I try to give them outs via enemy retreats, but that just doesn't appeal to them.
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />My group has retreated before, but they never let "the bad guys" retreat. They doggedly pursue any NPCs that attacks. The players have spun their wheels for a great deal of time while they have tried to run down every last cut throat, group of bandits, or orcs that has the temerity to attack them. They could have been run ragged by a group and have no healing surges left, but they will pursue them to the ends of the known world and a few planes thereafter. Letting bad guys retreat is not something that is in their vocabulary. I try to give them outs via enemy retreats, but that just doesn't appeal to them.



In many cases I've seen, their expectation might be that there will be reprisal (from the DM) for allowing those enemies to live. Those reprisals (when they occur) are usually inordinate to the actual situation that caused them. Hence, the DM being spiteful and failing at A) being impartial while B) making the world logical and consistent.

Ever try having the foes throw down their weapons? Beg for their lives? Extol the virtues of the PCs? These things have occured in my game as well depending on the enemy. Better yet, ever have a foe retreat and have it turn out exceptionally well for the players?

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

My enemies are more likely to surrender than run away. In the last fight, this led to one character claiming a surrendered enemy as his squire. This is a case where not killing anyone who doesn't want to fight anymore was advantageous.

"Encouraging your players to be cautious and risk-averse prevents unexpected epic events and-well-progress at a decent pace in general."-Detoxifier

"HOT SINGLES IN YOUR AREA NOT REGENERATING DUE TO FIRE" -iserith 

"If snapping a dragon's neck with your bare hands is playind D&D wrong, then I don't want to play D&D right." -Lord_Ventnor

My group has retreated before, but they never let "the bad guys" retreat. They doggedly pursue any NPCs that attacks. The players have spun their wheels for a great deal of time while they have tried to run down every last cut throat, group of bandits, or orcs that has the temerity to attack them. They could have been run ragged by a group and have no healing surges left, but they will pursue them to the ends of the known world and a few planes thereafter. Letting bad guys retreat is not something that is in their vocabulary. I try to give them outs via enemy retreats, but that just doesn't appeal to them.

A good example of the important of offering alternage enemy goals that appeal to the players. Though maybe the players like it when the enemy tries to escape.

My enemies are more likely to surrender than run away. In the last fight, this led to one character claiming a surrendered enemy as his squire. This is a case where not killing anyone who doesn't want to fight anymore was advantageous.

Cool how that worked out. I tend to be leery of surrender by the enemies because that often leads to the endless discussion about what to do with prisoners. But if that was worked out in advance with the players I'd be all for it.

Players generally hate surrender. Unless it can be seen as a victory on its own, such as with the escape from Hoth by the Rebels, it's highly deprotagonizing and it's not really a "solution" to most combat encounters.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.


Ever try having the foes throw down their weapons? Beg for their lives? Extol the virtues of the PCs? These things have occured in my game as well depending on the enemy. Better yet, ever have a foe retreat and have it turn out exceptionally well for the players?



I have had foes throw down their weapons and that worked out a couple of times with the "we surrender" strategy. In the case of NPCs just running away (the couple of times it has been allowed to happen), they actually have had success when it happened.

Having NPCs run is not popular with the couple players that are those nonexistent/existent roll players (sorry to offend those not in agreement of their existence). They don't even want to call the fight when the outcome is glaringly obvious.

Me: There are two skeleton minions left. You guys are going to have no problem with them. Let's just call it.

Them: But I was going to do a really cool attack on them! (consequently, the same attack they have done in the combat prior to this) Can we just continue?

Fortunately, the other players allow level heads to win the day and convince them to move on. My suspicion is that these couple of players know that the end of combat is going to lead to a exploration scenario (boring to their mind), an interaction encounter (boring to their mind), or a combination of the two. If it isn't skull-cracking, it isn't D&D to them.
Having NPCs run is not popular with the couple players that are those nonexistent/existent roll players (sorry to offend those not in agreement of their existence).

No you're not.

They don't even want to call the fight when the outcome is glaringly obvious.

Me: There are two skeleton minions left. You guys are going to have no problem with them. Let's just call it.

Them: But I was going to do a really cool attack on them! (consequently, the same attack they have done in the combat prior to this) Can we just continue?

Yes? They enjoy using their attacks. Why shouldn't they? What if you just skipped to their attacks, let them hit automatically, and joined in with enthusiastic description?

Fortunately, the other players allow level heads to win the day and convince them to move on. My suspicion is that these couple of players know that the end of combat is going to lead to a exploration scenario (boring to their mind), an interaction encounter (boring to their mind), or a combination of the two. If it isn't skull-cracking, it isn't D&D to them.

Yeah, it's a pretty good bet that someone doesn't want to do something they find boring. I'd say the issue isn't that it's not D&D, the issue is that it's boring. D&D can be boring, and exploration and interaction are notorious for not going anywhere interesting. I assume these players are basing their assumption on the exploration and interaction they've experienced with other DMs, not you. I recommend talking to them to find out what would make exploration and interaction more interesting to them.

Thanks, by the way, for calling it "interaction" and not "roleplaying."

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Post invalidated because "deprotagonizing" isn't even a word.



The vast generalities don't make your posts look like you're honestly trying to engage in conversation...nor does the contradictory statements to the quoted posters.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

No you're not.



Uncalled for.

Yes? They enjoy using their attacks. Why shouldn't they? What if you just skipped to their attacks, let them hit automatically, and joined in with enthusiastic description?



Probably because they're monopolizing time on something unimportant to self-aggrandize at the cost of everyone elses patience and time?

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />I have had foes throw down their weapons and that worked out a couple of times with the "we surrender" strategy. In the case of NPCs just running away (the couple of times it has been allowed to happen), they actually have had success when it happened.



Cool. Anything in particular? Reputation can go a long way, as can the reduction in danger of a future fight ("Oh those are the guys that routed our orc brothers. Let's surrender and parlay without a fight! Bribe them with gold to leave us alive!"). Makes the players rightfully look like ass-kickers and such. Plus totally reasonable as a result of a failed morale check for the enemy force that would otherwise fight.

Having NPCs run is not popular with the couple players that are those nonexistent/existent roll players (sorry to offend those not in agreement of their existence). They don't even want to call the fight when the outcome is glaringly obvious.



This is usually linked to rather immature sadism. The ol' power fantasy that has everything to do with wanting to inflict onto others.  Is this a trait of the characters or of every character the two players play? Well, to be fair, typically if it was the characters the players would just say "We dispatch them" or what-have-you without need for flowery self-aggrandizement. I mean, seriously, what's the joy in flogging a dead orc? Comes off as sad...or childish...or both.

Me: There are two skeleton minions left. You guys are going to have no problem with them. Let's just call it.

Them: But I was going to do a really cool attack on them! (consequently, the same attack they have done in the combat prior to this) Can we just continue?

Fortunately, the other players allow level heads to win the day and convince them to move on. My suspicion is that these couple of players know that the end of combat is going to lead to a exploration scenario (boring to their mind), an interaction encounter (boring to their mind), or a combination of the two. If it isn't skull-cracking, it isn't D&D to them.



Yyyyyeah definitely siding with empowerment fantasy. Not necessarily a lot you can do about it. Do you mind me asking their ages? A lot of people go through that phase.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

I could be wrong, but I believe you play 3.5?  My understanding is that combat slog is an issue that arose with 4e.



From experience watching/playing/running hundreds of 3.5 encounters at pretty much every level imaginable I can assure you that your understanding is flawed. Slog is an issue with players and/or DMs that is much more related to the levels and the options involved in the combat. The editions have some influence, but its minor in comparison. 



The funny thing is that it's a direction that has increased with the editions. A side-effect really of seeking "balance" in the wrong ways.



I think it's a problem mostly traceable to players/DM's simply not being up to speed as the combat turns unfold and thus mostly independant of editions.  The later editions, however, have increased the amount of choices of actions available to players.  In some ways this is a good thing, however, it carries baggage.

Players in 3E became more overwhelmed by the plethora of choices.  As characters advance in level they have SO MANY things they can actually do that simply picking ONE, much less the one that will be most fun/interesting/effective leads to anxiety and wasted time.  It's not just about taking one action out of the dozens of possibilities but taking THE correct action.

When I see complaints from 4E player A about player B who fails to perform his characters job to the satisfaction of player A (as player A percieves the job of B's character) that suggests to me that Player A has been convinced right or wrong, for better or worse, that there is one right way; that it is determined almost solely by game mechanics; and that player B is therefore doing it wrong for failing to make the one correct choice in a given round.  And at the same time there are complaints that combat takes so long. I cannot but think that thephenomenon is heavily influenced by each player at the table conducting excessive analysis of possibilities, trying to not just play, but to always play mechanically perfectly.

So it IS something seen in any edition, but given more fuel in later editions.  Whether the excess of choices is a result of seeking balance... Not sure that even matters.  IMO balance remains a mere illusion.  Achieving balance ultimately means having achieved stagnation.  IMBALANCE is what creates interest and dynamic influences.

Old School: It ain't what you play - it's how you play it.

My 1E Project: http://home.earthlink.net/~duanevp/dnd/Building%20D&D/buildingdnd.htm

"Who says I can't?" "The man in the funny hat..."

..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />I think it's a problem mostly traceable to players/DM's simply not being up to speed as the combat turns unfold and thus mostly independant of editions.  The later editions, however, have increased the amount of choices of actions available to players.  In some ways this is a good thing, however, it carries baggage.

Players in 3E became more overwhelmed by the plethora of choices.  As characters advance in level they have SO MANY things they can actually do that simply picking ONE, much less the one that will be most fun/interesting/effective leads to anxiety and wasted time.  It's not just about taking one action out of the dozens of possibilities but taking THE correct action.

When I see complaints from 4E player A about player B who fails to perform his characters job to the satisfaction of player A (as player A percieves the job of B's character) that suggests to me that Player A has been convinced right or wrong, for better or worse, that there is one right way; that it is determined almost solely by game mechanics; and that player B is therefore doing it wrong for failing to make the one correct choice in a given round.  And at the same time there are complaints that combat takes so long. I cannot but think that thephenomenon is heavily influenced by each player at the table conducting excessive analysis of possibilities, trying to not just play, but to always play mechanically perfectly.

So it IS something seen in any edition, but given more fuel in later editions.  Whether the excess of choices is a result of seeking balance... Not sure that even matters.  IMO balance remains a mere illusion.  Achieving balance ultimately means having achieved stagnation.  IMBALANCE is what creates interest and dynamic influences.




Man...excellent post. Couldn't agree more. Well said.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />I have had foes throw down their weapons and that worked out a couple of times with the "we surrender" strategy. In the case of NPCs just running away (the couple of times it has been allowed to happen), they actually have had success when it happened.



Cool. Anything in particular? Reputation can go a long way, as can the reduction in danger of a future fight ("Oh those are the guys that routed our orc brothers. Let's surrender and parlay without a fight! Bribe them with gold to leave us alive!"). Makes the players rightfully look like ass-kickers and such. Plus totally reasonable as a result of a failed morale check for the enemy force that would otherwise fight.

Having NPCs run is not popular with the couple players that are those nonexistent/existent roll players (sorry to offend those not in agreement of their existence). They don't even want to call the fight when the outcome is glaringly obvious.



This is usually linked to rather immature sadism. The ol' power fantasy that has everything to do with wanting to inflict onto others.  Is this a trait of the characters or of every character the two players play? Well, to be fair, typically if it was the characters the players would just say "We dispatch them" or what-have-you without need for flowery self-aggrandizement. I mean, seriously, what's the joy in flogging a dead orc? Comes off as sad...or childish...or both.

Me: There are two skeleton minions left. You guys are going to have no problem with them. Let's just call it.

Them: But I was going to do a really cool attack on them! (consequently, the same attack they have done in the combat prior to this) Can we just continue?

Fortunately, the other players allow level heads to win the day and convince them to move on. My suspicion is that these couple of players know that the end of combat is going to lead to a exploration scenario (boring to their mind), an interaction encounter (boring to their mind), or a combination of the two. If it isn't skull-cracking, it isn't D&D to them.



Yyyyyeah definitely siding with empowerment fantasy. Not necessarily a lot you can do about it. Do you mind me asking their ages? A lot of people go through that phase.



Couple of responses (attempting to groups some questions together)...

Re: Particulars - The biggest benefit they have earned is reputation. They definitely have a reputation as a group "in world" as being able to get things done and as being a group that is feared. It's helped them out and gotten them jobs! This also cuts both ways in that some folks have pegged them as troublemakers and spare no expense trying to subvert or take them out!

Re: Roll Players - Both are young teenagers coming in from Encounters where combat is the norm rather than being part of a balanced diet. They are also big WoW players. All of their players are frontline folks who focus heavily on damage. I don't dislike them, but I wish they would open up their horizons and/or focus on other areas of the game. I've seen progress with them the last couple of months, but they are still a bit focused on hit, hit, and hit. I sometimes joke with them that they think D&D stands for Damage and Destruction. Thus far they've only played 4e D&D. I've encouraged them to try other games out to get a lay of the land. They've just started to and I think it's giving them a better perspective on RPG-ing.
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />Couple of responses (attempting to groups some questions together)...

Re: Particulars - The biggest benefit they have earned is reputation. They definitely have a reputation as a group "in world" as being able to get things done and as being a group that is feared. It's helped them out and gotten them jobs! This also cuts both ways in that some folks have pegged them as troublemakers and spare no expense trying to subvert or take them out!



Reputation is good. Cuts both ways which is natural. Has this had tangible benefit for them beyond just reputation? Treasure & opportunities should come along with that as well at times. It's reasonable and it provides reinforcement of the core success mechanic of the game (gathering stuff).

Re: Roll Players - Both are young teenagers coming in from Encounters where combat is the norm rather than being part of a balanced diet. They are also big WoW players. All of their players are frontline folks who focus heavily on damage. I don't dislike them, but I wish they would open up their horizons and/or focus on other areas of the game. I've seen progress with them the last couple of months, but they are still a bit focused on hit, hit, and hit. I sometimes joke with them that they think D&D stands for Damage and Destruction. Thus far they've only played 4e D&D. I've encouraged them to try other games out to get a lay of the land. They've just started to and I think it's giving them a better perspective on RPG-ing.



Crazy how I can peg this stuff, huh?

If you really want them to open up that is admirable. There are a lot of ways to enjoy the game and enjoying it on multiple levels is, of course, preferable. More enjoyment is better. The other thing to keep in mind is you can't try to fight what they currently enjoy. The best way to tackle this is also the best way to tackle a lot of stuff in the game...goals. They need goals to direct their energy towards. They want to smash stuff, sure, but aimless smashing is far less satisfying than smashing towards a goal (potentially long-term). Wanting to take out a crime syndicate involves a lot of smashing...but if someone wanted to get to that smashing they can't just smash. "Why" becomes your friend here. Do they want to destroy evil. Why? What do they consider the greatest evil? Why? When you get to the bottom of that sort of stuff both you and the players will understand the characters better. When players understand their characters better they will start to open up and pursue their characters goals. Pursuing goals requires a broader approach to the game...the broader approach you'd like to see them enjoy. Since they'll be pursuing goals that means they'll enjoy that broader approach because it will be tied into their desires.

That's the only real way to see any progress.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

Thus far they've only played 4e D&D. I've encouraged them to try other games out to get a lay of the land. They've just started to and I think it's giving them a better perspective on RPG-ing.

It's not about 4th Edition, it's about their age and experience. 4th Edition is no more combat oriented than any other edition. And other aspects of the game aren't inherently more enjoyable than combat, nor is a game without them not D&D. If they can't be done enjoyably for the table, they should be de-emphasized.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

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