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Are there circumstances where you should/should not reveal monster names/stats to PCs? How are PCs supposed to discover special monster abilities/weaknesses?
If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.
The alternative is endless guessing games of "Does the minotaur look particularly agile?", "Does that harpy look badly enough hurt that a magic missile would knock her out?", etc.
For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"
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The cool thing is, you don't even NEED a reason to say yes. Just stop looking for a reason to say no.
I've taken to showing defenses/HP/resists/etc on a whiteboard as well; it's a lot faster and "the guessing game" just slows things down.
I think that if I was still inclined to use knowledge checks then doing so would actually give an ad hoc advantage or benefit of some sort during that encounter rather than just knowing what the thing can do. IE: "You get +4 to your defense vs (special ability)."
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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
Odds are, if 4-6 people can't figure out an answer you thought was obvious, you screwed up, not them. - JeffGroves
Ill tell the players whatever stat information they ask. If they want to know, I won't lie to them or refuse information.
Generally they do a knowledge check at the start of the fight and learn some basic stuff which is enough to get them going. They attack with some fire weapons, and Ill say he seems to feed off the energy. They may or may not ask if he is immune, and Ill counter with no, just resistant and they can come back with "how resistant" if they want.
Alternatively, if they decide they want to know its AC i will tell them. They rarely do. One thing I do have concerns with about AC, saves, and HP is that you occasionally get a player who tracks it. This can trap them in caring about that more than the actual encounter. It can cause some concern if they see a number that seems high (even if it isn't), leading to some long (honestly) off topic conversations about CR and how you aren't out to kill them, etc. If you find a player who is doing that, just say something like "I'd rather not give that info right now, I think its starting to distract from the actual encounter."
If a player seriously seriously cares, they should be able to find this info in a couple of rounds anyway. "A 26 hit, but a 22 missed. Its probably between 23 and 25." "We hit the one for 45 damage and it died, and this one has been hit for 30, don't worry about blasting with a big power, its probably dead soon".
"In a way, you are worse than Krusk" " As usual, Krusk comments with assuredness, but lacks the clarity and awareness of what he's talking about"
"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk" "Wow, thank you very much"
"Your advice is the worst" "I'd recommend no one listed to Krusk's opinions about what games to play"