5E Is it fair to cast save-or-suck spells on the players? - Page 11
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  1. #101
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fanaelialae View Post
    Actually, according to the OP's update, the PCs' victory is all but a foregone conclusion.
    Yeah. I'd like to know how that happened. I suspect the DM didn't fight very nasty--for one thing, Vlaakith is down to only 5th level slots right now, and yet she isn't Shapechanged into an ancient dragon, she's just in her regular old lich form apparently. Also, the fact that multiple PCs are low on HP instead of a couple of them being dead is suggestive that the monsters were not focusing their fire. (As mentioned previously, 2 adult red dragons can do about 200 points of damage per turn to a single target using legendary actions, around 150 HP of damage once to-hit is accounted for, and that's not even counting the spectral knights and spellcasters. The PCs can blow a bunch of actions on casting Anti-Magic Field (which might get Counterspelled) and grappling Vlaakith into it, but meanwhile the bad guys can simply annihilate whichever PC is doing the grappling. I suspect this did not happen.)

    It's okay though, to a certain extent. Even when something is billed as a deadly fight, it's emotionally difficult to pull the trigger on your friends. After all, Vlaakith doesn't really get excited if she TPKs the player characters--but there are actual real live human beings (the players) who will get excited if their characters triumph over Vlaakith. I'm not saying that the DM was wrong to be less than 100% maximum nasty--just that, from the previous thread, I expected a high level of nastiness from Vlaakith which may not have actually manifested in the real fight.

    And I might be a little bit disappointed, as a player, with that lack of nastiness--but not enough to let it mess up a friendship.
    Last edited by FormerlyHemlock; Saturday, 24th June, 2017 at 12:08 AM.
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  2. #102
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheNoremac42 View Post
    There's no such thing as fair in love and war. If the NPCs are the type to use dishonorable tactics, then make them use whatever they've got. It's only considered cheating if they lose. We call it "good tactics" if they win.
    From the perspective of the NPCs, sure. From the perspective of the essentially omnipotent DM, not so much.

    Fairness can mean different things, of course.

    In a static sandbox, where the encounters are generated before the campaign even starts and players are expected to figure out what they can and can't handle, it is simply a matter of running the encounter as written, whether it be over or under-powered for the PCs' level. If the DM starts to tweak encounters to better challenge the players, it could be argued that he is being unfair.

    In a linear AP, where the players basically have to fight the encounter, it might be creating an encounter that the players can't reasonably win at the level they are intended to face it (unless maybe it's a plot-hammer to get them captured so they can escape, which isn't a good idea for so many reasons, but that's beside the point). It's unfair because, in a linear campaign, the players have a reasonable expectation of being able to beat anything they encounter, since the only way out is through.

    Other variations will exist for different campaign styles. It's fair for the DM to run the NPCs as playing unfairly, but that is an entirely different thing from the DM, himself, playing unfairly.
    Last edited by Fanaelialae; Friday, 23rd June, 2017 at 11:35 PM.

  3. #103
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    Quote Originally Posted by Satyrn View Post
    I'd probably feel guilty if I was at that DM of @GMforPowergamers. I'd feel like a bit of an ass for sidelining him so completely that he wanted ro leave just after we started.
    All I can say is it takes all kinds. I have my philosophy about the proper way to run a game, but other DM's will have different ideas.

    Gamers aren't always the most well adjusted people, and a lot of us become DM's because we have control issues and borderline OCD views on how NPC's will act, regardless of how it will affect the players. And some are frustrated writers, making the PC's stumble through live action fan fiction so they can experience their cool NPC's and stories.

    So I would guess that the DM didn't feel guilty - in his mind, the character being Imprisoned is just something that happened.

    Not something I would do today, but I might have done it 15 years ago.
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  4. #104
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    Quote Originally Posted by jgsugden View Post
    The DM assembles an overwhelming force and throws it at the PCs. The DM then proceeds to have the enemy use horrible tactics, cheats die rolls in the favor of the PCs, and in other ways coddles the battle so that the PCs win.

    That is not fun for many players.
    Yeah. I remember one adventure involving a "legendary" pair of lich brothers who (in the out-of-character cutscenes) took down whole armies. Then one of the PCs (Keldor, the Chosen One, basically our Gandalf) split off from the party in a huff because others wouldn't follow his leadership, and what does he run into except the lich?! carrying the legendary dragon staff no less, which the PC is coveting.

    Keldor was a multiclassed Cleric 11/Wizard 11 or something like that with Int 20+ and a ton of magic items, but his player used that power poorly--e.g. liked to blow his 9th level spell slot on Chromatic Orb. So of course I expected this legendary lich to effortlessly toast Keldor, which he totally deserved for attacking a lich who had just beaten the entire party of ten PCs and the monsters who were beating them, all at once!

    The way it actually worked out was that the PC casts Globe of Invulnerability IX, and the DM says that the lich had used up his 9th level slot in a previous encounter (saving us all from a Balor and a bunch of Mind Flayers--did I mention that? The lich disabled everybody in the whole encounter with no saving throw, so no wonder I was expecting great things from it) so couldn't cast spells within the Globe of Invulnerability. So what happens next? Does the lich get out of the Minor Globe of Invulnerability and wait for sixty seconds for it to wear off? No, he walks right up to Keldor and basically engages him in a fist fight: makes a paralyzation attempt every round (I believe Keldor had a ring that made him immune to paralyzation or gave him a bonus on saves against it or something), then Keldor throws a Chromatic Orb or something. Rinse and repeat until the lich falls over dead. (The lich didn't use any legendary actions, but I think that was just because the DM was new to 5E and didn't realize that they were a thing--I didn't realize this angle myself until over a year later when I had more 5E experience.) Then Keldor took the legendary dragon staff and rejoined the rest of the party.

    The long and the short of it was that this terrifying NPC turned out to be a chump when the plot required it. All the power he had displayed in offscreen or onscreen cutscenes (like his "saving the PCs" intervention) was totally irrelevant, and all I was left with was this impression of an incredibly stupid lich who talks big but still manages to lose a ten-round fistfight with a cleric/wizard, of all things. The legendary lich who loses in physical combat against Conan, okay, I can buy that if the story demands it. But this was more like legendary lich who loses in physical combat against Inspector Gadget!

    I left that campaign after a couple more sessions.

    TL;DR Concur that underplaying big bad enemies with terrible tactics can rob players of any sense of fun.

  5. #105
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    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Rampant View Post
    So, that's the situation. One player in particular was quite upset by these spells, and declared them to be 'design failures' for meaning that player characters would be put out of the game, leaving the players nothing to do. This was specifically worse than hit point loss, he stated; I believe the argument was that hit point loss could be responded to by, e.g. healing or resurrection magic, whereas the Prismatic Spray in particular had no chance of being undone in combat. I had numerous counter-arguments, which I won't get into here; what I'm interested in is hearing the thoughts of others. Do you agree with the players?
    The players could have built their characters to deal with mages, but chose not to; that's on them.

  6. #106
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hemlock View Post
    TL;DR Concur that underplaying big bad enemies with terrible tactics can rob players of any sense of fun.
    To be honest, I can only interpret this and your previous post as attempts to declare yourself smarter than me. Why you'd waste so many words trying to assert this, I don't know. If you want to feel superior, there seems easier ways to go about it.

    As to how the players won: good initiative played a huge part. With a party of dexterity classes (Monk, Rogue, Champion Archer) and the Cleric having the Alert feat, they went before almost all the enemies. The Monk, thanks to the int-based movement and his enhanced movement speed, achieved 65ft of movement a turn; more than enough to fly out of range of Counterspell, cast Anti-Magic Field, and then dash into melee range of Vlaakith. The other characters scattered, meaning AoEs wouldn't hit more than one; the room allows free flying and is fifty foot tall, so they all went to different levels, for example. From that point on, there were able to ensure that Vlaakith and the other casters never got a good shot at them, and a couple of my attempts to shut down party members backfired: the Cleric got Forcecaged - and simply cast Antimagic Field on his turn and flew out; the Paladin had Power Word Kill cast on him after a Dragon had savaged him, but he had Deathward up which stopped the spell outright, having been careful to avoid the Antimagic Fields. With upwards of two thirds of the party protected by the fields, the enemy spellcasting was unable to get a real grip; I was especially struggling to justify casting Shapechange with so many Antimagic fields (which would instantly deactivate it) running, hence why I gambled on the Power Word Kill. The Dragons and Tl'a'ikith (spectral knights) tried to do melee but were gradually worn down by the players, who were also lucky enough to get a Vorpal hit on a Dragon to take it out of the fight early. By that point the Monk had already been able to take out one of the Ky'r'izoth, with the other falling to the Cleric. The Lich melee attack is pretty impressive on some levels, but against Dwarf characters it really didn't do all that much; only one character turn was lost to it. Finally, a critical turn saw Vlaakith polymorph into a T-Rex to try and waste some player attacks on whittling down the temporary HP, only to see the Cleric drop his Antimagic Field to cast Heal, restoring all party members still present to full HP, all done while Vlaakith couldn't Counterspell. Thus, we end up with a fight where Vlaakith's magic is mostly spent, as are her allies, while the PCs are battered but still able to take and receive damage.

    Lastly, did you really think that the Dragons would have Legendary Actions? They're pets; impressive pets, but pets all the same, and pets don't get legendary actions. More importantly, the idea of having nine separate legendary actions in the combat sounds like a terrible idea for several reasons.
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  7. #107
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    Quote Originally Posted by Satyrn View Post
    Oh, hey. @Charles Rampant, since the fight is carrying over to your next session, ccs has just given you some awesome advice for how to continue.

    Have one of the wizards dimension hop - along with a decent bodyguard - to wherever that banished fighter is. Not right into combat range, but in sight of and visible to the PC at whatever appropriate distance that lets the player choose to engage, flee or otherwise deal with the new development. This brings the player back into the game, and lessens the load the main party has to face. That should help.

    And if you make it the wizard's staff that lets him dimension hop - and make it clear to the banished fighter that it was the staff's doing - you open up a way for him to regroup with the party, perhaps by defeating the wizard or at least by grabbing the staff.
    Thanks for the suggestion! If the enemy wizards were still alive, I'd certainly consider it. My current plan is that - since the players look near certain to win, and by doing so will level up - to do some light DM fiat to control the situation. For levelling to 20, and thus becoming akin to demigods, clearly they'll get the benefits of a Long Rest, right? And, having had that instantaneous Long Rest, it'll be easy for them to pop back and reclaim their absentee party member, before continuing on with the dungeon. As a happy side effect, we won't need to worry about an awkward 24-hour pause right in the middle of what should be a frenetic assault on the Lich Queen's palace; they still need to find her phylactery, after all...
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  8. #108
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    Quote Originally Posted by GMforPowergamers View Post
    ok, see you are looking at this as an adult... I was 17 almost 18 half of the friends there I saw every day...
    GM, you cannot bash save-vs-suck spells and then throw an example about an inexperienced DM (mid 20's is still young). Sorry but I feel that this is just disingenuous to the debate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Caliban View Post
    So I would guess that the DM didn't feel guilty - in his mind, the character being Imprisoned is just something that happened. Not something I would do today, but I might have done it 15 years ago.
    Exactly!

    Quote Originally Posted by GMforPowergamers View Post
    I asked...there was no way out.

    Now in other examples I have had PCs locked aways and them ask me "Hey am I out for the night?" and my answer is always "Oh I have a way out for you..." I don't think sitting out an hour to be that bad...but the whole night (or if I hadn't drawn up the new character multi weeks) is pretty bad
    You didn't think this should have been mentioned in your initial post? You gave readers the impression that you surmised the situation was hopeless because none of your teammates were spellcasters and so made the conscious decision to abscond the session after a wait of 15 minutes. How did you expect readers to react?

    Quote Originally Posted by Caliban View Post
    Yeesh. Lot of "You are playing the game wrong" accusations going around all of a sudden. If your character is taken out, and the DM confirms you aren't going to be able to play again for the rest of the night...so what if you leave early?

    Especially if you have a significant other that you could be spending time with instead of twiddling your thumbs and possibly annoying the rest of the group by "re-enacting" whatever sidelined you. It's simply a more efficient (and enjoyable) use of your time.
    It would have been nice if GM had put everything in context in his first post (such as the age of the DM and that he'd asked the DM if there was a way out for him from the imprisonment that evening). The information was spilled out in drips and drabs after his initial post which was used to make a case against save-vs-suck spells based on a poor example.

    Accusations are easily thrown when pertinent information is withheld. There is absolutely no reason to white-knight this!

    Sorry @GMforPowergamers but I'm calling you out on this as Sir @Caliban of Enworld is repeatedly summoning his steed and charging in with Huma's freakin' dragonlance.

    Someone has got to stop that paladin!
    Last edited by Sadras; Saturday, 24th June, 2017 at 01:54 AM.

  9. #109
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sadras View Post
    GM, you cannot bash save-vs-suck spells and then throw an example about an inexperienced DM (mid 20's is still young). Sorry but I feel that this is just disingenuous to the debate.
    in 98 he had been running games for 8 years, I don't think that's a 'new' DM and since as of today he still runs with the same rules and sees nothing the matter with it, you will excuse me if I don't agree on it being 'a newbie' thing. MY first campaign (about 2ish years before that) I knew not to use instant death effects on PCs...

    You didn't think this should have been mentioned in your initial post? You gave readers the impression that you surmised the situation was hopeless because none of your teammates were spellcasters and so made the conscious decision to abscond the session after a wait of 15 minutes. How did you expect readers to react?
    lets see what I said

    I once got told I was being a jerk for leaving a game early...
    nothing withheld.


    the reason I left was I was imprisoned (per spell) and PCs had no way to get me out.
    I was imprisoned and PCs had no way to get me out... seems like all the info you need is there, let me bold it

    PCs had no way to get me out
    all the details you need, unless you want to make an argument that the PCs did in fact have a way, when I spelled out they did not.
    I went and called my girlfriend and we went to the movies... (it was less than 30mins into a 5 hour game) after the movie I called and no one had a way to get me out yet...
    so here is me talking about verffying that I called the DMs house to ask him if the situation had changed... it had not.

    no one had a way to get me out yet



    so I came back the next week with a new character.
    here is the end of it...


    It would have been nice if GM had put everything in context in his first post (such as the age of the DM and that he'd asked the DM if there was a way out for him from the imprisonment that evening).
    see I just assumed the words
    PCs had no way to get me out
    explained that there was no way... I mean in retrospect I can even tell you what a pain it was to get the PC back with NPC help...


    The information was spilled out in drips and drabs after his initial post which was used to make a case against save-vs-suck spells based on a poor example.
    wrong all the details were there but people like to add "You could have done this hypothetical thing" instead of taking the information at face value.
    Accusations are easily thrown when pertinent information is withheld. There is absolutely no reason to white-knight this!
    here is pertinent info... an experienced DM who ran games for years used an old school gotcha trap and thought that I should spend the next 4-5 hours doing nothing, and some of you seem to agree and say the 'consequences' was for me to sit out, or that I was supposed to act like a baseball player waiting for a turn at bat...

    all the information that came out in drips and drabs were simply my way of stoping people who argued my orginal info was wrong...

    a) I had nothing to do
    b) I was stuck out of game with no PC for an extended point of time...

    others tried to prove me wrong with crazy hypotheticals "Why didn't you just take an NPC"
    so I had to answer questions "Because the DM doesn't do that."
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  10. #110
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    here is my entire orginal post...
    Quote Originally Posted by GMforPowergamers View Post
    I'm sure I am in the minority but I have to say Fair isn't FUn...

    there is a TMNT cartoon (newer one my 10 year old nephew watches) where the turtles get beat and tell splinter the fight wasn't fair to witch he responds "You want there to be a 50/50 chance of wining and loseing" witch of course isn't true.

    Spells (and any special ability really) that take someone out of the adventure should be rare, and 2+ times in an encounter may be fair (good for goose, good for gander) but may impact the reason to play.

    I once got told I was being a jerk for leaving a game early... the reason I left was I was imprisoned (per spell) and PCs had no way to get me out. I went and called my girlfriend and we went to the movies... (it was less than 30mins into a 5 hour game) after the movie I called and no one had a way to get me out yet...so I came back the next week with a new character. The DM said it was rude I should have stayed (I did stick around for about 15 mins after I was imprisoned) The thing was I was the only spellcaster, I knew no one could free me.

    If I come to game and can't play it isn't fun. If I am DMing and an NPC gets put aside it sucks, but I have 100's of options including just keep running the next encounter, a PC does not.

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