5E When a Lightning Bolt spell met the floor ... - Page 2
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  1. #11
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    Next time, just change the way its described. DM created enemies and monsters don't have to follow the "rules." Balance is for the players so none of them can monopolize the spotlight. Anyways, you could have described it as the cultist using their demonic powers to charge the lighting within their throat until it visibly moved down their chest, through their arm, into their fist, which they then attempt to discharge into the paladin. You could then treat it like an enhanced shocking grasp, turning it into a spell attack rather than a dex save. Or, if you wanna maintain the dex save mechanic, you could state that through magic from their demonic pact, they have learned to transform their breath weapon into an ability similar to flamestrike.

    It's ok to change enemy abilities on the fly to keep up the challenge and make sure the players stay on their toes. But you also need to balance that with player fun. If this player's paladin was surrounded like this, it probably didn't feel fun for him to be surrounded like he was and singled out. Of course, this depends on if it was his choices that got him into the mess and where the otger players were.

    Also, it can be fun if the enemies are not always infallible. I think it would be totally in line for the cultists to release simultaneous breath weapon attacks, potentially sacrificing themselves, for their demon patron to get an opening.

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hawk Diesel View Post
    Next time, just change the way its described. DM created enemies and monsters don't have to follow the "rules." Balance is for the players so none of them can monopolize the spotlight. Anyways, you could have described it as the cultist using their demonic powers to charge the lighting within their throat until it visibly moved down their chest, through their arm, into their fist, which they then attempt to discharge into the paladin. You could then treat it like an enhanced shocking grasp, turning it into a spell attack rather than a dex save. Or, if you wanna maintain the dex save mechanic, you could state that through magic from their demonic pact, they have learned to transform their breath weapon into an ability similar to flamestrike.

    It's ok to change enemy abilities on the fly to keep up the challenge and make sure the players stay on their toes. But you also need to balance that with player fun. If this player's paladin was surrounded like this, it probably didn't feel fun for him to be surrounded like he was and singled out. Of course, this depends on if it was his choices that got him into the mess and where the otger players were.

    Also, it can be fun if the enemies are not always infallible. I think it would be totally in line for the cultists to release simultaneous breath weapon attacks, potentially sacrificing themselves, for their demon patron to get an opening.
    While I think the DM can - and should - make monsters have cool and unique abilities, doing this mid combat to suit the turn's tactical situation isn't the way to go. Shaping an AoE to fit the current formation of the PC's without hitting any monsters is just plain cheating, and will lead to bad feelings from the players.

    I think your suggestions about how to change the attack are pretty cool, but should be decided before the session, or at the very latest the start of the combat - before anyone has a turn.
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  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by TallIan View Post
    While I think the DM can - and should - make monsters have cool and unique abilities, doing this mid combat to suit the turn's tactical situation isn't the way to go. Shaping an AoE to fit the current formation of the PC's without hitting any monsters is just plain cheating, and will lead to bad feelings from the players.

    I think your suggestions about how to change the attack are pretty cool, but should be decided before the session, or at the very latest the start of the combat - before anyone has a turn.
    Sorry, but I disagree. One of the tools of being a DM is being able to read a table and adjust the game to make the challenge more fitting or fun. This doesn't mean a DM should change abilities on the fly just to grief the players. But if it makes narrative sense, or enhances the fun at the table, there is absolutely no reason a DM shouldn't do so.

    For example, I sometimes only have HP, AC, attack bonus, and general damage outlined for potential enemies my players might encounter. This frees me up to creatively and organically describe the enemies in the moment based on the situation. This gives me a relative idea of the strength of the enemies, and I set it to within the capacities of the players, and adjust the challenge based on the encounter, but don't have to be beholden to a stat block. This also ensures that even if the players face an enemy they recognize from the MM, they can still be surprised by tricks the individuals they're facing may have that the general species (as outlined by the MM) may not have.

  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hawk Diesel View Post
    Sorry, but I disagree. One of the tools of being a DM is being able to read a table and adjust the game to make the challenge more fitting or fun. This doesn't mean a DM should change abilities on the fly just to grief the players. But if it makes narrative sense, or enhances the fun at the table, there is absolutely no reason a DM shouldn't do so.

    For example, I sometimes only have HP, AC, attack bonus, and general damage outlined for potential enemies my players might encounter. This frees me up to creatively and organically describe the enemies in the moment based on the situation. This gives me a relative idea of the strength of the enemies, and I set it to within the capacities of the players, and adjust the challenge based on the encounter, but don't have to be beholden to a stat block. This also ensures that even if the players face an enemy they recognize from the MM, they can still be surprised by tricks the individuals they're facing may have that the general species (as outlined by the MM) may not have.

    Maybe I'm looking at too narrow a scenario. I think that if a DM has decided his bad guys have lightning breath then changing that mid fight, because the current formation makes using it RAW difficult, will leave the players thinking, "Hey how come you AoE's always have a funny shape that hits ALL the PC's and NONE of the monsters, no mater how we stand."

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hawk Diesel View Post
    It's ok to change enemy abilities on the fly to keep up the challenge and make sure the players stay on their toes. But you also need to balance that with player fun. If this player's paladin was surrounded like this, it probably didn't feel fun for him to be surrounded like he was and singled out. Of course, this depends on if it was his choices that got him into the mess and where the otger players were.
    Ah, but changing them on the fly because the GM's choices made them inconvenient isn't exactly fair. The bad guys chose to set themselves up so they'd hit each other in crosssfire, after all. Why do the PCs have to pay the price for choices, but the GM's forces don't?

    GMs have immense power to bend the rules. It should be used sparingly. Was this one case really worth burning goodwill over? Did it really make the story better? Probably not in either case.
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  6. #16
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    While I am a tremendous fan of Monsters not following PC rules (I think this was 4e's greatest contribution to D&D), and a DM should be free to make adjustments on the fly for fun/game enhancement purposes, I don't think the Monster abilities should just all of a sudden change to suit the exact tactical situation, especially if the PC's are already surrounded and such.

    Now, it could be that this fight was a cake walk for the PCs and they were just steamrollering through it without a care in the world; and if so, that makes it a bit more palatable to have more of a fun challenge. Yet, sometimes it is better to let the PCs have their fun and and end the encounter with a Dr. Claw-like "I'll get you next time Gadget!"
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  7. #17
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    @TallIan and @Umbran I totally agree with you guys. Like any tool in the DM's toolbox it shouldn't be overused or used flippantly. There needs to be some intention that will add to the story and the fun of the table. Like I said, in that specific scenario I'd probably just have the cultists blast the player and themselves, because it would be a fitting sacrifice they might make for their demon patron. And I think that doing things that can unfairly target a player's character or changing how powers work without a good reason/explanation is poor form. A DM has only as much power as the players allow, since that position comes with the trust that you are going to run the game fairly with fun in mind.

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nickolaidas View Post
    So the only way a diagonal line of lightning could've hit the paladin and only the paladin would be for the attacker to be at least 5ft above the ground?
    Aiming down diagonally when flying isn't covered in the rules that I'm aware of, so you have to do what you think is best. But it still kind of skirts the effects of lightning breath in a line. But as has been said, just moving the attacker to a diagonal where there is no other monster behind the PC is the easiest solution.

  9. #19
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    I just think that dragons being deprived of a breath weapon attack towards enemies in the ground when the dragons themselves are in the air (like they do in Skyrim for example) is a major handicap, as is also a spellcaster being unable to fire a lightning bolt to a flying enemy (while the spellcaster himself is on the ground).

    I agree however, that I was wrong in thinking that a caster who is on the ground could fire a lightning bolt at a diagonal angle which aims for the ground of an enemy 5ft in front of him.
    Last edited by Nickolaidas; Saturday, 22nd September, 2018 at 09:46 AM.

  10. #20
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    D&D is a role playing game. Characters play a role in a story. Make it a good story.

    If the PCs come up with a questionable way to use a spell, item or ability, ask 2 questions:

    1.) Will it ruin the game?
    2.) Is it fun?

    If the answers are no and yes, allow it. DO NOT suddenly have enemies start using the tactic against them randomly... the PCs are the heroes of the tale. Let them stand out.

    Obviosuly, there needs to be some tweaks here to account for the abilities of the PCs - a dumb PC should not be coming up with ingenious uses for spells... and a villain that sees a PC do something clever with a spell should be free to follow suit if they have the spell. But as a general rule, the above approach results in fun heroics.
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