Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh, off to a good start - Page 3
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  1. #21
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    Waghalter (Lvl 7)



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    Is hurting enemies and destroying traps in a house by setting it on fire from the outside so different than disarming traps and killing monsters that are restrained by Hold Monster? It's a different method. It could harm innocents inside or destroy items or clues, but using a fireball in combat often has collateral damage. Is burning a house different than shooting a fireball into a cave?

    If creatures inside the house aren't killed, they will likely take damage. They might even flee the house to keep from taking more damage in which case the PCs could have readied action to attack them.

    Burning down a house is not the usual method of tackling the problem; I'm not sure how you could say its not more inventive than the normal way of going room by room and fighting what's there. I don't see how a sandbox campaign would automatically consider burning down a house a failure.

    Quote Originally Posted by iserith View Post
    The thing with burning down the house is that as with any particular course of action the players consider, they are well-served to pass it through the filter of the goals of play. The game defines those goals as the DM and the players creating an exciting, memorable story of bold adventurers who confront deadly perils and having a good time doing it.

    So the question the players could stand to ask themselves in my view - separate and apart from whether the DM will grant them XP or make gathering the treasure time-consuming or whether there will be unforeseen consequences - is whether burning down the house is going to achieve the goals of play. It might. But then again it might not. To me, it's worth thinking about before proceeding.
    I'm trying to find where the game defines the goals of play you list: the goals have to include bold adventurers? The adventurers have to have a good time?

    From RAW, it seems like gaining levels is the mechanic for goals which can either be gained by experience points from overcoming challenges (most often combat), milestones, session-based advancement, or story-based for accomplishing campaign goals.
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  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elon Tusk View Post
    I'm trying to find where the game defines the goals of play you list: the goals have to include bold adventurers? The adventurers have to have a good time?
    Basic Rules, page 3, in the paragraph about "winning and losing" in D&D. The "win" conditions are as I specified. This is the section of the rules that tell us what the game is supposed to be about (even if people don't play it that way sometimes). It does not say that the adventurers have to have a good time - it's the players this is referring to. The adventurers could be torn to bits, after all, and the players could still have fun.

    Quote Originally Posted by Elon Tusk View Post
    From RAW, it seems like gaining levels is the mechanic for goals which can either be gained by experience points from overcoming challenges (most often combat), milestones, session-based advancement, or story-based for accomplishing campaign goals.
    That is the incentive for the PCs pursuing goals, yes, but the overall goal for DM and players is to have a good time together and create an exciting, memorable story as a result of play. Each group individually would have to decide if burning down the house achieves that goal.
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  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elon Tusk View Post
    1. Sounds more inventive and less dangerous than the alternative...I don't punish players for doing the unexpected.
    I think this sums up my whole point in this thread: it's neither inventive, creative, or unexpected. It's almost the first thing that a group of players think of every single time. It comes up all the time. It's probably the least creative solution that PC's could possibly try to apply, and in most cases it is a non-solution.

    The only time I got took off guard by it was the time I mentioned before hand, and really I only got taken off guard by it because it was such an incredibly stupid plan that if I'd been any more a railroad-y DM I would have just told the PC, "Do you realize how stupid it is to burn down a place you were only planning to enter because you needed to find clues?". "Let's burn the place down" is a childish impulse that players give way to sometimes when they lose track of what they are trying to accomplish and invariably don't think through the consequences of their action. As it was, it was a huge setback for the party and it forced me to try to come up with alternative paths to allow the players to succeed. Honestly, I could have fairly punished them with just getting stuck and having disaster happen (everyone in the city would have died including quite probably the PCs), had I not felt bad for punishing all six players for the dumb dunderheaded decision one player had unilaterally decided on with a game ending TPK that none of them would have been in a position to do anything about. It would have been a "Rocks fall, you die!" moment had I not worked around it.

    As it is, I told the players I needed a time out to think through the consequences (one of the few times that happened in the campaign), and after about 10 minutes of reading through the notes I settled on an aftermath concept. The sum total of the results of the PC's actions were: he destroyed all the clues that were needed to stop the city from being destroyed. He destroyed the treasure and magic items that would have advanced the player's cause. A young unwed pregnant mother and her infant child died in the fire (they were in the basement asleep when it broke out). And three volunteer fire brigade workers died when an undead polar bear, broke through the front window on fire, and proceeded to attack them. And I decided that since the young mother died a violent horrible death in a necromantically tainted area, that the odds were very high that she'd become undead herself, so the arsonist has been thereafter haunted by Barb the Ghost - who is occasionally weaponized by the Shaman PC in the party, often with results that backfire spectacularly (Barb induces a spectacularly high DC Fear save, and has a corrupting gaze that causes things she views to spontaneously combust) and/or result in the death and suffering of nearby innocents. And, the NPC necromancer that the PC was trying to kill not only survived, he's still around. Whereas, had they just taken the whole party in, they probably would have killed him.

    So yeah, it's not creative. It's not inventive. It's usually not unexpected. And it tends to not actually solve the problem the player was originally trying to solve.
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  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elon Tusk View Post
    Is hurting enemies and destroying traps in a house by setting it on fire from the outside so different than disarming traps and killing monsters that are restrained by Hold Monster? It's a different method. It could harm innocents inside or destroy items or clues, but using a fireball in combat often has collateral damage. Is burning a house different than shooting a fireball into a cave?

    If creatures inside the house aren't killed, they will likely take damage. They might even flee the house to keep from taking more damage in which case the PCs could have readied action to attack them.

    Burning down a house is not the usual method of tackling the problem; I'm not sure how you could say its not more inventive than the normal way of going room by room and fighting what's there. I don't see how a sandbox campaign would automatically consider burning down a house a failure.



    I'm trying to find where the game defines the goals of play you list: the goals have to include bold adventurers? The adventurers have to have a good time?

    From RAW, it seems like gaining levels is the mechanic for goals which can either be gained by experience points from overcoming challenges (most often combat), milestones, session-based advancement, or story-based for accomplishing campaign goals.
    No enemies are going to be hurt by the fire. There is a non burnable cave below the house. The only creatures that would flee out the front door are rats and stuff, and the PC's just standing outside the burning house ready to attack whoever comes out are going to look stupid.

    The reason burning down the house is a failure, is because along with destroying everything of value. It means they are not going to find out anything. Which is the task they are hired for. Burning down the house fails every single goal in the adventure.
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  5. #25
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    So, I definitely would give players XP for solving problems that are actually solved by burning down the house. Conversely, I give zero XP for unnecessary encounters. "Poke some orcs in the nose" might represent a challenging encounter... but if there's no reason for the PCs to do it, I don't give out XP, no matter how dangerous it is.

    A good example from popular fiction:
    (SPOILERS for Game of Thrones season 7)
    [SPOILER]
    Spoiler:

    When the Khals are trying to decide the fate of Danaerys, she defeats them by burning down the entire building they are in, which works splendidly because she's immune to fire.

    I would give her full XP for defeating the Khals using unconventional means, even though, as a combat encounter, they would have been beyond deadly.

    (Obviously it's not a perfect example because GoT doesn't follow the rules of D&D and is part of a slightly different genre.)
    [/SPOILER]

    And I definitely want the PCs to face the consequences for this action. It's kind of a stupid action. I guess the bigger issue is:

    How do I make the consequences for a stupid action FUN, while not encouraging stupid actions?

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by 77IM View Post
    And I definitely want the PCs to face the consequences for this action. It's kind of a stupid action. I guess the bigger issue is:

    How do I make the consequences for a stupid action FUN, while not encouraging stupid actions?
    Man, I don't know if I'd want to live in a world where as DM I'm not encouraging stupid actions.
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  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by 77IM View Post
    How do I make the consequences for a stupid action FUN, while not encouraging stupid actions?
    Broadly - have it result in action in which the PCs are at a clear disadvantage, but no so much of a disadvantage that they automatically lose.
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  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by iserith View Post
    Man, I don't know if I'd want to live in a world where as DM I'm not encouraging stupid actions.
    LOL, I don't want to discourage stupid actions, either.

    So much of the advice on this thread sounds really punitive to me. "Deny them XP! Give them a bad reputation! Let them know they've screwed up the adventure and now the town will be destroyed! Nyaaaah!" This is boring to me. I seek a world in which every player decision, smart or stupid, leads to ever more interesting decisions...

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by 77IM View Post
    LOL, I don't want to discourage stupid actions, either.

    So much of the advice on this thread sounds really punitive to me. "Deny them XP! Give them a bad reputation! Let them know they've screwed up the adventure and now the town will be destroyed! Nyaaaah!" This is boring to me. I seek a world in which every player decision, smart or stupid, leads to ever more interesting decisions...
    I think that's definitely a good attitude to have and it helps if the players are onboard with purposefully putting their characters in bad situations sometimes, trusting that the outcome will be fun for them even if it's bad for the characters. That's certainly the spirit of the game as outlined in the rules in any case.

    At the same time, as a player, I also want to honor the DM's prep knowing that he or she put in at least some amount of effort into it and that it's something of a shame for it not to see the light of day. And that's my position even if the DM is the sort who doesn't mind shelving it. Avoiding or, in this case, destroying content instead of experiencing it sometimes doesn't do the players any good, even if it makes perfect sense for the characters. But that's something they'll have to judge for themselves with an eye toward the goals of play.

    Ultimately, as with many things, this is a good conversation to have with the players outside the context of the game to get on the same page if you haven't done so already.

  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by 77IM View Post
    So much of the advice on this thread sounds really punitive to me. "Deny them XP! Give them a bad reputation!
    Well, if you don't do anything towards the goals, or even take on challenging issues, you don't get XP. Burning down a house is something anyone can do, and takes no special effort - oil, toches, whoomph! Done. Why should they get a reward for that? You aren't *entitled* to XP - calling this punitive is kind of like saying that, if you don't work, your employer is being "punitive" for not paying you. No. You simply didn't earn the paycheck, so you don't get it.

    Give them a reputation hit? That's making their lives complicated - a disadvantage that doesn't stop them, but makes it clear that actions have consequences. Kind of like I said upthread. They will have to make some interesting choices to get the same things done...

    Let them know they've screwed up the adventure and now the town will be destroyed! Nyaaaah!"
    Yeah. That's boring.

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