Adventuring Tactics Masterclass: Giants.

Pielorinho

Iron Fist of Pelor
There will definitiely be circumstances in which you don't want a giant to be full-attacking one ally, no matter how HP-heavy that ally is. As Gaiden points out, however, an intelligent enemy WILL focus on one opponent until that opponent drops. Whether a

I would suggest that a fighter in this situation go for hit-and-run tactics, fighting defensively, in order to deny the giant its full attack. Reach makes this dangerous, since the fighter will suffer an AoO every time she runs -- but it's likely to be better than taking a full attack from the giant.

Again, this is something to judge from the circumstances.

Daniel
 

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nikolai

First Post
Thanks very much to everyone who's posted. There have been some really good ideas - and I'm proud to say that, since the thread has started, I've participated in the successful glitterdusting and pelting with arrows of an unsuspecting Hill Giant.

I'll post another Masterclass in the next couple of days, when I think the activity here will have more or less died down. I'll leave the topic as a surprise until then - but it will be very different from this one.

As for the tactics of groups of giants, I think the default assumption should be that each giant would strike at the greatest threat to himself. The idea being that each wants to preserve his own life by taking out enemies striking at him in particular. You can then layer other levels of detail over this: such as a boulder throwers readying at spellcasters (if they're not in direct danger), giants leaving ineffectual opponents to charge PCs who are major threats and all out attacks on PCs who have taken down certain individuals etc. I think, in general, only the most elite groups of enemies should approach PC-like levels of coordinated attacks and selfless teamwork.

nikolai.
 

Pielorinho

Iron Fist of Pelor
nikolai said:
As for the tactics of groups of giants, I think the default assumption should be that each giant would strike at the greatest threat to himself.

Another fun tactic for giants: pick up that pesky fighter and throw him, like a boulder, at the pesky wizard.

Here's how I'd resolve it:

To pick the fighter up, make a grapple check at -20. You may need to try a couple of times, since the fighter's going to be stabbing at you while you try (i.e., making an AoO on you). But once you've got him, you can throw him like a boulder, with a -2 penalty for his unusual shape (and the fact that he's struggling like a kitten as you hold him). If he hits, both he and the wizard take normal boulder damage.

You may want to knock the sword from the fighter's hand before doing this; that way, he won't get to make an AoO on you.

Daniel
 

Ridley's Cohort

First Post
Gaiden said:
...However, in general the most efficient tactic which I can't help but think that even giants would follow would be to focus on one guy until he is down and then move to the next...

I just thought I would say this because sometimes I, as a DM, have been (as well as seen other DM's I play with) be "nice" and spread the hurt around so that no one character dies. I don't like this because it takes away the realism of the game...

I agree with nikolai, the best rule of thumb is to have the giant (or whatever opponent) attack what he perceives as the greatest threat.

As for concentrating on one enemy until it goes down, that is an extremely unrealistic tactic that only works in D&D because peculiarities of the rules. No savvy tactician would ever do that in real life -- it is a certain path to defeat.

I do agree that the bad guys aren't go to let up on a wounded PC merely because he is wounded. That's where friends come in handy. If the wounded PC fights defensively and steps back 5', he looks less dangerous. If a friendly PC then steps up can do some damage, that fresh PC looks much more threatening. Guess who will get targetted?

The downsides of being "clever" and having the NPCs concentrate on killing one PC at a time are:
(1a) It is unrealistic.
(1b) It only works because the DM is gaming the system.
(2) It puts the DM in the position of having to decide which PC gets to die this adventure. Won't that be fun?
(3) NPCs are, in fact, quite disposable. PCs are not, even though losses are part of the game. So do not treat NPCs as a player treats his PC.
 

Pielorinho

Iron Fist of Pelor
Ridley's Cohort said:
As for concentrating on one enemy until it goes down, that is an extremely unrealistic tactic that only works in D&D because peculiarities of the rules. No savvy tactician would ever do that in real life -- it is a certain path to defeat.

Although it's unrealistic, it's not hugely unrealistic (IMHO): all it requires is a small shift in understanding, a belief that people fight more and more ferociously and desperately, as they become wounded, compensating for the problems the wounds cause. I know it's not that way in our world, but it's not a totally incomprehensible idea, and it allows characters in the world to respond appropriately to what they observe.

I agree, though, that a stupid opponent will likely target the biggest immediate threat, and might change its target from round to round, not realizing that picking off a weaker opponent quickly might be the best strategy.

Daniel
 

Gaiden

Explorer
As for concentrating on one enemy until it goes down, that is an extremely unrealistic tactic that only works in D&D because peculiarities of the rules. No savvy tactician would ever do that in real life -- it is a certain path to defeat.

In all seriousness, is this true?

I want to use a bar fight as a test case:

So there is the equivalent of a grand melee going on in said bar and we are going to focus on 2 combatants - both are young adult males of equivalent build, neither of whom has any real skill in martial arts, boxing, wrestling, or any other form of unarmed combat. Both are partially drunk (important because they will feel less pain). So they are going at it, and one gets in a lucky shot - lucky in that it lands and actually does some real damage - let's say breaks a rib. So we will say A has injured B. Now B, being drunk gets even angrier (not being rational due to the alcohol and feeling reduced pain again because of the alcohol). Let's say combatant C enters the fray - to help the injured B. A now faces both B and C, with B badly injured (let's say he has a punctured lung as a result). I realize that A may act very differently than what I am about to describe, but I am looking for the most rational tactics, not what is most realistic. It seems to me that the most rational tactic would be to reduce the number of opponents as 2v1 is going to be more difficult than 1v1 (assume C has same combat expertise as A or B). The reason why you reduce the number of combatants is that the more combatants there are the more "actions" they get to do in a given amount of time relative to you. This is why when you see any sort of training exercises for any sort of military or police, that teamwork is so important. One person is incredibly vulnerable. But a team can function together to do multiple things at once.

So back to the example - it seems the most rational course of action would be to drop B. Then A can focus on C.

The problems with this example are as follows:

B, as he is injured, is funcitoning at reduced capacity and function, his punches are probably swinging slower, his flexibility is reduced because of the broken rib, etc. Thus, A might want to focus on C as he is at 100%. Howver, it B is still fighting, doesn't it make sense to get rid of him as quickly as possible. The reason why he would not do this is that he opens himself to C. However, if he focuses on C he does the same for B.

The problem with D&D seems more to be that the HP system doesn't take into account reduced funcitoning. However, regardless, I would think one would still get rid of the weaker person first.

I do agree that the bad guys aren't go to let up on a wounded PC merely because he is wounded. That's where friends come in handy. If the wounded PC fights defensively and steps back 5', he looks less dangerous. If a friendly PC then steps up can do some damage, that fresh PC looks much more threatening. Guess who will get targetted?

It too often seems that the guy who fights defensively - is still fighting. I would presume that the giant would interpret defensive fighting as "good, I got him" rather than oh, let's focus on someone else.

Again, I am seriously wondering because I am planning a big fight involving a bunch of giants and want to make sure that I play them tactically sound for their intelligence.

(2) It puts the DM in the position of having to decide which PC gets to die this adventure. Won't that be fun?

I agree that this is quite nasty. As I said, I have been nice in the past - but really that doesn't make sense - at least with the system we use in 3E. Also, you see the players focusing on one opponent until they go down or surrender. It will make the players act more consciously of the fact that there PCs can die though and will make retreats occur (where as they probably would not occur at all before). At least this is what I have experienced in my games - and anyone who knows my style either by having read the Undermountain thread in story hour, or by previous posts - knows that I pose tough challenges to my players.
 

Ridley's Cohort

First Post
Sorry for the digression folks, but I can't resist...

Gaiden said:
The problem with D&D seems more to be that the HP system doesn't take into account reduced funcitoning. However, regardless, I would think one would still get rid of the weaker person first.

Bingo!

This is a "feature" of D&D. As a game mechanic, it has both pluses and minuses. As a simulation of combat, it is almost completely wrong.

In the real world, being seriously injured almost always reduces your effectiveness. In fact, superficial wounds -- deep bruises, broken bones, dislocations -- are often debilitating even if not life threatening. Injured muscles tire out very quickly. Internal hemoraging is rather complicated, but suffix to say that if you are nearly passing out from blood loss, your stamina isn't going to be very good.

Secondly, facing is a very important issue. D&D ignores it almost completely and throws in rather questionable threat zones and AoOs instead. I think these were very good choices as game mechanics, but downright awful as a simulation of a combat. Picking on a weakened foe will usually leave you open to devastating rear and flank attacks from an agile opponent.

Thirdly, we have suppression. It is actually much easier to distract a target than hurt the target. The best distraction is an attack. If you stop attacking someone, they are much more likely to land a well aimed blow.

The bottom line is trying to knock weakened foes has big potential downsides in the real world. Not that there aren't sometimes real good reasons to do so, but it is not the brilliant idea D&D mechanics might lead you to believe.
 

LuYangShih

First Post
Whether or not the D&D combat model is a successful simulation of fantasy combat is irrelevant. Just tell me more about how to kill Giants. :p


I agree that getting into melee combat with Giants is generally a bad idea, even in a Fighter heavy group. Try to keep your distance as long as possible, and once they get close prepare for pain. Summoning monsters is useful for expendable tanks that soak up damage while you fire arrows and spells, and as always are good for flnaking if and when the Giants do get close.

Non buffed Clerics have a hard time with Giants since they are good at interrupting their spells and make it next to impossible to engage in melee combat with them. A buffed Cleric is god, though. Monks are absolutely BONED fighting Giants.

About the only thing I can see Monks doing against Giants is becoming extremely defensive. Full defense would be a must, and any other method of getting AC as high as possible. Monks don't have the damage dealing or fighting abilities to do anything truly useful against Giants.

Bards should actually do well, given their list of enchantment and illusion spells that really work well against Giants. The Image spells would probably work decently well, as well as the other basic Charm and Hold spells. Displacement would be a must, I think.

A couple other great tactics against Giants would be to send your Ranger/Rogue types in with stealth mode. bows and boots of speed. They could hit and run the Giants very well, and it would extremely difficult for the Giants to locate them.

And of course, the classic cheese tactic of simply casting fly on all the spellslingers and archers, and whittling them down from the relative safety of the skies. Hurled boudlers are a lot less deadly than a Full Melee Attack from a Giant.
 


Ridley's Cohort

First Post
LuYangShih said:
Whether or not the D&D combat model is a successful simulation of fantasy combat is irrelevant. Just tell me more about how to kill Giants. :p

Sure.

The monk's best bet seems to be spring attack and hope for a lucky stun. You should have at least a DC of 19 -- not great but a giant might fail. If you can boost your Wis and get some Ki straps +3, say, you could have a DC 24 on the stun attack. A giant will fail that ~40%. Unfortunately your odds of landing blows are not so hot.

OTOH, actually going toe-to-toe with a giant while standing next to the party fighter is a reasonable tactic for a monk. The fighter will be doing more damage so he will attract more of the attacks. You can easily Tumble into a flanking position (if you dare risk being flanked yourself). The monk really needs to flurry in order to land blows.

I think Druids could do reasonably well. Animal Growth on summoned Dire Apes and a Dire Lion companion will tear a single weaker giant type to shreds. There is something to be said for summoned disposable creatures when fighting giants. (Keep in mind that giants usually can Cleave.) The spike spells are good for controlling movement -- giants have enough HPs to cross them but it is intimidating to cross a barrier you might have to flee over.

The Lesser Planar Ally spell (4th level cleric) is quite good. They cost a bit of money to summon, but they last pretty well against run-of-the-mill giants with their DR 10/+1.
 

nikolai

First Post
New Masterclass

With Ridley's Cohort's discussion of monk tactics I don't think there's much more to add here. It's also been more than a week since this masterclass began, so the second Masterclass - on Beholders - has been posted.

Beholders are high level monsters which have a whole raft of interesting powers, many of which can be extremely lethal, this will be very interesting...

http://enworld.cyberstreet.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=40835

Hope to see you all there.

nikolai.
 
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