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Attacking defenseless NPCs

Greenstone.Walker

Registered User
How would you adjudicate the action and why?
How would you handle it the other way around? The characters are camped, all asleep except for one on watch. An attacker with a bow takes aim...

What would your players say if you just said, "Character Juma is dead."?

Whatever ruling you make has to go both ways.

Me, I'd call for Initiative and use the Surprise rules.
 

5ekyu

Explorer
It seems to me reading about the checkmate rule - Hold Person and its ilk all move to tier-3 spells. Any monsters etc that toss outnparalysis on hit jump up to tier-3 CR too.

Those are just off the top of my head.

Have to figure out where in tier-2 we move Invisibility now that one-hit can be one-kill by-passing HP. My guess is invisibility goes to replace its 4th level greater version and that one goes to tier-3 at 7th level.
 

Ovinomancer

Explorer
Man, I do so love the "But what if a real jerk is the one running your game, how does it work then?" argument. As if the problem is the ruling, not the jerk.
 

Saelorn

Explorer
Man, I do so love the "But what if a real jerk is the one running your game, how does it work then?" argument. As if the problem is the ruling, not the jerk.
The problem is that nobody can agree on who the jerk is. It's either the DM who doesn't let something work, because of the rules; or it's the DM who doesn't apply the rules, because of reasons.

By my count, the worst jerk of a DM is the one who doesn't apply the rules consistently, where you know that the only reason you're still alive is because they're intentionally playing the opposition like idiots.
 

Bawylie

Explorer
It seems to me reading about the checkmate rule - Hold Person and its ilk all move to tier-3 spells. Any monsters etc that toss outnparalysis on hit jump up to tier-3 CR too.

Those are just off the top of my head.

Have to figure out where in tier-2 we move Invisibility now that one-hit can be one-kill by-passing HP. My guess is invisibility goes to replace its 4th level greater version and that one goes to tier-3 at 7th level.
Invisibility is helpful but IMO it does not, on its own, satisfy “target is totally unaware of you.”
 

Bawylie

Explorer
The problem is that nobody can agree on who the jerk is. It's either the DM who doesn't let something work, because of the rules; or it's the DM who doesn't apply the rules, because of reasons.

By my count, the worst jerk of a DM is the one who doesn't apply the rules consistently, where you know that the only reason you're still alive is because they're intentionally playing the opposition like idiots.
I don’t think the DM who doesn’t let something work is a jerk. Same for the one who doesn’t apply the rules due to reasons.

I think the biggest jerk DM thing is when they decide my actions for me.
 

5ekyu

Explorer
Invisibility is helpful but IMO it does not, on its own, satisfy “target is totally unaware of you.”
I get invis is not as one-stop-easy-pop as Holds become, but it covers a lot of the workload one would "in real life" would see as "common sense" to reach anything like a consistant "fiat threshold".

But simply put, in the game now, its powerful for a 2nd level spell with only one shot possibly getting you advantage (rest is class features).

Add in the "fiat checkmate bar" so that this can be a help towards insta-kill, it goes up a lot, imo.

But out of curiousity what level did you move holds to or did you just ban them altogether after checkmate?
 

Bawylie

Explorer
I get invis is not as one-stop-easy-pop as Holds become, but it covers a lot of the workload one would "in real life" would see as "common sense" to reach anything like a consistant "fiat threshold".

But simply put, in the game now, its powerful for a 2nd level spell with only one shot possibly getting you advantage (rest is class features).

Add in the "fiat checkmate bar" so that this can be a help towards insta-kill, it goes up a lot, imo.

But out of curiousity what level did you move holds to or did you just ban them altogether after checkmate?
Didn’t take any position on Holds. I have no wizards or sorcerers in any group at the moment.

What is a “fiat threshold?”
 

5ekyu

Explorer
Didn’t take any position on Holds. I have no wizards or sorcerers in any group at the moment.

What is a “fiat threshold?”
Fiat treshold is that line in the gms mind of "helpless enough" to qualify for tossing the normal damage system and moving to the checkmate or plan-b or whatever.

Its when you cut from orc on guard duty to that same orc having insufficient defenses.

I mean, if we assume the hidden archer vs orc guard is possibly at play for checkmate, then some degree of bored was mentioned. I would think some degree of armored would apply too, since armor is designed to cover vital spots.

But at some point a gm decides against using the system rules for attacker unseen against surprise first round of combat and going checkmate - based on a culmination of stuff in his head. Does guard in full plate vs guard naked play a role other than AC here? If its a cresture with natural armor does a dart throw still have the same pop-n-kill threshold as a longbow?

Etc etc etc.
 

Bawylie

Explorer
Fiat treshold is that line in the gms mind of "helpless enough" to qualify for tossing the normal damage system and moving to the checkmate or plan-b or whatever.

Its when you cut from orc on guard duty to that same orc having insufficient defenses.

I mean, if we assume the hidden archer vs orc guard is possibly at play for checkmate, then some degree of bored was mentioned. I would think some degree of armored would apply too, since armor is designed to cover vital spots.

But at some point a gm decides against using the system rules for attacker unseen against surprise first round of combat and going checkmate - based on a culmination of stuff in his head. Does guard in full plate vs guard naked play a role other than AC here? If its a cresture with natural armor does a dart throw still have the same pop-n-kill threshold as a longbow?

Etc etc etc.
I see. So if we cast sleep on the orc, we’d all be in agreement that orc would be uniquely vulnerable. But there’s a gray area between that definite candidate for checkmate and an orc who is not a candidate for checkmate that you’re calling fiat.

I suppose the defining line for me would be whether or not a defense against the attack were reasonably possible/effective. Natural armor might be the type of thing that’s nearly always effective, but even Smaug had a weak spot, so that’s a consideration.

I’m reminded of a castle murder box. Where they trap invaders in, dump oil from above, and light the room on fire. There’s no real effective defense except not being in that kill box. It might not be an instant win, but after a bit of time, it’s a certain one.
 

Ovinomancer

Explorer
The problem is that nobody can agree on who the jerk is. It's either the DM who doesn't let something work, because of the rules; or it's the DM who doesn't apply the rules, because of reasons.

By my count, the worst jerk of a DM is the one who doesn't apply the rules consistently, where you know that the only reason you're still alive is because they're intentionally playing the opposition like idiots.
Well, I can say that [MENTION=6776133]Bawylie[/MENTION] isn't the jerk. He's running three games where everyone's happy using his rulings. The argument against his ruling so far sums up as "but if a jerk did it, it wouldn't work, right?" Or, some form of, "but if you were running for jerks, it wouldn't work, right?" That's the extent. You can't even argue his ruling is outside the rules, even. The core game loop is:

1. DM describes scene.
2. Players state actions.
3. DM determines if actions are successful, unsuccessful, or uncertain. If uncertain, DM employs resolution mechanics -- like an ability check, or the combat rules.
4. DM narrates results.
5. Repeat.

So far, the arguments against [MENTION=6776133]Bawylie[/MENTION] revolve around insisting that the combat rules are the only fair adjudication of the actions described, completely skipping over the even more fundamental rules that the DM first has to determine if there's uncertainty at all, THEN the DM picks the best resolution mechanic from the many available to move the game forward. Bawylie has done this, others just disagree with his choice. But, instead of saying that they'd prefer a different mechanic, they instead say he's doing it wrong because he isn't using that mechanic of choice, or because his methods might be abused by a jerk on one side of the screen or the other. It's a failure of staring at the trees and missing the forest -- others are so fixated on the mechanics that they miss that the mechanics serve the game, not the other way around.
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
The <5e> core game loop is:

1. DM describes scene.
2. Players state actions.
3. DM determines if actions are successful, unsuccessful, or uncertain. If uncertain, DM employs resolution mechanics -- like an ability check, or the combat rules.
4. DM narrates results.
5. Repeat.
It's worth nothing that in 3e, for instance, it might be summed up more like:

0. DM changes the rules if he really wants to.
1. DM meticulously documents the aspects of the setting the players are likely to interact with.
1.5 DM describes the PC's experience of the world as play advances.
2. Players state actions, referring to the rules the DM is using.
3. DM adjudicates any grey areas and oversees the resolution of the action, using the rules he has settled on previously.
4. DM narrates results.
5. Repeat.
 

Ovinomancer

Explorer
It's worth nothing that in 3e, for instance, it might be summed up more like:

0. DM changes the rules if he really wants to.
1. DM meticulously documents the aspects of the setting the players are likely to interact with.
1.5 DM describes the PC's experience of the world as play advances.
2. Players state actions, referring to the rules the DM is using.
3. DM adjudicates any grey areas and oversees the resolution of the action, using the rules he has settled on previously.
4. DM narrates results.
5. Repeat.
Nope. It is the same loop, just different expectations and mechanics. The 5 step loop I presented is essentially core to most RPGs, with small edits to the scope of abilities and roles here and there. You can use the 3.x expectations in 5e -- just look at how many people on this board do so. The loop is flexible enough to even support very different rulesets. All PbtA game follow the same loop, FATE follows the loop, etc., etc. There are a few games that alter the loop enough to be different, but we're not there between 3.x and 5e, not even close.
 

Saelorn

Explorer
Well, I can say that @Bawylie isn't the jerk. He's running three games where everyone's happy using his rulings.
I have nothing against him, that I recall. I'm not saying that he's a jerk for doing it the way that he does. I am saying that he would be jerk if he did that without warning, while I was playing in his game. (Which I trust to not be the case, for several reasons.)
So far, the arguments against @Bawylie revolve around insisting that the combat rules are the only fair adjudication of the actions described, completely skipping over the even more fundamental rules that the DM first has to determine if there's uncertainty at all, THEN the DM picks the best resolution mechanic from the many available to move the game forward.
As mentioned above, there is some ambiguity as to how that step works within the loop. As I see it, the only consistent interpretation is to figure out which resolution mechanics would* apply, and then evaluate uncertainty based on whether or not there are multiple outcomes possible from that mechanic. (e.g. First you figure out the DC of the check and the relevant bonus to the roll, and you only call for a roll if both success and failure are possible - if the DC is at least 2 points greater than the bonus, but not more than 20 points greater). In the scenario at hand, you would definitely have to roll for both attack and damage against the orc, because it's not absolutely guaranteed that you will both hit and deal enough damage to kill the orc outright; the outcome is uncertain, according to the resolution mechanics which govern that sort of thing, and therefore you need to roll everything out in order to see what happens.

If the DM wants to apply some other standards for ascertaining certainty, aside from the mechanics which exist to tell us how those situations are resolved, well... like I said, there is a little bit of ambiguity in the text. I'll never be happy with an inconsistent application, but as long as all of the players are on board, I have no say in the matter.

*Also of note: There can be only one possible mechanic which should apply in any given situation. I won't say that the system in the book is perfect, because it's not, but if there are two mechanic which could each apply and which would yield different results, then the net effect is the same as wearing two watches.
 
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5ekyu

Explorer
I see. So if we cast sleep on the orc, we’d all be in agreement that orc would be uniquely vulnerable. But there’s a gray area between that definite candidate for checkmate and an orc who is not a candidate for checkmate that you’re calling fiat.

I suppose the defining line for me would be whether or not a defense against the attack were reasonably possible/effective. Natural armor might be the type of thing that’s nearly always effective, but even Smaug had a weak spot, so that’s a consideration.

I’m reminded of a castle murder box. Where they trap invaders in, dump oil from above, and light the room on fire. There’s no real effective defense except not being in that kill box. It might not be an instant win, but after a bit of time, it’s a certain one.
"So if we cast sleep on the orc, we’d all be in agreement that orc would be uniquely vulnerable. But there’s a gray area between that definite candidate for checkmate and an orc who is not a candidate for checkmate that you’re calling fiat. "

Uhhh.. not quite.

A sleeping orc in my games is subject to the existing rules for unconscious. There is literally nothing unique about it. I dont need a checkmate rule fiat line - I just use the regulars.

So the sleeping orc is not a definite checkmate for me.

If I as GM wanted that character to be one-shot kill able then they would get HP to allow that. Since the basic orc no rule change has a minimum of 8 hp and a close attack agsinst a sleeper auto-crits, dont need no special checkmate rule.

But, since sleep, holds etc etc etc were all balanced and tested around not having a special checkmate rule, if I put such a rule in place, as GM I would see a need to revisit any spell that either goes straight to checkmate eligible or advances the ease of it.

I mean, even if my PCs font have holds, which is weird cuz nobody playing cleric in a game where hold is do lethal, just hey whatever - the NPCs would. The PCs need to know do they csn try and execute defenses agsinst instant kill combos, right?

I mean after a year of play having your 9th level PC killed by a hold person and readied stabby duet because your team did not have a fog cloud ready (assuming not being able to see the held guy even gets you below the checkmate fiat bar) would seem to suck.
 

Bawylie

Explorer
"So if we cast sleep on the orc, we’d all be in agreement that orc would be uniquely vulnerable. But there’s a gray area between that definite candidate for checkmate and an orc who is not a candidate for checkmate that you’re calling fiat. "

Uhhh.. not quite.

A sleeping orc in my games is subject to the existing rules for unconscious. There is literally nothing unique about it. I dont need a checkmate rule fiat line - I just use the regulars.

So the sleeping orc is not a definite checkmate for me.

If I as GM wanted that character to be one-shot kill able then they would get HP to allow that. Since the basic orc no rule change has a minimum of 8 hp and a close attack agsinst a sleeper auto-crits, dont need no special checkmate rule.

But, since sleep, holds etc etc etc were all balanced and tested around not having a special checkmate rule, if I put such a rule in place, as GM I would see a need to revisit any spell that either goes straight to checkmate eligible or advances the ease of it.

I mean, even if my PCs font have holds, which is weird cuz nobody playing cleric in a game where hold is do lethal, just hey whatever - the NPCs would. The PCs need to know do they csn try and execute defenses agsinst instant kill combos, right?

I mean after a year of play having your 9th level PC killed by a hold person and readied stabby duet because your team did not have a fog cloud ready (assuming not being able to see the held guy even gets you below the checkmate fiat bar) would seem to suck.
I think if you’ve asked for or signed on to a game with greater than normal lethality then you’re on-board with that outcome as a possibility.
 

5ekyu

Explorer
I think if you’ve asked for or signed on to a game with greater than normal lethality then you’re on-board with that outcome as a possibility.
Possibility vs probability is an issue tho.

The impact of checkmate and spells and effects at low level that kick-up checkmates is not one of signing on, but of what kind of action you are looking for.

Is the kind of battle and fsnyptady action you are looking for more of a modern swat orcfirstbperson ambush shooter challenge where all the fights are figuring out which combo to level yo get to checkmate? Do you want GM checkmate to be the normal way folks get downed in action?

Cuz, if you just add helpless checkmate and keep standard hps and keep spells like hold invis etc that's what you are heading to.

See, my point is this - make rules **and** systems that produce the results you like. Use systems that give you the results you like.

Then, you wont need a checkmate bypass end run around the main system.

So, to me, the answer to a group that doesnt like how HP accumulation buffer works is to change how their hp system works, not create a way to go from system to "GM says so."

Maybe that means capping HP.
Maybe that means damage saves.
Maybe that means a stun-body division.
Maybe that means called shots and armor as DR.

But no matter what you do it's a big change with lotsa ripples.

To me, pitching more GM says so resolution like checkmate will be ok with buy-in and a lot - a high degree - of trust driven by experience.

But, that is not very useful beyond the scale of "works for my group" level anecdotes.

"Trust me" is not a solution.
 

Bawylie

Explorer
Possibility vs probability is an issue tho.

The impact of checkmate and spells and effects at low level that kick-up checkmates is not one of signing on, but of what kind of action you are looking for.

Is the kind of battle and fsnyptady action you are looking for more of a modern swat orcfirstbperson ambush shooter challenge where all the fights are figuring out which combo to level yo get to checkmate? Do you want GM checkmate to be the normal way folks get downed in action?

Cuz, if you just add helpless checkmate and keep standard hps and keep spells like hold invis etc that's what you are heading to.

See, my point is this - make rules **and** systems that produce the results you like. Use systems that give you the results you like.

Then, you wont need a checkmate bypass end run around the main system.

So, to me, the answer to a group that doesnt like how HP accumulation buffer works is to change how their hp system works, not create a way to go from system to "GM says so."

Maybe that means capping HP.
Maybe that means damage saves.
Maybe that means a stun-body division.
Maybe that means called shots and armor as DR.

But no matter what you do it's a big change with lotsa ripples.

To me, pitching more GM says so resolution like checkmate will be ok with buy-in and a lot - a high degree - of trust driven by experience.

But, that is not very useful beyond the scale of "works for my group" level anecdotes.

"Trust me" is not a solution.
Not a solution for what? Did I claim to have “fixed the game for all tables across time and space and play style.”

Jaysus, you guys.
 

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