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Camping outside the BBEG's door: yea or nay?

S'mon

Hero
Nay. I tell players that sleeping in enemy lair is a fast route to TPK. A short rest may be possible depending on circumstances. In my PoTA game in fact the PCs are short resting beneath Elizar Dryflagon's chamber in Scarlet Moon Hall, he is holed up there with no way out though it does give him time to summon mephits and heal up for a last stand.
 

Dausuul

Legend
I'm planning a climactic raid for the climax of a current campaign. The party is likely to be pretty drained by the time they reach the lair of the Big Bad. The Big Bad is very badass. However, there will be a battle raging outside, so it wouldn't really make sense for the party to pause or their allies will be killed.

Any suggestions?
I would provide them with a "DM fiat" means to recharge, like a healing shrine which can grant the entire party the benefits of a long rest. (This offer good for one use only per PC or party-affiliated NPC. Offer void if shrine is moved from its present location. Benefit is usable only by character to whom it was granted. Simulacra may not benefit from shrine. Magical reverse-engineering of shrine is strictly prohibited.)
 

Monayuris

Explorer
I'm planning a climactic raid for the climax of a current campaign. The party is likely to be pretty drained by the time they reach the lair of the Big Bad. The Big Bad is very badass. However, there will be a battle raging outside, so it wouldn't really make sense for the party to pause or their allies will be killed.

Any suggestions?
I'd leave the situation as it is. I would not do anything in terms of DM fiat to help the players. However I would suggest and encourage and allow for interesting problem solving and player choices during the session.

Lay out the situation and it will probably be clear to your players that driving through to the Big Bad would leave them drained. Allow your players to come up with interesting plans and strategies to avoid conflict and marshal their resources. Let them use their agency to help preserve their abilities.

It will be a more memorable session and it will be a situation where your players' own choices will determine how fit they will be to deal with Big Bad in the end.

If you just DM fiat it, you deflate any sense of player accomplishment. You're just forcing an outcome you want.
 

Imaculata

Explorer
This is kind of related: My players are currently preparing for several days to take on a powerful monster that is lurking at the bottom of a lake. They might not be sleeping right outside the door, but they might as well be, because it is very similar. The players are taking their merry time to set a trap for the beast, bring in extra weapons and supplies, etc. So what I decided to do is have the monster strike back at them every day. Basically the beast's threat becomes worse the longer they delay the inevitable, and he makes more victims. The monster also tries to learn what it can of the player's plans. This turns their delays into a clever game of cat and mouse.
 

Fanaelialae

Adventurer
I'm planning a climactic raid for the climax of a current campaign. The party is likely to be pretty drained by the time they reach the lair of the Big Bad. The Big Bad is very badass. However, there will be a battle raging outside, so it wouldn't really make sense for the party to pause or their allies will be killed.

Any suggestions?
If one of their allies is a high level cleric (or something similar), you could have them show up to heal the party. Depending on how refreshed you want the party to be, you could even have the cleric use Miracle to grant them the benefits of a long rest. A wizard who can cast Wish might even be better (since the enervation that results will explain why he can't join the battle against the boss).

However, I would be careful about doing so, as that's effectively equivalent to having the PCs take on the boss without any preceding encounters. They might be able to nova the boss with little difficulty if they're fully refreshed.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
MONSTERS AND VILLAINS WANT TO WIN TOO! So no free healing shrine. No long rest with the BIG BOSS also able to do stuff.
****
hmm.
BOB. We know we have just rooms 22 and 26 to go. We are down half our hp. LONG REST.
DM OK.
Boss Monster. Hello Monsters are US. I need a dozen orcs, 2 dozen goblins, one star spawn mage. And some blood pudding. Yes my account number is 666. Ok. I need next day shipping with arrival before 0700. WHAT THAT CHARGE IS MORE THAN THE COST OF ALL THE MONSTERS. I will take it. Put on my ABYSS CARD. Yes I know it will put over my limit. What is a few extra decades of Hell.
****
I tick off a more experience gamer who had 5 plus years of xp than me. The group had nearly cleared out Forge of Fury except for the dragon. They had to go back to the city for restocking and healing. He was ticked off when the party return. The dragon had transported half his loot elsewhere. So the group got half the loot for free but no fight. And no XP.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad day
Option 4: Have a DM who doesn't assume that only PCs can open doors, and that creatures never leave the same four walls, can't hear fighting elsewhere, can't investigate when a regular guest doesn't show for chess or tea because the PCs have already killed him, and otherwise make it a living, breathing space.

I have never come across this problem. Sleeping in a tomb of skeletons and traps - sure, they have no curiosity or needs. Anywhere else - better prepare a defensible spot, use magics like rope trick or otherwise prepare.
 

Paul Farquhar

Explorer
Yeah, not going for Deus Ex Machina like healing shrines.

They can take short rests, but the party is long-rest caster heavy, so that probably won't help much.

There are some spots that they should be able to sneak or negotiate past, but I don't want it to feel too easy - it's supposed to be the big finish.

I think dropping scrolls and wands along the way is probably the best way to go (without being to obvious about it).
 

Uller

Explorer
DMs shouldn't plan outcomes according to some story line...They should set up the dominoes and it is up to the players to decide how to knock them down.

If the situation is that there is some raging battle with the BBEG hiding out in his lair and the PCs don't have the resources to make it through the battle and still conquer the BBEG, then provide some means for them to save/recharge resources through clever play. If they don't think of a way or take advantage of the options presented then I guess the BBEG lives to be a villain another day...that's the cool thing about TTRPGs...there is no preset outcome.

I find that I don't even have to think of ways for my players to overcome things like this. They usually figure it out. They just finished a lair assault that lasted 3 full sessions where we never left initiative order. I looked at the order of battle at the beginning and thought the PCs were basically doomed if they pressed ahead into a monster tribe lair where the monsters were aware of them and fighting back...but they used control type spells like entangle and flaming sphere to force the monsters to come in small groups, animal friendship to get the monsters' beast allies to not fight and narrow passages to force some of the large heavy damage monsters to fight at disadvantage and won the day. No rest was required (though they sure need one now!).

If the PCs clear the big battle then need a rest and the BBEG is still alive, wrap up the session with some RP and then start up the next game with the consequences of that rest....maybe the BBEG makes some moves against the PCs. Maybe he or she negotiates. Or leaves. Or grabs a hostage...take some time as the DM to think about how it plays out. What does the BBEG know about what has happened? What resources does he or she have? What is the most damaging thing they can do to the party? What is the most likely thing they would do? Maybe communicate these things to the PCs through some NPCs.
 

Paul Farquhar

Explorer
DMs shouldn't put the players into situations where they have no chance of success either - there is always a tension between freedom, story and realism. The trick is to find the right balance (which may be different for different groups).
 
Agreed. It’s one thing for them to have just fought a pair of kobolds and want to take their second long rest of the session, and another to actively design an adventure that will leave them depleted, with no chance of recovery, before facing that red dragon.

DMs shouldn't put the players into situations where they have no chance of success either - there is always a tension between freedom, story and realism. The trick is to find the right balance (which may be different for different groups).
 

iserith

Explorer
DMs shouldn't put the players into situations where they have no chance of success either - there is always a tension between freedom, story and realism. The trick is to find the right balance (which may be different for different groups).
I think what gets left off in the last few assertions that are floating about is that, in a game where the DM isn't concerned with any particular conclusion so long as it's fun, exciting, and memorable (even if it's bad for the characters), then said DM isn't also putting them into situations where they have no chance of success. In such games, the players choose to get themselves into those situations given an informed choice and typically have many ways of dealing with it rather than head on. In such a game, the DM telegraphs the level of the threat and leaves it up to the players to engage or not and how. So it's not really a binary as it is often presented.
 

DMMike

Game Masticator
+1 for Gauntlet reference.

I think what gets left off in the last few assertions that are floating about is that, in a game where the DM isn't concerned with any particular conclusion so long as it's fun, exciting, and memorable (even if it's bad for the characters), then said DM isn't also putting them into situations where they have no chance of success. In such games, the players choose to get themselves into those situations given an informed choice and typically have many ways of dealing with it rather than head on. In such a game, the DM telegraphs the level of the threat and leaves it up to the players to engage or not and how. So it's not really a binary as it is often presented.
And thank you. There may be "no chance of success," but that doesn't mean that there's also no chance of having fun, and it doesn't mean there are no options.

But then, there's always that group of players that just ignores all of the GM's clues about how bad the decision is that they're making, and they do something with "no chance of success" anyway. That's when you park three extremely bored-looking cheerleaders in the back of the BBEG's room, each holding a big card with a letter on it. Gimme a T! Gimme a P! Gimme...
 

Paul Farquhar

Explorer
I think what gets left off in the last few assertions that are floating about is that, in a game where the DM isn't concerned with any particular conclusion so long as it's fun, exciting, and memorable (even if it's bad for the characters), then said DM isn't also putting them into situations where they have no chance of success. In such games, the players choose to get themselves into those situations given an informed choice and typically have many ways of dealing with it rather than head on. In such a game, the DM telegraphs the level of the threat and leaves it up to the players to engage or not and how. So it's not really a binary as it is often presented.
They have a choice, they can confront the villain or the world ends.

They have been putting it off, trying to become more powerful, gather allies and weapons, but in the end they can confront evil head on or they can die. Or both.
 

iserith

Explorer
They have a choice, they can confront the villain or the world ends.

They have been putting it off, trying to become more powerful, gather allies and weapons, but in the end they can confront evil head on or they can die. Or both.
Yes, that's technically a choice.
 

cmad1977

Explorer
I mean.... go ahead and nap. NPCs aren’t usually static mobs that don’t respond to changes in their environment.
 

Uller

Explorer
...then said DM isn't also putting them into situations where they have no chance of success. In such games, the players choose to get themselves into those situations given an informed choice and typically have many ways of dealing with it rather than head on. ...
Right...but from the player POV there is also a bit of a social contract that they will follow the adventure presented by the DM rather than go down rabbit holes. So miscommunications can happen. As DM I think I am presenting a few different choices, one of which is obvious folly while the players end up focusing on on the obvious and not the folly because they are thinking the other side of that contract is the DM won't present challenges that are too hard.
the
I try to use a rule of three for this situation. I'm running Forge of Fury right now (SPOILERS!!!).

My players typically use stealth and subterfuge rather than brute force. But for some reason they chose brute force on their approach to this one...

The road leads directly to the dungeon door. But I also described smoke rising from cracks in the side of the hill, an NPC told them about humanoid creatures that come out of the ground on the other side to snatch prisoners and they are aware of a dragon that hunts the area around the nearby lake. All of those hint at secret entrances. They know orcs use the dungeon as a staging point for raids.

After describing all of this they said they go up to the entrance (which is guarded). Before they got there, I asked them if they search anything first (HINT HINT!). They decided to look around and found tracks of orcs leaving recently mingled with lots of older orc tracks going up and down the road. They said they proceed. So then as they got close I asked them again if they do anything other than just walk up...they decided to use the two familiars they have to scout...they spotted the guards lounging by the door. I also repeated the bit about the smoke coming out of cracks and even told them that it looked more like wood smoke rather than any geothermal activity.

I felt like I was beating them over the head with all the signs that there are back ways in...Then one of them said he attacks the guards and the others said they joined them. I felt like I had given them the option 3 times to not go with the frontal assault that I though might doom them. They chose it anyway. It was on them at this point.

But one thing I did not do that I have seen some DMs do is enforce a "punishment" on them for not following the path I thought they should go. Once they were locked into the frontal assault I readily pointed out things the PCs would notice that maybe the players would not that could be used to their advantage or used against them. Places to take cover from the arrow slits, the fact that the doors were open and could be barred from the inside, when they spotted an ogre I pointed out the squeezing rules. I also had the orcs and their allies act individually on knowledge they would have and their own personal goals. In other words I did not have them all act as one unit with perfect knowledge of what the PCs were doing in order for me to "win" the fight.

I even hedged just a bit and decided that the Orc Eye of Gruumsh was envious of the Ogre and allowed him to be killed by the PCs by staying out of the fight. This leaves room for some post battle RP rather than just more combat encounters...

My point is as I said before and you reinforced: A DM's job is not to impose solutions or outcomes on the PCs. A DM's job is to describe the options the players have and the knowledge the PCs have and maybe signal some of the potential consequences. Then let the chips fall where they may. If the PCs can figure out a reasonable way to get in a long rest before going after the BBEG, then kudos to them.
 
DMs shouldn't put the players into situations where they have no chance of success either...
I agree that DM's shouldn't, but if the players put themselves into a situation where they have no chance of success despite my every attempt to stop them, then ultimately I have to respect their freedom to make their own choices and give them what they want. If I'm going to be an overprotective helicopter parent that stops the player every time they are going to get themselves killed or overrules the party when they are making choices that are incredibly stupid, then we might as well not play because I will be the only person at the table with any agency.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I agree that DM's shouldn't, but if the players put themselves into a situation where they have no chance of success despite my every attempt to stop them, then ultimately I have to respect their freedom to make their own choices and give them what they want. If I'm going to be an overprotective helicopter parent that stops the player every time they are going to get themselves killed or overrules the party when they are making choices that are incredibly stupid, then we might as well not play because I will be the only person at the table with any agency.
While I agree, I do try to give the PCs an escape route. I don't normally run a particularly lethal campaign unless the PC(s) do something really, really stupid.

Then again, never underestimate the ability of players to actually succeed when you least expect them to. There have been encounters I though would lead to the total obliteration of the party that turned into cake walks. Of course the opposite is true as well.
 

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