We use flanking. We like it.
Good for you, we find it very controversial because the effect is much too strong and it invalidates more clever tactics, but to each his own.
But, I immediately see a big difference. Most games I play are on a gridded map, because many players have had troubles with TotM and trying to keep things accurate. Which does matter, as I've had GMs in the past who have attacked a character in melee whom they couldn't reach, because they forgot where people moved to. We only really use Theater of the Mind for fights that are super simple or going to be super fast, like everyone ganging up on a single target. Because the game has shown us that 5ft/1square is a significant distance to track, through things like reach and wood elf movement, so we try to be accurate to that scale.
Grids are not accurate, grids are boardgamy. How can grids be accurate with the way 5e counts diagonals ? It's actually ridiculously INaccurate. For accuracy, use a VTT measuring distance as you move, but honestly, it's usually not important except when you want a gamist approach. Grids are an option in 5e anyway, and a badly defined one because it's just an option.
Sure, but the OP is talking about a person asking questions about what the enemy did. And that question was answered in this exchange. Because the paladin said they were spending a 3rd level spell slot on Divine Smite. That is the technical information that was being asked about in the OP.
And I don't need that technical information. If the player tells me "And I smite him for 10 damage", that is enough for me, the player can count his slots for himself, I don't need to know.
Let's look back at the questions the OP gives us.
Exchange #1: "Wait, how is that 6 points? Why did you roll another die? Is he a rogue? <PC-1> isn't flanked, so there shouldn't be sneak attack damage."
There seem to be three questions here, but the OP lists them all together. P5 in this instance isn't waiting for answers, he's thinking out loud. Q: how is that 6 points. A: Oh wait, I see another die. Q: Why did you roll another die? Observation: Must be some sort of ability. Q: (Possible answer) Is he a rogue? Complication: P1 isn't flanked, so that doesn't work.
The player, to my mind, is clearly thinking out loud, and following the logic. He isn't disputing that the character took 6 damage, and he knows it must be some sort of ability of the bandit, but the ability he can think of doesn't make sense in the context. And, this might be important. Was the bandit using magical arrows? Do you take more damage if you are standing in the light? Is it poison? These all matter, and some of them could be the DM hinting at something else. Then the OP confirms that is wasn't sneak attack, and there are more questions.
It's not even HIS character. So first, he should not even be talking. Second, he just spoke as much as the DM did to another player. So what would happen if everything did that ? The game would grind to a stop. Finally, and more importantly, the DM gave all the information in the initial description. The character of the Player 5 might not even have seen any of it, and even if he did, it's none of his business. He even actually forced the DM to repeat some information, and he is fishing for more that has nothing to do with him.
Exchange #2: "It's all piercing damage? So it's not an elemental buff. Is he a Ranger?
Enemies are not forced to have classes, and they don't have their specificities tattooed on their forehead.
Oh, <PC-1> was already wounded, is it extra damage from Colossus Slayer? Isn't that a d8? Wait, did you roll a d6 or a d8?"
Again, this is mostly thinking out loud to my eye. Q1: It's all piercing damage? Conclusion: So it's not an elemental buff (this eliminates many cantrips and spells like elemental weapon.) Q2: Is he a Ranger? (one of the only other classes that reliably adds non-elemental damage to their attacks without a save) Observations: Oh, P1 was already wounded Addendum, assuming enemy is Ranger: is it extra damage from Colossus Slayer? Complication: Isn't that a d8? Q for Clarity: Wait, did you roll a d6 or a d8?"
I'd say it is important to note that in both strings, the last part is the only real question.
Basically, he takes all the verbal space of the game for his personal consideration. Extremely rude.
And then we get to the final exchange, and the one place I'll say both parties kind of messed up at. First, the DM doesn't tell them it is a spell, which I feel he should have done,
Why ? It's only a verbal spell, with no visible effect, and the muttering was described. Do your PCs always have detect magic on ? Do they have natural +20 on arcana to recognise all spells when cast ?
instead he asks for Arcana. But the player derails here too, because if you are assuming ranger already, and arcana is being asked for, it is a spell, and therefor you can assume hunter's mark. Instead, they demand answers.
They don't have any right to demand anything. The DM has already given them all the information about what is happening in the game world.
But, I think the player is right in their objection, up to a point. They
Not "they", one of them did, whoever was the target.
saw what the bandit did, and spells are not supposed to be subtle to that degree during combat.
Nothing in the rules say this. Re-read the SAC, and it has nothing to do with combat.
Now, if the DM told them that they know the bandit cast a spell before firing, and the player demands to know which spell, I'd agree with the DM, you can roll arcana to figure out the specific spell, but knowing that P1 is under a spell that causes them to take more damage is information the party should have.
No it's not, again you are giving away arcana for free. It's not even obvious who is the target of the spell, by the way, it could have been the "ranger" himself.
Well, that would be silly since he was casting Spirit Guardians. And, why not tell them he casts spirit guardians, and outline the effects. You can do that and still describe at the same time.
Because it might be something else entirely. You gave no description, and that is much worse than not spelling out technical details.
And again, spirit guardians might be very different from one caster to the next, and I might design a power that looks like it, but is subtly (or not so subtly) different. Why spoil it when the PCs have no knowlege of what is being used ?
Actually, as I was showing earlier, I don't think he does want extreme details. The majority of his questions he answers himself, he's mostly thinking out loud and then asking a single question that seems pertinent.
He wants extreme details about the class of the NPC, what exact spell was used (it it was even a spell), all things that his character probably not even saw, nor had any reasonable reason to know.
We also abide by the PHB. You can't win or lose the game, but that certainly doesn't mean you can't win or lose a battle. I don't stop players from declaring that they claimed victory over the dragon by saying "Actually, the real victory was that we told a good story". No, they won against the dragon. They beat the challenges before them. And that is very different from "winning the game"
But, that achievement would be significantly lessened if in a pique of artistic flourish, I declared that the first critical hit dramatically struck the dragon's heart and did a Smaug death scene. Very dramatic for a book or a movie, much much less satisfying for the players in a game who are going to feel cheated out of their challenge, because it was just a matter of getting a single good blow in.
There needs to be a balance. And part of that balance for us is everyone agreeing to run the scenarios straight. Which means that I want to make as few mistakes as possible.
And we have a different balance, we don't care about the initial scenario, actually we might derail it completely with our actions as players, and there might be huge pans of complete improvisation.
Next time, you will require auditing on the scenario to check that the DM did not deviate ?
See, I don't believe that the DM is afforded any more respect than anyone else at the table. I am a DM. Yes, I have done work to prep the game. I also had a ton of fun doing it, and I chose to do that work because I wanted to run the game. The idea of somehow getting more respect than my peers because I wanted to do something fun, and volunteered to do that work is just alien to me. It would be like someone saying "I wanted steak tonight, so I went to the store and bought and prepared steaks in the way I want them. All you had to do was sit and eat the steaks I prepared, so you should give me respect for all this work of buying and preparing steaks." No... if you didn't want to do the work or spend the money, don't do it. You did, so you don't get to start demanding more respect because you made that choice.
Well, I come from a different culture, and from years and years of associative work in particular around caritative and LARP work. And even if people have personal reasons (including fun or not) for doing some work, respect is always due for work that has been done, especially by people who did not do anything themselves.
Everyone should be courteous to everyone, and if you want more than that, just because you volunteered to run a game, then I question your motives. Did you really want to run the game, or did you just want people to respect you for running the game? If it is the first, then why are you asking for respect above and beyond the players? I think it shoudl also be noted, I've never run a game out of my own home. I've also eaten food provided by the other players. So, do I get more respect than the person who spent money to feed us? Or the person whose house we are in? What if you are using a sourcebook provided by the player, and not the DM?
Again. The title of DM is singular, it doesn't mean that you are the one whose house and food everyone is using, it doesn't mean that the books are all yours. All it means is that you prepped and are running the game. And while that is work... generally it is work you volunteered to do, because you enjoy it.
Not always, like any work of that kind, there are parts to be enjoyed and others less so, but in any case it's still more than doing nothing.
Yes, magical effects are generally very noticeable.
Once more, no. Again, read the SAC, it depends on the spell.
No, this is fairly basic. Magic isn't The Force where it is completely invisible to the eye. And at the very least the person enchanted should be aware of it.
Again, not necessarily, read the SAC: "You’re aware that a spell is affecting you if it has a perceptible effect or if its text says you’re aware of it." It's certainly not the case with hunter's mark.
It seems you generally avoid major combats then, which does change things a lot. "Quick scuffles" aren't really what we bother with. I don't generally even consider it a fight unless it lasts part way through round two.
And I also mentioned major battles, that we have now and then, and yes, these can take a large part of an evening. But quick scuffles can last a few rounds.
This determination of knowledge that "the character should not have" gets thrown around a lot. But, again, the reality of the game world would give the character enormous amounts of knowledge that the player has no access to, so I find it generally silly to try and determine that a player should not have certain knowledge, when there are clear ways that the character would be able to infer an awful lot of it from the context they are in.
While in general, I agree that characters, living in the world, should have lots of basic knowledge about it, that does not give them the all-seeing eye especially during combat, and in particular automatic magic detection and identification.
And being all LARPers would definitely once again make your expeirence different from the norm. My players want coordination, and I encourage it because the tighter the team is, the fewer issues we tend to have. I ran a game for a bunch of people whose characters didn't get along, and it was a mess. No one was having fun.
It's totally different. What I'm saying is that total coordination during fights as if you have a tactical net deployed giving you total information about what's happening on the battlefield seems a bit too much to me.
Not in any of the movies, books or comics I've ever seen. Combat is often very easy to follow.
Well, we have not perused the sam media, obviously.
LARPing might be giving you a different style for how combat in DnD is being presented.
D&D is not presenting anything remotely like the way you are playing it either, certainly not in 5e. You are assuming way too much here, none of the examples presented support this.
I never said you were stupid, or that you always make mistakes. Just acknowleding that mistakes can happen, and that technical discussion is far better suited to fixing those mistakes than trying to do it "in-character"
Again, technical discussions might happen, but it it's once in a blue moon, there is no reason to slow down the game all the time and change an adventuring ambiance to a tactical boardgame in permanence to allow very rare technical discussions.
Um, if I am helping them write the story, then yes, they asked for my help.
Not necessarily, no. They might not want help, you might be butting in.
Otherwise, why am I involved at all? And DnD is a collaboration. The players and the DM are working together. It would find it beyond bizarre to meet up with a group of people, agree to work together, but then specify that unless I ask for help they are never to try and help me, because any mistakes I make can just be ignored.
And sometimes the PCs are discussing amongst themselves, and don't want the DM butting in. Happens all the time. They might be making mistakes, they might not be remembering things differently from the DM, they might also just be roleplaying, it's not an invitation to force your views.
I have watched critical role, not the second season as much, but the entire first season. I saw Laura Bailey for instance constantly getting frustrated by forgetting to cast her spell in the right order, and messing up. I saw people noting used resources and declaring their spells and to-hits. There is a lot of technical talk going on.
That is one player out of the whole lot, and it's so much less technical than what you advocate. And of course, they note a few things down, but do you hear them butting out during other people's turn to ask about technical details of what is happening there ? Certainly not.
And, I'm sorry, but you are wrong. I've read and seen slice of life stories. Things like daily spell slots, damage values for weapons, number of attacks per round, ect do not matter. I'm playing in a game that does have some heavy elements of slice of life, to the point that many of us forget what is on our character sheets, because it does not matter. And if you are playing an entire session without looking at your character sheet once, you weren't really playing DnD. Because you never interacted with the game of DnD at all. You were siting down and LARPing, which is fine, but you don't need DnD for that.
The fact that I don't need it for a whole evening does not mean I'm not playing the character defined there, and thinking about what I could technically do. It's a bit insulting that you claim that I'm not playing D&D because I'm not using rules and dice for a while. Tell me, where is the rule that says you are right about this, that you stop playing D&D when you don't use rules visibly for a certain amount of time ? Because, on the contrary, I have shown you the place in the books where they tell you that rules and dices are not important for playing the game well, and not what is best in the game.
These two are not mutually exclusive. You can have fun and still be struggling unfairly because of a mistake. Yes, it isn't devastating, the game isn't ruined by a single mistake, but that doesn't mean that I want to keep making them.
And when we say that we ruin the game more by having technical discussions and pointing out others' mistakes than by making small mistakes, that's just clearly our preference, please don't tell us that it makes the game worse.
Did you set that up ahead of time? Give the players any indication that this monster is somehow different and doesn't interact with hp? If you did, then that's extreme, but fine, you just put an extreme challenge.
And if I did not ? And why should they get any information before they try anything ? Right at the centre of the dreaded Tomb of Horrors, and they have no clue that they could find terrible and unknown magic ? Does it all have to be scripted and tame and according to the RAW ? You will have a very bad time proving to me that it's forbidden, especially since I have given you plenty of official excerpts that prove that what I'm doing is not only according to the rules, but also full in the spirit of the game (especially 5e).
If after the first blow is struck you decide, "nah, my demilich is going to die too quickly. Okay, player 1's attacks will only do 1 damage per attack, player 2 is using magic so no damage from any of his stuff, and player 3 does 0 damage because his maul isnt' enchanted" then you have cheated. Especially if you don't tell your players, who then proceed to waste resources on things you have decided no longer work. You have arbitrarily taken away abilities and effectively rewritten their character sheets with no reason or explanation. You have basically started playing an entirely different game than the players think they are playing.
No, you are the one defining the game that your players are playing because you impose the rules. But again, nothing in the game rules and in its spirit forbid you from doing differently, and im particular completely improvise any situationl, including their abilities and the effect that it has on players. If the players do something so absurd or so clever that it completely falls out of the realm of the rules, why do the rules matter more than the story ?
Again, you have very specific assumptions about the game, it's fine to enforce them at your table if this is what your players expect, but don't try to enforce that on the overall community, especially when the rulebooks tell you that you are wrong about your understanding of the spirit of the game. And don't call us cheaters for improvising monsters on the fly.
Childish DMs exist. Childish 10 year old DMs exist. Just like the player who cheats by only subtracting 1 hp each time they get hit or uses loaded dice is being childish and cheating, so is the DM.
OK, I'll drop this, 4 other contributors have told you that you are incorrect in this view, it's your right to stick to your guns, but don't think that you'll ever convince me of anything there, or the other contributors either.
Again, I am not saying you can't alter the rules ever for any reason. If you have a good reason to homebrew, and you clue your players in on more extreme changes to the game, then it can be a lot of fun. I've done it. And that isn't cheating.
And again, WHERE IS THIS OBGLIGATION TO CLUE THEM ? WHERE ?
You are inventing constraints and trying to pass them as absolute laws, but not only is it written nowhere in the rules, I have shown you time and time again that it's not in the spirit of the rules as written, it's actually the contrary which is written.
But, declaring unilaterally that no DM can ever cheat, because they make the rules, is setting yourself up for disaster. Obviously Good DMs never cheat, just like Good Players never cheat. But for the good to exist, so too must the bad, the childish and ect. And I'm willing to use strong language in those cases. You aren't just acting childish if you start manipulating the rules so you win, you are cheating. And DMs are capable of doing so.
This is childish. If a DM was bad enough to want to win, he does not even have to change the rules. Just being 100 tarrasques. Instant win, no cheating according to your definition.