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D&D 5E FeeFiFoFum *splat* goes the giants

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
We got to pre-buff a bit. Our sorcerer has an item which allowed him to bless the entire party, and the paladin cast aid, and my fighter (who has chef) gave out a few measly temp hp. The sorcerer won initiative, fireball, hit all of them... does nothing.

The 3 young remoraz has AC 16, the big one AC 18 (not 19, sorry about that). The big one also attacked twice a round. The 3 young one rushed forward due to high initiative, while the big one was last.

The returning player (also level 7) is a Paladin of Glory with a giant slayer 2nd handed sword - you'll note that's not super helpful vs remoraz. He also has a wand with ice powers, and he wasted some time learning it does nothing vs remoraz. He rushed forward to distract the big one and keep it busy.

Particularly painful was when he took a huge hit to protect his horse, and then "cleverly" used the ice wand to create a sleet storm to cover his retreat and slow the remoraz down... but it has tremor sense, so the GM ruled it didn't have disadvantage on the AoO, hit the paladin again, brought him to zero and swallowed him.

We had 2 allies - two awakened trees - but they did not act for 2 rounds, as we learned that they apparently don't help you unless specifically told. They then delayed the big Remoraz for 2 rounds which was clutch, but also very importantly the GM ruled that they punched the big remoraz in the stomach hard enough to make it throw up, thus expulsing the paladin from its stomach. This was the GM going easy on us, because this situation was going to be a guaranteed PC kill otherwise (stomach acid damage = auto failed death saves...). The sorcerer was able weave through the commotion and heal the paladin, which then used lay on hand to get back to near full.

Our monk almost got killed and he resorted to hit and run tactics. Using a +1 whip, con 12... it was rough. I think he managed to land 2 stunning strikes the entire battle.

My fighter was ... fairly effective. Not a ton of damage, but lots of defensive use of his psi power to shield the others and the luck feat to keep himself alive. I know some of you want to know what items he has and the ones that mattered in this fight was +1 studded leather armor and a sun blade - yes, it's a good weapon, but in this situation, it's a + 2 sword.

We managed to kill the 3 small ones, but the big one was still kicking and a lot of our resources were depleted - the paladin was back down to 15 hp. But then more allies showed up and we won the fight. But yes, it was brutal. Without the bless OR the trees we would probably have lost people. In fact, you could say we did because the GM essentially gave the paladin a get out of jail card, because there was no way we could have rescued him.

So in other words, the DM may not have used their infinite dragons but instead used infinite remorhaz. Which has been my point. The DM can always make more difficult encounters. Ultimately it's up to the DM to figure out how to make encounters fun. Did they really plan on exactly when reinforcements would arrive, or did they just wait until it was dramatic?

D&D is as challenging as the DM and players want it to be and no encounter calculation can take into account every variable. In this case the paladin made some, shall we say, less than tactically sound decisions. The DM made some calls that were not strictly in the rules (it takes 2 turns to swallow someone, attack and grapple first round then swallow second), the punch getting the paladin out.

But imagine if the sorcerer had gotten off two lightning bolts managing to line things up just right while the targets failed their saves? What if the paladin hadn't taken unnecessary hits or done ineffective attacks? Would this encounter suddenly have been "surprisingly easy"?
 

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Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Well for context, as a baseline this fight was 4.2x deadly compared to the hill giants 2.1x. Literally twice the deadliness of the last encounter. Even in my game where my players knock down regular deadlies like nothing would I consider a 4.2x deadly a "real good chance of death" type of fight.

Obviously its clear this party would have suffered deaths or a TPK if not for DM intervention. But what started this thread in the first place wasn't the notion that PCs are invincible, yes it is always possible to kill PCS. The concern was the "degree" of difficulty a group of players seems to be able to face.
a few comments I can make here, but I'll start with the math.

I'll note to start that I don't know how to account to the presence of the 2 animated tree allies. Even if you ignore the "DM intervention" to save the paladin, their holding the large worm for 2 rounds was very important.

So, math. (1800X3 + 7200)x2 = 25 2000 xp. Our encounter budget for deadly was 6800, so it's "3.7 times deadly". I think you may have been off because of the extra PC in this battle.

What I think is interesting here is seeing what level would this be still considered deadly - and it's 14. I really don't think this would be a challenge for a party that level at all...

Which brings me to a more overall conclusion - Of course, it's always possible for the DM to kill PCs. I have heard many say that the DMG encounter guide is too "easy" on the PCs and I think I would agree... this new battle doesn't change my mind.
 

Mort

Legend
Which brings me to a more overall conclusion - Of course, it's always possible for the DM to kill PCs. I have heard many say that the DMG encounter guide is too "easy" on the PCs and I think I would agree... this new battle doesn't change my mind.
Gotta say, from the description of this fight - it seems like your DM likes to put you guys in dangerous situations but then nudges things just enough so you guys don't actually die, the addition of the awakened trees seems in that direction(If nothing else, Remorhaz don't spit things out unless they take 30hp from inside, so he was generous there).

I mean the Adult alone was doing enough damage to down half the group in 1 hit and down anyone in the group in 2 (we're talking 50-100 damage per round with +11 to hit). Couple that with the Young ones doing around 27 HP on a hit (and there were 3 of them).

The fact that the mage wasted the 1st round on fireball (which did nothing) - could easily have been a death sentence if the DM had chosen it to be so.

I guess that's just another personal preference. I prefer to not heavily over CR (unless I'm sure the group can handle it, or the group puts themselves into a position where it's naturally unavoidable) so I don't feel I have to hold back or nudge.
 

Stalker0

Legend
Which brings me to a more overall conclusion - Of course, it's always possible for the DM to kill PCs. I have heard many say that the DMG encounter guide is too "easy" on the PCs and I think I would agree... this new battle doesn't change my mind.
So I was thinking some more about why I have such a different reaction to 5e's encounter building than I did 4e and 3e. Now at first I thought it might be the bounded accuracy, higher level monsters don't scale that quickly and so low level people can take out higher level threats much more easily then the flavor might allow.

That is part of it, but that's not SO new, I mean one good 3x crit in 3e and you can do way more damage than normal and take out a big baddie. So what is it?

I think part of my issue is the removal of the "you must be this cool to fight this monster" type mechanics. Lets use the 3.5 spell blasphemy as an example. Blasphemy was a minor issue if you were about equal with the bad guy, but if you were a bit lower level, you were stopped cold (literally, it paralyzed you ;). A 13th level cleric was a terror to any party 8th level or lower because this one spell could absolutely curbstomp them. Even if on paper, and 8th level party could easily do enough damage to take out a 13th level cleric..... you really had to consider if it was worth the risk.

Another example is level drain, say a vampire. Now sure level drain is bad for anyone, but the lower the level you are, the greater the risk that you just die from it straight off. So a vampire was a very scary threat to a lower level party. Even DR is a good example, DR is nastier the less damage you do....higher level parties with more raw damage are less effected by them. In 5e where everything is halved, everyone is hit equally.

Now the mechanics of 3e were far from ideal (and 5e cleaned a lot of things up) but I think what this did is give certain classes of monster "riff raff" protection. No matter how physically strong a party of X level is....when dealing with a Y tier monster, they always had to tread carefully. But in 5e it mostly comes down to DPR vs hitpoints.... yes some higher level abilities are scary but generally its more about stronger DCS (and not that much stronger) and more hitpoints/damage. As long as the party can match that needed DPR....they can take on a great deal of high level threats.

I'll try to put it in an even simpler way. 5e uses CR as a warning.... if you use a CR higher than your average party level, you are adding in a lot of risk. I think that is only true with a select group of monsters, past 5th level, a party can often take on CRs way above that weight class, and I think its because those monsters have no "riff raff" protection.

Here is an example of some more "5e style" mechanic that might offer some form of the "riff raff" protection I am referring to.

Aura of Dread: Any creature within 60 feet that has a proficiency bonus of +3 or less gains the frightened condition until they leave the aura.

Adamantine Scales: Unless the attacker has a +4 proficiency bonus or higher, they suffer disadvantage on all attack rolls.

Weakening Mist: Make a constitution saving throw. On a failure, take exhaustion equal to 6 - your proficiency bonus.

Skill Absorption: Make a charisma saving throw. Your proficiency bonus drops by 1, and the creature's increases by 1. When your proficiency bonus drops to 0, you become paralyzed.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
Assuming you use the main encounter system (because almost all of the math is the same formula as core) what about it do you find complex?

A lot of computations for the party, the opposition and the mix of them in the environment. Instead of filling a party of X adventurers at level Z and adding monsters to the right amount, it requires a lot of computations. Some people might find it useful though.

also it does factor in surprise.
I missed that, my apologies.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
I'll try to put it in an even simpler way. 5e uses CR as a warning....

I agree, but then I hope that we agree that this has little to do with the encounter calculator. It's just that bounded accuracy makes things more "integrated", there are no "power gaps" that one mus have to be able to challenge higher level monsters.

Which I think is cool, by the way, because at any level, I can still create very easily a much more dangerous encounter for any group, simply by adding more hit points to a monster and maybe adding a few points to attacks, DC and defenses, and at the same time since lots of people never play at really high level, it gives them a chance to fight high CRs monsters if the circumstances favor them.

It's CaP, for sure (if I understood the term), but it's perfectly acceptable if that is what you are looking for, and it works for CaW too. Where it's harder to do (and which 4e did much better) is CaS, because the circumstances are so important that you can always doubt whether you fairly beat it, and also you might come upon totally casual people telling you that they have easily beaten what was a hard fight for you, which I suppose can be a bit vexing... :)
 

Stalker0

Legend
Instead of filling a party of X adventurers at level Z and adding monsters to the right amount, it requires a lot of computations. Some people might find it useful though.
So let me challenge that slightly. Lets consider what we do now vs what we would need to do with this system change.

INFREQUENT CALCULATIONS (only done once in a while by the DM)
  1. Determine PC level
  2. Update PC ECL
  3. Determine PC XP Thresholds
Encounter Calculations (aka what a DM will do most of the time)
  1. Calculate Base Monster XP
  2. Determine PC/Monster Style
  3. Modify XP for Encounter Type
  4. Modify XP for Monster Number
Encounter Type is two charts (and one of them is just a pure lookup so what modifier to use), and once you have set it, if you want to adjust monsters to "just the right amount" you don't have to keep referencing. Once set it works just like you do today, you add another monster, check the monster number chart to see if the modifier changes, rerun the formula with the updated base monster XP. Rinse and Repeat.... the encounter type modifier is actually the simplest thing here as its the part of the formula that is not changing, the monster number and base Xp are the values that change with number, so those are the calculations you keep updating.... which is what you do in the core system right now.

Now of course it is more complex than the base system, but is it really "that much more"?
 

Stalker0

Legend
It's CaP, for sure (if I understood the term), but it's perfectly acceptable if that is what you are looking for, and it works for CaW too. Where it's harder to do (and which 4e did much better) is CaS, because the circumstances are so important that you can always doubt whether you fairly beat it, and also you might come upon totally casual people telling you that they have easily beaten what was a hard fight for you, which I suppose can be a bit vexing... :)
Maybe I'm showing my age, but I have no idea what those acronyms mean :)
 

Mort

Legend
I agree, but then I hope that we agree that this has little to do with the encounter calculator. It's just that bounded accuracy makes things more "integrated", there are no "power gaps" that one mus have to be able to challenge higher level monsters.

Which I think is cool, by the way, because at any level, I can still create very easily a much more dangerous encounter for any group, simply by adding more hit points to a monster and maybe adding a few points to attacks, DC and defenses, and at the same time since lots of people never play at really high level, it gives them a chance to fight high CRs monsters if the circumstances favor them.

It's CaP, for sure (if I understood the term), but it's perfectly acceptable if that is what you are looking for, and it works for CaW too. Where it's harder to do (and which 4e did much better) is CaS, because the circumstances are so important that you can always doubt whether you fairly beat it, and also you might come upon totally casual people telling you that they have easily beaten what was a hard fight for you, which I suppose can be a bit vexing... :)

CaW = combat as war;
CaS = combat as sport;
CAP = combat as performance? Not sure of this one!
 


Lyxen

Great Old One
CaW = combat as war;
CaS = combat as sport;
CAP = combat as performance? Not sure of this one!

About the last one, it was used yesterday in a context that led me to believe that it's simply narrative combat where the results is mostly linked to the performance of the actors in terms of role, but I might be wrong.
 

dave2008

Legend
Aura of Dread: Any creature within 60 feet that has a proficiency bonus of +3 or less gains the frightened condition until they leave the aura.

Adamantine Scales: Unless the attacker has a +4 proficiency bonus or higher, they suffer disadvantage on all attack rolls.

Weakening Mist: Make a constitution saving throw. On a failure, take exhaustion equal to 6 - your proficiency bonus.

Skill Absorption: Make a charisma saving throw. Your proficiency bonus drops by 1, and the creature's increases by 1. When your proficiency bonus drops to 0, you become paralyzed.
I like the idea of keying certain monster traits off of prof. bonus. I like that it works for PCs and monsters too. Nice idea - I might have to borrow it!
 

CaW = combat as war;
CaS = combat as sport;
CAP = combat as performance? Not sure of this one!
Yup. I brought that up.

For those who missed it: it's when the combat isn't about challenge, but about showing off your character. That could mean the cool thing this crazy build can do, or a narrative thing that ties to your story. Winning or losing is incidental to the point of the scene.

It's not war, or even a sport: it's just a show.
 

ad_hoc

(he/they)
Yup. I brought that up.

For those who missed it: it's when the combat isn't about challenge, but about showing off your character. That could mean the cool thing this crazy build can do, or a narrative thing that ties to your story. Winning or losing is incidental to the point of the scene.

It's not war, or even a sport: it's just a show.

This is the first I've heard the term but it makes sense.

A lot of groups play that way and not CaS or CaW so it's good to have another term for it. Both the 'theatre kids' type of player as well as the 'optimizers' use Combat as Performance.

Fundamentally what probably separates the theatre kids and the optimizers is that the former care about how their characters work together while the latter are in competition with each other to see who can show off the most during the combat. I could still have fun in a theatre kids game but an optimizers game would turn me off.

Still, my preferred gaming is Combat As War. When starting a new campaign I often have new players fill out the group but through it all I am thankful I have had at least 1 player from a previous game go to the next one. This is important so the players know that TPKs really can and do happen.

I still have players who are looking for that heroic fantasy of always charging in no matter the perceived danger only to die horribly. If they know there is a chance they can die it's all good. If they have the expectation that things will be nudged so they are not actually in danger then there can be hurt feelings.

I don't like when DMs pretend that things are dangerous when they know full well that they're going to ensure everyone will be alright. I think we can still have Combat as Performance when everyone knows the conclusion is foregone, it's just how we get there that is the fun part. The DM lying to the players is a no go and I think may be why in part no matter how much we warn some players at my table that they really could die if they do the thing they are still shocked when their character really does die.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
A lot of groups play that way and not CaS or CaW so it's good to have another term for it. Both the 'theatre kids' type of player as well as the 'optimizers' use Combat as Performance.

Are you sure about the latter ? Most of the ones I've met are CaS, I think...
 

Are you sure about the latter ? Most of the ones I've met are CaS, I think...
At a table of only optimizers, I think you'll most likely end up at CaS. But at a table with assorted playstyles, optimizers will want to show off their cool tricks at least, and as a dm I'm inclined to let them do so at least once. Even in game that's mostly CaW. It's fun for them.
 

HammerMan

Explorer
Yes, it is, I've tried. The fact is that 4e powers are all combat orientated, there is nothing in the classes for exploration or social apart from skills. Rituals take too long and too many resources. So yes, it is harder, it was definitely harder for our style of play.
sigh...okay, lets dispel some of your lies first...

at 2nd level everyone got utility powers they get to choose from some non damaging combat abilities and other more role play socol or exploration abilities

wizard cantrips where all non combat.

remember those rituals that both A can't help you cause they can't be done in combat, and B don't fit your style.

90% of the social/exploration IS skills in every edition..,. including 5e. What class feature does fighter get that is for exploration in 5e? what about social? (and again negating skills) what about the rogue? The ranger and druid gets class features that do, and of course (because spells rule everything) spells CAN be other things...

You don't like 4e, that is fine. I don't care if you do or not, but don't like it don't pretend that there is no way to play Combat as War in 4e...there is. Again my BEST 4e game went multi levels with 0 combat.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
sigh...okay, lets dispel some of your lies first...

Let's see who lies, my friend...

at 2nd level everyone got utility powers they get to choose from some non damaging combat abilities and other more role play socol or exploration abilities

Oh yes, I went back to the PH, and I looked at the first so called utility power:
  • Bless: Effect: Until the end of the encounter, all targets gain a +1 power bonus to attack rolls.
Oh yes, so much social and exploration.

Out of curiosity, I went for the whole list of the cleric:
  • Cure Light Wounds: The target regains hit points as if it had spent a healing surge.
  • Divine Aid: The target makes a saving throw with a bonus equal to your Charisma modifier.
  • Sanctuary: The target receives a +5 bonus to all defenses. The effect lasts until the target attacks or until the end of your next turn.
  • Shield of Faith: The targets gain a +2 power bonus to AC until the end of the encounter.
All of these are linked to combat, except maybe Cure LIght Wounds, but not ONE of them is linked to exploration and even less social. So now who is the liar, pray tell ?

wizard cantrips where all non combat.

Ah yes, cantrips, great, all 4 of them, so much power for exploration and social... And all from one class. Fantastic.

remember those rituals that both A can't help you cause they can't be done in combat, and B don't fit your style.

As I've mentioned, rituals have many drawbacks, in particular the fact that they are very slow and cost a lot. That being said, I agree that rituals were one of the fine inventions of 4e, but still most of them are fairly useless. Come on, Discern lies allows you, after 10 minutes of rituals, to discern lies for 5 minutes ?

90% of the social/exploration IS skills in every edition..,. including 5e. What class feature does fighter get that is for exploration in 5e? what about social? (and again negating skills) what about the rogue? The ranger and druid gets class features that do, and of course (because spells rule everything) spells CAN be other things...

in 5e all classes have powers, a lot of them non-combat, in addition to the spells that many classes have.

You don't like 4e, that is fine. I don't care if you do or not, but don't like it don't pretend that there is no way to play Combat as War in 4e...there is. Again my BEST 4e game went multi levels with 0 combat.

Then what were you playing 4e for ? Again, I'm not saying that it's impossible to do what you did, but then, what was the point of playing 4e, of having a balanced system for all classes in combat, of burdening yourself with all these powers that were never used ? And where, in fact, the extremely few non-combat abilities were even more concentrated on a few classes than in other editions ?
 

HammerMan

Explorer
in 5e all classes have powers, a lot of them non-combat, in addition to the spells that many classes have.



Then what were you playing 4e for ? Again, I'm not saying that it's impossible to do what you did, but then, what was the point of playing 4e, of having a balanced system for all classes in combat, of burdening yourself with all these powers that were never used ? And where, in fact, the extremely few non-combat abilities were even more concentrated on a few classes than in other editions ?
so funny you ignore that other then skill rogues and fighters get 0 exploration and 0 social abilities...

as for why we used 4e (and why I still like it in many ways better then 5e) is those powers you dislike, allow me to make a warlord (the class) who is a smart fighter instead of a strong one... and a charismatic one too... I can take some skills some rituals and some utility and then be as useful as a cleric AND STILL NOT use magic...


Especially when reflavoring for a modern "Urban arcane" setting 4e works way better then any other D&D game.

I see 4e 3e 2e 5e Basic alll being the exact same amount of each 'pillar' as they call it now...the thing is 4e does away with caster supremacy that every other edition has.

why wouldn't I use ANY RPG for role playing? it is in the name it is the RP part of RPG
 

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