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General GM's are you bored of your combat and is it because you made it boring?

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
What does that mean in this context, though? I always play a monster true to its personality, knowledge, limitations, advantages and so on (to the best of my ability!).
Perfect! :)

What "give a monster an even break" means in this context, however, is that if its personality etc. says it would most likely do X then X is what it'll do even if that isn't perhaps the most exciting or interesting thing for the table.

Strafing dragons, for example: if a particular dragon is cautious and-or has run afoul of adventurers before, most likely it's going to try to inflict the greatest harm to its foes while taking the least harm itself; and that means it'll either strafe or just fly away. Not much fun for the table, but good for the dragon.

A different dragon who is far more confident (or overconfident) in its abilities might just sit there and let the party come to it. I had a big ol' dragon do this once: it was so convinced that nothing could possibly hurt it (much) that it just sat there and waited for the party - who it had seen coming from miles away - to find it. Then it started talking to them, negotiating while it sized them up and all the while (once it realized how much treasure they had!) intending to catch them off guard with a breath and go from there.

The players/PCs got bored with the talking long before I did, and dropped the hammer on the dragon; and though they didn't 'surprise' it they still did enough damage to ground it before it had a chance to try and fly away.
 

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ClaytonCross

Kinder reader Inflection wanted
Another thing that has been toying in my mind, is the notion of setting difficult challenges for yourself as the DM to accomplish during a combat.

We've already talked about establishing the motivations of your enemies, and this covers a lot of the same ground, but there is something extra I want to add: what if the thing your enemies are trying to do, is actually pretty difficult and will require all your skill as a tactician?

I'll give an example.

--snip--
I like this idea but I don't know how to add it as a simple, clear, and separate idea. It seems like a cleaver combination of #2 Consider team monster’s motivation, #4 Consider Alternative threats to large piles of HP, and #5 Consider the power of friendly Rivalry. While I like it as an example and it is a good depiction of making things work for you, I think adding cleaver examples would end up making the post even longer and risk it becoming too daunting a read to be a functional set of guids. Though I do recognize there is value in showing the interaction and manipulation these into an idea.. maybe if I had grabbed the second post too I could a have use that as an examples section but I lacked to foresight to something like that.
 
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ClaytonCross

Kinder reader Inflection wanted
I think the key point of the Dragons stories that keep getting listed is not if option A or option B is "the right way to run a dragon"... The point is no two dragons need to run the same way. Intelligent creatures can have different motives (#2. Consider team monster’s motivation), different strategies (#4 Consider Alternative threats to large piles of HP), and different allies (#3. Consider adding variety to your units). They also don't have to all be ancient dragons, their are many tiers of dragons and different colors with different natures. It possible to have two mating CR9 young dragons fighting your level 13 party instead of one CR 13 Adult dragon. In that case one could be a constant melee fighter positioning itself between the clutch and the party and the other strafing from the air. The Dragons could be afraid of the party and the GM playing the dragons with all he has (#5 Consider the power of friendly Rivalry.) because while a clutch of chromatic dragons might be something a party of adventurers might be sent to deal with these dragons are defending their own and willing to fight to the death ... unless the party leaves or perhaps offers to let them relocate (#4 Consider Alternative threats to large piles of HP).

Its not about if your running a Dragon encounter right. Its about if your running all dragon encounters the same and boring yourself for no reason. If your content or happy with the same dragon battle repeated and scaled with levels every time ... that is actually fine. If your finding your self dreading running another dragon encounter ... its possible and perhaps even likely because its an encounter your repeating rather than reprising. Even if your playing the exact same dragon your party fought before, that somehow escaped, you can change a number of factors to ensure that its not the same fight. You can add a number of elements to break away from "the formula" and enjoy running it instead of dreading it.
 

There are in my experience four ways that the mechanics themselves can encourage combat to not be boring - and D&D 5e fails hard at all four. I'm not bored of running combats, but I am bored of D&D 5e combat.
  • Speed - if combat is fast I simply don't have time to be bored. D&D 5e combat is slow.
  • Threatening consequences - if combat is swingy then every dice roll matters because it could lead to death or serious long term conseqences. Hit points are almost consequence free other than death, and bounded accuracy leads to monsters that are easily hit, which leads to bullet sponge enemy design.
  • Tactically varied - if fictional positioning matters then each fight is going to be different. 5e goes out of its way to destroy tactics. Flanking isn't a thing. Spellcasters are as effective with most of their spells in melee as at range. Thanks to the rules for finesse and throwing weapons an NPC archer does almost as much damage as accurately with a shortsword as a bow, and a brute does almost as much damage with a javelin as accurately as a one handed axe. This all means that the main tactic that matters is focus fire.
  • Otherwise encourages narration - this covers a range of things including hit location and wound rules, stunting, the Wushu Open giving an extra dice for each thing described, scene based aspects, choices of what the success means as in Apocalypse World, etc.
D&D 5e gives me none of these things. This doesn't mean I can't run an interesting combat in 5e - it means that if I've succeeded in running an interesting combat in 5e I've done it despite the system, dragging the system with me. If I run a fast and tense combat in Apocalypse World with threatening consequences that's normal and easy because that's what Apocalypse World encourages. If I run an interesting and swingy combat in D&D 4e with two of the players reduced below 0hp at different times, and the players working together to push the monsters into their own pit traps then it's been a joy because that's the sort of game 4e encourages. If my Fate game has made the scenery pop with aspects, and there are long term consequences for the characters with it ending in surrender rather than death this too has been helped by the rules because that's what Fate does and what Fate encourages.

Meanwhile the bolded suggestions in the original post of what to do almost say the same thing. "Take the gameplay the rules of 5e acually encourage and flush them down the toilet. Instead make up your own stuff."
The bolded parts of the OP said:
  • The worse offender however is the ready to die through away encounters - D&D 5e is based round an expectation of about six encounters per day and there is little in the way of rules support for combat that isn't to the death (unlike e.g. Fate).
  • HP bag boss (or mini boss) - otherwise known as "Using monsters out of the Monster Manual".
  • Rules are meant to be broken. - otherwise known as "Don't follow the rules of D&D but make up your own"
  • Consider team monster’s motivation - something I always do. But the combat paradigm gives little other than lethal fights, with running away being hard. This is another case where the advice is to make your own rules up.
  • Consider adding variety to your units. - as mentioned in the "Tactically varied" section above this D&D 5e is not good at this. My archers are almost as good at melee as at shooting and my front line is great with throwing weapons. I'm again fighting the system and using vastly more complex monsters than I was for stronger effects in 4e.
  • Consider Alternative threats to large piles of HP - admittedly some of this is in the rules. But it generally says "reinvent what 4e did and 5e kept a little of."
  • Consider the power of friendly Rivalry. - this is one of the many places where 5e's lack of balance and poor CR system is an issue. It's a "rivalry" between someone omnipotent and who is deciding what the challenges are by eye and people at their mercy.
  • Consider Home-brew System additions - fix the system yourself.
If those are the solution then why on earth do I have a large and relatively complex system with multiple 320 page rulebooks in the first place? That list of solutions is pretty much an open admission that the system itself is a problem and the DM needs to do the work of fixing it as well as every other part of DMing.
 


nevin

Explorer
RUMOURED.

Come on. RUMOURED. It's all bloody rumours. Find an account from a society, written by that society, where they actually did the thing. Or better yet, find archaeological evidence. Funny how there never is any of either, eh?

Probably because it didn't actually happen! Maybe I'm wrong, but let's see some evidence, not trash-talk from some Athenian prat or whoever.

You say you're not ignorant, and maybe you aren't, but why then repeat dodgy rumours with substantiation or qualification? Like, let's look at Herodotus. The Father of History of the Father of Lies, depending on who you ask. Dude is either his direct experience (very valuable first-hand accounts) or metric tons of rumours. To him tell it, no-one ever took a city by siege, ever. There's always an exotic/romantic tale about how people snuck into a city, or there was a traitor, or whatever. I love Herodotus but he's full of nonsense. Half of what he's saying is probably totally true, and half of it is probably complete bollocks. And we don't know which without other evidence, and that's true of most "rumours".

The Spartans were a failed state from pretty much day 1.

They enslaved a much larger population (something rarely but not never seen in history before/since), and then had to refocus their entire society into violently oppressing that slave population (and no I don't agree that a better word is "serf", but that's a whole other discussion). Pretty much every decision they made comes back to "Oh crap there are so many of them, we gotta keep them from revolting!", whether it's their military machine (which was largely used to suppress said slave revolts), to allowing women to own property (which was necessary with the professional military taking the men away full-time), to the use of exposure (which was part of the propaganda machine that kept them fanatic).

And don't make me start talking about the 700 Thespians, either, who history loves to ignore. "300" my arse.

They managed to stop oppressing the slaves long enough to have one moment of glory, and history forever acts like they were amazing, when in fact they were idiots who happened to be useful in one particular situation.



I don't think there's any evidence to support that, that I'm aware of. Explanations like this fail to account for that fact that they're humans, and so very much bound by emotion and often irrational beliefs, rather than cold calculus. In reality there are going to have been situations where people who could do tasks were ditched because they were unpopular and/or . so didthe situation was desperate, and people who were almost entirely useless were kept because they were beloved and/or sacred.

There's a temptation, I think, to see the stone age/bronze age as a sort "post-apocalypse", but studies on actual H-G tribes tend to suggest it was more edenic than apocalyptic most of the time.
every culture of any size in that region had slaves, Athenian power and the Roman power stood on the back of slavery so did Persians, most African nation's the egyptions, China, Japan, and almost every country documented. I think your feelings are getting in the way of actual history which like the people in it was always a hot mess.
 


To answer the top level question, as the GM I don’t get bored by combat.

GMs have to differentiate between “role playing” and “roll playing” just like players do.

I run my monsters and various opponents based on motivation. It’s fun to consider all the different creatures in D&D and then have them react based on the encounter.

It’s not uncommon for my monsters, aside from mindless undead and constructs, to choose to not fight to the death. Also, I make it fairly common for monsters to parlay. Finally, I try to make encounters dynamic, with possibility of reinforcements or turning a small encounter to a running battle.

By taking these steps, it significantly reduces the “grind” encounters that I run.
 

Johnny3D3D

Adventurer
At higher levels, I sometimes find that the way basic building blocks of the game -hitpoints, AC, levels, the d20- contribute to combat being a bit of a slog. In the case of 5E, this is especially true because increased HP is often used as a primary mechanism for making higher level monsters more difficult.
 

The HP bloat from 3.xed and onward is a bit problematic but it can be circumvented by using lower level minions. With bounded accuracy, lower level foes with a simple bless spell can stay a relevant threat for a long time.

Take the veteran as an example. Giving him a shield raises its AC to 20. Raise the strength by two and with a bless spell the veteran will stay at its CR but will be a threat even for high level characters if used as a support with other veterans for a mini or big boss. Yes lower level foes are vulnerable to AoE spells, but if you play them right, they take away resources that the players will not have for later.

A front row of veterans using dodge in a hallway can bug down your players as their own ranged and spell casters will pester the players back row. If they have defensive spells cast on them too, they could go as high as an AC of 22 that you have disadvantage against. Even for 15th level characters, these buggers will be frustrating to fight. The melee chars will beg for a nice fire ball.

And that is only a small example of what can be done. Those same veteran could suddenly gang up on one character on the front line to knock him down, push him or grab him and break the PCs' formation. Possibilities are endless. Combat is as boring or exciting as you make it to be. The key here is to never (or rarely) use mono type encounters. They are useful in the lower levels but as the characters gets higher, you will need varied encounters and tactics to keep them on their toes.
 

ClaytonCross

Kinder reader Inflection wanted
At higher levels, I sometimes find that the way basic building blocks of the game -hitpoints, AC, levels, the d20- contribute to combat being a bit of a slog. In the case of 5E, this is especially true because increased HP is often used as a primary mechanism for making higher level monsters more difficult.
This very true if your using average level X fight single boss CR level X+1. Less true if your using 3 boss fights with each being CR X/3. Though the Action economy is a little longer, Damage scales with the party and Monster HP to meat it. If your using lower monsters the increased actin economy and utility can keep the threat level while party damage should out curve the HP so fights will be less of a slog. That's my experience any way.
 

ClaytonCross

Kinder reader Inflection wanted
--omite--
D&D 5e gives me none of these things.
--omite--
I tried going through all this but entirely hyperbole and/or how your play it at your table. All of the problems or lack of rules you complained about have optional rules your not using or are controlled / caused by the GMs style of play. Speed is based on enemy selection, number of enemies, tactics used, etc. if your GM is using average partly level X , 1 enemy CR (X+1) then that will be true but the rules don't ever say to do that the GM does. Only the GM decides consequences at a table, 5e has a lot of rules for tactical play that a lot GMs are not using.... the number of times I have had a character look around for cover and their strangely not be any again... because every single time we fight its an empty room... is not by 5e design but by GMs not using 5e design elements.

The only think in the whole post that its a mark for me is this:

"Otherwise encourages narration - this covers a range of things including hit location and wound rules, stunting, the Wushu Open giving an extra dice for each thing described, scene based aspects, choices of what the success means as in Apocalypse World, etc."

However, stunning is in the game. ...The rest are different mechanics from different games. I do agree there are other games that use systems that add something to the game. I also find sometimes I play those games and those systems are annoying. So I would not mind an add-on book or a list of cool homebrew systems but just like when we used the injury table from the DMG, its quite often these systems get diched at the table because only the GM or one player likes it and everyone else finds it annoying. I for example don't like the "the Wushu Open giving an extra dice for each thing described" its basically making the most descriptive player over powered and results in silly long descriptions of how you punch someone in the face to ensure they get that dice which slows down the game ... That just how I feel about it.
 

Scott Christian

Adventurer
You say "great times" sarcastically, but literally all the scientific evidence we have suggests that hunter-gatherers were larger, healthier, lived longer, had much more free time, and were less worn-down/damaged by their lifestyle than early agricultural peoples. It took thousands of years for agriculture to even bring food/health/growth levels up to near H-G ones, and it still hasn't got back to 20-hour weeks. That's science, dude.
There is something to consider here. Not an expert, but I have read quite a bit on the subject, and the one thing everyone overlooks in that jump is the hunter/gatherers may have been healthier because they couldn't reproduce as much. And if they could reproduce at the same rate, they were what we would call callous to young and older people. They had no problem leaving someone with a wound from a hunt to die in a field. They had no problem forcing someone a bit older out of the tribe. And they had no problem leaving children to die that seemed too needy. (I say no problem in the fact they did this and it was common occurrence. Not that they didn't feel anything. That I do not know.)
Contrast this with agrarian societies that weren't mobile, and you see a large population increase. This includes the weak, the hurt, and the elderly. There were exceptions to both. There always is. But I do think this is something to consider when the claim of "healthier" and "larger" are given. There are different ways to measure the health of a population. This is just one view.
 

They had no problem leaving someone with a wound from a hunt to die in a field. They had no problem forcing someone a bit older out of the tribe. And they had no problem leaving children to die that seemed too needy. (I say no problem in the fact they did this and it was common occurrence. Not that they didn't feel anything. That I do not know.)
Evidence to support these extreme assertions? Extreme assertions require extreme evidence.

I'm guessing none? There's no evidence that this sort of behaviour was more widespread in H-G populations than in, say, early-medieval Europe. Leaving children to die was common into the 1800s in a lot of the world (including the "civilized world"). It's not something people like to talk about, but it's clearly something going on.

"Forcing out" older people is also really questionable, especially if you're claiming civilizations treated old people better, when in fact they often just let them starve. Certainly some tribes, particularly those really existing on the edge, in extreme environments, have a tradition of older people intentionally self-exposing to die, but it's not a constant. There's no evidence that I'm aware of that older people were significantly better off in civilized societies in the neolithic and bronze age. Indeed, the poor nutrition a almost all agricultural peoples had suggests they may well have been worse off.

As for "able to reproduce less", yeah I suspect they did reproduce less, via whatever mechanisms. Certainly IRL H-G tribes we've encountered didn't tend to go to maximal numbers of children the way some civilized groups have done. The idea that more kids you can't feed properly is "healthier" seems pretty baseless/unsupportable though.

Finally "leaving people to die from a wound" - where's the evidence? This clearly isn't the case with H-Gs encountered in the modern era, and we know many H-G people from the neolithic survived wounds which would have taken months or even over a year to recover from. And again, how does this differ from "civilized" societies?

You seem to be attempting to compare neolithic/bronze age H-Gs with like, 1600 AD+ era civilized peoples, which is really bizarre.

Re: health, we're talking about individuals, and it certainly isn't possible to question that H-Gs were, individually, on average, healthier than early civilized peoples. You can speculate as to the reasons, but even elite castes in early civilized peoples, who were healthier than the people who toiled to feed them, were typically less healthy than H-Gs. There's also a lot more evidence of disease and parasites in settled communities (which, given there's already plenty in H-Gs, is saying something!).

This changes later, but we're talking initially.
 

I tried going through all this but entirely hyperbole and/or how your play it at your table. All of the problems or lack of rules you complained about have optional rules your not using or are controlled / caused by the GMs style of play.
Being genuinely serious here, what RPGs do you have any experience of other than D&D 5e? And preferably games that are less than 15 years old. Also do you DM are you almost exclusively a player?

From this post (and your reply here) it makes it seem that you are almost exclusively a player with only a tiny amount of DMing experience who is nevertheless trying to blame DMs for problems that are fundamentally to do with the system - and your main approach is to tell the DM to become a game designer rather than to try to fix the actual problems with the game.

To pick one place where you appear to have almost exclusively a player-focused perspective

5e has a lot of rules for tactical play that a lot GMs are not using.... the number of times I have had a character look around for cover and their strangely not be any again... because every single time we fight its an empty room... is not by 5e design but by GMs not using 5e design elements.
First, every rule you need to use is an overhead that means that you are engaging with that rule and not doing something else, and learning rules to the point of not slowing the game down takes time. Saying "there are lots of [optional] rules that DMs are not engaging" is effectively saying "DMs should be making things harder on themselves because that will make things more fun". For a few it will - for most it's extra work doing something that isn't their thing.

Second you talk about "looking for cover". This is tactics - but it is the sort of player-determined tactics that actively make the game more boring by drawing out the combats longer, keeping the characters more static (as they stay behind cover), and ensuring that fewer interesting things are going to happen. Making the whole combat slower, more frustrating, and less interesting.

To pick out another example where it is blatantly obvious that you are almost exclusively a player there's this post where you suggest
Like "10ft/Pole arm melee, Stealthy attackers, Hit and run melee, (we can add defenders there are number of feats and abilities that allow melee character reactions to redirect or prevent or less damage, we can add Attackers with nets for crowd control which 10ft melee can also do)
Feats are positively toxic for GMing, as are obscure mechanics like the 5e Net rules, and I believe no monsters in the Monster Manual use feats - with good reason. They are fine on Player Characters who have been using the same basic stat block session after session and even when they are using complex weapons have time to get used to them.

On the other hand a decent DM will be using two to three monster statblocks per combat. And the average NPC will die that combat. You give the net rules here - which is 110 words of pure rules text that in order to use the DM needs to either copy and paste into the statblock (for a much bulkier statblock), memorise, or stop to look up during play. All this for something that they aren't likely to do again for at least another month, probably longer - long enough they'd have to learn it all again.

This is a lot of overhead for little reward so most DMs don't do it.

Meanwhile 4e would have handled things very differently. A Retiarius gladiator would get something like the following in their statblock.

Net Toss: Standard Action, Target: One enemy. Range 5 +6 vs Reflex, Encounter
Hit: 1d4+3 bludgeoning damage and the target is Restrained until they or an adjacent ally pass a DC15 Acrobatics check as a move action.
Stab the Fish: Melee, Bonus action, Target: One restrained enemy. +8 vs AC
Hit: 2d6+3 damage

Little more than half the word count, much more standardised and structured so it flows better to the point you can use it in play with only minimal prep because it is right there in the statblock. It's also much more interesting than just a generic net attack because it shows how the Retiarius' combat style works with their net; they also have a basic attack and if you start their turn still netted they get both. Slavers with nets would handle them differently. Which means you have distinctive and unfolding tactics because you're using this NPC

The key things here are that all the rules are right there in the stat block and structured clearly. No need to look things up, and you know what you should be doing at any given time.

And yes a 5e DM could handle things that way but there are several issues.
  • D&D 5e already has net rules in the PHB. These rules are different and aren't part of the 5e rules set.
  • There's nothing in 5e saying you should do things like this and from the net rules it implies you shouldn't.
  • There is a lot of published D&D 5e material that does nothing like this
Stop blaming the DM for the flaws in the design of the game. And then telling them it is their fault because they engage sensibly with a game that doesn't give them good tools.

Speed is based on enemy selection, number of enemies, tactics used, etc. if your GM is using average partly level X , 1 enemy CR (X+1) then that will be true but the rules don't ever say to do that the GM does. Only the GM decides consequences at a table,
If you think that the system has no impact on the speed of the game that's more a reflection on you than anything else. And if you think that a 19hp AD&D ogre isn't going to lead to a more rapid game than a 59hp 5e ogre even if it takes the same number of rounds to bring down then you're wrong. And Bullet Sponge design is integral to 5e

Indeed. The DM can house rule by taking in the multi-page character sheets, tearing them all up, and handing out index cards for Fate Core while claiming it's D&D 5e. The DM can do anything. But when they do so it's very dubious to treat this as at all representative of D&D.

Meanwhile D&D 5e if you use the actual rules and guidelines and do not instead tell the GM that it is their responsibility to re-write the game then you are supposed to have 6-8 encounters per adventuring day with defined XP rewards. Given that some classes have mostly daily resources, some have mostly encounter resources, and some have mostly at will resources if you are at all worried about sharing the spotlight and class balance you need a lot of fights.

However, stunning is in the game.
You misread - I wrote stunting - using 7th Sea or Fantasy AGE style mechanics. The closest to Stunting rules 5e comes is with the Inspiration system.

I for example don't like the "the Wushu Open giving an extra dice for each thing described" its basically making the most descriptive player over powered and results in silly long descriptions of how you punch someone in the face to ensure they get that dice which slows down the game ... That just how I feel about it.
Have you actually played or even read Wushu Open? There's a cap of IIRC three or five elements depending on the scene. You can generally reach that in two short sentences. This means that what you get is the literal opposite of what you describe; there is no benefit at all to being "the most descriptive player", but everyone produces a description of their actions.

Game design is an interesting subject and 5e does some things on the player side well. But the design of 5e has certain impacts that lead to slow boring combats and although DMs can mitigate this the flaws are largely in the design of 5e.
 

enough damage to ground it
So like, is that a rule, that I've just done an amazing job of not seeing? Because it seems like it would make a lot of sense as one, and make strafing-type tactics more interesting, because there's actual counterplay (beyond having the right spell and getting real lucky with it on a non-Legendary dragon), in that the party might be able to zap a dragon hard enough that it is grounded (at least temporarily), but they'd have to really drop the hammer just right or the dragon would be like "Ooo-er I don't like this!" (in a 1940s East End accent which this dragon has for some reason) and flap off into the sunset.

Maybe I just need to make a rule that if a dragon takes more than X% damage over Y number of rounds, it gets grounded and has to glide to the ground or be on the ground for Z rounds (falling would be too much though Proning a dragon in flight will technically do that, IIRC).
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Being genuinely serious here, what RPGs do you have any experience of other than D&D 5e? And preferably games that are less than 15 years old. Also do you DM are you almost exclusively a player?

From this post (and your reply here) it makes it seem that you are almost exclusively a player with only a tiny amount of DMing experience who is nevertheless trying to blame DMs for problems that are fundamentally to do with the system - and your main approach is to tell the DM to become a game designer rather than to try to fix the actual problems with the game.

To pick one place where you appear to have almost exclusively a player-focused perspective



First, every rule you need to use is an overhead that means that you are engaging with that rule and not doing something else, and learning rules to the point of not slowing the game down takes time. Saying "there are lots of [optional] rules that DMs are not engaging" is effectively saying "DMs should be making things harder on themselves because that will make things more fun". For a few it will - for most it's extra work doing something that isn't their thing.

Second you talk about "looking for cover". This is tactics - but it is the sort of player-determined tactics that actively make the game more boring by drawing out the combats longer, keeping the characters more static (as they stay behind cover), and ensuring that fewer interesting things are going to happen. Making the whole combat slower, more frustrating, and less interesting.

To pick out another example where it is blatantly obvious that you are almost exclusively a player there's this post where you suggest


Feats are positively toxic for GMing, as are obscure mechanics like the 5e Net rules, and I believe no monsters in the Monster Manual use feats - with good reason. They are fine on Player Characters who have been using the same basic stat block session after session and even when they are using complex weapons have time to get used to them.

On the other hand a decent DM will be using two to three monster statblocks per combat. And the average NPC will die that combat. You give the net rules here - which is 110 words of pure rules text that in order to use the DM needs to either copy and paste into the statblock (for a much bulkier statblock), memorise, or stop to look up during play. All this for something that they aren't likely to do again for at least another month, probably longer - long enough they'd have to learn it all again.

This is a lot of overhead for little reward so most DMs don't do it.

Meanwhile 4e would have handled things very differently. A Retiarius gladiator would get something like the following in their statblock.

Net Toss: Standard Action, Target: One enemy. Range 5 +6 vs Reflex, Encounter
Hit: 1d4+3 bludgeoning damage and the target is Restrained until they or an adjacent ally pass a DC15 Acrobatics check as a move action.
Stab the Fish: Melee, Bonus action, Target: One restrained enemy. +8 vs AC
Hit: 2d6+3 damage

Little more than half the word count, much more standardised and structured so it flows better to the point you can use it in play with only minimal prep because it is right there in the statblock. It's also much more interesting than just a generic net attack because it shows how the Retiarius' combat style works with their net; they also have a basic attack and if you start their turn still netted they get both. Slavers with nets would handle them differently. Which means you have distinctive and unfolding tactics because you're using this NPC

The key things here are that all the rules are right there in the stat block and structured clearly. No need to look things up, and you know what you should be doing at any given time.

And yes a 5e DM could handle things that way but there are several issues.
  • D&D 5e already has net rules in the PHB. These rules are different and aren't part of the 5e rules set.
  • There's nothing in 5e saying you should do things like this and from the net rules it implies you shouldn't.
  • There is a lot of published D&D 5e material that does nothing like this
Stop blaming the DM for the flaws in the design of the game. And then telling them it is their fault because they engage sensibly with a game that doesn't give them good tools.



If you think that the system has no impact on the speed of the game that's more a reflection on you than anything else. And if you think that a 19hp AD&D ogre isn't going to lead to a more rapid game than a 59hp 5e ogre even if it takes the same number of rounds to bring down then you're wrong. And Bullet Sponge design is integral to 5e

Indeed. The DM can house rule by taking in the multi-page character sheets, tearing them all up, and handing out index cards for Fate Core while claiming it's D&D 5e. The DM can do anything. But when they do so it's very dubious to treat this as at all representative of D&D.

Meanwhile D&D 5e if you use the actual rules and guidelines and do not instead tell the GM that it is their responsibility to re-write the game then you are supposed to have 6-8 encounters per adventuring day with defined XP rewards. Given that some classes have mostly daily resources, some have mostly encounter resources, and some have mostly at will resources if you are at all worried about sharing the spotlight and class balance you need a lot of fights.



You misread - I wrote stunting - using 7th Sea or Fantasy AGE style mechanics. The closest to Stunting rules 5e comes is with the Inspiration system.



Have you actually played or even read Wushu Open? There's a cap of IIRC three or five elements depending on the scene. You can generally reach that in two short sentences. This means that what you get is the literal opposite of what you describe; there is no benefit at all to being "the most descriptive player", but everyone produces a description of their actions.

Game design is an interesting subject and 5e does some things on the player side well. But the design of 5e has certain impacts that lead to slow boring combats and although DMs can mitigate this the flaws are largely in the design of 5e.
I'm going to disagree, but not fully. 5e doesn't provide robust approaches that some other games do, but that's not a failure -- it's on purpose. D&D did originally expect the GM to be a game designer, using the rules as a primer or inspiration to make their game their own. This lessened somewhat in AD&D (both editions), but still provided a system that was expected to be customized by the GM. 3.x broke away from this by providing much more player-side focused play (with clear, expected rules for almost everything), which caused it's own set of issues because they didn't address the fundamental assumptions of GM designed play and just forced a single, main approach. 4e, interestingly, was as player-sided as 3.x, but did fix a lot of the fundamental issues, so it worked better (if you grokked the fundamental changes, which the designers did a poor job of explaining until much later in the 4e cycle). 5e has reversed course, and is back to providing a toolkit for the GM to, ultimately, design their own game. So, combat is very much an area that 5e expects the GM to do the work to tailor it to their table, and we agree here. Where we disagree is on this being poor design. I don't think it is -- it's very intentional and part of why I think D&D maintains it's overwhelming market share.

I also think that the other games that appear to provide more robust combat engines are pulling a bit of a magic trick. It's not that it's less complex or more robust but that the work that's required is both spread out across the scene and spread out across the table. In D&D, the GM has to make THIS moment fun, and is expected to do that work themselves so the players can enjoy it. In, say, Blades or AW, the table is responsible for creating the situation that's fun, and the PCs come with lots of baggage that's drug into the mix (so earlier work) of combat, and it's not the GM that's solely responsible for the combat -- it's mostly the players doing what the GM in 5e does, with the AW GM only having to deal with resolutions and reframes. The load isn't really all that different, but how it's shared out is very different. They do different things, and I don't think you can have the flexibility and strong vision story of D&D with one of those combat engines. To get good in 5e, you have to allow for bad to also happen. It's a toolbox rather than a set of Ikea directions (and I'm not comparing AW to IKEA directions by any stretch -- huge BitD fan here, and looking forward to trying some AW at my table) -- expecting everyone to be able to make IKEA furniture from tools and raw materials is hard, but functional is easy and mastercraft furniture is possible.
 

So like, is that a rule, that I've just done an amazing job of not seeing? Because it seems like it would make a lot of sense as one, and make strafing-type tactics more interesting, because there's actual counterplay (beyond having the right spell and getting real lucky with it on a non-Legendary dragon), in that the party might be able to zap a dragon hard enough that it is grounded (at least temporarily), but they'd have to really drop the hammer just right or the dragon would be like "Ooo-er I don't like this!" (in a 1940s East End accent which this dragon has for some reason) and flap off into the sunset.

Maybe I just need to make a rule that if a dragon takes more than X% damage over Y number of rounds, it gets grounded and has to glide to the ground or be on the ground for Z rounds (falling would be too much though Proning a dragon in flight will technically do that, IIRC).
It is an earlier edition rule that flying creatures must land and can't fly if reduced to less than 50% hp.
 

Scott Christian

Adventurer
Evidence to support these extreme assertions? Extreme assertions require extreme evidence.

I'm guessing none? There's no evidence that this sort of behaviour was more widespread in H-G populations than in, say, early-medieval Europe. Leaving children to die was common into the 1800s in a lot of the world (including the "civilized world"). It's not something people like to talk about, but it's clearly something going on.

"Forcing out" older people is also really questionable, especially if you're claiming civilizations treated old people better, when in fact they often just let them starve. Certainly some tribes, particularly those really existing on the edge, in extreme environments, have a tradition of older people intentionally self-exposing to die, but it's not a constant. There's no evidence that I'm aware of that older people were significantly better off in civilized societies in the neolithic and bronze age. Indeed, the poor nutrition a almost all agricultural peoples had suggests they may well have been worse off.

As for "able to reproduce less", yeah I suspect they did reproduce less, via whatever mechanisms. Certainly IRL H-G tribes we've encountered didn't tend to go to maximal numbers of children the way some civilized groups have done. The idea that more kids you can't feed properly is "healthier" seems pretty baseless/unsupportable though.

Finally "leaving people to die from a wound" - where's the evidence? This clearly isn't the case with H-Gs encountered in the modern era, and we know many H-G people from the neolithic survived wounds which would have taken months or even over a year to recover from. And again, how does this differ from "civilized" societies?

You seem to be attempting to compare neolithic/bronze age H-Gs with like, 1600 AD+ era civilized peoples, which is really bizarre.

Re: health, we're talking about individuals, and it certainly isn't possible to question that H-Gs were, individually, on average, healthier than early civilized peoples. You can speculate as to the reasons, but even elite castes in early civilized peoples, who were healthier than the people who toiled to feed them, were typically less healthy than H-Gs. There's also a lot more evidence of disease and parasites in settled communities (which, given there's already plenty in H-Gs, is saying something!).

This changes later, but we're talking initially.
Evidence would be the population increase. It is a lot easier to feed a tribe of 30 than a village of 300. Yet, over time the population increased. Almost all archeological evidence points to this. Where places switched to agrarian, they became smaller and individually less healthy. They also increased in population. The sheer volume of bones show this.
I guess it could be argued the bones were more centralized and therefore easier to find with agrarian people. But, I have always read the population increased. It did not decrease during the agrarian boom. This is true for all parts of the world.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Evidence would be the population increase. It is a lot easier to feed a tribe of 30 than a village of 300. Yet, over time the population increased. Almost all archeological evidence points to this. Where places switched to agrarian, they became smaller and individually less healthy. They also increased in population. The sheer volume of bones show this.
I guess it could be argued the bones were more centralized and therefore easier to find with agrarian people. But, I have always read the population increased. It did not decrease during the agrarian boom. This is true for all parts of the world.
There's also the bits where the Affluent HG theorist subtly change the definition of terms to suit the theory. Like "healthy" being restricted to a smaller subset of ailments when a broader look shows that the kinds of ailments do change, often dramatically, but the overall load doesn't change much. Or that 'work' is only defined as gathering food, not preparing it of gathering firewood or making clothes or tools, etc. Sure, the HG worked many fewer hours on food gathering than the early agrarian did, but total leisure hours might or might not have differed much. Also, if you're only looking at HG tribes in wamer biomes, then you're missing the huge work that went into shelter in colder biomes. It's a game of cherry picking and hide the pea. The end result is that HGs were different than later agrarians, but certainly not in a unique state of edenic bliss.
 

COMING SOON: 5 Plug-In Settlements for your 5E Game

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