D&D 5E [+] How do you make 5E more challenging?

clearstream

(He, Him)
Ive been thinking about Death Saves.

In my current 5E game I house ruled we use the Shadowdark system for Death. Basically a bleeding out effect.

Anyways, after talking with one of my players I've reconsidered Death Saves because it was pointed out that it gives the player something to do on their turn. And as much as I hate multiple saves and think 5E takes it to easy on players, that is a fair point. I may even let this carry over into other D&D type games. This of course would still be an issue if someone gets turned to stone or whatever but hey, don't get turned to stone.

So I reinstated it with 1 addendum, you gain a level of exhaustion whenever KOed.
Something my group is trying at present is that when you go to 0 you additionally gain the Stunned condition for 5 rounds.

What that means is that even if you are healed sooner, you remain incapacitated, only able to speak falteringly. Our aim is to avoid the unattractive "whack-a-mole" gameplay without increasing incentives for taking rest downtime.

So far players have responded by putting greater priority on buffs and actions that keep them standing. This in turn makes non-deadly encounters a test of player nerve and assessment, to avoid spending too many resources on them. GM needs to tell players more about foes, so players can make this assessment. We use extended rests for our open world campaign*, so 5MWDs have a meaningful narrative cost.

@EzekielRaiden possible example?


*This is a correction to tempo, where typical actions run hours and days rather than rounds and minutes. Ludically, tempo itself doesn't matter unless you have a meaningful clock... the grind in TB2, the faction game in BitD, and in our campaign a space and resources depletion cycle.
 
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Better hope you don't have to make more than five--because that means making a sixth death save automatically means instant death!

God I freaking hate 5e Exhaustion rules.

And as for the thread topic at hand...given the number of "just throw unwinnable bovine feces at them" posts...

8lrrf8.jpg


Do folks have examples that aren't "meatgrinder" or "load up every enemy with a bazillion nasty spells"?
Did you skip my post earlier in this thread?
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
Did you skip my post earlier in this thread?
I was, in fact, specifically thinking of your "three waves of henchmen with wands of lightning bolt" when I wrote what I wrote.

That's a meatgrinder, not a challenge. You only beat it by refusing to participate, in one form or another. I'd much rather an interesting challenge that rewards creative tactical thinking, fighting a battle that actually uses the tools you have, than what I see as "I win the chess tournament by giving food poisoning to anyone who might compete against me."

Particularly because the logical endpoint of such a DM/player arms race is the DM winning. Because the DM has infinite power, potential, flexibility--the whole world is theirs if they choose to use it. The players don't have any of that. If both sides fight "unfair," the DM wins.
 

Oofta

Legend
I was, in fact, specifically thinking of your "three waves of henchmen with wands of lightning bolt" when I wrote what I wrote.

That's a meatgrinder, not a challenge. You only beat it by refusing to participate, in one form or another. I'd much rather an interesting challenge that rewards creative tactical thinking, fighting a battle that actually uses the tools you have, than what I see as "I win the chess tournament by giving food poisoning to anyone who might compete against me."

Particularly because the logical endpoint of such a DM/player arms race is the DM winning. Because the DM has infinite power, potential, flexibility--the whole world is theirs if they choose to use it. The players don't have any of that. If both sides fight "unfair," the DM wins.

Huh? I mean, the DM can always kill off the PCs, no matter what the level. But you just picked a worst case scenario and then posited that no one had ever given a scenario that wasn't a slog, or at least implied it. Yes, there are bad DMs out there. It has nothing to do with high level play. 🤷‍♂️

If I had 3 waves of henchmen, then I'd make them mobs. If it's a scenario where they aren't "supposed to participate" then it would be a skill challenge like encounter with multiple options (or options the players suggest) to avoid or defeat the henchmen.
 

I was, in fact, specifically thinking of your "three waves of henchmen with wands of lightning bolt" when I wrote what I wrote.

That's a meatgrinder, not a challenge. You only beat it by refusing to participate, in one form or another. I'd much rather an interesting challenge that rewards creative tactical thinking, fighting a battle that actually uses the tools you have, than what I see as "I win the chess tournament by giving food poisoning to anyone who might compete against me."

Particularly because the logical endpoint of such a DM/player arms race is the DM winning. Because the DM has infinite power, potential, flexibility--the whole world is theirs if they choose to use it. The players don't have any of that. If both sides fight "unfair," the DM wins.

Uuuh I mever once mentioned waves. Everything you typed has no relation to my post lol

Nvm you replied to a half assed non fleshed out idea, not my actual post I put up. Lots of assumptioms too. Is your mindset proper for discussion, or are you just looking to assume stuff and talk smack?
 



Distracted DM

Distracted DM
Supporter
Imagine a hallway with three waves of henchmen with wands of lightning bolt. These are the kinds of encounters I like to drop on my party.
OK so how do you reconcile this with:
1. players wanting to loot the wands (sounds like infinite lightning bolts).
2. non super-high magic settings? Having tons of wands like that suggests an Eberron-level of magic.

I realize the answer to #2 is probably "doesn't work in 5e."

I guess the question is "do you reconcile this;" I seem to recall somewhere else that you said you started with low magic and then discovered that wasn't possible in 5e.. but I might be recalling incorrectly :D
 

OK so how do you reconcile this with:
1. players wanting to loot the wands (sounds like infinite lightning bolts).
2. non super-high magic settings? Having tons of wands like that suggests an Eberron-level of magic.

I realize the answer to #2 is probably "doesn't work in 5e."

I guess the question is "do you reconcile this;" I seem to recall somewhere else that you said you started with low magic and then discovered that wasn't possible in 5e.. but I might be recalling incorrectly :D
? I wouldn't use this specific idea in a low magic 5E. I've played and ran plenty of low magic 5E and no magic 5E. In a no magic game, just bows or crossbows achieve the same effect.
 

Distracted DM

Distracted DM
Supporter
? I wouldn't use this specific idea in a low magic 5E. I've played and ran plenty of low magic 5E and no magic 5E. In a no magic game, just bows or crossbows achieve the same effect.
No worries, I think I misremembered something :)
How do you deal with said "loot the dozen wands of lightning bolt?" or is that not a concern? Or do they only work for the baddies :D
 

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