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5E Is it fair to cast save-or-suck spells on the players?

Fanaelialae

Adventurer
I think, what we have here, is a failure to communicate.

I wouldn't DM ex machina rocks falling on the party, everyone dies, either. On the other hand, as I wrote, not every encounter can be defeated by strength of party and resource management. Some encounters you run away from. Some encounters you avoid. Some you try and talk your way out of. Some encounters are ones that I think may be unbeatable, but the players are far more clever than I am.

It is not my job, at this table, to simply throw carefully calibrated encounters at the players for combats. It is the players' job to decide if they want to engage in combats based on their perception of the risk/reward, and to change that calculation as the battle progresses. As the players understand that I do not provide safety nets, the players adjust their behavior accordingly. They find that fun- yours may not.



I am sure that the encounter was fun for your players, after you explained it to them, and went through your process.

I am only noting that this type of encounter would not be fun for my table, for the reasons I stated. And that my table wouldn't be shocked or surprised at being defeated (or forced to flee) during the campaign, and certainly wouldn't be asking me to justify the encounter because they lost or it was too hard.

Different tables, different fun, no worries.
I never said I play with a safety net (unless you define safety net as throwing the players into encounters which are unavoidable and unbeatable, which I do not).
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
I never said I play with a safety net (unless you define safety net as throwing the players into encounters which are unavoidable and unbeatable, which I do not).
Great! I wrote-

"As the players understand that I do not provide safety nets, the players adjust their behavior accordingly."

I have no idea what nets, safety or otherwise, you provide. I can only observe what works for my table.

Of course, our tables are different in that I don't calibrate all of my encounters to ensure that they are avoidable and beatable. My players find a thrilling escape against insurmountable odds as much, if not more, fun than a calibrated, beatable combat. And I find it thrilling when my players find some way to beat an encounter that I thought was "too hard," that never occurred to me.

There are many people who enjoy running and playing in campaigns which are a succession of calibrated combats that are a challenge to the players' resources. I am not one of those people.
 

discosoc

Villager
this mentality makes perfect sense, but I wonder if you really thought that through. The DM can loose 400 characters to SoS/SoD, and move on to play the next encounter...a player who looses 1 has to start making a new character before they can play again...or worse (like both my example and the OP) if your character is sidelined somehow out of action but still alive with nothing to do...

again even just being 'teleported' back to town could cause this.
And the GM's characters are pretty unlikely to have any ability at dealing with SoS spells. Player characters, on the other hand, have many chances to do so. Players often enjoy a ton more freedom in planning or coordinating round-to-round combat, as well as the standard synergy that comes with each player building their character to work better as a team. They have feats they can take (mage-slayer, lucky, and resilient all come to mind) which offer extra layers of defense and offense when dealing with SoS sources.

They just often choose not to. I get why; probably more fun to pick a feat or character build that's going to provide enjoyment 80% of the time rather than another option that will get used much less frequently (but at greater risk). But that's a choice the player makes.

Lastly, very few SoS spells in 5e are really game-ending for the character. So many people seem to forget that resurrection is a thing in D&D and, for whatever reason, tend to use character death as an excuse to just build another character (and complain about the death of their last one) rather than get the resurrection and move on. It's a weird thing I've noticed, but I think it's relevant here.
 
I think it's not an issue of fairness, as others have stated, these are available spells.
It's not an issue of challenge/difficulty, that's a personal issue between you and the party, more information than we have.

It's an issue of fun. At any level, being unable to do anything for a round is boring. The fight progresses and you do nothing, again. Maybe a single save at the end. I waited a full turn for a single roll, which IF I make it, still nothing happens until the next go round. Out of comission for 5 rounds? How long was that in time? Depending on party size and number of monsters that could be nearly an hour. Your players were bored, plain and simple.
I think this gets right to the heart of the issue. Being knocked out of play is no fun, but god-mode play where you can't lose is no fun either.

My solution to this issue is to have each player run two characters. This greatly removes the chance of being entirely removed from play when save or die/whatever spells start flying.
 

Fanaelialae

Adventurer
I think this gets right to the heart of the issue. Being knocked out of play is no fun, but god-mode play where you can't lose is no fun either.

My solution to this issue is to have each player run two characters. This greatly removes the chance of being entirely removed from play when save or die/whatever spells start flying.
A good way to handle it. I usually let my players run their own PC and, if they desire, an NPC henchman or two. I prefer NPCs because they are lightweight and easy for the players to run, therefore combat doesn't take much longer than if each player just had one PC (and no NPCs).
 

Sadras

Explorer
My solution to this issue is to have each player run two characters. This greatly removes the chance of being entirely removed from play when save or die/whatever spells start flying.
Curious about this - so does a party of 4 becomes a party of 8 or is the character in the background until needed? To clarify does the +1 character, adventure with the primary party?
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Curious about this - so does a party of 4 becomes a party of 8 or is the character in the background until needed? To clarify does the +1 character, adventure with the primary party?
The way I do it in my current campaign is there are 8 players. Each player has 2 characters. There's a caravan that they maintain as their mobile "home base." All the characters are in the caravan, plus all their hirelings (around 25 of them). Only 5 PCs can go forth and adventure at any one time. The remainder guard the caravan and make it a place where it is safe to long rest as the house rule for that game is long rests only take place in safe havens (towns, cities, or the caravan). Players are free to swap out characters each session or tap in a different character if their own character is sidelined or dies during the game. We just come up with a plausible reason why a swap or replacement would happen at a given time and carry on.
 

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