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

Actually, according to the OP's update, the PCs' victory is all but a foregone conclusion.
Yeah. I'd like to know how that happened. I suspect the DM didn't fight very nasty--for one thing, Vlaakith is down to only 5th level slots right now, and yet she isn't Shapechanged into an ancient dragon, she's just in her regular old lich form apparently. Also, the fact that multiple PCs are low on HP instead of a couple of them being dead is suggestive that the monsters were not focusing their fire. (As mentioned previously, 2 adult red dragons can do about 200 points of damage per turn to a single target using legendary actions, around 150 HP of damage once to-hit is accounted for, and that's not even counting the spectral knights and spellcasters. The PCs can blow a bunch of actions on casting Anti-Magic Field (which might get Counterspelled) and grappling Vlaakith into it, but meanwhile the bad guys can simply annihilate whichever PC is doing the grappling. I suspect this did not happen.)

It's okay though, to a certain extent. Even when something is billed as a deadly fight, it's emotionally difficult to pull the trigger on your friends. After all, Vlaakith doesn't really get excited if she TPKs the player characters--but there are actual real live human beings (the players) who will get excited if their characters triumph over Vlaakith. I'm not saying that the DM was wrong to be less than 100% maximum nasty--just that, from the previous thread, I expected a high level of nastiness from Vlaakith which may not have actually manifested in the real fight.

And I might be a little bit disappointed, as a player, with that lack of nastiness--but not enough to let it mess up a friendship.
 
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Fanaelialae

Adventurer
There's no such thing as fair in love and war. If the NPCs are the type to use dishonorable tactics, then make them use whatever they've got. It's only considered cheating if they lose. We call it "good tactics" if they win.
From the perspective of the NPCs, sure. From the perspective of the essentially omnipotent DM, not so much.

Fairness can mean different things, of course.

In a static sandbox, where the encounters are generated before the campaign even starts and players are expected to figure out what they can and can't handle, it is simply a matter of running the encounter as written, whether it be over or under-powered for the PCs' level. If the DM starts to tweak encounters to better challenge the players, it could be argued that he is being unfair.

In a linear AP, where the players basically have to fight the encounter, it might be creating an encounter that the players can't reasonably win at the level they are intended to face it (unless maybe it's a plot-hammer to get them captured so they can escape, which isn't a good idea for so many reasons, but that's beside the point). It's unfair because, in a linear campaign, the players have a reasonable expectation of being able to beat anything they encounter, since the only way out is through.

Other variations will exist for different campaign styles. It's fair for the DM to run the NPCs as playing unfairly, but that is an entirely different thing from the DM, himself, playing unfairly.
 
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Caliban

Rules Monkey
I'd probably feel guilty if I was at that DM of [MENTION=67338]GMforPowergamers[/MENTION]. I'd feel like a bit of an ass for sidelining him so completely that he wanted ro leave just after we started.
All I can say is it takes all kinds. I have my philosophy about the proper way to run a game, but other DM's will have different ideas.

Gamers aren't always the most well adjusted people, and a lot of us become DM's because we have control issues and borderline OCD views on how NPC's will act, regardless of how it will affect the players. And some are frustrated writers, making the PC's stumble through live action fan fiction so they can experience their cool NPC's and stories. :p

So I would guess that the DM didn't feel guilty - in his mind, the character being Imprisoned is just something that happened.

Not something I would do today, but I might have done it 15 years ago.
 
The DM assembles an overwhelming force and throws it at the PCs. The DM then proceeds to have the enemy use horrible tactics, cheats die rolls in the favor of the PCs, and in other ways coddles the battle so that the PCs win.

That is not fun for many players.
Yeah. I remember one adventure involving a "legendary" pair of lich brothers who (in the out-of-character cutscenes) took down whole armies. Then one of the PCs (Keldor, the Chosen One, basically our Gandalf) split off from the party in a huff because others wouldn't follow his leadership, and what does he run into except the lich?! carrying the legendary dragon staff no less, which the PC is coveting.

Keldor was a multiclassed Cleric 11/Wizard 11 or something like that with Int 20+ and a ton of magic items, but his player used that power poorly--e.g. liked to blow his 9th level spell slot on Chromatic Orb. So of course I expected this legendary lich to effortlessly toast Keldor, which he totally deserved for attacking a lich who had just beaten the entire party of ten PCs and the monsters who were beating them, all at once!

The way it actually worked out was that the PC casts Globe of Invulnerability IX, and the DM says that the lich had used up his 9th level slot in a previous encounter (saving us all from a Balor and a bunch of Mind Flayers--did I mention that? The lich disabled everybody in the whole encounter with no saving throw, so no wonder I was expecting great things from it) so couldn't cast spells within the Globe of Invulnerability. So what happens next? Does the lich get out of the Minor Globe of Invulnerability and wait for sixty seconds for it to wear off? No, he walks right up to Keldor and basically engages him in a fist fight: makes a paralyzation attempt every round (I believe Keldor had a ring that made him immune to paralyzation or gave him a bonus on saves against it or something), then Keldor throws a Chromatic Orb or something. Rinse and repeat until the lich falls over dead. (The lich didn't use any legendary actions, but I think that was just because the DM was new to 5E and didn't realize that they were a thing--I didn't realize this angle myself until over a year later when I had more 5E experience.) Then Keldor took the legendary dragon staff and rejoined the rest of the party.

The long and the short of it was that this terrifying NPC turned out to be a chump when the plot required it. All the power he had displayed in offscreen or onscreen cutscenes (like his "saving the PCs" intervention) was totally irrelevant, and all I was left with was this impression of an incredibly stupid lich who talks big but still manages to lose a ten-round fistfight with a cleric/wizard, of all things. The legendary lich who loses in physical combat against Conan, okay, I can buy that if the story demands it. But this was more like legendary lich who loses in physical combat against Inspector Gadget!

I left that campaign after a couple more sessions.

TL;DR Concur that underplaying big bad enemies with terrible tactics can rob players of any sense of fun.
 

discosoc

Villager
So, that's the situation. One player in particular was quite upset by these spells, and declared them to be 'design failures' for meaning that player characters would be put out of the game, leaving the players nothing to do. This was specifically worse than hit point loss, he stated; I believe the argument was that hit point loss could be responded to by, e.g. healing or resurrection magic, whereas the Prismatic Spray in particular had no chance of being undone in combat. I had numerous counter-arguments, which I won't get into here; what I'm interested in is hearing the thoughts of others. Do you agree with the players?
The players could have built their characters to deal with mages, but chose not to; that's on them.
 
TL;DR Concur that underplaying big bad enemies with terrible tactics can rob players of any sense of fun.
To be honest, I can only interpret this and your previous post as attempts to declare yourself smarter than me. Why you'd waste so many words trying to assert this, I don't know. If you want to feel superior, there seems easier ways to go about it.

As to how the players won: good initiative played a huge part. With a party of dexterity classes (Monk, Rogue, Champion Archer) and the Cleric having the Alert feat, they went before almost all the enemies. The Monk, thanks to the int-based movement and his enhanced movement speed, achieved 65ft of movement a turn; more than enough to fly out of range of Counterspell, cast Anti-Magic Field, and then dash into melee range of Vlaakith. The other characters scattered, meaning AoEs wouldn't hit more than one; the room allows free flying and is fifty foot tall, so they all went to different levels, for example. From that point on, there were able to ensure that Vlaakith and the other casters never got a good shot at them, and a couple of my attempts to shut down party members backfired: the Cleric got Forcecaged - and simply cast Antimagic Field on his turn and flew out; the Paladin had Power Word Kill cast on him after a Dragon had savaged him, but he had Deathward up which stopped the spell outright, having been careful to avoid the Antimagic Fields. With upwards of two thirds of the party protected by the fields, the enemy spellcasting was unable to get a real grip; I was especially struggling to justify casting Shapechange with so many Antimagic fields (which would instantly deactivate it) running, hence why I gambled on the Power Word Kill. The Dragons and Tl'a'ikith (spectral knights) tried to do melee but were gradually worn down by the players, who were also lucky enough to get a Vorpal hit on a Dragon to take it out of the fight early. By that point the Monk had already been able to take out one of the Ky'r'izoth, with the other falling to the Cleric. The Lich melee attack is pretty impressive on some levels, but against Dwarf characters it really didn't do all that much; only one character turn was lost to it. Finally, a critical turn saw Vlaakith polymorph into a T-Rex to try and waste some player attacks on whittling down the temporary HP, only to see the Cleric drop his Antimagic Field to cast Heal, restoring all party members still present to full HP, all done while Vlaakith couldn't Counterspell. Thus, we end up with a fight where Vlaakith's magic is mostly spent, as are her allies, while the PCs are battered but still able to take and receive damage.

Lastly, did you really think that the Dragons would have Legendary Actions? They're pets; impressive pets, but pets all the same, and pets don't get legendary actions. More importantly, the idea of having nine separate legendary actions in the combat sounds like a terrible idea for several reasons.
 
Oh, hey. @Charles Rampant, since the fight is carrying over to your next session, ccs has just given you some awesome advice for how to continue.

Have one of the wizards dimension hop - along with a decent bodyguard - to wherever that banished fighter is. Not right into combat range, but in sight of and visible to the PC at whatever appropriate distance that lets the player choose to engage, flee or otherwise deal with the new development. This brings the player back into the game, and lessens the load the main party has to face. That should help.

And if you make it the wizard's staff that lets him dimension hop - and make it clear to the banished fighter that it was the staff's doing - you open up a way for him to regroup with the party, perhaps by defeating the wizard or at least by grabbing the staff.
Thanks for the suggestion! If the enemy wizards were still alive, I'd certainly consider it. My current plan is that - since the players look near certain to win, and by doing so will level up - to do some light DM fiat to control the situation. For levelling to 20, and thus becoming akin to demigods, clearly they'll get the benefits of a Long Rest, right? And, having had that instantaneous Long Rest, it'll be easy for them to pop back and reclaim their absentee party member, before continuing on with the dungeon. As a happy side effect, we won't need to worry about an awkward 24-hour pause right in the middle of what should be a frenetic assault on the Lich Queen's palace; they still need to find her phylactery, after all...
 

Sadras

Explorer
ok, see you are looking at this as an adult... I was 17 almost 18 half of the friends there I saw every day...
GM, you cannot bash save-vs-suck spells and then throw an example about an inexperienced DM (mid 20's is still young). Sorry but I feel that this is just disingenuous to the debate.

So I would guess that the DM didn't feel guilty - in his mind, the character being Imprisoned is just something that happened. Not something I would do today, but I might have done it 15 years ago.
Exactly!

I asked...there was no way out.

Now in other examples I have had PCs locked aways and them ask me "Hey am I out for the night?" and my answer is always "Oh I have a way out for you..." I don't think sitting out an hour to be that bad...but the whole night (or if I hadn't drawn up the new character multi weeks) is pretty bad
You didn't think this should have been mentioned in your initial post? You gave readers the impression that you surmised the situation was hopeless because none of your teammates were spellcasters and so made the conscious decision to abscond the session after a wait of 15 minutes. How did you expect readers to react?

Yeesh. Lot of "You are playing the game wrong" accusations going around all of a sudden. If your character is taken out, and the DM confirms you aren't going to be able to play again for the rest of the night...so what if you leave early?

Especially if you have a significant other that you could be spending time with instead of twiddling your thumbs and possibly annoying the rest of the group by "re-enacting" whatever sidelined you. It's simply a more efficient (and enjoyable) use of your time.
It would have been nice if GM had put everything in context in his first post (such as the age of the DM and that he'd asked the DM if there was a way out for him from the imprisonment that evening). The information was spilled out in drips and drabs after his initial post which was used to make a case against save-vs-suck spells based on a poor example.

Accusations are easily thrown when pertinent information is withheld. There is absolutely no reason to white-knight this!

Sorry @GMforPowergamers but I'm calling you out on this as Sir @Caliban of Enworld is repeatedly summoning his steed and charging in with Huma's freakin' dragonlance. :angel:

Someone has got to stop that paladin! ;)
 
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GM, you cannot bash save-vs-suck spells and then throw an example about an inexperienced DM (mid 20's is still young). Sorry but I feel that this is just disingenuous to the debate.
in 98 he had been running games for 8 years, I don't think that's a 'new' DM and since as of today he still runs with the same rules and sees nothing the matter with it, you will excuse me if I don't agree on it being 'a newbie' thing. MY first campaign (about 2ish years before that) I knew not to use instant death effects on PCs...

You didn't think this should have been mentioned in your initial post? You gave readers the impression that you surmised the situation was hopeless because none of your teammates were spellcasters and so made the conscious decision to abscond the session after a wait of 15 minutes. How did you expect readers to react?
lets see what I said

I once got told I was being a jerk for leaving a game early...
nothing withheld.


the reason I left was I was imprisoned (per spell) and PCs had no way to get me out.
I was imprisoned and PCs had no way to get me out... seems like all the info you need is there, let me bold it

PCs had no way to get me out
all the details you need, unless you want to make an argument that the PCs did in fact have a way, when I spelled out they did not.
I went and called my girlfriend and we went to the movies... (it was less than 30mins into a 5 hour game) after the movie I called and no one had a way to get me out yet...
so here is me talking about verffying that I called the DMs house to ask him if the situation had changed... it had not.

no one had a way to get me out yet

so I came back the next week with a new character.
here is the end of it...


It would have been nice if GM had put everything in context in his first post (such as the age of the DM and that he'd asked the DM if there was a way out for him from the imprisonment that evening).
see I just assumed the words
PCs had no way to get me out
explained that there was no way... I mean in retrospect I can even tell you what a pain it was to get the PC back with NPC help...


The information was spilled out in drips and drabs after his initial post which was used to make a case against save-vs-suck spells based on a poor example.
wrong all the details were there but people like to add "You could have done this hypothetical thing" instead of taking the information at face value.
Accusations are easily thrown when pertinent information is withheld. There is absolutely no reason to white-knight this!
here is pertinent info... an experienced DM who ran games for years used an old school gotcha trap and thought that I should spend the next 4-5 hours doing nothing, and some of you seem to agree and say the 'consequences' was for me to sit out, or that I was supposed to act like a baseball player waiting for a turn at bat...

all the information that came out in drips and drabs were simply my way of stoping people who argued my orginal info was wrong...

a) I had nothing to do
b) I was stuck out of game with no PC for an extended point of time...

others tried to prove me wrong with crazy hypotheticals "Why didn't you just take an NPC"
so I had to answer questions "Because the DM doesn't do that."
 
here is my entire orginal post...
I'm sure I am in the minority but I have to say Fair isn't FUn...

there is a TMNT cartoon (newer one my 10 year old nephew watches) where the turtles get beat and tell splinter the fight wasn't fair to witch he responds "You want there to be a 50/50 chance of wining and loseing" witch of course isn't true.

Spells (and any special ability really) that take someone out of the adventure should be rare, and 2+ times in an encounter may be fair (good for goose, good for gander) but may impact the reason to play.

I once got told I was being a jerk for leaving a game early... the reason I left was I was imprisoned (per spell) and PCs had no way to get me out. I went and called my girlfriend and we went to the movies... (it was less than 30mins into a 5 hour game) after the movie I called and no one had a way to get me out yet...so I came back the next week with a new character. The DM said it was rude I should have stayed (I did stick around for about 15 mins after I was imprisoned) The thing was I was the only spellcaster, I knew no one could free me.

If I come to game and can't play it isn't fun. If I am DMing and an NPC gets put aside it sucks, but I have 100's of options including just keep running the next encounter, a PC does not.
 

Rod Staffwand

aka Ermlaspur Flormbator
Sometimes the rules, the situation and luck conspire to make a lousy game session for one or more players--through no fault of their own. People play D&D to play D&D after all and sitting around for hours on end without being able to participate can be excruciating. I can't fault the player for being pissed. I've wasted enough hours out of the action in 3.5e games to feel their pain.

5e is a heck of a lot better than 3.5e or Pathfinder in that regard. Rounds move faster and most effects give you an automatic save chance/round or chances to break Concentration. Still, high-level effects are still potent, high-level play still seems to be balanced around neutering half the party to prevent them ganking the baddies in a single round, and the only good defense against spells is other spells. D&D doesn't transition gracefully from scrappy adventurers to potent demi-gods and high-level balancing is usually just foisted on the individual DMs.

I do think it's fair to use save-or-suck spells vs. players, but I certainly use them with care (which it sounds like the OP did, other than missing the banishment effect of prismatic spray). I certainly wouldn't ask or expect a player to sit around for hours and not participate in the game--I do whatever is necessary to get them back into the action in some form as soon as possible. I even let them advise and help strategize if they so choose since they are still a player in the group even if their PC isn't with the party. If there's no solution to get them back in the game, I'd happily let them leave with no hard feelings. I certainly don't want a someone to feel obliged to hang out if they're not contributing and have things to do.

As to the OP's dilemma, I take it from the situation that the afflicted characters were not protected by anti-magic allowing the spells. Which means that they chose to make themselves a target--to run the risk of being hit with high-level magic. Sure the overall effect was a bummer, but they acted heroically and drew high-level slots away from the baddies. That's something of an upside.

EDIT: Sounds like a fun game.
 

transtemporal

Explorer
I had numerous counter-arguments, which I won't get into here; what I'm interested in is hearing the thoughts of others. Do you agree with the players?
Not really in this case. At least with save-or-suck spells you get a save and usually you get a save each round. No one wants to get stunlocked by a monster but players have a number ways to help each other out with that stuff. Paladins have aura, clerics have bless, there are a few abilities that let you help another character on a reaction.

It's the no-save-and-suck spells I'm a bit concerned by. Power word stun or power word kill (although at least stun has a save at the end of each round).
 

Ilbranteloth

Explorer
please elaborate... I still have this argument all the time (it was back in 2e). No one has ever given me what I should have done different. I left because the other option was to sit there and do nothing. Now to be fair the DM had a big "No metagaming" rule so I couldn't even out of game interact in any meaningful way... please tell me what the 'correct' option was... I think going to the movies was much better
I'd say it's largely because after you've invested all of this time and fun with your friends and your characters, that it might be fun to see what happens to them, even if you're not participating directly.

The implication behind what you did is that if you're in a big climactic battle, and you die early in the battle, that you won't stick around to see how the story ends up. The story that (at least in my campaign) you would have written with the other players through your character's actions.

I've sat for hours watching somebody else's game. Heck, people watch other people's games on YouTube. I would think you'd have as much interest, if not more, in a game you actually participated in.

I'm not sure I'd go so far as to say you're wrong. Nor do I know what the conversation, etc. was like at the time. But it does seem odd to me.

In the encounter described in the OP I'd certainly be interested in seeing if my companions would survive.
 
To be honest, I can only interpret this and your previous post as attempts to declare yourself smarter than me. Why you'd waste so many words trying to assert this, I don't know. If you want to feel superior, there seems easier ways to go about it.
What are you talking about?

Edit to add: if anything, I was remarking that I thought you were nicer than me. I was assuming that you knew full well a dozen ways to kill the PCs, but chose not to use them. E.g. I assume you used AoEs on the party so that the monk can have fun Evading them, and not because they are actually effective on him.

The second post wasn't really much to do with you at all. It was a response to another poster on the topic of the way players feel when monsters are underplayed.

Apropos of nothing, an old saying goes: you'd worry less what other people thought of you if you knew how seldom they do.
 
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Hussar

Legend
The DM was correct...
Blarg?

I agree with @JonnyP71 the DM was correct. You as a player might have no idea what might be planned ahead. Sticking around for only 15 minutes is bad form.
Oh, wow, you guys weren't kidding.

Sit and enjoy the story, support your friends, share pizza, plus you never know - the DM *may* have provided a way of getting you out. Simply getting up and leaving smacks of selfishness.

The DM has probably spent 6+ hours getting everything ready for the session, and the moment it goes wrong for you you leave? If I was the DM I'd have been unhappy with you continuing to be part of the group - it's just plain rude and ignorant.
Just... wow.

This just blows my mind that anyone would have an issue with GM4PG. You would rather a player sit out and be sidelined for an entire session than just excuse himself? And you're perfectly fine with any scenario where this is even possible? Seriously?

How is this not 100% a GM fail? Had he just killed the PC, the player could have rerolled a character and off we go. No harm, no foul. But, instead, he sets up a trap where the PC isn't dead, but, cannot possibly be returned for the duration of the scenario. And you not only expect the player to sit through the entire session, but, you would actually consider it rude an ignorant for the player to excuse himself?

Wow.

It's not like the player flipped over the table and stormed outside. He sat for a bit, asked if there was any chance that he'd get to play for the rest of the session, and THEN bugged out. That's about as polite as it gets. Expecting a player to ride the pines for the next five hours because you happened to spend time prepping an adventure and refuse to then change your precious notes so that it might be possible to return the PC to the game is about as mind boggling stupid as it gets. And then to jump on [MENTION=67338]GMforPowergamers[/MENTION] for being the rude one?

Good grief. Talk about entitlement. "I spent all this time on this, the least you can do is waste the next several hours appreciating my glory. No, you can't actually do anything. No, you can't actually participate. You just have to sit there and bask in the wonderment that is me."

I'd be relieved to be kicked out of this group.
 

Shasarak

Villager
Going back to your scenario, it's a violation of the social compact when a player, faced with consequences, decides to pack up and leave. It is, to use the words of your DM, rude. There's a lot of ways to interact with a social dynamic like this- you can yell, you can scream, or you can protest by quietly taking your ball and going home, in essence showing that if something didn't go your way, you won't stay. That type of behavior hangs over a table and a campaign. You may not have meant it to be taken that way, but it is (IMO) rude to the table (the DM and the players) as well as an implicit threat that if your character faces consequences, then you won't play.
I would have imagined, from a rule utilitarian standpoint, that taking a low fun scoring player out of the group equation would actually raise the Maximum group fun score?

So then the only logical conclusion is that it is not rude for the Player to leave the encounter but indeed would be rude for the Player to selfishly remain.
 

Yaztromo

Villager
Player complaining with the DM about "design failures" (after failing multiple rolls) is a game feature of a way / culture of playing that I don't recognize anymore.
If the NPCs failed the same rolls after they cast the same spells I'm sure they wouldn't complain about "design failures".
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
Player complaining with the DM about "design failures" (after failing multiple rolls) is a game feature of a way / culture of playing that I don't recognize anymore.
If the NPCs failed the same rolls after they cast the same spells I'm sure they wouldn't complain about "design failures".
*facepalm
 

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