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

Yaztromo

Villager
Taking an NPC out of combat and letting him sit there twiddling his thumbs isn't unfun. Sitting there twiddling your thumbs after 1 ability takes you out of combat with no hope of getting back into it before you really do anything. Yea that's not fun.
This way we have a spell that is fun if used by a PC and unfun if used by a NPC.
Better removing it from the spell list, then.
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
This way we have a spell that is fun if used by a PC and unfun if used by a NPC.
Better removing it from the spell list, then.
Why? It's fun when used by the PC. The game doesn't need to be symmetrical to be fair or be fun (and thank goodness it isn't). It would get kind of boring if enemy mechanics worked exactly as PC mechanics all the time. I like fighting ghosts and mummys and dragons and phase spiders and etc. To really make those different enemies shine they need abilities that the PC's cannot get!

If an NPC gets an ability that is unfun then either don't use that ability or pick a different NPC or pick a different ability for the NPC that you think will make the game more fun! You are the DM. You have countless more fun ways to challenge the players than picking the 1-2 unfun ways to do so.

Now that said, as with most things, moderation is key. Having an occasional save or suck ability is fine and should even enhance the game making it more fun as long as it has a way for the team to work on ending the ability! Concentration does this for most abilities! Repeated saves are usually another mechanism. The way the OP was running anti-magic fields would also be another. Throwing out enough save or suck abilities to take away a large portion of the party is a good hint there were too many save or suck abilities being thrown out. The biggest unfun thing was the banishment. Maze was iffy. The caster had a high concentration concentration. Also it provides a chance for escape (albeit a very low chance for escape that the party can't try to boost).
 
D

dco

Guest
It's fair, but I understand the players. It's not fun when you need to wait the turns of 11 characters to roll if you can act that turn, less when some of the enemies have legendary actions. Personally I don't like when I have to wait 15-20 mins to take a turn and I'm not the only one, in my group those games are usually left behind quickly.
 
That's the bit that doesn't make sense. A player should not be left with no hope. Give them a spoon and have them dig their way to freedom.. give them something to interact with (especially if there's no chance the rest of the party can help.) the player should have an escape plan to work on. Or else be dragged off to some interrogation... but just saying "game over" is bad form.
Sometimes circumstances dictate that it is indeed game suspended (or over) for a particular character. When this is the case the DM should provide the PLAYER with options that allow continued participation. Running an NPC, or even playing some of the monsters that the rest of the party fights, keeps the player involved in the game even if the character isn't.
 

JeffB

Adventurer
This is the random element of D&D since day one. Until the design theory and mechanics behind the game changes, this will be a "problem". I don't have issue with it, but seeing PCs roll poorly at the most inopportune time can also really suck all the fun out.

Mechanics like Hero/Destiny/Action points that players can spend, help. Or a system like Dungeon World or FFG Star Wars where bad rolls encourage the GM to provide different sorts of serious Complications/Consequences.
 
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Sometimes circumstances dictate that it is indeed game suspended (or over) for a particular character. When this is the case the DM should provide the PLAYER with options that allow continued participation. Running an NPC, or even playing some of the monsters that the rest of the party fights, keeps the player involved in the game even if the character isn't.
Totally.

One of the fun things about [MENTION=32659]Charles Rampant[/MENTION]'s example running a converted "Lich-Queen's Beloved" is that there are SO many creative opportunities to allow the players of banished / mazed /stun-locked PCs to continue participating. Not just the tried-and-true "take over a NPC/monster."

I don't know the extent to which Charles was incorporating these techniques in his session, but since they're taking a break in the midst of combat, I'd make some recommendations for next session. This is what I'd do (if you haven't done already):

  • Foreshadow reinforcements/mooks. Start with a strongly framed scene, maybe narrating some changes to the battlefield as a result of fighting/spellcasting, as well as mooks (maybe lots of CR 3 githyanki warriors) coming to the support of their queen. Unless the PCs have been uber-sneaky reaching her throne room. This does a couple things: Connects to what's happening for the banished fighter PC (see below), provides an opportunity for enemies to charm or possess (see "if a PC dies" below), showcases that githyanki travel FAST on the Astral and have teleporting powers, provides an opportunity to spotlight a PC cutting off their access routes (e.g. I'm imagining moving structures by force of will, cutting off a chain anchoring the Castle Sussurus down so it floats away, toppling pillars blocking the throne room door). The illusion of threat here is more important than an actual threat; since the players already know how dangerous Vlaakith is, they'll likely believe the threat is real and dire. Also, this keeps a very long fight FRESH.
  • Consider what happens if a PC dies. Since this is Vlaakith we're talking about, maybe their life force / consciousness it absorbed into some kind of artifact? And can still counsel other PCs or even be retrieved with a use of Channel Divinity? Or maybe they merge with the Astral Plane and become an environmental hazard like Psychic Winds or a monster with possession like a Ghost or an Astral Searcher (see my version)? The most important thing is to provide a way for that player's continued PARTICIPATION.
  • Banished fighter PC – Expand the scope to inter-planar. Now that the fighter PC is banished back to his home world, it's a great opportunity to reinforce WHY it's important that the PCs defeat Vlaakith, so you want to showcase the cost of her seeking god-hood. What does that mean to folks on the Material Plane? The classic example I'm thinking of is a githyanki invasion. I'd present the fighter PC with an ethical dilemma: His home city needs a 19th level hero now more than ever; does he stay to organize defenses (which you can just narrate briefly or run as a side quest, depending on your preferences) or does he try to return to the fight vs. Vlaakith? That's a MEANINGFUL CHOICE. I'd have some gate spells or something equivalent opening in the sky that the fighter PC can reach by, for example, borrowing a hippogriff from the city stables or steering a red dragon into another red dragon before leaping off at the last second.
 
What are you talking about?
If I did misjudge you, then apologies. Your first post ended with a line saying how you'd be 'disappointed, but not to the extent of ending a friendship' with how you imagined the fight had gone. The second post was an extended anecdote about a Lich fight (just like the one we're discussing here) and you ended it by saying both that you left the group in apparent disgust at poor DM tactics, and with a closing line saying that running monsters in an unoptimal fashion leads to players not having fun. Taking these together, I felt that you were implying that I had run Vlaakith ineptly and should feel bad for it. As I started by saying, if this wasn't your intention, then I apologise for reacting in the way that I did.

------

As a dipping of the toes into the other discussion, I have to agree with DMforpowergamers; if I knew I was going to be out of the whole session after only 15 minutes of play, with the DM confirming that for a fact, I think I'd leave too. Or I might just lean back and start reading a book or painting some models, instead.
 
If I did misjudge you, then apologies. Your first post ended with a line saying how you'd be 'disappointed, but not to the extent of ending a friendship' with how you imagined the fight had gone. The second post was an extended anecdote about a Lich fight (just like the one we're discussing here) and you ended it by saying both that you left the group in apparent disgust at poor DM tactics, and with a closing line saying that running monsters in an unoptimal fashion leads to players not having fun. Taking these together, I felt that you were implying that I had run Vlaakith ineptly and should feel bad for it. As I started by saying, if this wasn't your intention, then I apologise for reacting in the way that I did.
It wasn't my intention.

The lich in that anecdote was orders of magnitude more disappointing than your fight described in the OP could possibly have been, even to challenge-seeking players. It was really bad. (Extreme examples make good illustrations.)

I'm assuming Vlaakith was deliberately underplayed (and it also turns out the monsters had weaker stats than I realized--I thought there were actual "Adult Red Dragons without wings", but it sounds like these were closer to Young Red Dragons with some extra HP--hence why they are apparently still vulnerable to Vorpal weapon auto-kill, unlike an adult red), but I also assume you had good reasons on the DM side for doing that, and your players may not have found it disappointing at all. E.g. just because the monk runs up to Vlaakith inside of an Anti-Magic Field doesn't mean she has to STAY there, since she's not grappled--she can still Shapechange into an Ancient Silver Dragon. If the monk approaches her again next round, she will briefly turn back into herself until she (again) steps backward 10' to get out of it and turns back into a dragon and then paralyze all the PCs with her breath (including the ones in AMF, thus shutting down the AMFs). She COULD have done that, but it might be frustrating for the actual human being playing the monk, and I assume that is why you did that. Similarly, the almost-liches COULD have used illusions and pre-cast Magic Jar (as discussed in the other thread) to take over one or more of the PCs including the Champion or the Rogue, but that would be even less fun for them than being banished back to the Prime Material plane.

As I said in that previous post, <<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.>>

If my expectations were wrong, then they were wrong, that's all. That doesn't make you a bad DM. You're there at that table and I'm not.
 
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My understanding of Polymorph was that it would effectively be dispelled by the Antimagic Field, so I didn't want to use it until they were gone. This meant it was insanely hard to find an opportunity to use it; they could too easily counter it. Of course, the eventual neutering of the 9th level slot by Deathward was a lucky break for the players, and one that probably helped save them from a TPK.
 

Sadras

Explorer
Blarg?



Oh, wow, you guys weren't kidding.



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 @GMforPowergamers 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.
Look at my post #108

His initial post says he was sidelined, he waited 15 minutes then left.
Only in subsequent posts did PG4PG disclose he asked the DM about if his escape was possible - but the real clincher is he used a freakin example of when he was in his teens with a young DM to substantiate why save vs suck is bad!
It is the same as using the bad DM example to make your point.

Alignment is bad because young DM/bad DM example!
Save Vs Suck is bad because young DM/bad DM example!
Adventure/Module is bad because young DM/bad DM example!
Rule 0 is bad because young DM/bad DM example!
4e is bad because young DM/bad DM example!

Really, you want to plant your flag here?

EDIT: I have been in a similar situation as PG4PG except it had nothing to do with a save-vs-suck scenario. The DM was just bad. I sat through the entire session participating as a player (jesting, reading up on rules, snacking). There were also other contributing factors that were compounding my unfun in that group. Later that night, after evaluating the fun I was having, I decided to excuse myself from this group as I could no longer 'waste time' and have minimal fun during RPG sessions.
 
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My understanding of Polymorph was that it would effectively be dispelled by the Antimagic Field, so I didn't want to use it until they were gone. This meant it was insanely hard to find an opportunity to use it; they could too easily counter it. Of course, the eventual neutering of the 9th level slot by Deathward was a lucky break for the players, and one that probably helped save them from a TPK.
Antimagic Field temporarily suppresses spell effects; it does not dispel them. E.g. the Forcecage that the cleric exited would have sprung right back into existence behind him.

https://roll20.net/compendium/dnd5e/Antimagic%20Field said:
Spells and other magical effects, except those created by an artifact or a deity, are suppressed in the Sphere and can't protrude into it. A slot expended to cast a suppressed spell is consumed. While an effect is suppressed, it doesn't function, but the time it spends suppressed counts against its Duration...

Spells: Any active spell or other magical effect on a creature or an object in the Sphere is suppressed while the creature or object is in it.
 

Sadras

Explorer
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.
Okay we can disagree on that issue. If he runs games like that today then I would easily place him in the bad-DM camp.
But don't you think it would be disingenuous for me to say in a debate about 4e hey GM 4e is crap based on young DM/bad DM example?

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
Here is the thing. Have you never been surprised by a DM?
I'm not saying this DM would have done it - but its not that far fetched for me to imagine a situation which initially appears impossible but the DM through narrating the story provides a surprising twist. As a basic example...TPK in combat only for party to be resurrected centuries later by a mysterious entity. Imprisoned, only for the magic spell to suddenly fail a few days later, as magic everywhere mysteriously waxes and wanes...
Remember my response was to your initial post - I had not know you had asked the DM whether your escape was possible.

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...
Okay, I'm not here to defend other posters. I have had the luxury of 2 bad DMs IMO (they were brothers), who happened to run 4e.
I believe the reason they were poor at DMing were because their experience was largely homogenous - they had no exposure to differing styles and roleplayers which did little to grow them as DMs. (Side Note - That is why places like Enworld are great for the community - I firmly believe it creates better DM's and players).
Now I don't have an issue with 4e based on those bad DM's. You entered the conversation and blamed save-vs-suck on this bad DM - and here is the key thing to remember, bleachers-loving guy @Caliban even admitted this might have been something he would do 15 years ago. That is the sole reason where we are disagreeing (besides the save vs suck thing).

If a guy is out for a fight because save-vs-suck its not the end of the world at our table, the guys have fun - jesting, giving advice, making coffee...etc and we would NEVER have a guy be out for an entire session at our table - that is ridiculous, ESPECIALLY since we don't play as often as when we were teenagers/20 years old, so RPG-time is precious. So on that we agree, just not on the example you used in the debate to argue vs save-vs-suck ;)
 
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Caliban

Rules Monkey
You know this is Enworld right?
Plus I'm replying to Hussar's post quoting me.
Fair enough. I'm just mystified about how someone mentioning a minor incident that happened in a game 10+ years ago has somehow turned into an episode of CSI as you try to get to the bottom of it. And he's now on trial for not divulging all the pertinent details immediately. "Whether or not you are guilty of the initial crime, you are guilty of obstruction of justice!"

Oh, and let's not forget the accusations leveled at me because I happen to have an opinion on the matter. :devil:

The more I think about it, the more this whole thing seems sillier and sillier.
 
Antimagic Field temporarily suppresses spell effects; it does not dispel them. E.g. the Forcecage that the cleric exited would have sprung right back into existence behind him.
Oh, of course. We even ruled it correctly for Forcecage on that exact reasoning; but I never remembered to apply it to Shapechange.

I had a boss battle in my other group this week as well. Four level 5 characters against ten Bullywugs, Pharblex Spattergoo, and Dralmorrer Greyborn. I honestly found it much more entertaining to run than this one, in large part because of it being mechanically simpler and having far fewer moving parts, despite more actual combatants. My next campaign after the players reach level 20 and have some denouement stuff is going to be Adventures in Middle Earth, I think; level one would do the trick!
 
Oh, of course. We even ruled it correctly for Forcecage on that exact reasoning; but I never remembered to apply it to Shapechange.

I had a boss battle in my other group this week as well. Four level 5 characters against ten Bullywugs, Pharblex Spattergoo, and Dralmorrer Greyborn. I honestly found it much more entertaining to run than this one, in large part because of it being mechanically simpler and having far fewer moving parts, despite more actual combatants. My next campaign after the players reach level 20 and have some denouement stuff is going to be Adventures in Middle Earth, I think; level one would do the trick!
During the shift from 4e to 5e, one of the criticisms leveled at 5e were the spellcaster stat-blocks requiring lots of looking things up. It's a legitimate criticism that is increasingly valid the higher level you play.

However, including all the spell info (even in condensed form) causes the stat-block to swell to an unmanageable size.

Currently, I'm writing a high-level adventure. One thing I decided early on was to include a Spell Index of all spells that appear in the adventure in condensed form, with the idea being the DM would print it out (~5 pages) and be able to look up, on the fly, for example sacred flame (bad example, I know, but only finished cantrips so far):

[SECTION]Sacred Flame Action; 60 ft; one creature you can see; Dex save (no benefit from cover); 1d8 radiant damage, 2d8 (5th), 3d8 (11th), 4d8 (17th)[/SECTION]
 

Seramus

Explorer
Fair? Yes.
Fun? No.

People show up to play D&D. Not sit and do nothing. Depriving any player the ability to take SOME kind of action during more than... let's say one round (this varies a little bit) is probably not going to be fun for your players.

Reminds me of a time I was joining a D&D game as a player, and the DM made me sit around for 4 hours while I waited for my character to be introduced. The DM wanted the introduction to make perfect sense in the context of the story, and apparently that was more important than 4 hours of my very limited time.
 

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
Fair? Yes.
Fun? No.

People show up to play D&D. Not sit and do nothing. Depriving any player the ability to take SOME kind of action during more than... let's say one round (this varies a little bit) is probably not going to be fun for your players.

Reminds me of a time I was joining a D&D game as a player, and the DM made me sit around for 4 hours while I waited for my character to be introduced. The DM wanted the introduction to make perfect sense in the context of the story, and apparently that was more important than 4 hours of my very limited time.
Yeah, some people do require a whole story behind PC introduction. My method is generally. "This is Mike. He's part of the group now." And then we all start playing.
 

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