D&D 5E Is the Default Playstyle of 5E "Monty Haul?"

Quickleaf

Legend
Default 5e is definitely "easy mode", but when I was DMing for a group of very experienced players – many of whom were GMs in their own right – I was able to challenge them even while handing out substantial (and homebrew) treasure, even the Hand of Vecna. A few highlights...
  • I pitted the 5th level party against an eidolon (which does terrifying damage at that level) in an "escape the Indiana Jones-style temple" scenario, which nearly killed two of them.
  • I (modified) finger of death'ed a 9th level PC, who came back as a souped-up zombie attacking his allies.
  • I terrorized the 10th level party with a well-timed well-executed goblin ambush. It was so intense, they opted to explore tunnels with "ghoul track and sign" instead of facing the goblins again.
  • I had the 11th level party retreat from a pitched 3-way battle between Red Wizards, frost giants, and yuan-ti, retreating into a tomb. Of course, the Red Wizards tricked them into the false entrance, and attempted a delayed blast fireball + wall of force combo. The PCs narrowly escaped the trap, but definitely it was a stalemate and they were hurting.
  • I had a skeleton push a 12th level PC to their death in a lava pit.
There's definitely a paradigm shift and it does take some effort from the GM – though IME it shouldn't be exhaustive effort – to get a challenging older school feel to a 5e game. But it's absolutely possible and rewarding. I've done it.
 

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Oofta

Legend
The Monty Haul Problem for D&D

The party comes to a room with three doors. In the middle of the room is the Mad Dungeon Architect Zagyg (no relation).

Zagyg stares at the party and say, Behind one door are the uncountable and fabulous magical riches of the Great Emperor, Monty Haul. Behind the other two doors are quantum ogres. Choose your door wisely!

The party confers and chooses door 1. Zagyg smiles, and opens door number 2, revealing a quantum ogre.

Zagyg then asks the party …
Do you still want to open door 1? Or do you want to open door 3 instead?

WHAT DOES THE PARTY DO? DO THEY OPEN DOOR 1, OR SWITCH TO DOOR 3? HAS ZAGYG TOTES RAILROADED YOU? WHY DOES MATH HURTZ ME BRAIN SO MUCH?

Simple answer. They split the party and kick in both doors at the same time triggering what were supposed to be two separate encounters. Then Bob, the guy that triggered the second encounter, turns invisible and runs away leaving my PC as the sole front line fighter but I can't complain because we're just here to have fun, right? I mean Bob is allowed to have fun even if it means my PC gets the *** beaten out of them yet again. Because "it's what his character would do". :mad:

Oh wait ... maybe I'm channeling my experience with our ToA campaign a bit too much. :unsure:
 


Reynard

Legend
This is a strange question. First of all, since treasure is unnecessary and pretty rare overall, it feels like the opposite of "Monty Haul." Second, if your 3rd level PCs are operating at 7th level, that is a GM problem.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Excuse me, b-wha? This is the same game with turn-based initiative and no way to actually outpace enemies with same or greater speed, right?
Uh yeah... if you treat monsters with the same modicum of reality and sense that players treat their PCs.

If you are a orc band that got attacked by these interlopers and they then ran off after you defended yourself... you don't need to go chasing after them. You let them run off, and then you pack up your gear and head off for safer pastures. Why continue a fight that you don't need to get into?

The problem you bring up... to me is based upon a "gaming" mentality that many people have of not treating the monsters as actual thinking beings, but rather just mechanical doo-dads that act in accordance to the "game rules" and the "encounter". Our thinking of this being a "game" tells us that these monsters will keep attacking PCs until PCs are dead or they are... that they will continue following us like Jason Vorhees until we or they are dead, and that they will remain here in this spot even after the PCs have retreated in order to be "cleaned up" after the party rests and returns. The monsters aren't real... they are just gaming roadblocks the party has to get past.

If a DM wishes to run their game that way... that's cool, more power to them... but that's not a written part of the rules. Monsters do not have to chase you. And more often than not, probably shouldn't.
 
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DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
5e got rid of the mechanical reasons for not going after them when it went chasing simplicity & got rid of AoO if moving more than 5 foot step/shift. Now it's "simple" & the martials ignore all the mooks I need to cram in encounters tuned to the system's poorly scaled encounter expectations without needing to engage the mooks. The mooks however are still restrained by the social contract.
Now I'm getting confused-- there needs to be a mechanical reason for mooks to go after the Cleric and Warlock? The narrative reason of not letting any of your enemies operate freely and do whatever they want isn't enough? Especially when those enemies are using magic to keeping their friends alive?

And I also am at a loss as to why you are putting a player construct of the "social contract" onto the game pieces of the mooks? The mooks have nothing to do with the social contract-- you and the players do. So are you saying that you as the DM are restrained from attacking the Cleric and the Warlock due to the social contract? If that's the case... then that's a problem of you and your table and not the game rules... because you apparently signed a really bad contract.

Dungeons & Dragons is half-board game and half-story. And there are plenty of times when you don't have or need a board game rule to let you make choices in D&D, just like you don't always need narrative reasons for doing what you want either. The game expect you to do both.
 

Oofta

Legend
Uh yeah... if you treat monsters with the same modicum of reality and sense that players treat their PCs.

If you are a orc band that got attacked by these interlopers and they then ran off after you defended yourself... you don't need to go chasing after them. You let them run off, and then you pack up your gear and head off for safer pastures. Why continue a fight that you don't need to get into?

The problem you bring up to me is based upon a "gaming" mentality that many people have of not treating the monsters as actual thinking beings, but rather just mechanical doo-dads that act in accordance to the "game rules" and the "encounter". Our thinking of this being a "game" tells us that these monsters will keep attacking PCs until PCs are dead or they are... that they will continue following us like Jason Vorhees until we or they are dead, and that they will remain here in this spot even after the PCs have retreated in order to be "cleaned up" after the party rests and returns. The monsters aren't real... they are just gaming roadblocks the party has to get past.

If a DM wishes to run their game that way... that's cool, more power to them... but that's not a written part of the rules. Monsters do not have to chase you. And more often than not, probably shouldn't.
Yeah, one of the reasons I like playing D&D is because the monsters will react to actions of the PCs. Unlike most video games where nothing happens until triggered, the orcs are going to know someone is invading. Maybe they run away, set up traps, summon reinforcements, set up ambushes, whatever makes sense. What won't happen is they just sit idly by waiting to be slaughtered.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
Uh yeah... if you treat monsters with the same modicum of reality and sense that players treat their PCs.
None. Got it.
If you are a orc band that got attacked by these interlopers and they then ran off after you defended yourself... you don't need to go chasing after them. You let them run off, and then you pack up your gear and head off for safer pastures. Why continue a fight that you don't need to get into?
...because the murderous goons might return to finish the job? Because I want vengeance? Because We're great warriors who will not suffer the insult? Because it's clear we have the advantage because they ran and if they regroup with a larger force, we might lose that?

Check my record, I'm not a killer DM, but nothing says retreat is nice and easy and the game actively makes it the other thing.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
None. Got it.

...because the murderous goons might return to finish the job? Because I want vengeance? Because We're great warriors who will not suffer the insult? Because it's clear we have the advantage because they ran and if they regroup with a larger force, we might lose that?

Check my record, I'm not a killer DM, but nothing says retreat is nice and easy and the game actively makes it the other thing.
No.. you are CHOOSING to make it actively difficult for the players to retreat. The GAME is not telling you to have these orcs believe "the murderous goons might return to finish the job? Because I want vengeance? Because We're great warriors who will not suffer the insult? Because it's clear we have the advantage because they ran and if they regroup with a larger force, we might lose that"... YOU are doing that. YOU. Not the game. YOU.

Don't blame the game because YOU are training your players never to retreat because YOU will chase them down every single time with the enemies because YOU think every single monster in the game has this same mentality of "gotta kill 'em all cause otherwise they're just gonna come back and kill us."

Which is FINE of course... if you and your players are okay with retreat not being an option. If you and your players are okay with every fight being to the death where one side wipes out the other... that's cool! Have fun! But don't mistakenly think that it's the game rules that are causing this to happen.
 

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