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

Thomas Shey

Legend
Often, I see DM's claim that monsters should always target downed PC's because they know that they can easily be healed and brought back into the fight (despite the fact that, if you think about it, most NPC's don't have access to magical healing, mind). Now, extending this line of logic, allowing a weak or weakened group of foes to simply retreat means that you'll probably face them again, and they'll be stronger when you do. Better to deal with the threat sooner than later, right?

Like a lot of things, it turns into "It depends." That's certainly a viable line of thought, but there's at least two others I can think of, and there might be more:
1. Is it a trap? Are the PCs you've beat up lures to get you into an ambush? Do you want to find out the hard way?
2. If the PCs are intruders, letting them (at least some of them) get away can function as an abject lesson to others, which won't happen if no one knows what happened to them.
 

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James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
Also, about the chase rules in the DMG; they assume that you've somehow left combat to begin with. Without the DM coming out and saying "you can flee and leave combat", players will continue to think that they are bound by the combat rules. For example, I was in an encounter with a werewolf. It was going badly, due to no one having a magic weapon (thanks WotC for making magic items optional!) nor having expected an encounter with a werewolf (thus no silver weapons; and before you say, "fools, you always have a silver weapon", bear in mind that, at low levels, those things are expensive, and how often do you really need one?).

Someone brought up running away. I pointed out that, if the werewolf didn't want us to run away, it was faster than any of the players in the group, so we would lose at least one person. When someone said that wasn't fair, I also pointed out what generally happened when an enemy tries to run away from us, lol. We chase them down and don't let them leave combat because we know we'll be seeing them again in another encounter!

(The DM did not, by the way, say anything. Luckily, this wasn't a TPK, as the melee guys got the bright idea of grappling the thing until the casters could cantrip it to death.)
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
Of course, the DM could also decide that when everyone in the party reaches 0 hit points, they are routed instead, and immediately switch to a chase scene. Or maybe everything fades to black, and then the party wakes up to realize....
...they've been robbed and left for dead?​
...they were captured and dragged back to the enemy lair?​
...they've been rescued by a good Samaritan, who cautions them to be more careful?​
...they've been rescued by a devil, who is expecting payment. Right now.​
...they've been rescued by a necromancer who...aw man, this isn't a rescue, is it?​
...it was all a dream?​
...they're ghosts now?​
...that sword they found in the last dungeon had a special, life-saving power?​

Death is a fine option, sure. It's certainly the most common. But it's hardly the only option, and that's been true for every edition of D&D.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
Of course, the DM could also decide that when everyone in the party reaches 0 hit points, they are routed instead, and immediately switch to a chase scene. Or maybe everything fades to black, and then the party wakes up to realize....
...they've been robbed and left for dead?​
...they were captured and dragged back to the enemy lair?​
...they've been rescued by a good Samaritan, who cautions them to be more careful?​
...they've been rescued by a devil, who is expecting payment. Right now.​
...they've been rescued by a necromancer who...aw man, this isn't a rescue, is it?​
...it was all a dream?​
...they're ghosts now?​
...that sword they found in the last dungeon had a special, life-saving power?​

Death is a fine option, sure. It's certainly the most common. But it's hardly the only option, and that's been true for every edition of D&D.
Of course. But do the players have any expectation that this will be the case? That's the rub, so to speak. If they do, they will act accordingly. If they don't, they won't.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Also, about the chase rules in the DMG; they assume that you've somehow left combat to begin with.
The rules don't actually say that and creatures can still attack during the chase. What they do say is that "strict application of the movement rules can turn a potentially exciting chase into a dull, predictable affair. Faster creatures always catch up to slower ones, while creatures with the same speed never close the distance between each other."

In other words, and as with all rules, the chase rules come into play when the DM says they do, and the DM is herein advised to not engage the combat movement rules unless they want to risk a dull, predictable outcome.

So, DMs: If the players say they want to flee, then dump immediately into the chase rules or set up the prerequisite for that to happen as a default rule (e.g. move your token off the map or get at least 30 feet away from the nearest monster, etc.).
 

Oofta

Legend
Often, I see DM's claim that monsters should always target downed PC's because they know that they can easily be healed and brought back into the fight (despite the fact that, if you think about it, most NPC's don't have access to magical healing, mind). Now, extending this line of logic, allowing a weak or weakened group of foes to simply retreat means that you'll probably face them again, and they'll be stronger when you do. Better to deal with the threat sooner than later, right?
I assume NPCs have reasonable knowledge of the world, especially at higher levels. Why wouldn't the enemy know about magic? Why can't NPCs have healing? Your standard CR 2 priest has cure wounds. Healing potions are common items, generally assumed to be available in just about any moderately large village.

Unless magic is extremely rare in a campaign, it follows that intelligent monsters know about magic. Whether they should always target downed NPCs depends on the monster and the group's preferences. Beasts in my campaign will drag people off to be eaten while the others withdraw or distract since the goal is a meal, ghouls will just start feeding, berserkers will probably charge the closest mobile target.
 

Oofta

Legend
If I think a party may need to run (or if I think it could be fun for the NPCs to run) I'll try to set up some option(s) for them to do so. Maybe there's a portcullis that can be lowered, a door that can be closed and blocked, a cliff that can be jumped off. PCs can throw down marbles or caltrops, a spell like grease, web or even a simple ray of frost cantrip slows down the enemy. I know some people also have a house rule that I'd call "Run Away!" where basically you just declare combat over and the PCs try to vamoose.

But it's never been particularly easy to break off from combat in D&D in any edition without some way of separating yourself from the enemy or slowing them down.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
Of course. But do the players have any expectation that this will be the case? That's the rub, so to speak. If they do, they will act accordingly. If they don't, they won't.
That hasn't been much of a problem for my friends. If someone's character is getting beaten handily by a monster (or more often, by their own stubbornness and bad luck), I usually flat-out tell them what they can expect, and then let them act accordingly. Heck, I've even gone as far as to give them a choice at the table and let them vote on it.

(clicks the Whisper function in Roll20) "So, Bob...it looks like your paladin is about to make her last death save. Let's talk about what it will look like if you fail. Should I work something into the story to save her after the battle? or are you okay with it being Game Over for a little while until they get her back to the temple? Oh. You wanna roll up a new character? Okay, we can do that too, let's see how this save throw goes." (unclicks the Whisper function)
 

beancounter

(I/Me/Mine)
In 1E, Monty Haul was the result of giving the players too many magic items.

In 5E, MH is the result of the characters abilities, and out of the DMs control unless they homebrew character abilities to compensate...or increase the monsters' strength.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
The cons include some things that really annoy me - what examples are you reacting to?
  • As someone mentioned earlier in post 23 of this very thread, 5e awards quite a bit less in the way of magical items than old school second & third did. Yet despite that 5e manages to run into the downsides once described of both too little treasure as well as monty haul excess of treasure because BA collapses if higher CR monsters were made assuming improved gear Proficiency bonuses & class abilities.
  • Instead of having appropriately leveled encounters require more of an expanding pool of resources as characters advance the system is tuned to just require an excess of pointless fights so the monsters thrown at higher level parties could be used against any level party
  • After BA leaves GM's with a razor thin margin of expectations the PCs are going to blow past a newer GM is left without the somewhat self correcting benefit of magic item churn & body slot bonus type conflicts if they give out too much of the zero magic items they are expected to give the newer GM with lower level players is expected to just handle it somehow, possibly with dynamite or learning how from past editions & other games.
  • Since the low level GM is expected to give out zero magic items it doesn't matter that the magic item rules for buying & selling, crafting, rarity, & when attunement is applied or not is an inconsistent trainwreck of trial & error when a gm with higher level PCs needs to start awarding these things to meet the player expectations of a game called d&d to avoid player "frustration" "cynicism" "snide remarks" or the need to suddenly learn without help from the system or dm tools/guidance to avoid somehow doing what was once described as "possible but only a DM of extraordinary skill can overcome the drawbacks he has created".
  • The fights with lower level players & higher CR monsters themselves need to be a thing that the low level party can easily recover from so they can take on yet another CR sixteen monster at small level 6 party as suggested appropriate earlier. The fact that a larger or higher level party can do the same while they nova their way though wave after wave of monsters tuned for low level parties is just a problem the GM will need to solve most every adventuring day for the greatness that is BA.
  • Purpose built tools once created to keep solo monsters & bbeg types from being annihilated with trivializing SoD/SoS spells & focus fire like SR & DR needed to be sacrificed at the altar of BA so those weighty solo & epic monsters could be used for a small party of low level adventures taking a bunch of rests rather than a renamed level appropriate monster or something.
  • Healing word & other rampant forms of whack-a-mole healing backed by the death save absorb shield that would get hotfixed as a bug in a phat-lewtz focused MMO like Wow or even everquest needs to be there so a low level party can take on monsters they have no business being near & the gm of a higher level party will just need to figure something out within the social contract that deems there to be a line too far when it comes to killer GM'ing & execution of PCs
  • The GM gets blamed for yet another doom clock in a string of half minute hero inspired adventures in order to fit all of the required encounters the PCs were "mapped" to in a single adventuring day. That's pretty expected given that the resus need to be near guaranteed for the group of many levels ago & tools that made weighty monsters with brass balls on the battlemat had to get axed
  • Low level PCs need to try a bajillion times to whittle down higher CR monsters they have no business fighting so a GM wanting to mitigate some of those problems above by limiting cantrips can't do so without creating a cascade of problems caused by concessions to the altar of BA that need fixing. A good example of this kind of thing is the lolworthy problems caused by thetwilight cleric's inability to unwind other problems adorning the altar of BA while trying to fix the one where players lacked the ability to do enough healing for them to shift from whackamole to attrition based
  • Since different classes are pegged to differing resource pool expenditures & recovery types with different virtually guaranteed rests the obvious solution to some of the above where the galaxy brained GM decides to "just use tougher monsters" ultimately creates all sorts of interclass PC contribution problems the GM is left to handle somehow. in a one by one endless series of oneoff fixes.
I'm sure that I missed at least a couple. Given Melisandre's questionable humanity & the value of BA it seemed fitting to quote the faith of R'hllor. :D
 
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
First off, much of the problem seems to stem from the utter inability of some (many?) groups to accept the loss of one character as a valid price to pay for the survival of the greater party, e.g. everyone flees and the slowest gets eaten, even though were this reality that's exactly what would happen.

And then there's...
Of course, the DM could also decide that when everyone in the party reaches 0 hit points, they are routed instead, and immediately switch to a chase scene. Or maybe everything fades to black, and then the party wakes up to realize....
...they've been robbed and left for dead?​
...they were captured and dragged back to the enemy lair?​
...they've been rescued by a good Samaritan, who cautions them to be more careful?​
...they've been rescued by a devil, who is expecting payment. Right now.​
...they've been rescued by a necromancer who...aw man, this isn't a rescue, is it?​
...it was all a dream?​
...they're ghosts now?​
...that sword they found in the last dungeon had a special, life-saving power?​

Death is a fine option, sure. It's certainly the most common. But it's hardly the only option, and that's been true for every edition of D&D.
...this, which while fine once is very risky to do twice, as the players will start thinking their characters can't be killed and act accordingly.

It also depends on who-what TPKed them in the first place. The only TPK I've ever DMed was against a creature who just wanted servants; the dead PCs* all got animated as mindless zombies and are probably still bashing around in this guy's little off-plane hideaway. Not exactly playable. :)

* - the TPK was also helped significantly by the party's main Fighter being dominated and turned against the party. He survived and in effect became a living zombie - again, not exactly playable - until he starved to death, on which he joined the zombie brigade.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
First off, much of the problem seems to stem from the utter inability of some (many?) groups to accept the loss of one character as a valid price to pay for the survival of the greater party, e.g. everyone flees and the slowest gets eaten, even though were this reality that's exactly what would happen.

And then there's...

...this, which while fine once is very risky to do twice, as the players will start thinking their characters can't be killed and act accordingly.

It also depends on who-what TPKed them in the first place. The only TPK I've ever DMed was against a creature who just wanted servants; the dead PCs* all got animated as mindless zombies and are probably still bashing around in this guy's little off-plane hideaway. Not exactly playable. :)

* - the TPK was also helped significantly by the party's main Fighter being dominated and turned against the party. He survived and in effect became a living zombie - again, not exactly playable - until he starved to death, on which he joined the zombie brigade.
I'd add that there's a secondary factor where 5e PCs have such a high surviability that anything capable of being a threat has a really good chance of
  • monsters gank Alice
  • Party gasps & tries to do something
  • Monsters gank a just as helpless bob
  • Remaining party tries to do something
  • monsters gank Cindy
  • Dave has a choice between declaring "I'm dead" & following the last 3
  • Monsters somehow gank Alice
  • Nobody cares because revivify is basically free
  • Party continues as if invincible
 


Jahydin

Adventurer
@Retreater
Not a popular option last time I mentioned it, but worked pretty good for me: Change things on the fly.

"The orc leader throws down his ax and pulls out a gnarly, magical one". "You cut into the robes with your sword to find Armor underneath."

Good way to signal to the players you're making things harder (cause they're awesome) without "cheating".
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
First off, much of the problem seems to stem from the utter inability of some (many?) groups to accept the loss of one character as a valid price to pay for the survival of the greater party, e.g. everyone flees and the slowest gets eaten, even though were this reality that's exactly what would happen.

I'll point out that there's a strong ethos, both in fiction and the real world that works against this "No man left behind." "Devil take the hindmost" is not a position people are required to share, especially in a game where many of them think they're playing heroes.
 

Micah Sweet

Legend
I guess that a personal question.

For me, it would be impossible not to have fun if all my friends were engaged, laughing, and just having a good time. That's why I play games.
That to me reads like, "everyone should like the same things,and if you don't it is your problem". Shouldn't the DM's enjoyment matter at least as much as everyone else?
 

Micah Sweet

Legend
I'll point out that there's a strong ethos, both in fiction and the real world that works against this "No man left behind." "Devil take the hindmost" is not a position people are required to share, especially in a game where many of them think they're playing heroes.
Heroes sacrifice themselves to save others all the time. Kind of a classic heroic act, actually.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
Heroes sacrifice themselves to save others all the time. Kind of a classic heroic act, actually.

Read the post I was replying to again; he didn't discuss someone playing Horatio at the Bridge; he described them leaving the weakest member behind. There's an important difference between the two (among other things, its the player who's character will be lost that decides it--and the other players/characters are not obliged to accept it even then).
 

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