D&D 5E "Once an encounter begins, I will make changes to it for balance, fun, or rules reasons." (a poll)

T/F: "Once an encounter begins, I will make changes to it for balance, fun, or rules reasons."

  • True.

    Votes: 102 74.5%
  • False.

    Votes: 35 25.5%

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Poll #20 in an ongoing series. . ..

Premise:

True or False: "Once an encounter begins, I will make changes to it for balance, fun, or rules reasons."

Is an established encounter an established encounter, unchanged and immutable? Or as DM, will you tweak or change elements of the encounter or how they work based on how they're going?
 

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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Poll #20 in an ongoing series. . ..

Premise:

True or False: "Once an encounter begins, I will make changes to it for balance, fun, or rules reasons."

Is an established encounter an established encounter, unchanged and immutable? Or as DM, will you tweak or change elements of the encounter or how they work based on how they're going?
I voted true. I won't rebalance to increase fun, but if I have misjudged the difficulty of an encounter, I'm not going to kill a PC or TPK the group over my mistake. The encounter will be rebalanced to become survivable. However, if I misjudge it and the encounter I thought would be merely moderate or difficult becomes deadly, but survivable, I won't adjust it. It's just going to be more of a challenge than I had anticipated.

I don't even know what balance for rules reasons means, so I can't comment on that category.
 



Jer

Legend
Supporter
I voted true. I won't rebalance to increase fun, but if I have misjudged the difficulty of an encounter, I'm not going to kill a PC or TPK the group over my mistake. The encounter will be rebalanced to become survivable.
I will do this, but I will also rebalance an encounter to increase "fun" in the sense that if it comes to the point where it's obvious that the players have won and all of the fun abilities from the monsters have been used, but the players figured out how to get to that point when there are mooks left on the field with too many hit points to be taken out in a single blow I'll either reduce their hit points or change up the original plans I might have intended for them. Like if I have a bunch of mindless undead left over after they take out the necromancer and it's just going to be a slog for them to finish them all off, then perhaps the death of the necromancer just makes all of the remaining zombies collapse. Or weakens them to where they can be taken out with a single blow. Or something to keep the combat from just being the PCs hitting sacks of hp just because I put them there.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
Nope, once the encounter begins, the players are at the mercy of the dice and the battlefield conditions. We play online via Roll20, so fudging dice rolls is nearly impossible, and making adjustments to the math is very difficult (and almost impossible to do discreetly.)

My players know the risks involved. When everyone rolled up their characters, we discussed the style of game that we would be playing, and made sure that everyone is on the same page. They know I'm not going to protect them with plot armor, and actually prefer it that way. "Victories don't taste nearly as sweet, if we know we were probably going to win anyway," I was told.
 

Argyle King

Legend
False

Once the encounter is started, I feel it is disingenuous to alter the parameters of the encounter.

There are times when (especially with D&D's bloated HP) an encounter is obviously over, but there's still HP to hack through. In those cases, I'll be transparent with the players and say they've pretty much won and can move on. However, that's something different to me.
 


payn

Legend
I imagined something like designing an encounter with a certain mechanic in mind (climbing up a cliff, being underwater, a wild magic zone, whatever) but then mid-encounter realizing you had it wrong.
I try my best never to have to do this. However, I find when trying out special rules or subsystems to spice things up can cause need for a little calibration. A new monster with a unique ability might take some trial and error to run well.

Some folks will either trust that playtesting ironed out the wrinkles, or that is just how RAW goes, however, my gaming time is precious. I dont game often enough to just toss away good experiences on the altar of routine mechanical adherence. I reserve the right to make a call at the table to adjust for benefit of the fun. That is more important to me than a bad experience done by the numbers. If I ran it incorrectly, I'll find out on the forums, and do better next time.
 

Absolutely not. The only way an "encounter" changes is if conditions alert nearby creatures to the fight. Making a fight tougher or easier mid-combat takes away player agency IMO, since it didn't matter what decisions they made leading up to it. I've had the PCs handle the avatar of Lolth with relative ease because they made themselves immune to poison beforehand with Heroes Feast, because they expected a lot of spiders (although not Lolth herself). I could have changed her damage types to do something else to make it a challenging fight, but that would have been cheating the players.
 

Poll #20 in an ongoing series. . ..

Premise:

True or False: "Once an encounter begins, I will make changes to it for balance, fun, or rules reasons."

Is an established encounter an established encounter, unchanged and immutable? Or as DM, will you tweak or change elements of the encounter or how they work based on how they're going?
if there is something that was in my notes but not shown off yet and I feel it would make the game less fun I might just retcon that out without the players knowing it was ever there...
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I will do this, but I will also rebalance an encounter to increase "fun" in the sense that if it comes to the point where it's obvious that the players have won and all of the fun abilities from the monsters have been used, but the players figured out how to get to that point when there are mooks left on the field with too many hit points to be taken out in a single blow I'll either reduce their hit points or change up the original plans I might have intended for them. Like if I have a bunch of mindless undead left over after they take out the necromancer and it's just going to be a slog for them to finish them all off, then perhaps the death of the necromancer just makes all of the remaining zombies collapse. Or weakens them to where they can be taken out with a single blow. Or something to keep the combat from just being the PCs hitting sacks of hp just because I put them there.
Yeah. I don't rebalance, but what I do sometimes is when it's clear that the PCs have won and the only thing left is time and cantrip/sword swings, I will simply narrate the final few rounds as a victory, and if it's likely that they would still take some damage, I might tell them to mark of a few more hit points as the battle winds down. Making them take another 30 minutes to play out a fight that is no longer worth fighting can be a drag. It's not really a rebalancing, but it is in the interest of fun.
 


TwoSix

Unserious gamer
I voted true, because I rarely do enough prep to actually have the encounter statted up beforehand. I just tend to eyeball attack numbers, saves, etc. Once I set a value (like HP or saving throw values) I don't change them, though.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Not never, but mostly false. Let things play out. The dice fall where they may. If something doesn’t work quite right it’s a lesson for next time. Monster stats don’t change mid fight. If some side mechanic, alternate win condition, or skill challenge isn’t quite working then that can be tweaked.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
I imagined something like designing an encounter with a certain mechanic in mind (climbing up a cliff, being underwater, a wild magic zone, whatever) but then mid-encounter realizing you had it wrong.
Generally my answer would be False, but because you specifically mentioned rules reasons, like these, I answered True.

If I realize that I've made a genuine rules error which will make the encounter less fun or work way differently than I intended, then I'm willing to alter things.
 





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