D&D 5E Played another session with my kids (Actual play report)

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
I think all they mean is that often when we plan encounters we think of them in a few ways.

Your gang of spiders was a combat encounter. The main idea being that initiative will be rolled, and a fight will be had. The default win condition for this encounter is killing or otherwise routing the enemy.

Non-Combat encounters tend to be puzzles, or role-play scenarios. You present the party with a challenge where the expected win condition is to solve a puzzle, or perhaps win favor with npcs.
An alternative to this is to let the players set their own win conditions in response to the encounter. My planning in both the spider encounter and the NPC party encounter consisted of prepping some stat blocks. For the spider encounter, I followed the description for large spiders in the 1E AD&D MM and gave each spider a 90% chance of attacking the party since the chamber was only thirty feet across. One of the spiders didn't attack but stayed in its web while the other two attacked. In that case, the party didn't have much choice but to fight back, but it wasn't something I was thinking about while planning. If none of the spiders had attacked, the party could have made it their goal to avoid them altogether. The encounter with the party of NPCs, on the other hand, could have erupted into combat either as the result of failing the Charisma check or if the reaction roll had indicated the NPCs were violently hostile. The PCs themselves could have decided to initiate combat in either encounter even if that might not be considered the best choice.

I really like your general thought though.

"The purpose of the encounter is to provide opposition to the party"
Thanks, this is the area in which I'm trying to focus on improving my skill as a DM in presenting situations that provoke a response in the players.

I think you ran it right. Hostile Nobles. They're wanting the glory and the respect for conquering the dungeon. Ultimately if these ratcatchers do some of the hard work for them and move along that won't be the worst thing
That could be what they're thinking (or at least one of them), although I do try to maintain an alignment between success at the player's declared task and the achievement of their intent, so for now I'm going with the idea that they believed the PCs when they represented themselves as mere travelers passing through the dungeon with no interest in taking any treasure for themselves.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Starfox

Adventurer
I’m not sure what “set this up as a combat encounter” means. Between sessions, I prepped simple stat blocks for the NPCs — the two fighters and their seven hirelings. When the session began with the party opening the door to the room as had been previously decided by the players, I made a reaction roll for each of the two fighters, the result being they both had a starting attitude of Hostile, but not violently so. I telegraphed their hostility by describing the fighters making a claim to the dungeon’s treasure as rivals to the party and implying their willingness to back up the claim with force if necessary.

So the purpose of the encounter in this case is to provide opposition to the party, which I see as one of my primary jobs as DM and which I touched on somewhat in my OP, rather than merely being a venue for combat that the player is "getting around" by interacting with the NPCs socially. The party overcame this opposition by employing a deception, but if the check had failed, I would have followed through with having the NPCs initiate combat as a consequence for failure.

ETA: Maybe that’s what you mean by “combat encounter”, but I’d contrast this with the encounter with large spiders earlier in the adventure in which each spider had a very high probability of attacking the party on sight.
You did it perfectly, I was just putting what you did in formal terms.
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
You did it perfectly, I was just putting what you did in formal terms.
Thanks for the kind words! I'm just not sure of the value of characterizing encounter prep as "as combat" when no combat actually occurred during the encounter!
 
Last edited:

Starfox

Adventurer
Thanks for the kind words! I'm just not sure of the value of characterizing encounter prep as "as combat" when no combat actually occurred during the encounter!
We're discussing in detail what I only said in passing, but I'll try to explain what I meant.

When I analyzed what you said in your post, I framed it as a combat encounter in my mind. You had a room full of NPCs whose objective was contrary to that of the PCs, they wanted to keep the PCs from exploring the dungeon. As I read that encounter, this was very likely to be resolved with combat, and thus it was intended as a combat encounter. With clever play and good rolls, your players re-framed the encounter into a social encounter, avoiding the combat. Re-framing an encounter from combat to something else is a rather dramatic change, so it makes sense the DC is hard. This is how I explained to myself how the high DC of 20 made sense. An after the fact framing of the scene in terms familiar to me.

However, when you were playing out the scene, it seems you had no such intention. You were not playing a pre-written scenario, so this was not written to be a combat encounter. The apparent intention was in my mind reading about the scene after it had been played. And this is ok, neither of us were doing something bad. We talked past each other. Our discussion is best described as a breakdown of terminology.

I'd rather let this matter rest now.
 

Remove ads

AD6_gamerati_skyscraper

Remove ads

Recent & Upcoming Releases

Top