D&D 5E Player feedback: Deserved Easy Win or a Satisfying Win?

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
But I am a player?

Im confused.
You were giving DMing feedback - how to change an encounter. Not something a player can do. Your response only made sense in a DM role.

As a player the question is: would you want me to increase the difficulty in the ways you were suggesting to make a big arc-ending boss battle tough and satisfying because the hse taken sessions to research and prep and make allies that will make it much less climatic. Or would you want to celebrate the time you put in and have a moderately easy win (still not easy, but not boss-battle tough).
 

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Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
If the party has well-planned for their win, that's a good thing and they should be rewarded for it.

At the same time, if you do want to spice things up, there's always the "no plan survives contact with the enemy" and "things don't go smooth". That is, some unexpected, unaccounted for action by someone else can throw a monkeywrench into the plans - not countermanding the player's plans, but threatening to complicate things if they aren't dealt with appropriately (many heist movies use this subplot to create tension and drama to an otherwise "perfect" plan - such as Ocean's 11).

Bad weather hits unexpectedly, threatening to delay the party from arriving on time. Someone at court offends the duke and he orders everyone out and the party has to find another way in. Someone overhears part or all of the player's plan when they accidentally walk in on the characters, and has to be dealt with. One of the duke's sicophants challenges a PC to a duel, suspecting treachery.

Even if you don't go with any of the above, there's always the fallout what happens AFTER the duke is outed. Likely, he has supporters or allies who will not take kindly to the duke being offed, and may not believe the PC's story. There may be a spouse or offspring that attempt to avenge the duke's death - righteously or not. Other elf-haters may take up the duke's banner, either avoiding the PCs or seeking them out. Perhaps even elves may become wrathful learning the dukedom was willing to employ a demon to wipe them out, and the PCs may have to deal with stopping a war against or reprisals by the elves.
Yes, I understand what I can do. I am asking if you were a player in that game, which would you prefer more: my behind the scenes toughening the battle so the several-sessions-long extensive prep/research/allies the players have done moves it from nigh-impossible to boss-battle-tough, or leave ti as it is where their work has moved it from boss-battle-tough to Pretty winnable.

The question is not "how can I run this", the question is "as a player, which way would you want me to run this if you put in sessions of prep"? What's the most rewarding?
 

J-H

Hero
So, if you were a player and had invested several sessions in getting allies, information, and such about a big bad, and using that turned the conclusion of the arc into a fairly short fight because you were Batman-level prepared, would you feel great about it or would you feel like you wasted time and shouldn't have put in that much research and prep?
As long as you specifically highlight "He tries to X, but you already Y" every single one of the BBEG's preparations, and explicitly and directly point out how their planning nullified his plans, then that is a very satisfying win.
 

As a player the question is: would you want me to increase the difficulty in the ways you were suggesting to make a big arc-ending boss battle tough and satisfying because the hse taken sessions to research and prep and make allies that will make it much less climatic. Or would you want to celebrate the time you put in and have a moderately easy win (still not easy, but not boss-battle tough).

Yeah of course I would. There is an unspoken pact that youre there to make the sessions fun and challenging.

Steamrolling encounter is kind of boring.

I want my actions to matter, but that's not the same thing as cakewalking them.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Yeah of course I would. There is an unspoken pact that youre there to make the sessions fun and challenging.

Steamrolling encounter is kind of boring.

I want my actions to matter, but that's not the same thing as cakewalking them.
That's what I was looking for player opinions on, my original thoughts were along with yours. But general consensus of the other players here are as long as the nerfs are obviously tied to the character's previous actions they should benefit from the prep and make it easy.
 

MarkB

Legend
Yeah, I'm with the majority here - any effects that the players' excellent prep and planning may have, up to and including negating the climactic battle entirely, will feel like a win to them.
 

As a player, I’d appreciate our careful planning to pay off tangibly to some extent. I also wouldn’t fault the DM who then threw us a little unexpected curveball to turn the cakewalk against the BBEG into some semblance of a challenge - additional minions or lieutenants or unforeseen lair actions or the like.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
That's what I was looking for player opinions on, my original thoughts were along with yours. But general consensus of the other players here are as long as the nerfs are obviously tied to the character's previous actions they should benefit from the prep and make it easy.

Out of curiosity- what IS the level of challenge likely to be (with what the players have done) assuming you don't buff it? Is it going to be an "easy" encounter now, or still medium or hard (or even a slightly less deadly)?

Would it have been a "deadly" encounter without all that they did to mitigate?

Just curious and looking for a fuller picture.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
Yeah of course I would. There is an unspoken pact that youre there to make the sessions fun and challenging.

Steamrolling encounter is kind of boring.

I want my actions to matter, but that's not the same thing as cakewalking them.

While I agree "boring" is bad, here the encounter is much easier ONLY because of the actions taken by the players. And it might still be challenging, just not ridiculously so (now).

Adding in extra because you feel the encounter is now "too easy" kind of cheapens that.
 

While I agree "boring" is bad, here the encounter is much easier ONLY because of the actions taken by the players.

And the question I would ask myself as DM is 'What are the negative consequences of those actions'.

It's likely that news of the PCs activities (information gathering, propaganda campaign in town, magic rituals etc) have reached the ear of the Duke, so (presuming he now knows) that there are highly capable PCs out there, actively conspiring against him, what steps would he take to protect himself?

That actually encourages the players to think even more deeply about the issue, makes their actions matter even more, and maintains the challenge of the encounter.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
If it's a cakewalk because I Hannibal'd into being, I will take that cakewalk and strut.

Also, people who say cakewalks are easy, hasn't been to my family reunion. Aunt Dot will tackle you for a butter poundcake.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
And the question I would ask myself as DM is 'What are the negative consequences of those actions'.

It's likely that news of the PCs activities (information gathering, propaganda campaign in town, magic rituals etc) have reached the ear of the Duke, so (presuming he now knows) that there are highly capable PCs out there, actively conspiring against him, what steps would he take to protect himself?

That actually encourages the players to think even more deeply about the issue, makes their actions matter even more, and maintains the challenge of the encounter.
If everything I do is going to end up with negative consequences no matter how hard I try, I know nothing I do matters and I will not take time planning the next one.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
And the question I would ask myself as DM is 'What are the negative consequences of those actions'.

It's likely that news of the PCs activities (information gathering, propaganda campaign in town, magic rituals etc) have reached the ear of the Duke, so (presuming he now knows) that there are highly capable PCs out there, actively conspiring against him, what steps would he take to protect himself?

That actually encourages the players to think even more deeply about the issue, makes their actions matter even more, and maintains the challenge of the encounter.

Logical consequences are good. But, IMO, imposed (or manufactured) consequences because you feel the encounter would otherwise be "too easy?" That's not great and cheapens the player's actions.
 

Unwise

Adventurer
In a game I ran, PCs stripped many of the powers of the BBeG, making him a bit of a cake walk. Instead of just having the villian be unable to use a power, I described how it failed, clearly showing the effect of the PCs preparation.

E.g. The vampire lord howls to the moon, the forest comes alive with the sound of approaching werewolves. Within a few rounds, a dozen turn up. Then they just stand there, not aiding their 'lord'. The PCs then could see the impact that curing the domination of the pack leader had had on the fight.

The vampire calls out a magic word and his ancestral longsword appears in his hands. It is no longer wreathed in black flame, but rather in holy radiant light. He shrieks as the now untainted blade burns his hand. He seems unable to let it go as the radiant light slowly begins melting him.

The vampire calls for his chamberlain, who the PCs know they have already killed.

Things like that. Have the thing possessing him strike down the room with a DC21 area effect spell...that hits for 1 damage. Have the chanting of the crowd oppose the chanting of his spells, they effectively silence him as his unholy utterances cannot be spoken in this holy place.

An AE fear spell goes off, but the crowds chant is granting everybody Heroism, which makes them immune to fear.

Anything works, as long as you show the cause and effect. Just make sure not to simply not use the abilities, show them fail.
 

Logical consequences are good. But, IMO, imposed (or manufactured) consequences because you feel the encounter would otherwise be "too easy?" That's not great and cheapens the player's actions.

Every encounter is manipulated by a DM based on difficulty. That's why its Goblins at 1st and Balors at 15th. There is an inherent expectation there that this occurs.

And in this case, it's simply stating the obvious. If a bunch of (powerful) PCs rocked into a town, it's likely the local ruler would absolutely know about it, and would absolutely keep tabs on them. If they started to wage a town wide propaganda war against that ruler, he would absolutely hear about it within 24 hours.

Word would reach his ear. He has guards, spies, and other agents in town.

I presume he also has some kind of magical protections (including a Demonic patron). The magic ritual used against him is also something he is likely aware of on some level, and to some degree.

From what Im hearing about the PCs activities against him, they havent exactly made any effort to keep it quiet, so it's a consequence of those actions, as much as anything.
 


aco175

Legend
As a player, I would like to see how my planning paid off and contributed to my win. I could also see how the BBEG may have found out about some of the things and planned for a few. If the DM pulled a Return of the Jedi and mocked me with the Emperor's voice saying, "It was I who allowed the Alliance to know the location of the shield generator. It is quite safe from your pitiful little band."

I may feel frustrated with the setback, but victory would feel so much sweeter.
 

That's not what I am saying. It's not a binary question of Yes/No.

See my post above.
It certainly sounds a lot closer to a binary than a fuzzy spectrum, even with that example. Your presentation leads me to believe: "if we prepare enough to actually make a major difference, our enemies will find out and counter-prepare even more until they feel confident again. The level of difficulty will never meaningfully change whenever there's any possibility our enemies could grow or adapt, so there's no point in putting much effort into our preparations under such circumstances. Just do the minimum of prep needed to face the threat, so the 'logical consequences' don't result in a pointless arms race that could cause worse collateral damage."
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Out of curiosity- what IS the level of challenge likely to be (with what the players have done) assuming you don't buff it? Is it going to be an "easy" encounter now, or still medium or hard (or even a slightly less deadly)?

Would it have been a "deadly" encounter without all that they did to mitigate?

Just curious and looking for a fuller picture.
If they had just gone into this without any planning, it would have been a multiple stage boss fight that they would have gone into fully rested. The first stage was around Deadly by the encounter math, which for this party fully rested ikely means someone may or may not hit unconcious, but nowhere near an actual death. Though it would be complicated by a bunch of low challenge guards (CR1 vs. 8th level party) who are basically innocent and protecting the duke from an assassination attempt by known fugitives - the party is sworn the the rightful ruler and (to varying degress) will not go murderhobo on non-evil citizens trying to do their job. The second stage would have also been Deadly+, as unexpectedly the Oinoloth comes out of the body of the Duke, with some minions.

Just for calibration, when fully rested it takes a Deadly encounter to make it interesting for this party. Not super optimized and a bit combat-magic-item-light (by my intention), but just solid tactics, teamwork and synergy.

They now know about the Oinoloth, and have researched how to expel it from the Duke's body and come up with a most excellent plan on how to do it reliably and quickly that is so genius I must not DM fiat it away in any way. That will take a few rounds, but they can be on the defensive for them. And it will reveal the Oinoloth which will get all of the innocent guards out of the way.

This puts it down to a single Deadly+ encounter, plus they researched the Oinoloth and know what it can do and what it is resistant to (perhaps the biggest swing in power), managed to get a loan of additional magical weapons so that much of the party wouldn't be having their attacks Resisted, are controlling the time so they can blow major consumables like a potion of Frost Giant strength, and have tipped off other forces like the clergy to be on alert in such a way that shouldn't get back to him negatively.

Also they were very worried about the duke supposed oracle/diviner, but have found out that he's got his own agenda and wont' be stepping in to fight, so they don't need to spend effort to counter him.

There's still one twist in there that can get them, and if it was just a fresh party a Deadly+ would be a good climax with chance of people down at several points (though they have a twilight cleric, so not as much). But being at full, knowing the abilities of the foe, having prepped spells (cleric & druid) specifically to deal with it in this situation, borrowed magic items (weapons and consumables), being pre-buffed, and coming in from ambush. That's a pretty huge swing even before potential aid like the bishop of the the town.
 
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It certainly sounds a lot closer to a binary than a fuzzy spectrum, even with that example. Your presentation leads me to believe: "if we prepare enough to actually make a major difference, our enemies will find out and counter-prepare even more until they feel confident again

No, the PCs in the example have literally been publicly agitating against the Duke, running a vocal propaganda campaign (among many many other moves against him).

If you're curious that would likely be the crime of sedition, and likely carries a death sentence.

A bunch of mid level PCs (these guys sound like they're roughly in the teens) dont just walk into town and no-one notices either. They're literally capable of taking down small armies at this point; they can usually be expected to be met at the entrance to most towns, tabs to be kept on them, and for the movers and shakers in that town to get them on their side.

A bunch of mid level PCs, actively engaged in a visible plot of sedition against the Duke, and he's somehow unaware? Not one sympathizer, agent or spy in town bothered to tell him?

Unless they've been extremely covert, working through intermediaries etc, the Duke is going to know what they're up to. Not their exact plans of course (unless he's scrying on them, or spying on them, which I would be if I were him), but all but certainly word has reached his ear (at a bare minimum) that:

1) There are extremely dangerous PCs in town,
2) They have been actively spreading propaganda against him, in an effort to undermine him.

That's my only point here. If we assume that's true, then the Duke does what the Duke would do with that information. The PCs actions still matter (and he's still weakened) though.
 

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