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5E player knowlege vs character knowlege (spoiler)

auburn2

Explorer
Note tomb of annihilation spoiler below.................




So I am a 5th level player in Tomb of Annihilation. We were traveling through the Aldani basin and came across the heart of Ubtao. We have Artus Cimber in the party and he dimension doors up into the heart and drops a rope for the rest of us. I climb first and as I am halfway up I see him talking to an elf, Artis seemed to be having a gay old time talking to her. Ok, I get to the top and join the conversation. She introduces herself as Valindra Shadowmantle ,...... :eek: .... danger Will Robinson danger .....

I think the DM intended her to be treated as just an elf that wanted to join our search for the soulmonger. Of course I (the player) have read Salvatore and other FR lore and I know Shadowmantle was head of part of the Hostower in Luskan, ally to a lich Gleek or Greek or something like that, eventually joined Sazz Tam and became a lich herself. Not sure about the order of all that but I (the player) am pretty sure that is what happened. I of course announced that at the table (she is a lich!) .... so the less FR-savy players know it now as well. The question is what do we do with that? It really suprised the DM that I knew that name and I think I ruined a little part of the module. I would argue that my character, a fighter-ranger with a 13 wisdom, 18 intelligence, proficient in history and arcana would have probably, maybe heard that name as well?

The DM intended her to be treated as a simple elf that joined the party and I guess there is a story later (no spoilers please), but now the whole party .... and it is an entirely good and leaning lawful party .... knows this companion is a lich. We can't live with that but we are honestly probably no match for her unless she is some nerfed version of a lich. We are working on a strategy to surprise attack her involving acid, grappling, silence .... although even with all that and these awesome spells Artis can cast I still don't like our odds. Worse still I am terrified she is going to ESP us or something and figure out the party is plotting to kill her. She is a lich after all and we have no protections against scrying.

So two questions:

1. Do you think I did anything wrong and how am I supposed to play this? I can't like forget that she is an evil lich.

2. What do you think of our strategy to eliminate her? The party is me (fighter2/ranger3), Cleric 4, wizard 5, rogue3/warlock2, two tabaxi hunters, Artis Cimber and a shield guardian (bonded to the cleric). We have a jug of alchemy so we are going to spend the next week or so making acid, since none of us other than Artis have a magic weapon. The cleric could use magic weapon spell, but we need her concentration for silence. So here is the plan so far:
Attack her when she is not expecting it. Hex with disadvantage on dex checks, have the shield guardian cast spiritual weapon (guessing this will be counterspelled) and grapple her with his action. The cleric lays down silence (from over 60feet away). Haste Artis and have him go in and stab her then disengage every round to keep from getting hit by her legendary actions (he might have some awesome spell he can use too???). Have the cleric pound her with guiding bolt while maintaining silence, have the wizard pound her with magic missile and fireball (evoker with sculp to not damage shield guardian), both from outside counterspell range and moving to cantrips when they run dry. Have everyone else throw acid at her. If she breaks the grapple and moves out of the silence shove her back into it and regrapple.

The silence should mean she has virtually no useful spells, but she is still a force due to legendary actions and a pretty good attack. I figure the shield guardian can last about 7 or 8 rounds if she attacks it, more if she trys to break the grapple. After she kills the shield guardian (which seems inevitable), I can have the fighter or rogue grapple her in the silence. They won't last very long though. Probably 3 rounds if they are unscathed until that point.

What are my odds and do you have a better idea?
 
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Cadence

Legend
Supporter
1. Do you think I did anything wrong and how am I supposed to play this? I can't like forget that she is an evil lich.
Yes... but I can picture myself just blurting it out too.

What are my odds and do you have a better idea?
The DM makes her just an elf (princess?), and you would suffer the consequences for killing her because you ridiculously (since she wasn't) thought she was a lich. Meanwhile the DM talks to one of the other players who is good at poker and makes it where their character is actually the lich?
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
So, I am of the opinion that the player should have absolute sovereignty over their character, which should include the ability to take any action, for any reason - BUT - I am also of the opinion that it is best practice to take steps in-character to confirm or deny suspicions based on out-of-character knowledge. Savvy DMs will know that players might have knowledge their characters don’t, and may take steps to prevent players from gaining an unfair advantage by leveraging out of character knowledge. It is entirely possible that your DM used the name for an original character, or changed the character’s role in the story. It’s also entirely possible that this is exactly the Valindra Shadowmantle you think it is. Given that these are both valid possibilities, my opinion is that the smartest play would be to take steps in-character to try to get to the bottom of this character’s identity before taking actions based on any assumptions about her identity that may or may not be accurate.
 

1. That was definitely a non-ideal choice.

So, this is an official WotC adventure path, and you are a party of low-level characters. It is extremely unlikely that you are going to be attacked by a secret lich. They just wouldn't write an adventure like that. So even if this really is the character you are thinking of (rather than someone with the same name), they aren't going to attack you unprovoked. They are most likely either an NPC that isn't intended to be fought at all, or isn't intended to be fought until you are higher level.

Best practice here would be for everyone to pretend you don't know she's a lich, and act however you normally would with a random elf. If you are trying to do that, but you are still uncertain if a particular decision you are making is based on role-playing with a normal level of stranger danger precautions versus being paranoid (because you as the player believe she might be a lich), then roll a die. 11+ you make the paranoid decision, 10- you don't.

2. Don't make such a plan. You have no reason to. She (assuming she's a lich) isn't going to attack you first. Choosing to attack is asking for an unnecessary TPK, and without any role-playing justification, you had better hope they end up actually being a lich rather than some random person you murder.

If you think it will help, maybe you can ask the DM if, in the interest of helping the party not waste time or do something unfortunate, answer this question:

"Do we need to be concerned that this NPC will launch an unprovoked attack on our substantially lower level characters?"

If they give you a no, then you don't have to worry about it.
 

Pretty sure Valindra Shadowmantle is not in ToA as published, so this must be something your DM has decided to add in.

Maybe it's someone else with the same name, and your DM is a sadistic bstd who wants to metagame you into killing an entirely innocent character?
 


Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
Long story short, you should not have blurted that out and no, your character does not know everything you know (nor do you know everything your character knows). That is exactly why intelligence skill checks exist.

You should have said something like, “Does that name mean anything to my character?” and your DM should have called for an Intelligence (History) skill check. If you fail that, then as far as you’re concerned she’s an elf lady in a floating chunk of earth.

If I was your DM, the fact that your entire party is now conspiring to kill this character based entirely on meta game knowledge they shouldn’t have would immediately cause me to make her an innocent elf who is just trying to help you.
 


Hriston

Hero
This seems to happen from time to time: the player(s) second guessing the intentions of the DM. I don’t think it’s an ideal way to play D&D. If the DM isn’t dropping hints that this NPC is a lich (and I’m assuming that the NPC’s name is not meant to be taken as one), then there’s really nothing to support that conclusion. Instead, I would suggest you engage with the fiction the DM is presenting and would refer you to the basic play-loop of the game:
1. the DM describes the environment
2. the players describe their characters’ actions
3. the DM describes the result
By having your character react to something that isn’t part of the DM’s description, you’re upsetting the play-loop. This can be frustrating for the DM because it feels like you aren’t interested in playing the game as presented. Trust that if part of the challenge of this scenario was knowing whether this NPC is a lich or not, that the DM would communicate that to you in some way. Remember that D&D is a conversation and that conversations go better when there is trust on both sides.
 

Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
TBH While it was a bad call, I can understand the player getting excited and blurting out "She's a lich!" when recognizing the character. For this reason, it's a questionable design choice to use a "celebrity" FR character in this way. The designers may have thought the character was obscure enough that the vast majority of players wouldn't recognize her, but in that case what's the point of using her anyway?
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
1. Do you think I did anything wrong and how am I supposed to play this? I can't like forget that she is an evil lich.
I see no real way of separating character and player knowledge. The best way to avoid inappropriate overlap between the two is for the DM to mix things up.
Let me ask you this. As a DM, I introduce a character that has a name matching someone from a novel or other FR resource. You make assumptions about that character. It turns out it is another character of the same name, just like there are plenty of John Smiths in the world. (Maybe a coincidence, I heard the name somewhere and it stuck in my subconcious, maybe intentionally.)

You end up with a character that did something for no reason they can explain using in-world knowledge, and that action turns out to be completely unjustified. When you are interrogated by the church of Lathander under a Zone of Truth about why you unprovokely murdered their paladin Valindra Shadowmantle, what do you answer?

I don't understand how your character can't forget it's a lich - they never knew it and it may not be true. The player "knows" it's a lich ... except it may not be. Even if it's the same character, it may be at a different point along their arc. Don't assume the DM has perfect information either (an issue I have with FR - so much lore, it's easy for a DM and their players to be out-of-step).
 

jasper

Rotten DM
1. Has your DM read the book in which she is a lich? What you know as a player does not matter. At best as DM I would allow your pc a monster knowledge check. DC I don’t know.

2. So you are already using player knowledge to plan to attack the lich. I would TPK the group if it is a lich. Or bad karma for the group for killing the innocent.
 

1. Do you think I did anything wrong and how am I supposed to play this? I can't like forget that she is an evil lich.
Absolutely you did something wrong IMO. Player knowledge doesn't translate to character knowledge, at least not at my table and I make that clear from the start for those who are familiar with the setting. Unless your player had some inside knowledge I don't see anyway that your character would immediately know that the elf was a lich if she was taking pains to disguise her true nature, which in this case it sounds like she was. In previous editions there were telltale signs that if one knew what to look for could reveal that they were undead and possibly even what type. So if your character had the appropriate skill and was actively trying to determine this I'd allow a skill check possibly.

I see no real way of separating character and player knowledge. The best way to avoid inappropriate overlap between the two is for the DM to mix things up.
As a player I always played from the standpoint of my character and what knowledge they may or do have no matter how familiar I was with the game and the setting. This was just always ingrained in me as player very early on and used self control to separate player vs. character knowledge. I don't think a DM should have to necessarily mix things up to accommodate trigger happy players but in reality this is usually what it comes down to.
 


Mort

Hero
Supporter
Pretty sure Valindra Shadowmantle is not in ToA as published, so this must be something your DM has decided to add in.
I'm going to throw this in spoilers in case someone doesn't want to read it, though this whole thread is a big spoiler. Still :

she is 100% part of the actual adventure.

Maybe it's someone else with the same name, and your DM is a sadistic bstd who wants to metagame you into killing an entirely innocent character?
Spoilers again:

she wants to use the adventurers not kill them, which she could easily do. The adventure itself gives specific actions she takes if attacked by THE PCs. Basically she gets away (almost no chance of 5th level PCs stopping her, and manipulates the PCs from afar - sending goons after them if she feels they've outlived their usefulness.


Basically, it won't change much to have the PCs recognize her and will certainly go right along with the plot. But the PCs should still confirm their suspicion in game, the DM can easily change things around on them.
 

Let me ask you this. As a DM, I introduce a character that has a name matching someone from a novel or other FR resource. You make assumptions about that character. It turns out it is another character of the same name, just like there are plenty of John Smiths in the world. (Maybe a coincidence, I heard the name somewhere and it stuck in my subconcious, maybe intentionally.)

You end up with a character that did something for no reason they can explain using in-world knowledge, and that action turns out to be completely unjustified. When you are interrogated by the church of Lathander under a Zone of Truth about why you unprovokely murdered their paladin Valindra Shadowmantle, what do you answer?

I don't understand how your character can't forget it's a lich - they never knew it and it may not be true. The player "knows" it's a lich ... except it may not be. Even if it's the same character, it may be at a different point along their arc. Don't assume the DM has perfect information either (an issue I have with FR - so much lore, it's easy for a DM and their players to be out-of-step).
I have never run into these issues - probably because I have never run a game in someone else's world. Never the less, if I was to play in the FR, it would not be Greenwood's FR. It would be, by definition of me not being Greenwood, my FR. The mistake is assuming the a specific DM's FR is the same as any other DM FR. It isn't. It cannot be. The same way as when two people read the same book, they see a different story in their mind. The stories are similar, but never identical. Even I read the same book twice, the stories I experience are not identical.
 

Hriston

Hero
I'm going to throw this in spoilers in case someone doesn't want to read it, though this whole thread is a big spoiler. Still :

she is 100% part of the actual adventure.



Spoilers again:

she wants to use the adventurers not kill them, which she could easily do. The adventure itself gives specific actions she takes if attacked by THE PCs. Basically she gets away (almost no chance of 5th level PCs stopping her, and manipulates the PCs from afar - sending goons after them if she feels they've outlived their usefulness.


Basically, it won't change much to have the PCs recognize her and will certainly go right along with the plot. But the PCs should still confirm their suspicion in game, the DM can easily change things around on them.
I think in light of this information, the DM should absolutely have telegraphed this to the players. Otherwise, it’s a gotcha.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
So two questions:

1. Do you think I did anything wrong and how am I supposed to play this? I can't like forget that she is an evil lich.
Per the rules, you determine what your character thinks - not the DM and not the dice. If you say your character thinks the NPC is a lich and that your character wants to destroy her, then that's what your character thinks.

You just might not be correct in that assumption.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Basically, it won't change much to have the PCs recognize her and will certainly go right along with the plot. But the PCs should still confirm their suspicion in game, the DM can easily change things around on them.
Right. You don't know if your assumption is true unless you take steps to verify that it is.
 

Per the rules, you determine what your character thinks - not the DM and not the dice. If you say your character thinks the NPC is a lich and that your character wants to destroy her, then that's what your character thinks.
I would say that their assumption that the NPC is a lich should be grounded on some hint or fact that the DM has asserted throughout the course of the adventure or campaign to have any validity.
 

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