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D&D 5E Proposed Fix for Whack-a-Mole Healing

Lanliss

Explorer
To be fair, I think some of the pushback is due to the implied objectiveness of the "problem" the OP of a thread brings up (not meaning to pick on this one, but it is an example). Namely, rather than saying "I don't like whack-a-mole healing, help me with a fix" vs. this thread's title. Again, not to try to pick on the OP, but people do pick up on when people assert their opinions as fact, and call that out.

However, it is an objective statement of fact. "Whack-a-mole healing" is a problem for the OP. They have a houserule that could help fix it, and put it up so others who view it the same way might find it helpful. The OP did not at all say that everyone has the problem, and needs to use X to fix it, just they have a problem, and this is how they are fixing/fixed it.
 

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Kalshane

First Post
However, it is an objective statement of fact. "Whack-a-mole healing" is a problem for the OP. They have a houserule that could help fix it, and put it up so others who view it the same way might find it helpful. The OP did not at all say that everyone has the problem, and needs to use X to fix it, just they have a problem, and this is how they are fixing/fixed it.

I think part of it comes from player experiences. I would imagine a vast majority of players have encountered a situation sometime in their gaming career where an ill-advised house rule by a GM lead to unpleasant experience at the table (or someone as a GM implemented a house rule only to have it cause other problems they weren't expecting.) Explaining why RAW works the way it does, or relaying their own experiences with the RAW or house rules they've encountered gives anyone who does want to house rule the way something works more data to work from.

Ultimately, we're in fairly niche hobby, and in general most gamers want their fellow gamers to have a good experience at the table. Which is why, even if someone's house rule won't actually affect them personally, they feel the need to put their two cents in.
 

Has anyone else noticed that a lot of people on here (The 5E forum in general) tend to shut down any house rule ideas?
Yes.
Seems like any thread that starts with "I had a problem, here is how I fixed it" gets responses along the lines of "No, it's fine. Just do it by RAW."
Which is a tad nonsensical, really. The homebrew forum was folded into this one, so they're legit threads to begin with. And, 5e isn't written in a less-ambiguous, technical-manual style like 4e, nor with the lavish rewards for system mastery that drove RAW-obsession in 3.x, so there shouldn't be the defensiveness there was towards the rules of the modern editions. Like the classic game, 5e's rule thrive on rulings and variants.

On topic, I like the resistance to healing thing, and the DC. I might pull this in on my game.
They seem to me to miss or paper-over the actual problem, even though the OP stated it quite clearly:

5e has great rules, but one legitimate concern I see often is the "Whack-a-Mole" issue. You've probably seen it as well: during a fight, rather than try to heal damage as it occurs to prevent a party member from dropping, they will wait to use healing word or a potion until after a PC has fallen. I can't fault it, because it makes strategic sense (assuming instant death from too much damage isn't likely); by waiting until after a PC goes down, the party effectively gains extra healing economy by ignoring all the extra damage past 0. Often the only risk that needs to be weighed is whether the dying PC would miss an action due to being down on their turn.

Unfortunately, this creates the aforementioned "whack-a-mole" phenomenon. Fighter goes down. Receives healing word for a few HP and pops back up. Because of the low remaining hp, the fighter immediately goes back down. Repeat until the party wins or runs out of healing. I don't mind a party member fighting on the edge of disaster the entire time while the healer tries to keep them up. It's specifically the fall down, dying, stand back up cycle that I'm having cognitive dissonance with and which the rules as written actually encourage.

The genesis of the problem is clearly in the rules, themselves:

1) Heal from 0.

2) Effectiveness of in-combat healing.


Changing the former would remove the major source of temptation to wait until a PC actually drops to heal him. Just count negative hps and heal from the negative total. Support casters should, at that point, stop intentionally waiting for allies to drop before healing them. A simple fix. But, it does make healing weaker in the grand scheme of things.

Changing the latter would mean making healing more powerful somehow - increasing the die sizes or granting bonuses or allowing HD to be rolled & added, I think, have been suggested. Of course, making anything 'more powerful' is suspicious.

Combining the two, though, might balance out and neatly eliminate the whack-a-mole issue.
 

Lanliss

Explorer
Yes.
Which is a tad nonsensical, really. The homebrew forum was folded into this one, so they're legit threads to begin with. And, 5e isn't written in a less-ambiguous, technical-manual style like 4e, nor with the lavish rewards for system mastery that drove RAW-obsession in 3.x, so there shouldn't be the defensiveness there was towards the rules of the modern editions. Like the classic game, 5e's rule thrive on rulings and variants.

They seem to me to miss or paper-over the actual problem, even though the OP stated it quite clearly:



The genesis of the problem is clearly in the rules, themselves:

1) Heal from 0.

2) Effectiveness of in-combat healing.


Changing the former would remove the major source of temptation to wait until a PC actually drops to heal him. Just count negative hps and heal from the negative total. Support casters should, at that point, stop intentionally waiting for allies to drop before healing them. A simple fix. But, it does make healing weaker in the grand scheme of things.

Changing the latter would mean making healing more powerful somehow - increasing the die sizes or granting bonuses or allowing HD to be rolled & added, I think, have been suggested. Of course, making anything 'more powerful' is suspicious.

Combining the two, though, might balance out and neatly eliminate the whack-a-mole issue.

Actually, I think the OP solution does fix the problem.

Problem 1: Healers wait until a PC goes down to heal them.

Result/Problem 2: PC who was healed from 0 has low health, and goes down again quickly.

Solutions: Resistance to healing, which will make healing from 0 much less appealing.
Downed PC must make a save to wake up before the fight ends, giving more incentive to keep them from falling in the first place.

So, the OP could probably just implement the second solution, as I think that gives plenty of reason to not let someone go down. The first solution is debatable in its usefulness. Some will like it, because it makes the healing less efficient, which provides a second reason to not let people go down. Some will not like it, because it looks like a way to just drain the party resources more.

Results (From what I can see):
Healing characters will spend a lot more slots on healing, attempting to keep up with the damage output of enemies, and/or You would see more careful play, as the players know it is much more painful to go down.

The first result reads like a bit of a new problem, because you don't want someone dedicated solely to healing against their will. I just finally managed to break my players of the mind set that they have to have a healer in the party, rather than what they actually want to play. However, if it follows the second result, it should play much smoother I think.
 

Actually, I think the OP solution does fix the problem.

Problem 1: Healers wait until a PC goes down to heal them.

Result/Problem 2: PC who was healed from 0 has low health, and goes down again quickly.

Solutions: Resistance to healing, which will make healing from 0 much less appealing.
So would counting negative hps, and it's a simpler (or at least more familiar) way of doing it.
Downed PC must make a save to wake up before the fight ends, giving more incentive to keep them from falling in the first place.
Doesn't address the second problem, though. In fact, both resistance to healing and heal-from-negatives make it worse, because the subject's hp total is going to be that much lower when he stands back up.

While the save to wake up just results in a player sitting out more of the combat. Indeed, you could end up with a reverse problem, as healers just let dropped allies stay down until after the fight.

Healing characters will spend a lot more slots on healing, attempting to keep up with the damage output of enemies, and/or You would see more careful play, as the players know it is much more painful to go down.

The first result reads like a bit of a new problem, because you don't want someone dedicated solely to healing against their will.
Using healing to keep allies up proactively does require more resources than healing them after they drop under the up-from-0 rule, both because sometimes you heal someone who doesn't get hit again, and because of the 'extra damage lost' beyond 0. That makes healing numerically less effective. In turn, that could be ameliorated by making healing a little more powerful..

I just finally managed to break my players of the mind set that they have to have a healer in the party, rather than what they actually want to play. However, if it follows the second result, it should play much smoother I think.
The second result could actually be pretty awful, or highly desireable, depending on the tone of the campaign. If you want anything akin to genre heroism and risk-taking, you need mechanics that counter that risk, so D&D has healing and even resurrection pretty available. Making risks greater and healing effectively weaker, would push the campaign towards less heroic means of overcoming challenges. OTOH, if you want a more shades-of-grey, pragmatic tone to your campaign, that could be just the thing.
 

guachi

Adventurer
I've found a fairly simple solution- everytime a PC drops to 0, they gain a level of exhaustion when they wake back up. Under this houserule, all levels of exhaustion are removed on a long rest, for the sake of keeping my game pacing up, but mileage may vary there.

I suggested this very thing to my players a few weeks ago. Astonishingly, they agreed. It's very hard to kill PCs (at least in my game) but they drop to zero all the time because my fights are really hard. By giving some meaningful downside to dropping to zero I can make my fights less difficult but still provide tense excitement.

It's a win-win so far.
 

GameOgre

Adventurer
Don't have this issue.
A dropped pc often means a dead pc in my game.

Now when they do come up in the middle of a fight they sometimes are dismayed to discover than they let go of whatever they were holding when they went unconscious! More than once has a character looked around in dismay to discover their sword kicked way off to the side or a shield being stood on my a enemy.

Once a fighter woke up after being range healed to discover that he had slid off the battlefield and was dangling off the edge of a cliff, hanging by his backpack.
 

I'm also struck by some of the solutions following a pattern:

1) Notice whack-a-mole healing is happening.
2) 'punish' the healer's behavior by heaping horrid consequences on his allies.

Whack-a-mole happens in 5e because of heal-from-0 and fast-combat tuning.
Heal-from-0 simply makes it more efficient to let an ally drop, then heal him, because you're negating more of the enemy's damage.
Fast combat means every action counts because there just aren't going to be that many before one side or the other is dead, and every action better go towards assuring you aren't that side, if you spend a turn healing, even if you also get to bop something because you used healing word, it might not speed the party to victory as fast as a better offensive or buffing use of that same spell slot.

So, you resort to healing only when allies drop (and just enough to let them take their next turn, because it's unlikey the combat'll go a whole lot more turns), otherwise, make the best possible use of your turn.
Yeah, you're risking your ally's life and possibly costing him some movement for standing up, and an object interaction for picking up anything he may have dropped - but that's weighed against your actions and your spell slots, and, let's face it, new allies aren't hard to come by, in AL, they'll just be raised by their faction, anyway.

Don't want slightly tougher combats to degenerate into whack-a-mole, change heal-from-0 (simply make it heal-from-negatives, for instance), and mess with the expectation of fast combat.
 

Saeviomagy

Adventurer
Whack-a-mole happens in 5e because of heal-from-0 and fast-combat tuning.

I think that heal from 0 doesn't really make much of a difference. The simple fact is that in-combat healing is a poor proposition (ie - it's limited, small, takes up valuable actions, typically can only be done by one or two PCs), and it's very difficult to say that pro-active healing is going to be worthwhile (the foe may hit someone else, they may miss, your ally might take defensive measures), as opposed to doing something with a higher chance of reducing incoming damage while also progressing the combat.

I think that changing to heal-from-negatives is not going to change things much: in-combat healing will still be bad, so you will still avoid it until someone is down... only now healing that person might not even get them up, so you'll go for the stabilize option.

So you'll change the reasoning behind the problem (ie - people won't deliberately say "it's more effective to heal people for a minimal amount once they go down, so I'll hold of on healing now"), but I think the problem will remain (ie - people won't heal now if they weren't doing it before - there's almost always something better to do).

I think your second point is probably a better thing to target: switch up the fast-combat tuning. If foes die in 3 rounds, then spending 1 round healing is a waste of time unless your ally dropped during the first round... in which case you don't have time to pre-emptively heal. If foes take 10 rounds to kill, then it's far more reasonable to spend 2 of those rounds healing to keep allies up.

So... smaller foes, more of them, trickled into fights to pace them? But still avoiding the feeling of sloggy combat somehow.
 

I think that heal from 0 doesn't really make much of a difference.
Its not a big difference, but it's a clear numerical difference, and a consistent one - in a community that thinks a half point of average weapon damage matters. It's just too easy to reason that healing only dropped allies maximizes the enemy damage negated by your healing, and then stick to that strategy dogmatically.

I think your second point is probably a better thing to target: switch up the fast-combat tuning. If foes die in 3 rounds, then spending 1 round healing is a waste of time unless your ally dropped during the first round... in which case you don't have time to pre-emptively heal. If foes take 10 rounds to kill, then it's far more reasonable to spend 2 of those rounds healing to keep allies up.

So... smaller foes, more of them, trickled into fights to pace them? But still avoiding the feeling of sloggy combat somehow.
Fast combat was a major 5e goal and it's delivered - but not without consequences. Re-tuning 5e would be an undertaking, but tricks like your suggestion could lessen the expectation of all combats being short, and proactive healing suboptimal...
 
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Capn Charlie

Explorer
I have been tinkering with rules that failed death saves do not go away until you take a long rest, so characters that hit 0 might get back up, but better hope they don't fail any saves, since they will accumulate.

Sent from my MT2L03 using EN World mobile app
 

Saeviomagy

Adventurer
I have been tinkering with rules that failed death saves do not go away until you take a long rest, so characters that hit 0 might get back up, but better hope they don't fail any saves, since they will accumulate.

Cue tons of wasting the day so you can long rest, because otherwise you'll die.
 


Unfortunately, this creates the aforementioned "whack-a-mole" phenomenon. Fighter goes down. Receives healing word for a few HP and pops back up. Because of the low remaining hp, the fighter immediately goes back down. Repeat until the party wins or runs out of healing. I don't mind a party member fighting on the edge of disaster the entire time while the healer tries to keep them up. It's specifically the fall down, dying, stand back up cycle that I'm having cognitive dissonance with and which the rules as written actually encourage.
I have seen this in most of my 5e games. And 4e games. And a few 3e games really, but it was less common then due to negative hit points. Having to "waste" healing restoring lost negative hit points did encourage you to heal earlier.

However, in practice, making it harder to bounce back has one reliable side effect: characters stay on the ground longer. And if the character's not good in the fight and risks death, it's more efficient to just stabilise than it is to bring someone back. And then that's a player who is just not playing the game anymore.
While you try and keep people up, it's not always possible. There tends to be only a single healer compared to two to four characters taking damage and needing healing.

Thinking on how 4e avoided this, death save failures stacked between short rests. If you went down multiple times, you could easily die.
This could carry over. So you due if you fail three death saves before the end of combat or within 1 minute.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Maybe instead of giving more penalties for not keeping PCs healed, you give them bonuses for doing preemptive healing? A carrot over stick approach?

1) Characters who are at maximum hit points gain a +2 bonus to AC.
2) Healing effects that heal over the target's maximum HP have the excess healing converted into temporary hit points.
3) Characters who have less than half of their maximum hit points can use a bonus action to spend one Hit Die and heal.
4) Characters who have half or more of their maximum hit points have a +1 bonus to attack.
 

Maybe instead of giving more penalties for not keeping PCs healed, you give them bonuses for doing preemptive healing? A carrot over stick approach?

1) Characters who are at maximum hit points gain a +2 bonus to AC.
2) Healing effects that heal over the target's maximum HP have the excess healing converted into temporary hit points.
3) Characters who have less than half of their maximum hit points can use a bonus action to spend one Hit Die and heal.
4) Characters who have half or more of their maximum hit points have a +1 bonus to attack.
I like (2) as it (sorta) removes a dis-incentive to heal lightly-wounded allies.

One thought that occurred to me was an additional benefit the subject healed could choose by using his Reaction. Obviously, they can't do that if they've already been dropped.

Maybe, spend reaction to:
  • ...gain temp hps equal to the hps healed
  • ...use up to one HD per 5 hps healed
  • ...gain advantage on your next attack/check/save
  • ...repeat a failed save
  • ...remove a condition
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
If HP models fighting spirit (and it really must if we're to imagine people hopping back up after a potion or a pep talk :) and regaining strength after resting), then what are we to make of the damage types? What (if any) difference does the damage make if it's slashing vs bludgeoning? To me it's simply the way the weapon potentially strikes and the loss in hit point (ton the PC side) is the effort needed to repel the attack if it's slashing or absorbing the punishment if it's bludgeoning. But what about an unarmoured wizard? How do they handle a piercing attack?

Of course when the PCs hit a monster it does do actual damage, so it's a bit asymmetric...

Just something I'm mulling over when thinking about the verisimilitude of all this :)
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
If HP models fighting spirit (and it really must if we're to imagine people hopping back up after a potion or a pep talk :) and regaining strength after resting), then what are we to make of the damage types? What (if any) difference does the damage make if it's slashing vs bludgeoning? To me it's simply the way the weapon potentially strikes and the loss in hit point (ton the PC side) is the effort needed to repel the attack if it's slashing or absorbing the punishment if it's bludgeoning. But what about an unarmoured wizard? How do they handle a piercing attack?

Of course when the PCs hit a monster it does do actual damage, so it's a bit asymmetric...

Just something I'm mulling over when thinking about the verisimilitude of all this :)

Rereading this thread I'm reminded of [MENTION=6828720]Springheel[/MENTION]'s excellent PDF. Carry on... :D
 

Arnwolf666

Adventurer
I do a lower magic setting at the moment. I just gave healing spells for this setting and world a casting time of 1 round and they draw an attack of opportunity. I didn't do that to all spells, I did different things depending on the nature of the spell. Healing primarily became something done between battles instead of during battles. Did the same thing with lay on hands and Healing Word.
 

Hey, I've played with that cleric! His name is Brian, though that's not what the other players called him....

Brian's response to the healing request? "No, you'll just lose it again anyways." and he goes on with whatever spell he had been planning. Wich it turns out is NOT more effective than keeping the multi-attacking fighter up & swinging for another round.
So the fighter goes down. Two other foes are now freed up to step over his body & they proceed to drop another character.... and so on. A TPK occurred - with the DM intentionally saving the stupid cleric for last.

I often wonder how much should a DM be willing to punish the entire group of players (note: not the PCs, I'm saying the players), due to the tactic choices of a single player. I'm saying this because too many DMs forget these four things:

==================

#1: 5e is designed and balanced along this concept:

"Fights are perfectly doable without a healer, but a healer helps a lot."

And not this:

"Fights are super hard without a healer, but doable with a healer's helps."

==================

#2: Short/Long Rest vs Number of Encounters game balance:

Second, way too many DMs tend to forego the "party can last up to a maximum 6-8 medium to hard encounters between Long Rests" as an important balancing thing, sseeing it as what should be the default most frequent situation, instead of valid only for some rare exceptions. Because really 5e (for good or for worse) is balanced around that! Most DMs avoid this "6-8 adventuring day" with very good reasons: campaigns nowadays are much more about logical stories where there is not constantly an artificial time pressure, rather than mere dungeon crawls. This does't mean they don't have to FIX something.

==================

#3: Difficulty not the same as actual Challenge Budget + overstimating non-combat encounters "size".

Third, way too many DMs also think that anything can count as an encounter, not just fights. This is true to a degree, but with the following caveat (which is valid EVEN for fights):

"A party can face up to a max of 6-8 encounters of medium-hard difficulty" implies a limit. This implies some form of attrition. This implies some form of ressource expenditure. No matter how easy or hard you design an encounter, combat or not, what a DM should keep in mind is not how hard the encounter actually is, but how much resources the encounter is designed to make the party spend.

For example, a long series of 100 antimagic rooms, each containing an ancient sleeping frost dragon in it (Deadly XP Budget!). But they are all in rooms with a very obvious lever right at the entrance. PCs can super duper easily guess that pulling the lever closes and seals the room and lets a hige torrent of lava flow into the room (for 20d6 fire dg per round!). Also, the stone is juuuuusst 1 millimiter outside the dead magic zone, and ehcnanted to be as hard as reniforced adamatine. Effectively the party can kill the frost dragon super easy without spending resources, right?

Or a long series of 100 rooms, each with a single DC 40 Persuasion check to let an NPC "genie" in there give the PCs 10000 gold upon success, on the condition that no magic is used. Super duper hard encounters!

Clearly the 6-8 encounter limit doesn't apply at all in BOTH cases (exagerated to show what is occuring here,m sure, but the point remains valid always). In both cases the party can "face" up to an unlimited (or at least, much higher or lower than normal) amount of "challenges", be they super super easy or super duper hard.

Thus our 6-8 medium-hard limit is -obviously- to be based more on some actual "planned" resource expenditure, than on how "hard" the challenge really is. Also, say if a "Medium" fight typically makes the party spend let's say 4 spell slots (or HD) on average (both in the fight and to heal back up afterwards), but a trap, no matter if it is "easy" or "hard", is designed to make the party expand only one spell slot, then that trap encounter should not count for all that much in the "the party can face up to this number of challenges" guideline. Even if the Trap DC was 40, it's still an encounter that made the party spend only 1 spell slot.

Thus, DMs tend to grossly overestimate the "XP value / challenge" of non-combat encounters. Also many combats where factors such as terrain or whatnot greatly change the actual level of challenge, but most DMs can at least SEE that such factors affect the combat XP budget. But for non-combat encounters all they see is "Hey this is a DC 30 check so it's HARD", forgetting that despite the near-impossible DC, that encounter will be a negligible drain on the party's ressources.

Similarly, a single roleplay encounter that takes an entire game session is not made any "bigger" in terms of ressource expenditure. Unless there is a real cost involved, in terms of ressources, then it does not really count for as much.

Similarly, if you are garanteed to long rest right after an encounter, and the PCs know this, then they can go "nova", making any planned encounter much easier.

==================

#4: Fourth, only 1 or 2 encounters in a day creates a game of "nova strike rocket tag".

Generally, more powerful monsters means that many PCs can be downed in a single Round. Similarly, PCs can also opt to go nova with their ressources, and thus wqwhen doing so can easily down any enemy in a single round, too. So, the "single huge fight per day" philosophy" ends up throwing game balance out the window. It becomes a game of glass cannons. PCs drop enemies like flies anbd enemies drop PCs liker flies, too. IMHO that ain't a fun way to play at all.

Often combined with the moronic DM attitude that make them equate in their mind:

"PCs must win the fight by the skin of their teeth... else it's no fun !"

This makes such DMS make every fight super duper tough.

Well, nopew, it ain't "fun" that way. Quite the opposite: deadly fights can be fun yes but only in OCCASIONNAL setups, with lots of foreshadowing. When the PCs know they're in for a very tough special fight. Emphasis on this special. If it's instead the norm, most fights are extra tough, then it's just something stressful and frustrating and also mentally draining.

The DM finds this fun, sure, BUT OFTEN HE'S THE ONLY ONE!

When after the fight the players seem more HAPPYLYRELIEVED than GLORIOUSLY VICTORIOUS,m it is a surefire sign that the DM should drop this "they must win by the skin of their teeth" attitude. It's cheap. It's bad.

If you want your players to have fun, you have to make them feel extra-heroic most of the time!

The "norm" should be that they can easily explode many enemies in many fights. Read a bit about Shell Shock and PTSD! I've had a campaign that eventually failed because of exactly this problem: Putting the PCs too regularly in "extreme death" situations, you will just end up psychologically burning out your players. So, keep those "Deadly" fights for the rare final boss fights. After lots of easier fights. If for a solid fraction of their fights the PCs win only by a hair, they will NOT feel "heroic". They will NOT feel that this big harder figght is "special", too. It will be the expected instead. They will feel more like prisoners on some death row prison because no matter what they do, death is always only some hear's breath away! Becoming "close to death" shoud be an infrequent event not the norm.

If you do the too frequent "one game session, one huge fight, then one long rest" style, then obviously you are not doing a dungeon crawling style of campaign... Else, why would the rest of the monsters in the dungeon always wait a full night to react to invaders? Even INT 6 is far from moronic intelligence.

So, maybe you should adapt maybe like this:

- Most of those "boss fights" aren't really "deadly boss fights". They are much easier fights vs much less powerful mini-bosses.

- Use some form of the DMG Gritty Variant: Example: Short Rest is 1 night in a "Sanctuary" (a safe spot, say a secret room in the dungeon, a cave half a day's walk away, an easily defended isolated NPC community not far from the adventure), with some Sanctuaries usable only once. Long Rest is 1 week back in town. It is much, much easier to insert any form of "time pressure" over say 1 week of time, than over a single day. And breaks and sleep remain "needed" even when out of those safe spots: to avoid "stress" or "lack of sleep" penalties.

It also makes random encounters much more relevant (resdources spe4nt ffor those are NOT going to be available fror the rest of the adventure) and also avoids the wizard going supernova. Personally, I also don't recommend following the "every adventure there is exactly 1 random encounter between the last town and the dungeon and not ewhen coming back, no matter how close or how far in the ewilderness the dungeon really is." That just feels cheap, forced, and artificial. Setup a house rule for the the odds of a random encounter based on the terrain (patrolled, wilderness, etc.), and how hard they are too, and make dang sure that, unless the travel distance is HUGE or in super deadly areas, odds of some random encounter remain low. And to avoid the "amusement park" syndrome, put dangerous dungeons not just 1 or 2 days walk away from town.

Little recommandation: some published module have a "final dungeon" with too many monsters and rooms, clearly assuming the party uses "two adventuring days" to clear those areas. I recommend splitting such big dungeons in two parts, each in quite different geographical locations. This also gives the advantage that instead of a lengthy dungeon-crawl style slog with most sessions full of mostly only fighting (plus occasionnal puzzzles annd roleplay with some baddies right inside the dungeon), the PCs get more travel time, more downtime, and more social encounters opportunities, etc.

============

In summary, in all cases, it has to always go both ways: So, the true encounter limit should be interpeted more like this:

"A party can last up to a maximum 6-8 medium to hard combat encounters between Long Rests, counting both combat and non-combat encounters based on how much resources they should in theory make the party expend, not on how they are actually hard."

Note that this is determined before the actual encounter. If the party played especially badly/well/luckyly/unluckyly/wellpreepared/badlyprepared, and thus end up spending more or less ressources than originally planned, then that is 100% on them. The XP is based on the planned ressources expenditure, thus once the encounter stars, the eventual XP reward is "locked in place".

==========


I have a couple questions for you ccs:

- How many game sessions from Campaign Start to this TPK, and over how many levels? (TPK is quite ok at level 1 to shoew how dangerous a campaign wqorld really is, but after 8 levels, player investment is huge).

- Did the campaign survive the TPK well? Were there any rage quitting?

- Aftermath / Player reactions? (not PCs reactions, I'm talking players here).
 

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