Starting level

Reynard

Legend
Or you made up a scenario to try to be right after I made a valid counter point to your original suggestion....

It goes both ways.
Rather than argue, let me express it a different way:

If you were running a game and an encounter called for 18 orcs against a party of 6th level PCs, would you arrange them in such a way that they could be taken.out by a single fireball? If so, why? If so, why not?
 
Rather than argue, let me express it a different way:

If you were running a game and an encounter called for 18 orcs against a party of 6th level PCs, would you arrange them in such a way that they could be taken.out by a single fireball? If so, why? If so, why not?
In all games it depends on what the PC's do. And it depends on what they do even moreso in a sandbox - which you noted in the OP that you will be running. In a sandbox Players should have plenty of opportunities to get the drop on 18 orcs and fireball them all to oblivion (especially level 6 pcs).

My next campaign (still.a ways off) will be a sandbox campaign.
 

Reynard

Legend
In all games it depends on what the PC's do. And it depends on what they do even moreso in a sandbox - which you noted in the OP that you will be running. In a sandbox Players should have plenty of opportunities to get the drop on 18 orcs and fireball them all to oblivion (especially level 6 pcs).
Maybe, maybe not. What if the orcs get surprise? What if the encounter happens in the middle of the night and only the bard is awake? What if the PCs are crossing a bridge controlled by orcs? What if the orcs are on a mission by their master and running single file on game trails through the woods? What if the players only see 7 of the orcs and don't realize the other 11 are behind them? What if the orcs are a heretic cult of LG Moradin worshippers on a pilgrimage? What if the orcs are guardians of an ancient shrine and each stand at every 20th degree of a 500 foot circle? What if the orcs operate in 6 groups of three specifically to avoid getting caught by large area effects because their master is a wizard?

"Sandbox" absolutely does not mean the players get to decide the exact circumstances of every encounter. It means that there are a lot of things in the world that you can't predict, including how 18 orcs are going to present.
 
Maybe, maybe not. What if the orcs get surprise? What if the encounter happens in the middle of the night and only the bard is awake? What if the PCs are crossing a bridge controlled by orcs? What if the orcs are on a mission by their master and running single file on game trails through the woods? What if the players only see 7 of the orcs and don't realize the other 11 are behind them? What if the orcs are a heretic cult of LG Moradin worshippers on a pilgrimage? What if the orcs are guardians of an ancient shrine and each stand at every 20th degree of a 500 foot circle? What if the orcs operate in 6 groups of three specifically to avoid getting caught by large area effects because their master is a wizard?

"Sandbox" absolutely does not mean the players get to decide the exact circumstances of every encounter. It means that there are a lot of things in the world that you can't predict, including how 18 orcs are going to present.
So you are backing off your claim that 18!orcs being hit by a fireball makes someone a bad dm?
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Rather than argue, let me express it a different way:

If you were running a game and an encounter called for 18 orcs against a party of 6th level PCs, would you arrange them in such a way that they could be taken.out by a single fireball? If so, why? If so, why not?
I probably would. Why? Because I don't play creatures beyond their abilities. You said earlier that orcs aren't idiots. Well, their 7 intelligence says otherwise. Even the Warchief barely has average intelligence.

Playing creatures beyond their abilities is also a poor DMing move.
 
I probably would. Why? Because I don't play creatures beyond their abilities. You said earlier that orcs aren't idiots. Well, their 7 intelligence says otherwise. Even the Warchief barely has average intelligence.

Playing creatures beyond their abilities is also a poor DMing move.
More importantly - even if the fireball doesn't hit all 18 orcs it's likely going to hit a significant enough number to make the fight super easy - which was the broader point.
 
If fireballs are taking out 18 orcs at once then your orcs really ought to work on their social distancing. ;)

In all seriousness, unless the wizard is an evoker, there will be plenty of circumstances where a fireball is ill advised, such as if the orcs are already engaged in melee with other party members.

That said, I see nothing wrong with a fireball taking out a large group of low CR monsters. It's literally the primary purpose of that spell.

I don't think fireballing wizards are common enough in most campaigns for creatures to always behave as though they were under threat of such. It would be like us going out for a walk but maintaining 50 feet between ourselves just in case someone with a bazooka suddenly showed up. It'd be a little extreme.
 

Reynard

Legend
So you are backing off your claim that 18!orcs being hit by a fireball makes someone a bad dm?
You started the tit for tat by assuming the players were idiots. I'm just saying that if it's the goal of the GM to produce an interesting and challenging encounter with 18 orcs versus a 6th level party it's trivial to do so.

For those suggesting orcs are too stupid to avoid clumping up: orcs are murder machines that live in a world full of people and things that can kill you in groups. They probably have one in their ranks or work for one or have to deal with ones that hunt their territory. Spell casters and creatures with breath weapons and all sorts of horror. Even a troupe of baboons spreads out and flanks prey and they don't have to deal with fireballs.
 
For those suggesting orcs are too stupid to avoid clumping up: orcs are murder machines that live in a world full of people and things that can kill you in groups. They probably have one in their ranks or work for one or have to deal with ones that hunt their territory. Spell casters and creatures with breath weapons and all sorts of horror. Even a troupe of baboons spreads out and flanks prey and they don't have to deal with fireballs.
I think it would depend on what the local threats are. If the orcs are regularly under threat of fireballing mages or creatures with large breath weapons then they will have adapted their tactics accordingly. If their normal foes are creatures without such abilities, then they wouldn't have.

Spreading out for a fireball is different from spreading out to enclose and flank prey. What works in the latter case will get you toasted in the former. A fireball has a 40 foot diameter. Even if the orcs keep an empty 5 foot square between them (which is fairly spread out - 1 orc per 10 foot square) a fireball will still get most of them. As such, avoiding getting caught in a fireball necessitates spreading out to a degree where you may be less able to engage with more typical threats. As with many tactics, it's a tradeoff. Therefore, the creatures using it should have a reason for considering the tradeoff worthwhile.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
For those suggesting orcs are too stupid to avoid clumping up: orcs are murder machines that live in a world full of people and things that can kill you in groups. They probably have one in their ranks or work for one or have to deal with ones that hunt their territory. Spell casters and creatures with breath weapons and all sorts of horror. Even a troupe of baboons spreads out and flanks prey and they don't have to deal with fireballs.
From the wizard description...

"Fingers weaving in front of her, she completes her spell and launches a tiny bead of fire toward the enemy ranks, where it erupts into a conflagration that engulfs the soldiers."

Apparently soldiers are dumber than intelligence 7 orcs. Silly soldiers clumping up like that. In a world full of wizards, soldiers would know better! Or maybe wizards aren't as common as that. Whatever the reason, if an army is going to clump of for wizards, then orcs which have even less contact with wizards, and which are much more stupid than the PHB races, certainly would as well.
 

Coroc

Hero
My next campaign (still.a ways off) will be a sandbox campaign. XP will be gained based on encounters and difficulty (both combat and non combat) and adventures will be primarily player driven (the party hears about a thing and chooses to go check it out or whatever, rather than baked in main quest style adventures).

Given that context, if you were playing would you rather start at first level, or start at 3rd level but have to earn all the "skipped" xp before you can level up? Why? Also, would it work if you gave individual players the choice?
Especially for your style of campaign there is no reason at all to start above 1st level. Just give them max hp at first level and be done with it. 3rd level is reached quite fast if the play is encounter heavy and you take away from those players who want to experience the first two levels also.
You increase chances for one of the chars to die early on with that or maybe a TPK, because of your sandbox thing, but that is not so problematic at the beginning plus it even can add drama.

The only campaign where I would not start at first (except oneshots or things specially for high levels or such) is Darksun. Because tradition, and because it gives the ill equipped PCs some bolster with which to work. I would not design a darksun as pure sandbox though, done right it is hard enough even if it is "railwayed" a bit.
 

Reynard

Legend
From the wizard description...

"Fingers weaving in front of her, she completes her spell and launches a tiny bead of fire toward the enemy ranks, where it erupts into a conflagration that engulfs the soldiers."

Apparently soldiers are dumber than intelligence 7 orcs. Silly soldiers clumping up like that. In a world full of wizards, soldiers would know better! Or maybe wizards aren't as common as that. Whatever the reason, if an army is going to clump of for wizards, then orcs which have even less contact with wizards, and which are much more stupid than the PHB races, certainly would as well.
I presume a world in which what you see in the MM is what exists in the world. If 1st level characters know well enough to try and avoid getting caught in an area effect, so do orcs. And that wizard description is free of context. Maybe the wizard and the fighters took care to funnel the enemy in such a way to get as many as possible in the area. Isn't that more fun and rewarding than the GM handling the party victory on a platter by making sure all the enemy are in spell effect area?
 
I presume a world in which what you see in the MM is what exists in the world. If 1st level characters know well enough to try and avoid getting caught in an area effect, so do orcs. And that wizard description is free of context. Maybe the wizard and the fighters took care to funnel the enemy in such a way to get as many as possible in the area. Isn't that more fun and rewarding than the GM handling the party victory on a platter by making sure all the enemy are in spell effect area?
Please stop making up straw men to beat down.
 
You started the tit for tat by assuming the players were idiots. I'm just saying that if it's the goal of the GM to produce an interesting and challenging encounter with 18 orcs versus a 6th level party it's trivial to do so.

For those suggesting orcs are too stupid to avoid clumping up: orcs are murder machines that live in a world full of people and things that can kill you in groups. They probably have one in their ranks or work for one or have to deal with ones that hunt their territory. Spell casters and creatures with breath weapons and all sorts of horror. Even a troupe of baboons spreads out and flanks prey and they don't have to deal with fireballs.
actually you started it by calling me an idiot dm. And I’m still waiting for an apology for you calling me an idiot dm
 
My next campaign (still.a ways off) will be a sandbox campaign. XP will be gained based on encounters and difficulty (both combat and non combat) and adventures will be primarily player driven (the party hears about a thing and chooses to go check it out or whatever, rather than baked in main quest style adventures).

Given that context, if you were playing would you rather start at first level, or start at 3rd level but have to earn all the "skipped" xp before you can level up? Why? Also, would it work if you gave individual players the choice?
I don't see why some player would choose to start at 1st if the others start at 3rd, but other than that I think both ideas are fine.

If you were running a specific adventure that is designed for characters of a certain level, you would probably want to have them start at such level. With a sandbox, every level is fine, as long as there are enough appropriate challenges, so I would rather choose based on the players' experience with 5e: if any of the players is NEW to 5e, start all of them at 1st level, otherwise they can already start at 3rd (but still they might prefer 1st if they're all trying new classes and they think they need a short warm-up phase).
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I presume a world in which what you see in the MM is what exists in the world. If 1st level characters know well enough to try and avoid getting caught in an area effect, so do orcs. And that wizard description is free of context. Maybe the wizard and the fighters took care to funnel the enemy in such a way to get as many as possible in the area. Isn't that more fun and rewarding than the GM handling the party victory on a platter by making sure all the enemy are in spell effect area?
Dude. It was an ARMY coming in RANKS. The wizard and fighter didn't funnel anything. That's how armies march. If you have to come with fanciful justifications that don't fit, just so that your theory can overcome what it says in the wizard class, it's likely that you are incorrect in your assumptions.
 

Reynard

Legend
Dude. It was an ARMY coming in RANKS. The wizard and fighter didn't funnel anything. That's how armies march. If you have to come with fanciful justifications that don't fit, just so that your theory can overcome what it says in the wizard class, it's likely that you are incorrect in your assumptions.
Yes. The last thing we want when talking about D&D is fanciful justifications.
 

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