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5E Ten little things my players hate the most. But I use as much as possible in 5ed.

In many games I have the chance to come across; I see many young masters taking monsters out of the MM and play without sense of tactics. Most monsters in adventures feels like statues waiting to activate as in a videogame where they jump to life only as the players are coming in. Here are the few things I do to make monsters and setting alive in campaign and adventures.

1) Monsters use the grab option to position players in a way that they will get attacked with advantage.
I use this with many monsters. Not only intelligent ones. A mated pair of owlbears, manticores or whatever will try to move PCs around. Once grabbed, they are easier to bite and tastier too! This is especially devastating with undeads...

2) The dodge action is there for monsters too!
High AC monsters like Hobgoblins love to do some dodging while their friends fire arrows after arrows at the players (front rows or not). If the players are hard to hit, why bother to attack? This changes the odds in the favor of the monster while the players are trying to hit at disadvantage. The face of a sharpshooter or great weapon master forced to strike at disadvantage and not using his/her feat leads to great satisfaction as they have to find a way to actualy get to use their feat. Even the shooting rogue gets angry. Sneak attack is good, but it has to hit to do something. It also forces players to vary their cantrip. Saving throw cantrip now is a thing to have when the foes are too hard to hit.

3) Move, shoot, move again to full cover.
If it is possible. Foes will do this at first opportunities. This prevent the players from targeting the range attackers and force them to try to hit the dodging ones in the front row. This makes players hate #2 even more. :cool:

4) What players get, monsters can get too. Especially at med and high levels.
If feats and options in the DM guide are used, monsters get the short end of the stick (if they get to touch it at all). And it can lead to a lot of DM frustration with the system. As a house rule, I sometimes give a bit of feats to monsters/foes if the fight warrants it. I use this, generaly, only on meaningful fights (and not random encounters) and even then, not on all. Just enough so that the players stay on their toes.

5) Magic is good for the players, so is it for their foes.
Want to give a +1 shield to the players? Make sure it is used by the boss. All these wonderfull potions of healing that you can get on the PHB can be used to by players' foes. Nothing is more frustrating to players than to see THEIR treasures being used up by the vilains. Wand of magic missiles? Sure, I am about to die so I'll use every charges that I can. Maybe the players won't get it as the wand lose its magic on the morning (happened once, rolled in front of the players. The wizard was mad and blaming his bad luck). :]

6) If you invade someone's home, be prepared to do it one shot or they will chase you!
This is not as obvious as it may seems. Many times young DM will let players rest and their foes are just waiting for them to come back. Make the foes actualy search for the players. Let them prepare traps and ambushes in case the players are not found. The look of stupor from players when they say:"But we cleared that room the day before! How come are there monsters in there now? We're trapped! FLEE!" This also has the side effect of making nova fight less and less frequent.

7) Divinations are not reserved for the sole use of the players. Evil NPCs can and will use it too.
Almost the same as #5. Now it is for magic itself and not the items. Evil casters will use divination magic to locate their foes if they are aware of them. Once a group retreat to regroup and rest, evil casters will use divination to find the players and learn about them. They will change their spell selection according to what they can learn. Be honest and make sure the evil one doesn't learn more than what the players could with the same spells. I personnaly let the players know when they are the subjects of divination magic and they succeed their saves by more than 5. They know that the same will be applied to the victim of their divinations.

8) Anyone can get their greedy hands on the MM. So change the monsters a bit.
A variant of #4. I do this only if I feel that a players is having a MM at home. More over, a lot of players commit to memory the MM. This is especially true with hard monsters such as demons/devils/dragons and many undeads. Nothing is funnier than to modify some of them a wee bit. And not all of them. Just a few. A fire elemental that does dmg to its melee attacker (as a weak fireshield) can be surprising. Especialy if the previous one was not doing it. I made a shield guardian looking like a large four armed skeleton with two energy shields and two long swords. It was simple shield guardian but the fact that it looked like something else and was protecting the evil necromancer was enough to put the players in an uproar! Too strong were they saying. Way too strong! This was a 10th level group with 6 players in it... their face when they learned... their face... :lol:

9) Reputation can be good or bad.
Ho no! It the all time slayers that take no prisonners group! Flee or fight to the death! When no one is surving the group, the word will get around. You can be sure that evil npc's in the region will learn about the players. If they are the slaying type, they will hire assassins or have spies to check up on them. If the players are going the way of the NPCs, they will either flee or prepare with reinforcement. If the vilains win, they will make sure that the players won't be raised.
If they tend to make prisonners. The villains will be more enclined to let the players get away for a ransom. The villains might even get lazy and not check up too much on the PCs. After all, they are not slayers. Sometimes, foes will simply surrender if they know they can't beat the players and that they will live to see an other day. Better be in prison than dead.
This make the players aware that what they do will have an impact on their role play. The more reckless they appear, the more shady their patrons get. The more they appear on the good guy list as sensible and forgiving, the more they can hope to see someone going out of his way to help them.

10) There are thieves in the world.
There is nothing more frustrating than to see you made a mistake in giving something to the players. You can't just take it back. Stealing is often the best solution. I don't do it often but if I have no choice I will not hesitate. Now be prepared to have a lot of whining. Be fair and give a chance to the victim to actualy get his item back. Prepare/devise and adventure around the thief and the buyer. Now if the players are paying a bit of their earning to the local thieve guild, they might actualy have a warning about a possible theft of the item before it actualy happen!

Once a player of mine got his magical full plate stolen by an efreet. The efreet woke him up and said:" I take this piece of magical protection in the name of Tantaculos the mighty which, incindentaly, is in need of it. He wished for such an armor and yours was the nearest one. His wish is now fulfilled. I will bring this armor to his delve in the mountain south of Llorkh. My servitude will end with this token. Good day to you mortal." It was a hell of an adventure to get it back.
 
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aco175

Hero
I like them and they make sense. I find that I'm a bit guilty of not repopulating dungeons, mostly because I'm lazy.
 

My concern over monsters attacking in the night is mainly that I don't want to TPK my party, and interrupting their (system mandated, basically) rest makes that more likely.
 

Istbor

Dances with Gnolls
If I have an area I need to improve in, it is using Magic. Not just magic items on monsters and foes, but them actually casting spells. I don't typically play spell casters when I get to play so... I think a lot of the more clever or cruel uses for magic can be lost on me at times.

I like your list. I am glad to see I practice a lot of what you preach already. Good to see others heading in a similar direction. Hey... maybe I am not such a terrible DM after all?
 

1) I base this off monster intelligence. Dumb creatures shouldn't be all that tactical.

2) The Dodge Action is horribly underused, both by players and DMs. It's almost always better to move and then Dodge, rather than move and make a crappy ranged attack while trying to get into melee. I've used dodging front liners to protect spellcasters before, and many do players hate that! :devil:

3) Intelligence monsters should always do this. Intelligent PCs too.

4) I reserve feats and other options for special NPCs. Monsters usually do fine without boosts.

5) Intelligence is once more the rule of the day. If the monster is smart and can physically use a magic item, they totally do! I actually remember people complaining about Sunder in 3E, because you were blowing up your loot :D

6) I may not have the monsters chase after the PCs, but I always have them react to the invasion. PCs dumb enough to rest in the lair are attacked without mercy. Traps and ambushes will be set, if possible, and if there is enough duress, the monsters will flee the lair (with their treasure and whatever else the players wanted).

7) I'm a bit iffy on this one, because the NPC has to know about the players. Either they needed to ruin a plan once without locating and killing the NPC, or the PCs have to be so famous that the NPC would be afraid that they'd hunt him down. Once they've drawn the attention of a powerful spellcaster, however, all bets are off!

8) 5E is still new enough that I've yet to feel the need to do this, even in a group with 3 other DMs. They may have good ideas about the monster, but very few players attempt to memorize the MM (I did know one once that did this in 3E for all 5 MMs). If the players deliberatly try something from a meta-game prospective, I require an Intelligence check (Nature, Arcana, or whatever seems most appropriate) or the action is disallowed. Thankfully I play with mature players that don't do this.

9) As with 7, I'm iffy on this one. The players are not the only powerful force in my campaign world (and in fact, are just now starting to get into "name level" recognition), and it seems unjustified to have things react unless it makes sense for them to do so. Of course, I'll have NPCs react based on stereotypes (I just had a drow prisoner laugh at the intimidation check of our high elf, because "surface elves are too soft for real torture").

10) I've used thieves in the past, but I find it to be obnoxious nowadays. I have had PCs roll Wisdom/Perception while in town, relieving them of some coin on bad rolls, but not to remove anything specific.
 

Shasarak

First Post
9) Reputation can be good or bad.
Ho no! It the all time slayers that take no prisonners group! Flee or fight to the death! When no one is surving the group, the word will get around.​



Just wondering how word can get around if the Party leaves no survivors?​
 

1) I base this off monster intelligence. Dumb creatures shouldn't be all that tactical.
Well, on that, monster's instinct here rules. Not intelligence. Lions do that all the time. Wolves too. Even cats do it. (reptile do not tend to work with their peers, but mamals certainly do.)

2) The Dodge Action is horribly underused, both by players and DMs. It's almost always better to move and then Dodge, rather than move and make a crappy ranged attack while trying to get into melee. I've used dodging front liners to protect spellcasters before, and many do players hate that! :devil:
Fully agree on that. I might add that one weakness of young DM is to build encounters with similar creatures. All goblins, all ogres or all whatever. A few hobgoblins with a cult fanatic or two and a wizard or cleric can really mess up players' usual plans. Diversity should always rule.

3) Intelligence monsters should always do this. Intelligent PCs too.
You might be surprise at how hard it is for players to do that. They have to be the victim of this tactic to think to use it. Then the devious DM choose ready an action. Movement into fire position to shoot the arrows/cantrip/bolts/whatever. I have had an instance where I was readying arrows to shoot the mage when she would get into position only to hear her say:" I wait to see them get out of cover to firebolt one." Then the ranger and the two clerics did exactly the same thing. One round where everyone was waiting and the frontline combattants were dodging each other. We all had a good laugh.

4) I reserve feats and other options for special NPCs. Monsters usually do fine without boosts.
Same here, usualy. But for groups with 5 or 6 PCs it can be mandatory to add a wee bit of power to solo bosses.

5) Intelligence is once more the rule of the day. If the monster is smart and can physically use a magic item, they totally do! I actually remember people complaining about Sunder in 3E, because you were blowing up your loot :D
I remember that one. A staff of power was destroyed this way. The look on the mage's face. The look... ho god. And the argument between the two players.

6) I may not have the monsters chase after the PCs, but I always have them react to the invasion. PCs dumb enough to rest in the lair are attacked without mercy. Traps and ambushes will be set, if possible, and if there is enough duress, the monsters will flee the lair (with their treasure and whatever else the players wanted).
That is an other excellent way to do it. Leaving with your treasure is sure to make players do some angry faces at me. I'll keep my smart phone on camera to immortalize their face. I should've included that possibility. Thank you.

7) I'm a bit iffy on this one, because the NPC has to know about the players. Either they needed to ruin a plan once without locating and killing the NPC, or the PCs have to be so famous that the NPC would be afraid that they'd hunt him down. Once they've drawn the attention of a powerful spellcaster, however, all bets are off!
Fully agree with you. It becomes especially important if said caster escapes. The caster will want revenge and will take steps to learn all he can about the pc.

8) 5E is still new enough that I've yet to feel the need to do this, even in a group with 3 other DMs. They may have good ideas about the monster, but very few players attempt to memorize the MM (I did know one once that did this in 3E for all 5 MMs). If the players deliberatly try something from a meta-game prospective, I require an Intelligence check (Nature, Arcana, or whatever seems most appropriate) or the action is disallowed. Thankfully I play with mature players that don't do this.
You would be surprise to see my groups then. In both group, 6 players. There are 6 PHB in one group and 7 in the other. One group has one DM as a player, the other have 2. Out of twelve players, 5 have the MM without being DM themselves (they found it in PDF format somewhere, but that is not my cup of tea. I prefer to buy what I have.) They may not memorize the MM at full but they still have a pretty good idea of what to expect.

9) As with 7, I'm iffy on this one. The players are not the only powerful force in my campaign world (and in fact, are just now starting to get into "name level" recognition), and it seems unjustified to have things react unless it makes sense for them to do so. Of course, I'll have NPCs react based on stereotypes (I just had a drow prisoner laugh at the intimidation check of our high elf, because "surface elves are too soft for real torture").
At which point do you think players will be recognized? To me, it could be as soon as 3rd level (we save the village and everyone knows it) to level 9 or 10 (we were low profile, but our successes finaly caught up with us.)

10) I've used thieves in the past, but I find it to be obnoxious nowadays. I have had PCs roll Wisdom/Perception while in town, relieving them of some coin on bad rolls, but not to remove anything specific.
Agreed that this should not be used often. It should only be done to introduce an adventure (as I did with the efreet), or to remove a too powerful object that the yound DM created and did not anticipated the full disruptive power it could have. Every DM can fall in that pit trap. And yet, it should still be possible to get the item back with a lot of work from the players.

Any other tricks out there that are used to good effects with players?
 

[MENTION=94143]Shasarak[/MENTION]

Simple.

A group gets in a cave. Dozens of monsters are dead. Who did that?
Same group find out that the PCs are suddenly flinging gold and jewels around as if it was nothing.
Were they the ones? At the inn, the players will inevitably tell of their deeds, willingly or not.
A bard might be there, hearing the whole story.

A few times like this, and the underworld will finaly knows.

Or...

The big bad black knight comes back to see how his orc horde is growing. He comes at the cavern only to find out that all his precious little bastards are dead. Who did this? They took all the loot the orcs were supposed to give to him. These do gooders stole from him. They will pay dearly for that. The big bad black knight has allies. One of them is a cleric of the god (put whatever the name you want in here) and he will do the divinations to know who did that.

Or
Luckily, Bruknak took time to quaff the potion of invisibility and had the wits to stay hidden. The human/elf/dwarf group has slain every single goblins they could get their filthy hands on. Bruknak is lucky to be alive. The great chief of the hobgoblin army must be warned. Bruknark waits until the big uglies are away to sneak out and run to warn the great Ulubru the merciless. These humans will learn that you do not attack goblins with impunity...
 

My concern over monsters attacking in the night is mainly that I don't want to TPK my party, and interrupting their (system mandated, basically) rest makes that more likely.
As I said limit yourself to 6-8 encounters. If they already have that amount, they should have a peaceful rest (unless they did something stupid like stirring up a nest and leaving without covering their traces.)

Enforcing the 6-8 encounters a day really make that edition shines comparatively to the other. 5ed is really good. I have been DMing for 34 years now and this edition is really good despite some minor quirks. Try it, you will see.
 

Rhenny

Adventurer
Nice list.

I love #3 (3) Move, shoot, move again to full cover.

Split move is one of the best improvements in 5e over prior D&D editions.

Changing monsters is also great, especially for the elites/leaders of the pack.

Something I like to do as much as possible is to have monsters call for reinforcements, often attacking the party from different directions or from front and behind. They hate it, but it really raises the tension/pressure in combat.
 

Well, on that, monster's instinct here rules. Not intelligence. Lions do that all the time. Wolves too. Even cats do it. (reptile do not tend to work with their peers, but mamals certainly do.)
I was mostly thinking of monsters, rather than animals. Goblins and Kobolds aren't really smart enough for something like this. Pack animals, however, should probably utilize it. My favorite thing to do with low level PCs is to have animals start dragging off the downed characters. This makes it harder to bring them back up (as they get farther away), and puts pressure on them to finish the combat before PCs get eaten.

Fully agree on that. I might add that one weakness of young DM is to build encounters with similar creatures. All goblins, all ogres or all whatever. A few hobgoblins with a cult fanatic or two and a wizard or cleric can really mess up players' usual plans. Diversity should always rule.
Diversity can make better combats, but I always feel there has to be a reason for it. Pets of the main enemy are good, also allies and even mercenaries work well too.

You might be surprise at how hard it is for players to do that. They have to be the victim of this tactic to think to use it. Then the devious DM choose ready an action. Movement into fire position to shoot the arrows/cantrip/bolts/whatever. I have had an instance where I was readying arrows to shoot the mage when she would get into position only to hear her say:" I wait to see them get out of cover to firebolt one." Then the ranger and the two clerics did exactly the same thing. One round where everyone was waiting and the frontline combattants were dodging each other. We all had a good laugh.
When I played in 3E, my favorite character was an elf wizard. I spent almost every combat "readying to cast magic missile if <X> starts to casts a spell." This turned into "Ready Wars," when the DM started doing the same thing to me. When asked about it, I laughed and said "I was able to take a powerful spellcaster out of the combat without ever actually casting a spell. I call that a win!"

Same here, usualy. But for groups with 5 or 6 PCs it can be mandatory to add a wee bit of power to solo bosses.
I almost never use solo bosses. I normally have a bunch of minion with them, or use a mated pair. A single creature, even with Legendary Actions, just can't compete with a normal party due to the Action Economy.

I remember that one. A staff of power was destroyed this way. The look on the mage's face. The look... ho god. And the argument between the two players.
LOL!

That is an other excellent way to do it. Leaving with your treasure is sure to make players do some angry faces at me. I'll keep my smart phone on camera to immortalize their face. I should've included that possibility. Thank you.
You're welcome. I like to make my world realistic, and no one is going to stay in a place that keeps getting invaded!

Fully agree with you. It becomes especially important if said caster escapes. The caster will want revenge and will take steps to learn all he can about the pc.
Yea, I seldom get a chance for casters to escape...

You would be surprise to see my groups then. In both group, 6 players. There are 6 PHB in one group and 7 in the other. One group has one DM as a player, the other have 2. Out of twelve players, 5 have the MM without being DM themselves (they found it in PDF format somewhere, but that is not my cup of tea. I prefer to buy what I have.) They may not memorize the MM at full but they still have a pretty good idea of what to expect.
I played with people like that for years. I even knew a guy who'd open the MM at the table to whatever they were fighting (then get upset if someone said anything about it). Thankfully I don't have to deal with that anymore. I think something useful for that is getting more monsters (and optional rules) from the DMs Guild to keep them on their toes. I know someone who bought every d20 monster book in 3E for that reason.

At which point do you think players will be recognized? To me, it could be as soon as 3rd level (we save the village and everyone knows it) to level 9 or 10 (we were low profile, but our successes finaly caught up with us.)
I'm old fashioned, but I generally use "name level" with is about 9-11 in AD&D. Of course, the adventures should reflect this. My current group got major recognition at level 9, because not only did they destroy the Temple of Elemental Evil by slaying Zugttmoy, but they also rescued Prince Thrommel IV from it's dungeons. They are very well known in the kingdoms of Furyondy and Veluna, but in the Sheldomar Valley (where they are now), they are hardly known at all.

Agreed that this should not be used often. It should only be done to introduce an adventure (as I did with the efreet), or to remove a too powerful object that the yound DM created and did not anticipated the full disruptive power it could have. Every DM can fall in that pit trap. And yet, it should still be possible to get the item back with a lot of work from the players.
Oh, I loved the story (and a good warning for Wishers), and it works because it was used more as an adventure hook, rather than as a "I need to get rid of this item."

Any other tricks out there that are used to good effects with players?
It's hard to find good tricks to aggravate the players, because either they're not fun or they get overused fast.

One of my favorites is to remember that there is more copper and silver in the world than gold and platinum (that's why they're worth more), so make sure EVERY bit of treasure they have contains a majority of the former (assuming you use encumbrance), because they'll have to leave a good chunk of their loot behind.

An interesting twist on this (that can really mess with your campaign, so be forewarned) is to have the party find a gigantic treasure horde. I mean like 1,000,000 gp or more. I talking Smaug level gold pieces. When the party returns to town with their haul, they find that they've flooded the economy, and now gold is nearly worthless (say, value equal to copper). The reason why gold is rare is not because there is less of it, but because monsters have managed to horde it away from the economy. This will have long lasting effects on your campaign, so be ready for it.

Another fun thing to do is the "too much of a good thing." You find out what a character (or the party), and then you make it happen effortlessly... and endlessly. For example, if someone considers themselves to be a great beauty and often flirts, they suddenly become irresistible to everyone, even monsters! If a rogue wants to be a master thief, have him blamed for a major heist, and then every robbery afterwards gets blamed on him (without him actually getting the rewards). If the party wants renown for their adventuring abilities, have them hired to slay an ancient red dragon at level 5. You get the idea :devil:
 

One of my favorites is to remember that there is more copper and silver in the world than gold and platinum (that's why they're worth more), so make sure EVERY bit of treasure they have contains a majority of the former (assuming you use encumbrance), because they'll have to leave a good chunk of their loot behind.

An interesting twist on this (that can really mess with your campaign, so be forewarned) is to have the party find a gigantic treasure horde. I mean like 1,000,000 gp or more. I talking Smaug level gold pieces. When the party returns to town with their haul, they find that they've flooded the economy, and now gold is nearly worthless (say, value equal to copper). The reason why gold is rare is not because there is less of it, but because monsters have managed to horde it away from the economy. This will have long lasting effects on your campaign, so be ready for it.

Another fun thing to do is the "too much of a good thing." You find out what a character (or the party), and then you make it happen effortlessly... and endlessly. For example, if someone considers themselves to be a great beauty and often flirts, they suddenly become irresistible to everyone, even monsters! If a rogue wants to be a master thief, have him blamed for a major heist, and then every robbery afterwards gets blamed on him (without him actually getting the rewards). If the party wants renown for their adventuring abilities, have them hired to slay an ancient red dragon at level 5. You get the idea :devil:
I have and still do apply these three tricks. The best one, from a role play perspective, is the last one.
I had a bard in a group that was inflating the players' adventures to epic proportions. The adventure contracts they were offered were simply outrageous bordering on the insane. The group finaly found work by simply wandering away from their reputation.

One more trick I like to use is:
11) PC can come back from the dead, so can the NPCs.
Sometimes, when an NPC is particularly hated, he is defeated by the players and for some reason, the memory of that vilain stick. There is nothing better than to have the vilain resurected and come back to haunt the players. " You may have won a victory but I will kill you in the end, worms!"
 
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werecorpse

Explorer
This looks like really good advice, it's nice to have a few Gm tricks in the back pocket to pull out when needed.
Some questions/comments.
1. (Re point 1)How does the normal grab manoeuvre grant advantage to attacks? Doesn't it just reduce move to O?
2. (Re point 7) I find its important to make sure that the monsters don't act like they know all the GM does about the party if there is no reason that they should. So my experience is more trying to make sure I don't let my npc's be too well informed without a good reason. I also find the players enjoy it when the bad guys make an "information" error so the PC can shine (shout out "shoot the Mage" then they shoot at the monk)
3. (Re point 10) your efreet example is gold, I love it. My experience with stealing stuff from the party is to avoid it unless it happens organically or like the efreet example has some other story- players remember for years when you use DM fiat to take their stuff. Find another way if you can. Maybe an alternative is have some wise sage turn up and say that the special widget they have is in fact a bound celestial and he is here to perform the ritual to free it etc.

I am most grateful for pointing out the usefulness of the hobgoblin dodge action 😈
 

Ok, here are my answers to what you asked.

1) The grab manoeuver will be used to manoeuver a PC out of formation. Example: PCs are in a 10' corridor. The two tanks are blocking the way so that only one giant is able to attack. Perfect tactic from the group. The giant will grab the pc, turn and drop him behind him. Now the PC might give advantage to his buddy. But the giants are in advantage to attack him too. The same goes for hobgoblins, orcs and many other monsters. Even owl bears can do that.

7) PC will not necessarily be the target of the spell at first. But when they start meddling with somebody's plan, they are bound to be investigated. This may come from a habit of mine. I plan adventure up to max level everytime I create a new group. It helps me build adventures that can link together even if I do not write them all beforehand. This way, I can adjust to PC reactions/actions and tastes with the end game in mind so that I will not digress too much and that the adventures will link up nicely.

10) Thank you. I can assure you that players of that time remember that efreet too.
 
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Mercule

Adventurer
2) The dodge action is there for monsters too!
High AC monsters like Hobgoblins love to do some dodging while their friends fire arrows after arrows at the players (front rows or not). If the players are hard to hit, why bother to attack? This changes the odds in the favor of the monster while the players are trying to hit at disadvantage. The face of a sharpshooter or great weapon master forced to strike at disadvantage and not using his/her feat leads to great satisfaction as they have to find a way to actualy get to use their feat. Even the shooting rogue gets angry. Sneak attack is good, but it has to hit to do something. It also forces players to vary their cantrip. Saving throw cantrip now is a thing to have when the foes are too hard to hit.
I hadn't thought of this one. I'm going to have to give it a go.

5) Magic is good for the players, so is it for their foes.
Want to give a +1 shield to the players? Make sure it is used by the boss. All these wonderfull potions of healing that you can get on the PHB can be used to by players' foes. Nothing is more frustrating to players than to see THEIR treasures being used up by the vilains. Wand of magic missiles? Sure, I am about to die so I'll use every charges that I can. Maybe the players won't get it as the wand lose its magic on the morning (happened once, rolled in front of the players. The wizard was mad and blaming his bad luck). :]
Yup. If there's a potion of healing, the monster has a chance to use it, too. Whatever the item, it's fair game. The NPC may not want to blow his single-use items, but I guarantee (999 times out of 1000), he'll think that's better than being dead.

6) If you invade someone's home, be prepared to do it one shot or they will chase you!
This is not as obvious as it may seems. Many times young DM will let players rest and their foes are just waiting for them to come back. Make the foes actualy search for the players. Let them prepare traps and ambushes in case the players are not found. The look of stupor from players when they say:"But we cleared that room the day before! How come are there monsters in there now? We're trapped! FLEE!" This also has the side effect of making nova fight less and less frequent.

7) Divinations are not reserved for the sole use of the players. Evil NPCs can and will use it too.
Almost the same as #5. Now it is for magic itself and not the items. Evil casters will use divination magic to locate their foes if they are aware of them. Once a group retreat to regroup and rest, evil casters will use divination to find the players and learn about them. They will change their spell selection according to what they can learn. Be honest and make sure the evil one doesn't learn more than what the players could with the same spells. I personnaly let the players know when they are the subjects of divination magic and they succeed their saves by more than 5. They know that the same will be applied to the victim of their divinations.
These. My group is moving super, super cautiously through PotA. Not really a "nova, rest, rinse, repeat". More like guerrillas with an unholy mix of ADHD and OCD. It took them over a week, in game, to make it through one level of one of the temples (ouch). Besides that time they spent assailing the temple, they took off on a side quest for a few days, too. After the first couple days of the PCs trying to turtle, I started adding new recruits to the temple and having some elites "finish training". The PCs have done one-off incursions against all the temples, now, and have only really hobbled one. The temples are busy using divination magic pretty much every day. Since the party also took off to go back to civilization and restock for 2-3 weeks, they're in for a world of hurt. The rest of the adventure will only barely resemble what was published.
 

sim-h

Explorer
Great post. Many of the tips you suggest can be overcome with a bit of thought from the players, which makes them even better as tips. For example the one below any player worth his or her salt is going to ready an action to take out the ranged attackers when they show themselves, but it might take a turn or more to adapt to that.

3) Move, shoot, move again to full cover. If it is possible. Foes will do this at first opportunities. This prevent the players from targeting the range attackers and force them to try to hit the dodging ones in the front row. This makes players hate #2 even more. :cool:
Having enemies dothings like Dodge and seek cover is especially beneficial for newbie players as it will give them lessons in the rules of the game and tactics, that might otherwise never be developed.
 

[MENTION=6813788]sim-h[/MENTION]
Yep, the move shoot and take cover can be countered by the players readying and action. Then, it will go as it did in my game last night.

Player: :):):):) this. I ready an action to shoot the first one that shows its ugly head. One arrow in its ugly face will do it.

Me: (roll a dice) Ok, As the hobgoblins are dodging again, one of them notice that the ranger is steadying his arrows. He shouts something.

Player: What did he say?
Me: Ho yeah, forgot you spoke goblin. He said something like: Waiter.
Player: Waiter?
Me: Yep. Waiter.
Player: What does that mean in goblin?
Me: Just about the same thing as in common. Waiter. Unless hobgoblins have an other meaning for it that you are not aware.
Round continues. Round end.

Player: Hey! They did not come out of hiding?
Me: No, there's a waiter for them, said I with an evil grin.
Player: Not funny... Ok I shoot the dodger on the left. (a miss)
Me: The hobgoblin shouts something that sounds like: SAFE SHOT!
Player: I hate you...
 

sim-h

Explorer
[MENTION=6855114]Helldritch[/MENTION]: I'd call that as a little unfair if I were a player - at least until the ranger had got off the first readied shot. A bit too prescient of monsters to know the trigger for a readied action before it even happened. Although not outside the realms of possibility, it leans too far towards the 'DM vs. players' feeling for my liking. They hate me enough already, and I'm on their side! Honest.
 

Unfair?

No not really. I let players make spot/intel check when the monsters are trying to put a trick out of their sleeves. If the manoeuver can be done by everyone, a spot check (free) can be made, if seen, then players and monsters can now know which manoeuver the opponent is trying.

If the players can share info on what they know, so should their opponents.

How did they resolved the situation?
Simple, one player is carrying oil. He just lighted it and thrown it in the space where the enemy would have to go to shoot correctly. Then, one the players used shield bash to throw one of the blockers off its feet and backward. He moved into the free space and got behind the other one, giving advantage to the paladin to strike (which was reduced to a normal attack as the hobgoblin was dodging). With the odds even out, it didn't take long for the players to get to the archers and slaughter them as it should be.

Using different tactics forces the players to do the same. The fights are much more entertaining for both the players and me. It also makes the fight more tense and memorable as too long a fight can bring random encounters.
 


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