Things your table should do, but doesn't do- The Fun v. Efficiency Thread

77IM

Explorer!!!
Retreat! Many monsters will route when things start looking bad for them. "Looking bad" is a subjective call by the DM based on the situation and the monster's psychology, but as a baseline, intelligent foes retreat when they are at half strength, unless the party is also down to half strength. Sometimes if things look really, really bad, the monsters will even surrender. Of course, the party gets full XP for monsters that retreat or surrender, and some monsters (such as undead and constructs and creatures guarding their young) will fight to the death.

This serves several purposes:
1. We skip the last few "mop-up" rounds of combat, which are usually pretty boring, tedious, and without suspense.
2. It presents a world in which intelligent creatures actually make decisions and are not mindless video-game enemies.
3. It subtly encourages the PCs to retreat or surrender when they face an overwhelming force.
 

KarinsDad

Visitor
We have a mix of "gotcha" because our GM got on a "if you didn't detail it, it didn't happen" kick so for a while I would ask "I check the room for things for note, rolled 25 investigation" GM, "you find nothing". After the game, knocking down the door to the boss room with picks and axes the GM said "well if you had searched the dresser in the bedroom you would not have take 5 attempts and alerted every enemy in the castle"... Us: "we did you said nothing was there!!?" GM, "no you searched the room not the dresser in the room. The key wasn't just sitting on the floor". We had multiple long arguments about us not knowing there was a dresser because we were not in the room our character was and that was not mentioned. Then multiple arguments about our character was searching the room not us" Finally, he stopped being silly, we search, he sets DC, we roll, we fail or pass, he narrates the results. If the key is hidden in the dresser we might not find the key but we find the dresser drawer is locked and we know, ok their is a dresser, its locked, so we likely want to unlock it and see what's inside. Hay look a key. Or we just find the key.

Because "gotcha's" are not fun or productive. That's when a hand wave or GM "notification" needs to happen.
DMs are a dime a dozen. Shoot your DM. Get a new one.
 

ClaytonCross

Kinder reader Inflection wanted
DMs are a dime a dozen. Shoot your DM. Get a new one.
Maybe but my GM is a friend and is trying to change after the group raised it in a debate after a game when it got silly. We get a "gotcha" moment every now and then, but its more an "old habit die hard" than a "My way or the highway" thing. I am not a perfect player or GM in my side game and would prefer the GM and players I play with give me a chance to improve instead of just not invite me or show up anymore. I will give him the same respect and chance to grow. After all its not easy being GM there is quite a bit more work than what players need to do.

If your playing AL, sure don't go back to that table, but even if DMs are everywhere that doesn't mean I would be welcome in their house and at their table. I might be very luck to find a second GM as a 37 year old man playing D&D in English in Japan where the majority of English speaking gamers are teens or early 20s. The majority of the gamers mostly stick to video games or play everyday with no family here. My wife would not be cool with me playing that much and would result in me being "not dedicated enough to the group" and that's assuming we had compatible personalities. So I generally don't walkout in true home games without bad continual problems. Easer to renovate then rebuild a burnt bridge.
 

KarinsDad

Visitor
Maybe but my GM is a friend and is trying to change after the group raised it in a debate after a game when it got silly. We get a "gotcha" moment every now and then, but its more an "old habit die hard" than a "My way or the highway" thing. I am not a perfect player or GM in my side game and would prefer the GM and players I play with give me a chance to improve instead of just not invite me or show up anymore. I will give him the same respect and chance to grow. After all its not easy being GM there is quite a bit more work than what players need to do.

If your playing AL, sure don't go back to that table, but even if DMs are everywhere that doesn't mean I would be welcome in their house and at their table. I might be very luck to find a second GM as a 37 year old man playing D&D in English in Japan where the majority of English speaking gamers are teens or early 20s. The majority of the gamers mostly stick to video games or play everyday with no family here. My wife would not be cool with me playing that much and would result in me being "not dedicated enough to the group" and that's assuming we had compatible personalities. So I generally don't walkout in true home games without bad continual problems. Easer to renovate then rebuild a burnt bridge.
The word "shoot" implied sarcasm.
 

ClaytonCross

Kinder reader Inflection wanted
The word "shoot" implied sarcasm.
Sure, but I don't really know you so it could also be a figure of speech. Also my GM could be on these forums and defending him is just sound protection from falling safes since I like my current character. :)-
 
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Seramus

Adventurer
I dismember my monsters. When my players roll well on damage, I have them hack off fingers, stab eyes, chop off entire arms, etc. And it’s not just fluff. I give the monster penalties and have it react to these hideous injuries accordingly. I also have monsters argue, freeze up and hesitate, or just run away in terror. Depends on the Monster. Most of them don’t want to die.

Of course, there are always more monsters. :devil:
 

ClaytonCross

Kinder reader Inflection wanted
I dismember my monsters. When my players roll well on damage, I have them hack off fingers, stab eyes, chop off entire arms, etc. And it’s not just fluff. I give the monster penalties and have it react to these hideous injuries accordingly. I also have monsters argue, freeze up and hesitate, or just run away in terror. Depends on the Monster. Most of them don’t want to die.

Of course, there are always more monsters. :devil:
I would like to do that but I am bit green and must admit in actual play I don't yet have the presence of mind and skill to pull that off. It does sound awesome though so It gives me something else to aspire to.
 

Flexor the Mighty!

18/100 Strength!
I constantly see 2 things.

1. People ignore/handwave inventory management, encumbrance, and athletics test for play efficiency because they don't want to wait for players to organize notes or they are too lazy to track weights. The results are bags of holding with 26,000+ gp and all their extra gear in a single bag of holding etc. Also, thief attempts on gear are negotiations and time consuming but rare so its not huge deal. The biggest result of this is that no matter your strength score your essentially super strong able to carry mountains as long as you say "I put it my backpack" because their are no limits. They make a strength check to open the door but then they just say well between the 5 of you, you are able to force the door open or it takes some time but as one of you gets up you pass the rope around and are able to help each other scale the wall. It makes the loot process faster, dealing with gear easier, and speeds through physical bearers for the sake of getting to more involved narrative conversations or combat but it devalues strength resulting in higher numbers of dex based characters because strength has no out of combat function. Then you get "fighters need more out of combat option threads" and "All I see are dex based melee fighter threads" not because strength is not useful, but because the hand wave everything that makes it so out of combat. The dex character trying to steal some one's wallet or sneak past a guard they keep because they are interactions the deem "narratively valuable" meaning if you drop a merchants keg and it breaks no one cares but if you steal his coin purse the guards are called even though both represent a cost to the merchant. I am not a fan when I GM, but my GM is. No interest in strength based tasks, however he does us variant encumbrance so we still value strength.

2. Scouting and traps. GMs tend to hand wave traps until it gets serious but then make traps lethal to build tension. The problem is there is no indication of the switch until the first trap. The party watching the rogue check every door can slow things down but not have the rogue do so results in PC death. So its a catch 22. The end result is it gets hand waved until unless players insist and while it does bog down the game while the rogue or scout basically leads the group through the dungeon players tend to except it because they don't want there character to dies randomly to an enemy they can't fight. My attempt to resolve this is instead of hand waving traps I have a random trap macro with alternate ways of spotting and disarming that means perhaps the rogue with a high perception skill doesn't see a trap but the passive investigation of the wizard might spot it and the rogue might disarm it but it turns out when he goes to open the door its not locked its just stuck and he is going to need the much stronger fighter/barbarian to get it open with an athletics test. Just like encumbrance this slows down "mundane tasks". My GM hand waves but I consider the mundane journey as much a part of the game as the destination role play/combat. When we play his games though he can't stand it when we push to check for traps because he finds in REALLY boring form the GM side really being a narrative GM. That has never stopped him from putting a random trap or hidden door in each dungeon though so we still ask because we don't want to die to death machines. Its a bit of a back and forth.
Most D&D backpacks are an extra dimensional space staffed by a gnome who hands you the exact item you need.
 

KarinsDad

Visitor
That is why I implemented the "nerf gun only" policy in my house. ;)
Boring. Bring D&D to real life at your table. Guns, knives, whatever it takes. Although if you want to be "in character", limit it to swords, shields, staves, etc. This is the real solution to problem players.
 

Mercule

Adventurer
Hit Points as a measure of anything but Meat Points. It makes more sense and is more dramatic for the DM to narrate successful attacks as nicks, close shaves, and momentum shifts until the final blow lands true. But that takes so much more mental effort that everyone quickly slides back into simple "your arrow thuds into the bandit's shoulder" and "the orc's axe blow crashes into your side and sends blood flying" even if it's only a fraction of the target's total HP and everything goes away with a short rest and some healing surges.
One of the few things that I carried over from 4E was the mental concept of "bloodied" at half hit points. Above half, I narrate any hit as a near miss, slap to the armor, etc. As soon as an attack drops a bad guy to/below half, though, real blood has been drawn and I start to narrate things like you're saying. It's a way of announcing "poop just got real" and even my players have started announcing when they're bloodied (there's no prohibition against sharing current hp or damage, it's just a warning chime that people sound).

As a side note, to gauge anything more accurate than bloodied/not bloodied on an NPC, I make a PC take an action and make a medicine (or whatever it's called) check to get a "percent dead" read on the critter. The difficulty depends on how close to human (or other PC race) the physiology is. Sometimes, say when a dragon almost bites someone in half, I'll let a PC make the check as a reaction. Hardly anyone bothers, though. Bloodied seems to be enough info for everyone to gauge how tough things are.
 

Mercule

Adventurer
I'm almost always the GM, and a couple of my players have been in my group for over 25 years, so it's really hard to distinguish between personal quirks and table customs, at this point. Here goes:

Skill names are malleable. Over the course of 35 years of gaming, I've played 6 editions of D&D and about 20 other systems. I really don't care if you call it "spot", "perception", "notice", "awareness", or "flufferpump" -- can we both understand what the die roll is intended to check? Cool. Then roll the freaking die. In a similar vein, if I tell you to roll Knowledge: History to know something about a magic sword and you think your Craft: Weaponsmithing should work, let me know and I'll probably let it pass. There may or may not be a penalty, depending on what the specific info to be revealed is.

Let me finish describing the scene before you act. This isn't an ego thing, on my part. Sometimes the details provide important clues to what's going on and interrupting the description can cause other players to miss something I said, me to lose my place and think I'd given info I hadn't, or otherwise just generally screw up the flow of information and cause misunderstandings. In a theatre of the mind game, that's a killer. Even with minis and a map, some of the info is verbal (this is a fire, but it's blue). If someone is really bad, the table fully backs up the notion that I should let the action occur and that player totally botched whatever perception check they should have made -- up to and including the existence of a bottomless chasm right in front of them or Demogorgon and an army of demons.

Don't crunch the numbers too hard. Yes, be competent, but don't worry about that extra damage a long sword does vs a short sword. Feats exist for personality, not statistical benefit (primarily). Most of the group is there to casually hang out and have fun. If one player starts crunching, in earnest, it'll be obvious and throw off the balance of the whole group. If this was a board game, it'd be a different story, but a TTRPG is neither a tactical minis skirmish game nor an amateur improve troop. It's somewhere in between (kinda) and has its own character.

The rules are guidelines. Yes, they're important, and we theoretically go by RAW, but TTRPGs ultimately live and die by the GM. The flow of the game is more important than the letter of the law. The legalism of the d20 days kinda broke this part of the group, but we've intentionally brought it back in. It seems to have been the missing ingredient that made the AD&D games so much fun, even if we appreciate the 5E rules and have no interest in going back to the older rules.

Always do a Session 0. This is a new one. We tried it, a couple years ago, because the players ended up all hating their characters, which were created to "test" 5E and were driven past their expiration date. The result was extraordinary and we resolved to never not do a Session 0 again. I think we've done it twice, so far, but I don't see us changing.
 

Imaculata

Adventurer
Also my GM could be on these forums and defending him is just sound protection from falling safes since I like my current character. :)-
Just for the record, if any of my players are on this forum... remember how much you like your current character and be extra nice about me.
 

Imaculata

Adventurer
Oh yes... hand waved shopping!!! I forgot about that. My GM says almost every time… we can role play this if you really want to haggle but other wise its an X shop you can by x things at the PHB price.
Playing out the shopping can be fun, but I only do it if I have cool ideas for it (an interesting location or npc). And if my players have a ton of shopping to do, I just skip it and let them take care of it during down time.
 

smbakeresq

Explorer
Summoning and pets - if you don't have a creature card ready the spell fails, and no you cant play from the book for you pet or summons - make some effort. For summons I do require you to roll for HP for each summons as you summon it, as it is a random creature of its type. This is usually done ahead of time, we use hamete dice server for email and quick results.

Spells - you should know all the parameters of spells you are casting

Combat - used to use a chess timer now I just go with about 15 seconds for you to do something.

Optimization at table - no mathematical risk-benefit analysis at table. Just go already.

Most downtime stuff - clean up a few things but otherwise that's what email is for. BTW, you should be doing something on your downtime, that's what email is for.

Asking "Can I do this and if a fail what is the result" - I don't know, try it and find out.

Asking what the properties of stuff you are carrying is - you are carrying it, so you tell me, I don't run your PC.

Asking "Why didn't you tell us about plot point XXXX" - Why didn't you ask or why didn't you remember.

Rules decisions - unless its over the top it goes to the player - properly DMed most players have a tough enough time anyway.

We use a square map for combat, and whatever the effect is it covers the whole square. I know a 15' radius is a circle therefore only covers part of each square that is 15' out, but its close enough not to bother.

I have never had a problem with Sentinel feat, I think its overrated (but still good) and I probably let my players use it more than others as I don't metagame them. First, you only get one reaction, so you only get to use it once per turn. Most PCs have something to do with their reaction anyway. Second, creatures with reach, things that wouldn't be aware of the use of such a feat, raging creatures, etc. just wouldn't care in some cases or it has limited affects on them. Intelligent or tactically aware creatures would just try something else if they cared. Third, a PC invested in it, so let them use it. Fourth, the type of PC that takes, Martial PCs mostly, are the ones that usually getting attacked anyway.

Most stuff in the game doesn't slow the game itself down, its mostly efficient. The time-wasters are generally things that take 10 minutes to prepare for away from the table but waste 30 minutes at the table.
 

Mercule

Adventurer
Just for the record, if any of my players are on this forum... remember how much you like your current character and be extra nice about me.
If any of my players are on this forum, I've already been honest to the point of bluntness, in person. I'm also pretty sure I know when you're ticked at me and what for. Passive aggressive sucks, so just speak plainly.

(Yes, I know the OP was being sarcastic, but I figured I'd be pointed.)
 
The biggest efficiency choice I've made at my table is, "Circles are squares."

I couldn't be bothered with templates and measuring on the grid so I just decided everything is square. Movement, missile range, spell area of effect - all squares (except for cone effects, which are triangles).

As for pets, I rule that anything that is not a PC uses average damage.
 

Fanaelialae

Adventurer
It may be a pet peeve more than anything, and the following is a semi-rant so don't take anything personally. Different people play for different reasons. :)

It makes it really difficult to balance encounters. Let's say I have a BBEG. Thematically, I want this particular BBEG to be a tank (I like to mix things up). Well, if he can always be stopped before he can do any damage for round after round ... it's no challenge. It's a boring nothing burger of a fight.

So round 1: BBEG charges in, fighter stops him before the BBEG can attack. BBEG looks sad and does nothing. Figther (and everyone else) attacks and walks away. Round 2: see round 1. Rinse and repeat until BBEG is dead. Yawn.

Some people like having an "I win" button. Heck occasionally the PCs stomp the heck out of a fight that I thought would be tough. That's all fine.

But when the same tactic works against every tank, that just means that as a DM I'm going change tactics and adjust encounters. I'll add HP, more monsters, special abilities, give all BBEGs reach or effective ranged attacks and so on. Basically it's removed an iconic opponent and fight from my repertoire. In addition I'm just working around something the fighter made an investment in devaluing that investment.

On the other hand when for some reason the tactic doesn't work (the fighter can't hit or is not positioned to stop the tank) what should have been a medium difficulty fight starts looking like a near TPK.
I don't have my books at the moment, but if I recall correctly that's not how that combination works, per RAW. Sentinel stops movement when you make an opportunity attack. The extra attack that Polearm Master grants when a creature moves into range is not an opportunity attack (it's just an extra attack that you get as a reaction). Hence, the polearm fighter can get a good whack in on the boss as he moves to engage, but the boss can engage (assuming he has sufficient movement). The real beauty of Sentinel is that once the boss is engaged with the fighter, he's staying there until the fighter goes down. If he tries charging the wizard, more likely than not he'll be locked down and cut down by the fighter (speaking from experience).


In my games, we don't tend to track encumbrance (players are asked to keep it to a reasonable amount based on their strength score, but it's an honor system).
I don't enforce tracking trivial items such as non-magical ammo.
We also use square AoEs.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I don't have my books at the moment, but if I recall correctly that's not how that combination works, per RAW. Sentinel stops movement when you make an opportunity attack. The extra attack that Polearm Master grants when a creature moves into range is not an opportunity attack (it's just an extra attack that you get as a reaction). Hence, the polearm fighter can get a good whack in on the boss as he moves to engage, but the boss can engage (assuming he has sufficient movement). The real beauty of Sentinel is that once the boss is engaged with the fighter, he's staying there until the fighter goes down. If he tries charging the wizard, more likely than not he'll be locked down and cut down by the fighter (speaking from experience).


In my games, we don't tend to track encumbrance (players are asked to keep it to a reasonable amount based on their strength score, but it's an honor system).
I don't enforce tracking trivial items such as non-magical ammo.
We also use square AoEs.
Nope.

Polearm Master
While you are wielding a glaive, halberd, pike, quarterstaff, or spear, other creatures provoke an opportunity attack from you when they enter your reach.


Sentinel
When you hit a creature with an opportunity attack, the creature's speed becomes 0 for the rest of the turn.

You are correct though, enemies also can't disengage to avoid an opportunity attack.

IMHO, as written the feat combo is too powerful (and boring), especially since a human fighter can have it from level 4 on.
 

Esker

Abventuree
I don't have my books at the moment, but if I recall correctly that's not how that combination works, per RAW. Sentinel stops movement when you make an opportunity attack. The extra attack that Polearm Master grants when a creature moves into range is not an opportunity attack (it's just an extra attack that you get as a reaction).
It is an opportunity attack, according to the text of PAM, so you can do this sort of thing. But all it takes to keep this from trivializing the encounter is for the BBEG to have a ranged option, or to have reach themselves, or minions to try to use up your reaction, etc.

I believe the BBEG could also disengage to approach, since the Sentinel feature that lets you make an AoO even if someone disengages only applies when they try to leave your reach.
 

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