5E Villains that are supposed to escape

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
In 5e, that's not even a switch or an override, it's just making different rulings. The villain tries to escape, the DM narrates successful escape, the players try to stop him, the DM narrates failure, the party tries to track or pursue him, the DM narrates the pursuit taking them to a side-encounter or dead end.
Perfectly orthodox 5e play dynamic.

I hate it when video games do they do that. Even worse if it happens during a D&D game. YMMV of course, different people play for different reasons.
 
I hate it when video games do they do that. Even worse if it happens during a D&D game. YMMV of course, different people play for different reasons.
Exactly. The DM /can/ narrate a villain's escape if he and his group are playing for a dramatic story arc, or, he can narrate his capture/death because the players like 'getting it right' and subverting genre tropes - or he can call for checks, set DCs, and 'let the dice fall where they may' like an old-school wargaming judge. They're each equally valid under the 5e DM's role - a big part of the way it delivers on it's goal of supporting multiple playstyles.
 

Dausuul

Legend
I have some rules for adventure design that I apply in my own campaigns, and that I think module writers should also consider:

  • If you expect the PCs to attack it, they will talk to it.
  • If you expect the PCs to talk to it, they will attack it.
  • If you think the PCs can't possibly win a battle, they will.
  • If you think the PCs will surrender to obviously superior force, they won't.
  • Nothing on earth is deadlier than a PC who sees the enemy escaping combat. They have the cunning of Napoleon, the luck of a three-time Powerball jackpot winner, and the tenacity of a halfling defending dinner. All battles involving PCs take place in an invisible Thunderdome*: Two sides enter, one side leaves.

[size=-2]*Technically, this is not entirely true. Sometimes the Thunderdome is visible.[/size]
 
I have some rules for adventure design that I apply in my own campaigns, and that I think module writers should also consider:

If you expect the PCs to attack it, they will talk to it.
If you expect the PCs to talk to it, they will attack it.
Ah, so you know my players! ;)
 

Fenris-77

Explorer
Massacre the Halfling townsfolk! Bargain with the dog faced humanoids!! Massacre the little blue gnomes!!! Have tea and cakes with Gargamel!!1!

Yeah, players are, at best, unpredictable.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I was just wondering how you handle it when the module says that a villain escapes when he is about to lose the battle, but actually has no means to escape combat-mechanics-wise (grappled, etc.).
Are there actually any 5e modules that do this?

Would you just force it and just override any combat rules and switch to narration mode or just let the villain die if he can't get away through combat means, making the players miss out on potentially fun pursue scenes?
It depends. If I’ve got a good rapport with the players and I have a strong sense that they’d be accepting of me just narrating the villain’s escape, then sure. On the other hand, one of the things I enjoy most about D&D is the power the PCs have to say “screw what the plot says is supposed to happen, we make our own fate.” And that’s something I would never want to take away from the players.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
One villain has a teleporter to get away, but I think that's it. No villains other then that are assumed to escape.


And if I recall, it was early in with the bad guy who also happens to leave behind his greatsword that added 2d6 acid damage or something. I recall that being the most eyebrow raising thing. Lower level PC with a greatsword +2d6 extra damage. It was odd, from a design/balance standpoint
 

Beleriphon

Totally Awesome Pirate Brain
One villain has a teleporter to get away, but I think that's it. No villains other then that are assumed to escape.
Only other one kind of like this is the mind flayer in Dragon Heist, during the sewer run before the plot really gets going. I think it probably better the mind flayer leaves, since that part of the adventure is gearing to first or second level characters.

Mind you, in that instance the creature isn't escaping, so much as leaving as soon as the players show up. And the area is setup so that there is no way for the characters to reach the mind flayer before it leaves. If they manage it some how, it just mind blasts them until it can leave.
 

Eltab

Explorer
At the end of HotDQ, one villian in the flying castle had a Ring of Feather Fall, and used it in the most dramatic fashion I could think of on-the-fly: he jumped off his own balcony to escape a PC ambush. All was not lost, though, because the vampire (in bat form) power-dove after him.
I never did tell the PCs the outcome of that (because I wanted the suspense and thought "he might come back with reinforcements" - indeed I thought about him being in charge of one of the Assassin Squads in Rise of Tiamat.)

One thing that did give me problems, though: Arauthator is supposed to flee the fight and his lair when he reaches 10% original HP. My PCs (7 of them, IIRC) bowshot him out of the air dead and he crashed in a heap by the slush-filled escape hatch. Is there a guide/formula somewhere as to how many HP - a %age or a total - at which point an NPC should flee, so he actually does make it out of the scenario?
 

Eltab

Explorer
If the BBEG is a spellcaster and going down too soon: Simulacrum
Or Seeming (may be the wrong name; I'm AFB). You turn invisible, an illusion of you appears in your space and moves as you wish. Get away while the PCs beat on the decoy.
 

Eltab

Explorer
Mind you, in that instance the creature isn't escaping, so much as leaving as soon as the players show up. And the area is setup so that there is no way for the characters to reach the mind flayer before it leaves. If they manage it some how, it just mind blasts them until it can leave.
Edit to that thought: in my group, I got into a position where, by coincidence, I could opportunity-attack the mind flayer as it left. (I was trying to lurk next to a pillar, did not know that it was a magical 'escape hatch'.) The mind flayer did get away drat it.
 
If the villain can miraculously escape for "plot reasons," can the PCs do that too?
Sure, the DM is as free, in 5e, to narrate success when players declare the characters flee, upon realizing they've taken on something too much for them too soon.

13A even has a formal mechanic for it, a "Campaign Loss," I think it's called.
 
If I think the story will be better if the villain escapes and I see the players are about to win I may ask them ooc if they want to have him escape. If they agree, we come up with a narration. It’s pretty rare though. I may have done it once in D&D and the players said no. It happens often enough in games like FATE though.

Story: we had a whole campaign revolving around our characters hunting down a group of assassins who had poisoned a well in our home town and who killed lots of friends and family. Our characters had tracked and murdered 3 of 7. Each one was a ‘boss fight’. When we brought the body of the 4th back to the town to bury (we brought back each body to the town and buried them in the local graveyard), we discovered two of the bodies were missing.

It turns out someone had come and raised them. We had to find out who it was and track them down. The plot thickened.
 
I

Immortal Sun

Guest
The villain dies, turns out he was a clone. So, ya know, clones are a thing now.
 

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