Want to shake things up: Doorways, Scouting, Caution

jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
And put a timed execution device (a swinging blade? Guillotine?) over the prisoner. If someone doesn't rush in within 3 rounds and disable it, then the prisoner dies.

That's a great idea, but ... mage hand. (Sigh)

Add lots of treasure to the dungeon. Brilliant gemstones hidden under overturned mugs. Caches of gold hidden behind hanging portraits. That's how you reward players for interacting.
Again, mage hand. And there was actually quite a bit of treasure in the last dungeon that the PCs voluntarily passed up just because they were afraid it might be trapped or cursed.
 

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Mort

Legend
Supporter
That's a great idea, but ... mage hand. (Sigh)

Require a cord to be cut or lock to be picked. Arcane trickster can pull that off, but not any old wizard.

Require more than a 10 pound lift, that'll foil mage hand.


Again, mage hand. And there was actually quite a bit of treasure in the last dungeon that the PCs voluntarily passed up just because they were afraid it might be trapped or cursed.

Well, then they didn't get the treasure, that's its own consequence no?

Have them need to find something specific and small, while knowing only the general location add a time constraint to force more reckless behavior than normal.

Then surprise them by not having anything bad happen.
 

Tony Vargas

Legend
That's a great idea, but ... mage hand. (Sigh)
It's actually pretty limited. No fine manipulation (it's tied down), inflicting damage (to disengage trap, break glass), very weak (it's too heavy). And, to just be really heavy-mage-handed about it, have magic fizzle or using magic of any kind on the subject set off the trap/curse/whatever they're trying to avoid.

Again, mage hand. And there was actually quite a bit of treasure in the last dungeon that the PCs voluntarily passed up just because they were afraid it might be trapped or cursed.
By the standard's they're probably accustomed to, that's a win in your column.
 

Shiroiken

Legend
1. Fighting from the doorway.
Why do the monsters fight? Intelligent ones should run and get reinforcements until the entire complex is aware of the PCs presence, where they can attack with overwhelming numbers. My players regularly attack fleeing enemies to keep them from warning others.


2. Scouting.
This can actually be done quite well, keeping the whole group engaged, if handled properly by both you and the group. If they send in a scout, describe everything to them and the group at the same time. When a decision point must be made, such as a room, encounter, or an intersection, the scout should return to the party, who moves together up to the decision point to make the decision together without you re-describing everything. While technically only 1 PC is "active," unless they get ambushed (which is REALLY bad for the scout), it's not really any different than you describing everything for the group. They explore the important parts together, but the scout gets to make use of their stealthy abilities.

3. Caution.
This is really group dependent, and I'll admit old school gamers like me are a bit on the paranoid side. Earlier editions were fraught with insta-death traps, and that can be a hard habit to break. Some players that are used to newer editions often charge straight in, throwing caution to the wind, because they expect the encounters to be balanced. Best solution is to talk to the group in session 0 to discuss which style of game you want to play; heroic fantasy or gritty realism. In a heroic fantasy game, players are more likely to build brash characters, or foolish ones that make poor choices due to a flaw.
 

jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
Require more than a 10 pound lift, that'll foil mage hand.
Did that in the last adventure; they sent the earth elemental after it.

Well, then they didn't get the treasure, that's its own consequence no?
Yeah, but then it makes me wonder about the point of going to the trouble of placing and learning the treasure at all. Why even have a dungeon if the players are going to go out of their way to do as little of it as they can? It's discouraging for me, and probably not as rewarding for them as a place they'd actually engage with would be.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
Are the players having fun? Because this is sounding like a job. Definitely seems like things have devolved into dysfunction. I don’t think there are long term in-game fixes until you can address the reasons why the players are so gun shy. Did they get gotcha’d a bunch in some past campaign?
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
Did that in the last adventure; they sent the earth elemental after it.

Sounds like you have resourceful and well prepared players, though extremely risk averse.

The trick then is to reward them to be less risk averse. If that doesn't work, well either accept the play style or air out your frustration to them.


Yeah, but then it makes me wonder about the point of going to the trouble of placing and learning the treasure at all. Why even have a dungeon if the players are going to go out of their way to do as little of it as they can? It's discouraging for me, and probably not as rewarding for them as a place they'd actually engage with would be.

In game: have the party encounter creatures with very specific immunities. When the group can't damage them (they should have retreat options etc. available) make sure someone remembers the group of dead bodies that went untouched that had the very items necessary.

Out of game: maybe air your frustration out to the group? Let them know that it's rough designing all of these dungeon scenarios when they refuse to engage with them.
 

S'mon

Legend
I think the solution is just to not have a lot of "small monster group sitting in room waiting to die" encounters. They don't make a lot of sense. If the monsters are in a room with only one exit it's because they feel safe, so there must be other allied monsters nearby. I agree with [MENTION=6801204]Satyrn[/MENTION] that it's best to treat the encounter area as a small group of rooms with allied monsters spread throughout it. This often results in corridor-based battles with monsters coming out of rooms, PCs trying to hold multiple choke points, etc.

Battles outside or in large caverns & halls are also good and play very differently.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Again, mage hand. And there was actually quite a bit of treasure in the last dungeon that the PCs voluntarily passed up just because they were afraid it might be trapped or cursed.

Mage hand allows you to move things you can see. It does not enable search from 20 feet away. If they are close enough to see things, they are close enough to be hit by traps when the mage hand sets them off.
 

jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
Are the players having fun?
I think they are; I think I'm the main one who's getting frustrated here. But I think the players would be having more fun actually doing things rather than avoiding them, or if combats aren't all the same--and that would also be more fun for me.

Did they get gotcha’d a bunch in some past campaign?
Not in anything I've run for them. But the core of this particular group all go back to 1st ed., so maybe they were traumatized by the Tomb of Horrors at a young age.

They only get ultra-cautious when they're in heavy exploration situations (dungeons being an example). But I don't want to have to avoid dungeons altogether.

I think the solution is just to not have a lot of "small monster group sitting in room waiting to die" encounters. They don't make a lot of sense.
You'd be surprised how many rooms like that are on pre-made maps, though. And even if there's another exit, the party has a lot of ways to lock down monster movement (Evard's black tentacles, hold monster, crown of madness...).

Battles outside or in large caverns & halls are also good and play very differently.
Not for my groups (I regularly run for two groups that both have the same issues). They use the exact same tactics for caverns and halls: stand in the doorway to the hall or at the mouth of the small passageway that opens into the cavern, and attack from there. Cover means nothing when they have so many spells that ignore it.
 
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