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Want to shake things up: Doorways, Scouting, Caution

Stalker0

Adventurer
Doors: I think most people have covered this one pretty well, but a few tricks to do once in a while.


a) Auto-Shutting Door: Make the door close on command, giving the monsters some control of the doorway. Or put traps in the doorway so the party gets pounded if they stay there.
b) Tiny Hut: Want to give the monsters some door superiority try this one. Have them go into the next room with a tiny hut (assuming they have some warning the party is coming). They can shoot arrows out, and the party now has no way to hurt them short of a dispel magic unless the go through the next door.


Scouting: I don't like most of the suggestions so far, especially "gack the scout". First, your punishing legitimate tactical behavior. 2nd, easier said than done. A high dex rogue with Stealth Expertise is hard to see! Or you think that's bad, try a druid with pass without trace (+10 to stealth, good luck finding the rogue then).

Honestly my best advice here, keep the scouting very brief. You know its going to happen, so have your perceptions rolls (or take 10 if you prefer) done ahead of time. Make the descriptions quick, give the scout just enough to know what they need to know to assess dangers.
This is an area where it pays to talk to your group. Tell them "hey guys, the scouting you doing makes lots of sense and I want you to keep doing it. But I also don't want to focus half the session on one player. So what I am going to do is be a lot more brief in my descriptions for the scout, and we will focus on dangers. I am happy to give you all full descriptions of everything once the party catches up, but I am going to keep it brief in the interest of maximizing our time"


Caution: Time pressure is your best friend here. Now some of that behavior is hard to shake. One thing I've done in my games is I promise my players "if you ever encounter a trap, you will get a roll". I don't require them to say "I'm checking for traps" to prevent the caution you describe. They move along, and I give them rolls when appropriate. Its doesn't stop all of the behavior you described, but some of it.
 

77IM

Explorer
For Scouting and Caution, instead of working against these habits, could you streamline the process? Like, just assume that the PCs are going to adopt standard scouting procedure unless they say otherwise, and tell them what they discover. For players being cautious, reduce danger assessment to some kind of roll, that can be done with no risk. Instead of "listening at the door," they just make a general Perception check for danger.

Ordinarily, I tell players when they detect danger -- but leave safety ambiguous. "You don't detect any traps..." For your group, you might want to reverse that: Tell them when they detect safety, so that they learn to trust the successful die roll. Wands of detecting enemies/secrets/traps might help with this.
 

Draegn

Explorer
Greed or another emotion that prompts the players to do something different.

Fighting in a doorway: the greed of not letting someone or thing be harmed to encourage the players to enter.

Scouting: the thief starts bringing back nice things, everyone starts to scout to get something too.

Caution: if they never open a box, jar, etc... they never find something nice, a clue, an answer to a puzzle, etc...
 

Harzel

Explorer
I run in a variety of settings. But you can't have every adventure in a foggy swamp, and the doorway thing goes way beyond dungeons--just about any type of building is going to lead to the same approach. Even caverns have the equivalent, where the PCs stand at the entry point to the cavern and chuck fireballs into the main cave from there.
1. We can't give you one single technique that will solve all your problems, or even solve one problem all the time. So you have a few foggy swamps, a few dense forests, a blizzard on the tundra, and the Smoke-Filled Pit of Doom, and that will cover some, but certainly not all encounters. For the rest, see #2.

2. You seem to be studiously ignoring lots of the advice that folks have given for when you do have a building, dungeon, or cavern: multiple entrances/exits, opponents with ranged attacks and ranged AoE, structural elements that preclude line-of-effect much beyond the doorway, traps at the doorway that disable the PCs' tactics, opponents that will call for reinforcements that come from behind the party, pressing reasons to enter the room, opponents that don't show themselves immediately, opponents that can move through walls, and I'm probably forgetting some others.

3. You don't say so, but it sounds rather like all the opponents are unintelligent bags of hit points that stand around in fireball formation. Doorways or no, those sort of opponents are unlikely to be a challenge for six high level PCs. Also, with six PCs, any fewer than 4 or so opponents are going to be quickly dispensed with unless each of them is more or less capable of one-shotting a PC.
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
1. Have there be more than one door, so some monsters run around.

Or have there be two monster groups. Attacking one triggers the other.

Or add an ethereal or teleporting monster to the group that can get to the party's back.

2. This is D&D's fault. The game is a group activity and no character class should be given abilities that encourage solo play.

There is no solution. You will have to slowly give the players confidence to skip the scouting phase.

In the meanwhile, spill the beans quickly with a minimum of rolls. Give the scout everything. Except excitement.

3. Well, D&D is a special kind of game, where you are rewarded for being bold and not thinking too much. Sometimes this puts your character in the :):):):), but this is just another opportunity to heroically shine.

Some players have played other games where kicking in doors and sticking your hand where it doesn't belong gets you killed. Some of these players can't enjoy D&D where you are supposed to do all this.

You are supposed to seek out adventure! Dungeons especially is a fun house that rewards those who poke everything. Sometimes that rewards is a monster to fight. Other times you get killed by a trap - revivify and go back to the fun!
 

muppetmuppet

Explorer
One of my players has an Imp which is pretty annoying on the scouting front so I understand the problem.

Some of our best battles have been in positions where the players have to get into the area as fast as possible to stop some device. This stops doorway fights.
For example the players were trying to rescue some prisoners and needed to interact with a control panel to release them which was in the area. they knew if they just stood in the doorway till the monsters were dead the rest of the complex's defenders would have enough time to find them possibly and they would be massively outnumbered. In another an altar was being subverted by an evil shaman and again they needed to get into the area to stop him asap.
 

jayoungr

Explorer
2. You seem to be studiously ignoring lots of the advice that folks have given
I apologize if I've given the impression that I'm ignoring anything. I'm not; I'm filing away all these ideas to try out in future sessions, and if I haven't thanked people enough for them, I want to thank you all now.

You don't say so, but it sounds rather like all the opponents are unintelligent bags of hit points that stand around in fireball formation.
I try to avoid that. But a room has to be pretty big for a fireball not to cover it, and cover doesn't help against a fireball.

Doorways or no, those sort of opponents are unlikely to be a challenge for six high level PCs.
It happens with low-level groups too. The same week I ran the high-level dungeon crawl, I also ran the AL adventure "The Marionette" (DDAL04-04) for a level 3 group. It's essentially a dungeon crawl through a haunted house, with only one door to the final room. At least in that case, the boss had some abilities to make a doorway fight harder.
 

Hussar

Legend
How so? Forgive me if I sound thick, but a fight in a hallway seems functionally the same as a fight in a doorway. There is still a narrow access point where only a couple of enemies will be able to engage a couple of the PCs, while the other PCs hang back safely and make ranged attacks.
This has been answered a bit by others, but, there are other options as well:

1. Anything with a climb speed can "double up" - one on the floor, one on the ceiling, meaning the front rank gets very dangerous. Additionally, being able to use the ceiling to reach the back ranks.

2. Presumably corridors have multiple routes - blocking the party in becomes a real option.

3. The baddies can simply run away further down the corridor.

4. Scouting becomes a LOT more interesting when stuff is moving around.

5. Sometimes simply a different set up can make fairly staple encounters much more interesting. At least the first few times. And, the fact that you only do it for some of the encounters means that the party has to think a bit more.

6. Intersections become very interesting.
 

Hussar

Legend
Oh, and one thing to remember in a dungeon environment is line of sight. This is something that gets overlooked all the time because it's a PITA. But, unless the PC has dark vision and not a lot of races actually get that anymore, vision is probably only 20 feet clear and 20 feet lightly obscured. Makes those back rank archers a LOT less effective when they are very limited in vision.

Add in smoke or fog effects and you can drop visibility way down and negate the advantage of those ranged characters entirely.
 

Charlaquin

Explorer
But a room has to be pretty big for a fireball not to cover it, and cover doesn't help against a fireball.
Actually it does, since Fireball does half damage on a successful Dex save. Half cover gives +2 to AC and Dex saves, 3/4 cover gives +5 to AC and Dex saves. Granted, cover won’t save a creature from taking damage from Fireball, but it will give them a better chance of reducing the damage by half, which is better than nothing.
 

Stalker0

Adventurer
Actually it does, since Fireball does half damage on a successful Dex save. Half cover gives +2 to AC and Dex saves, 3/4 cover gives +5 to AC and Dex saves. Granted, cover won’t save a creature from taking damage from Fireball, but it will give them a better chance of reducing the damage by half, which is better than nothing.
Thing is that fireball says it goes around corners, so cover doesn't really "do anything" in this case. Its not blocking the fireball at all.
 

Charlaquin

Explorer
Thing is that fireball says it goes around corners, so cover doesn't really "do anything" in this case. Its not blocking the fireball at all.
Which is important for determining the affected area, but it doesn’t say it ignores cover. Cover is something you have relative to the caster, not to the spell’s area of effect.
 

Hussar

Legend
Which is important for determining the affected area, but it doesn’t say it ignores cover. Cover is something you have relative to the caster, not to the spell’s area of effect.
Wouldn't cover be counted from the initial point of the spell effect? While I do think you could have cover from a fireball (such as having a waist high wall between you and the initial point of the spell), having cover relative to the caster doesn't really matter does it?
 

jayoungr

Explorer
Even if you rule that cover affects the saving throw for a fireball (we've never played it that way due to the "going around corners" thing), there are tons of other spells that force a save. Sacred flame is another favorite, and for that one, the caster just has to be able to see the target.
 

Oofta

Explorer
Wouldn't cover be counted from the initial point of the spell effect? While I do think you could have cover from a fireball (such as having a waist high wall between you and the initial point of the spell), having cover relative to the caster doesn't really matter does it?
It's in the PHB under Spells/Cover

A spell's effect expands in straight lines from the point of origin. If no unblocked straight line extends from the point of origin to a location within the area of effect, that location isn't included in the spell's area. To block one of these imaginary lines, an obstruction must provide total cover, as explained in chapter 9.​
 

Charlaquin

Explorer
Wouldn't cover be counted from the initial point of the spell effect? While I do think you could have cover from a fireball (such as having a waist high wall between you and the initial point of the spell), having cover relative to the caster doesn't really matter does it?
I suppose that makes sense. I’m not sure it’s supported by the rules, but it’s a perfectly reasonable ruling to make.
 
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Stalker0

Adventurer
If no unblocked straight line extends from the point of origin to a location within the area of effect, that location isn't included in the spell's area. .[/INDENT]
Holy Triple Negative Batman! What a terrible sentence grammar wise (I actually assumed you had mistyped it an double checked my PH).


What this sentence is actually saying is this: A location is included within the area of effect if an unblocked straight line extends from it to the point of origin.
 

Harzel

Explorer
Actually it does, since Fireball does half damage on a successful Dex save. Half cover gives +2 to AC and Dex saves, 3/4 cover gives +5 to AC and Dex saves. Granted, cover won’t save a creature from taking damage from Fireball, but it will give them a better chance of reducing the damage by half, which is better than nothing.
Which is important for determining the affected area, but it doesn’t say it ignores cover. Cover is something you have relative to the caster, not to the spell’s area of effect.
Wouldn't cover be counted from the initial point of the spell effect? While I do think you could have cover from a fireball (such as having a waist high wall between you and the initial point of the spell), having cover relative to the caster doesn't really matter does it?
As @Oofta points out, it is RAW that cover is determined from the spell's point of origin. Although I, too, had the initial impulse to grant the DEX saving throw bonus to cover even to Fireball, it seems like that cannot have been the authors' intent, since it leaves you with the following quandary. Because Fireball goes around corners*, a creature can have full cover from Fireball, but still be in its area-of-effect. So if you give the +2/+5 bonus for half/three-quarters cover, what do you do with that creature that has full cover?

You can certainly come up with solutions. For instance, you could grant auto-success on the save. But at that point, you are clearly ruling/house-ruling.

EDIT: Also, granting the DEX save bonuses for Fireball​ means that the "goes around corners" property makes no difference in the partial cover situations, which seems odd.

* While thinking about this a while back, I noted that the use of the word "corners" is itself problematic. I'm pretty sure the intent is that spells like Fireball spread around rounded obstacles, too, such as a pillar, which don't have corners. I do wish the 5e authors had been attentive enough to use more precise language at least in the cases when doing so would not have cost them any word count and would have made their actual intent clearer.
 
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Oofta

Explorer
As @Oofta points out, it is RAW that cover is determined from the spell's point of origin. Although I, too, had the initial impulse to grant the DEX saving throw bonus to cover even to Fireball, it seems like that cannot have been the authors' intent, since it leaves you with the following quandary. Because Fireball goes around corners*, a creature can have full cover from Fireball, but still be in its area-of-effect. So if you give the +2/+5 bonus for half/three-quarters cover, what do you do with that creature that has full cover?

You can certainly come up with solutions. For instance, you could grant auto-success on the save. But at that point, you are clearly ruling/house-ruling.

EDIT: Also, granting the DEX save bonuses for Fireball​ means that the "goes around corners" property makes no difference in the partial cover situations, which seems odd.

* While thinking about this a while back, I noted that the use of the word "corners" is itself problematic. I'm pretty sure the intent is that spells like Fireball spread around rounded obstacles, too, such as a pillar, which don't have corners. I do wish the 5e authors had been attentive enough to use more precise language at least in the cases when doing so would not have cost them any word count and would have made their actual intent clearer.
I give cover bonuses for fireball, to have complete cover you'd have to be completely blocked from the point of origin with no significant path. So probably in another room with a closed door or similar But that's just my ruling/house rule and I can certainly see that going the other way is probably sticking more closely to the letter of the rules.
 
Well, this is a bit off-topic, however I think the "fireball goes around corners" is, in my opinion, more talking about its effect in hallways, not around cover. Think about it this way: fire in this instance can be considered a fluid with how it moves from the point of origin. So if you burst a pipe in Hallway A, that flow is going to continue around the corner into Hallway B, not just stop at the end of the hallway. However, around surfaces like columns, low walls, etc ("cover" for this purpose) the flow will be interrupted, if only some. It would create an area where the flow of the liquid had less force, therefore the higher bonus granted to the DEX saving throw. Just in this instance it's fire. So instead of getting hit fully from the fire, you instead get burned due to your proximity, but not as much as if you were in the fire. So I think scientifically speaking, it makes some amount of sense.

However this is a not a realistic simulation game, so however you interpret the rules here, go with that. But from my point of view I would say the "goes around corners" does not to me suggest that Fireball actually ignores cover.
 

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