D&D 5E "When DMing I Avoid Making the PCs have 'pointless' combats." (a poll)

True or False: "When DMing I Avoid Making the PCs have 'pointless' combats."

  • True.

    Votes: 85 56.7%
  • False.

    Votes: 65 43.3%

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Okay, once again - should be a simple premise:

True or False: "When DMing I avoid making the PCs have pointless combats."*


* For whatever value of "pointless" you use (but please explain that value in a post if you can)
 

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TwoSix

Uncomfortably diegetic
Okay, once again - should be a simple premise:

True or False: "When DMing I avoid making the PCs have pointless combats."*


* For whatever value of "pointless" you use (but please explain that value in a post if you can)
Depending on the game, I have no problem running non "story-relevant" combats, which seems like a possible stand-in for "pointless".
 




If the players start searching for clues somewhere thinking they are on the main storyline, I may occasionally improvise an irrelevant combat, where they can get some cash.

Once the enemies are dead, they can search the area and I (the DM) can tell them there are no clues. That's sometimes quicker than having them sneak around, roll investigation or perception checks. If they roll poorly, some players just cannot get rid of the feeling that there may be something. Having a fight can be the quickest way to get the players out of a dead end. (Note that I will happily merge such a side-track into the story, but that is not always possible - sometimes it really is a dead end).
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
If the players start searching for clues somewhere thinking they are on the main storyline, I may occasionally improvise an irrelevant combat, where they can get some cash.

Once the enemies are dead, they can search the area and I (the DM) can tell them there are no clues. That's sometimes quicker than having them sneak around, roll investigation or perception checks. If they roll poorly, some players just cannot get rid of the feeling that there may be something. Having a fight can be the quickest way to get the players out of a dead end. (Note that I will happily merge such a side-track into the story, but that is not always possible - sometimes it really is a dead end).
I think Matt Colville calls this technique "Orcs attack!". IIRC he elucidates it very similarly- if you see that the PCs are spinning their wheels, stuck in circular debate about strategy to use or what to do next, throw in an action scene/monster attack to snap them out of it.
 

Stormonu

Legend
Random/wandering encounters. Not as much as I used to because they can derail an adventure before it starts, but sometimes things may show up that no one was expecting - or prepared for.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
This poll is a tricky one for me. The instruction "For whatever value of "pointless" you use" would seem to lead to everyone saying "true", but so far it's 4 true to 9 false, so obviously people aren't reading it the same way I am.

I said true because I don't think combats are supposed to be pointless. They're meant to be entertaining, dramatic (challenging) or just fun (power fantasy), random encounters help tell the players things about the world and what creatures inhabit the area, and they keep the game play fresh and less predictable for me.

If a given combat isn't going to be entertaining, if it's not going to represent an actual risk or drain the PCs' resources in any meaningful way that will impact the rest of the game, then I may omit it entirely. Or handwave the end/move straight to surrender or flight once it's established that the PCs are trouncing the baddies. But most of the time, even overmatched enemies can do some damage, drain some resources, raise an alarm or create some interesting consequence, which means the fight wasn't pointless.
 


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