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%

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Let's go go a massive extreme. You are the GM. You have 5 PCs in your game, all 20th level. They are walking through the forest. You narrate that they see a standard in-no-way-extraordinary robin off in the distance (maybe you want to drop a hint it's a peaceful and non dangerous area, but the reason is unimportant). The rogue decides for no apparent reason to attack the robin and kill it.

If you actually have a combat in this situation, with initiative, stealth checks, attack rolls, etc it would be a pointless combat.
Assuming the rogue is using a missile to shoot the robin I'd still tell the rogue's player to roll to hit, if only for the potential of an amusing miss and the much more likely loss of one unit of ammunition. :)
 

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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
As it happens, the current game I'm running does have a random encounter that might go this way - a single eagle which flies away if it notices anyone approach within 30 feet. That's it, that's the encounter. Do they loose an arrow at it? Sneak up on it and try to stuff it in a sack? Communicate with it from a distance? Give it a wave and pass on by? What does what they do tell us about the nature of the characters and their priorities?
Odds are my lot would assume the eagle to be relevant to the mission* somehow - "It flew away when it saw us - it must be a shapeshifted Druid scouting for the enemy!" - and go on to make a wonderful mountain of red herrings out of that eagle-shaped molehill. :)

* - no matter what said mission might be.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
You are, like many others in the thread, are conflating combat and encounter. They are different. Combat in 5e is a subset of the rules where time slows to a crawl and all in it begin acting in sequential order using discrete options based on their character build.

Just asking someone to make a hit roll as if it were a skill check is NOT a combat.

My point is 5 20th level PCs vs 1 common songbird is a pointless combat. It may or may not be a pointless encounter.

I can't really say it any other way.
I'm conflating nothing. I understand the difference between combat and encounter. I agree with what @Charlaquin said:
It still doesn’t seem to me like your hypothetical demonstrates an instance of a pointless combat. Either there is no consequence for failure, in which case there is no combat because the action can be resolved without needing to call for any rolls, as per the how to play rules; or, there is a consequence for failure, in which case the combat is not pointless. The point is to see if that consequence occurs.
 

Apparently I have a uniquely bad experience with 5E. My players will abuse anything they can to avoid risks, so they (until I banned it) would use Leomund's Tiny Hut to get a long rest, face one combat, then turtle up again. Lather rinse repeat...until I banned it. They ignored anything like timers and didn't care about consequences related to just sitting around doing nothing.
I don't know whether your experience is unique, but I wouldn't run a 5e game with your players.

Is it just 5e that brings this out in them, or do they ignore time pressure in any game they play?
 

JiffyPopTart

Bree-Yark
Assuming the rogue is using a missile to shoot the robin I'd still tell the rogue's player to roll to hit, if only for the potential of an amusing miss and the much more likely loss of one unit of ammunition. :)
You could, for sure. But an attack roll in lieu of a skill check isn't a combat.
 

JiffyPopTart

Bree-Yark
Well, I voted that I don’t try to avoid pointless combats, so that shouldn’t come as a surprise.

I did say if there’s no meaningful for failure, there’s no need for a roll. The rogue can just succeed at killing the robin in that case.

It still doesn’t seem to me like your hypothetical demonstrates an instance of a pointless combat. Either there is no consequence for failure, in which case there is no combat because the action can be resolved without needing to call for any rolls, as per the how to play rules; or, there is a consequence for failure, in which case the combat is not pointless. The point is to see if that consequence occurs.
I'm not sure why we are having such a hard time communicating.

In my songbird exame there is no consequence for failure, thus you are 100% correct it COULD be resolved without die rolls. If, as a GM, I forced the party to roll initiative and step through the order until it was the rogues turn, which them let them roll and kill the songbird....I would have just ran a pointless combat, would you agree?
 

JiffyPopTart

Bree-Yark
What is the practical difference between a combat of 5 20th level PCs vs one common songbird and asking someone to make a hit roll as if it were a skill check? The fact that they roll initiative first to see who gets to make the attack roll?
The real world time difference it takes for 1 player to make 1 roll versus X players and the GM having to make potentially multiple rolls to get to the same end result of a grieving a meaningless goal.

If a 20th level rogue wanted to kill a random songbird I would say "It's dead now what?" Instead of making it a combat because the combat subgame would be pointless.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I'm not sure why we are having such a hard time communicating.

In my songbird exame there is no consequence for failure, thus you are 100% correct it COULD be resolved without die rolls. If, as a GM, I forced the party to roll initiative and step through the order until it was the rogues turn, which them let them roll and kill the songbird....I would have just ran a pointless combat, would you agree?
If there’s no consequence for failure, I don’t think it would be appropriate to call for rolls to be made to resolve the action, as per the How to Play rules.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
The real world time difference it takes for 1 player to make 1 roll versus X players and the GM having to make potentially multiple rolls to get to the same end result of a grieving a meaningless goal.
So, no real difference. 1 roll vs five is a difference of a few seconds of time, at most.
If a 20th level rogue wanted to kill a random songbird I would say "It's dead now what?" Instead of making it a combat because the combat subgame would be pointless.
Assuming there’s no consequence for failing to kill the bird, yes, this would be the appropriate call, by the rules.
 


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