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D&D General Why Unbalanced Combat Encounters Can Enhance Your Dungeons & Dragons Experience

Vaalingrade

Legend
I still think it's good enough, and the fact that it can be eyeballed is a point in its favor, not a criticism in my view.
Do you bake?

Because 'eyeballing it' is, in my experience, the core issue with disaster chefs.

With CR though, saying you can 'eyeball it' isn't really accurate because CR is such a failure of a system, that actual wild guesses based on the illustrations might be more useful when all is said and done.
 

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iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Do you bake?

Because 'eyeballing it' is, in my experience, the core issue with disaster chefs.

With CR though, saying you can 'eyeball it' isn't really accurate because CR is such a failure of a system, that actual wild guesses based on the illustrations might be more useful when all is said and done.
Yes, I bake. But this isn't baking. It's cooking. The recipe is a starting place, to give you an idea of where you might end up, but you don't need to follow the recipe exactly to end up with a good dish.

Strained metaphors aside, you'd have some work to do to prove it's a "failure of a system." It does what it says it does. For some groups, it's going to be on the easy side. That it doesn't do exactly what you want it to do - and frankly, I don't think any game could be as precise as some want it to be - doesn't mean it's a "failure of a system." It just means it doesn't work FOR YOU.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
Strained metaphors aside, you'd have some work to do to prove it's a "failure of a system." It does what it says it does.
Except the part where it doesn't. Ghouls, Faeries, high level ground pounders that somehow have never developed thrown rock technology, the existence of terrain-- the list goes on of the things CR is woefully inaccurate about or just never acknowledges.

It's just a hasty label placed over the word 'GUESS' instead of something that is actually helpful for doing what it pretends to do.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Except the part where it doesn't. Ghouls, Faeries, high level ground pounders that somehow have never developed thrown rock technology, the existence of terrain-- the list goes on of the things CR is woefully inaccurate about or just never acknowledges.

It's just a hasty label placed over the word 'GUESS' instead of something that is actually helpful for doing what it pretends to do.
If you want a perfect system, keep on looking. You got a long, hard road ahead of you. As I've said upthread, it works fine for most situations and most groups, but needs to be adjusted from time to time. (And encounter difficulty is modified by terrain, by the way, per the rules in the DMG. The book nobody reads.) It's too complex to be on the money every single time. If that's your expectation, you should probably realign your expectations.

I don't even know what the rock technology comment is supposed to be about.
 

toucanbuzz

No rule is inviolate
My players expect battles from time to time that can't be won by brute force. They're okay with running. They're okay with mundane weapons passing clearly through a ghost without doing anything. They're okay with seeing a random encounter wandering band of cyclops at 2nd level and knowing it'll murder any one of them with 1-hit.

What they're not okay with is the DM springing any such encounter without any other option except brute force to win. In our last session, the party met 3 such ghosts, bad news when between them they had 1 magical weapon, a wizard on fumes, and a cleric who'd exhausted his "turn undead." Behind them waited an army of the dead, before them a locked door. If no one could get that door open, and quick, the ghosts would probably overwhelm them. Cue the rogue or the wizard (with a knock spell). Someone gets to shine.
 


iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I'm not asking for 'perfect', I'm looking for 'can see the light from competent'. Most RPGs manage this. Because they don't use CR.
Eight years in with many different groups, I just don't see the problems you apparently see. And D&D 4e doesn't have CR and it isn't great either. I'm playing in a game tonight and we are just stomping these "balanced" encounters to bits. Sounds like the DM should just use it as a guide then bump it up to suit the players, just like all encounter difficulty approaches.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
Eight years in with many different groups, I just don't see the problems you apparently see. And D&D 4e doesn't have CR and it isn't great either. I'm playing in a game tonight and we are just stomping these "balanced" encounters to bits. Sounds like the DM should just use it as a guide then bump it up to suit the players, just like all encounter difficulty approaches.
That’s the bit I’m not getting. The CRs make all kinds of assumptions because to do otherwise is impossible. So the CRs are normalized around a bunch of averages: average party size, average player skill, average terrain etc etc. And for safety, errs on the side of easy.

There are so many knobs a DM can twiddle to make things more exciting, both before and during an encounter. Players regularly trounce your challenges, move up the CR table with either tougher monsters or more of the current level.

Players still making mincemeat of your deadly challenge? Oh dear, looks like reinforcements are coming and they‘re particularly nasty.

I dunno, this game lives or dies by the DMs skill and really I don‘t think I would want the game to be able to be run by just looking up numbers.

(That being said, I still think the game sucks at teaching new DMs the ropes!)
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
Eight years in with many different groups, I just don't see the problems you apparently see. And D&D 4e doesn't have CR and it isn't great either.
Level was a damn sight better than CR. And it had actual, reasoned backing instead of 'I dunno, it's probably fine they can stunlock or summon T-rexes'.
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
That’s the bit I’m not getting. The CRs make all kinds of assumptions because to do otherwise is impossible. So the CRs are normalized around a bunch of averages: average party size, average player skill, average terrain etc etc. And for safety, errs on the side of easy.

There are so many knobs a DM can twiddle to make things more exciting, both before and during an encounter. Players regularly trounce your challenges, move up the CR table with either tougher monsters or more of the current level.

Players still making mincemeat of your deadly challenge? Oh dear, looks like reinforcements are coming and they‘re particularly nasty.

I dunno, this game lives or dies by the DMs skill and really I don‘t think I would want the game to be able to be run by just looking up numbers.

(That being said, I still think the game sucks at teaching new DMs the ropes!)
And that's the real problem. It takes a lot of investment to make these calls, and experience to know how/when to make them. What's a less experienced DM to do except fail, a lot?
 

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