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You can't win this encounter

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Regarding the sentiment that 5e needs more robust rules for fleeing, what might those look like? I've seen various mechanics proffered over the past few years, but most just seems to add more complexity that didn't really seem to make things more fun or exciting.

In most situations, I think the existing rules for disengaging, speed, dashing, and the rules for Chases in the DMs guide work just find. The only things I've added to the RAW have been different complication tables to mix things up or have more location-appropriate complications, and I've used 4e-style skill challenges as suggest and described by Matt Coleville in situations where I wanted to speed things up and treat Chases as more of a montage to move from the fleeing to the next scene.
 

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pemerton

Legend
Regarding the sentiment that 5e needs more robust rules for fleeing, what might those look like?

<snip>

In most situations, I think the existing rules for disengaging, speed, dashing, and the rules for Chases in the DMs guide work just find.
I can't comment on the DMG chase rules.

My experience of trying to use combat-oriented action economy rules (like disengage and dash) to handle running from combat is that they tend to be quite punitive. Admittedly this is not 5e experience, but I'm thinking of 4e D&D and Rolemaster.

I have never engaged with the 1st ed AD&D rules, and in some ways they're quite complicated (in a checklist-y sort of way), but one idea they do have, which is also found in Burning Wheel and from memory is also found in HARP, is that once you break out of combat then resolution shifts from action economy to something else, and so the people you are fleeing from can't try and use OAs or (if you're using disengage to avoid those) move and attack to beat up on you as you flee.

My personal favourite fleeing rules for a D&D-ish game are the 13th Age ones: the players can declare their successful escape, and in return the GM gets to establish a "story loss" without any complaints or opposition. But I imagine many 5e players, especially on these boards, wouldn't like that.
 

MarkB

Legend
One of the major difficulties with a party attempting to flee a combat is that a party isn't a single unit working in concert, it's a group of individuals who will all have their own opinions as to what is unwinnable, and their own levels of tolerance for having to play out their heroic character turning tail and running away.

I remember one game where the entire group agreed that we needed to flee, there was a reasonable window for at least most of us to do so, but it collapsed when three players, in succession, attempted to have their character be the one to stay behind and sacrifice themselves so that the rest of the party could get away.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
To jump in here - it sounds like you agree the players often have little recourse when it comes to fleeing mid fight?
That not what I said earlier in the thread where I gave multiple example of being able to flee mid-fight that a non-level-specific DM might build into their encounters as a safety valve.

But in the corner case that was being described where players have ignored all warnings about power, chose combat as their way of resolving the challenge, and already engaged, and the DM is not acting like a non-level-specific DM and instead has all foes willing to both pursue and intent is always to kill without any thought to building a way out (terrain that would help an escape like caves too small for the opponent or a rope bridge you could destroy behind you, opponent having a slower speed, opponent having a reason not to chase), and players being unprepared in terms of spells and items to flee, then yes - it's hard to disengage.

The number of choices being made by both the players and the DM to get up to that point in a non-level-specific game make that a rare occurrence with significantly tougher encounters though. It's much more prelevant in a level-appropriate game where the DM assumes misjudges a fight balance, makes no attempts to provide any mitigating factors, and players aren't ready for combats that might be too tough so have not made any preparations to be able to run.
 
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Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
And D&D really needs a flee combat mechanic.
This is one of the things I like about 13th Age. It has a flee mechanic, which includes any fallen PCs. It moves from mechanical to narrative to describe it, and comes at the price of a campaign loss. Like maybe the killer strikes again, or the cultists finish another part of their ritual, or the werewolves turn another family of ranchers.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Regarding the sentiment that 5e needs more robust rules for fleeing, what might those look like? I've seen various mechanics proffered over the past few years, but most just seems to add more complexity that didn't really seem to make things more fun or exciting.

In most situations, I think the existing rules for disengaging, speed, dashing, and the rules for Chases in the DMs guide work just find. The only things I've added to the RAW have been different complication tables to mix things up or have more location-appropriate complications, and I've used 4e-style skill challenges as suggest and described by Matt Coleville in situations where I wanted to speed things up and treat Chases as more of a montage to move from the fleeing to the next scene.
I think a basic flee system might look something like a stamina bar and these actions:

Juke - can create distance when a faster foe gets to close
Discern Obstacles - Find obstacles that could grant you an advantage in getting away from whatever is chasing you
Discern Behavior - Be able to discern the chaser's motives (is it defending it's territory, out to kill/capture you, hungry, etc)
Hide - when out of sight you can attempt to hide
Sprint - burst of speed at increased stamina
Taunt - tries to get the creatures attention off your ally
Climb - sometimes you can get away by climbing a tree/wall/cliff
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
My personal favourite fleeing rules for a D&D-ish game are the 13th Age ones: the players can declare their successful escape, and in return the GM gets to establish a "story loss" without any complaints or opposition. But I imagine many 5e players, especially on these boards, wouldn't like that.
I think you are right that many wouldn't like the 13th age rule as presented for D&D.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
That not what I said earlier in the thread where I gave multiple example of being able to flee mid-fight that a non-level-specific DM might build into their encounters as a safety valve.

But in the corner case that was being described where players have ignored all warnings about power, chose combat as their way of resolving the challenge, and already engaged, and the DM is not acting like a non-level-specific DM and instead has all foes willing to both pursue and intent is always to kill without any thought to building a way out (terrain that would help an escape like caves too small for the opponent or a rope bridge you could destroy behind you, opponent having a slower speed, opponent having a reason not to chase), and players being unprepared in terms of spells and items to flee, then yes - it's hard to disengage.

The number of choices being made by both the players and the DM to get up to that point in a non-level-specific game make that a rare occurrence with significantly tougher encounters though. It's much more prelevant in a level-appropriate game where the DM assumes misjudges a fight balance, makes no attempts to provide any mitigating factors, and players aren't ready for combats that might be too tough so have not made any preparations to be able to run.
I don't believe that: A) "It's often difficult to flee mid-combat" and B) "There are often ways to avoid a combat altogether" are mutually exclusive positions.

I suppose a party could say I'm not going to engage without a suitable route for the party to escape in the event things turn bad unless I am forced to. Is that what the point you are trying to make?
 
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Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I don't believe that: A) "It's often difficult to flee mid-combat" and B) "There are often ways to avoid a combat altogether" are mutually exclusive positions.
Neither do I. I do believe that "we're already in combat" is mutually exclusive with "we are starting discussion with avoiding combat", which is the position Mistwell kept starting with earlier in this thread.
 

Mistwell

Legend
That's like saying "How about you evaluate the survivability of a 15th fighter but only when it has 23 HPs."

That everything will start to be evaluated only after the party gets into combat is missing important gameplay steps that differ a non-level specific game. You say that it's not your position, which I will believe because you say it, but you make assumptions that would never fly in a non-level specific game, so it's clear from your words that's not your position either.

You're refusal to engage with that because "the original post says they are started combat before realizing they must flee" means we can't have a reasonable discussion about actual non-level-specific games.
The original post asks this question, "Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you just can't save the players from themselves"

You don't have to answer that question. But, I am trying to. And I don't see what this has to do with party level, other than if you need some sort of level for you to be able to address the question just assume average levels for most games, which is 1-10 or so.

I think the following discussion about chase rules and such is helpful though.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Neither do I. I do believe that "we're already in combat" is mutually exclusive with "we are starting discussion with avoiding combat", which is the position Mistwell kept starting with earlier in this thread.
Blame the OP then. He opened his post with an example of attacking the dragon and failing to hit on a 19. That's clearly a combat example. Mistwell started by responding to the OP and focusing primarily on that combat example. Note that it was you that responded to Mistwell first and not the other way around. But what's more interesting is that yet again you appear to agree with that basic premise of what Mistwell and I are saying - that it's often difficult to flee mid-combat.

And yes - one can avoid combat without need to flee mid combat. I fully agree there. That fleeing is difficult mid-combat has no bearing on whether the combat could have been avoided in the first place.
 

S'mon

Legend
I might describe something as 'very powerful', but generally I just expect the players to evaluate when to run away. They did a good job last night, all but one deciding to flee right away from some orcs & a bar-lgura - and a PC with hill giant str from potion picking up & carrying the one who refused to flee. :)
 

turnip_farmer

Adventurer
Regarding the sentiment that 5e needs more robust rules for fleeing, what might those look like? I've seen various mechanics proffered over the past few years, but most just seems to add more complexity(..)
Why do people overthink these things?

"What do you do?"
"I run away!"
"Make a Something-or-Other check."
"I rolled very high!"
"Hooray, you succeed!"

I mean, you can throw in some complications to make it more interesting, but I don't see why you need any special rules for running away.
 

Why do people overthink these things?

"What do you do?"
"I run away!"
"Make a Something-or-Other check."
"I rolled very high!"
"Hooray, you succeed!"

I mean, you can throw in some complications to make it more interesting, but I don't see why you need any special rules for running away.

I rolled poorly/middling.
The monster is catching up!
I toss caltrops behind me.
You get away!

In my experience, most GMs recognize that you got screwed by the dice. Having any sort of plan to deal with it results in them letting you succeed.
 


el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
My players usually know because I jump on on my chair like it was the ropes and I'm leaning against the turnbuckle, slam my fists against my chest, and bellow my DM catchphrase for tough encounters, "TIME FOR THE OLE ROMP 'EM STOMP 'EM!!!"
 

S'mon

Legend
Why do people overthink these things?

"What do you do?"
"I run away!"
"Make a Something-or-Other check."
"I rolled very high!"
"Hooray, you succeed!"

I mean, you can throw in some complications to make it more interesting, but I don't see why you need any special rules for running away.

Yes, I do this - if success is not automatic. Generally speaking I don't think D&D handles chase scenes well, so I abstract them into a single roll resolution same as eg the evasion %s in 1e AD&D.
 

S'mon

Legend
This does make me wonder, then, why call for the check?

Not all players are capable of coming up with a plausible plan. If the enemy are pursuing and it does not look like escape is automatic - eg some monsters are faster than the slowest PCs - then I think there should be a chance for PCs to be caught & killed. At the very least, the more quick thinking players need to come up with a way to save the laggards. There should be an impression of danger but I'm not overly concerned* with killing fleeing PCs unless the situation is really bad, eg they're in the open being hunted by a flying dragon. In that kind of worst case scenario they may need to scatter or choose to TPK together.

*This works both ways - fleeing enemies usually escape too, unless the PCs are unusually determined to hunt them down. I'd say around 90% of the time when PCs or enemies flee the battlefield, they escape OK. Exceptions tend to be slow, high priority targets without stealth, eg I remember in a 4e game around 2010 the PCs chased down and killed a hobgoblin commander they were really keen on getting.
 

Ulfgeir

Adventurer
We had a situation yesterday where the GM had to explicitly point out to us that we could not win that fight at the time. We will be able to take on that opponent in the end-game.. When ALL* characters in the campaign are present and figthing that one opponent. The game was Tianxia: Blood, Jade & Silk

* Technically 35 characters. 5 different groups of 7 characters each. Though one intended player is not playing with us over the net, so his intended characters are NPC's (whom we have only encountered 1 or 2 I think).
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
We had a situation yesterday where the GM had to explicitly point out to us that we could not win that fight at the time. We will be able to take on that opponent in the end-game.. When ALL* characters in the campaign are present and figthing that one opponent. The game was Tianxia: Blood, Jade & Silk
(Knowing nothing about Tianxia) why didn't you recognize when an opponent would require five times your party's strength to be defeated?

It was thoughtful of your GM to warn you, but I'd rather hear something like, "so, Michael, your character heard about the last party that the EndGameBoss destroyed. That party had four heroes for every one in yours. A little angel on your shoulder says you might consider sitting this fight out."

Then, true to form, my party (but not my character) would try to fight the boss anyway, despite my warnings. In the words of David Gilmour: you know, you just can't win.
 

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