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View Full Version : DM Help Should I railroad my players or simply let them run into their doom?



It Sat Rap
2015-08-20, 09:30 AM
Hello guys, I have a problem in my campaign and I would like to hear your opinios.

I have developed a plot where there is a monster living in a shrine deep into a forest inhabited by evil feys. The feys worship the monster as some kind of god and capture any foolish people who set a foot into the forest and bring them to the monster as a sacrifice.

I planed that my players go to the shrine when they finished the questline they are currently working on. At the moment they are far too weak to beat the monster in the shrine, so they need to gain some levels first. However I did some foreshadowing about this situation, telling them that children have been kidnapped by some feys and they already fought against some evil mad priest who told them some cryptic information about the monster. I tried to establish some kind of mystery here, and all the infos they got so far are very mysterios and simply say: "Monster is powerful, monster is evil, nuff said."

Well, things don't go as I planned. My player decided to ignore their current quest for a while and to deal with the shrine-monster right away. Maybe I have overdone it with foreshadowing, I don't blame them for doing so. The problem is at their current level they would get crushed in a second by the monster, if they even get so far! Of course I could simply nerf the monster to an extreme, but it doesn't fit in the world, if you know what I mean, if this evil, mysterios monster everyone is affraid of turns out to be much weaker then expected.

First I tried to lead them back to their old quest. They recieved a letter from a NPC who is part of that quest, asking them: "Hey guys, where are you? We need your help here!" But my player responded: "Sorry, we decided that this other case is of higher priority, you have to get around without us for some time!"

Okay, next try. On the way to the forest they met a group of friendly, higher level adventures and camped together for a night. The party fighter had a practise duell with the npc-fighter of the other group and got beaten easily, so they know these guys are far stronger then their characters. They told the NPCs they are going to defeat the monster in the shrine and bring an end to this threat. The NPCs appreciate their good will, but said that the characters won't do anybody a favor if they get killed. They knew good, skillful people who entered the shrine, but none of them returned. The NPCs didn't go to the shrine before because they think they are too weak to beat the monster themselves, and remember, they are more powerful then the player characters! However, my players ignored their advice and are still going towards the shrine.

I don't like railroading. As a DM I try to give my players questhooks and hints, but I don't force them into anything. As I mentioned before the players decided to ditch the quest they were currently working on. They have the freedom to do so, but it might have some bad consequences later. But what should I do now? I could easily create an uber-wizard that appears infront of them for no reason and forces them to do something different. But that is not my style of play. I also think that it might be a good lesson for my players if they get crushed in the shrine. "Oh, maybe we should have listened to these adventures, seems like we are pretty f***ed right now! We will be more careful in future, we promise!"

However, that could also go the other way. Maybe they get angry at me after they are all whiped out by this trap I lured them into with my foreshadowing.

I thought about talking with them about this outside the game, simply telling them: "Look guys, you should not go this way. You have no chance. Plaese take another path, okay?" However, this feels like railroading for me, not much better then forcing them into another direcetion with some uber-wizard.

What should I do? Railroading them into another direction? Let them be free in their choices, but risking a party-whipe in this way? Or something different?

Palanan
2015-08-20, 09:38 AM
Give the shrine-monster some roving servants, one of which comes across the party in the woods and nearly annihilates them. Let them learn the shrine-monster has other servants like that one, and it's strong enough to keep them in check.

If your players still don't get the hint, well, I'd say you've done your best, and let the dice fall where they may.

Thinker
2015-08-20, 09:47 AM
Let them derail the monster's plans a bit by rescuing the children from the fey, but have it so that there is some sort of seal on the monster's lair that they (and the other party of NPCs) cannot open. They don't feel like they wasted time since they get to save some kids and you leave your terrible monster for later. Win-win in my book.

Yora
2015-08-20, 10:23 AM
Or have them getting beaten up without all ending up dead.

But with prisoners being captured by monsters, you really set up a situation that looks very urgent. Not something that could wait for a few months.

noob
2015-08-20, 10:24 AM
Which game is it?
(If it is dnd and that there is a wizard in their team do not try to railroad them because they might have awesome tactics allowing them to beat the monster and all the fairies in one round)

DireSickFish
2015-08-20, 10:31 AM
I get that you want to stick to your lore and respect that. There are ways to be defeated other than death. The players have no chance of beating this thing in a straight up fight, so don't let them. Like a previous poster mentioned you could have them able to get captured for sacrifice then break out any other people going to be sacrificed.

You could also have the PC's break the creature out of its shrine by stepping into it and leaving. Perhaps its bound to the shrine only so long as the sacrifices are prepped a certain way. When they PC's enter the monsters lair they effectively break the seal and the monster is more concerned with leaving to terrorize a village than with the party. Sure he knocks them around a bit to let them know he's serious, but when the party is struggling and starting to drop it takes its chance to find stronger pray and reak some havoc.

What kind of fey are these? I know your players are focused on killing the monster but the cultists sound like they could be on the PC's level and have the cult leader be the BBEG for this encounter. After all if the fey are gone there is no one to capture people and feed them to the monster. Give the cult leader a magic rod or some such that opens the pit so they start focusing him as a way to get to the monster. If they've faught the other fey before they get to him then the cult is all dead, if they were sneaky/tricky and got the cult leader then have the rest of the group disband.

If they still insist on using the rod to enter and fight it even though the cultists were already a challenge then maybe smite them down.

Is this monster they have trapped mindless? Perhaps he has other desires besides murder that the cultists love him so much for. He recognizes they have the power and insite to take him up on his offer. The shadow plane or hell are more homey to him and all he wants to do is get off the prime material. But he has a barely controllable blood-lust (which is what they fye like) which threatens to break free while he's talking to the party. He wanrs them if they spend to long in here with him he wont be able to hold back and -will- eat them.

There's also the old trope of finding a ritual to weaken the monster. Perhaps eating fey or drinking dragons blood can weaken it. And the party figures it out at some point.


Just some ideas. You've already warned them and I wouldn't nerf the monster to there level or stop them from perusing there own desires.

Vrock_Summoner
2015-08-20, 10:40 AM
You could always take the video game solution if you're feeling uncreative... That is, reduce the strength of the monster to appropriate boss fight level, then boost the power of the challenges back in the main plot to compensate for increased levels and loot.

Of course, a solution that cares more about the agency of the players would probably be letting them rescue these kidnap victims and get some preliminary loot and the like, but then one (or possibly more, to balance action economy) of the monster's minions comes out and attacks at the same level as a major boss fight, great enough to seriously challenge the players (there should be a legitimate risk of one or multiple of them dying) and reduce their resources for that day to nill. Then they run off to rest and recharge, but remind them that that was a minion with much less power than the creature itself and that they have little to gain at the moment since the freed prisoners will have everyone else evacuate the area. Most likely, they'll leave, but if they press on, well, no fault but their own for getting stomped at that point.

Boom! They've done some stuff they'll be proud of themselves for now, and those will most likely have a big impact on how things go when they tackle the monster a few levels down the road. Remember, though, that player agency goes both ways; they want to assert their ability to make meaningful decisions by running over to deal with this plot during the setup stage, that's awesome, but the main plot isn't just going to sit there statically while they're messing around, so the situation will realistically have deteriorated for the players and their allies in the meantime.

Keltest
2015-08-20, 10:43 AM
Give the shrine-monster some roving servants, one of which comes across the party in the woods and nearly annihilates them. Let them learn the shrine-monster has other servants like that one, and it's strong enough to keep them in check.

If your players still don't get the hint, well, I'd say you've done your best, and let the dice fall where they may.

Pretty much this. Make it clear that the challenge is there and it exists, but if they persist in throwing themselves against it they will get killed. If they then do so, its their own stinking fault for not being the heroes of legend or whatever.

noob
2015-08-20, 10:52 AM
Still I would like to know the name of the game you use is it DND 5?
Or shadow run?
Or GURPSS or even something else?

Suichimo
2015-08-20, 11:09 AM
http://stream1.gifsoup.com/view3/1729911/gir-doom-song-o.gif

Give them some credit.

Red Fel
2015-08-20, 11:14 AM
Hello guys, I have a problem in my campaign and I would like to hear your opinios.

I'll be happy to provide mine. I'll go through what you're discussing, piece by piece, to give you my thoughts in an orderly fashion. Let's get started.


I have developed a plot where there is a monster living in a shrine deep into a forest inhabited by evil feys. The feys worship the monster as some kind of god and capture any foolish people who set a foot into the forest and bring them to the monster as a sacrifice.

Interesting.


I planed

And full stop. "I planned for the players to do this" does not go well. Pretty much ever. If you do not have an express agreement with the players, in advance, that they will follow the path you set out, I guarantee you that your plan will never survive contact with the players.


I planed that my players go to the shrine when they finished the questline they are currently working on. At the moment they are far too weak to beat the monster in the shrine, so they need to gain some levels first. However I did some foreshadowing about this situation, telling them that children have been kidnapped by some feys and they already fought against some evil mad priest who told them some cryptic information about the monster. I tried to establish some kind of mystery here, and all the infos they got so far are very mysterios and simply say: "Monster is powerful, monster is evil, nuff said."

See, here's the problem. Many players, when you tell them this enough, will get the hint that the target is above their pay grade.

Many others will not. The more you tell them a thing is evil and dangerous, the more they assume it's the target. After all, when the DM mentions something repeatedly, it must be important; for you to be mentioning this thing so much, it must be super important.


Well, things don't go as I planned. My player decided to ignore their current quest for a while and to deal with the shrine-monster right away. Maybe I have overdone it with foreshadowing, I don't blame them for doing so. The problem is at their current level they would get crushed in a second by the monster, if they even get so far! Of course I could simply nerf the monster to an extreme, but it doesn't fit in the world, if you know what I mean, if this evil, mysterios monster everyone is affraid of turns out to be much weaker then expected.

Yep. It's a problem, and I wouldn't nerf the monster. Leave the encounter as-is, whether they handle it now or later.


First I tried to lead them back to their old quest. They recieved a letter from a NPC who is part of that quest, asking them: "Hey guys, where are you? We need your help here!" But my player responded: "Sorry, we decided that this other case is of higher priority, you have to get around without us for some time!"

As expected. Look, you can't lead the PCs by the nose if they don't want to be led.


Okay, next try. On the way to the forest they met a group of friendly, higher level adventures and camped together for a night. The party fighter had a practise duell with the npc-fighter of the other group and got beaten easily, so they know these guys are far stronger then their characters. They told the NPCs they are going to defeat the monster in the shrine and bring an end to this threat. The NPCs appreciate their good will, but said that the characters won't do anybody a favor if they get killed. They knew good, skillful people who entered the shrine, but none of them returned. The NPCs didn't go to the shrine before because they think they are too weak to beat the monster themselves, and remember, they are more powerful then the player characters! However, my players ignored their advice and are still going towards the shrine.

Oh, no, no, don't do that. First off, by having an NPC mock-thrash them just to show how weak they are, it makes it personal. Kicking the crap out of a PC for demonstration purposes only makes them mad. Now you've basically forced them to follow through. You've also created a team of more powerful NPCs who are present in the world, which will inevitably raise the question of, "Why aren't those guys handling every quest we're on?" You're just lucky your PCs didn't hand the NPCs the address for their current quest-giver.


I don't like railroading.

So don't.


As a DM I try to give my players questhooks and hints, but I don't force them into anything. As I mentioned before the players decided to ditch the quest they were currently working on. They have the freedom to do so, but it might have some bad consequences later.

Hold up, here. Because trying to force the players is exactly what you've been doing. You have: Hinted that they should do something else. Sent a message from a quest-giver insisting that they get back on the stick. Had them thrashed by NPCs who then said, "Nope, we wouldn't do that thing you're doing, too tough."The only way you could be any more forceful is if you directly took control of their characters. So call it what it is.


I thought about talking with them about this outside the game, simply telling them: "Look guys, you should not go this way. You have no chance. Plaese take another path, okay?" However, this feels like railroading for me, not much better then forcing them into another direcetion with some uber-wizard.

That's an option. Not ideal, but an option.


What should I do? Railroading them into another direction? Let them be free in their choices, but risking a party-whipe in this way? Or something different?

Seems to me, you have some interesting ideas of railroading. Ironically, the one that you worry about - talking to them out of character - is the least railroad-y thing you've done. So it's an option. In fact, your basic three options are: Direct force. Take control of their characters in some way. This is railroading, don't do it. Out of character. Admit that you goofed. Explain that this encounter is beyond their pay grade, and probably lethal. This is a fair thing to do, and hopefully you'll learn in the future never to assume what the players will do. Let them fight, let them wipe. Yeah, they'll probably be upset, although you can point to all the stuff you did to try to warn them away. Admit fault anyway, acknowledge that you really didn't intend for them to fight this thing so soon. Hopefully, you'll learn, and hopefully so will they.
The second and third options are both reasonable. I get that many DMs are averse to causing a party wipe, but you didn't cause it - the PCs did, by going into this place with no intel. All the information they have is that this thing is hyper-deadly. Do they know what it actually is? What it can do? Have they prepared any defenses? In that kind of situation, they have nobody to blame but themselves.

So you don't coddle them. If they insist on going in, let them. If they die, they die. If they live, give them a pat on the back. No plot armor for them or for the baddie.

Composer99
2015-08-20, 11:19 AM
However I did some foreshadowing about this situation, telling them that children have been kidnapped by some feys and they already fought against some evil mad priest who told them some cryptic information about the monster.

I think there being a mysterious forest that people don't generally dare set foot into, and anyone desperate (or foolish) enough to do so disappears, would be enough foreshadowing.

Adding in that the fey spirits go out of their way to kidnap victims (and particularly children) probably added too much of a sense of urgency. If anything, I think this was your biggest mistake in this situation.

So I think you let the PCs have a small victory by disrupting a kidnapping, while making it tough enough that they hopefully get the hint. (That is, fighting a "low-ranking" group of fey is as taxing as a boss fight.) Ideally, this makes the fey reconsider a strategy of kidnapping, removing some of the urgency for the PCs to intervene.

After that, get word to them that things are going even more sideways on the quest they sidelined. (After all, if the situation was bad enough that the locals needed intervention by the PCs in the first place, they can't reasonably be expected to keep handling it on their own.) With any luck that should change where the sense of urgency lies.

If after all that, the players want to push ahead to their doom, let them. If you don't make a habit of adjusting the game world to the PCs, and they know that to be the case, so be it.

Lord Torath
2015-08-20, 12:12 PM
I like Composer99's idea. Have them meet one of the roving servants, get thrashed (but not so badly thrashed that they need to return to the town to recover), so they know the main beastie is too tough. But let them find a way to sneak in to rescue the kidnapped kids (short-term emergency, the probable reason this quest is ranked higher priority), gaining a partial victory over the beast. The immediate crisis averted, they can now return (be chased off by two or three of the servants that thrashed them earlier) to their preivous quest to level grind for a bit before this beastie rears its ugly head again.

Be sure to leave at least three clues to the fact that the kids can be relatively easily rescued.

Having laid these clues out, should the PCs still decide to go after the beastie, best to let them do it and die or succeed as the dice declare.

dream
2015-08-20, 12:14 PM
I'm agreeing (as usual) with Red, but in my own way: you "planned" and "lead players" and pushed them towards your plot. Thus;

You're already railroading them.:smalltongue:

Might as well continue your train ride. Railroading is part of running adventures anyway: there's this thing the PCs must do or the (fill-in-the-blank) is doomed! They get a location or two to run around in and some NPC friends and monsters and sub-plots (maybe). But, the BIG PLOT is always there ("throw ring in hot water!") and novice GMs can get frustrated when players go off the rails, creating their own little adventures the GM didn't plan for. Let 'em. If you try to 100% railroad them to your plot, some players will rebel, wanting to instead explore the terrain and see what their PC can do before some monster kills them.

Role-playing is all about improvisation, so why wouldn't you expect them to go partying/shopping/visit the next village over/fishing/ect.? This is why there's modules for new GMs to practice running adventures before you begin designing your own. The Keep on the Borderlands is a classic and maybe the first "sandboxish" type module for D&D. It's an excellent mix of linear and non-linear adventuring, IMO.

When I run a game where the plot is so important the PCs MUST address it early and often, I just throw it in the PCs faces: PCs arrive in town and the BBEG's minions are there to greet them ("Hi --- to arms!"). Kind of like LotR, where the main characters are always running or fighting or running and each encounter brought them closer to the main mission, even if they didn't want to complete the mission (Frodo, you whiny girl!).
There's ways to make the railroad fun, and again, many published modules provide ample examples of how to do that. Too many to list here.

On your original question, do both: let the players do whatever they want in the setting and bring the plot to them. They want to kill the BBM, fine, but what about the Fey that worship the thing? They wouldn't take to nosy adventurers in their forest, especially nosy adventurers looking to kill their god. Have the Fey use traps, hit & run tactics, trained animals, and direct combat to harass challenge the players. You can have a billion of them in there so the PCs either (1) get captured, (2) run off and regroup, (3) kick much Fey a** leveling-up enough to finally challenge the monster they wanted to kill in the first place.

The Fey are your ace. Play it:smallwink:

Socksy
2015-08-20, 02:38 PM
Have them encounter a group of heavily wounded, clearly high level NPCs fleeing from the thing.
Unless there's a diplomancer in the party, then you've just given them access to a bunch of powerful NPCs.

LaserFace
2015-08-20, 02:57 PM
I think Red Fel has already offered some good advice. I'll try to build on what's been provided already.

You clearly want to make the big bad monster seem very menacing; although in basic principle I don't think you should typically allow enemies to even be available or have stats unless they're a proper threat for the PCs, I do understand the desire to have it be within some level-range because of the powers it might have.

I think levels are pretty abstract, and I don't think the characters should get the sense "we're not strong enough for this yet" because they're low-level; I find characters will try to fight basically anything they come across (barring what they see as visually intimidating, i.e. an Ancient Red Dragon); your foreshadowing honestly strikes me like an exciting adventure more than a warning sign.

If your monster made a display of great power, it might prompt them to seek magical aid or allies or something; this in itself can lead to sidequests that allow for more level-up time and whatnot. Maybe it sometimes leaves the shrine to do some crazy wicked stuff.

Do the players know exactly where the shrine is? Getting lost in a forest sounds like it could stall things for a while, and give you more time to build up to the encounter while the characters get more experience. They could stumble across a druid enclave with its own problems (maybe related? like the monster is causing blight or something), or lose themselves in a magical maze, or locate another ruin ripe for exploration. Presuming they aren't all that strong, you can push PCs in a general direction using things as simple as bad weather like a thunderstorm or thick fog, or other hazards like a wildfire.

The shrine itself could be invisible, or maybe even teleports around in the forest. Maybe there's a Fey Riddle you need to answer to open the only entrance. The only way to learn it might be to track down other Fey in the forest.

At any rate, what I'm saying is that you don't necessarily need to steer them from what they want to do; in fact I think you should just fully embrace it. It may take some work, but if you steer your creative energies toward making an adventure that builds up to this monster it might make for an enjoyable experience.

mephnick
2015-08-20, 03:12 PM
Adding in that the fey spirits go out of their way to kidnap victims (and particularly children) probably added too much of a sense of urgency. If anything, I think this was your biggest mistake in this situation.

This is the first thing that popped into my mind. You have to be really careful when giving players information and how you lay your plot hooks. There's a right place and a right time. You've asked the players to be heroes in a fantasy game and they've just discovered that children are being kidnapped. Of course they're going to go help!

There are certain triggers that are almost universal for players and, unless you're playing an evil campaign, children in danger pretty much tops the list in the "**** that! Let's go guys!" totem pole.

Berenger
2015-08-20, 03:32 PM
Is there any reason the monster has to be present in its lair 24/7?

If not, the solution is simple: when the party attacks the shrine, the monster is somewhere else (e.g. chasing prey in the forest / visiting the Otherworld / making out with some cute monster girl). Let them have a challenging fight with some minions (specifically the kidnappers, if possible) to deplete their resources (to discourage them from simply waiting for the monster to return) and let them rescue all or some of the missing children. Use the children to provide further clues. At a later point in the story, the monster can find out who did it and send assassins or a challenge / demand to the party to remind them of the unfinished business.

It Sat Rap
2015-08-20, 04:00 PM
Thank you all for the response.

First, I want to say what railroading is, in my opinion: The characters are forced by some very powerful NPC or creature to do things they don't want, or the GM simply takes control over the characters actions. Or all other ways besides the main plot are blocked by some convenient circumstances. If NPCs give the character just hints, but don't force them to do so, it's not railroading for my definition. I understand your point, if you say I already tried to railroad them. However, the thing with the letter seemed logical to me because the NPC who wrote the letter was waiting for the PCs to return, so it's no wonder he asked them were they are. But this NPC has no power to force them to return to the old quest, so is it railroading? Well, that's up to you. I think you can't get around to "plan" things as a DM, the good DM, however, will merge the action of the PCs with his plans to an actual story!

The thing with the more powerful adventures might sound lousy, but it was actually a pleasent roleplay situation and the player liked it, too. As a player, I hate powerful NPCs if they are snotty as hell over their abilities, so I tried to avoid that. The NPC fighter didn't beat the crap out of the player fighter, (the player was actually able to land a few hits, too) and even congratulate the player for his abilities that he already has at that young age. "You are better then I was at your age, kid. But you still have much to learn. Well, maybe this ol' geezer can teach you a trick or two..."
Maybe I sound defensively, but the players really had no problem with the NPCs. But the NPCs can't help them on their quest because they have other obligations to fullfill, so they are out of discussion for the moment. Again, is it railroading if the NPCs just give the players advice, but don't force them to do so?

We play Pathfinder, the party is a Monk, a Paladin, a Fighter and a NPC Bard. I forgot to mention that all players have very little experience with roleplaying yet, it is their first long-term campaign they are participating in. But they do quite well so far. As you can see, the party is focused on close-combat. Another problem, there is no character in the party that is good at Survival, so they will have trouble to find the shrine and get around the evil feys. However, there also some non-evil feys living in the forest that get bullied by the evil feys. Some of them know where the shrine is and they would be very pleasent if somebody destroys the creature inside, however it will be hard to gain the trust of the non-evil feys.

The monster can't leave the shrine and has no other agenda besides its insatiable hunger. It has no reason to hold prisoners, all people who enter the shrine are simply food. The evil feys are mostly redcaps and quicklings, and they also have a night hag as an ally. In the shrine there are some undeads, too, but they are just mindless guards and have no other purpose then SMASH!

The monster is not really hungry, it won't die without food, but it can't get satisfied, no matter how many victims it eats.

Sorry, I'm stupid! The thing with the kids happened months ago. The party heard that from towns people, but nobody, not even the players, believe that the kids can be rescued anymore. They are surely dead! This story was meant to flesh out the world and to foreshadow the later quest. However, it's of course still possible that such a thing will happen again, this might be the motive for the players to deal with the monster first.

Well, this could work: The party enters the wood and has a fight with some redcaps and quicklings. They will probably win, but when the hag appears, it goes nasty! Mayyyyyyybe they have a little chance to defeat the hag, but more probably they have to flee, or get captured and must escape. However, because they don't seem to get around with the evil feys well, some non-evil fey decides to team up with the players. The enemy of my enemy is my ally! Then they have a way to find the shrine, and then, it's up to them. They know that the hag is weaker then the monster in the shrine, but the hag was already a pain in the ***, so, will they go further? Who knows...

veti
2015-08-20, 05:34 PM
I like Thinker's idea, in the 2nd reply. Give the players a small victory that lets them take the urgency out of this quest, but block them from facing the monster at this stage.

If "a seal on the lair" feels too obviously-railroady to you, then just make the fey minions strong enough to seriously deplete the party. Very likely that if they're on one-third hit points, have one corpse and have used all their best magic and potions, and have rescued some kids (who will need escorting back to safety) - they'll go back to safety. If they try to come into the woods again, have some more evil fey beat them up as much as necessary until they're forced to run away. Do this two or three times, and they'll eventually get the message that they're not powerful enough for this area yet.

If raises/resurrections are easy to come by, then don't be afraid to kill one or two party members in these encounters. Whatever it takes to make them take the whole "strong enemy" thing seriously.

Of course, if they make enough of a nuisance of themselves in the woods, there's an excellent chance that the evil fey will get fed up and send a hit squad after them. More plot points! - plus a perfect opportunity for an intelligent enemy to deliberately draw the players in a different direction, giving you a chance to put them back on the tracks you want them to follow.

nedz
2015-08-20, 06:09 PM
A lot of this depends upon the psychology of your players. Do they know when, and how, to cut and run or will they just fight on to the grim end ? They have to learn this at some point. I tend to view encounters in games with newbies as educational to a degree, though not overtly so.

If they were stealthy types then they would have another option but that doesn't seem to be the case.
Similarly they are not casters, just beat-sticks.

I'd consider just having the Fey play with them, for amusement. This is a very Fey thing to do. Also you could set up a Blue/Orange moral dilemma the Fey encounter doesn't have to be combat though, again, this would depend upon the players psychology.

Hawkstar
2015-08-20, 07:05 PM
I think there being a mysterious forest that people don't generally dare set foot into, and anyone desperate (or foolish) enough to do so disappears, would be enough foreshadowing.

I disagree. Want to know what most players, when confronted with "This is a big spooky area the commoners are afraid of" think? "This is the sidequest/adventure of the session".

The entire goddamn point of being a hero/PC is to stop/handle threats the NPC schlubs can't. And while people praise 'sandbox' games, especially in the abstract... you can't deny the 'time' factor of gaming, and, unlike a CRPG, all information about the world is given in a linear manner. The story is strictly linear, even if the party's the guy with the pen. And being forced to stop or bactrack really, really sucks.

goto124
2015-08-20, 09:08 PM
Doesn't help that the players are newbies.

When you tell them 'dangerous thing here!', their first (and only) thought is 'let's go there and complete our quest!' Because that's how computer games work. They believe you want them to go in that direction, since all signs have pointed at it. Heck, they think they're being good metagamers by following what they have found so far to be the plot!

What are they expecting from what they see as the boss? A tough yet managable fight. If the boss turns out to be the impossible kind, they're going to ask why the heck was the CR so high. 'What did you expect us to do? Run away? Why did we go on this adventure for then? How should we have known that running away was even an option?'

I suppose posters here are rather into the kind of mindset that makes 'adjust the boss' a big no-no. How that mindset (of high-lethality, I guess?) will do any good in this case, instead of leaving the players wondering what went wrong and how they were supposed to interpret the GM's clues in another manner, I honestly don't know.

Susano-wo
2015-08-20, 09:16 PM
OP: I want to reassure you that I agree that what you have done is not railroading. Having direction and hinting to the players that this course is not a good idea is not railroading; disallowing, though fiat, convenient obstacles, or DM overriding of player actions is. (though giving players knowledge of the big bad evil thing and not having a plan for if when they go tackle it right away is a definitely a mistake. :smallwink:)

And the best solution, aside from pulling them out of game and explaining the situation, is definitely the powerful minion fight that lets them know they cannot beat this thing. (complete with a dying, "but our master is far stronger..." bit from the hag if need be--and I wouldn't be afraid to pump her up if need be to make her a threat :smallbiggrin:)

goto124
2015-08-20, 09:19 PM
And the best solution, aside from pulling them out of game and explaining the situation, is definitely the powerful minion fight that lets them know they cannot beat this thing. (complete with a dying, "but our master is far stronger..." bit from the hag if need be--and I wouldn't be afraid to pump her up if need be to make her a threat :smallbiggrin:)

Pretty sure this will only make the players think they're on the right track. 'This is the sub-boss, we must be on our way to the boss!'

There may not be any actual railroading yet, but it's getting closer... closer... really close...

I think this is the main concern, which I myself am not sure how to deal with:


it might be a good lesson for my players if they get crushed in the shrine. "Oh, maybe we should have listened to these adventures, seems like we are pretty f***ed right now! We will be more careful in future, we promise!"

However, that could also go the other way. Maybe they get angry at me after they are all whiped out by this trap I lured them into with my foreshadowing.

Socks
2015-08-20, 09:33 PM
Let them do what they want. When they get annihilated and angry at you give them all the ideas you threw at them that were supposed to keep them away.

Malfarian
2015-08-20, 09:49 PM
YES

LET THEM FIGHT

then when they all die, take them one by one aside and explain they just had a dream sequence, give them each one slight variant detail.

THEN bring them back, and resume.

Shackel
2015-08-20, 11:54 PM
I'd take an example from one of my favorite games, Armored Core: For Answer. The very first mission you go on is attacking the headquarters of an organization with an ace strong enough to be an act-ending boss battle. This ace, however, happens to be out doing its own thing, for the moment, allowing you to continue.

If the players continue, simply having the fey not be there could suffice: it's gone out to hunt, or scour, or even search for the PCs themselves(giving reason to skedaddle as soon as possible). They can rescue the children, not get killed and set up an enemy for later.

It Sat Rap
2015-08-21, 02:29 AM
Sigh, I have to admit that I could have foreseen this problem. The newbie-players have the mindset: The master points to something, it must be important! We need to go there NOW! In the first session they were in a small village threatened by boggards from a near swamp. When I described NPCs for them, just to flesh out the world, they immediatly thought this NPC is important for the quest, when he is actually just an extra. We had some weird, but funny conversations between the PC and the people from the village. The PC, for no logical reason, accused people that they work together with the boggards, or that they withhold information from them, etc. Just because I described this guy over there, he is suddendly important! Maybe they will learn to be more reasoning in future.
However, they were smart enough not to run into the swamp and attack the boggards themselves, because they acknowledged that nobody of them knows how to get around in a swamp.
I'm affraid that a though minion-fight will only sting them further. We need to destroy this monster really quick! His minions nearly killed us, what a big threat it must be! So far, no character of the party died. No, wait, nobody of the PLAYERS actually died, they are all newbies and managed to survive all encounters so far. What a cruel party-wipe that would be!
MUHAHAHA!!!! (Evil gamemaster mode activate)

oshi
2015-08-21, 06:32 AM
I would make sure they understand they're in a sandbox game where the world doesn't necessarily revolve around them, and that it's going to easy for them to get out of their depth if they're not careful. State that explicitly without being specific as to what you're talking about, answer any questions, then start up the session (Although, this could be a chance for your players to tell you that isn't what they want to be playing, so keep that in mind). Give them a warning fight on the outskirts of the forest, something very violent that could very easily kill one or two of them (Maybe that high level adventuring party is still around to rez them?), and make it clear that the things that kicked their arse were small fry as far as this forest goes.
After that, it's up to your players what happens, you'll have gone above and beyond with your warnings.

noob
2015-08-21, 06:50 AM
And if the players with smart use of magic start bombarding with thousand of rocks all the unwary opponents dealing ridiculous damage?
Like I said the players maybe know what they are doing.
All depends of which rpg it is.(with what you said it looks a lot like dnd but it might be something else)

Hawkstar
2015-08-21, 07:16 AM
And if the players with smart use of magic start bombarding with thousand of rocks all the unwary opponents dealing ridiculous damage?
Like I said the players maybe know what they are doing.
All depends of which rpg it is.(with what you said it looks a lot like dnd but it might be something else)
That is ridiculously unlikely, given that the players are new to TTRPGs. These types of shenanigans are only done by munchkins.


The big problem I'm seeing here is that you gave them a 'future threat', but completely dressed up as a 'monster of the week' sideplot.

It Sat Rap
2015-08-21, 08:32 AM
I said at post #19 that we play Pathfinder. There you can find some further information, if you want.

noob
2015-08-21, 01:05 PM
Well the trick I spoke off works perfectly fine in pathfinder and if your monster is not flying it is going to die.
But if the monster you spoke off have wizard levels then he is a true danger for the players.(but I hardly see a wizard as a creature standing in its room waiting for people to bring him food)
"These types of shenanigans are only done by munchkins" well no it is never done by munchkins because you need to get thousand of 500 Grams rocks then to shrink them then to put them in a net and to put adamentine disks inside of the net so that it cuts in parts for preventing the gm to say "your 248 tons of metal are grouped together so it makes exactly 20d6(there is a rule roofing falling objects damage to 20d6 per object)" and so you lost a lot of time(some weeks) for making your single use weapon of doom and in addition it is perfectly meaningful physically(honestly the limit to 20d6 is non realistic) and since you expended so many time it is normal to have such firepower for one attack(in addition it is hard to carry this net usually we used multiple wizards with telekinesis).
True munchkins and optimizer do way more damage and at will for all the day at each round and deal it to everything in the multiverse or they have a dps increasing exponentially with each round(I did a theoretic build able to do this in pathfinder is is just: Get a familiar able to cast duplicate familiar two times).
also when we did made our net of rocks we did tons of calculations and it works only if you know where is your opponent(honestly you deserve to die if you stay at the same place in the material world because it is one of the worst errors for an infinite number of reasons for not dying of this attack you just need to know where is the net then to run)

Knaight
2015-08-21, 01:43 PM
I'd be inclined to just let them run into the lair and get killed. There have been clear warnings, and while they may have been interpreted a different way, there's a good chance the only way that said warnings might start getting interpreted more accurately is if you demonstrate that when you've set up a clearly dangerous adversary it actually is a clearly dangerous adversary.

With that said, there are a number of ways to soften the blow and be nicer. One is to make the creature downright unable to leave its lair, and thus facilitate running. Another would be one last indicator that said creature is out of the PC's league - the previous adventuring party fleeing out of the lair as the PCs enter might do that.

If you want to take the option where the PCs can win, but it doesn't break immersion the previous adventuring party also works there. By the time the PCs get to the cave, said party is dead and the creature is really heavily wounded. They'll be able to finish the job, but it will also be abundantly clear that they wouldn't have been able to win had their adversary been anywhere close to full strength.


That is ridiculously unlikely, given that the players are new to TTRPGs. These types of shenanigans are only done by munchkins.

Something like collapsing the lair onto its occupants on the other hand could easily be done by just about any creative player, which includes a number of newbies.

Nightcanon
2015-08-21, 03:12 PM
If you don't want the PCs to fight your BBEG just yet, then he isn't at home when they call, simple as that (may be they have the wrong shrine, maybe he's away on business). So the PCs go into the forest, have a level-appropriate encounter with some cultists at the shrine (can be commoners in fancy dress if the PCs are first level), rescue a prisonner or two, and glean a little bit more information about BBEG that needs following up with research, but otherwise the trail is cold. Guess who can help with further research? The patron whose quest you want the PCs to focus on next! Depending on the nature of the campaign and what the quest is, introduction to a sage or access to a library could be a reward for their help; or the next piece of the puzzle could be an obvious result of that quest ("you say they claimed to worship Bad Kevin? Interesting. I have heard the name of that foul fiend but once before: on the lips of the man I have asked you to apprehend for me/ in the tale of a bard that first led me to my quest to rid rid Creaky Castle of orcs/ a leading expert on Bad Kevin lore is rumoured to have ventured into WhereI'mTryingToSendYou caves and never returned- if you could find her, or even some relic of her that my old friend Father Bob could use to cast Speak with dead, I'm sure that would help your quest").

FabulousFizban
2015-08-21, 06:03 PM
i say refluff their doom so that they have a chance. keep the chance small.

Rainbownaga
2015-08-21, 08:57 PM
I'd be inclined to just let them run into the lair and get killed. There have been clear warnings, and while they may have been interpreted a different way, there's a good chance the only way that said warnings might start getting interpreted more accurately is if you demonstrate that when you've set up a clearly dangerous adversary it actually is a clearly dangerous adversary.

This. If you give them dire warnings and give them a glass jawed foe, you'll keep having this problem.

Give them another IC and/or OOC hints because they're newbies, but don't depower the monster or they'll never take NPC critiques of enemies seriously again.

Fri
2015-08-21, 09:38 PM
First, this depends on what premise do you give your player at the start of the game.

I usually play more story-based games where players die at dramatic moment, they can get knocked out, but they will only die if the player agree they should die. Might be some people's cup of tea, maybe not. But the premise is clear from the beginning, this is a dramatic storytelling game.

But I also played at a super-lethal sandbox game where the GM explained the premise from the beginning: the world is super lethal, here's the map, go explore. Characters die left and right, even popular characters and seemingly important characters. But since it's explained from the beginning, nobody grumble or whine when their characters die, they just laugh at it, give salutes to cool looking characters, give them proper burial IC and OOC, and roll another character.

The question is, did you mention any sort of "lethality degree" premise at the beginning of the game?

But anyway, if you haven't, and you still don't want your players to die, I think a good way is simply give them an easy way to escape, and NPC who very clearly tell them they could, and should escape when they get overwhelmed. Even make the NPC yell at them from the sideline. "QUICK! IT'S BEYOND YOUR ABILITY! ESCAPE HERE, NOW! TACKLE IT LATER WHEN YOU'RE STRONGER!"

If needed, even put some npc adventurers there. Let them either face the first wave of the monster's onslaught (by reason, don't make it too obvious that you picked them to die), or have them hold the line while the PC escapes. Not literally, something like, the PC and NPC party run together, but have the monster pick the NPC party first to kill for one reason or another.

Dramatic, showcase the monster's lethality, and surviveable enough.

dream
2015-08-22, 01:09 AM
I'd be inclined to just let them run into the lair and get killed. snip
Lol. I was going to suggest something similar. Thanks.

Malifice
2015-08-22, 01:58 AM
You could also give them a chance to win.

Decrease the monster (and his minions) power and challenge, while still making it a deadly threat. Make it winnable, but hard. The players should expect a difficult battle ahead thanks to your foreshadowing anyway.

When they win... give them a chance to celebrate and rest. A few months of side adventures to enjoy the victory. And then have the 'real' BBEG show up a month or two later to avenge its 'apprentice' and continue along with the plot.

You maintain player agency in this manner.

noob
2015-08-22, 04:20 AM
You probably does not have to make them weaker for having the battle winnable since if the players always does 20 and the opponents always do 1 the players are still going to win(nut the probability is nearly 0).

goto124
2015-08-22, 05:40 AM
making it a deadly threat. Make it winnable, but hard. The players should expect a difficult battle ahead thanks to your foreshadowing anyway.

When they win... give them a chance to celebrate and rest. A few months of side adventures to enjoy the victory. And then have the 'real' BBEG show up a month or two later to avenge its 'apprentice' and continue along with the plot.

You maintain player agency in this manner.

This is what the newbie players expect to happen, by the way.

Personally, I would've gone with either this, or 'lengthen the journey to level them up/get them to do other stuff'.

Thrudd
2015-08-22, 10:38 AM
Don't bring it up out of game. Your idea with the NPCs warning them was well done, so you've made it clear this task is above their level. Let them go for it if they insist on it, but give them more chances to escape before it's too late. If they get into combat and a couple people are dropped quickly, I would be lenient and let the survivors pull out their friends and escape if they decide to retreat. Otherwise, the dice fall where they may and the players need to be allowed to make meaningful choices; if this means total party death, so be it.

goto124
2015-08-22, 10:45 AM
To be honest?

I'm rather unfamilar with the whole 'we really mean it when we say this monster is dangerous' idea. Why is it in the game, and accessible to me, if I wasn't supposed to touch it? To kill me? To teach me a lesson?

To be fair, I'm still adjusting from computer games, and getting used to the ideas of verisimilitude and high lethality.

Thrudd
2015-08-22, 11:00 AM
To be honest?

I'm rather unfamilar with the whole 'we really mean it when we say this monster is dangerous' idea. Why is it in the game, and accessible to me, if I wasn't supposed to touch it? To kill me? To teach me a lesson?

To be fair, I'm still adjusting from computer games, and getting used to the ideas of verisimilitude and high lethality.

It's there because the DM has decided that it would make sense for it to be there, for the sake of setting coherence or verisimilitude. Now, it might have been a mistake to introduce those rumors to the players this early, but maybe not. It's also there to give the players something to work up to, to have a longer term goal and something to plan for. Giving warning of the power and danger should be sufficient to inform the players that they shouldn't attempt it yet, or need a very careful plan.

dream
2015-08-22, 11:49 AM
You could also give them a chance to win.

Decrease the monster (and his minions) power and challenge, while still making it a deadly threat. Make it winnable, but hard. The players should expect a difficult battle ahead thanks to your foreshadowing anyway.

When they win... give them a chance to celebrate and rest. A few months of side adventures to enjoy the victory. And then have the 'real' BBEG show up a month or two later to avenge its 'apprentice' and continue along with the plot.

You maintain player agency in this manner.
But, in this scenario, did the players really win? :smallconfused:

I'd say "no": it's the RPG equivalent of "taking a dive", which is the illusion of agency.

Darth Ultron
2015-08-22, 02:53 PM
First off I'll say that you should never have anything in your game so super hard set in stone. Your saying the nightmare boss monster in the pit just has to be just this one exact way you want it and nothing can ever change. Now ask yourself why? Why can't the monster be weak? Or not part of a super huge DM only meta plot? Why can't you just change things if you want too?

And you hate railroading, though it is a normal and needed part of the game. And I see you like to say you don't railroad, and give your places an illusion of having free will.

Now, you might like the concept of reverse railroading. It is very simple: you force the players to do whatever you want without them knowing about it. It fits in great with the whole illusion of free will. And it is simple. Path A leads to the dark tower, path B leads to safteytown.....but no matter what path, A or B, that the characters take....all paths lead to the dark tower. See easy. And the players will never know they have been railroaded.

I'm all for killing the characters. If you must have your epic level monster at that spot, and refuse to railroad or reverse railroad the characters away, then just let the characters fight the monster and die. End of game.

You can also do one of the following:

Sleepytime: The characters get to the monster just as it goes into it's special sleep. They can't hurt it, but it lashes out in it's dream state and wounds/effects/curses the characters. The players should get the idea to run.

The Black Arrow Sigh. Old druid Bob made a special weapon to kill the monster once upon a time...but it has been lost or stolen or something. But if the characters can find the weapon....

The Come Back Make the monster at there level...and let them kill it.....and then have to regenerate and come back later. The monster ''can be killed, but never die''.....

Knaight
2015-08-22, 04:16 PM
To be honest?

I'm rather unfamilar with the whole 'we really mean it when we say this monster is dangerous' idea. Why is it in the game, and accessible to me, if I wasn't supposed to touch it? To kill me? To teach me a lesson?

To be fair, I'm still adjusting from computer games, and getting used to the ideas of verisimilitude and high lethality.

It's in there to enhance the setting, to influence things far away which can be more safely interacted with, and to eventually probably fall to the PCs. Bringing in threats that are at the edge of what the PCs can handle only when the PCs become more powerful makes a setting feel really fake, and creates an issue roughly analogous to video games scaling everything to character level.

There are also a whole bunch of different ways to interact with it beyond just running into its lair and trying to kill it. There have been cases of people kidnapped from the village by its minions, setting up defenses and working to terrify said minions of said village could help with that. Figuring out just what it is and how it works, and taking that information to every nearby village, town and city could help. There are a whole bunch of interactions that are implicitly possible that wouldn't necessarily be so in a video game, and that matters for setting design.

Keltest
2015-08-22, 04:41 PM
First off I'll say that you should never have anything in your game so super hard set in stone. Your saying the nightmare boss monster in the pit just has to be just this one exact way you want it and nothing can ever change. Now ask yourself why? Why can't the monster be weak? Or not part of a super huge DM only meta plot? Why can't you just change things if you want too?

And you hate railroading, though it is a normal and needed part of the game. And I see you like to say you don't railroad, and give your places an illusion of having free will.

Now, you might like the concept of reverse railroading. It is very simple: you force the players to do whatever you want without them knowing about it. It fits in great with the whole illusion of free will. And it is simple. Path A leads to the dark tower, path B leads to safteytown.....but no matter what path, A or B, that the characters take....all paths lead to the dark tower. See easy. And the players will never know they have been railroaded.

I'm all for killing the characters. If you must have your epic level monster at that spot, and refuse to railroad or reverse railroad the characters away, then just let the characters fight the monster and die. End of game.

You can also do one of the following:

Sleepytime: The characters get to the monster just as it goes into it's special sleep. They can't hurt it, but it lashes out in it's dream state and wounds/effects/curses the characters. The players should get the idea to run.

The Black Arrow Sigh. Old druid Bob made a special weapon to kill the monster once upon a time...but it has been lost or stolen or something. But if the characters can find the weapon....

The Come Back Make the monster at there level...and let them kill it.....and then have to regenerate and come back later. The monster ''can be killed, but never die''.....

My setting has several dragon lairs of varying strength lying around, waiting to be pillaged. A level 1 party could easily seek it out if they were determined to, and if they listened to rumors, dragon attacks would certainly show up.

That doesn't mean the party is meant to encounter them yet, but if theyre determined to ignore good sense, they can totally feed themselves to a dragon.

Thinker
2015-08-22, 05:54 PM
To be honest?

I'm rather unfamilar with the whole 'we really mean it when we say this monster is dangerous' idea. Why is it in the game, and accessible to me, if I wasn't supposed to touch it? To kill me? To teach me a lesson?

To be fair, I'm still adjusting from computer games, and getting used to the ideas of verisimilitude and high lethality.

There can be several reasons to make a deadly threat that the players can't deal with. First, it can add an element of verisimilitude to the world. For example, in real life I know that I could not take on Ronda Rousey in a fight under any circumstances that don't involve me holding a gun. That said, I would likely not be in a situation where I have to fight Ronda Rousey. In the example provided by the OP, the group doesn't need to fight with the creature. They might be able to strike a bargain with the cultists - not all challenges need be overcome by weapons. Another thing that it adds to the world is a future goal, though this can admittedly be difficult to present as a future goal rather than an immediate one. This works best when things are left vague like in a legend or when there is direct evidence that something is too strong.

That's not the only way to handle RPG elements. One way is the one that you are familiar with that is common these days in video games - a goblin is always a minor nuisance, regardless of if you're Dean the Farmer's Son or Dean, Conqueror of Worlds. There's also the method where the players more or less create the world with the GM acting as more of a referee. In that method, the GM might start off with, "There's a terrible threat deep in the dark woods." Player A adds, "Yeah. He's protected by a cult of fey." Player B continues, "And they kidnap kids to sacrifice to the monster." Player C would say, "But, legends say his only weakness is to Riverthorn." And Player D might say, "And he awakens on the third New Moon of the year." With that method, threats are more or less tailored to the players and is whatever the players want to face.

It Sat Rap
2015-08-22, 06:43 PM
Hello, first I want to say "thank you" for all the response. We just finished our session and I would like to share the outcome with you.

Well, it was easier then I expected. Turns out my players actually understood the hints I gave them after they recap the whole scenery over night. One of my players started the session with something like this: "Guys, I think our GM tried to warn us last session that this task might be too hard for us. Maybe we should go somewhere else and return later." BOOM, the two other players agreed immediatly! And I haven't even started the game yet! Well, after that insight I told them that this adventure really wasn't meant to be played that early, and they all seemed pretty relieved that they don't have to go to the shrine. They then decided to go back to their earlier quest again and we had a good, amusing session.

We also had an odd, but funny moment later in the session. I will start another thread about that.

So, why was the shrine even there if my players are not supposed to go there yet? Some users allready said the right answer, it fleshes out the world and the players get a feeling that this world is "alive" and there are more things to explore in the future. The players also have a long-term goal they can aim for. Sometimes I adjust the strength of mundane monsters, given the circumstances, but I also like to have important monsters with stable stats that act as a future threat in the background.

Damnit, again nobody died last session! I think I have to raise the difficulty...

goto124
2015-08-22, 09:40 PM
Your players have been reading this thread! :smalltongue:

In case they are: Please visit this section of the forums regularly. It provides lots of great advice on general roleplaying, and how behaviors have to be adjusted when going from computer games into tabletop games.

Speaking of which, I lack the RL smartness required to do anything more than 'go to this place and whack monsters to death'. But after reading so many threads like these, I've learned that in tabletop RPGs, warnings are for real.

Actually, it's more like 'treat the world as if it were real life'. I've had terrible experience with old-school attitudes in a high-lethality (not the fun kind of high-lethality where every fight won felt like real victories, but the kind of lethality that left me feeling lethargic all the time and even winning fights only made me think 'sheesh another battle that drained my already limited resources? I should stick to town...') game where it was taken to the extreme, there was almost no OOC communciation (it made survival near impossible unless you stayed in 'safe places' all the time, but where's the fun in that?) and players were jerks to one another (along with their 'OOC communciation is strictly forbidden!' beliefs, it was hard to tell when someone was saying a thing she actually believed, or was just acting in-character. Also, it made forging friendships hard). I mean, yes, the worldbuilding was great, but actually enjoying it was quite another matter for already stated reasons.

Rant over, I hope I don't have to suffer such a thing ever again.

I don't know if it has any relevance to the thread. I'm just explaining why I cringe at 'old-school attitudes' nowadays.

chrisstpeter
2015-08-23, 01:13 AM
All good suggestions so far. I'd like to add:

Maybe give them the possibility of defeating the monster in some way other than a straight fight? Collapse the roof, learn his true name, trick him into running off a cliff, etc etc. (This is my personal favorite... I love thinking outside of the box to defeat opponents that should be too strong to handle... brains over brawn!)

Or, maybe the BBEG wasn't really so powerful after all? For example, if he's a demon, maybe it turns out he's a lesser aspect rather than the full-on demon. Or it's some sort of small weak (relative to the original monster at least) creature with amazing powers of illusion and mental manipulation (pay no attention to that man behind the curtain).

Or, they defeat some incredibly tough (but still beatable) underling whom they THINK is the BBEG. They collect loot, go on their merry way. Then later on when they're high enough level, hit squads sent by the real BBEG start catching up with them and they realize that they just took out a lieutenant.

Or, they team up with some others, like that stronger party you mentioned. BBEG focuses on the stronger guys, because they're the bigger threat, but by the time they're all dead, they've softened him up juuuuust enough for your guys to take him out.

Or, they get an opportunity to strike up some sort of Faustian bargain. Yeah, they'll be temporarily given the means to defeat him, but at what cost!? Dun, dun, duuuunnnn...

Or, maybe (especially if you have a cleric) they receive a vision, or some oracle seeks them out, and they find out in no uncertain terms that it's not just a matter of opinion, or tension building from the DM; they WILL be absolutely slaughtered, limbs scattered to the four corners, skulls made into drinking vessels, and their souls made to languish in agony for all eternity.

Or, let them do it, get destroyed, and work in some sort of "it's not your time, the Gods have decreed that just this once, they'll rewind the clock to before you were willfully obstinate, and let you try again. Yeah, it'll ruin the mystery of what's behind the curtain, but at least it'll give them an object lesson in listening when GOD HIMSELF (in this case, you) keeps trying to steer them away from something. I've seen it before where a DM has had to say "Look guys, I'm all for letting you do whatever you want, but I designed this to be fun and challenging. When I dangle a hook in front of you 5 different times, take it or you'll end up wandering around the forest having pointless random encounters for the rest of the campaign, or you'll wander where you're not supposed to and get slaughtered."

EDIT: Just saw yoour reply that it's been (easily) resolved. Awesome! Ideas for next time I guess :)

Fri
2015-08-23, 02:38 AM
Generally, if starting a new game, except if you're doing it with your veteran group that have always been playing with you for years (and even then!) I always suggest that you lay down the premise of the game very clearly. An important part to lay down is the sandbox level of the campaign, and the lethality of the campaign.

But you might say, "DnD/PnP RPG Play with high lethality as default unlike computer games" well, that's exactly why you have to lay that down. People and groups might have different thought about what should be default PnP RPG. Like, if you go to a playground and say "let's play ball" your friends might already consider it as default that you're asking them to play basket ball, but other people might defaultly think you're asking them to play soccer, or baseball.

Redchigh
2015-08-23, 11:55 PM
1. Since the woods seem dangerous as well as the monster, let them grind in the forest until they are high level.
2. The fey lure targets into the forest. For some reason the fey lure the high level npcs- and the PCs find their heads.
3. They encounter a hideous monster that thrashes them badly. One or two players survives, just barely. They loot the monsters corpse... And there are items or a note that the PCs can't understand. They get back, and the evidence shows they didn't fight the primary monster- they fought a random critter that inhabits the forest instead. (Ie, the monster is an uber-gelatinous cube- they killed a slime mold.)