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    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Fast forwarding past encounters

    So I screwed up and overpopulated my dungeon. We've played for a year with no real dungeons and I figured a large and meaningful one would be a nice way to graduate to paragon tier.

    But now we're 4 or 5 sessions into it and the players are ready to return to the plot. So am I for that matter. So I'd like to speed things up a bit.

    The problem is that they know the layout of the dungeon, so they know how much more of it is left. And they know that there are respawns to keep them from bruteforcing the puzzley bits. Cutting out all non-boss fights would make the whole thing into a let down. But running them off screen might work.

    What I'd like to do is give the players the option to skip a fight, but take some penalty for doing so. My ideas for penalties are charging them surges, expendable powers, and maybe even action points. I'd like these penalties to be nondeterministic - the players shouldn't look at a fight, count the number of skeletons, and then check that they have enough surges to breeze past it.

    Does anyone have suggestions for how to set that up? I'm considering just making it a flat d20 check against the table, but that's a little boring. I think it'd be a lot cooler to do kind of an improvised skill check type thing and let them pick a skill or three, explain how those skills apply to this fight, and then roll that against the table. But if we do that, I'm not sure what prevents the wizard from rolling Arcana for each and every check. Maybe once a skill fails it can't be used to bypass a combat until an extended rest?

    I'll also point out now that I'm not totally sold on this idea. My other way out of the hole I've dug is to have the bad guys who were going to show up after the dungeon come in and join the dungeon. Then instead of fighting monsters, the PCs have relevant NPCs to interact with. I'm not interested in discussing the pros and cons of dungeon interruption over fast forwarding, I'm only interested in making the fast forwarding as interesting/quick/fun as possible (or hearing your horror stories of how it ruined the game), and then I'll figure out whether or not it's a better option than bringing in plot NPCs earlier than expected.
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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    HalflingRangerGuy

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    Default Re: Fast forwarding past encounters

    Couldn't you base it on a (probably high complexity) skill challenge? Each 'encounter' is resolved as a group check with attack rolls substituting most (but potentially not all) skill rolls. Failure should be gradual: each failed collective should cause a (randomly generated?) expenditure of resorces (be it healing surges, action points, daily powers or item daily powers), with the third failure being a sign of total exhaustion (whatever you judge that to be, mechanically). Ideally, stage each encounter as a separate, custumized roll in the challenge.

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Re: Fast forwarding past encounters

    Quote Originally Posted by RebelRogue View Post
    Ideally, stage each encounter as a separate, custumized roll in the challenge.
    This is the problem. I don't want to write an entire skill challenge for each and every combat the players might try and bypass. I'd rather use something generic that can be deployed as needed, but only needs to be written once. I'm also not sure that running through an entire skill challenge is the way to go if I'm trying to speed things up.

    I think I'd rather treat it as an extended SC, divided over several combats. If each skipped fight is a roll or two, that's the kind of duration I'm looking for for a skipped fight. I think the most rolls I could justify using would be one per enemy or enemy group in the fight. Any more than that, and the fast forward is as slow as normal combat.
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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    HalflingRangerGuy

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    Default Re: Fast forwarding past encounters

    I'm thinking more of the lines of making each encounter corespond to one skill check in the challenge. What I'm suggesting is more along the lines of customizing what checks are possible for each emcounter and what the penalties of failure are.

    For instance, you may want to say that a Religion is a primary skill in a battle against undead. Or that failing a skill check representing a battle with a fire elemental means fire damage to the players (so that tieflings have an edge there) etc.

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    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Fast forwarding past encounters

    I agree, one big SC and skip to the end. If they fail it, have them show up with spent dailies and 3-4 surges left. Work success thresholds up from there

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Re: Fast forwarding past encounters

    Quote Originally Posted by RebelRogue View Post
    I'm thinking more of the lines of making each encounter corespond to one skill check in the challenge. What I'm suggesting is more along the lines of customizing what checks are possible for each emcounter and what the penalties of failure are.

    For instance, you may want to say that a Religion is a primary skill in a battle against undead. Or that failing a skill check representing a battle with a fire elemental means fire damage to the players (so that tieflings have an edge there) etc.
    Ah, that makes more sense. So basically they get to beat it with a skill or lose some surges?

    Would that be a single skill check for the whole party or a single skill check per player? What I'm leaning towards right now is letting the players roll whatever, but making a designated skill that gets a huge bonus for the combat. So against undead, the players with religion will do well and the others might lose some surges.
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    HalflingRangerGuy

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    Default Re: Fast forwarding past encounters

    You could do both, but I'm leaning on group rolls being the most exciting (different players will probably be allowed different rolls, though). Also, if you can somehow make attack rolls part of it, that would be appropriate (so that you may use cold powers against a fire elemental for instance), but the hard part is setting the DCs right there, of course.

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Re: Fast forwarding past encounters

    Quote Originally Posted by RebelRogue View Post
    but the hard part is setting the DCs right there, of course.
    I'm thinking of setting DCs based on the XP enemies in the fight. Like, base DC of 15 and adding 1 per 100 points of enemies I use. I have to look at the actual values though and I have no idea how XP budgets scale. Actually, maybe a base DC and then adding difficulty per enemy at or above the PC's level?

    I'm still not sure about the DCs though. I think this is something that'll work better on a chart. I guess the chart could be what you rolled in relation to the DC.

    Oh and I'm also thinking that punishments could be individual or group. Telling the group to come up with 10 surges is more interesting for them than 2 surges each.
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    Default Re: Fast forwarding past encounters

    I have only fast forwarded encounters once, and that was when I knew the players would win, but that the winning would be boring. There's nothing fun about going pound pound pound and chipping away. There's enough of that in video games.
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    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Re: Fast forwarding past encounters

    Here's my first draft.

    Spoiler
    Show

    The PCs can fast forward past an encounter they aren't interested in playing out in depth. They get full XP but also suffer some consequences of the combat.

    First, set a DC.
    (at level 10, my PCs have several 15s and 16s. A DC between 25 and 30 seems appropriate. How do we get there mathematically? Moderate +10 -> 26. )

    Then each player picks a skill and explains how that skill gets them through a fight. Players roll their skill. On a success, they add +2 to the group check. On a failure, they've expended that skill for the purpose of fast forwarding through combat and can't use it again until the next bypass.

    After that, the GM rolls a d20 with the group bonus form the previous round. The group suffers the following consequences:

    24+ Easy win!
    20-23 1 Surge per player
    19 1 surge, 1 e each
    18 2 surge, 1e each
    17 3 e each
    16 1s, 1e, 1AP each.
    15 2s, 1d each
    14 1s 1d 1ap each
    13 10 s over group.
    12 8e over group
    11 1s 1d 1ap 1e each.
    10 Group loses 10 surges. 2 E each.
    09 2s, 2d each
    08 3s, 2e, ap
    07 3e,1d each
    06 group loses 10e, 15s.
    05 4s 3e 2d ap each.
    04 Group loses 20s, 10e, 5d, 2ap.
    03 Player w/ lowest SC dies. Rest lose 20s, 10e.
    02 Players with 2 lowest skill checks die. Rest lose 4 S, all E, 2 D each.
    01 TPK

    If a player can't spend something, spend one higher or die.
    [S]urge -> [E]ncounter -> [A]ction [P]oint -> [D]aily


    I haven't done any math to check that these values are fair. I also don't know that the difficulty I picked is going to work at any other level. The penalty chart at the bottom looks harsh, but keep in mind that for the first combat skipped the players will be rolling their trained skills. That means a 15 or 16. So they need to roll 10+. If half the players get that, in a 5 person group (which mine is), the d20 roll will be at +4 or +6.

    The obvious failure IMO is that it doesn't take into account the difficulty of the fight you're skipping. Maybe the +10 that sets the DC could vary depending on the size of the fight? So if I'm over budget or under budget, that would adjust the DC.
    Last edited by valadil; 2011-04-10 at 10:11 PM.
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    rayne_dragon's Avatar

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    Default Re: Fast forwarding past encounters

    I had a DM who would occassionally let us skip fights at a cost of a variable number of resources, depending on the fight in question. Sometimes it would just be one, other times he'd roll a random number (d4 - 1, I believe) for each PC. The resources were usually healing surges, but we could substitute daily powers or action points.

    I believe skipped battles we skipped did not count towards milestones. We also used a level by chapter system. I would suggest giving half xp, since if players lack enough surges and other resourses they loose 1/4 of their health for each surge they would have lost, which means there is still some risk.

    I would also suggest that unless your players are really pressed for time that encounter powers aren't enough of a loss to be meaningful and that surges are easily more of a loss.
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  12. - Top - End - #12
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Re: Fast forwarding past encounters

    Quote Originally Posted by rayne_dragon View Post
    I had a DM who would occassionally let us skip fights at a cost of a variable number of resources, depending on the fight in question. Sometimes it would just be one, other times he'd roll a random number (d4 - 1, I believe) for each PC. The resources were usually healing surges, but we could substitute daily powers or action points.

    I believe skipped battles we skipped did not count towards milestones. We also used a level by chapter system. I would suggest giving half xp, since if players lack enough surges and other resourses they loose 1/4 of their health for each surge they would have lost, which means there is still some risk.

    I would also suggest that unless your players are really pressed for time that encounter powers aren't enough of a loss to be meaningful and that surges are easily more of a loss.
    That sounds considerably less complicated than what I've cobbled together.

    I'm not sure how I feel about half XP. I don't want to be in a situation where the players say they don't feel like combat but slug it out anyway so they don't miss any precious XP. But if I'm rewarding them full XP, the risk of pain should be a bit higher.

    Good point on encounter powers not being a real resource. I'd rather come up with a general set of fast forwarding rules than a separate set for when they can rest and when time's a factor, so I think the next version will omit encounter powers.
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    Griffon

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    Default Re: Fast forwarding past encounters

    Knowing the nature of the dungeon and your plot might help us. There's a chance that you could either throw plot in or somehow severely mess up the dungeon somehow. I'm assuming that your players would be willing to accept quite a bit if it means that they get to finish the thing quicker or more interestingly.

    Edit: Or never mind, sorry about that, reading failure.
    Last edited by Jothki; 2011-04-12 at 02:43 PM.

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    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Fast forwarding past encounters

    Quote Originally Posted by valadil View Post
    Good point on encounter powers not being a real resource. I'd rather come up with a general set of fast forwarding rules than a separate set for when they can rest and when time's a factor, so I think the next version will omit encounter powers.
    They are a resource, but an easily replenished one. You can penalize them by having each player loose an encounter power if the end of the challenge leads straight in to a combat encounter.

    However, if after the SC they have time to rest, then you need to apply a more lasting penalty.

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    AssassinGuy

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    Lightbulb Re: Fast forwarding past encounters

    I'm not sure if you already ran a session with the suggestions/system you came up with, but what about the PC's trying to:

    A) Sneak by.
    Use group stealth and terrain, use wizard cantrips or throwing stones or setting of distant traps to distract enemies, use dungeoneering/perception to find alternate routes (maybe with a trap or hazard in the alternate route, just to not make it boring, and so on), ect.

    B) Run past the battle.
    Have your room set up with monsters in it and encourage the players to try to run through it instead of fighting. You can RP this as a skill challenge or an actual battle. To help 'encourage' the PC's to keep moving instead of just slogging it out, make the enemies continuous waves/respawning. The objective is to get to the other door, not to kill everything in the room.
    Examples
    "The pile of bones that was the skeleton you just smashed start slowly rejoining together. It stands up ready to attack again! You realize that you can't kill these monsters and must make a run for it," or "No matter how many goblins you kill, more and more just seem to crawl in through small gaps in the stone. You realize you're outnumbered and can't kill them all. You must flee!" In the case of RPing a skill challenge (4/3 does sound the best) "You can use acrobatics to weave through foes, athletics to charge past with giving them a change to strike, monster knowledge (nature/religion/arcana/dungeoneering, whatever the monsters may be) to predict the strikes and dodge them, insight to predict how foes will act to avoid them, and stealth to just remain hidden." Failure cost a HS and secondary skill can only grant bonuses. Don't allow the PC's to set up shop and regain healing surges if the decide to run through. The enemies are chasing them after all!

    C)Remove some rooms from your dungeon.
    You said you're PC's already know the layout of the dungeon, but do the know specifics? A map can be inaccurate, or rooms can block by rubble, cave ins, ect. This will allow you to shorten the dungeon, even if the players THINK they know what lies ahead.

    TO EVERYONE ELSE:
    I'm still a noob at D&D, only played about 3 sessions, so lemme know what you think of my ideas. They any good, or are they crap?

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Re: Fast forwarding past encounters

    Quote Originally Posted by JysusCryst View Post

    A) Sneak by.
    B) Run past the battle.
    Both those options are out of character. They're a bloodthirsty lot. I also have no ability to tell them to sneak by the rest of the fights. That just removes their ability to choose what goes on. If they do decide to bypass the encounters, good for them. If not, I'd like options for evaluating how much the fight hurt, without actually running through it.

    Quote Originally Posted by JysusCryst View Post
    C)Remove some rooms from your dungeon.
    They know enough. I've been trimming one of the levels this week. The problem isn't so much the layout. The purpose of the dungeon is to serve as a giant lock that needs picking. There are 8 switches that need to be hit in the right order for them to open the vault in the middle of the dungeon. They have to hit the switches in the right order. If they don't, enemies respawn. The whole point of that is to prevent them from brute forcing the dungeon. i.e., by putting out new enemies out there on each failed attempt, they can't try 12345678, then 21345678, 23145678, ad nauseum until they win. I've already reduced how many enemies respawn, but any more and it won't be the same dungeon they entered.

    Anyway, I'm liking rayne_dragon's suggestion more and more. It's a lot simpler than what I laid out. And I just read an article that told me that adding more tables to look up is not good for a game. I happen to agree with that, so I'm scrapping the table I mentioned earlier and going with this:

    Each player rolls a d4. They lose that many surges and encounter powers. On a 4, they roll again. They still lose the original 4 surges and encounters, but also have to spend the new d4's value in dailies or action points.
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    Pixie in the Playground
     
    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Fast forwarding past encounters

    That is a very interesting dungeon. I love the idea.

    I realize you can't tell player's to run/sneak by everything, but you can suggest and encourage it.

    The d4 idea does sound optimal for fast-forwarding. However, think if someone rolled two 4's, and another player rolled a 1.
    "I spent 4 surges, 4 encounters, 2 dailies and 2 action points."
    vs.
    "I lost 1 surge and 1 encounter."
    Makes the one guy looked kinda screwed. How bout if they roll a 1, that's when they re-roll and spend daily/action points. Then it's:
    "I spent 4 surges and 4 encounter."
    vs.
    "I only spent 1 surge and 1 encounter, but also 2 dailies and 2 action points."
    That just makes a little more sense to me. The second person didn't spend as many encounters or healing surges cause he/she hit with some big attacks and wiped the floor with some enemies.
    Last edited by JysusCryst; 2011-04-13 at 08:38 PM.

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Re: Fast forwarding past encounters

    Quote Originally Posted by JysusCryst View Post
    "I only spent 1 surge and 1 encounter, but also 2 dailies and 2 action points."
    That just makes a little more sense to me. The second person didn't spend as many encounters or healing surges cause he/she hit with some big attacks and wiped the floor with some enemies.
    The way I was reading it was that the player who got hurt bad got desperate and started burning dailies. What you said makes sense too though, so how about a system that lets both happen? If the first roll is a 4, roll 2d4. One of the second d4s is for surge & encounter, the other is for daily/AP. I figure this will let you have fights where someone went all out and fights where someone got beat to hell and back.
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    Pixie in the Playground
     
    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Fast forwarding past encounters

    I can see it through your eyes now too. They both make sense, story wise.
    Person A got beat the hell up and got desperate, Person B took it easy.
    vs.
    Person A did average and Person B totally killed everything else.

    It's all about balance. My suggestion is to take the worst case scenario vs. the best case scenario and see how they stack up against each other. Is the best case too easy for fast-forwarding, and is the worst case totally crippling?

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