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  1. - Top - End - #31
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    Kobold

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    Default Re: how do YOU deal with "scared" players?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fizban View Post
    I don't particularly like Angry's tension pool, simply because it's not as revolutionary as he'd like it to be (it's fine, I'd rather just keep and exercise full control). Why? Because random encounters are already supposed to exist, as do dungeon timetables.
    Two responses to this: random encounter tables have fallen out of general practice to the point of disappearing, and Complications are not always (or even necessarily usually) combat encounters.

    As for dungeon timetables, I find that introducing randomness to it this way is more motivating to players than having a set timetable they cannot see. The PCs don't (almost certainly) know that the Kobold King will summon reinforcements from his troll allies 15 minutes after the outer guards are defeated. Indeed, they may never have any reason to know that they could have avoided fighting trolls by moving faster. But they can see and understand the pool, and getting ahead of it is a motivator.
    Of course, the existence of random encounters is part of the reason some parties are terrified of fighting too much. You should always hold something back, because you might be attacked while resting, or on your way to resting, or just by reinforcements. And learning when to drain the tank all the way is absolutely an adventuring skill. The problem is inconsistent and/or adversarial DMs who punish you for doing so by deciding to spring extra enemies on you with fiat because you're weak, or who make an encounter that clearly looks like the last wave and then surprise there's another wave!
    For sure, which is part of why I like this mechanism to begin with: it removes some of the arbitrariness of when things get worse from the DM's hands.
    But because the Tension Pool is deliberately triggering events based on player actions, it's super weird if those events are things that should not have had any influence from player actions, such as "random" cave-ins or the arrival of reinforcements which weren't present in the dungeon already. And combining the Tension Pool with a dungeon timetable (and plotting nearby enemies, etc) just means its a re-skinned random encounter table.
    To some degree, it is, but the critical point is that the PCs have significant control over not just how often the 'encounter' gets rolled for, but how likely a problem is to occur when the roll happens. Players like to have control over their destiny, even if a die roll makes that control less than perfect.
    For time-only conversion's sake, note that the net chance of rolling at least one 1 on six 6 sided dice is about 67%. I can't remember if Anrgy was using 10 minutes or 1 hour, but this means that when the tick hits 6, something will probably happen, much more so than a traditional random encounter table. And this also means it can be gamed, hard, by a party that gets *out* on the count of 5 (causing the exact opposite of desired behavior)- unless you go back on the concept, and decide that leaving also causes something to happen anyway.
    The time scale varies depending on environment, as he has it, with the goal being that the pool should fill up 2-3 times during the adventure IIRC. As for gaming it, remember two things. First, the pool doesn't ONLY get rolled at 6 dice - it gets rolled whenever the party does something reckless or overly attention-getting in the current context. Second, yeah, gaming it is part of the point - if they finish the adventure before the next time the pool hits 6 dice, that means they were hurrying - which is what we were shooting for all along!

  2. - Top - End - #32
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    Default Re: how do YOU deal with "scared" players?

    Quote Originally Posted by 3drinks View Post
    You know the ones. They don't use their resources because they "might need them later". They retreat back to town to heal after every encounter even if they lost 1 - 2 hp. Those types.

    What's your solution, GitP?
    Have smart enemies that don't let them rest in the middle of the dungeon or harass their retreat to town. Have new traps waiting for them when they come back.

  3. - Top - End - #33
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    Default Re: how do YOU deal with "scared" players?

    Quote Originally Posted by Calthropstu View Post
    Had someone run a strahd campaign in 3.5 once. He had a bunch of ritual sites you had to disable that made him much stronger. And the whole adventure had to be done within a set number of days. We dismantled several sites, but strahd never seemed to get any weaker.
    And, after each fight with him, we were depleted to near nothing. Turns out the gm had strahd going behind us restoring all the ritual sites we dismantled which was not include in the module. We literally accomplished nothing. The entire group rage quit when we heard this because we could not complete the adventure.
    The time constraints were impossible.
    Sounds about right for a Ravenloft campaign.

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  4. - Top - End - #34
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    GreenSorcererElf

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    Default Re: how do YOU deal with "scared" players?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lapak View Post
    Two responses to this: random encounter tables have fallen out of general practice to the point of disappearing,
    Hence why I said "supposed to." They're in the DMG (under Wandering Monsters), they're in earlier modules, and it's not the system's fault that people stopped using them without a replacement.
    and Complications are not always (or even necessarily usually) combat encounters.
    There are plenty of random encounter tables in modules that have non-combat occurrences. World's Largest Dungeon has little blank space in its tables, usually with anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 non-hazardous fluff descriptions. But if you've got something called the Tension Pool which is supposed to make Bad Things happen, and this is a combat focused game, well it's almost certainly gonna have to come down to combat. Either it's fight which expends resources and entails risk, or it's an increase to the risk of a future fight, or it's a mission failure/decrement.

    Funny thing is, with buffs having limited duration, that alone should be enough to encourage pushing forward. The whole problem could be easily painted as a casters vs non-casters split, as anyone with a timed ability will most likely begin thinking in terms of that duration.
    As for dungeon timetables, I find that introducing randomness to it this way is more motivating to players than having a set timetable they cannot see. The PCs don't (almost certainly) know that the Kobold King will summon reinforcements from his troll allies 15 minutes after the outer guards are defeated. Indeed, they may never have any reason to know that they could have avoided fighting trolls by moving faster. But they can see and understand the pool, and getting ahead of it is a motivator.
    And many "timetables" are just "guards from the next room arrive xdy rounds later." But what I what I mean by timetables are the calls for putting time limits on an adventure. Which, in a properly written module, will have a timetable with all the events that happen. . . on a timetable. Red Hand of Doom is an example of this.

    Players like to have control over their destiny, even if a die roll makes that control less than perfect.
    Which is why they have character sheets full of mechanics. To be clear, this is a narratively focused mechanic- and while I like the idea of adapting various narrative driven mechanics into 3.x, cramming narrative mechanics into a simulationist game just doesn't work very well because they're inherently incompatible. Seriously, I love the idea of a PC transcending the limits on their character sheet because it's hero time, but that's the exact opposite of how 3.x works. Stealth mission failure should not be determined by some added pile of d6's when there are clear stealth mechanics, etc. Note that Angry doesn't write for 3.x: he's switched to 5e, which with its significantly lower level of rules and detail, is much more fit for adding narrative-focused mechanics. The OP has not specified system aside from this being the 3.x/PF/d20 section.

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    Additionally, unless you just up and leave, well this system doesn't actually give the players much more than the illusion of control unless they deliberately game it hard-
    The time scale varies depending on environment, as he has it, with the goal being that the pool should fill up 2-3 times during the adventure IIRC. As for gaming it, remember two things. First, the pool doesn't ONLY get rolled at 6 dice - it gets rolled whenever the party does something reckless or overly attention-getting in the current context. Second, yeah, gaming it is part of the point - if they finish the adventure before the next time the pool hits 6 dice, that means they were hurrying - which is what we were shooting for all along!
    They can hurry to avoid filling up the dice pool, but the goal is that it should in fact fill up multiple times during the adventure. Those are opposed directives: so is the DM writing the adventure in a way that will trigger the rolls, or not? The players have only one level of input, which is moving as fast as possible and not being noticed.

    Or rather, I've gone and looked it back up (link for observers (warning: harsh language)), but if anything it's kinda worse? The time pool is rolled when you attract undue attention, which you can always do, which happens in place of adding a die. So you can avoid adding dice and keep them low by making noise, and then if/when something does happen, a die is removed. That's fine and all, means you get the same number of rolls as if you'd laid low, but after a delay, which is good right? Except it's deliberately designed so that whether you make noise or not, unless you get out before the time limit Something Bad happens, you roll the same number of dice.

    Except you get more time. Because this was Angry's big solution not to random encounters, but the flow of time, and time only passes when the pool empties. So by making noise, the party gains effectively infinite time by preventing the pool from ever being full. They can explictly get one free "die" worth of time at the start, then force rolling that die, and it stays at one die until something happens even though they're "spending time," at which point they get another free die. Even if you could the number of dice rolled instead of waiting for the pool to be filled, they're still getting twice as many time units, which is a tradeoff for the chance of bad things, but as written they also get as many units as they want.

    And this can work in a narratively driven game where everything happens at the speed you said it does, but if you're in 3.x, that's just not how it works. There is a specific amount of time it takes to do things. And in fact one of his own examples, searching through a chest, would be wrong in 3.x. Search in 3.x takes 6 seconds per 5' cube. That means that searching every inch of the walls, floor, ceiling, etc has a very specific pre-calculable answer for how long it takes (and this is easy math anyway, x squares by y squares), and searching a single chest or cabinet is not a minutes-long activity. As a skill where players shouldn't know the result, Search checks should be rolled by the DM, who does not need to roll every one individually. So, what's the problem with searching everything (and why should searching one container cause a time tick)? The players just spent 10 minutes arguing over what they're going to do? That's 10 minutes. The players take other actions? Those have defined times as well. Looting is the only real wildcard, as there's no official statement of how long it takes to remove a body's clothing (any object not stuck to something else is Move to pick up, Move to stow, 6 seconds total per object). In fact, a lot of the examination that people would say justifies the time assumed there, isn't searching or looting, but Appraising- figuring out what is worth looting, which also has a defined time cost (which no one uses, because no one likes the Appraise skill [myself included]).

    If anything, the reason to use such a system is to force things to take more time, in order to compensate for groups that actually plan ahead to move efficiently and leverage ridiculous spell durations. Who, if prevented from moving quickly by the time mechanic, might figure out how to cheese it for infinite spell duration (as I said above, buff durations are already a significant reason to avoid dallying, and the speed at which adventurers can in fact move through a dungeon in 3.x would make this time mechanic more useful for forcing those durations to expire in spite of the normal rules). To which Angry would tell you to be a DM and deal with it, as would I, but the point is that it clashes with 3.x.



    Anyway. Angry put together a dice pool mechanic for imposing a sense of dread on the narrative passage of time, and it has the potential to be pretty good at that. It's just that such a mechanic in inherently inimical to a game which is full of precise timing like 3.5 (whether or not people actually run spells or actions that precisely), but for a system like 5e that basically leaves all the details of skill use to the DM and has simple spell durations, it'll work. As long as the DM fully understands how to calculate the odds and has planned the Bad Things to mesh with the adventure according to their odds and without standing out as dissociated from what's actually happening. All of which applies to someone writing encounter tables, timelines, setting up guards, etc, just with different ways to mess up.
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  5. - Top - End - #35
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    Kobold

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    Default Re: how do YOU deal with "scared" players?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fizban View Post
    Hence why I said "supposed to." They're in the DMG (under Wandering Monsters), they're in earlier modules, and it's not the system's fault that people stopped using them without a replacement.
    When a mechanic falls out of common use, it's often because it's not doing whatever it was it was meant to do - design failure on either the conceptual or ease-of-use level. So looking for alternatives is worthwhile here even if you don't think this is the right one, which I respect as your feeling about this. Especially given that we have a philosophical divide beyond the mechanical one...
    Which is why they have character sheets full of mechanics. To be clear, this is a narratively focused mechanic- and while I like the idea of adapting various narrative driven mechanics into 3.x, cramming narrative mechanics into a simulationist game
    ...because I have felt for a while now that 3e is much more of a hybrid than a pure simulationist than you clearly do, and that leaning harder into its simulationist end tends to make for a worse gaming experience - for me and those I play with, at least. Your mileage may and probably does vary.
    They can hurry to avoid filling up the dice pool, but the goal is that it should in fact fill up multiple times during the adventure. Those are opposed directives: so is the DM writing the adventure in a way that will trigger the rolls, or not? The players have only one level of input, which is moving as fast as possible and not being noticed.
    The benefit is from the tension between the two things, because a complication is not guaranteed even when you fill the pool. More likely than not on a given roll, but fill the pool even twice and the odds are in favor of 'one Complication, one time you get away without one.' Playing with this mechanic, the goal for the players is to minimize the complications, not avoid them completely, and the counter-balance is everything else in the adventure: exploring a side passage or searching a throne room for hidden treasure are both now risk/reward calculations that have costs that are (more) transparent to the PCs rather than hidden ones.

    But I'm ok with letting this go at this point if you are; I threw it out there as an option, some people may find it useful even if you do not, and I think that you and I specifically are looking for different things out of this kind of mechanic such that we're unlikely to agree. But we've more or less explored the pros and cons at this point, and can let other folks decide if they like it or not.

  6. - Top - End - #36
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    GreataxeFighterGuy

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    Default Re: how do YOU deal with "scared" players?

    So I'm liking everything presented here and surely it's helping my own ability to plan. But how do you handle the passage of time without it seeming arbitrary? That's my hangup on it.
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    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: how do YOU deal with "scared" players?

    Force it a bit by seeing fires off distance or NPC running for her/his life asking for help. Or if only because of HP loss then maybe etheral wands of lessor vigor or cure light wounds would help then see that they can handle the encounters maybe they will not need even them that much.
    Last edited by mouser13; 2019-10-17 at 07:58 AM.

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    Default Re: how do YOU deal with "scared" players?

    "I'm not looking for a chance to screw you over or kill your character with a "Gotcha!" trap. At the same time, this isn't a video game where time only progresses through your actions. Get going and be bold!"

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    Default Re: how do YOU deal with "scared" players?

    Quote Originally Posted by 3drinks View Post
    So I'm liking everything presented here and surely it's helping my own ability to plan. But how do you handle the passage of time without it seeming arbitrary? That's my hangup on it.
    You tell them flatly at the beginning of the adventure, "Listen up. The antagonists for this adventure have a time-table and they're sticking to it. You take as much or as little time with each step of the thing as you like but dragging your feet will have consequences. You have been warned."

    Then follow through on it. Set a timetable for the baddies and stick to it. It might seem arbitrary to the players in the midst of things but as long as you've got your notes to show them when it's all said and done and point out that you -did- warn them, their complaints will be hollow ones.
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    Default Re: how do YOU deal with "scared" players?

    The Time and Space approaches are good but there is also a psychological method.

    Run an encounter which actually scares them. It's tricky to pull off but it should habituate them somewhat.
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    Default Re: how do YOU deal with "scared" players?

    Quote Originally Posted by 3drinks View Post
    So I'm liking everything presented here and surely it's helping my own ability to plan. But how do you handle the passage of time without it seeming arbitrary? That's my hangup on it.
    Pretty much every action has a listed time scale it takes to do.

    Resting takes 8 hours for instance, and you cannot recover resources twice in the same 24 hour period.

    Gathering information with Diplomacy? 1d4 hours.

    Casting meding? 10 minutes.

    Etc., etc.

    Just apply the natural time consequences that each action takes.

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    Jay R's Avatar

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    Default Re: how do YOU deal with "scared" players?

    Quote Originally Posted by 3drinks View Post
    So I'm liking everything presented here and surely it's helping my own ability to plan. But how do you handle the passage of time without it seeming arbitrary? That's my hangup on it.
    Write down a table of possible results (which the players do not see), roll a die, look through a couple of books, and then arbitrarily decide that the most narratively interesting result occurred.

    [Yes, of course this is arbitrary. You didn't ask how to keep it from being arbitrary; you asked how to keep it from seeming arbitrary.]


    Sigh. Oh, all right; I'll be serious. You decide what will be there when they get back exactly the same way you decided what would be there the first time, informed by what you already know is nearby.

    Look through your notes to see who else is likely to reach that spot, decide the probability that they do so, and then roll to see if it happens.

    For instance, let's say the party slew six ogres, and then went back to town to recuperate. Check the surroundings. If there are other ogres around, then the party might come back to a dozen ogres burying their dead kin and swearing vengeance.

    If there is a dragon on a nearby mountain, they might come back to a dragon eating ogre flesh.

    If there is a necromancer inside the dungeon they didn't enter, then they could come back and find six ogre zombies.

    If nothing else, there should be wolves or ravens or vultures eating the corpses, and smells that are attracting other animals.

    The crucial fact is that the world is not in stasis. Things are happening, because the PCs aren't the only ones doing stuff.

    When you (or some module writer) decided what encounters would be found, that isn't intended to be creatures that are always and forever staying right there. They are the creatures who happen to be there the moment the PCs show up the first time. It isn't arbitrary to have something else there the second time, based on what was left behind the first time.

    Or at least, it's no more arbitrary than deciding what was there the first time.

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    GreataxeFighterGuy

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    Default Re: how do YOU deal with "scared" players?

    That....makes a ton of sense, thank you for that!
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    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: how do YOU deal with "scared" players?

    Quote Originally Posted by 3drinks View Post
    So I'm liking everything presented here and surely it's helping my own ability to plan. But how do you handle the passage of time without it seeming arbitrary? That's my hangup on it.
    Another way to deal with your hang up, on time might be to discuss character goals/backstory with your Pc's, then build a timeline by collaborating with your players. This way the use of time will seem less arbitrary to your players, because they were involved in the decision making process and you won't have to do as much work.

    Ex. 1: Let's say the Fighter wants to join Organization X and that organization only accepts new members on date Y. This should help make the Fighter more aware of how much time they have spent, especially if there are other adventures they have to accomplish first.
    Ex. 2: Let's say the Warlock looking to avenge the death of their father and finds out that a specific person might know the whereabouts of the six fingered man that killed the Warlock's father and will be in X city on Y date.

    In any case, the timeline should be short enough, so the players should realize that time is finite. I recognize that this is Dungeons & Dragons, not Resource Management & Dragons, but time is a resource to and should be used wisely.


    In terms of potions: You may want to consider whether healing potions randomly heal hp, or heal a fixed number of hp

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    Default Re: how do YOU deal with "scared" players?

    Also, if you use wandering monsters at all, remember that they wander whether there are PCs around or not. Anything that appears on your wandering monster chart for that area is likely to come by and see the carnage.

    Most especially, anybody who lives near there is now on guard. Suppose you lived in a dangerous area where raiders are a possibility, and you found the bodies of your dead neighbors. Wouldn’t you prepare for the next attack?

    The dead bodies next to an unopened but exposed dungeon is a clear indication that people know about the dungeon, and intend to come back, or at least tell others about it.

    They are now expecting a party capable of beating six ogres, but who were sufficiently damaged By six ogres to go back home to rest.

    This is an obvious place to set up an ambush, complete with footprints to show which direction the marauding PCs will be coming from — and they’re probably due tomorrow morning. Set up the ambush on the east side of trail, so it’s harder to see them on the morning light.

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    Default Re: how do YOU deal with "scared" players?

    I know a way to kinda fix this, but it might be a solution most people don't really like.

    Potions: Reduce cost to maybe a 1/10th and add an expiration date, forcing them to use them or lose them for the duration of the adventure. Allow them to get longer duration potions, but at heightened cost, with regular potions lasting a full year.
    Wands: Reduce the number of charges to 10 (along with the cost), but allow them an easy way to recharge them back at town.
    Staffs: Allow them to recharge them, but otherwise keep them as the same.

    Well, that deals with cautious players' concern for items.

    For combat, you just kinda gotta hammer home that time passes even while they rest. Have them be attacked in "safe" areas, punish them if they don't have watches, berate their cowardice from NPC's and possibly spread bad rumors from their inactions.

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    Default Re: how do YOU deal with "scared" players?

    Quote Originally Posted by 3drinks View Post
    So I'm liking everything presented here and surely it's helping my own ability to plan. But how do you handle the passage of time without it seeming arbitrary? That's my hangup on it.
    You can't really escape the accusation of being arbitrary. Either you yourself decided, during your adventure prep, that events would happen over a certain timeframe, or that dungeon denizens would follow certain schedules, or that antagonists would react intelligently to the PCs, etc., or the module you are running includes such details, which means someone else decided to include those elements.

    But the fact that you might be accused of being arbitrary does not mean that is what is happening. Such decisions are being made to further the goal of building a believable, living, breathing world.
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    RedKnightGirl

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    d6 Re: how do YOU deal with "scared" players?

    Time and distance are an ally to a DM. If they are 4 or 5 days away from that town. Do they really want go back?
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    Lizardfolk

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    Default Re: how do YOU deal with "scared" players?

    My suggestion is getting rid or consumables and use per day items instead (or even per encounter.) Then they have no reason to not use them, as they will get the benefit next time as well.
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    Default Re: how do YOU deal with "scared" players?

    Talk to them about it out-of-character. Ask them if they're playing this way because they enjoy it, because they're afraid you'll hit them with something horrible without warning, because they feel it's in-character for their characters, because "well why not just top up if we can", or something else.

    The answer to that will give you a sense of how (and if) to move forward with the issue.

    For instance, if they enjoy it there might not be anything you can do (although you can ask them why they enjoy it and dig into that.)

    If it's what they think their characters would do, or if the answer is "why not?", providing in-universe time-pressure might be a good answer.

    It's also possible that they'll just stop doing that if you point it out. At my table we've eg. had to explain to the youngest player that going to sleep at 11:00 AM after one encounter to recover all our spells wasn't a reasonable thing to do in-universe even if it made tactical sense - sometimes players just go "oops, right" and get more into character after that. But to some extent it depends on what sort of game they want to play.
    Last edited by Aquillion; 2019-10-21 at 03:41 PM.

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