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  1. - Top - End - #31
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    Default Re: Is D&D too hard?

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post

    Consistently hitting an arbitrary "80% resources consumed" mark? That's terrible in general, and terrible for your group in particular.

    It's terrible in general, because it makes the world a grey, unmemorable, low-agency mess. Remember day 27? Oh, was that the day we ended with 19% resources left? No, that was day 43; day 27 was one of the usual 20% days. Bleh. No, I remember the fight where my "not a Frenzied Berserker" ran out of HP, and PSP, and finally dropped, leaving just one man still standing at the end of what otherwise wouldn't have been a terribly memorable or important fight.
    Of course that is boring, but it won't actually happen.

    The 80% mark is an average. Dice change. Tactics change. Environments change. Sometimes the DM makes a mistake or forgets to factor something in. And, some encounters are just more (or less) effective against certain party compositions.
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    Default Re: Is D&D too hard?

    If I were to take any issue with the "averaging around 20% per fight, and 80% per day", even if the split ends up like...10%, 15%, 25%, and 30%...that has the adventurers resting for the day with about 20% of their resources left. If they get attacked while resting, is it gonna be another 10% they can wipe easy, a 15% that'll put that at risk, a 25% that might well wipe the party, or a 30% that will almost assuredly wipe the party? When they choose to rest is semi-within their control, and in general, I'd probably choose to rest if I fell below...probably about 40%? Maybe a bit lower on spells/consumables, depending on how good the ones I've got left are, but definitely for HP, I'm gonna be kinda nervous going into a fight with less than half health and the cleric going "sorry I'll have more healing tomorrow".
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    Default Re: Is D&D too hard?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    To deflect this, I usually point to the DMG, and how I typically follow the guidelines in it pretty much too the letter, with each adventuring day using up roughly ~80% of the party's resources. If anything I actually softball it a little, as I don't use the part where it says "5% of all encounters should be overwhelming difficult and dealt with by running" or that most encounters should include a few scary moments.
    Huh. Well this could go two ways: either the players feel like they're working too hard to get results with that expenditure rate, or they feel like they should not be expending that much in a day.
    So are the guidelines in the DMG too hard?
    I think they're pretty spot on myself. Red Hand of Doom is a beloved module and lines up well enough.
    If so, what is the right level of challenge? And how do you run an easier game without breaking the system or the setting?
    That'll depend on what exactly you need to do to make the game feel appropriately easier for these players, and what they're playing. If they want to work less hard, then you'll just have to dial it back- however, if their builds allow them to suddenly increase in competence (eg: the wizard suddenly switches from simple spells to cheese mode), then you'll have to strategically plan for which fights they'll be lazy, and which fights they'll hulk out. This is how a lot of video games function, as well as many tabletop campaigns, and it'd be my first guess.

    But, if they're all playing builds which function at the same constant power level (ToB, fixed/limited spell known casters, etc), you can at least keep a constant threat on your end.

    1: My players do not memorize the monster manual, and I often use customized or reskinned monsters. If my players don't have any information gathering or knowledge abilities, they normally learn their opponent's abilities by doing over the course of the encounter.
    You'll just have to ask if this is an issue, 'cause it's perfectly normal and their reaction is up to them. Even without "memorizing" the monster manual there are plenty of benchmarks they could pick up on, if they were inclined to do so.
    2: I often place "optional" monsters in dungeons which are not required to complete the main plot and are in addition to the standard CR budget, but provide additional XP and / or treasure. To most players, they may not seem optional at all.
    Yup, good guess there. I'd recommend planning under the assumption they will fight everything, and adjust later if it turns out they skip something.
    3: I might just play monsters too smart. I typically allow them to use tactics, prepare for the fight, and make use of the terrain. . . while I had a standard young adult green dragon use cover, camouflage, deadfall traps, and low level buff spells, and both were able to be of a similar level of difficulty to the party.
    Yeah, this is the kinda thing that will probably trigger their "its too hard" response. And if you hadn't already given that you're estimating them at the correct resource expenditure, I'd point out that giving monsters advantageous terrain does in fact make those fights harder, as per the DMG. Said fights should give more xp than normal due the monsters' advantage, and traps provide their own xp and count towards overall EL as well. As for the dragon's buffs, if it made for a good match against the party then its fine, but I always point out that the books really don't account for the difference between a char-op'd and vanilla dragon, period.


    So, basically, I have four players:
    One of them bitches about basically every encounter and finds someone or something to blame anytime his character fails at something.
    One of them is normally fine, but occasionally, usually when encountering a monster that he can't just run up to and trade full attacks with, or when he is wrong about a rule, he explodes, calls people (usually me) names, screams, and threatens to quit the game.
    The other two were pretty calm and drama free, but during the last half-dozen sessions or so they started exhibiting the same behavior as the first two, and I don't know it is the other players rubbing off on them, my game driving them to it, or some combination of the above.
    Oh it'll definitely be the combo, it would appear you have two people who'd rather lose their temper than have a frank discussion (unless of course you've had this discussion and failed to change the game when they reasonably voiced concerns). But unless #1 is a habitual complainer in general and #2 has temper issues that are medically out of their control, usually it would be recommended to stop playing with them.
    I typically run about six encounters a session.
    That is quite high, though speed of play and hours of session vary wildly. It also brings up the question of resource expenditure again, as if they're running 6 encounters per day, they're actually below 20% per encounter- and thus are scrimping to less than 20% in order to manage. If you're running some underleveled fights (which are 10-30% on the table) so 6/day would be fair, but which are then optimized and advantageously terrained to make up for it, then you are indeed pushing harder than the book says.
    The players complain that they are forced to spend too much money on consumables, but are still significantly above WBL the entire game.
    Easy check, the sidebar on page 54 tells the difference in treasure gained vs wealth expected, which you can subtract to get the expected consumables used. If they're using more than that, then by the book they are using more than expected. That said, if they're staying above WBL in permanent useful items, then it's fine mechanically. But if they feel that expending consumables means they're failing, you should probably rethink your treasure system. It'll mean they'll have less wiggle room, but they might be less annoyed?

    About once every five sessions they have a close fight where several of the players are down and they are seriously considering retreating to avoid a TPK, but pull through and win in the end.
    About once every ten sessions the players will have an encounter where they are unable to achieve their goals the first time. They decide to fall back and regroup / resupply / research / ask for help, the enemy gets away and has to be tracked down, or the enemy incapacitates them on their first encounter.
    About once every twenty sessions the party suffers a serious setback; the fail to stop the villain, they are forced to abandon the mission, one of the players dies (and resurrections isn't recoverable), they get their allies killed, or they make a mistake and choose the wrong side.
    About once every fifty sessions the group actually suffers a TPK and either starts over or has to resort to a deus ex machina.
    I presume that by 1/50 sessions in a game that lasted about 50 sessions you mean they TPK'd only once? Reasonable for groups that consider it fair, but some people don't think they should ever TPK, which means you just need to walk a tighter rope. I would point out that if they TPK'd due to a fight where the DM made it impossible to retreat, that's on the DM, no matter how justified it is for their foes in-world. Unless the players actively choose to walk into a no-retreat scenario, it's never going to feel fair.

    As for 1/5 having multiple downs, you've said that's only 1/30 encounters, which yeah by the DMG is actually way better than normal odds. Though this makes me notice something else: at 6 encounters per session, if those are level average, they're leveling up almost every other session. This game must have gone 1-20. But also, leveling up that fast probably means they barely had time to even use, let alone grow fully accustomed to, a particular level's worth of abilities and foes before rushing off to the next. If you're constantly fighting harder foes without seeing your previous foes crushed under your new comfortable power level, well yeah.

    For example, last year the wizard player came to me and said the game was too hard because he ends every adventuring day with only about 20% of his spells remaining, and that means I am cutting it close. I responded by saying something along the lines of "Good, that is exactly what I am shooting for!", which he (and several forum-goers) took as me just dismissing his concerns about the fundamental nature of the challenge I am shooting for, and now I seem to be having a similar conversation here, just the other way around.
    Did you also tell them why? 'Cause not telling them why would be pretty dismissive. I'd be more interested in hearing a player explain why they think they should be ending with X higher amount of resources (seriously, would be interesting).
    I also found out today that two of the players in question were on mood altering prescription medication during their outbursts, so that problem might solve itself.
    Ah.



    There's more discussion further down about hitting 80% every day- I would assume that this is hyperbole, and there are days with random/traveling/etc encounters where the party does not burn through "all" their resources. That would indeed be a massive oversight, but you've said it varies.

    Regarding their knowledge of whether they're punching above their weight or not: there are mechanics the party can use to figure out how powerful an opponent is so they know this. But in order to do so they'd have to actually use those mechanics. As such, I (possibly to detriment, possibly not) generally make it known when they are. For example: I might point out that the thing they're fighting is the size of an Elephant, which is a CR 7 with 100 hit points, but this breathes fire! Or that it's the kind of thing that eats Elephants for breakfast. Spellcraft and Knoweldge checks that reveal the spell (and thus level of spell) the enemy just cast, or the SLAs they have, also tell the PCs exactly how powerful the thing they're fighting is. Liches are a minimum of 11th level, and I see no particular reason this needs to be behind a skill check if they hear about a Lich- "Yeah that guy's 11th absolute minimum, almost certainly more, with a pile of immunities and defenses." And once they've beat something and aren't likely to fight it again I don't care if they look it up (indeed, I usually do myself on the player side), for proper context. After which I can say "yeah this new thing is X above the last thing," etc.
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  4. - Top - End - #34
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    Default Re: Is D&D too hard?

    Quote Originally Posted by Firechanter View Post
    Talking about flawed metrics.... xD
    Sure, PCs going down is a definitive sign that the encounter is pretty hard for them, but do not make the mistake to assume the converse. Sometimes a won encounter appears to have been easy when you just look at the result (nobody dropped, not too many HP lost etc), but that doesn't account for the possibility that maybe you only rocked the encounter because that one die fell in your favour, and if that roll had come up differently, it would have set events in motion that could have even led to a TPK.

    Like, reminds me of that one skirmish we once had in PF, level 7 or so, against a bunch of Chuuls and Rorkouns (slime-spitting worms). There were just 3 of us, which generally means there is little margin for error. So on this occasion, one of us is busy getting an overly attached Chuul out of his hair. Meanwhile our Bard makes a little mistake with her movement and exposes herself to a Chuul. The monster does a lot of damage, but fails to Grapple the Bard due to a Nat1. Then the Bard manages to Tumble out of range, barely rolling high enough to avoid an AoO. This happened right in the first round before we could get any buffs up. After that, we get our act together and shred the saucy seafood to Nigiri-sized chunks.
    If the Bard had gotten grappled, she would have been paralyzed. If she hadn't managed to tumble, the AoO would have dropped her. Without her buffs, the other PCs would have gotten zerged, grappled, paralyzed, dragged under water, final curtain.

    So in short, just looking at the outcome you might think "Easy, just some HP damage", but actually it was on a razor's edge due to one little mistake (made by our least experienced player), and our bacon was saved just by two lucky rolls in a row. Then again, it was a CR11-12 encounter while our APL was just around 5.
    That's part of why it's a subjective feeling of drops per combat for a series of combats and not just using one particular combat as a metric. If good player tactics and the occasional good luck means the party tramples through a fight then that only shows that combat is not hard. You could say it is hard and the players are up to the challenge, but it's not hard for those players. Conversely, poor tactics and the occasional bad luck could make for a grueling fight, but that doesn't make the game as a whole hard. The determination is in the pattern of the long term play.
    Last edited by Pex; 2019-11-16 at 12:58 PM.
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  5. - Top - End - #35
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    Default Re: Is D&D too hard?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fizban View Post
    That is quite high, though speed of play and hours of session vary wildly. It also brings up the question of resource expenditure again, as if they're running 6 encounters per day, they're actually below 20% per encounter- and thus are scrimping to less than 20% in order to manage. If you're running some underleveled fights (which are 10-30% on the table) so 6/day would be fair, but which are then optimized and advantageously terrained to make up for it, then you are indeed pushing harder than the book says.
    Most fights are under leveled. I typically balance for the adventuring day rather than individual fights. When terrain (or other miscellaneous factors like surprise or unknown enemy abilities) are an issue, I factor them into the overall challenge and am usually pretty good at still hitting the 80% per adventuring day average.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fizban View Post
    Easy check, the sidebar on page 54 tells the difference in treasure gained vs wealth expected, which you can subtract to get the expected consumables used. If they're using more than that, then by the book they are using more than expected. That said, if they're staying above WBL in permanent useful items, then it's fine mechanically. But if they feel that expending consumables means they're failing, you should probably rethink your treasure system. It'll mean they'll have less wiggle room, but they might be less annoyed?
    Basically, the players tend to attack all of the optional encounters, and are thus above WBL, but also a bit more resource starved then normal. If they are beaten up going into a fight, they will typically use consumables before hand to make up the difference. The extra treasure they get from optional fights is typically more than they get lose from consumables. This results in them having an overall higher WBL than normal in permanent equipment, but also using more consumables than normal.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fizban View Post
    Did you also tell them why? 'Cause not telling them why would be pretty dismissive. I'd be more interested in hearing a player explain why they think they should be ending with X higher amount of resources (seriously, would be interesting).
    I have told him that is the balance point I am shooting for because the game would snowball into an out of control monte-haul scenario if I made it much easier and I believe that challenge and risk are necessary aspects of an RPG from both a narrative and mechanical level to make it seem real and worthwhile.



    As for why he wants it, that is a bit off the beaten path as it involves house rules.

    Basically, I allow scrolls to be crafted XP and GP free, but I also use a long rest variant. In effect, this means that he can save unused spell slots from one adventure to another, and he feels like if he ever ends a mission using more scrolls than he creates he is "getting poorer".

    Quote Originally Posted by Fizban View Post
    As for 1/5 having multiple downs, you've said that's only 1/30 encounters, which yeah by the DMG is actually way better than normal odds. Though this makes me notice something else: at 6 encounters per session, if those are level average, they're leveling up almost every other session. This game must have gone 1-20. But also, leveling up that fast probably means they barely had time to even use, let alone grow fully accustomed to, a particular level's worth of abilities and foes before rushing off to the next. If you're constantly fighting harder foes without seeing your previous foes crushed under your new comfortable power level, well yeah.
    When we play by the book D&D, yeah, they tend to level up every other session. Typically I play a variant like E6 or the like where advancement isn't so extreme though.
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  6. - Top - End - #36
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    Default Re: Is D&D too hard?

    "It's not rules as much as guidelines."


    The important question is: are the players having fun with the level of challenges you present?

    If they're not, the guidelines in the DMG are clearly not working for this party, and you need to adjust some.

    Don't think of what's in the DMG too much as "it's in the book so I must follow it!", but more as a toolbox. You take what you need and what you like, to create an experience. I know others have stated it in this thread, but one of the big perks of D&D and other RPGs is that it is incredibly flexible to use for play.
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  7. - Top - End - #37
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    Default Re: Is D&D too hard?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Of course that is boring, but it won't actually happen.

    The 80% mark is an average. Dice change. Tactics change. Environments change. Sometimes the DM makes a mistake or forgets to factor something in. And, some encounters are just more (or less) effective against certain party compositions.
    Point is, if you are very successful at aiming for "80% resources consumed" difficulty, as you claim, then you are necessarily mashing the encounters (or encounter days) very samey, from a difficulty PoV.

    Whereas, if you look at my encounters, they are not nearly so well balanced. Some days, the party uses almost no resources; other days, they burn through over 100% (ie, they supplement resources with consumables, they retreat, or they TPK).

    To take an earlier suggestion and expand on it, the characters can really feel like they've grown if they go back through the Goblin Caves - which used to consume 80% of their resources per visit - and come out with over 50% resources remaining.

    The existence of variations from day to day - which your player(s) complained was absent (granted, for likely munchkin reasons) - help to differentiate different parts of the campaign in the minds & memories of the players.

    Similarly, the difference in difficulty in dealing with recurring foes (which I still haven't gotten a good answer regarding how often your players are facing familiar encounters - especially with what were once "gotcha" monsters) helps demonstrate how the PCs have grown.

  8. - Top - End - #38
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    Default Re: Is D&D too hard?

    Quote Originally Posted by Firechanter View Post
    Maybe your style of encounters leads to frustration due to lacking sense of achievement. Okay, they win, yes, but only with huge effort (80% resources*), and then for all that trouble, all they have achieved was neutralizing some goblins or whatever. That doesn't even earn them bragging rights.

    Imagine being in the PC's shoes, as they return to town after a hard adventuring day:
    Barkeep: "Whoa, you look pretty beat up, what ever happened to you?"
    Party: "Goblins."
    B: "What, Goblins did that to you? Are you messing with me?"
    P: "Yah well, they were really nasty Goblins and they used the terrain to their advantage."
    B: "Riiiight, the terrain. Uh-huh."
    P: "We did kill them eventually!"
    B: "And do you want a medal for Goblin-slaying now? Tell you what, here's a cup of warm milk on the house for everyone. Also, I have a cellar full of rats, that might be more up your alley."

    Now imagine the same scene, except the party killed a band of Trolls or Fire Giants or whatever sounds tough at their level. I don't think I need to spell it out, but the Barkeep's reaction would be different.
    So, regardless of whether any such scenes ever play out at your table -- something like that is probably going on inside your players' heads. Hence they get mopey.

    --

    *) come to think of it, strictly speaking "80% of resources" cannot mean "80% of HP _and_ 80% of spells", much less "and 80% of consumables". After all, HP need to be restored, and that will probably require more magic resources (like the next day's spell slots). Sure, casting Cure spells in downtime is practically free, but keep in mind that if restoring those HP takes, say, 40% of another day's spell slots, that adventuring day actually cost them 120% of their daily resources. Ofc I don't know if you handle it that way or not, just wanted to get the thought out.
    This reminds me of a couple animes. Grimgar of fantasy and ash as well as goblin slayer.

    Make no mistake, goblins are nasty when played right. A paizo pfs ap had a trio pf goblin alchemists in the rafters of a warehouse. Their high dex and positioning allowed them cover and their base 21 ac was no joke at that level. When I went through it, we curb stomped them easily.

    But then I ran it. What to my party was a 20-25 minute encounter became 2 1/2 hour 15 round blow out. I changed nothing about the writing. I ran it as written. One of the playerswas the guy who ran it for me. Needless to say, the party wasn't happy.

    "But those were alchemists" you might say. True, and that is the scariest thing about goblins. THEY CAN TAKE CLASS LEVELS. They are a full pc race. They can have20th level goblin fighters and sorcerers. So for this supposed barkeep to scoff so much, he'd have to be pretty clueless.
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    Default Re: Is D&D too hard?

    I am not sure if you run a too difficult game.. but I feel your obsessive need to finish the day at 80% resources used for the players probably makes the game feel un-rewarding for them.

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    Default Re: Is D&D too hard?

    Is it possible they'd just like some non-combat encounters?

    Or maybe even just more RP time?

    6 encounters in a session seems a very fast pace, unless your sessions are 12 hours long. My sessions are a bit on the short side (3 hours of actual play, plus time spent on greetings, breaks, pizza ordering, etc), but actually completing 2 entire combat encounters in a single session is pretty rare for us once we get past 5th level or so.

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    Default Re: Is D&D too hard?

    Quote Originally Posted by Elkad View Post
    Is it possible they'd just like some non-combat encounters?

    Or maybe even just more RP time?

    6 encounters in a session seems a very fast pace, unless your sessions are 12 hours long. My sessions are a bit on the short side (3 hours of actual play, plus time spent on greetings, breaks, pizza ordering, etc), but actually completing 2 entire combat encounters in a single session is pretty rare for us once we get past 5th level or so.
    I wish. I actually would prefer a generally less combat intensive game, but I have never had the pleasure of running for a group where the "kick in the door" style was not the preferred method of play.

    Not that I actually dislike combat mind you, I would just prefer a game with more of a focus on social encounters and downtime activities.

    Quote Originally Posted by ngilop View Post
    I am not sure if you run a too difficult game.. but I feel your obsessive need to finish the day at 80% resources used for the players probably makes the game feel un-rewarding for them.
    You might be reading a bit too much into it.

    This is just the balance point I shoot for when designing adventures, and am practiced enough at doing so that the average adventuring day comes pretty close to that, but there are a lot of individual fluctuations on any given adventuring day, I don't quite see how you get "obsessive need" from that.

    I am curious though, about why it might feel unrewarding. For me, rewards come from XP, treasure, and social recognition, and I don't see how resource expenditures really factor into it.



    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Point is, if you are very successful at aiming for "80% resources consumed" difficulty, as you claim, then you are necessarily mashing the encounters (or encounter days) very samey, from a difficulty PoV.

    Whereas, if you look at my encounters, they are not nearly so well balanced. Some days, the party uses almost no resources; other days, they burn through over 100% (ie, they supplement resources with consumables, they retreat, or they TPK).

    To take an earlier suggestion and expand on it, the characters can really feel like they've grown if they go back through the Goblin Caves - which used to consume 80% of their resources per visit - and come out with over 50% resources remaining.

    The existence of variations from day to day - which your player(s) complained was absent (granted, for likely munchkin reasons) - help to differentiate different parts of the campaign in the minds & memories of the players.

    Similarly, the difference in difficulty in dealing with recurring foes (which I still haven't gotten a good answer regarding how often your players are facing familiar encounters - especially with what were once "gotcha" monsters) helps demonstrate how the PCs have grown.
    Well, in my most recent game I was running a semi sandbox, and so the players had the option of choosing to go to a dungeon that was balanced for higher or lower level characters, so they could do that.

    But as a general rule, my players would run riot if I threw a mission at them where the expected difficulty with significantly higher than normal (or where the difficulty and corresponding rewards were lower level), they are obsessed with balance and fairness and frequently accuse me of running dungeons that are "too hard" as is.

    Also, please, for the love of all the is holy, don't bring the "G-word" into this thread.
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    Default Re: Is D&D too hard?

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Point is, if you are very successful at aiming for "80% resources consumed" difficulty, as you claim, then you are necessarily mashing the encounters (or encounter days) very samey, from a difficulty PoV.

    Whereas, if you look at my encounters, they are not nearly so well balanced. Some days, the party uses almost no resources; other days, they burn through over 100% (ie, they supplement resources with consumables, they retreat, or they TPK).

    To take an earlier suggestion and expand on it, the characters can really feel like they've grown if they go back through the Goblin Caves - which used to consume 80% of their resources per visit - and come out with over 50% resources remaining.

    The existence of variations from day to day - which your player(s) complained was absent (granted, for likely munchkin reasons) - help to differentiate different parts of the campaign in the minds & memories of the players.

    Similarly, the difference in difficulty in dealing with recurring foes (which I still haven't gotten a good answer regarding how often your players are facing familiar encounters - especially with what were once "gotcha" monsters) helps demonstrate how the PCs have grown.
    Definitely helps a lot to face old foes. I remember an old 3E game a combat was such an ordeal fighting a few distrachans. Six or seven levels later the party fights another group of distrachans and we win in 2 rounds without a scratch. Current 5E game when the campaign started at 6th level an ogre or two was the BBEG of a fight. When we were 13th level fighting demons and giants, those same ogres we encounter in our travels run away from us before there is even a fight as flavor text.

    Perception is key. Players need those easy fights. A spellcaster player will be happy he only needed to cast Cantrips. A warrior player with Great Weapon Master will be happy to use the -5/+10 part every round and not have an angst decision of whether he needs the accuracy instead or the extra damage means he kills things in one round if not one hit. It's a way to enjoy the combat play of the game for the sake of the combat play with the relief of knowing for this instance there's no real risk or threat. In character the players realize their PCs truly are that bad-donkey.
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    Default Re: Is D&D too hard?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I do not count consumables.

    The DMG defines resources as "Hit points, spells, magic item charges, etc."

    Logically speaking, it would have to include HP, other wise the CR system would just throw up its hands in defeat the first time someone made a party that didn't include any casters (or casters that never get spell slots / don't get spell slots until mid-level).
    Because it *does*. If your party is not the classic 4 man band of Fighter, Rogue, Cleric, Wizard (or characters with a very similar breadth and depth of abilities), the CR system is meaningless.

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    Default Re: Is D&D too hard?

    In my experience, players are just {scrubbed} "double-plus unsmart". Usually it's the DM who knows the game well, the players are often just there for the social aspect. Even if not, too many players *enjoy* making dumb choices; it's their way of blowing off steam from their regular lives, I think. It's infuriating. D&D is not hard, but it's a gamers game, not a casual one (you have 5e for that).
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    Default Re: Is D&D too hard?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post

    I am curious though, about why it might feel unrewarding. For me, rewards come from XP, treasure, and social recognition, and I don't see how resource expenditures really factor into it.

    I do believe i found the crux of the issue.

    There has to be a risk vs reward matrix of sorts. Well, some people operate on such a principle, you seem to be in the group that do not. What it entails is that the reward one gets should outweigh the risks you put towards the goal of gaining said rewards.

    The simple act of getting rewards is meaningless in and of itself for some people. A reward dos not have as much value behind it if it is always given freely. Likewise, if it takes everything you have t gain a reward the value is not as great. Your players seem frustrated that they have to put everything into every fight to get any rewards. They are not upset they have difficult encounters. it is that you make every 'day' to force them to have that 80%, and the knowledge that the next fight (if one were to ever happen) would kill them all. and it is like that every day. Your players' expectations are in contrast to you in your 'rewards are rewards' belief.

    I do not think their complaint is "D&D is too hard" but rather "your D&D is too hard because you make everything a struggle to get anything"

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    Yes, D&D is too hard. In fact, if the DM does anything else except actively alter the game world and game play in favor of the players, D&D is 'too' hard for most players.

    A LOT of games do such things as: House Rules that favor the PCs(max hit points is a common one), allow the players to freeze game time to get ready, always let the players 'go' first in an encounter, The DM role plays zero agression from any foe, plot armor and keeping things very simple. This makes things quite easy for the players, but that is why they are done.

    Using bland by-the-book foes and giving the players just about all the game related information are another big one to make for a smooth easy game.

    And using just about no tatics, terrain, environment, or common sense is another big one.

    In such a smooth game, foes just walk up to the PCs to be targets for their fun.

    Now, please, please, understand that there is nothing wrong with ANY of this: it's a perfectly fine way to play the game.


    For example, lets take a group attacked by some foes like orcs. In the easy smooth game the orcs simply walk over and attack...after the players have gotten ready and acted first, of course. But consider:

    A ranged attack: this is just a very simple tactic. The orcs shoot arrows from a good range away. So round one is the players screaming as their characters get hit with arrows from ''they don't know". Right here, this alone is too hard for some players: to have thier character attacked and they had no near automatic way to both know about it and avoid it and even more so prepare against it.

    Add in torrent/environment: To even just have the orcs up in trees or any high ground is way too hard for many players. Not to mention if they were on the other side of a river or cliff side or if the PC are say crossing a bridge over a river.

    'Two' encounters: Endgame here, as the orcs split up into two or three groups and shoot arrows from more then one direction.

    The above ranged orc attack can be very low challange rating wise, but still be way, way, way to hard of an encounter for a lot of players. And the above encounter is still very simple. And it's nowhere even close to an impossible to win encounter......but it's just too hard for many players.

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    Default Re: Is D&D too hard?

    Quote Originally Posted by ngilop View Post
    I do not think their complaint is "D&D is too hard" but rather "your D&D is too hard because you make everything a struggle to get anything"
    That's kind of how this started.

    People said my game was too hard, I said I am just following the guidelines in the DMG, and people responded that maybe the DMG doesn't know what it is talking about; hence this thread.

    The DMG absolutely says that everything should be a struggle, and actually takes it even further than I do, for example it flat out says that a fight without resource loss on the party of the players isn't a challenge and shouldn't be worth any XP.

    Quote Originally Posted by ngilop View Post
    They are not upset they have difficult encounters. it is that you make every 'day' to force them to have that 80%, and the knowledge that the next fight (if one were to ever happen) would kill them all. and it is like that every day. Your players' expectations are in contrast to you in your 'rewards are rewards' belief.
    That is actually a very good point. I can see it as being sort of a "glass half full" sort of thing, which varies from player to player:

    After killing a huge dragon that took everything the party had player one might think:

    "Man, that was a super tough dragon. He took everything he had! But in the end, we pulled through! We are such badasses!"

    While player two might think:

    "Man, that was a super tought dragon. It took everything we had to pull through! Now we have nothing left, and are the weakest and most vulnerable we have ever been!"
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    Default Re: Is D&D too hard?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post


    That is actually a very good point. I can see it as being sort of a "glass half full" sort of thing, which varies from player to player:

    After killing a huge dragon that took everything the party had player one might think:

    "Man, that was a super tough dragon. He took everything he had! But in the end, we pulled through! We are such badasses!"

    While player two might think:

    "Man, that was a super tought dragon. It took everything we had to pull through! Now we have nothing left, and are the weakest and most vulnerable we have ever been!"
    The kicker is what happens next. If the party gets to rest up - no more adventuring for the day, no interruption of sleep, start fresh next game day - then you get the former. However, if there will be another fight or otherwise the adventure demands the players keep going for another 30 minutes of real world time play or you will have mission failure then you'll get the latter. It won't matter that hypothetical fight is easy or at least doable given the party's current state or what needs to be done is glorified bookkeeping. The players are mentally exhausted yet the DM demands they continue on else they're doomed. It becomes a frustration, and that is what players will remember - not how awesome they were defeating the dragon.
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    Default Re: Is D&D too hard?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    The DMG absolutely says that everything should be a struggle,
    No, it doesn't go that far. I've been rolling with it, but your expectation of 80% resource expenditure per day is a personally derived result. What the book says is that they should average 20% resources expended per encounter equal to their level- which means they can fight up to four or five in a day (and should stop at four in case they're ambushed etc), but that's it.

    Now, it's natural to take that as a standard or even minimum due to the fact that single encounter days are usually pretty obvious and so the players will burn excess resources to make it even easier than the standard ease of EL=level "challenges," and a DM who runs site based dungeons "intelligently" will also push doing as much as possible before resting (because the DM will then boost the dungeon). But as long as there was some threat and they expended appropriate, rather than extravagant, resources, a single encounter day is perfectly reasonable and not at all against the DMG's guidelines. And defeating a single encounter with restraint, ending the day with nearly full resources, is another potential demonstration of power and mastery, as well as a rest: you fought and were ready for more, but it turned out you didn't even need to worry.

    This is separate from table 3-2's Encounter Difficulty breakdown. Though there is also the potential for planning EIHP (easy if handled properly) encounters and having the players fail to handle any of them properly and thus rarely seeing a truly easy encounter, the 10% of deliberately underleveled encounters does not necessarily mean they are intended to be combined in the same day.
    and actually takes it even further than I do, for example it flat out says that a fight without resource loss on the party of the players isn't a challenge and shouldn't be worth any XP.
    And? So they get no xp due to excessively favorable circumstances, but still get treasure and mission completion progress, as well as the feeling of power associated with curb stomping an enemy.

    I would further note that single encounters where the PCs expend an extravagent amount of resources should give reduced or even zero xp, as they create for themselves an excessively favorable situation (and in-world it makes sense too, because when you need to learn and maintain the skill of measured resource use, overkill is just dumbing yourself down).
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    Default Re: Is D&D too hard?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fizban View Post
    No, it doesn't go that far. I've been rolling with it, but your expectation of 80% resource expenditure per day is a personally derived result. What the book says is that they should average 20% resources expended per encounter equal to their level- which means they can fight up to four or five in a day (and should stop at four in case they're ambushed etc), but that's it.

    Now, it's natural to take that as a standard or even minimum due to the fact that single encounter days are usually pretty obvious and so the players will burn excess resources to make it even easier than the standard ease of EL=level "challenges," and a DM who runs site based dungeons "intelligently" will also push doing as much as possible before resting (because the DM will then boost the dungeon). But as long as there was some threat and they expended appropriate, rather than extravagant, resources, a single encounter day is perfectly reasonable and not at all against the DMG's guidelines. And defeating a single encounter with restraint, ending the day with nearly full resources, is another potential demonstration of power and mastery, as well as a rest: you fought and were ready for more, but it turned out you didn't even need to worry.

    This is separate from table 3-2's Encounter Difficulty breakdown. Though there is also the potential for planning EIHP (easy if handled properly) encounters and having the players fail to handle any of them properly and thus rarely seeing a truly easy encounter, the 10% of deliberately underleveled encounters does not necessarily mean they are intended to be combined in the same day.
    I suppose this is technically true, the book does use a lot of fuzzy language like "should" and seems to leave it in the player's hands about whether or not they follow these guidelines.

    Which is of course, nonsense. In D&D the tactical choice, from the parties perspective, is to always go nova and then rest after every encounter.

    I have always seen it as the DM's responsibility to give the players incentive to follow them, but I suppose that is a bit of reading between the lines.

    The 5E is a lot more explicit about how many encounters the DM should place in each day.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fizban View Post
    And? So they get no xp due to excessively favorable circumstances, but still get treasure and mission completion progress, as well as the feeling of power associated with curb stomping an enemy.

    I would further note that single encounters where the PCs expend an extravagent amount of resources should give reduced or even zero xp, as they create for themselves an excessively favorable situation (and in-world it makes sense too, because when you need to learn and maintain the skill of measured resource use, overkill is just dumbing yourself down).

    That was specifically in response to someone saying that it is I, not the DMG, that came up with the idea that players should need to expend resources, and I was pointing out that not only does the DMG say that, it actually takes a step further than I ever would by saying that something MUST require resource expenditure to provide XP.
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    Default Re: Is D&D too hard?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I suppose this is technically true, the book does use a lot of fuzzy language like "should" and seems to leave it in the player's hands about whether or not they follow these guidelines.
    So are you trying to follow the DMG or not? You can't hold up one part to justify something and then blame it for a ruling that wasn't even in there.
    Which is of course, nonsense. In D&D the tactical choice, from the parties perspective, is to always go nova and then rest after every encounter.
    I have always seen it as the DM's responsibility to give the players incentive to follow them, but I suppose that is a bit of reading between the lines.
    And the usual incentive is writing the adventure so that resting every encounter is either tactically unsound or leads to undesireable outcomes other than their personal deaths (aside from the primary pressure of the presumption that the players would find this boring and show up to play in some manner conductive to the DM's game, because tabletop is not a videogame). And as you have already acknowledged, it's likely that your players do not consider optional objectives optional, which means that adventures with otherwise "soft" limits are actually hard limits, and if you wrote them, that's your adventure pushing harder than the players want. Not the DMG.
    That was specifically in response to someone saying that it is I, not the DMG, that came up with the idea that players should need to expend resources, and I was pointing out that not only does the DMG say that, it actually takes a step further than I ever would by saying that something MUST require resource expenditure to provide XP.
    Looks to me like they were saying that it was your idea to go 80% per day every day, which is not in the DMG. Their specific line is "you make it a struggle to get anything." The second part of their post, which you acknowledged, clarifies this.

    And my further response is that your insistence on rewarding xp for any sort of combat incentivizes the same nova tactics you say you want to discourage. If the PCs have a one-sided fight because they burned an entire day's worth of spells on a chump and then went back to sleep, and the DMG explicitly says that favorable/unfavorable circumstances modify xp awards, why wouldn't they get less xp for that? If you give them full xp for going nova, of course it would seem unfair if they got no xp for "flawless," (which is actually "lucksack" or "were never actually at any risk." If you don't want people to play like it's a videogame, then don't give out guaranteed minimum rewards like one. Getting no xp for a "fight" where you were never at risk isn't harsh, it's the only sensible result.

    The same solution applies to the "hunting for xp" problem where people will go searching for a random encounter to push them over the level like its a videogame: so don't give them xp for it. Xp comes from practical experience and accomplishment of goals, randomly walking off into the woods to lob a Fireball at a bear furthers no goals and actively reduces your ability to continue with what you're supposed to be doing. So it gives no xp. Because the DM decides what encounters are worth xp- the justification is just gravy.
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    Default Re: Is D&D too hard?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fizban View Post
    So are you trying to follow the DMG or not? You can't hold up one part to justify something and then blame it for a ruling that wasn't even in there.
    I was following the part of the DMG that says an average encounter should consume about 20% of the party's resources and that a party will usually go through four such encounters before needing to rest; which I infer to mean than an average adventuring day should use up ~80% of the party's resources.

    I am not following everything in the DMG.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fizban View Post
    And my further response is that your insistence on rewarding xp for any sort of combat incentivizes the same nova tactics you say you want to discourage. If the PCs have a one-sided fight because they burned an entire day's worth of spells on a chump and then went back to sleep, and the DMG explicitly says that favorable/unfavorable circumstances modify xp awards, why wouldn't they get less xp for that? If you give them full xp for going nova, of course it would seem unfair if they got no xp for "flawless," (which is actually "lucksack" or "were never actually at any risk." If you don't want people to play like it's a videogame, then don't give out guaranteed minimum rewards like one. Getting no xp for a "fight" where you were never at risk isn't harsh, it's the only sensible result.

    The same solution applies to the "hunting for xp" problem where people will go searching for a random encounter to push them over the level like its a videogame: so don't give them xp for it. Xp comes from practical experience and accomplishment of goals, randomly walking off into the woods to lob a Fireball at a bear furthers no goals and actively reduces your ability to continue with what you're supposed to be doing. So it gives no xp. Because the DM decides what encounters are worth xp- the justification is just gravy.
    I don't actually give XP for combat at all; I use milestone levelling exclusively.

    Honestly, if I ever tried giving less XP based on tactics, I am pretty sure my players would riot.

    I only brought up the quote about encounters requiring resource expenditure to give CR to show that sometimes the DMG is even more hard-core about enforcing resource expenditure than I am.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fizban View Post
    And as you have already acknowledged, it's likely that your players do not consider optional objectives optional, which means that adventures with otherwise "soft" limits are actually hard limits, and if you wrote them, that's your adventure pushing harder than the players want. Not the DMG.
    Not sure where you are going with this.

    I was discussing this as a possible reason why my campaign might seem to hard despite otherwise sticking to the DMG guidelines. Pointing it out and saying that it deviates from the DMG isn't really proving any sort of point of saying anything I didn't already say in the OP.
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    Default Re: Is D&D too hard?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Not sure where you are going with this.

    I was discussing this as a possible reason why my campaign might seem to hard despite otherwise sticking to the DMG guidelines. Pointing it out and saying that it deviates from the DMG isn't really proving any sort of point of saying anything I didn't already say in the OP.
    You responded to another post with "The DMG absolutely says everything should be a struggle," but it does not- the DMG is not a proper defense of an attempt to make all days 80% days, which seems to be what you're going for. Stating that your adventures allow for the players to choose how much they fight on some days would be, but you've said that it's your job to provide incentives for them to choose to push anyway. Which returns to trying to figure out your players' tendencies and desires, which may indicate that they don't see those choices you give them as choices in that department (they always try to do every optional fight etc).
    I don't actually give XP for combat at all; I use milestone levelling exclusively.
    *RECORD SCRATCH*

    Woah woah woah, that is hugely massively important. You've been talking about xp, specifically said that you would never not award xp for a fight, but you aren't using xp at all. We've got people trying to analyze perception of difficulty, one of the major components of which is the reward system, and you're not using like an entire 1/3 of the reward system.

    So your players are likely to be feeling they never catch a break because every day they have to fight to the last, and the only rewards they're getting are "progress" and treasure, and as completionists their minds don't track progress gained as much as they do progress lost. No wonder they hate using consumables, treasure is the only reward they get which is directly tied to their performance, the only one they can actually see on their sheet, and having to spend money just to survive.
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    Default Re: Is D&D too hard?

    OK I have to ask, are these the same players who don't want to spend any money because they feel like they are wasting it? Are they also sell magical gear they could otherwise use to get more money so they can buy their ultimate magical equipment?

    I read through the other posts before but I'm not sure if this has been really asked, did your talk with your players about how you envision your campaign? Because from the stuff I read about your DMing style it seems you enjoy a kinda gritty experience, making fights hard for the players, let the enemy use mean tactics (that are also available to the players I guess but they don't bother using them?)

    And it seems like they want a different experience from the game than you and more dumb-fun fights and less "these damn dragon uses hit and run tactics what should we dooo?" That requires more usage of brainpower and more creative thinking which I guess you want them to use but they aren't? Please correct me if I'm wrong there.

    I don't GM DnD right know but my players IF they get to battle have different ways to deal with combat. They run away or try not to encounter the enemy in a direct battle, which through their ingenuity they often do. When they absolutely have to fight an enemy they try to prepare as much as possible beforehand so even if they fight something mighty they get away with not as much damage as they should have suffered because of their damage avoiding tactics (even the kinda tank in the party uses this because getting hurt hurts and they try to avoid getting hurt. Surprisingly they still grit their teeth if they have too but damage-avoiding seems kinda realistic because yes… Getting hurt hurts.) And even if they get surprised the first instinct is can we avoid that? And if no they do all in their might to level the playing field and try to get in advantegous positions first before fighting heads on.

    From your description your players don't seem to do that and may want to play just plain differently than you prepared for.

    I second sitting in the players seat a bit. That helps me immensely trying to know what others want out of the game, because I think someone DM's what he wants out of the game.

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    Default Re: Is D&D too hard?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    That's kind of how this started.

    People said my game was too hard, I said I am just following the guidelines in the DMG, and people responded that maybe the DMG doesn't know what it is talking about; hence this thread.
    Go back to these people and ask them what about the game is too hard. We can't help until we know what they think the problem is.

    Most of the time when I have run into this issue (regardless of where in the situation I was located-- DM, complaining players, non-complaining players, or bystander) it has come down to DM and Players having different understanding of the actual situations. Often it comes down to every/most fight having the players feel on-the-ropes, whether that is true or not. Do the players feel like their characters can run if things go badly? Do they think they will know when things are going badly soon enough to successfully run? When they feel like they are in a fight, holding their own, and expending a reasonable amount of resources, does that seem clear to them or are they constantly second guessing whether they know how things are going?

    D&D isn't 'too hard,' but it is bad at some things, especially related to these kind of issues. Enemies showing no real sign of injury until they drop, combined with opportunity attacks and that enemies can effectively keep up with you (or snipe you with readily-switchable-to ranged weapons) as you retreat conspire to make running when things go bad seem like a really bad idea. This can lead to a stand-your-ground attitude, regardless of how prepared you are for the fight, which unfortunately makes one think that they aren't ready for the fight (or one certainly doesn't know if they are ready for the fight). This, along with a game system (in this case 3e being worse than most editions of the game) not providing a lot of clues as to whether you are underbuilt, built to the level of optimization the game expects, or ridiculous cheeze, tends to make players feel like they are facing worse hardship than perhaps the DM (who knows darn well how close the PCs are to dropping a given opponent) knows to be the case.

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    Default Re: Is D&D too hard?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fizban View Post
    You responded to another post with "The DMG absolutely says everything should be a struggle," but it does not- the DMG is not a proper defense of an attempt to make all days 80% days, which seems to be what you're going for.
    I didn't ever say that.

    I said that I learned encounter balance from the 3E DMG about 20 years ago, and have been using the ~80% guideline is the proper balance point ever since. I did not say that I do it every single day, and I was not using the DMG to "justify my actions", merely that it was where I got the idea of the 80% balance point from.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fizban View Post
    Woah woah woah, that is hugely massively important. You've been talking about xp, specifically said that you would never not award xp for a fight, but you aren't using xp at all. We've got people trying to analyze perception of difficulty, one of the major components of which is the reward system, and you're not using like an entire 1/3 of the reward system.

    So your players are likely to be feeling they never catch a break because every day they have to fight to the last, and the only rewards they're getting are "progress" and treasure, and as completionists their minds don't track progress gained as much as they do progress lost. No wonder they hate using consumables, treasure is the only reward they get which is directly tied to their performance, the only one they can actually see on their sheet, and having to spend money just to survive.
    They still get XP for completing the dungeon as a whole, just not for each individual encounter; if my players want to sneak past a monster rather than killing it (or something of that nature) I don't think they deserve to be punished for it.

    Using consumables shouldn't be ideal. But sometimes it is necessary evil, and as I said my players were still above WBL for the entire campaign and always took more wealth out of the dungeon than they spent on consumables completing it.

    Also, putting "progress" in quotes like that says a lot more about you than me or my players.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alhallor View Post
    OK I have to ask, are these the same players who don't want to spend any money because they feel like they are wasting it? Are they also sell magical gear they could otherwise use to get more money so they can buy their ultimate magical equipment?

    I read through the other posts before but I'm not sure if this has been really asked, did your talk with your players about how you envision your campaign? Because from the stuff I read about your DMing style it seems you enjoy a kinda gritty experience, making fights hard for the players, let the enemy use mean tactics (that are also available to the players I guess but they don't bother using them?)

    And it seems like they want a different experience from the game than you and more dumb-fun fights and less "these damn dragon uses hit and run tactics what should we dooo?" That requires more usage of brainpower and more creative thinking which I guess you want them to use but they aren't? Please correct me if I'm wrong there.
    Yes, it is the same group.

    I suspect the latter is correct, which is one of the three ideas I had in my OP about why my group feels harder than usual to my players despite sticking to what I feel are the normal CR guidelines.
    Last edited by Talakeal; 2019-11-18 at 10:26 AM.
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  27. - Top - End - #57
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    Default Re: Is D&D too hard?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Most fights are under leveled. I typically balance for the adventuring day rather than individual fights. When terrain (or other miscellaneous factors like surprise or unknown enemy abilities) are an issue, I factor them into the overall challenge and am usually pretty good at still hitting the 80% per adventuring day average.
    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Of course that is boring, but it won't actually happen.

    The 80% mark is an average. Dice change. Tactics change. Environments change. Sometimes the DM makes a mistake or forgets to factor something in. And, some encounters are just more (or less) effective against certain party compositions.
    So... which of those two is accurate? because in two sentences you are telling that there are too many variables to really get to 80%, and then you say that you get close most of the time.

    But regardless of that, I think you are putting too much weight to the book. if you have DMed for years, and you read this forum regularly, chances are you're actually more experienced that the people who actually wrote the manual. And those people were writing most for inexperienced players anyway; it is assumed that experienced players will know when to bend the rules and when to skip them entirely.
    I've never cared about numbers of encounters and I always went with what feels right for the world. The goblin tribe won't be conveniently divided into 4 easy encounters. After they sent the first group and you dispatch them, either they send every single able-bodied they can into the fray, or they flee. The boss won't send his minions against you one at a time before facing you solo at the end. he will either try to overwhelm with massive force; or, in case he's trying to wear you down, he certainly will try to prevent you from fleeing to rest and come back the next day.
    I almost never had a standard adventuring day of 4 encounters. there was generally one big fight as the enemies would pile up everything they had. especially since the party learned teleportation, at which point taking them by attrition is an exercice in futility. Perhaps there were easier encounters, but i didn't even roll those. easy enemies surrendered, or tried to flee, or were killed easily. And it worked well.
    Now, I'm not saying you should do as I did. of course everyone is entitled to have a different style.
    But I am saying that you could benefit from more spontaneity and less slavish aderhence to a bunch of guidelines that were made by people with less actual experience than you, with premises that do not apply to your table, and that were never intended to be strict in the first place.

    As for difficulty, as others said, it's up to the table. Some people enjoy different levels of difficulty. But in my experience, a party with even a fairly low (by this forum standards) optimization will still mop the floor easily with things well above their EL.
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    Default Re: Is D&D too hard?

    Quote Originally Posted by King of Nowhere View Post
    So... which of those two is accurate? because in two sentences you are telling that there are too many variables to really get to 80%, and then you say that you get close most of the time.

    But regardless of that, I think you are putting too much weight to the book. if you have DMed for years, and you read this forum regularly, chances are you're actually more experienced that the people who actually wrote the manual. And those people were writing most for inexperienced players anyway; it is assumed that experienced players will know when to bend the rules and when to skip them entirely.
    I've never cared about numbers of encounters and I always went with what feels right for the world. The goblin tribe won't be conveniently divided into 4 easy encounters. After they sent the first group and you dispatch them, either they send every single able-bodied they can into the fray, or they flee. The boss won't send his minions against you one at a time before facing you solo at the end. he will either try to overwhelm with massive force; or, in case he's trying to wear you down, he certainly will try to prevent you from fleeing to rest and come back the next day.
    I almost never had a standard adventuring day of 4 encounters. there was generally one big fight as the enemies would pile up everything they had. especially since the party learned teleportation, at which point taking them by attrition is an exercise in futility. Perhaps there were easier encounters, but i didn't even roll those. easy enemies surrendered, or tried to flee, or were killed easily. And it worked well.
    Now, I'm not saying you should do as I did. of course everyone is entitled to have a different style.
    But I am saying that you could benefit from more spontaneity and less slavish adherence to a bunch of guidelines that were made by people with less actual experience than you, with premises that do not apply to your table, and that were never intended to be strict in the first place.

    As for difficulty, as others said, it's up to the table. Some people enjoy different levels of difficulty. But in my experience, a party with even a fairly low (by this forum standards) optimization will still mop the floor easily with things well above their EL.
    I don't see a contradiction there; I am pretty good at estimating the difficulty of encounters and the average resource expenditure of my adventures lands right around 80%, but there is enough variance from day to day that it is only an average.

    I personally am a "fiction first" sort of player, and would love to be a bit more loose with the encounter budget for the sake of drama and verisimilitude, but my players demand balance and cry foul if they feel it isn't there.

    Its kind of a funny disconnect actually, on Saturday I had someone on this thread accusing me of "neurotic adherence to strict balance guidelines," but I had one of my players complaining to me that he felt like I was "just picking CRs out of a hat and throwing them at the party randomly."

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie the Duck View Post
    Go back to these people and ask them what about the game is too hard. We can't help until we know what they think the problem is.

    Most of the time when I have run into this issue (regardless of where in the situation I was located-- DM, complaining players, non-complaining players, or bystander) it has come down to DM and Players having different understanding of the actual situations. Often it comes down to every/most fight having the players feel on-the-ropes, whether that is true or not. Do the players feel like their characters can run if things go badly? Do they think they will know when things are going badly soon enough to successfully run? When they feel like they are in a fight, holding their own, and expending a reasonable amount of resources, does that seem clear to them or are they constantly second guessing whether they know how things are going?
    I do ask them, and they give inconsistent answers.

    Pretty consistent complaints are:

    1: They can't do a full clear of a dungeon in one go without using consumables, and this bugs them even though they have always still made a net profit and are always above suggested WBL.
    2: The wizard uses most of his spells in doing so and doesn't have as many as he would like to make scrolls or sell for profit in town.*

    In this particular campaign I let the players call a retreat at any time without consequences, as there are several new players in the group and I am trying to build up their confidence without having to risk accidental TPKs.


    *: This is a peculiarity of my particular house rules. I use a long rest variant so players don't have unlimited spells during downtime, but I allow them to save up unused spells or convert them to gold. Players can still purchase or craft items normally without expending spell slots.
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    Default Re: Is D&D too hard?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    That's kind of how this started.

    People said my game was too hard, I said I am just following the guidelines in the DMG, and people responded that maybe the DMG doesn't know what it is talking about; hence this thread.

    The DMG absolutely says that everything should be a struggle, and actually takes it even further than I do, for example it flat out says that a fight without resource loss on the party of the players isn't a challenge and shouldn't be worth any XP.



    That is actually a very good point. I can see it as being sort of a "glass half full" sort of thing, which varies from player to player:

    After killing a huge dragon that took everything the party had player one might think:

    "Man, that was a super tough dragon. He took everything he had! But in the end, we pulled through! We are such badasses!"

    While player two might think:

    "Man, that was a super tought dragon. It took everything we had to pull through! Now we have nothing left, and are the weakest and most vulnerable we have ever been!"
    uh.. No that is not at all what I was saying.

    What I was trying to get across is NOT that people have different expectations.

    it is that YOU are giving achievements but no reward. Also, that you think the two are one in the same.

    Example: Somebody has a old '65 mustang they are restoring. they finish restoration (the sense of achievement) but every time there is completion somebody comes over takes the wheels off and smashes it a few times with a sledgehammer. Now they have to do the whole thing over again (no sense of reward)

    They work hard to succeed and are getting that sense of achievement from completing it. But you deny them a chance to enjoy that instead they have to struggle all over again the next day becuase you read "80% of resources" and rigidly stick to that with no room for lee way or to let the players have a chance to relax.

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    Default Re: Is D&D too hard?

    Quote Originally Posted by ngilop View Post
    uh.. No that is not at all what I was saying.

    What I was trying to get across is NOT that people have different expectations.

    it is that YOU are giving achievements but no reward. Also, that you think the two are one in the same.

    Example: Somebody has a old '65 mustang they are restoring. they finish restoration (the sense of achievement) but every time there is completion somebody comes over takes the wheels off and smashes it a few times with a sledgehammer. Now they have to do the whole thing over again (no sense of reward)

    They work hard to succeed and are getting that sense of achievement from completing it. But you deny them a chance to enjoy that instead they have to struggle all over again the next day because you read "80% of resources" and rigidly stick to that with no room for lee way or to let the players have a chance to relax.
    Ok, I don't think I follow then.

    Are you saying that "reward = easier game"? So that the standard "game level" model of increasing challenge over time should be inverted?

    I don't follow your smashed car analogy at all; they got XP and treasure from their previous encounter, their characters are more powerful and influential, and whatever story line changes they made to the world in the process of it remain (towns stay saved, princesses remain rescued, evil overlords remain overthrown, etc.).

    Now, true, there will always be more adventures; but that doesn't really hold up to your "smashed car" analogy, its more like finishing one car and then deciding to start work on another car because you enjoy restoring cars.



    Edit: Also, reading your post again, something occurred to me. Are you under the impression that I don't give the players downtime between adventures?
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