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[COURT OF SWORDS // PRIMORDIAL ARC // E02] Blood in the Water


(Twitch: Bitghost_) #21

I still REALLY think they should put emphasis on action economy in the books. Action economy and traits (especially ones that have cumulative negatives such as the slimes) can wildly affect the outcome of an encounter.

In scenarios like tonight, where the party is getting weaker and weaker, and the action economy of the enemies is multiplying, it throws all initial balance out the window. CR is a complicated one that's for sure.

Unfortunate JP got hit with the unforgiving d20 of fate 3 sessions in a row but that's D&D for you. I think it's important that everyone remembers that D&D boils down to randomness, every roll has the potential for euphoric success or catastrophic failure.

Looking forward for what's to come either way.

(profnesbitt) #22

@AdamKoebel. I've noticed something about the Rollplay group of players that I think has became problematic and will get worse as they get to higher levels of play. And that's their dedication to rollplaying their characters ignorance of meta knowledge of monsters and situations. I don't mean this as a criticism I think it is great and if you are rollplaying your character it's the right thing to do. But as you get to higher and higher levels you get more and more monsters that go from being hard to extremely deadly if the character (or players in other groups) don't know the specific trick to fight it or in this case the specific trick not to do. I just wish there was a mechanic for the characters in the fiction to find out weaknesses and strengths without the "bad feeling" of wasting their whole action investigating. This is only really an issue for groups that don't metagame. It makes encounters that have monsters with a "trick" much more difficult than it looks on paper. As the DM of different groups do you see this as an issue specific to this one or is it pretty universal?

(AdamKoebel) #23

It's interesting, because I play the monsters this way, too - I have an agenda for them and they pursue that agenda and often ignore the "right" thing to do mechanically. What I'd actually like to see is more creative problem solving - trying to evade or avoid fights that might end in a TPK by way of creative ideas that aren't fighting.

The problem is, D&D gives them all hammers, so the thing that is the most predictable is to treat everything like a nail.

(AdamKoebel) #24

the best and worst thing about it

(Karamor) #25

There's a ton of utility there, though, but to make the best use of that you have to play the strategy tactics game and the RP.

(AdamKoebel) #26

Agreed - it's a balance, for sure. One that becomes clearer and clearer as the game progresses and levels increase.

(Karamor) #27

On that note, I'm more and more inclined to disagree with you on medium level encounters, regarding entertainment level.

I'd say an interesting set up for a low danger encounter is fun to watch and the occasional stomp of weak enemies would raise the spirits all around.

Granted, that's definitely not the CoS mission statement.

(AdamKoebel) #28

I mean, yeah, it hasn't been, but I like to think I'm pretty flexible. I'm wary about the idea of taking up an hour of a show on an encounter that doesn't feel like it means anything, you know? Maybe I'm wrong about this?

(VyRe40) #29

In some ways, easier encounters can service a different challenge, like a really simple puzzle or a valuable RP encounter. If structured right, it can also be a funny moment that sets the players on edge as they're waiting for the other shoe to drop.

*An example being a video game challenge room that has a bunch of traps and obstacles, cluttered with trash mobs that apply pressure to the party without being the major threat.

(profnesbitt) #30

Yea I’m sure that there has been a time more recently but the last time I can think of one of the players performed a “creative” action in combat that wasn’t in the rules was when Wester jammed his shield in the ground so Janus could use it as cover and hide behind it. That’s what I love about D&D is doing things like that that computer games won’t allow for but we haven’t seen much of it in Court of Swords. I think the fear of death stifles creativity to an extent. And people just fall back on “just attack the thing”.

(AdamKoebel) #31

Yeah! I think there's room for that outside combat, too - avoiding battle instead of having to fight it.

(putridcheese) #32

What do you think about designing environmental hazards that PCs can use (if they find it) as solutions to deadly encounters? Like finding a lose rock on the wall and pulling out could send a section of the cavern falling in.

(AdamKoebel) #33

I think those sorts of things tend to be inherent to the situation - I don't necessarily have to design around them. I'd like to think I'm open to creative solutions whatever the situation.

(putridcheese) #34

Now that I think about it, that makes sense. I think reading through a hard cover adventure telling me what can be done in certain scenarios in a room has bamboozled me.

(Monstercloud1) #35

Considering the general design decision of the game was "Let's take every system that got bloated - Ability Scores, spells, action economy, etc., and shrink it", I don't think it's necessary. If there was such a thing, I imagine any reader paying attention would instantly recognize why Beastmaster Rangers suck (Gotta dig at them whenever I can).

You've also set a bit of a precedent - killing something that's too easy might cause players to be over cautious and slow down things a different way.

That being said, bringing back some equipment for trade or just gunk they cleaned off their own armor might contain bacteria/disease that ruins the local livestock/crops/whatever. Or something like "These bears are being aggressive, deal with them", and if they kill them, "Now whatever was eating the bears has expanded it's hunting range and is even worse than the bears".

(Olf_Himself) #36

Well, that was an episode...

(Twitch: Bitghost_) #37

I agree with you on this for the most part. Watching you, bluejay, dave and andrew run through Tomb of Annihilation, a lot of time is spent on small, "meaningless" encounters. Those hours FLY by and it feels like it's going very slowly in the grand scheme of the adventure. I think Court of Swords has more of an...obligation (real or not) to be exciting and have more cinematic fights replacing the smaller ones, which creates situations like tonight where death is always a roll or 2 away. Tough when focus is on running a "show" vs running a game.

(Alaskawinter923) #38

Curious, did the group even get rest between encounters?

(notNOTjack) #39

The deadliness or harshness of these encounters doesn't grant them any meaning, the story and roleplaying does. That's why I'm with Karamor on the assessment that easier encounters don't mean at all reduced entertainment value, because not only we, and the players, get to have a moment to appreciate the ability and power of the characters but they also convey what I would say is a more realistic world that isn't entirely made up of near impossible obstacles even for a group of people that are supposedly getting more and more powerful. And the meaning of these encounters isn't in any way changed by their difficulty if they are given any relevance in roleplaying/story terms.

(Karamor) #40

You're not wrong at all, I don't think, as @Bitghost709 said, running a show vs running a game, but I'd say the difficulty of how hard an encounter is does also depend on the player skill.

When you get into hard and tougher encounters the system expects some meta gaming and party coordiantion. It becomes a board game.
When players don't engage the mechanics on that lavel, a medium encounter might be as threatening to them as a hard is for others.

It's the same old difference between yelling "DANGER SENSE!" and "GM: Dex save everyone!; Player: So you're saying I can see the trap?" (Sorry, but it works well as an example.)
Or people still wondering what a bonus action does. (Not blaming anyone, but it shows who has played more and who is newer.)

Those things seem minor, but they add up and leave the party without options sooner or later.

Also, your wish for more creative solutions is definitely hindered when people have only some rules knowledge.

Apart from people who have no knowledge of the rules, who try anything, players who wonder about base mechanics might not try more creative things, because they can't see them, as they're still confused by the basics.


Yup, a story rooted not that dangerous fight can be a fun watch.