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

court-of-swords
q-and-a

(lehark) #81

It was Medium, and on the easy end of Medium at that, but this isn't what Hard means either. Hard means you might have to use some resources, yes, but only if things go poorly or you want to get through it faster. If you want to talk about burning all resources, then you have to consider things like a PB level 5 Fighter by themselves with nothing but a longbow and 4 arrows kills the average Black Pudding in 1 round if they burn Action Surge + 4x Superiority. No, a Black Pudding doesn't warrant that kind of need. It warrants limiting how you split it to the expected 1 accidental and up to 3 strategic and engaging the easy to hit and slow ooze from a range, but that's about it.

This was a display of players waking up in a burning building and, because there wasn't a fire extinguisher, they started throwing gasoline around the room. Yeah, D&D can be mean about punishing that sort of thing, but I'm not sure there's a good fix. Adam didn't have any reason to believe they wouldn't just kill it in 1-2 rounds.


(Twitch: eyearcana) #82

No it wasn't, they fought two total but they split a couple of times. Their HP kept going down as they split but they still had the same abilities. Also they split twice meaning they would have a higher CR. See screenshot of just two, you need to look at the adjusted.


(AdamKoebel) #83

Sometimes I think I overestimate players’ willingness to disengage or avoid battles when they are in a bad way.


(lehark) #84

Ah, you're correct in that the DMG would classify this as the low end of Hard not the low end of Medium - I adjust XP a little differently (they come out to 2.4k) and didn't double check. The point stands, though. I wouldn't be shy about dropping these on a party of this level with depleted resources. It's the sort of fight I use to give players extra experience... Anyhow, their splitting mechanism is part of their base CR, though, so shouldn't be adjusted further (especially when splitting them is something players can exploit to kill them more quickly).


(DesmondDentresti) #85

There is some truth to that, especially with players unfamiliar to your gamemaster style. A lot of people assume that, like videogames, if you meet a "boss" character and you have a 'boss fight' that it is scaled to you in the story.

However in this instance, Disengaging wasnt a viable option for anyone other than Silent Thorn. They had their only path to escape blocked instantly, at that point they all had to decide to focus fire the enemy creating the obstacle - which would have caused Yomm Oakentoe to get attacked as he moved because he is melee - they did not, instead they squared up and stood their ground.

This is a reasonable thing to do in this instance. You are faced with the choice to square up with the foe you are facing or to focus one and concede an advantage to the other in hopes that you can escape before anyone dies.


(Karamor) #86

Adam gave them an extra split, which does increase their damage output.


(Twitch: Bitghost_) #87

They weren't actually blocked though. You can move through enemy squares (it just counts as rough terrain) as long as they are 2 sizes larger or smaller than yourself. So they could have ran past, and had 1 opportunity attack against one of them (creature only has 1 reaction) while the other's ran past attack free. But I fully agree with you on the players tackling encounters in the "video game style" which is that if you hack at it long enough it'll die. Unfortunately black puddings are basically made to interrupt that style of fighting, the more you fight it head on, the weaker you (and your equipment) gets.

At that point we can't expect Adam to give them a hand, it's up to the players to understand the threat they face and decide "do we have to fight this? SHOULD we fight this?" and if not, attempt escape whatever the cost.


(KronoSpeed) #88

I also feel like the main cast did run away much more early on in CoS and they were "punished" for doing so. If they perceived something as very likely to result in death they ran. This resulted in never finishing a story arc and being under geared. The world would grow darker and there would be no satisfying plot resolution. Mentally this would seem to condition the party to not flat out run from a fight unless there is some narrative cues to indicate that they should run. Even when they ran from the vampire when they ran across him by chance they learned they should not have. If they could have faced the end boss immediately while being fully rested and caught alone outside of his lair, it seems like the fight would have been even easier. At this point I would assume that the players don't have a good instinct to evaluate running or fighting. Even in the ooze fight staying could have been the correct answer save for 1 or 2 rolls. The difference between being in a "bad way" and being in a normal CoS fight is always 1 roll away. I personally find this to be the most entertaining part but it means every encounter is all in or all out.


(lehark) #89

It also makes them more vulnerable to incoming damage from AOE and, regardless of how many splits you give them, you're generally not expecting more than one accidental split. Adding an extra split is the sort of thing I'd throw in to reward clever play, not to increase difficulty. This is getting way too specific to one monster, though. Yes, there are monsters that fluctuate wildly in danger depending on player skill level and Black Pudding are one of those monsters. These are the sort of fights where multiple party members could have taken on the encounter by themselves and we're fussing over the exact CR level when assuming the players don't solve the puzzle that is the crux of the challenge posed. It's not a very good litmus test.


(AdamKoebel) #90

I’m super curious about this idea - in what ways was the early cast published for retreating from encounters?


(Karamor) #91

The thing is, the best case scenario hardly changed while the worst case scenario became quite a bit more dangerous for this party as their AOE was lacking.


(Karamor) #92

By the in game world and the forums considering them wimps and failures?

I think there was definitely something like that going around.


(DesmondDentresti) #93

The characters in the party are size Medium, the Black Pudding was size Large. Thats not 2 sizes larger or smaller.

The first opportunity they had to flee was the first moment they were actually winning. They tried to press their advantage rather than run away.

And also, watching the VOD now, when Salix and Silent did motion to leave (after the other 2 had been downed), the Black Puddings moved 20 feet and attacked them. I believe this was an error. They have 20ft of movement, they were in difficult terrain, they dont have a swim speed, they should only be able to attack and move 10ft.

The way they were moving and attacking in the difficult terrain - players without bonus dash would never be able to escape. They would always be in range of their movement.


(boeiee) #94

i wouldn't say they were punished. They just weren't rewarded(apart from living ofcourse!). Not getting rewarded can sometimes feel as punishment to either the players and/or how chat perceives it.


(Twitch: Bitghost_) #95

It's "up to 2 sizes larger or smaller" so of course large compared to medium falls under those parameters since large is only 1 size up from medium.

Edit: I'm an idiot and read the sentence incorrectly. You are correct.


(DesmondDentresti) #96

Being forced to retreat is an attack on your ego.

When you are playing a badass arrow slinging elf warrior the last thing you want to do is run away.
If that isnt punishment I dont know what it.


(Monstercloud1) #97

Think the problem is, is the consistent way you've designed encounters; hard/deadly, but very "doable" with luck or enough resources. Personally if I was consistently subjected to that kind of normal design, I probably would recognize when it's time to run until I took more than enough hits, or put in a disadvantageous spot to run.

As much as "creative thinking" could help them, I think the main cast are experienced or "entrenched" in the mechanics enough that they don't readily think outside the box as much as a new player would - something I think was brought up in the D&D Fandom.


(DesmondDentresti) #98

Players Handbook - Chapter 9 - Page 191

"-only if the creature is at least two sizes larger or smaller than you."


(Plan_A_Has_Failed) #99

I think it's only happened once in the entire CoS series; when Berg was the last one standing against the captive dragon, the fight that ended season 2.

In this case, I don't think they expected a fight to happen when it did. A more experienced (or possibly jaded, depending on your perspective) group would've freed Maz (look, he's got the PC Glow, we can trust him) and double-timed it out of the cave with military efficiency, saving the Getting To Know You business for later.

That said, I believe a big part of what makes CoS so enjoyable is that the players don't approach every situation in the traditional style of murder-hobos expecting a trap.


(DesmondDentresti) #100

Plan_A_Has_Failed
Name checks out.