Principia Discordia

Principia Discordia => Propaganda Depository => RPG Ghetto => Topic started by: hoopla on February 01, 2017, 02:48:17 pm

Title: Players Trouncing Foes
Post by: hoopla on February 01, 2017, 02:48:17 pm
So I have been running a Pathfinder D&D campaign for 6 friends (now recently 7), and find that most of the time my party trounces the foes I out up against them very easily. I budget my battles pretty carefully, and add an extra CR level to level out the size of the team, but they still make mince meat of the foes I send in.

Some back story: we mostly play online on Roll20, and only one of the players is very versed in using their system to create character sheets... so while everyone has done the bulk of the work creating their own characters, the one player had gone in to "clean up" their sheets. I don't believe he has cheated at all but I think he has maximized every character to their fullest potential and outfitted them with bells and whistles I don't fully understand. Full disclosure, this campaign had only been going on since September and is the first game I have run. I was always a little wishy-washy on the fills rules as it was... but I now have a gnome alchemist who seems ridiculously overpowered. I mean the little fucker can throw his concoctions 80 FEET! How can that be possible? I've also got a Druid who always (always!) sickens at least one of the foes. And if she doesn't do that, she entangling them.

The only time I've had an encounter which gave them any real trouble was when they once stumbled upon 3 ogres with classes. I actually never intended the party to fight these ogres, I assumed they would realize they were outclassed and flee. They didn't. They almost got TPK'd.

So, my question is... how do I put together scenarios which will be more challenging? Is it a matter of outnumbering the party slightly? Upping the CR even more?

Any advice is appreciated.
Title: Re: Players Trouncing Foes
Post by: Don Coyote on February 01, 2017, 03:08:37 pm
How much and how often do you increase the CR of encounters?
How much and how often do your players stop adventuring to rest up to recover spells and hp?
How much and how easily have they acquired consumable magic items?
Do you use random encounters?

To be fair, I stopped running PF partly because of that kind of stuff, along with the amount of work needed to provide suitable and interesting challenges, and my frequent encounters with whiny and entitled players.
Title: Re: Players Trouncing Foes
Post by: The Good Reverend Roger on February 01, 2017, 03:26:59 pm
My campaign is a Darwinian hellhole.  They munchkin, I munchkin harder.

You can be a much bigger dick while staying in the rules than the players can.  I suggest you read the monster customization rules in the back of the bestiary, and see how many "options" you have for a given CR.

But at the end of the evening, the real test is "did everyone have fun?"
Title: Re: Players Trouncing Foes
Post by: 00.dusk on February 01, 2017, 03:29:51 pm
I haven't DMed a Pathfinder game in ages.

When I did, I recall my usual method being to keep the easy fights coming as usual, and occasionally (like, twice a session? More if the sessions are particularly long) throw out stuff intentionally built to kill them effortlessly. This stuff would be named enemies, setting up a foe and a plotline piece by piece. After every encounter they "lose", weaken the next a bit more. The strongest one is final boss of that plot, next strongest is his right hand man, etc. etc. Then instead of killing them when they lose an encounter, they get beaten soundly, mocked, and the enemy would get out before they got back up.

Sets up a story, fleshes out the world, and lets you test what their party is capable of.

Meanwhile keep raising the "floor" difficulty, e.g. easy fights, steadily. By the time they beat one of your "named" foes, you should have nailed a comfortable medium.

It's not the best method, but I never was very good at nailing difficulty with munchkin players. I did best with players who wanted a cool character that maybe ended up a bit shit.

preview edit: And of course, Roger is absolutely right. An easy campaign isn't bad if everyone enjoys themselves.
Title: Re: Players Trouncing Foes
Post by: hoopla on February 01, 2017, 03:32:39 pm
Everyone does seem to be having fun, and admittedly I have doled out a few magic items here and there, but not to those characters I feel are a little overpowered. We have a barbarian in the game who is meant to be the son of Kull the Barbarian, and he seemed a tad weak for what the story was so I tossed a belt of giant strength at him, but that was only very recently (last session). They do tend to rest up recently because they are travelling across a wide expanse, I could toss a few encounters at them to liven it up.

Until last game it was a 6 person party at 2nd level. They just leveled to 3rd on Saturday night and also picked up a new member. So I have been planning to set up the upcoming encounters at CR6. Too low? I would rather e known as a harsh GM than a pushover but I don't want people continually frustrated either.

Title: Re: Players Trouncing Foes
Post by: Don Coyote on February 01, 2017, 03:55:14 pm
You could try giving them more and more and more lower CR encounters, especially encounters that can chain into other encounters, whether by enemies fleeing to allies, or the noise just bring more mooks. At the very least it makes some encounters more interesting because it's not a bunch of stand and attack instead being moving battles.
Title: Re: Players Trouncing Foes
Post by: LMNO on February 01, 2017, 04:00:19 pm
I thought I read once about a masterful use of Goblins.  Many, many, Zerg-rushing goblins.  Small HP, but overwhelming.  Give one or two a magical item, and simply crush the PCs under a mountain of the little bastards.

Wait, was it Roger who did that?
Title: Re: Players Trouncing Foes
Post by: Don Coyote on February 01, 2017, 04:03:32 pm
I thought I read once about a masterful use of Goblins.  Many, many, Zerg-rushing goblins.  Small HP, but overwhelming.  Give one or two a magical item, and simply crush the PCs under a mountain of the little bastards.

Wait, was it Roger who did that?

If Roger hasn't done that at least once, he has some splaining to do. If it isn't gobbos, it's kobolds, orcs, woodland critters, or low-level demons, but it's almost always goblins or kobolds.
Title: Re: Players Trouncing Foes
Post by: Q. G. Pennyworth on February 01, 2017, 04:07:15 pm
Traps are a major resource for parties like this, as are cannon fodder. Make them waste time, items, x-per-day abilities before pitting them up against something really nasty.

Social conflicts are another way to get at them. Assuming nobody's min-maxxed for diplomacy, you can create real tension without worrying about murderfests every game.
Title: Re: Players Trouncing Foes
Post by: hoopla on February 01, 2017, 04:39:34 pm
Great ideas everyone! Love the ideas of a goblin swarm and traps up the wazoo. What sort of social conflicts do you tend to use QGP?
Title: Re: Players Trouncing Foes
Post by: hoopla on February 01, 2017, 11:22:18 pm
I'm going to try out the goblin swarm next session. I will update on how it goes.
Title: Re: Players Trouncing Foes
Post by: Q. G. Pennyworth on February 02, 2017, 12:54:02 am
Secret societies warring in subtle ways, with innocent bystanders getting hurt in front of the PCs. Local nobility trying to curry favor with the PCs because they're famous and dangerous, almost all of whom are slimeballs. Puppet kings installed by powerful houses who keep getting replaced with worse and worse puppets as the PCs murder them.
Title: Re: Players Trouncing Foes
Post by: LMNO on February 02, 2017, 02:46:13 am
It should also be pretty awesome to say, "you see 20,000 goblins swarming out of the earth. You remember the innkeeper's warning, that for every one you see, fifty are waiting."
Title: Re: Players Trouncing Foes
Post by: The Good Reverend Roger on February 02, 2017, 03:49:37 am
Everyone does seem to be having fun, and admittedly I have doled out a few magic items here and there, but not to those characters I feel are a little overpowered. We have a barbarian in the game who is meant to be the son of Kull the Barbarian, and he seemed a tad weak for what the story was so I tossed a belt of giant strength at him, but that was only very recently (last session). They do tend to rest up recently because they are travelling across a wide expanse, I could toss a few encounters at them to liven it up.

Until last game it was a 6 person party at 2nd level. They just leveled to 3rd on Saturday night and also picked up a new member. So I have been planning to set up the upcoming encounters at CR6. Too low? I would rather e known as a harsh GM than a pushover but I don't want people continually frustrated either.

CR should be based on APL.  If there are 4-5 players in a game, APL is just the average level of the party, rounded down.  If there are 6-7 players, it should be (average party level rounded down)+1

So if they are 3rd level, it should go:

Easy encounter = CR3
Average encounter = CR4
Challenging encounter = CR 5
Boss = CR6
I fucking hate you get a character sheet you horrible little dead person = CR7+
Title: Re: Players Trouncing Foes
Post by: The Good Reverend Roger on February 02, 2017, 03:51:43 am
Also remember that for non-fractional CRs, multiple bad guys go

One critter = CR of creature.
Two critters = CR of creature +2
Every addition creature +1

So 4 trolls would be base CR 5+2+1+1 = CR9.

ETA:  And one of them should have a 9 pound hammer.  Just because.
Title: Re: Players Trouncing Foes
Post by: hoopla on February 02, 2017, 04:33:48 am
It should also be pretty awesome to say, "you see 20,000 goblins swarming out of the earth. You remember the innkeeper's warning, that for every one you see, fifty are waiting."

Oh wow, 20,000.... I thought you meant, like, 25.  :lol:
Title: Re: Players Trouncing Foes
Post by: hoopla on February 02, 2017, 04:34:23 am
Everyone does seem to be having fun, and admittedly I have doled out a few magic items here and there, but not to those characters I feel are a little overpowered. We have a barbarian in the game who is meant to be the son of Kull the Barbarian, and he seemed a tad weak for what the story was so I tossed a belt of giant strength at him, but that was only very recently (last session). They do tend to rest up recently because they are travelling across a wide expanse, I could toss a few encounters at them to liven it up.

Until last game it was a 6 person party at 2nd level. They just leveled to 3rd on Saturday night and also picked up a new member. So I have been planning to set up the upcoming encounters at CR6. Too low? I would rather e known as a harsh GM than a pushover but I don't want people continually frustrated either.

CR should be based on APL.  If there are 4-5 players in a game, APL is just the average level of the party, rounded down.  If there are 6-7 players, it should be (average party level rounded down)+1

So if they are 3rd level, it should go:

Easy encounter = CR3
Average encounter = CR4
Challenging encounter = CR 5
Boss = CR6
I fucking hate you get a character sheet you horrible little dead person = CR7+

ExTREMEly helpful, thank you!
Title: Re: Players Trouncing Foes
Post by: Don Coyote on February 02, 2017, 04:40:54 am
It should also be pretty awesome to say, "you see 20,000 goblins swarming out of the earth. You remember the innkeeper's warning, that for every one you see, fifty are waiting."

Oh wow, 20,000.... I thought you meant, like, 25.  :lol:

The goblins is just really small, and wearing the skins of people.
Title: Re: Players Trouncing Foes
Post by: 00.dusk on February 02, 2017, 08:34:23 am
Oh wow, 20,000.... I thought you meant, like, 25.  :lol:

The goblins is just really small, and wearing the skins of people.

You give me the temptation to stat up a minigoblin swarm monster that can collectively hold and use up to Large weapons. They can also wear the armor of their kills, and attack after the players bring down a party of hobgoblins or gnolls or something else with some gear, so they come in armed and armored.

"You see what appears to be moving moss gathering around the bodies of the slain. Suddenly they rise from the dead, or so it seems. Every one of the bodies is swarming with bug-sized goblins, armed with tiny knives. With a collective, high pitched, "heave-- ho!" they clumsily pull back the arm of the gnoll pack leader and swing it forward at the nearest member of the party."

When the bodies are minced beyond usefulness the party can attack the goblin swarm itself, which retreats into the breastplates and helmets and uses the flails like tank turrets. These microfortresses are knee height and absolutely terrifying because they don't go down until someone finds a lot of fire to throw at them.

All the fun treasure is, of course, gone. While you were fighting the horde, their worker caste dragged all the real goodies off to its nest. You're left with the busted up gnoll armor, the flails, a couple thousand toothpick-sized shortswords and a bunch of smouldering leather armor sized for pixies.
Title: Re: Players Trouncing Foes
Post by: LMNO on February 02, 2017, 12:30:12 pm
It should also be pretty awesome to say, "you see 20,000 goblins swarming out of the earth. You remember the innkeeper's warning, that for every one you see, fifty are waiting."

Oh wow, 20,000.... I thought you meant, like, 25.  :lol:

Homie don't fuck around.  There should always be one encounter that makes the PCs go, "Um... NOPE."
Title: Re: Players Trouncing Foes
Post by: Q. G. Pennyworth on February 02, 2017, 12:45:02 pm
It should also be pretty awesome to say, "you see 20,000 goblins swarming out of the earth. You remember the innkeeper's warning, that for every one you see, fifty are waiting."

Oh wow, 20,000.... I thought you meant, like, 25.  :lol:

Homie don't fuck around.  There should always be one encounter that makes the PCs go, "Um... NOPE."

THIS ^^^

Some of the best games I've been in have been ones where there was a fight we could pick (or choose not to run away from) that was utterly and completely suicidal by the numbers.
Title: Re: Players Trouncing Foes
Post by: hoopla on February 02, 2017, 01:07:00 pm
I knew I made the right decision to ask you folks.
Title: Re: Players Trouncing Foes
Post by: Cain on February 02, 2017, 06:13:01 pm
Tarrasque hits party, everyone dies.
Title: Re: Players Trouncing Foes
Post by: The Good Reverend Roger on February 18, 2017, 05:40:42 am
Traps are a major resource for parties like this, as are cannon fodder. Make them waste time, items, x-per-day abilities before pitting them up against something really nasty.

Social conflicts are another way to get at them. Assuming nobody's min-maxxed for diplomacy, you can create real tension without worrying about murderfests every game.

This is where my PCs nudge Lefty the Torch-Bearer forward with their swords.  At 2 SP/day, that miserable slacker is gonna earn his pay.