Thursday, May 26, 2016
This was the point where I felt that combat should be taking up less of the game, and XP should not be coming from combat at all.
I've run into this problem a few times in previous games as well. The players just get up to a certain level and low-level challenges become boring and tedious because the enemy simply cannot hurt the characters. There is always a way to make these fights interesting or challenging, but when you're running a module your available palette of colours is quite limited. For example, I could have replaced the gargoyles with something else, but the gargoyles were part of a faction and their existence was predetermined by certain story elements from the module I was running. Changing what the gargoyles were would have changed other elements from the module that I wasn't prepared for, and in the moment I found a different solution. In retrospect, I could have just moved the gargoyles to somewhere else in the dungeon that was more interesting, where the fighter wouldn't be able to box them in and their attacks could be more meaningful.
When faced with a truly one-sided battle with enemies who are not a serious threat I've tried to think of other ways I might dispense with drawn out fight scenes and try to sum up the challenge with a single roll, or a simpler solution. The word "goons" could really be defined by anything that the PCs encounter that they are also willing to kill: low-level bandits, gargoyles, orcs, kobolds, goblins, possessed children, city guards, tax collectors, etc.
THE SINGLE ROLL
Roll as normal vs the enemy's Armor Class
...if the PC hit then the goons are all killed and they never got a hit in
...if the PC misses by a margin of 5 points the goons got a hit in before they all got killed
...if the PC misses by a margin greater then 5 then the goons got a hit in and they aren't all killed
THE NARRATIVE CHOICE
The goons hit one, some, or all of the PCs before they are defeated. Ask the player (or players) to decide one:
• some of the goons survived and ran away, but the characters are not inconvenienced by the fight
• none of the goons got away, but the characters have spent a lot of time here possibly wasting resources
POWERED BY THE APOCALYPSE METHOD
Roll 1d20 and add your attack bonus. On 20+, choose 2. On 11-19, choose 1.
• you kill all of them
• you don't get hit
• you don't get slowed down by them
On a miss, you don't kill any of them, you get hit, and you are most definitely inconvenienced by them.