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2009-10-17 Take Back

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Summary: Viri Cordova asks over on Bard of Valiant: Can You Say Yes Too Often? I started to comment but then decided to blog.

Changed:

< I must confess that I don't always succeed. Recently, for example, the party is is crawling through some tunnels and meats some cute little lizards. An electric arc pops up between the two and a tiny 2d8 lightning bolt strikes the rogue, Reflex DC 12 to avoid, and the rogue evades all damage. I thought to myself: fair warning. Happy, the party continues down the corridor and meets a dozen or more lizards. The party moves forward. Eight of the lizards band together and a 12d8 lightning bolt strikes the rogue, Reflex DC 26, and he fails. He dies.

to

> I must confess that I don't always succeed. Recently, for example, the party is crawling through some tunnels and meats some cute little lizards. An electric arc pops up between the two and a tiny 2d8 lightning bolt strikes the rogue, Reflex DC 12 to avoid, and the rogue evades all damage. I thought to myself: fair warning. Happy, the party continues down the corridor and meets a dozen or more lizards. The party moves forward. Eight of the lizards band together and a 12d8 lightning bolt strikes the rogue, Reflex DC 26, and he fails. He dies.


Viri Cordova asks over on Bard of Valiant: Can You Say Yes Too Often? I started to comment but then decided to blog.

Whenever I think something bad is going to happen to players, I’ll let them now if their characters would know. A sixth sense of impending doom, if you will.

Example: Player shouts: “I intimidate him!!” and rolls some dice.

I reply: “Uh, wait! Wait a second! Let me understand this correctly: here is Cthulhu, the flesh mountain of cold wet tentacle horrors from beyond the pale, and you’re going to… Intimidate it? Like, talk down to it? Shout at it? To be honest I think Cthulhu would just crush you with his pinky tentacle. Are you sure you want to try that?”

And of course the player will argue right there: “Don’t be silly! Clearly Cthulhu here is some sort of mindflayer prophet, and I just invoked the powers of Orcus to infuse this temple with the unholy aura of undeath, and we’re standing on the leyline nexus of Perennia – surely octoface isn’t feeling too comfortable anyway, right? I’m just reminding him of some inevitable facts, after all!”

And suddenly all our expectations are on the table. Right there.

Nothing has happened. A take back is still possible. Let’s reconsider.

I must confess that I don’t always succeed. Recently, for example, the party is crawling through some tunnels and meats some cute little lizards. An electric arc pops up between the two and a tiny 2d8 lightning bolt strikes the rogue, Reflex DC 12 to avoid, and the rogue evades all damage. I thought to myself: fair warning. Happy, the party continues down the corridor and meets a dozen or more lizards. The party moves forward. Eight of the lizards band together and a 12d8 lightning bolt strikes the rogue, Reflex DC 26, and he fails. He dies.

Uuuh… what?

I was torn on this one. Was meeting two lizards fair warning? Is the much stronger and harder to evade lightning bolt an unfair surprise?

Should I retcon the situation? Shoud I suggest a take back?

In the end I decided that it was ok. It’s the kind of game I want, but next time I will try to maybe provide a second, more urgent warning.

And after all, this is D&D. We have Raise Dead.

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Summary: Shocker lizards are something of a special case. How many CR 2 monsters, when they band together in numbers, can generate an attack with that kind . . .

Added:

> ----
> Shocker lizards are something of a special case. How many CR 2 monsters, when they band together in numbers, can generate an attack with that kind of damage and (especially) Reflex save? The answer is not many. Basically, this is a case of catching the party unawares because shocker lizards don't conform to our normal expectations for D&D monsters. I think it is good to surprise the party sometimes, provided the penalty isn't too high. Shocker lizards definitely have a "gotcha!" ability.
> -- Adrian 2009-10-18 22:19 UTC


I think it’s a kind of drastic ramp-up from easily dodged, harmless bolt to death-bolt. Perhaps some skeletons lying around or other indications of deadliness would be appropriate. But I agree with you in principle.

Swordgleam 2009-10-17 22:25 UTC


Yeah. A second warning would have been appropriate. :-/

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-17 22:49 UTC


Ah, raise dead - beautiful spell :) In my case, the player getting himself killed didn’t get along with the player who was the “cleric” type and the god he was trying to kill ruled Death :P

For your case, I’d have done more warning, with more lizards to show that more lizards are more dangerous as they get into larger groups.

Viriatha 2009-10-17 22:56 UTC


Shocker lizards are something of a special case. How many CR 2 monsters, when they band together in numbers, can generate an attack with that kind of damage and (especially) Reflex save? The answer is not many. Basically, this is a case of catching the party unawares because shocker lizards don’t conform to our normal expectations for D&D monsters. I think it is good to surprise the party sometimes, provided the penalty isn’t too high. Shocker lizards definitely have a “gotcha!” ability.

– Adrian 2009-10-18 22:19 UTC

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