On Morale, or should enemies run away

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Chris Brady

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Why? How do the bad guys prevent caltrops? And how would things go badly for trying?
Please note, I'm not playing 3e/5e, so anything hinging on the AoOs in those editions is, to me, "a problem you're creating for yourself by picking those specific rules":devil:.
Flying, ranged weaponry says 'What caltrops?' Now at higher levels, the Wizard usually has the means to get out of there with a good Teleport spell, but until then, if the players are outmatched, often the safest choice is to go down fighting.

Die As.png
 
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xanther

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That most game systems have really poor support for retreating successfully. Its hardly been just my point, either. And at least some of the responses seem dependent on fairly specific situations to be successful in those same systems.

My argument with most people has been about the presumed frequency of the situations that permit their argument in-games.

As said before, a system doesn't need to explicitly support retreating in my view just not mechanically prevent it under RAW in a bogus way...and if it is bogus just ignore it.

On frequency of retreating, if it is possible, me when I play, and my players always have this in mind. They are always verbalizing "yeah but if we do that we could get cut off [from retreat]" etc. In a typical fantasy adventure environment a tight environment, if you don't plan and plunge ahead unthinkingly retreat is normally impossible. So with some thinking ahead, in my direct expereince, retreat is more often than not an option.

Outside, on battle fields and such, history has shown people can and do get away. Sure many are slaughtered as well, but in the chaos certain individuals make it, and I am happy to accept that PCs fall within that class of certain individuals who have a chance. So in that case as well, retreat is more often than not an option.

To bring it back to the original question, I believe if one retains their morale and has not broken that should be the determinant of having a chance and making an orderly retreat versus just bolting and getting cut down.


P.S.
I will agree as I see most D&D played (in the campaigns I play/played in the last 10 years or so. 3.5 to 5e) retreat is never an option because of player action. Actually the DMs nerf the mentality of the opponents, consciously or not, as most "tactics" I've seen should result in TPK if the opponents acted with a modicum of sense.
 

xanther

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...
Step 2 - Use tactics.
Step 3 - If your game system doesn’t facilitate tactics, making retreating a fool’s errand, change the rules or change the system.
Exactly.
 

AsenRG

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More people are reading this thread than you and P Paragon though. So not entirely wasted I'd say.
Thank you:smile:.

P.S.
I will agree as I see most D&D played (in the campaigns I play/played in the last 10 years or so. 3.5 to 5e) retreat is never an option because of player action. Actually the DMs nerf the mentality of the opponents, consciously or not, as most "tactics" I've seen should result in TPK if the opponents acted with a modicum of sense.

Also true, IME. And one of my favourite "tricks" is to not nerf the NPCs' planning abilities:shade:.
 

TJS

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Some, but your three characters example still pretty much requires a chokepoint to work.
One of the more interesting ideas from this thread is that the players should really be planning ahead for how they're going to retreat if necessary.

If you are going to approach retreat as a tactical challenge (and I gave an outline for an alternative approach earlier in the thread), then this makes a lot of sense.
 

AsenRG

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I'm of the opinion that using morale rules and retreats or fighting to the death are both fun ways to play. Just need everyone on the same page as to which type of game you're playing.
Well, morale rules don't preclude fighting to death. They just make it less likely...or in the case of Boot Hills, might mandate it.
 

Paragon

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One of the more interesting ideas from this thread is that the players should really be planning ahead for how they're going to retreat if necessary.

If you are going to approach retreat as a tactical challenge (and I gave an outline for an alternative approach earlier in the thread), then this makes a lot of sense.

This does, however, require that the players know in advance a combat is going to happen, and have some idea of where. Its not like all combats come out that way.
 

Paragon

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As said before, a system doesn't need to explicitly support retreating in my view just not mechanically prevent it under RAW in a bogus way...and if it is bogus just ignore it.

It depends on what you see as "bogus". As I noted in regard to OD&D, all that was needed was the fact a large number of potential opponents had more mobility than (especially a heavily armored) PC and the problem became pretty obvious.

On frequency of retreating, if it is possible, me when I play, and my players always have this in mind. They are always verbalizing "yeah but if we do that we could get cut off [from retreat]" etc. In a typical fantasy adventure environment a tight environment, if you don't plan and plunge ahead unthinkingly retreat is normally impossible. So with some thinking ahead, in my direct expereince, retreat is more often than not an option.

I'm not sold that "a typical fantasy adventure environment" implies a tight one. That's an assumption dungeon delving can produce, but once you have settings where as much or more combats take place outdoors, its applies far less consistently (dense forest and tight rocky areas being about it).

Outside, on battle fields and such, history has shown people can and do get away. Sure many are slaughtered as well, but in the chaos certain individuals make it, and I am happy to accept that PCs fall within that class of certain individuals who have a chance. So in that case as well, retreat is more often than not an option.

Most such people get away because they're part of large groups where other people are basically taking the hit--i.e. if a hundred people flee a battle, its not going to be surprising fifty might get away, because a pursuing force is busy dealing with the other fifty. Its a much different beast when there's only five.
P.S.

I will agree as I see most D&D played (in the campaigns I play/played in the last 10 years or so. 3.5 to 5e) retreat is never an option because of player action. Actually the DMs nerf the mentality of the opponents, consciously or not, as most "tactics" I've seen should result in TPK if the opponents acted with a modicum of sense.

Well, the issue of people not bothering to take caution is a separate one, but not completely separate. People have to learn retreating is both possible and desirable for them to plan accordingly.
 

zanshin

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Obviously setting and genre considerations need to be taken into account. Some systems will be more conducive to managing retreats than others. Player expectations need to be managed.
Indeed. If we want to play a game of big damn heroes, then if a righteous fight is unwinnable, make the losing epic - a tale that can inspire the next generation of want to be heroes. Use the best tactics you can, but to quote Galaxy Quest, 'never retreat, never surrender' :smile:
 

TJS

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This does, however, require that the players know in advance a combat is going to happen, and have some idea of where. Its not like all combats come out that way.
It's applicable to the kinds of situations it's applicable to yes.
 

TJS

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Which is you know your military history is very, very, very rarely.
Do if I have to hand in my gamer card if I say I would much rather read social history and that military history bores me to tears?

In any case examples were given in this thread of how you plan for retreat when doing something like dungeon crawling.

If the situations described seem like the sort of thing you would do in your game then it may be useful to you. If they don't then they probably won't.

If you want to have retreat, and don't want to have it rely on the tactical planning and abiliy of the players then I already said earlier in this thread how I personally approach it.
 
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raniE

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Indeed. If we want to play a game of big damn heroes, then if a righteous fight is unwinnable, make the losing epic - a tale that can inspire the next generation of want to be heroes. Use the best tactics you can, but to quote Galaxy Quest, 'never retreat, never surrender' :smile:
The Galaxy Quest quote is "Never Give Up, Never Surrender", which makes a lot more sense. Retreating may be a valid strategy and can save the ship, surrender won't.
 

Paragon

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It's applicable to the kinds of situations it's applicable to yes.

I was just noting there can be a lot of situations where it isn't. Planning is one of those things you don't always have the data to do, and you don't always get to avoid those combats. And of course, the ones you don't are, for other reasons, the most likely to be ones you'll find yourself needing to retreat from.
 

xanther

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This does, however, require that the players know in advance a combat is going to happen, and have some idea of where. Its not like all combats come out that way.
In the fantasy adventure genre, and please don't nerf my "dungeon' tight space example because that is core to genre...different but still applicable principals apply to the great outdoors (which is more about avoiding ambush)...one should assume that you are entering a danger zone and have thought of you path of possible retreat, etc.

Short answer, of course the players know in advance combat is likely to happen, and they know where....where they are going and their map will give them a good idea of were the weakness in there rear lie so they can deal with that.

Outdoors, the tactical situation is different, actually easier in many ways as if it is not a tight space then you have some line of sight and advanced warning. Of course foolish players will just clomp through the woods, no scouts, no outdoor knowledge, nary consider even garnering info on the region from a local. Amazing they don't get ambushed and killed every time. They take less precautions than a medieval peasant with 2 coppers to his name on the highways.

As to "bogus" game rules, ones where the chance of being surprised is unaffected by anything you do, no matter how much sense it makes and how in character and in genre it is are bogus. After all, if the DM can't surprise you easily they may have to actually think. How fast you can move is not bogus, if you are slow you are not going to get away, that actually makes a lot of sense. Hence thinking players in even OD&D worried about movement speed...hence all the kibitzing over it in The Dragon and such.


I was just noting there can be a lot of situations where it isn't. Planning is one of those things you don't always have the data to do, and you don't always get to avoid those combats.

Completely disagree. Planning for retreat is about knowing the way out and what lies behind you, this is 100% within PC knowledge.

What lies ahead? Of course you don't know that, that is what scouting and other information gathering is all about. In fantasy games you often have far more tools than ever existed in the real world to stealthily gather info on what lies ahead. Only fools barge in.

You can also plan for traps, and being surrounded, etc. You can plan for general situations without knowing the specifics.

Which brings us back to you don't always get to avoid those combats....not sure what those are...if they are cleverly disguised ambushes, yes those can be hard to detect but avoid them? usually if you use a scout...Then again a pre-made highly thought out ambush along your path...well you either took the obvious and foolish path, or its a natural choke/defensive point (so duh), or they knew you were coming long in advance to set up such elaborate defenses and commit serious resource to an otherwise nothing location.
 
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AsenRG

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Indeed. If we want to play a game of big damn heroes, then if a righteous fight is unwinnable, make the losing epic - a tale that can inspire the next generation of want to be heroes. Use the best tactics you can, but to quote Galaxy Quest, 'never retreat, never surrender' :smile:
"Never give up, never surrender", as pointed out already.
As for the rest...sure, that's a valid playstyle, have fun:shade:!

And here's a stack of character sheets with future heroes yet-to-be-written on them:devil:!


Flying, ranged weaponry says 'What caltrops?' Now at higher levels, the Wizard usually has the means to get out of there with a good Teleport spell, but until then, if the players are outmatched, often the safest choice is to go down fighting.

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Yes, the accuracy of ranged weapons against moving targets is kinda overblown in RPGs. But at least you should give them a degree of difficulty by running.

As for flying...dunno, man, who has that?

Ghosts? Those cannot pass the salt lines, or are susceptible to holy water spray, so we wouldn't be running anyway. If you read my earlier posts, I mentioned caltrops, salt lines, and other stuff. And no, you don't wear one or the other. You have caltrops, and salt, and garlic, and holy water, and iron spikes and mallet, and a bolas, and oil, and flaming oil, and smoke grenades if available...oh, and thrown weapons you can easily reach. Like shuriken, shaken, thrown daggers, boomerangs, hatchets, sleeve arrows, such things:devil:!

High-level wizards? Those are implicitly low-level solutions. Getting in a fight way out of your league would probably lead to casualties, yes...but then said wizard probably doesn't even want to fly after you.

Wyverns and dragons? Well, those are "boss fights". You win or you'd die, in all likelihood. And this is only appropriate.

Winged humanoids? Those only exist in some settings, so I presume that's not what you mean. But then you only need to run from them until you get to a forest, building, such things. Plan ahead if there might be any in the vicinity!

Wuxia opponents? Then you're probably one yourself, and they still have to step on the ground. So jump through places where they have to step at the same place as you, and leave them some caltrops. Might even turn the tide of the battle, if it effectively cripples a leg!

Anything else? What, if anything, am I missing?
 

TJS

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I feel like there ought to be a fallacy, or a rule of some sort that applies in this kind of situation.

A: In situtuation X, it makes sense to do Y.
B: That doesn't work in D&D because Z

If approaches don't work specifically because of conceits specific to D&D then the issue is D&D not the approach.

I'm tempted to call it the "D&D is special rule" perhaps, because "the D&D is shit rule" is possibly to inflammatory. :wink:
 

zanshin

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I feel like there ought to be a fallacy, or a rule of some sort that applies in this kind of situation.

A: In situtuation X, it makes sense to do Y.
B: That doesn't work in D&D because Z

If approaches don't work specifically because of conceits specific to D&D then the issue is D&D not the approach.

I'm tempted to call it the "D&D is special rule" perhaps, because "the D&D is shit rule" is possibly to inflammatory. :wink:
I don't think there is any aspect of this debate that doesn't work for D&D in particular.

D&D supports all kind of playstyles, and there is a wide variety of D&D's to choose from.
 

Chris Brady

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It's not just D&D in my experience. Palladium, Savage Worlds, R. Tal's system... All of them have make fleeing difficult.
 

TJS

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It's not just D&D in my experience. Palladium, Savage Worlds, R. Tal's system... All of them have make fleeing difficult.
Well then, I already gave the solution to this. Stop the turn based combat when the decision to retreat is made.

Savage World Adventure Edition in particular gives you all the tools you need. It has a set of rules called "Dramatic Tasks'. Use those. And then if pursuit is called for, use the Chase rules.
 

zanshin

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I think the way heavy armour slows you down is valid. I don't think it's so much of an issue in 5e unless you're using the variant encumbrance rule.

It's one of infuriating things about modern D&D, the way that the whole game is written around the necessity of some characters to always be in stonking big heavy armour, while for others it's completely unneccessary. It does tend to make certain things like running away or using stealth difficult. I'm remembering there was at least once playing 3rd edition when retreat was attempted and then we had to go back because at least one character was slow as shit.
I think any class based game will have people who are not quick and stealthy unless the actual game paradigm is that you are quick and stealthy as a group. No more especially true of any edition - the default expectation in AD&D was clerics and fighters in metal armour, and no specific stealth rules for any non thief/assassin class.

If that's what the GM/group wants there are magic item and spell ways round it in D&D. In a game of 5e I quickly ensured the Human rogue had goggles of nightvision after it was clear how hampered he was going to be in his role without some form of seeing in the dark.

I think there are 3 broad styles of play in this discussion
  • Sandbox - what you encounter can be random, guided to a certain extent by setting/ heat of zone
  • Roleplaying as wargame - antagonists will engage in a tactical fashion and if you can't beat them, circle round and try again or find an easier enemy
  • Party centric - the world exists to pose interesting/fun challenges to the players and their characters, with a presumption of progression toward quest/story/player goal outcome
I would expect that for the third style of play (which has become the default for my group outside of certain one offs) that if there is a challenge they should retreat from that will be clearly telegraphed, and that battles will mostly be the ones the players choose to pick. If a battle is thrown at them, it will be balanced for 'success', providing reasonable luck and use of skills and powers. I am cool with this playstyle - the only outcome that matters to me in this context is that the players have fun and feel challenged sufficiently.

The more the risk of serious in game consequence for courageous (foolhardy :smile: ) actions, the greater the caution of play, and the more time spent planning, something that starts to bore me as both a player and a GM.

Mileage, clearly, varies.
 
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TJS

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I think any class based game will have people who are not quick and stealthy unless the actual game paradigm is that you are quick and stealthy as a group. No more especially true of any edition - the default expectation in AD&D was clerics and fighters in metal armour, and no specific stealth rules for any non thief/assassin class.
Well yes. But the reason I said 'modern D&D' was that problem got worse. In AD&D the Fighter who puts away his Plate and wears leather armour has the same AC as the rogue. In WOTC D&D he now has a much lower armour class.

This is the issue when systems design the trade-off between armour and speed in terms of defence (and largely ignore utility).
 

AsenRG

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It's not just D&D in my experience. Palladium, Savage Worlds, R. Tal's system... All of them have make fleeing difficult.
I've ran away in two out of those three with zero issues (never played Palladium, though I tried).

And you still haven't answered my question.

I feel like there ought to be a fallacy, or a rule of some sort that applies in this kind of situation.

A: In situtuation X, it makes sense to do Y.
B: That doesn't work in D&D because Z

If approaches don't work specifically because of conceits specific to D&D then the issue is D&D not the approach.

I'm tempted to call it the "D&D is special rule" perhaps, because "the D&D is shit rule" is possibly to inflammatory. :wink:
I support the D&D Is Special Case Rule and have found it to apply a lot:grin:!
 

Paragon

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In the fantasy adventure genre, and please don't nerf my "dungeon' tight space example because that is core to genre...different but still applicable principals apply to the great outdoors (which is more about avoiding ambush)...one should assume that you are entering a danger zone and have thought of you path of possible retreat, etc.

Man, if you think that first clause is true, I think our experiences are so different this discussion between us is mostly pointless.
 

TJS

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So do we have any conclusions from all this discussion? Any suggestions in rule modifications?
Stop combat.

Go through the players in some kind of order (no need for their opponents to act, if they resist retreat they determine the difficulty of the rolls that follow).

Ask each player what they do to enable retreat. Call for an appropriate skill roll. If the player just says I run, then some kind of athletics roll is called for, if they succeed they're gone. If they try and do anything else eg: create a distraction, throw a grenade to force the enemy back, lay down suppressive fire, pick up a fallen comrade to drag away etc, then ask for an appropriate skill roll at an appropriate difficulty. Success or failure should generally give bonuses or penalties to subsequent rolls, although another obvious penalty of failure would be they eat an attack roll or take damage.

At the end of the round decide if the PCs have done enough to break away, failed utterly at escaping, or if the matter is still in the air. If they got away, then a chase might be called for, if they failed you can go back into regular combat or the option to surrender, if still in the air, go through the pcs again.
 

xanther

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So do we have any conclusions from all this discussion? Any suggestions in rule modifications?
My only two would look to the rules for disengaging while engaged and look to your chase rules.

On disengaging it should be a possibility but doesn't need to be easy. Such rules should factor in things player actions (not just feats, class, etc. but having those is good to as builds) can do to increase or decrease the odds. I would also say there should be an option to forgo attacks to gain a bonus in trying to retreat. But engagement, zones of control, attacks of opportunity are valid to me.

The above can be complicated in a turn based approach, especially if movement and combat are split. But that is an old problem....at least a war game one, where it was well recognized how such rules made for ease of play can twist tactics and outcomes to far away from verisimilitude let alone simulation.

Chase rules should also factor in things player actions (not just feats, class, etc. but having those is good to as builds) can do to increase or decrease the odds. Movement allowance is just the start.

One can also abstract all of this. Although I often talk in tactical terms, prefer a lot of theater of the mind and view all the structure put around combat as not following individual actions so a lot of room for the possibility that one can maneuver in a way to have a chance at getting away.
 

zanshin

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My only two would look to the rules for disengaging while engaged and look to your chase rules.

On disengaging it should be a possibility but doesn't need to be easy. Such rules should factor in things player actions (not just feats, class, etc. but having those is good to as builds) can do to increase or decrease the odds. I would also say there should be an option to forgo attacks to gain a bonus in trying to retreat. But engagement, zones of control, attacks of opportunity are valid to me.

The above can be complicated in a turn based approach, especially if movement and combat are split. But that is an old problem....at least a war game one, where it was well recognized how such rules made for ease of play can twist tactics and outcomes to far away from verisimilitude let alone simulation.

Chase rules should also factor in things player actions (not just feats, class, etc. but having those is good to as builds) can do to increase or decrease the odds. Movement allowance is just the start.

One can also abstract all of this. Although I often talk in tactical terms, prefer a lot of theater of the mind and view all the structure put around combat as not following individual actions so a lot of room for the possibility that one can maneuver in a way to have a chance at getting away.
This is a valuable exercise even if the party doesn't run away much they will want to chase fleeing enemies on occasion. Especially if those enemies want to bring more enemies.
 

Chris Brady

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This is a valuable exercise even if the party doesn't run away much they will want to chase fleeing enemies on occasion. Especially if those enemies want to bring more enemies.
Hence why you murder them all immediately. Any enemy left alive is a potential threat that will bring more threats later.
 

TJS

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There's an old trick there to make random encounters more interesting.

4 goblins that appear and attack becomes a boring pointless fight. 4 goblins that appear and immediately start running force the party to actually make engaging decisions.
 
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Chris Brady

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That is possible, but every enemy you kill is also a potential cause for a campaign of vengeance against you, your friends and your family.
Not if they're all dead, there won't be, there won't be anyone left to tell them who killed the first crew.
 

raniE

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Aye, not to mention a reputation as psychotic killers, which will motivate the Powers That Be to take steps to clear the PCs out, one way or another.
The former mafia capo guy who has a youtube channel (Michael Franzese) says that there's a reason all the real life mafia characters played by Joe Pesci got killed by their own guys, people who act like that are too dangerous to have around and so they get whacked.
 
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