Why does dealing with DMs always appear to be counterproductive?

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Sean Maxhell
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Why does dealing with DMs always appear to be counterproductive?

Unread post by Sean Maxhell » Mon Apr 15, 2019 6:41 am

I've been playing on this server for many years, since the beginning.
Over the years, I took breaks and then returned.
I saw the server mutate, new areas appear, and others disappear.
After an absence of a couple of years, I returned about a month ago.
But one constant has remained, any initiative taken by the DMs, on balance, would be better avoided.
It is as if the DMs had never made the players, it is as if the DMs did not know the game, it is as if the DMs did not know the statistics and above all they are the first not to respect a regulation coherent with the setting.

All my experience with the DMs of this server, in the last 10 years has always produced the same results: long waiting periods and inactivity and then ending up colliding with enemies above any possibility, dying, waiting, waiting and waiting, coming resurrected, receiving a ridiculous amount of px, an even more ridiculous quantity of gold, magical objects not even talking about it.
This is a constant.

In the time spent following this useless rigging, with my character I could have raided half of the server's dungeons, retrieved magic items worth thirty times the rewards received from a quest with DMs and at least ten times the experience points obtained.
But above all, above all, I would undoubtedly have enjoyed myself more.

I have always found it much more pleasant and satisfying to face a dungeons together with a group of players than to deal with anything organized by a DM.

The other night I tried to participate in a DM's quest, and it ended exactly as I described.
The DM called up a group of high level players, and for me high level means from 16 onwards.
After the usual pleasantries we arrived at the fight.
Obviously.
You always come to the fight, don't you?
If the enemy tells you to give up, you don't give up right? What sense would it give up?
Do I decide to take part in an adventure to rob me to imprison and kill? I do not think so.
So we fight.
Six players.
But the enemies?
So, I don't know what kind of power player there is on this server, but for me an average high level character has an armor class of around 35 and a hit roll of 25.
I'm talking about an average character.
Obviously a character focused only on combat can easily reach AC 45 and AB 30-40, AB depends on the level, while AC depends on the equipment.
And surely some power players can go much further.
But back to the enemies: the enemies that we found ourselves facing the other night, they had a shot to hit of +46 and they did about 40 damage per hit.
And I'm talking about minions, not some bosses.
Now ... Do I only notice a certain imbalance?

They were undead, very common ghosts.
Well ... not very common.
What kind of ghosts could ever have such statistics consistent with which setting ?!
To have an AB of +46 assuming an already abundant +10 given by the statistics and another +3 given by the specializations, + 3 given by the weapons, they advance 30 points of AB, an undead takes a point every two, it means that it was of ghosts of level 60.
The minions, not the boss.
Now, how consistent is a ghost with 60 levels and not being the king of the whole kingdom?

Really, it seems that the DMs have never played this game or at least it seems that the DMs don't know this server, and the stats that the players can reach, or the quality of the enemies they can deal with the equipment that the world can provide them .

And since I can remember, it's always been like this.

And that's why every time I see a DM screaming in chat that is preparing something, my thought is always the same: "But shut up, don't disturb and at least try not to crash the server, please."

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Re: Why does dealing with DMs always appear to be counterproductive?

Unread post by Sean Maxhell » Mon Apr 15, 2019 6:52 am

I make a small outline:
DM quest = Boring stuff -> impossible fight -> death -> Boring stuff -> embarrassing rewards -> useless waste of time

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VDub
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Re: Why does dealing with DMs always appear to be counterproductive?

Unread post by VDub » Mon Apr 15, 2019 7:12 am

Well, a lot of the time the DM's are looking to set up for a campaign rather than a one and done. You can't really let the party kill everything if you plan to carry the adventure concept out over several events. They do this to allow more than one party to be involved in the idea they have. It also promotes forum RP and the sharing of ideas.

Instead of getting upset over the result, perhaps you could come to the forums and write up an in character post about what your PC plans to do to change what happens? That will spark interest in others as well as show the DM that you're in for the long haul and also give that DM ideas to continue that they might enjoy as well.

"You win some, you lose some." There is a story to be had in both cases. You just have to be willing to challenge yourself and let the dice roll. I understand it can get frustrating. More often than not the DM's are looking for you to solve problems creatively. More than just a hack and slash. If you go into the event treating it the same as a dungeon crawl, you'll most likely leave disappointed. If you go in with an open mind and a willingness to challenge your train of thought and your PC's depth of character, you may just come out of the event satisfied in the long run.
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Re: Why does dealing with DMs always appear to be counterproductive?

Unread post by Wolfrayne » Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:19 am

As someone who has been on both sides of the fence there are a few things id like to share from my own experiences.

Events are difficult to do. You have to take in to account player levels, number of people, classes etc etc. Picking enemies that will provide a challenge but not overrun the party can quite difficult because as you said everyone builds differently. Another problem that comes up is not everyone role plays the same. A lot of people show up to DM events to just smash and grab some free exp rather than trying to actually work out what is going on.

Personally even as a DM i didnt like random "big events" i always found things worked out better when creating small encounters, A Bandit group holding up the roads. An angry Bear trying to eat a traveler. the Malarite shrine spewing some wolves out to attack a nearby group of adventurers. Small things that didnt lead anywhere but broke up the everyday grind.

But that was how i did it. Every DM is different, Every DM has things they want to do and every DM also has a life outside of the game and sometimes they cant spent as much time herding a bunch of players with very different ideas down a singular path.

I understand the frustration, I have been shafted in many events myself and a lot of them i tend to avoid completely because it just ends up being a huge mess. But every now and then a DM will be doing an event that i know is suited to my character so i check it out if im around the area.

A lot of the problem stems from people who simply show up to an event because they think its a free loot and shoot. they have no intention of following any story they just want to kill things and get free rewards and this can be detrimental, But this is a player mentality problem not a DM problem. the DM cant exclude someone because it doesnt fit their event. so they adapt and a lot of the time things get way harder than they need to be.
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Re: Why does dealing with DMs always appear to be counterproductive?

Unread post by chambordini » Mon Apr 15, 2019 5:03 pm

There was another thread that had some of the DMs providing advice on how to request things from them, they listed some of their commonly encountered pet peeves and like a set of different specific guidelines to follow to get better access to them.

It was funny in a ridiculous way but I mean... why would I bother? :mrgreen:

It's sad I guess, one of the more unique things that NWN2 offers is the DM client, I suppose it can be a gruesome experience too, many DMs crash a lot in the DMC, there's also the drama aspects of this community based situation, and a balancing between answering player neediness and having fun yourself, where's the line?

But I think it's a poorly designed system that BG uses, not that it was designed in particular by anyone. But all of the red flags and known issues like the high DM burnout rate have reasons that aren't getting addressed I imagine.

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Re: Why does dealing with DMs always appear to be counterproductive?

Unread post by Tekill » Mon Apr 15, 2019 7:19 pm

Sean Maxhell wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 6:41 am
The other night I tried to participate in a DM's quest, and it ended exactly as I described.
I was in that event too.
Yeah the undead were super tough.
When these events happen anything can happen. One the perks of having multiple DM's is anything can happen. It makes it more realistic. Sometimes, It can be a total cake walk. It can be nearly totally uneventful with zero actual fighting. Or, It can end in a party wipe. Yeah sure there are mechanical issues and sometimes the DM event is a bit of a flop- but that shouldn't ruin the fun.
Sure I can grind and loot grind all I want. But there are better games to play to do that, if that is what I want to do.

I have zero expectations as to what is going to happen, and 99% of the time, it is a good time, even if I die....which I do a lot!
This event ended really well though. I thought the whole thing was fun. Sure we wiped, but us players jumped in and really RP'd a fun end to the event!

The part that bothered me was when we first faced off against the Lizardmen. It was so easy...way too easy in fact. So much so that I was actually disappointed. So disappointed that was was going to start complaining in party chat and then rage quit out of the event.
Luckily though I took the high road instead and waited it out. And we faced off against the undead which pretty much wiped us. A real challenge! I feared for my toons life, it was exciting.

Then after we revived we tried to ship-jack the captains boat!
Until he scuttled it, I was actually starting to wonder what I was going to do with my new ship!

Basically, I saw it a bit differently than you described.
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Maecius
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Re: Why does dealing with DMs always appear to be counterproductive?

Unread post by Maecius » Mon Apr 15, 2019 7:22 pm

The DMs are overworked and underequipped.

We are expecting rarely more than 3-4 in-game DMs to manage the needs of 40-90+ people at any given time on a poorly aging platform. Then we are asking them to come to the forums when they're not in game in order to manage dozens of player requests, questions, complaints, suggestions, et cetera.

Anyone who's ever been in a supervisory position "in real life" knows how much work it is to manage even four or five people, and we're asking the DMs to provide feedback, direction, and a sense of purpose and mission to many more times that. Then, instead of paying them $40,000-$80,000 salaries, we're telling them that they're doing it all for fun. :D

I'm not saying that there aren't things that can be, and should be, improved upon. But I think it's important to keep in mind that we're asking the DMs to do a really hard job, where they are held to a pretty lengthy and strict code of conduct (which, by the way, is what limits what they can give out in rewards) and then asked to grin and bear it when they're criticized for not being "good enough."

This all works to make BG:TSCC a comparatively fair, transparent, and stable community where the expectation (from players and staff alike) is that players will be treated respectfully by staff, but it doesn't make for an easy staff experience, as we, in order to maintain that level of professionalism, hold staff to very high standards. Standards we simply don't hold players to.

Again, this all is not meant to say that DMs don't make mistakes, don't bite off more than they can chew, don't misjudge the power of their spawns, don't misread player intent or desire; as they certainly do all of that, as do we all. But they do their best, and helpful, constructive feedback couched in positivity will do more to improve their skillsets than will tearing them down. High DM turnover rates means that there's always new people learning how to be a DM, and that means that there's always a learning curve going on staff side. If you work with the DMs, make your expectations clear to them, and exercise patience when a given DM is obviously having a hard time (due to repeated client crashes, or simply being new at the job, or having 30 players show up for their event while 3 others send them urgent Tells about a PVP battle or glitch halfway across the server) ... then you'll probably find that they are having a better time, which will in turn help to ensure that you are having a better time.

Just my thoughts on the matter, anyway!

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Re: Why does dealing with DMs always appear to be counterproductive?

Unread post by Mallore » Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:13 pm

I think I can understand the OP's reasons and desires in their post. It does seam to myself a frustration with events but more so I believe with event construction rather then effort. The reason many of us play NWN and come back to it is for the DM Client, that tailored touch so few other games can create. However, this tailored touch isnt easy, it takes a long time for a DM to become practiced and well versed in the Client. Part of the knowledge is the ability to balance on the fly, how to modify creatures in the moment of need and lets also face it players do not make this easier.

It takes a DM time to become well practiced and it also takes other DMs teaching each other, though this sounds easy it is way harder as so few Client DMs stick around longer then a year. Tricks and knowledge is passed from DM to DM and with many things these secrets sometimes become lost waiting to be discovered again. Perhaps all your scenario needed was a bit of token drops in the monster, an item that changes their AB, AC even hit points. Suddenly you can have a Lizard man with AC 14 and 40 hit points go to AC 24 and 140 HP. This skill can also re-balance a monster that is far to strong, lowering its AC to make it easier to hit. I was always a fan of Low AC monsters with Mega High HP, allowing all levels (with in a band, and build style) to really hit the monster making a feel of success, but the high HP making it a challenge. the above is actually the formula that is used now in Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition, low AC high HP, the idea of constant missing having turned players off in previous editions.

For NWN, a live action client --

Basic formula being
AC (low) AB (low) HP (High) This set up is because there is no true agro system in NWN and during this time the DM can emote for the monsters "Hahara I am bigger then you" - Mid encounter adjust to AC (low) AB (Medium) HP (high) Now the encounter grows in danger as the monsters start to hit hard and time for tech and skill to survive, healing the monsters may also be a need. Ending the Battle. - AC (low) AB (high) HP (High) now its all to the walls making a simple encounter seam dangerous while having controlled all the possibilities. -- however this isn't easy, in truth can be very difficult.

But this is just one of the dozens of things, with it is also event building, the basic formuals for those. NPC buildings, visuals and story. Theme, goal along with countless other items that must be juggled.

It is not easy to be a DM and it takes time to learn tricks, tricks which are lost daily and being re-discoverd all the time. There isnt a lot of help out in the world for our DM's and I think being chill with the newer DMs will help them shape into the awesomes we like.

Good luck out there guys.
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Re: Why does dealing with DMs always appear to be counterproductive?

Unread post by Sean Maxhell » Tue Apr 16, 2019 3:56 am

Tarrasque disguised as ghosts are not realistic and not at all consistent!
Combat is not the important part, and for this reason the event should not revolve around this.
I prefer a thousand times to face a hundred insignificant enemies and then resolve the event with the role play that having to face monsters without any sense of existence.

I am a twentieth level cleric, if a ghost challenges me, the ghost is destroyed. A (do-me) Dracolich is destroyed.
These are the rules of this game and these should be the rules of this setting.
DMs are the first not to realize that they are not able to play this game by remaining on the topic.

Anyway, I wanted to try to attend a DM event, and it's right to remind me why it's the case that I avoid them.

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Re: Why does dealing with DMs always appear to be counterproductive?

Unread post by chad878262 » Tue Apr 16, 2019 8:54 am

Sean Maxhell wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 3:56 am
Tarrasque disguised as ghosts are not realistic and not at all consistent!
The published books with monsters that have been 'suped-up' or PCs that use abilities they likely shouldn't have for story purposes has kind of made it canon that any monster can be a more powerful version of what we know. Further, DMs have been encouraged by TSR and Wizards of the Coast and who ever else has owned the D&D license since it's inception to make their own adjustments in the name of a fun game. Arguing how powerful Ghost's should be is likely not the appropriate path since they should be as strong as they need to be for the purposes of the story being told.

That said, what I think is important is the need to balance encounters for DM events. I can understand wanting to give adventures a challenge, but that requires ANY DM regardless of their skillset the time to get to know the PLAYERS and the characters they play. I would put forth that when a DM is doing a 'one-shot' they should tone down the difficulty based on the fact that the players who come to join may not be very good mechanically at playing their PC either because they're new, or are trying out a new concept or just don't care to learn. When running a longer term series of events then it pays to start off on the 'easy' end of the spectrum for the first event where combat is concerned and then increase the difficulty as you run subsequent events based on what the players are able to handle through their PC's. The simple fact is this is not PnP with a group of players and a DM that play together every X days for a long period of time. The players on this server run the gambit in terms of skill in both building efficient PC's as well as the ability to execute the capabilities of those PC's efficiently. For this purpose if a DM wants players to enjoy their events, some caution is needed in order to understand what they can handle before throwing the kitchen sink at them.

By the same token, due to the high rate of turnover, perhaps a little understanding and CONSTRUCTIVE criticism would go a long way in improving the player/DM relationships. I'm sure DMs would be ok hearing an occasional "thanks for the event, in the future you may want to consider toning down the power level of enemies for a bunch of level X PC's as it's not fun getting wiped out... Understand sometimes you gotta lose, but when the group of Y number of X party members is killed by Z number of ghosts without even taking one of them down it feels kind of like a railroad where we are meant to lose and have no chance of victory." That is productive, it allows the DM to think about what went right and wrong and work to improve. It MIGHT also make them want to hang around and try to get better, rather than get fed up/burnt out and quit. Heck, if more DMs stay then maybe the server has more DMs to support the community and those DMs are more seasoned and thus better able to run fun events that challenge the folks that enjoy challenge while not overwhelming those that don't.

Or we could just keep seeing negative posts about how awful they are and how there is simply no hope and no reason to ever interact with them outside of using them for fixing bugs....cuz I'm sure that makes people want to join the DM team and/or hang around after their first 6 months...
Sean Maxhell wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 3:56 am
Combat is not the important part, and for this reason the event should not revolve around this.
I prefer a thousand times to face a hundred insignificant enemies and then resolve the event with the role play that having to face monsters without any sense of existence.
For you... Different players enjoy different parts of the game. DMs don't know you or anyone else on the server personally, other than perhaps in a few cases like spouses, siblings, roomates that play the game or whatever. You can't expect a DM to guess what YOU like or what anyone else likes, they're going to craft the event most likely based on what they think makes the most sense for the story line or what they enjoy, until they get to know the players involved more. Again, a little constructive communication before and after any event would go a long way.
Sean Maxhell wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 3:56 am
I am a twentieth level cleric, if a ghost challenges me, the ghost is destroyed. A (do-me) Dracolich is destroyed.
By server rule your In Character level is half your character sheet level. You are a 10th level cleric. I do not believe a 10th level Cleric would be soloing a Dracolich, though common Ghosts I agree should be no issue. However, as stated earlier, in D&D DMs are granted license to change the difficulty of any critter so if this DM wanted THESE Ghost to be high powered I see no issue with that. You still have the absolute right to disagree with HOW powerful they were, but there is a far more constructive way to handle it too.
Sean Maxhell wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 3:56 am
These are the rules of this game and these should be the rules of this setting.
DMs are the first not to realize that they are not able to play this game by remaining on the topic.
You've been around long enough that just like any PnP group, this server has it's own Homebrew rules, yet you seem to ignore them when it suits your argument. Again, if you want to effect change, try providing constructive feedback (and use the supervisor rule of sandwiching a criticism between a couple of compliments) and I bet the DM(s) will be more than willing to try to do things a bit better the next time.... Or continue to be bitter and lash out, lamenting that there is no reason to do events because the DM(s) all suck. This will continue to be the case as long as the player base as an entity refuses to work progressively and constructively with the DM team. Everyone is volunteers including the players...without the players nothing anyone on staff does matters so your input to DM(s) is just as important as the feedback given to devs, area builders and media team. Working constructively will in general produce better results than working destructively. Food for thought.
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Kiran
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Re: Why does dealing with DMs always appear to be counterproductive?

Unread post by Kiran » Tue Apr 16, 2019 9:38 am

After reading the OP's comments I can only imagine if he does not want to attent DM events, the DM's after reading all of this wont mind to much.

Just my thoughts on the matter.
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Re: Why does dealing with DMs always appear to be counterproductive?

Unread post by Ariella » Tue Apr 16, 2019 12:13 pm

Honestly if you don't like it don't participate. There are many DMs and many styles of events, some are not for everyone and that's fine, there may be none for you. However there are people who enjoy even the most basic hack and slash events with strong foes. Also as Chad says your character level is always treated as half as far as power goes, or monsters as double. On top of that however even in PnP monsters have advancement and ghost is a template as is dracolich. So you can fight a level 8 ghost or a level 60 ghost skys the limit, tarrasque ghost could totally be a thing.

All that said however, your post services no purpose but to lower the moral of DMs. Give constructive criticism a go, because frankly the DM's do so much in the background, pay free to keep the server going. That your poor experience in an event is not justification to sit here and whine at them. Be grateful there are people willing to put the time an effort into making this a place to play, if you think there can be improvements then suggest them in a helpful way or better yet put your hand up at the next recruitment drive.

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Re: Why does dealing with DMs always appear to be counterproductive?

Unread post by DM Theophanies » Tue Apr 16, 2019 12:21 pm

I've been on the DM staff since 2014 (with a year of retirement around 2017) and a part of the community since 2011, consistently. I can say, by far, we have one of the most solid DM teams currently. They are cohesive, active, supportive of each other, and employ a myriad of approaches to DMing. There are still shortcomings (notably the forum workload), but we have and will continue to make changes to enhance DM tenure time and availability. That said, I am quite proud of the current iteration of the DM team.

To answer your question: "Why does dealing with DMs always appear to be counterproductive?", I think it's quite simple. Your expectations of this game are not aligning with what the DMs are able to provide for you, as well as misunderstandings of our setting compared to traditional PnP. Chad presented one way to view the scale of the setting:
chad878262 wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 8:54 am
By server rule your In Character level is half your character sheet level. You are a 10th level cleric. I do not believe a 10th level Cleric would be soloing a Dracolich, though common Ghosts I agree should be no issue. However, as stated earlier, in D&D DMs are granted license to change the difficulty of any critter so if this DM wanted THESE Ghost to be high powered I see no issue with that. You still have the absolute right to disagree with HOW powerful they were, but there is a far more constructive way to handle it too.
I prefer to consider it more of an upscaling since it keeps the baseline at level 30, which helps incorporate "play your sheet" rules. Instead of the average PC is around level 15, they are at level 30, so the difficult scale for everything in the setting moves to match that. So the spawn difficulty is scaled to match. This has always been my approach.

As for participating in DM events, you are more than welcome to excuse yourself. At the end of the day, this is a game and if it is not fun for you, you should not be playing. I expect DMs to help with some workload issues which are admittedly not fun for most. I do not expect players to make the same sacrifices.

Moving forward, if you have issues with how a DM is conducting themselves, the appropriate approach is to reach out to the Head DMs (HDMs). If you have an issue with myself or another HDM, then the admins handle those complaints. At the end of the day, publically ridiculing a group of individuals who work to enhance the game for a large portion of the playerbase at the expense of their own time is highly damaging to that group as well as the enjoyment of the entire playerbase because of it. I tend to adopt a philosophy of finding and doing what you enjoy as a DM, as it leads to longer retention times. I think that philosophy is highly relevant here, where if you are not enjoying DM events, then my advice is to avoid them and excuse yourself when you encounter them.

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Re: Why does dealing with DMs always appear to be counterproductive?

Unread post by Lecxe » Tue Apr 16, 2019 4:46 pm

I actually took a part in this particular event too and my opinion is completely different to the one expressed at the very beginning. I'm glad we faced really difficult, someone could say overpowered enemy and got butchered. This created good background for fun RP at the end of the event. Moreover, the single scenario now has an opportunity to turn into full blown campaign in which players can find out what the overpowered ghost is up to.
With all honesty I have hardly any experience in playing NWN and even less being a player on this server but I spent years playing pen and paper RPG (yes, I'm old) and I think this event has great potential to turn into something memorable.

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Re: Why does dealing with DMs always appear to be counterproductive?

Unread post by Wandering_Woodsman » Wed Apr 17, 2019 1:01 am

It's a bit late here (midnight), so I haven't had the chance to fully read the thread. I will however, throw these two cents into the ring, perhaps incoherently.

Uhm. I don't 100% disagree OR agree that combat in a DM event makes or breaks it. It HELPS and/or HINDERS depending on it.

Now, the agree part. In some situations, you want to have combat. Say, a bunch of thieves are caught in the act of breakin' into the Blade and Stars, and dash into the sewers. They then turn and attack with their friends in an ambush (or their mage summons something big and bad, or they just piss off a HUGE rats nest, or....)

Now, by that same logic, it's also a disagree part.

Same bandit group, same tactics. Only difference, the bandit group is raiding the Blade and Stars, and yet half their crew has enough strength, stamina, spells, and equipment to fight off AN ENTIRE PC GROUP without TOO much trouble.

Now think about that. They're doin' the equivalent of knockin' over a 7/11 (a mini corner store here in the States), and yet have enough firepower to overthrow a small country.

Maybe I'm more tired then I think, but if only HALF of your goon squad is needed to kick every member of the Flaming Fist from here Naskel, then any notion of petty theft becomes ridiculous. If it's a small time theft, then the small time criminals shouldn't be strong just to make it challenging!

TLDR; just because an NPC enemy group can take on ever PC in your DM event, doesn't mean they SHOULD, WOULD, or would make sense in the situation you've got them in. Sometimes, that ragtag band of bandits that tried hitting that caravan is just that, a ragtag band of bandits, and SHOULD be stomped easily. Otherwise, why the hell are they just hittin' small-time stuff?

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