Poll

What kind of battle do you hope for after hearing 'Monsters Attack!" ?

Tough and dangerous
3 (15.8%)
Tough but safe
5 (26.3%)
Weak but dangerous
3 (15.8%)
Weak and safe
2 (10.5%)
None. Hate random encounters.
6 (31.6%)

Total Members Voted: 18

Author Topic: POLL: Random Encounters  (Read 2335 times)

Offline Iranon

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POLL: Random Encounters
« on: June 07, 2009, 05:34:17 AM »
In the context of this poll:

'Tough' refers to the monsters' ability to give your party a few lumps and/or take an AoE spell without cutting the fight short

'Dangerous' refers to an ability to drop party members instantly or inflict some harm that may not be easily reversible (like energy drain).

Offline Ben J

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Re: POLL: Random Encounters
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2009, 07:58:26 AM »
Depends on the situation.

If there's an endless supply of foes in a certain area, they shouldn't be too tough. If every random fight takes forever, and the player knows that six steps ahead there could be another group of those exact monsters waiting, the player might lose interest.

If there's a limited number of random encounters, or more variety in foes, or even random but plot-related combats, the fights can be tougher.

If the combats are too easy, they might be pointless and just take up time.

So, I voted for "weak but dangerous".
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Offline DesertScrb

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Re: POLL: Random Encounters
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2009, 09:11:04 AM »
Weak but dangerous.  It keeps players on their toes with a real threat, without turning into a grind.

Offline Vix

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Re: POLL: Random Encounters
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2009, 09:28:29 AM »
I voted I hate random encounters.

A caveat to that, however:

If there are a limited number of encounters in a given area, or RE's are used sparingly, then I do not mind as much. If I am hitting an RE every few minutes of game play, i am very likely to stop playing.

Offline Iranon

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Re: POLL: Random Encounters
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2009, 09:42:18 AM »
'Weak but dangerous' is my favourite category as well. Why?


Tough and Dangerous is something I usually prefer reserved for set encounters... the player deserves to get at least a bit of atmosphere before they get their heads kicked off. In my own designs, I also tend to be a little stingy with safe resting areas... so these would end up as a source of frustration.

Tough but Safe is something I use rarely because here the challenge varies greatly. While difficulty level allows the player to tailor the threat level of these well, it depends even more heavily on party optimisation. Players running characters with all 18s and duplicated equipment will breeze though them, others might be worn down by the attrition.

Weak but Dangerous is my personal favourite. a few wights, some very-much-outclassed casters, a few venomous creepy-crawlies... if I'm in good enough shape that they are no bother, the fight will be quick and won't interrupt the flow of the game. It WILL make me paranoid... because for a weakened party these can be dangerous enough to make me run to the exit (if the last cleric gets dropped, if lost levels accumulate and so on, the current dungeon crawl is a failure. Retreat, regroup, re-boot the front door in).
It provides a credible threat that doesn't depend too much on party optimisation and doesn't require ridiculous power escalation at higher levels like the one above.

Weak and Safe feels like a waste of time and I'd rather have no random encounters at all (which is not my usual preference).
« Last Edit: June 07, 2009, 09:45:03 AM by Iranon »

Offline nologgie

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Re: POLL: Random Encounters
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2009, 10:32:39 AM »
  I voted for 'Tough and Dangerous', but I'd want them to be a very rare occurrence. I like battles where I have to think, maneuver, and have a chance of getting whacked. I don't want a battle every 10 steps.
  I'd also prefer they were mixed with 'Weak but Dangerous' combats occurring rarely, rather than very rarely. (Rarely is still more than 10 steps.)
  'Weak and Safe' combats are pretty worthless.

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Offline Olivier Leroux

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Re: POLL: Random Encounters
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2009, 10:45:12 AM »
I voted I hate random combats in general but like Vix I think it all depends on how it's done. There's no reason to reserve atmosphere only for the "real" combats. If I read "Monsters attack!" two times in a row (the first time was bad enough already) and if story-wise the encounters don't make sense to me, I'm easily put off by them. I'm not talking about balance here but lack of creativity. On the other hand, I can imagine a imaginative designer making me crave for even more random combats.  :D

Offline PetrusOctavianus

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Re: POLL: Random Encounters
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2009, 02:20:38 PM »

None. Hate random encounters.

As long as they are endless that is.
PoR and CoB had a limited number of random encounters in each area, which was brilliant.
So for me that questionis not really about the quality, but rather the quantity, of the random encounters.

Offline hans

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Re: POLL: Random Encounters
« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2009, 02:45:04 PM »
I didn't see my true favorite, which would be "weak and overloaded with treasure."  I like to be attacked by small groups of goblins whose pants are so stuffed with precious gems that they get an AC and movement penalty.

Offline Ben J

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Re: POLL: Random Encounters
« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2009, 03:38:23 PM »
There's a difference, though, between random encounters in a dungeon or on an overland map. While the random combat often annoys me in dungeons, an overland map can almost not do without them (they still shouldn't be too frequent).

Or are there designs that get along without any random combat on the overland maps?
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Offline Vix

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Re: POLL: Random Encounters
« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2009, 03:42:31 PM »
I suppose my view on Random Combats is:

"Random Encounters should be used for flavor, not filler."

Offline Iranon

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Re: POLL: Random Encounters
« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2009, 03:49:44 PM »
@ nologgie: interesting. Would you condone some extremely deadly random encounters with a very low chance of happening, low enough that you might never see them in a playthrough?

I could definitely see the appeal in regions where you might have made enemies with the power to bring you to your knees... sort of being on the receiving end of a 'scry and fry'. I played around with those for my own amusement, but I'm not sure how much fun those would be for most players in a game they don't know inside-out...

Offline ProphetSword

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Re: POLL: Random Encounters
« Reply #12 on: June 07, 2009, 04:35:08 PM »
I voted "Weak and Safe," and my reasoning is very simple:

Any designer who starts a random encounter with "Monsters Attack" clearly shows me that they didn't put any real thought into their area.  I give a pass to modules written before 1996 on this, but after that, it should be obvious that nobody wants to see "Monsters Attack" pop up at any point.

I could not vote: "none;" because in the context of this question (what kind of combat do you want to see after seeing "Monsters Attack"), "none" would mean that:
   a) the designer didn't give a lot of thought to his area, and worst of all,
   b) the designer didn't playtest, since "Monsters Attack" followed by nothing would be a bug and quite annoying.

Random combats have their place if they are:
   a) well thought out
   b) make sense in the context of the area
   c) few and far between, and
   d) aren't overpowering

Just my thoughts.

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Offline nologgie

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Re: POLL: Random Encounters
« Reply #13 on: June 07, 2009, 10:43:32 PM »
@ nologgie: interesting. Would you condone some extremely deadly random encounters with a very low chance of happening, low enough that you might never see them in a playthrough?

I could definitely see the appeal in regions where you might have made enemies with the power to bring you to your knees... sort of being on the receiving end of a 'scry and fry'. I played around with those for my own amusement, but I'm not sure how much fun those would be for most players in a game they don't know inside-out...

  I've played with both punitive expeditions based on player activity, and overland encounters with opponents far above the module level. Encountering the first is highly probable, while the second may never be seen at all.
  In either case, I begin combat with the opponents 'nearby' or 'far away.' I can use the rationale that large monsters and/or groups have less chance to sneak up on a small group, but actually I do it in order to give the player a chance to flee.
  I don't like 'party killer' encounters, but the world is a dangerous place. Even if you've conquered the ogre lair, your 5th levels are still not the toughest SOBs on the planet.
  A character may need to unequip armor or drop items in order to escape, but this teaches the value of movement rate, and the trade-off of movement vs. A/C. Paladins must either learn judicious retreat, or fill their place in the food chain.
  I also like to give the option of stalking the wilderness for 'tough but safe, and 'weak but dangerous' encounters in order to build strength, as a variant of 'The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in combat.' Characters may gain enough strength to beat the 'deadly' encounters. Not everyone likes the boring slog in search of combat, but I like the option.
  The downside is that options require events, and only 100 events are allowed per dungeon, so in some cases it may not be an option after all.
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Offline Kaz-Keith

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Re: POLL: Random Encounters
« Reply #14 on: June 08, 2009, 01:06:55 AM »
I didn't vote as there was no 'Truly Random' response to choose, which is exactly what I would expect from a random encounter.  :)

Some great points in the above responses.

My own take: tabletop random encounters has long since stopped having that particular meaning (ie: a DM's direct influence over results) with the advent of self-playable computer games, where random encounters has become a vehicle for grinding, sinking time, causing affluent players to use resources/cash, or all three.

In the far-smaller and more intimate scenario of FRUA, I think random encounters are best when they aren't really random at all.  To echo sentiments already stated: the best 'random' encounters are those that are well-thought out, meaningful, and add to the overall design without causing undue frustration, casualties, or distraction.

 

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