Choosing the peaceful option in an angry world

There seems to be a tension for a gaming group between an interesting plot, realism, player freedom, and prep time. Through the course of a campaign one of these concerns will beat out the others at various times. Last week we had an encounter, as described by my DM on her blog. The short summary is: the party came across a group of bridge-guarding Spriggans who demanded gold in exchange for passage.

I don’t want to speak for my fellow players, but I think as a party we were responding with “realism.” Or as realistic as it would be for a group of well-armed professional murderers to propose a counter-offer: “move out of our way and not die from our swords.” From her blog, our DM indicates the encounter was designed to be fought and so the DC to diplome the situation was quite high. The result was a good combat with some interesting terrain (there was a bridge with its walls broken in places) and a well designed combination of monsters. I made a few strategic mistakes, and got my character’s ass handed to me.

Despite not wanting to get into the fight, we wound up in a do-or-die battle against the brigands. We managed to capture one alive. The prisoner led us to his cache of treasure and gave us a password needed later in the adventure in exchange for his life. This was a tough situation for us; we did not know that this combat would be useful to the story. By trying to RP our way out of it, we got to make some rolls to see if we could. But the GM want us to fight ,and so we did. Now that we know (meta-game) that even the most “random” of encounters might have a use, we’ll probably listen a little more to the DM’s pressure next time [Editor’s note: we did and it worked out well for us].

The question still remains however: how to get out of a combat if the DM is set on it, especially knowing that the combat moves the plot forward?

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6 thoughts on “Choosing the peaceful option in an angry world

  1. I think there are two potential choices here, You can throw a tantrum and flip the board over or bribe the DM with some freshly made donuts. No one can resist the power of fresh donuts.

  2. I hope you don’t mind me commenting. The way I would like to handle it in the future is to have two options, fight or complete a skill challenge. If the group fails the skill challenge, there is a chance that the players would have to fight. If they totally kill the skill challenge, they would most if not all of the information they would have gotten through a fight. It’s a bit more work for me, but I think makes more sense RP wise that the players would still have an option/out. And if the players think of some totally cool way to get out of a fight, I’ll find some future way to get the players the same information.

  3. I don’t mind any kind of comments. I hope you didn’t take it personally, although we could set up some kind of “darn the DM”/”darn the players” dueling posts 😉

    I don’t think it’s practical to have an alternate skill challenge for every encounter, and it would suck to avoid every battle as we still need the XP. But its always good to have a plan B, because the players never do what’s expected.

    Not sure what a better thing would have been, but that is why I’m not doing a DM blog… 🙂

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