Content of the article: "Encouraging Players to Conserve Resources without Being a Jerk"
I alternate between long and short adventuring days. Sometimes, there's just one fight. Sometimes, there are many. The problem I am having is that my players always fight as if it's the only fight of the day.
For example, they are currently traveling across an island. An hour into travel, they happened across a baron's knights, whom they were supposed to deal with as a social encounter. Instead, they spent all of their spell slots for the entire day fighting them. The knights were a DEADLY encounter. The only reason the party survived is because the knights gave them multiple chances to give up, which the party didn't take. Now the party has almost no spells left for the entire day, and they're currently trekking toward a hard encounter that will likely be deadly without daily resources.
I called the session there so I could take some time to think. I see two obvious options: let them take a long rest in the middle of the super dangerous jungle (which really trivializes the danger) or force them to deal with the jungle as-is, which will probably cause someone to die (they haven't gotten to a single one of the planned encounters and they're down to cantrips).
For additional context, the players aren't full murder hobos. They just misinterpreted the baron's motives. I think they feel like it's a video game where every "bad guy" is someone they're supposed to kill, even if the "bad guys" are WAY stronger. Also, they're more worried about having spells left at the end of the day that could have won them a hard encounter than they are about getting to a hard encounter with no spell slots remaining. Their point of view is totally valid imo; I'm just having trouble communicating that that's not the way this campaign is constructed.
Also, before anyone asks: yes, we've had multiple discussions about the level of danger in the world, and I explicitly warned them that this island carries abundant risks of death (and I gave them plot hooks in other regions where I explicitly told them the chance of death is lower). And yes, one player has already died due to the players biting off more than they can chew and not saving any spell slots (that player was raised literally last session for the low low cost of all of the party's cash).
What are ways that I can reinforce the danger, encourage them to not take on deadly encounters early in the adventuring day, give up when they're overwhelmed, etc. without killing them (probably permanently) or otherwise being a jerk?
- Do fights have to be deadly? How to balance them if game has 1 fight per session?
- Ending LMoP with a TPK???
- When you realize D&D is a resource management game, the week long rest just makes the most sense.
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