How do I get my players to retreat?

My players have been getting into trouble in combat recently. They overreach, get stuck, and get killed.
As a solution I went back to the idea of morale rules and instituted them for enemies. Now enemy soldiers are much more likely to make fighting withdrawals. My players rejected out-of-hand having to roll the same tests themselves, saying it felt like mind control to have to run.
Now we have the problem that my players A) don't ignore fleeing enemies, which turns them back to hostile if they aren't killed, B) pursue fleeing enemies into positions where they get overrun again, and C) are dying often enough it's affecting the game negatively.
I think the solution would be for the players to know when they're beaten, and accept when they've won without going full genocide. Fleeing enemies don't tend to have much good stuff physically on them and are worth the same XP as killed ones.
System is WEG d6 based but I know people have this issue in other games and would like system agnostic advice.

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  1. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    A "health gate" helps with this issue alot. Essentially make it impossible for the players to be killed in one round.
    A mech TTRPG I play (and wont name because it always turns into a pol shistorm) has a mechanic like this where when your mech is destroyed you have 2 rounds to eject and flee before your reactor blows. Essentially you hit a point where you're not dead yet, but retreating is your only option (aside from suicide, I guess). By contrast in games like D&D where you can lose half your health or more to some lucky crits, it's very hard to know when you're defeated and need to run because it just comes from fricking nowhere sometimes.

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      Maybe roleplay to your players their bodies reactions of fear? I feel like most of the reason players in TTRPG don't flee is because they lack a lot of the physiological information they would have in real life (I feel tired/scared/hurt, maybe I shouldn't bumrush into the cave?).
      On the other hand, if your players literally follow fleeing, demoralized enemies into their camps and then die from being outnumbered, perhaps you should sit down with them and explicitly discuss this, and maybe either stop writing such excellently logical situations (where being in the middle of enemy territory is bad), or get new players.

      But I also really, really like what this guy said, and feel like this problem is a part of it. However, as a shut in virgin, I have not the slightest idea of whether or not "dying out of fricking nowhere" is a system related issue, or simply a consequence of the realism of medieval battle.

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      >and wont name because it always turns into a pol shistorm)
      >but I'm gonna tell you that in hopes that someone catchs it's Lancer and starts a /misc/shitstorm

      • 3 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        why does Lancer cause a /misc/ shitstorm?

        • 2 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          Because it's a meh RPG and the writers can't keep their personal politics out of the game/setting.

          • 2 weeks ago
            Anonymous

            If that isn't a good reason to bring it up every time it's alluded to, I don't know what is.

          • 2 weeks ago
            Anonymous

            The art is sick tho. It's a shame.

            • 2 weeks ago
              Anonymous

              Not that I don't enjoy some weirdass psychedelically-coloured artwork, but what the frick is Lancer even about?

              • 2 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                Very short summary; on the galactic scale a 'benevolent' dictatorship has taken over for a 'malevolent' dictatorship, and although the known planets broadly enjoys a post-scarcity society the fringes are still rough and there's still a better living to be made through banditry than the government dole. Mechs are common to the point of being 3D-printed and used for a variety of labor. AI is outlawed as all signs points to true AIs being essentially gods that can and have done things like teleport moons out of existence, so what AI exists is "shackled" AIs that are essentially forced by code and hardware to have their thoughts limited to a human-level framework. The players are "lancers", a cross between mercenary, elite fighter pilot, and knight errant.

                All of this fluff serves as an excuse to do whatever gundam episode you want and get a new mech easily when your reactor core explodes. It barely has any mechanical bearing.

              • 2 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                The basic rundown of the lore is that there's a Star Trek tier post-scarcity utopia, except there are still megacorps that 3D print walking warcrimes

          • 2 weeks ago
            Anonymous

            I think /tg/ are babies who don't understand that some settings are inherently political by how they are built.

  2. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    1. A friendly npc appears and shows the PCs a way to retreat, with the intention of regrouping and returning with superior forces, i.e. what the enemies have done to them in OP's B).
    2. Enemies meant to lose have little to nowhere to run in the first place.
    3. Winning enemies resort to nonlethal and less-lethal weaponry and strategies to deliberately capture the PCs.
    Besides those, I can't think of a single *in-game* idea to help you, as in make your players better at being humans, they made it abundantly clear that the concept of flight is incomprehensible to them, so not even using talk-no-jutsu should be able to save them at this point.
    Either you design your moron simulator's encounters according to the morons' limitations, you seek less moronic players, or continue to kill the morons for being moronic - it's not wrong.

  3. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Play any Warhammer game. They'll learn they aren't invincible very quickly.

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      >Play any Warhammer
      Lol, no. That setting is for troons

      • 3 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        >Warhammer is for troons
        >t. troon trying to keep beta chads from having fun with something it doesn't even play

  4. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    A small factor I'd suggest is making the actions necessary to retreat far easier. Like if somebody commits to retreating, then they can just get out of the fight in a massive way. No free attacks against them, bonuses to dodge, extreme move distance, likely with a restriction against making any sort of attacks for a few subsequent rounds. Perhaps have the bonuses to how good they are at running away be proportional to the factors of the morale rules you're using.
    That's the simplest way I can think of when it's a case of the player's overcommitting, to make it so that it's a lot easier to bail out on that commitment as soon as it becomes clear that they've overextended.

    I would note though that if enemies are retreating back to positions where they can easily get reinforcements, then the players may be correct to want to try and pick them off. Although that's obviously more case-by-case, and still doesn't justify chasing them into what will obviously be a trap.

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      If you give players increased mobility based on how much they're over-extended, they aren't over-extended.

  5. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    1. Enemies should flee when they believe they wont survive, barring an explicit reason why they shouldn't. No rolls necessary. Standing and fighting requires conviction or desperation. Toss out the morale system and just track if your NPCs are cowardly or not.

    2. You are not giving the players a reward for hunting down the fleeing enemies, this is good, continue with this. Reward behaviour you want to see more of, do not reward behaviour you don't want to see.

    3. Let them die. If they are taking risks because of their bloodlust, let them suffer the consequences of their bloodlust. Do not coddle them here, because you will teach them that the GM wont let the mean monsters hurt your precious player babies. That is a bad precedent to set.

    I would just continue with the course and if someone gets hurt and die, then that's their problem. If this ruins their fun then that's also their problem. You are responsible for making a fun game, you are not responsible for making them play it in a way that is fun for them. Once you have that attitude it will no longer be a problem you have to worry about.

    That said, if I wanted to teach them that hunting fleeing enemies was a bad idea, I'd set up an adventure where the enemies flee into incredibly dangerous areas. Cultists, goblins, bandits, etc are all enemies that might flee back to a larger reserve group. In an urban environment a fleeing bad guy might run into an area where the players will be engaged by law enforcement. Engineer a situation where chasing after the enemy is obviously a bad idea, and make it clear to them that they know it's a bad idea. The enemy has laid an ambush, or a trap, or the environment is so lethal that even just being in it passively is lethally dangerous.

    See what happens. However, what I'd do first is ask them "You guys chase fleeing enemies down like bloodhounds and put yourselves at risk, what's up with that?"

  6. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Start with "why" rather than "how". Why do you want them to retreat? How do you expect this to improve your game?

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      Good question.
      Currently, the players have lost a number of characters they were excited for and I think it's harmed their connection to the game. It's also been mentioned that the ongoing campaign doesn't make that much sense, as only one original cast character is still in the party and he's doing the "too old for this shit" routine.
      On a personal level, I feel like I'm not a very antagonistic GM (I could win any time I want to, so I feel no compulsion to beat the players) but I'm winning by accident. They're feeding themselves into meat grinders.
      I also feel, and this is just my personal take, that there's something distasteful about purported heroes shooting enemies in the back. Even enemies who have clearly dropped their guns. One reason I decided that fired-upon enemies stop fleeing is to curb this "fish in a barrel" phenomenon and because it strained disbelief that people would flee if they thought they'd get killed for their trouble.

      1. Enemies should flee when they believe they wont survive, barring an explicit reason why they shouldn't. No rolls necessary. Standing and fighting requires conviction or desperation. Toss out the morale system and just track if your NPCs are cowardly or not.

      2. You are not giving the players a reward for hunting down the fleeing enemies, this is good, continue with this. Reward behaviour you want to see more of, do not reward behaviour you don't want to see.

      3. Let them die. If they are taking risks because of their bloodlust, let them suffer the consequences of their bloodlust. Do not coddle them here, because you will teach them that the GM wont let the mean monsters hurt your precious player babies. That is a bad precedent to set.

      I would just continue with the course and if someone gets hurt and die, then that's their problem. If this ruins their fun then that's also their problem. You are responsible for making a fun game, you are not responsible for making them play it in a way that is fun for them. Once you have that attitude it will no longer be a problem you have to worry about.

      That said, if I wanted to teach them that hunting fleeing enemies was a bad idea, I'd set up an adventure where the enemies flee into incredibly dangerous areas. Cultists, goblins, bandits, etc are all enemies that might flee back to a larger reserve group. In an urban environment a fleeing bad guy might run into an area where the players will be engaged by law enforcement. Engineer a situation where chasing after the enemy is obviously a bad idea, and make it clear to them that they know it's a bad idea. The enemy has laid an ambush, or a trap, or the environment is so lethal that even just being in it passively is lethally dangerous.

      See what happens. However, what I'd do first is ask them "You guys chase fleeing enemies down like bloodhounds and put yourselves at risk, what's up with that?"

      Good post. Will ponder. One player has already said they don't feel like they've won if the enemy gets away.

      A small factor I'd suggest is making the actions necessary to retreat far easier. Like if somebody commits to retreating, then they can just get out of the fight in a massive way. No free attacks against them, bonuses to dodge, extreme move distance, likely with a restriction against making any sort of attacks for a few subsequent rounds. Perhaps have the bonuses to how good they are at running away be proportional to the factors of the morale rules you're using.
      That's the simplest way I can think of when it's a case of the player's overcommitting, to make it so that it's a lot easier to bail out on that commitment as soon as it becomes clear that they've overextended.

      I would note though that if enemies are retreating back to positions where they can easily get reinforcements, then the players may be correct to want to try and pick them off. Although that's obviously more case-by-case, and still doesn't justify chasing them into what will obviously be a trap.

      Interesting idea. I'm wary of giving mechanical bonuses because my players are liable to misuse them. When a similar thing was discussed I was asked "how soon can we go back to attacking" and I became clear they wanted to use retreat bonuses to flank, reload, and press the attack.

      A "health gate" helps with this issue alot. Essentially make it impossible for the players to be killed in one round.
      A mech TTRPG I play (and wont name because it always turns into a pol shistorm) has a mechanic like this where when your mech is destroyed you have 2 rounds to eject and flee before your reactor blows. Essentially you hit a point where you're not dead yet, but retreating is your only option (aside from suicide, I guess). By contrast in games like D&D where you can lose half your health or more to some lucky crits, it's very hard to know when you're defeated and need to run because it just comes from fricking nowhere sometimes.

      Play any Warhammer game. They'll learn they aren't invincible very quickly.

      WEG already does this quite well. The problem I have is with the players doubling down when they're already Seriously Wounded or Incapacitated on the wound track (i.e. doing everything at 50% effectiveness or less)

      • 3 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        >the players have lost a number of characters they were excited for and I think it's harmed their connection to the game
        It sounds like whatever conversation you had with them about this was not sufficiently clear. Do they know they would have survived had they fled? Do you expect them to know? Have they acknowledged this? Did they say they knew this already? If so did they misjudge their odds, just get caught up in the moment, not think about it, or what?
        You can't expect to solve the problem without understanding what's going on.
        >there's something distasteful about purported heroes shooting enemies in the back
        That's a completely separate issue. Do other characters in the world share that feeling? Have they expressed it?

      • 3 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        >they don't feel like they've won if the enemy gets away
        This is interesting. Where I'm sitting I'd call that a bad player attitude, but I do run very specific games in terms of tone. You could try to ham up the reward of a combat encounter where the objective is to scatter the enemy. Classic fantasy scenario of making the goblins flee, and the lord throws a party in your honour. Make them feel like heroes for not killing. But you might also consider running either a one-shot or an adventure where there is no combat, where the objective is to solve a mystery, or navigate a social environment. Then have that party be thrown in their honour anyway. Reinforce that victory, reward, glory; these are things you get regardless of battle performance. Also consider combat encounters where you need to take a quarry alive.

        Just remember that you are not a therapist. Not by profession or responsibility. It is not your job to make someone fall in line with healthy player behaviour. If one player in particular is letting their own mental hangups prevent them from roleplaying, or making good decisions as a player, then once you've addressed that as a group then the ball is in their court. It is okay if the game you want to run, one where people do not chase down enemies who are fleeing and begging for their lives, is not a game this player would enjoy.

        With all that said, remember that as a GM you are creating the world they are playing in, but in the end they determine how they play. If they are bloodthirsty, savage, killers - then it's easier to tailor the campaign to this than it is to change their underlying playstyle and desires. Whether you want to play a non-heroic campaign is up to you, I find it is easier to not make judgements about whether the PCs are the good guys or not.

        I'd let them die, and when they roll new characters I'd remind them to make characters that are motivated to accomplish the goal of the campaign.

        • 3 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          >healthy player behaviour
          That's a bad way of looking at it. "No survivors" is perfectly appropriate behaviour in many games, and in some it's mandatory. The players are not their characters, and this behaviour is not "unhealthy", it just don't fit the tone OP wants.
          In particular it may well be better for OP to alter the game to suit his players rather than the other way around.

          • 3 weeks ago
            Anonymous

            >Enemy runs away
            >Chase
            >Lose a character from recklessness
            >Upset because enemy got away
            >Upset because character is dead
            >Less engaged with the rest of the campaign because new character feels out of place
            I'd call this unhealthy player behaviour.

            >I don't want to dox myself
            If everything you've said in this thread is true, you've stated weg d6, using the wounds rather than body points option, they won't run away, only one original is still around, the he's getting too old routine, six dead pcs, four players, then I think if I were your player that there's already enough to start questioning and maybe you should hope this thread dies before one of them does arrive.

            The trick is to outright lie about details. Me, I only ever play Runequest, and also we're all from Brazil. Coma sa, fellow Brazilians. I love living in the... Andes mountains..? And playing Runequest, a game largely about... Medieval tournaments..?

      • 3 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        >I could win any time I want to, so I feel no compulsion to beat the players
        Beating the players isn't winning. Having fun is winning. The story you tell says no one is winning.

        >been mentioned that the ongoing campaign doesn't make that much sense, as only one original cast character is still in the party
        That sounds like the campaign didn't have a good foundation in the first place, like it was contingent upon railroading a fixed group of characters in some sort of scripted plot. Campaigns don't have to have the same "cast" in them. It's some sort of solipsism to imply the world ends when a small group of characters leave the story.
        I would probably feel disconnected if my pc kept on dying but if the pcs suicide then it's their own fault. Starting a new campaign might be a better option than carrying on with this situation about which everyone including you sounds very jaded.
        Have you told them, this is not your idea of a heroic campaign, that regular suicide by npc is stupid and unsatisfying for you and they should withdrew when facing insurmountable odds? It may be that you and them are fundamentally incompatible in your expectations.

        One thing I have left out is that one player in particular hates recurring enemies. I have tried to explain to him that reinforcements are not usually close enough to make a difference and that even if they kill every enemy they meet there will still be more (both in the game world and because it's a game we're playing). He has this Punisher-like attitude that leaving hostiles alive under any circumstances is "stupid."

        >He has this Punisher-like attitude that leaving hostiles alive under any circumstances is "stupid."
        Rot at the core spreads outwards and his murderhoboing is is incomparable with your vision. Would treating him as a cancer to be excised help the group dynamic?

        • 3 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          >railroading
          The campaign premise (and I don't want to dox myself in case one of my players stumble here) did include a sort of overarching quest. The actual campaign has avoided being railroady (I hope) but we're at the point where the one remaining original PC would be forgiven for giving up and the new characters have run through much of the motivation to join up on the team. We've had six PC deaths and the group has four players.
          >Boot the murder hobo
          Real life considerations make this nearly impossible.

          Are you doing 'balanced' combats tailored to the party? If so, as well as being contrived and unrealistic, it lets the players know that every encounter is beatable, so they just pile in and rely on good die roles to see them through. Even when it appears they might lose, they know that as the encounter level is pretty close to their own, they still might win - hence tha fighting to the death syndrome.

          As an alternative, maybe try a sandbox style - prepare and scatter the encounters prehand across the map for the players to encounter, all different threat levels and not based on the current party power level - friendly wanderers, to a small groups of bandits, all the way up to a passing army or a family of dragons. Let the players know that it is now UP TO THEM (via scouting, talking to locals about sightings, using scrying magic, etc) to discerne whether the encounter is an easy walkover or a TPK to be avoided and ran from, not just yet another bunch of monsters that they have a 50/50 chance of beating.

          The encounters are usually winnable, but balance is a tricky thing in this system. The sandbox idea is fine, except more than once they've come a cropper because they chased fleeing enemies and wound up too deep in a dungeon (essentially).

          • 3 weeks ago
            Anonymous

            >I don't want to dox myself
            If everything you've said in this thread is true, you've stated weg d6, using the wounds rather than body points option, they won't run away, only one original is still around, the he's getting too old routine, six dead pcs, four players, then I think if I were your player that there's already enough to start questioning and maybe you should hope this thread dies before one of them does arrive.

            • 3 weeks ago
              Anonymous

              I've tried to be judicious with the truth, but you're right.

              >warn them that enemies will hear the fight and if they take too long they will get flanked & swarmed by reinforcements
              >give them objectives that are meant to be secured and are more important than killing mooks
              >your enemies will retreat towards secured forts with stronger enemies
              >stop giving them rewards
              >if they still won't retreat then have them get knocked out because they got swarmed by enemies, so you can move on with the story because the local villain wants to impress his boss by capturing and interrogating them, leaving them the chance to escape

              The secured forts are an interesting idea. Like, reinforcements are unlikely to arrive, but if you pursue you're likely to run into a prepared position. Thanks anon.

  7. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    TPKs will continue until morale improves

  8. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    If your players dont consider retreat when its clear they're not going to win an encounter, they're either stupid or uninvested in their characters.
    It sounds like they're just stupid or your leaving something out since why the frick would you continuously try and chase down an enemy that's running away unless there was a risk of them sounding some kind of alarm or there was a very good reason to kill them outright

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      One thing I have left out is that one player in particular hates recurring enemies. I have tried to explain to him that reinforcements are not usually close enough to make a difference and that even if they kill every enemy they meet there will still be more (both in the game world and because it's a game we're playing). He has this Punisher-like attitude that leaving hostiles alive under any circumstances is "stupid."

      • 3 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        >He has this Punisher-like attitude that leaving hostiles alive under any circumstances is "stupid."
        Told you they can't be reasoned with

      • 3 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        >leaving hostiles alive under any circumstances is stupid
        >goes into enemy territory
        >is not left alive
        well well well

  9. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    on zero hp, they can choose to run away or drop to the ground.

  10. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    >A) don't ignore fleeing enemies, which turns them back to hostile if they aren't killed, B) pursue fleeing enemies into positions where they get overrun again,
    Introduce a fatigue system that kicks in for prolonged efforts, now pressing on fights becomes costly and more risky so the players have to stort it out quickly. On top of that apply a sanity subsystem, make intentional/not self defense killing stressful so that character risk ending either broken or extremely jaded jeopardising npc interactions. Apply also a reputation mechanic to keep track of their behaviour, if their fame for being merciless killers spreads it will bite them back.

    >and C) are dying often enough it's affecting the game negatively.
    Use death spirals and crippling injuries, if the fight goes south now they HAVE to retreat a lick their wounds.

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      If there is an alignment system, consider that killing fleeing/surrendering enemies might be an evil or chaotic act.

      If other characters are aware of the PCs killing fleeing/surrendering opponents out of sheer bloodlust, there could be a number of consequences. If your PCs don't accept surrenders, in turn no one should accept their surrender (which may exacerbate your other problem with the PCs not surrendering and getting killed). If your PCs have a reputation for being bloodthirsty psychopaths, they should find that people who aren't bloodthirsty psychopaths will refuse to interact with them, and may arrest them on sight; alternatively, maybe characters bent on revenge start cropping up or they find that there is a bounty on their heads. NPCs could also use moral suasion -- might the PCs feel shame at their actions if an NPC they like is horrified at what they have done and cuts off ties with them after they kill (murder, really) a defeated man?

      If you'd like some carrot to go with that stick, you could look for situations where the PCs don't murder everybody and reward them for it. Maybe the guy they don't kill is worth a ransom, or maybe he has some useful information. Maybe he shows up later and helps them, or maybe next time the PCs get defeated one of the bad guys flips up the visor on his helmet, revealing that it's the guy they spared, and he tells the other bad guys to let them go in return.

      Easily some of the worst ideas in the thread.

      Good question.
      Currently, the players have lost a number of characters they were excited for and I think it's harmed their connection to the game. It's also been mentioned that the ongoing campaign doesn't make that much sense, as only one original cast character is still in the party and he's doing the "too old for this shit" routine.
      On a personal level, I feel like I'm not a very antagonistic GM (I could win any time I want to, so I feel no compulsion to beat the players) but I'm winning by accident. They're feeding themselves into meat grinders.
      I also feel, and this is just my personal take, that there's something distasteful about purported heroes shooting enemies in the back. Even enemies who have clearly dropped their guns. One reason I decided that fired-upon enemies stop fleeing is to curb this "fish in a barrel" phenomenon and because it strained disbelief that people would flee if they thought they'd get killed for their trouble.
      [...]
      Good post. Will ponder. One player has already said they don't feel like they've won if the enemy gets away.
      [...]
      Interesting idea. I'm wary of giving mechanical bonuses because my players are liable to misuse them. When a similar thing was discussed I was asked "how soon can we go back to attacking" and I became clear they wanted to use retreat bonuses to flank, reload, and press the attack.
      [...]
      [...]
      WEG already does this quite well. The problem I have is with the players doubling down when they're already Seriously Wounded or Incapacitated on the wound track (i.e. doing everything at 50% effectiveness or less)

      It sounds like your players might not be that interested in your game if they're not fussed with dying or taking stupid risks. The root cause could be a 'you' problem, it could be a 'them' problem, but there's nothing that outsiders can really say with any accuracy.
      I would suggest you consider running for a different group to see if the results repeat (Online games are incredibly easy to find groups for, especially if you're open handed with possible systems, and take no time at all to prepare for).

      That said,
      >I also feel, and this is just my personal take, that there's something distasteful about purported heroes shooting enemies in the back.
      If your actual issue is that you're a sperg who gets upset by shit like this, then I can only tell you that the players are 100% logically correct from an IC and meta viewpoint in neutralizing all threats, and you need to get over yourself.
      Outside of very specific contexts, there is no reason to let enemies just run away to fight again another day. It doesn't matter if "it's a game" and you're going to generate more enemies offscreen (Which is cringe and railroady anyways, it's just metagaming to undo the consequences of the player's actions), you should

      • 3 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        >Outside of very specific contexts, there is no reason to let enemies just run away to fight again another day.
        Adding to this, I've read before that in medieval warfare, most casualties happened, not during the battle, but when one side or the other routed—that is, ran away. Fleeing a pitched battle cleanly is difficult.

      • 3 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        >there is no reason to let enemies just run away to fight again another day
        Sun Tzu disagreed.

  11. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Are you doing 'balanced' combats tailored to the party? If so, as well as being contrived and unrealistic, it lets the players know that every encounter is beatable, so they just pile in and rely on good die roles to see them through. Even when it appears they might lose, they know that as the encounter level is pretty close to their own, they still might win - hence tha fighting to the death syndrome.

    As an alternative, maybe try a sandbox style - prepare and scatter the encounters prehand across the map for the players to encounter, all different threat levels and not based on the current party power level - friendly wanderers, to a small groups of bandits, all the way up to a passing army or a family of dragons. Let the players know that it is now UP TO THEM (via scouting, talking to locals about sightings, using scrying magic, etc) to discerne whether the encounter is an easy walkover or a TPK to be avoided and ran from, not just yet another bunch of monsters that they have a 50/50 chance of beating.

  12. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Why won't you let your players win the game?
    You have some agenda?

  13. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    >warn them that enemies will hear the fight and if they take too long they will get flanked & swarmed by reinforcements
    >give them objectives that are meant to be secured and are more important than killing mooks
    >your enemies will retreat towards secured forts with stronger enemies
    >stop giving them rewards
    >if they still won't retreat then have them get knocked out because they got swarmed by enemies, so you can move on with the story because the local villain wants to impress his boss by capturing and interrogating them, leaving them the chance to escape

  14. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Just tell them they're morons for not retreating after the session.

  15. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    If there is an alignment system, consider that killing fleeing/surrendering enemies might be an evil or chaotic act.

    If other characters are aware of the PCs killing fleeing/surrendering opponents out of sheer bloodlust, there could be a number of consequences. If your PCs don't accept surrenders, in turn no one should accept their surrender (which may exacerbate your other problem with the PCs not surrendering and getting killed). If your PCs have a reputation for being bloodthirsty psychopaths, they should find that people who aren't bloodthirsty psychopaths will refuse to interact with them, and may arrest them on sight; alternatively, maybe characters bent on revenge start cropping up or they find that there is a bounty on their heads. NPCs could also use moral suasion -- might the PCs feel shame at their actions if an NPC they like is horrified at what they have done and cuts off ties with them after they kill (murder, really) a defeated man?

    If you'd like some carrot to go with that stick, you could look for situations where the PCs don't murder everybody and reward them for it. Maybe the guy they don't kill is worth a ransom, or maybe he has some useful information. Maybe he shows up later and helps them, or maybe next time the PCs get defeated one of the bad guys flips up the visor on his helmet, revealing that it's the guy they spared, and he tells the other bad guys to let them go in return.

  16. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    It's a mindset problem, not a mechanical problem; if they're moronic enough to keep walking into meat grinders then they deserve what they get.To that end, however, before you decide to go with "oh no, if it isn't the consequences of my own actions", you might want drop hints in-character and give them incentive. For example, having a DMPC lead an expedition that they're the muscle on and then having them skirmish and retreat to a more defensible position or a trap where they can be more successful or having some respected older adventurers tell them that running has kept them alive more than weapons have. Alternatively, you could have them fail an objective (such as escorting a VIP) by not retreating when the option was open and suffering the consequences of that failure.

    Or you could just tell them, OOC, "I'm going to stop pulling my punches and you're going to encounter situations where you'll get slaughtered if you don't bail so I strongly suggest that you start doing that". You're in kind of a shitty spot because your response to players walking into meat grinders was removing the meat grinders and rewarding their "kill 'em all" mentality by making enemies cut and run when the party doesn't.

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      >you could have them fail an objective (such as escorting a VIP) by not retreating when the option was open and suffering the consequences of that failure
      I like this. OP's well is already poisoned so it isn't really a straight up option. But to a party that I needed to reinforce that they need to think about when to engage and when to not, I would have the enemies fake a retreat and when they push after them, they seize the VIP. Loadsa fun. But if OP did that now when it has already been a point of contention, it'll just make them mad. A good reason to never let situations simmer long enough to become a conflict though.

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      >I'm going to stop pulling my punches and you're going to encounter situations where you'll get slaughtered if you don't bail

      I think you missed some of the thread. OP said four players, one original PC left, six PCs dead. For the three players who have had PCs die, that's an average of 2 PCs dead each, though maybe one player was an overachiever and suicided 3 or even 4 PCs. It doesn't sound like OP was pulling punches and NPCs retreating wasn't rewarding the players by removing any meat grinder but OP being a good GM and a decent human by modelling desired commonsense behaviour for the in-game sentient beings to seek self-preservation.

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      Your players clearly want to beat the shit out of the enemies like in movies. You could talk to them, or adjust your fights (at least for a time) to a more "Power Rangers" style. Ie., they fight nameless, useless goons that are nothing but cannon fodder and then they fight a more menacing foe that will give them some trouble, but now is a whole team against one so their chances are pretty good. If they have fun with this, keep going but increase the difficult and throw in some surprises to make them respect their enemies. Make it so they learn from experience.

      However, I have to agree with
      If they didn't learned by now that they will lose with their current strategy, maybe they deserve. Again, have you tried talk to your players about this?

  17. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    The classic solutions are having a number that is clearly way more they can handle, show the enemies killing stuff that the party usually has huge trouble with fairly easily, or getting smarter players. Either that or don't make your sessions so focused on combat or give them an incentive to live like XP or something, if they are dying a lot it is because they have more incentive to win than to run away with nothing to show for it.

  18. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Reinforcements showing up generally handles it. If the party's winning, they say "good job, we'll clean up here, head to the next objective". If the party's losing, they say "we're retreating, fall back and we'll cover you". In scenario A, the party's assured that the remaining bad guys will die, and useful kit will be passed along. In scenario B, the party's assured that it's important to get out of dodge, and there's boots on the ground to try and make sure they live long enough to do so. If the party doesn't want to give up chasing stragglers, assert that they're needed elsewhere. If the party doesn't want to bail when ordered, maybe have friendlies start dropping to show there's a real and present danger of getting wiped if they don't leave.

  19. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    i always make sure my players run into someone they should not have fricked with within the first few sessions to teach them that they are big fish, but not the biggest, it sets the tone that there are people stronger than them in the world and that im not every fight is winnable, at least not without thinking way outside the box.

  20. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    If they’re dying enough that it’s negatively impacting the game, it sounds like it’s not negatively impacting them enough. If they’re doing the same things over and over again and not learning from it then you’re not punishing them enough for it. Kill their characters that they’ve spent time on, lock them out of quests and equipment they’d like to do/get, etc. I ran a campaign once where I had put a lot of work in a quest line but my players insisted on doing it before they were able to and they ended up getting their ass handed to them and I had to bullshit a bit to keep them from all dying, but then I scrapped the quest line and had the bad guys move to a different hideout.

  21. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    it might be because I roll in front of the table but my players are pretty quick to run away/cut a deal/ etc, when they are clearly outmatched.
    maybe because they know i cant bullshit the dice to save them.

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      OP here: I never roll behind the screen except random tables for loot.

  22. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Make them fight a single enemy that doesn't retreat and will absolutely kill all of them if they try to fight if.

  23. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Once they get indifferent to their characters dying, players are a danger to a campaign. The stick stops working. Maybe you can salvage something by giving them a bit more time to get attached again to their characters, by spending some time in a town, meeting waifus, gaining unique heirlooms, or being trained by a strange wandering sage and gaining a bonus power. When they leave the village have the gf say 'please return to me, pc-kun'. Have some butthole town official counting on their death they don't want to give the satisfaction to.
    Also, in a fight, put the responsibility for the wellbeing of defeated PCs in the hands of the others. Dead becomes "you need to get him to a skilled surgeon immediately" or "he's poisoned and will die in minutes, but you think you saw the antidote flowers a little way back". This can backfire if the players think you're just playing them against one another, but you can sell it if it's clearly as an alternate to death and you can even drop in some ad hoc sidequest xp.

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      >Once they get indifferent to their characters dying, players are a danger to a campaign. The stick stops working.
      Agree with this, but the solution is not ingame. If a player is apathetic to central conceit of the game, then you need to tell them to either get their head in the game or stop poisoning your table. People over the age of 14 have 100% agency in their own attitude.

  24. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Your players have a problem with immersion, and possibly an issue of incentive too.
    First of all, if they routinely overextend or expose themselves to run down fleeing enemies, do suffer for this stupidity and have not self corrected, then it is plain that they do not care about their characters as living entities in the game world, how they suffer and how they are perceived.
    As for incentive, I don’t know WEG 6 and I don’t give enough of a frick to look it up, but even if they don’t acquire xp for killing enemies(thus discouraging allowing enemies to retreat), the material considerations are thus: if the hostile npc retreats, you cannot loot his gear, meaning you can’t use it if the npc is better equipped, or if the equipment is lesser, the npc escaping means you can’t sell it to put towards buying the nicer gear.

  25. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    >saying it felt like mind control

    Players understandably want that sense of agency and don't want to be like a movie character who trusts someone obviously sketchy to make the plot move forward or sits around crying after knocking out the slasher instead of hitting him again or running out the front door.

    >and accept when they've won without going full genocide

    One of my pet peeves tbh. My players are pretty intelligent people who do sometimes avoid a battle, attempt diplomacy, or retreat but if a random minion runs away they turn into psychopaths and want to hunt him down like pitbulls on meth.

  26. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Run them through a really basic wargame where enemies have fetish for doing ambushes on enemy pursuing their retreating forces
    If it doesn't teach them anything just talk to them or accept that they want a pure blood knight berserkers campaign and cater to that by letting them rape and pillage with rewards after death

  27. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    It sounds like you are trying to force your players into a game they don't want to play. Either get new players or drop the idea and have gonzo hack and slash adventures where enemies always fight to the death or have clever ways of escaping. If you really, really want to force your players to bend to your whims simply start killing them for not retreating against superior foes. Keep in mind though that your players will very quickly get tired of it and will probably just leave to find another GM if you force them into unwinnable fights too often.

  28. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Make it an explicit option, rather than expecting them to do so on their own

  29. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    I don't know how WEG d6 works but could it be that the mechanics don't favor retreating? I know in D&D 3.5, barring houserules, retreating was almost completely binary: either your speed was higher and you could get away, or your speed was lower and you were screwed. (I think there was a rule about making Con checks after a certain amount of running, but that really only mattered if speeds were equal.)

  30. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    >My players rejected out-of-hand having to roll the same tests themselves, saying it felt like mind control to have to run
    Just apply negative results as "conditions", if a PC fails a morale check now he's "shaken", if he wants to he can press on in the fight but while suffering a disadvantage to all actions save disengagement.

  31. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    >Seek less moronic players
    Do you not know what hobby you are giving advice about??

  32. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Here's a thing about most combat centric RPGs - they make a safe retreat really hard. It takes some good tactical chops to pull off a retreat, which your players probably aren't.

    Here, let me illustrate your problem with an example.

    >Party pushes into an obvious encounter area. They have expended resources from a travel encounter, and did not think to rest.

    >Party encounters something. Some kinda scary lookin humanoid with wings and a sword or something blah blah blah all of this says little about how dangerous it is

    >Scary thing hits them all with some kind of spell. It hurts the entire party quite a bit - man spelly casty monsters that nuke you suck in [RPG name], hopefully its big damage button is on cooldown.

    >Party charges in, commits into melee and gets a couple of hits. The creature's defensive stats seem kinda high but it did take some damage

    >The thing attacks and OH FRICK THE FIGHTER IS DOWN AND THE ROGUE IS ON 5 HP WHAT DO WE DO

    >Party panics, figures that the frontliners can't escape move+melee range so they try to alpha the thing down, then flub their rolls because their best combatant went down first and the thing has good defensive stats

    >big scary evil thing crits the rogue and instakills them, then puts the party barbarian to low HP

    >Party panics again and calls a retreat. Barb picks up fighter and runs, eating an AOO that almost takes them down. Backline cleric and wizard run for their lives.

    >Big evil flier runs down and range snipes barb, because move+spell>double move.

    >Cleric and Wizard split up and flee, evil flier chases down and murders one while the other escapes. 1 survivor out 5.

    >It is an open question whether a couple of more good hits could have dropped the monster

    Every one of those is a major failure point in getting your players to retreat that you have to address as a GM if you want your players to take the possibility of retreat seriously.

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      Sounds like a failure by the spellcasters here. They had nothing between them to help with escape, battlefield control, etc? It makes sense the martials wouldn't be contributing.

    • 2 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      Even in the case where a monster isn't so dangerous that it's one-shotting characters, it still often ends up with players not coordinating a proper retreat.
      Like the Fighter will stay in melee in order to 'cover the retreat'. And the Rogue will stay within range to support the fighter, and then the Cleric sticks around to heal the fighter to make sure he makes it out, and then suddenly most of the party is still 'fighting' rather than 'retreating'.
      And even if they're backing away each turn, that isn't actually going to get them out of the fight against a monster that is likely to be faster than them. The exact sorts of dangerous enemies the party would want to retreat from are also often the best at ensuring the party can't retreat unless they coordinate perfectly.

      Even this reply

      Sounds like a failure by the spellcasters here. They had nothing between them to help with escape, battlefield control, etc? It makes sense the martials wouldn't be contributing.

      illustrates that, where it's essentially a gamble of whether the spellcasters of the party
      A) recognize that a retreat is necessary
      B) have a spell prepared which can actually slow down an enemy well enough to make a retreat possible
      C) the enemy isn't something that can just shrug off that spell, either via magic resistance, flight, or teleportation
      D) the spellcasters, after successfully locking the enemy in place, convince the rest of the players to actually stick to the plan to retreat, rather than attempt to kill the now-debuffed enemy
      That's a lot of things that have to go correctly in order for retreat to even be a viable option for a party. Taking the context of the original scenario, it's even worse, since most spells that could trap the monster would likely risk trapping the fighter/rogue/barbarian alongside it. At best the cleric and wizard might both successfully make it out, but there's numerous points of failure and you're still looking at several PC deaths.

    • 2 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      >Party pushes into an obvious encounter area. They have expended resources from a travel encounter, and did not think to rest.
      Player Error as its generally a mechanic that matters
      >Party encounters something. Some kinda scary lookin humanoid with wings and a sword or something blah blah blah all of this says little about how dangerous it is
      Also Player Error because your your describing a big scary monster they haven;t seen before. They shouldn't just brush over the info the GM is giving them. So also player failure.
      >Scary thing hits them all with some kind of spell. It hurts the entire party quite a bit - man spelly casty monsters that nuke you suck in [RPG name], hopefully its big damage button is on cooldown.
      All assumption made after this are because they didn't pay attention to the description given.
      charges in, commits into melee and gets a couple of hits. The creature's defensive stats seem kinda high but it did take some damage
      This is the first instance of GM errors as you meant to describe how the players attacks effect the opponent, so if they are doing jackshit then tell them it looks like they are doing jackshit.
      >The thing attacks and OH FRICK THE FIGHTER IS DOWN AND THE ROGUE IS ON 5 HP WHAT DO WE DO
      >Party panics, figures that the frontliners can't escape move+melee range so they try to alpha the thing down, then flub their rolls because their best combatant went down first and the thing has good defensive stats
      This is when a sensible group that doesn't have a paladin type cuts and runs
      >big scary evil thing crits the rogue and instakills them, then puts the party barbarian to low HP
      The rest of it can be summed up as the party not investing in security measures at all.

      The only thing the GM could of done wrong is not give the players good feeback but if the GM says that the thing your facing is a scary fricker then you don't treat it as a scary fricker at your own peril.

      • 2 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        The GM says that *everything* is a scary fricker. That is the point - so many monsters in DnD have their threat levels almost completely divorced from their descriptions. Every other thing beyond low levels is either a big scary monster or a dude with a sword with maybe some armor, maybe some monstrous appendages or forehead greebles. None of that tells you anything about how dangerous that creature is unless you have read their monster entry.

        And plenty of GMs are dogshit between distinguishing between "this is a hard encounter by DnD standards" and "this encounter is designed to kill you". In fact, if anything GMs exaggerate monster threats because DnD is frankly rather easy on players so big encounters need to be spiced up with over the top descriptions so that it doesn't feel like bullying a bag of hit points. Consequently, if the GM needs to break out of this then they need to go over the top with their already over the top descriptions, or break the 4th wall and outright tell the players that their characters are going to die. Plenty of GMs don't realize this, and will happily let PCs walk into deathtraps without changing how they communicate to the players, and then wonder why the PCs did the exact same thing as they did every other time the GM described a big scary thing to them.

        On top of this, once the mistake of entering combat is made, exiting said combat without multiple PC deaths is almost impossible unless the party is carefully built to enable retreats i.e. not using 90% of the options in the book because of the need for survivability plus high movement speed or alternative movement modes, and preferably some battlefield control options on top that work against high tier monsters with a slew of abilities. By default, most monsters in something like 5e (or previous editions/knockoffs of DnD) can outrun PCs, so retreat just means sacrificing party members on the hope that maybe the monster gets bored or loses track of some of the survivors.

        • 2 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          That seems more of a failing with modern D&D in comparison to the tools a GM has at their disposal than an issue with a GM.
          If a higher lethality game like OSR (Despite the fact I'm not a fan of the circlejerk) telling the party that the Orc has big muscles and a killers intent in his eyes matters because an orc is still a threat till much later on. Likewise PCs die, it happens and playign softball with them will only make it harder to get over.
          If everything is described as a big scary monster and then just becomes a HP sponge to alpha strike then you need more interesting monster design.

          • 2 weeks ago
            Anonymous

            Both are true, really. D&D is partly to blame because it doesn't do a good job of enabling play where the party needs to play it smart and avoid fights, and the GM is partly to blame because they don't understand the system and are forcing it into a role where it doesn't hold up without working around its flaws.

            Frankly, in general I find blaming the GM to be a bit of a cop-out when it comes to system level issues. The best GM in the world can run a great game with any system, but any system which requires a great GM to play well is a dogshit system. Every issue that a system has which needs to be worked around is another group of GMs which will fail to work around that issue and frick up their game, so "well the GM should have fixed it" is a shit excuse.

            The only time that blaming the GM is justified is when they go out of their way to *not* follow the system for no good reason and that fricks up their game. Otherwise, any problems are either caused by the system being shitty in some way, or due to the system being shitty elsewhere and the GM's attempt to fix it fricking up i.e. the system is still shitty.

  33. 2 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Just tell them that they realize that they will die if they don't retreat and then if they persist, kill them immediately, no die rolls just describe that they are hacked to bits. Do not let them go down fighting, just stop the fight and tell them that they are dead.
    You may have to do this two times
    There will be no third time.

  34. 2 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    He's got huge, sharp-- eh-- he can leap about-- look at the bones!

  35. 2 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Your "morale" rule is a good idea, and their argument is fair. After all, adventurers are not common folks, and death might not seem like such a bad proposition for them: think of Warhammer's Dwarven Slayers.

    I think the problem you have is that the players don't feel threatened by whatever consequences they find out when they frick around. So how about you introduce some consequences for them in addition to their characters?

    > New characters start level 1
    > The pool of individuals of exceptional talent dwindle, you have less character points to make characters after the first, and it keeps going down.
    > Players all put 10$ into a pool at the beginning of the campaign. Those who finish the campaign with their original characters (or died in an epic way and survived with their second) share the pool at the end of the campaign.

  36. 2 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Your players want a kill everything game. You do not. Adjust yourself to run a kill everything game. Remember, Rule 0 may be the GM is always right, but Rule -1 is the GM has no game if he has no players.

    • 2 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      Stop trying to coerce them through gameplay and just straight up tell the players that you're aware the RPG mindset is to solve problems and never back down, but they should add running away to their repertoire of tactics because the way you plan this adventure means they might end up dead a lot.

      Also raises a fair point. If your players definitely want to play a power fantasy game where encounters are just a puzzle they have to solve with right applications of violence then they might just not be compatible with what you want to do.

      • 2 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        If they were good at solving encounters there wouldn't be a problem.

  37. 2 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    >How do I get my players to retreat?
    lol
    >play 5e
    >players realize they're immortal
    >kill Orcus at first level by doing 1 hp of damage per round while cycling through their dozens of death saves and second chances and healing surges
    >DM "why don't my players ever retreat??"

  38. 2 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    You have two options here:
    >teach them to retreat
    with embodiments per the other posts in the thread
    >create the game that the players want
    Anon, part of the role of DM is to give players the experience that they want. If they want to just smoke a blunt and beat monster ass every
    Tuesday night, consider letting them. Make them fight hordes of low power orcs, goblins and skeletons in a 5 room dungeon with some cool set piece traps. Things could be worse, man.

    • 2 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      >part of the role of DM is to give players the experience that they want
      Part of the role of the non-dm players is to give the dm the experience the dm wants.

      Despite D&D rules using "player" and "dm" as a dichotomous pair, and despite it occasionally using the term gamemaster and referee for dm in the early days, dming isn't like refereeing a football match. DMs don't exist just to arbitrate rules, dms are active participants in the game. It's supposed to be a mutually enjoyed game. Getting to cater to a band of murderhobos isn't the highly desirable privilege you're making it out to be.

  39. 2 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Maybe stop being a gay and don't make the enemy flee in the first place. Unless your players are literal cucks, they won't enjoy getting constantly wienerblocked by you. The enemies exist to pose a challenge and ultimately to get their asses kicked by the player characters.

  40. 2 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Tell them what the enemy's stats are before they start the fight so they can actually do risk management. In almost every game, by the time you realize that something is too strong for you to handle, it is too late to retreat (a player is already down or a single action away from going down, etc), and nobody's going to expect the enemy to just let them go.

    But you also need to realize and accept that no one wants to spend their limited session time being a little b***h.

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