Combat is frustrating - Example: Caer Lem caves

Johannes
Level 10
3 months ago

Hi everyone, I believe that combat in its current form can be really frustrating. As a D&D5 Dungeon Master, I noticed that Solasta does not follow all 5e rules, which is generally okay. But in some combat situations this makes the whole experience feel less like D&D and in some cases very frustrating to run. My example is the Caer Lem caves, where you are ambushed by 6-7 Soraks. Here's what I felt difficult to work with:

Illumination
This has already been addressed by several other forum users. Attacking an enemy in darkness or dim light imposes disadvantage, which would be fine IF light sources had the same radius as they do in D&D (torch or light cantrip usually give 20 ft bright light and additional 20 ft dim light = 40 ft illumination in total).
The light sources in Solasta barely illuminate 2-3 squares (10-15 ft). Since the whole encounter takes place on pillars and ledges, my melee fighters had to spend all their actions to Dash towards the hidden enemies to provide light for my ranged attackers. Of course, carrying a torch in the off hand lowers your AC (no shield). Meanwhile, my light carriers were sitting ducks for the sniping Soraks, who were really happy about the illuminated targets.
All characters had Darkvision, which did absolutely nothing, even in the presence of torches.

Flanking does not work / Sneak Attack in combat
Flanking an enemy (positioning two party members on opposite sides of the enemy in melee) usually provides advantage for both flankers. This is an important part of Rogue tactics to get Sneak Attack. Flanking does not seem to work in Solasta, which limits tactical options for melee attackers. Most of the situations where I got Sneak Attack were outside of combat, when surprising an enemy.

Enemies have vertical mobility, I don't
While it certainly looks cool that some enemies like Soraks or spiders can attack while hanging from vertical surfaces, it gives them an edge in combat because they don't occupy a space. Or rather, they don't occupy a square on the ground. Again, this mostly affects melee attackers, who have to shuffle a lot to get into a striking position on the small pillar "islands". (Because, let's face it, their ranged bonuses are abysmal) Meanwhile, ranged characters have to attack at disadvantage, because the light from the melee character does not reach around the pillar.

Feather Fall does nothing / Fall damage
I thought this was a bug at first. A Sorak pushed my wizard off a pillar and the game asked me if I wanted to use Feather Fall. I did, and the character floated helplessly over the chasm for a good 10 seconds before falling to her death anyway. Later I realized that this was a bottomless pit and fall damage was irrelevant, because you're not supposed to safely reach the bottom and climb back up.
Of course this creates a sense of danger and you have to be really strategical with positioning. But since the entire encounter takes place on precarious pillars and ledges, losing only two party members leads to a game over, as you only have one Revivify scroll. The Soraks constantly pushed my characters away (higher Strength, I suppose?), while the game did not give me a chance to save them. I understand there are several encounters like this, so why is Feather Fall even in the game? I'd prefer having a bottom that you can reach, where you still get fall damage that tough characters may be able to survive, and a chance to climb back up, even if it takes several turns.

RNG (?)
This could be just bad luck on my side, but I played through the Caer Lem encounter several times and even without disadvantage, a good two thirds of my attack rolls and saving throws were really low, in the 1-10 range. My enemies rolled high more often. Again, could be a coincidence, but it added to the frustration.

I'd be really grateful for any comment from the Devs if any of these points will be addressed in future patches. Other commenters, feel free to add to my list or correct me where I'm mistaken. :)


A hoopy frood who really knows where his towel is.

goumindong
Level 8
3 months ago

Flanking an enemy (positioning two party members on opposite sides of the enemy in melee) usually provides advantage for both flankers.

This is not a 5e rule. Sneak attack appears to work properly except with regards to multiple stacking advantages and disadvantages. In which the game incorrectly figures that sneak is appropriate and also does not properly calculate advantage 

Johannes
Level 10
3 months ago

Flanking an enemy (positioning two party members on opposite sides of the enemy in melee) usually provides advantage for both flankers.

This is not a 5e rule. 

It is in the DMG on page 251. But optional, so not necessarily part of the standard rules, I give you that. I agree that the advantage calculation is not working properly.


A hoopy frood who really knows where his towel is.

kishar
Level 4
3 months ago

This is not a 5e rule. 

It is in the DMG on page 251. But optional, so not necessarily part of the standard rules, I give you that. I agree that the advantage calculation is not working properly.


I can help you here.  Solasta is not a 5e game, it's a 5.1 SRD game.  Sounds like a nit-pick, but the devs aren't even licensed to use PHB/DMG even if they wanted to (this is also why the feat list is so thin).

http://media.wizards.com/2016/downloads/DND/SRD-OGL_V5.1.pdf


This is the sum total of "D&D" contained within Solasta.

Johannes
Level 10
3 months ago

I can help you here.  Solasta is not a 5e game, it's a 5.1 SRD game.  Sounds like a nit-pick, but the devs aren't even licensed to use PHB/DMG even if they wanted to (this is also why the feat list is so thin).


Thank you for the clarification! Although they could work in flanking even without a 5e license. My other points still stand, though.


A hoopy frood who really knows where his towel is.

Simon Haldon
Level 6
Discord Link Steam Link Newsletter Link Kickstarter Backer Armorsmith (Bronze)
3 months ago

Use Cautious mode and look out for enemies.

I believe a lot of your frustration is coming from finding that one fight quite hard because of the circumstances in which you fought the battle. My party surprised the Soraks and the fight was easy. My major adjustment from standard DnD to Solasta is to have someone switch to a light source and go toe-to-toe so they can light up some enemies for them and everyone else to attack. Makes shields less effective, but that is minor and actually I think the punishing lighting rules are A GOOD THING :)

Johannes
Level 10
3 months ago

I think the punishing lighting rules are A GOOD THING :)

I disagree, they are nothing but frustration. Going toe-to-toe with the Soraks is impossible when they are all spread out, and too far away to reach in one turn. Meanwhile, you are sitting ducks for the mobile Soraks who can climb sheer walls.


A hoopy frood who really knows where his towel is.

kishar
Level 4
3 months ago

I think the punishing lighting rules are A GOOD THING :)

I disagree, they are nothing but frustration. Going toe-to-toe with the Soraks is impossible when they are all spread out, and too far away to reach in one turn. Meanwhile, you are sitting ducks for the mobile Soraks who can climb sheer walls.


Punishing difficulty should be a choice, not the default.  This isn't a Souls game.

The problem with your work-around is that it removes the fundamental element of D&D - creative solutions.  Casting a light spell on an arrow, or on a rock, or on a shield, etc. should all be valid ways to solve the encounter.  Honestly, Darkvision should also solve it, or what's the point of that racial feature?

3 months ago (edited)

Even though I can accept most of the points above, all of them combined indeed do make this fight feel much more difficult than others. Especially considering your characters are supposed to only be of level 2, so you have limited options.

I believe it's balanced with player having 6 characters in mind, but you can't risk by using those two NPCs to help - I've tried to use the one who appears to be a level 2 fighter, and iirc he got oneshotted with a ranged attack from full hp to death (not just unconscious). It sounds a bit weird, maybe I remembered wrong and he was not at full HP, but I've played that part for 10+ times and tried out all 4 NPCs, and it's definitely that case when you want to keep NPCs away from battle completely for them to not get killed.

Also, you definitely should have the options to cast Light on an arrow and to throw a lighted torch.

Stabbey
Level 8
Kickstarter Backer
3 months ago

I definitely had trouble with this fight. The first time I won, I had used so many spells that I felt already ready for a long rest, even though this fight was coming immediately after a long rest. It was a Phyrric victory.

It took many other frustrating attempts because I was unable to have my Dark-vision Rogue to start the fight with Sneak Attack.

I eventually did spot the torches on the walls, and I had my wizard use Firebolt on one. The enemies didn't react to the bolt of fire and sudden illumination, but that's okay, I guess, because it let my Rogue finally start the fight by dropping one enemy instantly. 

The surprise round did not help me in any way because all the enemies were hidden and too far away to reach, and even if I dashed, that would merely put me at disadvantage because it was dark. However, I still ended up winning the fight taking no damage whatsoever, thanks to some very good lucky rolls on my part and bad ones on the enemy part.

And then I got to the end of the dungeon and realized that there were no more fights there anyway, so using up all my spells didn't matter much.

KC
Visitor
3 months ago

Just to add to this, I just did the first fight in the caves (3 little red soraks, 3 bigger black ones). First try I didn't find out about the wall torches until too late to save it. Second try I lit the torches and they lit the enemies up pretty well, except one of the bigger soraks came up and was standing directly next to a wall torch but was listed as being in dim light.

puck
Level 6
3 months ago

Can't you carry your torch in your main hand and still have a shield?  I thought my Cleric did that, but I honestly can't remember now.  If not, that should certainly be a thing.  

I *do* remember trying to cast Light on my arrows so the next arrow would light the target, and being very sad that didn't work.  I ended up wrecking them in that fight with Dancing Lights.  Just move them to the next focus target and Sorak B gone.  TBH, the lit arrow could backfire if the target ran right up to me and bathed my party in light, whereas with Dancing Lights I could keep my party just outside the boundary of light.

You could have had vertical mobility for that fight.  I'm pretty sure Spider Climb was already available if you really wanted it. I don't think it was in any way needed though.  I recall being sad Spider Climb wouldn't let me walk on the wall where the treasure chests were.  Only on the wall where the Soraks were.  

d4gg3r_n00b
Level 1
1 week ago (edited)

I have run this battle over 20 times now.  2 and half hours and i'm finally getting thru it.  I've saved mid-battle and reloaded, running the same attack sequence to see if I get better results and nope.  My series of misses is predetermined.  The rolls might be 1 number different (i.e. one time it was a "1" & other tries it was a "2"), but nevertheless my next three attacks are always going to miss.  So knowing that i would change my strategy and finally beat it w/o taking a hit!  (Because if I did take a hit I would probably die... because this battle is f'n ridiculously hard!)  Word of advice kite these things w/ long range attacks.  They got a dex bonus of +7 so no spells w/ dex saves are landing.

1 week ago

At first i had trouble fighting  the sorraks just a ways from the secret entrance.  until i read that sorraks are susceptible  to light use have a caster cast a lighting cantrip like sparkle or firebolt into the "torchholders" to light up the combat area and focus fire on one enemy at a time a sorrak with 1-2 HP is still dangerous 


Solumncrow

IXI
Level 5
2 days ago

Illumination

they seem to be doing a lot of work in this area

Flanking does not work / Sneak Attack in combat

as other have pointed out this an optional rule, one that i've rarely seen used


Enemies have vertical mobility, I don't

just get spider climb spell/potion 

Feather Fall does nothing / Fall damage

it works if there is solid ground under you

RNG (?)

the dice gods are fickle 


yellow flower of courage