It's not the dice rolls, it's the encounter design.

Level 1
11 months ago (edited)

Alot of people have run into "unbeatable situations" or huge runs of the enemy rolling high and them rolling low that can make fights essentially possible.  Even if you can, in many cases, turn these fights it's not a pleasant or fun experience.  Maybe there is an issue with dice rolls, it's hard to say because humans suck at evaluating probability.  But With only 20 hours in the game so far I've seen roll streaks that put the worst of Xcom and Shadowrun to shame.  Stuff that should be just shy of impossible where entire battles characters never roll higher than an 8 while enemies roll 15+ consistently.

The issue isn't that you roll too low too often, the issue is that the average rolls you need to win encounters is often set too high.  Low Rolls are only a problem when you require high rolls in encounters to make any progress.  IMO any time you need to roll 10+ on average to contribute to an encounter you're setting the party up for failure and frustration without min maxing and metagaming.

Let me give you my own personal example that happened tonight. Level 3 party ambushed by two veterans that could attack 4 times in a row each with +5 attack rolls. We only had 1 action per turn. To hit these veterans level 3 characters needed to beat a DC of 18. This means combat classes with a +6 attack bonus needed to roll a 12 just to hit, non-combat classes needed to roll a 14/15. This was about the same for the enemies attacking our two solid melee frontliners. My Tinkerer and my friend's Paladin had AC's of like 18/20+ depending on buffs and were very difficult for the enemy to hit. But when they attack 4 times each turn hits are going to land and crits are gonna roll. Their hp was high enough that they could eat 3 heavy damage smite attacks without going down so they definitely were not squishy either.

With the way the encounter started 2 characters were asleep when the battle started and the Veterans started on top of the witch. 100% chance the witch was going to die every time. They came down stairs so abilities like entangle and petal swarm could not be used as it could not be placed. Witch could not move without eating double attack of opportunity or using disengage to wake the Paladin. Paladin's concentration abilities basically sure to get interrupted so no bless or shield of faith, had to make him a smite bot (when attacks landed) to avoid constantly wasting action economy. Rogue could barely hit and when not sneak attacking did minimal damage. The veterans also spammed knockdown yet since they had exta actions knockdown was ineffective vs them. +5 was the lowest attack bonus.

I eventually solved the encounter but even after having the solution it took 5 play throughs to get decent rolls. Two play throughs the Veterans crit constantly and throughout all of them the overall average roll of our attacks was very low with the dice landing on 3 and 6 so much that my friend eventually rage quit because he started predicting it accurately. In fact this has been the reality this entire run so far and it made the Sorak boss battle a total pain. Our hit rate average has definitely been far lower than 50% and we've missed a good bit even through advantage.

The solution in our case was to let the witch go down after waking the pally, tinkerer wakes the rogue and drops their buff + bonus heals the witch back to life after she gets spiked who goes next. Witch disengages and pally and tink are positioned to block with attacks of opportunity. All 4 characters whale on one veteran and hope for good rolls. Paladin only uses spells to confirm smite on hit and lay on hands when needed. Witch uses hideous laughter concentration on one Veteran and spams Chill Touch on the other. Two runs doing that we got chain critted to death, two runs we had almost no attack rolls over 8. 5th run finally got a few hits and was able to kill secure the 1st Veteran and mop up. 2 mobs being able to chain attack the same person 4 times in a row when your party can only do one action a turn is pretty crap honestly.

Oh and I'm sure someone will say it, there are solutions to make combat more reliable. But often not at the levels where things are most a problem. Powerful Cantrips and spells that do guaranteed partial damage even on save. Uncanney Accuracy can make ranged attacks much more reliable in cover heavy areas. Stuff like that. But problem is, you gotta hit level 4+ to get that kinda stuff and not every class/build has those kind of options.

I realize our part is not "optimized" but the day a DnD game needs an optimized party is the day it's failed at being a DnD game. Remember, we don't have a DM here to fudge things harder and easier to keep it fun. The ruleset needs to not nuke people because there is no DM to come smooth things over when things go wrong.