How to avoid killing player characters due to a single (un)lucky roll?

Especially at low levels, Pathfinder characters can usually be killed easily by a single enemy attack, provided the dice fall in said enemy’s favor. An example:

The PC has a constituion score of 10 (modifier +0) and 8 HP

The enemy is of medium size, has a strength score of 14 (modifier +2) and is wealding a quarterstaff (obviously two-handed, as a quarterstaff is a two-handed weapon)

On a hit, the enemy deals 1d6+3 damage. On a critical hit (×2 for the quarterstaff), they can hence deal up to a maximum of 18 damage, which would kill the PC immediately with a single attack! There is no way for a healer to interfere, the character will die at once.

I believe stats as described above are neither unrealistic for a PC at level 1, nor for an enemy they might encounter. However, I recently ran a one-shot that almost resulted in TPK within 30min due to two critical hits the enemies got in early on, killing two of the PCs and thus changing action economy massively in their favor.

How can I avoid that without pulling off some Deus ex Machina stunt?

To be clear about this: I always make sure in session 0 that everyone knows PC death is possible (and so far players have always agreed to it). But even knowing that, it really puts a damper on everyone’s mood if a character the player possibly spent hours on creating dies in session 1 because of a single attack by a generic enemy.

Simply fudging the enemies rolls is not really a possibility, since I’m using Roll20 for my games at the moment and all players are able to see my rolls (including modifiers) once made. There is the possibility to hide rolls from players (which I sometimes use for opposed checks), but I would prefer not to do that for all attack/damage rolls just to be sure, because that already implies I intend to fudge a roll at some point (which I probably would in said situation, but I’d prefer players not to think about that constantly).

While this question might seem related, the problem at hand is not encounter balance (as pointed out above), but dealing with the risk of a balanced enemy killing a player due to (bad) luck.

How can I avoid redundancies when I have multiple distinct Roblox tools with clientside code?

In Roblox, I have two distinct tools with identical clientside code. The serverside code determines their difference to behave differently. However, with identical clientside code, whenever I change one, I have to change the other, and it’s redundant in the game and also tedious. How can I avoid redundancies when I have two nearly identical but distinct tools with identical clientside code? Basically, I have one serverside script to handle the remote events, in ServerScriptService, and two tools, and it happens that they both invoke the same serverscript and are otherwise identical. How can I avoid redundancies?

Can a druid get out of wild shape to avoid an opportunity attack?

Suppose a druid is shapeshifted into a beast of large size and adjacent (within 5 ft) of an enemy with a reach of 5ft.

On the druid’s turn, he reverts to humanoid form, reducing his size from large to medium and placing him out of the enemy’s reach. The druid can now move away without giving the enemy an opportunity attack.

Is this correct?

What spells or other effects cause a creature to make a saving throw to avoid being knocked out?

I saw that a hydra has "advantage on saving throws against being… knocked unconscious" and was curious as to what spells or effects would cause such a thing to happen. The only effect that came to mind is the sleep spell, which operates on hit points rather than a saving throw. What else can knock a creature unconscious?

5e Can Specters move into the ground to avoid Attacks of Opportunity?

In 5e, Specters have Incorporeal Movement which says

The specter can move through other creatures and objects as if they were difficult terrain. It takes 5(1d10) force damage if it ends its turn inside an object.

Therefore, I assume Specters can move through ground as if it were difficult terrain.

Could a specter attack a creature, move into its space and then move straight down into the ground to avoid an Attack of Opportunity? Regardless if it would be intelligent enough to do so, would the AoO happen before it is fully submerged below ground or would the ground protect the Specter?

My guess would be the ground would protect it because once it leaves the 5ft reach of its target, it would be mostly submerged.

Does an unconscious creature still use its dexterity to avoid attacks?

Related – How does one dispatch a helpless opponent?

Here’s the unconscious condition description:

Unconscious

An unconscious creature is Incapacitated, can’t move or speak, and is unaware of its surroundings The creature drops whatever it’s holding and falls Prone. The creature automatically fails Strength and Dexterity saving throws. Attack rolls against the creature have advantage. Any attack that hits the creature is a critical hit if the attacker is within 5 feet of the creature.

So attacks against the creature have advantage, and any attack that hits is a critical – but you still can miss because of the creature’s AC. Armor Class includes dexterity bonus. The description doesn’t say the creature’s AC changes somehow.

Does it mean the creature still benefits from its dexterity, both in terms of mechanics and in-game world?

An example situation

A low-level party of Barbarian and Bard fights a sneaky thief, who has AC of 15 due to his +4 dexterity bonus. The Barbarian attacks, so does the Bard, but their results are 12 and 13. DM described that the thief was twisty enough to dodge both attacks.

Next round, the Bard puts the thief to sleep (hence, unconscious) with the Sleep spell. The barbarian makes a melee attack with advantage, but his best result is 14. It is still a miss, isn’t it? As a DM, how can I plausibly describe such an outcome?

How can I avoid my-guy-syndrome after devastating battle

We are a group of three players. Me (a priest of the goddess of healing and agriculture), Alice (priest of the god of light/time/law) and fighter-archetype Bob.

Our last evening went as follows. The previous evening I and Bob coerced an NPC ("John") to gather information for us and to meet with us the following day in the ghetto before a city. I went there alone, as Alice and Bob attended some other business and I didn’t want to miss our informant. When I arrived, another NPC told me

You have to hurry. John was already here. He told me it was urgent and to tell you he’ll meet you in the forest. And he was bleeding, it looked bad!

Concerned as a healer about the wounded man, I immediately followed. After following the trail for quite some long time, I had a critical miss-roll and got lost in the forest, until I rejoined with my comrades, which ultimately followed. We finally arrived at an obvious ambush, where John was lying on the ground, with a gaping wound on the back (shoulder blades were visible), on the brink of death, but still breathing. As I was unarmed, I ignored the imminent danger and immediately went to him to try to save his life, assuming the enemy wouldn’t attack an unarmed priest. A battle ensued nontheless. Due to severely unlucky dice rolls, our 2nd priest got one-shotted (down to low health, bleeding and unconscious). Our fighter-archetype had gone around the group and attacked from behind. I was also attacked, but defended by my dogs. After the first dog was killed, I retreated hastily, without completing the healing ritual that would have saved both John and Alice.

Although Alice was rescued by the rogue boss (healing potion…go figure), my character presumes her dead, as this happened after she fled. Furthermore, she believes the important people of the city are behind this attack, to save the secret John had discovered. Thus it now seems logical to me, to leave this place behind, as going back to the city seems like certain death (you can only enter through the gates, so going in unseen is not an option).

I don’t want this to be a my-guy-syndrome situation, but how can I plausibly not abandon the group and the city? I already told the GM that I need some time to think about my next move, because of the situation above.

Can players choose specific points in space, down to the inch, to cast a spell so as to avoid hitting a prone character?

Say there is a character that is prone, such as if they were unconscious, and they are surrounded on all 8 square grids (assuming that a grid is being used) by other creatures. Can a player cast a spell that has a sphere effect such as fireball or shatter such that only the 8 creatures surrounding the one that is prone be hit?

Would this potentially have any adverse effects with potentially breaking or having any unintended consequences for any other spells/effects down the line if this were allowed?

Obviously when it comes to casting some spells, the caster has the option to "choose a point in space", but when playing with the understanding of a grid system that works in chunks of a given dimension does is it feasible to have spells cast in such a way so that a body lying prone won’t be affected by a spell cast just overhead?

Are there heuristics in CSP to help avoid redundancy while checking constraints for inconsistent values?

I’m a complete beginner. Please forgive my ignorance.Trying to learn about CSP online, I noticed a lot of the focus on search methods and heuristics which tell you which variable to expand next (e.g. most constrained variable) and those that tell you which value to try first (e.g. least constraining value) but I’ve yet to see heuristics that relate to the ordering of constraints. Since I’m doing everything by hand, I notice a lot of redundancy when eliminating values from variable domains. How do you go about checking for violated constraints in a way that is efficient? Say constraint A will have me eliminate odd numbers 1 to 1000 and constraint B will have me wipe out everything above 250. Intuitively, it feels like order matters as I would waste my time cherry picking even numbers above 250 to only later find out that anything above 250 was not consistent in the first place. I apologize for lacking the proper terminology, my understanding is mostly intuitive. I hope it makes sense. Thanks in advance! I’m mostly looking to acquire a conceptual understanding of selected topics in computer science so if you have book recommendations or any resource that would be appropriate for me as an interested layman, please don’t hesitate!

Can you avoid the stress penalty of Wish by using Astral Projection?

The wish spell is likely the most powerful and risky spells in Dungeons and Dragons. However, using it to do anything other that duplicate spells carries stress (and potentially losing the spell forever). Below I have quoted the relevant information:

The stress of casting this spell to produce any effect other than duplicating another spell weakens you. After enduring that stress, each time you cast a spell until you finish a long rest, you take 1d10 necrotic damage per level of that spell. This damage can’t be reduced or prevented in any way. In addition, your Strength drops to 3, if it isn’t 3 or lower already, for 2d4 days. For each of those days that you spend resting and doing nothing more than light activity, your remaining recovery time decreases by 2 days. Finally, there is a 33 percent chance that you are unable to cast wish ever again if you suffer this stress.

However, I want do know if these risks carry over to your mortal form, if you were under the effects of astral projection. Below I have quoted the relevant information:

Your astral body resembles your mortal form in almost every way, replicating your game statistics and possessions.

Your astral form is a separate incarnation. Any damage or other effects that apply to it have no effect on your physical body, nor do they persist when you return to it.

So would casting wish while under astral projection subject your body to stress and possibility of losing the spell wish, after astral projection has ended?