The BBEG wants to delay the party in the final battle… (narrative delay?)

I have thought of a few methods they might accomplish this. In this question, I am wondering about a potentially more controversial option. I am considering having them attempt to monologue or engage the PC’s in dialogue (e.g. offer for them to join his side, explain his plan, answer questions, etc) with a timer running, then increase the battle rounds based on the amount of time they were able to enthrall the PC’s with their speech.

I can see some problems with this:

  • I haven’t used this "on the clock" method before and the players may not recognize what’s happening (kind of the point?); I’ve loosely enforced limiting speech to your turn to maintain a suspension of disbelief
  • This could cause balance issues with planning the time depending on if they catch on quickly or not as all (see below)
  • It would require significant setup, coordinating clues that may let them read into what is happening while also maintaining a monologue
  • Our game is online, so it may be more difficult to implement this strategy

Some details about the campaign/fight (major spoilers for Paizo’s Ruins of Azlant AP)

The party will already be in initiative when they arrive in his area (they have to fight or bypass a couple ‘mooks’ before reaching him) but in our circle of gamers there is a precedent for NPC’s to interrupt combat rounds with speech. In this campaign, that even includes the players taking up another potential enemy’s offer of working together instead of fighting. In the past, however, it hasn’t been relevant that the clock continues moving.

My goal is to cost them a handful of rounds if they are willing to listen to the creature, who is manipulative by nature. I feel this is thematic but unlikely to make the difference in their success or failure in regards to the creature’s plan, but I think it would be an epic moment if it does (or comes down to the line).

Is this a bad idea? Has anyone had success doing something like this, and what was needed to pull it off?

Directly related to my question about doing it with spells.

Reminder: per "Good Subjective, Bad Subjective", to answer this question, one would either need direct experience using such a delay tactic or have experienced a GM doing so with them as a player.

How to handle damage in decisive attack when one party is unaware?

How do you handle decisive damage in cases where one party is totally unaware that they are being attacked and the other person has time to prepare?

The problem is that a prepared ambusher will not have had any withering attacks to increase their initiative prior to the ambush decisive attack. And it does not make a lot of sense to ambush someone with only your join battle initiative.

I’m looking for a reference to the rules explaining this situation, or a solution you have tried. personally all I could find in the book is that if you ambush someone they have a lower defence depending on whether or not they are in combat or totally unaware that they are in danger.

Just to make it clear what I’m trying to solve I’ll give two cases that came up in a game:

  1. Someone (a mortal) is sneaking up on a exalted that is sleeping and trying to kill that person. This is very unlikely (or maybe I don’t want it to) to outright kill the exalted, but how much damage does the mortal actually do?
  2. In a form of duel one party say, I’ll stand still and give you a first free shot. Do your best to hurt me. This is assuming there is only ever going to be one strike. This came up when someone wanted to test an armor.

How to prepare my party to reasonable be able to bring down a prismatic wall?


Background

In my campaign I have a villain who uses misdirection and avoidance as their main combat methods. As last resort when the party confronts them in their lair it would be appropriate for them to use Prismatic Wall to prevent the party from killing or capturing them.

Prismatic Wall requires 7 different, very specific, spells in a specific order to remove. Namely; Cone of Cold, Gust of Wind, Disintegrate, Passwall, Magic Missile, Daylight, and Dispel Magic.

This enemy is clever but arrogant, they will likely cast this spell toward the end of a drawn out battle meaning the party may already be down on resources. Without warning they might need to defeat a Prismatic Wall the party may expend the required resources before it appears.

Party Details

In my party I have:

  • A Half-Elf Wizard
  • A Human Druid
  • A Gnome Oracle
  • A Halfling Bard
  • A Half-Orc Paladin.

The party is currently 9th level and they will likely confront this enemy some time between 12th and 14th level depending on how direct their approach is.

The party is equipped slightly below normal for their level due to some decisions made to this point in the campaign. None of their current items will be a particular benefit in this task.

The Problem

I would like my party to have a reasonable chance of actually being able to bring down this wall. If I just throw it at them the chance of this is basically 0. This is the first campaign for all of my players and they have never encounter anything like this before.

Between the various spellcasters in the party they already have access to 5 out of the 7 required spells. Disintegrate and Passwall being the exceptions. I can easily provide them access to the others between now and the confrontation. However, the party does not always prepare these specific spells and may not have them available when required.

How can I, as DM, prepare my players to defeat a Prismatic Wall spell, without explicitly telling them it is coming?

I will likely need to provide them both with information on how to defeat it and provide some resources to help them do so. I am willing to provide help in the form of items, lore dumps from NPCs and potentially NPC allies, though I prefer not to have NPC perform critical actions in place of the players.

Does the Gloom Stalker ranger’s Dread Ambusher feature apply only when the party actually engages in combat, or when initiative is rolled?

The Gloom Stalker ranger’s Dread Ambusher feature says, in part (XGtE, p. 42; emphasis mine):

At the start of your first turn of each combat, your walking speed increases by 10 feet, which lasts until the end of that turn. If you take the Attack action on that turn, you can make one additional weapon attack as part of that action. If that attack hits, the target takes an extra 1d8 damage of the weapon’s damage type

If the DM calls for initiative to be rolled earlier than the party could reasonably engage in "combat" (such as a combat happening at the gates of a city far away, or off in the distance), can the ranger still benefit from Dread Ambusher once actual combat starts for the party/ranger?

The class feature itself doesn’t specify that the ranger needs cover, or surprise, and it doesn’t specifically say that the class feature starts on "initiative" but rather on the first turn of combat.

Or is the benefit of Dread Ambusher just gone if the DM decides to call for initiative more than a round before the ranger can engage in combat?

Are the 3.5e Dragonlance books third party or official works?

When 3rd edition rolled around, Wizards of the Coast handed the maintenance of the Dragonlance setting to Sovereign Press, the printing company owned by Dragonlance co-founder Margaret Weis. They released several Dragonlance books all the way until the end of their licence, not too long before 4th Edition came rolling around.

But I’m curious if this means that those Dragonlance books are canon. I rarely see them being referenced by guides and people talking about character builds in general, and even then in only a select few cases. which lead me to suspect that the books are not “official” works like the regular, the Forgotten Realms and the Eberron books are.

Is this true? Are they third party works because they’re printed by Sovereign Press rather than Wizards of the Coast? Or are they still official because Sovereign Press was licensed to print them, and they are an established setting and bear the WotC seal of approval?

Does a Split Party Gain XP Evenly?

I’m running a campaign with six player characters. Since it’s a larger group, they occasionally split up. During these times, individual groups have gotten into encounters and been awarded XP.

My question is, does this XP get split evenly among the group present at the encounter or does the entire party, including the non-present group, receive XP evenly across the board?

How do I allow the Rogue opportunities to be stealthy with a Druid in the party?

My party is currently level 6, and consists of a Halfling Rogue, Human Druid, Halfling Barbarian, and Half-Elf Monk. They’re all excellent players who play tactically and know their class well. I’m currently running into a problem with the Rogue and the Druid.

My Rogue has Expertise in Stealth (+10 at this level) and a Cloak of Elvenkind. This means that her minimum roll (barring four 1s because they’re a Halfling) on a Stealth check is a 12, and her average roll is around a 25. Even on a minimum roll, most NPCs will not be able to see her (and in a few levels that will extend to all NPCs).

However, the party’s current methodology is to have the Druid do the sneaking instead of the Rogue. Their reasoning is that even though it’s highly unlikely that the Rogue will get caught, if she does get caught then really bad things happen – the enemy will know they’re being spied on, the Rogue gets captured, etc. However, the Druid is spying in the form of a rat, spider, owl, or other sneaky animal, so if a bandit spots a bat they probably won’t think much of it. Additionally, the druid will have a much easier time escaping a secure location (say, by summoning 8 Giant Badgers and then Wild Shaping into a spider).

Here’s my problem with this: I see “Being Sneaky” as a core part of a Rogue’s class identity, and the player has invested a lot of resources (proficiency, expertise, and an attuned item) into being sneaky. I try to give all of my players a chance to live out their class identity: The Barbarian gets to hulk out and smash things, the Druid gets to save Dryads and heal cursed forests, the monk gets to take people down bare-handed, etc. I want to have at least some opportunities for the Rogue to get to experience this key feature of their class by sneaking into a secure location or scouting out an enemy party.

How can I design stealth-based encounters or challenges so that the Rogue will be a better choice than the Druid?

How to deal with a schism in the party, relating to criminal activity?

Myself and 5 friends (one of whom is DM) are playing Warhammer. Increasingly, 3 members want to engage in criminal activities like burglary and robbery, while myself and another party member are scrupulous, honest types, who refuse to turn into common criminals (this is from our character sheet backgrounds, not just our personal opinions).

What’s a good way to reconcile this difference? The way it’s going at the moment, it won’t be long before the 3 wannabe criminals just start leaving me and the other "good" guy alone to go off and burgle some noble’s mansion.

We are all good friends in real life, and are "mature" (late 40s/early 50s), and we can all take a fair bit of ribbing, abuse, joking etc – I don’t think anyone is close to storming out. The problem really is that we spend a lot of each session arguing about what to do.

The BBEG wants to delay the party in the final battle… (spells)

I have thought of a few methods they might accomplish this. The easiest, mechanically, is to give him spells to accomplish this.

Some details about the campaign/fight (major spoilers for Paizo’s Ruins of Azlant AP)

What are the best 5 arcane spells for area denial? The area to be protected is a control panel that can be reached from two adjacent squares; there is also a hallway leading into the room that they will need to travel through that is 10×10 and 40ft long.

Some members of the party have inanely high Saves, especially against spells, so spells that do not require Saves or still have some effect with a Save should be considered stronger than similar spells that do. The party, as most high level organizations do, have easy access to Freedom of Movement.

Directly related to my question about doing it with narrative.