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Chapter 10: Game Mastering / Running Modes of Play / Encounters

Ending Encounters

Source Core Rulebook pg. 494 2.0
A combat encounter typically ends when all the creatures on one side are killed or knocked unconscious. Once this happens, you can stop acting in initiative order. The surviving side then has ample time to ensure that everyone taken out stays down. However, you might need to keep using combat rounds if any player characters are near death, clinging to a cliff, or in some other situation where every moment matters for their survival.

You can decide a fight is over if there’s no challenge left, and the player characters are just cleaning up the last few weak enemies. However, avoid doing this if any of the players still have inventive and interesting things they want to try or spells they’re concentrating on—ending an encounter early is a tool to avoid boredom, not to deny someone their fun. You can end a fight early in several ways: the foes can surrender, an adversary can die before its Hit Points actually run out, or you can simply say the battle’s over and that the PCs easily dispatch their remaining foes. In this last case, you might ask, “Is everyone okay if we call the fight?” to make sure your players are on board.

One side might surrender when almost all its members are defeated or if spells or skills thoroughly demoralize them. Once there’s a surrender, come out of initiative order and enter into a short negotiation. These conversations are really about whether the winners will show mercy to the losers or just kill or otherwise get rid of them. The surrendering side usually doesn’t have much leverage in these cases, so avoid long back-and-forth discussions.

Fleeing Enemies

Source Core Rulebook pg. 494 2.0
Fleeing enemies can be a problem. Player characters often want to pursue foes that flee because they think an enemy might return as a threat later on. Avoid playing this out move by move, as it can easily bog down the game. If every adversary is fleeing, forgo initiative order and give each PC the option to pursue any one fleeing foe. Each PC can declare one action, spell, or other ability to use to try to keep up. Then, compare the PC’s Speed to that of the target, assess how much the pursuer’s chosen spell or ability would help, and factor in any abilities the quarry has that would aid escape. If you determine that the pursuer catches up, go back into combat with the original initiative order. If not, the quarry escapes for now.

If the PCs decide to flee, it’s usually best to let them do so. Pick a particular location and allow them to escape once they all reach it. However, if they’re encumbered or otherwise slowed down, or if enemies have higher Speeds and a strong motive to pursue, you might impose consequences upon PCs who flee.