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Let's set the scene; this is a Pathfinder 2e game. The PCs have recovered the target package from the area, they've fixed the carriage, they've looted everything, and they are ready to escape. Suddenly, some high-level cops that would be a challenging encounter for the PCs show up!

The PCs hop onto the vehicle and run away from the cops. In this case, the cops don't have any vehicles, so the PCs can easily outrun the cops once they get on the vehicle and this wouldn't directly trigger any chase mechanics if they so choose. Is there a way I can make the act of running from the cops on a battlemap to the vehicle interesting? If not, what are some alternate ways of doing it?

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    \$\begingroup\$ "In my (GM) mind, the best choice for the PCs is to hop onto the vehicle and run." why? This seems a bit like an XY problem. Do you just want a chase/escape scene? Or maybe you know the opposition is too tough for the characters and you don't want them pitted in a hopeless fight? Or are you just trying to write a plot and get the characters to enact it? Maybe something else? \$\endgroup\$
    – VLAZ
    Aug 25, 2022 at 15:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think this question can be "saved" by: - specifying what system you use - why you want to make that choice appealing - giving more details about your gaming group (have you played other games together before?) \$\endgroup\$ Aug 25, 2022 at 17:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ Why are you not just going to the next sceene; they made the getaway, what is next? I don't understand your problem, TBH. They solved the problem of "cops show up" by jumping into the getaway car and off they went. It's what happens next that makes the party have to make some new decisions. So, what happens next? If that is what you are asking, the question becomes an idea generation / discussion prompt kind of question which is a bad fit for the Stack. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 26, 2022 at 12:07

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Run it as a Chase

There's a pretty strong Chase subsystem in PF2E for resolving scenarios where it would be less interesting to do a turn-by-turn flight from enemies.

If the vehicle is far enough away or you feel the scene warrants some additional drama then this would be a good fit, with the final obstacle being to get everyone aboard the vehicle and successfully escape.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1. If OP needs some examples, several of the PFS adventures have chases. God's Market Gamble is a favorite of mine. The Midnight Mauler does too. Those are 1e, but would still be educational. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 28, 2022 at 14:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't quite know if this works for OP's scenario, as they specify "on a battlemap" which to me implies as part of combat or something. I think that OP would be well served by restructuring the situation to use the Chase rules, though (+1). \$\endgroup\$
    – ESCE
    Aug 30, 2022 at 21:44
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Use interesting high level abilities and spells.

Lots of high level spells are thematically interesting but not especially murderous. Here are a few I often use to have high level characters flex on lower level characters. You can have one character use teleport for a varying number of rounds to help them catch up and cause drama.

Reverse Gravity. This allows for an exciting scene where the players need to grab onto something to avoid falling into the sky.

Duplicate foe. You can make a doppleganger to fight someone on the vehicle.

Wall of force. You can block off a route, forcing players to take an unconventional, more interesting route.

Control water. This allows you to flood an area, devastating locals and mildly annoying players.

Vibrant pattern. This allows you to blind players.

Resplendent Mansion. This creates an interesting barrier to drive through and smash.

The key is to have them use spells which create interesting battlefields, but not ones which throw enough dice at the players to easily overwhelm them. Presumably they expended those elsewhere, or want to capture the players for some reason. I've had players find fleeing quite interesting with that, since high level spells are pretty fun.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Why are these good ideas? How have these worked out in your experience to help solve OP's problem? \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Aug 27, 2022 at 12:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ I mentioned in the post- the players don't die from spells like these, and they find them interesting. OP basically just wants a disengagement with higher level characters chasing them to be fun, so they basically just need a way for higher level characters to engage without murdering the player on a chase scene. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nepene Nep
    Aug 27, 2022 at 13:06
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You can't make disengaging interesting if disengaging isn't already interesting, but you can at least make it an attractive alternative.

If you're in one of those game systems where everything is constantly running under tactical combat rules except sometimes for the sake of expediency you're pretending it's not, then you're kind of behind the eight-ball on this one. Maneuvering can present a decisive tactical advantage, such that any tactical encounter you can by rules run away from is also a tactical encounter where you can spend an arbitrary amount of time outmaneuvering your opponent until you have enough lead to aim and fire, repeat until hit points gone. Often a challenging tactical opponent will be presented with superior maneuverability options as part of the challenge.

The key is to use a system where "getting away" is already accounted for as a gameable activity that all characters can participate in. This can be a game system where tactical combat is an objective-based activity and out-of-tactical-combat events are left up to narration - I've had great times playing set piece battles in the tactical fantasy video game Wildermyth, for example, where the tactical exercise is set up as "this negotiation in the heart of enemy territory went wrong and infinite reinforcements are coming; run through a hostile environment full of hostiles and get to one of these four tiles that represent the surface, where they won't follow". But the game's built from the ground up to allow that kind of play, including fun tactical movement options for heroes and the opposition alike.

Unfortunately, Pathfinder 2e really isn't built from the ground up to do that, it's more one of those "constantly running under tactical combat rules" affairs. There are some options for expanded tactical movement, but they're not really evenly available to characters and mostly they serve as vectors to get you somewhere you can do something interesting, rather than being interesting things in their own right.

As for the optional chase subsystem, well, you've got two problems there, haven't you? The first is that your PCs are het up for a fight and they might not go willingly, though I'll have some tips for you about persuading them later on.

The second is that, like too unfortunately many of the optional subsystems Paizo has added to various Pathfinder editions over the years, from a more mechanically-oriented perspective there's really not a lot to excite about pure skill-check-based gameplay in a d20 engine. You make a check, it passes or not, you maybe have one or two hero points for rerolls but that's your only actual switch to flip in the process. There's not much of a cushion for failure in the way that if combat rolls are temporarily unlucky for you, you have hit points and recovery tricks and magic items that you can use up to buy yourself some time. And as an optional subsystem it's basically running on the "pretending it's not a tactical combat" level, where you might well narrate yourself into a situation where a precise shot or well-aimed spell or other tool from the tactical combat toolbox seems like the perfect fix for the scenario, but neither your available tools nor the rules of the subsystem actually account for what happens if you try to use them.

But you can make it work, if your players are willing to get inside the rollercoaster cart for a spin around the subsystem and play by its rules rather than pursue their own lateral thinking or creative solutions. If they're just keyed up for combat right now and you need to give them a gentle push, well, as I said earlier, I have some tools for persuading them, taken from other systems which are actually built from the ground with escaping in mind.

You could take a page from and its conflicts and contests, and frame the situation as one where violence can't get them what they want:

And now that alarm you tripped starts paying off as security forces start showing up. Wave 1 of... honestly, it seems like a bad idea to stick around and count? Fortunately the Mephit's right here and as long as you can keep your profile low and your jets firing long enough to be clear of the base's anti-air, you'll have a clear shot to orbit. A big finale like this I figure is first to 5?

Or , where conflicts often mean compromises for the winner and you can foreshadow potential consequences of a combat that they won't like:

The final defender topples and, at last, you have free reign of these treasure crypts. Start filling your bags but only note down that you're filling slots, not what's going in them, because hey y'all it turns out that I miscounted. The towering statue which had borne mute witness to all your depredation and slaughter slowly stands from its crude rock throne, cobwebs and decay and stone dust falling in fountains from its body and its suddenly glowing eyes. Interlopers, says the terrifying howl projected into your minds.

Now I know after that last scrap you all are feeling pretty lucky and fresh but let me tell you, this one's gonna be messy. Even if you take this thing down clean it'll be a heck of a production and in case you've forgotten there's really no fighting with your hands full of treasure sacks. In all this chaos who knows what might happen to all that lovely unattended plunder?

If you pack up all your loot and run, on the other hand, at least you'll start this flee conflict in sure possession of all that stuff you grabbed, some of which was almost certainly valuable.

Or , where winning a fight in a civilized setting is just going to present the winner more problems to deal with:

So this is the last clock of the score and it's 8 ticks of losing some Cold Blue Pursuit. Engaging your pursuit at melee range is often not a productive way of losing it, just saying. There'll be the extra heat from the kill as the bluecoats update your wanted posters from "thieves" to "thieves and murderers", and oh yeah what plan do you have to deal with the angry ghosts you'll surely be creating, here in enemy territory where you can't come back and lay them to rest later?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This appears to be factually incorrect based on @brandon's link to the PF2E chase rules: they don't appear to use the normal tactical combat rules, nor do they require hacking in. \$\endgroup\$
    – minnmass
    Aug 27, 2022 at 4:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @minnmass Oh, interesting. A friend of mine mentioned some problems he had with this but I thought he was still running some old 1E adventure paths, I didn't know they made it up into 2E. Let me revise this... \$\endgroup\$
    – Glazius
    Aug 27, 2022 at 5:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @minnmass There we go. Better? \$\endgroup\$
    – Glazius
    Aug 27, 2022 at 6:48
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It depends on your system to a large extent, but there are a few things to consider:

  • Is it clear to the PCs that the fight will be unwinnable/taxing? If it's not the party will likely try to fight.
  • Is it clear to the PCs that they can (or at least have a chance) escape without engaging? If they don't realize it's even a possibility they won't even try.
  • In D&D especially, but also many other more traditional RPGs the party is often derided as Murder-Hobos, if your party falls into that trope there's a decent chance they won't even consider running and/or they may manage to win the fight.

Regardless of system you need to clearly telegraph both the difficulties and opportunities presented by the situation, and in some cases you might need to do this explicitly and out of character. "Okay guys, there's at least 20 cops and SWAT, you've got maybe a minute before they can cut off your chance of escape, what do you do?"

You'll want to have some sort of backup plan if you do send an overwhelming force at the party in the event they don't run, perhaps the cops will attempt to subdue and capture the PCs?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Please have a look at our citation expectations for subjective answers. In particular, we expect subjective solutions to be backed up by meaningful experience at the table of play. Your first two bullets are just questions (I’m assuming they have a “correct” answer that provides a solution to the problem), and your third bullet is just an observation about murderhobos. I do t see that this really answers the question, and if it does, it doesn’t provide experience to back it up. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 26, 2022 at 9:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ I am not going to comment on this answer until and if the question gets re opened. The question looks to me like an idea generation question, and so it may stay closed. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 26, 2022 at 12:08

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