Recent encounters with hard to hurt opponents have left the party pretty beat up. The player is now seemingly scared by similar encounters and prefers fleeing.
I'm GMing a solo game of Pathfinder for a friend, using a premade module. He plays a team of four characters and it's been going great so far. Recently though, the group has started facing harder opponents with various immunities or high damage output. Result: the party has taken a beating but is still alive. My player's confidence though? Went down for the count.
The party had a series of encounters with creatures that displayed unusual powers and immunities. Some of them were more dangerous than I think the module intended, and others would have been less dangerous but the party didn't react the way the module expected (not least because they were spooked by the earlier dangerous encounters). The party also didn't get any mental breathing room by being given fights they could simply smash in between these more dangerous or unusual encounters.
This resulted in the player quickly getting spooked, feeling like he was in over his head, and so we spent the session with the characters running away. It did not make for a fun session on either side.
How do I reassure the player and make the fighting something to look forward to rather than a frustrating experience of hide and seek?
Should I start adapting the scenario to manage the player's fear level and put a few easier encounters to show his party is not inept? Or should I push some tools that could help against those opponents?
- How do you reassure your player when a new encounter brings back an unexpected previous-encounter trauma?
- How do you reconcile the fact the encounter is meant to be scary, is indeed scary to the player, but you suddenly wish it would not be?
The issue has been discussed with the player right after the session since it was obvious we were both disappointed by these few hours. He admitted being gradually scared by multiple things:
- A previous encounter with a creature which required spending more resources than usual to defeat. The problematic encounter is meant to look like that creature at first, so... trauma.
- The description of the new creature (it is eerie and menacing in various ways)
- The legend one of the PCs remembered, which seems linked to the creature (legendary creature?!)
- The problematic encounter's secret true nature led to alarmingly unusual and apparent rule-breaking effects when the party didn't figure out the truth quickly.
The player actually enjoys combat, quite possibly more than roleplaying encounters. He is not yet knowledgeable about all the tactical possibilities of the system though (nor am I, really).