By Jason Campbell

TTRPG games like Pathfinder, Dungeons & Dragons and many others focus heavily on combat. In 5e based games there is the suggestion of three pillars of the game: social encounters, combat and exploration. While your group can lean into any of these and make use of all of them, combat is often the “heavy hitter” of the three. That’s reinforced by a glance through the rulebooks to see that most of the rules relate to combat more than social interaction or exploration. 

There are an increasing number of ttrpgs that are not primarily combat focused with a few having no combat rules at all. Although the rules of 5e haven’t changed substantially in reaction to this, you could argue that it has affected many of the products coming from 5e publishers. Today we’ll look at the Wizards of the Coast book, The Wild Beyond the Witchlight published in 2021, as an example. This book is an adventure for Dungeons & Dragons where characters begin at level 1 and advance through level 8. It takes place largely in the Feywild, the domain of faerie. 

The comment you’ll hear most about this adventure is that it’s light on combat, which is partially true. The book is written so that each encounter has multiple ways to run it so that combat can be avoided completely with the use of social interaction and other methods. This means that combat can be avoided if the group prefers that, but for a group that prefers lots of combat the statistics are all there to support that as well. 

Today I’m wondering about the groups who fall somewhere in the middle. If your group loves roleplaying but also wants to use their cool combat ability, how do they react when they’re playing in an adventure that has these non-combat options. If the PCs are “good guys”, do the players feel that they need to search out non-combat options even when the adversary is clearly evil? Would they feel guilty entering combat even if it would be in character?

Let us know what you think in the comments! 

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