[RPG] As a DM, how to save a creature from being killed by players and not be cheap


If you put a creature you want to use at a later date in an encounter, how could I save that creature near the end of the battle without sounding cheaty. E.g. The evil mage has only 1 hit point left and gets smacked by a barbarian, but wait he has an immediate interrupt which teleports him away. This gets more complicated if the creature gets surrounded so can't realistically escape.

Best Answer

They should run away along prepared routes when they're bloodied or the fight being lost in their eyes.

Creatures that, rightfully, fear for their lives shouldn't fight "until the last moment." Instead, like most sensible creatures, when the fight becomes a lost cause (when they're bloodied, and/or when 20-30% of the group is down, depending on how loyal they are to the group), they'll try to run away. An intelligent villain will have escape routes prepared, especially one that fits possible unusual movement modes.

Bloodied is important, as it's a clear signifier, provides enough of a buffer to survive an OA or two, and is a time when surrender via intimidate becomes possible.

While there's no real need to provide "real" items for alternative movement modes, including elixirs of flying as part of the treasure may be worthwhile.

Some notes from personal experience:

  1. Be prepared for this to work exactly once. Players can be remarkably good at dealing with common situations that annoy them.
  2. Make sure that this counts as a complete encounter win. Escaping villains is fine so long as the players objectives are met.
  3. Be aware of the healing surge rules for monsters.
  4. Make sure that your heroes get the normal encounter rewards. They achieved victory, so let them savour it. Withholding loot will just make point 1 occur even faster.