As you open the door, you see a pair of goblins arbitrarily standing there, ineffectually wielding spears made of a stick and somewhat sharpened rock, and shields made out of a few planks of wood tied together. They see you, and snarl savagely as they prepare to rush you.
- Upon being encountered animals might not attack immediately, and could be dissuaded from fighting at all through the use of skills such as Nature, Intimidate, Diplomacy, Bluff, Insight, and others. If combat does break out, I generally have the animal strongly consider fleeing once its bloodied so that it can live to be arbitrarily thrown into another random encounter another day. If the animal is protecting young or its lair, it might fight to the death. Depends on the animal and location.
- Programmed/bound guardians like animated objects, golems, elementals, devils, undead, and others don't play that way. They are created or compelled to protect an area or fulfill a function. Intelligent guardians do what is tactically advantageous, and some might try various forms of persuasion in order to fulfill their tasks (there could even be a dialogue exchange before and during combat). Unintelligent guardians, like golems, just go after whoever is closest or dealing the most damage. They never give up, even in the face of destruction.
- Intelligent creatures are a lot more complex. You have to consider race, intelligence, and sometimes other factors like culture and religion. As I mentioned above, goblins are a cowardly lot. When most of them are dead and/or bloodied, I like to have some of them surrender or book it (perhaps to warn another group). Orcs are very bloodthirsty and not prone to giving up. Most major villains probably have a high self-preservation instinct.
My questions are, do you have monsters that surrender? How do your players react to it? How do their characters handle it?