View Full Version : Pick up the pace!

2009-08-25, 12:32 AM
So my group likes to take a long time to do, well, everything. They get distracted/bored easily, it seems, and it just takes too long to get combat done. I mean, I'm a wizard, yet the fighters are taking anywhere between two to ten times as long as me for their turns. And god, out of combat its even worse. I'm not currently the DM, but me and my friend usually alternate between being DM.

So basically, I was wondering if I could get tips for keeping the group focused and productive when I'm the DM, and when I'm not the DM, how can I keep my party going?

And as a side note, I guess I'd describe my gaming group as definitely casual. (Only my dad and one other person has a player's guide, so everybody's trying to read my books at the same time). As such, even though I'd like to give it a try, the roleplaying is definitely lacking. Sometimes I'll make a feeble attempt, but it doesn't seem to last for very long as nobody else really picks up on it. Is there a way to get a casual group more eager to try a bit more roleplaying?

2009-08-25, 01:59 AM
Offer xp rewards for roleplaying!

Also, be more patient you sissy.

2009-08-25, 02:02 AM
Try to keep roleplaying even when no-one responds; I find that often if I persist enough others will start as well. Of course, this is just my experience, and I'm not able to judge the people you play with.

2009-08-25, 02:07 AM
Roleplaying is good. Especially when you as the DM encourage it. In my ongoing IRL game, the first three sessions (eight hours each) where spent roleplaying and bartering. It helps to make it seem fun.

As for speeding up combat, that takes synergy. A fighter shouldn't be taking ten minutes for their turn. Ever. Not even in 4e when you have several ways to lay down the pain.
If it's a problem, at the start of each combat, set a goal, and then set a tactic. This makes for less guess work and "Uh, what should I do?" moments. Then, have people plan out their turn during other people's turns, that way they can just go at it when it is their turn. This has helped my group a great deal, but combat will always take too long. When it doesn't, it's because nobody missed. The best you can do, is make it fast, and above all, fun.

The difference between the game I'm in, and the game I run: The game I'm in gets stale in dungeons because the combat is simply tedious.
In the game I run, each combat is often times a puzzle as well. And it does kind of help as a DM to play in a way the characters are familiar.
Two of my players play WoW, so they tend to think in that way. One just likes to roll dice, and the other just likes being powerful and taunting the monsters.
So, I make my games run like an RP video game. I use aggro, intelligent monsters with tactics, special homebrew abilities, set up ways for my friend to make the monster feel inadequate (IE: whooping me and beating DCs), and of course, throw a little guess work and puzzling into the works.

2009-08-25, 02:14 AM
Well, I have 2 suggestions for you:

1) Find your own fun. Make a badass character. For me, its Czilla all the way, but if wizards are your thing all the power to ya. Optimize, and then lead the way.

You don't have to wait for their actions as much if you win the fights in 1-3 rounds yourself.

Act solo. If they are ******* around with OOC stuff or IC jollygaggling, then just say "whatever I go in". If you do it right, you should be powerful enough that you are 80% of your party's ability, so you should be able to solo most encounters.

2) Take leadership and grab a cohort, or alternately take improved familiar and greatly encourage your DM (between sessions) to RP it. Hopefully they will take a hint, but if not you can RP as they are busy talking about the events at the beer gardens last night. Sit next to the DM, so you can interact without the hubbub. Don't ask the DM for any special favors aside from doing his job (RPing NPCs in the game), and just put more effort into the game and reap the rewards.

2009-08-25, 02:16 AM
Tim: I may be impatient, but even you have to admit that we take too long. For nearly everything. Us taking a long time + me being naturally impatient is not a good combination.

Elven: One of my friends might be annoyed enough to smack me upside the head if I keep that up, but I'll give that a shot anyway, see if it works.

Fiendish_Dire_Moose: I may have been exaggerating a little bit, but yeah one of the fighters still takes an absurdly long time to do anything. It's not always because he doesn't know what to do though, but because he rolls a lot of dice and takes a while for him to add up the numbers. Once its all added up, sure, he can be effective. But sometimes I just want to give him a greatclub so that he'll take his turn faster. ;P

I've always planned my turn during other people's turn. Just made sense to me, but i'll try to remind the others to do that as well.

2009-08-25, 02:20 AM
Kizara: Unfortunately I'm currently playing a diviner wizard - It was strongly hinted that I should play a wizard since nobody else seemed to want to. And I don't optimize well so I made him a blaster. While saying "whatever I go in" is something I have done many times, and I love doing, it can get me killed right now. Hell I basically have done it, and barely lived to tell the tale. ((THERE WAS LOOT TO GRAB. SO MUCH LOOT AROUND THAT STUPID LAKE AND NOBODY ELSE WANTED TO GO GET IT. AAAAHHHH.))

I'll give suggestion number 2 a try though.

2009-08-25, 02:21 AM
Well, I had some of the same problems in the group I'm DMing, here some tips.

- give everyone exactly 10s time after you say "it's your turn" to tell you what to do, otherwhise their turn is over (this encourages people to plan what they want to do, when its not their turn). Of course, if the player starts asking you questions about something, the 10s obviously do not count. But as a fighter, standing in front of a bad guy, options are fairly limited.

- make combat more challenging. My players loved fighting at different fronts, with some connection to one another.
Example: They had to take over a castle and some where fighting at the gate, some on the walls, others inside the towers. They really loved it, because everyone was actually doing something. The fighters didn't have to beat up the same guys as the wizard and so forth.

- don't always roll combat!!! Roleplay it! Let your players describe what they do in combat, then counter with words. Obviously this leaves the whole outcome to the DM, but this is always a good option on fights, where the PCs are heavly favoured to win.

- have your NPCs communicate during battle. Let them scream insults at your players, talk to themselves, maybe even allow conversation during combat. I once had en epic encounter, where the PCs didn't know who they were up against. So they started talking to the BBEG. It really gave alot to the fight!


- Give every character his own screentime. Focus on one player, tell the others not to intervene and tell him how to act. Challenge the players to roleplay, find out how they like to play their character and lure them out. If one of the characters wants to play a loner, let him, don't force him to socialize. The sterotype druid/ranger who lived in the woods, might not want to roleplay in public. Bring him animals! He can also roleplay with those, even though they won't answer in speech (well, who knows ^^).

- talk to the dominant people in the campaign to lay low and give the others a chance.

Ok, thats about it. One more advice:

Everyone should have at least read the PHB from front to back. If some of the players haven't done so, give them a copy. It's an easy read before going to bed, or during comercials. But it's a must have!


2009-08-25, 02:26 AM
a 30 second egg timer is invaluable at times like this

2009-08-25, 02:27 AM
Fiendish_Dire_Moose: I may have been exaggerating a little bit, but yeah one of the fighters still takes an absurdly long time to do anything. It's not always because he doesn't know what to do though, but because he rolls a lot of dice and takes a while for him to add up the numbers. Once its all added up, sure, he can be effective. But sometimes I just want to give him a greatclub so that he'll take his turn faster. ;P

Actually it was a statement, not a conjecture of hyperbole. At the early days of our DM switching us to 4e we had to boot a guy whom had asked to join the game.
For some reason, no matter how hard we tried, our combats were lasting an hour+. So, we start synergizing, thinking up all sorts of plans, but we're still having obscenely long combats. So, one day, our DM brings a stop watch and starts recording the times it takes for each persons turn. It's not that hard, it takes three seconds to stop the watch and jot the numbers next to the name.
Turns out, that out of the hour and thirty-five minutes it took for a single encounter, this guy was contributing 45 minutes per encounter. Which was more than double what everyone else was generating. The DM was still generating the most time, but it was spread across SEVERAL enemies. (Seriously, one combat in a module called for 48 minions.)
So, we started watching what he does, and it mostly came from him reading on his turn. We gave him quick sheets, helped him to figure out what does what, and he was still taking forever.
Finally we got to the point where we had to ask him to speed up or leave. It wasn't easy, and yes it was a bit dickish, but our DM usually runs four hour games (games that if everyone stays in character and takes no breaks can be accomplished in four hours or so), and they were taking 9, often times it requiring multiple sessions to complete 6 combats, two skill challenges, and one role playing session.

Worst part, he was a fighter.

2009-08-25, 02:45 AM
Fiendish, I have to say that's just absurd. And I thought that our group's critical hit dual-wielding kukri fighter took way too long.

Anywho, thanks for the advice, but I'm going to bed now. If you've got any more ideas feel free to post them and I'll check the thread in the morning.

2009-08-25, 02:49 AM
A - First and foremost, are they having fun? They might enjoy it more the way they're playing... Or they might be distracted because they're bored.

B - Secondly, do they know you want them to take less time and RP their characters more? If they don't know, they're obviously not going to. You have to let them know.

In my case, the games I play in are ok, but would be better if the party didn't rush me. I have no way of knowing what the other players are going to do, so if I try to plan ahead, usually what I planned becomes impossible by the time my turn comes. D&D 4th ed strategy is very reliant on where everyone is and what their statuses are.

Also I wish I got more chances to RP. Part of this is that half the people I play with are deafeningly loud and my voice is just quieter than average (and yelling takes FAR too much outta me...) My voice sounds just as loud to me as everyone else's voice usually sounds to me, but others tell me I sound too quiet so I assume this is the case.

My point is simply that you need to make sure the most people are having the most fun. If you're the only one not enjoying yourself, it might be better to find a group that plays the same way as you.

2009-08-25, 03:48 AM
I find this rather hard to believe, as in 4Ed your favourite attacks are precalculated. Us in Star Wars usually have to manually add ours up, and it's the same system!

The pace of the game is usually a DM thing to work out, maybe bring it up at the end of the session or privately with the DM.

2009-08-25, 04:49 AM
Is it that they don't know what they want to/can do, that they're overly cautious, or that they just aren't paying attention to what others are doing that they realize it's their turn. We normally have a dry erase board with everyone's name written including enemies as to who goes when. It seems to help a little.
Every game I play or run in we use character flaws, someone gets Character Flaw: Party Leader, they get a bonus feat as long as they don't start going off topic and try to help who ever is running keep everyone else on topic.

2009-08-25, 03:07 PM
Oh, forgot to mention... Everyone in my group has cards with everything we need on them. For example, a card for Magic Missile, for a level 1 player with 20 Int and no magic implement would have on it: atk +5 vs Ref, dam: 2d4+5 force, crit: 13, that way only what's rolled needs to be added up.

Then, if there are conditional bonuses those all appear on a separate card. A tiefling star pact warlock's side card would have: +1 if they're bloodied, +1 if you're the closest to them, +1 per curse token from last turn (When a cursed enemy falls and they get a token to remember that it happened.)

We also put magnets under the minis with color coded tokens to denote effects on them. Red for bloodied, black for prone, gold for dazed, ect... All cards and stuff need to be redone each level, but it speeds up our battles to about 3 hours each.

They run long because... Well, example: We have to cross a LONG room that is slowly filling with lava behind us. There are turrets, rock creatures, snipers, and valuable gold statues throughout the place as well as lots of minions. It's also got blocks of higher ground we can stand on and jump from one to the next as well as fences and stuff. AND we need to all step out of the room simultaneously or our allies would be trapped inside.

Or, another example, We're on top of a mountain (with cliffs on either side) and a Medusa (elite) riding a Blue Dragon (solo) attacks us. We ended that battle with 3 people turned to stone and having to call for help. (He really should've used the whistle to call for help in round 1, but whatever...) The whistle summoned 2 large flying beasts to aid us. The medusa was dead at that point, but the dragon wasn't bloodied and all we had left was a bloodied paladin and a tapped out artificer (me).

So the fights have a LOT of rounds. 15+ at least.

I know 3.5 is different, but a similar tactic can be employed. Each spell on a separate card, flipped over as it's used... Attack, full attack, spring attack, dodge, rage, sneak attack, whirlwind attack, withdraw, ect... On cards... Or even just on a list... This way you can visibly see in front of you what your choices are and choose from them.

Mando Knight
2009-08-25, 03:47 PM
I mean, I'm a wizard, yet the fighters are taking anywhere between two to ten times as long as me for their turns.

If it's 3.5, they really shouldn't. They just charge or full attack.

2009-08-25, 04:04 PM
Why was that guy taking so long, Fiendish Dire Moose?

Player 1: OK, Bob, it's your turn. Just declare a Reaping Strike like we told you.
Player 2: I ... think ... I will ... make ...
Player 1: Oh gods, hurry up, just say a Reaping Strike.
Player 2: ... a ... Rea ... Rea ...
Player 1: ... read of .. the Play .. erz ... Hand ...booooooook ...
Player 2: I will kill you. I will kill you.