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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    Chimera

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    Default Looooong encounters

    I play in a D&D group with 5 other player + DM. My problem is basically that one encounter takes up nearly three quarters of our session, which are typically five to six hours long.
    We had this with 3.5 as well, but 4th edition was supposed to have faster combat. Not so.

    What can we do to speed up combat to a reasonable tempo?

    thanks in advance!

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    Orc in the Playground
     
    Tadanori Oyama's Avatar

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    Default Re: Looooong encounters

    The same things you did in 3.5.

    Roll attack and damage together, have people do their math ahead of time, and don't let tangents take up time during combat rounds.

    Having people do their attack/damage math ahead of time is a major rule in my groups. If your adding your modifiers everytime you roll than your eating up time.
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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Looooong encounters

    Quote Originally Posted by maurmink View Post
    What can we do to speed up combat to a reasonable tempo?
    That depends on what it is that takes up so much time. Rolling dice? Addition? Looking things up? Arguing? Chatting? Planning? Hemming and hawwing?

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Looooong encounters

    Quote Originally Posted by maurmink View Post
    I play in a D&D group with 5 other player + DM. My problem is basically that one encounter takes up nearly three quarters of our session, which are typically five to six hours long.
    We had this with 3.5 as well, but 4th edition was supposed to have faster combat. Not so.
    From what I understand, 4e shortened individual combat rounds but increased hit points across the board to increase the number of rounds in a combat. A net wash for time spent.

    What can we do to speed up combat to a reasonable tempo?
    How dedicated to D&D are you? D&D is never really going to have fast combat. If that's a major desire of yours I recommend looking at some lighter systems.
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  5. - Top - End - #5
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Looooong encounters

    I dunno, the only slow part in my combat is that my noobier players spend too long studying their powers and trying to decide which ones to use. As they get the hang of it, combat bangs by very quickly.

    make sure everyone knows their attack and damage bonuses and keep track of them yourselves (I have a cheat-sheet in front of me at all times and am very good at arithmetic in my head, so I just keep track for my players most of the time).

    Also, use lots of minions effectively. They add challenge but die fast to keep the fight going. Don't make your fights entirely out of full monsters, especially not the high-HP brutes and soldiers. Adding minions that intersperse themselves to prevent aoe wipeouts can really make a fight tough... and fun as the players konk them out quickly
    Last edited by Erk; 2008-10-23 at 05:19 PM.
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    Titan in the Playground
     
    MindFlayer

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    Default Re: Looooong encounters

    Hm. Lemme throw a few ideas out there...

    -Pre-rolling: Pre-roll Initiative for monsters, and go ahead and make a list of attack rolls for each monster. Once the monster in question enters combat, you can just work your way down the list, only having to make damage rolls when necissary. The PCs can do the same - pre-roll initiative, and possible attack rolls before the session/before an encounter/before their turn.

    -Skip the rolls and kill the mooks: In the cases of minions, don't even bother. If there are a bunch of them, let a few just die without rolling. But if there are just one or two left after dropping their comrades in this manner, go ahead and start using attack rolls.

    -Put less stuff in the encounter: I thought 6 kobold minions, 4 skirmishers, and 2 slingers would be an easy encounter for 3 PCs. It took us almost three hours... and the PCs almost lost, so I allowed them to drop kick a few of the survivors into a deep hole in the center of the room, a la Pit of Doom in 300. >.<
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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Person_Man's Avatar

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    Default Re: Looooong encounters

    D&D combat is usually long for one of three reasons:

    1) Players make jokes, tell stories, or are otherwise not playing the game. This is usually a very good thing, since I enjoy spending time with my friends. But when combat is dragging on, I don't need to hear a Monty Python reference for the millionth time.

    2) Players don't understand the rules.

    3) Players haven't decided what to do yet.

    In my opinion, the easiest way to solve this is to buy a chess clock. Give each player two minutes per turn to decide what they want to do, move, roll their dice, and resolve the damage and effect(s). If they're not done resolving the effect before their time is up, nothing happens. Put yourself under the same constraints - two minutes per monster (and make a point of missing a turn once in a while, so that your PCs feel that you're being fair).

    If a player doesn't understand the rules, then give then tell them that they should simply tell you what they want to do, and you'll resolve it. Don't open up books during the game. Just write down the question, make a house rule, and move on. After the game you can look up what you should have done. The point of the game is to have fun, not to play the game perfectly correct.
    Last edited by Person_Man; 2008-10-23 at 05:29 PM.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    PirateGuy

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    Default Re: Looooong encounters

    Limiting decision-making time is both a good way to keep things moving and to add a certain tension to your combats - in the real world, you don't stand around hemming and hawing when you can't decide whether you want to cast fireball or lightning bolt. My rule is that if a player is taking too long ( > 2 minutes or so) I tell them that they'll lose their action due to indecision. (The 2nd Edition PHB actually recommends this.)

    You may also find initiative cards helpful - you can download them off of the Wizards website.

    If it's really a problem, consider smaller combats, fewer combats, or a different system.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    ken-do-nim's Avatar

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    Default Re: Looooong encounters

    Heh, just to put that 2 minute chess clock in perspective, in the last 3.5 game I was in the paladin character had a gold dragon mount, and the DM gave her _15_ minutes per turn to do both of them. And you know what? Sometimes she still ran out of time.
    Last edited by ken-do-nim; 2008-10-23 at 07:51 PM.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    crimson77's Avatar

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    Default Re: Looooong encounters

    Get one of those sand one minute timers. Only let people have one minute to make up their mind of what they will do during the round including rolling the appropriate dice. If they cannot do so within the time limit they loose their turn.

    Note: players will not like this at first. However, after they have lost their turn a few times they will start making decisions faster. People often forget that they can think and get ready for what they want to do before their turn. This includes looking up a spells range, determining how far a monster is from their character, etc.

    After a few weeks of using the minute timer stop using it and things should continue to be quick (and you will not have to be a timelord). If they start slipping back then bring out the timer.
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  11. - Top - End - #11
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Flumph

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    Default Re: Looooong encounters

    If you allow computers or handheld systems at your table, consider using dice rollers instead of actual dice. Theres a great one on d20srd.org. Also, if you have a ds, search for Dice Roller DS and you can find one to put on your R4 card.

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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Looooong encounters

    Quote Originally Posted by Raum View Post
    How dedicated to D&D are you? D&D is never really going to have fast combat. If that's a major desire of yours I recommend looking at some lighter systems.
    This really depends on what you compare it to. D&D is generally in the middle range, with games like RuneQuest. There's games that are much slower, and games that are much faster.

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Looooong encounters

    Quote Originally Posted by ken-do-nim View Post
    Heh, just to put that 2 minute chess clock in perspective, in the last 3.5 game I was in the paladin character had a gold dragon mount, and the DM gave her _15_ minutes per turn to do both of them. And you know what? Sometimes she still ran out of time.
    i give people about 15 seconds for a plan of what they want to do. looking it up spells, effects, and rolling dice after youve said what you want to do doesnt affect your time. its nice if the spells are memorized or you are open to the page, but its not that important.

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Kurald Galain's Avatar

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    Default Re: Looooong encounters

    Quote Originally Posted by maurmink View Post
    We had this with 3.5 as well, but 4th edition was supposed to have faster combat. Not so.
    Obviously that was just marketing hype - don't believe everything you read on teh interwebs.

    What can we do to speed up combat to a reasonable tempo?
    Two things. First, every player must have his power descriptions readily available, either on his char sheet or on those nifty power cards. If you have to look anything up during your turn, you can't use that power.

    Second, make a simple rule that any player who doesn't pick an action within a reasonable time frame, forfeits his action. He's apparently roleplaying an indecisive character, then. The great part about this rule is that you'll (probably) never have to enforce it! Whenever I warn players about this rule (which isn't all that often, really), they simply play a bit faster, so I've never yet have to actually forfeit their turns.
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    Titan in the Playground
     
    Lizardfolk

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    Default Re: Looooong encounters

    My group doesn't actually have the problems of long combat. Generally, each player has a pretty simple goal. Plus, we've been gaming together for a long time, and I'm usually DM, and I'm not nice to people who argue with me, and my players know this, so if I say roll a skill check. They don't whinge and say "It's just rocks, I don't need a balance check...". So that speeds time.

    But I find that often, combat takes ages because the DM isn't prepared for his players. I don't know about anyone else, but my players like to do some pretty wacky stuff (and anything this wacky, they've researched beforehand, so they know the rules behind what they're trying to do), and, as the DM, it's my decision to let them or not, and since I don't know all the rules, I have to look stuff up.

    Other times (not me, however), when I'm playing, the DM doesn't have his encounter prepared, oh sure, he's got "6 goblins, 1 orc, 2 wolves" on his notepad. But, that's not enough for an encounter.

    It's not always the players' fault. Often, yes. Always, no. An indecisive DM will make games four times longer as well.

    Keep in mind that our gaming sessions take a bit longer anyway, since we usually play whilst drinking a few beers (What? People drink at poker nights. Nerds drink at gaming nights). Usually the DM gives a signal when 'mucking around' becomes annoying. People have got plenty of time to chat before/after the game.
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    Orc in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Looooong encounters

    Quote Originally Posted by Person_Man View Post
    If a player doesn't understand the rules, then give then tell them that they should simply tell you what they want to do, and you'll resolve it. Don't open up books during the game. Just write down the question, make a house rule, and move on. After the game you can look up what you should have done. The point of the game is to have fun, not to play the game perfectly correct.
    The player telling you what they want to do and you resolving it is a perfectly correct way to play.
    D&D is a roleplaying game not a tactical wargame.

    Of course you can use the roleplaying as a way to for set up tactical wargames, which is where D&D came from, and the direction 4e seems to be trying to take it, and that isn't wrong if that is what you like.
    Last edited by pjackson; 2008-10-24 at 03:40 AM.

  17. - Top - End - #17
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Looooong encounters

    Quote Originally Posted by Tsotha-lanti View Post
    This really depends on what you compare it to. D&D is generally in the middle range, with games like RuneQuest. There's games that are much slower, and games that are much faster.
    Which is why I recommended looking at 'lighter' systems...
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  18. - Top - End - #18
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Looooong encounters

    I'm with the others on time limits. I find most of what takes a while in combat is people trying to decide what to do. If it's praticularly bad, explain to them that they should start planning things they might do before their turn comes up, and then have the decision ready.

    Obviously, newer players need more leeway - they don't always understand what you can and can't do, and they may need to rethink when they are told that what they had planned simply doesn't work by the rules.

    I think a minute or two is great as an upper limit; for experienced players I'd say under 15 seconds should be allowed to make up their minds as to what they are doing, giving them a minute or two to actually do it. You've got everyone else's turn to think of things to do, and you're simulating a 6 second round.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    ken-do-nim's Avatar

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    Default Re: Looooong encounters

    Quote Originally Posted by Raum View Post
    Which is why I recommended looking at 'lighter' systems...
    I can't resist the urge to pipe in and say that other versions of D&D have much quicker combats. High level 3.5 really bogs down, not just from all the choices and dice rolls but also from the staggering amount of magical buffs you have to account for. I was once playing a favored soul who was buffed up the wazoo, and I had his full-buff bonuses (from righteous might, divine power, divine favor, etc.) all precomputed. So what did the DM send at him? A warrior with a sword that did dispel magic on a hit. Ugh. Each hit, we had to go through the 15-20 buffs I had on and one would eventually get cancelled. So then I had to recompute his bonuses each round, then they would change the next round.

    Suffice it to say, that was the first and last time I played a favored soul.

    Earlier versions of D&D simply don't have as many buffs, so this isn't as big an issue.
    Last edited by ken-do-nim; 2008-10-24 at 06:12 PM.

  20. - Top - End - #20
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Looooong encounters

    It's not just buffs but you're correct, earlier versions of D&D were generally faster than current editions. One of the bigger impacts was simply the lack of a full attack - you typically got one attack roll and that was it. (Haste initiating an exception.) In some ways I miss AD&D. :)

    But there are a variety of different light systems with their own strengths available as well. True20, Unisystem / Cinematic Unisystem, and Savage Worlds to name just a few.
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