Speeding Up Combat (Testing It Out)

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I wanted to speed up combat, so I tried adjusting the monsters by giving them 1/2 HPs and doubling their damage. To me, it seemed the monster damage output was more deadly than I anticipated. Maybe I wasn't doubling the damage correctly.

For example, say a monster hits and does 2d10+4 damage.

What is being doubled?

(2d10 x 2) +4
(2d10+4) x 2

Last night, one creature had a +11 to damage when bloodied... so +22? Yikes.

Then there are creatures that deal extra damage in certain situations, skirmishers come to mind. Should this be doubled?

"If this creature moves at least 4 spaces away from its starting point, it does 1d6 extra damage." (So, deal 2d6 extra damage?)
"One target ally within 5 squares gains a +2 to attack rolls and deals 3 points of extra damage." (6 extra damage?)

I left ongoing damage alone. I figured doubling that would be bad for the players.

All in all, I felt that halving the monster's HPs was a positive change. Usually the players are bogged down in one encounter the entire night. But last night we got in 2 combat encounters and a skill challenge. (And finished 30 minutes earlier than normal. Woo!) But the damage... I had one player dying and another dead with the other 2 live players with beads of sweat within 2 to 3 rounds.

I think the double damage output needs to be adjusted and I'll most likely try damage x 1.5 next session. See how that works out.

Keep in mind that when you double the damage, you are halving the effectiveness of damage resistance and temporary hit points, so classes/builds that rely on those for defense will drop quickly. You may wish to double those, as well.

Also, instead of 2d10 X 2, I'd do 4d10, to prevent the massive damage swings.
You shouldn't mess with the damage and hit points at all, IMHO, unless it's just to bring things in line with the MM3 expressions.  Your combat will be faster, sure, but much swingier and unpredictable, and thus unbalanced.

You should look at your table and determine WHY combat goes slow.  Usually, the numbers isn't it.  It's players not paying attention between turns, not being familiar with their abilities or the rules, or other external distractions, in my experience.

Additionally, if you want to increase the difficulty of an encounter, it's best to use more weaker monsters than fewer stronger monsters.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.

You should look at your table and determine WHY combat goes slow.  Usually, the numbers isn't it.  It's players not paying attention between turns, not being familiar with their abilities or the rules, or other external distractions, in my experience.



Exactly.

Unfortunately, the above problem can not be fixed. Everyone at the table are above the age of 35. I'm not going to turn into a dictator, and I don't want them to feel like they are in school where one peep will get you the yardstick or sent to detention.

I've talked to them, reasoned with them, offered incentives, and shown them examples where if they were paying attention, they would've avoided a lot of damage. But, they're adults and my interest in D&D is greater than theirs.

Which is why I'm testing out new ways to speed up the "numbers" part of the game. Honestly, I don't mind speeding up the encounters even if it's not balanced. I like the monsters dying quicker, just not the players dying too fast because of an imbalance.

Like I said, I think I'll keep the monsters at 1/2 HPs and set damage at 1.5 times normal damage.

Any other helpful hints or experience with this would be appreciated.

 




For example, say a monster hits and does 2d10+4 damage.

What is being doubled?

(2d10 x 2) +4
(2d10+4) x 2




I'm using 4d10 +4
Fights are nasty and fast and the group needs a fast healerInnocent
I got the problem with dr/thp wrong. They are way less than half as effective in this model. Let me give an example:

You have a swarm druid with 16 con, which reduces the damage from melee and ranged attacks by 3. Against a regular level 1 minion that does 4 damage, the swarm druid should only take 1. Against a minion with its damage doubled, it does 5. So, by doubling the damage without altering the damage resistance to compensate, that minion is actually doing 5X as much damage to the swarm druid. If you doubled the damage reduction, it would do 2 damage.

Edit: it also occurs to me that if damage is doubled, healing should be doubled as well, otherwise the action economy of healing is greatly reduced. So, I'd make every action that lets you spend a healing surge to regain hit points allow you to spend two healing surges instead, and double any bonus health.

You should look at your table and determine WHY combat goes slow.  Usually, the numbers isn't it.  It's players not paying attention between turns, not being familiar with their abilities or the rules, or other external distractions, in my experience.



Exactly.

Unfortunately, the above problem can not be fixed. Everyone at the table are above the age of 35. I'm not going to turn into a dictator, and I don't want them to feel like they are in school where one peep will get you the yardstick or sent to detention.

I've talked to them, reasoned with them, offered incentives, and shown them examples where if they were paying attention, they would've avoided a lot of damage. But, they're adults and my interest in D&D is greater than theirs.

Which is why I'm testing out new ways to speed up the "numbers" part of the game. Honestly, I don't mind speeding up the encounters even if it's not balanced. I like the monsters dying quicker, just not the players dying too fast because of an imbalance.

Like I said, I think I'll keep the monsters at 1/2 HPs and set damage at 1.5 times normal damage.

Any other helpful hints or experience with this would be appreciated.

 


If you have a group of players that are all over the age of 35 and do not respond amicably to your attempts to reason with them to improve the gaming experience... stop gaming with them.

Or at the very least, mention that it will be game over if they don't start showing you some respect and paying more attention.

I find it laughable that you say they are all adults so you don't want to be a dictator or make them feel like they are in school... adults don't need either of those things, kids do - Age doesn't make you an adult, attitude does. I probably feel that way because the disrespect shown by a player not paying attention, being asked if they could pay more attention, and then not pyaing more attention is about the number one thing I have ever asked a player to leave my table over.

And yes, before you even try to correct me, what you have described is, in fact, disrepectful behavior from your players.

ATTENTION:  If while reading my post you find yourself thinking "Either this guy is being sarcastic, or he is an idiot," do please assume that I am an idiot. It makes reading your replies more entertaining. If, however, you find yourself hoping that I am not being even remotely serious then you are very likely correct as I find irreverence and being ridiculous to be relaxing.

I hate to say it but if you've talked to them and communicated how you feel, reasoned with them about the situation, offered incentives, and even shown them examples... you may need to find a new group. They honestly sound like they have zero interest in playing D&D. That sounds like the real problem.

Now if this simply isn't true and they actually want to play but the main issues involve lots of small talk at the table and other distractions then I would recommend looking at this thread that's going on right now:
community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...

It's about unfocused groups and how to deal with them.

I hope that helps.
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Yeah, sounds to me like they have some interest in playing D&D (after all, they're there with you), but not enough commitment, or theyre mostly there for the social aspect.

I feel your pain, my group gets like this too sometimes. Honestly, as long as they are having fun, it doesn't really matter to them - I know my friends really just like getting together and having fun with good food and good company. We may be a little annoyed that we dont progress very fast because of all the distractions, but we enjoy ourselves and just keep doing things our own way.

If it really bothers you (and I'll admit, I'm partially in this boat with my group) that you dont get much done each session, try one of a few things.

1. Cut way down on the amount of combat in general. Try and do a lot more out-of-combat skill challenges and NPC interaction. Youd be surprised how much fun you can have exploring an abandoned ruin thats NOT filled with monsters, but filled with random hazards instead. Let your players think up ingenious ways to work around them rather than making them take a round-by-round action with lots of math.

2. Skip people who aren't paying attention. Seriously. If thier turn comes around, pass them if they arent already actively deciding what they want to do. Its a bit of a jerk thing to do, admittedly, but if they claim they want to play, and they arent, then you might need to.

3. Just start up a new group. Or start playing Encounters at a local FLGS to get your D&D fix. A drastic solution, but sometimes the best one. I had to do this myself not too long ago for much the same reasons (in that case, I left a group because they were way TOO distracted, and nobody wanted to stick to what they said they would do to maintain focus).
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