Combat taking to long, need numbers to shorten it.

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Hello DMs

Lately I've noticed how combat is taking too much time from our sessions, leaving less time for build-up, roleplay and the aftermath of encounters. I was wondering if we could make some forum-official modifiers to monster health and damage to make combat more dramatic without actually letting the players realize the rules are being modified.

I actually never noticed that combat is taking to long. It never gets dull and everybody has a good tiem, but when I look at the clock at the end of encounter I realize we are running out of time. It's not that combat is boring, it's just time-consuming, and I want to use our time not only for combat.

I was thinkin something like "Muliply the monster damage by 1.5 and the monster's health by 0.6". This way the monsters still take their toll on the heroes' healing surges and seem scary, but take less time to kill, meaning combat will take less time. Can somone try this on various monsters and see how it goes? 

I used to calculate every single stat for my monsters by hand (and later in a home-made excel file). I have a huge file on my computer with every single monster-making rule approved by wizards, and some unapproved ones too. But now since we have a monster leveling/de-leveling tool online that won't be necessary anymore. Usually I would just change some numbers in the formula, but now I want post-formula modifiers. how does 1.5 and 0.6 sound?

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/20.jpg)

Look at my Playable Illithid, my Monster Generating excel file , my Lifestealer in progresss (Heroic tier almost complete!) , our Improved Orc, our Improving Kenku and our Improving Duergar
Also, take a look at my friend's Improved Minotaur, Gadren's amazing Arcane Archer and of course the Avatar Project
More links! Qube's Block Builder, Classless D&D and the characters I've created using the classless system.
Would this be before or after "add 1/2-level to monster damage, reduce monster HP by 20%"? Embarassed
Honestly, my belief is to look at everything else before trying to make houserules especially when it comes to messing with the math.

I'm curious if you've already done this or not.  Because a good suggestion is to look at the players, and yourself.  Is everyone taking too bloody long with their turns?  And I don't mean if they use all their actions, use and action point, yada yada.  I mean are people waiting till it's their turn before coming up with a strategy?  Because that will drag combats all the time.  Even the DM can be at fault for this, trust me happens to me sometimes.  Which is why if I don't have a strategy by the time a monster's turn comes around I'll just use their basic attack, simple and quick enough.

Not trying to be rude or accuse you of anything though, just offering suggestions.  Because honestly while sometimes combats can take awhile, our group doesn't mind much unless it drags because of outside things, outside of the mechanics/math of the game.  But yeah, people taking too long on their turns is the biggest time consumer of combat around the board.

Otherwise, you may want to look at the monsters you're using.  They may have too much HP, or maybe should say too high a level.  Or too many enemies at once drags combat sometimes.  Depends on how you play.  For awhile because of where our old game was we basically only had one big battle a game for the most part, so we expected a kinda long combat.  But otherwise, combats shouldn't all be long; there should be quick, shorter battles leading up to the boss fight and all.  But that depends on your playing style.     
My personal favourite method of dealing with combat length, is I keep a print out of d20 rolls for my use as a DM handy at all times..  Since, on average I have 4x as many rolls to make in combat as my players. So that 300 pre-done rolls saves a lot of time just on my part. I just scratch them off as I use them, and when I use up the sheet, restart the same sheet. There's 300 rolls. Who'se going to now the difference if I repeat? :P

Aside from that one of the best time savers is just.. Good notes. I make sure I don't have to open a book. And I make sure my players don't have to open a book. Rules lawyering aside, at least.

Aside from that.. Just.. getting people to buckle down and deal with the combat is your best bet. "Look guys. I've got kind of a hefty battle for you today, I know half the point of D&D is drinking, throwing cheetohs at will, and eating pizza.. But if we can just chug through this one I'd appreciate it. It does have a purpose in the plot."
Thanks for all your advice.

During our next session I will make it my goal to polish our gameplay, then I'll see if the problem still remains. If so I will look at my monster's level and after that I'll go modifying defenses, HP and Damage output.

I was wondering, what makes a monster appear as a "BBEG" during combat?

Defense: HP or high defenses
Offense: Burst damage or that he gets many chances to act? Is it that he takes control away from you and you'll have to do everything in your power to stop him from doing something horrible (for example: Red dragon to fly with your tank and drop him from great heights).

I'm mostly wondering about the HP/high defenses thing. To make an easy foe, do I reduce his hit points or defenses? With a tough foe, do I increase his HP or defenses?

Thanks for all your advice! 

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/20.jpg)

Look at my Playable Illithid, my Monster Generating excel file , my Lifestealer in progresss (Heroic tier almost complete!) , our Improved Orc, our Improving Kenku and our Improving Duergar
Also, take a look at my friend's Improved Minotaur, Gadren's amazing Arcane Archer and of course the Avatar Project
More links! Qube's Block Builder, Classless D&D and the characters I've created using the classless system.
Hi! 

I had the same problem...It's still there sometimes, but I solved a bif part of it.
Here are the steps I found pretty useful (nothing so different from what everyone suggested):

1- Speed up choices. Players are the FIRST enemy of combat flow.  
2- HP reduction: I started cuttin' off 10/15% of hp. If you do this, you have to update the "average" damage with the new damage table. You have to: if you don't do it, you'll discover that combats will be too simple. 
Actually, I don't cut the same amount of HP everytime: there are combats in which a 10% is enough (rounded down), sometimes not. When you prepare a combat encounter, figure out all the variables and make your evaluation.
3- Use pre-rolled initiative checks. I roll a single d20 when I'm home (or at the beginning of the session): in this way, you speed things up at the start of the first turn of combat. I like rollin' dies in front of my players, from time to time, so I'm not a big fan of pre-generated rolls...But that's another tricik, in case of need. 

The paradox is that, even if we control lots of monsters, we're not the cause of this problem: players are. I understand that choices are difficult in combat and that they enjoy planning every single move...And they've the right to do so...But they shoudl optimize "downtime". 

Let us know how it goes. ;)

Bye!
KK


Thanks for all your advice.

During our next session I will make it my goal to polish our gameplay, then I'll see if the problem still remains. If so I will look at my monster's level and after that I'll go modifying defenses, HP and Damage output.

I was wondering, what makes a monster appear as a "BBEG" during combat?

Defense: HP or high defenses
Offense: Burst damage or that he gets many chances to act? Is it that he takes control away from you and you'll have to do everything in your power to stop him from doing something horrible (for example: Red dragon to fly with your tank and drop him from great heights).

I'm mostly wondering about the HP/high defenses thing. To make an easy foe, do I reduce his hit points or defenses? With a tough foe, do I increase his HP or defenses?

Thanks for all your advice!