Doubling Damage to speed combat

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I'm going to give my first shot at trying to have a short, brutal combat.  I wanted to put the tips that others have posted about using artilery and also halfing hit points but doubling damage.

When you double damage, what about static amounts?  Are those doubled as well? 
When you double damage, what about static amounts?  Are those doubled as well? 

Calculate the total damage. Then multiply by two.

A danger in this is the brutality can quickly climb for those that do lots of damage (on both sides of the screen), and can seem to diminish the impact that non-damage-dealers have in the encounter.
Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.
A slightly less punishing alternative - and one that works better when the listed damage expressions have been altered by various factors (brute/limited bonus, ongoing/status deduction, etc) is to add the creature's level to all direct damage and +5 to all ongoing values.

This will usually result in damage output only being slightly higher at low level and still not quite reaching double by level 30.

Minions only get a level/4 increase individually, but since there are four of them it adds up similarly.

Creature HPs are halved, as per the usual suggestion.

--

Somewhat less brutal still is to increase the damage by half that (+level/2 for normal creatures, etc) and reduce HPs to 75% of normal.

This is probably a good compromise in that it does increase the speed at which things go down but doesn't make combat nearly as swingy.
If your party gets bored with combat that much that you must speed it up you can always do what I do, for lesser fights like when they are heading to a cave/castle/town/etc and they encounter some goblin bandits that the PCs will beat with little effort you can skip the rolls and say how they easily destroyed the bandits. Will give them the ego boost and make them feel all tough and bad ass and the combat go so fast it didnt even happen ^^

If they still wish to roll dice that much even in small fights can always reduce everything they encounter to having 1hp per hd or some such cant be any easier then PC: "I hit for ......"  DM: "Its dead ok next round."
Here is where I insert my standard caveat: Doubling damage/halving HP significantly worsens the action economy of doing anything besides attacking. If you do both, then healing is only a quarter as effective as previously in comparison to making an attack. If all that you have are damage dealers, it might not be a problem, but if you have players that like to do other things during combat, you are going to have a very negative impact on their characters' performance.
I've been giving monsters double damage with 1/2 hit points in my 4e campaign for at least a year now and haven't had any problems or complaints from the players.  I have done it pretty consistently with my non-maximized players and in another campaign my DM has done it sporadically with our more maximized group.The bottom line for me is that we have the same amount of damage with combats taking half the time and feeling more suspenseful.  Combats are still not short by any means; its not the equivalent of a hand waved combat.

Things can go bad quickly, but it is SO hard to die in 4e, I haven't had a problem occur.  Since healing is a minor action, it doesn't matter that it is not as effective in comparison to the effectiveness of making an attack.  Healing is needed sooner, but it is still needed and the total damage the PCs need to have healed is the same.  It does mess with the value of Temp HP, so I would likely double renewable temp HP if we had a player who used it a lot. 

Crowscape, I'm trying to figure out what other things players do that you are concerned about? Maybe combat skill challenges, but they can be made to still matter if you have them involve something critical enough. What other things to your players do that would be sidelined?

Aethreval,  I usually double the static amounts also.  When not using Masterplan to run my combats, I often convert some of the double diced to average amounts and add it to the static amount so I can save time on adding up all the dice. 
I find it more satisfying to create combat "outs" that reflect the story. Not everything has to be a fight to the death. Creatures can flee, surrender, parlay, a skill challenge might destroy the wraiths that spawn from the funereal urns full-stop, etc. A beast in the wild will tend to fight to bloodied and leave to find other, easy prey.

The benefit of this is that combats will tend to be shorter provided the PCs don't insist upon grinding things into a fine paste and leaves open the possibility of recurring villains and interesting interaction scenes that might not have otherwise occurred (which can lead to unexpected story outcomes or character development). As well, everyone has an equal chance to shine. Reducing hit points or increasing damage does have an impact on the non-damage dealing PCs. It might not be readily apparent in your game, but it's there.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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I like combat "outs" (when players will take them) when they work for the combat.  They are a good way to encourage quicker combats and roleplaying, but I haven't found that using one precludes the other.

I assume by non-damage dealing PCs, you mean non-strikers?  How are any of the other roles reduced in impact?  Opponents may fall more quickly, but odds are they have done the same amount of damage as they would have?  I have a controller who isn't happy, but he's playing a Seeker and our current thinking is that it is more a problem with the class.

I really would like help understanding this. If I'm having a negative impact with the changes on my players (rather or not they see it), I'd like to be able to take it into account.  Even if my group is a rarity, I'd be curious to better understand the drawbacks of the .5x2 approach.



I really would like help understanding this. If I'm having a negative impact with the changes on my players (rather or not they see it), I'd like to be able to take it into account.  Even if my group is a rarity, I'd be curious to better understand the drawbacks of the .5x2 approach.



CrowScape summed it up above better than I could (and more succinctly).

In general, any kind of tinkering with the rules as written tends to favor certain classes (or powers or strategies or races or...) and not others, to varying degrees depending on the nature of the change. This is why I tend to only implement house rules if it is a matter of trying to evoke a specific theme or feel for the game rather than dealing with what I perceive as a problem with the mechanics or pacing. It's not an absolute because your game's realities may discount this effect in practice. If what you're doing works for your campaign, then keep on keeping on.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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First, is anyone complaining about the length of combat? Make sure it's an actual problem before trying to fix it.

Second, in my experience, the best way I've found to speed up combat is to speed up combat. No change in mechanics, no real tricks, but create a sense of urgency with your dm style during combat.  As long as the next player is ready, things can move along at a good pace. I literally just encourage players to play faster and it seems to work. When it's the DM turn, I try not to overthink things and just have the monsters act in a way that is both interesting and makes sense. Occasionally my 6 PC group will have combats around 1.5hrs, but that's usually the L+3 type encounters. For on level stuff we are typically well under 1hr.
First, is anyone complaining about the length of combat? Make sure it's an actual problem before trying to fix it.

Second, in my experience, the best way I've found to speed up combat is to speed up combat. No change in mechanics, no real tricks, but create a sense of urgency with your dm style during combat.  As long as the next player is ready, things can move along at a good pace. I literally just encourage players to play faster and it seems to work. When it's the DM turn, I try not to overthink things and just have the monsters act in a way that is both interesting and makes sense. Occasionally my 6 PC group will have combats around 1.5hrs, but that's usually the L+3 type encounters. For on level stuff we are typically well under 1hr.



Good point. I think the ones I ran last week were level + 3 (20th-level encounters) and both were about an hour for 3 PCs and two companion characters. I really can't complain about that. Both had combat outs of which the PCs took advantage.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Find Your GM Style  |  Structure First, Story Last  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
Players: Players 101  |  11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer  |  You Are Not Your Character  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs

Content I Created: Adventure Scenarios  |  Actual Play Reports  |  Tools

I'm Recruiting Players for a D&D 5e Game: Interested?  |  Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

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