Make combat more exciting/engaging for Players/DMs alike

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How can I as a player make combat more engaging, exciting, and interesting for myself and my fellow players?

On the same token, when I DM, how can I do the same as above?

My group and I always have so much fun role-playing in cities, on the field, and in conversation.  We just seem like we're going through the motions when it comes to combat.

Thank you in advance for your replies.
as a player tying in roleplaying into your actions usually helps.  If you're just going:

"I use my at-will"  *roll dice*  "I rolled a 20..."  *roll more dice*

and the DM just responds "monster is dead"

Well that's not very exciting at all is it, I mean I bet people got bored just reading that off the screen !

The trick is adding personality to your actions, actually caring what happens and the DM also weaving into the situations.  For example (anecdotal evidence time !):

Last weekend I was DM'ing a group of adventurers and it was a downtime between events of the storyline.  The barbarian of the group, wanting to prove his worth and get some renown for himself ended up decided he was going to go look for some underground boxing or fighting in the lower tier of the city (this being Sharn from Eberron for anyone curious).  The monk not knowing what to do decided to follow him. 

Skipping ahead some, they found some illegal fighting after reuniting with the ranger who was more than happy to tag along figuring he could gamble some gold on the other PC's winning.  So fighting a betting aside, in one of the fights the barbarian crit a fighter at 4 hit points with enough damage to outright kill the poor bugger.  Seeing death coming in the form of a meaty fist he yelled out "MISSSSHAAAA !!".  The Barbarian in a fit of rage followed up with another blow which snapped the poor mans neck like a twig.  However the young fighter, now dead, had been fighting for money to feed himself and his sister Misha who had been watching his brother fight from the side lines.

Now all of this was invented and roleplayed on the fly.  There was also some follow up with thieves who were stealing from the growing crowd of spectators, and when one died from a charge attack by a two handed maul he flew backwards sending various coinage through the air and landing in a heap of coin and blood on the ground.  His hand releasing the short sword he had just threatened the PC's with.

It's all about story telling and the PC's also roleplaying.  The Barbarian adopted the young girl Misha and is now teaching her the ways of his Orc tribe (the player immediately roleplayed it out and my description of the little girl crying out her dead brothers name even brought another player to tears.)

Liven things up and fun is sure to follow I guess..
"Non nobis Domine Sed nomini tuo da gloriam" "I wish for death not because I want to die, but because I seek the war eternal"


Give them stuff to do other than bash face.  Firepits to kick people into, chandeliers to swing from and drop on people, stairs and bannisters to slide down.  Page 42, let the players know they can improvise things. 

And like Noctaem said, make combat about something more than xp and treasure.  He gave the story some weight that it wouldn't have had otherwise.

Cry Havoc!  And let slip the hogs of war!

Description description description. Describe what you're doing. Describe the monster's reactions. Describe the powers. Make it a story, because that's what D&D is.
I fight for freedom. I fight for justice. I fight for honor. I fight for VENGEANCE.Beware, all you monsters, all you villains, for you have unleashed the wrath of Edward Darkforest. May your god have pity on your soul. Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.

Description description description. Describe what you're doing. Describe the monster's reactions. Describe the powers. Make it a story, because that's what D&D is.

This. If you do it, so will they. I am fortunate that my players already do this, so they actually encourage me to. 8o)

To make combat more engaging you could try using opposed rolls instead of static (some would say "boring") defenses. Simply subtract 10 from each defense add the result to the defending player's d20 roll, ties go to the defender. That forces the players to pay attention even when it's not their turns and thus automatically makes combat more engaging.

You could even take it a step further by adapting HackMaster 5e's Perfect Defense rules: When the defender rolls a nat 20 and has the highest result, he gets to make a free basic attack against the attacker.

We've been playing HM5e for more than a year now, and I can tell you from experience that the opposed rolls, including Perfect and Near-Perfect (head butt, etc. on a nat 19; does very little damage but adds a lot of flavor) Defenses make combat way more engaging. In fact, the opposed rolls, combined with HM5e's real-time combat, are why I sometimes use it instead of GURPS for my fantasy games.

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Description description description. Describe what you're doing. Describe the monster's reactions. Describe the powers. Make it a story, because that's what D&D is.

Show.  Don't tell.
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Go with your strengths.

I'm not great at coming up with exciting, cinematic descriptions (or it's possible that I'm my own worse critic.) But I can keep people entertained with humorous descriptions of what happens. For example, I have a running gag with my main home game where the wizard or monk will make Monster A attack Monster B. Monster A will proceed to yell out "I NEVER LIKED YOU!!!!" as I roll to hit.

Never seems to get old.

Whatever you do, just throw yourself into it and have fun. Fun is contagious.
Another way is to roll the dice and narrate the result (does not go well to describe, roll and miss, usually up until the roll it is epic)


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