Is combat too fast?

Basically, am I the only person who thinks D&DN combat is over too quickly? Combat in RPGs is important to me, possibly the most important part and when I'm bored by every combat...
Based on my experience - Too fast, No. Too short, Yes. The problem isn't the speed of the rounds, it is that the monsters lack both the hit points and the attack bonus to present even a mnor threat to the players.

If the monsters had three times the hit points (or the players attack bonuses and damage were reduced some and the monsters had double the hit points) the fights would last long enough to be worthwhile.

Carl
I agree with Carl - I probably would come down on boosting the attack rather then the hp though.

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Too short is probably a more accurate term. Thank you Carl.
In a movie, you would never accept a fight that later more than, say, five to ten minutes. Why in the world would you expect that players of a game would want it to drag out longer than that, without even the eye-candy of cinematography?

Any combat that lasts over fifteen minutes is a design failure.
I'd also say that combat de-escalates in intensity way too fast. That's something that's true basically across all tabletop RPGs - as enemies die, combat gets less dangerous, and while that's balanced out somewhat by the fact that PC resources are diminishing over the course of the fight, generally things are most intense at the outset. Next's extreme tissue-paper-monster design does exacerbate this slightly, since the threat is basically gone so quickly.
Dwarves invented beer so they could toast to their axes. Dwarves invented axes to kill people and take their beer. Swanmay Syndrome: Despite the percentages given in the Monster Manual, in reality 100% of groups of swans contain a Swanmay, because otherwise the DM would not have put any swans in the game.
In a movie, you would never accept a fight that later more than, say, five to ten minutes. Why in the world would you expect that players of a game would want it to drag out longer than that, without even the eye-candy of cinematography? Any combat that lasts over fifteen minutes is a design failure.


5 rounds of fight 30 seconds of game world time faster... if your fights were that fast in live action context they would might be anti climactic.

Though for me its because the number of decision points suck.
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

The monsters are pretty boring, and fragile.

Maybe a few of them should freak out when bloodied and make the end games of the fight more interesting. 
yeah I think the combat is just fine but the mobs are pretty crap. We need some beefier mobs with nasty big sharp pointy teeth.
I think this is probably the only thing about Next that we agree on.


Though I think the real problem is that it's too easy.  Monsters just don't represent a threat to PCs.  Attrition is great, I love attrition, and shaving down the party's HP is a real thing that works to weaken the party.  But as it is now, the monsters are pretty unlikely to even manage to shave a significant number of HPs before they get decapitatexploded.  (That's a word now.  I have decreed it.)
The difference between madness and genius is determined only by degrees of success.
Part of that is the swingyness that I despise. The monsters are no threat until they hit, then their lethal. In my home game last night I ran one fight, two human beserkers and 4 kobolds (representing some freelance enforcers and halfling street gang muscle) against my party of a Human Warlock, Human Fighter, Elf Rogue, Dwarf Cleric and a Halfling Fighter.

The party made the following attacks:

Bob (Human Warlock)    two Eldritch Bolts at Kobolds 1 hit, 1 miss (50%)
Vespa (Human Fighter) Two Dual Wield attacks using a Whip and Short sword 4 hits (100%)
Rom (Dwarf Cleric) One Mace hit and Divine Channeling 1 hit and 1 cure (100%)
Lance (Halfling Fighter) 2 short sword attacks 1 hit, 1 miss (50%)
Demak (Elf Rogue) 1 Short Bow attack Miss (0%)

The antagonists made the following attacks:
Hans 1 Greatsword attack, he'd already been hit so I had him raging, 1 miss (0%)
Frans NA taken out before he could attack.
aggregate Kobolds 4 attacks, 1 critical, 1 hit with max damage, 2 misses (50%) 

If I had focus fired as I normally due, either the Warlock or the Thief would have been knocked into the negatives. The players enjoyed it but I was bored to tears (this was a combination of two encounters I had made for my original 3 players combined together for 5 and still technically an easy encounter). While the fight was fast (over in like five minutes) I was bored and I really dislike that luck plays such a big role in the threat level of monsters.

(We disagree a lot anki? or is it that I normally don't say anything when we agree because you usually say it better?)
              
I would agree with the combats being short and the monsters being barely a threat. This is in need of tweaking.
Though, I am very happy with the speed of the combat round, so far. I still need to test some more with the players that tend to be pretty slow in combat. We will see if the speed of the rounds persist at higher levels. 
As far as luck being a big factor in combat, all I can say is that this is a dice game, luck always has a big roll (hehe pun). 
There are two problems, one is that monsters does not pose a serious treath/cost enough resources to destroy, the second is that singular powerful enemies die too fast.

I don't know how they have been thinking with this monster design...
Why does a Drow warrior elite have a worse weapon attack bonus than a PC wizard? That drow should have a +3 weapon attack bonus on top of the +2 finesse attack for DEX (and should have a higher DEX).

Currently said drow will take that drow five hits to kill the premade dwarf fighter at lvl 3 (same lvl as the drow). If it actually have to hit that player with attack rolls that will require by average 16-17 attacks. It can make two per round..  so it takes that drow 8-9 rounds to kill the dwarf if it just bashes him and he does nothing... 

In comparison the dwarf will kill said drow elite in 2-3 hits, that's on average 4 rounds factoring in the hit chance.

--

In my opinion the solution is:

Base monster math on player math. A drow Elite should BE an Elf Fighter of that level. With same to hit, CS and everything. A normal monster may perhaps not have full class features, but it should have enough hit and damage to make it dangerous.

When it comes to singular powerful monsters (Elite and Solo) they need abilities that allow them to stay alive. One way is to give them player classes or equivalent variants (allowing them to Parry for instance). Another way is to give them various defensive abilities that forces the PCs to give them special attention and not just destroy them offhandedly.

An an example, give a heavily armored monster the ability to only be hurt reliably if it is hit with advantage (Damage reduction 10 vs non advantage attacks). That kind of things.
I'm definitely in agreement.  The actual speed of play is fine (I.e. how quickly the turn progression goes), which can be becaue we no longer have to break out the tiles, the minis and spend 2-3 minutes analyzing the best tactical options.  The issue of short combats though isn't as bad as longer ones that lack any tension because the monsters can't do anything unless they roll a critical. 
I think this is probably the only thing about Next that we agree on.


Though I think the real problem is that it's too easy.  Monsters just don't represent a threat to PCs.  Attrition is great, I love attrition, and shaving down the party's HP is a real thing that works to weaken the party.  But as it is now, the monsters are pretty unlikely to even manage to shave a significant number of HPs before they get decapitatexploded.  (That's a word now.  I have decreed it.)



Well I just added it to my personal lexicon .... but then again Doctor Seuss is one of my heros
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 


(We disagree a lot anki? or is it that I normally don't say anything when we agree because you usually say it better?)
              



We disagree a lot.  My opinion is basically always one of three things.

1; Whatever Mand said.
2; It needs to be more simulationist.
3; PCs are too awesome and it needs to be more challenging.

This combonation means I almost never agree with you ;)
The difference between madness and genius is determined only by degrees of success.
+1. More HP all around, and more monster accuracy.

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F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

Monster stats definitely need alteration. A four tier system isn't a bad way to go, with the minion types being there as fodder, the "normals" as ones to whittle with the potential to be dangerous, the "elites" being on par (one on one) with a pc, and the "solos" being the ones that can take the whole party on while laughing if they weren't prepared.

Instead it seems like we just have the first 2 groups, with maybe an elite. I assume this will change at higher levels, but some of the mobs shouldn't be fodder. Wights, for example, should be an elite at level.
'That's just, like, your opinion, man.'

(We disagree a lot anki? or is it that I normally don't say anything when we agree because you usually say it better?)
              



We disagree a lot.  My opinion is basically always one of three things.

1; Whatever Mand said.
2; It needs to be more simulationist.
3; PCs are too awesome and it needs to be more challenging.

This combonation means I almost never agree with you ;)



Oh, so we normally agree when I agree with Mand .
IMO monster hp is fine, the accuracy of their attacks is the problem. My players enjoy killing the monsters in a single blow, but the monsters inability to land their own attacks is what makes them seem non threating. I think the length and speed of combat are just fine, the danger of the combat is what needs to be increased.
Monster stats definitely need alteration. A four tier system isn't a bad way to go, with the minion types being there as fodder, the "normals" as ones to whittle with the potential to be dangerous, the "elites" being on par (one on one) with a pc, and the "solos" being the ones that can take the whole party on while laughing if they weren't prepared.



I agree with this.  4e had it right in that respect.   With D&DNext, I hope they set very clear ways to slide monsters on that scale as well, so we can decide how challenging we want to make our campaigns, our adventurers or even just each encounter.   If they get the numbers right, they can have very clear guidelines that show how to turn a normal monster into an elite, or how to change a normal into a minion (mook).  The changes in "to hit" score, hit points and damage should also be completely calibrated with the XP value.   This will make encounter/adventure building a snap.

The key is that they should give DM as much leverage as possible to vary combat encounters so that the DM can make each encounter interesting...some easy, some moderate and some difficult...even some impossible (let the PCs run away).

I think they can do all of this without making combats slow to a crawl.   Basically, speed of the combat should be fast (like it is), but combat encounters should take a little longer if they are moderate or difficult.

       

A Brave Knight of WTF - "Wielder of the Sword of Balance"

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

I think the main thing is that the combats should be compelling, not necessarily longer. I hate difficult fights boiling down to standing and swinging at one another for longer, and we'll see who runs out of hit points first.

Basically I'd prefer that this comic: www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=1...
becomes a thing of the past.

Maybe I just want a shadow of the colossus module for larger monsters or something, but the toe to toe fight is only fun for the first...2d6 rounds, tops.
'That's just, like, your opinion, man.'
The round speed is fine.  Thank god we will no longer have to wait 20-30 minutes for a player's turn to come around again.  I think the skirmishes are well done too.  Little bits where players can use their imagination, do things off the cuff, and try out new stuff without getting too severely punished.  The one thing I would tweak is elite combat.  They seem either a little too fragile or not unique enough.
I think the main thing is that the combats should be compelling, not necessarily longer. I hate difficult fights boiling down to standing and swinging at one another for longer, and we'll see who runs out of hit points first.

Basically I'd prefer that this comic: www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=1...
becomes a thing of the past.

Maybe I just want a shadow of the colossus module for larger monsters or something, but the toe to toe fight is only fun for the first...2d6 rounds, tops.



Yes, if possible, this is the most important thing in 5E. More important than class balance, vancian or not wizzies and fighter ego.

How can the rules make a fight against a huge thing interesting without making it a hp-grind?
I think the main thing is that the combats should be compelling, not necessarily longer. I hate difficult fights boiling down to standing and swinging at one another for longer, and we'll see who runs out of hit points first.

Basically I'd prefer that this comic: www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=1...
becomes a thing of the past.

Maybe I just want a shadow of the colossus module for larger monsters or something, but the toe to toe fight is only fun for the first...2d6 rounds, tops.



Yes, if possible, this is the most important thing in 5E. More important than class balance, vancian or not wizzies and fighter ego.

How can the rules make a fight against a huge thing interesting without making it a hp-grind?



Well ...

Let me start with a disclaimer:  I am generally not a fan of Called Shot rules - I find that they usually add complexity for little or no gain and are difficult to balance.  (And I seem to recall an SKR rant from a decade ago with that general idea).

However - much of that assumes you are talking about creatures around your own size.  If you are attacking another medium creature - hitting that eye is so unlikely that any extra damage is a wash.

But when that eye is the size of a dinner plate.

I could see a manuever for a called shot - perhaps level dependant - with creature size playing a role in the attack. Perhaps you can only do a called shot on a creature at least two sizes larger than you are.  Take a shot with disadvantage, if you hit you do damage equivalent to a critical hit.  (This would also help to balance out the hafling's knockback being less effective due to size).

There could even be a manuever to climb or run up a creature at least two (three?) sizes larger and gain advantage by doing so.

Carl
The monsters are pretty boring, and fragile.

Maybe a few of them should freak out when bloodied and make the end games of the fight more interesting. 

You mean like they could have this condition when you get to half hit points, lets called it 'Bloodied', and that would say let the monster recharge some power it has or trigger a transformation or power use! I'm brilliant!
That is not dead which may eternal lie
Um? what? I don't understand.
Other soultions from various other RPGs I have played are:

* Make giant creatures powerful but make them act really slowly. Maybe one action every second or third round (because of their size). So a giant could move in one round and attack in the next round, allowing players to adjust. The bigger they are, the slower they act.

* Make giant creatures make full round actions that complete in the next round, allowing players to react.

* Give giant creatures weaknesses that can be exploitable by tactics, but are not automatic wins.


Personally I like the top one from the rpg Trudvang, the slow moving gigantic monsters really created a feeling of their size.
Simple HP bloat byt itself is never the answer. 4E found this out the hard way, then had to turn the dial back with MM3. What are the current symptoms?

1) Monsters have too few HP
2) Monsters do not hit very often, but when they do it's brutal
3) PCs deal damage to the point that they can 1-shot monsters (not precisely the same as 1)

Solutions to these problems?

1) If we bump the HP up a tad (and a tad only)
2) Bump the to-hit bonuses up, dial the damage back proportionally
3) Monsters can have higher ACs and use tactical maneuvers

Example, s-blocked for convenience:
Goblin

Using the level 1 goblin from the playtest material, we see that:

A) It has 3 hit points.
B) It has -1 to-hit, 1d6-1 damage (mace), and +1 to-hit, 1d6+1 damage (bow)
C) It has an AC of 13
D) It has the Dirty Fighter (+2) trait, which gives +2 to damage rolls.

What do we get from this?

A) The HPs are extremely low. A single hit from a sling and it's dead.
B) Level 1 PCs typically have ACs between 12-17 (give or take). He's going to have to roll very high.
C) The AC is not atrocious, and potentially higher (by 1 or 2) than a level 1 wizard.
D) This is good. Very good...if it's used.

What can we do about it?

A) Bump the HPs up to 6. It could still be 1-shotted, but it's not guaranteed.
B) Bump his to-hit bonus up to +1/+3. Damage dialed back by -1/-3.
C) I think the AC is okay. Maybe a bump up to 14 or 15 wouldn't hurt.
D) Take full advatage of this. Goblins are best in swarms, and this trait was made for swarms.

Rewrite the goblin to:

AC: 15
Hit Points: 6
Mace: +1 to hit, 1d6-2 damage.
Bow: +3 to hit, 1d6-2 damage. 
 
This creature is now more of a threat with his higher to-hit, not as instantly lethal with his damage dialed back a bit, and a bit harder to hit with an AC bump. This at least puts him in the 2-hit category as opposed to his usual 1-hit-dead category. Combat can still run quickly, but be more meaningful and potentially more damaging due to nothing more than the monsters hanging around longer.
I think the main thing is that the combats should be compelling, not necessarily longer. I hate difficult fights boiling down to standing and swinging at one another for longer, and we'll see who runs out of hit points first.

Basically I'd prefer that this comic: www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=1...
becomes a thing of the past.

Maybe I just want a shadow of the colossus module for larger monsters or something, but the toe to toe fight is only fun for the first...2d6 rounds, tops.



Yes, if possible, this is the most important thing in 5E. More important than class balance, vancian or not wizzies and fighter ego.

How can the rules make a fight against a huge thing interesting without making it a hp-grind?



Well ...

Let me start with a disclaimer:  I am generally not a fan of Called Shot rules - I find that they usually add complexity for little or no gain and are difficult to balance.  (And I seem to recall an SKR rant from a decade ago with that general idea).

However - much of that assumes you are talking about creatures around your own size.  If you are attacking another medium creature - hitting that eye is so unlikely that any extra damage is a wash.

But when that eye is the size of a dinner plate.

I could see a manuever for a called shot - perhaps level dependant - with creature size playing a role in the attack. Perhaps you can only do a called shot on a creature at least two sizes larger than you are.  Take a shot with disadvantage, if you hit you do damage equivalent to a critical hit.  (This would also help to balance out the hafling's knockback being less effective due to size).

There could even be a manuever to climb or run up a creature at least two (three?) sizes larger and gain advantage by doing so.

Carl



In contrast, called shots were pretty much the thing that made 2E fighters & thieves cool for my group.  Granted, we didn't do things by RAW in the least.  Pretty much instead of "called shot," what we did could be more accurately described as "take a penalty to do a cool thing."  

Slice at the powerful wand on the enemy mage's belt to destroy it?  Called shot handles that(incidentally, the resulting explosion killed both the mage and my fighter, so... oops).  Grab onto the dragon's tail before it leaps into the air?  Called shot to grab.  Strength to hold.  Draw your sword to block the arrow fired at you from point blank range?  That one I had to roll a natural 20 to achieve(and did, which was a nice contrast to the previous character who accidentally missed a group with a burning barrel of lamp oil and instead burned down the church at the bottom of the hill).

The lack of hard coded abilities in 2E allowed a lot of freedom that 3E and beyond lost(in practice at least.  in theory, of course there was nothing stopping people from making up stuff just as they did before, but no one seemed to anymore).  I'm not saying that we should necessarily go back to that(the feedback from the first playtest would paint me into the minority if I did), but rather that just because we have more clearly defined lines now doesn't mean you have to color in them.
 
One thing I'm finding is that with the easy combats vs. kobolds, goblins, orcs, centipedes, stirges, zombies, skeletons, and even bugbears, the party can defeat equal numbers in just a few rounds.   So, to challenge them, I'd have to throw 2x or 3x as many foes against them.  That would bog down the game, and take 4-6 rounds of combat to clear up the mess.

If monsters were a little more dangerous (higher "to hit" scores and higher hit points and slightly higher AC), then we wouldn't have to throw so many against the PCs to challenge them, so even if it takes a little longer to kill them, the entire combat would probably take less time than a fight vs. 2x or 3x weaker opponents. 

Every once in a while, it is satisfying for the players to be able to rout a small group of foes, but with the monsters and PCs calibrated as they are now, it happens too often.

I look forward to the next playtest package.  Hopefully we'll see more dangerous monsters and combats will still be quick enough.   I don't think it is the speed of combat that makes it more or less tense.  If a combat was fast, but PCs were getting hit for some damage, then it would be tense.  Right now, the PCs are just not getting hurt enough.   At this point, it is easier to do damage to the party using hazards or traps than by attacking them with monsters.

A Brave Knight of WTF - "Wielder of the Sword of Balance"

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

Based on my experience - Too fast, No. Too short, Yes. The problem isn't the speed of the rounds, it is that the monsters lack both the hit points and the attack bonus to present even a mnor threat to the players.

If the monsters had three times the hit points (or the players attack bonuses and damage were reduced some and the monsters had double the hit points) the fights would last long enough to be worthwhile.

Carl



While I agree with this mostly I DO think that rounds are lacking a little in terms of complexity to engage the more tactically minded.

Though much of that will likely come in the (later) "tactical module" I'd say that combat is currently a LITTLE too "fast" and MUCH too "short".

If that makes sense.     

Besides the low to-hit of monsters i actually found that my biggest problem was the serious lack of healing the party i run a game for has. Maybe if they had a cleric it would be better but they need to fight encounters where they easily route the monsters because if they get hit anything more then twice in a fight they immediatly have to start prepping someplace to take a long rest. Once their Hit Dice are spent they can't afford a challenging encounter. Not unless its the last one of the day because they know that while its not likely they'll get hit often they know that if they do there is no recovering afterwards.
I personally feel the out-cry of "bring back the five-minute Work day" to be abit over done as i've never seen it before. Or atleast not until the DDN playtest, which is unfortunate because even from the DMs side i could see the need to camp out mid-dungeon after two encounters.

I guess what i'm saying is though i would like to see the monster's to-hit go up some i'd also like to see either the PCs health get a bit of a jump and/or for a larger pool of Hit Dice. Gaining HD equal to your con mod + your level might work for that. Though i haven't tried it in my game yet.
Without trying to get into too many specifics...

I think the current playtest Combat is a sort of bare-bones combat - something anyone can play in their game, that is D&D combat, to kill the bad creatures. I've found the combat system perfect in my game for spontaneous encounters (my group uses everything from "theater-of-the-mind" to "Let's get down on eye level with the miniatures on the grid to determine exactly how much cover we have"), so I like the presence of a more streamlined system. It's also much easier to learn, starting out, and is therefore much more appropriate to be "Core" than more complex combat systems.

That being said, I look forward to the more expanded combat modules Wizards has already stated it intends to produce (and right on the heels of Core, I hope). My incidental combats can be thrown together, fought, and moved on from as they occur (they pissed off the dwarves they were supposed to befriend, for example), and then I can have a full-fledged, complex, long battle sequence as the clincher to this week's episode. That gives my game a dramatic finish which is actually a bit more satisying than a shorter, simpler battle. And all the mini-combats don't overrun the game or slow the plot. I like both.
"Our idea of rules modules has a wide range of scope; sometimes, our rules modules might just be small tweaks and variant rules, while other times they could be large-scale changes and entirely new subsystems. We want people to make the game their own, and that means provided a whole array of possibilities based on what you, the players, tell us that you want." -D&DNext Q&A Blog, 8/29/12, Answer #3.
Simple HP bloat byt itself is never the answer. 4E found this out the hard way, then had to turn the dial back with MM3. What are the current symptoms?

1) Monsters have too few HP
2) Monsters do not hit very often, but when they do it's brutal
3) PCs deal damage to the point that they can 1-shot monsters (not precisely the same as 1)

Solutions to these problems?

1) If we bump the HP up a tad (and a tad only)
2) Bump the to-hit bonuses up, dial the damage back proportionally
3) Monsters can have higher ACs and use tactical maneuvers

Example, s-blocked for convenience:
Goblin

Using the level 1 goblin from the playtest material, we see that:

A) It has 3 hit points.
B) It has -1 to-hit, 1d6-1 damage (mace), and +1 to-hit, 1d6+1 damage (bow)
C) It has an AC of 13
D) It has the Dirty Fighter (+2) trait, which gives +2 to damage rolls.

What do we get from this?

A) The HPs are extremely low. A single hit from a sling and it's dead.
B) Level 1 PCs typically have ACs between 12-17 (give or take). He's going to have to roll very high.
C) The AC is not atrocious, and potentially higher (by 1 or 2) than a level 1 wizard.
D) This is good. Very good...if it's used.

What can we do about it?

A) Bump the HPs up to 6. It could still be 1-shotted, but it's not guaranteed.
B) Bump his to-hit bonus up to +1/+3. Damage dialed back by -1/-3.
C) I think the AC is okay. Maybe a bump up to 14 or 15 wouldn't hurt.
D) Take full advatage of this. Goblins are best in swarms, and this trait was made for swarms.

Rewrite the goblin to:

AC: 15
Hit Points: 6
Mace: +1 to hit, 1d6-2 damage.
Bow: +3 to hit, 1d6-2 damage. 
 
This creature is now more of a threat with his higher to-hit, not as instantly lethal with his damage dialed back a bit, and a bit harder to hit with an AC bump. This at least puts him in the 2-hit category as opposed to his usual 1-hit-dead category. Combat can still run quickly, but be more meaningful and potentially more damaging due to nothing more than the monsters hanging around longer.

The simplest way is simply an across-the-board increase to hit points on both sides. The monsters become tough enough to survive a hit or two, and the PCs don't get ganked every time they're hit either. Then the to-hit for monsters can match that of PCs, roughly. The whole problem with playtest 2 stemmed from trying to lower hit points. That forced a lowering of monster to-hit just to make the game viable at all, but clearly nobody really tried playing it with the current numbers seriously. Adding a flat CON value hit points to everything at level 1 and dropping a flat +3 to-hit on all monsters brings things ROUGHLY to where they should be. Note that damage output on both sides is reasonably OK.

That is not dead which may eternal lie
I think the main thing is that the combats should be compelling, not necessarily longer. I hate difficult fights boiling down to standing and swinging at one another for longer, and we'll see who runs out of hit points first.

Basically I'd prefer that this comic: www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=1...
becomes a thing of the past.

Maybe I just want a shadow of the colossus module for larger monsters or something, but the toe to toe fight is only fun for the first...2d6 rounds, tops.



Yes, if possible, this is the most important thing in 5E. More important than class balance, vancian or not wizzies and fighter ego.

How can the rules make a fight against a huge thing interesting without making it a hp-grind?



Well ...

Let me start with a disclaimer:  I am generally not a fan of Called Shot rules - I find that they usually add complexity for little or no gain and are difficult to balance.  (And I seem to recall an SKR rant from a decade ago with that general idea).

However - much of that assumes you are talking about creatures around your own size.  If you are attacking another medium creature - hitting that eye is so unlikely that any extra damage is a wash.

But when that eye is the size of a dinner plate.

I could see a manuever for a called shot - perhaps level dependant - with creature size playing a role in the attack. Perhaps you can only do a called shot on a creature at least two sizes larger than you are.  Take a shot with disadvantage, if you hit you do damage equivalent to a critical hit.  (This would also help to balance out the hafling's knockback being less effective due to size).

There could even be a manuever to climb or run up a creature at least two (three?) sizes larger and gain advantage by doing so.

Carl



In contrast, called shots were pretty much the thing that made 2E fighters & thieves cool for my group.  Granted, we didn't do things by RAW in the least.  Pretty much instead of "called shot," what we did could be more accurately described as "take a penalty to do a cool thing."  

Slice at the powerful wand on the enemy mage's belt to destroy it?  Called shot handles that(incidentally, the resulting explosion killed both the mage and my fighter, so... oops).  Grab onto the dragon's tail before it leaps into the air?  Called shot to grab.  Strength to hold.  Draw your sword to block the arrow fired at you from point blank range?  That one I had to roll a natural 20 to achieve(and did, which was a nice contrast to the previous character who accidentally missed a group with a burning barrel of lamp oil and instead burned down the church at the bottom of the hill).

The lack of hard coded abilities in 2E allowed a lot of freedom that 3E and beyond lost(in practice at least.  in theory, of course there was nothing stopping people from making up stuff just as they did before, but no one seemed to anymore).  I'm not saying that we should necessarily go back to that(the feedback from the first playtest would paint me into the minority if I did), but rather that just because we have more clearly defined lines now doesn't mean you have to color in them.
 

All of that kind of stuff works fine in 4e. It worked fine in 1e and OD&D too. 2e in fact has the most awkward specific set of rules for it of any edition.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
For called shots, they should focus on equipment slots first like in 4E but extend it out to include items like fingers. Then you can implement sundering, call shots, or even grappling to take an item away.

The speed of combat is not a big concern, in comparison to being able to recover from combat to keep moving in the adventure. Since hit points influence both, I would like a dial that lets you establish the amount of hit points, and have another that allows you to modify the recovery rate, to etablish the grit and pace of an adventure; including combat. Of course, to hit and defenses play into this as well, but depending on the creature this will be all over the board and harder to guage.
For called shots, they should focus on equipment slots first like in 4E but extend it out to include items like fingers. Then you can implement sundering, call shots, or even grappling to take an item away.

The speed of combat is not a big concern, in comparison to being able to recover from combat to keep moving in the adventure. Since hit points influence both, I would like a dial that lets you establish the amount of hit points, and have another that allows you to modify the recovery rate, to etablish the grit and pace of an adventure; including combat. Of course, to hit and defenses play into this as well, but depending on the creature this will be all over the board and harder to guage.

I think the difference between packet 1 and packet 2 illustrates the pitfalls with just trying to scale by sliding hit points. It isn't that it fails to work for SOME definition of works, but you will find the results aren't without undesirable side effects.

This is why I find it hard to believe there's some simple 'Module' that you will use that magically makes the game be 'gritty' or 'heroic' or whatever. It just doesn't work that way.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
I always say length of combat is a problem when nothing interesting happend on it, just like in a movie where a long boring sequence happend without anything memorable or interesting on it....that's kinda of the problems of D&DNext, combat is boring and unexciting.
I always say length of combat is a problem when nothing interesting happend on it, just like in a movie where a long boring sequence happend without anything memorable or interesting on it....that's kinda of the problems of D&DNext, combat is boring and unexciting.

Yeah, I ran about as boring a 4e fight as I have ever had the other night. It wasn't BAD, but it was too long. I was just tired and kind of out of ideas, and wanted a fight to get the PCs on their toes. It was OK, but there wasn't anything going on except everyone running around whacking on each other. It was a straight up knock-down-drag-out. It did burn some PC resources, which is OK, but there just wasn't any real plot significance.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
....that's kinda of the problems of D&DNext, combat is boring and unexciting.



A replacement DM would work wonders for your group. The usual one is letting you all down big-time. As players, you deserve better than what you're getting.