Do you roll damage or use the numbers in the Bestiary?

I have played a few sessions now and only use the numbers for damage given in the bestiary.  I was wondering what you guys are doing.  Any reason not to roll for damage?
I have to admit:  I was sceptical.  But not rolling for damage (and just using static numbers) makes combat so much faster I don't think I can ever go back.

The thing is:  you really aren't losing much.  It seems like you would be, but a good example I read somewhere else was:  we used to roll for initiative at the beginning of each round.  Thinking back on that now, it seems silly.  It takes longer and is more complicated, and it doesn't really add much to the game.  Now, rolling once is second nature, and we accept it.  Monster damage is really the same.  The total varriance isn't usually very big anyway, and the load off the GM's shoulders ends up being HUGE.  It's a bottleneck that doesn't need to exist, and gets the focus back on the most important part of combat:  PCs making choices - instead of the least important part:  people doing math in their heads.


Here's another secret:  players can do it, too.  We recently ran a game where everyone - monsters and PCs - used static numbers for damage.  People were raising eyebrows like mad when I suggested it, but decided to give it a go.  At the end I asked what they thought, and they all agreed:  it didn't really change anything, and the massive speed-up of combat was more than worth it.  Try it, and see what you think!  (You can always go back!)
Here's another secret:  players can do it, too.  We recently ran a game where everyone - monsters and PCs - used static numbers for damage. 


That is essentially how the original D&D Minis combat system worked, from what I recall. The variability in the current system would be from damage modifiers. Nothing really wrong with it, although there is a bit less drama for the players when it comes to knowing whether the next attack is going to take them out or not. If you're down to 3 hit points and the orc that hit you last round for 5 damage just socked you again, you might as well knock over your miniature.
I would always use the dice, but perhaps initiative could be streamlined in this way. I just think it would take a lot of risk and drama out of combat. If you knew that in the above example you would definitely die next round with a hit, you would just retreat immediately to avoid the risk.
I agree with BobbieM. I know that too frequently my players would run away from combat and hunker down in a corner where it would be difficult to approach them and they wouldn't come back out until they had been all healed up. I think it's a problem that would only be accentuated by always knowing how much damage is done.
And it would also remove those "WOAH!" big hits from the game which are some of the most exciting.
I don't think I'm going to change, just because I really enjoy the physical action of rolling dice. I wouldn't want to sacrifice for expediency the tension that a chaotic element adds to the battle.
Toronto Dungeon Master
I use both. At times i will use the static damage and at other times i will use damage roll. I generally prefer the latter though.
I've been playtesting using nothing but static values for damage to take some of the "swing" out of the game - which my players seem to like for the particular feel of combat and being able to think "I can take a couple more of those unless he crits" rather than how things tend to go when I roll... because I usually roll suprisingly high number on things in a very consistent fashion no matter what dice I roll.

My players like feeling more resilient in D&D than they do in the other games we play - its something that sets D&D apart from the other fantasy games we play where being fragile is part of the feel of the game.

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 like rolling for damage, because it keeps things a little bit scarier for my players.  When an ogre hits someone at level one, I like to watch them wince and pray to Bob I roll minimum.  That's part of the fun for my group.
I have played a few sessions now and only use the numbers for damage given in the bestiary.

Ditto. Love the average damage!

Any reason not to roll for damage?

Speed. The DM sets the pace of the game, and switching gears to roll dice affects that pace more than we like to think (for little gain, since the players normally don't derive enjoyment from you rolling).  Sure, dice are fun (for the roller), but the DM's duty is to the group (plus the DM has ample opportunity for fun with other things). Keep combat moving fast.

I'd use the numbers, for speed, for most encounters, but then roll damage for special named monsters or singular "boss" type monsters.  Best of both worlds that way, IMO.

Alternatively, it might make the most sense to always use the average numbers when the damage values are relativly low compared to the party's hp, and roll damages when the potential damage can change the fight dramatically.
I like role-playing the combat, though not everyone does. So if there is a roll for 1 point of damage, I like to explain WHY he hit for only 1 point of damage. If you take that out then it gets very boring, though admittedly I haven't been doing this much lately. Either way, rolling is fun, especially now that tougher monsters have 3+ dice. I could certainly see you not rolling for a room full of 20 kobolds... there is a point where it becomes necessary to use predetermined numbers.
I used both during playtest. Normally i roll, but to speed events i used a couple of statics here and there at random. If you use it here and there the players will not notice any difference and you'll give a small speed up to your game. Just make sure to roll it when they could potentially die or not die by that roll.
(Hopping in late here)

First, I want to say that beside the "fright factor", there's the opposite effect, that's fun:  

The fragile Rogue who couldn't roll out of the way in time of the Ogre heavy club, offers one last prayer to Yondalla knowing he'll be joining her in the eternal realm soon as the weight of the gnarled wood crashes into him.  What's this, he thinks.  Has Yondalla answered my prayer and interceded to save my life? Rolling back to his feet, bruised, gasping hard for breath, and wincing against the pain in his ribs, the halfling grips his daggers firmly and looks for a way out.

When a creatures rolls 1, 1 on 2d8, the roleplay can be equally interesting and entertaining.

I am with NicolBolas.  The variability of the dice gives some impetus to variation of combat description.

As for speed of combat, can't argue there though for those not playing virtually (where rolling static or variable damage takes essentially the same time), I would suggest combining attack rolls (d20) with damage rolls so that if you see a hit, you also see the results at the same time.

One of the problems, though, I have with fixed damages was what I see occur in 4E too often for my taste: when damage reduction is involved, if a minion or creature does fixed amount (say 4), having resist 5 means they'll never, even with a little luck, score damage.  However, that 1d8 still stands a 37.5% chance of at least reminding the character that a longsword has a sharp edge, even if only grazing to the hardy character.
One of the problems, though, I have with fixed damages was what I see occur in 4E too often for my taste: when damage reduction is involved, if a minion or creature does fixed amount (say 4), having resist 5 means they'll never, even with a little luck, score damage.

I saw this happen constantly for ongoing damage... but that was as intended. I saw it occur a few times for regular damage (mainly with summoned creatures), but it never created a problem (and I always had the option to roll, as mentioned).

I saw this happen constantly for ongoing damage... but that was as intended. I saw it occur a few times for regular damage (mainly with summoned creatures), but it never created a problem (and I always had the option to roll, as mentioned).

Yeah.  I saw it as a buffer against ongoing, which is as intended.  I've been pretty heavy in NEXT/5E in recent months, though, because I don't ever remember seeing 4E give Minions optional rolls to circumvent this.

It kind of reminds me of when Invigorating first came out as a keyword.  Character with High CON would literally become immune to anything that couldn't do more than their CON modifier in damage. We had one night of fun with it but it was quickly houseruled to what it would become through errata. 

I am certainly not going to say that die rolls for damage is for everyone, just saying that between roleplay and the excitement of uncertain results (both for the good and the bad), I continue to let the dice bounce to the will of the fickle gods of fate here.
it never created a problem (and I always had the option to roll

I don't ever remember seeing 4E give Minions optional rolls to circumvent this.

Ah. Yes. I was only thinking of my own damage averaging in 4e. I didn't have an option to roll minion damage, but I was perfectly ok with some PC's being immune to damage from certain minions.

Ah. Yes. I was only thinking of my own damage averaging in 4e. I didn't have an option to roll minion damage, but I was perfectly ok with some PC's being immune to damage from certain minions.

Nod... and that's certainly your right as a DM.  I kind of like the uncertainty and variability of the dice.  Yes, you have RESIST: 5, but that little sneaky kobold with that 1d6+1 sling might just roll beyond what you have and find that flaw in your defense.

Obviously, though, it's slower.  If a fighter could walk into a room knowing all 10 creatures cannot possibilty damage it, you can cut-to-the-chase and have them all defeated whereas I would have to play out the entire battle as a point of damage here and there might eventually wear down the warrior.  Same way as in reverse, should a character be down to 4 hit points and facing that kobold, it would be a defeat regardless whereas I'd have to pause to see if they somehow lucked out and rolled away from some of the damage, surviving what seemed likely to be a killing blow.

Each has their advantages and disadvantages, and I think it's great that they give the option to allow each DM and table to decide what they enjoy most. 

We began using a Hit Result Table, one roll determines everything, to make combat go faster and added more flavor. To make this work, switched 1d20 to 2d10 for combat and skill checks only.  Also hits  involving low number roll meant attacker is either much higher level or has tactical superiority, so we added some control the attacker can choose.  We decided to use "up to" damage amount to give the attacker a choice, to either do max damage allowed with the hit result or less.  We felt just because attacker saw an openning to do 50% damage does not mean the attacker had to exploit it fully.  Sometimes the attacker may want to toy with a lesser opponant, so we added that in.

2        (1%) critical fumble; Attacker stunned 1-4 rnds. Save ends.
3        (2%) fumble. Attacker dazed until start of next turn.
4-5     (7%) Up to 25% damage or daze, prone or slide target 1-2 squares.
6-7     (13%) Up to 25% damage.
8-14   (58%) Up to 50% damage.
15-16 (13%) Up to 75% damage.
17-18 (7%)   Up to 100% damage.
19      (2%)   Critical hit; 100% damage and target is stunned 1-4 rounds.  Save ends.
20      (1%)   Epic Critical; 150% damage and target makes a save against Unconscious.
                    Target makes the save; Target is stunned 1-4 rounds.  Save ends.

£ Hit result table applies to damages that require dice rolls to determine damage.  It does not apply to any other damages that do not require an attack roll.  All other effects are compounded with the effects provided in the Hit Result.

We used it for past 5 game sessions and it has been working out very well.  That 1% chance critical fumble and epic critical seem to come into play more often then we thought, and when it happens had been adding some crazy excitement.



I let the playas roll
I think it is the perfect case of simplicity with added complexity if your getting bored, or feel the need for a change.

It is an excellent element and should stay forever.

Leaving the decision to go static or roll up to the dm.

I feel like you guys are mostly talking about Damage rolls, what about attack rolls? In the sense that you could not even get hit by that kobold minion if they missed you. (reference to ShadeRaven Comment). It would be neat to see some of your interesting ideas pop up in the actual modules as suggestions, so that others who don’t follow these forums might see them. And then they explain why you might want to do it that way, the way you guys have been saying here. All in a DM’s Guide expanding on the Core rulebook [I’d like to see it done differently I guess].

AD&D 1st Edition Character (Simplified)

BIOGRAPHY
Name: Brother Michael
Adventuring Class: Cleric
Adventuring Experience: 1446 out of 1501
Bonus Experience: 10%
Languages Known: Common, Orc, Elven.
Alignment: Lawful/Neutral Good
ABILITY SCORES
Strength: 10
Dexterity: 10
Intelligence: 11
Charisma: 11
Constitution: 14
Wisdom: 16
WEAPONS: HIT; MEDIUM; LARGE
Footman’s Flail: 1d20; 1d6+1; 1d4
Hammer (Thrown): 1d20; 1d4+1; 1d4
Sling: 1d20-3; 1d4+1; 1d6+1
MAGIC
Today’s Prepared Spells: Cure Light Wounds x2, Command x1
Spells Spent: Cure Light Wounds x1
Other Cleric Abilities: Turn Undead
Spell Failure: 0%
Magical Attack Adjustment: +2
DEFENSES
Armor: 5 (-4 Armor, -1 Shield)
Maximum Health: 10
Current Health: 9
CONSUMABLE ITEMS
Water Skin
7 Days of Trail Rations
7 Pints (Flasks) of Oil
1 Ounce (Vial) of Holy Water
4 Parchments
12 Sling Bullets
6 Pieces of Silver
8 Pieces of Twine


I feel like you guys are mostly talking about Damage rolls, what about attack rolls? In the sense that you could not even get hit by that kobold minion if they missed you. (reference to ShadeRaven Comment). It would be neat to see some of your interesting ideas pop up in the actual modules as suggestions, so that others who don’t follow these forums might see them. And then they explain why you might want to do it that way, the way you guys have been saying here. All in a DM’s Guide expanding on the Core rulebook [I’d like to see it done differently I guess].




This issue can be fixed easily with a critical effect that is not only damage based but has serious risk of ending the fight.  Problem is with 1d20.  A roll of 20 is 5% chance, which is too high of a chance to occurr, since crits come into play more often for monsters, minions, npc then players.  Reason why my table switched to 2d10.   Roll of 20 is only 1% chance, but when it occurs its devastating with a 45% chance (fail save) to be knocked unconscious, thus ending the Fight.

My table are paragon players.  After we swapped in the Hit Table with epic critical, and critical fumble they are much careful not to start a fight thoughtlessly against superior number of foes, regardless of their level. 20 1st level farmers with lucky roll can knock out a paragon or epic player, and throw his butt in jail.

And something about a  low % roll with high yield or game turning result makes dice rolling much more exciting...las Vegas gambling effect.  When it happens players get excited, like they won a jack pot.

its a house rule we made to fix 1d20 limitation.  I highly doubt wotc will consider using anything but 1d20 so i dont see much change to occurr.
I switch it up. Sometimes I roll damage and HP and other times I just take the bestiary number. I use it to keep some of my people on thier toes. One guy in particular will try to memorize the numbers and it changes into a math equation for the party instead of a role playing game. 

I like the option of speed vs. variety that the game presents by leaving it in the hands of the DM. 
I like the option of running static numbers for when the game play needs to move along.  However, it  is, as it should be, is up to the DM to either use the static numbers or Roll each individually. 

Right now, I am still working on the mechanics of Next and hoping our group will all accept the play test.   Currently we are running 3.5 and 4 as a mix, but more to the 4th edition.  
 Ive tried in the name of playtesting only using the static damage, and it has worked a treat so far. Its a bit of a problem when it comes to the fighters Parry though. Think I will probably start rolling damage for named NPCs but mooks will stay static.
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