The most boring part of a game?

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Hey everyone, I've been lurking on this forums for ideas for a little bit, but it's my first time posting and I'd like to pose a question.

I've been playing, mostly 3.5e, but most recently 4e, for about 6 years now, I've DM'd a few games but mostly play. The reason I'm posting is that my friends and I have been recording and producing a weekly internet show/podcast of our game and I wanted to get some opinions on what you think are some boring aspects of the game I should try to avoid in order to make it more interesting?

I understand that most poeple have different ideas as to what parts of the games are fun, but are there any pitfalls that you've experienced in the past that have seemed to cause the game to loose it's fun factor and caused players to fall off the game. I'm looking to try and make this game last for a while and at the same time make it interesting for onlookers.

Thanks in advance!  Smile
Blocking and arguing are very boring, especially when it's about mitigating failure and penalties. I prefer it when the first idea is accepted and added on to, and when failure is interesting enough that there's no real incentive to argue one's way out of it.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

In no particular order, these are the things I consider boring when they happen in D&D:


  • Inn/tavern scenes, especially if the PCs are "gettin' ta know ya."

  • Playing out of travel, unless that travel is the adventure and is compelling in some way.

  • Shopping scenes. Or any accounting chats regarding inventory.

  • Player failure mitigation discussions where they go around and around coming up with a plan, shooting each other's ideas down.

  • Quest-giver info dumps.

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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Put a camera to anyone and they behave differently.. Might be a good tool to have players stay focused and try their best at the game, wanting to put on a show lol.

Well me and my buddies would never consider putting our game on youtube but "if" we did, I can predict its effect. 

Boring aspect then becomes obvious to me.  You probably can predict there be more attempt at RPing their pc; increase in player drama, acting attempts, funny player created situations, wily remarks.  Players will probably focus on player scenes being recorded on camera over what scenes are played out in their own head.  Which means you have to be prepared to respond accordingly as dm to their attempts and let it "flow" well through the game.

The only obvious boring part then is Combat.  Just like RP attempts by players synergy with you should flow smooth, combat should to.  It shouldnt be long drawn out hit point reduction but fast & furious, "risk" and " challenge" all bundled into 1/2 - 3/4 hour encounter.  Which means you need to twick the monster damage and health to make this happen.

Only boring aspect I see which is obvious is slow combat rounds of hit point reduction that drags out. 
The only obvious boring part then is Combat.  Just like RP attempts by players synergy with you should flow smooth, combat should to.  It shouldnt be long drawn out hit point reduction but fast & furious, "risk" and " challenge" all bundled into 1/2 - 3/4 hour encounter.  Which means you need to twick the monster damage and health to make this happen.

Or make combat more like it is in movies with time pressures and goals that don't require killing the other side.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

The only obvious boring part then is Combat.  Just like RP attempts by players synergy with you should flow smooth, combat should to.  It shouldnt be long drawn out hit point reduction but fast & furious, "risk" and " challenge" all bundled into 1/2 - 3/4 hour encounter.  Which means you need to twick the monster damage and health to make this happen.

Or make combat more like it is in movies with time pressures and goals that don't require killing the other side.


Exactly!  
No part of the game or adventure is ever boring IMO.

From hanging out in the tavern to shopping or combat and riding dragons. It's all 100% awesomesauce.

In fact, I'd say if you have too much action, it actually becomes boring.

If you really had to pin me down on a specific thing, I'd say combat can become boring all too quickly.  But even then, there's plenty of ways to spice it up.
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
Put a camera to anyone and they behave differently.. Might be a good tool to have players stay focused and try their best at the game, wanting to put on a show lol.



It's actually just audio don't know if that influences your idea's at all.

The only obvious boring part then is Combat.  Just like RP attempts by players synergy with you should flow smooth, combat should to.  It shouldnt be long drawn out hit point reduction but fast & furious, "risk" and " challenge" all bundled into 1/2 - 3/4 hour encounter.  Which means you need to twick the monster damage and health to make this happen.




Do you have any suggestions on how to tweak encounters to make them run a little smoother/quicker while still providing a challenge?

So far I've tried having a multi-encounter dungeon, each encounter relying on something more then just straight tank and spank mechanics; stop an target before he can blow a horn while still dealing with his buddies, kill patrolling guards without alerting other guards. My PC's tend to just blow everything up though, as I'm sure is pretty common. But I have added some timed elements as well, if they escape from enemies and hide somewhere, they have a 2 minute timer to figure out what they do before the guards come bursting in. Things like that but most of the time it just boils down to using abilities and rolling dice for damage. 
Things like that but most of the time it just boils down to using abilities and rolling dice for damage.

That's probably not going to change unless you specifically ask the players what kind of encounter they'd like that doesn't involve simply killing everything. I've done that and I've had some success with it, but it does require some collaboration.

Other than that, you sound like you've tried some of the things I'd suggest. After on side or the other achieves or fails its "goal" in combat, however they do it, consider handwaving the rest of the fight, or at least not playing it out entirely. If they alert the guards, handwave away the ones they were already fighting. Etc.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Put a camera to anyone and they behave differently.. Might be a good tool to have players stay focused and try their best at the game, wanting to put on a show lol.



It's actually just audio don't know if that influences your idea's at all.

The only obvious boring part then is Combat.  Just like RP attempts by players synergy with you should flow smooth, combat should to.  It shouldnt be long drawn out hit point reduction but fast & furious, "risk" and " challenge" all bundled into 1/2 - 3/4 hour encounter.  Which means you need to twick the monster damage and health to make this happen.




Do you have any suggestions on how to tweak encounters to make them run a little smoother/quicker while still providing a challenge?

So far I've tried having a multi-encounter dungeon, each encounter relying on something more then just straight tank and spank mechanics; stop an target before he can blow a horn while still dealing with his buddies, kill patrolling guards without alerting other guards. My PC's tend to just blow everything up though, as I'm sure is pretty common. But I have added some timed elements as well, if they escape from enemies and hide somewhere, they have a 2 minute timer to figure out what they do before the guards come bursting in. Things like that but most of the time it just boils down to using abilities and rolling dice for damage. 


If you want players to spent time focusing more on decision making, tactical or otherwise, responding to your challenge more then using abilities and damage dice roll, you have to make the "time".  What i mean is if your time spent on a round is 80% on deciding what abilities to use then rolling to hit, then rolling for damages, then thats what your players will focus spending their time.  No one wants to add additional 5 min each to already 20-30 min long round trying to focus on decisions and its effects.  Time limitation dictates players focus & behavior, and its math related;  They have an idea how much hit points the mob has, how much dmg they do per round and how much time it gonna take to finish that combat...so they will inevitably focus on hurrying that up instead of trying to soak in the entirety of your encounter and its meaning.

To fix this you have to house rule fix it.  Mathematical mechanic portion of choosing powers, hitting & rolling dices & subtracting hp are what you have to shorten,so that the decision making portion becomes more meaninful & important within that "reasonable time" players have for a round & encounter which in my experience is about 5-10 min rounds and 45-1 hour encounter.   Anything more players feel its dragging out.

Focus how u and your players want to shorten the mathematical mechanic version of combat rounds.  You & friends can decide to shave off monster health by 25-30%, and/or utilize Avg dmg, and/or utilize Booth in Face damage scaling...whatever works for you & players.  My table use 1 hit determine everything chart based on 2d10 (2-20) to make that happen, and % based dmg and Booth in Face, and 30% shaved off health of monsters. Our table round with 5 players takes 5 min avg, and they primarily focus on encounter meaning, decision making.

Make this portion lightning fast but still with feel of random variable and your players will auto lean towards decision making, tactics and over all encounter meaning you created then "how am i going to kill these things faster so this encounter don't go hours" focus.  Its Time based.  

Creativity doesnt just begin & end with RP.  Also can change, twick system to work better for you and tyour players.
I dislike set up. I wish the table and everything would get itself ready so we can game quicker XD

My own laziness aside, I tend to dislikethe occasional wait for someone to decide what they'll do for their turn of combat/skill challenge/whatever else can be done in turns. It's not as bad as a player, since I can help give out ideas, but I dread that occasional pause as a DM something fierce.

Here is a list of things that make me zone out in a game in no particular order



  • DM conversations between NPCs for an extended period

  • "Tunnel Fights". Any time the party is walking down a 5ft hallway, and the DM has a bunch of monsters rush the opening so no one can fight. Then the whole party fights in a small room, or more likely in the tunnel.

  • Trap dungeons -  The DM has the party walk down a super trapped hallway. The rogue stands at the front and says "I take 10 for a 25 to find all the traps, and a 24 to disarm them all.". Then the DM narrates "You find a swinging blade trap, and disarm it. go on for a long time, and find a pit trap, which you can't disarm but don't set off. You get someone to aide another and disable it." for an entire dungeon.


These annoy me even as someone who DMs 99% of the time

"In a way, you are worse than Krusk"                               " As usual, Krusk comments with assuredness, but lacks the clarity and awareness of what he's talking about"

"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk"        "Wow, thank you very much"

"Your advice is the worst"

 Other than that, you sound like you've tried some of the things I'd suggest. After on side or the other achieves or fails its "goal" in combat, however they do it, consider handwaving the rest of the fight, or at least not playing it out entirely. If they alert the guards, handwave away the ones they were already fighting. Etc.



That's an interesting idea, some of my PCs, I think, are more combat oriented so I'll have to do this delicately but if the fight seems completely one sided having some of the NPC's die quicker or surrender may be the way to go.


Focus how u and your players want to shorten the mathematical mechanic version of combat rounds.  You & friends can decide to shave off monster health by 25-30%, and/or utilize Avg dmg, and/or utilize Booth in Face damage scaling...whatever works for you & players.  My table use 1 hit determine everything chart based on 2d10 (2-20) to make that happen, and % based dmg and Booth in Face, and 30% shaved off health of monsters. Our table round with 5 players takes 5 min avg, and they primarily focus on encounter meaning, decision making.

Make this portion lightning fast but still with feel of random variable and your players will auto lean towards decision making, tactics and over all encounter meaning you created then "how am i going to kill these things faster so this encounter don't go hours" focus.  Its Time based.  



Do you find that the decrease in monster health makes the encounter's easiers. Do you use set damage values for enemies only or for PC's as well? 

This is all really good feedback I appreciate all the help

 Other than that, you sound like you've tried some of the things I'd suggest. After on side or the other achieves or fails its "goal" in combat, however they do it, consider handwaving the rest of the fight, or at least not playing it out entirely. If they alert the guards, handwave away the ones they were already fighting. Etc.



That's an interesting idea, some of my PCs, I think, are more combat oriented so I'll have to do this delicately but if the fight seems completely one sided having some of the NPC's die quicker or surrender may be the way to go.


Focus how u and your players want to shorten the mathematical mechanic version of combat rounds.  You & friends can decide to shave off monster health by 25-30%, and/or utilize Avg dmg, and/or utilize Booth in Face damage scaling...whatever works for you & players.  My table use 1 hit determine everything chart based on 2d10 (2-20) to make that happen, and % based dmg and Booth in Face, and 30% shaved off health of monsters. Our table round with 5 players takes 5 min avg, and they primarily focus on encounter meaning, decision making.

Make this portion lightning fast but still with feel of random variable and your players will auto lean towards decision making, tactics and over all encounter meaning you created then "how am i going to kill these things faster so this encounter don't go hours" focus.  Its Time based.  



Do you find that the decrease in monster health makes the encounter's easiers. Do you use set damage values for enemies only or for PC's as well? 

This is all really good feedback I appreciate all the help




Goal isnt to make it easier, but faster and still challenging with its sense of variable risk, creating an environment where players naturally focus more on decision making, tactics & over all meaning of the encounter then mathematic mechanics. 

decreasing health of mobs do make it go faster.  Increasing their dmg makes it feel riskier. Avg for pc dmg = avg dmg for monsters as well.  but that is up to younand players.  If you want to test how this effects actual table top combat, simply double monster damage and half their health and see how it dynamically changes speed and feel of your combat. Do a trial arena type fight with you and your players. Ask them what they like or dislike as you twick the system.  You as dm then can get better idea what changes makes most difference, and how to set up fast & challenging encounter...type of mobs, number, type of positioning, tactical advantage, disadvantage, what skill challenge is fun..  Fast & Furious is our table theme when it comes to encounter.  More time decision making, less time dice rolling is our focus, and still spending acceptable time per round and per encounter without losing competative feel of challenge & engagement.

We spend 6+ hours playing.. Don't let inherent failures in the system be a unmovable wall for you.. Instead creatively & mathematically be willing to twick it so it isnt a wall, and fits your table like a good sexy jeans. Not all jeans fits all table.  Design one that fits yours. IMO



I agree that long, drawn out combat can become tedious and boring.

Here's another method you might consider using to speed up combat.  take one of those little one minute hourglass timers that you can get from a couple different board games.  On each players turn they have one minute to declare what they are doing.  Then they carry it out.  If they can declare exactly what they are doing within that one minute then they get advantage on their next turn or something along those lines.  If they don't then they don't get advantage on their next turn.  This gives the players an incentive to know what they want to do when their turn comes around.

Also, have the players roll attack and damage dice at the same time.  If the attack hits they already have damage ready to go.  If it misses, so what that you rolled the damage dice, it's not like they'll explode.  This is of course if you don't take the standard damage route that was mentioned.

Another thing that can help speed up combat is something that we did to help our newbie out.  Send out an e-mail question regarding rules.  Anyone in the group that wants to respond can, but have them respond only to you, not reply all.

Example:  Your character is single-handedly fighting a Flesh Golem.  (put the Golems AC, Touch AC, and Flat-footed stats next).  What do you need to roll on a d20 to hit?  If you do hit what range of damage would you do?  If you rolled a natural 20 and then confirmed, how much damage would you do?

Now the example I put up is kind of a trick question, but it illustrates the idea.  This helps your players get a better idea of the rules because they'll have to look it up (possibly, some may know the answer off the top of their heads, but it's more for the ones that don't know).  It also gets them more familiar with their own character stats, which can help combat go more smoothly.

As an incentive to answer your challenge questions, you can give a small XP award or something like that to those that get the correct answer.
I agree that long, drawn out combat can become tedious and boring.

Here's another method you might consider using to speed up combat.  take one of those little one minute hourglass timers that you can get from a couple different board games.  On each players turn they have one minute to declare what they are doing.  Then they carry it out.  If they can declare exactly what they are doing within that one minute then they get advantage on their next turn or something along those lines.  If they don't then they don't get advantage on their next turn.  This gives the players an incentive to know what they want to do when their turn comes around.



Yeah this is what I've been leaning towards before I decided to do this thread, I've already bought a few hourglasses of varying time limits and I've used them for different things during the game (Guard patrol lengths, time before an encounter starts so they can get ready or position) I want to use it to force them to make quick combat decision but besides for just the sake of the game I haven't found a way to reward them, or punish them, for following it. Combat advantage is a good suggestion but I want to think of something more based in the RP aspect.

Also do you find that 1 minute is enough time for non-experienced players to make a decision and not feel they regret it, or are being rushed, by the end of their turn? The game has 4 PCs, I usually set initiatives for most enemies together to quicken my part of the round so in total the round would be between 6-7 minutes is this too long?

Also, have the players roll attack and damage dice at the same time.  If the attack hits they already have damage ready to go.  If it misses, so what that you rolled the damage dice, it's not like they'll explode.  This is of course if you don't take the standard damage route that was mentioned.



This is something I've always tried to implement into games that I DM, just for the sake of brevity. It's harder to convince players to start doing this if they aren't accustomed to it already, though I am pushing.

Thanks for the ideas!
In my opinion one minute is plenty of time for any player to decide what to do.  If you think about it, let's say that your combat round starts.  Your initiative order is this for example:

Player 1
Player 2
Player 3
Monsters
Player 4

Now Player one, having the quickest reaction time (best initiative) goes first.  He's got many options he can do.  However, if they have been taking the time to get to know their characters powers/abilities, it should only take them a few moments to decide what they want to do.  So player one decideds after 30 seconds that he's going to attack the closest monster.

Now it's Player 2's turn.  While Player 1 was deciding (took 30 seconds so he was within the 1 minute for decision) and then carrying out his action(s), moving/attacking/rolling for attack&damage (maybe another minutes time), Player 2 has had all that time to figure out how he's going to act.  Now depending on the outcome of Player 1's actions, Player 2 may have to make an adjustment to their choice, but if they have a basic idea of what they wanted to do, a slight adjustment shouldn't add much more time.  So now Player 2 takes his time.  He has 1 minute to decide and he ends up using another 30 seconds or so, then carries out his actions.

Thus far it's only been 2-3 minutes and 2 players are done.  However, that is 2-3 minutes that Player 3 has had to think of what he might do on his turn.  Again he might need to adjust but overall it should still be fairly quick. Let's say he takes 30 seconds to decide and 30 seconds to do his action(s).

Now it's your turn, you move/attack/etc with your monsters and take about 10-15 seconds average for monster actions. (maybe even less)  You should most likely already know how you are planning for the monsters to attack so even if there are twice as many monsters as players your turn will probably only take a minute or 2.

Now it's been about between 4 and 6 minutes approximately since the start of the round and now it's Player 4's turn.  He's had all that time to observe what's been going on and to think about his actions, so again he should easily be ready to decide what he's going to do and carry it out within a short time frame.

Now it's back to the top of the order and now each player has had lots of time, if they are paying attention to the combat situation, to have planned ahead for their next action(s) and make last second adjustments depending on how things turned out before their next turn.


From what you've said your round are only about 6 to 7 minutes a round which is good.  However, once your players get used to doing a method like this you may even need to shorten the timer to 30 seconds, or they will need to complete both WHAT they want to do AND actually doing it within the 1 minute, because otherwise they will get so good at this that they would get advantage every time (assuming advantage is the reward for being within the time limit).

As an example: In my group pretty much every player is ready with their actions immediately when it's their turn.  They already know exactly what they want to do and have any needed dice ready to go.  (Both attack & damage at the same time if that's what they're doing).  So I would say that on average for my group one players entire turn normally goes by in under 30 seconds.  This is great since I have between 8 and 9 players at any given session.  Even so, with that many players we still can get through a combat round in like 7 minutes, sometimes less.
Here's another idea for tightening up your broadcast. It's something I've been doing lately. During character intros, frame it well and keep it tight. Rather than saying, "Tell us about your character..." try and make more specific questions to solicit shorter, more memorable answers. Many players love to go into excruciating details about the clasp that keeps their cloak around their shoulders or the way the hilt of their sword looks. That's all awesome stuff, but it's rarely memorable to other players (or listeners/viewers), and often takes up a lot of time (especially with 4 additional players who will then feel obligated to describe the fine leatherwork on their codpieces as well). Thirty minutes later, you've gotten more details than you can effectively use and you've forgotten all about the first player's cloak clasp.

So what I think works better is to ask each player a specific question about the characters that highlights a single look, mannerism, or detail for which they are best known or by which they are easily identified. "That ONE thing." The dwarven fighter with a lisp is way easier to remember and imagine than the finer points of the dwarven fighter's entire clan history and gets the group into the action faster.

Note that this is not a call for less detail overall. All of those additional painstaking details will come out as you play, no doubt. But for the purposes of getting things rolling, some tightly framed questions will give you more memorable details while taking up less time on the front end.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

FREE CONTENT: Encounters With Alternate Goals | Full-Contact Futbol  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs | Re-Imagining Phandelver | Three Pillars of Immersion | Seahorse Run

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

Also, I'd bet few players are as fast as me when my turn is up, but if you stick an hourglass in my face (or anyone else's for that matter), you'd be vacuuming sand out of the carpet for the rest of the night.

Players taking a long time on their own turns is a symptom of a problem, not the problem itself. The problem is low player engagement and failure mitigation which stem from (in my experience) lack of narrative control and the threat of boring failure. If you collaborate with players to include their ideas in encounters and also make it clear they can fail the encounter without necessarily dying (unless that's their preference), then they tend to be both more interested in what's going on and won't worry about getting everything exactly right tactically. That speeds up combat immeasurably.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

FREE CONTENT: Encounters With Alternate Goals | Full-Contact Futbol  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs | Re-Imagining Phandelver | Three Pillars of Immersion | Seahorse Run

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

are there any pitfalls that you've experienced in the past that have seemed to cause the game to loose it's fun factor and caused players to fall off the game

- Easily side-tracked DM (or one that allows the game to be side-tracked).
- Slow running game
- Focus on just one PC (who purposefully separated from the party)
- Unable to coordinate a game for months

For good examples of game recordings, I recommend the Whartson Hall Gamers and the World's Largest Dungeon recordings, both available on rpgmp3.com. There's some boring stuff, but overall the games move quickly and are fun to listen to, even when they digress a bit.

Of course the 4e Penny Arcade podcasts are also fun.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Players taking a long time on their own turns is a symptom of a problem, not the problem itself. The problem is low player engagement

I would contend low player engagement is normally more a result of a slow game, rather than the cause. However, I agree with you that the onus is on the DM in either case.

- Slow player slows down game, resulting in less engagement.
- DM compensates for slow player by moving on to next players, resulting in more engagement.


Players taking a long time on their own turns is a symptom of a problem, not the problem itself. The problem is low player engagement

I would contend low player engagement is normally more a result of a slow game, rather than the cause. However, I agree with you that the onus is on the DM in either case.

- Slow player slows down game, resulting in less engagement.
- DM compensates for slow player by moving on to next players, resulting in more engagement.

Engagement is a result of engaging things happening. A slow player can be engaging, but tends not to be, especially if the reasons for the slowness have to do with rules questions or failure mitigation.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Yes, and framing and pacing are a major problem in most games I see. That is definitely on the DM and disengaged players are a symptom of this. Collaboration helps with this immensely because when you've got the ideas of multiple people on the table brought about by direct questioning by the DM, people tend to sit up and take notice.

There are no slow or boring points in the games we play. After a four-hour session, I'm usually exhausted.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

FREE CONTENT: Encounters With Alternate Goals | Full-Contact Futbol  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs | Re-Imagining Phandelver | Three Pillars of Immersion | Seahorse Run

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

Players taking a long time on their own turns is a symptom of a problem, not the problem itself. The problem is low player engagement

I would contend low player engagement is normally more a result of a slow game, rather than the cause.

Engagement is a result of engaging things happening.

It's a chicken/egg discussion, but I'm suggesting that low engagement is more often a result of slow play than the cause. I've seen many instances of engaged players moving slow, but rarely have I seen a fast moving combat result in disengaged players. i.e. fast is often an 'engaging thing'.
Players taking a long time on their own turns is a symptom of a problem, not the problem itself. The problem is low player engagement

I would contend low player engagement is normally more a result of a slow game, rather than the cause.

Engagement is a result of engaging things happening.

It's a chicken/egg discussion, but I'm suggesting that low engagement is more often a result of slow play than the cause. I've seen many instances of engaged players moving slow, but rarely have I seen a fast moving combat result in disengaged players.

I see it all the time.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

I'm suggesting that low engagement is more often a result of slow play than the cause. I've seen many instances of engaged players moving slow, but rarely have I seen a fast moving combat result in disengaged players.

I see it all the time.

Did those players take their turns more slowly as a result?

I'm suggesting that low engagement is more often a result of slow play than the cause. I've seen many instances of engaged players moving slow, but rarely have I seen a fast moving combat result in disengaged players.

I see it all the time.

Did those players take their turns more slowly?

No, but the games were flat, and boring.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

I'm suggesting that low engagement is more often a result of slow play than the cause. I've seen many instances of engaged players moving slow, but rarely have I seen a fast moving combat result in disengaged players.

I see it all the time.

Did those players take their turns more slowly?

No, but the games were flat, and boring.

Certainly.  But the premise I was analyzing was whether disengagement normally causes slowness, or vise-verse. You appear to have presented anecdotal information of players not slowing down as a result of disengagement.

Right. What I see is players are not interested in the DM's plot or the stakes of the combat and so off-turn, they're checking their phone or spacing out. Suddenly their turn is upon them and they need to catch up just to make a decision.

Or the table has such an atmosphere of Failure Mitigation Before Fun because to fail is death, every time, and if you don't figure out a way to spend every single action you're entitled to and don't get exactly into the square you need to on your turn, you get chewed out by the other players or punished by the DM's monsters. So you spend your turn calculating every angle and action before just going already.

Solution: Involve the players in the creation of the story and therefore in the stakes of the combat. As well, don't make every failure in an encounter mean death. 

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

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Or the table has such an atmosphere of Failure Mitigation Before Fun because to fail is death, every time, and if you don't figure out a way to spend every single action you're entitled to and don't get exactly into the square you need to on your turn, you get chewed out by the other players or punished by the DM's monsters. So you spend your turn calculating every angle and action before just going already.

Interesting. It almost sounds like they are overly engaged at that point? fwiw: I see players do this even when there is no real negative consequence*... they are just really into the whole "board-gaminess" of it all.

* It's almost impossible to die in LFR. And even if you do, you can be raised at no cost. And Lair Assault PC's are one-shots; it doesn't matter if they die (indeed, they're expected to).

Interesting. It almost sounds like they are overly engaged at that point? fwiw: I see players do this even when there is no real negative consequence*... they are just really into the whole "board-gaminess" of it all.

* It's almost impossible to die in LFR. And even if you do, you can be raised at no cost. And Lair Assault PC's are one-shots; it doesn't matter if they die (indeed, they're expected to).



Yes, it's possible they are engaged on the "wrong" thing. (I put that in quotes because it's subjective. I consider it "wrong" because of what that does to the engagement of other players and to combat speed overall. I find my regular players are less concerned about winning or losing a given encounter than they are in knowing what the outcome means going forward.)

Since you brought it up, anecdotally, I find this behavior is more common among LFR players than others in my experience. Which is odd considering that lack of cost for death.

Anyway, going way off-topic now, so to bring it back around, if you're producing podcasts or videos, why not just edit out any slogs in post-production and have the DM come in and recap briefly what the outcome of the encounter was? 

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

FREE CONTENT: Encounters With Alternate Goals | Full-Contact Futbol  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs | Re-Imagining Phandelver | Three Pillars of Immersion | Seahorse Run

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

This is pure speculation but perhaps LFR players need a constant in their games, since they are used to the somewhat chaotic, open game style of LFR, and their characters get the job.
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Or the table has such an atmosphere of Failure Mitigation Before Fun because to fail is death, every time, and if you don't figure out a way to spend every single action you're entitled to and don't get exactly into the square you need to on your turn, you get chewed out by the other players or punished by the DM's monsters. So you spend your turn calculating every angle and action before just going already.

Interesting. It almost sounds like they are overly engaged at that point? fwiw: I see players do this even when there is no real negative consequence*... they are just really into the whole "board-gaminess" of it all.

* It's almost impossible to die in LFR. And even if you do, you can be raised at no cost. And Lair Assault PC's are one-shots; it doesn't matter if they die (indeed, they're expected to).

If nothing else, it's common for the loss of a character to make a person feel stupid. They are, after all, made and run by the player, and are a reflection of that player's ability with the game.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

I think character death is a steep price to pay to make combat interesting, and the threat of death becomes empty if overused. Not every encounter should have a negative outcome of TPK.
I think character death is a steep price to pay to make combat interesting, and the threat of death becomes empty if overused. Not every encounter should have a negative outcome of TPK.

Yep. Combat needs to be about other things, in general, and failing in combat shouldn't have to mean the end of the game.

(I'm not advocating capture, leaving the PCs for dead, or deus ex machina, nor do I think PCs should be expected to flee. I'm talking about monsters who can win by completing goals other than killing the PCs or even surviving themselves.)

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

I'll make some straight up suggestion, simple to implement:

The twick: 1.  Ave Dice Dmg.  2. Shave off 50% health of monster encounter.  Compensate with 50% more dmg & number and/or mixture of monsters (meaning different abilities).  

The Test:  Run a test encounter by yourself to see how it goes, so you have better idea.  Then run another test with your friends get their input.  Tell them you want to make encounter fast and furious and want to heighten everything they enjoy and shave off things they don't enjoy about it, and tell them your concern, that you feel they may be missing out on your encounter meaning or details within that is pertinant to adventure due to them tunnel visioning into mechanics alone.  Fast & furious, challenging, engaging. 

The Conditioning:  As DM you have to take responsibility that you "conditioned" your players to behave certain way in an encounter or any part of the game setting.  If they're simply hacking and slashing to death, not caring about anything else, you conditioned them to be that way with the environment you created both mechanical aspect ( huge part of the conditioning) and the setting.

The Environment:  Once mechanical aspect is fixed to you and your groups liking, creating faster rounds, yet challenging which equals to engaging...then all you got to work on is the Setting.  As Centauri mentioned, encounters can be designed with different success and failures in mind apart from killing to the death.  You want to mix this up.  Once mechanical aspect is fixed, players got breathing room in their mind and will start considering these intricate details you present In the encounter.  Its all about creating that room.  Its easier to just tell them it matters, but that dont work.  Its better to create the environment so it can matter.

The evolution:  Lastly be willing and open to continue building or twicking onto your successes to make it even better as you evolve your game.  Every aspect of the game should become better each time, eek out more fun each time.  Evolve it and one day you'll be sitting on a perfect adepted system working wonders for your group of friends.

Btw I'm assuming you are dealing with paragon and up...mechanical problems and domino effect into everydthing else starts from that point.  Giving monsters 50% dmg hike tend to create TPK when not paragon And up.  System begins to fail as higher level you go I dnd so...no need to apply serious twicks to low level players.
This is pure speculation but perhaps LFR players need a constant in their games, since they are used to the somewhat chaotic, open game style of LFR, and their characters get the job.

In general I see it happen in two situations which are both relatively common in LFR (or Lair Assault):
- You are gaming with strangers and do not want to appear to be a fool. Death might not have any mechanical consequences, but it has social consequences. You also don't know what the others at the table expect. There are huge differences in what kind of RPing people consider silly and what acceptable (third person, first person, silly voices, and so on). Falling back into the strategic miniature game mode is a relative save option.
- You do not know the abilities of your PCs very well since you have not played it in ages.

Of course, the problems are also worstened by a DM not knowing the players. In a home campaign I know how to get a player to speed up, but with a stranger that is a bit more of a challenge.

I find this behavior is more common among LFR players than others in my experience. Which is odd considering that lack of cost for death.

Gamers are competitive, 'sall (and LFR is geared less for casual gamers). We see this in other board games too.

Honestly, the most boring part of the game is when the players spin their wheels trying to plan for every eventuality because they think I, as the DM, am out to get them. I've worked really hard over the past year to convince my players I am rooting for them, not actively looking for ways to screw them over. That seems to solve the problem, when everyone at the table is cheering while they do crazy and fun stuff with their characters.
Honestly, the most boring part of the game is when the players spin their wheels trying to plan for every eventuality because they think I, as the DM, am out to get them. I've worked really hard over the past year to convince my players I am rooting for them, not actively looking for ways to screw them over. That seems to solve the problem, when everyone at the table is cheering while they do crazy and fun stuff with their characters.



Yes! I made mention of this above as well. It really is so boring to watch this sort of thing unfold and it is so, so common at the gaming table. I'm glad to hear that your players have gotten over that and are having fun in the absence of those failure mitigation discussions! It sounds like our games run very similarly.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

FREE CONTENT: Encounters With Alternate Goals | Full-Contact Futbol  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs | Re-Imagining Phandelver | Three Pillars of Immersion | Seahorse Run

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith