What is the point of quick combat?

Long time lurker, infrequent poster. First, a little background. The entire group I play with, including myself, started playing dungeons and dragons with 4th edition. Since then we've played a little 3.5 and pathfinder, but 4e is definitely my favorite edition and will always be my first love. for someone like me, 4e IS dungeons and dragons. i am currently lukewarm on next at best, but am willing to wait to see a finished product before making a final judgement. anyway, onto the question in the thread: what is the point of quick combat? this isnt inflammatory, its just something i want to generate some discussion on. one of the qualities many people seem to like about next is the combat is much more quick and efficient - you can have 5, 10, or 15 minutes combats easily, and "there is more time for roleplaying." my question is, what is the point of these combats? i'd much rather handwave a fight versus three kobold nobodies instead of taking the time to roll initiative, have everyone make a few basic attacks, no one wants to blow daily powers in these fights, have a few misses draw it out into a 3 or 4 round combat, have the monsters do a few hp worth of damage and have nothing significant come out of the fight. i guess i want a fight to be worth actually picking up the dice for. granted, i do think 4e combats could be more streamlined... anytime somebody tried to interrupt another persons interrupt i let out a big sigh. so i totally get trying to make a 90 minute fight a 60 minute fight, or a 60 minute fight a 30 minute fight. but in some next playtests i have literally asked what is the point of making me roll those two basic attacks - i like my combats to require tactical thinking and power/feature selection. maybe it comes from playing an edition where characters dont have the sword of damocles hanging over their head during every fight (which seems like how some of the early editions are portrayed at early levels). thoughts/preferences?

Well it all comes down to play style and some times people do not have time to learn 6 step processes just to wrestle. I mean I did not think the whole skill point system in 3.5 was complex or hard to learn however there are a lot that do. I feel that making things elegant is a good approch so they can add in some depth later on with supplement books. That makes the game easier to play differently for different groups.

 

For me 4E was not a tactical game per say it just looked like it was. It felt shallow to me. (this will be all I say about it because of forum rules)

 

 

That said I am running a dungeon crawl tonight but it just feels like monsters are a bit on the weak side even with the standard point buy system. So I am for making monsters a bit tougher.

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Allow me to first qualify my post by saying my experience with 4e is limited.

 

Quicker combat comes from a desire to get more done in a given game session.  Even in older editions, combat which was not necessarily as tactical compared to 4e could bog down and take a long time. For some of us, every combat doesn't have to be an epic event but is sometimes simply a story element which may be an essential event but we don't want it to take any longer than necessary.  For my table, this stems from the fact that my table is filled with people who can really only devote 1 night (sometimes 2) a month to D&D.  I don't want each and every game night to consist of nearly nothing but combats.  

 

Due to monsters not being balanced for the playtests, I think D&D Next combats ran quicker than they will in the final version, but I would still like most of my combats to be be 30 minutes or so, longer for a BBEG.  I've played in games with a single 4 hour+ combat before.  There comes a point where that becomes tedious and a bore.  I am not overly interested in super tactical combat though.  I like my sessions to be a balance of role-play, exploration, story and combat.  With highly tactical, prolonged combat it can lead to the other elements being diminished.  However, that is my preference. Others will feel very differently about it and very well may enjoy more in depth combat.  

 

It could also stem from the fact that during combat is when players who are waiting for their turn begin to get distracted and don't feel like they are part of the events at the table.  I've seen this carry over post-combat too which leads to a session getting derailed completely which is far from desirable.

I'm a fan of combats that are streamlined (like you, I think a lot could be done in 4E by turning Interrupt Attacks into conditional standard actions), but I too like combat to mean something. In the combats we ran with D&D next, the only ones that were interesting to my players involved spellcasters, like a fight with a Lich that lasted 8 rounds. Otherwise, I feel for you; what's the point?

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Tacster wrote:
Long time lurker, infrequent poster. First, a little background. The entire group I play with, including myself, started playing dungeons and dragons with 4th edition. Since then we've played a little 3.5 and pathfinder, but 4e is definitely my favorite edition and will always be my first love. for someone like me, 4e IS dungeons and dragons. i am currently lukewarm on next at best, but am willing to wait to see a finished product before making a final judgement. anyway, onto the question in the thread: what is the point of quick combat?

 

For me the point of quick combat is that there is so much cool exploration, interaction and roleplaying that you can do when you are not in combat that It is much better, for me, to get it over and done with as quickly as possible.

 

To be honest a long tactical combat is like someone saying "Ok we are going to stop the regular game now and go play this other game for an hour or more before we can go back to the regular game"

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I have played all editions of DnD and I agree with your sentiment.

I think, though, that the appeal of having shorter fights to people opposed to highly tactical 4E style fights is that they feel they "get more stuff done" in a session. They are not looking for the tactical side of things in the game, unlike me. And that is ok and Next caters to that taste. However, I never understood the thinking that "combat is not roleplaying". In my experience, 4E fights are full of roleplay because powers are refluffed all the time according to the motive of the PC in that specific combat situation, communication is in-character and fights in general are never supposed to be the goal themselves but rather lead to something else. Also, as you know, it is quite easy in 4E to mechanically reskin any encounter from combat to social to explorative and back or a combination of all of them. So there is no great hurdle to overcome for any DM or player to make changes or choices according to any PC's/NPC's actions in combat since anything can easily be tranferred into a mechanical ruleset (simple combat, terrain, trap, skill challenge, p. 42 and more).

That said: if one is not interested in the tactical side of things at all, one will not be looking for tactical rules a la 4E that much and not ask for them in Next. Those players that do (like me and you it seems) will feel there is something missing. It is definetely not my piece of cake. But if WotC feels that this is where the main slice of the market pie is, so be it.

Ill put it in the perspective of a 4th edition DM. 4th is my favorite edition, but I did notice that some of my players with shorter attention spans had a harder time with combat in 4th, because they would get sidetracked between their turns. With cell phones and just having conversations with other people they would slow combat down too a crawl that could ruin the whole night. When you have faster rounds though, they would get less distracted.

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From my personal experiance i would say the following.

the turns in 4th edition where longer at avarage But the longer turns diden''t get longer.

in 3.X and AdnD 2nd caster turns would often take up a lot more time then the turns of non caster classes.

and in 4th all turns took about the same time as the caster turns did in 3.X and ADnD 2nd.

 

Aslo from the people i played with since ADnD 2md comboat in 4th was more fun (exept for the longer waiting time for your next turn) for martial character.

Example of this is one of out players who prefered fighters in all editons.

In ADnD 2nd and 3.X he would often do a lot of roleplaying to avoid combat situations, or come up with tactics to make sure the combats woiuld be over faster.

In 4th edition he stopped doing that and i asked him why,

His awnser was : in the other editions the conbat waen''t fun so better to avoid it or make sure it is fast, and 4th combat is fun so why would i try to avoid it ?

 

Preference.

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I've never been interested in creating a super tactical experience with D&D. I've played since Basic D&D and 1e AD&D and never incorpporated combat grids and such until 3e. The tactical combat rules in the 2e Player's Option: Combat & Tactics seemed excessive to me, and I felt that 3e never fully supported gridless combat like I had played previously in D&D (or any of the other RPGs I've ever played). I do play some tabletop wargames, but that's not the experience that I'm looking for in an RPG. Sure, it's nice to have that support for those that want it as well as for occasion big battles. However, for the largest part, I want combat in my RPGS to be flowing, quick and non-disruptive to the rest of the game.

OP, your premise is slightly flawed. Just because a combat can take only a few minutes to resolve, does not mean it is inconsiquential. In fact, a fight with a 2 kobolds against a level 4 party can be done in less than 1 round, with the players wanting to roll initiative just to see who gets the kill them first. This should only take 2 minutes (tops).

 

A 5 or 10 miniute fight could be a decent challenge that the Mage ends with a well timed spell, or that the Barbarian pulls of a massive Crit on a single high level monster. The fight likely caused resource loss (spells, hp, and class abilities that require a Rest to recharge), so they were meaningful, without taking up too much time away from the rest of the game. Fast combats are not meaningless, unless the DM wants them to be.

 

I think one of the things that 4E did really well was to make each and every combat have meaning. That said, not everyone wants that, especially not with the extra time such combats take. Ideally, I would want Next to have the ability to run: quick & simple combats, more tactically focused combats (preferably shorter than 4E was for many), and a few points in between, all based on the desires of the DM and group.

Unless you treat PC's being very temporarily knocked unconcious as a sort of lose condition (like being 'killed' in a fps is a sort of small losing condition) 4e could just as much have a pointless kobold fight as 5e (though 5e doesn't take as long to run the pointless fight)

 

You're hardly being fair to 5e if you run hard encounters in 4e, but when it comes to 5e you only imagine using it with a bunch of easy encounters.

 

I've played in the encounters program where weve had that very inconsequential kobold fight you've mentioned. Also in that same campaign weve fought swarms of rats or a bunch of crocodiles and they nearly ate us alive.

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To me I prefer to spend time setting up encounters as a player and have them resolve quickly based on preparation, sound positioning and use of terrain due to careful scouting.

 

This gives proper weight to the Exploration pillar and allows time in a session to bounce between it and the social pillar. 

 

When I sit down for a session I want to be able to run 3-4 combats minimum with equal time for RP and Scouting. ..

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Valdark wrote:

To me I prefer to spend time setting up encounters as a player and have them resolve quickly based on preparation, sound positioning and use of terrain due to careful scouting.

 

This gives proper weight to the Exploration pillar and allows time in a session to bounce between it and the social pillar. 

 

When I sit down for a session I want to be able to run 3-4 combats minimum with equal time for RP and Scouting. 

 

+1.  

 

+1 also to the sentiment that fast does not meaningless.  

 

I do think though realistically that every battle should not be significant.  When you play a game based on days though, resources like hit points, spells, etc.. can matter even when the fight is insignificant.   

 

 

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Ever read any R. Howard Conan? That quick, pulpy pacing makes for great fun especially when you use the right monsters that have a chance at being deadly to the players. 3 kobolds? Try 8-20! Combat happens quickly and you don't always get to ponder what your next move is going to be after reviewing the grid. Fast and furious! Also getting to resolve a plot that includes a few fights in the course of 1-2 hours of play creates a sense of accomplishment more than a rousing game of chess...

 

Your experience is limited to 4e so you need to expand your definition of the D&D experience! I highly recommend trying the Mines of Madness adventure to get an idea of what a D&D Next experience can be.

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strider13x wrote:

Ever read any R. Howard Conan? That quick, pulpy pacing makes for great fun especially when you use the right monsters that have a chance at being deadly to the players. 3 kobolds? Try 8-20! Combat happens quickly and you don't always get to ponder what your next move is going to be after reviewing the grid. Fast and furious! Also getting to resolve a plot that includes a few fights in the course of 1-2 hours of play creates a sense of accomplishment more than a rousing game of chess...

 

Your experience is limited to 4e so you need to expand your definition of the D&D experience! I highly recommend trying the Mines of Madness adventure to get an idea of what a D&D Next experience can be.

 

True on the number of Kobolds. 

 

I ran a group through Caves of Chaos recently and they missed the room full of kobolds and took on the dragonshields who shouted the alarm.  They then had to deal with being trapped in a dead end with the entire kobold mass between them and safety and the lead kobold at thier backs.  

 

They took out the lead kobold and then realized they were both trapped and severely outnumbered with most of the kobolds using ranged weapons to whittle them down. 

 

They baracaded themselves in the chieftains room and opened the door suddenly to fire off a volley before closing it again.  The surprise of that one round shifted it from a losing battle when combined with two protected rounds to heal up while the fighters held the door. 

 

Thier second volley went simultaneously with the remaining kobolds and the party firing together.

 

The fight ended with everyone at 1-5HP and no spells or potions remaining (used pregens).  

 

All in all the combat was about 15 rounds of combat and about a 30-40 min from dragon shield encounter to finish. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Emerikol wrote:
When you play a game based on days though, resources like hit points, spells, etc.. can matter even when the fight is insignificant.

Generally unless the DM forces events to occur that make the kobold fight matter, the kobold fight doesn't matter. The idea of PC's somehow being whittled down until the collected damage matters somehow just doesn't happen in play, sans a DM forcing it to happen.

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Noon wrote:

 

Emerikol wrote:
When you play a game based on days though, resources like hit points, spells, etc.. can matter even when the fight is insignificant.

Generally unless the DM forces events to occur that make the kobold fight matter, the kobold fight doesn't matter. The idea of PC's somehow being whittled down until the collected damage matters somehow just doesn't happen in play, sans a DM forcing it to happen.

 

Prior to 3e it was commonplace for it to happen.  Healing was scarce and choosing when to cast a healing spell was a hard decision.  

 

3e pretty quickly reduces this as a danger due to magic market and easy magic item creation.  I'm glad 5e is going away from that approach.

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Noon wrote:

 

Emerikol wrote:
When you play a game based on days though, resources like hit points, spells, etc.. can matter even when the fight is insignificant.

Generally unless the DM forces events to occur that make the kobold fight matter, the kobold fight doesn't matter. The idea of PC's somehow being whittled down until the collected damage matters somehow just doesn't happen in play, sans a DM forcing it to happen.

 

Happens in my games all the time when players don't scout efficiently and don't resolve small skirmishes quickly enough they can alert the main force. 

 

If you play your kobolds as described they can and will whittle down your party. 

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Emerikol wrote:

 

Noon wrote:

 

Emerikol wrote:
When you play a game based on days though, resources like hit points, spells, etc.. can matter even when the fight is insignificant.

Generally unless the DM forces events to occur that make the kobold fight matter, the kobold fight doesn't matter. The idea of PC's somehow being whittled down until the collected damage matters somehow just doesn't happen in play, sans a DM forcing it to happen.

 

 

Prior to 3e it was commonplace for it to happen.  Healing was scarce and choosing when to cast a healing spell was a hard decision.  

 

3e pretty quickly reduces this as a danger due to magic market and easy magic item creation.  I'm glad 5e is going away from that approach.

 

In my experiance it wasen''t i have been playing since AdnD2nd.

And youneeded to have some time pressure, to have a small fight like that be significant.

If there is no time or envoiremental pressure you just cast dhe healing spells head back to a safe location and rest.

I'd probably like your game Valdark.  Strategy is more important to success than individual battle tactics.  My games are the same way.  I want the group scouting ahead, spotting an enemy, and coming up with an innovative plan for victory.  I don't care so much about jockeying for combat advantage during melee.  (Not that I'm against such a rule.  I just don't enjoy that part as much or want it to be as significant.)

 

 

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As to the original post, if you think fighting 3 kobolds is something that should just be handwaved, there's nothing wrong with that.  Not every fight has to be significant, life-threatening, and/or require dice, so just use your best judgement when it comes to the importance of a fight.  This principle, if you ask me, holds true for every edition of D&D, so if you feel like X edition is forcing you into fights you don't want (large or small) then you're letting the edition run your game for you.  Kick it until it does what you want it to do.  If 3 kobolds are boring, then make it 30 (or more exciting still, 300 kobolds!).

 

That being said, if you're just in love with the tactical skirmishes and can't see having fun with anything else, you're probably better off sticking with 4thEd, since it does that better than any edition. Nothing wrong with sticking to what you like.

I have no problem with quick combat as a platonic ideal, but my experience with D&D/fantasy RPG is that quick combats are either inconsequential or lethal. That is, combat is quick because one side dies very easily: either the monsters or the party. As Emrikol pointed out, when combat is so short, pre-combat strategy is the biggest determinator of success: do you walk into the canyon without scouting first, or do you cause a landslide with magic to kill any ambushers?

 

Overall, quick combat means there's less in-combat tactics, so I'm not a fan. My solution to running 4ed is to give equal time to combat and social encounters. We spend whole sessions just RPing, and we spend whole sessions just fighting. Personally, I'd rather spend 2 hours on one fun and meaningful combat, than on (6) 20-minute combats spread out over 2 sessions.

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I often ask myself the same question about faster combat.

I actualy play 4ed.

What I avoid as DM is meaning less combat, taking guards or patrol for examples. Which I run into skill challenge. More rapid and easy.

Combat often take an hour. In a 3 hours session, we run 2 combats, 2 or three skill challenge and the rest is made of role play.

Skill challlenge result allow me to storytell what happen next  and make the story advance to crucial combat or roleplay.

 

I often turn the plug off from some combat that are win by players to avoid waste of time in a dead cause.

I do prefer a long and challenging combat over a succession of rapid meaningless combat.

I the combat is resolve in 10 minutes, I prefer to storytell it rather than roll the dice.

If I want my players to feel they acheive something mean it cant be done in 10 minutes.

 

I do remember when we were playing advanced edition somewhere in 1984, some epic combats that take multiples session to resolve.

It was a high level party and we challenge horde of demons and giants.  I still got great feeling about that.

 

The question about faster combat is a question of acheivement.

Can we have a feeling of acheivement after a combat resolve in 5 minutes.

 

Alter_Boy wrote:

I have no problem with quick combat as a platonic ideal, but my experience with D&D/fantasy RPG is that quick combats are either inconsequential or lethal. That is, combat is quick because one side dies very easily: either the monsters or the party. As Emrikol pointed out, when combat is so short, pre-combat strategy is the biggest determinator of success: do you walk into the canyon without scouting first, or do you cause a landslide with magic to kill any ambushers?

 

Overall, quick combat means there's less in-combat tactics, so I'm not a fan. My solution to running 4ed is to give equal time to combat and social encounters. We spend whole sessions just RPing, and we spend whole sessions just fighting. Personally, I'd rather spend 2 hours on one fun and meaningful combat, than on (6) 20-minute combats spread out over 2 sessions.

 

See here is the problem with that approach, some players love combat, some love RP, and others love exploring the world.

 

When you have to devote an entire session to combat you lose focus on RP and Exploration characters for that entire session.  

 

I have some players who would avoid every combat if the party let them and others who would kill a pack of roaming buffallo just to say they killed something. 

 

The quicker combat allows for all of them to get what they want every single session. 

 

Every combat is meaningful no matter how small because sometimes $#!? happens and sometimes your "meaningful encounter" comes down to that one HP you lost to the 3 wandering Koblolds.

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Shasarak wrote:

 

Tacster wrote:
Long time lurker, infrequent poster. First, a little background. The entire group I play with, including myself, started playing dungeons and dragons with 4th edition. Since then we've played a little 3.5 and pathfinder, but 4e is definitely my favorite edition and will always be my first love. for someone like me, 4e IS dungeons and dragons. i am currently lukewarm on next at best, but am willing to wait to see a finished product before making a final judgement. anyway, onto the question in the thread: what is the point of quick combat?

 

For me the point of quick combat is that there is so much cool exploration, interaction and roleplaying that you can do when you are not in combat that It is much better, for me, to get it over and done with as quickly as possible.

 

To be honest a long tactical combat is like someone saying "Ok we are going to stop the regular game now and go play this other game for an hour or more before we can go back to the regular game"

 

I feel the same way as Shasarak.

 

In D&D Next playtest, I'm finding that we are having fun developing all the aspects of the RPG, not just combat.    It is very easy to balance combat, exploration and interaction and use them in varied amounts to make sessions feel different and sometimes introduce the unexpected.    In later 3.5e and 4e, combat tended to bog down and if it took 1-2 hours to run an encounter, that left little time for other things when we played a 2 hour session. 

 

With D&D Next, as DM, I feel much more flexibility because some combat encounters can be run in 10 or 15 minutes.    I also have found that I can set up a larger combat encounter that is tough, and it can last about 1 hour.

 

As to easy, trivial encounters that last 10 minutes, they still serve a purpose.   Sometimes, they are just warnings of things to come...like a scouting party that the party happens upon.  Sometimes 1 of 3 kobolds scores a lucky hit and wounds or takes down one of the PCs (especially if the PCs are already wounded), and pushing the party to continue adventuring when they are not at full health and stocked with resources is one of the most powerful ways to build tension.   Sometimes a kobold or goblin runs away, and then there is the possiblity of reinforcements arriving later.    Sometimes slaughtering easy opponents once in a while just makes the PCs feel good.     The variety that D&DNext achieves, to me, is a powerful tool for creating tension and building stories.    I feel it much more now than I have for a long time.

 

 

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Tacster wrote:
what is the point of quick combat? this isnt inflammatory, its just something i want to generate some discussion on. one of the qualities many people seem to like about next is the combat is much more quick and efficient - you can have 5, 10, or 15 minutes combats easily, and "there is more time for roleplaying." my question is, what is the point of these combats?

 

I think the biggest plus to having the system aim for quick fights over long ones as a standard is it leaves you free to adjust fights to be longer if you wish. Longer fights tend to be the more important ones (that's the theory, anyway), and the idea is that if you want to wear down the group but you don't want it to dominate the session, you can have a quick combat and do that. Also, there are reasons for rolling out a combat that is quick, such as you might want to determine whether the courier gets away with that bit of information the party would find useful. That stuff doesn't take long to determine but the guards in the way of the guy with the goods are important even if they don't demand a half an hour to sort out.

 

Now the more factors you bring into combat, the slower it gets, so my guess is their version of Combat & Tactics will do a lot to slow combat down, but it'll bring a lot of depth into it (hopefully) for the people who want it and don't see the point of having a quick fight.

 

But at its most basic, a system is easier to slow down than it is to speed up. If D&D starts with quick combats in mind and then provides for elements that give depth at the expense of speed to be used as and when it's appropriate, then two things happen, in theory. First is everyone gets what they want by spinning the combat speed dial to the desired position. Second is the elements that slow combat down won't slow it down overall as much as a system that has long fights in mind - by that I mean things like considering your action, figuring out what ability to use when and determining situational bonuses simply take less time. That allows everyone to focus on what the characters are doing rather than how the numbers are working.

 

As for which is better, well that's just a point of personal preference. I like my fights quick and dangerous, so the playtest (with tweaks to the beastiary) is suiting me down to the ground. I also don't play with a mat so abstractions like advantage and the relatively fluid movement allowed are also far preferable for me.

frbelanger wrote:

I often ask myself the same question about faster combat.

I actualy play 4ed.

What I avoid as DM is meaning less combat, taking guards or patrol for examples. Which I run into skill challenge. More rapid and easy.

Combat often take an hour. In a 3 hours session, we run 2 combats, 2 or three skill challenge and the rest is made of role play.

Skill challlenge result allow me to storytell what happen next  and make the story advance to crucial combat or roleplay.

 

I often turn the plug off from some combat that are win by players to avoid waste of time in a dead cause.

I do prefer a long and challenging combat over a succession of rapid meaningless combat.

I the combat is resolve in 10 minutes, I prefer to storytell it rather than roll the dice.

If I want my players to feel they acheive something mean it cant be done in 10 minutes.

 

I do remember when we were playing advanced edition somewhere in 1984, some epic combats that take multiples session to resolve.

It was a high level party and we challenge horde of demons and giants.  I still got great feeling about that.

 

The question about faster combat is a question of acheivement.

Can we have a feeling of acheivement after a combat resolve in 5 minutes.

 

 

You don't need to feel "achievement", you benefit from being able to have a couple Orc guards be fought quickly by the PCs and it not take an hour, because every single combat has to be a challenge. 

 

The story wins when you don't force in challenge into the story where there shouldn't be. For example, let's say there are two orc guards. Easy for the party to kill, but still risky if they sound an alarm, or scream. Much better to send in the assassin, or try to distract them and get by them. But defeating them in combat is not a challenge, that's the whole point. The world should exist not to provide challenges to PCs handed to them on a silver plate, where they're balanced for the party which is expected to win every time.

 

A single Ogre could kill one or two party members before going down at level 1. Is that a risk you want to take? The world shouldn't have to be just a sandbox for players to kill stuff in and collect XP, it should have a purpose to advance the story too.

 

Look, I love combat, and even tactical combat. But 4e s***d the pooch on forcing adventures to all have "balanced" aka reasonably challenging but not too crazy encounters. It make every battle feel the same, at least in overall terms of difficulty. You win, you rest 5 minutes, back to full HP, then you explore a bit, then again, and again rince lather repeat. The story in between the battles were skimmed over, like an impatient player in a videogame during a cutscene where they lose control over their avatar. This is the same thing. In 4e, combat took so long and every battle was expected to be super big and meaningful, therefore, PCs knew this, and meta-game intruded. Ahhh, the DM wouldn't put a monster we coulnd't beat in the dungeon, that'd be unbalanced. Or nah, those two orcs can't challenge the PCs, I won't ever have two monsters wandering on their own in the game, because in round 1 the players will all blast thier encounter powers and splat them in no time flat. 4e did not support the inclusion of skirmish-type battles, because every 5 minutes, your encounter powers reloaded and you were back to near-full capacity. That put the entire game on rails. Even the lead adventure designer said "2-page spread encounter-based design" was a huge mistake. I quote: "We blew up the game"

 

You can have a feeling of achievement through quickly resolved combats : more of them per day. The story in between ceases to be a side-movie that you want to skip until you get back to the action. In short, they've re-balanced the game across all pillars of play.

 

Forcing combats to be 1 hour long or nothing, was a massive imbalance away from the story-telling and exploration and RP- time that each session could allow. 

 

The first time I played D&D Next I played with 8 guys at an Encounters table, we did 6 battles, explored half a town including a series of tunnels, interrogated NPCs, slept the night, bought armor and food, followed clues into the mountains and back, and found the entrance to some caves. The DM hadn't even read the current playtest packet, and most of the players didn't have their characters ready. Yet in 3 hours, we achieved all that.

 

The first time I played 4e with my 5 best friends, it took us an entire 4 hour session to get through two battles and get to town. Those goblins had SO many HP!! Keep on the Shadowfell. The story sucked, but that was besides the point. Combat was a drag, it was way too bullet-timey and the story suffered. Next is 1000x superior due to combat speed alone, aside from all the other innovations and fixes to make it seem more old school (even though it kind of, isn't. It's something new). 

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Valdark wrote:

 

Alter_Boy wrote:

I have no problem with quick combat as a platonic ideal, but my experience with D&D/fantasy RPG is that quick combats are either inconsequential or lethal. That is, combat is quick because one side dies very easily: either the monsters or the party. As Emrikol pointed out, when combat is so short, pre-combat strategy is the biggest determinator of success: do you walk into the canyon without scouting first, or do you cause a landslide with magic to kill any ambushers?

 

Overall, quick combat means there's less in-combat tactics, so I'm not a fan. My solution to running 4ed is to give equal time to combat and social encounters. We spend whole sessions just RPing, and we spend whole sessions just fighting. Personally, I'd rather spend 2 hours on one fun and meaningful combat, than on (6) 20-minute combats spread out over 2 sessions.

 

 

See here is the problem with that approach, some players love combat, some love RP, and others love exploring the world.

 

When you have to devote an entire session to combat you lose focus on RP and Exploration characters for that entire session.

 

I have some players who would avoid every combat if the party let them and others who would kill a pack of roaming buffallo just to say they killed something.

 

The quicker combat allows for all of them to get what they want every single session.

 

Every combat is meaningful no matter how small because sometimes $#!? happens and sometimes your "meaningful encounter" comes down to that one HP you lost to the 3 wandering Koblolds.

 

I don't have to devote entire sessions to combat or RP. I plan to get a mix in most sessions, but I try to follow the flow of what the group wants. I can plan for a mugging encounter to happen during a city tour, but if everyone is having too much fun being tourists, I'm not going to interrupt the player-led fun at my table for the sake of being "balanced." Clearly, for your group, you have to balance combat and social, because your group is very divided in their interests. You need that tool; other groups might want a lot of pillar imbalanced because they value one pillar very highly.

 

You can make any combat "meaningful" in the long-term, but it's much harder to make every combat "fun". For me, I try to make everything I plan to present to my players entertaining in and of itself: if they like, I keep it going for a while, and if they're not interested, I move it along to its conclusion.

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I really like the quicker combats.

 

It lets me run real dungeon crawls without them taking up months of my group's (usually short) game sessions.  It lets me run multiple combats and still leave time for investigation, exploration, or interaction encounters.  It's just... better... for my game.

 

And I don't think D&D's ever been quite this quick before.

 

Honestly?  Quick combat is the primary selling point of this edition, compared with previous ones, to me.

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Long combats do have their place in the game.  I've run several BBEG battles that lasted the entire session in every edition of D&D.  The problem I have is when every single encounter is contrived to be overtly tacticle and time consuming.   Sometimes there should be a few warm up encounters just to pick up the pace a bit .   Other times it just makes sense that there is only one zombie in every bedroom on a particular floor of the castle for story reasons.   Sure, such a creature might be much of a challenge on it's own, but they can hit and can cause the party to expend a few resources.   I've also noticed that you can never predict what players will do.   I've seen characters go down from the simplist of monsters, not because it was designed as a perfect challenge for the party, but because the player(s) behaviour caused it to happen.  Of  course, I like to design the world first and then put the characters in it, and that design leaves the door open for a room with only 3 orcs.    Other playstyles will design everything around the party and lead everyone down the railroad of awesomeness.   

 

Even as a player I like to roll to hit or swing my sword.  Even if the three orcs are dead after the first round from my sword alone, I still want to play it out.  After all, it only takes one orc to sound the alarm or toss blinding powder at the wizard's eyes and completely screw him until the party finds a cure.      


dmgorgon wrote:

Long combats do have their place in the game.  I've run several BBEG battles that lasted the entire session in every edition of D&D.  The problem I have is when every single encounter is contrived to be overtly tacticle and time consuming.   Sometimes there should be a few warm up encounters just to pick up the pace a bit .   Other times it just makes sense that there is only one zombie in every bedroom on a particular floor of the castle for story reasons.   Sure, such a creature might be much of a challenge on it's own, but they can hit and can cause the party to expend a few resources.   I've also noticed that you can never predict what players will do.   I've seen characters go down from the simplist of monsters, not because it was designed as a perfect challenge for the party, but because the player(s) behaviour caused it to happen.  Of  course, I like to design the world first and then put the characters in it, and that design leaves the door open for a room with only 3 orcs.    Other playstyles will design everything around the party and lead everyone down the railroad of awesomeness.  

 

Even as a player I like to roll to hit or swing my sword.  Even if the three orcs are dead after the first round from my sword alone, I still want to play it out.  After all, it only takes one orc to sound the alarm or toss blinding powder at the wizard's eyes and completely screw him until the party finds a cure.    

 

Yes..this is so true.

 

Additionally, with Bounded Acuracy (and pack tactics) even the little guys can throw a monkey wrench into the PCs gears once in a while.    Many people complain about the swinginess of combat using d20, but it is that very wide range of possiblities that can make any moment in most combat scenarios unpredictable and interesting.

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First off, the easy answer: quicker is always better when it's quicker as a result of less boring or tedious stuff. Compare 3e grapple rules with Next, for example - 3e takes a lot more weird rolls to get you to the same result, so it's slower for no good reason.

 

The second thing to keep in mind is that the goal isn't to have ONLY short fights in the game; the idea is to allow both 4e-style setpiece encounters that take a whole session, and also smaller skirmishes that can be resolved quickly.

 

So, why would you want a system that can handle skirmishes quickly? The OP includes a hint when it mentions every 4e encounter as the sword of Damocles: when every battle takes a long time, each encounter has to be very carefully balanced to be interesting. This means there are fairly hard limits to how much the PCs can "rig the game" ahead of time by scouting, preparing, enlisting allies, setting traps, and so on: in 4e, your big reward for outmaneuvering your enemies is a long battle that is boringly easy. In Next, that lopsided battle will be done quickly, but it's still worth having, because far fewer of the party's resources are encounter-based, so every spell slot and every hit point counts.

 

This is what they mean when they talk about Next being centered around the adventuring day rather than the encounter. It's not just about wearing down the party with 50 groups of kobolds; it's also about creating leeway in the game balance to allow the party to make things easier or harder on themselves without making the actual combat feel stretched out.

Gornichex wrote:
You don't need to feel "achievement", you benefit from being able to have a couple Orc guards be fought quickly by the PCs and it not take an hour, because every single combat has to be a challenge. 

 

The story wins when you don't force in challenge into the story where there shouldn't be. For example, let's say there are two orc guards. Easy for the party to kill, but still risky if they sound an alarm, or scream. Much better to send in the assassing, or try to distract them and get by them. But defeating them in combat is not a challenge, that's the whole point. The world should exist not to provide challenges to PCs handed to them on a silver plate, where they're balanced for the party which is expected to win every time.

 

A single Ogre could kill one or two party members before going down at level 1. Is that a risk you want to take? The world shouldn't have to be just a sandbox for players to kill stuff in and collect XP, it should have a purpose to advance the story too.

 

Look, I love combat, and even tactical combat. But 4e s***d the pooch on forcing adventures to all have "balanced" aka reasonably challenging but not too crazy encounters. It make every battle feel the same, at least in overall terms of difficulty. You win, you rest 5 minutes, back to full HP, then you explore a bit, then again, and again rince lather repeat. The story in between the battles were skimmed over, like an impatient player in a videogame during a cutscene where they lose control over their avatar. This is the same thing. In 4e, combat took so long and every battle was expected to be super big and meaningful, therefore, PCs knew this, and meta-game intruded. Ahhh, the DM wouldn't put a monster we coulnd't beat in the dungeon, that'd be unbalanced. Or nah, those two orcs can't challenge the PCs, I won't ever have two monsters wandering on their own in the game, because in round 1 the players will all blast thier encounter powers and splat them in no time flat. 4e did not support the inclusion of skirmish-type battles, because every 5 minutes, your encounter powers reloaded and you were back to near-full capacity. That put the entire game on rails. Even the lead adventure designer said "2-page spread encounter-based design" was a huge mistake. I quote: "We blew up the game"

 

You can have a feeling of achievement through quickly resolved combats : more of them per day. The story in between ceases to be a side-movie that you want to skip until you get back to the action. In short, they've re-balanced the game across all pillars of play.

 

Forcing combats to be 1 hour long or nothing, was a massive imbalance away from the story-telling and exploration and RP- time that each session could allow. 

 

The first time I played D&D Next I played with 8 guys at an Encounters table, we did 6 battles, explored half a town including a series of tunnels, interrogated NPCs, slept the night, bought armor and food, followed clues into the mountains and back, and found the entrance to some caves. The DM hadn't even read the current playtest packet, and most of the players didn't have their characters ready. Yet in 3 hours, we achieved all that.

 

The first time I played 4e with my 5 best friends, it took us an entire 4 hour session to get through two battles and get to town. Those goblins had SO many HP!! Keep on the Shadowfell. The story sucked, but that was besides the point. Combat was a drag, it was way too bullet-timey and the story suffered. Next is 1000x superior due to combat speed alone, aside from all the other innovations and fixes to make it seem more old school (even though it kind of, isn't. It's something new). 

 

As far as 4e lacking skirmish-type battles, those were covered with skill challenges. They perfectly handled dealing with small groups or easy enemies, and did so just as fast, if not faster than than Next's minor encounters. Similarly, skill challenges worked for running into significantly more powerful enemies. If the 1st level adventurers run into a 10th level dragon, it's a skill challenge to bypass/escape it. It's just a difference in combat balance. Instead of having a a lot more combats but many of them very quick, 4e eliminates the short fights and consolidates them into fewer longer more significant fights. The DM just has to use the tools at his disposal properly, the same as with any edition. Don't forget that skill challenges can cost the same resources as a fight, such as loss of healing surges or powers, just not as much as would typically be lost in an appropriately challenging fight.

 

I'm not suggesting that Next needs to do it this way, just explaining the equivalencies. Personally, I'm all about the combat. Everything else is just a means of getting to the next fight.

Alter_Boy wrote:

 

Valdark wrote:

 

Alter_Boy wrote:

I have no problem with quick combat as a platonic ideal, but my experience with D&D/fantasy RPG is that quick combats are either inconsequential or lethal. That is, combat is quick because one side dies very easily: either the monsters or the party. As Emrikol pointed out, when combat is so short, pre-combat strategy is the biggest determinator of success: do you walk into the canyon without scouting first, or do you cause a landslide with magic to kill any ambushers?

 

Overall, quick combat means there's less in-combat tactics, so I'm not a fan. My solution to running 4ed is to give equal time to combat and social encounters. We spend whole sessions just RPing, and we spend whole sessions just fighting. Personally, I'd rather spend 2 hours on one fun and meaningful combat, than on (6) 20-minute combats spread out over 2 sessions.

 

 

See here is the problem with that approach, some players love combat, some love RP, and others love exploring the world.

 

When you have to devote an entire session to combat you lose focus on RP and Exploration characters for that entire session.

 

I have some players who would avoid every combat if the party let them and others who would kill a pack of roaming buffallo just to say they killed something.

 

The quicker combat allows for all of them to get what they want every single session.

 

Every combat is meaningful no matter how small because sometimes $#!? happens and sometimes your "meaningful encounter" comes down to that one HP you lost to the 3 wandering Koblolds.

 

 

I don't have to devote entire sessions to combat or RP. I plan to get a mix in most sessions, but I try to follow the flow of what the group wants. I can plan for a mugging encounter to happen during a city tour, but if everyone is having too much fun being tourists, I'm not going to interrupt the player-led fun at my table for the sake of being "balanced." Clearly, for your group, you have to balance combat and social, because your group is very divided in their interests. You need that tool; other groups might want a lot of pillar imbalanced because they value one pillar very highly.

 

You can make any combat "meaningful" in the long-term, but it's much harder to make every combat "fun". For me, I try to make everything I plan to present to my players entertaining in and of itself: if they like, I keep it going for a while, and if they're not interested, I move it along to its conclusion.

 

You misunderstand me I think. 

 

I'm actually doing less of the balancing than the players are.  

 

If I'm running the group through an adventure and my combat lover is spoiling for a fight a social encounter may turn bloody or if my RP lover is bored with fighting he may take a prisoner and initiate RP where it was not designed.  Likewise there may be a hard fight that I expect my players to realize is hopeless but with careful exploration and planning they may tip the scales completely and there's my exploration player at work. 

 

The thing is that in my game its the choices that matter far more than the encounter balance sheet can ever really cover. 

 

For instance, during the playtest my characters killed a Roc in one round by using the science skill (prior packet) to calculate the trajectory of its fall when one player cast hold monster on it so that the other could have a circular wall of flame that the falling beast would pass through twice before taking falling damage.  The Roc was a hard encounter by design but they made clever use of resources to drop it without a scratch.

 

The following encounter was a nest of displacer beasts guarding the pass.  My RP player used his lore skill to learn that these creatures knew common and would honor a pact to the letter if not the spirit.   She then proceeded to trade 1,000lbs of cooked and tenderized Roc meat for safe passage up the mountain and 1/2 of any dragon meat they procured at the top for safe return. 

 

Two hard encounters, the first depleted minor resources due to quick thinking and

and the second was completely bypassed in an epic way based on decisions made.  Both encounters were meaningful because of player decisions combined with character abilities and either one could have completely destroyed the party if not for the specific spells prepared and quick thinking on the part of the party combined with some serious luck on thier rolls.

 

It was epic not because it took hours to resolve but precisely the opposite, it was epic because of how they overcame the challenges.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edition wars kill players,Dungeons and Dragons needs every player it can get.

thanks everyone for the great thoughts (and an actually constructive thread). it does make a lot of sense to have a short combat base, with the ability to add in optional combat tactics and depth. as long as there is a combat tactic module, i could go for ddnext (depending on how some other issues work out). if there isn't, i can stick with 4e.

Jay_Ibero_911 wrote:

 

Gornichex wrote:
You don't need to feel "achievement", you benefit from being able to have a couple Orc guards be fought quickly by the PCs and it not take an hour, because every single combat has to be a challenge. 

 

The story wins when you don't force in challenge into the story where there shouldn't be. For example, let's say there are two orc guards. Easy for the party to kill, but still risky if they sound an alarm, or scream. Much better to send in the assassing, or try to distract them and get by them. But defeating them in combat is not a challenge, that's the whole point. The world should exist not to provide challenges to PCs handed to them on a silver plate, where they're balanced for the party which is expected to win every time.

 

A single Ogre could kill one or two party members before going down at level 1. Is that a risk you want to take? The world shouldn't have to be just a sandbox for players to kill stuff in and collect XP, it should have a purpose to advance the story too.

 

Look, I love combat, and even tactical combat. But 4e s***d the pooch on forcing adventures to all have "balanced" aka reasonably challenging but not too crazy encounters. It make every battle feel the same, at least in overall terms of difficulty. You win, you rest 5 minutes, back to full HP, then you explore a bit, then again, and again rince lather repeat. The story in between the battles were skimmed over, like an impatient player in a videogame during a cutscene where they lose control over their avatar. This is the same thing. In 4e, combat took so long and every battle was expected to be super big and meaningful, therefore, PCs knew this, and meta-game intruded. Ahhh, the DM wouldn't put a monster we coulnd't beat in the dungeon, that'd be unbalanced. Or nah, those two orcs can't challenge the PCs, I won't ever have two monsters wandering on their own in the game, because in round 1 the players will all blast thier encounter powers and splat them in no time flat. 4e did not support the inclusion of skirmish-type battles, because every 5 minutes, your encounter powers reloaded and you were back to near-full capacity. That put the entire game on rails. Even the lead adventure designer said "2-page spread encounter-based design" was a huge mistake. I quote: "We blew up the game"

 

You can have a feeling of achievement through quickly resolved combats : more of them per day. The story in between ceases to be a side-movie that you want to skip until you get back to the action. In short, they've re-balanced the game across all pillars of play.

 

Forcing combats to be 1 hour long or nothing, was a massive imbalance away from the story-telling and exploration and RP- time that each session could allow. 

 

The first time I played D&D Next I played with 8 guys at an Encounters table, we did 6 battles, explored half a town including a series of tunnels, interrogated NPCs, slept the night, bought armor and food, followed clues into the mountains and back, and found the entrance to some caves. The DM hadn't even read the current playtest packet, and most of the players didn't have their characters ready. Yet in 3 hours, we achieved all that.

 

The first time I played 4e with my 5 best friends, it took us an entire 4 hour session to get through two battles and get to town. Those goblins had SO many HP!! Keep on the Shadowfell. The story sucked, but that was besides the point. Combat was a drag, it was way too bullet-timey and the story suffered. Next is 1000x superior due to combat speed alone, aside from all the other innovations and fixes to make it seem more old school (even though it kind of, isn't. It's something new). 

 

 

As far as 4e lacking skirmish-type battles, those were covered with skill challenges. They perfectly handled dealing with small groups or easy enemies, and did so just as fast, if not faster than than Next's minor encounters. Similarly, skill challenges worked for running into significantly more powerful enemies. If the 1st level adventurers run into a 10th level dragon, it's a skill challenge to bypass/escape it. It's just a difference in combat balance. Instead of having a a lot more combats but many of them very quick, 4e eliminates the short fights and consolidates them into fewer longer more significant fights. The DM just has to use the tools at his disposal properly, the same as with any edition. Don't forget that skill challenges can cost the same resources as a fight, such as loss of healing surges or powers, just not as much as would typically be lost in an appropriately challenging fight.

 

I'm not suggesting that Next needs to do it this way, just explaining the equivalencies. Personally, I'm all about the combat. Everything else is just a means of getting to the next fight.

 

And that right there explains why your preference lies where it does. 

 

Nothing wrong with that.  

 

But it does explain the differences in taste. 

 

For me combat is just another tool to get to the next discovery.

 

 

Edition wars kill players,Dungeons and Dragons needs every player it can get.

Tacster wrote:
thanks everyone for the great thoughts (and an actually constructive thread). it does make a lot of sense to have a short combat base, with the ability to add in optional combat tactics and depth. as long as there is a combat tactic module, i could go for ddnext (depending on how some other issues work out). if there isn't, i can stick with 4e.

 

Glad it helped.   

 

I really hope it does have a solid tactics module because new options are always fun to explore and you can take as little or as much as you want.

Edition wars kill players,Dungeons and Dragons needs every player it can get.

For me, an average combat should last about 10 to 15 minutes, with epic boss fights lasting upwards of 30 minutes.  This mainly comes from the fact that I mostly run the playtest at my local game store, and we only have about 90 minutes to play before the store closes.  Even if we had more time, I would prefer combat to rarely take longer than a half hour.  Long combats seem to break up the flow of the game too much.  It is often difficult to get back on track to what the group was doing after an epic slugfest.

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Tacster wrote:
one of the qualities many people seem to like about next is the combat is much more quick and efficient - you can have 5, 10, or 15 minutes combats easily, and "there is more time for roleplaying."

my question is, what is the point of these combats? i'd much rather handwave a fight versus three kobold nobodies instead of taking the time to roll initiative, have everyone make a few basic attacks, no one wants to blow daily powers in these fights, have a few misses draw it out into a 3 or 4 round combat, have the monsters do a few hp worth of damage and have nothing significant come out of the fight. i guess i want a fight to be worth actually picking up the dice for.

granted, i do think 4e combats could be more streamlined... anytime somebody tried to interrupt another persons interrupt i let out a big sigh. so i totally get trying to make a 90 minute fight a 60 minute fight, or a 60 minute fight a 30 minute fight. but in some next playtests i have literally asked what is the point of making me roll those two basic attacks - i like my combats to require tactical thinking and power/feature selection. maybe it comes from playing an edition where characters dont have the sword of damocles hanging over their head during every fight (which seems like how some of the early editions are portrayed at early levels). thoughts/preferences?

There's a couple points. 

 

You mention the first, with slow combats dragging.

Long combats are as much a feature as a bug in 4e, as that edition really shines when you have big setpiece fights. But it's harder for incidental fights. 

 

Sometimes you just want a small fight. The PCs do the wrong thing and a fight starts. The fight is less about "will the heroes win" but more "how long will it take?" or "can the PCs kill the goblins before they can pull the alarm?"

While 4e, and to a lesser extent 3e, were about big fights where you use 1/4 of your resources every fight and gradually get more exhausted, that's also not the only way to play. You can have marathon days with a dozen small fights each very slowly wearing down resources.  

Sometimes you also want a quick random encounter. Perhaps there's been a long stretch of travelling or a long period of role-playing and everyone just needs a change in pace. But that can be difficult in 3e/4e without derailing the story as you spend 30 minutes on what's a throw-away fight. 

 

Really, it's about choice. If you don't want incidental encounters then don't have incidental encounters. Have fewer large set piece encounters that take longer but are more dramatic with more enemies and waves of bad guys. But, with faster combats in the game, people who do want an incidental battle.

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