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YvizztX23
2009-10-24, 10:41 PM
Hey, does anyone have a method to make combat in 4th Edition combat faster? My friend and I are playing through Keep on the Shadowfell (or Keep off the Shadowfell, as we have nicknamed it) and combat just seems to go on forever. Is this because A), we simply don't have it down to a system, B), Because KotS is just the "noob adventure", or C), This is normal, or D), because we are lame?

Every encounter typically takes about 1-2 hours. This would be alright, except that typically, we do not have much time in each session.

Can anyone help?

CarpeGuitarrem
2009-10-24, 10:49 PM
How many players do you have? Do you use combat cards? Do you have your attack bonuses ready to apply on the fly? Are players planning their turns ahead of time? Are you utilizing Intimidate-to-surrender?

Sir_Elderberry
2009-10-24, 10:52 PM
How long have you been playing? My first 4e adventure lasted like eight hours, but I could play that same one in like three hours now, and not just because I've done that before. It's all about knowing what you can do and not flipping through the PH every other turn.

Giggling Ghast
2009-10-24, 10:56 PM
A generally suggested fix is to reduce the monsters' HP or simply have the monsters run away after a time, which is definitely appropriate in some cases.

Behold_the_Void
2009-10-24, 10:56 PM
That's odd, it usually doesn't take that long.

Something I will do though, is get the initiative order down and initiate what my group has dubbed "speed D&D" where everyone has their action in mind and once it executes, I immediately point to the next person and they have to go within about 10 seconds or they just stand there. The "or else" hasn't occurred once and everyone had fun with how hectic it was.

That said, these are experienced players, so your mileage may vary.

greenknight
2009-10-24, 10:58 PM
Every encounter typically takes about 1-2 hours. This would be alright, except that typically, we do not have much time in each session.

This really depends more on your playing style than anything else. Combat will always take a bit of time no matter which edition of the rules you use and how you set it up. That said, here's a few general tips for reducing the amount of time combat takes in game:

1) Reduce table chatter. Don't talk too much about things which aren't related to the immediate combat. Make sure everyone understands the rules and at least has a fair idea what their character is going to do in the combat round. That's really very easy to do with low level characters in 4e.

2) Have everyone roll their attack and damage dice at the start of the round. This is faster, but can sometimes lead to cheating, so make sure everyone who plays is trustworthy. You could also use a computer die rolling program to speed things up even more.

3) If you have access to a computer while you play, have your DM use something like MapTools (from RPTools) to set up the combats in advance. Then all you need to do is add your character's starting position. This adds a bit to the DM's prep time, but it can really speed things up during play.

4) If none of that helps enough, try to talk your DM into "autocompleting" combats, once your characters are in the mopping up stage of the encounter. With just a little experience, both you and the DM will recognise the point where the real challenge of the encounter is over, and it's just a matter of finishing off the surviving mooks. So just do a rough and ready calculation on how many more times the enemy will hit your characters, assign the damage, and end the encounter. If you want, roll a d20, the higher numbers being good for your characters (20 equalling no damage), while the lower numbers being bad (1 equalling double the damage you'd expect).

Hope that helps.

Hashmir
2009-10-24, 10:59 PM
Sounds like you're unfamiliar with the rules. D&D takes exponentially longer the more people you have and the fewer know the rules. Especially given the well-defined action sequence and power list, 4e shouldn't be taking you that long unless you are looking up every single power before deciding your actions, and then checking the rules some more afterward.

Would this (http://www.wizards.com/dnd/files/QuickStartRules.pdf) help?

Grynning
2009-10-24, 11:07 PM
If you have a computer with a big enough screen for everyone to see, or a whiteboard, put the initiative order up, including the monsters. Also, while this may break "immersion," one of my DM's puts the damage totals up next to the names of individual monsters (usually based on the mini being used). This helps the group with concentrating firepower to get the bad guys knocked out faster. We don't have any rule against meta-game discussion of tactics for the same reason; it's assumed that our characters know how to work together, so we're allowed to figure out how to set each other up.

We also use little rubber bands that come in rainbow colors to hang on the minis to help keep track of status effects. It cuts down on everyone having to remember what conditions are on what.

YvizztX23
2009-10-24, 11:42 PM
Okay, well, we put all of our powers on index cards, so we don't have to go through the book all the time. There's only two of us, my friend and I (I'm both DM and a PC), although we have three characters each.

This is our first time playing D&D, so it makes sense from that standpoint. My friend also got an app on his ipod touch called i4e, which is a bit like a virtual character sheet.

infinitypanda
2009-10-24, 11:49 PM
A quick and dirty fix that my group found useful was to maximize all damage. This saves time in two ways: things die faster, and that's one less roll. If it's a crit, just roll damage normally and add that to your max damage.

Oh, and do this for PCs and monsters. It's more fun that way.

YvizztX23
2009-10-24, 11:54 PM
A quick and dirty fix that my group found useful was to maximize all damage. This saves time in two ways: things die faster, and that's one less roll. If it's a crit, just roll damage normally and add that to your max damage.

Oh, and do this for PCs and monsters. It's more fun that way.

Yeah, this does seem a bit cheap. I'll give it a try, though. :smallsmile:

Hashmir
2009-10-25, 12:14 AM
Okay, well, we put all of our powers on index cards, so we don't have to go through the book all the time. There's only two of us, my friend and I (I'm both DM and a PC), although we have three characters each.

This is our first time playing D&D, so it makes sense from that standpoint. My friend also got an app on his ipod touch called i4e, which is a bit like a virtual character sheet.

Well, there's your problem.

See, you currently have two (new to 4e) brains running 6 PCs and X monsters. Not only is that a slightly larger-than-average party size, you've got too much going on. You can only think about one thing at a time, and you're forcing yourselves to become too familiar with too much too fast.

Frankly, here's what I would suggest you do. Drop at least two of the characters -- running two characters each plus monsters is putting enough on your plate. Personally, I'd drop the third and have the DM play only one. In any case, if you feel you already have a very solid grasp of all the combat mechanics, then you should be fine.

But in all seriousness, even if you do decide you prefer six characters in the end, I would highly recommend you at least try a practice battle of some kind with only three or four characters, and see if the battle speeds up. If it's significantly faster, then you've found the problem.

YvizztX23
2009-10-25, 12:24 AM
Well, there's your problem.

See, you currently have two (new to 4e) brains running 6 PCs and X monsters. Not only is that a slightly larger-than-average party size, you've got too much going on. You can only think about one thing at a time, and you're forcing yourselves to become too familiar with too much too fast.

Frankly, here's what I would suggest you do. Drop at least two of the characters -- running two characters each plus monsters is putting enough on your plate. Personally, I'd drop the third and have the DM play only one. In any case, if you feel you already have a very solid grasp of all the combat mechanics, then you should be fine.

But in all seriousness, even if you do decide you prefer six characters in the end, I would highly recommend you at least try a practice battle of some kind with only three or four characters, and see if the battle speeds up. If it's significantly faster, then you've found the problem.

Hmmm...well, we're pretty attached to our characters, except for our cleric...we feel we have a pretty good grasp of combat. None of our problems are stemming from not having quite figured out the rules.

Zeta Kai
2009-10-25, 12:25 AM
A quick and dirty fix that my group found useful was to maximize all damage. This saves time in two ways: things die faster, and that's one less roll. If it's a crit, just roll damage normally and add that to your max damage.

Oh, and do this for PCs and monsters. It's more fun that way.

That's a good fix. It would make my 4E experiences much more bearable.

Katana_Geldar
2009-10-25, 12:28 AM
When you're still new with the system, combat is going to be slow. My group is still not completely familiar with 4e and one of our encounters with some goblins on the road took so long that the enxt encounters the DM didn't bother with the minis.

Moving miniatures can slow down an encounter, partictularly if you want it to be fast.

Guy
2009-10-25, 02:07 AM
Maybe try a different adventure, too. KotS is notoriously full of boring encounters and is a poor example of a good adventure for beginners.

Mark Hall
2009-10-25, 02:25 AM
A quick and dirty fix that my group found useful was to maximize all damage. This saves time in two ways: things die faster, and that's one less roll. If it's a crit, just roll damage normally and add that to your max damage.

Oh, and do this for PCs and monsters. It's more fun that way.

I was going to say "go with half instead of maximum", but considering magic weapon properties on a a crit, that still makes crits useful and worthwhile.

Kaun
2009-10-25, 03:31 AM
we use the 15 second rule.

From the time it becomes a players turn they have 15 seconds to declare there action, if they have not declared an action with in the 15 seconds then they are considered to have had a brain fart or combat paralysis or something and mis there turn. It works well and stops players spending ages going over the situation trying to figure out the best possible action.

Also getting you hands on the official chr creator program that is on the website helps allot cos all the math is done for each ability on the template.

i also use 1 die roll for all my monsters initiative and just add there respective bonus's.

Also if you want combat to be faster try using more minions rather then actual mobs. Fights can be just as deadly but there is less paper work so it tends to move faster.

Ravens_cry
2009-10-25, 03:42 AM
A quick and dirty fix that my group found useful was to maximize all damage. This saves time in two ways: things die faster, and that's one less roll. If it's a crit, just roll damage normally and add that to your max damage.

Oh, and do this for PCs and monsters. It's more fun that way.
Eh. . .I don't like this. Sure, it IS faster, but it really leaves a bit of suspense by the wayside, and makes things a litany of hits, even with the variations from the power system of 4e. One thing my group does is roll the damage dice and hit dice together. If you hit, great, it's pre-rolled. If not, no matter. It especially helps with archers of various flavours.

Theodoric
2009-10-25, 04:03 AM
Well, you just need to get to know the system. After some experience with the system, combat in my group takes about a 1/3 of the time it initially took.

Thajocoth
2009-10-25, 04:13 AM
I'm DMing for a group who're brand new to the system. I refuse to do things like cut someone's turn short because they're taking too long... But I do:
* Make sure they've all got power cards laid out
* Give them a nice "How things work" encounters for the first few sessions, with encounters designed to be both easy and introduce elements to the game for them
* Use status tokens under the minis so players can see what's going on at a glance. (bloody, prone, dazed, marked, ect...)
* Give the fastest two players (I don't say that's the reason) the jobs of handling initiative cards and placing the status tokens on everyone. This keeps me from having to deal with it in addition to all the monsters and such, speeding me up. Two reasons I pick the fastest people: A - Their turns are the shortest time-wise, and doing this keeps them from realizing it because it hasn't been several minutes since they've done something. B - They handle the job more quickly than a slower player would.
* Give them some level of "obvious insight". For example: A plant is grabbing a PC and sucking the life out of him. It's probably not going to stop when the player falls unconscious. That's something the player could probably figure out without an insight check.
* Give the PCs excellent gear (the more maximized they are, the better my range of what I can throw at them.)
* Remove a lot of "cleenup" bookkeeping that I, personally, find to be horribly boring ("Wait, how many arrows have I fired since that last town we went to?" -> "No idea, but you picked them all up after each encounter, so it doesn't matter. You have arrows." or "Am I encumbered now?" -> "I don't know... Are you carrying a horse or other item of comedic size for you to be holding?")
* Keep the chart of improvisation stuff on my DM screen. (From the DMG. Page 42, I think...)
* Keep a calculator handy. Being a programmer doesn't mean I can do incredible maths in my head. It means I can tell machines to do incredible maths for me. I'm fairly slow mathematically. (I have, on several occasions, opened up Windows Calculator to add single digit numbers.)
* Answer player questions. The question half the time is "You don't know" or "Roll a ______ check."
* Interlockable Whiteboard Tile Grid. Similar to Tact-tiles, but I made it myself. Mine is actually not dry-erase (dry-erase markers draw on it permanently while ordinary markers come off with a little water.)
* I also do things like handling some out-of-combat stuff on the way to get pizza or while I'm washing off my homemade tiles... But only in circumstances when I can.
* If people are going really slowly, I remind them that they should start thinking about what they want to do on other people's turns.

We just finished the 3rd session, and already they're getting pretty close to the speeds of people in my other group, who've been playing 4e since it came out.

Artanis
2009-10-25, 10:47 AM
(I have, on several occasions, opened up Windows Calculator to add single digit numbers.)

OK, that is just...:smalleek:

:smalltongue:

Indon
2009-10-25, 11:43 AM
Is your group Controller and/or Leader-heavy, perhaps?

Controllers take the most time and energy in combat since they place the most secondary effects on targets, followed by Leaders for a similar reason (only they target allies, of which there are fewer).

Defenders and Strikers tend to run faster (Striking is the speediest role), but you can take controller or leader-flavored powers on many different characters.

Edit:

OK, that is just...:smalleek:

Once you have to remember five or six of those small numbers ("Okay, I have combat advantage, target has superior cover, Artificer set my weapon on fire, Warlord gave me a +2..."), it starts to become time-consuming.

kieza
2009-10-25, 02:15 PM
To handle what I think are inflated HP:
Reduce Lurker and Artillery Monsters' HP by 2 + 2 per level. (To 4 + 4 per level plus Con)
Reduce Skirmisher and Controller HP by 3 + 3 per level. (5 + 5 per level + Con)
Reduce Soldier HP by 2 + 2 per level. (6 + 6 per level + Con)
Reduce Brute HP by 2 + 2 per level. (8 + 8 per level + Con)
Reduce Elite HP by the above amounts times 2.
Reduce Solo HP by the above amounts times 4.
If you get to Paragon Tier, reduce Solo HP by 1/5, then by the above amounts times 4.

To adjust to later monster design rules:
Reduce Elite and Solo defenses by 2.
Give Elites and Solos a damage bonus, defense bonus, expanded crit range, or additional power or ability that kicks in when bloodied.

To play monsters intelligently:
If monsters are sentient or otherwise tactically capable, have them run when about half or 2/3 are dead, or when all of the remaining ones are bloodied. Your players will probably off about half the survivors before they escape, maybe more.

To design faster encounters:
Minionize monsters: Let them keep any qualities like resistances, get rid of any non-basic attacks and other powers, and have them deal minimum damage. Treat them like minions (i.e. 4 for every monster.) I recommend that instead of killing with auto damage and having no effect with a miss, give them a save against dying whenever they take damage from auto-damage or misses. Keep one or two normal monsters, or an elite or solo, as the "boss" of the encounter. (This is maybe my favorite encounter design for non plot-important encounters. One elite with a dozen or so minions goes down fast, does plenty of damage, and, most importantly, taking him down is cool for the players.)

Include terrain that can be used to gain an advantage: Let players interact with most as a minor action. Stuff like chandeliers that can be dropped on enemies, tapestries to entangle them, tables to use as cover, carpets to pull out from under them. The easiest thing if you don't have DMG2 is to use traps that target all creatures.

Use leader monsters with weak allies: The leaders make the allies more of a threat, but is the weak link: once the leader is dead, the allies are easy to clean up. If a lot of them are already dead, have them surrender when the enemy is killed.

Use solos sparingly: Reserve solos for very climactic fights. Even then, the best way to use them is to have one slightly below-level solo and a few normal monsters or minions. Equal-level solos have huge amounts of HP, but don't do similar amounts of damage, so the fight is boring and drags on, plus it involves having everyone surround and beat on it. Including allies gives tactical complexity, increases damage and makes the fight seem to go faster (even if it actually takes longer). Plus, the controller no longer feels left out.
For a true boss fight, in which the players need all their resources, use one solo and 2-3 normal monsters of the party's level, or the equivalent.

TheEmerged
2009-10-25, 10:24 PM
Power Cards: can't recommend these enough. I print them on 3x5 cards that I then cut in half, with as much of the math done in advance as possible.

Monster Cards: again, hard to recommend these strong enough. Yes, it means I spend a fair amount of time retyping things in the MM and reformating it to fit on a 3x5. I tend to have about 3-4 weeks to prepare for each 3-4 hour session though, so this is acceptable for me. Every minute of that session is worth about 1-2 hours of prep time.

Also, I roll initiative for all battles in advance, with a separate page for each battle. Surprising how much time this saves (enough that the players stopped minding the way it takes a roll away from them).

Where possible/feasible, I make the maps in advance too.

Flowcharting the adventure & scripting the dialogs as much as possible. Allows me to prevent too much railroading while taking advantage of my heavy preparation-to-playtime ratio.

Thajocoth
2009-10-26, 12:03 AM
Power Cards: can't recommend these enough. I print them on 3x5 cards that I then cut in half, with as much of the math done in advance as possible.

Monster Cards: again, hard to recommend these strong enough. Yes, it means I spend a fair amount of time retyping things in the MM and reformating it to fit on a 3x5. I tend to have about 3-4 weeks to prepare for each 3-4 hour session though, so this is acceptable for me. Every minute of that session is worth about 1-2 hours of prep time.

Also, I roll initiative for all battles in advance, with a separate page for each battle. Surprising how much time this saves (enough that the players stopped minding the way it takes a roll away from them).

Where possible/feasible, I make the maps in advance too.

Flowcharting the adventure & scripting the dialogs as much as possible. Allows me to prevent too much railroading while taking advantage of my heavy preparation-to-playtime ratio.

Oh yeah, I don't use monster cards, but combining Adventure Tools - Monster Builder, The DDI Compendium and Photoshop, I put all enemies in a battle on a single page and print in out. I also pre-roll monster initiative. I can't pre-script anything though. It's mostly player driven, so I give more reactions than anything else. I might give an NPC a goal, like "Try to convince the Tiefling Swordmage to let you see his Flaming Longsword for a second." But no specific dialog.

(That particular conversation went something like: [Contains innuendo]
Closest of 13 Pirates in the tavern: "That be a nice lookin' sword ye got thar... Mind if I be havin' a quick look at it?"
Tiefling Swordmage: "Well, you've got a pretty mouth there. Mind if we go behind the tavern for a few?"
Minotaur Barbarian: "I call sloppy seconds!")

oxinabox
2009-10-26, 12:36 AM
Ok: first some things:
You're Not all Passing around one PHB to look up you power each turn are you?
Gets some power sheet: I used to make these by hand a 3+ page extended character sheet with description of all feats, racial bailities, and all powers. (i was inpeired by the Demo sheets) now, the Character builder makes them for you.

Some small things:
Role you damage and attack similaniusly. it helps.

Don't Keep track of you current HP's.
Instead Keep track of you current wounds (How much total damage you've taken).
Most people can do addition much faster than subtraction, so just add the damage just took to your total; damage taken.
When that reaches your max HP, your unconcious.
This goes Double for DM's, since they have more to keep track of.

On that note: DMs: Develop a decent system for keeping track of monsters HP etc.
I use a list writen veritcally, of monster and PC, organised by intitivie
Monter current wounds to the right of hte name, crossing our as i go.
Next to current wounds in a subsrcipts, circled is any one going damage, to the right of the name is any near perminate condions, to the left near the wounds is ongoing condions, all scrawleld down in rough hands.


Group monsters inititives. shouldn't have more that 2 different groups out monsters per 4 PC's. ususally.
I group by Stats generally, so they'll all be archers, all with +2 initive.

If Running of a adventure you earlier wrote prepare monster cards, printed on the same page as the description of the room.

If Running spontainously, use monsters from near parts of the MM. in the same encounter.


DM: It may be embarassing, but have a calc on on hand, if you actually need it.
I'm doing university Maths, no one can do aritmatic, mathimatitions are almost uniformly poor at simple addition and multiplication.

DM: need to be FAST, like you should do all the monsters in hopefully less than the time it take two players to to have there turns.
Don't try to use the optimum moves. If the monster want to get someone, by can't make it with a charge then don't have them reconsider and charge someone closer, stick with you gut instinct and do a full round run. doesn't matter that with waste an action, who cares?



LEss numerous enemies in encounters:
If the Party can focus all the power on one guy, then he'll dye alot quicker than 5 guys with 1/6 the HP.

Identify the minions*
Let the Wizard/ druid go Nuts with AoE's

* (or take a guess, if your wrong you'll have still damaged some enemies)

Kurald Galain
2009-10-26, 04:23 AM
To echo what some people already have said,

(1) Every player must have either a well-written character sheet, or power cards. By "well-written" I mean that they really do have all the necessary numbers at a glance, with all the additions pre-made, so that they don't have to look up their attack bonus every. single. time. That also means writing out separate bonuses for when they're raging and when they're not, etc. I find that the standard power cards that the character builder prints are not very good for beginners.

(2) educate your players. If a player has to look up his to-hit bonus every turn, or be reminded which dice to roll, then it'll go much faster once s/he has this memorized.

(3) have all monsters with an initiative between the players delay until they are below the players. This means that during combat, all the monsters go (in whatever order the DM likes), and then all the players go (in whatever order they like). This doesn't work for every single combat, but it does for most of them, and is faster.

(4) in many combats, after 2-4 rounds, it is clear that the PCs have won, but they need to spend more time just wrapping up. As the DM, declare player victory at that point, and move on.

(5) my rule is that if you hesitate too much, so does your character, and you lose your turn. This is psychology: once I bring up that this rule exists, I never actually have to enforce this.

(6) Certain powers or feats are just a waste of time. I'm talking about e.g. feats that give +1 to hit in some semi-rare circumstances, that players tend to forget. This is where the "I hit AC 24, oh no 25, oh oops I meant 26" syndrome comes from. Convince your players to pick something else when making their character; this is just as annoying in the game as 3E's "oh yeah, I forgot to declare my dodge". Houserule that a feat that gives +2 sometimes instead gives +1 all the time - much faster.

(7) And most importantly, remind your players that the game is about having fun, not min-maxing every single thing, and thus taking an action now that does 20 points of damage is preferable to thinking for a minute and then doing 23 points of damage.

Meek
2009-10-26, 06:26 AM
(7) And most importantly, remind your players that the game is about having fun, not min-maxing every single thing, and thus taking an action now that does 20 points of damage is preferable to thinking for a minute and then doing 23 points of damage.

This is a really good point. A lot of players are really hung up on always making the "most optimal tactical decision" at any given time. The majority of the time they don't need spotless tactics or awesome combos to survive. "Plain average tactical decision" is serviceable enough.

Unrelated to the above, one thing I did personally was reduce the base monster HP to be more like a PCs (using Fighter, Ranger and Wizard as the high/mid/low HPs), and increase the static damage bonus that monsters get by around 2 points (except at level 1, when it's only 1 point higher). I also had monster's extra dice attacks grant static bonuses to damage, so if that lurker gets combat advantage he's dealing 3 extra points per d6 as opposed to me having to roll.

TheEmerged
2009-10-26, 02:54 PM
To echo what some people already have said,

(1) Every player must have either a well-written character sheet, or power cards. By "well-written" I mean that they really do have all the necessary numbers at a glance, with all the additions pre-made, so that they don't have to look up their attack bonus every. single. time. That also means writing out separate bonuses for when they're raging and when they're not, etc. I find that the standard power cards that the character builder prints are not very good for beginners.

Gotta second this. I've noticed the power cards completely miss some feats still (Pacifist Healer for example).


(2) educate your players. If a player has to look up his to-hit bonus every turn, or be reminded which dice to roll, then it'll go much faster once s/he has this memorized.

Or plainly mentioned on the power cards.


(4) in many combats, after 2-4 rounds, it is clear that the PCs have won, but they need to spend more time just wrapping up. As the DM, declare player victory at that point, and move on.

As subtly as possible. If I think a fight is taking too long and we've hit that point, I essentially turn them into minions (the next hit kills the NPC).


(5) my rule is that if you hesitate too much, so does your character, and you lose your turn. This is psychology: once I bring up that this rule exists, I never actually have to enforce this.

Works better with some players than other.


(7) And most importantly, remind your players that the game is about having fun, not min-maxing every single thing, and thus taking an action now that does 20 points of damage is preferable to thinking for a minute and then doing 23 points of damage.

Cannot be bolded, or seconded, hard enough.