View Full Version : Making Mental Stats Useful in Combat (without spells)

2006-12-11, 11:29 PM
I've been really frustated with the slow pace of many combat encounters in my last game; I can't stand another 15 minute turn. Anyway I remembered someone suggessting a time limit on decision making in combat and I began to expand on the combat decision rules based on Int, Wis and Chr. That's right Charistma is going be useful in combat!!!

Int: Affects the amount of time ones allowed to decide their action during a turn. Base 1 minute plus Int Mod., minimum one minute.

Wis: For each point of Wis Mod in an Encounter the character can ask the GM how hard it would be to do something. (Example: How easy would it be to hit opponent X; AC 1-10 Easy, AC 11-15 Possible, AC 16-20 Hard, AC 20+ Very Hard)

Chr: Determines how many questions the character can ask the other PCs. Determines the amount of commands the character can make with another PC. The amount of times the player look at another player's character sheet.
System: Can do one of these for each point of Chr Mod.

I also have problems with MetaGaming Barbarians with Chr 8 and Int 9 making the parties tactical decisions.

What do you think? Does this sound like a good I idea? Is it too rough? Is their anyother features I should add to combat?

Miles Invictus
2006-12-11, 11:55 PM
Are you trying to find ways to speed up combat, or are you trying to make high mental stats more appealing?

Because if you're trying to speed up combat, the easy way to do it is put every player on a stopwatch and give them about a minute to act. And if you're trying to make mental stats more valuable, I think you're going at it from the wrong angle by punishing players for low scores.

That said, I like the concept.

2006-12-12, 12:55 AM
Dosn't combat expertise already do this?

2006-12-12, 01:19 AM
Dude, I think this is a pretty cool idea. Only thing is, it makes it even better to be a full caster, as you'll have more time/hints/teamwork options than anyone else. Now, if you use the newer, more MAD casters, and make this a function of all classes from the start of the campaign, and maybe a few feats to make up for deficiencies.

I'd throw in:
A character can have no less than 1 point in all categories, and you can take a feat to gain an extra point in one category. Fighter bonus feats can be used for this.

2006-12-12, 01:42 AM
There are heaps of ways to make Mental Stats useful in combat without metagaming, that is by limiting soming above and beyond the game mechanics (like player make-up-their-mind time, how many questions can i get awat with asking the DM, etc.)

Knowledge checks prior to combat (Int)
Spot/Listen checks prior to (or during) combat (Wis)
Intimidate in combat (Cha)
Bluff (and/or Feint) in combat (Cha)

There's a bunch of feats that makes these chechs eaier to do too, such as Improved Feint (PHB), Quick Requisisioner (Complete Adventurer), and Intimidating Rage (Complete Warrior), just to name a few.

Combat Expertise (requires Int 13, trades attack for AC, and is a life saver on occation)
Goad (Complete Adventurer) (require BAB +1, Cha 13, opponent makes a will save or is forced to attack yolu in melee. Keeps the wizard safe, team it up with a high AC and your still safe too!)

If you feel there are some players at your table who arn't roleplaying their ability stats, YOU roleplay them. Just cuz the Half-orc barbarian with Int 9 says somthing, it dosn't mean you follow it. If you know him to be (mechanically) stupid, don't do as he suggests.

Suggested Changes
Hey, time limits are great, but just becouse I'm playing a wizard dosn't mean I get 8 minutes to deside on a spell when the cleric has to in 1. Thats unfair OoC.
- Make it 90 seconds a for a players Primary Character, 60 seconds for the secondary and 30 for each other.
eg 1. I get a full minute and a half to make up my mind on Fireball and roll the 6d6 (Ref save, please), 60 seconds to get my Psudodragon familiar to sting the ogre on the left (AC... 12?), and 30 seconds each for my intelligent item, my animal compaion (cuz im a WIZ/DRD), and my lingering spell effects such as Spiritual Weapon.
eg 2. I have 90 seconds to descide I take another full round attack action becouse im I fighter and thats all I do, and resolve it.
(The trick is, do you watch whats happening when it's someone elses turn, or do you look up the spells you might want to cast next, the combat manuver you think could tip the balance in your favour or re-read the rules on movement while the battle rages around you?)

Instead of asking the DM questions OoC (thats called metagaming!), get your PC to make a spot check ("How good is his armor?" +2 synergy for 5 ranks Craft[armor smithing]), a heal check ("How wounded is he?", +2 synergy for 5 ranks in spot), or the likes. What? These skills usually require a mental stat? ...what are the odds...?

ahh... why are players looking at other players sheets in combat? Why are they making up plans in combat? Get some stats together before combat, roleplay it, practice these strats IC, and you'll not only need to slow up combat less, but you may even earn XP!

Conclusions... (sorry for the essay)
Everything you have for Wis and Cha can be done IC, so do that, and you will not only increase the usefulness of Int, Wis and Cha in combat, but reduce metagaming around the table, becouse the barbarian dosn't know that there is someone on the other side of the door (so to speak).

2006-12-12, 05:38 AM
Also, you shouldn't punish player of the Int9/Cha8 Barbarian for being good with D&D combat, make him bring up reasons why he should be the master combattant! Was his father a warchief of his people, sharing his wisdom with his son at campfires? Stuff like that.
Also remember that good tactics can be more based on actual experience rather than mental abilities, the hight-Int wizard who spent his whole life in libraries studying dusty tomes is not bound to be the best tactician, even if he read a few books on the matter.

Concerning the usefullness of mental stats in combat I agree with the magic 8.

2006-12-12, 07:00 PM
Yeah I geuss this system provides yet another benefit to full casters, but I system was made to punish characters with low mental stats.

Players shouldn't be able to check other player's character sheets and make elaborate plans within the scope of a six second period, (that's how long a turn is if I'm not mistaken).

I think I might allow similiar benefits, but not base them on raw stats

1 minute to decide actions on perround. and if you have 5+ ranks in Knowledge(tactics) you get 2 minutes or 1 and a 1/2 minutes to decide instead.

What I really need to consider is what happens after the time limit is up and the characater hasn't made a choice.
a. GM takes over and does generic action
b. Nothing the character is to busy thinking to do anything that turn.
c.(Which I like the most) same as b. but the character is fighting defensively for the remainer of the round.

Also: Should I allow the players free time to prepare under situations. Like if the character wants to check a rule before they decide( looking at the rules after the decision is made shouldn't count against them), argue why they should use another type of modifier for a check, etc?

I don't think so cause these situations slow combat worst of all.

2006-12-13, 06:36 AM
Also: Should I allow the players free time to prepare under situations. Like if the character wants to check a rule before they decide( looking at the rules after the decision is made shouldn't count against them), argue why they should use another type of modifier for a check, etc?

I don't think so cause these situations slow combat worst of all.

Absolutely! Rules are just things that hamper the players, not the characters. If the player of the level 12 Fighter doesn't know the disarm rules, that doesn't mean that the character doesn't know the risks she takes. Same with spells: The wizard should know best what his spell does, so he should be able to decide on the basis of this knowledge, meaning the character should get to know the rules for the spell.

2006-12-13, 11:32 PM
Sure, the players should know the rules concerning a combat manuver their fighter may want to use, or the spell their wizard is thinking of using, but is the middle of combat the best time to suddenly look these things up?

If a player needs to look at the same rules more than once a session, or more than 3 times within 3 sessions with the same character, it gets tedious.

A solution here may be for the players to take notes of the rules that they have problems with, like reference cards:
"Sunder +23 (opposed attack roll) 2d6+17. p158 PHB"
"Fireball: Evoc 3rd. 7d6 fire. 20ft burst, centered up to 680 ft away. p231 PHB"
Update these when you level up. Look up the rules if you need to. Ultimately, the DM should have a basic grasp enough of the rules that the players don't need to look them up in combat, they ask you.