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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    DwarfFighterGuy

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    Default Modifications for faster combat

    Hey all,

    There have been a number of modification proposed over the years to speed up combat a bit, while still keeping it dangerous.

    I remember seeing something like "Give all monsters 75% HP and +50% damage" as a simple one.

    I want something like that, but as balanced as possible, so as not to throw off encounter math too much. I know some folks here are big on the number-crunching of 4e balance, so I'm curious to see what you'd recommend.

    Other examples I've seen:
    - 2/3 HP, +50% damage
    - 50% HP, double damage
    - 50% HP, 75% XP (would require rebuilding encounters, so less than ideal, but it works)

    Note: This isn't something I intend to use for every fight, but it's nice to have an option for fights that are less important, and thus don't deserve the full-length attention of a setpiece fight. Or ambush-ish fights that should feel fast and deadly.

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    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: Modifications for faster combat

    In fights with large numbers of enemies, have enemies do average damage when they hit (but don't crit).

    Give a +1 bonus to any d20 roll for actions declared within 10 seconds of a player's turn starting.

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    Default Re: Modifications for faster combat

    No modifications will actually help you know. If you ever count how many rounds actually pass you'll see usually not that many. The big time sink in combat is players taking way too long to take their turns. I usually try to pare things down to thirty second turns.

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    Default Re: Modifications for faster combat

    Quote Originally Posted by Verbannon View Post
    No modifications will actually help you know. If you ever count how many rounds actually pass you'll see usually not that many. The big time sink in combat is players taking way too long to take their turns. I usually try to pare things down to thirty second turns.
    Emphasis mine.

    This is the big problem: Players.

    Managing combat is about managing your players or, ideally, teaching them how to manage their character sheets. The really obnoxious ones, of course, blame it on 4E when they choose to ignore the simple fact that this is the only edition where ALL the information required to run a PC actually appears on the character sheet in front of them (and if you don't have the offline tools, you really need to ask for them - hint, hint).

    Basically, your players need help designing macros: What powers do I use and when? Help them understand what their characters can do and then help them build a couple of short lists - open with this, spam that, etc....

    IME, post-DS/MMIII monsters work well. The ones that work best, again IME, are the ones you build yourself. I only ever use custom monsters and have 1000+ stat blocks to draw upon.

    The other time sink is the set-up. Setting up tiles, in particular, and even simply drawing a halfway decent battlemap eat up time and drain away momentum. As much as possible, try and have these prepared ahead of time.

    (Of course, if you have a contrary player like my main player, make sure they don't even get a hint that you're prepared because then they will avoid the encounter simply out of spite.)

    Finally, be generous with your PCs' ability scores. Make sure they're super-accurate. If your players are missing frequently it will make it seem like combat is taking longer: Make sure they're hitting more than they are missing. (Brutes and artillery are great monsters to use because they're likely to be hit 75%+ of the time, and they pose a genuine threat.)

    Finally+, consider using Masterplan to build and run your battles. It's a huge timesaver especially when it comes to remembering conditions.
    Cheers
    Scrivener of Doom

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    Default Re: Modifications for faster combat

    It's all fine and dandy to blame your players but practically speaking that's just not going to get you anywhere. There are a number of things you can do as DM to make combat proceed more smoothly.

    • Have a clear initiative order, and have somebody in charge of calling out the next player to move things along.
    • Limit out-of-turn powers to one per player, because they are a big timesink to resolve.
    • Discourage or outright disallow fiddly situational bonuses to avoid this issue. "I deal 27 damage, wait it's a flank so 28, oh but he's bloodied so 29, but I'm not close enough to our leader so actually 27, but it's a tuesday so 28.5... why are you guys snoring now?"
    • Limit magic items (and using inherent bonuses instead). It is my experience that the game plays much faster if the players have little or no activated items at their disposal, because having a set of arbitrary items roughly doubles the amount of choices a player can take, and many items have fiddly situational bonuses.
    • Be consistent in your environments, so you don't require time at the beginning of combat what lava does this time because it's different from earlier lava. WOTC adventures are highly inconsistent in this!
    • Mandate that everybody has clear power cards with the math written out.
    • In most combats, after two or three rounds it should be obvious that the PCs have won; at this point call off combat.
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    Default Re: Modifications for faster combat

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    It's all fine and dandy to blame your players but practically speaking that's just not going to get you anywhere. There are a number of things you can do as DM to make combat proceed more smoothly.

    • Have a clear initiative order, and have somebody in charge of calling out the next player to move things along.
    • Limit out-of-turn powers to one per player, because they are a big timesink to resolve.
    • Discourage or outright disallow fiddly situational bonuses to avoid this issue. "I deal 27 damage, wait it's a flank so 28, oh but he's bloodied so 29, but I'm not close enough to our leader so actually 27, but it's a tuesday so 28.5... why are you guys snoring now?"
    • Limit magic items (and using inherent bonuses instead). It is my experience that the game plays much faster if the players have little or no activated items at their disposal, because having a set of arbitrary items roughly doubles the amount of choices a player can take, and many items have fiddly situational bonuses.
    • Be consistent in your environments, so you don't require time at the beginning of combat what lava does this time because it's different from earlier lava. WOTC adventures are highly inconsistent in this!
    • Mandate that everybody has clear power cards with the math written out.
    • In most combats, after two or three rounds it should be obvious that the PCs have won; at this point call off combat.
    This. You can also give magic items with powers and properties that don't require decision making in combat. And you can not just limit out of turn class powers, but also powers with a lot of conditional modifiers, or unusual effects with odd durations or non-standard conditions that constantly need looking up.

    Also, I wouldn't call the combat, exactly. If you know the PCs are winning, so does team monster, so they surrender/run away/fall on their swords, as the case may be.

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    Default Re: Modifications for faster combat

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    Have a clear initiative order, and have somebody in charge of calling out the next player to move things along.
    This is one of the reasons why I like running online games. Roll20 has an init counter that I find to be *extremely useful* for all of this. What would be even better would be a timer of some kind so that we can see how long people are taking (and provide some neutral feedback to the players).

    Limit out-of-turn powers to one per player, because they are a big timesink to resolve.
    This disproportionately penalizes certain builds, and even entire roles, in my experience.

    Discourage or outright disallow fiddly situational bonuses to avoid this issue. "I deal 27 damage, wait it's a flank so 28, oh but he's bloodied so 29, but I'm not close enough to our leader so actually 27, but it's a tuesday so 28.5... why are you guys snoring now?"
    Yet another reason why I like roll20: most of my players have set up macros that have all of their situational bonuses specifically mentioned in the effects entry and ranged-based effects can easily be managed via visible auras. I use auras for range determination of all kinds, even if they're not technically auras.

    Limit magic items (and using inherent bonuses instead). It is my experience that the game plays much faster if the players have little or no activated items at their disposal, because having a set of arbitrary items roughly doubles the amount of choices a player can take, and many items have fiddly situational bonuses.
    My basic rule of thumb for powers of *all* kinds basically boils down to "if you forgot to use it, you can't back up and use it retroactively". Combined with various previously mentioned methods for keeping the action moving, the biggest problem with having a bunch of powers for my players generally boils down to forgetting to use them in the heat of the moment rather than the slowing down of combat. And I've found that "wasting" powers is a pretty good punishment to get players to actually remember what they've got.

    Be consistent in your environments, so you don't require time at the beginning of combat what lava does this time because it's different from earlier lava. WOTC adventures are highly inconsistent in this!
    Yet another roll20 thing: if the terrain does something nonstandard, I'll just write a note on the board specifically stating it. Clear communication (and writing notes for the players to remind themselves without having to ask you specifically) can solve a lot of problems.

    Mandate that everybody has clear power cards with the math written out.
    Personally, I'm not fond of power cards and never have been. But I do agree that it's extremely important that they have the math done ahead of time and power effects be visible in some quick reference manner. A vast majority of the time, the attack and damage bonuses for your attacks are the same; the thing that changes most often is the rolled damage and determining *that* just boils down to referencing the power card in whatever format.

    In most combats, after two or three rounds it should be obvious that the PCs have won; at this point call off combat.
    I disagree with this mainly because my games are much more attrition driven than most games (my goal tends to be to have the party completely out of HSs at the end of the adventure). If you end the combat when it becomes apparent that the PCs have won, you end up not losing as much per combat, which lightens the attrition element from the adventure. My players also tend to enjoy the final rounds as well, since it often allows them to get satisfaction on a particularly disliked foe in their own way.

    If you can't tell, I find that one of the best ways to speed up 4e combat is for everyone at the table to be familiar with and use tools for tracking/math/etc. There are a *lot* more of these for online games (especially for use when running a game) but, even for physical games, you can get a lot of use out of whiteboards, sticky notes, and tags/labels.
    4e Homebrew: Shadow Knight
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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Modifications for faster combat

    I'm with ThePurple on this one. The biggest thing is to either have the math written up properly (whether on power cards or on a spreadsheet), with common effects taken into account.

    I'm actually going to add something heretical- there are dice rolling apps out there (the one I used was dicenomicon, but I'm sure there are others that are perfectly good, too). If your players can't look at 5 dice and add them up really, really quickly, this becomes incredibly valuable.

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    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Modifications for faster combat

    Quote Originally Posted by masteraleph View Post
    I'm with ThePurple on this one. The biggest thing is to either have the math written up properly (whether on power cards or on a spreadsheet), with common effects taken into account.

    I'm actually going to add something heretical- there are dice rolling apps out there (the one I used was dicenomicon, but I'm sure there are others that are perfectly good, too). If your players can't look at 5 dice and add them up really, really quickly, this becomes incredibly valuable.
    I don't find math to be the problem; I use a VTT which rolls the dice, determines a hit, calculates damage and applies conditions automatically. I find decision-making to be the problem.

    @ThePurple, as for penalizing builds by restricting items of powers, (a) the restrictions don' t need to be universally applied, and related to this (b) if someone want to run a complicated build they need to show they can handle it. Choice items and powers can be part of the reward system, or quested for, or both.

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    Default Re: Modifications for faster combat

    Quote Originally Posted by Beoric View Post
    @ThePurple, as for penalizing builds by restricting items of powers, (a) the restrictions don' t need to be universally applied, and related to this (b) if someone want to run a complicated build they need to show they can handle it. Choice items and powers can be part of the reward system, or quested for, or both.
    Agreed, but the person I was quoting specifically said "little or no activated items". It's more about figuring out where a given player's "threshold of option paralysis" (the point where they've got so many options available to them that they're no longer able to decide what to do) happens to be than it is about arbitrarily saying "magic items are the problem".

    I've played deep end epic games where I've got a bajillion conditionals, a whole slew of magic items with powers, a massive load of out-of-turn actions, and powers coming from every conceivable source, but I was able to play without slowing anything down because I knew my character extremely well and planned each turn out well beforehand (I even planned my out-of-turn actions ahead of time since I could reliably predict what the NPCs would do; I basically started planning my next turn the second I ended the previous one).

    I've also run mid-heroic tier games with players that would take entire minutes deciding what to do with their Essentials Slayer because the *one* decision they had to make (where and whether to move, since Essentials Slayers are basically designed to run with a single good stance, spam their MBA, and use their encounters ASAP when they hit something) was enough to make them deliberate for an extended period of time.

    For option paralysis, there isn't really a magic bullet solution because player decision making and option sorting capability runs a massive gamut. The only real advice you can ever provide is "don't allow a player to have more tactical options than they're able to handle", which isn't really useful since there's no easy way to know how many they can handle.

    For *other* elements that slow down gameplay after the decision, like calculating bonuses/damage, rolling, referencing specific effects/conditionals, determining range, etc., there *are* magic bullet solutions, and the advantage of bringing up *these* is that it allows you to mitigate as much of the simple problems as possible before tackling the complicated question of "is a player trying to play a character that they don't have the capacity to manage?" (especially since bringing *that* point up to a player can *very* easily lead to inter-player conflict since some people might interpret that as a slight upon their intelligence).

    Also, something to mention is that "gear with powers" tends to be a lot more interesting than "gear with static bonuses" because there's the tacit recognition that something *special* is happening when the piece of gear is activated. If you've got one player that you've determined *can't* handle having numerous options at their disposal without slowing things down to a crawl and another player that seems to be able to handle more than you can possibly provide, treating them differently by providing them with different loot, some of which is probably going to be considered much more interesting due to the mechanical complexity of it, is liable to create intra-party strife.
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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Modifications for faster combat

    Right, it's clear that there are two slow downs:

    1) Not knowing what to do.
    2) Doing what you do.

    In the case of 1, that really relates to knowing your character and being ready. Let's be honest: even in the case of a high Epic character, you've got 4 Encounter attack powers from your class/Paragon Path, maybe 1 from your theme, and then possibly stuff from items or feats, and another 4 Daily attack powers. But in terms of usage, it should be pretty clear what you're doing. For example, a few classes and their turn 1:

    Ranger- Twin Strike and as many off-actions as possible if melee, unless you want to use Blade Cascade; big multiattack + Snap Shot if ranged (snap shot only if you MCed for it).
    Sorcerer- Flame Spiral + something else (I'm being facetious, but not by much)
    Invoker- One of the Epic Stun or Dominate powers if you can avoid your allies and the enemies are somewhat clumped, Thunder of Judgment or a friendly daily if not.
    Warlord- Move everyone close to an enemy and Hail of Steel
    Fighter- Come and Get It or whatever the Epic upgrade is
    Battlemind- Whatever your best spammable at will is- probably Brutal Barrage, Intellect Snap, or Might of the Ogre, or Mind Blade to get everyone in on the action.
    Rogue- Some combination of a multiattack power (Path of the Blade or something you powerswapped for) + Tumbling Strike and/or Low Slash

    I will note that unoptimized characters actually make option paralysis harder- by not having the most powerful stuff for some of your powers, you basically relegate everything to relatively equal power. In that case, the lesson to learn is that it probably doesn't matter what power you use, but that's not an easy one for a lot of people to get.

    As for off turn actions, most classes don't have many, or what they do have is a feature, like a Fighter's Combat Challenge. As long as they're paying attention (which is its own issue), usage almost takes care of itself.

    You can argue that your particular character doesn't have that specific power. But that's not the point: every character has more powerful powers, and less powerful powers, powers that cover a bigger area and ones that cover a smaller area. There actually isn't a ton of decision making if you're willing to know/accept that there are often better moves and that spamming them is ok.

    IF you can plan like that, then the issue becomes dice rolling- your Ranger is rolling 5 or so attack rolls plus damage rolls for each, etc. At that point, a lot of the mechanical improvements help- if you have a charging Rogue throwing dice with all the charge augmentation + Sneak Attack, and maybe they're doing Lightning damage and so they have that level 17 ring that lets you roll twice, adding up the dice can take way too long in terms of the math. Having pre-programmed macros for different scenarios helps a lot.

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    Default Re: Modifications for faster combat

    ...right, so since my actual question has been mostly ignored, I'll address what has been said, then ask it again I guess.

    First of all, yes, analysis paralysis is a slowdown. Length of individual turns is a slowdown. There are many strategies to account for those. That will speed up a fight time-wise, but not round-wise.

    This is not what I'm looking for.

    In general, the first few rounds of a fight are hectic and fun. They maybe aren't the fastest, but people are enjoying themselves and nobody cares.

    At a certain point, however, players can start getting bored. They're down to at-wills (and dailies they don't want to spend) and start asking if the monster is dead yet. This has nothing to do with speed time-wise, but round-wise.

    In my experience running 4e, I've found an average fight (depending on group and optimization, of course, though my groups are rarely super optimized) to take 5-8 rounds. I want it to take 4-6 rounds instead.

    To do this, I can use fewer monsters (bah, lots of monsters is fun for me), never use solos (bah, they should be able to be viable), use lower-level monsters (maybe, but then they aren't as dangerous) or make a math change on the DM side.

    With a math change, I can seamlessly adapt existing monsters, written adventures, whatever. -X% HP so they go down faster, +X% damage so they're still dangerous while they're up. Attack and defense numbers get no change, to keep the number of hits/misses the same for both sides.

    And when I want a fight where the bad guys stick around for a while, I can leave it as the default math to make them feel tougher.

    So I'll ask again, does someone have the math available to help me figure this out?

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    Default Re: Modifications for faster combat

    Quote Originally Posted by ve4grm View Post
    So I'll ask again, does someone have the math available to help me figure this out?
    You already pointed out completely viable math fixes, which aren't particularly interesting from a game running standpoint since it basically boils down to a problem with the numbers. Most of us GMs find the current values to be pretty valid (I get roughly 5 rounds of combat per encounter) so we were looking at ways of reducing the time it takes for a fight to run while preserving the numbers.

    From the numbers you provided, it looks like you want enncounters to take ~80% of the rounds/actions that it normally takes to resolve. For that, you've just got to reduce their hp by 20% and increase their damage by 25% (since a 20% decrease in duration requires a 25% increase in output to balance out; .8 * 1.25 = 1). For a "simpler" math fix that works the percentages out for you in such that way that it can be applied as a global bonus/penalty, take away roughly (4+level) hp from standards and have them deal (2+level/4) additional damage with each attack. Conversely, take away the hp and simply increase their to hit rolls by 2, which makes damage more consistent and less spiky.
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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Modifications for faster combat

    Echoing what ThePurple said- if you want to cut combat from 6 to 4 rounds, cut monster HP by 1/3 and increase damage by 50%. To cut from 8 to 6, cut monster HP by 25% and increase damage by 1/3. Etc.

    The math doesn't work out perfectly, because on the one hand there may be more wasted damage on the part of PCs (overkill, rather than just kill), and on the other hand, if your striker is now killing a monster instead of doing 3/4 of its hp in damage on turn one, the monster never gets to go. So you'll have to play around to figure out exactly how well it works with your party.

    One other note- make sure you're using MM3 damage expressions and hp counts/defenses. Anything from MM3, MV, MV2, and sources from after about June 2010 should have the correct math.

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    Default Re: Modifications for faster combat

    Quote Originally Posted by ve4grm View Post
    In my experience running 4e, I've found an average fight (depending on group and optimization, of course, though my groups are rarely super optimized) to take 5-8 rounds. I want it to take 4-6 rounds instead.
    Aha, this is something you should have said earlier.

    The game expects combats to take about four rounds, as the game math is based on this (and in my experience, it's usually two or three). If your combats generally take twice as long, no wonder your players get bored. And yes, it matches my experience that many players get bored with combat as soon as they're out of encounter powers.

    I would just use lower level monsters, really. It's the most straightforward math fix.
    Guide to the Magus, the Pathfinder Gish class.

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    Default Re: Modifications for faster combat

    If you stick to post MM3 monsters and have your players optimize their characters at least a little bit, combat should fall into that sweet spot of 3-4 rounds regularly. Highly optimized characters can routinely end combat in 2 rounds. This allows you to use ELs several levels above the PCs' own level, which makes combat more "swingy," simultaneously faster & more threatening (without unduly heading into TPK territory).

    Check out these handbooks for resources on optimizing characters: http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthr...&prefixid=wotc
    Through a series of unfortunate events, my handle on the WotC boards was darkwarlock.

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    DwarfFighterGuy

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    Default Re: Modifications for faster combat

    Awesome, thanks guys.

    Regarding optimization, while my players won't purposely choose bad options, they choose more based on feel and flavor than raw mechanical optimization, so their op will never be more than moderate. And some are just plain worse at op than others. I'm good with that, and see no reason to force them to change, so I've been looking on my end for tweaks.

    It has never been my experience (outside of maybe one group) that average combats last 4 rounds. An equivalent-level combat where the players roll well, maybe. But add in some poor rolls, and that same combat will be 5 or 6. Personally, if this makes a good-rolling combat take 2 or 3 every so often, I'm cool with that. It'll let the players feel badass every so often.

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    Default Re: Modifications for faster combat

    I don't think *forcing* your players to change their character builds is ever a god idea. But with the flavor of 4E elements infinitely mutable, it might become fun for your players to explore recasting mechanical elements to reflect their vision of character flavor.

    When I first started playing 4E I was resistant to doing this, believing it to be some negative form of power gaming. But as my experience with the system grew, I understood that the character build subgame was tremendously rewarding in its own right and that starting with a clear vision of character design goals and efficacy, then proceeding to reflavor mechanical elements if necessary, made for just as rich characters as choosing based on "roleplaying" reasons--and made for effective characters who were more able to realize their heroic goals. So long as all players at the table are willing to engage similar levels of optimization (and there really is quite a range), power gaming is a nonissue.
    Through a series of unfortunate events, my handle on the WotC boards was darkwarlock.

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    Default Re: Modifications for faster combat

    Quote Originally Posted by darkbard View Post
    This allows you to use ELs several levels above the PCs' own level, which makes combat more "swingy," simultaneously faster & more threatening (without unduly heading into TPK territory).
    In my games, a "low level" encounter is one of the same or just one level higher than the PCs. A "high level" encounter (tends to be the big "boss" fight at the end of the adventure) is generally 4-6 levels above the PCs (4 PCs; solo + 4 standards of same level is a pretty common "boss" fight in my games). As such, fights in my games tend to last a bit longer by design.

    Keep in mind, I'm talking about xp budgets here, not actual monster levels. The levels of the monsters themselves are pretty much *always* within 1-2 levels of the PCs in order to prevent defenses and attack bonuses from getting out of hand.
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    Default Re: Modifications for faster combat

    Quote Originally Posted by darkbard View Post
    I don't think *forcing* your players to change their character builds is ever a god idea. But with the flavor of 4E elements infinitely mutable, it might become fun for your players to explore recasting mechanical elements to reflect their vision of character flavor.

    When I first started playing 4E I was resistant to doing this, believing it to be some negative form of power gaming. But as my experience with the system grew, I understood that the character build subgame was tremendously rewarding in its own right and that starting with a clear vision of character design goals and efficacy, then proceeding to reflavor mechanical elements if necessary, made for just as rich characters as choosing based on "roleplaying" reasons--and made for effective characters who were more able to realize their heroic goals. So long as all players at the table are willing to engage similar levels of optimization (and there really is quite a range), power gaming is a nonissue.
    No worries, I enjoy the game of character creation and optimization as well. But some folks don't. Sometimes, like you, because they feel it's a negative thing, but in my experience they're usually just not interested in it.

    The majority of people I play with will pick what they feel is the best for any individual choice, but won't put a whole lot of effort (beyond some basics like qualifying for a PP) into planning out future progression or maximizing efficiency as a whole package. The main thing this seems to do is de-emphasize the importance of off-turn actions, so they'd rather pick powers that do a lot of damage, or inflict useful conditions, over top of lower damage but freeing up their turn for more.

    (They also don't like to be too gear-reliant or feel too "cheesy" so the top optimizations usually don't show up at our table. Maybe the occasional radiant-master, but probably just one character rather than the entire party.)

    In the end, this usually ends up being a moderately effective route (not optimal, but not bad either) and suggesting too many things for them would feel wrong to me (though I'll help when asked, of course).

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    Default Re: Modifications for faster combat

    So "high damage" powers in 4e ... aren't.

    One quick patch is to fix them:

    If a power does x[W] damage it now deals (2x-1)[W] damage, and similar for implement powers.

    You could also make at-wills scale at level 11 and 21 by 1 die at a time, instead of just at level 21.

    Now a "nasty" level 29 7[W] daily becomes a 13[W] daily.

    Analysis:
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    Suppose your weapon was a d12B2 weapon (average 7.5 damage/die). Before hand the power did 52.5 damage from dice. Big number, but level 29 *normal* monsters have 256 HP on average; it barely does a healing surge of damage with static damage riders.

    At 13[W] it does 97.5, which is actually a chunk of HP on a level 29 monster.

    If both had +10 stat +6 enhance +6 item +3 feat damage bonuses (aka +25 static, a reasonable baseline for a level 30 character), that comes to 77.5 and 122.5 damage, aka 30% and 48.9% of the monster's HP. Or a 63% improvement.

    Now lets back up and compare this "high damage" daily to "Hurricane of Blades", a 2[W]x4 attack barbarian encounter, with the same +25 damage.

    Before tweak we get 15+25=40*4=160 damage. After we get 190. 62.5% vs 74% of a monster's HP. Or a 18.4% improvement.

    In essence, this makes "tap" powers get a small improvement while making "heavy hit" powers get a large improvement. "heavy hit" powers don't match "tap" powers still.

    A level 7 heavy hit might deal 3[W]+stat before this change. +5 stat, +2 enhance, +2 item, +1 feat is +10 static bonus. 7.5 [W] average. 32.5 damage. After, 47.5.

    A level 7 minor/interrupt deals [W]+stat *with a rider* (disruptive strike, ranger). You pair it with an at-will for [W]+stat. Total is 35 damage.


    The basic idea is it boosts powers that where sub-par. Higher damage shortens combat. Powers your players prefer get boosted more, and it still doesn't outdo what was optimal before.

    Abusing tap is still easier than abusing this, because tap is *so much more scalable* due to quadratic or cubic returns on static bonuses+hit count+crit optimization. High damage dice only scale with vorpal weapon and superior weapons really, and both of those are bounded in optimization scope.

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    Default Re: Modifications for faster combat

    Quote Originally Posted by Yakk View Post
    You could also make at-wills scale at level 11 and 21 by 1 die at a time, instead of just at level 21.
    This is one of the things I'm doing in my homebrew rebuild of 4e. In addition to a lot of other stuff, I'm making sure that the comparative damage of encounter and dailies powers remains constant. It gets kind of insane when dealing with low weapon die classes (like rogues). At epic tier, you end up rolling 16-20 dice for a daily, which is basically impossible in an in-person game.

    One of the other advantages of this is that it actually makes high damage weapons (like hammers and axes) viable compared to high accuracy weapons (like swords and daggers) without having to resort to feats and other bonuses like 4e ended up having to do.
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    Default Re: Modifications for faster combat

    I'm still convinced, though I don't have any evidence to prove it, that the 4e devs originally were thinking of die sizes as their maximums rather than as their averages. That is, a d8 is much bigger than a d4, but the average damage difference is only 2, not 4. 7[W] is a lot more impressive if you're rolling all 12s than if you're rolling 6.5s.

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    Default Re: Modifications for faster combat

    Quote Originally Posted by Yakk View Post
    So "high damage" powers in 4e ... aren't.

    One quick patch is to fix them:

    If a power does x[W] damage it now deals (2x-1)[W] damage, and similar for implement powers.

    You could also make at-wills scale at level 11 and 21 by 1 die at a time, instead of just at level 21.

    Now a "nasty" level 29 7[W] daily becomes a 13[W] daily.

    Analysis:
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    Suppose your weapon was a d12B2 weapon (average 7.5 damage/die). Before hand the power did 52.5 damage from dice. Big number, but level 29 *normal* monsters have 256 HP on average; it barely does a healing surge of damage with static damage riders.

    At 13[W] it does 97.5, which is actually a chunk of HP on a level 29 monster.

    If both had +10 stat +6 enhance +6 item +3 feat damage bonuses (aka +25 static, a reasonable baseline for a level 30 character), that comes to 77.5 and 122.5 damage, aka 30% and 48.9% of the monster's HP. Or a 63% improvement.

    Now lets back up and compare this "high damage" daily to "Hurricane of Blades", a 2[W]x4 attack barbarian encounter, with the same +25 damage.

    Before tweak we get 15+25=40*4=160 damage. After we get 190. 62.5% vs 74% of a monster's HP. Or a 18.4% improvement.

    In essence, this makes "tap" powers get a small improvement while making "heavy hit" powers get a large improvement. "heavy hit" powers don't match "tap" powers still.

    A level 7 heavy hit might deal 3[W]+stat before this change. +5 stat, +2 enhance, +2 item, +1 feat is +10 static bonus. 7.5 [W] average. 32.5 damage. After, 47.5.

    A level 7 minor/interrupt deals [W]+stat *with a rider* (disruptive strike, ranger). You pair it with an at-will for [W]+stat. Total is 35 damage.


    The basic idea is it boosts powers that where sub-par. Higher damage shortens combat. Powers your players prefer get boosted more, and it still doesn't outdo what was optimal before.

    Abusing tap is still easier than abusing this, because tap is *so much more scalable* due to quadratic or cubic returns on static bonuses+hit count+crit optimization. High damage dice only scale with vorpal weapon and superior weapons really, and both of those are bounded in optimization scope.
    Thanks for the math! As an engineer, I like to see the numbers behind things.

    I like the line of reasoning here, but would prefer to leave the PC sheets alone. That way, they can still use whatever chargen method they want, and not have to convert. As the guy who does everything behind the scenes, I'd rather do the conversion on my end.

    That said, it definitely isn't possible to get the same results as above... let's see.

    Monster has 256 HP
    7W power does 77.5 damage, or 30%. We'd want to make this 49%. Therefore, monster should have... 148 HP.
    This makes the 2Wx4 power do... 108% damage... damn.

    We can probably assume one of the attacks of the 4 misses (25% miss chance seems reasonable), so it's actually only 81% (up from 46%) damage, but still...

    (Also, I'm cool with the Barbarian powers being better than most, as that's where their damage comes from, but that's absurd.)

    This might actually be the way to go. I'll have to consider it...

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    Default Re: Modifications for faster combat

    While that power is awesome, the real problem is *taps* not that particular power.

    Taps are balanced if you have next to zero static damage modifiers. They screwed up seriously.

    The change -- double dice, minus one -- specifically boosts non-tap powers far more than tap powers (many tap powers tend to do 1 die of damage per tap, two at very high levels, almost none do 3 or more).

    I guess you can also emulate this by saying "all damage dice on player powers are maximized." That involves few changes on character sheets. "Brutal X" becomes +X damage per die (so 12B2 is a 14 damage weapon). And tweak crit to "maximized damage + rolled damage + extra crit dice rolled".

    This boosts "tap" powers "too much", but it still makes tapping matter less. And it is very similar to (2X-1)[W] in percent of monster HP effects.
    Last edited by Yakk; 2018-01-16 at 04:22 PM.

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    Default Re: Modifications for faster combat

    Yeah, that's why I'm thinking your method makes more sense mechanically.

    I'm going to think about this some. I think I'd rather modify the static mods down (and monster HP) than the dice up, but I'd need to work out the math on that.


    Also, I'll need to change the assumptions a bit... first off, how does the +10 ability modifier come about? If you start at 20, and use every stat boost, you get to 28, or +9?
    Second off, aside from Iron Armbands, is there really anything that gives +6 item bonus to damage?

    I think +9 stat, +6 enhancement, +3 feat (or other) would be reasonable for moderately-built characters, for a total of +18? Iron Armbands may or may not be available, but certainly won't be the default assumption.


    Time for some spreadsheets!

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    First off, with HP = 256
    7W = 52.5+18 = 70.5 = 27.5%
    2Wx4 = (15+18)x4 = 132 = 51.5%

    If we want the 7W to be 45%, HP = 157, or 61%
    Which makes 2Wx4 = 84%

    Attempt 1: reduce item damage bonus
    Magic items give +1 to atk, +1/2 to damage
    7W = 67.5 = 43%
    2Wx4 = 120 = 76%

    etc

    We'll see if following this path works out...

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    Default Re: Modifications for faster combat

    Quote Originally Posted by ve4grm View Post
    Yeah, that's why I'm thinking your method makes more sense mechanically.

    I'm going to think about this some. I think I'd rather modify the static mods down (and monster HP) than the dice up, but I'd need to work out the math on that.


    Also, I'll need to change the assumptions a bit... first off, how does the +10 ability modifier come about? If you start at 20, and use every stat boost, you get to 28, or +9?
    The majority of optimal EDs give at least +2 in one stat, if not two. That includes Demigod, Chosen, Destined Scion, Unyielding Sentinel, Draconic Incarnation, Hordemaster, Indomitable Champion, Heir of Siberys, Demiurge, and a whole host of others. And those are spread throughout the edition- they come as early as PHB1, in all 3 of the major settings (FRPG, DSCS, and EPG), and throughout the Heroes of...books, though some of those are +2 to one stat and a host of other bonuses. Pretty much anyone even mildly optimizing is going to choose an Epic Destiny that gives them +2 to at least one stat unless they have a really good reason not to (Master of Moments and Radiant One come to mind).

    Second off, aside from Iron Armbands, is there really anything that gives +6 item bonus to damage?
    A variety of things, but not as ubiquitous. Bracers of Archery, Bracers of Mighty Striking, and Bracers of the Perfect Shot do it for bows/crossbows, MBAs, and RBAs respectively. Goblin Totem Weapon does it against larger enemies (not so useful for a Medium PC, but for a Small character or especially a Pixie who gets an elemental type from elsewhere, fine). Staff of Ruin. Envenomed Ki Focus if you're using Poison for some reason. Radiant Weapon. The Rare level 20 Ioun Stones. Those are the major and not so major ones off the top of my head, though I'm sure there are others.

    I think +9 stat, +6 enhancement, +3 feat (or other) would be reasonable for moderately-built characters, for a total of +18? Iron Armbands may or may not be available, but certainly won't be the default assumption.
    With a little doing, they'll manage an item bonus. The other thing would be Dragonshards- they're originally from the Eberron Player's Guide, but they were legal in Living Forgotten Realms/RPGA play, so a lot of builds assume them. That would add up to a +5 untyped bonus. They do generally require an elemental type or Implement attacks, though, and the Implement has to also function as a weapon for them to work.

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    Default Re: Modifications for faster combat

    +25 wasn't intended to be extreme, it was intended to be moderate.

    You can hit +41 or via +1 extra feat point, +10 vulnerability, +5 untyped (shards). Probably more. Some classes toss on more static bonuses (sorcerer, slayer, etc). Power bonuses can also be gotten (I believe artificer can add +10).

    Getting +17 is relatively free (+6 enhance, starting 18 and every stat bump without epic, +3 feat).

    +25, which is 20 starting, epic with stat bump and an item bonus, seems a middle spot. And is a round number.

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    Default Re: Modifications for faster combat

    Quote Originally Posted by masteraleph View Post
    The majority of optimal EDs give at least +2 in one stat, if not two. That includes Demigod, Chosen, Destined Scion, Unyielding Sentinel, Draconic Incarnation, Hordemaster, Indomitable Champion, Heir of Siberys, Demiurge, and a whole host of others. And those are spread throughout the edition- they come as early as PHB1, in all 3 of the major settings (FRPG, DSCS, and EPG), and throughout the Heroes of...books, though some of those are +2 to one stat and a host of other bonuses. Pretty much anyone even mildly optimizing is going to choose an Epic Destiny that gives them +2 to at least one stat unless they have a really good reason not to (Master of Moments and Radiant One come to mind).
    Right, forgot about those. Ok, +10 is reasonable.

    A variety of things, but not as ubiquitous. Bracers of Archery, Bracers of Mighty Striking, and Bracers of the Perfect Shot do it for bows/crossbows, MBAs, and RBAs respectively. Goblin Totem Weapon does it against larger enemies (not so useful for a Medium PC, but for a Small character or especially a Pixie who gets an elemental type from elsewhere, fine). Staff of Ruin. Envenomed Ki Focus if you're using Poison for some reason. Radiant Weapon. The Rare level 20 Ioun Stones. Those are the major and not so major ones off the top of my head, though I'm sure there are others.

    With a little doing, they'll manage an item bonus. The other thing would be Dragonshards- they're originally from the Eberron Player's Guide, but they were legal in Living Forgotten Realms/RPGA play, so a lot of builds assume them. That would add up to a +5 untyped bonus. They do generally require an elemental type or Implement attacks, though, and the Implement has to also function as a weapon for them to work.
    Well I won't be including dragonshards, so no worries there.

    As for the item bonuses, ideally I'd like to balance the math without them first. I also might make them +1/2/3 instead of 2/4/6 if they give a bonus to more than basic attacks. (Yes, I know, some builds center around basic attacks.)

    I also honestly don't expect anyone to take Weapon Focus, when there are far more interesting feat choices available, but I'm including it to be conservative.

    I need to think on this more, though.

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    Default Re: Modifications for faster combat

    Quote Originally Posted by ve4grm View Post
    As for the item bonuses, ideally I'd like to balance the math without them first. I also might make them +1/2/3 instead of 2/4/6 if they give a bonus to more than basic attacks. (Yes, I know, some builds center around basic attacks.)
    Imo, the math works out better with the item bonuses following the same progression as for the other big 3 slots (+1 for every 5 levels). The problem is that other arm slot items don't provide a bonus on that same level, which is why I've honestly considered just making it a passive effect of all arm slot items (which works with the level math, because the IAoP and BoA are both level 6 items, effectively making them the arm slot equivalent of the generic magic armor/weapon).
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