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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Post DMs: How long are combats running, and are you ok with it?

    From another thread, combat is still the primary focus of 5e.

    1. How much session real time are non-BBEG complex encounters (defined as monster numbers > party numbers and monster stat blocks > 1) taking at your table?

    2. Are you ok with the time it's taking?

    3. If not ok, what have you done to add/remove the session real time it takes to run a complex combat?

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    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: DMs: How long are combats running, and are you ok with it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurt Kurageous View Post
    From another thread, combat is still the primary focus of 5e.

    1. How much session real time are non-BBEG complex encounters (defined as monster numbers > party numbers and monster stat blocks > 1) taking at your table?

    2. Are you ok with the time it's taking?

    3. If not ok, what have you done to add/remove the session real time it takes to run a complex combat?
    A simple fight, for me, might run...gosh...40 minutes or so? Although I usually have larger tables.

    I think I'll start speeding things up by making it more Theater of the Mind and less tactical. Maybe tell people that if they take too long, they default to the Dodge action. Stuff like that. But I like the complexity, and I like not being a d***, so we'll see.
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    DruidGirl

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    Default Re: DMs: How long are combats running, and are you ok with it?

    1. Probably between 45 minutes to 75, depending on the total enemies. A non-BBEG can still be a singular creature, and then closer to 30. But add 3-4 minions, about an hour. (Side note: every group I've been in has 4-5 people)

    2. Mostly. When theres only one enemy, even though it takes less time, it seems boring because we're all clustering to do the same thing. When there's multiple enemies, even though it takes longer I feel like the guy I'm fighting is "my" enemy. Also helps so I'm not feeling competitive (The wizard just did 50 dmg to this boss, and I'm only doing 20 to him! )

    3. We've tried turn time limits, but that can cause the person (not character) to feel targeted verbally. A common suggestion I've found helps is telling the person when they're next, so they can plan their attack as the current attack does their thing.

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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: DMs: How long are combats running, and are you ok with it?

    To me it's a factor of number of players. Since I mainly run AL and am nearly always at capacity it takes longer to run. My favorite number of players is 4 or 5. Adding a 6t or 7th player seems to make a significant impact on length of combats, in my experience.
    Last edited by darknite; 2019-05-17 at 03:09 PM.

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    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: DMs: How long are combats running, and are you ok with it?

    Hmmm, hard to say. Usually combat lasts 3-4 turns. 4-5 players...

    I would say around 20 minutes with experienced party (smooth rolling and calling damage/hits etc.) to 30 minutes maybe.

    Am I ok with it? Yes, I think bigger encounters ended in 20 minutes are good, because DnD combat is boring mechanically (so many different dices to roll, attacks, damage, hits, a lot of bonuses, class features etc.) so the faster the better in my opinion as it does not knock my players out of story/narrative too much. The longer combat last, the more I have to work after to get players back into narrative.

    I am huge fan of fast intense fights, so I throw harder enemies than I should but make fights shorter.

    But I am more of narrative/story DM so I rarely have more than 3 encounters per long rest on average. Something like siege or stronghold defense might see much more than that.

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    Zombie

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    Default Re: DMs: How long are combats running, and are you ok with it?

    10-20 minutes tops. But we do use Fantasy Grounds and it does a lot of the heavy lifting (Tracking turns, Tracking damage, Tells us straight up if it's a hit or not, etc.).
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    ElfWarriorGuy

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    Default Re: DMs: How long are combats running, and are you ok with it?

    Low impact battles, those with enemies far below the parties capabilities, we generally do theater of the mind and are over pretty fast, sometimes I won't even roll initiative and have the players act in sitting order. Generally done in 5-10 mins.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: DMs: How long are combats running, and are you ok with it?

    I'd say 20 minutes for most fight but I use a time limit on declaring actions for more experienced players
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    ClericGuy

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    Default Re: DMs: How long are combats running, and are you ok with it?

    Combat lasts as long as is fun. I've had knock down drag out brawls between the party and a boss with an army of minions, and I've had combat last 2 rounds. Both have been satisfying. I'm fine with this.
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    BardGuy

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    Default Re: DMs: How long are combats running, and are you ok with it?

    I have played 5e 2 to three times a month since it hit shelves.

    I can count on one hand the number of times I have ever seen more than one combat per game.

    Combat in 5e is rather boring and people would rather skip it.

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    Daemon

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    Default Re: DMs: How long are combats running, and are you ok with it?

    3-5 rounds, most of the time. Wall time depends on the group and is dominated by distractions more than anything. If everyone is paying attention and no babies need fed or changed, not very long at all. If distracted...way too long.

    I'd say that the time generally is dominated by anyone ever needing to look anything up. If they don't have to, things go fast. If they do, the time increases dramatically.
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    Lizardfolk

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    Default Re: DMs: How long are combats running, and are you ok with it?

    1. How much session real time are non-BBEG complex encounters (defined as monster numbers > party numbers and monster stat blocks > 1) taking at your table?
    20-45 minutes with a typical AL table of 7
    but with my seasoned table of 4 it is down to 10-25.

    2. Are you ok with the time it's taking?
    20-45 no.
    10 yes.

    3. If not ok, what have you done to add/remove the session real time it takes to run a complex combat?
    average damage for NPCs
    group attack rolls for NPCs/summons
    speed factor initiative -> forces people to mostly decide what they are doing at the start of the round (experienced folks)
    split the party-> two combats of 4 players is faster than 1 combat of 7 players. (not sure why)
    once the party is clearly gonna win, jump to killing blows...


    that said, malifice and ad_hoc run 6 significant battles in a session, and I don't know how they do it.
    Last edited by NaughtyTiger; 2019-05-17 at 09:58 PM.
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    Just, please don't. Insisting on that technicality improves nothing.

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    ElfWarriorGuy

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    Default Re: DMs: How long are combats running, and are you ok with it?

    Quote Originally Posted by NaughtyTiger View Post
    1. How much session real time are non-BBEG complex encounters (defined as monster numbers > party numbers and monster stat blocks > 1) taking at your table?
    20-45 minutes with a typical AL table of 7
    but with my seasoned table of 4 it is down to 10.

    2. Are you ok with the time it's taking?
    20-45 no.
    10 yes.

    3. If not ok, what have you done to add/remove the session real time it takes to run a complex combat?
    average damage for NPCs
    group attack rolls for NPCs/summons
    speed factor initiative -> forces people to mostly decide what they are doing at the start of the round (experienced folks)
    split the party-> two combats of 4 players is faster than 1 combat of 7 players. (not sure why)
    once the party is clearly gonna win, jump to killing blows...


    that said, malifice and ad_hoc run 6 significant battles in a session, and I don't know how they do it.
    How do you handle Crits? All the enemies crit at once? Sounds devastating.

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    Lizardfolk

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    Default Re: DMs: How long are combats running, and are you ok with it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rukelnikov View Post
    How do you handle Crits? All the enemies crit at once? Sounds devastating.
    just 1 crit, 2x average damage..

    that would be viscous!
    Quote Originally Posted by MaxWilson View Post
    Just, please don't. Insisting on that technicality improves nothing.

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    ElfWarriorGuy

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    Default Re: DMs: How long are combats running, and are you ok with it?

    Quote Originally Posted by NaughtyTiger View Post
    just 1 crit, 2x average damage..

    that would be viscous!
    yup, that's why I wondered :P

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    Default Re: DMs: How long are combats running, and are you ok with it?

    What I'm not really okay with is the length of time it can sometimes take to run non-combat encounters that aren't particularly designed to require any significant resources, i.e. they count as Easy difficulty. Those can eat up table time like no tomorrow if you're not careful.

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    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: DMs: How long are combats running, and are you ok with it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    What I'm not really okay with is the length of time it can sometimes take to run non-combat encounters that aren't particularly designed to require any significant resources, i.e. they count as Easy difficulty. Those can eat up table time like no tomorrow if you're not careful.
    That's one of the reasons I've started transitioning away from roleplay conversation. It's fine for 5-10 minutes or so, but after that, it's just best to transition to Action-Effect. So rather than constantly bickering about the price of an item, you summarize it as "Your bartering sways the merchant, and he offers to include a pack of arrows with the scimitar as a special deal."
    Last edited by Man_Over_Game; 2019-05-17 at 06:08 PM.
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    ElfWarriorGuy

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    Default Re: DMs: How long are combats running, and are you ok with it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Man_Over_Game View Post
    That's one of the reasons I've started transitioning away from roleplay conversation. It's fine for 5-10 minutes or so, but after that, it's just best to transition to Action-Effect. So rather than constantly bickering about the price of an item, you summarize it as "Your bartering sways the merchant, and he offers to include a pack of arrows with the scimitar as a special deal."
    I agree when it comes to buying/selling. If the PCs wanna buy a cart, rations and bedrolls, pay the gold and move on, if the players ask for barter I'll have them roll persuasion and adjust the price ad hoc.

    If it's something special like PCs are trying to sell an embalmed dragon I'll roleplay the part cause it's an unusual situation and its likely something interesting can happen there.
    Last edited by Rukelnikov; 2019-05-17 at 06:29 PM.

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    ElfRogueGirl

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    Default Re: DMs: How long are combats running, and are you ok with it?

    Combats take anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes. It depends on if the players are distracted or if they need to look things up.

    I do what I can to speed things up from my end. I use average damage for NPCs, I roll handfuls of dice together, I have a rough strategy for the NPCs ahead of time, etc. I also have one of the players track initiative order for me. That lets me ask, "Who's next? What are they doing?" to keep things moving forward. It also tends to encourage the player that tracks initiative to help me move things forward too.

    I tend to run about 3-4 combats per adventuring day. That also tends to line up with being a session. So we'll play for like 4 hours: 2 hours are combat and 2 hours are exploration and social RPing. That works out pretty well for my table.

    I try to pay attention to when the battle devolves into just rolling attacks to finish off enemies. There's a certain point where victory is inevitable, and the players stop using resources because they know it is inevitable. I abbreviate that phase. I might have the enemies surrender or try to run. If the players say they want to kill them all, I might reduce the enemy HP to speed up the process. Etc.

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    Default Re: DMs: How long are combats running, and are you ok with it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Man_Over_Game View Post
    That's one of the reasons I've started transitioning away from roleplay conversation. It's fine for 5-10 minutes or so, but after that, it's just best to transition to Action-Effect. So rather than constantly bickering about the price of an item, you summarize it as "Your bartering sways the merchant, and he offers to include a pack of arrows with the scimitar as a special deal."
    I'm talking about action-effect stuff. I'm talking about non-combat encounters in an adventuring site (dungeon or wilderness). Sometimes that's Social Interactions, but they are with purpose, and action-effect is key to them as well. More usually it's a form of Exploration. What used to be called Tricks.

    Besides, action-effect is roleplaying. As along as the action is based on the players making meaningful decisions

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: DMs: How long are combats running, and are you ok with it?

    I play a mix of in-person and online (over discord, using the dice-rolling tool avrae).

    The shortest 'combats' tend to be about a full round (5 minutes). My players like to get sneaky and surprise their enemies, and that makes an 'easy' encounter more like a tripwire.

    The most common significant combats ('deadly' CR, 1 boss and 2-3 minibosses with interesting abilities) take 3-5 rounds (an hour).

    I've run a couple massive large-scale battles. I think the longest single combat was 43 rounds, and took (5-6?) hours of real time broken up into two online sessions (on consecutive days), simply because of the complexity, and the large number of players (11) and enemies (umm... Lots.).

    In order to streamline things, my preference is to have no more than four distinct stat blocks for enemies. Each type of enemy moves on the same initiative, and acts simultaneously (using online tools to roll and add many attack rolls at once, for example).

    The slowest part of combat is waiting for my players to decide their actions and roll their dice.
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    MindFlayer

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    Default Re: DMs: How long are combats running, and are you ok with it?

    Average simple encounter is usually 25 min. I would like to speed these up. They are generally easy and simple.

    The tougher encounters usually run for about 3 hours.

    3 hours seems excessive but a bit of context...

    I believe that the game is best balanced with effects that extend fights: defensive abilities, spells that control the PCs, illusions that misdirect and forms of damage resistance that need to be discovered before pumping resources in.

    I like reinforcement to arrive. It may just be from the next room, it may be summoned creatures, but extra meat is coming down after a round or two.

    My style is out of combat is role play, in combat is a puzzle. Less of an issue on easy fights but my players can take their time to look through their collection scrolls, wands and potions looking for answers to help them win a tough fight. Given the complexity of loot I hand out, this can take a while. 3 hours for a puzzle that everyone enjoys and is engaged by is fine for me.

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    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: DMs: How long are combats running, and are you ok with it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Misterwhisper View Post
    I have played 5e 2 to three times a month since it hit shelves.

    I can count on one hand the number of times I have ever seen more than one combat per game.

    Combat in 5e is rather boring and people would rather skip it.
    I'm sorry to hear that.

    It may be the table composition or something else.

    For me, combat is where the players get to shine and players build rapport

    I always go big, as a DM. I'm not there to kill the players but to make it engaging and exciting and dramatic. The enemy can always retreat if the players are doing badly, and "evil" monsters have no qualms about leaving comrades to die if the party is not going to win.

    If the party kills the BBEG, maybe the number 2 evil guy says, lets go... now I'm the new BBEG

    I feel it is "important" to make combat feel "important", IMO make it life or death. There is no reason to have unchallenging fights, unless the players are trying out tactics or combos, or they are secretly showing off their evil side
    Last edited by djreynolds; 2019-05-18 at 06:25 PM.

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    Default Re: DMs: How long are combats running, and are you ok with it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Misterwhisper View Post
    I have played 5e 2 to three times a month since it hit shelves.

    I can count on one hand the number of times I have ever seen more than one combat per game.

    Combat in 5e is rather boring and people would rather skip it.
    You sure seem to dislike 5e for someone who plays it that often.

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    Griffon

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    Default Re: DMs: How long are combats running, and are you ok with it?

    For complex fights, I roll up a cheat sheet ahead of time and it is a lifesaver.

    I pre-roll a table of to-hit and damage rolls for each unique attack that a monster uses, adding in all of their bonuses. I assign each column in the table a number from one to ten. At go time, I roll one d10 and take that to-hit and damage roll.

    d10 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
    To Hit 15 22 5 8 18 15 24 19 9 11
    Damage 8 4 8 12 13 7 10 16 9 11

    If I roll a crit or a nat 1 as I'm rolling the table, I circle the to-hit roll and calculate the damage accordingly.

    Each variety of attack for each kind of monster has a table like this. Since I select the to-hit and attack with a d10 roll, it's still random. I don't know when I attack if the monster is going to hit or miss. But I've calculated all the unique bonuses in ahead of time, so I can spit out the completed attack actions of five unique attacks in about ten seconds. It makes my turn as the DM go SO much faster, which puts the spotlight back on the players. Plus, it frees me up to add a lot of variety of monsters to big fights without increasing the overhead of stat blocks I need to juggle.
    Last edited by PiperThePaladin; 2019-05-19 at 12:40 AM.

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    GreenSorcererElf

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    Default Re: DMs: How long are combats running, and are you ok with it?

    Quote Originally Posted by stoutstien View Post
    I'd say 20 minutes for most fight but I use a time limit on declaring actions for more experienced players
    What do you use, stop watch on a phone?
    How much time do you give for each player? What happens when time's up and they're truly not ready?
    Do you give yourself, the DM, unlimited time or a limit as well?

    I've been wanting to implement this, so I'm very interested in what's working for you.

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    Default Re: DMs: How long are combats running, and are you ok with it?

    Time on declaring your action when a turn comes up should be immediate, unless the situation just changed dramatically on the turn before. You've got every other players turn to think about what you might want to do. About the only exception should be the player who goes immediately after all the monsters.

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    Default Re: DMs: How long are combats running, and are you ok with it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurt Kurageous View Post
    From another thread, combat is still the primary focus of 5e.

    1. How much session real time are non-BBEG complex encounters (defined as monster numbers > party numbers and monster stat blocks > 1) taking at your table?

    2. Are you ok with the time it's taking?

    3. If not ok, what have you done to add/remove the session real time it takes to run a complex combat?
    [Apologies for wall of text. I don't run 5E very frequently lately, but took notes tonight for the sake of this thread. Here's my writeup. -Max]

    They always take longer than I think they do. Had a short adventure tonight where the players wound up beelining almost directly for the objective (i.e. they got lucky with the maze and skipped all the dead ends, almost) which meant they really did only five encounters: laundry room (2 Rodents of Unusual Size/giant rats), lavatory (gray ooze that they never realized was there), sewage tunnel (4 giant rats, 2 goblins), wine cellar (three statues, two of which were gargoyles, plus a Black Pudding), and guards outside the hostage room (6 githyanki warriors). And yet somehow it took two and a half hours.

    I'm 100% OK with the amount of time it's taking, because they players were fully engaged in interacting with each other the whole time, making plans about what they should do next and how they were going to survive what was happening to whom at the moment. Probably the longest encounter was the first one, when they were trying to decide who was going to enter the door to the laundry room and, once the rogue detected the giant rats hiding under the piles of laundry, whether they were going to fight the rats or attempt to decoy them away by capturing stray cats and feeding them to the rats. The actual fighting part of the encounter was over in I think about ninety seconds and three attack rolls once they actually engaged, but the encounter itself took much longer, partly because all three players were new to 5E and two are new to RPGs, so they were still getting a feel for what the world was like and what they could do.

    The way I see it, the goal isn't to get through a certain amount of content, it's to provide the players with a fun experience. If they spend two and a half hours having fun with each other, but they take thirty minutes to kill a couple of gargoyles and a black pudding, oh well. They don't have to be a well-oiled SWAT team.

    ...However, I think it would have gone quite poorly if I'd used vanilla PHB initiative, because that initiative system would have forced two of the three players to sit around doing nothing for most of the night, every time it was someone else's turn. I would much, much rather have players talking to each other about what weapons might be able to harm this black pudding and whether they can have the NPC fighter grapple the gargoyle and stick its face in the black pudding--I would rather that than have them take turns talking to me declaring actions and rolling attacks and damage and waiting while I roll attacks and damage for the monsters.

    My initiative system is nothing special, it's basically just AD&D initiative where everybody says what they're going to do and then we roll dice and resolve it, but here's a thread with an example and discussion. Because these are new players I didn't even really explain the system to the players, I just had all of the monsters Delay in almost every combat unless the PCs were surprised, so it basically just turned into "PCs go, then monsters go, then PCs go" except for a couple times when it mattered which PC went first (because of sneak attack adjacency) so the PCs rolled initiative against each other.

    Combat length is tied directly to the amount of decision-making that happens during combat. Complex and interesting combats with lots of decisions take a while, but they don't feel like it because they're interesting. Simple combats with few decisions to make are fast even when they involve a lot of dice rolls. (I hit you, you hit me, until one of us dies... you can do ten rounds of that in two real-life minutes.) For new players, even simple combats are interesting and time-consuming because they're still learning the game rules/gameworld. Uninteresting combats should be brought to an early close.

    Case in point for early close: we were out of time for the end of the githyanki fight, so I made a judgment call about who was winning at that point and told the players, "If I roll anything but a 6 on this d6, you guys win the fight and successfully rescue [the hostage] and recover [the treasure]." I think they rolled a 2, so they won, and then they asked me questions about the meaning of certain clues and what was in the parts of the dungeon they hadn't gotten around to exploring, and we all went home satisfied.
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    BloodSnake'sCha's Avatar

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    Default Re: DMs: How long are combats running, and are you ok with it?

    5 minutes to 3 hours.

    The longest fight I was running was a fight between to armies the PCs saw happening very far.

    The fight was between a natural faction, a tribe of nomads dog peoples(The half- Minotaur did try to mate with one of their cows but they didn't remember) and an enemy of the PCs.

    They saw their enemies losing but wanted to join and use all tye resources they had to get to the fight in time. I wasn't even ready to roll, my dices was away.


    My group are very tactical, the turns take as long as rolling and writing, sometime we argue about the rules(we all consider this as fun) but that is the biggest time sink.
    Last edited by BloodSnake'sCha; 2019-05-19 at 03:05 AM.

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    Daemon

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    Default Re: DMs: How long are combats running, and are you ok with it?

    Yesterday we had a session of the game I'm a player in.

    Working through PotA, we had ~5 Medium (at a guess) combats plus exploration in a 3.5 hour session. Without the toddler it would have gone faster. So maybe 20-25 minutes per combat, mostly due to distractions? Each turn took only a few tens of seconds, except the wizard (who kept having to look up spells) and the DM (who doesn't always play fast).
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