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General Category => Role Playing Public Radio Podcast => Topic started by: joecrak on February 07, 2011, 11:29:33 PM

Title: 4e combat speed
Post by: joecrak on February 07, 2011, 11:29:33 PM
Does anyone have any good tips about ways to make the combat in 4e go faster. after our last session, which ended up being 5 hours for 5 PC's and 1  npc to fight 3 orcs and 3 bears, and we didn't even finish the fight even after 2 of the PC's (mine in the first round, but that was completely my own fault for horrible tactics) and the NPC died.

It just seems that all the fights we've been having seem to take forever and just drag down the story.  I can't deny that there are some problems that are clearly factors, such as some p[layers seeming to take forever to say what they are doing, as well as a feeling that the DM might not know the system that well.

But even still when we all seem to have things down pat, it still seems to drag on past exciting to boring.

Any ideas?
Title: Re: 4e combat speed
Post by: clockworkjoe on February 07, 2011, 11:54:39 PM
Cut monster hit points down

Redo monster powers that stun/lockdown a PC so PCs can still act - increase damage or something like that

Make sure players know the rules and introduce rules to make decisions fast

Enemies should flee when it is obvious they can't win

Hell, end fights when it is clear the players can't lose

Use MM3 monsters instead of MM1 monsters
Title: Re: 4e combat speed
Post by: +1 Hat on February 08, 2011, 06:53:46 AM
Dammit, Ross, get out of my brain.

There are some blog posts out there somewhere that talk about the design iterations of monsters - especially solos - from MM1 to MM2 to MM3. Could be used to redeem earlier critters.

Talk your GM into giving out AC & defense numbers with a successful monster knowledge check. These are, IIRC, free actions - or should be. Your GM could make these: http://slyflourish.com/monster-knowledge-cards/ (http://slyflourish.com/monster-knowledge-cards/)
Now, instead of roll-check with GM-roll dmg, roll the hit & dmg together & check for yourself. A few seconds, yes, but when they matter each turn, it adds up.

Character Builder. For everyone. Make them. The single most important part: bonus pre-totaled for each different power. Betcha that cuts 5-10 seconds of adding each action (more, if the math skills are bad like whoa).

Physical represntation of bonii/penalties. So, the basic CB power is all totaled up, but what about flanking/feats/save-ends reffects/etc. This is the one I'm guilty of. Get a notepad (Ross could recommend some) and tear off bits to scibble numbers to drop on your character sheet to remind you of stuff. Or try to stick to static bonii, but that's nigh impossible.

The biggie: good tactics. I'd wager 5 minutes (if that) at the start of the encounter to plan could drasticly shorten things up. However, that assumes people make a plan and stick to it. Do you (collectively) use focus fire? Flanking & other combat-advantage stuff? Cover/concealment? I love playing with the RPPR crew, but in the fights I was around for in the New World, we presented all the tactical accumen of a herd of cats. Yes, this makes things require planning & adhearance to plans, but that's what you get if you're using D&D AND don't want a grind factory.
D&D rewards good tactics, except more often people just see the negatives due to playing like a bunch 3rd graders chasing a socccer ball, then complain that it's the game's fault. I choose to think, instead, that the use of good tactics is the final unwritten assumption still left in the game. If you don't want that kind of play, go find something rules-light-er and paint it with D&D backdrops. You'l probably be much happier.

Sorry, that kind of turned into a rant, didn't it...
Title: Re: 4e combat speed
Post by: Dom on February 08, 2011, 07:22:07 AM
Make sure players are not only familiar with the rules for the game, but also with how their character classes are played. In the New World campaign, Tom was a fighter but barely ever marked or used powers. Yes, I know that it has become sort of a joke with RPPR, but the point still stands that because the fighter did not mark enemies he could not lock them down so that they could not reach the other players. When everyone knows their role, with defenders locking down the strong hitters, the strikers focus firing on the stronger enemies, the controller attacking several less powerful enemies at once and the Leaders providing bonuses to the attacks and healing when necessary, the game goes by much more fluidly.

Make sure the NPCs use tactics of their own. A level 1 minion won't do much damage, but if he can get into a flanking position and uses aid another, he suddenly grants a +4 bonus for the big level 4 brute to lay a hit on the characters.

Like Ross said, if the encounter is dragging on for too long and the PCs have already won but are just mopping up, make the NPCs surrender or flee.

Creating an interest encounter area might also help. Instead of having a 10X10 room filled with orcs, add a Bane shrine that grants +4 to damage when standing two squares from it, or a sanctified area that grants +5 to any healing check, or a trap that when sprung causes 2d10 damage. All of this makes fight more interesting and therefore they drag on less. They also give players much more strategic options, and you can bet that they will try to use these environment hazards against the NPCs, throwing them off cliffs or towards traps using push and slide abilities.
Title: Re: 4e combat speed
Post by: joecrak on February 08, 2011, 07:35:39 AM
Thanks Ross, +1hat and Dom, I really like the rolling damage and attack at same time.

We originally wanted to do a 30 second to minute rule, but that always gets ignored.
Title: Re: 4e combat speed
Post by: FuzzyDan on February 08, 2011, 07:45:47 AM
what levels are your PCs and what level and roles of monsters are being thrown at them?

A mistake I keep seeing GMs new to the system is a confusion as to how to use the encounter XP budget.  Spending your entire budget on an equal-level solo is not the same as blowing the whole damn thing on a "regular" monster that provides just as much XP.  One has attacks and defenses designed to be challenging to the characters, the other is designed to eat them for breakfast until PCs closer to his level comes a callin.

If a GM has a party where one of the PCs is a controller-type, then he needs to use minions.  hey are there to be one-hit wonders that help bigger opponents.  Here's an encounter setup:

8 minions at Level +1
Controller or artillery at Level +2
Elite Brute or Soldier at Level -1 or 2.

now you have one monster doing the harassing, one keeping him safe and distracting the party defender, and 8 speed bumps in the way.  Lots of room for the PCs to feel like they are making good progress in the fight, and the minions will (should) probably eat a few encounter powers until the PCs figure out they are minions.  (here's a tip for DMs using minions:  when they do damage, roll a die as a 1d3,4,5, add or minus that number from the minion damage, then redistribute the missing/extra damage over the next few hits until the players figure out they are minions)
Title: Re: 4e combat speed
Post by: Shallazar on February 08, 2011, 09:50:07 AM
Another thing I saw while looking to do the same thing was just increase all damage to max.
Instead of doing 3d6, you just change that to 18.

Cuts out a die rolling step as well.

For crits it is the max of the bonus damage die. So a crit would be like 1d10 + 1d6 = 10+6 = 16!

Apply to monsters and heroes.
Title: Re: 4e combat speed
Post by: iceemaker on February 08, 2011, 02:51:41 PM
As many others have said, monsters from the MM3 and onwards are much more conducive to quick play. Otherwise, you need to alter the health and damage outputs of the monsters (see the chromatic dragons in MM1 as compared to the Monster Vault - which is to say, they are completely different beasts altogether).

Perhaps reducing the overall economy of actions - one standard action per turn, rather than standard/move/minor - could speed up combat. Might also have interesting gameplay implications.
Title: Re: 4e combat speed
Post by: Tadanori Oyama on February 08, 2011, 02:56:39 PM
Bring a real broadsword to the table and settle complains via Conan style ritual combat. For this method to work best make sure you are the only one with a weapon at the table.
Title: Re: 4e combat speed
Post by: rayner23 on February 08, 2011, 03:07:04 PM
Don't do combat. Skill challenges for all!!!!!
 ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D
Title: Re: 4e combat speed
Post by: Sriad on February 08, 2011, 04:54:06 PM
Another good use of Monster Knowledge Checks is dropping (possibly very) strong hints about how hard the encounter is.  This helps the players know what level of resource expenditure they need.

For that to be most effective it's good for the players to have an idea of what their baseline resource use should be:
If you're a class with a daily power that lasts all encounter (Barbarian rage, stances, etc) use one during your first or second turn; whenever you're in position for it to be effective.
After that (or immediately if you don't have that kind of ability) unload encounter powers, concentrating on one or two squishy (or debuffed to MAKE 'em squishy) targets.  Many an Elite monster fell victim to a vulnerability debuff by our Leader and follow-up alpha strikes by our strikers, not even making it out of first round of combat.
If, after a round or two of this, the baddies are still going strong they should break out the daily powers.
Make sure the players remember to blow an Action Point every other encounter; they get them back at milestones so no point letting them go to waste.

I'd also reiterate what FuzzyDan said about XP budgeting.  Using it on one or two normal or elite monsters that are MUCH higher level than the PCs usually (until high paragon or epic, at least) leads to a miserable encounter where the players can't hurt the monster without rolling an 18, and the monster can't miss them without rolling a 3.

For the first few levels especially, though, it's very easy to misjudge the difficulty of an encounter.  A +5 level fight with a god at level 26 is a thrilling use of advanced tactics and smart use of powers.  A +5 level fight with an orc chieftain at level 3 is a TPK.
Title: Re: 4e combat speed
Post by: joecrak on February 08, 2011, 05:06:04 PM
I wish cody.

Anyway, I stress that I'm not running, due to my crippling fear of being not quick enough to come up with on the fly decisions in story telling.

Our party was as such

1 level 7 assasin
1 level 9 cleric
1 level 6 or 7 ranger (two axe style)
1 level 8 ranger/rogue hybrid
1 level 7 monk/bard hybrid (my character that was killed in the first round, do to my own stupidity of jumping right in the middle of 2 bears, and a dire bear)
and 1 npc level 5 fighter

we used to have a wizard but the session previous ended being his last due to timing and other stuff.

Everything i hear about MM3 sounds like i should recommend it to our dm, but yea looking back we, the players didn't tacitly play to the best of our abilities, we probably should have concentrated fire on the orcs, and hoping that when they were dead they would have been controlling the bears somehow and that would stop, though i personally think that wouldn't stop an angry bear from suddenly attacking.

It also sucked for us that when the bears attacked someone all three of them ignored AO's and did a crazy frenzy on 1 individual party member, even after that member had been knocked into the negatives.

I hate going to rant about this next thing, but after a while it felt as our DM was trying to baby us looking for any chance that we could hit or damage this stuff, fearing we might all die.  and this was no more evident when at the end, after 1 of the bears finally died, he pulled, in my opinion the most annoying and contrived ending of all times.  
Title: Re: 4e combat speed
Post by: Moondog on February 08, 2011, 05:14:56 PM
Make sure players are not only familiar with the rules for the game, but also with how their character classes are played. In the New World campaign, Tom was a fighter but barely ever marked or used powers. Yes, I know that it has become sort of a joke with RPPR, but the point still stands that because the fighter did not mark enemies he could not lock them down so that they could not reach the other players. When everyone knows their role, with defenders locking down the strong hitters, the strikers focus firing on the stronger enemies, the controller attacking several less powerful enemies at once and the Leaders providing bonuses to the attacks and healing when necessary, the game goes by much more fluidly.

Make sure the NPCs use tactics of their own. A level 1 minion won't do much damage, but if he can get into a flanking position and uses aid another, he suddenly grants a +4 bonus for the big level 4 brute to lay a hit on the characters.

Like Ross said, if the encounter is dragging on for too long and the PCs have already won but are just mopping up, make the NPCs surrender or flee.

Creating an interest encounter area might also help. Instead of having a 10X10 room filled with orcs, add a Bane shrine that grants +4 to damage when standing two squares from it, or a sanctified area that grants +5 to any healing check, or a trap that when sprung causes 2d10 damage. All of this makes fight more interesting and therefore they drag on less. They also give players much more strategic options, and you can bet that they will try to use these environment hazards against the NPCs, throwing them off cliffs or towards traps using push and slide abilities.

...This is a tabletop and not like, WoW+RP right?
Title: Re: 4e combat speed
Post by: clockworkjoe on February 08, 2011, 07:02:00 PM
Make sure players are not only familiar with the rules for the game, but also with how their character classes are played. In the New World campaign, Tom was a fighter but barely ever marked or used powers. Yes, I know that it has become sort of a joke with RPPR, but the point still stands that because the fighter did not mark enemies he could not lock them down so that they could not reach the other players. When everyone knows their role, with defenders locking down the strong hitters, the strikers focus firing on the stronger enemies, the controller attacking several less powerful enemies at once and the Leaders providing bonuses to the attacks and healing when necessary, the game goes by much more fluidly.

Make sure the NPCs use tactics of their own. A level 1 minion won't do much damage, but if he can get into a flanking position and uses aid another, he suddenly grants a +4 bonus for the big level 4 brute to lay a hit on the characters.

Like Ross said, if the encounter is dragging on for too long and the PCs have already won but are just mopping up, make the NPCs surrender or flee.

Creating an interest encounter area might also help. Instead of having a 10X10 room filled with orcs, add a Bane shrine that grants +4 to damage when standing two squares from it, or a sanctified area that grants +5 to any healing check, or a trap that when sprung causes 2d10 damage. All of this makes fight more interesting and therefore they drag on less. They also give players much more strategic options, and you can bet that they will try to use these environment hazards against the NPCs, throwing them off cliffs or towards traps using push and slide abilities.

...This is a tabletop and not like, WoW+RP right?

How is any of that like WoW or MMO? Deep tactical combat games began on tabletop (advanced squad leader I'm looking at you)

Title: Re: 4e combat speed
Post by: Moondog on February 08, 2011, 08:12:09 PM
Make sure players are not only familiar with the rules for the game, but also with how their character classes are played. In the New World campaign, Tom was a fighter but barely ever marked or used powers. Yes, I know that it has become sort of a joke with RPPR, but the point still stands that because the fighter did not mark enemies he could not lock them down so that they could not reach the other players. When everyone knows their role, with defenders locking down the strong hitters, the strikers focus firing on the stronger enemies, the controller attacking several less powerful enemies at once and the Leaders providing bonuses to the attacks and healing when necessary, the game goes by much more fluidly.

Make sure the NPCs use tactics of their own. A level 1 minion won't do much damage, but if he can get into a flanking position and uses aid another, he suddenly grants a +4 bonus for the big level 4 brute to lay a hit on the characters.

Like Ross said, if the encounter is dragging on for too long and the PCs have already won but are just mopping up, make the NPCs surrender or flee.

Creating an interest encounter area might also help. Instead of having a 10X10 room filled with orcs, add a Bane shrine that grants +4 to damage when standing two squares from it, or a sanctified area that grants +5 to any healing check, or a trap that when sprung causes 2d10 damage. All of this makes fight more interesting and therefore they drag on less. They also give players much more strategic options, and you can bet that they will try to use these environment hazards against the NPCs, throwing them off cliffs or towards traps using push and slide abilities.

...This is a tabletop and not like, WoW+RP right?

How is any of that like WoW or MMO? Deep tactical combat games began on tabletop (advanced squad leader I'm looking at you)



The terminology kind of throws me a bit. It sounds very. . .I dunno, buzzwordy or MMO-esque to me. 'Defenders' 'strikers' 'healers' and 'minions' 'brutes' 'elites' all sound like they'd be perfectly at home in such a game.

Particularly the monster wording. I play Champions Online (which owns), and baddies come in a few varities. Henchmen (Minions!) Villains (Brutes) and so forth, so it's super easy for me to just go 'Oh, well. Lookit the MMO-speak in tabletop!'.

I'm totally aware of how deep tactical games began. Heck, if I remember right, didn't D&D originate from Chainmail, which was its own odd tactical game kinda thing?

Title: Re: 4e combat speed
Post by: clockworkjoe on February 08, 2011, 08:26:02 PM
MMOs got their terms from MUDS which derived their words from tabletop games so you have it backwards.

Tanks, healers, glass cannons, etc are all old hat for tabletop games too.

Title: Re: 4e combat speed
Post by: Salkovich on February 08, 2011, 08:26:41 PM
MMOs got their terms from MUDS which derived their words from tabletop games so you have it backwards.

Tanks, healers, glass cannons, etc are all old hat for tabletop games too.



Plus, who cares? Words are words.
Title: Re: 4e combat speed
Post by: Moondog on February 08, 2011, 08:29:56 PM
All positively excellent points, and quite valid.

Just sayin' it all sounds similar.
Title: Re: 4e combat speed
Post by: Salkovich on February 08, 2011, 09:11:27 PM
All positively excellent points, and quite valid.

Just sayin' it all sounds similar.

Well, and that's the truth. Terminology is going to get lifted from things that are similar.
Look at Police terminology and Armed forces terminology.
Or Delivery Services versus Newspaper distribution.
Or podcasting versus radio.
Or Fiction versus Screenwriting.

Title: Re: 4e combat speed
Post by: Moondog on February 08, 2011, 09:15:54 PM
Makes sense.
Title: Re: 4e combat speed
Post by: +1 Hat on February 09, 2011, 04:03:35 AM
Don't do combat. Skill challenges for all!!!!!

This, kinda.
Only not.

D&D4E is a pretty cool game (It kills all the nomsters and doesnt afraid of nothing).
Assembling and running encounters is incredi-easy from the GM's side, almost effortless if you do a little reading at the start.

However! D&D, both 3.X/Pathfinder/etc. and 4E have an unspoken requirement of tactical thinking from the players to run smoothly.
Personally, I like this. It rewards understanding & analysis of the game system.
That said, I'm well aware that thinking, especially analytically, != fun for many people. If the frontload of work is a funsuck for a large part of your group, do yourselves a favor and use a different game.
Savage Worlds springs to mind, though I have exactly 0 experience with it. If there's not a fantasy kitbash out there for ORE, some published author is falling down on the job. Hell, it could be that some of the OD&D fanstuff out on the web would suit.
Sure, these options involve effort, maybe some cash, and identifying what you actually want your game to do. I think, though, that it's a better alternative to letting the system bog down the game your group actually wants to play.

Let me be clear and repetitive: I loves me some 4E. I think it's a great game, but it is complex in ways that aren't spelled out in the books. I think anyone would be better off to find a system that does what their group needs, rather than play half-assed, un-fun D&D.


Alternatively: invest in the 4E Player's Strategy Guide, accessible through this elegant and finely crafted link: http://www.wizards.com/dnd/Product.aspx?x=dnd_products_dndacc_253820000 (http://www.wizards.com/dnd/Product.aspx?x=dnd_products_dndacc_253820000)
It's got a lot of sillycool fluff that's kinda hit or miss, but there are some bits that actually detail the underlying logic of focus fire, etc. Always nice to have a better reason for doing things than simply because we said to.

 
Title: Re: 4e combat speed
Post by: VoodooTwiztid on May 09, 2011, 07:45:01 PM
I double the damage from the monsters & cut their HP in half. this makes for quick & dangerous combats. I also like to use "moving combats". The combat moves from one scene to another without pause. The PCs fight their way out of town, past enemies, through the dock, take over a ship & launch it. This makes it so they don't have to take their opponents to 0 HP, just enough to get by them. It also provides opportunities for skill challenges.