Speeding up the mid-level combat


Advice


So my group is about 11th level and the combats are starting to reallybog down as people calculate modifiers, decide from a long list of options, etc. Does anyone have any tips for speeding this up? We even have an erasable game mat so we can write down the bless, prayer, haste, etc. But it's still painful.


Can you give us some examples of things that bog down the combat? Buffs are one thing.


As for speeding up the decision making, pull out a real timer and just say "you have 1 minute to make a decision or lose your turn". For calculating mods that's a bit different. For buffs that last the better part of the day, have them already calculated into their stats. If the party is prepping for a battle, have them quickly write down the adjusted stats before combat. For mid-combat buffs, have them just down the bonus to the side.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

We run into this problem in society at times and since you are on a set schedule it can really bog down things. If you have played with people before and don't have to worry about munchkins you can have them "pre-roll" results. This works best with melee PC's. How this normally is done is when your turn is next go ahead and make your rolls jotting down your roll, what the result is after modifiers and what the potential damage for each hit is. This can really cut down on a lot of time.

Spellcasters are still a problem but spell templates can go a long way in fixing this problem as well.


Jaryn Wildmane wrote:
We run into this problem in society at times and since you are on a set schedule it can really bog down things. If you have played with people before and don't have to worry about munchkins you can have them "pre-roll" results. This works best with melee PC's. How this normally is done is when your turn is next go ahead and make your rolls jotting down your roll, what the result is after modifiers and what the potential damage for each hit is. This can really cut down on a lot of time.

Or if you're like me and have lots of dice, then just roll them all and line up the dice in a row. Then you don't even need to write anything down.

Grand Lodge

things I've seen:

- use poker chips to calculate player bonuses (red for attack bonuses, blue for damage bonuses, white for universal bonuses, etc)

- if a player tries to use an ability on their turn but doesn't know how it works ("I cast web! Uh, let me see how it works..."), they insta-delay until they can come back and tell you how the spell works

- use condition cards

- write on the map in dry/wet erase current shared bonuses (bless, bard song, etc)

- use herolabs tactical console to keep track of current bonuses/conditions

- if there are minions in combat, have them drop from any damage at all (4th ed trick)

- have the DM call out who is on deck ("Bob to act, Joe's on deck")


The little sand timer from many popular board games is the way to go. Once you train your group, you'll hardly ever need it. Each person gets a minute, but most will get to the point where they don't even need 20 seconds.

Spellcasters NEED to know their spells ahead of time and how to use them in game. If it is a huge issue with people always stopping to look up spells (or melee types looking up combat maneuvers or the like) just tell people that they can't play spellcasters anymore if they can't handle it. It's totally unfair to the people who put in the effort/time to know their characters and capabilities.

That said, spellcards or maneuver cards (like they have in 4th edition) go a long way for when you really need some fast info.

Heck, just copy and pasting the text from the PRD for relevant spells and abilities into a word document and making personal notes by them regarding YOUR numbers can help people who are always flipping through books. Have your players make cheat sheets.

If you want to play a summoner (style of character not specific class)....either use labeled sticky notes as bookmarks for pages in the Bestiary or make little Flashcards with the things you'll want to summon. Have your minis ready to go as well.

Use different colored D20s for different attacks if you have multiple attacks. At mid-levels it starts to get crazy rolling your damage and attacks all together (basically a dice-splosion on the table), but you can roll 3-4 d20s. Call out the lowest AC that you hit. If it misses, call out the next lowest...this can really save a bunch of mental math.

Player: "Lowest attack hits AC 17...does that connect?"
DM: "It's a gelatinous cube...that will hit."
Player: "Then I hit with all three of my attacks. Three d10 and 3d6 is...28 damage, 9 of which is fire. My static modifier tripled equals 30...that's 58 damage (9 fire) total."

That works really well once people get used to it. Sadly, there is no cure for people who are just incredibly slow at mental math....except practice (and sometimes even that doesn't help).

Also, every player should have scrap paper in front of them. Any buffs or debuffs are written down when they happen and crossed off when they "unhappen". New calculations should be made whenever a new buff or debuff is put in play, so that everyone can take 10 seconds right then and there to know where their numbers are going forward.

"You just cast Haste? Give me one second. (Furious scribbling) Ok. My attacks are now +17/+17/+12 and my AC is 27. Reflex save adjusted to +12."

Obviously the players don't have to say their new stats out loud, but they should have them all written down. It's way faster to keep track of final numbers for a lot of people than to just have a list of pluses and minuses to add up each and every round when something happens.

Whew...sorry for the hugeness of the response, but I hope some of it helps.


You need a combination of new ideas (see above) and enforcement of time.

Repeat after me: "You're on delay until you look that up"

--------------------------------------------------------------
Next idea: Work it out ahead of time (numbers made up)

Example:
Greatsword +15/+10/+5 2d6+8

with Power Attack +13/+8/+3 2d6+12

with Haste +16/+11/+6/+16 2d6+8

I find players who don't prepare fairly irritating. I mean, didn't you already know you could power attack? You must have, you chose the feat.

And why are you calculating everything from scratch every time? Power attack is going to come up, probably every session. Wouldn't it be better to work it out at home, once?

If players sat down to think, they could anticipate most of the status changes that are likely (bard casts haste, cleric casts bless, I'm raging, etc.)

----------------------------------------------------------------
The time saved just from writing down page numbers is staggering. It's just not okay for you to play a cleric for ten levels, and not be able to find rules for channeling energy. Write it down, copy it by hand, make a photocopy of that page, do something.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Some general purpose ideas for combat.

Liberty's Edge

Sylvanite wrote:


That works really well once people get used to it. Sadly, there is no cure for people who are just incredibly slow at mental... [/QUOTE

Just happened to be browsing saw this and thought it was great, my group will soon be at that level and am not particularly looking forward to all the lag time in game for decision making rgading actions, spells, etc. These are some wonderful tips. As we are all new to pathfinder we generally have a larger then normal amount of lag because so many things are different from 3.5 and especially 1st edition (Old School DM) which leaves me at times ready to pull my hair out. I thouroghly enjoy the game and will conintue to play it just have so much to learn all over again. You know what they say about old dogs and new tricks............

PS. there are so many new players that havent done 1st edition that the old tricks still work..heh..heh... :-)


AlamoMelt wrote:
Stuff

Each player should make a summary of common things they can do, like cheat notes. Instead of having to page through the core rules, everything is on one sheet.

Maybe have your fastest player keep track of buffs. Or go the 4E route, make 1m/lvl spells last "one encounter" (or two if you prefer).

The thing I find that slows down play the most is people thinking they have to be perfect, or they'll die. So if you're playing a super deadly game, people play slower.

Sczarni

TriOmegaZero wrote:
Some general purpose ideas for combat.

Great link TOZ.

I especially agree with the "roll initiative last" & "multitasking" points. A great GM I played with did exactly that, and it really created a seamless transition between "non-combat" and "combat" sequences.

Also, limiting pet classes (summoner, I'm looking at you) and weird class combinations (bard/cleric) with overlapping AoE effects to the more savvy players helps.

Noone likes being told "don't play this" but some folks just can't get their head around things like pre-rolling, note taking, and time management. These folks really drag down the table when calculation comes into play.

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