Combat really only 3 rounds?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Liam ap Thalwig wrote:
Dragonamedrake wrote:
He can usually take down an enemy every round that is his CR or even a few higher. And thats from first level till 20th. Same goes for most archers so thats...

Let me turn that argument around: so an opponent with CR=APL+1 is able to take out one party member per round. Seems like fights should be short indeed - with an equal chance of the party being dead after those 3 rounds as the other way round. And getting killed that fast with practically no time to react is not fun IMHO.

If it doesn't work this way, why should it work the other way around (i.e. for the party)?

I always hated level 1 in (A)D&D when your character could die within one round by an (un)lucky blow. This got better when leveling up (with the exception of certain magics of course, like finger of death - which would just add to the feeling that magic was something powerful and dangerous, though).
If being able to be killed that fast should be the norm for higher levels as well in Pathfinder, I'd be quite disappointed and regard this as a serious flaw of the rules.

PCs generally have a higher survival rate, lest the GM actively metagames so hard that everyone red-pill completely. This can be stuff like auto-surprise, concentrated fire on a single party member because the enemies magically know it is the priority target, etc.

Also, the PCs generally have higher AC than most CR=APL creatures can hit on a 10, meaning that there needs to be some seriously good rolls (or fudging) involved for a PC to go down in the first round.

I have never done it to a PC, on principle. Because I know it would suck hard to be incapacitated for an entire combat as a player. But I have killed PCs in 2-3 rounds before, when they do completely idiotic things, and likely will do so again.


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Kamel, in one of my most recent encounters I had grabbed a bunch of standard NPCs out of the bestiary and GM's guide, but had the leader be an NPC I had built myself using a standard 15 point buy and the NPC wealth guidelines.

During the battle the standard NPCs mostly need a natural 20 to hit the main party "tank", but the leader needed only a 12 (I think).

The party waltzed through that encounter (they were supposed to) and captured the leader (which was the point) but I came away thinking that I was going to have to address the vast disparity between the leader and his lieutenants. My conclusion was that the bestiary and GM's Guide NPCs were simply no match for a well-built "appropriate level" PC.


Adamantine Dragon wrote:


(UPDATE) Oh, and those "bash and heal" exercises also tend to suck resources dry (especially healing resources) and contribute heavily to the "fifteen minute adventuring day."

Effective tactics not only reduce combat time, they reduce resource exhaustion and allow the game to move forward without constant whines of "I need to rest and get my spells back" by players who have never learned how to manage their spell resources properly.

That all makes sense, except for the whining you describe. That is a trait of whiney people, not play style.


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Ciaran Barnes wrote:
Adamantine Dragon wrote:


(UPDATE) Oh, and those "bash and heal" exercises also tend to suck resources dry (especially healing resources) and contribute heavily to the "fifteen minute adventuring day."

Effective tactics not only reduce combat time, they reduce resource exhaustion and allow the game to move forward without constant whines of "I need to rest and get my spells back" by players who have never learned how to manage their spell resources properly.

That all makes sense, except for the whining you describe. That is a trait of whiney people, not play style.

Ciaran, perhaps my perspective on this is a bit critical, but when I am playing and the party spellcasters are constantly wanting to stop just because they never learned how to manage their most fundamental limited resources, I'm afraid "whining" pretty much accurately describes my perception of it.


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I totally know the type of player you're describing. It drives me crazy. Its just that we... got rid of ours. :)


Yeah, I am aware that out of the book NPCs from gamemastery and bestiary are not even in the same zip-code as anything I would regard as "optimized".

I recall using the standard "Thug" from gamemastery guide. A Fighter1/Rogue1 with bad armor, bad weapons and bad feats. A group of 3 such NPCs lost against a single Bard 2 PC.

The players can usually tell when I make the NPC from scratch, and when I am using disposable/pre-generated ones.

Also, resource management is as much a trained skill for a caster player as not charging into the fray on the first round is for the martial character. Usually, the two coincide, as a poorly played martial character will require the caster to waste more spells...


Brian Bachman wrote:
Cold Napalm wrote:
Widow of the Pit wrote:


2.) Our DM always plays master villians as intelligent. In mid-battle situations, additional traps are sprung, more allies arrive, creatures are summoned, etc.
That is a bit of DM cheat. Oh, they are beating my boss a bit too fast...well take that. Of course no battles last three rounds when that happens.
Only a cheat if it is being made up/added in on the fly just because the encounter is going bad for the BBEG. If he had those plans already or if the additional traps, allies and summoned creatures are logical and/or within the BBEG's capabilities, all's fair.

this i agree.


I find combat speed is often based on perception. Grindfests seem slow even if the clock has not moved much, whereas combats with drama and interesting choices feel like they're going fast though the clock and round count tell another tale.

A couple things I like to do for improving combats is a) Guess how many rounds it'll take to finish, b) Use my stopwatch to time the fight in real time.

These bits of feedback help me get an objective view of my GMing and the group's play.

As for combat round count, I find it depends on a few factors:

1) Foe defense - how often will the PCs hit?
2) PC damage - how much damage will the PCs shovel out each round?
3) Foe resilience - how many hits will it take for a foe to go down?
4) Special effects - will spells and powers dramatically change the combat?

I won't know these things exactly until the initiative roll, but I can get a good idea in advance. And it's fun to make a round count guess based on these factors when I'm planning just so I can compare that against what really happens, to improve my GMing.

For example, foes with high ACs (after buffs, etc.) and high HP will add a few rounds to the combat. And foes smart enough to identify and take out the spellcasters first will prevent sleep and black tentacles et. al. will also cause longer combats.

Hope this is helpful.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Perhaps it is because I gm and play in PFS but I rarely see these super fast combats where everyone closes quickly. Instead I typically see encounters where one or more parties are hidden or our of reach and much of the combat is resolving where those opponents are - and dealing with mooks and minions as the party tries to resolve the primary conflict.

I did recently have a rare quick combat in PFS where my zen archer/Druid (4/2) and a player playing the 7th level pregen Valeros both started combat with our weapons draw and within 5' of the enemies who were just the other side of a door that had opened at the start of the conflict. One empowered spell that stunned them and one full attack w/crits from the zen archer followed by an effective round from Valeros and we were out of combat entirely with two enemies down (one permanently)


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I find that at low levels the whiff rate especially on characters without full BAB can definitely extend the average number of rounds especially if ACs or HPs fall out of the norm for a given CR.

Conversely a small number of crits can easily turn the tide of a fight so that an encounter that should easily be won by the PCs can turn into a slog fest or even a potential loss.

Optimized parties almost always have significantly improved defenses and to hit rates vs CR appropriate foes plus a higher average DPR (for characters designed to contribute DPR). This typically reduces average combat encounter length particularly in situations where they have a big advantage in the action economy.

Mobility is the other key issue as most encounters will assume the PCs are on foot (or maybe mounted) but often need at least one round to close with the opposition. At higher levels flight is pretty much assumed at a minimum with teleportation effects like dimension door becoming quite common. In optimized games that almost always means that a charger or a pouncer can hit anything in effective attack range with a dangerous attack. That generally means very few wasted rounds where single attacks are the norm.

There are generally decent SoL spell options at any given level which can effectively end many combats. The foe might not be dead in 3 rounds but they might be unconscious or otherwise vulnerable to CDG attempts from the PCs.

I think encounter design is a big part of the issues with brief combats. Encounters with one big CR +2 BBEG with no supporting minions almost always end quickly for one side or the other (generally he BBEG) as very few BBEGs have adequate defenses to withstand 4+ dedicated PCs worth of spell effects and DPR. In contrast an encounter where the PCs are almost always outnumbered by foes that can still damage or cast spells vs the PCs and still function as threats will almost always extend the length of the fight as most PCs aren't set up to do massive DPR to multiple foes and the strength of multiple target SoL spells is generally reduced.


Typically, this has been my experience:

Low Levels: Longer combats are usually due to a gimp fight situation. Too many combatants are built as half-combatants (3/4 BAB, etc), and typically need a few levels before they can start stacking benefits. Also, the enemies are 1/2 CR or even lower, so it's a whiff fest.
Essentially, the core issue I have with 3e ruleset being highlighted (it takes 5-7 levels before you can play the concept you wanted).

Medium Levels: Longer combats are typically due to non-creature specific reasons, like environment, or an overall goal outside of outright killing the opponent. Rarely it's the "super defensive opponent" that we might not have "that particular golf club" to kill easily yet.

Higher Levels: Long combats here usually are due to fighting enemies built for high survivability (such as class-level opponents), or some kind of "hit and run" style of gaming, where you may only trade blows occasionally while navigating environment or other factors, so the combat may be artificially extended.
Also, it can be that "waves of lower CR stuff" type of encounter, the smart opponent sending thralls to force us to burn through some offensive resources, etc.

.

I'd like to take a moment to recount my two extreme examples...

Shortest Fight Ever
I cast Forbid Action, nailed all targets, and with the rest of the party's actions in the first round, the DM basically just threw up his arms and said "You win, they can't do anything."
Sure, it's a handwaive, but it was the quickest "significant" fight we had in real time, all because of a lucky 'Save or Suck' spell.

Longest Fight Ever
I honestly have no idea how many rounds it was, but it lasted a full 8 hour extended game session (may have gone longer, it took an entire looong session of gaming).

We were fairly high level (mid-teens I believe), and effectively storming a known gish (fighter/caster) on his home base, who knew we were coming. We only partly knew what we were up against, but had little access to resource to prepare either.

Combat flew along (the round to round wasn't long), but we basically tore through their lair as they literally flung whole sections of their equipment at us, Vadar style, trading hits, deflecting spells with proper protection, etc.
We had to keep pulling out one trick after another, while our single enemy would either dodge, escape to heal, or temporarily incapacitate one of our own.

By the end of the fight, I believe my character was at staggered (and faked falling unconscious with very high Bluff check), and our Wizard and this enemy were facing each other completely without spells, except one. I down a potion and stand back up, and the Wizard polymorphs into a Polar Bear (3.5e rules). Our enemy finally gave up the fight and triggers the win (their master effectively nuking them from orbit due to failure.. oh how I wanted to land that killing blow!).

Despite taking likely hundreds of rounds of combat, and literal hours of gaming, it was one of the most epic battles I've had the pleasure of experiencing, and wasn't tedious or boring in the slightest.


wraithstrike wrote:
3.5 DPR fixation has nothing to do with it. You don't even need powergamers to 3 round an APL=CR encounter. Powergamers will likely 1 round it.

Two questions:

1) Does nobody ever miss?
2) Can you send me those dice?


Depending on environmental factors we would typically handle every thing in 1~3 rounds. We found this dull and stepped it back to about the 5~6 round mark to get our kicks in. However this was our active choice as players. When I gm combat last from3 rounds to 12 rounds depending on what that combat is.


I feel like the NATURE of the fight should also be mentioned. A random encounter is usually done by round 3. A carefully built set-piece that is designed to challenge the group often takes longer. Boss battles with more disposable mooks than your average pokémon trainer will take a bit longer, as those are usually set at a point where the PCs have spent 40-60% of their resources.


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I'd say our combats average between 5-10 rounds. I've seen a number of 1-3 round combats, but that's usually the first encounter of the day, against nameless mooks, and the party mage has an itchy trigger finger. Against anything that actually poses a threat, we go about 5+ rounds minimum.

More rounds mostly depends on the number of enemies, and simple economy of actions per player; if there are 15 mooks all spread out, it'll take us a few rounds just to close in on all of them and sweep them up.

I have to say though, this thread reeks of "urdoinitwrong." Combat takes as long as it needs to; if it goes over 3 rounds, oh-freakin-well.

I've played many clerics, standing side by side with the party meatshield/beatstick, who get dropped on HP, and I joke about how "sorry, I'm not supposed to heal you in combat. Someone somewhere on some forum said it was a waste of time. Oh, you died? Only 3 hp short of surviving? Sucks to be you, cuz I need forum cred."


Josh M. wrote:

I'd say our combats average between 5-10 rounds. I've seen a number of 1-3 round combats, but that's usually the first encounter of the day, against nameless mooks, and the party mage has an itchy trigger finger. Against anything that actually poses a threat, we go about 5+ rounds minimum.

More rounds mostly depends on the number of enemies, and simple economy of actions per player; if there are 15 mooks all spread out, it'll take us a few rounds just to close in on all of them and sweep them up.

I have to say though, this thread reeks of "urdoinitwrong." Combat takes as long as it needs to; if it goes over 3 rounds, oh-freakin-well.

I've played many clerics, standing side by side with the party meatshield/beatstick, who get dropped on HP, and I joke about how "sorry, I'm not supposed to heal you in combat. Someone somewhere on some forum said it was a waste of time. Oh, you died? Only 3 hp short of surviving? Sucks to be you, cuz I need forum cred."

Ideally, the meatshield should not be hit too easily, and the enemies should not be given time/freedom to deal enough damage to endanger his life.

The "healing in combat" discussion is laden with strawmen, and you present another one. The original proposition is that economy of action in combat is best served for actions that bring about the end of combat. And healing is easily done afterwards, as long as people still stand.

As Adamantine Dragon has pointed out adequately, a "healer" is one that can do BIG healing when someone lands a lucky crit, fix crippling status effects and restore ability score damage. When the optimal choice is to heal someone, you do so. When it is NOT the optimal choice, and you still do so, you are beginning to enter the domain of the anti-"healing in combat" people, who make the strawman claim that "Healing in combat" implies being a one trick pony about it.

Healing a fighter that has taken heavy damage early in the fight is often the optimal choice, if not doing so presents a threat that he will go down before combat ends. Not having the fighter contribute is definitely not "optimal".


I kept track of the rounds we went through last night, and the first combat was 5 rounds, and the second one was 6.

I may be upping my assumed length-of-combat if this trend continues.


Kamelguru wrote:
Josh M. wrote:

I'd say our combats average between 5-10 rounds. I've seen a number of 1-3 round combats, but that's usually the first encounter of the day, against nameless mooks, and the party mage has an itchy trigger finger. Against anything that actually poses a threat, we go about 5+ rounds minimum.

More rounds mostly depends on the number of enemies, and simple economy of actions per player; if there are 15 mooks all spread out, it'll take us a few rounds just to close in on all of them and sweep them up.

I have to say though, this thread reeks of "urdoinitwrong." Combat takes as long as it needs to; if it goes over 3 rounds, oh-freakin-well.

I've played many clerics, standing side by side with the party meatshield/beatstick, who get dropped on HP, and I joke about how "sorry, I'm not supposed to heal you in combat. Someone somewhere on some forum said it was a waste of time. Oh, you died? Only 3 hp short of surviving? Sucks to be you, cuz I need forum cred."

Ideally, the meatshield should not be hit too easily, and the enemies should not be given time/freedom to deal enough damage to endanger his life.

The "healing in combat" discussion is laden with strawmen, and you present another one. The original proposition is that economy of action in combat is best served for actions that bring about the end of combat. And healing is easily done afterwards, as long as people still stand.

As Adamantine Dragon has pointed out adequately, a "healer" is one that can do BIG healing when someone lands a lucky crit, fix crippling status effects and restore ability score damage. When the optimal choice is to heal someone, you do so. When it is NOT the optimal choice, and you still do so, you are beginning to enter the domain of the anti-"healing in combat" people, who make the strawman claim that "Healing in combat" implies being a one trick pony about it.

Healing a fighter that has taken heavy damage early in the fight is often the optimal choice, if not doing so presents a threat that...

*EDIT

Actually, forget it. I retract my response. You lost me at the mention of "Strawman." I tried to make a genuine contribution to the thread, and I get a fallacy waved in my face. I'll be over here, "doingitwrong" having my "badwrongfun."

By the way, I never said the Fighter went down "early." Help me out here, is this a strawman as well?


Adamantine Dragon wrote:
Benly wrote:


I did say access to in-combat healing, not a dedicated healer. What you said essentially agrees with my post there. And don't try to out-grognard me, I've only been playing a couple fewer years than you. :)
LOL, OK, we seem to be in agreement then. There are too many "you have to have a dedicated healer!" arguments that I've been in, I suppose.

3-6 rounds depending on the severity and circumstances of the fight. Over 4 or 5 and it really starts to drag for my group.

BBEG fights tend to take longer due to there being more baddies, and more complicated circumstances, but still I wouldn't put them over 6 rounds normally.

As for the healing thing, I always tackled it in a different manner - I'm a huge fan of a Fae Foundling Paladin (Sacred Shield) / Oracle (Life Mystery). You can use Life Link, and the Sacred Sheild's smite replacement to effectively halve all nearby damage to the party then localize it to the paladin. With Fae Foundling, lay on hands, and quicken channel you can burst heal like it's nobody's business while cranking the hell out of your AC. I mean even if you go straight paladin with it it's prety effective, and does it in an interesting way.

You don't "have" to have a dedicated healer. You HAVE to have someone who can use a wand of cure light (which isn't hard at all, really) and you need someone who can cure damage in an emergency.


Darigaaz the Igniter wrote:
About 10 rounds sounds about where we're at, and usually there's still strong enemies left until the end.

It sounds like you have big fights with lots of strong enemies. In published adventures, you frequently have either fights with several weak enemies (and nothing else) or fights with one or two strong enemies (and nothing else).

In my adventure path experience, three rounds sounds about right for a typical fight (not counting rounds where both sides are closing, e.g.).


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Okay so someone just said "not counting rounds when both sides are closing" - why do you nnot count these rounds?

In my experience combats are won or lost by what happens in these early rounds - and they are crucial parts of combat. Why don't you count them?

Perhaps one reason my combats last longer as a DM is I trigger them earlier than many people do? I prefer to have people prepare for combat & maneuver in initiative order than just handwave it - forces people to think about movement speeds, terrain features, action economy and the duration of buffs etc a bit more than when we just handwave things.

(and it means that warned/prepared enemies have rounds to cast/maneuver and other wise prepare)

But I think that these early rounds before people close are crucial - and it is also a chance for players who can impact a combat a long range to potentially use their character features - depends widely by the spell level and terrain but this is when at higher levels the druid wild shaping into a large Air Elemental gets to enjoy perfect high speed flight and his whirlwind attack or when the mages can unlease a Wall of Fire with a real impact on the combat or when the archers can shoot at real range increments. Even in closer quarters these early rounds are when a monk gets to leverage speed to charge and close with an enemy spell caster sooner than the enemy may have expected. It is also a chance at higher levels for a spellcaster to actually leverage some long range spells (fireball for example is far more satisfying when unleashed from 100's of feet away.

If all combat only takes place when parties close then you deny many characters key powers of their classes - cavaliers their mount's speed & charge capabilities, archers their range, spell casters likewise and monks their speed and maneuverability.


Rycaut wrote:

Okay so someone just said "not counting rounds when both sides are closing" - why do you nnot count these rounds?

In my experience combats are won or lost by what happens in these early rounds - and they are crucial parts of combat. Why don't you count them?

Because I don't usually find them to be a crucial part of combat, I guess. I also think it would be somewhat misleading to say "it took us 100 rounds to kill a crippled kobold" when 99 of those rounds were spent walking towards the enemy.

Rycaut wrote:
[..] the mages can unlease a Wall of Fire with a real impact on the combat or when the archers can shoot at real range increments [..]

Those actions don't describe rounds where both sides are closing, so I'm not sure what your point is.


I think maybe we should be looking at "meaningful rounds" versus "garbage time" -- to use a football analogy.

During meaningful rounds, the battle isn't quite decided. The enemy may be using powerful abilities that incapacitate the party, environmental advantages, or the benefits of complementary minions. A very difficult encounter definitely has more meaningful rounds than garbage time.

But let's be clear, a challenging encounter is going to be fairly ineffective at draining resources. There's going to be a lot of garbage time in those encounters. In my last session, it was uncommon for more than a spell or two to be cast per caster -- mostly "3 + modifier" abilities. Perhaps some small resources were used for after-combat healing. There might be 1 or 2 meaningful rounds in those encounters. The *one* truly challenging "challenging" encounter we had all night was primarily due to the GM smartly using the environment to make things more interesting.

So, I think the real question should be:

Is a challenging encounter in Pathfinder really challenging, especially since characters have *so many* more resources than in 3.X?


Or, as I have frequently examined in the past: does resource attrition actually reflect the way people play the game? Or is it not such a great measure of "challenge" after all?

But anyway, as for the routine 3-round combats, I always thought that was bluster from those who wanted to sound tactically superior. Maybe it's because I play on VTTs and so there's usually a lot more room to maneuver (more "closing rounds" ?)


Most of the combats I've run and played in had about 3 meaningful rounds. They lasted about 6 rounds total, but one or two at the beginning and the end didn't have much going on.

The exceptions usually included some kind of special situation, like a flying dragon that strafes the party round after round until they figure out what to do with it. Or situations where several of the party members are ineffective (wizard vs golem, melee vs flying, etc.) Or where the monsters had some kind of healing.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

When do you start counting then? I guess I play a very different game than many on this board are describing. I rarely see players in "garbage time" w/o things to do - and while some members of both sides are closing - others can act - in the specific case I was thinking about it was exactly what was happening during when both parties were closing - the enemies were charging at the party, the party melee types were getting into position and the party casters & ranged folks unleashed with their specialities - such as dropping a massive wall of fire around and between the enemies closing on the party to force them to pass through it to reach the party.

But in many other cases there are rounds where the enemies are closing and the party is waiting for them/preparing/readying actions etc. In play times these rounds may pass quickly - but they are no less meaningful than when everyone is engaged.

I never played much 3.0/3.5 but while folks in Pathfinder have lots of options I frequently as a DM see parties at the end of the session who are running low on nearly every resource (barbarians with no more rounds of rage, spellcasters down to only orisons etc) And frankly for the players and for me as a DM those are some of the most satisfying sessions.


Evil Lincoln wrote:

Or, as I have frequently examined in the past: does resource attrition actually reflect the way people play the game? Or is it not such a great measure of "challenge" after all?

But anyway, as for the routine 3-round combats, I always thought that was bluster from those who wanted to sound tactically superior. Maybe it's because I play on VTTs and so there's usually a lot more room to maneuver (more "closing rounds" ?)

I think it effects how the writers design the game, and how I personally design encounters for the game.

What rounds are people counting. I am not sure what anyone means when the battle has been won, but we still need to play three more rounds of combat. Or the rounds in the beginning where nothing happens. I feel like I am playing a much different game then a lot of people on the boards, which is fine, but just sort of has me a little confused.


i guess my group yet again is an exception to the norm. in a previous post, i already stated our group size and the CR of encounters we face. they would be suicide to a party of 4. and additional allies only makes them longer.


Rycaut wrote:
I never played much 3.0/3.5 but while folks in Pathfinder have lots of options I frequently as a DM see parties at the end of the session who are running low on nearly every resource (barbarians with no more rounds of rage, spellcasters down to only orisons etc) And frankly for the players and for me as a DM those are some of the most satisfying sessions.

(Emphasis mine.) As I alluded to in my earlier post, some GMs make just about every fight into a big fight, rather than having a mix of "average" fights and big fights (which is more common in published modules, in my experience). I think that explains some of the difference people are seeing.


Evil Lincoln wrote:

Or, as I have frequently examined in the past: does resource attrition actually reflect the way people play the game? Or is it not such a great measure of "challenge" after all?

But anyway, as for the routine 3-round combats, I always thought that was bluster from those who wanted to sound tactically superior. Maybe it's because I play on VTTs and so there's usually a lot more room to maneuver (more "closing rounds" ?)

Yeah, if you're playing on a VTT you're not playing the same game as those of us playing on an actual physical table top with finite size many orders of magnitude smaller than a 32 bit unsigned integer.

People using physical table tops tend to start combat a lot closer because a battle mat isn't much more than one longbow range increment across long ways.


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Our combats are rarely 3 rounds. Usually they're in the 8-15 range. We've got a 5 man party and sometimes have a few npcs.

We're usually either outnumbered 2 or 3 to 1 in combat, or are facing an equal number of custom enemies with powerful abilities. Generally we make good use of tactics, positioning, and choke points.


Killsmith wrote:

Our combats are rarely 3 rounds. Usually they're in the 8-15 range. We've got a 5 man party and sometimes have a few npcs.

We're usually either outnumbered 2 or 3 to 1 in combat, or are facing an equal number of custom enemies with powerful abilities. Generally we make good use of tactics, positioning, and choke points.

Pretty much this.


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Adamantine Dragon wrote:


Our group included the following:
elf sorcerer - focused on evocation with optimized DC on spells.
dwarf battle cleric - focused on tanking but with impressive combat skills.
half-elf lion shaman druid specialized in bow
half-orc barbarian focused on two-handed greathammer

Based on this, and on your discription of the battle, it sounds like your party is really optimized to do a lot of damage very quickly. I'm not surprised that you win battles so quickly.

A very different party I saw at one point was:

Witch
Cleric
Wizard-necromancer specialist
Paladin

Tons of battlefield control to slow down the pace of the battle. Then the tactis are something like

Round 1: Buff, battlefield control, Paladin/Cleric go into defensive mode.

Round 2-4: Cleric and Paladin continue to defend/buff, make it impossible for enemies to get close, and/or cleric does some debuffing to start lowering enemy saving throws. Wizard and witch do battlefield control/summoning/debuffing, lowering enemy saving throws and controlling the battlefield.

Rounds 5-6: Debuffing hits serious levels, enemies saving throws are down the toilet, Witch, Wizard, and Cleric all start dropping enemies left and right with save-or-suck spells and hexes on enemies that now have crappy saves.

Probably does just as well as your party in your average battle, and possibly better in an epic boss fight, but it just takes a lot longer. It's a matter of the style and preference of your party.

Silver Crusade

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Been running games for around 30 years now, and found the length of the combat depends on the type of encounter at my table:

Minion encounters (aka speedbump encounters) tend to end quickly. Three rounds would be pushing it. Tack on a round or two for low level PC, cut it to a single character's action at high level.

Midboss encounters tend to go a bit longer - around 6 rounds. This may be due to the bad guys having a tactical advantage, terrain advantage, or shear numbers.

"Running battle" encounters can take 20 plus rounds. These usually consist of a series of minion encounters (with an occasional midboss) that trigger off of each other, with a round or two in between for PC's to heal, rebuff, or retreat. These can be real life time consuming, but very enjoyable.

BBEG encounters usually last 10 to 15 rounds, even at high level. Usually the BBEG has a few things to make the battle more challenging for the PC's: a horde of minions, terrain/mobility advantage, knowledge of the PC's general tactics (due to watching them slaughter his minions), a series of well planned defensive spells, an insane amount of hp, reinforcements that show up at the right time, or a combination of the above. Of course, I've had BBEG encounters end on round one due to a confirmed critical from a gunslinger who won initiative. (Kind of anti-climatic, but it was a module that had a better journey than end.)

Campaign ending encounter: 20 rounds minimum. This should be an epic showdown between the PC's and the bad guys where all the stops are pulled out and nothing is held back. Your player's will hopefully be talking about it for years.

The real key to all of this: what type of combats do your players find fun? If they want it over in three rounds and enjoy it, more power to them. If they like 20 round combats with maneuvering and tactical choices, that's great too. There's no wrong one.

And for the record, my longest encounter as a player was 64 rounds. With four PC's, a horde of cohorts, hirelings, and summons, it took us 24 hours of real time (in two 12 hour sessions) to complete this epic end to a campaign.


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Josh M. wrote:

Actually, forget it. I retract my response. You lost me at the mention of "Strawman." I tried to make a genuine contribution to the thread, and I get a fallacy waved in my face. I'll be over here, "doingitwrong" having my "badwrongfun."

By the way, I never said the Fighter went down "early." Help me out here, is this a strawman as well?

Strawman means you present an argument by oversimplifying or misrepresenting the opposite side of the argument. When you say that the fighter DIED because he was not healed, you are not only past the place where it is a good idea to heal someone, but it is needed. To say that having the viewpoint that healing in combat is suboptimal =/= to say that healing someone who is about to die is "wrong".

Making a cleric that refuses to EVER heal is as stupid as a melee focused fighter that on principle refuses to bring a ranged weapon. It may not be the best way to spend a round, but you are weakening the whole team by being a jerk.

And regarding the fighter going down "early"; If he dies before combat is resolved, he dies "early". It as a scenario where healing is not just a good idea, but an optimal one. However, to claim that healing is "wrong" at a certain point is a strawman. One which is commonly used by people who believe that survival is your own damn business. Which I agree to up to a certain point. That point being "What the heck do you mean your dex 10 fighter wears studded leather armor? It LOOKS cool? Screw you, I am not babysitting your AC 13 ass."

And yes, to assume that all who fail to defend themselves fully from all attacks is a bad "I RP so it is OK" type of player, is a strawman. To say that actively making your character sub par is a bad thing, is not. It is all in the nuances.

So to sum it up: Healing is good when healing is needed. But like opening locks, using diplomacy, mending your clothes, using divinations to foretell the weather for tomorrow, etc, it is something best done outside active combat, when doing so does not lead to serious consequence, like death of a PC.


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Kamelguru wrote:
Josh M. wrote:

Actually, forget it. I retract my response. You lost me at the mention of "Strawman." I tried to make a genuine contribution to the thread, and I get a fallacy waved in my face. I'll be over here, "doingitwrong" having my "badwrongfun."

By the way, I never said the Fighter went down "early." Help me out here, is this a strawman as well?

Strawman means you present an argument by oversimplifying or misrepresenting the opposite side of the argument. When you say that the fighter DIED because he was not healed, you are not only past the place where it is a good idea to heal someone, but it is needed. To say that having the viewpoint that healing in combat is suboptimal =/= to say that healing someone who is about to die is "wrong".

Making a cleric that refuses to EVER heal is as stupid as a melee focused fighter that on principle refuses to bring a ranged weapon. It may not be the best way to spend a round, but you are weakening the whole team by being a jerk.

And regarding the fighter going down "early"; If he dies before combat is resolved, he dies "early". It as a scenario where healing is not just a good idea, but an optimal one. However, to claim that healing is "wrong" at a certain point is a strawman. One which is commonly used by people who believe that survival is your own damn business. Which I agree to up to a certain point. That point being "What the heck do you mean your dex 10 fighter wears studded leather armor? It LOOKS cool? Screw you, I am not babysitting your AC 13 ass."

And yes, to assume that all who fail to defend themselves fully from all attacks is a bad "I RP so it is OK" type of player, is a strawman. To say that actively making your character sub par is a bad thing, is not. It is all in the nuances.

So to sum it up: Healing is good when healing is needed. But like opening locks, using diplomacy, mending your clothes, using divinations to foretell the weather for tomorrow, etc, it is something best done outside active combat, when doing so...

Um... you missed a spot:

Josh M. wrote:


I've played many clerics, standing side by side with the party meatshield/beatstick, who get dropped on HP, and I joke about how "sorry, I'm not supposed to heal you in combat. Someone somewhere on some forum said it was a waste of time. Oh, you died? Only 3 hp short of surviving? Sucks to be you, cuz I need forum cred."

You seriously though I'd just stand there and let my teammate die? Like I'd go out of my way to make a Cleric to not heal someone who needs it? Wowsers. My friends and I joke about how ridiculous some of the posting on this forum is, and this is just another example.

Maybe some posters here need to not be so eager to jump on the "Fallacy Alert!" button.


So far in my Kingmaker run, the fights have been from 3 to 6 rounds.

They've generally only been longer (as in 6 rounds) when there have been multiple enemies.

And by multiple I mean some 7-10 bandits or mites. They started dying faster when our Wizard got some AOE spells, though.


Josh M. wrote:

Um... you missed a spot:

Josh M. wrote:

I've played many clerics, standing side by side with the party meatshield/beatstick, who get dropped on HP, and I joke about how "sorry, I'm not supposed to heal you in combat. Someone somewhere on some forum said it was a waste of time. Oh, you died? Only 3 hp short of surviving? Sucks to be you, cuz I need forum cred."

You seriously though I'd just stand there and let my teammate die? Like I'd go out of my way to make a Cleric to not heal someone who needs it? Wowsers. My friends and I joke about how ridiculous some of the posting on this forum is, and this is just another example.

Maybe some posters here need to not be so eager to jump on the "Fallacy Alert!" button.

And that is why I said you PRESENTED a strawman. Not that you make a strawman argument. If you go up and re-read my original rebuttal, you will see that I am arguing that the whole "debate" on healing in combat floats on a raft made up of strawmen and other logical fallacies. And that your joke PRESENTS one of the chief strawmen that make up this raft. Beyond that, I agree with the way you play your clerics. I am even going to make one myself soon, and likely play him in much the same manner.

And yes, the "debate" is ridiculous, and deserve to be the point of ridicule. Like most waterborne craft dominantly constructed from fallacies.


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Just so g*****n sick of seeing the word "fallacy" every time someone disagrees with something. If I made some kind of thing, it was not intentional.


hogarth wrote:
Rycaut wrote:

Okay so someone just said "not counting rounds when both sides are closing" - why do you nnot count these rounds?

In my experience combats are won or lost by what happens in these early rounds - and they are crucial parts of combat. Why don't you count them?

Because I don't usually find them to be a crucial part of combat, I guess. I also think it would be somewhat misleading to say "it took us 100 rounds to kill a crippled kobold" when 99 of those rounds were spent walking towards the enemy.

Pretty much this.

Example from just last night: my Monday group (Gunslinger, Monk, Witch) encountered a trio of Mandragora. Within four rounds my Witch had webbed two of the three in place and misfortune hexed all three. The only reason the third hadn't gotten tangled up was a double-20 on an early reflex save (lucky GM) and then the fact that it hadn't moved from its spot, despite being still in the web, because it was in melee with the Monk standing just outside the edge. The Gunslinger and I stood at the edge of the web, picking bits of HP off with bullets and cackling respectively. The other two were webbed far enough from the party that they didn't even bother screaming. At that point, the battle was pretty much over, there was next to nothing the plants could do to get out of the situation and turn the odds again in their favor, even though they were still technically alive and occasionally trying (and failing) to move and/or attack.

After four more rounds of the Monk trading punches with the one he could reach, the Gunslinger picking off HP and only missing on a 1, and my Witch sitting there laughing and occasionally casting something, the GM finally said "Wanna just fast-forward and assume you kill them?" We all agreed and moved on to the next thing.


Josh M. wrote:
Just so g*****n sick of seeing the word "fallacy" every time someone disagrees with something. If I made some kind of thing, it was not intentional.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKNodRa71Cg

It needed a theme ;)


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Adamantine Dragon wrote:

...I've rarely seen a game where players take an average of less than two minutes per turn, and I've seen many where a player can take as much as five. Let's say an average of 3 min...

{and in a later post}
...In our epic boss fights our play tends to slow down because of the huge importance of validating the chosen tactics and then implementing them properly. So even though the epic battle can take 90 minutes, it's still usually nine or ten rounds at most...

This just jumped out at me as a big thing.

I would guess that is a major difference for alot of us. We would never allow 5 minutes for players to plan and discuss what they are doing on their portion of the 6 second turn.

Can't stop and have a committee discussion in the middle of a fight. There are not grid squares marked off on the cave floor. Can precisely measure out the diagonal distance between the flying hawk and ranger. Etc...

You get ~10 seconds to decide then a bit more to explain it. If it is so complex that you can't explain it pretty quick we usually deem it to complex for you to do in 6 seconds without some pretty hefty justification.

So yes, when a plan isn't made ahead of time. We have people charging in before the sorc throws the fireball. Rogue needing to run through the grease to get to his chosen flanking position. The channel energy didn't quite encompass all the badies. Etc...


Kydeem de'Morcaine wrote:
I would guess that is a major difference for alot of us. We would never allow 5 minutes for players to plan and discuss what they are doing on their portion of the 6 second turn.

I actually had a group dynamic back in 3.5e, where the DM let us discuss tactics on the fly and spend a little longer on doing things, after the group had consistent access to Telepathic Bond.

It was kind of a neat way to imply the speed of thought and quick precision of our mostly high intelligence group.

Silver Crusade

I play mostly Pathfinder Society, and I'd say most fights take 2-5 rounds, with 3-4 being very average.

As a GM, I keep a tally when each player gets their turn in initiative, as a way to make sure I don't accidentally skip anyone, so I always see exactly how many rounds each combat has lasted. In the game I ran last night, we played at subtier 4-5, even though the 5 characters ranged in level from 1 to 5. The longest combat ended at the beginning of the 5th round, and the first combat only lasted a single round.

Grand Lodge

Same PFS experience here.


Kamelguru wrote:
PCs generally have a higher survival rate, lest the GM actively metagames so hard that everyone red-pill completely. This can be stuff like auto-surprise, concentrated fire on a single party member because the enemies magically know it is the priority target, etc.

Why is concentrating fire on a single opponent member considered metagaming if the GM does it and good tactics if the PCs do it?

And concentrating fire is not even necessary because the argument was that a PC should be able to take down an enemy of CR=APL every round (without help).

Kamelguru wrote:
Also, the PCs generally have higher AC than most CR=APL creatures can hit on a 10, meaning that there needs to be some seriously good rolls (or fudging) involved for a PC to go down in the first round.

A PC of level X has a CR of X due to PC wealth (see [url="http://paizo.com/forums/dmtz4rdq?CR-of-PC"]). So an opponent with CR=APL+1 is equal to a PC one level higher than the APL. The claim was that a PC can take down an enemy every round that is his CR or even a few higher. So taking down a PC every round that is a CR below him should be even easier!

If PCs have higher AC than CR=APL creatures then either they do not have CR (i.e. something is wrong with their builds) or the creature is not played to its CR (treating it like a fighter and ignoring its special features).

Kamelguru wrote:
I have never done it to a PC, on principle. [i.e. killing a PC in one round]

Actually that is metagaming, not the other way round. To avoid misunderstandings: IMHO metagaming in favor of the PCs is often good and necessary (as long as it is not overdone). But we should not confuse which actions are metagaming and which actions are not.

So, my argument still stands: Given the claim that a PC should be able to take down an enemy every round that is his CR or even a few higher, a creature of CR=APL should be able to take down a PC each round as well.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

When I run D&D, it's usually 2 or 3 rounds, give or take a round. During some of the major boss battles, they last anywhere from 8 to one time for 20.


Most monsters are built suboptimally strictly speaking. As such a CR X monster will almost always lag behind the saves/AC/DPR/Save DCs that an optimized PC will.

Some of that is due to most monsters being built off an assumed 11,11,11,10,10,10 base stat framework or an elite array of 15,14,13,12,10,8 before racial and HD adjustments

In contrast an optimized PC almost always has something like a 17-20 in their primary stats which can result in a noticeable shift in PC success percentage even at low levels. Further most optimized games are going to have the PCs focus the vast majority of their wealth in the form of big 6 items as they are the most efficient power boosters. Other than elite NPCs and the BBEG very few monsters fought are going to have the entire big 6 focused on.

The result of all these inefficiencies is that strictly speaking that PCs are often the equivalent of CR+1 foes in and of themselves.


Liam ap Thalwig wrote:
Kamelguru wrote:
PCs generally have a higher survival rate, lest the GM actively metagames so hard that everyone red-pill completely. This can be stuff like auto-surprise, concentrated fire on a single party member because the enemies magically know it is the priority target, etc.

Why is concentrating fire on a single opponent member considered metagaming if the GM does it and good tactics if the PCs do it?

And concentrating fire is not even necessary because the argument was that a PC should be able to take down an enemy of CR=APL every round (without help).

Concentrating fire in order to kill one PC, RATHER than defending itself against an enemy that is actually doing damage to it. Example: A party is fighting two animal intelligence critters. They keep targeting the rogue, because his AC is the lowest, and they have the best chance to hit him. The rogue is NOT attacking them back, trying to get away, drink a potion etc. Meanwhile, the fighter and cleric are wailing away at them, reducing their HP by 40% per round. Now, when the GM decides that the critters STILL focus on the rogue, in order to kill him, because that is the most mathematically sound tactic to hurt the party, disregarding the critters survival instincts, allowing them to die the same round as the rogue, as the fighter and cleric tear them to shreds... THAT is metagaming to me.

And yes, that has happened more than once at a table. It is so ridiculous that it SHOULD be a strawman...

Quote:
Kamelguru wrote:
Also, the PCs generally have higher AC than most CR=APL creatures can hit on a 10, meaning that there needs to be some seriously good rolls (or fudging) involved for a PC to go down in the first round.

A PC of level X has a CR of X due to PC wealth (see [url="http://paizo.com/forums/dmtz4rdq?CR-of-PC"]). So an opponent with CR=APL+1 is equal to a PC one level higher than the APL. The claim was that a PC can take down an enemy every round that is his CR or even a few higher. So taking down a PC every round that is a CR below him should be even easier!

If PCs have higher AC than CR=APL creatures then either they do not have CR (i.e. something is wrong with their builds) or the creature is not played to its CR (treating it like a fighter and ignoring its special features).

I don't even know what you are talking about. A fighter 5 that is built halfway decently has better AC than a troll can hit on a 10. That is my argument.

Quote:
Kamelguru wrote:
I have never done it to a PC, on principle. [i.e. killing a PC in one round]
Actually that is metagaming, not the other way round. To avoid misunderstandings: IMHO metagaming in favor of the PCs is often good and necessary (as long as it is not overdone). But we should not confuse which actions are metagaming and which actions are not.

See my statement above. I could go out of my way to harass one single target, despite it being completely immersion-breaking and spiteful, because it is "more effective". THAT is what I do not do. I meta my boots off to make it fair and fun, sure.

Quote:

So, my argument still stands: Given the claim that a PC should be able to take down an enemy every round that is his CR or even a few higher, a creature of CR=APL should be able to take down a PC each round as well.

This is POSSIBLE, but rarely the rule. A troll should be able to claw/claw/bite/rend a wizard who has not protected himself in one round, sure. But a dedicated melee PC should beat the troll 9 out of 10 times.

Also, the art of 1rd takedown is not something I advocate for ALL characters. But it has proven itself to be the norm for all damage focused fighters/paladins/barbs in my games so far.

Last game I GM'd was Kingmaker, and the fighter (when buffed, mind you) tore through most any enemy that did not have magical means to counter him. Not an argument, just relating experience.


Any combat that isn't effectively over in 3 rounds of all-out action means something is wrong with both sides. That doesn't mean every combat will be 3 (or less) rounds of toe-to-toe no-holds-barred fighting with full attack actions; a combat might consist of many rounds of skirmishing, a mix of maneuvering and toe-to-toe work, advancing into combat range followed by close-up-and-personal fighting, a running spellfight, a tank doing a Leonidas while invisible characters sneak up on a mage, or many other different scenarios. Being likely to survive 3 rounds of the damage you would see in all-out battle is a build guide, if a build can do that without help then it is just as likely to survive any combat that develops.

This doesn't mean a sorcerer needs to be able to handle being surrounded by APL monsters making full attacks, a sorc shouldn't be in that situation in a combat, but a sorc might easily draw 4-5 level appropriate spells in three rounds (and if the sorc does find himself surrounded like that the combat will be probably be over in 3 rounds with the party losing).

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