Comments on 2007-12-17 Dread Pagoda

Might be interesting to find this collection of comments later…

Tags: [[tag:RPG]] [[tag:thoughts]]

I’d be interested to see whether it’s possible to speed up the combat a bit. For some people it’s fun to really study the battle map and ponder the posibilities, but people are taking several minutes per move. It’s becoming like chess.

In game-time, each round represents six seconds. Actually the characters have to plan their next move while they are executing their current one, so the words ‘works well under pressure’ needs to be somewhere in their resume. The fact that a seven or eight-second battle takes one or two hours to complete illustrates this.

The benefits of speeding up combat have been proven by scientists. a) We can fight more per session (makes Kubo San happy) b) We get more Loot (makes Nanami happy) c) We earn more XP (makes everyone happy) d) We progress farther into the story line (uh… someone’s bound to like that. Alex, maybe?)

Things that help: - The initiative keeper lets people know when their turn is next. “It’s you, then you, and then you. Then monsters.” - The DM puts time pressure on players who dawdle. - Players plan their next move ahead of time - Preparation: The Battle Sheet(TM), spell descriptions, rules, etc.

I’d be for it, but if it’s also no fun if it’s stressful.

– Marco 2007-12-18 16:57 UTC

I second that! Maybe we should record a session and analyse where we actually loose time (because it’s not clear to me)? Is it when we do funny jokes about bamboo used as clothing or is it when spell description/bullrush rules have to be read during our own turn?

– Sektat 2007-12-18 17:23 UTC

Well, if you feel like recording it all and listening to it again – be my guest. :)

I think that looking up rules is hardly a problem anymore. We’re quick, and we usually delegate – one of us looks it up while the others continue their turn.

I think that picking the correct dice and rolling to hit and damage is not too bad anymore. It could still be improved, but I think the only ones I keep noticing are the ones with four attacks or more (Nanami & Kubo San).

I think the main factor is that mistakes can be deadly, and so we spend a lot of time debating the correct strategy. Do this, or do that, and we offer advice to each other, causing people to reconsider their decision. The rules, the counting of squares, the attacks of opportunities are all easy, once a decision has been made.

It takes a long time to reach a decision.

Zeno mentioned this to me at work today as well. We talked about some factors like doing away with buff spells, limiting the number of currently active buff spells to one, make all buff spells per encounter instead of tracking the number of rounds, and so on. But whenever Zeno felt I was going to take something away from players, he didn’t like it. So I conclude that in actualy fact, he did not want to simplify things.

I think there are several answers to the problem:

I think a nasty 6 5 4 3 2 1 countdown should happen no more than once per session. It’s a humorous reminder, not a viable solution.

– AlexSchroeder 2007-12-18 23:22 UTC

I don’t think that simplifying rules or restricting buffs are the answer. I think that if everyone’s prepared, is concentrating, and plans their move in advance, there’s nothing else that can be done. The trick is to get everyone prepared, concentrating and planning moves in advance.

Also, I certainly wouldn’t want to discourage people from being silly and making jokes. The conversation about Kubo San’s level 10 mighty club was the highlight of my evening. :) Add the bit about the strap-on horn, bonus gore damage while charging, and the sneak attack damage when attacking from behind - priceless. :D

– Marco 2007-12-19 09:38 UTC

I’ve found a few things that helped me speed up my own turns when playing:

  1. Having a notepad to calculate my to hit and damage with all the buffs flying around – so now that I have a Bull’s Strength, Haste, Prayer, and Bless, what is my AC, attack bonus, and damage? Looking at your character sheet and trying to add on the fly is bad news, especially if you are bad at arithmetic under pressure.
  2. Roll attack and damage dice (and miss chance, if applicable) simultaneously. If you have multiple attacks and the foe is unlikely to die from all your attacks, roll all of them, sum up the damage and tell the DM how many times you hit (so he can subtract DR, if applicable) and the total. It gets more complicated when the monster has resistances and you are using a flaming weapon, for example, but not untenable.
  3. Make sure you master the combat rules that are applicable to your character. I played a bull rushing barbarian, so I read up on the bull rushing rules before the game. Same goes for people that play characters that grapple, trip, sunder, or disarm regularly. I thought Alex’s cheat sheet for his paladin in the Shackled City game was fantastic. Grapple, in particular, is probably something the DM really has to memorize, because so many creatures have Improved Grab. A self-made DM screen or cheat sheet that summarizes some of these special maneuvers, along with modifiers to attacks and AC (like being prone) and the effects of cover and concealment, is also really helpful I think.
  4. Movement is one of the toughest things, because you have to process how far you can move, the area threatened by opponents, and avoiding attacks of opportunity. I’m not sure I’ve seen a truly exceptional way of doing this, other than practice, practice, practice. Ultimately, some people are better at this than others. Oftentimes, one person in our games would say, “I want to move here and attack,” and another player, who was better at visualizing, marked out the appropriate moves. If someone is really good at it and doesn’t mind helping others, and the others don’t mind being helped, I think this way can also work.

– Adrian 2007-12-19 12:33 UTC

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