Speeding Up and Streamlining PbP Combat
Okay, so I have a longtime Pbp DnD game running on MW. It started as 3.5 and is now 4E. I have finally reached my limit with the slowness of the combat. I reduced all hps to 80%, but it didn't speed it up appreciably. I am seeking advice on how to speed up the combats drastically. Here are my requirements:
1. I still want it to retain the 4E, DnD flavor.
2. I still want to challenge the players and retain the same relative balance.
Other than that, I am open to radical suggestions.
A very radical option is to give your PCs the tools (and behind the screen knowledge) to resolve and narrate the effects of an attack each round on their own. Then you move, attack, whatever you'd normally do etc.
You might consider handling the roleplay via post, but when combat starts, use IRC or a program like OpenRPG to resolve the combat within half an hour instead of half a month. Then you simply post
the log of the combat in your thread, and continue on with the roleplay. You can actually expect to finish a module within a couple of months and move on to the next one, rather than still being stuck in the third room fighting those accursed dire rats.
There are several drawbacks to this approach, though:
Kill the HP system and move to a minion like system. Same could be applied to players if wanted - could be brutal.
Players fight: ( I am making the ranks and hits up on the fly)
Minions - 1 hit and its dead
Sub leaders - 2 hits and they are dead
Leaders - 3 hits and they are dead
Sub Commanders - 4 Hits
Commanders - 5 Hits
Bosses - 6+ hits
Rather then focusing on damage you focus on attacks landing.
Seventh Sea has a system fairly similar to what Blackrazor described. It's great for epic/cinematic action. The downside is that it lacks the scaling that differentiates the various roles in 4e.
Also this little program helps a bit. It allows for DMs and players to move tokens across a map in real time so they just drag and drop, just like a table top. Maps are more dynamic.
Current being used in the Platimum Prophecy campaign by Venator.
Save vs DM/Ruben and other 4e GMs use some google combat tracker thing. Supposedly does alot of the work for you. Not my cup of tea but they like it.
This isnt the whatsit on that google thingee Ruben uses but its a well developed combat tracker
Oh this is open source too, you code jockeys/admins could have a field day with it.
Blackrazor, great suggestions with the minion thing. I have been contemplating something similar.
Also, I just started using DND4eCM. I love it. I just wish some code mionkey would program it with the ability to track healing surges and action points (and maybe daily item uses). That doesn't sound hard to me. Anyone want to do it? :)
Best option: Use <insert your preferred chat system> to deal with combat. Problem solved.
Not-so-great option: If you're stuck in doing the combat in PbP, your best bet is to reduce two things:
The number of communications between player and GM required to take actions:
- if, for example, you give the players working knowledge of enemy defenses and hp, now they don't need to wait to know if the attack didn't hit and they need to use a re-roll ability, and the next player in line knows whether or not the monster is dead already without GM input. You may also allow players to update the battle grid.
- You can encourage players to pre-define the conditions under which interrupts and attack of opportunities will happen, example: if the GM doesn't need to wait for the fighter to tell him whether he wants to do an AO or not against rat #37, combat moves faster.
The amount of waiting required by players.
One of the reasons combat slows to a crawl because of the initiative system. If you fudge with it, things will move faster.
- fidget with the enemy initiative rolls so they're mostly clumped in groups on the order.
- allow players that are right next to each other in initiative order to post regardless of who's actually first (in other words, if A rolled 5 init, and B rolled a 4, allow B to post before A if he happens to log earlier), this works remarkably well if you fidgeted with enemy initiative so that monsters are clumped together.
I like the idea, and would be willing to try it in my game's next combat if we can make it workable...
Maybe incidental damage or a round of ongoing damage less than 10 counts as half a hit?
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