D&D 4th Edition Running 4E combats quickly - Page 3


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  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by cnath.rm View Post
    Totally loving the thread and the advice.

    If I can toss in my 0.02 I had a DM who found a gig that seemed to work for him, and which worked well for me also.

    You have each monsters stats on a sheet or card, and the same for each pc. You write init on each one, put them in order, and adjust the order as needed. When it's the monsters turn, you have the stats right in front of you ready to go, and if you use sheets of paper or make new ones each time you can just mark down damage etc on the sheets.

    Other games where we use Maptools we use it's Initiative Tracker which helps you to easily see where you are in the order so you can get ready.
    I have used both of these methods and they work great. for cards, my wife created a word document the printed out the PC cards with all of the important information on them. I just reprinted them on a sheet of 3x5 cards as needed. I would also fill the rest of the sheet with the monsters, that way I had 3x5 cards for each combatant that I stacked in order.

    A trick I should have used was to print a set of monster for each combat with their prerolled int value on them and put them in order before the game. That way all I would have to do is insert the PC in the deck and initiative was done.
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  • #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by MerricB View Post

    BE PREPARED - Nothing slows down a combat like having to look up a rule in the middle of it....

    WHY ARE YOU USING MINIS? Miniatures slow down combats more for the time they take to set up rather than the time they add to actually playing combats.
    Combine these two - predraw your battlemaps!

    I tend to use pieces of really big graph paper for the purpose, but you can also get ahead on the standard dry-erase battlemap as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Umbran View Post
    Combine these two - predraw your battlemaps!
    .
    When I'm giving a lecture/tutorial, I find writing on the board really focuses the students' attention.

    Likewise when I'm running a game, I find drawing the scene out on the map in front of the players while describing it helps them focus, whereas putting a big predrawn scene down may confuse them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by S'mon View Post
    When I'm giving a lecture/tutorial, I find writing on the board really focuses the students' attention.

    Likewise when I'm running a game, I find drawing the scene out on the map in front of the players while describing it helps them focus, whereas putting a big predrawn scene down may confuse them.
    I can see that happening, but if you like to use really detailed maps on occasion then drawing it out while describing it could put the players to sleep.

  • #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by S'mon View Post
    When I'm giving a lecture/tutorial, I find writing on the board really focuses the students' attention.
    I've spent my share of time in the front of a lecture hall, and yes, that can focus attention. However, it usually focuses them when they need to *process* the writing - usually by taking notes.

    There's not a whole lot for them to process or do with the map information as you are drawing it. I find that one does not add enough information per unit time drawing a map to keep attention focused. The players tend to drift off to looking at their character sheets and whatnot until you're done.

    I admit, I have never dropped a map so complicated that they cannot be given a reasonable clue within about 30 seconds - much less time than it takes me to keep referencing my notes counting squares to draw the thing and make sure I get all the distances and placements correct.

    YMMV.
    Last edited by Umbran; Wednesday, 2nd December, 2009 at 09:56 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Umbran View Post
    I've spent my share of time in the front of a lecture hall, and yes, that can focus attention. However, it usually focuses them when they need to *process* the writing - usually by taking notes.

    There's not a whole lot for them to process or do with the map information as you are drawing it. I find that one does not add enough information per unit time drawing a map to keep attention focused. The players tend to drift off to looking at their character sheets and whatnot until you're done.

    I admit, I have never dropped a map so complicated that they cannot be given a reasonable clue within about 30 seconds - much less time than it takes me to keep referencing my notes counting squares to draw the thing and make sure I get all the distances and placements correct.

    YMMV.
    Question? Would having all but two or three of the most important items predrawn work? That way you can quickly cover most of it then pull their attention to the 'big ticket items'?
    Garmorn


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    I have to say, my game has sped up appreciably with the use of Mortaneus' DND4eCombatManager (& I was using most of these tips already). It seriously rocks.

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    Tonight the DM introduced a rule wherein a player would receive 10XP each time he finished his turn in 60 seconds or less. He had a little timer app. It was great. Everyone focused to get their little reward. It had the normally spaced out players planning ahead. At the end of the three hour session I had 110XP, having missed my time twice (as a wizard I think that's a good batting average).
    Anyways, XP for efficiency! FTW and all that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Umbran View Post
    I admit, I have never dropped a map so complicated that they cannot be given a reasonable clue within about 30 seconds - much less time than it takes me to keep referencing my notes counting squares to draw the thing and make sure I get all the distances and placements correct.

    YMMV.
    You plan your maps a lot more elaborately than I do, then. When I design an encounter, I will at most include a rough sketch of the map in my notes. It makes drawing the map go a whole lot faster if I don't have to be exact about counting off squares.

    I have tried fully mapping out encounters in my notes, but except in cases where there's some elaborate terrain effect going on, I find the time it takes to get them drawn just right is not worth it. Quick and dirty is usually fine.

    ...Although now I'm thinking about buying some giant graph paper (search Amazon for "easel pad grid") and making a bunch of pre-drawn battlemaps. Instant setup FTW!
    Last edited by Dausuul; Friday, 11th December, 2009 at 03:41 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Agent Elrond
    As you can see, weve had our eye on you for some time now, Mr. Baggins. It seems that youve been living two lives. In one life, youre Frodo Baggins, well-to-do scion of the respectable Baggins family. You smoke pipe-weed, you celebrate your uncles birthday, and you help teach your gardeners son his letters.

    The other life is lived in the Wild, where you go by the adventurer alias "Underhill" and carry the most powerful relic of evil we have a name for.

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    1:
    Less fights, lower levels:
    Thanks to Stalker0 for this advice actually. Always use monsters of the PCs levels or lower. They have low defense and get hit easy. Brutes can be up to two levels higher (they have low defense) and artillery can be a level or two lower (they have good attack values). Never use Solos higher than the parties level.
    Finally if you use a module adventure for your sessions, take out a good chunk of the fights. There are far too many encounters in those dungeons and they take up too much room. Believe me, not every room in a cave needs a killer slime or a giant rat, sometimes just a bit of moss is okay. I try to run about 3-4 combats per dungeon, some of them across several rooms, and it takes about 2 sessions for an average sized, 10 room dungeon.
    2:
    Lower Monster HP:
    Don't be afraid to take the monsters' HPs down a notch. Either use a fixed rule (1/2 hp) or just do it ad hoc (The wizard did 12 damage to 5 monsters that had 15hp each... I'll just say 3 of them died). When the combat is clearly over and the players are winning, it is time to start making all the monsters go down in one hit.
    3:
    Whiteboard and Vinyl Battlemap:
    Use wet erase markers (such as those for overhead projectors) on the battlemap (NEVER USE DRY ERASE). Track combat on the whiteboard. I write the characters' and monsters' names down the side of the whiteboard, and for each one I list the AC/F/R/W defenses, initiative rolls, and passive perception. Listing the monster defenses is not for every group, but for mine it makes combat a bit faster.
    4:
    Cheat like hell: There is a reason the DM is given control, 'Fun is more important than rules'. Cheat to make the combats faster and more fun. When I attack someone with 5 minions, I quickly glance at their defense and say 'two hits, take 10 damage'. (I always look like I am rolling dice though, just for show). I only use d20s when I DM, no other dice. When I hit, I just pick a number for damage, the average or a bit higher or lower. When a fight is going to slowly, make the PCs and monsters hit more. When they fight is going to quickly, maybe slow it down a bit.
    5:
    No books at the table: I can't stress this one enough. Everything you need is on the character sheets and power cards. You might need a monster manual (though I prefer having everything on a computer myself) and of course a module for an adventure you are running. You could also print off a few cheat sheets of important data (combat modifiers etc). NEVER open the books in a fight, things go way too slowly. Just come to a temporary ruling on any rules disagreements, and look it up later. The only time player's need the books is when they are in a town etc.

    Some of these ideas really sped up combat for my group. Another thing I do for dungeon crawls is to display the dungeon map on a 40'' LCD TV attached to my computer. I cover the unexplored areas with white blocks and remove them as the PCs explore (use paint.net). You can usually find the images of the dungeon maps from modules online.

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