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D&D 4E 4e and 1 combat a day

Vorput

First Post
I'm still grappling with the forum changes, and now the whole site change- so feel free to move this if it's in the wrong place.

Our group started playing 4e recently, and we're playing much as we did in 3.x. Namely, we're only having one (or maybe two) combats a day. Mostly cause combat takes forever, and there's little our group dislikes more than dungeon crawls with nonsensical (or even sensible) combats in every room. That's just our personal preference, not meant to start any flame wars.

So of course we pull out all the stops every combat- daily powers, action points, weapon powers, all our healing, etc. Our DM has compensated by making the battles harder, while still trying to maintain that fine line between challenging and TPK. Any advice on how to make these single combats still challenging with the knowledge the PCs will use everything at their disposal every battle?

I'm wondering if the idea of multiple combats a day is so ingrained into the system that this style of play is going to cause major problems down the line. Thoughts?

Also, has anyone created any good guides on how to make non-combat uses of combat only powers? Our group always tended to focus more on role-playing, and in 3.x many spells and skills lent themselves to non-combat uses (perhaps with a little ingenuity). This is more difficult in 4e where most every power requires an attack roll and a target. Has anyone else had this issue? And if so, how have they compensated?

Thanks in advance for your replies.

Vorp
 

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GoodKingJayIII

First Post
I'm wondering if the idea of multiple combats a day is so ingrained into the system that this style of play is going to cause major problems down the line. Thoughts?

I dunno... I don't think so. It will require some adjustments, but every playstyle does. I'd say your DM is doing the right thing by making the combats tougher. Probably Party Level + 1 or PL + 2 for standard challenges. Depending on your group, I'd probably try and include more monsters rather than stack higher level monsters against you. That way your chance to hit/be hit is the same, but you've still got more threats to worry about.

Vorput said:
Also, has anyone created any good guides on how to make non-combat uses of combat only powers? Our group always tended to focus more on role-playing, and in 3.x many spells and skills lent themselves to non-combat uses (perhaps with a little ingenuity). This is more difficult in 4e where most every power requires an attack roll and a target. Has anyone else had this issue? And if so, how have they compensated?

There are lots of Utility powers that aren't focused on combat. I'd suggest starting with those. Also, don't be afraid to explore skill stunts.
 

Ingolf

First Post
The obvious answer, and one you're sure to get many times, is "If this is a problem, why does the DM allow it?" Or, in your case, why is the DM encouraging it?

If he makes every combat a no-holds-barred, pull-out-the-stops affair from his end, of course you're going to want to rest afterwards. So he's already reinforcing what you feel is a bad habit by adjusting his encounters to match.

If, on the other hand, he provides a more "typical" encounter that you should be able to handle without the use of daily powers, item powers, etc, and the players expend those abilities any way and reduce it to a cakewalk, why does the DM then allow them to rest at will? Why does the adventure not include any pressures, time constraints, what have you, to make such an approach less viable?

All it would take is a 24-hour window in which the PCs must accomplish some task or else the bad guys win, and stopping to rest after every scrap is no longer an option. Once the group discovers that it is possible to run through more than one combat with the resources they have, perhaps the temptation to go all-out every time will be less of a problem.

Ironically enough, my group has the opposite problem, hording daily powers and action points well past the stage they should have expended them, but they seem to be learning.
 


Nymrohd

First Post
Do you mean that you only have 1-2 combats per session or per day? It might be that you could simply not take extended rests on the end of each session unless it is reasonable.
 

BeauNiddle

First Post
Your main challenge is going to be healing.

4th ed is designed around having access to only a portion of your healing surges per fight. The DM will up the difficulty to challenge your daily powers etc. but you run the risk of your healing not keeping up with the new challenge if some of those daily's miss. I'd suggest giving everybody two or maybe three second winds to use (or have a lot of healers / leaders in the party who can access those previously unreachable healing surges!)

Another option is to have waves of combat and your DM allows you to refresh encounter abilities between waves without the need for 5 minutes rest. However if your party hates long combats this option is probably counter productive.

[I don't want to critique your playstyle so please ignore me if I'm being presumptious but if your group dislike combat because it's long winded then maybe having single large battles is counter productive. If you instead split it into smaller snack bite chunks then you wont need to come up with houserules and you might find combat more palatable. You don't need to have long linked dungeons just multiple encounters. Say 1 attack on the way to adventure site, 1 set of guards outside then a moderate battle to finish with.]
 


Xorn

First Post
Do you know what the cause of your extended battles is, typically?

Is it unfamiliarity with the new mechanics?
Overanalyzation of character powers?
Lots of table-talk and tomfoolery? (Nothing wrong with that.)

I ask because combat is fast and furious for us, but my group has been playing since March using pre-release rules, so they are really used to the combat synergy and mechanics.
 

Celebrim

Legend
I'm still grappling with the forum changes, and now the whole site change- so feel free to move this if it's in the wrong place.

Our group started playing 4e recently, and we're playing much as we did in 3.x. Namely, we're only having one (or maybe two) combats a day.

What. Can't you just see the surprise written all over my face. Is my jaw dropping to the floor.

Oh, sorry... back on topic.

Mostly cause combat takes forever, and there's little our group dislikes more than dungeon crawls with nonsensical (or even sensible) combats in every room. That's just our personal preference, not meant to start any flame wars.

No, sounds good to me.

Any advice on how to make these single combats still challenging with the knowledge the PCs will use everything at their disposal every battle?

At low levels, the major problem is that you don't have many ways of using up skill surges in a particular encounter. The way the system works out, if you try to challenge the PC's by lengthening the encounter, they'll run out of healing quite often. And if you try to challenge the PC's by increasing the level of thier foe, the fight gets really swingy and luck based.

But I think on the whole, both problems will be minor enough to be managable. The combat system is fairly robust. Making your one big fight level+2 or level+3 and avoiding single high level monsters should keep you on the edge of a TPK without ever falling into one if you don't lose your party cohesion.

Also, has anyone created any good guides on how to make non-combat uses of combat only powers?

I think you need to not particularly look at your powers as being non-combat resources and think about the problem a little differently than you would have in earlier editions. For one thing, your powers are pretty much unlimited use, so there really isn't a resource management thing going on. And for another, they are almost all focused on combat situations - even alot of the 'utility' powers.

So for non-combat situations you need to focus on 'rituals' and skill use. In particular, you'll probably want to expand the available rituals, provide non-magical 'crafting' rituals, and so forth.
 

Tuft

First Post
Any attempt to "punish" resting players by making things harder will inevitably reinforce the "slow and careful" approach.

If the fights themselves are made harder, of course players want to rest. You've probably just depleted most their resources, and you've just taught them not to start any new fights with less than full resources.

If you throw wandering monsters at them, you teach them almost the same lesson: Don't keep fighting after the first fight, because you have to save a reserve for the wandering mosters. And besides, what are wandering monsters but bonus XP anyway...

As I see it, there are two possible approaches:
(1) Make fights easier. The players need to feel "Hey, we can take another one like this!". If they don't, then they won't continue.
(2) Or simply get rid of dailies. Convert them to encounter powers, or give them a random recharge like the monsters powers. In a 3.5 campaign I play in, we exchanged Vancian for a recharge system, where you had to recharge a spell level after use. (I.e. after using a fireball, you had succeed at a dice roll before throwing another 3rd level spell.) Eliminated both the 15-minute workday and the ability of spellcasters to unload everything they had in the beginning of a battle. (Details here, if anyone is still interested in 3.5 variants). You could do something similar to dailies.


An interesting aspect of the whole thing is that as a player, you can elect to deliberatly go for this behaviour by choosing a low Con score when building your character. Thus you will deplete your healing surges early, and require frequent resting. Which will mean you get to use your dailies more often. A bit risky if you are the only one in your team to do that, but if you like your dailies enough (or if you collude ;) ), well....
 
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Geoff Watson

First Post
If you're only having one encounter per day for plot reasons, change "Daily" powers to "Weekly" powers (or "per X days" or "per adventure" etc).

Geoff.
 

Cadfan

First Post
A more efficient solution would be to make sure the players don't know there will be only one combat each day. If they expect several, they won't burn all their daily powers at once.
 

hong

WotC's bitch
If fights are boring because they take forever, use more minions.

If fights are boring because of the lack of narrative structure linking them, well, that's not a system issue.

The good thing about 4E is that it still all works, even with only one fight per day. Nobody gets overshadowed because everyone's nova-ing capacity is the same.
 

Verdande

First Post
(1) Make fights easier. The players need to feel "Hey, we can take another one like this!". If they don't, then they won't continue.

This is exactly what I'd do. Making the fights harder just reinforces the already existing notion that the party needs to stop and rest after each and every battle, because now they're even lower on HP and surges than they were over the much easier fight that they thought they needed to rest after.

You need to build their confidence. Show them that their characters are more than capable of fighting multiple enemies a day, perhaps by having a time-sensitive objective. That should help them see that their characters are capable of multiple encounters a day, and that they shouldn't use their dailies as soon as the whim strikes them.
 


Lauberfen

First Post
I think the best approach would be to make daily powers weekly, as mentioned, or perhaps every 3 days. You could also say that healing surges refresh at one or two per day. I think that covers most of the per day stuff.

I suspect that the suggestions of make it harder/easier whatever to encourage more combats are missing the mark- sounds like this isn't a party who only do one combat then rest, this sounds more like a group who don't like combat much, and don't accept flimsy reasons for having lots of combats per day. Ultimately, if you write more combats per day, they will play more, but I think the whole group, including the DM are against that.
 

JadeForlorn

First Post
Simple

It seems to me as though only 1 battle a day is integrated into the story itself, which I understand. In realistic terms my characters can often go a few days without any combat, and then fight 1 combat, then continue on. This is especially common with city campaigns.

In 4e, to resolve this issue I give characters 1d4 chance every encounter to regenerate their daily abilities, with extended rests not automatically regenerating them.

I chose 1d4 specifically because it seems 4 encounters a day would be typical in the mechanics of 4e, while 6 would be a bit too rare. We're still tweaking the system a little, but for the moment this works well for my party.
 

Evilhalfling

Adventurer
The problem the OP has is not that the PCs demand a rest after every fight. It is that they are not doing dungeon crawls, and spending time on a story instead - investigation, diplomacy, roleplaying, travel, etc.
Fights only come up if they are important to the story, instead of fighting through 4 rooms to reach the mcGuffin there is only a single encounter.

If the players like to fight, then you need to figure out whats slowing them down in 4e. Too many choices/unfamiliartiy? too many enemies? dragons with 1000 hp?

If they prefer the current structure, then my suggestion is to limit dailies to 1 personal power per day (like magic item dalies are limited) and drop action points completely. (allowing feat retraining, if necessary)

I don't know what to do about lack on non-combat powers. Its really a style change, so that problems are solved with skills rather than magic.
If you try it a while and still dislike it, 3.x may be a better game for your group.
 

bardolph

First Post
Our group started playing 4e recently, and we're playing much as we did in 3.x. Namely, we're only having one (or maybe two) combats a day. Mostly cause combat takes forever, and there's little our group dislikes more than dungeon crawls with nonsensical (or even sensible) combats in every room. That's just our personal preference, not meant to start any flame wars.
I don't see any problem with this. One thing that might be fun is to have creatures run away, get reinforcements, and strike back in the same day. Or set up a multiple-day wilderness chase, where losing eight hours due to resting could spell failure. Or have an encounter that "sets up" another encounter that must be taken advantage of immediately. For example, if an evil priest has a guard rooms full of goblins, and the players take an extended rest after beating the guards, the priest can (a) find more guards, (b) hunt the players down while they're resting, or (c) escape while he still has the chance.

You just have to make the point that TIME is also a resource that the PCs must manage, and by losing time, they may lose the prize.

So of course we pull out all the stops every combat- daily powers, action points, weapon powers, all our healing, etc. Our DM has compensated by making the battles harder, while still trying to maintain that fine line between challenging and TPK. Any advice on how to make these single combats still challenging with the knowledge the PCs will use everything at their disposal every battle?
The best way is to start with "standard" encounters, evaluate each battle after it's over, and adjust accordingly.

Action points and Daily abilities will give the PCs an edge, but the edge isn't huge. Healing is mostly an encounter-based resource, until healing surges start running out. Magic items are the equivalent of action points (recharge daily or milestone), and it doesn't matter how many magic items a PC owns, since they all share a single recharge.

I imagine the amount of adjustment should be reasonably small. Probably one equal-level creature per encounter will be enough. Or you can not adjust at all, and throw in some time-sensitive quests that require pressing on in a day.

I'm wondering if the idea of multiple combats a day is so ingrained into the system that this style of play is going to cause major problems down the line. Thoughts?
The balance issues are minor, not major, since the number of daily powers available is pretty strictly regulated.

Also, has anyone created any good guides on how to make non-combat uses of combat only powers? Our group always tended to focus more on role-playing, and in 3.x many spells and skills lent themselves to non-combat uses (perhaps with a little ingenuity). This is more difficult in 4e where most every power requires an attack roll and a target. Has anyone else had this issue? And if so, how have they compensated?
I haven't seen any guides like this. I'd just wing it. If a character finds a clever non-combat use for a combat power, I'd probably grant a +2 circumstance bonus to their skill check, or something like that.
 

SweeneyTodd

First Post
Yeah, I'm not sure this is even necessarily a problem. If there's plenty of time to rest, no pressure to continue the investigation right away, then they'll have access to their full power level for each encounter.

I can think of a half-dozen ways off the top of my head to apply time pressure to a situation without it just being a plain old dungeon crawl, though.
 

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