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General GM's are you bored of your combat and is it because you made it boring?

ClaytonCross

Kinder reader Inflection wanted
When I'm talking about these rules, I'm thinking of a hypothetical where the rules may be deeper than even the spellcasting or regular combat rules.

I'm talking about rules where the DM doesn't decide. Maybe the designers added a table, so it's no longer the DM's choice about crit fails. Maybe there's now a step-by-step procedure to bring someone anyone into your bed with a set DC and a set number of rolls, like a skill challenge.

These rules take away DM adjudication in favor for a more algorithmic process.
Can you point to a specific one? I know the rules pretty well but I can't think of one. Not saying your wrong but It feel like even when D&D has them they are suggestions. The Zanthar's down time activities for example are specific but if you read the first part of the chapter is explaining the thinking and different things to consider but does not tell the GM how. All the specific down time activities are examples not rules. They are a good place to start, but I had another player tell me I could not do something one time because Zanthar's didn't have "rules" for it. Me and my GM laughed and had him read the first part... followed by ...oh! ... well then... I guess you can. The only rigid design I know is character creation which GMs still control which classes, subclass, and sources players can pull from so this is really only rigid for players.

Nothing good ol' fashion communication can't fix. Ultimately, communication errors exist with rules as-well. A DM might believe you're casting the "friends" cantrip when you say you want to make an NPC your friend. It's easy to say "Oh, that wasn't my intention, my intention was this..."

The DM is the final arbiter, though. If you disagree with the DM, know that it just might be because the DM has other things in motion that you can't see, assuming they're a good DM.
I don't think we disagree with anything you said here but that doesn't actually change that "The rules helping to have everyone on the same page is about the best starting point for conflict resolution you can have." In fact, rules being a starting point implies continued communication.

Let me be clear: I'm not complaining about anything. I personally find combat extremely fun and don't feel the need to change it one way or the other. I'm enjoying 5e for what it is and so are my players.
I am glad you do. Enjoy.

I'm talking about in-general if you aren't feeling combat, it isn't the holy grail of a good campaign in a game. If combat is painful for a DM, maybe adjust the rules to be easier to track. Use tokens for spells areas, reduce HP, reduce AC, increase damage, etc.
Uh... welcome to the topic of the thread, I guess? lol. Though I generally don't think you need tell people to make it easier on them selves if its too hard on them. People tend to find that naturally. Let me be clear... you are not wrong at all in this advice. Where this thread varies is that its focused on the consideration that some times combat is not hard at all to run for the GM and they still fine it painful because its boring. My GMs have all had this problem. The pain was not tacking combat but their lack of engagement. So the suggestions are how to re-engage the GM to make if more fun for the GM, not easier when its already easy enough.
 
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ClaytonCross

Kinder reader Inflection wanted
I just look at it as the things the characters do belong to the pillars and the things the players do belong to the meta or the maintenance structures of the game. I fully agree that meta discussions impact that game -- that's usually the point of the meta. I don't think it belongs in a pillar of the game because those are governed by the rules of the game and the meta is about the rules of the game. When I talk about how I'm going to GM and talk about how the pillars of play are used, that's entirely about what the characters are doing -- I'm not going to GM the meta because I don't have any authorities there. So, if I'm talking about GMing a game, and how social pillar structures work in game, I'm not going to include anything the players do (outside of declare actions for their PCs, of course).
I am not saying your wrong. In fact I will go so far as to say you are correct. However, When a GM says what sources are allowed, what feats if any are allowed, is the not the meta and do GM's not have the authority to do dictate them out side of actual play? My answer is yes and yes because that is exactly what a session 0 is. Players grant that authority when deciding they are willing to except a person as GM and want to play at that table. I get it. That's not the common belief and I don't require anyone else to think of it that way. Including if this is or is not how wizards defines it. I am just staying I mean more than most ... I get that. So when I am told character creation is small and not part of D&D play that is incorrect by my definition but I am aware that I use a much larger definition than most so that person is not necessarily wrong by what they mean. They just just mean something small while I mean something much larger.

I wouldn't call this narrow so much as specific as to which things go where. Ultimately, it really only matters in how you're going to think about your games -- if you think that letting the players talk about their PCs out-of-game satisfies your table's social pillar needs, cool. I will focus on how to put the PCs in a social challenge to satisfy that pillar regardless of how much my player discuss at the meta level. To me, challenging the PCs is where the game is, and I'm not going to count the meta as part of that. Keeps me focused on play techniques.
I completely fallow you and we are actually doing about the same thing at our tables. Its completely a matter of semantics. Which is why the debate on pillars took over for a bit.

This is a spin off of "Combat is nothing special. We put it on a pedestal because that's what we're used to, but we don't actually need mechanics for it. " but the irony is no one is questioning my definition of combat. Both the people trying to say "the fix for combat is that it is not that important" (paraphrasing here) did both seem to me to conseed combat is a pillar of D&D.

I just asked for clarification because I was told "I think you got the three pillar mixed up." in response to me saying combat is one of the 3 pillars of D&D. As to if I have my pillars mixed up, I think all use the same pieces but my definitions are larger because I don't leave out any part of D&D and allow overlap to that means some things are part of two pillars or all three. Session 0 is not D&D under some peoples definitions but it is to me since that is why we are meeting, its what we are concerned with when we meet (mechanically and socially), and its linked to everything we do in the campaign after session 0. So I don't consider it a separate meta prep. It is a session I have fun at that is not "part of the game" but part of D&D and playing D&D which forces me to expand my definition of what D&D is.

semantics. Based on what was said. I don't think I have the three pillar mixed up I just have broader definitions and prefer different words that better match my definitions.
 

I just asked for clarification because I was told "I think you got the three pillar mixed up." in response to me saying combat is one of the 3 pillars of D&D. As to if I have my pillars mixed up, I think all use the same pieces but my definitions are larger because I don't leave out any part of D&D and allow overlap to that means some things are part of two pillars or all three. Session 0 is not D&D under some peoples definitions but it is to me since that is why we are meeting, its what we are concerned with when we meet (mechanically and socially), and its linked to everything we do in the campaign after session 0. So I don't consider it a separate meta prep. It is a session I have fun at that is not "part of the game" but part of D&D and playing D&D which forces me to expand my definition of what D&D is.
I think this is where your views diverge from him. You include character creation, chatting with players, organizing that night's events into a coherent and recognizable story, and so on as part of the game. I don't see those as part of D&D. I see them as D&D-adjacent. They happen at the same time as the game, but the game does not encompass them.

Once again, semantics are important. It is the tool that orchestrates effective communication.
 

In every game I have been in as a GM or a player dragons were bosses the party was foreshadowed. D&D absolutely has means "to stop a size H or larger dragon from flapping around doing whatever it wants and leaving when it wants" The second level spell Earthbind immediatly comes to mind since thats what it exists for, Nets and graplling hooks are items in D&D, there is no reason a player can't target a wing and the GM make it fall temporarily or permanently based on the damage. Players have access to fly spell and ranged weapons. so they can reach the target. Even a melee character with a spear or dagger can hold their action to attack when the dragon comes in range. If a party shows up knowing they are fighting flying enemeis of any type without preparation and/or the GM does not allow them to use any of their plans because the rules don't say you can specifically use X to do Y. That's not a problem with flying enemies or D&D, its a problem at that table and its caused by exactly what I am talking about with player expectations of fight everything in 5ft melee. Many people complain about dragons being "weak for CR" while grounding them in boring HP slogs. Preparing to fight as dragon can be fun. the fight itself can be fun. I want my players to bring wagons with baristas mounted on them weighed down with rocks and firing poision tipped harpoons with covered in hooks and trying to bring it to the ground then casting hold moster on it to keep it there. .... that is leaps and bounds more interesting then Ancient intelegnet creatures who can fly desidding the best stratagy for fighting these heroes is to stand there and take it to the face. Flight is a huger part of what justifies their CR and what makes them terrifying. If your taking that away your declawing them and making it boring. If the GM is surprised by a dragon is should be a big event and players should consider running because they are not prepared. Your argument here is exactly the kind of boring fighting I don't want as a player and would be bored to as a GM that would burn me out.



You do realize you just complained about not having interesting options and then complained because I offered options and now its complicated. If your afraid of complication, run smaller encounter with more options so you have less to track but more flexibility. It's only as complicated as you make it. Your caliming zero tolerance here like their is no middle ground. Adding some fighters with 10ft reach is bearly an adjustment. Archers are barely an adjustment. Casters don't have to have full spell lists. One caster with 3-4 spells in place of five 5ft melee casters is less to track and easier to run with way more variation in combat.

I did not say run 1 CR10 monster against you level 10 party. My advice for boss fights was 2-3 bosses. If your running 2-3 CR 6 monsters instead of one CR10 monster you will notice the HP piles are alot smaller and devided by 3 so it is possible for the party to target on take it down and lower the threat. The "HP Bag problem" is caused by you having one bad guy boss fighting the party and your raising it to the highest CR to create a challenge for your players. Layer actions, terrain, simple tactics like polearm triangles, having just a few ranged units on clifts, or a could of stealthy units disappearing into shadows then attacking a single party member can make lower CR enemies without giant HP bags a serious threat AND it doesn't have to be ton of enemies or complicated.

This was my point from the start. If you look again one of the first things I said is stop running 20 5ft melee goblins because your getting tired of tracking them, your bored, and the end result it uninteresting combat. Run 4 goblins with 4 different ability sets against your party is easier to run, more fun, and with a little variation a real threat to your party. Especially if one is Niblog. Even if its not supper hard for the party they can still feel the tension if you target single party members because even if they know they the party will win they don't want to lose a party member or be the one that drops.



I agree motives is an awesome suggestion I am glad it was mentioned. I disagree that its the only thing that makes fights interesting. You saying that makes you sound like a story GM (which is not a bad thing, its just what you prefer), however, mechanically interesting and varied combat can absolutely be fun for both players and GM as a point of fact the entire tire war games industry is based on that. Mage-Knight, Hero-clicks, Warhammer, Warhammer 4dK, Zombiecide, the Xcom series video games, hero academy, along with every other turn based tactical board game or video game ever made represent multi milion dollar industry based on the fact that varied and more mechanically interesting combat is engaging and fun. I mean chess is over 1500 years old and is exactly that and loved by many this day. No one asks what the motives of the black and white kingdoms are. ... they just enjoy the tactical combat.

D&D is not zombicide or chess, but 1/3 of D&D is based on that concept. Just like Xcom 2 for example, story gives the tactical combat more meaning and tactical combat gives then story more impact. I would argue that D&D is better then any game that only take one of the three pillars. The three pillars of D&D being Story, tactical combat, and character creation. I truly enjoy RPGs more when I get to make my own character and my character impacts the world of the RPG. If your shorting your table one of these your players are suffering a loss. Not every player loves all 3 pillars the same and not all pillers need the same weight at any table, but D&D is greatly hurt when one is too diminished and empowered when all 3 stand strong.

I am also did not say you have to have as many options as a chess board. Only that you have at least 3 different tactical styles if you have more than 2 enemies for your party to fight. If you have two, I recommend them not be the same. My rule #1 is that that you don't have to fallow all the rules all the time. You should just aim to use them as much as you can. You could have 10 enemies with 10 different roles for a single fight, but a minimum of 3 with 3 roles (meaning one or two different abilities different), some terrain, and at least motive for the encounter ... is not a huge ask.
D&D 5E is pretty bad at tactical combat, and the suggestions you've made don't really improve that, I'd suggest.

D&D 4E, on the other hand, was extremely good at tactical combat. That actually was vaguely comparable to the examples given, unlike 5E, where your options, especially for non-casters, are typically extremely limited.

Re: dragons, I don't agree with much of what you've said. That's one approach, and it's not one a lot of D&D products use, in my experience, especially as much of what you're suggesting is entirely outside the rules and up to DM fiat. But the creaky boring old "oh dragons should just strafe the party and never engage and always try and fly away!" thing (which has been around since like, the late '80s) is ridiculous nonsense that I've seen lead to extremely boring sessions, or ones, again, reliant on DM fiat.

As I pointed out, being intelligent doesn't mean much. They're still one person - and people, including smart people, and especially arrogant people (which almost all dragons are), make bad mistakes. Most dragons probably aren't even experienced fighters, simply because almost nothing can face them down.
 

Re: dragons, I don't agree with much of what you've said. That's one approach, and it's not one a lot of D&D products use, in my experience, especially as much of what you're suggesting is entirely outside the rules and up to DM fiat. But the creaky boring old "oh dragons should just strafe the party and never engage and always try and fly away!" thing (which has been around since like, the late '80s) is ridiculous nonsense that I've seen lead to extremely boring sessions, or ones, again, reliant on DM fiat.
This is the fix, and it's a good one.
 

This is the fix, and it's a good one.
Oh yes! I don't disagree, but it relies on the DM having great judgement about how to use said fiat (which usually means great intuition, or a lot of experience, or both), and actually wanting to use it to help the players achieve their goals (which means not having an adversarial play style - and this thread appears to be somewhat encouraging an adversarial play style, albeit with some encouragement the other way, too).
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Oh yes! I don't disagree, but it relies on the DM having great judgement about how to use said fiat (which usually means great intuition, or a lot of experience, or both), and actually wanting to use it to help the players achieve their goals (which means not having an adversarial play style - and this thread appears to be somewhat encouraging an adversarial play style, albeit with some encouragement the other way, too).
I don't think a GM should be using fiat to help or hinder PCs. I also think that the term "adversarial GM" isn't helpful. My job as GM is to be a fan of the PCs and also to heap adversity on them. That means I use my authority (fiat, if you must) to frame all kinds of pressure on PCs, but never use it to create outcomes. If the PCs win through, yay! I'm a fan. If they don't, I'm still a fan but it's time for me to frame in adverse consequence.

Being a fan of the OCs doesn't nean putting my thumb on the scale to help them, it means that I'm keenly interested in seeing what they do. And that means my job as GM is to give them every opportunity to do so I have to bring the adversity of situation and the adjudicate fairly. Else, I'm not really a fan, I'm forcing my own preferred outcomes.

All this means that my dragons should represent a true adversity for the PCs. When I choose actions for the dragon, they should be the best for the dragon, not the PCs. If I'm not willing to do this because I think it unfair, then I shouldn't use a dragon, I should present something else. Otherwise, I'm cheapening the PCs' successes, and that's not what a good fan does. It's a hard task, for sure, and it's easy to go soft or pull a punch, and just as easy to fall in love with your own imagining of the outcome and push there. I am an adversarial GM because I bring mountains of adversity crashing onto the PCs. I'm a fan of the PCs in that I'll never put my thumb on the scales for or against them because I'm keenly interested in what what they do. I will always endeavor to find out what happens through play.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I think this is where your views diverge from him. You include character creation, chatting with players, organizing that night's events into a coherent and recognizable story, and so on as part of the game. I don't see those as part of D&D. I see them as D&D-adjacent. They happen at the same time as the game, but the game does not encompass them.

Once again, semantics are important. It is the tool that orchestrates effective communication.
I think it is part of the game, I just don't think it's part of a pillar of play. Suggesting the meta isn't part of the game is like saying choosing when to use a dime defense in football isn't part of the game. While not governed by the rules of the game, thereby placing it in the meta, it's very much part of the game.
 

I think it is part of the game, I just don't think it's part of a pillar of play. Suggesting the meta isn't part of the game is like saying choosing when to use a dime defense in football isn't part of the game. While not governed by the rules of the game, thereby placing it in the meta, it's very much part of the game.
The football reference totally lost me. I don't think I've only ever watched one football game in my life. I was pretty young and didn't enjoy it. I do kendo and jiu jitsu. Does the metaphor hold true in those contexts?
 

D&D 5E is pretty bad at tactical combat, and the suggestions you've made don't really improve that, I'd suggest.
5ed is as bad as tactical combat as the DM and Players want it to be. Once you start using non stat bloc tactics that all characters and monsters have, it suddenly change a lot of things. Shoving, grabbing, pushing PCs is part of what changes a lot of the combat. In addition, you can always use the optional rules in the DMG to enhance the "tactical" even more if it suits you.

D&D 4E, on the other hand, was extremely good at tactical combat. That actually was vaguely comparable to the examples given, unlike 5E, where your options, especially for non-casters, are typically extremely limited.
Yes, it was. But do not confuse "daily, encounter and at will powers" with tactical options. Tactical options are always available to every opponent. A special manoeuver only certain characters have should be treated as spells. They do open up possibilities but tactical options should always be opened for everyone, monsters, foes and players included. Some elements should be better at some options than others, but all tactical options should be opened to all. 5ed does that. If you take this into consideration, 5ed does a similar job as the 4ed if you take the optional rules, because those rules are exactly the same as fourth.

Re: dragons, I don't agree with much of what you've said. That's one approach, and it's not one a lot of D&D products use, in my experience, especially as much of what you're suggesting is entirely outside the rules and up to DM fiat. But the creaky boring old "oh dragons should just strafe the party and never engage and always try and fly away!" thing (which has been around since like, the late '80s) is ridiculous nonsense that I've seen lead to extremely boring sessions, or ones, again, reliant on DM fiat.

As I pointed out, being intelligent doesn't mean much. They're still one person - and people, including smart people, and especially arrogant people (which almost all dragons are), make bad mistakes. Most dragons probably aren't even experienced fighters, simply because almost nothing can face them down.
I fully agree on that, especialy the first part. But take this into consideration. Very old dragon (ancients) did not survive by being stupid. They've already made made their mistakes and lived to learn from them. I approach this with age categories. Wyrmlings and young dragons will use flyby and tactical retreats as they are young and inexperienced. They are, however, intelligent and will try to survive. The adult dragon on the other hand, might be the one to get cocky. They are powerful and can slay a lot of enemies without much difficulties, especially one on one. Underestimating a paltry party of humans is quite possible. A mistake a dragon won't make often.

A lot of what is being said here, can be resumed this way. DM fiat is only experience. That is why coaching "young" (or should I say new?) DM is so important. I know that a lot of what I do during the Friday night D&D at our hobby store often brings a lot of questions from inexperienced DM. Sometimes it's something akin of not understanding a rule or simply ignoring it. A DM should not be adversarial to his players but a DM should not be a carebare giving wonderous things for no efforts either. There is a middle ground for everything. Killing a dragon, a lich, a beholder or any other such dangerous opponent should be a feat and a memorable fight.
 

ClaytonCross

Kinder reader Inflection wanted
D&D 5E is pretty bad at tactical combat, and the suggestions you've made don't really improve that, I'd suggest.
You would suggest what? That is the point of the thread... Where are your suggestions. I would love to hear them. I don't see any in the rest of your post.

D&D 4E, on the other hand, was extremely good at tactical combat. That actually was vaguely comparable to the examples given, unlike 5E, where your options, especially for non-casters, are typically extremely limited.

Re: dragons, I don't agree with much of what you've said. That's one approach, and it's not one a lot of D&D products use, in my experience, especially as much of what you're suggesting is entirely outside the rules and up to DM fiat. But the creaky boring old "oh dragons should just strafe the party and never engage and always try and fly away!" thing (which has been around since like, the late '80s) is ridiculous nonsense that I've seen lead to extremely boring sessions, or ones, again, reliant on DM fiat.

As I pointed out, being intelligent doesn't mean much. They're still one person - and people, including smart people, and especially arrogant people (which almost all dragons are), make bad mistakes. Most dragons probably aren't even experienced fighters, simply because almost nothing can face them down.
I don't disagree with anything you said but you missed my point entirely. #1 if your current style of play is not working try different things. #2 if your complaining about dragons being simple easy fights that are not worth their CR and your 100% of the time ignoring that they can fly and fight in rage stupidity then your whats making them easy not the design of the dragon. Sure intelligent creature do dumb things sometimes but isn't making them that way all the time the same mistake? #3 If your doing it with dragons, your likely doing it with just about every thing else.... see #1.

Am I wrong on any of these points?

I didn't list a lot for non-casters? Like "10ft/Pole arm melee, Stealthy attackers, Hit and run melee, (we can add defenders there are number of feats and abilities that allow melee character reactions to redirect or prevent or less damage, we can add Attackers with nets for crowd control which 10ft melee can also do) , Special actions legendary actions, opportunity attacks, shove, grapple, dodge, disengage, voluntarily prone, and simply waiting the right time to attack. Terrain lair actions, hiding spots/visibility/line of sight, cover/lines of fire, Restrictions of movement/separated forces/choke points/hindering terrain. Weather hiding spots/visibility/line of sight, cover/lines of fire, Restrictions of movement/separated forces/choke points/hindering terrain. Motivations and Friendly rivalry apply to them too..

I don't see alot of encouters short melee so its not something thought too much about however I am asking for suggestions.... So if you have more melee options I would LOVE to hear them and add them to the list.
 


ClaytonCross

Kinder reader Inflection wanted
Oh yes! I don't disagree, but it relies on the DM having great judgement about how to use said fiat (which usually means great intuition, or a lot of experience, or both), and actually wanting to use it to help the players achieve their goals (which means not having an adversarial play style - and this thread appears to be somewhat encouraging an adversarial play style, albeit with some encouragement the other way, too).
It's encouraging the GM to find away to be as interested in tactical combat as the players are so they don't run from it while the players are a having fun. That has nothing to do with DM fiat. It has to do with GMs not quitting campaigns players are enjoying because the GM finds them painful and instead helping the GM to have as much fun as the players.

The encouragement is of adversarial play is only one suggestion among may listed and was suggested with lower difficulty fights in which the player party is guaranteed to win not with the intent to kill PCs or TPK. Your speaking as though its the topic and intent... its not.

The fact that some encouragement the other way is their is because you not trying to actually make the combat overall harder for players. The whole point of the thread is to make it more interesting and fun to run for the GM. You can do that by maintaining comfortable management, increasing your number of engaging choices, while still maintaining a relative equal difficulty for players. Maintaining difficulty while increasing choices can be achived through a number of suggestions. Turrain effects both sides, Motive mean the NPC may not even be trying to hurt the PCs, reduction in then numbers of enemies can off set the management cost of more choices, and the use of multiple lower powered bosses instead of one maxed out boss can be roughly of equal power but significantly more interesting of the GM to run because they to make more meaningful choices and losing one creates a loss of options which can mean the GM feels the lose but that combat goes on so that the GM doesn't immediately forget it making it more of an impact to the GM.

Rule #1 is that all other rules are suggestions to help not requirements to prevent you from having choices.
 
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ClaytonCross

Kinder reader Inflection wanted
The football reference totally lost me. I don't think I've only ever watched one football game in my life. I was pretty young and didn't enjoy it. I do kendo and jiu jitsu. Does the metaphor hold true in those contexts?
Yes. Choosing the appropriate sword length for you and training with it to learn its measure, then that being the sword size you use while your spare in a competition is part of being a swords man. If show up to match having trained with a sword that is to large you will constantly fight out of measure leaving your opponent largly safe because you swing constantly with no chance of hitting your opponent. Training with a sword that is too short will mean you will habitually close aggressively to engage in your standard measure opening you up attacks you could easily avoid if you where using the additional reach your neglecting by pushing your self deep beyond the required measure.

Alternatively, you practice Kendo and jiu jitsu only against small children and are confused when in the tournament all your attacks are low and weak.

How you practice and how well you know your limits and your gear is an important part of how you play the game. You might call it prep and veiw is as meta to the tournament, but a swordsman who does not know what the right sword for them is and how it effects them in a match will almost certainly lose. Your training is part of your fighting even if you consider it separately. You don't train with a bow and arrow then expect to be a beater swordsman. Your training with the sword is as important and as much a part of your tournament fight as the fight itself.

Their is and old expression "practice the way you play". It applies to D&D too in that all the meta you do outside of D&D for D&D effects what you do when you sit at the table and play. Add to that if your making D&D campaign settings and characters and discussing them with your friends I feel like your still playing D&D even though your not playing a session. Just like I consider you a swordsman if you practice every day even if you don't compete in tournaments.

Another example. I am a network engineer. When I do a survey to make a plan to engineer a new part of the network and install it. I am doing networking when I survey, when I engineer it, and when I install it. Some might consider the survey meta but I can't engineer without it. Some might consider the install touch labor but my engineering does matter if its never implemented. I also get paid as a network engineer when I am doing all three because my company understand they are all part of the same thing.
 
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ClaytonCross

Kinder reader Inflection wanted
I think combat is boring because it often takes so long in RPGs. These days I prefer games that resolve combat in minutes
If combat is interesting no one complains about how long it takes because they are having fun. The very fact you are saying combat takes too long implies that its not fun for you and you want it to end. If you don't mind playing D&D your obviously enjoying some part of D&D. If you have ever played other war games and enjoyed them then your aware that combat short or long can be fun without anything else. If your players are enjoying combat and your cutting them short, I highly recommend trying out some of these suggestions to see if you change combat so that its enjoyable enough that its length is not a problem for you. If your players don't like combat ether then making combat as short as possible is not a problem for your table and some of these suggestions. Considering enemy motives that are not about depleting the parties HP can help open up roleplay options to avoid or shorten combat. Where reducing the number of enemies while using a little more terrain and tactics preparation can reduce how long fights take because the HP grind is shorter requiring less damage and their for less turns without sacrificing threat level and story tension for which you put the combat in to create.

Ether way ... these suggestions can be used to help you achieve your tables need. I hope you consider them and find something useful to your table that perhaps you didn't think of, had forgotten, or just had not been using lately. Best wishes for you game.
 
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Your saying your suggestion for a GM bored of their own combat is DM fiat! ... That makes no since. DM fiat is just the GM running the game and dealing with story and player issues as they arise. It has nothing to do with topic...
One effective way to use DM fiat is to add more combat options for monsters. Have giants throw the halfling rogue at the wizard. Have the dragon grab the fighter with its claws, fly up in the air, use the fighter as a shield against the ranger, and drop the fighter from the sky.
 

ClaytonCross

Kinder reader Inflection wanted
One effective way to use DM fiat is to add more combat options for monsters. Have giants throw the halfling rogue at the wizard. Have the dragon grab the fighter with its claws, fly up in the air, use the fighter as a shield against the ranger, and drop the fighter from the sky.
That is very nice list of creative things a GM can do. By all means we are suggesting combat creativity so please do!
See suggestion #4 Special actions, Helldritch mentioned this and Ovinomancer expanded on it with an example of how scary closing a door can be for the party (which is both a special action and use of terrain). Absolutely any oppertunity for creative special actions can make the fight more interesting for the GM and players. Let me clarify that a special action is any action that monster or NPC could take that is not specifically listed in their actions block.

But as I under stand it your using DM Fait incorrectly. Which is why I was confuse.

DM Fiat is when a situation arises that needs the DM to make a decision, generally because there is no clear ruling or mechanic to deal with what the player/s wants to do. DM fiat is part of player arbitration not encounter building as I understand the term. It requires both of the two underlined parts here. GMs don't necessarily need to make decisions for special actions (the dragon grabbing the fighter can be a grapple check, the fighter as cover for the ranger is as standard 1/3 cover for +2AC, Dropping the fighter is 1d6 bludgeoning damage per 10ft they fell.... you can do them differently if you want but the do not require a DM decision your just adding one of your own choice. Also, these are not player choices for the GM to arbitrate but GM creativity in just running the game as GMs do. "Fiat" is Latin for "Let it happen". The term is in reference to letting a players action happen and figuring out how to make it work without an existing rule. GMs don't have to let their actions happen they happen as matter of course.

Its semantics again. Based on your description I understand what your saying as special actions and yes that does help make the game more interesting for the GM. Its not the only answer but its on the list.
 
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I disagree. Even if character creation/levelling doesn't occur at the table, it's very much part or playing the game. The game has clear rules for when and how leveling occurs -- to do it I have to refer to the rulebook! In this, leveling your character has nothing in common with choosing to keep score in football on the electronic scoreboard. Keeping score is part of the rules of football, though, so you're confusing a choice of method with doing the required play. Your analogy to football scores is more apt for saying that choosing between paper and electronic character sheets isn't part of the rules. Keeping and updating the character is part of the rules, but the specific manner of doing so isn't.
Sorry, can't get behind this one.

Sticking with the football analogy: character creation is like training camp. Between-session sheet maintenance is like practice. Sessions are the actual games, where the play is done by the players and the refereeing/scorekeeping/in-game field maintenance etc. is done by the DM.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Sorry, can't get behind this one.

Sticking with the football analogy: character creation is like training camp. Between-session sheet maintenance is like practice. Sessions are the actual games, where the play is done by the players and the refereeing/scorekeeping/in-game field maintenance etc. is done by the DM.
Might agree with you, except there are rules for character creation and leveling in the rules of the game. There aren't any rules in football governing training camp and pratice.
 

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