Pathfinder 2E How fast are your combats in online play?

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Well... there weren’t any fights last session. So... hard for me to gauge!
LOL. I end up doing that a lot as well. 'cause, like, the story just sorta ran away and went places the module wasn't expecting :) like spending 1/2 a session running down stampeding Elephants in The Slithering's first fight and fending off marriage proposals due to "fish out of water" situations. fun fun.

I'm playing my next game tomorrow and I'll try a few of the tactics mentioned upthread. thanks all!
  • give next in Initiative order heads up to get ready
  • going to create a players only discord channel for tactics and player discussions to keep it out of the main voice line. hopefully, that'll allow the players to figure out their tactics between their turns without polling everyone...
  • keep in mind that not all fights are too the death - however, good general advice but for those that know The Slighering, some of this is impossible at certain points
  • and I think maybe limiting cinematic action narration to once the 3rd action is done, then use this as a single all-encompassing description of their turn. considering this...

Will let you know. will also try and time things and record a bit better..



Doctor Futurity

My group on Wednesday nights plays 4 hour sessions on Roll20, with a typical session having 2-5 encounters (some of which end up in fights), and on the combat heavy nights we average about 30-45 minutes per combat. I tend to favor tougher encounters when they do happen. This is consistent across levels....I'd say higher level fights (after level 12-15) tend to be an hour or so in length, unless the fights are protracted and long. One fight at level 15 was against two dozen lower level opponents but ironically took 2 rounds before the PCs trounced and routed the enemy; but another fight against a single major foe four levels higher than the PCs took close to two hours. So YMMV, but on average I have found that PF2E fixed a major issue I had with the speed of combat in higher level 5E play, most levels of PF1E play, and practically any combats in D&D 4E which always took an insane amount of time after about level 5.


Limit Break Dancing
In my experience with Roll20, combat itself is pretty quick. After the battle map has been imported and scaled, and after the dynamic lighting has been rigged and debugged, and after all of the tokens have been imported and linked to all of the character sheets, and once all of the initiatives have been rolled and sorted into the tracker, I mean.

Once you do all that, the combat scene goes pretty quickly...maybe 30-40 minutes. Then to get ready for the next combat scene, all you gotta do is import the battle map and scale it, rig the dynamic lighting, import the tokens and link them...


My experience is that encounters are faster than 1E but not blazingly fast. Been on roll20 for the last 5 years. When I first started 2E on my own scenarios, battles could take an hour or more but I was also throwing mostly heavy encounters at the group. This is partly because my group is very good at avoiding combat and I did want what there was to have some punch but it was more because I wasn't using enough of a mix of low and medium threat encounters between the big ones.

Now, we get in 3-5 fighting encounters in a 4-5 hour session, with some RP and non-battle in there. Last session was 4 with 3 light encounters and one long one with many creatures of various levels and types and a complex battle field (Tom Cartos' ruined manor- very nice multi-level map).

I've started an AP with another group and first session was just 1 combat but there was also game startup, some scouting and other interactions, plus we only played for 3 hours. Second session had 2 encounters but with some creative non-combat in between and again was only 3 hours (this group plays at a funny time so we often don't run as long).

My biggest impediment to fast battles is not holding the players to fast combat rounds. I let them gab too much in-round and go back and forth in their actions. If I really wanted faster battles, I would be much stricter about inter player coordination (it is a round of a few seconds after all) and start docking actions if they don't act after a minute or so. But it seems to work well enough. I don't see a need to get stricter with my players. They seem to enjoy the pace.


Two things to preface.

1. I've only ever done 5e with a VTT, and that was Roll20.

2. When I do IRL play (my vastly preferred method), I encourage players to prepare their turns beforehand and to know their characters, no matter the system. I keep things snappy, with strict time-quanta. If a player is flailing and doesn't know what to do, I give them a nudge with a few suggestions, inviting them to consider the pros and cons. Then they can act. If they don't like the results then they need to be more across the rules next time. If we get into rules arguments, I make a ruling with an invitation to discuss after the session, and will give an XP bonus if I find myself as having ruled unfairly. This means I can usually smash out four to six detailed combats in a five hour session, with plenty of time for banter, scene chewing, and BS.

So. My VTT combat experience was.... pretty awful. Players were spending ages and ages fiddling with tokens and their character sheets, clicking buttons and generally filling the time with computer cruft. I didn't have the benefit of physical proximity to keep things snappy and on tempo. It was extremely aggravating. In one four hour session, we got two dinky little combats done but not much else. Just rubbish.

I'm in the process of giving it another stab. I'm gonna use Foundry, and am setting it up now, getting all the pieces in place. Using PF2e, which I'm hoping will benefit from the automations I'm putting in place. We'll see how it goes.

Going to a number of PF2 conventions and for them, about 30-40 minutes a combat for 5-6 players plus a GM is about normal. Some players are much faster and some are much slower, but it averages it. Some notes:
  • Using the Roll20 character sheets speeds things up by about x2. I used not to use them, then started and I'm definitely much faster. For a simple fighter @ level 5 a typical turn might be: "I move up to here <drag token>", use a snagging strike <click> which looks like it hits for 20 damage, and then a 2-handed assault <click>. That number should be 2 higher since the snagging strike flat footed him. Does it hit? <GM responds>. Then I yell to their leader that his shark men make better sushi than soldiers and suggest he gives up now". Under a minute virtually always.
  • If a player does not immediately take their first action, they are not paying attention. You can see the battle field, you know it's your turn next, and you only have a choice of about 3-5 things you might try. Even in games where I have been very unengaged, I can always keep track of the turn order and be ready to go.
  • PF2 is particularly fast comported to other systems I play because of the limited number of reactions. However if you play a champion, you do have to pay attention pretty much all the time!

So. My VTT combat experience was.... pretty awful. Players were spending ages and ages fiddling with tokens and their character sheets, clicking buttons and generally filling the time with computer cruft. I didn't have the benefit of physical proximity to keep things snappy and on tempo. It was extremely aggravating. In one four hour session, we got two dinky little combats done but not much else. Just rubbish.
One suggestion -- have a session for people just to learn the VTT interface. Run a fake combat, explain the default character sheet, but make it just a computer-only session. Much less frustrating than interrupting the elven queen's romantic poetry with "how do I drag my pet's token on top of the horse instead of underneath it"


so my saturday game:
1 combat + setup for next combat ready to go (initiative already rolled)
Combat lasted 1:10 minutes. 5 players 1 gm. everyone level 6

We are playing The Slithering, so those of you following along, without spoilers, last session was:
B3, B4, B5, B6 and B7 (where we are ready to start fighting in 2 weeks)
7pm until 8:50: B3 (fight was already done the session before). searching. familiars going into B5 and B6 to scout and figure out what's going on. B4, with lots of trying to figure out what's on the ground and the water sources. and B6 with some serious bluffing role play before the PC's ambushed the monsters leading to the fight.
8:50 - 10 - the fight in B4
10 - 10:30 - resting and healing, exploring B4 and B5 searching and finding the stuff, making sure they are safe from the outside door.
10:30-10:50 - B7. outside the door and hearing noise from within, buffing and setting up the plan. entering the room using deception. some role play and positioning until ready for the ambush. ambush which triggers Initiative - stop for the night.

couple of other notable points
1) anytime we enter a new situation, I go around the table explicitly asking every player what they are doing and resolving every player's actions (even if its narrative), so that every player gets a fair amount of screen time. I have a couple of very dominant personalities and if I didn't do that, there would be imbalance
2) there was 3 different technical issues that needed to be resolved with Fantasy Grounds. 1 was some abilities not properly automated, 1 was a players unfamiliarity with the interface and had to teach how spells display (I do this every week with the same play :) ), and 1 something else. I estimate all told, this added 20 total minutes of out of game delays
3) I always start the session at 7pm with a recap, with asking every player if they have any technical questions or game questions, and get everyone to "settle in" so actual play isn't normally until 7:15 or 7:20'ish.

none of the player BTW are complaining about the slowness of combat - this is strictly me seeing if there are some obvious things I'm doing that's atypical of a "normal" PF game. I think the only thing that really jumps out is we as a group spend a lot of time role playing and describing our actions, the world and our influences in it. this translates directly into combat.

I'm guessing this is our norm. it would likely drive certain players crazy :), but at this point I haven't a clue except for incremental system and interface mastery speeding things up bit by bit.

really appreciate everyone's insights though. very revealing.

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