D&D General How often (on average) do you have D&D sessions with absolutely no combat?

How often (on average) do you have D&D sessions with absolutely no combat?

  • Never (combat every session)

    Votes: 9 9.7%
  • Almost never (maybe once per campaign)

    Votes: 17 18.3%
  • Not very often (a handful of times - mostly just before or after an adventure)

    Votes: 23 24.7%
  • More than the choice above, but less than 25% of game sessions

    Votes: 20 21.5%
  • 25% to 50% of our sessions do not have combat

    Votes: 19 20.4%
  • More than half our sessions feature no combat

    Votes: 4 4.3%
  • Almost none of our sessions feature combat

    Votes: 1 1.1%
  • Combat?

    Votes: 0 0.0%


Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Like @TwoSix I'm finding that it's happening more often while I'm running virtually than it did when I was running in person. At a guess I'd say it went from 10% of the time to maybe 20% of the time.

The session length hasn't changed: it's been 3-4 hours, every-other week, for both campaigns (with the occasional session running longer).

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I'm running three campaigns.

My main campaign has a heavy focus on combat. We play about 40 sessions per year. I'd say we have a non-combat session about three times per year. All of the non-combat sessions are good and sometimes they're mind-blowingly great.

My second campaign is a heavily modified version of Dragon Heist with a lot of intrigue and skullduggery. I'd say it's about 50/50 between combat and non-combat sessions. This is a very fast-moving campaign and it feels like there's a lot happening whether we're rolling dice or not.

My third campaign is taking a bunch of noobs through Dragon of Icespire Keep from the Essentials Kit. We have non-combat sessions about a third of the time, but that's often due to disorganization rather than design.


I try to make it a point to have some sort of combat each week. We did have a no-combat week a short time ago with only some roleplay in Waterdeep and shopping through the city. The only rolls were to see if there was an encounter and some rolls to see if vendors had certain items the players wanted, mostly minor magic they were trying to sell or collect. The next week I made sure that wererats invaded a noble party they were invited to.


Really depends on the game. Back in 1E we did everything we could to avoid combat! I ran a story heavy campaign in 2E where about half the sessions were pure RP. My college 2E game regularly had a session every few months that was just RP and planning between adventures/story arcs. Since 3E most games seem to have been geared towards combat, but we'd still have the occasional session that either had no combat, or minimal combat. In my current campaign we just had 2 back to back sessions with no "combat" (there was a brief combat where the party was trying to knock out some guards before they could summon the alarm, but I don't count that). My last session was a dungeon crawl that only had 1 combat section (phantoms attacked the PCs while they dealt with some traps), with a lot of exploration instead.

D&D may have a strong focus on combat, but it's not that hard to have entire sessions without it.


Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Talking specifically D&D as it is a much more combat-centric game than other systems.

Depends on table, anywhere from 25% to 75% sessions have no-combat. I usually don't break 3 sessions in a row without combat, which is how I know 75% is the upper edge.

Mind you, combat is possible more often than it breaks out by a good deal - it's one way to resolve challenges among many. So that's a combonation of DM and player, with the players definitely able to increase the frequency if they wanted.


Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I think the question of session length must be considered when answering this question. 2.5 and 12 hour sessions are very different situations.
Yeah. I wonder if how much combat is also of interest. For example, if I have combat one session in four but it's usually most of that session, vs. having 25% of every session having combat - it's the same ratio, but the distribution is very different.


It has varied over time, depending on the group. Ranging from 1 in 3 to every game. Of course at one time our sessions where 8 to 10 hour each. Military over seas with not much else allowed some long sessions. The group makes the biggest difference. I has groups that spent two to three hours in town gathering information and shopping. On the other hand I had groups that preferred at least one combat every hour back in 1 and 2e.


The dark one :)
Almost never. My players like crushing skulls :p

Edit: but sometimes I shorten some encounters when they seem to drag a bit to keep them moving. They like crushing skulls but not static crushing except when it's a big monster!


My sessions are shorter than they used to be, but I try to work in at least one combat or conflict of some sort per session. Every once in a while though, it's just exploration, RP or adventure maintenance.


So in my current campaign, we are 12 sessions in and 3 of those featured no combats making it 25% exactly. 2 of those were fun downtime sessions after quests, and 1 was a night of burglary that could have turned into combat but was avoided. I think the next session is likely to be no combat too as they are about to advance to the next tier of play and leave the starting town which I’m finding is taking more time to set up.

My campaign consists of 3 hour long sessions played over video chat. I find if there are 2 combat encounters in a session that generally takes up the entire session and can see some players find it a bit relentless, so sessions that are non-stop combat are about as common as those with zero combat, and usually come back to back. (Session 11 was non-stop combat on the way back from the first big dungeon, so Session 12, was zero to act as a palette cleanser).

I put quite a bit of thought into the pacing and rhythm of the campaign, and will sometimes remove encounters when it is becoming a slog, or add them in when events needs spicing up.

I definitely think the first session of every campaign should have some combat though, starting off things with a bang and letting the players get a feel for their characters.


Moderator Emeritus
I was thinking about this thread today because I have been going through and re-reading and editing the compiled story hour docs for my "Out of the Frying Pan" campaign from the early 00s and decided to keep a spreadsheet with info about every session, including if there is combat.

So far I am 25 sessions into a campaign that lasted 103 session and six of the 25 featured no combat at all. It will be interesting to see what it ends up at when I am done. Will definitely come back to this thread to post the findings. :unsure::)

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