It is much more than spells. It is hit point bloat. It is abilities. It is the DM, trying to create a threatening encounter, adding in other variables: outside combat objectives, more complex environments, and more opponents. It is opponent's abilities. It is opponent's spells. It is the PC's ability to alter the combat scenario drastically. It is more reactions. It is the player's ability to process the equation with twenty variable instead of two.this sums it up. If the DM and table want it or aren't willing to suffer the imperfect decisions or the hour long turn then it's going to continue.
It is baked in because, spells more abilities and all that but...you don't have to let the party analyze the entire book of spells each round, which is the biggest cause of long rounds I see. B
But some are comfortable with it and the game plays that way if you are willing to do it. Just like most of the "GAME BREAKING" things people bring up on these forums. They are only game breaking for a few. Most tables adapt, or not and move one.
I have stated this a million times, and until I am proven incorrect, I will hold to my claim. Show me an interesting or threatening encounter to four 15th level PCs, and I will show you combat that lasts at least an hour.I explained how to play it.
I run a high fantasy urban RPG with my family and our turns are FAST.
I've never seen it done faster. Not at the dozens of conventions I have played at. Not at the dozens of personal tables I've played at. Not at the dozens of gaming shops that hold league play. And, I have never received a video - ever. Despite me asking for any visual proof. It does not exist, and if it does, the table is not using the rules of D&D.
The reason is because all those things I mentioned above.
A low-level combat might be some goblins attacking on a road. The tall grass and a tipped over wagon are the environmental factors at play. There are a few challenged stealth rolls that add to the combat, and the stronger PCs might have the ability to one shot a goblin. Boom, bang, blast - the combat is over.
A twelfth level combat takes place partially underwater and above. It has an outside objective of draining all the water from the area. There are three swarms of demon fish, four saughagin fighters, a saughagin priest, and their corrupted dragon turtle. There is a force of water elemental souls pushing the water to and fro, like some insane riptide. On top of that, the group has a precious piece of coral they need to get back to the merfolk; however, it is fragile and the saughagin wish to destroy it.
There is zero percent chance that the second combat will run faster than the first. There is also zero percent chance it runs FAST. It can't because the DM needs to weigh the decisions of each combatant. The players will need to assess and reassess each variable.