D&D General Players who take Excruciatingly long turns: solution?

Reynard

Legend
I have a couple players who just can't seem to take their turns in combat at anything faster than the speed of growing grass. It's excruciating. For one, it's because he is kind of a scatter brain, but still wants to play complex spell casters with cool abilities (he is playing a circle of spores druid currently). Another is a builder -- I first met him playing HERO in the mid 90s. He builds these highly specific characters then can't remember exactly how he constructed their Thing they do. The third is just not paying attention half the time (we play on Fantasy grounds). The other two players are getting fed up to the point I am worried whether they are going to jump ship. Note that most of this group has played together in some compacity for at least a few years.

Last night was a new low: we spent 2 hours on a single fight with 5 3rd level PCs versus 2 chuuls. (Never midn they should have just escaped since there was a way out and there is no XP in this campaign for fighting.)

Those who have solved similar problems: how have you done so?
 

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Slow player 3 is getting bored while waiting for 1 and 2 to take their turns, and since they're already on their computer, they've clicked over to another page while waiting. When their turn comes up, they need to re-assess the situation and then start deciding what to do. I'd bet that if you find a way to speed up the other two, this player will improve automatically.

(Not a guarantee thoough)

Best advice for players 1 and 2 is to make spellcards. Not print them out - write them out themselves so they commit the details to memory. Cards are much easier to sort through than lists and they can plan a turn ahead by laying the cards out in the order they plan to use them.

This all presumes they know they're a problem and have decided to improve.
 

Oofta

Legend
Sounds like you have an extreme case, but not an unusual one. I used to have a guy who would double check the situation at the start of his turn, sit and stare at the battle map for a couple of minutes and then throw up his hands and say "I guess I just attack". He was playing a paladin ... in most cases that's kind of what they do.

To address the issue, I'm not sure what to do other than talk to the players, explain the issue. I've seen people talk about things like egg timers, I would occasionally start a count-down (ticking off on my fingers) while explaining that their PC only had an instant to react.

Specific instructions vary. One guy was just bad at math in his head, so we made a spreadsheet that did the calculations. Another we had write up a simple cheat sheet. Personally I build my PC in DDB but then export to a PDF and customize the "Actions" section with my own notes that remind me what my monk can do with their ki points in bullet form.

But I think it all starts with talking to your players, explaining the issues and what you want to do about it. Good luck.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
I think it mostly comes down to the old standby of talking to them individually away from the table and explaining how this is really impinging on your fun.

Depending on their personalities and dynamic you may be able to impose an at the table clock (I sometimes put my players on a 5 second countdown to decide what they're doing, if they dither). Other time-savers may be possible too, like cheat sheets or spell cards.

But the main thing is just respectfully making sure they're aware of the problem and how much it's impacting the game, and getting their explicit buy-in to fix it.
 

Reynard

Legend
I am trying to decide whether to make a general announcement on our Discord channel like, "Hey guys, last night's fight went really slowly. It would be helpful if everyone makes sure they review their abilities and tries to stay on task during combats. Thanks!" or if I should directly speak to individual players privately. Dynamic wise, we have all known each other and gamed together for years (decades in some cases) but this group as a whole is only new-ish (4 of the 5 played Avernus together).
 

WarDriveWorley

Adventurer
I have a couple players who just can't seem to take their turns in combat at anything faster than the speed of growing grass. It's excruciating. For one, it's because he is kind of a scatter brain, but still wants to play complex spell casters with cool abilities (he is playing a circle of spores druid currently). Another is a builder -- I first met him playing HERO in the mid 90s. He builds these highly specific characters then can't remember exactly how he constructed their Thing they do. The third is just not paying attention half the time (we play on Fantasy grounds). The other two players are getting fed up to the point I am worried whether they are going to jump ship. Note that most of this group has played together in some compacity for at least a few years.

Last night was a new low: we spent 2 hours on a single fight with 5 3rd level PCs versus 2 chuuls. (Never midn they should have just escaped since there was a way out and there is no XP in this campaign for fighting.)

Those who have solved similar problems: how have you done so?
I've had similar issues with a few players and I still haven't completely fixed it. I've had discussions with the players and that does help some. One of the issues is that sometimes the players get questions, but are afraid to ask outside their turn. For that I've asked another player to help with rules questions (He's my oldest friend and we've gamed together for almost 30 years so I trust him to do this). I've also suggested that they create "cheat sheet/notes" of their character's abilities/spells/items to make it easier to remember.

Also a tangential issue is that a couple of players (same ones that tend to slow down playing) also show up to game unprepared 75% of the time
 

Oofta

Legend
I am trying to decide whether to make a general announcement on our Discord channel like, "Hey guys, last night's fight went really slowly. It would be helpful if everyone makes sure they review their abilities and tries to stay on task during combats. Thanks!" or if I should directly speak to individual players privately. Dynamic wise, we have all known each other and gamed together for years (decades in some cases) but this group as a whole is only new-ish (4 of the 5 played Avernus together).
You could start with that and give people some time to think about it. However, you will likely need to work with each individual to address their specific issue. What you want to try to avoid is putting people on the defensive.

One other thing I've tried is to make sure I understand the PC's capabilities and then give suggestions. Something along the lines of "these seem to be your three options, what do you want to do" after a minute or so. Which works most of the time, but I'm sure there are players who will be "don't tell me what to do!"
 


Reynard

Legend
You could start with that and give people some time to think about it. However, you will likely need to work with each individual to address their specific issue. What you want to try to avoid is putting people on the defensive.

One other thing I've tried is to make sure I understand the PC's capabilities and then give suggestions. Something along the lines of "these seem to be your three options, what do you want to do" after a minute or so. Which works most of the time, but I'm sure there are players who will be "don't tell me what to do!"
I generally try to a) not micromanage the players, but also b) leave their characters to them. I have enough to do that the last thing I need is to eat up bandwidth with all the nuances of their weird druid circle or flagrantly broken yet totally legal Artilock build...
 

Reynard

Legend
One bring I hate about D&D combat is that my turns always take about 30 seconds, max.I know what I’m doing. I do it. Done. Then I wait 20-30 minutes for my next 30 seconds.
One player in particular is super efficient (almost too efficient in that he doesn't really roleplay at all in combat, but I guess that is better than the alternative) and timed his turns at 18 seconds. He is near the breaking point and I am legit worried he is going to walk.
 

Oofta

Legend
I generally try to a) not micromanage the players, but also b) leave their characters to them. I have enough to do that the last thing I need is to eat up bandwidth with all the nuances of their weird druid circle or flagrantly broken yet totally legal Artilock build...
Yeah, it's a fine line. Mostly I make it clear that I'm just trying to clarify the options, not that I'm telling them what to do and that there may be some other options. Last thing I want to do is stifle creativity and control of their PC, but most times there are only so many options and combat (in the game world) happens in a matter of seconds.
 

Ulorian

Adventurer
Maybe I'm stating the obvious, but instead of analysing the situation from a distance, what's wrong with getting everyone in the same room (or in the same chat area if that's not possible) and just break down the problem for everyone. "Guys, in last night's game, there was way too much time passing between turns. People were getting bored waiting for their turn to come up. What can we do to fix this? A timer? Verbal reminders when a turn is taking too long? What do you guys think?"
 

jgsugden

Legend
In my session 0s, I remind players that their PCs are going every 6 seconds, so the player should not be spending a lot of time deciding what to do. It is fine if they need time to look up a rule to adjudicate what they decide to do. It is not fine if they waffle back and forth for several minutes on deciding what to do. I have a lot of luck getting people into good habits and avoiding these problems by setting expectations in session 0, and then making sure session 1 is action packed and quick moving with lots of interaction for PCs in combat between their turns (such as shaking ground that requires low DC strength saving throws not to fall over, or other environmental phenomena that make the combat a bit different than your typical out of the box encounter).

For players that still struggle with technology at the table, I speak with them after a session and ask them to use technology only to support the game (use D&D Beyond, etc...) If they fail to do that, I print out their PC for them and ask them to put the technology away before the session. If they still have trouble, we talk about it as a group.

In the end, if a player is indecisive, I offer a suggestion and ask them what they want to do one more time. If they can't decide, I say, "Do you want to do what I suggested, take the Dodge action or do nothing?" If they decide on something else I also accept it, but limiting their options is something unfortunately necessary to keep things moving.

These techniques are the difference between 1 hour combat and a 15 minute combat.
 

setup easier fights. Less stress and expectation can help to play more loosely and quickly.

Make monsters flee or simply die when the PCs prove that they gonna win the fight. You can save some long and useless turns there.
 

payn

Legend
One player in particular is super efficient (almost too efficient in that he doesn't really roleplay at all in combat, but I guess that is better than the alternative) and timed his turns at 18 seconds. He is near the breaking point and I am legit worried he is going to walk.
Thats me. I role play all day long if I can, but when combat starts, I'm all about getting things done. That other player would drive me bonkers too. It might be one or the other. The best route is likely to appeal to the sense of friendship and group interest from the slow guy. Its the only hope to right the ship because efficient guy is already in the lifeboat it sounds.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
What puzzles me about this kind of thing is, imagine if the DM was like this? The game would be unplayable. When I DM as soon as it’s the monsters turn they pretty much instantly make their attack because I’ve been planning it the whole time.

Players need to understand that the time to plan is while other players are taking actions and the time to act is on their turn.

I assume you’re narrating the combat state between turns and thus inviting the next player to act and not just saying “Joe, you’re up” :)
 

Stormonu

Legend
Talking about it first is probably the way to go, I'd have a one-on-one with the most problematic and ask them if there is anything I can do to help them speed up their turn, or if they have any ideas on it.

If it continues, threaten the egg timers. You usually only have to do it once to someone, and I find they generally shape up.
 

My friend yells “it’s fun if you play fast!” And social pressure and mutual laughter gets an “OK, OK” from the offender.

This is among friends of course and online or game store I would imagine is orders of magnitude harder.

I like the idea proposed of being up front: we want people to decide faster—and saying so.

No success? Set a timer. Allow a person to have a written default action. If you don’t decide by the end of the timer, your default says you will do “X.” The end.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
I am trying to decide whether to make a general announcement on our Discord channel like, "Hey guys, last night's fight went really slowly. It would be helpful if everyone makes sure they review their abilities and tries to stay on task during combats. Thanks!" or if I should directly speak to individual players privately. Dynamic wise, we have all known each other and gamed together for years (decades in some cases) but this group as a whole is only new-ish (4 of the 5 played Avernus together).
I think publicly acknowledging the problem will be a kindness to the frustrated playersand it opens the door for discussion of solutions.

There are lots of things to discuss, but for the player who can’t make a decision that should probably be handled to one side as you discuss methods to manage their options and come up with a faster system.

Finally virtual gaming is hard, we finished up our campaign online and I hated it. Our combats had been decently efficient in-person (one person did like to game things out, the ranger) but once we switched online is was like pulling teeth to get people engaged with the action. It was exhausting for me.
 

Talking about it first is probably the way to go, I'd have a one-on-one with the most problematic and ask them if there is anything I can do to help them speed up their turn, or if they have any ideas on it.

If it continues, threaten the egg timers. You usually only have to do it once to someone, and I find they generally shape up.
That’s funny: I was writing a magnum opus while you posted and said a timer too.

It’s enough of an overcorrection most people will want to avoid it.
 

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