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


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billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
Switch to group initiative. It's not like weakening the value of the Dex stat will be bad for game balance overall…
How would this speed things up, since everyone still has to take their turn?
Concern there would be that instead of dithering individually they'll all end up dithering together trying to simultaneously plan their collective round and their individual actions.
Since I'm one of the people who liked Egon's solution I'll put up my reasoning:

This may speed things up because the slow players can start their processing their plans right away when their side gets its turn, meanwhile, you can start adjudicating the faster players' actions. I find that a lot of players who are kind of slow at the table don't seem to be thinking about what they can do until it's their turn. Side initiative may be like giving them the psychological permission to start working on their turn.

Group dithering may still be faster because some of the processing of the planning/looking up of options is offloaded to multiple players. I'm guessing that the group dither has a good chance of being net shorter than the individual dithers combined.
Plus, you may see better group coordination overall, which may be part of the problem of the individual turn being slow - they're trying to come up with the best option given the fact that they're acting alone yet trying to act in accord with other players' actions.

It also may apply some peer pressure to be done quicker. If the side has the initiative turn, it's a shared spotlight while individual initiative is a single-person spotlight. Not that he's spotlight hogging by intent, just that the slow player may feel that "it's all on him" to make the best move now and isn't going to waste the action by doing something sub-optimally so he'd better take the time to get it right while he has the focus.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Going by the red/blue writing clues it would seem Cooter is one of the foes...but a foe they need to charm and take in to the party, clearly. :)
I love that there's someone named Cooter in or with your party.

@Lanefan has nearly got it, though usually the red/blue distinction is PC-controlled versus DM-controlled.
As it turns out, Cooter, Meemaw, and their kids Allura and Pee-Wee along with grandpa Custus were allies of the party that I distributed to the PCs to play, with the caveat that if they could not decide what made sense for them to do based on the NPC descriptions/stat blocks I gave them or if the player just felt overwhelmed in any given round with too much to do then I'd quickly take over their action.

I gave an XP bonus for each of these NPCs kept alive (to the entire party). Custus was ripped in half by a troll while trying to save the some horses from the burning inn. But the rest survived!
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Another option that might be worth trying is “Grayhawk initiative.” Top of the round, go around the table and have everyone declare their action. Keep declarations simple: “I’m going to attack with my sword” or “I’m going to cure wounds” are sufficient; no need to specify targets or anything like that, and roll a die based on the action declared (something simple like “roll your weapon’s damage die if you attack (1d4 per component if you cast a spell; 1d6 for any other action”). Then start counting. When a player’s number is called, they can move up to their speed and take the declared action (deciding things like targets and spell slot levels at that time), and up to one bonus action.

Has the benefits of the shared decision-making time in side initiative, but by requiring the actions declared during that time to be brief, you remove the pressure to come up with the best move; just decide the action, quickly, and move on. Then once it’s your turn, there’s less to decide because you’ve already committed to your action. You only need to choose where to go and who to target.
 


overgeeked

B/X Known World
Going by the red/blue writing clues it would seem Cooter is one of the foes...but a foe they need to charm and take in to the party, clearly. :)
@Lanefan has nearly got it, though usually the red/blue distinction is PC-controlled versus DM-controlled.
As it turns out, Cooter, Meemaw, and their kids Allura and Pee-Wee along with grandpa Custus were allies of the party that I distributed to the PCs to play, with the caveat that if they could not decide what made sense for them to do based on the NPC descriptions/stat blocks I gave them or if the player just felt overwhelmed in any given round with too much to do then I'd quickly take over their action.

I gave an XP bonus for each of these NPCs kept alive (to the entire party). Custus was ripped in half by a troll while trying to save the some horses from the burning inn. But the rest survived!
That was my assumption. The color coding suggested enemy, but the names suggested NPCs.

But then "Cooter the Archmage" would be a cool villain to fight.
 


Concern there would be that instead of dithering individually they'll all end up dithering together trying to simultaneously plan their collective round and their individual actions.
Group initiative works wonders and do not allow for what you seem to be afraid of.
1) Group initiative also goes in order of Dex modifier. Higher dex means you go first in your group's turn.
2) If you do not want to use Dex as a way to determine who goes first. Go from left to right one turn and right to left on the other turn. Put the slowest acting player in the middle and all will be good. (especially at 6 players).
3) Do the same with monster and/or assign them a number for each group. Each group acts as the players' characters do. Higher dex or simply from 1 to last and last to first.

With this, the round takes a lot less time to do.
 

I don't really get it. Do the long turn people not understand that they are a serious drain on everyone else's fun, do they just not care, or are they incapable of doing better? If the last, then there is no helping them, and attempts to fix it will likely make them more unhappy with a situation they are already unhappy with.

If it's one of the other scenarios then you have larger issues with the group dynamics than just long turns. It seems like you have some very oblivious and/or inconsiderate people. It also seems like you may have some unhappy people who don't feel comfortable communicating their unhappiness with the group, even to the extent of making some broad hints that maybe people could speed up their turns. It also seems like you may have a group that expects the DM to solve group issues.

While talking to the long-turn people individually about trying to speed up may make sense, to me it seems like time for a whole group discussion about how the campaign is going for people and what the group can do better or some such because there is probably poor communication at this table in general, as well as possibly too much out-of-game responsibility being placed on the DM.

And if the amount of that sort of touchy-feely business you are willing to put up with doesn't improve things it may also be time to cut some people loose or otherwise reformulate the group. I wouldn't generally advocate booting someone because they took long turns, but if there are actually underlying group or personal issues for which their continued long-turn-taking is just the leading symptom that's a horse of a different color.
 

Reynard

Legend
Group initiative works wonders and do not allow for what you seem to be afraid of.
1) Group initiative also goes in order of Dex modifier. Higher dex means you go first in your group's turn.
2) If you do not want to use Dex as a way to determine who goes first. Go from left to right one turn and right to left on the other turn. Put the slowest acting player in the middle and all will be good. (especially at 6 players).
3) Do the same with monster and/or assign them a number for each group. Each group acts as the players' characters do. Higher dex or simply from 1 to last and last to first.

With this, the round takes a lot less time to do.
I'm still not sure what about group initiative means it would move faster than regular initiative.
 



Reynard

Legend
I am not willing to attribute to malice what can be easily explained by incompetence.

I decided to send out a message saying we should discuss our slow combat pace problem and so far have received an apology for not being on the ball by Complex Caster Guy. One of the fast players suggests it is largely a coding and spell effect issue, and there was a suggestion for a "let's get everything coded in right" off schedule session by The Mechanic. So the group at least acknowledges there is an issue and has thoughts on how to potentially fix it.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
That is interesting. I found virtual to speed things up significantly. I mean, once folks learned how to use the interface (some much better than others). The drag and drop compendium character sheets and automated clicking has been super welcome to my experience.
We just did videochat, didn’t adopt a VTT as our campaign was about 95% done,
 

payn

Legend
We just did videochat, didn’t adopt a VTT as our campaign was about 95% done,
Oh thats a mighty big difference! Not sure how to differentiate this, or if it would even help, but virtual is not going to lead people to this conclusion.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
Lots of good ideas so far.

One thing to keep in mind is a group of friends is quite different than a convention game or an AL game or even a game that meets but are acquaintances.

What's worked for my group (and I have 1 clear slow player, if I let him he would take an hour to decide on any given action):

1. We had a an intervention. We're all friends (just like the OPs group) and we just explained to the guy that we have approximately 4 hours a session and we've all budgeted for it (everyone has careers and just about everyone has families with kids). This was to make him understand why people were frustrated.

2. I'm much better about letting people know they are on deck. In addition to announcing it (X it's your turn, Y your on deck) I have a whiteboard that shows initiative. Online we also make sure turn order is displayed.

3. I made him write out his "favored" actions and keep them close. A little grade school-ish but it was merited and it helped.

4. Initially, I announced we were going to have a 10 second timer - at MY discretion, If I get to 0 you take the dodge action. This is drastic, but things were getting REALLY bad. It became unnecessary once 2 and 3 clicked better.

That's what worked for our group.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
Oh thats a mighty big difference! Not sure how to differentiate this, or if it would even help, but virtual is not going to lead people to this conclusion.
Yeah I should have clarified that this was at the beginning of Covid, back when we thought it would be just a couple weeks of isolation…
 

I'm still not sure what about group initiative means it would move faster than regular initiative.
It removes multiple rolls. Just putting the initiatives in order can be cumbersome and make you lose up to two minutes per rounds (if not more with many different enemies and 6 players) if you roll each rounds. With group initiative one roll per side and it is done.
 

Reynard

Legend
It removes multiple rolls. Just putting the initiatives in order can be cumbersome and make you lose up to two minutes per rounds (if not more with many different enemies and 6 players) if you roll each rounds. With group initiative one roll per side and it is done.
We are using Fantasy grounds. That isn't an issue. Also, 2 minutes at the beginning of a combat that lasts 2 hours isn't really my biggest concern.
 

Ok, a twenty four rounds combat took us a bit less under two hours. A six round combat usually takes around 15 to 20 minutes sometimes less.
Edit: And we roll initiative every single round. Does it mean that you roll only once per combat?????
 

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