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

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Just to look at an out-of-the-box solution, have you tried a less crunchy game with the group? Maybe OSR if you want to stay D&D-like?

The first player seems to want to do cool things, but casters in 5e require internalizing a lot of different specific spells to be able to chose what's correct quickly. A different system might constrain choices in a way that speeds them up.

The second player, well not remembering how his own character works sounds like either the complexity is getting to him, or that he's using outside resources to build characters and not retaining it. Either way a more straightforward system could be a solution.

The third player not paying attention may just be a symptom of the first two - when it takes forever to get back to your action you get bored. And since it sounds like you play online since you mention FG it is really easy to start surfing the web or otherwise get distracted. If this does happen to be the problem it is both the easiest to understand but potentially the hardest to fix since it needs to address the slowness between turns and the habits of disengaging they have built up.
 

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billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him) 🇺🇦🇵🇸🏳️‍⚧️
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.
I can definitely see VTTs contributing to both speed and slowness. Being able to set lots of attacks and other things up ahead of time can be a real help, but the remoteness can also lead to disengagement, distraction, and the inability to have feedback from the rest of the players at the table that might keep a player on track or working with a little more haste.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
This is going to sound kinda mean, but the most effective way to insure players take their turns in a timely fashion is to put a hard limit on how long their turns can be. Say, one minute. If you haven’t declared an action then, you lose your turn (or default to Dodge or something). They’ll quickly start throwing out the first thing that comes to mind instead of agonizing over finding the perfect thing to do, and they’ll soon learn that works just fine.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
I don't really have advice but these kinds of posts do make me realize how lucky I am with both my groups. While we do occasionally have slowdowns, they are usually once or twice over the course of a complicated combat where the situation changed dramatically between the last turn and the next player's turn and what they had decided to do no longer applies.
In each of my groups I have one player (two different people), who occasionally needs a push but usually just saying, "You have to make a decision now!" works to get them to do something.

The fact that we also use a grandfathered version of the delay action from 3E also means that someone who is really unsure can just delay - and in theory do nothing the entire fight (and while that has never happened, I can imagine it'd reinforce that their own uncertainty is leading to their inaction, while everyone else keeps playing at their preferred pace.
 
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I had a player very much like the first guy. Would always play spellcasters (and frequently get the spells wrong, too, to boot), and was frequently painfully slow when his turn came up. Like, you could practically hear the gears grinding as he was dead silent. He eventually stopped gaming in the group for a number of reasons, but every time his turn came up, I could see everyone else's excitement start to drain away.

One approach I've seen and tried is to always announce initiative as "player 1 is up, player 2 is up next." Sometimes it helps, sometimes not. Another technique is to give a very short situational run-down at the top of every initiative count, but I'm not as big a fan of that as it adds more time to combat on its own.

There's also just telling the player "if you don't make a decision, I'm going to say you take the dodge action" or another one I've used "okay, we'll delay your turn and you can go after the next player if you're ready."

However, if you're worried that it's such a severe issue that two players might drop, well, sometimes it's better to boot the players that are the problem than have good players leave and leave you stuck with the problem ones.

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?
 

Kurotowa

Legend
It might help to combine a shot clock with an "on deck" announcement. Which is to say, instead of just saying "Player X it's your turn", call out "It's Player X's turn, Player Y is next, please have your action ready." This prompts them to start planning their turn while you're resolving the current one, rather than them waiting to start even considering it until they're up. It might also help some of them if you encourage them to make cheat sheets of their main combat routines, to save them trying to reconstruct them every time.
 

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?
We use a 30 second clock per PC turn. You have 30s to declare your action and resolve your action or you lose it.
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
There's lots of good advice from others in this thread. But if it doesn't work, keep in mind that breaking up the group is a valid solution. It sounds like half the group (including you) doesn't really enjoy playing with the other half.
I did not mean to give that impression. We are all friends who like gaming together. This is a specific issue about one aspect of the game, not a systemic group issue.

Outside of fights how engaged are the players? Is it a specific issue with the combat mechanics or does it go deeper?
Very engaged, if not always about the same things (I have an eclectic mix of "player types" for sure).

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?
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
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).
Have him write up a default action list. Write out the coolest thing he can do and how it works on a 3x5 card. Do this for 3-5 actions/spells. And another card for whatever basic attack/cantrip he has. Give him a moment to check the cards, but if he can’t decide quickly, default to the basic action.
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.
Same basic advice. Have him write out how his thing is supposed to work in steps. Maybe it will fit on a 3x5, maybe not. That way his cool thing is in plain text in front of him to reference. He can just run through the steps and not worry about trying to remember.
The third is just not paying attention half the time (we play on Fantasy grounds).
Some people can’t pay attention for long stretches when they’re not involved. He might have ADHD. We have a few in our group. Start announcing the turns as you go. Who’s up and who’s on deck. “Bob, it’s your turn. Sue, you’re on deck.” Next time it’s “Sue, it’s your turn. Tom, you’re on deck.” Have the players start planning their turn when you tell them they’re on deck.
 

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