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Speeding Up Play (Without Being a Jerk)

Retreater

Explorer
I have a group of mostly "new-ish" players, even though they're all adults between 35-55. I've been DMing for close to 30 years, and I expect this issue is me being a curmudgeon. There are things that the players do that really slow down gameplay, and I get really frustrated. (Maybe unfairly so.) Due to our real life schedules, we're able to game only about once a month, so I like to keep things moving to get in as much gaming as possible.

Players roll each die individually. Every attack. Every damage die. Every time there is a bonus 1d4 due to a Bless spell. They put dice back in their dice bags in between rolls and have to select their dice again every round. They use dice towers and watch as each individual die tumbles into the dice tray. I feel like this takes forever, even if it adds only a few extra minutes to each encounter.

Should I grin and bear it? Should I try to teach them faster rolling methods?

(Disclaimer: I have an unreasonable hatred of dice trays and dice towers. They take up valuable table real estate, especially when each player has his own. They block view to the die result for me - and often the players too.)
 

HJFudge

Villager
Well, when I opened this thread I expected to be talking about how to speed up player decision making, which in my experience has been the main source of 'slowdown' during the game. But it sounds like what you are experiencing is about dice rolling and such. How attached are your players to their trays and towers? Simply a 'Hey guys, this thing is slowing the game down, can we roll this way instead...sans towers and trays?' doesn't seem jerky to me. As with most things in life, its not what you say its how you say it. So just a polite discussion about how you feel you can get more playtime in if the table abided by certain rules of rolling might be helpful.
 

Fenris-77

Explorer
That does sound really tedious and it would drive me batty. Just roll all your dice at once already. I would probably just ask them to speed it up with a rational argument about being able to accomplish X encounters in the Y hours we meet once a month. Maybe just start timing them without telling them what you doing.;)
 

dragoner

Dying in Chargen
Should I grin and bear it? Should I try to teach them faster rolling methods?
You should do both; I'm resigned to the fact of the player's doing whatever slowly, it's just what they do. Rolling each die individually does sound annoying though.
 

LordEntrails

Explorer
A technique I learned at a con, tell your players that when their turn comes around if they have already rolled their dice and can tell you something like "I attack the third goblin with my sword, attack total of 16 for 8 slashing damage" then they automatically get to add +1 to their attack roll.

This way they are ready to go, and they get a bonus for being ready.
 

Len

Prodigal Member
They put dice back in their dice bags in between rolls and have to select their dice again every round.
Seriously? I've known people who roll dice individually, but picking them out of the dice bag every turn?

I don't know if anything you can say would make a difference because it sounds like those people aren't really there to play D&D, but rather to indulge a polyhedral fetish.
 

DEFCON 1

Hero
Dice trays and dice towers-- grin and bear it. I imagine they are both positive play experiences for them as the sounds of the dice dropping through and into them are pleasing to hear. Dice hitting the table is why so many people play D&D moreso than other systems... because they love to roll all the different dice. So taking that away from them just seems unnecessary.

Putting dice back into dice bags though? That you can easily ditch. Dice belong on the table in easy view, so that players can grab them immediately-- both on their own turns and in order to pass them over to their fellow players when they need to roll more of a particular die than they have in their pile. Tell them all to dump out their dice (or select the dice they are using for the night if their bags are full of many, many sets), and then the dice bags should go away.

As far as rolling dice individually... again, if they are using trays and towers they probably just want to hear the clunks. But if the amount of gaming is really that important to you... best way to fix it is to start everyone at 1st level and then never level up. That way most of the time the dice come out they only need to roll one die total rather than say 8 dice when you cast fireball. Cut down on the number of times a player has to roll multiple dice and you'll save those precious seconds.

Of course, that means you have to be okay with just playing at 1st level. But if cutting down on dice time is the only way to speed up your play, then sacrifices have to be made. :)
 
A technique I learned at a con, tell your players that when their turn comes around if they have already rolled their dice and can tell you something like "I attack the third goblin with my sword, attack total of 16 for 8 slashing damage" then they automatically get to add +1 to their attack roll.
This.

Find out what motivates your players and use it to make the game faster/better/more fun. :cool:
 

Xaelvaen

Explorer
I have a timer active behind my DM screen set to 1 minute. While it's not a hard rule to force people to go faster, if they complete their turn in 1 minute or less, including dice rolling and giving me the information, they gain a bonus To Hit (if their attack wouldn't otherwise land), or To Damage if their attack would hit otherwise. I always play off the benefit as something in game to keep it exciting "Your hit is nearly deflected off the Goblin's Shield, but at the last second you twist for a telling blow." and the like.

If someone doesn't come in under that 1 minute, I obviously don't punish them - it is just to help people stay focused during the whole round of conflict, and not just during their turn. If they've planned ahead of time, set their dice in proper order ready to roll, and given it plenty of thought, 1 minute is easy to adhere to, and get rewarded both with more active combat, more engaged table manners, and a mechanical reward to boot.
 

LordEntrails

Explorer
I like [MENTION=6681906]Xaelvaen[/MENTION]'s method too, as long as the players know they are getting rewarded. imo, by having them add the advantage, they know they are getting it. Sure, a few will add it when they shouldn't, but some will forget too. And though +1 is noticeable, it won't really impact game balance.
 

aramis erak

Explorer
They sound OCD...
... and that's not OK. Mostly because it's an issue for a member of the group.

Time for the houserule: "a roll calling for 2 or more dice must be rolled all at once; otherwise only the first batch rolled hitting the table count."

But also, be honest with them that you dislike towers; give them an option for dice cups and shallow trays... and if it didn't go into the cup before the roll is dumped, it doesn't count.


But also, tell them what you want out of a game. A rapid resolution of the mechanics, I'd guess, so play focuses on more story.
 

Xaelvaen

Explorer
I like @Xaelvaen's method too, as long as the players know they are getting rewarded. imo, by having them add the advantage, they know they are getting it. Sure, a few will add it when they shouldn't, but some will forget too. And though +1 is noticeable, it won't really impact game balance.
Thank you - and you are quite correct, they know the mechanics beforehand. More importantly, I always ask the new table when I GM at gameshops if they would enjoy the rule. I've also set it to 2 minutes before when introducing new players, and slowly worked down the time limit. I've had a considerable number of people thank me for improving their turn speed, and helping them focus on the strategy of watching other peoples' turns and calculating their own in response.
 

billd91

Earl of Cornbread
Seriously? I've known people who roll dice individually, but picking them out of the dice bag every turn?

I don't know if anything you can say would make a difference because it sounds like those people aren't really there to play D&D, but rather to indulge a polyhedral fetish.
Yeah, I've seen players do that too and I find it peculiar. If you fail to get all the dice you need out once, then I can understand going back to fish for more. But putting them in the bag after every roll? It drives me a little batty.
 
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billd91

Earl of Cornbread
Should I grin and bear it? Should I try to teach them faster rolling methods?
A mixture of both.

The whole dice back into the bag after every roll thing is weird - very weird. Dice towers are also a bit of a weird affectation, but I've seen how people go for them to weed out some shady dice rolling techniques. Seems to me you should be able to ask them to dump all the dice involved in at once though. And the noise can be grating. So I can see banning them for that.

But the dice trays? I suggest you get used to it. The group I've been with for over 20 years has been migrating toward the trays, in no small part, because they keep dice from scattering across or off the table. And when playing with D&D artillery spells and Shadowrun, that comes in handy.
 

Fenris-77

Explorer
Let's not kid ourselves, we migrate to trays as it gets increasingly more difficult to to go down on bended knee every 15 minutes to pick up a rogue die. I've seen people buy more dice rather than go hunting under a bookcase (playing at a FLGS).
 

GrahamWills

Registered User
One technique I use with slower players is to give them a certain amount of time to resolve the action, and then move on to the next person. So ..

GM: Sam, you're up; Zeb, you're on deck
Sam: Let me see think which power I'm going to use ... I'll charge the orc ... [rolls] ... that'll hit AC 22
GM: That hits. How much damage?
Sam: Let me get my dice ...
GM: OK, let me know when you've added them up. Zeb, you're up.

I also sometimes switch to simultaneous action:

GM: OK, everyone, pick a target and attack. 25 will hit everything, 16 will miss everything. Yell out if you're not sure and roll damage when you hit.

Does it cause issues sometimes? Yeah, but not very often -- and if it people complain, then let them know that you're doing it to speed up the game, but you're happy to stop if the game moves fast enough.
 

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