Doom Shoom
 member, 4 posts
Thu 3 Jun 2021
at 22:06
How do you speed up battles?
Realtime gaming already takes hours for a battle at times. I somewhat dread the time it would take for one relatively simple battle in most of my systems.

Sure there have been some inventions to deal with this?

This message was last updated by a moderator, as it was the wrong forum, at 03:38, Fri 04 June.

donsr
 member, 2284 posts
Thu 3 Jun 2021
at 22:21
How do you speed up battles?
for mu games, ( semi freeform) the players  must rp out thier actions  and what they hope will happen.

 I take that roll dice off board and  put up the results  and  outcomes to set up the  next actions.

 Since my space  game, involves fighters, I post  answers to  Players who post as fast as  i can..adding to the  feeling of 'tense' moments.

 It best, for the DM/GM to do all the dice rolls, ebcause you  don't have to wait on folks....if  some players have RL issues, you are also able to drag them along with the flow.

 a Battle can still last for RL  days, that would take less then an hour at a table top, but...if you wait for all the dice rolls and movemnts it could take over a RL Month!

my Advice? if you are using a published system, remember, you are 'god' in your game..do what it takes  to keep the game moving, tweak rules, drop others?...the main thing here is to have a  satisfying, fun  interaction and to escape into the world that you have created.
liblarva
 member, 704 posts
Thu 3 Jun 2021
at 22:48
How do you speed up battles?
Alternate win conditions. Don’t make the fight about standing toe-to-toe and hitting each other. Make it about some other objective with a combat going on around it. Like a fight on a runaway carriage. You’re vying for control of the horses while in combat. A ritual being cast, that you’re trying to stop, while in combat with some cultists. Etc. once the alternate conditions are settled, the combat is over. The losing side runs away or gives up or whatever.

Mechanically there’s a few tricks, too. The biggest one is: don’t stick with hard-and-fast initiative. Just let the players make their posts in any order. If it really matters, you can adjudicate the actions in init order, but it usually doesn’t really matter. At worst someone targets an already dead creature. It happens. I’ve found this really speeds things up.
nauthiz
 subscriber, 721 posts
Thu 3 Jun 2021
at 22:50
How do you speed up battles?
Momentum is key.  As the GM you need to always be pushing forward at whatever maximum pace your players will tolerate during combat.  This might mean acting on a player's behalf, or skipping them, if whatever time limit your using has been reached and they haven't posted.  As long as you're fair and up front about your policies so everybody knows what they're agreeing to, it should mostly be good to go.

If you're using any sort of a turn based system group folks together so nobody is waiting on anybody else.  You should be waiting on the players, then the players should be waiting on you.  If players decide to start waiting on other players, it can turn into a death spiral as people wait on each other without either realizing it.

Minimize dice rolling.  If your chosen system relies on multiple back and forth dice rolls to resolve combat actions (attack roll, then defense roll, then damage roll, etc) devise a way to minimize that which works for you and your players.  This might mean you roll everything, or having your players roll on enemies' behalf so they can figure out whatever else they might need to roll, etc, etc.

In D&D, as an example, one of the GMs I played with kept a running total of stats for the enemies in each post.  Players then knew the outcome of their actions immediately, or could determine if an enemy died from another player who posted before they did, etc, etc.  It might take some of the drama out of things but that's usually a worthwhile trade off.

If you're not doing a narrative cinematic scene, avoid "cinematic hordes"/large pitched battles.  While there's a certain degree of triumph that comes from a player's character mowing down scores of enemy chaff, it can end up just drawing things out unnecessarily.  So chose the enemies you decide to throw at the players with speed in mind.

Above all, whatever you do, if you don't want combat to take weeks and weeks (or months and months), don't slow down.
evileeyore
 member, 493 posts
 GURPS GM and Player
 Joined August 2015
Fri 4 Jun 2021
at 00:23
Re: How do you speed up battles?
nauthiz:
Momentum is key.

As nauthiz said, this.  However I'd go back a bit further:  Game Set Up Is Key.

Make your required posting frequency known in advance, preferably in the Game Info, or your RTJ requirements thread.  If you are willing to post once per day (and stick to this baring emergencies) there is no reason your Players cannot as well.  Especially for combat.  It's okay to have two posting requirements, "once per day by [TIME]" and "at least once every other day" for non-combat" (or whatever speed you prefer, if you are posting every 2 days or once a week, that's your pace, and it's fine to set your pace as the requirement).

For me it's a strict "post by 4pm or I post for you" requirement for combats, and "post at least once every 3 days for non-combat scenes, but I will be moving things forward every three days or so as needed for the scene".

quote:
If you're using any sort of a turn based system group folks together so nobody is waiting on anybody else.  You should be waiting on the players, then the players should be waiting on you.  If players decide to start waiting on other players, it can turn into a death spiral as people wait on each other without either realizing it.

Yeah, throw "PC initiative order" out the window.  It's fine for "who starts the fight" or if there is a timing issue, but for the most part "Initiative Order" doesn't work in PbP.

quote:
Minimize dice rolling.  If your chosen system relies on multiple back and forth dice rolls to resolve combat actions (attack roll, then defense roll, then damage roll, etc) devise a way to minimize that which works for you and your players.  This might mean you roll everything, or having your players roll on enemies' behalf so they can figure out whatever else they might need to roll, etc, etc.

If you're running a system (like GURPS) where there is a lot of back and forth with attack and defense/resistance rolling, the simplest is to have the effects of failed defense/resistance listed in your post (similarly if it's a PC attack) and then have the Player defend/resist and post their next action at once.  This keeps PC autonomy in the Player's hands and in systems witj limited resource economy (limited # of rerolls, limited # of special resistances, iteratively reduced defenses, etc) the Player is still deciding when and where to spend those resources.

It is a bit slower this way, there will always be Players who need to ask questions, do something backwards, etc.


Also, and this is a big one:  Describe things adequately.  If you have Players constantly asking how far away the enemies are, is the bad guy injured, is there any cover, how many enemies are left, etc, it's because you're not adequately describing the scene.  This will slow play to a crawl as the Players have to repeated ask for clarifications before they can make decisions.

quote:
If you're not doing a narrative cinematic scene, avoid "cinematic hordes"/large pitched battles.  While there's a certain degree of triumph that comes from a player's character mowing down scores of enemy chaff, it can end up just drawing things out unnecessarily.  So chose the enemies you decide to throw at the players with speed in mind.

Yup.  If you're running a system (like D&D) that doesn't have good 'narrative/cinematic mass combat tools", it might be best to "make do" like every attack from a Player is actually '10 rounds worth of combat and resolves versus ten times the number of foes' sort of thing.

quote:
Above all, whatever you do, if you don't want combat to take weeks and weeks (or months and months), don't slow down.

Yup.  If you can run a post every day, you can skate through small combats very quickly.  Now when to break into "non-combat time" for things like chases and when to drop back into combat time.  Also, it's okay if enemies surrender, or flee, or even (if they look to be winning) demand the PCs surrender.  It's okay if the PCs flee and you let them get away (if that's what the mobs would do).  Don't make every battle a meatgrinder and they'll fly by pretty fast.
IkeEsq
 member, 22 posts
Fri 4 Jun 2021
at 03:24
Re: How do you speed up battles?
I mostly write out what happens up to the point where PCs need to make a decision.  So let's say you are in a typical fantasy setting and the group of six PCs is fighting 8-10 minions with a leader in the back.  Match up PCs with minions, roll a few rounds of dice, and spell out the results in as much or as little detail as you like.  When a PC slices the hand off his opponent, they can be given the choice:  A) finish him; B) demand surrender; C) assist PC X who just got wounded and is bleeding badly; D) press forward trying to get to the enemy leader; E) Other.

Meanwhile, the wounded PC X might have the option of surrendering, requesting aid, fighting defensively, attacking furiously, or whatever.  Rinse and repeat as long as the battle lasts.  So instead of stopping for every round and getting PC input, you describe the battle in chunks and allow the PCs to make decisions and guide their character's actions without getting mired in the minutia.
Jon Canuck
 member, 25 posts
Fri 4 Jun 2021
at 08:51
Re: How do you speed up battles?
2 things to add:

1. If you have mature players who you trust not to showboat or power-game, bundle player actions and give them narrative control.

Set the scene, but then leave it the player to narrate it. e.g. "You loose your arrow at the goblin. You hit on 12 or above. If you hit, roll damage. A hit roll over 16 gives you narrative control. Tell us what happens."

Likewise if a player thinks of a clever but unconventional move to give tactical advantage, have them roll for it, maybe, but fudge a bit. Don't get bogged in mechanics.

e.g. "I take the pot of boiling soup from the fire and throw it on him!" "OK, you send the boiling soup towards him in a wide arc. It soaks his hair and clothes. The robber paws at his face and runs screaming into the night!" Combat done. Players exhilarated. Memories made.

2. Use the One Hit Point monster. Use all the regular stats for a given beast but cut their HP by 1/3 or a half or whatever. Narrative is the key to building tension and speed is the key to making combat exhilarating. You achieve neither of these goals if you spend 2 weeks rolling dice to whittle a monster's HP to zero.

With multiple, low-power opponents, don't even bother tracking HP. If the players are facing a group of petty thugs in an alley, one solid hit is all it takes to bring an opponent down.

You don't tell the players that the opponent has one HP, of course. You make the opponent look and sound super badass. And their attacks are just as deadly as ever. Players can and should get hurt. But a few good rolls from players can bring the opponent down.
Doom Shoom
 member, 5 posts
Fri 4 Jun 2021
at 09:43
Re: How do you speed up battles?
Lots of good ideas here, thanks. I love it when players describe stuff that happens themselves so that will definitely feature in.


I think I will start with a small scenario and see how it goes.
engine
 member, 833 posts
 There's a brain alright
 but it's made out of meat
Fri 4 Jun 2021
at 14:24
Re: How do you speed up battles?
In reply to Doom Shoom (msg # 8):

I play 4th Edition D&D which is notorious for its slow combat, but I think I keep it pretty speedy when I DM.

The biggest aspects of it are trust, and not worrying about getting everything right.

I give the players access to all the monster information. The only parts they are required to see in front of them are the defenses, hit points and basic melee attacks, but the rest of the details are available in another thread. The point of this is so the players never have to ask me anything about the monsters in order to take their complete turns.

If a mistake is made, I try my best not to worry about it, but because corrections and retractions add huge amounts of delay and confusion. Nine times out of ten, the mistake doesn't matter anyway, I find.

I don't use maps. That's a big time saver for me and actually tends to reduce player confusion.

I give the monsters a goal other than trying to stay alive and reduce the PCs to 0 HP. Ideally, the PCs have a goal other than trying to stay alive and reduce the monsters to 0 HP. This means that the situation can be concluded as quickly as one side or another can complete their goal or make the other side's goal impossible to achieve. There's no point fighting after that.

This also helps avoid that other time waster: players trying to wheedle their way out of their character dying. If the monsters aren't actually interested in taking the time to do more than hold the characters back, and the characters can lose without dying, then the focus on death, and the arguments that stem from players not being bought in to the idea of losing their character, are greatly diminished.
Gaffer
 member, 1689 posts
 Ocoee FL
 45 yrs of RPGs
Fri 4 Jun 2021
at 19:28
Re: How do you speed up battles?
Keep in mind that most combatants don't fight to the death. When I run lethal combat in Call of Cthulhu, most NPCs fall down with any significant hit. They might jump up and run if they get the chance or surrend, but they're unlikely to fight on. This can bring up the question of prisoners, a whole new issue.

They also are likely to run away when the tide turns against their side, either regrouping to renew the struggle or quitting the field altogether.

These approaches make combat go a lot quicker.
Jarodemo
 member, 936 posts
 My hovercraft
 is full of eels
Sat 5 Jun 2021
at 08:26
Re: How do you speed up battles?
In reply to Gaffer (msg # 10):

Agreed. Wrapping up foregone conclusions is a good idea. Animals won’t fight to the death if they are beaten, they will flee. Same for intelligent minions, so a troop of goblins will leg it once a few have gone down. And if your fighting zombies or similar then you can rule that, once the battle has swung heavily in the PCs favour, the party simply mops up the remaining foes with little effort.

In terms of speeding up the process, one way is to simplify initiative. On the opening round all players roll initiative. If you beat the monster you go first, if not then monster goes first. You then simply alternate between monster and PCs, with players acting in the order they post.

And… as a GM set deadlines. If you say “next round starts Monday” then any player who hasn’t posted understands that the GM will NPC them, meaning they will either have a brain freeze and do nothing or will do a standard attack.
engine
 member, 834 posts
 There's a brain alright
 but it's made out of meat
Sat 5 Jun 2021
at 11:43
Re: How do you speed up battles?
Jarodemo:
In reply to Gaffer (msg # 10):

Agreed. Wrapping up foregone conclusions is a good idea. Animals won’t fight to the death if they are beaten, they will flee. Same for intelligent minions, so a troop of goblins will leg it once a few have gone down.

Same for almost everyone. Most people don't keep fighting a hopeless cause. Heck, most animals flee at loud noises. In most cases, the question is why the monsters fight at all, since the only way to win, usually, is to kill the PCs and there's usually better than even chance of that failing. Most creatures would have some idea of this and not bother.

I more realistic/modern settings, there's probably even less reason to plan to fight to the death. Most people/beings fight to achieve a goal, and that goal usually doesn't inherently require that anyone die. If the goal is blocked, some fighting might remove that block, and in fighting people can be killed but the killing isn't the point. The goal is the point.
Gaffer
 member, 1690 posts
 Ocoee FL
 45 yrs of RPGs
Sat 5 Jun 2021
at 12:07
Re: How do you speed up battles?
engine:
...killing isn't the point. The goal is the point.

I think that's it exactly. At some point an army/squad/mob realizes that they'll be slaughtered if they stand and so they run. Might be different if they're trapped/cornered (or maybe if there's something worse behind them), but it's take to your heels or down weapons otherwise.

And, as I say, for most individuals, once you're hurt enough, you quit (or go unconscious) and it doesn't always take that much hurt. Hit me in the knee with a bat and I probably fold. Players get agency to ignore their damage for a while, which makes them special.
Doom Shoom
 member, 6 posts
Sat 5 Jun 2021
at 13:04
Re: How do you speed up battles?
Yeah the "fight to the death" hardly ever makes any sense to begin with. I'm more story focused with my games (yes that's possible in s20 games, too)so I'll gather players who like to write about their actions instead of just rolling.
engine
 member, 835 posts
 There's a brain alright
 but it's made out of meat
Sat 5 Jun 2021
at 14:27
Re: How do you speed up battles?
Gaffer:
engine:
...killing isn't the point. The goal is the point.

I think that's it exactly. At some point an army/squad/mob realizes that they'll be slaughtered if they stand and so they run. Might be different if they're trapped/cornered (or maybe if there's something worse behind them), but it's take to your heels or down weapons otherwise.

It's not that they realize they'll be slaughtered, it's that they realize there's no chance to achieve their goal. Their goal isn't to avoid being slaughtered, because in most cases if that was their goal they could have just run or not fought in the first place. If their goal is to kill the PCs, why did they try it with anything less than overwhelming force?

What is their goal? Figure that out, figure out a way for them to achieve it or for the PCs to foil it quickly and that's how long the battle is.
Knight_Vassal
 member, 583 posts
Sat 5 Jun 2021
at 23:59
Re: How do you speed up battles?
In reply to engine (msg # 15):

Use a lot of narrative combat. It helps immensely in heavy combat games. Know the ruleset you are using and know your players. Have them roll and have ideas of where you are going on each combat. Deadlines are a must in important battles. I don't think that can be stressed enough.

  Minor NPCs let them wade through em if that makes sense. They don't matter in the least. The big bad does.
engine
 member, 836 posts
 There's a brain alright
 but it's made out of meat
Sun 6 Jun 2021
at 00:48
Re: How do you speed up battles?
In reply to Knight_Vassal (msg # 16):

Right, and deadlines are aspects of goals. If the opposition only needs to keep the PCs from getting past them for four rounds then as soon as it achieves that or fail to achieve it, the battle is over. The remaining opposition might be significant, but only if they're have a new goal that's worth them trying to achieve.
Jarodemo
 member, 937 posts
 My hovercraft
 is full of eels
Sun 6 Jun 2021
at 06:49
Re: How do you speed up battles?
Knight_Vassal:
In reply to engine (msg # 15):

Use a lot of narrative combat. It helps immensely in heavy combat games. Know the ruleset you are using and know your players. Have them roll and have ideas of where you are going on each combat. Deadlines are a must in important battles. I don't think that can be stressed enough.

  Minor NPCs let them wade through em if that makes sense. They don't matter in the least. The big bad does.


Agree with your first point. Narrating combat helps as much as describing the room/valley/cavern you just entered.

Disagree on your second point as it suggests that the game is a formulaic video game where you beat through waves of minions to get to the BBEG at the end. Some games are like this, but not all.
Yozi
 member, 622 posts
Sun 6 Jun 2021
at 09:24
How do you speed up battles?
I was reading a blog post by John Fourr (he's pretty good, actually - author of 5 room dungeons) and he suggests having most combats last three rounds. He covers the subject in detail in his posts but essentially, he suggests that most combats in D&D revolve around resource depletion, and thus he tries to deplete his party's resources in his combats. I'm not sure I'm allowed to post a link to the blog here or not, but if you rmail me, I'll share it with you.
Knight_Vassal
 member, 584 posts
Sun 6 Jun 2021
at 15:11
Re: How do you speed up battles?
In reply to Jarodemo (msg # 18):

I did say if it makes sense. Not that it always will or should. Some fights it does other fights the sheer amount of minor Npcs should make you basically hit a wall.
Jarodemo
 member, 938 posts
 My hovercraft
 is full of eels
Mon 7 Jun 2021
at 09:22
Re: How do you speed up battles?
In reply to Knight_Vassal (msg # 20):

Good point!