May 17 , 2022
Creating Seamless, Enjoyable, and Fast Combat in DnD
Even if it is not as bad as it was in earlier versions, some dungeon masters (DMs) still complain that combat in the latest version of Dungeons and Dragons (DnD) takes a while to get through. This article will give you multiple pointers on creating smooth, enjoyable, and fast combat in DnD.
Deploy Average Monster Health
As a default, the Monster Manual highlights average health for each monster. While not everyone chooses to use the average, it's an easy technique to speed up the combat, specifically when using many creatures. Saves a whole lot of prep time and dice rolling!
Run Theater of the Mind
Many DMs polled employ a 5-foot-per-square gridded skirmish map with miniatures and terrain features.
For huge, gritty fights with different enemies and diverse geography, this is endless fun. Try running battles in your imagination for rapid combat. Remember, most of these battles do not have to be major knock-down fests. Keep theater of the mind fighting in your toolkit for conflicts when placement is not as important - many of your conflicts will be sped up as a result.
Use Fewer Monsters and Use Monsters of the Same Type
Rather than relying on mechanics to identify creatures, use your in-world descriptions to do it. Describe each ogre's distinctive weapon and its look, style, and mannerisms. Instead of focusing on mechanics, make battles distinctive by detailing in-world characteristics.
Keep Battlegrounds Simple
Battles are faster when the combat locations are more straightforward. The need to make each arena fascinating is tremendous, yet often all you need is a space with few obstacles or a small hallway. A tactical chess match is not always required in every conflict. In some instances, you just have to surround a monster - and to put bluntly - beat it to death.
DMs often track initiative, but they never let the players know. Instead, ensure that whatever creative mechanism you choose is shared with the players so that they know who is on the deck and the order. You may also delegate taking the initiative to a colleague rather than conducting it. Simple initiative cards are a fantastic way to begin.
Run Easier Battles
Not every contest between the characters has to be an impeccably balanced, tough contest. Some melee attackers may cleave through opponents, using the cleave rules from the Master's Guide. Small combats are a good way to have a good time without taking up too much of it. Let the characters enjoy annihilating the low-level monsters with powerful spells and assaults. Of course, if you really want to save time, try taking these easy bouts off the grid entirely.
Operate with Less Players
Although it is not always viable to choose the number of participants in your game, four players are usually the best option, allowing for a lot of character interplay while allowing ample screen time for each character. Rarer players means scarcer monsters, making things simpler. Battles involving five or more people are much more difficult to manage.
Use Horde Guidelines for Lots of Monsters
It's entertaining to fight dozens or hundreds of monsters, but it is also paralyzing. Rather than running every giant distinctly, use the Sly Flourish horde principles to run a large number of monsters quickly. For your convenience, I've listed them below:
- Instead of counting damage done to each creature, tally damage done to the horde. Remove a monster from the horde whenever it suffers damage equal to the health points of another monster. To make life easier, round monster hit points to the closest 5 or 10.
- Assume that one-quarter of the monsters in the swarm will succeed on a saving throw or assault. Depending on the conditions, round up or down. If they have an edge, half the battle is won.
Establish Targets Haphazardly
Rather than picking targets carefully, roll to see which character a monster assaults. If many monsters strike at the same time, distribute the assault among the entire group unless a player is expressly trying to stop it. It's a simple method for the DM to see how the combat goes without thinking about it.
Reveal the Monster's AC
Upon characters having assaulted the monster a few times, expose the creature's AC so that they may determine whether they hit or miss without consulting you. You may jot it down and present it to them so that they can use it as a reference throughout the battle.
Don't Lose the Fiction
Though we try to make things as simple as possible to keep the battle moving, we never lose sight of the plot. The tale should be told from beginning to conclusion. Not the mechanics at the table, but what's going on in the world. It's easy to toss out all the flowery words, especially with a dice tower, but those descriptions turn D&D into fantasy rather than tactical warfare. Experience the story while keeping the gameplay simple so you and your buddies can enjoy epic fights against terrifying adversaries.
Use "Combat Outs"
Other than full-scale murder of one side or the other, use alternate purposes in conflict. Give the heroes objectives that do not need them to kill every enemy they come across. These aims might be rapid and deadly, keeping the excitement high while cutting the fighting time in half.
Encourage Alternative Solutions
Not every monster encounter needs to be focused on combat. Many modern TTRPGers find great enjoyment in solving puzzles or potentially turning a foe to their advantage. Design encounters that offer players an alternative to combat with a unique payoff or plot point. In the movie Labyrinth, Ludo was a pretty frightening site to behold as he was roaring and thrashing around. Turns out, he was just annoyed at his captivity and, once free, became a trusted companion!
There are many ways of creating smooth, fun, and fast combat in DnD. We propose that you select several strategies appropriate for you and your colleagues to try out. In no time, you’ll be fighting monsters and creating seamless, fun, and fast combat that keeps your players on the edge of their seats!