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Discussion Starter #1
Me and my chums are playing various campaigns, sometimes DnD, sometimes WFRP 2nd, and sometimes The Riddle of Steel.

I'm usually a good DM, except for fight scenes. My players avoid to fight in encounters, not because they are risky, but because they are boring as hell, and I reward more XP for not fighting anyway. I mean, fights usually take a long time to carry on, many dices are rolled and failed more often than not (especially in WFRP !). A standard fight scene can last upward to 10 minutes, which is an incredibly long time just to see who defeats who.

So... Anyone who had sucessfully DMed fight scenes can give me tips on how to run them effectively? Any player can tell me what they expect to find/what they enjoy in a fight scene ? Anybody who's had similar concerns in the past ?
 

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I've DM'd Dark Heresy and my friends and I like nothing more than a good fight. The best way to DM a fight scene (in my experiance) is to make them fast, nasty and rewarding.

Example: One time, my group of friends and I were chasing after an mass murdering gang and followed them into a bar. Inside the bar, it turned into a Mexican standoff, then a brutal close-range firefight (the first time my friend got to use his double-barrel), then it turned into a chase scene down alleys and through buildings, finally reaching it's apex on the sixth story of a warehouse in another close-range shootout. In the end, my friends and I ended up saving the navigator of a ship we later commandeered.

You know, stuff like that.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
That does not help me at all.

I know how to do a good narrative. I know how to describe the layouts to the PCs and how to engage them in my stories. In my current campaign, one of my PC is of royal blood an is preparing a coup-d'état against his uncle and his cousin (and everyone in between) to get the throne for himself. It's not unlike a tragedy in which the focus is on the bad guys (PCs), their rise to power and their inevitable downfall. It's got strong theme of love, faith, betrayal and revenge. There will be plenty of opportunities to lead up to fight, many high borns to whack.

I know how to throw in a plot twist. What I don't know is how to make the rolling of a dice to actually be... you know, more than just rolling a dice.

This is what my fight scenes look like :

GM : You've been discovered, you must break out of the stable before reinforcements arrive. There are three guards between you and the exit, roll initiative.
P1 : I move up to guard 1. I attack. *roll* I miss.
P2 : I move up to guard 1 as well, I attack *roll* I hit. For 5 damage.
GM : ok, 5 damage.
P3 : * was not followig *
GM : 3, it's your move.
P3 : huh? what's going on ?
GM : You've been discovered, you must break out of the stable before reinforcements arrive. There are three guards between you and the exit, 1 and 2 are picking on the first.
P3 : hu... I guess I'm gonna pick on the first as well *roll* miss.
P4 : My character is afraid of blood, I go hiding. * makes a hide check *
GM : The guards roll to see if they see 4. * roll *. Guard no 1 is stalling for reinforcements and adopt a defensive position, gaining a defensive bonus. Guard no 2 gets into melee to help his chum. Guard no 3 still guard the entrance. *roll* You notice he's the one giving the orders.
P2 : who?
GM : guard no 3
P4 : what does that mean ?
P1 : it means he's in charge, probably more powerful than the others.
P2 : who ?
All : guard no 3!
GM : ah yes, P3, you got attack by no 2, *roll* 4 points of damage
P3 : no fair ! I was aldready wounded!
GM : yeah, and the guard noticed you'd be an easier target.
P1 : My turn, P3, back off as I hold them out with 2. *roll* I miss
P2 : My turn, keep attacking *roll* I miss.
P3 : okay, I back off holding my arm from the injury.
GM : you sucessfully avoided attacks of opportunity.
P4 : can I cast a spell ?
GM : You're not a mage in this campaign!
P4 : so can I?
All : no!
P4 : okay, than can I shoot the bad guys?
GM : with what ?
P4 : I don't know, any projectiles of opportunity here ?
GM : why yes, there's horse shit and a pitchfork you could throw at him.
P4 : okay I aim the bad guy 1 and throw a horse at him.
GM : the whole horse ?
P4 : no, the road apples.
GM : good of you to specify
All : laugh
[...]

okay, so it's been two turns and at least 4 minutes out games and basically, nothing happened. I mean, . On the next turn, one or more player is gonna stop to pay attention and none of the bad guys are seriously injured yet. They don't pose a serious threat to both P1 and P2, but P3 was injured to begin with and P4 is a non-combatant. The PCs can (and will) off the bad guys in a couple of more rounds of combat, and escape just in time to flee from the reinforcements (because it's an important plot point that they escape just in time.)

How I feel is that I might just as well have asked the players : what do you do ? they answer : we fight our way out ! Give them an arbitray penalty for chosing to fight and then move the fuck on with the plot.
 

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To liven it up we always tend to draw out the place the fight is occuring, just a rough sketch of say, a tavern. Nothing like a good bar fight for entertainment. So you draw the rough sketch out, mark on where the players are, mark on where the opposing force are, mark on tables, patrons, all that caper. The the fight begins.

Now by doing this, and knowing where people are in relation to everything, it can lead to some great, and often hysterical encounters. A player may stumble backwards over a stool, and as he does, flicking a flagon of beer off a table at the opponent bearing (rraaargh) down on him. The thing I find to make fights entertaining is, rather than it just being two men, mano et mano rolling off against each other (eeewww), let the players do anything they want, but make them roll for it.

Want to kick the barstool at someone, roll for ws and dex (ws to kick accurately, dex so they don't just fall arse over tit with their foot stuck in the stool). It's all about the element of surprise and the entertainment value, throwing furniture (people if you're big enough), flagons, kicking over tables to channel the enemy at you in smaller numbers, that kind of thing.

Outdoors, you have rocks, trees, branches, roots (ideal for tripping people at a vital moment), etc.

The stable would be an ideal place, you'd have sadles, spare horse shoes (I presume you keep them in a stable, spare tyres seem to go in the garage like..), those big round things that go round their necks to pull carraiges and ploughs. if it's night maybe the odd torch, straw to turf at people. Sometimes its the ridiculous and amusing that keep it entertaining. 4 guys vs. four guys would be dull as there's just rolls and no dramatic derring do :-D

We always played the rule, if you have the parts and you can draw how it would work, and it would actually work, you could use it. Thats why whenever you sleep in an inn, the door is rigged with a blunderbuss, or a hammer (nightmare on elm street style) ;-)

Keep the humour and jollies in fighting, if it's deadly serious you can still swill someone with the oil from a burning lamp and set them ablaze. Would it make the rest of the enemy think one of your players used magic to set him on fire, would they panic? It's all about how you play the game, not the ruleset :)

edit: I'll link this to the whfrpg thread :)
 

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10 minutes? that's a short fight around these parts :laugh:!

I must admit, it's difficult keeping people focused, and keeping the game moving. Preparation helps a lot. So, a few questions:

Firstly, which edition of D&D are you using? I much prefer 3.5 myself, but 4th ed is apparently quicker for combats. If you're only using combat occasionally, perhaps move over to 4th ed, to keep things streamlined?

Secondly, do you use models in your game, or do you just use narrative story telling? Fights can be a lot easier if you have a map ready, and use models. If you or a friend have a Warhammer Fantasy empire army, you'll have a lot of human warriors to use. If you have a friend with and Ork and goblin army, you've got some nice savage enemies you can use. Having the visuals can really help, and you can simply use a different model to denote who is the captain of the guard, the Ork Chief or whatever. It gives the players something to focus on, so when you say something, they'll have something to refer to. If you're just using narrative, you'll find players that drift off (and they always do) can't remember what he's doing, or lose track of how many enemies they're fighting.

Thirdly, what do you usually send against them? I find a horde of easy to kill thing, with one or two tougher commanders works well. People like to be effective in combat, so if they're just spending 3-4 turns just doing 5 damage, it's boring. Things the average party member can kill in 1-2 rounds work well, then have the leader/boss for doing interesting things. When even your weaker characters are making the occasional kill, it makes them part of the action too, and you're combat characters can focus on taking down the leaders.

Alternatively, send them up against a single big thing, where they really have to work in concert to take it down. Something they have to really work out a plan to take it down, and then let them figure it out, propose it, and finally carry it out. To keep that part moving, I suggest having an egg timer or something "work out what your doing, and if it's not done when the timer runs out, you're frozen in shock and doing nothing".

My last piece of advice would be to keep things moving, and keep them simple. In your example with the bar fight, rather than rolling for the guy to hide under the table, and then for the guards to see him, just let him hide. A guard in a bar fight wouldn't be looking for people cowering under tables, when there are far more obvious targets around - if he started stabbing/shooting people, and ducking back into cover, then they'd go looking for him. Only roll hide when someone is looking for them, only roll move silently when someone is listening. Less dice rolls are better, think about any way you can take them out of the equation.

I have house rules about Criticals and Critical misses - when you roll them, I choose what they do. When someone rolls a 20, I'll narrate how they just did some amazing feat of swordsmanship/archery/whatever, and have it pretty much kill any non-boss creature. For instance, in the last mission I DM'd (a lvl. 2 adventure), goblins were raiding the house the PCs were in. A Rogue with a crossbow, hidden in the rafters, rolled a 20 against a goblin Jumping in through the window. Rather than rolling crits, and making him roll a little extra damage, I just described how the bolt had pieced through his neck, and thrown the little goblin back towards the window, tangling up a second goblin who was just coming in. This made the Rogue feel extremely effective, and allowed a nearby beguiler to savagely beat the second goblin with an iron bound book. So using this sort of thing, bring the narrative into the fight, make those rolls count.

Other ways to streamline - always have your enemies statlines ready to go, and use the same amount of health for them. Don't have random HP or abilities, and if they have a selection of spells, just choose one or two useful ones, and just make up the rest - you don't have to obey the rules for them :p

Hope that helps somewhat :)
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
I mentionned I play DnD sometimes, but it's the game I like the least, so I can give my player the excuse that I can't DM fights to have them play a different game =P.

Not all my players like the miniature thing. We have found manipulating minis become tedious after the first few rounds of combat and I prefer to terrain to not be exactly defined. That way, players can use terrain features I did not think about or make manoeuvres that would normally be impossible due to movement restrictions. Maps can come in handy sometimes thought. Maybe I could make a couple of variations of tactical maps, Castle, Prison tower, tavern, stable, city streets, open plains, river crossing, mountain trail. Maybe 2 or 3 of each and chose a map randomly each time.

In WFRP 2nd edition, when you start with WS at 35 on average, it takes about 3 rounds just to land a hit! And then, to inflict significant damage, you need a good roll with the d10. I could run enemies with basically 1W so that we can go directly to the critical hits. Which is actually rather fun. Once, our squire got the critical hit : the head goes up in the air for 4d10 yards in a random direction. Then, the cook said : I wanna see the head! I botched his perception test, so he set fire to the cooking cart when he was distracted ( and got a beating from his liege in the aftermath). And the squire who beheaded the monster got lost in the woods trying to find it to have it as a trophy. And of course, it was his knight
who got all the credit from the NPCs about the kill ( Sire Knight, you are to be commended for the bravery of your squire! )

I don't know what combat in WFRP looks like at higher level because we always got bored with combat before we made it to the first 1000 XP.

There is also the significance of combat that must have some part of it I guess. I have found that battles that the players choose, battle against an adversary they really want dead, are more enjoyable than a random encounter. The latter, I rarely use them.

What could I use as criters in my games? Maybe I shot my own foot, but there are no monsters in my current game. The closest thing to a kobold I have are looters, conscripts and farmers. Looters ambushing the players make sense, but players actually wanting to hunt down looters, less so. hm... Maybe they could hunt down local looters to help a lord whose loyalty they would want in the upcoming coup-d'état... Then again, against weak enemies, they may chose to just send in their soldiers, especially since none of them are dedicated combattants for this campaign ( Now, they tend to hire their muscles to do more brain because I can DM court intrigues so much better than fight scenes. )

Seriously I find ten minutes to be overly long, especially when it does not drive the plot (random encounters) or when the PCs are supposed to win in the first place. Ten minutes + could be reasonable if the PCs are supposed to lose (they can make a dramatic and desperate last stand, maybe in wait of reinforcements they called beforehand), But I can't have PCs losing all the time, that's not what playing a RPG is about. My sessions typically last between 3 and 4 hours, ten minutes is a good chunk of that when it's just a fight, in the same way 10 minutes would be overly long if it was just to navigate an alley, climb a stairway or scale a cliff.
 

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I might suggest then making sure that there are ramifications for fighting. By this I don't mean punish players arbitrarily for choosing to fight - it should be an option open to them, make sure they get just as many rewards/XP, which ever way they choose to solve a problem, as long as it's done appropriately.

Rather I mean make fights have consequences later on, in the narrative, or ongoing consequences for the players. For example, your PCs are involved in dubious black market dealings, and and meet a corrupt Guard Captain. A fight develops for some reason, your PCs might Kill the guard captain and his thugs, injure him and he gets away or be beaten by them - three options. If they kill him, this could have serious consequences, such as blackmail by nearby blackmarketeers, other corrupt guards looking to kill them, and so on. If they Let him live or he gets away, perhaps they run into him later on during a court intrigue part - he won't say anything because you have the dirt on him (he's corrupt), but he will try to make your PCs lives difficult. Finally, if they get beaten, perhaps they're taken to a prison and arrested for affray, which could damage their reputations, or he could blackmail them to do some dirty deed for him. All are possibilities, depending on the outcome of the fight, rather than just making fights where the PCs just kill everyone and move on, or have the PCs meant to lose, it could go either way.

Poisons, or other ongoing effects, can also make PCs feel the effects of combats outside of the brief fight. A fight against a few inept assassins might be easy, but if one or two of the party gets poisoned, the effects of that fight can last for a while, and spill into other parts of the story. If you can't find a poison listed in your system that would have after combat effects, make one up. It could affect their interactions with people, perhaps they'll have to try to find an antidote for it and so on.

It's also possible to have more narrative combats, with less dice rolling. For example, it sucks if your PCs want to do a quiet/stealthy mission, such as an assassination, under the normal rules, as it takes so much effort to kill any enemy, there's no way to make it feel quick and silent. So then, you have to change the rules around to make it possible. A rouge like character might never take down a guard, even from behind, in a single shot - so instead, make up rules for instant killing, if the PCs do it right. Give them a good bonus to hit, and make them able to instant kill/stun most of the time, so they can have the movie like feeling of sneaking through a building, taking out the guards. Get them to roll a dice to do it, but have them explain how they're doing it (I sneak up and slit his throat quietly), roll a single to hit with bonuses, and let him get the kill. Don't make them too good at early levels, but make it possible to do.

As for what critters to use... well, I'd need to know a bit more about your settings to give much imput on that. It sounds like you're playing a more realistic game, and mostly dealing with humans only. I prefer a bit of a fantasy theme, which allows a lot more breadth for introducing monsters and gribblies. Just having humans can work, but it's easier working with a larger range - when you can send a giant against someone, it can make for a much different fight than sending a bunch of goblins, but it's hard to get the same epic feel fighting against a single, powerful human. If you have magic in your setting, that can be used to great effect for making fights interesting and unique. Any setup that can make your players think and have to plan to take him on can work well - a sorcress in a maze of mirrors, who can shift them around so the PCs are always guessing where she is, A din-jinn who can transform into a whirlwind, a wizard who can reverse gravity and so on. If just with basic humans though, you have to use a lot more description, find a way to let the PCs know how tough an enemy is without just saying it straight out. A plate armoured knight should be hugely tough to take out, especially if you've built him up in the story line a bit, while a street thug should be reasonable against some things, but fold easily against most combat characters.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I might suggest then making sure that there are ramifications for fighting. By this I don't mean punish players arbitrarily for choosing to fight - it should be an option open to them, make sure they get just as many rewards/XP, which ever way they choose to solve a problem, as long as it's done appropriately.

Rather I mean make fights have consequences later on, in the narrative, or ongoing consequences for the players. For example, your PCs are involved in dubious black market dealings, and and meet a corrupt Guard Captain. A fight develops for some reason, your PCs might Kill the guard captain and his thugs, injure him and he gets away or be beaten by them - three options. If they kill him, this could have serious consequences, such as blackmail by nearby blackmarketeers, other corrupt guards looking to kill them, and so on. If they Let him live or he gets away, perhaps they run into him later on during a court intrigue part - he won't say anything because you have the dirt on him (he's corrupt), but he will try to make your PCs lives difficult. Finally, if they get beaten, perhaps they're taken to a prison and arrested for affray, which could damage their reputations, or he could blackmail them to do some dirty deed for him. All are possibilities, depending on the outcome of the fight, rather than just making fights where the PCs just kill everyone and move on, or have the PCs meant to lose, it could go either way.

Poisons, or other ongoing effects, can also make PCs feel the effects of combats outside of the brief fight. A fight against a few inept assassins might be easy, but if one or two of the party gets poisoned, the effects of that fight can last for a while, and spill into other parts of the story. If you can't find a poison listed in your system that would have after combat effects, make one up. It could affect their interactions with people, perhaps they'll have to try to find an antidote for it and so on.

It's also possible to have more narrative combats, with less dice rolling. For example, it sucks if your PCs want to do a quiet/stealthy mission, such as an assassination, under the normal rules, as it takes so much effort to kill any enemy, there's no way to make it feel quick and silent. So then, you have to change the rules around to make it possible. A rouge like character might never take down a guard, even from behind, in a single shot - so instead, make up rules for instant killing, if the PCs do it right. Give them a good bonus to hit, and make them able to instant kill/stun most of the time, so they can have the movie like feeling of sneaking through a building, taking out the guards. Get them to roll a dice to do it, but have them explain how they're doing it (I sneak up and slit his throat quietly), roll a single to hit with bonuses, and let him get the kill. Don't make them too good at early levels, but make it possible to do.

As for what critters to use... well, I'd need to know a bit more about your settings to give much imput on that. It sounds like you're playing a more realistic game, and mostly dealing with humans only. I prefer a bit of a fantasy theme, which allows a lot more breadth for introducing monsters and gribblies. Just having humans can work, but it's easier working with a larger range - when you can send a giant against someone, it can make for a much different fight than sending a bunch of goblins, but it's hard to get the same epic feel fighting against a single, powerful human. If you have magic in your setting, that can be used to great effect for making fights interesting and unique. Any setup that can make your players think and have to plan to take him on can work well - a sorcress in a maze of mirrors, who can shift them around so the PCs are always guessing where she is, A din-jinn who can transform into a whirlwind, a wizard who can reverse gravity and so on. If just with basic humans though, you have to use a lot more description, find a way to let the PCs know how tough an enemy is without just saying it straight out. A plate armoured knight should be hugely tough to take out, especially if you've built him up in the story line a bit, while a street thug should be reasonable against some things, but fold easily against most combat characters.
For some battles, ramifications are a given. Those battles that are central to the plot against full-fledge NPCs always have ramifications. For random encounters, or fights against mindless skeletons or monsters out to kill them, or just maybe a chance encounter with a mother bear defending her young, an ambush by the local looters, it's less evident to even do : if the PCs lose that fight, they get killed (or left for dead if they have a fate point) simple as that. Survive or get killed. Therefore, having them roll something like a combat saving throw (DnD) or a combat skill test (WFRP) would tell us if they survive the combat or not, give them injuries and move on without actually running the fight.


It's the fight itself that bores us. We feel like we're just looking at plastic men and rolling dies until an arbitrary limit then removing one from the table. It feels like 40k, only just the assault phase, with only 2 models, no special rules, and an insane W count.
 

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It's the fight itself that bores us. We feel like we're just looking at plastic men and rolling dies until an arbitrary limit then removing one from the table. It feels like 40k, only just the assault phase, with only 2 models, no special rules, and an insane W count.
That's why I said to make it enjoyable, if something's entertaining, people look forward to it. Rather than just looking at the figures, use your imagination a little, the people playing too, to use things in the environment, tables, chairs, if it's there it's fair game!

If you do it deadly serious and just have straight fighting of course it's going to be dull as fook and no one will want to fight.

*sigh* maybe you just don't like fighting in RPG's... wonder if there's any that don't involve fighting? I'm intrigued now, I'm off to google...
 

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*sigh* maybe you just don't like fighting in RPG's... wonder if there's any that don't involve fighting? I'm intrigued now, I'm off to google...
Yes, yes there are; I have seen one's where not a single punch was thrown or kick attempted or anything else of combative nature.


For some people it is a hard thing to do, as violence tends to solve problems and create 'solutions' faster. Plus it does not take much effort or skill to throw a punch; now talking your way out of a bad situation, that takes some skill and effort.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
That's why I said to make it enjoyable, if something's entertaining, people look forward to it. Rather than just looking at the figures, use your imagination a little, the people playing too, to use things in the environment, tables, chairs, if it's there it's fair game!
Dude, this is out of my control. It's up to the players to pick up stuff to throw at the mooks and use the environment. As a GM, I can't just tell 'em : you know, fights would be more fun if you threw furniture at the bad guys. Because then, it won't be his idea, therefore not fun.
 

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You don't have to tell them, but you can always hint to things.

The players get in a fight, and you happen to make mention of a sturdy wooden chair between one of the players and the enemy/enemies. Most people are not so dense that they are unable to put two and two together on their own; and if they are then there is really no helping them if we are to be honest.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
My last piece of advice would be to keep things moving, and keep them simple. In your example with the bar fight, rather than rolling for the guy to hide under the table, and then for the guards to see him, just let him hide. A guard in a bar fight wouldn't be looking for people cowering under tables, when there are far more obvious targets around - if he started stabbing/shooting people, and ducking back into cover, then they'd go looking for him. Only roll hide when someone is looking for them, only roll move silently when someone is listening. Less dice rolls are better, think about any way you can take them out of the equation.
Just one thing thought, even if I claimed it was a spot check to see if P4 successfully hided, it was in fact a secret leadership test by the captain. He has a special ability that makes his henchmen impossible to flank for one round when he makes a successful leadership test (because they fight as a unit and all), but I did not want to tell the players. I had a disastrous experience with dice rolls, so I only call for them when I actually want the PCs to fail or in contested situations.
 

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Dude, this is out of my control. It's up to the players to pick up stuff to throw at the mooks and use the environment. As a GM, I can't just tell 'em : you know, fights would be more fun if you threw furniture at the bad guys. Because then, it won't be his idea, therefore not fun.
Maybe it's the people you play with, do they have a decent imagination? That's half the battle I guess. Maybe have some of your guys flick a table, or throw a stool, it'll suggest it to the other players, and if they don't pick up on it and never get over their fight-issue, we-ell, I'd probably find some other rpgers. Sound's like they're not really interested :-s

Plus it does not take much effort or skill to throw a punch; now talking your way out of a bad situation, that takes some skill and effort.
Bit tricky if you get rumbled robbing from a lord's manor, ambushed by gobbos or orcs, or even hounded by the local guard. Sounds dull as a game without fighting though, kinda defeats the whole point of it not being real. I could not fight just going to the pub or going about my life, I don't want to 'pretend not-fight' too :) lol
 

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To start, try giving the players somewhere interesting and interactive to fight. Make it as chaotic as possible. Taking your example, why don't the horses join in? They might get panicked and kick out, or run out into the middle of the fight. Their whinnies might then wake the grooms, who'll run out to see what is going on. Now you have two more things for your PCs to deal with, while still killing the soldiers and escaping on time.

If you hide the enemy's HP from the players, you can effectively control when it dies. It doesn't hurt to have them die from something other than a sword blow every once in a while either, ie a horse trampling it, and section of the roof collapsing etc.

Also, I never let my players know whether or not a certain die roll will result in a hit or a miss. They roll, tell me the number, then I tell them whether or not they hit. That way, you can control how often they hit their target. In short, waive some rules in order to move the combat along.

Something else to consider, have the enemy do something more interesting than adopting a defensive position. Being conservative may extend their life spans, but it doesn't make combat any more fun. If the enemy is jumping around, ducking, rolling, anything. As long as its doing something other than swinging its sword. This is why I don't like to run RPGs in settings without monsters/magic, because human soldiers generally don't do anything like that.

Lastly, if you are energetic, your players will follow suit. Avoid saying things like, "thats a miss" or "thats a hit". Instead, use colourful language to describe whats happening. Envision the fight, say, "You lash out with your sword, but the soldier catches it on his shield," roll to hit/damage for the soldier, "Trying to catch you off guard, he lunges towards you with his own sword, catching you on your shoulder. You take 4 damage." if its a hit, or, "but you dodge it just in time." if its a miss. Stand up and imitate what the soldiers are doing, slowly raise your voice to create drama. Call players by their character's name, ie "Mirnis, what do you do?" If you roleplay, you'll find that your players will start saying things like, "I'm going to try to tackle the soldier to the ground" or "I'm going to smash the soldier with my shield." As much as you can, reward your players for roleplaying during combat and avoid saying no.

For more tips, I'd recommend the 4th ed DM's Guide, it provides a lot of information on encouraging roleplaying, how to make games fun for your group and what it tells you should apply to most RPGs.

Hope this helps. :)
 

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I find the D% combat system is one of the slower, more dull systems around. You certainly can't do large, long battles without everything feeling the burn. There are quick shortcut rules which certainly help, like taking out the hit location and critical hit rules, but the constant updating of 10+ NPC's hit points etc requires alot of paper fumbling, and keeping track of what model is what, just makes the whole thing clumsy and impractical. And then theres the fact most participants in the fight have around a 60% chance of missing, and a considerable chance of not getting through armour/ toughness bonus....phew. People get SERIOUSLY frustrated at this. I often wonder if an opposed % system combining two combatants turns into one wouldn't make for a better game.

I learnt my lesson, I avoid big combats like the plague, making it short and snappy and just roleplay the rest. In fact by the time the RP is done people are glad to have it broken up by tactical combat.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Well, if in WFRP, the characters could get a 60-70% stat boost across the board, the game would be much more enjoyable.

I find that, in normal circumstances, an "Average" test should be sucessful at least 90% of the time even by the most basically untrained character. An easy test, a drunk character should still be able to pull it reliably (in my book, if it fails more than 5% of the time, it's not reliable).
 

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Personally when I DM fights in D&D I tend to resolve them as fast as I can, even if it means fudging numbers to make the fight go faster.

Example:

Level 1 Fighter is rolling to hit a goblin.
Goblin has ac of 12
Fighter rolls a 11. Fighter hits due to an explained enviormental factor. Tumble checks were great for this :laugh:

Fudging numbers will allow you to control the pace of battle.

I'm also not a big fan of "Roll for inititive" either. I let my players roll to see which of them will go first, then I put the people they're fighting in between the players. This keeps players from stacking inititive to go first. It also creates a point, counter point idea to the match and may require more tactical thinking on behalf of the players.

Use descriptive dialoge to describe what the die rolls mean.

This is not what you want:
Player 1: Rolling dice. 14. Adding Atk bonus. 16. Adding weapon bonus 17.
GM: No hit.
Player 2: Rolling dice. 18. Adding Atk bonus. 21. Adding weapon bonus. 21
GM: Hit. Please roll for damage.
Player 2: Rolling Dice. 6. Adding bonus. 10. Damage total. 10 points.
GM: Monster is not dead. Rolling his attack.

THAT IS LAME!!! I would kill myself if combat was done in that way. :headbutt:

What you want is something like this.
Player 1: Rolling dice. Total attack 17.
GM: The Golem takes the hit to the shoulder with out notice and continues lumbering towards it's target. Player 1 notices a chip of the golems form came away from the attack.
Player 2: Rolling. 21 total attack.
GM: Golem takes the shot in a vunerable spot in it's joint resulting in a portion of it's body being disabled. (Attack/movement reduction at DM's decision)

Stuff like that makes the combat interesting. Even asking the players to tell HOW they will attack adds to the atmosphere.

Combat is as fun as you make it. If you don't push your players to roleplay in combat they will not follow your lead.
 

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I don't like combat a huge amount in D&D either. The players I'm with (despite attempts by me to encourage it) rarely describe their attacks or spells, they just roll the dice. The first combat encounter I did in my campaign was a straight up fight and I was bored to tears as the DM.

So I thought about different ways to make it interesting, for example, as my next two combat encounters:

The first was on board a ship, which was attacked by two giant squid and their riders. The riders used the squid to throw them up into the rigging, and starting throwing poisoned kraken teeth at the crew. The squid started trying to pull themselves onto the ship itself. The party all rushed at the closest squid, apart from a caster who stood below the two riders and used "Push" and "Slide" spells to shove them off the rigging, so they fell screaming to the deck (I hadn't even thought of that, tbh, but let him do it because it was very cinematic). He then goes to a ship-mounted ballista and spins it round to point at a squid, which then sprays the rest of the party with slippery black ink before being shot off the railings by the ballista. One of the melee party members slips on the ink and starts sliding towards the edge of the deck. Another party member tries to catch him and just trips instead. The first guy falls off the deck and starts drowning in his full plate armour, requiring the ranger to jump in and save him.

The second one was in a wizards magical tower, he had a large anti-gravity lift shaft, with floating orbs that shot various types of energy at the party. I invented some anti-gravity rules such as moving in a random direction after making a melee swing, being able to bounce off walls and move in 3 dimensions and made up the Orbs stats off the top of my head.

All of the players said that they felt both of those combats were very enjoyable, because it wasn't just some men swinging at monster X. There was a lot of scope for using the environment to your advantage, which people were pleased about, and it also let classes with different roles do different things that the other classes couldn't do.

My next combat encounter will probably be them trying to scale a cliff face to sneak up on a pirate stronghold, and being attacked while climbing, which only lets them use 1 hand to attack/defend, and puts them at risk of being knocked off and left dangling on the end of their ropes, and they have to deal with the opposition quietly.

Mechanically speaking, I find that it helps to use enemies that have low HP but high damage outputs, because they minimize the length of the combat, and also help the PCs feel threatened. If someone has 100hp and is only losing 10hp per swing, he doesn't feel like he's fighting for his life. If he gets hit for 25hp on the other hand, he realises he has to deal with the enemy fast or risk getting slapped down. Not only that, it's unenjoyable to spend several rounds taking negligible damage while just slowly whittling down an enemy from 200hp to 0hp in 15dmg increments.

Hopefully that might have contained some useful ideas.

On a side note, I try never to punish my PCs for choosing combat or talking or sneaking. If I feel that their course of action is unjustified (for example fighting when I've made it very obvious the situation can and should be resolved by talking) then I'll simply make the encounter harder. However having a blanket rule of "I don't like combat, so every time you choose combat I'm going to give you less XP" is unfair to the players. You are there, after all, to facilitate them having fun. Their job is to make your life as stress free as possible while you do this.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
When I said "give them an arbitrary penalty" I meant that I would resolve the combat in a single attack roll for all players, and they receive a penalty to their attack bonus until they can rest, making multiple combat encounter over the course of an adventure very risky.

Personally when I DM fights in D&D I tend to resolve them as fast as I can, even if it means fudging numbers to make the fight go faster.

Example:

Level 1 Fighter is rolling to hit a goblin.
Goblin has ac of 12
Fighter rolls a 11. Fighter hits due to an explained enviormental factor. Tumble checks were great for this :laugh:

Fudging numbers will allow you to control the pace of battle.

I'm also not a big fan of "Roll for inititive" either. I let my players roll to see which of them will go first, then I put the people they're fighting in between the players. This keeps players from stacking inititive to go first. It also creates a point, counter point idea to the match and may require more tactical thinking on behalf of the players.

Use descriptive dialoge to describe what the die rolls mean.

This is not what you want:
Player 1: Rolling dice. 14. Adding Atk bonus. 16. Adding weapon bonus 17.
GM: No hit.
Player 2: Rolling dice. 18. Adding Atk bonus. 21. Adding weapon bonus. 21
GM: Hit. Please roll for damage.
Player 2: Rolling Dice. 6. Adding bonus. 10. Damage total. 10 points.
GM: Monster is not dead. Rolling his attack.

THAT IS LAME!!! I would kill myself if combat was done in that way. :headbutt:

What you want is something like this.
Player 1: Rolling dice. Total attack 17.
GM: The Golem takes the hit to the shoulder with out notice and continues lumbering towards it's target. Player 1 notices a chip of the golems form came away from the attack.
Player 2: Rolling. 21 total attack.
GM: Golem takes the shot in a vunerable spot in it's joint resulting in a portion of it's body being disabled. (Attack/movement reduction at DM's decision)

Stuff like that makes the combat interesting. Even asking the players to tell HOW they will attack adds to the atmosphere.

Combat is as fun as you make it. If you don't push your players to roleplay in combat they will not follow your lead.
I do add flavor to my combats. The problem ain't the flavor, it's the lenght. My players don't want to fight. They feel it takes away time that could be used to advance the plot. They don't find it a source of suspense.

It's probably because I have difficulty to adjust the difficulty of the fight. When it's too easy, it's a pointless waste of time. When it's too hard, we might as well not play if we are going to fail anyway, and when it's in-between, well the time it takes to recover is debilitating to the story. ( I usually play in worlds where magic does not exist, so there is no healing spells or potion, only good old fashionned rest. I could play in a world that include supernatural, but it's not the same feel, and my players love the historical medieval theme there is in my games.)

So I usually don't do any random encounters. The only fight I do are when it's important to the plot, or when NPCs are actively wanting them dead. However, it's hard to have the NPC appear as a threat, it's difficult to make it appear competent if he send incompetent lackeys.
 
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