Saturday, June 6, 2015

D&D combat options - Faster combat: Direct Attack, After Heal and Fixed Damage

Considering that modern rpg came from wargaming, it is no surprise that combat is normally the most complex part of most rpg systems. And that is specially true in D&D, where combat is one of the most important and exciting parts of the game.

But the 'exciting' part is not always true, for it is well known that combat encounters in D&D tend to take a lot of time. Normally, the higher the level of an encounter, the longer the fight will be. And, in new school D&D (3, 4 and 5e), fights may take entire sessions of play by virtue of the many dice being rolled, the exhaustive bookkeeping of hp and the various creatures engaged in the fight. That basically makes a combat scene that should be wild and exciting halt to a crawl, dwelving into a slug-fest of failed attack rolls and resources management.

So, it is with such problems in mind that I come here today to talk about a few options to give haste to your combat encounters. You may use just a few of them, or you may use all. They are designed to make the combat faster without breaking the balance of the game. Now, with no further ado, here are the options:

Direct Attack Rolls: With this option, failed attack rolls still cause half damage instead of no damage. 
  • .Example: Four goblins attack a warrior with short-swords (1d6). Only one goblin manages to hit, while the other 3 miss. So, the warrior will take 1d6 full damage + 3d3 (or 3d6/2) damage.

The idea is that this way Attack rolls act similar to saving throws, and will speed up games. A failed attack roll might be narrated as a tiring blow, that consumes the opponent stamina to be parried or dodged. If you use this option, it is highly recommended that you use also the 'after-combat heal' rule below.

After-combat heal: When a combat is finished, all surviving combatents may regain some HP, as they have some time to rest and recuperate from fatigue. Roll 1d3 x the character level (1d4 if the character is a single class warrior). That is the number of recuperated hps. A successful first aid check gives +1 to the roll (each character may give only 1 first aid check per encounter). Also, a character may not recover more hp than the damage it has received during combat.
  • .Example: After a combat encounter, a lvl 3 thief has received 6 damage and a lvl 2 warrior received 10 damage. They then roll for after-combat heal: the thief rolls 1d3, rolling a 3 and recovering 9 hp, and the warrior rolls 1d4, rolling also a 2 and recovering 4 hp. However, since the thief received only 6 damage, it may only recovers a maximum of 6 hp.

The logic behind this rule option is that hit points represent not only 'sturdiness', but also the stamina of a charcter and, after the combat is over, they may rest and recover some of their lost hit points.

Fixed damage option: Instead of rolling damage, you may just assume a fixed damage per die, following the chart below:

Die size
Fixed damage per die
Half damage per die (rounded up)

This option might take away some of the emotion of a game, when damage rolls are not random. So, if you want to give it at least some random factor, you may roll just a single die and multiply by the dice quantity. So, if your fireball does 12d6 damage, roll 1d6 and multiply by 12.

So, what do you think of these options? Would you use them in your game? I believe they make things faster while also maintaining simplicity. I hope you enjoy them.

Until next time,


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