Speeding up Combat

June 18, 2009 at 3:00 am (D&D, Games) (, , , )

In my last series of posts I talked about making Skill Challenges more central to the game play of D&D 4e by adding in elements from combat into SCs.  In this article I will be talking about how to speed up combat, add more drama to combats and make combats feel more like the epic fights players are use to from fantasy movies.
In fantasy books and movies heroes rarely get hit based on the skill of their opponents but rather on their own failure to block at a critical time.  Thinking about this and listening to Ryan Macklin’s Master Plan podcast on tangibility in mechanics led me to the idea of having the players be the only ones able to initiate an attack.  Only when a player fails to successfully hit his opponent can that opponent strike back.  To keep the game from over balancing the player’s opponent should automatically hit the player with an attack of it’s own of equal power (i.e. a Daily power if attacked with a Daily power).  Another  balancing factor is that whenever a player or an NPC draws an Opportunity Attack that attack will automatically succeed. 
Using this option will both speed up combats in your game but also make each roll of the d20 more exciting as the players watch to see if they will hit or be hit.  This also makes the players feel more in control of the combat because it is their roll that determines their fate not the roll of the DM.  Movement tactics will become much more important and the decision to take a hit to get better position will be that much more important.
As you can see it does not take much to take normal combat and speed it up.  Let me know how this works at your table.
– J.B. Mannon 

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