Wednesday, October 16, 2013

30 Days of GameMastering--Day 14!

You got it:  Lindevi!  Challenge!  30 Days of GameMastering!  Do it!

How do you facilitate combat?  Any hints, tricks, or cheats?

Combat tends to take up a pretty substantial portion of most rpgs, particularly of the fantasy ilk.  As such, having a bag of tricks to make combat run faster allows for a) more opportunities for additional combat and b) more time for everything else!  While lots of players enjoy the clash of blades/whine of phasers/echo of shotgun blasts, making combat flow smoothly and quickly makes it enjoyable for all the players at the table, not just the combat-mongers.

Firstly, keep your Initiative running quickly.  While I tend to keep initiative myself--as I often have 'hidden' items such as stealthed foes or environmental hazards that the players aren't necessarily aware of--I do try ensure that the next players are always ready to act as soon as their turn comes up.  Instead of saying, "It's Rogar's turn," try using language like "Rogar's up, but Serina's on deck, followed by the dragon."  That way, Serina can start planning out her turn while Rogar's actually executing his.  Do this on each player's turn and you'll see your combats run a ton faster.

Roll out the big guns!
Damn the torpedos; full speed ahead!
If complete accuracy isn't necessary for your adversaries, particularly when fighting a whole series of minions or the like, try rounding adversary hp to the nearest 5 or 10, as well as the damage they suffer.  Taking out a significant amount of math out of the (pardon the pun) equation makes the GMing aspect go much more smoothly.  It may not seem like much, but every few seconds trimmed off of your damage calculations can make the game go faster.  I tend not to use this trick with major villans, for whom every hit point matters, but for mooks?  Absolutely.

Lastly, don't hold back on abilities and powers for your adversaries.  If they have an ability, make use of it!  There's no sense in leaving daily abilities or extra power points on the table, while you try to agonize over whether it's "worth it" for that NPC to use a certain power.  Instead, go for the throat!  Ramp up the challenge by rolling out the big guns and not being afraid to use them!  This has the added benefit of ensuring that you don't question yourself "Did I use this yet?  Did this refresh?"

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