Roll Me a Story

A randomly rolled DnD podcast

GMing: Tips and Tricks

Howdy! Been a quick minute since our last blog post update, but episode 8 is going to drop soon and the meat of the story is starting to pick up steam. I'm excited for you guys to hear what we've got in store for you and hopefully to hear your thoughts on those things! All that said, I thought I would talk today about combat since our last episode release was just one big long combat.

For the many players of DnD combat means all sorts of things. Some people like long multifaceted combat that goes through stages and others prefer their focus to be on the narrative of the combat. Then there's everything in between. At its core, DnD supports the former easier than the later and having listened to a lot of actual play and live play DnD over the last couple years I know my preference as listened media.

When we set out to make RMAS, we made a choice that we wanted our combat to flow quick and well and not feel like slogging through fights and rules. That means adjusting many little things about how a combat is run, but there's actually two primary things in DnD 5th edition that can change the entire speed and feel of combat: Hit Points and Damage.

When I construct challenges for the parties (with randomly rolled enemies that I pick from throughout the arc as appropriate) I take the hit points of the monster manual entries and the damage dealt and I decrease the HP while upping the damage. In most cases this makes combats move faster (enemies die faster) while also maintaining the same level of danger and cost of combat that a longer drawn out fight against enemies that deal less damage might accomplish. It's not the specific intended style of combat that DnD leans towards, but from my perspective it feels like it makes for more cinematic and dynamic battles.

I've even used this technique off the podcast in games I've run with players that like shorter combats and more role play (almost every group I've run for in the last 5 years hahaha). Alongside this primary technique, I try to have all my GM run creatures on pat so I don't have to spend much time looking up abilities or saving throw modifiers and although I forgot them in this first combat I have note cards that I use to mark initiative very quickly.

All this isn't to say that the intended longer fighting style of DnD or the natural templates in the Monster Manual aren't great. They're totally fun ways to play and I've certainly played with groups that prefer it, but for us at RMAS the abbreviated combat form helps keep us from droning on into infinity with long combats.

If you liked the combat in Episode 7, I can honestly say that I'm excited for you to listen to some of these later ones which move smoother than ever and with a delightful creative flair. Practice makes perfect as they say.

That's all for this time! Talk to you again in a couple of weeks and keep an ear out for our next episode this Sunday. In the meantime if you have any questions for me or my companions here at RMAS feel free to shoot us a message, tweet at us, or send us an email!