A Great Evil Stirs… The Waiting Returns

View detailsThere I was, playing Dragon Age, my freshly created Antivan rogue – a brawler and knife-thrower – waiting (im)patiently for his turn.  We were 9th level now, and much as I tried to hope against hope, the decidedly smoother Dragon Age RPG finally started to approach levels of complexity that were drawing out turns.

Any of the following sound familiar in your games?

  • Waiting for someone to add up all their attack modifiers
  • Waiting for someone to find all their damage dice – and finally roll and add them all up
  • Waiting for someone to get the most out of all their turn actions, rummaging through a huge list of possible attacks and moves

Yep, that’s exactly where our typically faster, smoother Dragon Age combats had gone, much to my lament.

This is where the fun begins to wane for me.  What about you?  I hate than anyone gets so bogged down or overwhelmed by options and steps that it wastes time.  That it creates 5, 10 or even 15-minute player or GM turns.

I mean, obviously I hate that.  I did write for FasterCombat.com after all, with this as a core issue we teach you how to tackle.  Or more appropriately, slay!

Even the best games can fall victim to Complexity Syndrome.  Don’t let your game get there!

Here’s a few quick and dirty ways to save your game before the increasing complexity of rules and actions overwhelms it:

  1. Stay Low.  Play only low levels.  If you want to keep the combat flowing and the turns quick, there’s not much reason to go beyond the first three-to-five levels in most games, whether it’s D&D, Dragon Age, or something else.
  2. Let’s Play That Tonight.  Do something else on game night that’s close to your campaign – but faster and lighter.  Break up the complexity and pace: break out a fantasy board or card game – many of which, like Castle Ravenloft or The Legend of Drizzt, run like a rules-light RPG.
  3. Playtest D&D Next.  Remember, this 5th edition is all about modular complexity (something 4e could have used).  So if that’s important to you like it is to me – to pick and choose where to add rules elements – then join the club, try the game material they send you, and send them your thoughts!
  4. Faster Combat You Say?  Or talk to me and Johnn Four over at FasterCombat.com.  We wrote up 52 interactive instructional lessons for a community of gamers who want faster, more efficient combats – and still experience a moving, exciting adventure along the way.  You’ll find hundreds of ideas and guidelines from not only a couple of gamers with decades of RPG experience to their credit – but some great suggestions from our killer members as well.  We’re lucky: our community rocks!

As Johnn and I like to say: To Your Faster Combats!

See you in December!




2 Responses to “A Great Evil Stirs… The Waiting Returns”

  1. Tom Coenen says:

    I play D&D 4E, and I hand out mostly magic items without powers to reduce complexity.
    The magic items contain static bonuses to defenses, skills or resistances.
    I show players the monster defenses after monster knowledge checks, this sped up combat considerably.

    • Kilsek says:

      Hi Tom and welcome to Leonine Roar!

      Right with you there on 4e magic items – half the problem is the fact that there’s more powers to track and make sense of, sometimes taking away from the “shine and wonder” of magic items. (Wrote about this here too, if you’re curious for more: D&D Next: What About Magic Item Complexity?)

      I haven’t come around on revealing monster defenses yet – but I do like your approach. A reward for successful monster knowledge checks? I like looking at it that way, very cool idea!

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