how many rounds before it get's dull?

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dancross
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how many rounds before it get's dull?

Post by dancross »

In most games combats can drag if too many rounds pass. It may depend on the game, true, especially if the system is really focused on TONS of combat options (like 4E), but I've found no matter the game there is a limit to the number of combat rounds can pass before things start to seem a little monotonous.

For me it's probably when a combat goes on for more than 45 minutes, unless it's a titanic battle with lots of cannon fodder to toss around. This doesn't occur to me if it's a long fight and I feel I'm winning by a margin, or just about to lose. It's more when I KNOW we're going to win, but the creature in question has heaps o' hitpoints. The GM is usually wise to cut the creature's stats down to fit the situation, especially if it's apparent it's getting the tar beat out of it and will lose anyway.

I wonder if there is a "sweet spot" for the average length of a combat before things start to feel like "hit/miss, ho/hum". Or does it depend 100% on the group, the context, and all else?

The reason I'm asking is because I'm toying with the idea of a special type of creature that "drops dead" in a certain average number of rounds, and basing their hitpoints on that guesstimate, rather than basing hitpoints on their threat ranks. Just playing with the idea, mind you... :idea:
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Re: how many rounds before it get's dull?

Post by EvilCat »

In a test play at the city RPG event, I misinterpreted initiative rules, so it was players' turn, then it was players' turn, then it was players' turn, then it was monsters' turn -_- there were three battles during play (we ran three separate games with same adventure, with D&D 3.5, D&D4 and Eldritch, so the adventure was combat-oriented).

First one was against goblin watch (2) on ruined tower. There was spiral stairs. Basically, the player of pre-gened flying elven sorceress got all the fun, because others were climbing stairs (goblins weren't able to "entertain" them with shots because of flawed initiative). Players of non-flying characters got tired because they didn't get enough action (fastest of them delivered coup de grace to fleeing goblin, but still...). But I guess with proper initiative that wouldn't be a problem.

Second battle was against zombie fodder in dark dungeon room. Each zombie fell after 1-2 hits, and this combat was really fast. Silently I wondered if we _had_ to play this combat, as outcome was clear, but... then I thought that a GM shouldn't strip players of chance to show battle prowess and to make some interesting mistakes %) And all players were deeply in love with D&D4, "minions" included.

Third battle was between party and the ancient (but weakened by magical slumber) lich. I constructed it for 1-st level party (I insisted that players would generate their own characters to get better feel of Eldritch, but they decided to go with pre-gens for Quick Start). But with skewed initiative lich didn't stand a chance, even with doubled HP. Players were aware that battle gone wrong, but they also didn't attempt to communicate with the lich, so I finished it with open ending: they sent lich to even deeper sleep, but that didn't solve the problem of undead outbreaks in a forest surrounding the ruined tower. Brute force isn't a solution to all quests.

I and half of players were intending to continue this story, but with current job and constant travels I don't know if or when it will happen...

Anyway, my point is that combat gets dull when nothing interesting (as in "non-repeative") happens. Said players can go hack'n'slash for 3-4 hours with D&D miniatures and wouldn't get bored, but it requires changing combat situation and bloodshed (I'm not sure about amount of tactics required, they don't seem to bother with smart moves or a plan). For me, it becomes boring easily, especially when I'm out of combat options and others don't listen to my strategical ideas (such as taking prisoners). I _would_ spend some hours on interesting, tactical, non-restricted combat, I think. (By the way, that would include called shots, because they form a great deal of tactical thinking for me.)
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Re: how many rounds before it get's dull?

Post by Banesfinger »

dancross wrote:I wonder if there is a "sweet spot" for the average length of a combat before things start to feel like "hit/miss, ho/hum". Or does it depend 100% on the group, the context, and all else?
Our group splits play between ERP and D&D 4e. I've heard this comment several time:

In D&D you can spend endless rounds missing your opponent. It can feel like a real let-down if you spend 10 minutes between rounds, only to miss once again. With the 'threat' mechanic in ERP, you always "hit" and feel like you are accomplishing something. The down side of this is that it starts to feel like a "who's going to run out of hit points* first".

*Some players say their defenses just feel like extensions of their hit points.

So if the players are starting to feel ho/hum in ERP, I think it is for completely different reasons than in D&D. So I'm not sure if introducing a "minion"-type monster will solve that issue?
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Re: how many rounds before it get's dull?

Post by Eisenmann »

This is something that I've been pondering recently.

I was afraid that this was going to be a problem with high level ERP games and is the reason why I wrote up the high powered Samurai who was pitted against the mountain troll. Many of my fears were allayed by the actual game experience but somehow I keep thinking that there should be some sort of "critical" technique available in game where the defensive pools are bypassed.

I think about it some more and maybe it's called, good old fashioned ambush.
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Re: how many rounds before it get's dull?

Post by dunbruha »

dancross wrote:I wonder if there is a "sweet spot" for the average length of a combat before things start to feel like "hit/miss, ho/hum". Or does it depend 100% on the group, the context, and all else?
Well, I only have 1 session under my belt, but the combat with 5 PCs vs. a single troll was pretty boring after 3 rounds or so. The troll was surrounded, so there was no real opportunity for interesting movement or tactics. It just became a subtraction exercise (because of the trolls' massive number of HP). I thnk it should have had fewer HP based on the amount of TR is could dish out.
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Re: how many rounds before it get's dull?

Post by dancross »

dunbruha wrote:
dancross wrote:I wonder if there is a "sweet spot" for the average length of a combat before things start to feel like "hit/miss, ho/hum". Or does it depend 100% on the group, the context, and all else?
Well, I only have 1 session under my belt, but the combat with 5 PCs vs. a single troll was pretty boring after 3 rounds or so. The troll was surrounded, so there was no real opportunity for interesting movement or tactics. It just became a subtraction exercise (because of the trolls' massive number of HP). I thnk it should have had fewer HP based on the amount of TR is could dish out.
It's funny, I was reading about something similar in a D&D thread on RPG.net (http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?t=410694) : they call it the the 'mopping-up' problem. I've run into this in many games.

Maybe the multipliers to HP based on size are too high? It seems results vary (based on the feedback here). Thoughts?

Also, introducing an old fashioned "morale" roll may be in order for monsters that are surrounded with no backup, or their leader has fallen, etc. It is satisfying when something tries to run away.

Meanwhile, I'm tinkering with some optional ideas I'll share soon.
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Re: how many rounds before it get's dull?

Post by dancross »

Eisenmann wrote:This is something that I've been pondering recently.

I was afraid that this was going to be a problem with high level ERP games and is the reason why I wrote up the high powered Samurai who was pitted against the mountain troll. Many of my fears were allayed by the actual game experience but somehow I keep thinking that there should be some sort of "critical" technique available in game where the defensive pools are bypassed.

I think about it some more and maybe it's called, good old fashioned ambush.
How about rolling the max result on the basic tier of an ADC allows the PC to roll another die of the same type? So one with D4+D6+D6 (ranged > bows > short bow), who rolls 4, 6, and 3 gets to roll the D4 again---rolls another 4---and the result is 17. Maybe keep that rule open-ended, so somebody with a D4 can keep rolling as long as he rolls 4s.

I wouldn't apply this to every tier because the game would become a dice rolling fest.
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Re: how many rounds before it get's dull?

Post by dancross »

Banesfinger wrote:
dancross wrote:I wonder if there is a "sweet spot" for the average length of a combat before things start to feel like "hit/miss, ho/hum". Or does it depend 100% on the group, the context, and all else?
With the 'threat' mechanic in ERP, you always "hit" and feel like you are accomplishing something. The down side of this is that it starts to feel like a "who's going to run out of hit points* first".

*Some players say their defenses just feel like extensions of their hit points.
Their defenses are hitpoint scores, true enough. The "who's going to run out of hit points first" problem should be helped by the player calling out which defense is used, which is a feature nearly forced by the game mechanics themselves...contribute to the narrative, I'd say.

D&D suffers the ""who's going to run out of hit points first" too, even more so in some later editions. But with D&D since the players have a single HP score (rather than separate pools, or even opposed defense rolls), it puts all of the pressure on the DM to describe every bit of combat, unless he's got some creative players that don't mind doing some of the "narrative work" in action scenes.

I don't mention non-combat scenes too often, because I find rules fade away in most of those, regardless of the game system in most cases. I think it's mainly combat rules that affect how easy it is to achieve suspension of disbelief and what can really set the pace of any game.
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Re: how many rounds before it get's dull?

Post by Banesfinger »

dancross wrote:How about rolling the max result on the basic tier of an ADC allows the PC to roll another die of the same type? So one with D4+D6+D6 (ranged > bows > short bow), who rolls 4, 6, and 3 gets to roll the D4 again---rolls another 4---and the result is 17. Maybe keep that rule open-ended, so somebody with a D4 can keep rolling as long as he rolls 4s.

I wouldn't apply this to every tier because the game would become a dice rolling fest.
Ahhh yes. The open-ended die! The 'exploding die' mechanic has brought much chaos (read fun) into our Savage Worlds games. I think it would work very well for ERP.

Perhaps instead of the basic tier, it should be on the specialization or even mastery tier. This would:
- add even more weight to specializations (wow, he is really good with swords!)
- keep the exploding dice away from most minions and unskilled NPCs. Only the really skilled creatures would have this advantage.
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Re: how many rounds before it get's dull?

Post by dancross »

Banesfinger wrote:
dancross wrote:How about rolling the max result on the basic tier of an ADC allows the PC to roll another die of the same type? So one with D4+D6+D6 (ranged > bows > short bow), who rolls 4, 6, and 3 gets to roll the D4 again---rolls another 4---and the result is 17. Maybe keep that rule open-ended, so somebody with a D4 can keep rolling as long as he rolls 4s.

I wouldn't apply this to every tier because the game would become a dice rolling fest.
Ahhh yes. The open-ended die! The 'exploding die' mechanic has brought much chaos (read fun) into our Savage Worlds games. I think it would work very well for ERP.

Perhaps instead of the basic tier, it should be on the specialization or even mastery tier. This would:
- add even more weight to specializations (wow, he is really good with swords!)
- keep the exploding dice away from most minions and unskilled NPCs. Only the really skilled creatures would have this advantage.
sounds good ... try both mastery and specialization tier and tell me how it goes? Monsters who could use this would have to have a special note...

Have you continued to use opposed rolls in combat or did you go back to the active dedense pools?
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Re: how many rounds before it get's dull?

Post by Banesfinger »

dancross wrote:Have you continued to use opposed rolls in combat or did you go back to the active dedense pools?
We are using Core rules (with a few of the ability names changed). We had trouble balancing the opposed rolls (attempts were either too deadly, or too evenly matched).
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Re: how many rounds before it get's dull?

Post by dancross »

Banesfinger wrote:
dancross wrote:Have you continued to use opposed rolls in combat or did you go back to the active dedense pools?
We are using Core rules (with a few of the ability names changed). We had trouble balancing the opposed rolls (attempts were either too deadly, or too evenly matched).
Ah, and so your players have grown accustomed to the ERP way of combat? That's cool, since I thought my way was best (being biased). However, the jury is still out on removal of Resilience DP in favor of opposed rolls for "saves".

I like the term "exploding die". Heh.
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Re: how many rounds before it get's dull?

Post by dancross »

Banesfinger wrote:
dancross wrote:Have you continued to use opposed rolls in combat or did you go back to the active dedense pools?
We are using Core rules (with a few of the ability names changed). We had trouble balancing the opposed rolls (attempts were either too deadly, or too evenly matched).
which ability names did you change?
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Re: how many rounds before it get's dull?

Post by Banesfinger »

dancross wrote:which ability names did you change?
These changes were mostly due to terminology familiarity with other rpgs, but some were just our own play-style. We don't think ( ? ) they have changed the spirit of the game any... Mastery changes have been left out of this discussion for space considerations.

Animal Handling specialties changed to: Drive/Ride, Train/handle, Domesticate, empathy.

Investigate specialties changed to: streetwise, rumors, research.

Added: Commerce > Appraise*, Haggling, Black Market.
(* replaced existing Appraise skill, as our group was finding it too specialized)

Feats of Strength renamed to: Force > Break, Bend, lift, push/pull, carry.

Added: Thievery > Escape bonds

Changed/Combined: Scrutiny & Scouting to: Notice > Listen, spot, detect deceit, search, sense enchantment, tracking, surveillance.

Changed Skullduggery to: Deciet > desguise, seduction, taunt, lie.

Also, because we had a "pirate-type" adventure, we needed: Knowlege > seamanship.
(In addition - because it came up - we used: Force > pull, to handle/row a small boat...but there should be some kind of "boating" ability if one plans on having a campaign centered on the high seas...)

And purely because our group never takes these skills, we combined several "artsy" abilities: Perform > acting, dance, instrument, singing, storytelling.
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Re: how many rounds before it get's dull?

Post by StormPatriarch »

dancross wrote:In most games combats can drag if too many rounds pass. It may depend on the game, true, especially if the system is really focused on TONS of combat options (like 4E), but I've found no matter the game there is a limit to the number of combat rounds can pass before things start to seem a little monotonous.

For me it's probably when a combat goes on for more than 45 minutes, unless it's a titanic battle with lots of cannon fodder to toss around. This doesn't occur to me if it's a long fight and I feel I'm winning by a margin, or just about to lose. It's more when I KNOW we're going to win, but the creature in question has heaps o' hitpoints. The GM is usually wise to cut the creature's stats down to fit the situation, especially if it's apparent it's getting the tar beat out of it and will lose anyway.

I wonder if there is a "sweet spot" for the average length of a combat before things start to feel like "hit/miss, ho/hum". Or does it depend 100% on the group, the context, and all else?
I would say that in all the various games I have played, Each has displayed this problem at one point or another. Some to worse extent then others but that leads me to believe its more a group dynamic thing that can be augmented by poor rules then a rules thing entirely.
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Re: how many rounds before it get's dull?

Post by dunbruha »

Banesfinger wrote:Perhaps instead of the basic tier, it should be on the specialization or even mastery tier. This would:
- add even more weight to specializations (wow, he is really good with swords!)
- keep the exploding dice away from most minions and unskilled NPCs. Only the really skilled creatures would have this advantage.
It sounds fun, but I wonder how you would keep track of which die was the exploding one (ie., D6 > D6 >D6). I guess you could have different colors... An excuse to buy more dice!
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Re: how many rounds before it get's dull?

Post by Eisenmann »

dunbruha wrote:
Banesfinger wrote:Perhaps instead of the basic tier, it should be on the specialization or even mastery tier. This would:
- add even more weight to specializations (wow, he is really good with swords!)
- keep the exploding dice away from most minions and unskilled NPCs. Only the really skilled creatures would have this advantage.
It sounds fun, but I wonder how you would keep track of which die was the exploding one (ie., D6 > D6 >D6). I guess you could have different colors... An excuse to buy more dice!
My take is to stick to one die per ADC that can explode. Roll it separate from the rest. Even if it's rolled at the same time from a different hand.
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Re: how many rounds before it gets dull?

Post by dancross »

[quote="Eisenmann] My take is to stick to one die per ADC that can explode. Roll it separate from the rest. Even if it's rolled at the same time from a different hand.[/quote]

I like the idea. A few thoughts and options:

A) If I allow the basic tier die to "explode", it makes increasing the basic die-rank more valuable, ofsetting the complaint that the game heavily favors specialization. However, it would be important to disallow the possibility of crits for critters, unless specified in the monster description.

B) Allow only specialization to explode, and explain that mastery level has its own benefits (like extra bonus points to DPs in some cases.

C) Allow only mastery to explode, saying that it's another potential benefit of mastery (and yet this would eliminate a lot of crits in game).
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Re: how many rounds before it get's dull?

Post by Banesfinger »

Here is a quote from another game that uses exploding dice:
Savage World FAQ wrote:Q: Because of exploding dice, it looks like it’s better to have a d6 than a d8. So why would I want to increase my skills?
A: Higher dice are better. Consider the standard Target Number of 4. A d6 has a 50% chance of success. A d8 has a 62% chance of success. You do have a better chance to explode your dice on the lower die—a d4—but you still succeed more (and better) with higher die types. The bottom line is that although all dice can potentially roll high or low, higher die types roll higher more often and lower less often.
I'm not sure how this will affect ERP, since it uses totals instead of trying to beat a target number?
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Re: how many rounds before it get's dull?

Post by dunbruha »

Banesfinger wrote:Animal Handling specialties changed to: Drive/Ride, Train/handle, Domesticate, empathy.

Investigate specialties changed to: streetwise, rumors, research.

Added: Commerce > Appraise*, Haggling, Black Market.
(* replaced existing Appraise skill, as our group was finding it too specialized)

Feats of Strength renamed to: Force > Break, Bend, lift, push/pull, carry.

Added: Thievery > Escape bonds

Changed/Combined: Scrutiny & Scouting to: Notice > Listen, spot, detect deceit, search, sense enchantment, tracking, surveillance.

Changed Skullduggery to: Deciet > desguise, seduction, taunt, lie.

Also, because we had a "pirate-type" adventure, we needed: Knowlege > seamanship.
(In addition - because it came up - we used: Force > pull, to handle/row a small boat...but there should be some kind of "boating" ability if one plans on having a campaign centered on the high seas...)

And purely because our group never takes these skills, we combined several "artsy" abilities: Perform > acting, dance, instrument, singing, storytelling.
These are good, I think. But "skulduggery" is such a cool word!
I might suggest "Perception" instead of "Notice".
I separate artsy perform abilities (Perform > acting, dance, instrument, singing, storytelling) from artsy creation abilities (Artistry > painting, sculpting, writing, ect.).
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Re: how many rounds before it get's dull?

Post by Eisenmann »

Banesfinger wrote: I'm not sure how this will affect ERP, since it uses totals instead of trying to beat a target number?
I was thinking about this too.

Statistically it would be the same thing as far as the die rolling. Bigger dice will consistently give more potential harm but smaller dice will explode slightly more often.

I'm thinking that I'd probably not take masteries much over D6 but this would lead to more rounded characters because the development points have to go somewhere.
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Re: how many rounds before it get's dull?

Post by Hyfaidd »

I have found that it gets dull, when the result is obvious. If there is a least uncertainy, each round is interesting. Thus the big bag of hit point battle are dull, until near the end. ERS with the active selection of defense pools keep a little uncertainty. But, if the pools are to large verus the PH then the uncertainty is lost.

Runequest, whose battles could take the session to play. Had the constant concern of the Crit (Ingnores armor) and location HP ("Your sword arm is now useless") to keep a lot of uncertainty. But, a battle betwee to high levels could get boring due to the lack of action, atacks are parried, spell dismissed. All because High level meant to many defences. So again boring/dull when there is no uncertainy.
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Re: how many rounds before it get's dull?

Post by dancross »

Hyfaidd wrote:I have found that it gets dull, when the result is obvious. If there is a least uncertainy, each round is interesting. Thus the big bag of hit point battle are dull, until near the end. ERS with the active selection of defense pools keep a little uncertainty. But, if the pools are to large verus the PH then the uncertainty is lost.

Runequest, whose battles could take the session to play. Had the constant concern of the Crit (Ingnores armor) and location HP ("Your sword arm is now useless") to keep a lot of uncertainty. But, a battle betwee to high levels could get boring due to the lack of action, atacks are parried, spell dismissed. All because High level meant to many defences. So again boring/dull when there is no uncertainy.
I agree with this 100%. That's why we've introduced the "exploding die" optional rule for rolling an extra die when getting the highest result possible on the mastery die roll, or added the idea of "spending" points out of Resilience to augment actions, etc. Chaos increases fun, unless it starts to tip the odds against the players.
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