Ok so there is a reason for combining these two sessions. One of those reasons is when players are in combat they don’t talk to each other and that makes combat a little longer. Now the other reason is combat takes the longest when playing with new players (because they don’t want to take risks). I will explain the mechanics of combat next but for now I will recount what actually happened in the two sessions.
In session 4 the team encountered some more undead (some ghouls and a ghost or two). They also saved the old man that was abducted by some skeletons. They also discovered another ally and a villager.
In session 5 the team encountered one of the undead Captains as well as a troop of skeletons. After the fight the team “discussed” about a potential reward upon rescuing the old man (the grave keeper and head priest – Doomguide). Then went back into the deeper levels of the catacomb. They fought more zombies, killed some raiders and then died to traps on the staircase heading even deeper down. Not able to defeat or discover the evil raising the dead.
Now I will explain why fighting in dungeons and dragons takes so long and makes a blog like this so short. Now then first off to go into combat in D&D is very simple. A player just needs to decide what he/she are attacking and attacks the target then deals damage then passes his/her turn to the next player. So that’s seems very easy, so why does it take soooo long to go into combat. The thing is it is easy and very quick considering the edition of D&D we are playing allows for quick turns and therefore a more fluid game. But no matter what the edition (with the exception to 4th edition) combat is very tedious and long because of hit/miss rates.
The way a player chooses their target differs within every group. It doesn’t actually depend on whether they are experienced or not it just matters if they want to attack or not.
When a player has their turn during combat, it goes something like this. Move character into position. Attack. Then pass their turn. Moving is easy and very quick. I have tried many methods of playing D&D, with/without a map, pre-drawn or reveal as they explore and I have found that (regardless what experienced or veteran players say that imagination makes the game flow better) players need to be able to see where they are and it is far easier and quicker if there is a map. In cases where I don’t draw a map (especially new) players tend to forget where they are in the fray and just swing whatever weapon they have. Some players ask how far an enemy is or if they see the damn monster or if they can shot spells and ricocheted them off walls or sometimes allies. But with a map it is very easy to see where the monsters and allies and obstacles are.
Attack action is just as easy as moving but it can miss. When a player attacks, they must understand what are they attack with. Melee weapons like swords, axes, hammers and the like need the players to be in melee range, which is directly adjacent.
The picture above shows the spaces in which a player is adjacent. The player’s handbook states that a character must be at least 5 feet away from another (either monster or Non Player Character = NPC) to attack them using melee weapons. With ranged weapons and some spells a character must have line of sight of the creature to be able to attack it and must be within the allowed range or the weapon or spell. Some spells only reach 30 feet or as far as 60 while others can shoot from 90 feet to 300 feet. It just depends on the spell. Long ranged weapons like shortbows (80/320 feet) or longbows (150/600 feet) or crossbows (100/400 feet) have a set range limit. Now you might be wondering, why in feet why not in metres? Well the thing about that is D&D is an American published game. So they use imperial notation. Anyway, the ranged weapons have two numbers. The lower number is the range where they can shoot without disadvantage or hindrance. Once a character is within the appropriate range of their weapon, they attack by rolling a d20 (a 20 sided dice) and adding their attack modifier; strength for melee and dexterity for ranged. Depending on the class of the character will depend on what modifier they use for spells.
Once they have rolled and added up the total they match it up with the creature’s Armour Class = AC. The higher the AC the harder the creature is to hit. If they hit they deal damage. Once a creature takes more damage than their maximum hit points they are defeated.
Example: This is a 1 vs 1 fight. Fighter vs Zombie.
A zombie has an AC of 8. Hit points = HP of 22 and an attack called Slam with a +4 to the attack and it deals 1d6 + 1 damage on a hit. A fighter attacks with a longsword with a +6 to hit, and 1d8 + 4 damage on a hit. The fighter has an AC of 16 and his HP is 16 at level 2. The fighter attacks first rolls the d20, gets a total of 15. He hits and deals a total of 9 damage. Zombie is now on 12 HP. Zombie attacks gets a total of 15, misses and deals no damage. Potentially the fighter has an advantage because he/she will only miss the zombie if he/she rolls a 1 (it is also a critical miss and will automatically miss and do bad stuff) while the zombie needs a minimum roll of 12 and higher to hit the fighter.
In a D&D session on the other hand the players don’t know the exact AC or HPs of the creature they are fighting unless they try and investigate it (no one ever does, I on the other hand try but fail. Some DMs don’t even let players know this information because they think it will ruin a game). And the other thing is combat in D&D are never one vs one (rarely). They are usually 2 vs 1 or 2 vs 3 (players vs enemies).
That was the example. Now once a player passes the next person goes in order of imitative. So the order of a normal combat session is listed below.
- Recap of last session.
- Roll for imitative.
- Combat turns. Then combat ends.
- Explore some more.
- More combat turns.
- End of session.
Now then with 7 players fighting against 5 monsters you might think this would be a quick fight but no. With some players exploring while others are fighting it is actually 3 players at most fighting while the rest were looting previous enemies. So combat takes time. It’s fun but there is not much to write about. I could say that it can get very boring with players just saying “ok, I’ll attack that one, oh I got an 9, pass” they assume they miss without waiting or thinking about it and I have to constantly ask “…was that the total?” or when players just say “ok, I shoot it with my bow, rolls an 18, rolls 2 damage” and passes forgetting that it should be more than that and I will then ask (sometimes because I forget due to controlling all the enemies’ HPs and turns) “…REALLY?” When the monsters HP are above 20, the fight will normally take 90 minutes. If the team was working together combat would probably take 20 minutes.
Now when I talk about team work I don’t mean everyone ganging up on one enemy at a time but sometimes using their turns to find out the enemies’ weakness and exploiting it or just knowing who to attack. A team full of fighters and clerics is not a good team. That is my opinion. Just because you beat an enemy, such as a zombie 10 times in 1 hour does not make the team good. It means the team is lucky or have made Min/Max characters.
So that is how a combat session is played. Takes 90 minutes (minimum) per fight, has me as a DM thinking the enemies may have been too challenging.