D&D: 10 Tips to Speed ​​Up Combat and Gameplay


One of the main problems with games like Dungeons & Dragons is how slow they can be. Fortunately, these tips can help speed up combat and play.

When playing Dungeons and Dragons, one of the most frustrating things for a dungeon master is preventing a session from stopping. There are many reasons why a game can get stuck. Player indecision, debates over the rules, too many creatures to control and make decisions can all slow down the session. These moments can kill the excitement and knock everyone out of the game, slowing things down even more. Sadly, this can sometimes lead to a single inconsequential encounter that takes an entire session, leaving everyone involved dissatisfied.

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But there are many tools and techniques at the disposal of dungeon masters to help them run the games smoothly and efficiently while maintaining the momentum and flow of the action to make the game feel dynamic and engaging.

10 Delegate additional roles to players

The dungeon master has a lot on his plate when running a session. But players can do a lot of these things too. Assign one player to track initiative, another to track creature hit points, another to track spell or condition effects. Characters can also be responsible for controlling the NPCs attached to the party, especially when managing their actions during combat, which can free up much of the DMs’ attention so they can focus on running more fluid gameplay.

9 Let players know what their character will do before their turn

An adventure party fights the goblins in D&D.

Sometimes the biggest routine in a session comes from indecisive players. Often these are newer players or players still trying to figure out their character’s specific race or class abilities. But sometimes it’s the players who only pay attention to the session when it’s their turn to act. Having players figure out what their characters are going to do before their turn gives inexperienced players time to review their characters’ abilities and keeps the distracted engaged in the encounter.

8 Use skill challenges

Sahuagin Deep Sea Dungeons and Dragons

Sometimes players end up chasing an NPC through busy streets or must escape a cavern when it collapses around them. They should be fast-paced and exciting situations, but they are often bogged down by complex and time-consuming rules. Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition had a fantastic and efficient method of handling these types of encounters called Skill Challenges.

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Depending on the difficulty of an encounter, determine the number of successes players must achieve before reaching a specified number of failures using various skills. For example, players must have 3 successes before committing 3 failures in order to outrun the chasing guards. Players should only be able to use a specific ability once so that those with higher abilities don’t dominate. Give them a chance to justify why and how they want to use a specific ability in a situation, even if it doesn’t make immediate sense for the given encounter. This will engage the players in the action and speed up the match by eliminating excess rolls and processes.

7 Curb player metagaming and combat turn conversations

Nobody wants to lose and this is doubled for Dungeons and Dragons players. They don’t want to see a character they’ve grown fond of die or suffer a simple mistake. This often leads to players having conversations outside of the game or spending an inordinate amount of time planning during a combat round. If the players are in the middle of a fight, don’t allow them to talk more than they can do in 6 seconds of real time. If the characters aren’t close enough to interact, don’t let the players interact either.

6 Use an initiative roll for groups of the same creatures

Managing creature initiatives can take up a significant chunk of time during a combat encounter. If players are facing a group of twelve orcs, there are twelve initiatives to follow. An initiative for those same twelve orcs is easier to handle. This can also be customized to offer more variety if required. For example, divide the twelve orcs into three groups of four and launch the initiative for each group. This can greatly speed up each round of combat and keep the match going.

5 Use the average damage of a creature for each attack instead of rolling it each time

The best way to speed up combat is to reduce excessive dice roll. The accumulated damage for each attack made by a creature or NPC can add to many unnecessary calculations by the DM. However, this has a simple solution. Each creature’s stat block consists of an average damage rating before the parenthesis that contains the damage die and the bonus. This will remove most of the die rolls during the creature’s turns and speed up the rounds of combat. Players will also know how much damage to score with each hit instead of being told by the DM.

4 Use the morale system for creatures

dungeons and dragons

Not all creatures will fight to the death. In fact, unless they are completely unconscious or unintelligent, they will run away when the fight doesn’t go their way. Creatures with even near-average intelligence will also wait for the right moment to attack, meaning they don’t need to act every round.

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If the creatures don’t act each turn, the rounds will be significantly faster. And if they are willing to flee when the going gets tough, the encounters won’t last longer than necessary.

3 Give each player a time limit during their turn

Much like making indecisive players figure out what they are doing before the start of their turn, setting a visible timer during each player’s turn will motivate them to act faster. If he does not act within the time limit, the player loses his place in the initiative lineup. However, they must still be allowed to act at the end of the round once everyone else has left. This timer doesn’t need to match the 6 seconds your character experienced during their turn, but giving them a minute will go a long way in speeding up their turns and the entire encounter.

two Keep track of the player’s passive perception and armor class

Even something as simple as stopping to ask players what their passive perception, stealth ability, or armor class is can slow things down. These questions also have the effect of pulling players out of the game as they go through their character sheets, while also removing any built-up intrigue or excitement. Asking for passive perception or stealth ability can also give players clues about potential ambushes or other nasty surprises that the DM doesn’t want them to be aware of. Having a list of these stats behind the DM screen can save time and keep the game going and exciting.

1 Don’t be afraid to throw random encounters to push players to act

As counterintuitive as it may seem to speed up the game by adding more encounters, this technique can serve as a reminder to players that their characters aren’t sure having lengthy discussions while standing outside the door of a monster-filled room. Throwing them a random encounter while they spend ten minutes planning a strategy will encourage them to act faster and more efficiently in the future. This is also a good way to create uncertainty and discomfort that will add to the enjoyment of the game.

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