Tuesday, August 21, 2012

d20 Combat takes too long!!!

There's a thought that comes to mind when I think about combat length in D&D and d20 games in general.  How long they are.  I'm not talking about three hours to handle and encounter.  I'm talking about all the rounds it might take to bring down a character and all the hits it actually takes before going down.  In most fights you see a lot of parries and sword play.  Little hits until it is over.  Yes maybe some scratches and bruises, but real hits are few and quite terminal.

Right now for me combat doesn't seem so thrilling.  It seems long and excruciating to play.  Matrix like moves an unreachable dream.  What if combat was short lived?  What if it was exceedingly fast?  Swift to the kill.  What if the only outcome wasn't death?  But exhaustion or yielding?  How would that change the role playing aspect of combat?

Here are some points I'm looking for in a combat mechanism:

  • Quick resolution.  The outcome has to be settled in a few rounds.
  • Low amount of hit points.  That means when you're hit that's it.  You might handle two or maybe three hits, but not much more.
  • Improvement in style and defense applied directly to the to hit roll.  Not a mascarade on hit points as stamina and luck.
  • Visible benefits for speed an skill.  A skilled unarmored fighter should have some advantage over a fully armored one.  That means fighters wear out, read fatigue.
  • Weapons differences should be clearly visible.
I can see that a lot of people reading this will have "optimization" and "min max" come to their minds.  Specially on the last point.  The way I see it in D&D and similar games there is no clear penalty for heavy armor and heavy weapons.  I think there's a key to balance in wearing out the fighters.

Lowering overall hit points also solves a great deal of issues with healing and the derivative issues with clerics.

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