Tuesday, January 12, 2010

When gameplay slows to a crawl

A comment in my last post by the Paladin in the Citadel, as well as this fine post over at The Tao of D&D made me think above how a game can slow to a crawl.

I do have some rules to keep that in check currently, but I may need a more concise rule to complement that one.

I am thinking about a limit of three variable modifiers to any die roll. By variable I mean a bonus that doesn't ALWAYS apply. Using a warrior's combat modifier to an attack roll for instance, doesn't count as a variable modifier. Basically anything that isn't calculated before the game. A bless spell giving a bonus to hit or a bonus for high ground are examples of variable modifiers, as are penalties for injuries or weapon ranges. Thus when its time to declare your bonus you would be limited to at most three variable bonuses (bonii?) and your opponent could declare at most three penalties.

Why is this good?

It speeds up gameplay

Why is this bad?

It prevents a tonne of smaller penalties from being able to add up.

Im really not sure if its a good idea in practice or not, any feedback?


  1. yeah, modifiers are evil. But, I'd rather the rules make it rare that there are ever 3 or more variable modifiers to any given roll rather than make a rule prohibiting it.

    Benefits / penalties should do other things like allow rerolls, use different size dice, prevent/delay action. Easier said then done though.

    Two things that speed play for me are
    1) roll first. if result is close then figure out modifiers. If you need 18 and roll less than 5 and know there's no way there are 13 points worth of pos modifiers don't waste time adding them up.
    2) roll to hit and damage together in one roll

    But most players are extremely reluctant to do either one.

  2. It is particularly horrific when playing a mass battle such as the one I've got going right now in my offline campaign. However, I find the actual subtraction/addition less trouble than having to explain, again, why the modifier exists.

    I should myself instigate a seminar on modifiers, what they are, when they apply, and how to apply them.

  3. We do something similar to Norman, in terms of not worrying about modifiers unless the attack roll justifies. I've also written up a little on-paper algorithm for the players to use. And then I have implemented something I picked up from Alexis, if you, as a player, can't figure out your own rolls, your character cannot use the weapon. I am very patient otherwise with questions, but players have to taken some responsibility for things.

    If I find that I am the bottle neck as DM, I'll farm out the rolling for some of the key NPCs to the players. The players love that.