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Keeping Combat Interesting

Combat can get really bogged down with players taking to long to perform actions or battles that go on and on for hours.  Here are some tips to streamline combat and make it more interesting for you and your players. 

Assign a player to the task of keeping combat moving - 

As a DM you have a lot to deal with in a combat.  Tracking all the enemies and their maneuvers, tracking all the players and their maneuvers.  Let your players help.  Assign a combat taskmaster.  The Combat TaskMaster, Spell Master, Rules Master, Lore Master. These jobs include - 

Combat Master can

Keep track of rounds 

Keep track of spell effects that last certain number of rounds

Keep Players aware of their turn or if players get out of a turn order

Make sure every player gets a turn

Rules Master can

Look up rules on the fly

Spell Master can - 

Look up spell effects on the fly 

Keep track of conditions ongoing on players/ enemies and remind DM players of said condition

Lore Master (Player’s Journals)

Can right down crucial information about monsters when the GM give out the info and answer questions for players who ask the same question over and over.  “Is the monster immune to fire?  Did we attack it with fire?  Is the monster immune to Acid?”  Lore Masters can also be used outside of combat to take notes on the game for the players and even the GM.  Sometimes the you get in the zone and forget to write down on the fly things like names of NPC’s or places and the Lore Master can keep track of these to send to etc group later. I like to use Obsidian Portal to track adventures, especially if your games are far apart like a couple of months.  Obsidian Portal even has an option for the Players to create journals for the campaign.  Award players extra XP for creating and updating journals.  It does not have to just be about what happened in the game but Characters reactions, hopes , fears and desires.  This is a great way for a GM to gauge a players interest in the campaign and where the player would like to see the game headed.   As an incentive you can even award PC’s for taking these roles

Have their be alternative goals then just killing the monster -

Instead of the pc’s and the monster just wading through each combat hacking away at each other, have an alternative way for combat to end.  Matt at AFistFullofDice talks about how in one combat the enemy monsters were actually being activated by magic runes on the floor of the encounter room and that one of the pc’s was able to destroy the runes to deactivate the monsters while the other pc’s were keeping the monsters busy in combat.  In another encounter a large monster was guarding an item and the pc’s had to destroy the item and battle the monster.  Once the item was destroyed the monster would retreat.  

Making the Battlefield interesting

Matt at AFistFullofDice Came up with a very inventive idea of dynamic battle fields.  Using the table provided Here. Roll on the table or choose specific Terrians, Features or Events to occur during certain rounds of the battle.  This will keep a battle that goes into 6-10 rounds more interesting for the players and the GM. 

Train Your Way to be being a better GM

John Four offers courses on helping GM’s speed up combat and add more flavor at the same time. Check it out at: