Wednesday, July 04, 2012
D&D and trash mobs
The Id DM is writing about combat speed in D&D Next, which is a good topic. I admit I never felt the need to use a stopwatch to time combat, but during a playtest that sounds reasonable. So he is doing a 4-hour session in which his group fights:
- 7 Orcs
- 3 Orcs
- 2 Centipedes
- 6 Kobolds
- 6 Goblins
- 1 Ogre
- One fight against 7 Orc minions, 3 Orc soldiers, and 2 Centipedes
- One fight against 6 Kobold minions, 6 Goblin archers, and 1 Ogre
Looking just at the time per combat gives a very misleading picture. D&D Next, just like older editions, has a lot of fights, but they are more of the "trash mob" type. Yes, you can kill those 2 Centipedes in 5 minutes, but the very fact that it only took 5 minutes reveals that the players didn't have to think much to win this fight. They didn't have much tactical options, and probably just hit the Centipedes with basic attacks until they died.
4th edition has fewer fights per session, but these fights are more epic, have more tactical options, and just take longer. At the end of the day, both groups killed exactly the same number of mobs in exactly the same amount of time, and spent the same amount of time with roleplaying and exploration. But the probability that the players still remember that fight where they tried to get past the Ogre to shut down the Goblin archers is significantly higher than that they remember those 2 Centipedes. So for me "shorter combat" is not really a selling point for D&D Next.