Combat refers to the systems used in roleplaying games to resolve conflict through violent means, often to the death of one or more characters. Combat often involves several subsystems that determine whether harm is inflicted (to-hit) and the extent of that harm (damage).

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How do I challenge my PCs who fight every battle like Mongol horse archers?

In my last few game sessions, my players have begun adopting a strategy which is working wonders in the campaign we are playing. In this Planescape campaign, we are on the Outlands, which has a lot of ...
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12answers
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How do I make an unwinnable fight fun?

In one of my campaigns, it's possible that I'm going to have to pull off a Hopeless Boss Fight depending on the choices of my player (we're playing one-on-one). The gist is that they're interfering ...
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13answers
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How to communicate to the players that an encounter can be solved also through diplomacy?

When you play D&D, you are not supposed to chat with the enemy during encounters. The system is made for fighting. However, in some circumstances, it would be nice to make the players conscious ...
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10answers
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Is it fair to press the players for decisions during combat?

My group tends to over-analyse during combat, which slows everything down. I press upon my players to make their decision and roll the dice quickly. My players are all experienced in the system and I ...
38
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3answers
674 views

Shame him into not shooting: multiple stress tracks in a single conflict

If you insult the hitman enough, will he stop shooting at you? It doesn't seem likely, but that brings into play a question about whether some stress tracks are "more important" than others: If you ...
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15answers
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Narrative Combat versus Use of Miniatures

When I first started playing D&D, my DM did not use battlemaps or miniatures to describe combat. Everything was described to us, and questions to the DM were part and parcel of the experience, ...
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5answers
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How did D&D end up so focused on fighting, when its inspirations weren't?

There are a lot of systems around nowadays that don't focus on combat, and that's great. But I was struck recently by the fact that D&D has always been, and remains, heavily oriented toward ...
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23answers
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Speeding Up Combat

I'm looking for ways to speed up the combat in my D&D 3.5 game. It seems that turns - both player and non-player - simply take too long. I have thought about giving everyone a 30 second timer, but ...
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6answers
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D&D 5e and “Theatre of the Mind” in combat

Our target play style for combat encounters would be to use battle boards roughly half the time (when there is enough of interest in play that the tactics are fun to play out), and to skip that with ...
31
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5answers
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Why is attacking from higher ground an advantage?

I just don't understand how attacking someone from higher ground is an advantage in melee combat. I always think of two examples where I can't see this to be an advantage. Example 1: A kung-fu fight ...
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6answers
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Which player character do I attack first?

When I played 1st and 2nd edition AD&D, I was always a player. The party was written down in order and numbered. When monsters would attack us, the DM would roll the die and check which character ...
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21answers
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Beyond hit points: injury in D&D [closed]

I'm interested in adding a touch of realism to combat in D&D 3.5 or Pathfinder. Hit points are a very simple way of measuring injury and stamina, that contributes to the "hit things first, ask ...
28
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6answers
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How does one avoid a bottleneck of enemies in a doorway?

As a new DM I'm still learning how to control the monsters in a battle. A situation came up last game and although it was fine and fun, I wonder if there are better strategies for a DM to avoid a ...
28
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7answers
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Fighting boredom in combat as a player

Sometimes (as a player) I get bored during combat. At times I feel like all my turns are the same (especially when playing lower level characters) and when that is combined with no combat progress ...
28
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1answer
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How does Stealth work with Sneak Attack?

So, in Pathfinder, it seems that being able to use stealth in order to gain sneak attacks only works in the surprise round, with the rules as written. So, imagine a scenario where we have a sniper ...
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12answers
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How can I secretly notate which squares on a combat map are traps?

The party has ventured underground. One of the civilizations where they are is kobolds. I (GM) went trigger-happy with pit traps, falling block traps, and a couple of others. The kobolds have one path ...
23
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2answers
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Can Bag of Holding + Portable Hole Turn Enemies Inside-Out?

First, the player is swallowed by a large monster, such as the Tarrasque or a Dragon. Next, the player puts a bag of holding into a portable hole. This opens a gate to the Astral plane inside the ...
23
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1answer
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How does attacking someone work?

OK, I keep going around in circles. In Dresden Files RPG, how do you work out punching someone vs using a knife/sword/weapon vs using a gun?
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7answers
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Does Warlock combat just equal Eldritch Blast spam?

Been looking over the warlock because I thought it would be cool to make a spellcaster that can also mix it up in melee combat. After all how awesome isn't it to conjure up a magical weapon and start ...
21
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8answers
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How do I design exciting, fun boss fights for my players?

So I've DM'd three separate games, of which one that I'm largely happy with. However, one consistent problem I run into is designing fun, exciting, and interesting boss fights. I've run into two major ...
21
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11answers
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Game with Interesting Combat that is Crunch Heavy and is built to not Require a Grid?

As an alternative to trying to play a game that normally requires a grid, I'm looking for an RPG that Has mechanically interesting combat (plenty of depth, not necessarily high complexity). Has a ...
21
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5answers
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Does flanking always grant advantage, or is it up to discussion?

The rules packet does not provide any specific rules about flanking. However the rule does say that the DM has lots of leeway in deciding when to give advantage or disadvantage in combat. Should it ...
21
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10answers
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Without a map or miniatures, how to best determine line-of-sight, etc?

I think the title says it all. Let's say you're mastering a game without the benefit of miniatures, maps, or any kind of physical representation of the environment. How would you keep track of details ...
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9answers
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Realistic modern day combat system to model real life ambush

I came across a video (helmet camera) of an Taliban force ambushing US infantry troops in Afghanistan. This is a link to the video of ambush: Combat in the First Person, Spc.Michael Gannon guides us ...
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7answers
784 views

How do I make and use tactically interesting terrain?

I'm running 4e but I think this applies everywhere. I want to use terrain more often in my fights. My best fights are the ones that revolve around interesting terrain. The problem is that I don't ...
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4answers
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How do I reward creative combat improvisation without making it overpowered?

I have a level five fighter who enjoys using the terrain as a weapon in a somewhat WWE style. I am at a loss as to how to go about adjusting the damage he does for the less than by-the-book actions. ...
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6answers
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In D&D 4th Edition, how numerically close should party member levels be? What happens if they aren't?

I've read a lot here (and in the official books) about balanced parties in Dungeons and Dragon's 4th edition. Parties should contain at least one each of four specific roles, a distribution of skills ...
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12answers
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How do I make a gunslinger with a decent damage progression?

I am considering playing a Gunslinger when next we play Pathfinder (I am currently GMing a game, and we'll be switching off afterwards), and thumbing through the Ultimate Combat Playtest v. 2, and I'm ...
19
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3answers
954 views

Can a Gelatinous Cube be knocked prone?

Actually, this is a more general form of the question. Can something that cannot be tripped still be knocked prone from an effect which causes it? So, in the Gelatinous Cube Stat block, we have: ...
19
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2answers
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How do I use minions effectively?

I'm a newbie DM. It seems that minions in an encounter benefit the PCs more than they benefit me: The Barbarian can kill them for free THP and a Swift Charge (I thought they were supposed to slow ...
19
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2answers
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Can an unconscious character use a healing surge?

Can an unconscious character use an action (like second wind or a healing power) to spend a healing surge? Can an unconscious character spend a healing surge due to some external effect?
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4answers
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How can I make combat more challenging without making it too frustrating?

My fellow DMs and I have come across a problem. It feels like the party has been doing a good job of dispatching our monsters with relative ease. We are not upset about this part, our party has done ...
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6answers
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Can I use a full attack and natural attacks in the same round?

I'm playing a 7th level monk variant in D&D 3.5e and I'm a werewolf. The variant has a 1 for 1 BAB. (level 1 = BAB+1) If I'm in hybrid form, Can I make my 2 standard attacks followed by 2 claws ...
19
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2answers
754 views

Decking in combat seems useless. Have we missed something?

In a few days I will master my first Round of Shadowrun and I talked with my players about specifics of their roles. During that I stumbled across the problems of deckers in combat. To me the rulebook ...
18
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11answers
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Encouraging out-of-the-box thinking in combat encounters

I'm a GM currently running D&D 3.5. I try to think of situations that present the players with a number of possible solutions. The players, however, always resort to the same pattern of killing ...
18
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2answers
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Is a concentration check required when temporary hitpoints absorb all the damage?

A spell caster with 6 temporary hit points is hit for 3 damage. Do they have to make a concentration check?
18
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3answers
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How do you administer combat without an Initiative system?

So in Dungeon World, there doesn't seem to be any stat for initiative or any structure to the sequence of moves that people can make. Is the game intended to be simply played "round robin", or do ...
18
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8answers
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How do I make my overpowered character more fun to play?

My friend is running a modified cyberpunk campaign, where we are fighting zombies during WWII in Germany. Fun stuff. However, I made my character a Martial arts boxer, giving them a 10 in reflex, ...
18
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3answers
775 views

What is a 'Death Spiral'?

And what does it mean for combat in a game?
18
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5answers
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How do I let players know that not every encounter has to be hack and slash? [duplicate]

My players kind of have a habit of, "If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, WE MUST KILL IT!" Recently they came across a small goblin camp and one of them (who speaks goblin) verbally ...
18
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1answer
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What can I do in one round?

I'm still little confused about actions in Pathfinder. There are standard actions, move actions, full round actions, free actions, etc. I need to know which combinations of these actions I can use in ...
18
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12answers
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What is a good combat tracker for D&D 4th Edition?

As my players go up levels there are more and more variables in combat. I need help. What solutions exist out there and what makes them good?
18
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4answers
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Can you ready a charge?

In 3rd edition, you could ready a partial charge. From the PHB, p134: Only partial actions can be readied. To do so, specify the partial action you will take and the conditions under which you ...
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4answers
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How do you plan Savage Worlds combats based on PC ability?

Last night I ran my first Savage Worlds combat, to try to get a feel for the system. The combatants were two sword-wielding fighting men against three orcs (extras) and their chieftain (a wild card). ...
18
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5answers
1k views

How can I implement Cinematic Fencing (à la “The Princess Bride”)?

Like most people, I'm utterly entranced by the fencing scene between Westley and Inigo in The Princess Bride, but trying to replicate their style in a tabletop RPG has never really worked out. I've ...
17
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5answers
462 views

How do you alter the difficulty of a challenge/fight in the middle of it?

I've run a bunch of times with players that took very diverse characters. I made them use their own rolls (which often ended up giving them awesome stats for some reason). Eventually I had to ...
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5answers
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How do I map a 15' cone to a 1" grid?

I've been playing 5e for a while now, and mercifully this hasn't come up yet, but it's definitely on it's way. When a caster casts burning hands, how is that properly mapped onto a standard 1" battle ...
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6answers
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Alternatives to inapplicable critical-hit table results?

In a recent session of ours, one of the players scored a critical hit on a very scary wolf. The random critical-hit bonus rolled was "disarm opponent." Our GM was kind and clever enough to announce ...
17
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3answers
789 views

How do you handle injury in Roll For Shoes?

I'm preparing to play my first Roll For Shoes game soon, with me as the GM and about 3-4 friends as my PC's. Knowing my friends, it won't be long before they attack or provoke someone, and looking at ...
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5answers
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Are there any RPGs that realistically prioritize speed and reach in melee? [closed]

I took up middle-ages reemnactment for a hobby for a little while, the sort of fighting that you do with actual steel swords and spears, not the rubber versions used for LARP. I was very surprised to ...