15
\$\begingroup\$

We had an unexpected interruption mid-battle. I did a quick scramble to save our place, then I put everything away. It will be days until we can pick up again.

Usually, battles start in a way that builds tension so everyone can enjoy them. I don't have a clue how to start with that at the beginning of a session. Any advice?

\$\endgroup\$
3
  • \$\begingroup\$ Just how mired in the combat was the party? How close were they to defeating the enemy and/or getting wiped out? \$\endgroup\$ Mar 21 at 3:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ They were about half through. 4 level 8 characters with 8 opponents, all CR 1. 2 opponents are dead and 3 more injured. It's going well for the party because they managed to spot the ambush. \$\endgroup\$
    – Raeyin
    Mar 21 at 4:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ I seriously considered that, but the players liked this battle. I have one player who knows dozens of the books by heart. To keep it fun, I'm doing a lot of homebrew, reskins and minor behavior changes. It's been enough. \$\endgroup\$
    – Raeyin
    Mar 21 at 4:35

4 Answers 4

23
\$\begingroup\$

We do that all the time, it's no problem

We often play online in the evening when the kids are in bed, with busy work schedules, so just running over to end combat is usually not an option. It has never caused us any problems.

To the contrary, as players having this time out in a complicated, tight battle is often a godsend, when you have access to the situation as we do (we can just look at the Roll20 tabletop), as it gives us time to work out various strategies and tactics offline, time that we normally would not have in session. So we often return to combat with enhanced excitement, eager to carry out our plans. (Wether they work as planned is another story...).

So I'd recommend to make that game state information available to the players. But even if you can't, unless weeks go by and everyone has forgotten what was even going on, I've not experienced what you describe as an issue, and you need not worry about it.

And if weeks have passed, take some time at the beginning of the session to retell (or have the party note taker retell and comment if needed), what last happend to bring them up to speed again and ground them in the situation.

\$\endgroup\$
1
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ That's really useful. We're using paper, but I can make the battle map available. \$\endgroup\$
    – Raeyin
    Mar 21 at 4:24
21
\$\begingroup\$

Lead in the next session with a dramatic recap

When last we left off, the dungeon crawl had been going smoothly, when suddenly your party was ambushed by a swarm of enemies! Fortunately, Clary the Cleric spotted the incoming ambush, and you all drew your weapons just in time! After an initial exchange of blows, 2 enemies now lie dead on the ground, but the remaining 6 show no sign of letting up. It's time to find out how this fight ends!

Obviously I made up some details for the sake of an example, but you get the idea. If there were any notable moments in the battle so far, such as big spell that hit many enemies or a clever use of teamwork, feel free to call those out specifically. Likewise, if there are any other special circumstances in play, such as the players running low on resources, or being on a time limit, note those as well. If you can, it's probably a good idea to call out at least one action by each player.

Doing a recap like this serves the dual purposes of reminding the players what happened last session and helping them get back into the moment where they left off. Since this is the start of the session, you can just write out the whole recap ahead of time and read it when the session starts, so there's no need to improvise it. (In fact, you can also do this for sessions that don't start mid-combat. You can do this for every session if you have the time.)

\$\endgroup\$
3
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ "When we last left our heroes, they were looking up a hole. And not in a dictionary, I might add…" \$\endgroup\$ Mar 21 at 9:51
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ If you have a player that regularly takes notes (or who you trust to have a good memory) consider asking them to do this. With advanced notice. I always start my sessions with a player recap. \$\endgroup\$
    – Novak
    Mar 22 at 1:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ A friend of mine, who DMs regularly, has become (in)famous for his dramatic pre-session recaps. It has become a running joke -- you can get him or any of his players to burst out laughing, just by yelling "TO! RE! CAP!", as though trying desperately to corral your players away from dinner to start the session. It really brings a lot of energy to the start of sessions! \$\endgroup\$ Mar 23 at 2:38
1
\$\begingroup\$

Resuming a mid-battle session in a role-playing game after a break offers a unique opportunity to re-engage players with heightened drama. Start with a cinematic recap of the battle's key moments to set the mood and remind players of the stakes. Then, vividly reset the scene, emphasizing the environment and the immediate threats to immerse players back into the game world. Encourage each player to share their character's thoughts or strategies, enhancing immersion and allowing for strategic planning. Introducing an unexpected element, such as a new ally or environmental change, can instantly elevate tension and interest. Utilize background music and sound effects that match the battle's intensity to enhance the atmosphere further. This approach ensures the battle resumes with renewed energy and engagement, making for an unforgettable gaming experience.

\$\endgroup\$
2
  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the stack Anh_Nguyen_Ngoc! Take the tour when you have a moment, and feel free to peruse the help center for more in-depth info about the site. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Mar 23 at 15:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi Anh. This post has been flagged for suspicion of being generated by LLM/AI, which this Stack has chosen to disallow. If this is your natural writing, please know that it comes off as such. If you did use generative AI to help write this, please don't in the future. \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Mar 26 at 12:41
-5
\$\begingroup\$

Mix things up in unexpected ways that completely change the encounter into a whole new dynamic. Maybe your players are winning when suddenly they are betrayed, or enemy reinforcements arrive, or somehow an overlooked or non apparent combatant has a vorpal knife to your healers throat and demands their surrender. Or perhaps one of the enemies reveals they are someone unexpected such as a player characters relative or an affluent local. Maybe a third party that both sides have to contend with intersects itself, having sought for the two groups to weaken eachother to the point it felt it could enact something to defeat the group such as a rockslide that displaces characters or alters the dynamics of the situation. If we are fighting a few orcs in the open and suddenly a roc is teaching its young how to hunt for itself the orcs and I might not prioritize fighting eachother over not being swooped on. Especially if the party is the only way the orc might be able to get a good shot at the mom with an ancient trebuchet loaded with a mythril ball of hooks, that while unable to kill something that big could effectively stick to its Body and hinder it from flight, creating a chance for escape to more effective cover since they won't be protected by the overhanging Boulders they are scrambling around trying to hide from something too big to kill. Suddenly an encounter that had lost its initial novelty can become a whole new exciting situation that requires a whole different skill set and suddenly your thief goes from being the one not carrying his weight since he's an inferior toe to toe asset and he's got to use his agility and stealth to keep the baby from tearing into your formerly dominating juggernauts full field plate like a crow trying to figure out how to break a clam by first pecking it and then opting to try dropping it onto the rocks to get the yummy meat inside. Turn their liabilities into assets and their assets into rewards that they must adapt to be able to retain. It's called a curve ball. Its a good way to make a part of a story come back to life. That's what we did back in the days of thac0. In realms that most have forgotten.

\$\endgroup\$
3
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Hi PreCorpse, welcome to rpg.se! Take our tour and visit the help center to learn about our site. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kuerten
    Mar 21 at 16:22
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Dramatically changing the encounter could certainly be exciting, but narrative consistency and player expectations are important, too. Your suggestions sounds like Deus Ex Machina interventions; doing it just for the sake of drama without being a story hook might be exciting as its happening but, probably overall harmful to enjoyment of the game. The OP isn't saying that players are bored with combat, just that they had to pause at a moment that has no narrative significance. Hard to read this wall of text with no paragraph breaks, but your suggestions don't seem consistent with that. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 21 at 21:21
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ It sounded like they were bored. Like the battles tide had already Been determined and they were coming back a couple weeks later to finish going through the motions of killing off what was left of the encounter. Sorry about the grammar and lack of paragraph breaks, I assume the speech doesn't need to be meticulously formatted to convey the \$\endgroup\$
    – PreCorpse
    Mar 25 at 10:03

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .