So Wednesday night, my home group got together and played out the combat encounter that the players had made plans for the previous session. Strangely between when the last session ended and this most recent session, I read a post by The Angry GM about controlling the game. Running a 4th Edition campaign for more than 2 years, I do know the complaint that combat takes too long. A friend of mine who’s also a DM has always suggested that combat encounters shouldn’t be an an exercise in which side can kill of the other first, that combat can be an obstacle to a real objective, like recovering an item or moving through an area. And in the past that’s something I’ve done as well.
I knew the players’ plan and they would basically be engaging in two combat encounters at once. The original plan for the encounters was the straight forward kill the enemies and explore the tower sort. I knew between 7 players and the large number of npcs, this session had the potential to be a very long, drawn out affair.
One thing I try to do get across to my players during combat encounters is that their turn is for action. While other players are up, they need to be paying attention to the situation. It does happen from time to time another player’s action or my actions controlling the npcs will throw off a player’s plan, but keeping an eye on the board means adjusting to the situation. One thing I did as the DM was keep an eye on the situation. When it became clear that the players were moving from really cool tactics and powers to mop up duties, I called the encounter.