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Aren't Combats taking too much time ?


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#1 le_renard

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 11:22 AM

 OK. You can start throwing things on me and start to build a pyre ( I am red-haired actually )....

After a few sessions I definitely have the feeling that combats are taking too much playing time.
I know that it is part of the Warhammer world and everything, I also know that we may not know the rules well enough, but well... my players and I have share the same feeling.

Is anybody here feeling that too ?
Do you have some creative solutions to avoid it ?


 

 



#2 HedgeWizard

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 11:34 AM

It might help if we had a better idea on what you're experiencing:

How long are your combats taking? What is "too long?"  What other systems have you played that are faster?

How big are your engagements? How many PCs at the table? Are you using henchmen? Are you using any concept of morale for enemies (i.e. they break during combat after certain losses/effects)?



#3 le_renard

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 11:56 AM

I don't play any other rpg besides Warhammer... (I used to.. back in the Chaosium system days... that wasn't much faster I guess )
During the last session, my players ( a group of 3...  a Troll Slayer, an apprentice wizard and a good elf archer ) had to fight against a bunch of basic zombies ( 6 non henchmen ones, impossible to use Morale with them ^^ )
The session lasted more or less 3 1/2 hours, the combat itself took an hour or so.
The zombies didn't put the players in danger but I have felt that the combat took too many time... it was like a break into the nice rhythm and pace of the adventure, almost like a game within the game.
 



#4 Emirikol

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 12:21 PM

I absolutely cannot stand long player and GM turns.  I had 3e D&D perfected, then 4e came and ruined everything, so I switched to WFRP3. I came into this game with the same attitude:  It had better run fast, or at least be able to be house ruled to run fast, or I was going to dump it.

Most rules-heavy gamers are not about to like what I'm going to admit about this game (close your eyes and flee!).

First, this is a brilliant game system that most GMs have not figured out how to "trim the fat."  You do not need to use all the extra "fat" components of this game for every encounter.  I've cut a LOT of the fat out of this game..mainly by going 'rules medium' where we only use the cards we absolutely need.

Here's what my in-depth, double-blind, database-reviewed, research found:
* Everything below takes a "little" time.  All totaled, it takes a LOT of time.
* Players who sit and ponder their turns are the biggest part of the problem.  That includes the GM.  Players must be reminded to take their actions BEFORE the next person is done with theirs.  This isn't a tabletop mini's game.  Players do not get to "wait" until the next person goes and then decide.  It happens AT THE SAME TIME.  This is especially true if their initiatives are at the same moment. If it's a major roleplaying issue, or life & death, I'll slow things down, but otherwise, I don't tolerate slow play.
* Not having enough dice slows things down.  I bought more dice and told my players I expect them to bring dice too.
* Defenses (and anything else with a pointless recharge of 2) slows things down.  We dumped recharge on defenses.  You get ONE per opponent per round. Is it more powerful?  Yep, by about 8.67%.
* Players need to be faster on tracking action recharge.  Stop the formality of your turn and get it down when your turn is over. Eyeball it if you have to.
* Tracking TALENT recharges slows things down.  (see solutions next)
* Rally phase slows things down, as does anything else where you have to look up a rule, or not everyone is "interested" in learning the rule and they perpetually have to ask someone else. (see solutions next)
* Counting and shuffling cards and chits slow things down.  Some pencil and paper is faster (you betcha'!)
* Even having the basic action cards on the table instead of a summary sheet (any version!) slows things down.  If you're not requiring a summary sheet instead of having players sorting through all those cards, you're slowing your game down.
* Having too much stuff on the table slows things down.  Again, having all basic action cards, career card, basic defenses, career info sheet, and non-exhaust talents scattered about a players area slows things down.

We instituted the following house rules:
* We dumped party sheets to the curb.  Neat mechanic, but didn't get used enough and just wasted my time.  If I want to penalize the PC's with stress, I'll just do it.  I don't need a card to track this.
* We dumped "socketing" of talents to the curb.  Neat mechanic, but it sucks up unecessary time and it doesn't make any sense.  Do you know what the hell you're doing or not?  Am I proficient in observation or not?  There is no artificial socketing. You check it off. You don't shuffle the card.
* Exhaustible talents are not "tracked."  They are exhausted for the encounter.  Weaker?  Yep, but since we don't socket, it doesn't matter. 
* I'm toying with the idea of dumping the Rally Phase.  Neat mechanic.  What's the point though but to slow down combats even more?  Is it really that difficult for the GM to just stay in round-to -round? Another solution:  If you don't have a "rule summary card" for rally phases, and are looking it up or having 2 players who kinda' know the rule referencing the other player who may know the rule, or having the GM look up the rule for the 5th time, it's obviously slowing the game down.
* Location cards are also on my chopping block.  Players pay about as much attention to those as they did the party sheet.
* On the character sheets, we have an asterisk behind the skills that are modified by any other ability. This is a CHARACTER SHEET ISSUE.  If you're looking back and forth between that microscopic-eye-popping official character sheet, cards.. and specializations.. and fortune dice ..and your action card ..and your human ability ..and your career ability, ..and equipment quality...that takes time.  Just have it all written behind the SKILL (hence was my relief on all these smart new character sheet designs -> BRAVO!).
* All counters are generic.  You aren't flipping them over and making sure they're the right color, and making sure they smell right, and are trimmed of all hanging chads, and that they're aligned right on your character sheet..and generally slowing the game down!  (I use lots of , ands in the sentence to make the point that every ,and is another waste of the other players' time.)
* Where possible, counters are replaced by paper and pencil.  About the only thing people use counters for now is for the position on stance, and recharge on action cards.

As the GM, I streamlined some things:
* I don't search for condition cards.  Players get a sheet with all that stuff on it.  If they want a card, they can search for one.
* I don't nit-pick ACE dice.  I throw a couple in here and there.  Tracking this crap is a major slow down. What?  Am I an accountant?
* I make combats count.  D&D4e style combats with 800 varying opponents are neat and all for a miniatures wargame like D&D, but in WFRP, they're just gaudy and ruins the game.  Tune your monsters better.  Get better hits right off the bat, wound the players, and run away leaving one big baddie for the PCs to take out.  If you're not having monsters dropping every round, you're doing it wrong (IMHO).
* I only use cards for significant Monsters:  All monsters get put into an album sheet with their actions and a piece of post-it stuck to it.  Post-it tracks wounds.  Action cards are stuck with the monster.
* If GM doesn't have a basic actions summary sheet on the table and have his "pointless fodder monsters" using basic melee strike instead of the trivial variants in the monster guides, he's slowing things down.
* I have a simple chart for unresolved Chaos Stars and Comets.  It's a d10.  I don't waste my time on unresolved banes/boons unless it's crucial to roleplaying.
 

Prep
* If the GM doesn't prep for combat, it's going to be slow.  It's one thing to read the module, it's totally another to actually know what the monster abilities are.
* Players MUST have their character sheets updated with all modifiers noted behind their relevant skills.
* Players MUST have their total damage, total soak, and defense calculated and in an easily readable spot!  Calculating..every..single..round..is..for..D...and..D..not...W...F..R.....P....
* All players have enough dice, chits, and a basic action sheet in front of them.
* You need to have your wound cards organized and other cards that get used should be in a good, solid location.
* Keep extra dice on the table in front of the players so they don't have to wait to find extra
* Definitely don't use the stance rings that are on the stand-up bases.  What kind of time-wasting idea were those anyways?
* Every group should have a HOW HEALING WORKS DURING COMBAT summary sheet within reach.  This can include insanity if necessary. Again, there's always 1-2 players who on the odd-game have to use an ability that they rarely have to reference..and then suddenly, you find yourself, or the one 'rules guy' looking it up, and then someone says 'I'm not sure your opinion is correct.' etc. 

All of the above are just my quick solutions we used to get rid of the boardgamey-slow-down-aspects of the game.  Many people love those aspects, and I mean no offense to those who do. I like them too.  I think they are novel and fun, but I prefer a faster, smoother running game.

Encourage faster play and dice interp from your players and you'll get a much faster game, even if you still use socketing, party sheets, counters on the right color/side, and sorting condition cards during the middle of the action :)

 



#5 le_renard

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 12:34 PM

Hey ! A lot of very good ideas in this !
We're already using our own home-made character sheet and the good old pen to track wounds etc...
I wanted to try those mechanics before dumping them, but now I can clearly see that there's too many things to track for me out-of-the-box.
I constantly feel like I'd need to use a computer ( actually I use one behind my screen to roll aaaaaaall those dice and trigger some music and background sounds ) to automatize things, count A/C/E and everything...
Thanks a lot for all your suggestions !
( I have to go back to the drawing board for Liber Fanatica's next issue ! )



#6 Emirikol

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 01:10 PM

I still think it's just how it's lined up with skills.  When you're referencing multiple things off the page (i.e. effects that should just be 'right there' next to your skill), you could save a bunch of time by just having good character sheet design and fewer 'unnecessary' things in the game. Once you get more proficient, feel free to add them back in :)

I hate to hear anyone mention the need for a computer...gaak, it's why I fled from D&D4e. That game was impossible to house rule.  At least with WFRP3, there's a lot of wiggle room for customization.

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#7 Fenderstat

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 11:34 PM

 Personally I think combat is the most boring part of the game, especially if it's not handled correctly.  Think about it, you can have the most dynamic bad guy NPC, he could be moving through social circles, foil the players at every turn, your entire campaign is foreshadowing a confrontation of epic proportions and you make this guy so believable that the pcs loathe him.  You've caught up to him, it's jsut you and him now, he tells his story attempting to justify his evil actions and then he brings out the steel to either finish you off or go out in a blaze of glory  Suddenly when combat starts he turns into a microsoft excell spreadsheet in which you damage him with the power of addition and subtraction.  "I melee strike" 3 wounds "I melee strike" 3 wounds "I melee strike" 3 wounds.  BORING!!  So much useless tracking!  Pen and paper is the way for NPC traking.  Jay is correct, cut the fat you don't need to follow the book to the letter.

 

 If your players are screwing you around don't let players sit around eating chips if there slowing the game down!  If your players take to long thinking of something and they are holding up the game say "too slow!  Bad guy gets another turn" B"ut it's my turn!!" They will say and you say "What he's waiting there reading the bloody paper while you decide wether you will melee strike or nimble strike him because you have more fortune points on agility but your strength is a higher characteristic, No!  He's going to realise his arch nemesis is a dimwitted retard and he will take advantage of your indecisiveness!"

 

Drop the NPC tokens wherever you can (stress etc, managing recharge, ACE) so what if your a round out on a recharge before you use it again if you forget "But that's not fair" whines the obese min maxer eatin cheesels and drinkin soda "SHUT UP MUNCHKIN!" You reply "stop waisting my time!  Why don't you run a game for once you leech!"  And roll 3 criticals and trigger the severed leg injury on his lamo toughness 30 troll slayer that he built for no other purpose other than to break your game.

 

On the topic of the spread sheet.  I generally run loose rules and make the players describe or improvise their actions.

 "I use melee strike" they will say *rolls* "hits for 9 damage"

You reply "Ok he takes three wounds.  Bad guy uses acrobatic strike are you going to do anything?"

"I'll dodge"says player

*rolls*

"Bad guy misses"

BORING!!  What is this Pokemon?!  Klaus uses Melee strike, it's super effective!!  No it's not pokemon it's warhammer!  The act of naming an ability you use and leaving it at that is as mentally interesting as reading a recipe book, use 1 cup of flour, use 1 teaspoon of sugar.....

Simple descriptions can improve elongated combat tenfold and make it far more enjoyable, cuz there are some fights which takes forever no matter what you do!  Example

 

"I'm going to slash at his torso" the will say indicating melee strike *rolls* "and connects"

"Your attack breaks his guard and leaves a red gash on his chest" you will say noting down wounds on a piece of paper (rather than waisting time dealing wounds to every single npc in the encounter.

"He gets ready to attack:" says you

"I'll dodge left" says the player

"The attacker feints left then right and slices at your leg" you say indicating acrobatic strike.  *Rolls dice*.  "You barely avoid his blow"

"Ok I'll swing hard at his left" says the player indicating Thunderous blow.

 

Getting everyone to pay attention keeps combat fluid and the only way people pay attention is if they feel they are being engaged.  Suddenly your epic confrontation is as epic as it should be!

 

 

 


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#8 Sausageman

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 12:23 AM

Crikey - you guys sound FIERCE!  It's still a game where people gather to have fun, right?  :)



#9 Fenderstat

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 12:41 AM

NO SUCH THING AS FUN!!!  AND IT ALSO RAINS ALL THE TIME IN MY GAME!!!!!

 

Nah seriously I can be a bit harsh but it works for my group and I expect the same when I play (we switch roles), we'll see how well my new guys like it......


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#10 le_renard

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 01:07 AM

Hilarious and useful...
Thanks guys.



#11 JasonRR

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 03:11 AM

I come from a D&D background and WFRP is much faster with the same players. I don't use any house rules to speed play or anything like that, but I do expect my players to know what their characters can do. That and asking that they plan their turn when it is not their turn is usually enough to speed combat along. Honestly I think those two things are the most important part of speeding any game. 

1. Know the rules.

2. Plan ahead.



#12 Emirikol

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 03:56 AM

Fenderstat said:

If your players are screwing you around don't let players sit around eating chips if there slowing the game down!  If your players take to long thinking of something and they are holding up the game say "too slow!  Bad guy gets another turn" B"ut it's my turn!!" They will say and you say "What he's waiting there reading the bloody paper while you decide wether you will melee strike or nimble strike him because you have more fortune points on agility but your strength is a higher characteristic, No!  He's going to realise his arch nemesis is a dimwitted retard and he will take advantage of your indecisiveness!"

Drop the NPC tokens wherever you can (stress etc, managing recharge, ACE) so what if your a round out on a recharge before you use it again if you forget "But that's not fair" whines the obese min maxer eatin cheesels and drinkin soda "SHUT UP MUNCHKIN!" You reply "stop waisting my time!  Why don't you run a game for once you leech!"  And roll 3 criticals and trigger the severed leg injury on his lamo toughness 30 troll slayer that he built for no other purpose other than to break your game.

 

Go Fen!  I too have a secret disdain for players that just 'show up' and haven't  had the 'time' to so much as update their character (or get even the player's guide).

I think players want the following to keep them interested in a campaign (based on some recent healthcare industry research).  Funny as this is what we see needed in gaming and in dr's offices:

1.  Individualization, to have a character they feel is unique.
2. To be around people that are having a good time -that's why it's important for the GM to come in with a happy, fun, action-packed attitude (GM is not allowed to admit he's having a bad day if he wants to have a fun group..plus we game to get away from real life, not to hear you whine about your day..go see your therapist if you need therapy).
3. To have a GM that is proficient in running the game. 
4. To have a game that runs in a timely fashion.

 

So, like Fen says, there are ways to make each round unique without saying "melee strike."  I perpetually ask players, what weapon did you atttack with?

Have a good attitude as a GM.  Don't be sluggish.  Drink a mountain dew if you must.

Prepare

Keep your players moving. Demand more of them by simply keeping them involved.

 

jh

 

 

..



#13 Crazy Aido

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 09:30 AM

Fenderstat said:

NO SUCH THING AS FUN!!!  AND IT ALSO RAINS ALL THE TIME IN MY GAME!!!!!

 

Nah seriously I can be a bit harsh but it works for my group and I expect the same when I play (we switch roles), we'll see how well my new guys like it......

 

Eeeeep...

 

I was doing alot of that stuff you mentioned above. The annoying stuff, in particular. So yeah, sorry.

 

I am going to play devil's advocate here, since alot of the stuff that Emrikol has mentioned, as well as things other people have talked about, don't really stall my game. Social stuff stalls my game. How? Because everyone knows how to make me laugh, and I find too many things funny. They do seem, from my perspective, to get very involved. To the point that they have their universal character traits, at this stage, pretty solid. The watchman is looking for a fugitive. He asks everyone. The trollslayer has a nasty habit of loping bits off monsters and keeping them. The gold wizard keeps scamming people. Nobody lets the Burgher open his mouth. I guess I'm not complaining about this because after yet another discussion about the exact metric capacity of a barrel, everyone is still smiling, also, dice are still being rolled and players are still doing something. The game advances, and there is a sense of acheivement or advancement...Or some such.

 

I am, currently, fairly happy with combat, beleive it or not. I use everything, but the players have picked it all up pretty quickly and are now slotting, exhuasting and adding recharge tokens automatically, so I don't find it slows down play. They also have a good grasp of what their actions do, in an abstract sense rather than a hard numbers way (The watchman player refers to the saga of Grungni as "storytime"). Combat is not the be all and end all of my games. At least I hope not. So having the odd session where someone gets their face caved in is a welcome break. However, I will decide, at some point, that a particular situation is going to require a balls-to-the-wall effort, at which point the players will have to start being creative and working together.



#14 Fenderstat

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 10:41 AM

 Don't worry aido I was going t jump down anyones throats for a two hit kill on a goblin, l'll mention it next session

 

PS As you have much more to worry about than a lone hungry pantry thief...


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#15 shinma

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 01:17 PM

I'm not going to criticize Emrikol's ideas per se, but I will mention that you have to be careful about balance.  Doing away with ACE for example can cause serious issues.

To add to his suggestions, bring dice.  I have a bagful of d6's for recharge tokens, and use a handful of d20's to track wounds on monsters.  This works way faster than chits, or paper for me.

I definitely, definitely want to stress doing upkeep (end of turn token shifting) after your turn is done.  The 'location' cards add flavor, and more often than not help me resolve chaos stars and loose banes.  I have some quick-n-dirty gotos for effects there (I'd love to hear your d10 list Em), but usually the player rolls, and if there isn't a star/bane effect on his card he looks up waiting.  The location cards are more for me than the players.

I would recommend you do not get rid of Rally Steps.  They balance reckless stance vs conservative.  If your players are having trouble remembering what it does or what it means, print out a sheet like you do with the other rules.  For us it has 3 purposes.  1.  It regens stress/fatigue which is critical.  2. It allows for 1 quick first aid (which again, the players have pools written down for). 3. If you roll off your stress/fatigue quickly, it's a chance to grab that drink, hit the bathroom and be back and ready to rock.

As for combats - make them matter.  Fender had the right idea, but may not have explained the why's behind it in detail.  Here's how I handle it (for over a year now).

My games are mostly social/investigative for 2-3 sessions ending with a terminus session that has a batch of combat.  The PCs don't start fights for no reason, but this isn't DnD. There is NO REASON to have random combat.  You don't get treasure.  You don't get clues.  You don't get XP for killing things.  Putting random combat in is pointless.  I stress that again, there is no POINT to random acts of combat.

Our fights are over in 3 rounds or less.  Either the PCs drop like flies, or the NPCs drop like flies.  When 2 PCs caught a lone Skaven up on a rooftop? Bam, 2 rounds, ~5mins.  Giant demon dropping 18 point hits? Yea, it's either sink or swim time and the fight is decided in the first 2-3 blow exchanges.  We never have 'melee strike, I hit for 3 damage'.  We have sigmarites igniting hammers in golden flame charging in praying.  We have duelists singling out combatants and perfoming critical finishers.  We have our noble ordering combat, shouting encouragement and standing over the fallen.  If a fight is not epic - either make it trivial or cinematize.

What do I mean by trivial?  Why did you have 6 zombies?  If you wanted to show there are zombies, make it 2 sets of minions (#party sets each).  They get some white-die boosted early hits to scare the PCs, and then drop like flies.  Combat over in 20 mins or less.  If you just want to demonstrate that they're there and you don't want to jump on the 'grim and perilous' button have the PCs each narrate something cool they do (add some white/black dice for narration), and decide on a difficulty level of the encounter (2 purples!) and roll a couple dice.  Banes are fatigue, Failures (crossed swords) are wounds, chaos stars are a crit.  Combat done in no time, and you move on.

You should have a 1-2hr combat when life is on the line, and the PCs get to be AWESOME and die gloriously, or succeed epicly.  If you do this they'll have the stories about the time the demon altered reality, shredded the roof, and they fought in the midst of floating tiles, with 1000 eyes of tzeench peering from the portal from behind the demon.  They likely won't remember the zombie combat.

Be awesome. Stay epic.

#salutes

 



#16 Bloody Sun Boy

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 05:32 PM

Lots of good advice posted already.  My experience has been that combats are generally over quickly in WFRP3, usually because more than 3 or 4 rounds results in mangled limbs and corpses.  With as many different elements that go on during a combat scene though, I can see the potential for the game to get bogged down.  This is especially prone to happen if the group hasn't really found their comfort-level with the system yet.  It takes some repetition to develop an organic flow for each player's turn.

Let me share some insights that I've had after running a bit of 3rd Ed.:

1) ORGANIZE!!!  In a game that spreads its information out amongst variety of resources, you will benefit greatly by simply being neat and organized with them.  For example:

- I bought a "business card holder" from Office Depot ($5) which is only about 7.5" x 3.5".  In that space, I can neatly store all Wound, Condition, Insanity, Disease, Mutation and Miscast cards.  The rows are staggered which makes them instantly visible and quick to draw when needed.  Having them in the holder prevents the cards from getting knocked over if they were simply left on the table as decks...a major annoyance and time-waster.

- I bought 2.5-inch "bead trays" from the Sewing section of Walmart ($2 for 4 trays) to hold tokens (Fatigue, Stress, Corruption, Generic) and place those trays at the center of the table where all players can reach them.  This gives easy access to them to let the players manage themselves.  So, when I tell Fred that his character takes 1 Fatigue, I don't waste time picking up a token and handing it to him.  I move on while Fred grabs and places it himself.  They are also a blessing for storage because the trays screw on top of each other, forming a tower and preventing spillage.

- I keep cards for "encounters" grouped together and logically ordered.  If I know an encounter with goblins is going to happen at a ruined shrine, I'll keep the Location card, goblin cards and goblin actions grouped together so that I can pick them up and not waste time searching through multiple groupings of cards.  Likewise, if I know that certain "encounters" are likely to occur before others, I will stack them as a deck, in order from first to last, usually preceded by their relevant Location card(s).

- I keep all the dice in a central location within easy reach of all players.  Like token management, I let the players assemble the dice they need so I don't have to bother passing them around.  Having at least some extra dice helps.  Even a single dice pack has helped greatly on keeping my players supplied (I run for 4 players, FYI).

2) REDUCE TOKEN-CLUTTER!!!  To be quite honest, the cardboard tokens supplied by the game and used to track everything from Recharge to Fortune Points to Fatigue and Wounds on monsters are a real pain to deal with.  They lack "heft" which constantly causes them to drift around the table and the double-sided nature is actually a curse at times.  They are difficult to pick up, occasionally hard to see and fumbling a handful of them on recharging actions takes too much time.  They are just generally too hard to tell apart at a cluttered game table and so I have decidedly ditched most of them in favor of the following substitutes:

- (Fatigue/Stress/Fortune) I bought bags of glass beads ($3 a bag for more beads than I'll ever use) from Hobby Lobby.  Red=Fatigue.  Blue=Stress.  Green=Fortune (I was looking for opaque white but they didn't have any).  They are hefty, colorful and shiny in a way that makes them easy to see.  They are large enough to make them obvious at the table and are much easier to pick up than flat cardboard chits.

- (Recharge/ACE Pools) Shinma mentioned this above but I bought a handful of cheap six-sided dice to use for both myself and my players to track Recharge.  I cannot stress how much quicker and more convenient this is for managing recharging cards.  The dice I bought specifically were "Bicycle" brand dice from the dollar store ($1 for 5 dice) which actually have a nice, unexpected advantage to them: the "1" face also has "Bicycle" printed on it in bold, red letters.  This is a delightfully handy tool as you get a visual cue as to which cards are about to recharge.  I also use some of these dice to track ACE for each monster group by placing them at the bottom edge of the monster card, one under each category.

- (NPC Wounds) Tracking NPC Wounds with actual Wound cards or cardboard chits is a nightmare.  I've tried two approaches thus far.  First is Post-it Notes on the monster cards.  Just make marks as the enemy takes damange.  I've found that I'm not so fond of this method however as a) the note often obscures important parts of the card and b) counting hatch-marks in the middle of an encounter sometimes gets hazy.  Alternately, I've tried tracking NPC Wounds with some of my spare six-siders.  This has worked reasonably well and better than Post-it's, though I'm still trying to devise ways to make it even smoother.

3) ONLY BRING THE CARDS YOU NEED!!! You don't need to bring every single deck of cards to each session.  In fact, you may not need certain decks or types of cards at all!  For example, my group currently has no spell-casters.  Therefore, I don't need to bring the Miscast deck to my sessions at all.  That's one stack of cards I don't have to fumble with.  It also means I don't need to bring the "Spell" or "Blessing" Action cards because none of the PCs are eligible to acquire them right now anyway.

- Only bring the NPC/Monster cards and Actions that you know you will need or think you might need for the adventure.  You may want a few "stock" NPC cards (Merchants, Soldiers, Beastmen, etc) on hand just in case the PCs do things you weren't expecting but you don't need to tote your entire Creature Vault with you.  It's a distraction, takes up space and can waste your time.

4) HELP YOUR PLAYERS BE SELF-SUFFICIENT!!! As GM, you have to manage a LOT of stuff.  Obvioulsy, the more you have to focus on, the longer it's going to take you.  Getting your players to manage things like understanding and tracking their PC's Actions, Talents, Conditions, Recharge, etc will take a whole lot off your shoulders.  Tell them do the book-keeping when its not their turn so that the game keeps moving.  Putting resources in their reach (like Fatigue/Stress/Corruption tokens) gives them the ability to do the work for you so that you can move on to someone else.

There are a few things that you can remove from the game if you want to reduce clutter and increase the speed of play:

- The Party Sheet: Unless your group is really making regular use of it, it can easily be tossed out.  It has its advantages (primarily allowing the PCs to "share" Talents) but it can also just take up space on the table and be "yet another tracker" to distract you if it isn't finding a positive place in your game.

- Location Cards: I don't use the rules on them but I actually quite like them to help create a visual cue for where characters are and illustrate some of the surrounding terrain layout.  Again, if they are helpful to you as a visual reference, great!  Keep 'em!  If they are just another distraction, you won't lose much by ditching them.

- Critical Wounds for NPCs: In my games, unless an NPC is intended to be a recurring enemy who will bear the scars of his/her confrontations with the PCs, I don't bother drawing Critical Wounds.  They just add extra complexity to a character that's probably going to die in the next few rounds or flee never to be seen again anyway.  I simply use the "Critical Severity = Extra Wounds" rule for all NPCs.  This technique is doubly-useful as doing it will not only simplify the table but will cause foes to drop and/or lose morale more quickly, which will speed up your combats as well.

I hope some of this is useful to you.  Let me know if there are any questions.



#17 le_renard

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 09:21 PM

Thanks a lot to all of you. Every tip or suggestion is precious as I want to improve my GM skills and keep my group asking for another session from time to time ( we're also into boardgames and not "hardcore" rpg-gamers )...

I think I'm quite organized ( boxes and trays for the small cards, tokens and everything... ). 

I still think there's some "fat" in the game that I personaly don't need, even if I can perfectly understand that it's part of the experience for others.
Reading your replies let me think that, since we're not playing every week and so on, we may not have acquired all the reflexes and knowledge necessary to make everything flow like it should. I will work on that, for sure.

I will let you know how things are evolving !

Thanks, once again...

 



#18 doc_cthulhu

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 09:52 PM

Most excellent thread! 

I might add that THE thing to make the games go faster is to plead/force/bribe your players to familiarize themselves with at least the basic rules. We've been playing for about 10 sessions and most my players are still clueless of what's going on mechanically. It is frustrating. 


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#19 Bloody Sun Boy

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 02:12 AM

doc_cthulhu said:

Most excellent thread! 

I might add that THE thing to make the games go faster is to plead/force/bribe your players to familiarize themselves with at least the basic rules. We've been playing for about 10 sessions and most my players are still clueless of what's going on mechanically. It is frustrating. 

This definately makes a huge difference!  I've been very fortunate that my players have seemingly picked up the game instinctively.  For one of my players, he only has 2 sessions experience with WFRP3 (and is relatively new to RPGs on top of that) and he picked up the game right away.  Then again, I've been told that I explain the game mechanics very well and I deliberately spent some time during our character creation session to demonstrate the rules and answer questions.

So, yes, spend time with your players to make sure they understand the core of the game and you will have a much smoother (and faster) experience!



#20 Crazy Aido

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 03:09 AM

shinma said:

 

To add to his suggestions, bring dice.  I have a bagful of d6's for recharge tokens, and use a handful of d20's to track wounds on monsters.  This works way faster than chits, or paper for me.

I definitely, definitely want to stress doing upkeep (end of turn token shifting) after your turn is done.  The 'location' cards add flavor, and more often than not help me resolve chaos stars and loose banes.  I have some quick-n-dirty gotos for effects there (I'd love to hear your d10 list Em), but usually the player rolls, and if there isn't a star/bane effect on his card he looks up waiting.  The location cards are more for me than the players.

I would recommend you do not get rid of Rally Steps.  They balance reckless stance vs conservative.  If your players are having trouble remembering what it does or what it means, print out a sheet like you do with the other rules.  For us it has 3 purposes.  1.  It regens stress/fatigue which is critical.  2. It allows for 1 quick first aid (which again, the players have pools written down for). 3. If you roll off your stress/fatigue quickly, it's a chance to grab that drink, hit the bathroom and be back and ready to rock.

 

+1 to all of the above. I admit to being unused to using the rally step properly, or not having enough of them, between combats rather than just at the end of an encounter. It's the sort of thing I hope to remedy in an extreme fashion in the immiediate future. Dice do the business, especially for tracking bad guy stuff. They are especially good for me in terms of henchmen, since I tend to give them two or three "hits" a peice and then a giant pool of fortune dice.






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