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Faster Combat, Faster (Part 2)

Edward Burne-Jones - Saint George Fighting the DragonIn the first part of this series, we explored some things you could do to speed up combat without adjusting the rules. The following are three simple ways to speed combats up by making rules modifications, and each one has an increasingly larger effect on the game system than the one before it.

Two-Hit Minions

One of the great things 4E brought to D&D was the minion. They are designed to take a hit and go down—never to be heard from again. Two-hit minions fit a similar narrative situation as the standard 4E minion. They are the mooks of the dungeon and are designed to be mowed down in droves. Using them will mess with the healing economy of the game a bit, but because you will get more encounters resolved in a session, good pacing of the encounters can balance this.

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Faster Combat, Faster (Part 1)

Edward Burne-Jones - Saint George Fighting the DragonYou might have heard the following words said or written many times since June 2008, which is when 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons was released: “Combat takes forever.” No doubt you have also heard many solutions to this.

In deciding what to do about the speed of 4E combat, it is important to know what everyone at the table is looking for out of the game. Each person’s perspective on the time it takes for combat will be influenced by how much he or she cares about different elements of the game. In its work on D&D Next, Wizards of the Coast has identified three pillars of D&D: exploration, roleplaying, and combat. Players who prefer to spend a lot of their game time in exploration or roleplaying will typically find 4E combats to be time-consuming because it isn’t what they want from the game, while players who are more interested in combat will find 4E combat long only in certain situations. It is important to understand what your group wants before trying to change the rules to shorten combat length.

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Legendary Locations of Midgard: Dynamic Environments (Part 2)

Jacob Isaakszoon van RuisdaelWe continue the look at legendary locations of Midgard in part 2 of the Dynamic Encounters series. Next up is Missala, with its tortured inhabitants.

Missala, the Indolent Island (Page 140)

The ruins of the diamond palace are on this small island. Long abandoned, its only inhabitants are the pained remnants of the once living. The legends of vast fortunes lying in the ruins encourage the occasional adventuring party into the palace, but only the hardiest survive their time among the tortured souls of the former residents.

Missala, the Indolent Island     Level 12

Dynamic Terrain     XP 700

Constant Penalty: –2 Endurance, –2 Heal

Stage 5: The first time in each encounter that a PC needs to make a death saving throw, the PC automatically fails.

PCs gain vulnerable 10 necrotic.

Stage 4: PCs regain only half hit points from healing effects.

PCs gain vulnerable 5 necrotic.

Stage 3: After an extended rest, PCs regain all but two of their healing surges.

PCs gain vulnerable 5 necrotic.

Stage 2: After an extended rest, PCs regain all but two of their healing surges.

Stage 1 (initial): After an extended rest, PCs regain all but one of their healing surges.

Stage 0: The PCs feel uneasy, as if darkness is crawling under their skin.

Success/Failure Criteria

Success: A PC rolls a 20 on a death saving throw.

Failure: Every milestone reached within Missala.

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Legendary Locations of Midgard: Dynamic Environments (Part 1)

Jacob Isaakszoon van RuisdaelThe world of Midgard is filled with wondrous locations, from the Ghostlight Forest in the west to the Dragoncoil Mountains in the east. Some of these extraordinary places present a challenge to those who adventure there, such as the Bleak Expanse with its vicious cold that hampers mundane tasks, or the warped magic in the Ruins of Thorn that play havoc with the flow of time.

This article presents a selection of these extraordinary locations as dynamic environments. Dynamic environments are similar to the fantastic terrain found in the 4th Edition Dungeon Master’s Guide and Dungeon Master’s Guide 2; however, the effects change over time depending on the actions the player characters take. It is not an encounter by itself; rather it is added to encounters to provide a more distinct challenge and should therefore be taken into account when planning encounters. The PCs gain the XP for the environment only when they have moved the track to stage 0.

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Turning the Tide: Morale in D&D 4E

Edward Burne-Jones - Saint George Fighting the Dragon Is it better to stand and fight to the death, or to run away when the tide of the battle turns against you? Logic and idioms say it’s better to run away and live to fight another day. So why, in Dungeons & Dragons, have the old rules for monster morale been forgotten, when they could vastly shorten the length of combat?

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