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RPG» Forums » General Discussion » General Role-Playing

Subject: QOTD FEB 4: What's your balance between combat and roleplaying per session? rss

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Patrick Zoch
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A question suggested by

Joseph Hellar
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What's your balance between combat and roleplaying per session?


Do you have a question you want asked as QOTD? Post here!

And if you want to find an old QOTD: The big QOTD Summary and Subscription Thread Volume 3
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Chris L
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Not that combat isn't roleplaying, but I tend to work in a 15-20 minute action scene of some description every hour or so, so somewhere around 25%ish action (though this isn't necessarily a fight per se).
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Steffan O'Sullivan
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Totally depends on the genre. Swashbuckling: maybe 15% to 30% combat. B&B: rarely more than 10%, sometimes 0 (with only the threat of violence, which can be over half the session). Everything else: 5% to 20%.
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William Hostman
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Varies by group, system, setting, and mood. And upon how far they get.

For star wars, I tend to use 1 skill challenge, 2-3 small combats or 1 big one, 2-3 non-combat scenes (that sometimes turn into combat scenes)

For Sentinel Comics, well... of the 6 adventures, for 5 of them, almost every scene is a conflict... the 6th? lots of skill challenges. Dungeon crawls don't work well in supers.
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Bruce McGeorge
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We like combat. Gasp! I know!

Our regular GM - who typically runs dungeon crawling fantasy - it probably averages a 50/50 mix. And that's 50% actual combat and 50% everything else.

I don't run dungeon crawling fantasy, so my games are somewhat less combat focused. It maybe averages 25-33%? The exception would be supers - which I haven't run in a long time.
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True Blue Jon
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I don't know how to answer this since we roleplay throughout combat.
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William Hostman
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quozl wrote:
I don't know how to answer this since we roleplay throughout combat.
combat vs non-combat would seem to be the right way to answer.
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Rebus Carnival
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combat vs boring
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Roger
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I run Adventure League so it depends which players show up.
Here is link from my dungeon of mad mage sessions
http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?655230-Jasper-DM...

Friday 3 combat encounters, I going to say 9 rooms. Took almost 4 hours but the group were have in character table talk a lot. It fun to watch them do so. But occasionally I have to just move them to the next room, or demand a decision.
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Mark Wilson
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Like others have said, it depends. And yes, you can roleplay in combat. But we all more or less understand the question, no? So I'll try to answer it in the spirit in which I think it's intended.

D&D has its three pillars of play which - in a theoretical vacuum - should take up about 1/3 each. In practice, the "Exploration" pillar takes up the least in most groups. Mine is no exception, though I've not considered exactly how much of the world/city/realm traveling might qualify as this.

But, conservatively, if that's 20%, Social Interaction and Combat are (again, theoretically) 40%/40%. In practice...that actually sounds about right. Session to session it could be 70/10 toward one or the other. But collectively, there's lots of both.

So. 40% on average, at a guess. Outside D&D, it would undoubtedly vary, but I play others stuff sporadically, at best. So I don't have enough sessions under my belt for other games to form an accurate estimation.
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Alexandre Santos
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This depends a lot on setting.

Fantasy or Zombie RPGs : about 30-50%

Tales from the Loop : 0-10%?

Lovecraftian RPGs : 0-20%

Something like that...
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Mario Silva
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i try to have conflict resolution at every turn and the role playing that goes with it.
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Brian M
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I agree that 'combat and roleplaying' is an odd dichotomy; roleplaying can happen during combat, and there's a lot of stuff that can happen which isn't combat but in which players aren't roleplaying much either.

Really varies a lot. In 4e D&D, we enjoyed combat, so sessions ran heavy combat. With a mix of other stuff. But roleplaying does happen during combat - one of the more memorable moments was when a PC had the choice to pursue her truly hated fleeing foe or rescue the rest of the party, who she'd been only somewhat grudgingly travel with. Realizing that these people had become her friends and she couldn't let them down was a very important character moment.

In other genres, potentially a lot less combat, though by far most RPGs tend to have the most useful systems for combat, so that winds up being the default situation to have in a lot of games. The last time I was going to run a game that was going to be low or no combat I just gave up on using a system because I couldn't think of any system that would actually help the game over just playing freeform.
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Chad Bowser
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It comes down to the mood and whim of the group. It's hard to find a through line across the three pillars of exploration, social interaction, and combat with my groups.

There have been enjoyable sessions where it was nothing but easing our way through an enemy territory undetected. Other times, we're interacting with various factions for four hours trying to avoid a fight. Then, there's those occasions where we duke it out for a whole night.

Those extremes are rare, but the swing from one pillar to another is really hard to gauge. That's even when the events of the previous session are taken into accounnt.
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Joe D
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It definitely depends on the group, as well as the style of game.

A dungeon crawl game I would expect really heavy combat, D&D fairly heavy, something like One Ring/Adventures in Middle-Earth/Numenera a bit less, and obviously something like Tales From the Loop virtually none.

In general and on average though.... I'd say maybe 30% combat.
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Harry Lee
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Like a few other folks have mentioned, that really depends on the game and the setting. Right now I’m in one ongoing game of Golden Sky Stories, which has absolutely no combat, and another of Ryuutama, which has very little.
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Paul Unwin
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It bears repeating: Combat is not the opposite of roleplaying.

But, if by "roleplaying" one means low-stakes interaction, such as ordering meals, or shopping, or other mundane activities, then I don't have a balance, because I include as little of that as possible. If there's a point to the interaction, something (other than information or a potential savings of a few gold pieces on a weapon deal) to be lost or gained, then I'll play it out, possibly running it as a skill challenge.

I'm aware of what some perceive to be the benefits of mundane interactions, but I find I just don't have the time for them anymore. I'm tired of waiting for exciting situations to arise. In a PBF game I'm in right now, the GM has us playing darts in a bar. I don't care if there's a pile of XP waiting for those who participated, it's not worth it. I wouldn't put my players through that, and if they asked me to, we'd have to really talk about how it could be a good use of our (including my) time.

When it's absolutely necessary to have NPC interactions, I dull the pain by giving the players some narrative and descriptive control. In the PBF game I'm running now, when they rescued a bunch of townsfolk, I allowed them each to declare some details about one member of the group. When they met with the gnome mayor of the town to discuss the problems the town was facing, I offered them the chance to describe one of the unusual plants in her fey garden. So, potential plot or adventure hooks have arisen, and it's not just me throwing my creations against the wall in hopes that something will stick.
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Roger Hobden
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I prefer the roleplaying component.

As for combat, dealing with it in the fastest and simplest way possible is how it works best for me.

If I want something complex and 'realistic', I will prefer to play a wargame.
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True Blue Jon
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mawilson4 wrote:
But we all more or less understand the question, no?


No.
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Lev
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The older I get the more I tend towards roleplaying. But it depends on the system and the scenario.
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Geoffrey Burrell
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Battles with miniatures usually can last 1/2 hour to an hour and 1/2 during some combat. But mostly the group role plays so I would say more roleplaying than combat per each 4 hour - 5 hour game session.
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Chris Tannhauser
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We prefer our combats to be short, sharp, terrifying affairs, so most of a session is spent hugging and crying.

The Grim Reaper's scythe isn't the only thing that whistles.
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Caroline Berg
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We tend to roleplay through combat - so when a fight does break out, we gamely play our characters right through it!

Galliana will try to give rousing speeches or intimidate the enemies... not that it has succeeded but she will always try that before using her wrist-mounted grenade launcher.

Herluf tended to run away and hide in another room until combat was over - or combat found him and he had no other recourse... (so it was no surprise that he met his demise while running away...)

Tindomiel would cast a spell, only to have it fail, and then she went to something more practical, like hitting someone over the head with her lantern.

You can get quite a variety of reactions in combat!

As for how long combat sessions tend to last - half-and-hour to 3 hours, depending not on the complexity of the combat, but how well everyone is rolling. If the party is rolling hot, combat can be over in half an hour. If everyone is failing, then it can last the entire session, though I do tend to wrap combat up at the end of the night so we don't start in the middle of a fight next time.

How does that compare to a session without combat? Well, session without combat tend to fall into other categories: planning sessions where there is little gameplay, but a whole lot of set-up (my face-to-face group loves to do this). Sessions devoted to investigation and tracking down information - these are often roleplay heavy as they involve talking to many NPCs. Sessions devoted to exploration of a location... etc...

I'd say that planning sessions actually have the least amount of roleplay involved.
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Ryan Ahr
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I used to be extremely combat heavy but over the last two years I've managed to find a balance of the two.
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Chuck Dee
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I don't look at it per session, but as an extension to the story. Some sessions are combat heavy, and others are not.
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