How-To Improve D&D Combat: Part 2

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How-To Improve D&D Combat: Part 2

If you’re a savvy Dungeon Master and you read our previous post, you probably garnered some ideas about how to make the combat phases of your campaigns more interesting. Maybe you’ve found this is the stage of the game that has a tendency to become redundant with characters bludgeoning each other until one or the other achieves enough HP. After a while, players become bored.

Hopefully, the previous post gave you some useful tactics to make combat more interesting. Guess what? We’re back with a few more creative ideas to help you enhance this part of your campaigns even more.


Employ Different Phases During Combat

In the most basic format of combat as we know it, there is a clear objective for players to achieve. If you want to make combat more interesting and keep players on their toes and thinking, try introducing different phases into combat. By employing this strategy, players are forced to be much more resourceful than they are in basic combat.

Introducing different phases of combat also keeps players guessing about what the final objection of combat is. This looming curiosity helps keep everyone engaged and excited about what’s around the next corner.
The added allure of when the fight will end also adds a fun dynamic.

When adding multiple phases to the combat portions of campaigns, we suggest not dragging it out too long, as players might become disengaged or give up hope for a final resolution.


Get Rid of Legendary Actions and Designate a Boss to Have Multiple Turns per Round

Traditional combat involves the use of legendary actions. That is spellcasting moves or attacks take place outside a player’s turn.

What does this look like in practice? The first turn looks the same as it normally would. However, once they reach initiative -10, they receive another complete turn.

This strategy allows the enemy a better chance of at least battling against what might otherwise be insurmountable odds, while also making their realizable threat more real.


Think Outside the Box with the Abilities of the Enemy

You’re the Dungeon Master, and the story is yours to tell. As always, your job is to make the campaign fun and engaging for the players.

A great way to achieve this goal during combat is to introduce skills that the enemy has as you go along. While players might think they know the extent of the enemy’s capabilities and plan accordingly, surprising them with enemy abilities at a moment’s notice makes them adapt their strategy. Perhaps they’ll have to change course altogether. Talk about keeping combat dynamic!


Get Creative with Lair Actions

As any seasoned DM knows, the Monster Book is full of great ideas for Lair Actions. How you incorporate Lair Actions is completely up to you. And there’s nothing set in stone that says you have to stick precisely to the Lair Actions outlined in the Monster Book.

Again, as a DM, the story is yours to tell. With that in mind, you’re free to adapt Lair Actions to however you see fit. As you go through combat, try making adaptations to Lair Challenges that are unique to each situation and the characters involved.

A word of caution: make sure you keep Lair Action ideations balanced and fair. Failing to do so can cause players to become discouraged and lose interest.


Don’t Be Afraid to Incorporate Large Scale Battles

No one is going to argue the fact that large scale battles are difficult to organize and carry out. With multiple factions competing against each other, there’s a lot to keep track of.

However, allowing players to wage alongside non-player characters (NPC’s), or with and against more than one faction, adds dynamism to combat in an exponential way.

Maybe there’s a group from another land that shares a common enemy. Perhaps there’s two or more enemies that are threatening the livelihood and safety of the collective active players. You can get as creative as you want in this regard.

Not only does this help players feel like they’re not alone, it forces them to pay attention to everything that’s happening around them.

Final Thoughts

Like anything you take time to become adept at, it’s all too easy to plateau or fall into a rut. This is especially true for DM’s when it comes to D&D combat. When this happens, players can begin to lose interest or get bored.
It doesn’t have to be that way though. In our last two blog posts, we’ve outlined plenty of ways you can make the combat portions of your campaigns more fun and exciting for everyone. Of course, some strategies are easier than others. However, the key is to employ a few, as you see fit, to make what can often be a redundant part of the game more interesting. Remember, you’re the author of your own story. It’s up to you to write it in a way that’s fun for everyone.

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