How long do your fights usually take?

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Jeremy

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How long do your fights usually take?
« on: November 21, 2012, 01:30:13 PM »
In table-time, with 3-4 PCs, how long would expect a fight to usually take against:

a) one or two big, dangerous threats (a troll, a pair of golems, a big-ass crocodilian)

b) a warband of relatively weak threats, maybe with a leader or beastie (say, the goblins in the Example of Play at the beginning of the book).

Ranges of time are fine... just trying to get a baseline.

Thanks in advance,

-Jeremy

Re: How long do your fights usually take?
« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2012, 01:38:02 PM »
It really depends. I think that most fights last between one roll and an hour, give-or-take.  Some "fights" are actually complex scenes with lots of other stuff going on.  Most of the time, the PCs or the people they're fighting figure out who has the upper hand pretty quickly and someone will break and run if need be.

Re: How long do your fights usually take?
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2012, 02:43:55 PM »
All fights can last as long or as little as the MC and the groups desires. You can say, for example, that the warrior, on a 7 to 9, kills and guts the Troll, while being hurt too. A move is not a single 'action', but IT CAN BE.

You can make a roll to signify a whole war. Normally, my fights are not not determined by the 'kind' of enemy. So, if they are fighting one thousand Stygs sucking their blood, or a giant purple wurm, it's the same thing. What I diferentiate is:

a) How central is the fight to the plot? If the objective is go to a village and discover more things about a magical artifact and they fight in a random encounter with Worgs, why would that encounter last more than even 10 minutes? Unless the fight has a reason, it will last 5 minutes or less.

b) If the fight is the main event (the final boss or something), normally it can take 30 minutes or more. One time, they were fighting a draconian knight. The last adventure they dwelved into his fortress and finished getting to him. He was waiting them, at his throne, and grimacing menacingly. The next session, boom, they fought him for more than one hour. It was a mix between Dragon Ball and the covers of Heavy Metal.

So, how important is the fight? That's how much it should take to be handled.

Re: How long do your fights usually take?
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2012, 03:20:44 PM »
Yeah, really, there are one-roll fights and one-session fights. A lot of variables change a fight's lenght: thoughness of the enemy, player's creativity, the actual goal of the fight, in-between complications... The important thing is that everyone at the table perceives that what's going on in the story is coherent to whatever you established in the past; if everything feels to be finely attuned to the gaming world you created, then no fight is too short or too long.

If everyone in the village tells you that fighting a dragon means commiting suicide, but then it takes the characters one minute to slay it, something's wrong (it could very well be that the villagers are all epic cowards, but also that you miscalculated the dragon's HP. However, if the players actually discovered the dragon's weak point and exploited it, then one minute is perfectly fine... Too much variables).
Oh, the things we tell ourselves to feel better about the long, dark nights.

Re: How long do your fights usually take?
« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2012, 07:18:14 PM »
When you lead your friends into battle with the gnoll pack, ROLL + CHA.
On a 10+ choose one, on a 7-9 choose two;

- nobody has to take their last breath
- none of your gear is damaged irreparably
- none of the gnoll pack survives and gets away

On a miss, you're at the mercy of the pack.

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Re: How long do your fights usually take?
« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2012, 09:28:16 PM »
An interesting effect of the DW rules is that fights sort of seamlessly blend into the exploration parts of the game. Because there's no "okay you see a bad guy, roll initiative and break out the battlemat," it's not always clear when the fight is "over." Because of the way moves beget new moves, the game just pushes forward and sometimes it's hard to pinpoint the moment combat ended. It's like, danger appears and leads to more danger. They'll eventually hit a safe spot but before that it's all traps and enemies and weird magic all jumbled up into one big "excitement scene." Because the fights can be short and sweet, I like to throw a lot of them at the party.

If I had to pin down an answer, I'd say most of our battles took between 10-20 minutes, excluding a few big epic battles that lasted probably 30-40 minutes. The epic stuff was never just one big bad guy, though, they were like hazard rooms filled with enemies and dangers.

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noofy

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Re: How long do your fights usually take?
« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2012, 01:22:09 AM »
I'm with Eon. There is no 'battle', only danger and adventure.

Converse to your questioning of time taken, how long does chargen take, or exploring, or discovering the whereabouts of the long forgotten witchking?

It all depends on how you go about questioning, what moves are triggered and how you (as a group) roll with the results. I would rather know if you guys had a blast or not? Did you create wonderful stories filling the characters lives full of adventure? Why is the time taken to narrative a 'fight' of interest to you Jeremy? I'm genuinely curious.

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vsh

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Re: How long do your fights usually take?
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2012, 03:55:00 AM »
The longest battle in my campaign so far was party bard wrestling runaway war leader they captured previously. It lasted about 80 minutes, though I was switching over to other players from time to time. The fight wasn't anything prepared nor it was a big decisive battle.
It still was awesome. They rolled one over another like hundred times, strangling one another with bow string, then they've broken every single one weapon bard had with him and the fight was finished by bard breaking adversary's head with his father's mandolin.

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Re: How long do your fights usually take?
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2012, 02:43:04 PM »
Why is the time taken to narrative a 'fight' of interest to you Jeremy? I'm genuinely curious.

Sounds like he's trying to get a comparison to other games, or checking to see if he's doing it "right" or whatever. Y'know, like in some RPGs you can't have plan than a handful of 'encounters' for a single evening, or you're like "this boss fight is gonna take two hours so I've got to make sure we have enough time."

Here's a cool thing about fights and how long they take: once you get used to the system, I think fights will last exactly as long as your group prefers. If you guys like tactical, blow-by-blow battles with lots of positioning, you'll probably zoom way in and decide movement, distance, all that stuff. If you'd rather gloss over the details and get to the results, you'll kinda zoom out and make less rolls.

Like, depending on the group, either of these extremes are plausible:
Quote
1. The Fighter rolls to dodge the hail of arrows
2. The Fighter rolls to run across the teetering bridge over the lava
3. The Fighter rolls to snatch his unconscious friend from the jaws of the LavaGator

or

1. The fighter rolls a single Defy Danger to run across the bridge during a hail of arrows and grab his friend from the jaws of the LavaGator.

Like noofy said, the key thing is that you're having fun with it. If you feel like your fights are too short and unsatisfying then by all means bulk them up with more details and call for more moves. If you feel like they're taking forever, you can bundle some threats together into a single Defy Danger roll, and allow characters to accomplish more during a single 'action,' like the example above. There's a lot of variation built right into the rules.

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Jeremy

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Re: How long do your fights usually take?
« Reply #9 on: November 23, 2012, 12:37:10 PM »
Why is the time taken to narrative a 'fight' of interest to you Jeremy? I'm genuinely curious.

Sounds like he's trying to get a comparison to other games, or checking to see if he's doing it "right" or whatever. Y'know, like in some RPGs you can't have plan than a handful of 'encounters' for a single evening, or you're like "this boss fight is gonna take two hours so I've got to make sure we have enough time."

I've definitely got a sense that I'm "doing it wrong."  The two sessions I've run (different characters, some overlap of players) have each involved long, sprawling fights that took over an hour, which doesn't jive with reports on how quickly DW generally moved for folks.

I'm not so worried about it from a planning standpoint, as I feel that the biggest strength of DW is the ability to avoid that kind of "we can get through these two grunt fights and the boss fight tonight" planning and all the baggage that comes with it. 

I would like fights to take less table time. We only get to play every 2-3 weeks for ~3-4 hours. And we've often got different folks able to make it each night, so I'd like to avoid ending sessions in the middle of a dungeon (or whatever).   Having half of our table time taken up by fights means less exploration, less discovery, less story, and a greater chance a session ending on a cliffhanger.
 
I'm with Eon. There is no 'battle', only danger and adventure.

That's a nice sentiment, but doesn't match my experience.  I, at least, have a natural tendency to zoom in on the fictional details when violence starts.  The scale of what triggers each move and what each move accomplishes becomes tighter, more focused. 

I totally get what you're saying, and I know that can happen, especially when the story is taking place in an environment filled with danger (like a dungeon).  But even then, there's a natural zooming in and out that happens when a foe is trying to stab you that isn't there when you're exploring a moldering old cellar.

Here's a cool thing about fights and how long they take: once you get used to the system, I think fights will last exactly as long as your group prefers. If you guys like tactical, blow-by-blow battles with lots of positioning, you'll probably zoom way in and decide movement, distance, all that stuff. If you'd rather gloss over the details and get to the results, you'll kinda zoom out and make less rolls.

I think this is the crux of the problem I'm having.  The game rules are intentionally vague in regards to scale and the stakes of any given move.   This can lead to unintentional zooming.  In your LavaGator example, how many Defy Danger rolls I called for would depend greatly on what the player said he was doing.  If the player says "I put my shield up and run out onto the bridge!" then I'm like to ask for one Defy Danger roll against the arrows and the unstable terrain and the lava below.  But if he says "I put my shield up and run to grab Ariedne before the LavaGator gets her," I'm likely to roll it into one Defy Danger roll.

More rolls = more opportunities for complication, so it then becomes a form of system mastery to try and describe as broad of an action as possible.  I'm not sure how I feel about that.

The takeaway, I think, is that I generally need to zoom out. In order to do that, I've got to try to establish stakes in advance, especially for Defy Danger rolls. 

I'm pretty sure I also need to change my approach to 7-9 results on Defy Danger, and do more hard bargains & ugly choices.  My default tends to be "worse outcome," which usually means that the danger is still present and the PC is still reacting to it rather than getting to move on but at a cost. 

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Re: How long do your fights usually take?
« Reply #10 on: November 23, 2012, 04:39:39 PM »
I think you've hit on the solution already. Sometimes when a player announces what her action, it's okay to say "so what are you trying to do,nexactly?" I do that all the time. Sometimes players are used to one action per turn or something, and they need a little urging to push further than that. Go ahead and let them know how much "action" you feel comfortable packing into a single roll.

As for the 7-9 results, you're right again. Mix up the results. In particular, make sure one threat is over and done after they've rolled. Their next action should be a new threat, even if it has snowballed. If you're pushing past a guard and get a 7-9, then you're past them; maybe they've given chase or sounded the alarm or started shutting the gate, but the next roll should be a different challenge. This will help you push things forward and shorten your confrontations.