Jade Slice: How to Make Every D&D 5E Non-Story-Arc-Ending Combat Take 15 minutes or Less
Recently, I began down the road to fixing the two largest obstacles to drawing new players to Dungeons and Dragons 5E. Specifically, I stated the reason why it is important for the Monster Manual to be available to every player during every moment of every D&D 5E game. Last week’s article specifically addressed the following obstacle –
- D&D 5E New Player Obstacle 2 – The Game rewards system mastery greatly and punishes casual play brutally.
This week I continue down the road of fixing the two largest obstacles to drawing new players to D&D 5E by addressing the following obstacle –
- D&D 5E New Player Obstacle 1 – The Game takes far too long to play (typically four hours).
Quickly, the world has massively changed since the ’80s and ’90s heyday of D&D, and the normal run time of four hours per play session is severely damaging the game’s ability to attract new players. This problem will exacerbate every year until it is fixed.
The A-Number-1 culprit for making Dungeons and Dragons 5E games run long is combat. Currently the game has a combat focus that makes a six second game-time round of combat take real time three to 30 minutes to play out. This focus on literally blow-by-blow combat is what the entire game is built around and its effects permeate the game rules set, etched into almost every detail for classes, spells and equipment.
“Jade Slice,” presented below, is the fix. Using this modification of the D&D 5E Combat Rules, every Dungeons and Dragons 5E non-story-arc-ending combat encounter can be completed in 15 minutes or less.
- PC – Player Character
- DM – Dungeon Master
- MMC – Monster Manual Creature
- HP – Hit Points
- AJS – Anno Jade Slice (D&D 5E Rules unmodified as they were before Jade Slice’s presentation on Nerdarchy)
JADE SLICE – THREE STEPS
There are three phases in Jade Slice combat.
Launch (HP Reduction) – DM presents all MMCs to Players. DM takes all MMCs and determines the grouping of creatures that have the second-to-highest HP total (Treat NPCs or custom DM-created creatures as MMCs.) Those creatures are reduced to 66% of their HP. All creatures that have HP below the 66% HP Reduced Creatures have their HP reduced to 1. All creatures that have not had their HP reduced at this point retain all of their HP. Now reduce all PCs’ HP by the highest amount that any MMC was reduced by. If a PCs’ HP is reduced to 0 or below, their HP is reduced to 1 instead.
Launch (PCs Strikes) – Any player may now choose to have their PC “strike” any MMCs that had HP reduced by any amount during Launch (HP Reduction). When a PC strikes an MMC they immediately choose one of the following states for the MMC (Killed or Unconscious). In response, the DM hits the striking PC with a number of attacks that the MMC was capable of equal to 0, 1, 2 or 3 attacks (DM’s choice). All effects from each attack are applied to the PC (HP Loss, Conditions, Death Checks) and take effect on the PC immediately.
Standard – Initiative Order is set by the DM (not rolled) according to MMC and PC bonuses to Initiative. DM and PCs now complete one standard round of D&D 5E combat.
Resolve – Once the one round of normal Dungeons and Dragons 5E Combat has occurred (each Player taking their turn and all MMCs acting), the DM checks if all MMCs are Killed, Unconscious or Captured. If that is the case, then combat resolves as it would normally. If instead, any MMCs are standing, calculate the total HP remaining for all MMCs and determine the percentage of that HP total from the Max HP Total of all MMCs (prior to any HP Reduction or Combat Damage). This Percentage is the End MMC HP Percentage. Now determine the percentage of total remaining PC HP from the Max HP Total of the PCs (prior to any HP Reduction or Combat Damage). This Percentage is the End PC HP Percentage. Resolve the combat as shown below (with the DM distributing treasure to the PCs for each MMC that was Killed, Unconscious or Captured).
- End PC HP Percentage is Twice or Higher than the Value of the End MMC HP Percentage – Each Player Goes in order of Initiative Bonus and declares the state of one MMC (Killed, Unconscious, Captured, Escaped) until all standing MMCs are addressed.
- End PC HP Percentage is Equal to or Higher than Value of the End MMC HP Percentage – Each Player Goes in order of Initiative Bonus and declares the state of one MMC (Killed, Unconscious, Captured, Escapes) with the DM declaring the state of one MMC (Killed, Unconscious, Captured, Escaped) between each Player until all standing MMCs are addressed.
- End PC HP Percentage is Lower than Value of the End MMC HP Percentage – DM declares the state of one MMC (Killed, Unconscious, Captured, Escaped) until all standing MMCs are addressed.
JADE SLICE – THE-STORY-ARC-ENDING COMBAT
The full blown combat encounters that usually take between 15 minutes and 3 hours, which have been in Dungeons and Dragons from the very beginning, are arduous when there are multiple combat encounters in a single play session. However, when your PC adventuring party has worked for four or eight or even twelve play sessions to confront a villain, to destroy a demon or even to take on a dragon, that IS the time to use the full blown D&D 5E combat encounters. In these circumstance, rather than being arduous, the long and grueling combat encounter will be a pleasant shift to tactical play that will have meaning and purpose.
JADE SLICE – THE REASON TO USE IT
To tell stories more quickly. Making D&D 5E combat encounters resolve in 15 minutes or less can open your game to players who are less interested in combat tactics and more interested in telling the story of an adventurer. Jade Slice makes Dungeons and Dragons 5E’s pace match the modern fast pace that most Americans have become used to in movies, television and video games.
Jade Slice is presented to help rid obstacles to bringing new players to Dungeons and Dragons 5E. Please let us know your thoughts on making the game run more quickly. Thank you and great gaming to you!
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