Simultaneous combat narration

Simultaneous combat narration

Simultaneous combat narration

So tonight i used the lumpley inspired “everyone rolls and act at once” type of combat organisation. To tell you the truth, it wasn’t much different. We only had 3 players and it was via hangout so this colors things but it didn’t feel like a new thing. A few things came up though.

#1 You spend less time with each player, or to put it more positive: Every player has to wait shorter time until it is their turn to speak again. That is a good thing for me. Everyone gets about equal opportunity to say something and contribute to the game. Just waiting while 3 other people get the chance to talk isn’t as much fun for me so i take this as a plus. 

#2 It felt more organized. Meaning you don’t forget someone or share spotlight unevenly. Every player also knew more about what was going on because at the end of an “exchange” we did a recap of where everyone is and what they do before setting up the situation again. So players knew what was going on everywhere. The way i usually run i often get “so where am i again?” and questions like this. This evokes the chaos of combat situations better and maybe helps with immersion or such but the shared narrative was kind of fractured. In this version you have a lot of long shots over the battle scene, in my usual way there are a lot of first person perspective shots. I like the establishing shots better. 

#3 We stumbled a bit with procedure here and there since sometimes i thought people knew what they would roll but didn’t. This would be better in a face to face interaction i am sure. Hangouts complicat things.


Do i think this method is always better? No.

But it feels good to use it and can enhance a lot of scenes. You should definitely try it out and add it to your repertoire since i am sure it can enhance your game. 

24 thoughts on “Simultaneous combat narration”

  1. Added: 

    When we did the “establishing shots”, this was mostly to get all the players on the same page. When i adressed the characters i only gave them what they saw and felt right there. Of course the knowledge colors things but i have no problem with that. 

  2. My one concern would be that, in games I’ve been in, usually not everyone is involved in a combat.  There is usually one or more person off doing something else. Did that come up for you?  How did/would you have handled them?

  3. Marshall Miller that didn’t come up. But i would give them the same “time” to act. If they are not directly involved over there, or not even present at the fight, time might flow differently for them.

  4. Thanks for reporting back! I feel like splitting the party is still going to be the tough part, but your idea of “time flows differently” could work. Honestly, splitting the party is always a little tricky (side note: I’m very curious to see AWDA in action because it seems like the players are going to be split frequently).

    My next session isn’t for another few days, but I have been thinking about the simultaneous combat idea more. A previous concern was the difficulty of keeping track of everything going on with multiple players. I realized (and it looks like you did too) that this actually becomes potentially easier with the simultaneous narration, because you’re only doing one big recap, instead of X number of smaller recaps. The big recap keeps the whole scene in everyone’s mind, which I like a lot.

    I hope we here more AP reports of this type of play.

  5. Tim Franzke Note: I mostly play PbP so splitting the party poses no problems but simultaneous action reduces the pace to the lowest common denominator.  AW’s meandering focus is one reason the system works so well in PbP.  

  6. I don’t like this everybody declares and then everybody rolls method at all.

    Part of playing to find out what happens for me is watching a story unfold as the camera zooms back and forth between participants.

    I don’t want to know what is going to be happening before I have an outcome I guess.

  7. Thanks Tim Franzke 

    This is very informative. I think there would definitely be times when it would be appropriate to follow this procedure, according to the fiction. I will definitely add it to my arsenal of GM skills!

  8. Sure! I’ll have a go Tim Franzke

    Basically I like the action to flow from each move as it happens.

    I really like the fact that the players going later in the action can react to what has already happened by changing what they have in mind.

    I also think you lose that great dramatic feel where maybe 2 players have say started barricading a door to keep the Werewolves out and the third player says.

    I unstake the vampire and push it out the side door at the werewolves.

    Essentially I like the plot to twist and turn as much as it can. If everybody declares at once then they can’t react to any moves the MC makes straight away.

    Does that make sense?

  9. Stuart McDermid on the first thing, I don’t think that happens. When A and B said what they would do now C has now more information for her decision. However, when I talk to A and we do all her stuff and then I talk with B and we do everything with him, C has the same amount of information.

    Also the character of C doesn’t have the same amount of knowledge about what the ores will do and since I make a move at her she has to react to something anyway.

  10. C doesn’t have the same amount of information at all. In the model I prefer C has both the intent and results of A & Bs action to ponder before making a decision on what to do. 

  11. I think ‘surprise’ was the wrong word on my part. I should have said ‘Impact’. If A & Bs consequences have already happened then C’s action can nullify what has already happened in an authentic way.

    If declarations happen before action then A & Bs actions can become superfluous based on what C does before anyone has acted.  

  12. No problem. I thought as I typed that this would be the type of thing that would be resolved in 30 seconds with beer in hand but might not be easily explained over text- speak. 

    Still, I did get something out of this. I can now see the value of doing things simultaneously sometimes.

  13. The smaller the situation the less sense it makes to use this I think. But bigger and longer scenes win from this because everything is just more clear.

  14. Tim, I’m curious about how “strictly” you implemented this.  Was it literally “everyone gets one move,” (i.e. one 2d6+stat roll) between recaps & what-do-you-do’s?  Or did you find that sometimes a single declared intent led to rolling 2-3 moves before recapping and asking everyone what do you do? (E.g. fighter Defies Danger to get inside the salamander’s reach and then immediately H&S to attack.)

    Also, how did you find the spending of hold (specifically from Defend) play into the equation. Was it the “one thing” that folks got to declare? Or was it treated more like “interrupts” in M:tG?

  15. Some times we had people do something without requiring rolls. The other thing didn’t really come up per se. Mostly because fireball. 

    Defend was rolled once but hold was spend all at once. 

  16. I am not that comfortable with the “all roll at the same time” method:

    1) You can’t base your action on a successful action from another player

    2) Your own action might get invalidated based on the success or failure of another action

    3) You get in the habit of rolling once instead of triggering move after move. It is too much stop-and-go instead of a real narrative

    The more I think about it, the more I dislike this way of doing things. It feels like a different game, not DW.

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