One of my favorite aspects of Table Top RPGs is combat. While negotiating, solving riddles, and out smarting NPCs is fun, sometimes you just want to beat the shit out of a dragon. Unfortunately, when it comes to games like Pathfinder or Dungeons & Dragons, it can be difficult to wrap your head around not only the combat system but also your own character.
That is why we are going to take a bit of time and give some helpful guidance on tips on combat in table top RPGs!
You get ambushed in the woods and face five goblins that can pump out 1d6 of damage each. For whatever reason, we are trained in table top games not to ‘kill steal’ from others. Which makes sense since most of us have played various online games where the one who dealt the final blow gets the mark.
In games like D&D this is not the case. Time and again as a Dungeon Master I have seen combat encounters last twice as long because players want to focus on killing their own baddie instead and helping focus on one at a time. Once again there are five goblins who deal 1d6 damage meaning that their maximum damage output is 30.
If they are not downed within a couple of rounds, this can be devastating for new players. However if even just two players work together to take down even one of those goblins, their maximum damage output gets reduced to 24.
Never forget that the whole point of combat is to win as a group regardless of who gets the highest kill count!
Cover is Your Friend
Fun fact: In D&D 5E if our character is covered even 3/4 of the way, you get a bonus 5 to your armor class. This can be the difference from turning difficult encounters into cake walks. No matter if your dungeon master uses theater of the mind or physical indicators with minis and mats, be sure to ask about the room and all of the details.
If you are a ranged character this is even easier since you can walk out from cover to fire off arrows then use the remainder of your movement to go back into cover. If you are melee then using your movement to avoid oncoming spells or heavy ranged attacks will do wonders for minimizing damage.
Don’t forget that you can also use others as cover! If you have absolutely nothing around you then simply drop prone and you’ll get the benefit of your attacker getting a disadvantage to their ranged rolls.
Flanking and Opportunity Attacks
Being aware of where your enemy is can help immensely in combat. While this is much easier with miniatures, you can absolutely keep track of everyone’s placement by simply asking your DM how far enemies are. This is where your best friends,Flanking, and Opportunity attacks come into play!
Flanking is an action that gives you advantage or bonuses when you and an ally are standing on opposite sides of a target. Opportunity attacks allow free attacks against anyone going away from you or by you. Entire fights have been changed for better or worse solely because of the player’s positioning.
Weaknesses and Resistances
Understanding who is trying to harm you can help decide what action you are going to take. In most RPGs, there is a system in place for gathering information. For Dungeons & Dragons, it is a Nature check where players get to see how well they know a particular creature. High rolls result is information about weaknesses and resistances along with even abilities. Even if you are not trained in a relevant information gathering skill or if your Dungeon Master is deliberately withholding information, it is worth doing a perception check just gain as much detail as possible.
Lightning is almost always a great choice for water based foes, fire for plants, radiant for undead, etc. Getting to deal additional damage to a target creature will shorten the fight immensely, not to mention doing whatever you can to resist the damage they have helps!
Be a Team Player
Like most aspects in life, working well with others offers a wealth of benefits. No matter what your role is in the party, you can always build off of someone’s abilities. Whether it is to help your friends or hinder your enemies, being open minded to co operation is crucial. Many times new players are focused solely on what THEY will do during their turn rather than what everyone else does. This also applies in role playing!
Grappling an opponent, distracting them, getting into position, or even taking a hit for a weak party member can shift the tide of battle! You don’t have to be a cleric or a bard to support, everyone can do their part to help others! Not to mention that acting like a team makes the game even more fun for everyone involved!
There you have it! Tips on Combat in Table Top RPGs! May this advice grant you the edge you need to conquer even the most terrible of foes!
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