Content of the article: "How do you keep track of all those different monster abilities and enemy spells?"
TL;DR at the end!
I started DMing a D&D campaign for the first time ever this year, playing twice a month. I see that I've already improved on so many things, roleplaying NPCs, doing voices, creating fun riddles and puzzles for my party and so on. But I feel like I still really suck at combat.
My big problem is that I'm overwhelmed by monster stats. I find it hard to play many different monsters in a session and keeping track with their special abilities. I forget that an enemy has the ability to multi-attack, that some enemies have special immunities or resistances, that they have special conditions for their death and so on. My party has fought two actually kinda powerful wizards in this campaign and I played them really shitty in combat because I just could not keep track with their spells and what they do.
Reviewing the stats is already part of my preparation. For spells, I even keep an extra list with their description for each character, so I don't have to search in the PHB during gameplay. And still, I forget a lot of things during the session. Between keeping track of enemy hit points, managing initiative order and background music, it's too much for me.
There are three problems resulting from this:
1) I get really anxious during combat and it's much more energy draining for me than DMing roleplay. I feel like I could sleep 10 days after DMing a combat-heavy session.
2) I get impatient with my players. They've played their characters for over half a year now, they know what their abilities are and still take ages deciding on what to do on their turn. It's driving me crazy that they need that much time to decide for one character while I manage 12 enemies of 4 different races. My impacience also makes me rush through combat, not really taking time for nice descriptions of their attacks, enemies dodging etc. It's mostly "that one doesn't hit", which I know is boring, but I can't really concentrate on this on top of all of the other stuff. My players aren't that comfortable with roleplay yet, so they don't start describing their attacks themselves if I don't ask them to.
3) Combat mostly turns out way too easy for the players. I forget most stuff that makes enemies actually dangerous, so the party of course just rushes through hoards of enemies without any bigger problems. Which also makes combat boring. I've spontaneously upped some enemy hit points because of this, but that's not what makes combat interesting.
My party and me still love combat, so just switching systems or just playing a campaign without combat is no option for us. I want to DM combat in a good way because we all like the idea of it.
How do you manage all this multitasking? How do you not forget about special abilities? Did you actively learn some of the most important spells and what they do? Is this something that just gets better over time?
Any help would be very much appreciated!
TL;DR: I always forget about important monster abilities and have problems with multitasking as the DM during combat, especially keeping track of enemy spells and what they do is hard for me. Any advice?
- One of my players just asked for help learning to DM! I’ve never felt so honored, and I’m so excited for them.
- Needing Help with Combat
- How do you actually implement a decent campaign?
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