Dungeons & Dragons Online

How do you run your combat encounters that have a lot of monsters?

To preface, I am a new DM that started DM'ing about 6 months ago for my best friends that are completely new. We started with the Starter Set. The party is level 4 consisting of 3 players and a sidekick they made. We also play in person. (We are all vaccinated and taking precautions)

Last session, the party had just entered Wave Echo Cave and had an encounter with 10 stirges. For initiative, I rolled for the stirges together. On the stirges' turn, I had 3 of the 10 stirges attack my party's rogue. Instead of using 3 separate die to see if they hit, I just used 1 for all 3. This is the part that caused a minor issue.

My players felt that using just 1 die instead of rolling individually for each monster is unfair to them. I explained to them that it's a lot more work for me to roll individually for this many creatures. I agreed with them that it does seem unfair especially if I had rolled a crit. Going forward I split the attacks of the stirges into different groups to make it more manageable for me and more fair for them.

My question is how do DMs normally handle encounters where there are a lot of creatures? For initiative, I normally group up the creatures by type and roll once for each group. An example would be if an encounter had 3 goblins and 2 bugbears, the goblins would be on their own initiative and the bugbears would be on a separate one.

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How would you handle rolling to hit when there would be an encounter with as much as 10 creatures? Rolling 10 times is a bit more work than I would like, but rolling once for all 10 would be really unfair to my party.

I have also noticed that our combat encounters would start to drag the more creatures there are. I've made short hand stat blocks of creatures I would use to keep the flow going. I am also thinking about tweaking the encounters that have a lot of the same creatures: by reducing the number of creatures but slightly increasing their hp and/or varying the creature types.

I would appreciate any advice or suggestions. Lord help me when I have to run the encounter with 9 skeletons or the one with 8 zombies plus a flameskull.


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