I did some combat speed calculations in my D&D 5e Middle-Earth game at this year’s NTRPGCon game. In our big climactic battle we had 31 combatants (6 PCs, 3 NPCs, 11 goblin archers, 8 goblin swordsmen, 2 Orc chiefs and 1 troll).
Combat rounds were 10 minutes (< 1 minute per player with me managing three groups of bad guys in around 3-4 minutes).
Bad guys fought to the death. After 5 full combat rounds, 22 enemies lay dead and some PCs on the verge of death.
What’s interesting is 10 minute combat rounds (for around 6 players) is the same speed of combat for most old school games (Call of Cthulhu, Stormbringer, Classic Traveller) I’ve run or played in recent months. As opposed to 20-35 minute combat rounds for Pathfinder/3.5e and games like Savage Worlds.
5e really does run fast! Shorter battles with < 10 enemies run about 1-3 combat rounds, 20 minutes average, about like the other old games. And with smaller battles (1 or 2 enemies) it can go even faster!
In my next post I’ll talk about recent Stormbringer and Cthulhu games I’ve played, and how those experiences factor into my analysis of RPG combat speed.