Over at his blog today, Coyote has a post up about the “15 minute adventuring day”. Or, what to do when you’re out of “oomph”.

That’s the situation when a party uses up most of its resources in a fight, especially spells. What’s a poor group of adventurers supposed to do? What else but take a break.

That makes me wonder how people are playing paper & pencil games these days. Maybe my experiences in live gaming aren’t typical, but that sort of problem hardly ever came up.

Usually, a session would have one, or maybe two, combats. The first was often just a warm-up. Enough to be interesting, but certainly not a big fight. Not a lot of spellcasting would happen.

The next one, that might be different. Perhaps we’d reached the goal of the scenario. Then yeah, all the firepower we had would be unleashed. This was the “big one”, so no need to hold back.

In none of the groups I ever gamed with was fighting a constant activity. That would have been insupportable. Anyone who’s done live RPG knows that combat takes a lot of time. Depending on the size of the group, number of opponents, good or bad rolls – most of a session could be taken up with just one encounter.

Perhaps the problem is that today’s DMs don’t know how to pace a scenario, or it could be they’re trying to run it like a computer game. Or the players don’t know how to handle the fights, and treat the game the same way. That’s a sure recipe for disaster.

Computer RPGs have far more combat; it’s the major activity. Much of that is with cannon fodder opponents. Swarms of goblins, orcs, worgs, or whatever are always showing up. This is where resource management becomes a problem.

It’s the sheer number of encounters that wears down the party. Even with careful use of spells, potions, wands, etc., the computer group is going to run out of resources long before a live group would.

That’s not even considering having a DM around to assess the situation, and decide the players need a good night’s rest before facing the horrors waiting down the next corridor.

Avernum 5 handles the problem through the availability of potions for healing and restoring spell energy, and the First Aid skill, which restores some hit points and a small amount of energy after every fight.

With smart use of these resources, and proper tactics, the party can wade through a lot of fights without needing to run back to town (or camp out immediately, as in Neverwinter Nights).

Personally, as I’ve said elsewhere, I think computer RPGs have too many fights as it is. Especially when they come in quick succession. But if fights there must be, then the party must have the resources to survive the inundations. It only gets tougher the farther along you go in the game.

As for live gaming, maybe the players and DM need to re-think how things are being run. Treating paper & pencil as though it were a computer game doesn’t work. Real gaming takes real patience, something yu can’t learn from the computer version.

15-Minute Adventuring on Coyote’s blog