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Can I ask this question without it getting closed? If it will get closed, is there some way to ask the question WITHOUT getting it closed?

How to speed up combat by helping players to visualize the scene?


We play D&D 5e over Discord, using voice and chat channels, and use D&D Beyond for character sheets and most die-rolling.

It generally works great, but sometimes combats lag, reasons for which the GM and I have discussed privately. There are numerous factors, some of which may be discussed with the group as a whole.

One issue, though, is that players clearly have problems visualizing the combat, with who is where, and frequently ask questions about the general scene. ("How far away did you say they were?") Some of that is probably unavoidable, but perhaps there are ways to help players visualize things that will help speed up combat.

We specifically don't want to get super-tactical. We've tried using Roll20 to host combat maps and icons, and things slow down even more, as we get very fiddly with measurements and such, plus it requires more prep than the GM wants to do.

A possible solution might be some sort of shared electronic whiteboard that would allow the GM quickly draw diagrams, perhaps of the general battlefield. Back when we played in person sometimes sketching on a physical whiteboard was a quick way to communicate without descending into grid-based measurement.

That might not be the only solution, so I want to keep the question open-ended.

My question is, have you had this problem and how did you solve it?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Is there any particular reason you're concerned it might get closed (e.g. for being opinion-based, or needing more focus)? Or are you just generally wondering how it could be improved? \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Feb 18, 2022 at 18:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm loathe to say it (because I am keenly interested in this question and its answers) but it potentially runs afoul of looking like a shopping question ("What is a good whiteboard plugin?") But I am pointedly not voting to close because I think there are lots of good answers which are either about how to use whiteboard-like tools without recommending specific ones, and probably some answers that don't rely on whiteboards at all. \$\endgroup\$
    – Novak
    Commented Feb 18, 2022 at 22:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast Mostly because what I perceive to be the best questions almost inevitably result instantly in guillotine-like closure. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Commented Feb 18, 2022 at 22:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @novak I actually would like non-whiteboard answers, and I got one in SeriousBri. Although is someone has some ridiculously easy-to-use whiteboard that would be awesome. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Commented Feb 18, 2022 at 22:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jack re: Instant Closure - closing isn't permanent, and it doesn't happen to all 'best questions'. I've asked questions that push the envelope but either not had it closed or the feedback I've had while closed means I can edit my question to better solicit useful answers. Closing is often a 'pause' on answers more than a mark against a question. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 21, 2022 at 14:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AncientSwordRage I might have been using a bit of hyperbole. What I'm trying to say is that I asked in Meta because my subjective impression is that when I ask questions that have some complexity to them the questions often garner a lot of closure votes; sometimes I can rewrite them and get them reopened. In this case, I decided to try asking in Meta first (someone suggested that some time ago). It's all good. :) This worked, next time I have a question I think might have some complexity to it I might try it again. :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Commented Feb 21, 2022 at 15:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @jack normally you don't need to ask to ask, either in chat or on meta - but there's no harm either. Share and enjoy :) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 21, 2022 at 15:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jack Nothing wrong with shopping questions here, Someone_Evil recommends it in response to my meta question: Would it be helpful to have a Question Workshop thread? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 21, 2022 at 16:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov WORKshopping. It's weird to see the phrase "Nothing wrong with shopping questions here" :) \$\endgroup\$
    – fectin
    Commented Feb 22, 2022 at 16:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @fectin haha yes. “Nothing wrong with shopping questions [here on meta]”. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 22, 2022 at 16:10

1 Answer 1

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We have handled numerous questions of this type before, and this is a good example of a question.

As I am writing this, the tag has fifty questions in it. Reading through some of those, your question is a actually a good representative of this type of question. First, you present a concrete problem that I'm sure most of us can relate to:

combats lag

Then, you have done the necessary retrospection to identify what the root cause is likely to be:

One issue, though, is that players clearly have problems visualizing the combat, with who is where, and frequently ask questions about the general scene. ("How far away did you say they were?") Some of that is probably unavoidable, but perhaps there are ways to help players visualize things that will help speed up combat.

You provide numerous helpful details, including:

  • Medium (Discord voice and text chat, DND Beyond character sheets)
  • Play-style ("We specifically don't want to get super-tactical.")
  • A potential solution you have considered

All these things together make for a great question. You have a concrete problem, you have made helpful observations about what is causing that problem, and you have thought about how you might solve it, but you have avoided the XY-Problem by describing your concrete problem rather than asking "what's a good online white board".

Finally, to be a bit cheeky, you obviously can ask this question without it getting closed, evidenced by the question being not closed.

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