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Starting a GM Convesation

Skip this paragraph if you understand combat is the weakest part of the show and want to help

So season 4 is coming around, and I am worried about the state of urealms.  My main worry is around combat.  Combat is very long and boring to me and my other friends.  And I am not just a small fan of urealms, I have watched every show, I have been creating and GMing games ever since the show started, and have written hundreds of pages of docs including campaign notes and a rulebook.  I am just trying to say that I really love urealms.  I hope Rawb can do this forever, but I think he needs our help.  He is only one man trying to create a massive game.  And combat is a massive problem.  It is a core element of the show and game, but it is also the weakest part by far.  I tend to zone out during the live show when combat rolls up and as a GM, I tend to avoid it a lot since roleplaying is just more fun.  I could possibly be wrong about combat and if so let me know.  But I want to fix combat, not just avoid it forever, so...

I am trying to start a conversation with this post.  I want GMs with experience to share what mechanics have worked for them.  If you do not have any GM experience but wanna share an idea, please do just say this idea has not been tested.  Even if Rawb never sees this, I hope this helps other GMs with the same problem.

Some things I am not looking for:
Change the Length of Combat:  I assume Rawb likes the length of combat the way it is.  If he did not, he could easily change the health values for the enemies
Niche Mechanics:  I want core mechanics that can be used in every combat.  Let me know if you want to see a post about just fun and crazy mechanics.  I got a ton of these like buffs, elemental attacks, mega minions, and a lot of crazy stupid stuff.
Complicated Mechanics:  Urealms is a simple game at its core.  The game is meant to be easily understood by the players, so keep it simple if you can.  


  • Hey, it is me again.  I just wanted to post one of my mechanics here.  I have tried many different things, and the one that has worked the best in adding an extra lesser action.  I am going to call it a bonus action, but the name does not matter.  The idea is everyone gains an additional action that is weaker than the normal basic action.  Here is everything the new action can do:

    Roleplay actions: You know can do cool stuff during combat like yelling at the enemy and cutting a ladder without using up your precious basic action.  The general rule is no doing direct damage or directly buffing.  So throwing a fireball is a no, but lighting oil to burn the enemy is an ok.
    Limiteds and Consumables: This a way to limit players to the number of actions they have.  Limiteds and consumables now cost an action, but you can use your new action instead of basic action.  And do not worry, you can do direct damage while using limiteds and consumables.  
    Companion Abilities:  I have seen a lot of people giving all players a companion action to use their abilities.  This can function like one but with more utility and function.  And again you can do direct damage while using these abilities.

    So there you go.  You should also know that a basic action can do everything a bonus action can do, but not vice versa.  I hope you like this idea.  I have been using it in my own games, and my players love it.  They mostly love being able to use it for roleplay stuff.  It just makes combat more exciting and enjoyable for me and them.  Also last note, I know combat is already very long, but this helps to make it more exciting.  If this ends up extending your combat by too much, then just shorten it by lowering the challenge or enemy hp.
  • I personally despise shields as a general rule, especially the obsidian wall, when 1 item can make a boss fight a joke you know something has gone wrong, I have done campaigns where you need to use anytimes to use shields but then of course nobody uses shields because just using an ability with an additional upside such as dealing damaged healing is superior.

    As such I made a class that has a shield that you roll to block damage from basic attacks equal to your roll. For example an enemy basic attacks you for 20 damage. You roll to block it and roll a 15, you take 5 damage instead. I limited it to basic attacks because it makes more sense for what the item is ( a shield that is just your own hardened skin ) and because I can allow people to block with it without using anytimes without it being always the best or worst option, it’s just a good item. I’m considering making more of these with different values and probably some that only work vs spells. Kinda like mirror shield.
  • Personally, I find playing combats and other creative problem solving situations to be the more fun parts of URealms. Now, of course, combats aren't always fun, it often depends on the GM. I don't think the rules themselves necessarily need change, at least not the base rules. There's by no means any set way people are intended to play URealms, so if you like the idea of having that sort of bonus actions, that's absolutely fine. Changes for Season 4 are also coming up, which seems to fix some issues with companions and Limiteds and such, so I'd personally wait for that to come out before trying to add all this to some sort of "widespread, but unofficial, ruleset".

    One thing I think helps making combats more fun is descriptive explanations of how a character's action occur after rolls. Like if you shoot at another character with a six shooter, I find it a lot less exciting to just hear "It's a hit, they take 20 damage" or "it's a miss" than a more detailed description like "You shoot the character in the shoulder, they start bleeding  and take 20 damage" or "You shoot at the character but the bullet just barely misses, the bullet made a hole in their coat, but it just went straight through and hit the ground behind them". I think Murlin22 and SamtheBrickman does this very well, though granted, roleplaying with their NPC's is often quite fun as well. So maybe there's more I could learn from their GM'ing in general than just how they do combat.

    With more descriptive explanations of how things happen, it doesn't just add flavor to the descriptions, you could also invent special mechanics on the spot. Like if a hit is brutal enough, a character could break their arms, so they'd either have weaker attacks or not be able to cast certain spells, and they'd have some sort of disadvantage on resisting being grabbed and such. It also helps with making Death rolls more context sensitive. Like if you're just death rolling by having Black lotus EX spammed on you a lot from full health, I don't think it makes sense to increment the death roll counter. But if you're an ageless character that's getting their head slammed in by a warhammer while they're lying on the ground, unable to interrupt or react, it makes more sense to make the death roll more difficult, even if it's just the first death roll.
  • edited January 2019
    Part of why you may dislike combat in URealms as it is is because, simply, the game we see Rob have the others play isn't optimized as a game. Sure, anyone can pick up the mod, open TTS, and play a game, but Rob uses it as a storytelling vessel and a show before he uses it to just play a game with the rest of them. Because it's a storytelling vessel, because it's a show, it's the character interactions and cool lore twists that we end up liking the most. It's also why chat tends to get a kick out of hearing one of the players rattle off a completely weird but viable roleplay action in the middle of combat. The combat itself is fun, sure, but we like it when it is serving as a means to see the plot advance or to see characters do silly/awesome things. In short, combat isn't URealm's main feature by any stretch of the imagination, it's simply a means to an end.

    Because of this, I think you're tackling this worry of yours the wrong way. Like @Sonderp ;said, something Rob can do for combat isn't anything having to do with mechanics, its in making the combat in the show also be a medium for storytelling: add descriptions about what happens and how, avoid throwing in random fights just to pad runtime versus having each fight occur because the story needs it to—or because the party were numbskulls and triggered it when they didn't have to—and so on. Rob is telling us a story, building us a world, and so it makes sense that he will try to design combat in URealms to serve that purpose rather than to be a combat system as one might have in D&D or a digital RPG.

    It's not that you're wrong, though. URealms combat is one of the show's weaker points in my opinion as well, but that's pretty much inevitable. And it's because this is a show made from a roleplaying game. TV shows don't have this issue. When there's a fight scene, we get to see cool, flashy action sequences and special effects. We see people get punched, shot, skewered, whatever. But stuff like URealms can't really have that; setting the format of the game itself aside, you can't possibly have all the animations necessary to account for the myriad of shenanigans players will pull on you. So we, the audience, are left unable to really get into the fight in the same way we get into action setpieces in superhero movies. If you're playing URealms, it's a different experience. As a player, you're invested in the fight, you're trying to figure out how to get through it and do as well as possible within your character's knowledge, personality, and skillset. But we as viewers aren't that invested, so our interest in it as a fight is nonexistent, ergo our return to liking those segments due to character actions and choices, not the fighting itself.

    If you want to tweak the fighting system for a homebrewed version of URealms to play with your buddies, then by all means implement whatever mechanics you think make it more interesting. The gods know I do; I still have my homebrew operate on stamina-costing abilities, since that makes players more careful about their choices in battle instead of just nuking everything. I simply feel that, whatever changes Rob intends to make, they're going to be towards making the show better, not necessarily towards making the gameplay better. The two aren't mutually exclusive, but neither are they one and the same, so helping Rob out with this may require a slightly different approach.

    TL,DR: I don't think 'fixing' combat for the URealms means making it more fun to play, but instead means making it a more fluid storytelling medium, whatever that may entail.
  • For me as a GM I try to make my combats a bit quirky. I like to have characters trash talk the players, or add gimmicks to encounters rather than it be group A beating up group B. That way my players end up gunning for a target or avoiding one because of something they have done. Combat and role play shouldn't be separate and for my group that was hard to get over. But when we did, it was way more fun
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