I currently GM for a level 13 D&D 5e group of 5 players. Recently combat has become heavily bogged down, primarily because the party has discovered their new favourite (‘Death by a Thousand Cuts’) trick of Crusader’s Mantle + summoning every possible creature they can. Between, potentially, the 5 player characters, the two NPCs they often travel with, a familiar, the Circle of the Shepherd druid summoning 24 wolves, and the sorcerer animating 14 tiny objects, they can populate a small militia.
As a result, our rounds end up taking a long time just in terms of the number of turns. The rounds also become very uneven, with the summoner players having much longer in the spotlight than, say, the rogue. I have tried to explain to my players that this tactic is not very fun to GM for, and I have also contrived situations such that their enemies have more saving throw/AOE attacks available to them to try and thin the herd (though this does not always make sense and leads to my players having a weird persecution complex).
Historically, our combats have been fast paced and I already encourage players to have their turns ready before they come around. The main problem here is keeping track of dozens and dozens of creatures and the necessary dice rolling that goes along with it.
How can I run these types of encounters in a more fun and ‘rapid fire’ way with less admin? Is it possible to better even out the total time-per-turn, such that the non-summoner characters feel as influential? Should I:
- Approach this issue more as a group discussion about table dynamics?
- Adapt the encounters I throw at them?
- Devise new mass-summon house rules to try and speed things up in a fair way?
- Set a cap on the number of summons I’ll allow to be active a once?
- Some other approach I’ve not thought of?
Any advice or experience would be appreciated.