The GM’s Guide to Faster Combat

Let me show you how to create and run Hollywood Blockbuster encounters that’ll blow your players away

For any D&D edition, Pathfinder or D&D-esque game that involves monsters, minis, initiative and mayhem.

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Update April 4: Check out a mindmap of the entire course and ebook table of contents.
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Slow combats kill games. They drain the fun out of a session and leave your group tired, bored and frustrated. And if you are like me, you feel responsible and want to do something about it.

Thanks for visiting My name is Johnn Four and I’ve written many books, have been a columnist for Dragon Magazine, helped write the DMG2 and have been publishing Roleplaying Tips regularly since 1999.

You’ve come to the right place because I know exactly what you can do to make your combats sleek, fun and exciting. I’m going to show you exactly how to be a great combat GM. You’ll run games with more confidence, more skill, and more excitement with my playtested proven methods.

Faster Combat teaches you step-by-step in great detail how to GM amazing combats.

The course is 52 lessons broken into five sections:

“The book idea is AWESOME, and I think what you have is really well thought out and executed. We’ve taken some ideas of how to speed up combat from your book and they’re quite helpful. But you also spend a lot of time talking about crafting a story, and how to integrate combat into that. I will probably end up rereading the entirety of the course material and the book is a FANTASTIC method for doing that.”

- Chuck Lawton, GeekDad

Module 1: Develop Your GM IQ

module-icons-sales-page-module1Game masters have different strengths and styles. So do players. Figure these out and how you mesh, and you will know exactly what to focus on when improving your encounters.

Also, you need to learn what time thieves are robbing your combats. Where does all the time go? What wastes the most time? Where are the biggest, easiest wins to shorten encounter length?

When I measured and studied my combats, what I found surprised me. Armed with this information, I put specific changes into effect the next session and cut my combat time. It was instant and amazing, and I kicked myself for not figuring this out before.

In Faster Combat Module 1: Knowledge(Game) you will learn how to analyze your GMing and your group to discover your biggest time thieves.

Module 2: Design: Monsters, Encounters, Tactics

module-icons-sales-page-module2Pack more into your combats to make them shorter and more exciting.

Huh? That doesn’t make sense. How can more content turn into less time?

The secret is in design. In Faster Combat Module 2: Design, you will learn how to build encounters that are fast-paced, exciting and packed full of cool elements that’ll excite your group.

You will learn:

  • How to design Mission Objectives
  • How tweak monsters for speed and effectiveness
  • How to build interesting Combatscapes
  • How to create cunning Master Plans for tough yet entertaining fights

Module 3: Roll Initiative!

module-icons-sales-page-module3In my group, Roll Initiative! is an enthusiastic call to action. It’s the start of another exciting fight encounter straight out of a Hollywood blockbuster.

How you launch into combat affects the whole energy of the encounter. You’ve got a wicked design. Now you just need to let it flourish with some deft GMing.

In Faster Combat Module 3: Launch we give you the Table Rules For Speed, a checklist for pre-combat preparation, methods on how to manage table chaos well, introduce you to Speed Rewards and show you how to get your whole group playing faster – even that slow guy who can’t make even easy decisions.

Module 4: Running Spectacular Combats

module-icons-sales-page-module4Your combats will be remembered by how they end. You’ve got to nail this right. Session energy and adventure momentum depend on it.

If your combats end like a deflating balloon your group will lose interest. Even though you got the other pieces perfect, the final impression is the lasting one that carries over into the next encounter and determines if your sessions are electric.

Faster Combat Module 4: Finish shows you cunning foe tactics to help you challenge the PCs and build up the drama. We also teach you about different Combat Outs that are sure to surprise your players and get them howling for another encounter.

Plus, you’ll learn about Waves, judgement calls and problem rules.

Module 5: Advanced Lessons: Combat Mastery

module-icons-sales-page-module5These lessons will take you to a new place in your GMing. No exaggeration.

In Faster Combat Module 5: you will learn:

  • The secret to mastering the rules once and for all
  • How to craft and wield effective cheat sheats
  • How to use rewards to properly motivate your players to do what you want
  • Post-Mortems: the secret to easy and constant improvement
  • Your James Bond moves: the keys to running with superior style and consistency


“The Lessons in this book are an excellent, step-by-step programme for any GM seeking to speed up not only combat, but any type of contest. While the book is aimed at GMs of rules-heavy systems, I have found a mass of good advice to help me run my narrative-style game.”
- Phil Nicholls

“I’m really glad I decided to take the course. It feels good to have a community that I can access and really improve myself with.”
- Scott Hudson


Two Options: eBook or Course

Faster Combat comes in two formats.

Faster Combat Guide ebookThe first is a professionally formatted 267 page ebook. This is the portable version of the course – take it with you on the bus, to work or to your games. Read it whenever and wherever you like.

The second is an exclusive online members-only GM community, where each lesson is its own web page. And each lesson also has an Activity! area where you can try out and practice an exercise based on the lesson.

You get access to all the lessons instantly, and also have them sent to you each week for a year to avoid GM overwhelm. You have full control.

In addition, you can chat with me and your fellow Faster Combat GMs in private discussion areas. You can ask questions about the lessons or get help using the techniques in your game.

Finally, the online course version comes with a great bonus:

Bonus: Combat Swipes

bonus-01-combat-swipesCombats are tricky beasts. In addition to the number crunching, tactics and rules lore, you’re expected to be entertaining.

Well have I got a great tool for you.

Combat swipes are colourful combat descriptions you can use during combat to create awesome blow-by-blow descriptions.

I’ve compiled over 250 read-aloud combat action descriptions for you into one slick PDF you can download immediately as a Faster Combat member. No more boring combat descriptions!

You Have My Critical Miss Guarantee

You could go buy one hard cover or you could get a year’s worth of valuable lessons, and a lifetime of GM learning.

Through 52 lessons packed full of special GM techniques and methods, we show you exactly how to plan, design and run the best combats of your life.

You will become a combat master. This puts you in the elite amongst GMs.

You have a full 60 days to try the Faster Combat ebook or online course. If I roll a 1 for you, just ask for your money back. No hassles, no questions, I will simply give you your money back.

If I roll a critical miss, you get your money back. That’s a promise.

So there’s no risk to you. Decide today which format works best for you, ebook or online course.

“Let me tell you that I’ve been scrupulously studying the Faster Combat course and results came right after very few lessons. Indeed we had faster and more exciting combats but that allowed us to concentrate on role play, story telling and ultimately pure fun. For this I will not thank you enough. And seriously, there is a hundred thousand reasons I’d reccomend it to another GM. It’s the only clear, precise and schematic way to improve your GMing style that can be found on the RPG market. Every page contains at least one or two tangible ways to become a better GM.”
- Matteo Luconi

And, for this week only to celebrate the book launch, you can get the ebook and the course for a special price:

eBook $20

  • 267 Pages
  • PDF Format
  • 60 Days Guarantee

Course $27


  • Instant access to all lessons + Weekly delivery option
  • Members Area Format
  • 250 Combat Swipes Bonus
  • 60 Days Guarantee