Combat, it is a part of just about every RPG out there. Physical, Mental and Social Combat all are parts of different games. Swinging a Sword, a battle of Wills, or being a behind the scenes mover each is different but can take a major role in a game. Some are Subtle, some come crashing through castle walls. With Skills, Feats, Features, Advantages and so on special abilities add to combat. Some games have “Critical Hits” where if you meet a requirement say rolling a natural 20 on a die you critically hit. Some games build their combat around rules heavy systems that have a lot of features. With combat turns lasting 6-10 seconds it can take minutes or hours to do combat. Many games print extra books with more combat features.
Physical Combat is simple to explain but can be hard to master. Swinging an Axe into a skull, throwing a kick to the groin or shooting an arrow. It sounds pretty simple but games can make it more difficult with more in depth rules. For example some games have “Cleve” or “Great Cleve” where you kill one opponent with a hit, you get a free attack on the next opponent within 5 feet, if you kill that one you move on to the next and so on. Because of this a player’s turn can take a long time.
Mental Combat is a bit harder to explain and can be harder to master than physical combat. Mental combat takes place in the Theater of the mind, so everything has to be thought, a spell bending a person’s will from a distance and such is played out and it takes seconds but can last a while. Mental combat is usually battled out with spells, or with Astral Creatures, or even a roll can determine if you pass out from fear after seeing an ancient being of unspeakable horrors.
Social Combat is really hard to deal with and explain. It is the stuff of Kings and Rulers, usually. Social combat is probably one of the main features of Vampire the Masquerade, if you are playing at those levels. Behind the scene moves where people are pulling strings, putting thorns in peoples sides and such. In some games your actions can take game sessions to see results. Social combat is played with skills, abilities, and other people be it PC’s or NPC’s.
Some things to help speed up combat, now this doesn’t work for all combats and facets of combats.
Initiative Trackers: These are indispensable for Physical combat, especially if you have a lot of players and npc’s. These are phone programs, cards, or a piece of paper with names and Initiative orders written down.
Miniatures: A lot of games now use miniatures to represent players, monsters and obstacles on a board. With ranges calculated out in inches and such. These can help a lot.
Counters and Templates: These go along with miniatures they represent spells, and effects on the board and player.
Notebook and Pen: keeping good notes for Social Combat especially can help out tremendously. Also good for passing secret notes to the GM for mental and social actions.