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How many actually use the environment rules?


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion


Various kinds of terrain have some interesting features, and yet any time I have ever seen a battle done in a forest, there was always a convenient clearing for that battle to take place in.

In a given 50 foot square of sparse forest, half the battle map should be typical trees and light undergrowth. If the forest is dense, you should have about 20 massive trees, and 80 typical trees, and every square should have some kind of undergrowth. In a 10x10 square.

But even in Paizo's published maps, you get pretty pictures of treetops surrounding an open clearing or path.

Similar rules hold for other types of terrain. In a 10x10 square of swamp, there should be 20 squares of deep bog and 40 squares of light bog. When drawing battle maps in hill country, there should be gradual and steep slopes in 90 to 95 of the squares out of 100. Even on a 10x10 square of grassland there should be 30 squares with undergrowth.

A computer could easily be programmed to randomly generate the appropriate battle scene, but most of us aren't doing that in home games.

So how many people actually use these rules when designing random encounters?


I totally do.


I use the terrain rules. Nothing beats the Fighter essentially falling on his face thanks to roots.


I just used them. Some of the characters have a swim speed, and prefer to travel the jungle through the creek. Some of them are good at jumping, and jumping back and forth over the open space provided by the river let them cover much more ground on the battlefield. And one of them ignores difficult terrain in jungles, so he went from being slowest to fastest.


My GM uses them. I'm also working on a new base class that will basically force people to pay attention to environments and terrains (moreso than the Ranger).


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Derek Vande Brake wrote:
A computer could easily be programmed to randomly generate the appropriate battle scene, but most of us aren't doing that in home games.

I'd love such an application.


All the time; especially weather.


Hmm, terrain generator program. That's not such a strange or bad idea. Lemme think about that...


Astral Wanderer wrote:
Derek Vande Brake wrote:
A computer could easily be programmed to randomly generate the appropriate battle scene, but most of us aren't doing that in home games.
I'd love such an application.

Same here!


Battles typically have nice clearings. Its true. When I draw a map I try to add some flavor to it though. Sometimes what I add brings little or no effect. Other times it can lead to a tactical advantage for one side or the other. Its hard to guess which beforehand.

My group has always come across situations where we all open our books and look it up, such as underwater or aerial combat. I like the change of pace.


Where can we find a good description of what should be in a given terrain type?


Azaelas Fayth wrote:
Where can we find a good description of what should be in a given terrain type?

It's in the PRD under "Environment" or in the Core Rulebook starting on pg. 425.


You can't use the environment, that is against the natural order.

:)

Yeah, use them a lot, which actually balances out archers and spellcasters especially. There are limits on what they can see, attack, hit. Some games really push the importance of cover, terrain, bonuses, etc, I try to put that in a bit.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Derek Vande Brake wrote:
Azaelas Fayth wrote:
Where can we find a good description of what should be in a given terrain type?
It's in the PRD under "Environment" or in the Core Rulebook starting on pg. 425.

Wow I never noticed that...

@3.5 Loyalist: It really does balance them out don't they. So do tight spaces really...


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I run a Kingmaker game and I use the hell out of terrain, weather, hazards, and obstacles. Makes games more interesting than a hallway with combat encounters at each junction.


That hallway can be wonderful if you throw in Barrels, Crates, etc.


Personally I'm a fan of using Difficult Terrain to block charges.

Anyway, suppose I were to create a program to randomly generate terrain. What sort of output would be handy?

I use a blank battlemat, if I were to computer-generate complex random terrain, drawing it all in might be a bother. Anyone have clever ideas on how to do that?


Generate a number of squares per terrain type.

My friend and I just mark the squares off and mark them with a code based on their type. Usually an Abbreviation.

She now uses printed cut-outs of common terrain.


Last couple of gaming sessions our DM hit us with an Avalanche ( we are at the Crown of the World.. extreme North in an AP)..

I was the only one that saw the Avalanche (made my Perception check), so in the surprise round as a Standard action I wildshaped into a Hawk (to fly away next round.. plus I get a boost to Dex for that Ref Save I'm about to make)..

I rolled a 1 to save... took 35 points of damage... and was buried under 20 feet of snow... as a TINY HAWK....

Everyone else was saved by the Caravan ( I told the DM I was ontop of one of the front Caravans... I'm playing a Gnome Fire Druid..

It took me a couple of rounds and a Burning hands spell... but I managed to "dig" my way out of the snow...

... but we had bigger problems... like what caused the Avalanche..

anyhow.


@Lord_Tsarkon: I'm sorry but that is hilarious... rolling a 1 on the save.

Don't feel bad I failed a DC 10 Acrobatics check (to balance) and fell into lava. My total came to a 9... I was Level 20 and even without the lava the height alone was lethal. Quite literally maximum falling damage dice. I say maximum because we figured it up to be around a total of 50d6.


I use them all the time.

Taldor

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I'd be eager to hear your advice for implementing terrain/weather/etc. into games. I'm still a fairly new GM, but I find that I have so stinking much on my plate, so much to think about at any given moment, that things like this end up glossed over. How do you all add this in without losing track of other details?


I usually throw a ton of terrain counters onto the battlemat (Hard/soft) and keep a mental tally. Worst case, write the prevailing conditions on one edge of the mat to help you remember.


I just draw a river on the battlemat and tell the players that it's either
1) not a hindrance, but if your swim speed is better, you can use that;
2) it's shallow and counts as difficult terrain if you're not swimming
3) it's deep and you need to swim

In the case of 2/3, you can also draw in a ford or bridge. Nice strategic chokepoint.

For a forest: start by drawing a path, then sketch in areas with lots of trees.

Don't use too many different terrain features; 1-3 different features should be enough. Don't use light and heavy undergrowth and big and small trees; that's too complicated.

Get dry erase markers in different colors.

What I'm working on right now: a random-table system to just generate a handful of random battlefield features. Roll 4d20 start of battle to see what's there other than featureless flatness. It's still in alpha stage though. Might not be a bad idea to combine it with computer-generated approach.

Osirion

I use them all the time too.

Using dry erase markers on a battlemap helps - it doesn't need to be neat. circles in brown to represent trees, scribble in dark green for heavy undergrowth, light green for light growth etc.

Cheliax

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Very often.
Hobgoblins ambushing in a thick fog, lizardmen jumping out a shallow stream, bandits using the forest for guerrilla tactics... the list is long.

The dungeon is considered (mostly) a "fixed environment", with the odd room here and there. Encounters out in the wild are almost always tactically enganging both in conditions and enemy CR.

For gameplay I often combine dry erase battlemats and papercrafted props (trees, large scrubs, rocks, etc.), made from a number of sources - mostly WorldWorks Games sets.


Never used to use them.
But I've tried to start remembering more often.

A clearing or just a few trees is just so much easier...


I made a checklist for starting combats, it includes the following steps:
* set up terrain
* determine starting positions
* what are the monsters fighting for?

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

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I don't give my party a fight on simple terrain unless a simple fight makes sense or the encounter needs to be quick. Otherwise, I embrace the terrain rules to keep fights interesting for everyone. In fact, I created a set of guidelines to quickly generate such terrain and help keep things interesting both tactically and story-wise. Just pick the table that suits the area you're in and roll a few times for what the scenario is like. You can see these guidelines in my "Random Encounters Remastered" line of PDFs (link to a search with all three installments shown).


I find Wet Erase Markers tend to be better. Yes they are harder to erase quickly, but you don't run into the problem of players sliding tokens/miniaturea/etc. & smearing the ink.


I love using terrain to make combat more interesting, especially since the PCs are nearly never the home team, so to speak, so the smarter monsters tend to have the advantage of knowing the terrain and being able to compensate (or fill it with traps). It can bog down gameplay, though, with instances of looking up the effects of light vs. heavy undergrowth, for instance. Planning ahead for such encounters is key. My next game session is going to be underground in natural caverns, so I'm going to be getting some mileage out of the squeezing rules.

I think terrain rules are why I don't bother charging when I play. I've gotten so used to not having a clear line to run...

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

In my experience I've always loved using the environmental rules but usually run into the problem of just not having the time to randomly generate all the terrain within the environment every time which, to me seems to be the funnest part as it really changes the encounters up. The other issue is just how much of a pain it can be to look up some of this stuff mid game and them implement them on the spot.

Now that being said I still love using them when i get the chance and the plethora of flip maps I've started to acquire especially those for outdoors really helps mitigate that issue. One of the coolest things about gm'ing the gencon special is that with the maps i picked up i can essentially run a near infinite continuous forest/swamp by just flipping, turning and rearranging my maps as my party moves over them ^-^.

Will say though I would love to see a random generator for overland map terrain for the ease of new maps and just to get inspired by some of the designs i'll get out of them.


I only ever charge when I really need to and if I get a clear shot at the enemy that is worth it.


We get charged a lot by hordes of enemies, my wizard is trying to become a better "god" capable of controlling the dosage of enemies that ends up next to our meatgrinding fighter each turn..

@doc: generating it randomly square by square and doing so by hand, that would be madness. I just sketch it out off the cuff; start with major features like rivers and paths, then fill it up with clumps of trees.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Ascalaphus wrote:

We get charged a lot by hordes of enemies, my wizard is trying to become a better "god" capable of controlling the dosage of enemies that ends up next to our meatgrinding fighter each turn..

@doc: generating it randomly square by square and doing so by hand, that would be madness. I just sketch it out off the cuff; start with major features like rivers and paths, then fill it up with clumps of trees.

Yeah my problem is that I suck at drawing and have a tendency to either not like my finished product, take too long to do it off the cuff, or end up with a lot identical swamps lol. I will say I generated a map once square for square, really liked it but as stated takes forever but felt like it created a more natural and interesting map then any random forest patch I had ever made. This kind of why i would love a program to do it like that as well as allowing us to modify the values of certain terrain features so that we could better control what kind of map we would be getting.


Yeah I'm thinking about a program, I'm kinda in between programming assignments anyway so it might actually come to pass.

Although I also still want to finish the world-generator with tectonic plate based continents and procedural weather, so it might be a while.


Terrain generation on a battle mat is easy... Take all those dice you are never going to use this combat and roll them over the expected battlefield.

Wherever they land is difficult terrain. If two or more dice land in sequential squares then you have a piece of high ground.

You can also use extra figures and/or if you actually have terrain pieces then use those. I have some Popsicle sticks i toss in with my dice to make fallen logs/low ruined walls etc. You may want to draw the terrain in after you roll it up just so the dice don't get used/moved.


BltzKrg242 wrote:

Terrain generation on a battle mat is easy... Take all those dice you are never going to use this combat and roll them over the expected battlefield.

Wherever they land is difficult terrain. If two or more dice land in sequential squares then you have a piece of high ground.

You can also use extra figures and/or if you actually have terrain pieces then use those. I have some Popsicle sticks i toss in with my dice to make fallen logs/low ruined walls etc. You may want to draw the terrain in after you roll it up just so the dice don't get used/moved.

That's brilliant!

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
BltzKrg242 wrote:

Terrain generation on a battle mat is easy... Take all those dice you are never going to use this combat and roll them over the expected battlefield.

Wherever they land is difficult terrain. If two or more dice land in sequential squares then you have a piece of high ground.

You can also use extra figures and/or if you actually have terrain pieces then use those. I have some Popsicle sticks i toss in with my dice to make fallen logs/low ruined walls etc. You may want to draw the terrain in after you roll it up just so the dice don't get used/moved.

Bravo good sir, bravo. I will say for me though I am still on the low end of dice and haven't quite gained enough to pull that and still have dice to gm lol.


Azaelas Fayth wrote:

@Lord_Tsarkon: I'm sorry but that is hilarious... rolling a 1 on the save.

Don't feel bad I failed a DC 10 Acrobatics check (to balance) and fell into lava. My total came to a 9... I was Level 20 and even without the lava the height alone was lethal. Quite literally maximum falling damage dice. I say maximum because we figured it up to be around a total of 50d6.

Falling damage caps out at 20d6. 50d6 is not possible from falling alone.


doc the grey wrote:


Bravo good sir, bravo. I will say for me though I am still on the low end of dice and haven't quite gained enough to pull that and still have dice to gm lol.

You can mark where they fell and then get your dice back good sir? If you don't believe you have enough dice then use pennies, nickels, jacks, bits and bobs, soda can pop tabs, etc....

For good fun, toss a shoelace in there for a water hazard...make as wide as you like however it falls...


I try to use them, but if im rushed there tends to be lots of clearings.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

We always use terrain, but then we started out in miniature war gaming. A battlefield without terrain would be pretty bizarre... and this way I'm not wasting all the trees, hills, bushes etc. I've got laying around.


If controlling environment becomes crucial, you can make battles seem like the most intense war games. Take that hill, hold these ruined houses, hide in the thicket. Allows better and more effective defence, and more for an attacker to consider.


My players seem to enjoy when I draw out things in more than usual detail. I still remember drawing a street and some cars in blue and then adding some red detail to a car or two. "Is that car on fire?" "Yes it is." (This was for a GURPS game, but still.)

I've drawn out fairly detailed forest sections, which was interesting (especially when the alien blaster knocked over a tree, which I drew too), but ultimately not quite worth the time it took.

Some printers can print on transparencies, which with a standard sized grid, could make things a lot faster.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I really enjoy things like tables and chandeliers that you can use to your advantage. I had an archer that enjoyed kicking down tables for cover, and a fighter that once barricaded a door with a long table.

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