Combat without map / miniatures


Combat & Magic

Liberty's Edge

Something I've been wondering.. ...I don't own miniatures, for one thing, and I like to play online over chat programs and PBEMs. But the Combat rules seem to continue along the lines of 3.5, emphasizing the use of miniatures and battlemats, penalizing mapless, narrative-based combat.

...I'd like to see, if at all possible, rules for running combat without battlemats and miniatures.

Thank you.


I too prefer to not use a battle grid. And when I run I don't. The only thing in the rules that doesn't handle smoothly without the grid that I've noticed is attacks of opportunity, especially for movement. The new tumble rules (now part of Acrobatics) help with that. Mostly if you can translate 1-square to 5ft. you can work around a lot of the rules built on the grid. The thing you really need to make it work are good descriptions and faith in the GMs call on certain things (line of sight, concealment, etc.)

Granted I may be missing a few details, and personally wouldn't mind seeing this addressed in the rules.


I mostly use the battlegrid and figurines, but choose not to when mood is more important than fighting according the rules...

But there can't be 'rules' for no-rule combat, because with rules you will mostly use some form of distance measurement to determine placing...

If I do not use a grid or play other rpg's without battlegrid, each player rolls init and takes one round of action (move and hit, move and cast, etc...) and after that, if the opp did not move, they can use full attack options...

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

Personally, I'd like to see the inclusion of a short appendix (no more than 2-3 pages) containing a simplified and streamlined combat system for use in those situations where the full combat system simply isn't appropriate. This would be the kind of thing that you could use to run quick incidental encounters and 'minor' combats (such as tavern brawls) that don't contribute much to the plot of an adventure, but are good fun from a roleplaying perspective. At the moment, players are loathe to engage in anything that isn't directly related to the main plot because it means hauling out the miniatures and battlemats. Don't get me wrong - I enjoy playing with miniatures most of the time, but sometimes it just isn't worth the effort.

As far as I can see, the main disadvantage in implementing such a system would be that it tends to penalize characters who have invested heavily in feats with mechanics that lean heavily on AoO's.

Liberty's Edge

lonewolf23k wrote:
Something I've been wondering.. ...I don't own miniatures, for one thing, and I like to play online over chat programs and PBEMs. But the Combat rules seem to continue along the lines of 3.5, emphasizing the use of miniatures and battlemats, penalizing mapless, narrative-based combat.

First let me say, I feel your pain. I run 90% mapless combats but there are times when I can't get by without it. I tend to use a printed map at 1/4"=5' on a cork board with numbered push pins to track combat since I don't have room for minis on the scale I need. For PBEM or PBP or games over chat it is tougher. Have you considered taking the plunge into grid combat for complex battles and using an online mapping tool like MapTool? These free tools make for low barrier to entry except that you give up some of the narration. They do streamline combat, and D$D and Pathfinder are both designed with things like LOS and AoO grounded in the Feats and Combat mechanics. Sometimes that is just too much to keep in your head.

Also you have the problem of time scale. It is hard enough to remember from round to round in mapless combat where everyone is in realation to each other, but spread that over days or weeks for PBP or PBEM and you can get lost easy or spend a lot of your time re-reading old posts to get back into combat. If someone has a map posted that is kept up round by round it makes sure everyone is on the same page. Just my 2cp.


I knew a guy whose DM was very against miniature/battle mats for a long time. Finally, they decided to just test one out. As it turned out, they had been using a battle mat the whole time, only it was in the DM's head.

I don't use miniatures or elaborate maps, but I would strongly suggest a dry eraser board with an etched square grid on it for games in person. Or if you play online, a great, free program called Maptool ( http://rptools.net/doku.php )


From my experiences playing in a game without a map, Freesword is right that attacks of opportunity for movement just never come up.

I'd presume that area effect spells and flanking would be a bit handwavy, but survivably so. A paragraph or two of guidelines couldn't hurt.


Wandering_star wrote:

I knew a guy whose DM was very against miniature/battle mats for a long time. Finally, they decided to just test one out. As it turned out, they had been using a battle mat the whole time, only it was in the DM's head.

I don't use miniatures or elaborate maps, but I would strongly suggest a dry eraser board with an etched square grid on it for games in person. Or if you play online, a great, free program called Maptool ( http://rptools.net/doku.php )

Maptool seems to have a steep learning curve (plus i can't get it to do complex things like draw a line or save a file without crashing). If you want simple, good old Whiteboard with Paint files loaded in and simple letter to represent characters works miracles for IM games.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

*nods*

The rules as they are don't require you to use a map or miniatures. A good DM knows where people are and where the monsters are. If a player can't do something (like Charge because he's too close) the DM just says so.

Battle Maps just give everyone a perspective on the overall fight.


SirUrza wrote:

*nods*

The rules as they are don't require you to use a map or miniatures. A good DM knows where people are and where the monsters are. If a player can't do something (like Charge because he's too close) the DM just says so.

Battle Maps just give everyone a perspective on the overall fight.

It is nice, however, as a player, to be able to see the battle taking shape, all the pieces moving in a certain way, to plan a bit in advance (maybe even shout out an instruction or two to make way for a spell or a charge). When it's just in the DM's head, no matter how good he is, you can't co-ordinate or work together as well.


My group has been playing for thirty years off and on. We've never used miniature or battlemaps. The only time its ever been an issue is when someone joined the group who was used to using them and just couldn't do without.

If everyone pretty much pays attention to what is going on in the fight, you don't need them. If there is a question, the DM makes the call and that's that. It's actually way quicker and easier without them, for our group anyway.

-Jack

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