# Take 'em off the freaking grid!

### Homebrew and House Rules

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I've been thinking about how Pathfinder would work with miniatures but without any grids, neither hexes nor squares. Instead using an inch tape measure.

If you measure it in 1 inch representing 5 feet I think it would work just fine. The usual miniature bases (or at least those of the PF cadrboard pawns) have a diameter of 1, 2, 3 inches respectively. So the bases are perfectly adequate in representing the space it occupies, you can freely draw lines and place cones and radius AoEs. You might need a template for the latter perhaps, or at least it would help. With 1 inch bases a player can also move their character edge to edge if they want to make a short move and don't want to use a measure.

The only part i think needs more explanation would be AoOs for leaving a threatened square. But i think rewording it to "Moving more than 5'/1" within or leaving a hostile creature's threatened space" should do the trick.

The advantage of such a system would be that movement and ranges would be represented more realistically. You don't move inexplicably slower if you don't go straight in one of the 6 basic directions given by your adjacent hexes, or inexplicably faster if you're using squares but not the 1.5 squares for diagonal movement rule and you don't have to do the additional head math of counting 1.5 squares each diagonal step or rather remember when to count 2 squares for diagonal steps of you're making a longer move if you do use the 1.5 square rule.

I don't think using tape measures or similar implements should be much of a problem, since I have played the Warhammers before where you push around significantly larger numbers of miniatures with tape measures.

Has anyone ever tried this? What are your thoughts? Any gameplay problems you see coming up?

Areas of effect would make more sense with this system. The only concern I have is with the speed of the game. Combats already take quite a while.

I've played miniature games both ways. Squares or hexes are simpler and faster and more importantly exact. There's little room left for arguing over whether something is .99 or 1.01 inches away. Some massed miniature games lend themselves to measuring but for pathfinder, where the sides can often be intermingled, Squares is a better way to go (IMHO).

Morag

I believe back in the day they would play on sand covered table tops and did in fact use measuring tapes.

I've never understood why you would do the measuring tape thing. If it's all still restricted to exact lengths and areas... then why did you get rid of the convenient and speedy grid system?

the Queen's Raven wrote:
I believe back in the day they would play on sand covered table tops and did in fact use measuring tapes.

Correct, this is why the original D&D and 1st edition AD&D gave movement in terms of inches and then gave a conversion from inches on the table to feet(indoors) or yards(outdoors) in the game world.

Morag the Gatherer wrote:

There's little room left for arguing over whether something is .99 or 1.01 inches away.

But that's where an RPG has the advantage of having a referee/GM. Though admittedly there are some GMs who might not bring the right attitude to the table to make it work, depends.

I've never understood why you would do the measuring tape thing. If it's all still restricted to exact lengths and areas... then why did you get rid of the convenient and speedy grid system?

Tape measure might actually be faster and more convenient. No more counting out squares or precisely following area of effect rules while drawing out a spell effect. Spells with a radius make more sense now, and movement can be more fluid. Also, with a tape measure, you can just hold out the length of what you can move and instantly see the distance you can go.

You would have to somewhat clarify flanking, however, but I think that wouldn't be too hard.

I think it might be pretty fun. The square grid system produces some incredibly awkward results occasionally.

Recommend crafting some universal templates as well. Cool concept and one definitely meant for people who play Tabletop Wargames and other Miniature-based activities.

Welcome to Pathfinder40k I suppose. Best make sure GW doesn't stop by and break your kneecaps for some imagined infringement.

They'd have to cut through the knees of the likes of Privateer Press, Hawk Wargames, Mantic Games, Corvus Belli, Wyrd Games and other publishers before they'd get to mine.

They have an excellent template for up to 25 ft radius blasts though, now that I think about it.

I was thinking of something similar, but using online map software instead of miniatures (so that you could do it PbP, although it might help for FtF as well). What's the current status of online map software support for this kind of thing?

For Flanking, does being your Reach away from the enemy and >=135 ° away from each other (unless you have an ability that lets you make do with less) sound reasonable?

I do believe maptools already had measuring devices that allow this a couple of years ago.

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Starfinder Superscriber

I do really wish that 3.5e and Pathfinder used hexes instead of squares....

With my homebrewed Arcana Evolved game that I ran pushing 10 years ago, I just used hexes. Everything worked fine, and it was easier not to have to worry about 1.5x moves for diagonals. (People also don't seem to get that for diagonals in difficult terrain, every move is 3 squares, not alternating 2 and 4; hexes dodge the entire issue.) Alas, playing PFS you're not allowed, and I tend to play other things that have predrawn maps on squares already, so squares it is.

I've been using a combination of square grid, hex grid, and free tape measure for several years now with my skull and shackles AP campaigns. I use square grids for buildings and dungeons, hex grids for outdoor/wilderness settings and tape measure when using 3D terrain pieces. I had problems when I built a number of ships for play and could not easily get away from a tape measure when swinging from yard arms and jumping down decks and climbing masts. The distance from the crow's nest to the ship's wheel is best measured directly. I disagree with those who say it is always easier and faster on the grid. There are pluses and minuses to either way of measuring distance. I find that the grid often slows play as players try to "navigate" the best path to their objective. I made myself a set of clear acrylic templates for all the various area effects and often use them even when on the grid. As long as effects such as flanking are consistently adjudicated for the players and their adversaries, it has not been a problem at all in my groups.

I've always done it this way and both myself and my players prefer it. I honestly can't think of a time it was an issue in any way beyond my daughter hiding my tape measure on me once.

Problem with a hex grid is that if you want to do freeform but have markings for reference, a square grid is easier to deal with -- you are still using a Cartesian coordinate system, but with fractional position values permitted -- not so easy on a hex grid (and how do you expand a hex grid to 3 dimensions, anyway?). With freeform on a square grid, it is easy to figure out distances with a calculator: DIST(A, B) = SQRT((X(A) - X(B))^2 + (Y(A) - Y(B))^2 + (Z(A) - Z(B))^2). Granted, if you DON'T have a calculator, a Hex grid might make things easier to eyeball, but even so, you will still have anisotropies, just not as large.

I've wanted to use hexes in a home game to avoid some of the idiosyncrasies that come with a grid (ease of escaping a diagonal flank comes to mind).

...I'm sorry...TAPEMEASURE?

What is this trying to accomplish? Certainly not ease of play. I can understand disliking the square system, but that is more of a justification for going with hexes, or some other drawn system.

Simply put, constantly having to do measurements, as well as keeping exact distances without neat little references points, is going to be far, far more trouble than it is worth.

I mean... you need 2 hands for tape measure. Then you need another hand to move the tape measure in place while the character is moved (since otherwise, things go slack, and you might lose your place). So you need 2 different people hunching over the table (desperately trying not to knock other minis out of their current position- which can be hard since often the end point of lines end at a different mini that is being targeted), just to do one turn.

Take this from someone who has actually worked in construction- you will lose measurements, and things will slideabout. Someone will lose 5' of movement over a fight, someone will gain 5'. A spell will not work since you lost 5' of range, a spell will incorrectly work because it gained 5' of range. There are ways to prevent this (and I am sure there are table tops games that try to work with this), but I honestly don't think they are worth it. Just look for alternative grid systems instead. But all this could be me overestimating measurement issues since I usually worked with 30 feet of tape and markings when I used to work with them- maybe it is less of an issue with small scale. Doubt it.

^And that's why I brought up software above.

I guess tape measuring will only work out for people that are used to it because they play tabletops a lot. Yes, any kind of grid will produce strange effects from time to time. For the most part, it eases the game in my experience more that these effects hinder it. For me, bringing out the tape measure would always feel like "hey, we play a tabletop, not a RPG anymore", but that may be just me. If you never used a tape measure, it will take quite some time to get used to that.

Is anybody working on hex-based PF rules?

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Using a grid makes adjudicating things like AoOs and narrow misses far easier. If everybody is OK with eyeballing it, even when that can mean the difference between life and death for their characters, it can be interesting to do free form. It's easy to prepare index cards, cutting them to length for 20' or 30' movement, the same for cone and spread templates.

But at the end of the day, what does all this really net you? I don't see any net gain in using a gridless system.

I mean, back in the old days, the standard play style was a *mapless* system, where you would just describe where your characters were standing, charging and casting spells. Some clain that using miniatures and decors detracts from the power of players' imagination. <shrug>

Even when you *are* using a grid system, there is no requirement to draw straight lines at 90 degree (or 45 degree) angles. You can charge in a straight line even if you count out movement in a kind of zigzag, as long as there are no obstacles in your path. It all depends on how slavishly you adhere to the square box mentality.

I can see advantages in gridless - corridors that go in non-standard directions are no longer awkward, you don't get the "moving diagonally is sometimes 5 feet and sometimes 10 feet" issue (no, you can't move any further north-east this turn, but you can move five feet to the north or east), you don't need special rules to handle threatening diagonally with a reach weapon... All things we get accustomed to after a while, but to a new player they can seem very unrealistic and restrictive.

lemeres wrote:

I mean... you need 2 hands for tape measure. Then you need another hand to move the tape measure in place while the character is moved (since otherwise, things go slack, and you might lose your place). So you need 2 different people hunching over the table (desperately trying not to knock other minis out of their current position- which can be hard since often the end point of lines end at a different mini that is being targeted), just to do one turn.

I really assumed that with tapemeasure any sensible way of measuring distance was meant. That includes tape, rulers and stuff like those whippy-sticks* used for tabletop wargames games.

*The ones I have are from gamesworkshop, they are red, 6inches long, if I remember right, are soft enough to slightly bend them but not sloppy enough to bend under their own weight.

As 6 squares (30ft) is the standard movement range those seem perfect for the duty. For charging while hasted etc. I'd go back to tapemeasure or carpenter's ruler.

@Stebihil
Using a grid can cause people to feel as if they are playing a board game (hex) or chess (grid). I say this for a reason, because people come to think in 2 dimensions without realizing it when using these flat systems. They do not readily facilitate 3 dimensional movement. Each turn for a character in a tight situation becomes a move in a grand master chess tournament requiring careful consideration. These are all just tools to help us accomplish our RP ends.
@Lemeres
I would argue that ease of play is exactly what the tape measure adds. You are correct that it requires two hands to open the tape, but simply purchasing one that locks in place frees your other hand to move the figure. As UAE has pointed out above, you can do some trig to calculate movement upward at an angle, but why spend the time? I think we all agree that there are times when a grid is useful and times when it impedes play. In my experience I measure the distance from my Wizard on the stern castle to the tengu rogue on the mainmast yard arm and if it is within an inch, then it flies. If it is an inch or more away, it doesn't. This does require that the GM isn't a jerk and is consistent when measuring and adjudicating the measurements. Yes, you can lose or gain 5' of movement or range, but I would argue that the less than precise measurements occasioned by the diagonal movement on a square grid do the same at least as often.
My real concern is the two dimensional thinking our grid systems unconsciously overlay on our actions in game. My secondary concern is saving time. Lots of times it is impossible to physically build terrain that would fit the game table and we simply use numbers in our heads to adjudicate situations. I heartily recommend anything that speeds play but I do find that a 3D battlefield makes play more dynamic and is facilitated time wise by using "direct" measurement. As I stated above, I use grid and grid less interchangeably to what I believe to be that satisfaction of my players, and it has resulted in more dynamic, cinematic play at the table.

It's not worth the hassle, IMO. Unless you're using an eletronic tabletop that allows you to quickly measure, display and move creature's reach, areas of effect, etc.

I've been thinking about how Pathfinder would work with miniatures but without any grids, neither hexes nor squares. Instead using an inch tape measure.

*Snip*

Honestly and without intent to offend, you're reinventing the wheel here.

Open up a 1st edition D&D manual, and you'll often see inches for movement. That's because war games and minis skirmish games have been using the ol' tape measure and template for the longest time.

Plenty of games already have rules which give an area of denial to hostile models. Among recent memory, the obvious candidate to look at is Warhammer 40k, where a model must (almost) always maintain a 1" buffer from an enemy unless it successfully charges the enemy. Starship Troopers used a more complex system where an enemy within 10" immediately activated a unit's "Reactions," leading to a flurry of attacks and defense, usually in the form of a firestorm from the Mobile Infantry as the Arachnids closed to close combat.

All of these games work just fine by the "gentleperson's agreement" to not be a jerk and don't have GM's.

The pros and cons of grid vs freeform movement have already been brought up and I feel no need to beat that particular dead horse. I would recommend taking a ruler and compass and cutting templates for AoE's, which are actually quite easy to handle. Go back to the template weapons of any given skirmish game, the most famous of course still being the templates GW sells for a considerable sum. You could with some work easily create card stock templates in various sizes for PFRPG with a compass, a ruler, and some scissors.

Just remember that area effect spells work differently with larger creatures sometimes.

Example: Obscuring mist
With a caster larger than medium that means 20 from the edge of his/her base.

That might make it necessary to craft more templates than you thought.

Areas of Effect and Larger Creatures wrote:

Source AP91

The rules often assume that creatures are Medium or Small. In the case of a handful of spells or effects with areas that feature a “radius emanation centered on you” such as antimagic field, aura of doom, and zone of silence, as well as some of the spells presented in this section, this can result in an area that is effectively useless when coming from a Large or larger caster. As an optional rule, when a creature casts an emanation or burst spell with the text “centered on you,” treat the creature's entire space as the spell's point of origin, and measure the spell's area or effect from the edge of the creature's space. For instance, an antimagic field cast by a fire giant would extend 10 feet beyond his space (effectively increasing the emanation's radius by 5 feet).

Our DM got his start in Warhammer, so for the longest time we used tape measures. Instead of a battlemat grid, he used various pick'n'mix terrain props to simulate our current location. For dungeons, we used lego bricks to form the walls.

Some time ago, a then-new player to our group introduced some material that could be used to craft dungeon tiles. (Dental plaster, or something like that.) Since then, we've used dungeon tiles that our DM has subtly laid grid squares on. We've found that when out in the open (Attacked on the road) using tape measures feels more organic. But in close quarters, (Standard dungeon corridor) a grid solves a lot of problems.

For AoE spells, I made a few templates with pipe cleaners. Useful for both outdoor and tiles.

I've never understood why you would do the measuring tape thing. If it's all still restricted to exact lengths and areas... then why did you get rid of the convenient and speedy grid system?

This. To each their own, and whatever works for you is great, but I can't see any reason to go away from the ease and speed of a grid system where there can be no argument. Also, I don't understand why people are complaining about the some diagonals are 5' some are 10'. I've been playing with kids in grammar school for the past 5+ years, and they have zero problem counting off 5, 15, 20, 30 when going diagonals on the grid. Once you get used to it, it's entirely routine.

The Keptain wrote:
Yes, you can lose or gain 5' of movement or range, but I would argue that the less than precise measurements occasioned by the diagonal movement on a square grid do the same at least as often.

That is at least consistent and systematic loss. It is something you know will happen, and plan around.

I just have seen too many complaints over set in stone rules ("I punch with my greatsword")to entirely trust people with something as loose as this. This tape measure system has too much margin for error that needs correcting, and there is an obvious bias when there is that correction (ie- it is equally likely he was 1/2 inch back, putting me out of attack range, and that he was 1/2 inch forward, putting me in attakc range; both are equally likely, so which do you think I would mentally prefer?)

You and your group may have a great relationship, and truly trust eachother... but that is something you move up to after gaming together for a long time until you understand eachother. As a base skeleton for a developing relationship, having sturdy, quick systems that has set rules outside of the players is often for the better.

If this was to be used, I would personally advocate for it to be computer graphing of some sort, since you can get digital measurement, and possibly undo/redo buttons so you can double check moves.

I've been thinking about how Pathfinder would work with miniatures but without any grids, neither hexes nor squares. Instead using an inch tape measure.

<snip>

Has anyone ever tried this? What are your thoughts? Any gameplay problems you see coming up?

We've done it a little bit with D&D3 and PF. It works just fine and, in many ways, I like it better than the grid. I have a bunch of small tape measures with flexible tapes so they're really easy to work with.

If your group has experience with table top wargames (Warhammer 40K, Malifaux, Warmachine, Infinity, etc.), then you won't have any trouble making this conversion.

From time to time, I've done this when one circumstance or another required it (like when I forgot my grid mat at home). We usually play at a gaming store, so there's plenty of terrain for us to use. If you have access to the appropriate type of terrain for the scenario, it can make the gaming experience much more immersive to have the entire combat represented in three dimensions.

If you're going to do this, I suggest making templates for the various area effect things the party or encounters will use.

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Minah wrote:
the Queen's Raven wrote:
I believe back in the day they would play on sand covered table tops and did in fact use measuring tapes.
Correct, this is why the original D&D and 1st edition AD&D gave movement in terms of inches and then gave a conversion from inches on the table to feet(indoors) or yards(outdoors) in the game world.

It was still on a grid. All of the old mods had a 10' by 10' grid and if minis were used it was on a map with a grid.

I've DMed exclusively on projectors/monitors, without bothering to use Roll20 or any of those cool programs (I may someday) because of being deployed to Iraq and a lot of soldiers were ex/potential geeks but someone had to DM, and the only gaming gear people had brought were some sets of polyhedrals.

It's only as a PC that I encounter tabletop roleplay in varying forms of complexity. Unless you have access to Tabletop Wargaming-scale infrastructure/products, I notice they tend to be very narrow-scope affairs.

I used the snap-to-grid feature of programs to keep alignment and usually screenshotted/formfitted existing map graphics as backgrounds on slides where characters were then drawn using simple symbols with identifying unique color/gradient/pattern schemes. Structures were as easy as dropping polygons in if not recycling existing ones from earlier slides. The massive scope I could display changed the game for me. There was a charm to combat being able to be initiated across fields, and rewarding a party the chance to jump someone they spotted blocks away.

I then created general-use templates like cones, radii, and directional arrows (lines) and always kept copies of them pasted to the side handy so no matter what the angle, we could measure effects; most of my adjustments was moving the rotation point to where it made the most sense. Want to see primary and splash zones/footprint and reach... grouped shapes! Want to see where your arrow/bullet would really fly? Let's drop the line in! We experimented with losing the grid because with the computer, I could save everyone's move-rate lines as templates, but it became a chore.

I wanted to like Hex-maps more because of the additional angles it opened up, but something just felt off. It was cool... but I noticed that megastructures/terrain took on triangular shapes versus rectangular instead, as if the architects of the civilization had an equilateral design revolution that just kept ringing wrong to me. I understand from city plans and overhead imagery that true grids aren't that common/practical, but on a block scale they tend to follow square arrangements across most cultures/styles.

^My thoughts exactly about Hex grids.

 RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

My RPG project doesn't use grids. Instead, it measures distance in 25-foot increments.

It's assumed any character with a normal speed can move to a location within Close range with a single move action, provided there's no obstacles. It eliminates small differences in speed, but it's much easier to eyeball distance this way.

Each creature threatens an area with a radius equal the diameter of their mini's base (i.e., a Large creature threatens minis 2 inches away).

AoEs usually fill up a whole Close-range increment.

Small bursts simply target a creature and all creatures adjacent to them.

Cone attacks work like a combination of burst and line effects. They target a creature, all creatures adjacent to the target, and all creatures in a line between you and your target.

I've been thinking about how Pathfinder would work with miniatures but without any grids, neither hexes nor squares. Instead using an inch tape measure.

If you measure it in 1 inch representing 5 feet I think it would work just fine. The usual miniature bases (or at least those of the PF cadrboard pawns) have a diameter of 1, 2, 3 inches respectively. So the bases are perfectly adequate in representing the space it occupies, you can freely draw lines and place cones and radius AoEs. You might need a template for the latter perhaps, or at least it would help. With 1 inch bases a player can also move their character edge to edge if they want to make a short move and don't want to use a measure.

The only part i think needs more explanation would be AoOs for leaving a threatened square. But i think rewording it to "Moving more than 5'/1" within or leaving a hostile creature's threatened space" should do the trick.

The advantage of such a system would be that movement and ranges would be represented more realistically. You don't move inexplicably slower if you don't go straight in one of the 6 basic directions given by your adjacent hexes, or inexplicably faster if you're using squares but not the 1.5 squares for diagonal movement rule and you don't have to do the additional head math of counting 1.5 squares each diagonal step or rather remember when to count 2 squares for diagonal steps of you're making a longer move if you do use the 1.5 square rule.

I don't think using tape measures or similar implements should be much of a problem, since I have played the Warhammers before where you push around significantly larger numbers of miniatures with tape measures.

Has anyone ever tried this? What are your thoughts? Any gameplay problems you see coming up?

Works well, done it myself. Actually makes more sense than a grid for movement.

Premade templates are a good idea (we made ours out of clear plastic-overhead sheets). I also had pre-measured bits of string for common ranges (10 ft, 20 ft, every caster had spell range pre-cut).

I highly recommend this method, especially if you already have a warhammer (or similar) table set up.

I actually made a topic about this around a year ago, and i have been playing on Warhammer terrain ever since. It is actually fairly easy to do once people get the hang of measuring out in inches where they are moving to and remember what point of the figure they are measuring from. AoO do still get convoluted occasionally because of range of motion but for the most part it plays smooth. you also get a sense of depth when playing on a field that has height differences. which we homebrew rules for highground.

Going gridless is something that I'd really like to see in a well-developed virtual tabletop; but it'd probably have to be purpose-built for 3.5-style rules, with automated pathing options, threatened area rings, and rules adjustments for adjudicating flanking, squeezing, line spells, targets that are only partially caught in area effects, and so on.

Going Gridless could also do some interesting things with difficult terrain. 1 inch uphill or across beach sand could cost 1.5 inches and trudging through a boggy marsh could cost 2.5" for every 1".

I do the gridless thing all the time. What I've found is that using a tape measure is actually much faster and more convenient for large, open areas and outdoor encounters, while the grid is superior for small, indoor spaces with lots of corridors and such (dungeons, basically).

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I've got this vision that in some really old-school military academies in Cheliax and Taldor, they actually use tiles to pattern the floors with 5 foot grids.

Stebehil wrote:
Is anybody working on hex-based PF rules?

We tried hexes (A3 sheets printed out) but my players asked to return to the normal squares. I think it was because sometimes it was hard to calculate reach, areas of effect and 3d spaces.

Errant Mercenary wrote:
Stebehil wrote:
Is anybody working on hex-based PF rules?
We tried hexes (A3 sheets printed out) but my players asked to return to the normal squares. I think it was because sometimes it was hard to calculate reach, areas of effect and 3d spaces.

The advantage about hexes is that you don't need to make many calculations with distances. Instead you just count the smallest number of hexes to get from point A to point B and that number times 5 is your distance in feet.

Yes, I like them, hence I tried to implement them. But a couple of combats later they begged to go back to squares.

One instance that they dont work (or several) is the "chose one edge of the square" or a "chose a side of the square" for example for Tower Shields. You have a lot more sides to cover.

Also for cover hexes get very confusing.

Allowing tower shields to cover two adjacent sides of a hex wouldn't be overly powerful, especially considering their current (low) power level.

Wolfsnap wrote:
I do the gridless thing all the time. What I've found is that using a tape measure is actually much faster and more convenient for large, open areas and outdoor encounters, while the grid is superior for small, indoor spaces with lots of corridors and such (dungeons, basically).

I would have thought the opposite. For me, those dungeons and caves with the round walls that cut a square in half... despite the fact that there's plenty of room to stand between that and the next square REALLY annoys me about the chessboard. Wide open plains, the grid doesn't bug me much. Just those weird shaped rooms.

That said, tape measures remind me of Mage Knight too much. We played with that gridless for years, and I'm not sure I'd want to deal with tape at a game table. Our table(s) are too big an area.. and every round getting up to measure and place thigns EXACTLY where you want would slow things down for us too much. usually there's someone closer to move your guy if you sit too far away.

It's a lot easier to say, "I'd like to move 20 feet up to the monster... no the square to the left.. yeah! Thanks. I attack now."