2e and Theater of the Mind


Advice


General question: how tactical is 2e, and to what extent does it need miniatures and a grid?

Doug M.


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very tactical and you will need miniatures and a grid, unless there would no chance at your table of discussions regarding who was where, flanking who, and outside of wich area of an spell, and so on...


It seems like it could work if the players are on board with the costs and benefits. One might lose some of the benefits of the crunchiness of tactical placement, but benefit in other ways.


If you could manage combat encounters with multiple monsters, environmental hazards, specific terrain & obstacles, or a mix thereof while using D&D rules or Pathfinder 1st edition, you can manage Pathfinder 2nd edition the same way.

However, the basics of a grid map and some markers definitely do more to help PF2 than most older versions of Pathfinder/D&D, because the game is built with tactics and grids in mind.

Dark Archive

I think it would play better with minis and a grid, but that by no means excludes theater of mind play. In fact, Knights of the , a popular game run by Jason B. on Geek and Sundry, is done through theater of the mind.


Theatre of the mind works just as well in PF2 as it does in other editions of D&D/PF. Stuff like movement and distance does need to be estimated, but that comes naturally with time. And flanking can be kept track of fairly easily.


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Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Douglas Muir 406 wrote:
General question: how tactical is 2e, and to what extent does it need miniatures and a grid? Doug M.

Check out the whole first season of "Knights of the Everflame", on Paizo's YouTube channel. It's an introduction to PF2 run by Director Of Game Design, Jason Buhlman.

Nothing but theater of the mind

Liberty's Edge

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Combat is very tactical, but no more so in terms of movement and positioning than it could get with spells in PF1 (the difference being that everyone can be concerned about things that only people with certain spells were in PF1).

I did pretty much the entire playtest sans maps and it worked fine, and the final version hasn't changed any of the factors that led to that enough to matter.

Really, it works just as well for mapless play as any other D&D related game, and likely better than some.


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I ran "theater of the mind" style back in the early 2000s because playing online did not have as much support, and it was fine.
I see no reason why PF2 shouldn't be the same. Just accept the GM's judgment on whether or not you can reach flanking position :)

The main issue I used to have back then was adjudicating AoOs, and PF2 solves that pretty well.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

FWIW, I’ve tried PF2 both with and without grid maps. Both are viable. That said...

Playing the game with grid maps has been more enjoyable. There are lots of tactical class abilities, and strategies the 3-action system lets you employ, that started showing up when we used maps, but were largely forgotten about or ignored when we played theatre of the mind.

So you might try playing both ways. I suspect that if you do, you’ll also find yourself favoring the grid map option.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Theatre of Mind all the way baby. It's a refined game of imagination and make-believe, not some crude tactical wargame pretending to be something more.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Why not both? Theatre of the mind can work for simple combats, daring escapes through tunnels etc. Combat grids can be useful when wanting to really get into the nitty gritty.

For me it depends on my players and the scene. For some of my younger players having something they can see and interact with really helps them stay focused and think about their turn. For some scenes, particularly those such as chases or that happen mostly at range theatre of the mine works better.

PF2e can easily be played completely without a combat grid if that is your preference though.


Your group will be a bigger determinate of how well theater of the mind works than 1e v 2e. I can't hold an entire scene in my head with 2-3 moving parts very well, but 1e and 2e are about equally difficult in my attempt to do so. 2e has more people moving around than 1e, 1e has more people trying to position AoE buffs and debuffs selectively. I also have a short attention-spam (as well as my players) so having a grid to reference is crucial for games where positioning even slightly matters.


As an aside, I really like playing with maps but without grids. Just use rulers, inches for for 5', etc. Mostly I prefer theater of the mind, but if we need to go into tactical, I like a gridless base. And then as a DM I don't make it strict who is where and how, and generally side with the players. I'm harsh enough on them in other ways. :D

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