Best Battle-Mapping Method for Age of Ashes


Age of Ashes


Hello everyone!
I am looking for advice on the best way to represent combat in Age of Ashes. I am playing in person.

My options:
- Theater of mind
- Roll20
- Fantasy Grounds
- Physical battlemaps

I have always found theater of mind to be a little bit tricky with PF1e, given its tactical complexity. I don't know how much this changed with PF2e.

Roll20 hasn't released official modules for this particular AP. Since it is fairly easy to create custom tokens and import maps from the web, this could be an option, with two PCs at the table (one for me, the other for the players).

Fantasy Grounds has the official modules, as far as I know, but is quite expensive and has the disadvantage of forcing me to put two PCs on the table.

Physical maps would be perfect, since a Pawn Collection for this AP is out already, but I have always struggled to accurately represent the huge dungeons on the gridded map (usually a basic terrain flip-mat). Drawing each room separately forces me to spend a lot of time drawing, thus significantly detracting from the pace of the session (which I consider a top priority). The alternative is to pre-draw the map, but that is not always possible (sometimes the maps won't fit in a single flip-mat) and also gives huge spoilers to players.

Can you help me with this decision?
Of course I am open to suggestion of methods I didn't mention. They are not there simply because I am not aware of their existence.


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

For in person games, I've been mixing descriptive combat and battle maps. For battles I don't do the full map, just draw a specific room (or possibly a rectangle if it's close enough). For the dungeon maps, I let them draw out a rough sketch based in descriptions, and then add things like "you notice this wall seems to be closer than you would expect" based on secret perception/architecture rolls.

I don't see any point in using FG or Roll20 if you don't make at least a token for the characters - the maps without tokens won't work properly with lighting and you won't be able to see flanking or auras without the tokens in place. I use FG virtually and really enjoy how much automation there is, but you're taking most of that away at the table. Maybe Roll20 and add the PDFs and just put blocks over things? Wouldn't be much different than covering part of a map at home.


I am completely fine with creating tokens for the PCs of course!


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

I use a 40" TV on the table with maps displayed on it when running Age of Ashes. We use miniatures and simply place them atop the TV (I bought a relatively inexpensive TV for this purpose, about $100). I have a laptop at the table and control the map from there. I find this the best method as I can have all the maps prepared in advance, so there is very little time to start combat, especially when used in conjunction with Combat Manager. An added bonus of this method is that I can use animated maps, which really help bring the scene to life.


Fumarole wrote:
I use a 40" TV on the table with maps displayed on it when running Age of Ashes. We use miniatures and simply place them atop the TV (I bought a relatively inexpensive TV for this purpose, about $100). I have a laptop at the table and control the map from there. I find this the best method as I can have all the maps prepared in advance, so there is very little time to start combat, especially when used in conjunction with Combat Manager. An added bonus of this method is that I can use animated maps, which really help bring the scene to life.

Interesting! And do you use a specific program to display the maps on the screen, or just the images?


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

If I need to use layers for fog or war, secret doors or anything like that, I open the images in GIMP. For animated maps they're just open in the Windows video player and static maps that don't need layers are opened in Irfanview. All of those are free, or come with Windows.


Thanks for tip!


Before the Covid I used Maptool (a VTT) for the combat thing and it was amazing, way better than the old way (maps at hand and miniatures).

I used 2 computers (the conected to a TV for the players, the laptop for me). You could do it with only 1 computer with some VTTs (can tell you it could work with Maptool or Foundry, don´t know Roll 20 or FG), but you will need a second TV/monitor for the GM info (so you can use Fog of war and that kind of things). Also is a bit annoying to share the mouse/keyboard with the players, so at the end, is better to have 2 computers.


Thanks for the tip!
My only concern is that usually when I put a map of a dungeon in front of my players they tend to use it as a reference and move on it even outside combat.
Now with the way Exploration mode works in PF2 I am not sure whether I want to encourage that style of play. I am kinda digging the idea to run exploration in a more fluid form, and having a map of the dungeon as a whole in front of the players may in fact encourage the opposite of what I want.

Any suggestions on this?


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

Just present the dungeon to them as a single room or encounter area at a time. When they move from one to the next ask them how they do so (if they're sneaking, searching for traps, etc.). Then when the encounter begins break out the new map. They don't really need to see how they're connected to each other, unless they run from fights a lot I suppose. If rooms are right next to each other and have potential for encounters there to overlap, show them together if you think that's better.

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