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Friday, 19th December, 2008, 02:16 AM #1
changing 4e rules so that the game doesn't need miniatures
It has been said a lot of times that 4e D&D can't be played without the use of miniatures and a battlegrid. I agree but I am thinking about changing the ruleset so that it could be done. But how?
The general changes you'd have to make are pretty clear: Less focusing on spaces, on tactical movement etc. What I'm looking for in this thread are your specific suggestions to rules modifications: get rid of opportunity attacks, change power x to something different...
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Friday, 19th December, 2008, 03:08 AM #2
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Just have the GM decide when things are in range. Anything beyond that would require such massive changes that you're better off finding a different generic fantasy game: an earlier version of D&D, Tunnels and Trolls, Rolemaster, or many others.
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Friday, 19th December, 2008, 01:36 PM #3
Friday, 19th December, 2008, 02:22 PM #4
Superhero (Lvl 15)
Friday, 19th December, 2008, 02:54 PM #5
Scout (Lvl 6)
*Pull, push, slide should probably be changed either to some form of knockback, maybe a little extra damage (like maybe 2 per square of movement, or maybe 1d4 or 1d6 per square) or the like. Alternately, you can redefine them in each set-piece battle: a push in the Floating Rocks of Doom area means the PC has to Save or fall off the floating rock into the Pits of Despair.
*Opportunity Attacks are a key way to fight the 'grind' of 4E combat, so getting rid of them is bad news. I'd say take a look at 3.5E and jot down situations that provoke AoOs. Re-incorporate these into 4E, and worry less about the movement aspect. I.e., Opportunity Attacks would be provoked by drinking a potion, casting, fishing around in your backpack or belt pouch, standing up from prone, etc. Basically anything that isn't a direct attack. This way, OAs are still in, and thus the Fighter and other classes still get their neat toys.
*Flanking might need to be made easier to make up for the lack of movement tactics. Here's how you define flanking: if 2+ people gang up on a single opponent, consider it flanked. Easy peasy.
*Ranges, area of effect, all that...run it like you would w/o a map: use your imagination. Caveat: make sure you spend a little extra time thinking about the size of your dungeon rooms and such, and I'd even say map them out as fully as you would for normal 4E, so you have a rough guide of what's going on, and the few rules disputes that might come up still have something that you can refer to and say "Hey, you said you were standing in the doorway, and that's within the 20' burst area if the badguy is standing by the bookshelf, which I did mention"
*Powers and stuff that allow you or allies to make small moves ("all allies in the burst may shift 1 square") should instead provide an equivalent "better positioning" bonus on the next attack, maybe +1 per square they could have moved. This represents taking the higher ground, finding an opening in the opponent's fighting style, or throwing some dirt in their face...whatever you'd like.
I'd really say that flanking, OAs and push/pull/slide are the biggest "offenders" of the battlegrid need...with those things taken care of, I see no reason why you'd need a battlemap (I still recommend mapping the locations fairly accurately in size for your own notes though).
That said, I love battlegrids more and more in 4E, but obviously YMMV.
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Friday, 19th December, 2008, 03:03 PM #6
Magsman (Lvl 14)
What you need to do:
o Create a few new conditions that are interesting to "interact" with. Some basic ideas:
- Dazzled. A character that is dazzled takes a -2 penalty to attacks. If the character is dazzled and dazed, he is stunned instead. If he is dazzled and knocked prone, he cannot stand up until dazzled is gone.
- Demoralized. A character that is demoralized takes a -2 penalty to defenses. If the character is bloodied and demoralized, he is weakened.
If the character is demoralized and marked, he can only make basic attacks and can take no immediate actions or opportunity actions.
- Distracted. A character that is distracted can take no immediate actions and no opportunity actions. If the character is subject to forced movement (push, pull, slide), the attacker can knock him prone instead.
If a character is distracted and grants combat advantage, a hit is automatically considered a critical.
- Stymied. A character that is stymied must reroll all results on a d20 of 15 or higher and take the lower result. (Only require a reroll if the roll would have been a success. This condition does not apply against rerolls granted by other powers.) A character that is stymied and slowed is immobilized instead. A character that is stymied and granting combat advantage grants an additional +2 bonus to attack rolls against him.
o Pull, Push, Slide. Remove these conditions or simplify them. A pulled character that is already in melee must spend a number of squares equal to the pull value to leave melee range. A pushed character leaves melee and must spend a number of squares of movement equal to the push value to enter melee range again. A slide can either be a push or pull (sliders choice)
o Create new powers that use the new conditions for every class and every level.
This, of course, is assuming you want to keep some of the tactical variety that the combat grid allows, without requiring the specifics of it.
Tactical options are created by characters combining powers with different conditions. Typically by trying to apply 2 interacting conditions - or more - to one opponent.
I think that is the only way I'd be willing to give up the grid again in D&D 4 - by creating a different mechanic that still enforces and supports teamwork.
In my view, minis and combat mats are just another type to note down conditions - conditions that are just to complex to keep in mind without a simple visualization.
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Friday, 19th December, 2008, 03:19 PM #7
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Friday, 19th December, 2008, 03:50 PM #8
Grandfather of Assassins (Lvl 19)
Some suggestions are very neat, others over-worked (IMO). The first rule, after all, is: keep it simple.
Don't believe those who tell you you need to complexify your game because you don't want to use a battle mat and minis!
Flanking: Agreed - easy to fix:
1) Whenever you're 2-on-1 you can flank.
2) Whenever the DM feels it's appropriate, you flank.
I expect flanking to occur about as often as in the RAW, meaning classes that rely on flanking shouldn't become noticeably weaker (or more powerful). Remember that already in the RAW, the frequency of flanking opportunities vary wildly with different DMs, different adventures and different tactics, so it ain't as if there is a given norm your world must adhere to!
Push/pull: instead of these effects giving their benefits depending on exactly where everybody are positioned, make it simpler and more abstract:
1) the easy case is when you can benefit directly from pushing your foes into a harmful terrain feature (such as "thin air"). This works exactly the same - make a save or eat pain.
2) then we have the case where pushs/pulls can be made to gain a situational benefit. Instead of "parking" enemies in areas where they can be flanked or area attacked, you simply give bonuses for successfully pulling/pushing them around. Perhaps you get a +1 bonus to attack them. Perhaps they get a -2 penalty if you slam them into a bunch of chairs, a fireplace or a stack of crates?
3) the final case is when these effects are intended to make you enter melee or force you away from melee. (Artillery effects push you away; Soldiers pull you in) Again, it shouldn't be too hard to describe this in the abstract.
Generally, just tell your players they should expect a little less utility from any power with push/pull and especially slides as their main benefit. Expect them to select fewer such powers. This is okay, and shouldn't necessitate a re-write of the rules.
Ranged and Area effects: we have run these for decades without battle mats, so I don't expect there to be anything that needs changing in 4E! :-)
Opportunity Attacks: again, instead of looking at the map, look at the action. With prior 3E it should be easy and intuitive both for the player and the DM to tell when an OA is triggered. Again, no battle map needed.
Be generous in awarding situational modifiers to encourage colorful descriptions that lessen the "grind". Was it Stalker0 who did a write-up on "combat skill challenges"? Seems like a useful thing to have in a minis-less game! :-)
Last edited by CapnZapp; Friday, 19th December, 2008 at 03:55 PM.
Friday, 19th December, 2008, 04:20 PM #9
I might be a bit "old school", but I'd suggest getting some of the 2nd edition stuff for cheap or buy some of the inexpensive pdf's off of RPGNow. We play 4th ed now, and love miniatures, but if I'd want to go back to using everyone's imagination for combat again, we would use 2nd edition rules.
Friday, 19th December, 2008, 04:23 PM #10
I can't have been the only one that needed minis to keep track of where everyone was relative to everyone else, even in games like AD&D.