Difficulty Eliminating the Grid

Janx

Hero
The gridis not a 3e invention, having been a product inthe chessex catalog long before. Even the 1e rules referred to things in inches on a battle mat.

The grid enforces the movement rules. It prevents Shrodinger's pc who is everywhere he wants to be, despite the movement rules saying differently.

The grid ensures clarity in positioning. All you gridless dms seem to think your description and mental rendition on the game space is perfect, when in fact you have N variations of the room where N is the number of people at the table.

The grid also makes it easy to see exactly what the situation is. No need to give detailed positioning reports for each player so they size up their turn. They can SEE for themselves. You can save your verbiage for environmental fluff, and leave the room positioning to the grid.
 
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S'mon

Legend
The grid enforces the movement rules. It prevents Shrodinger's pc who is everywhere he wants to be, despite the movement rules saying differently.

The grid ensures clarity in positioning. All you gridless dms seem to think your description and mental rendition on the game space is perfect, when in fact you have N variations of the room where N is the number of people at the table.

Well, the thing is, when I run gridless combat, there *is* no precise positioning, normally everybody is moving around a lot within the combat round, especially the AD&D 1 minute round. A PC certainly can be several places within the round, and it's up to the DM to decide whether what the PC wants to do is feasible, as discussed in the 1e DMG. The DM just needs to be authoritative, and kick out any player who starts talking about 'mother may I'. :p
 

Reynard

Legend
Heck, in OD&D - 2e the fighter was typically a dwarf so people could fire over his head....

Ha. That was exactly the situation in this battle. The dwarf even "tagged out" with the other dwarf when the first one took a bad hit while the thief kept pelting the things with arrows (side note: B/X skeletons do not have any special resistance to non-bludgeoning attacks).

In retrospect -- now that it has been a day and I am no longer hyper-critiquing the game, as I am wont to do right afterward -- it went well enough. I think my real problem with it was that only 2 of the 3 players really got to do anything in that battle (until the dwarves tagged out), except player 3 rolled initiative for the PC side.

Out of curiosity, I just ordered Castles and Crusades -- my curiosity finally got the better of me, with a little help from New Years libations -- and I was wondering where it sits on the grid<-->no grid scale.
 

S'mon

Legend
Here's a chatroom session log where I ran a very extensive, involved combat using 1e AD&D, no grid: S'mon' s Yggsburgh Blog: Session 2 Log
The PC group of 6 were assaulting an inn occupied by 9 highwaymen.

Here's a sample combat round from the middle of the fight, starting with group initiative determination:

smon Rolls 1d6x2 and gets:
3 = 3
1 = 1
genghisdon: morganna is headed to the back too
genghisdon: oh, other elf
chris107: Opa roll 1d6+3
smon: Opa, Duvader, then bandits
Mablir Dorlig: Can Corak make out what Flynn has shot at?
chris107 rolls 1d6+3 and gets: 2, (+3) = 5
smon: @Corak - he shot through the shutter
smon: Opa, you fall back again, provoking anothe free attack?
chris107: No problem
chris107: (I hope)
Mablir Dorlig: How long would it take to light on eof my torches?
smon: OK, the big woman yells: "Stop dancin and die, elf!"
chris107: OOC As soon as I can afford a second weapon I wont need to!)
smon: /roll 1d20
smon rolls 1d20 and gets: 9,
smon: misses again... Opa can fire
chris107: What's 'Piss off in Elvish?'
smon: Torch - 1 round to light
chris107 rolls 1d20+4 and gets: 9, (+4) = 13
smon: AC 5
chris107 rolls 1d20+4 and gets: 7, (+4) = 11
smon: Duvader now
Kjato Ragfoot: All right. Can I still attack if I switch my sling for the short sword?
smon: yes
Kjato Ragfoot: If I cannot, I will only change weapons.
smon: Duvader draws sword & lunges at the short human...
Kjato Ragfoot: Ok. Duvader changes weapons and fights this sneaky little human that tries to backstab him.
Kjato Ragfoot rolls 1d20 and gets: 2,
smon:
chris107:
Kjato Ragfoot: And misses.
smon: The little man parries, grinning evilly...
genghisdon: Morganna humms in elven "here i come to save the day"
smon: /roll 1d20
smon rolls 1d20 and gets: 15,
chris107: Has any one but (lucky) Flynn rolled double figures yet?
corum: Flynn will ready another shot
genghisdon: (i dropped one)
Kjato Ragfoot: ((This must be the most unlucky gnome ever. I propose that our next adventure is the hunt for a four-leaf clover))
smon: The small man stabs down at the gnome...
chris107: Ha ha I'll second that
genghisdon: i think u got missed
smon: /roll 1d4
smon rolls 1d4 and gets: 4,
smon: he hit AC 5 4 dmg
genghisdon: ah well
smon: Um, your Cleric forgot to roll his clw rolls for Duvader & Corak
Kjato Ragfoot: ((Then the gnome goes down. He only had 4 HP left))
smon: Corak said he was gonna heal you pre-game
smon: roll 1d8 Corak
Mablir Dorlig: ((Didn't I cast CLW on him b4 I left on Tuesday))
smon: you never rolled
smon: roll now please
Kjato Ragfoot: ((According to Simon you did, but I somehow missed that))
Mablir Dorlig rolls 1d8 and gets: 4,
smon: ok, Duvader is on 4 hp
smon: roll for the one you cast on yourself while we're at it.
Mablir Dorlig: ((\good luck))
corum: ((how I love our cleric!)
corum: Flynn @ corack "I think we have been lucky thus far, make those rocks fly, Ollie will be pissed and that will not be good for us"
smon: The big woman is chasing Opa-Loca round and round the midden pile... she comes in range again...
chris107: Initiative?
smon: /roll 1d20+2
smon rolls 1d20+2 and gets: 17, (+2) = 19
genghisdon: soon
smon: She hits Opa-Loca with a powerful sweep of her sword...
smon: /roll 2d4+2
smon rolls 2d4+2 and gets: 4, 4, (+2) = 10
smon: ouch
chris107:
genghisdon: Morganna avenges Opa by shooting the barbarian down
chris107: 0HP
corum: ((does Flynn hear this?))
smon: Garrick and Morganna come round the corner just in time to see Opa cut down.
genghisdon: (stay there, we got this)
smon: At the same moment, two more brigands emerge from the back door - the bald, swarthy man who was fondling the Nerian girl, and behind him Shadow, the blonde war-witch.
genghisdon: shooting time
smon: group init:
smon: /roll 1d6x2...
 

S'mon

Legend
Out of curiosity, I just ordered Castles and Crusades -- my curiosity finally got the better of me, with a little help from New Years libations -- and I was wondering where it sits on the grid<-->no grid scale.

It's a no-grid game, combat most resembles 2e AD&D; d10+DEX mod init each round, each PC acts individually in turn.
 

JeffB

Legend
Agreed- bottlenecking makes sense.

It is done in real life combat situations (as has been for centuries), also I'm sure many of our recent combat vets of the middle-east can talk to us about "the kill box". It is also common technique while hunting- especially bowhunting: finding a natural "funnel" in the woods where animals travel through going from feeding to bedding areas is bowhunting 101. Animals are as lazy as most humans and take the least path of resistance if they can.

As for the gridless combat- MOnte had a good article back in the 3.0 days.

With older systems, unless a player comes out with something that is totally wahoo- I always wing distances, areas of effect, cover, etc. It will take some "re-training" of the mind to eliminate the grid mentality. It's all about description of action instead of choosing one of your pre-determined (by the rules) actions- whether thats a 3.x/ PF combat maneuver, or 4E power.
 

Good gods, man! WHY!? :eek: There's no reason those two sentences should be next to each other...Ever!
[snip]
You're supposed to be using your imagination. You don't need "something to look at"...you should be imagining what you're looking at.
D&D arose out of tabletop wargaming roots. Use of miniatures is mentioned specifically in 1E which implies that they had been in use already prior to that since 1E is largely a collation of house rules and expansions of older edtions from LBB to Moldvay to Holmes.

A grid is nothing more than a convenient replacement for tape measures when using miniatures on a table. I started D&D with Holmes in 1977(?) and despite no mention of specific rules for use of miniatures and a grid - I used miniatures and a grid from day 1. Just because no mention is made of miniatures and grid doesn't mean their use was actually intended to be excluded.

It is also a fallacy to suggest that there is any mutual exclusivity between use of miniatures/grid and exercise of imagination just as there is no mutual exclusivity between Rollplaying and Roleplaying (the Stormwind Fallacy). I know you're not actually going to tell me I was playing the game incorrectly, or that use of a grid with older editions is badwrongfun. I'm reasonably sure you were just pushing the point to be edition-wars-humorous, but you WERE pushing the point...
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Good gods, man! WHY!? There's no reason those two sentences should be next to each other...Ever!

Again- my first ever session of D&D used a grid & minis. That was 1977; I played a fighter.

The idea that earlier editions of the game were anti-grid is just a matter of individual experiences, not universal truth.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
It is done in real life combat situations (as has been for centuries), also I'm sure many of our recent combat vets of the middle-east can talk to us about "the kill box".

It is also a feature of strongpoint design going back as far as we can find man designing strongpoints. The "bottleneck" is the 2nd most natural defensible position there is, right after the "high ground".
 

MINI

First Post
I think you can go gridless, but you have to describe the combat and whats going on well enough that everyone knows whats going on. If the descriptions are lacking or if the players do not trust the DM will 'place' them in a spot they didn't intend to be there could be mistrust issues and that breaks down the ability to game without the grid.
 

Rune

Once A Fool
While I believe that mapless combat can be a lot more fluid and dynamic, you gotta have the right system to allow it to be fluid and dynamic. And D&D, especially 3,5 and 4E is not that system. Too much range, areas of effect, and in 4E pushing, pulling, shifting, teleporting and the like for going gridless.

I frequently run 4e without a grid (or even minis). This does require a few things:

  • The combats are usually quick skirmishes. For more complex combats, I have no compunctions about laying out the minis (although I generally prefer a cloth measuring tape to using a grid). Simple combats are possible in 4e. Minions, especially, are a good tool to use (but not exclusively).
  • I do not require combat for advancement in my games. I do not specifically discourage combat, but I don't reward XP for it. Instead, the PCs level through major and minor quests completed. This helps me to set up those simple skirmishes because I don't have to worry about providing an average of 10 level-appropriate challenges to advance them. It also helps the truly challenging encounters stand out.
  • I keep a mental image of what the combat looks like round to round (just like the good ol' days) and I describe it as precisely as possible. If any discrepancies arise, I clarify with the players (again, just like the good ol' days).
  • I remain reasonable, but, in the end--in the rare instances where my interpretation disagrees with a player's, even after attempts to clarify our positions--my interpretation stands. This is an important one, but, really, never comes up, because...
  • The players have to be on board. I have definitely run 4e for players who would not be down with any of the above. But, if the players are on board, yes, playing 4e without a grid is certainly possible.
 

Schmoe

Adventurer
Ha. That was exactly the situation in this battle. The dwarf even "tagged out" with the other dwarf when the first one took a bad hit while the thief kept pelting the things with arrows (side note: B/X skeletons do not have any special resistance to non-bludgeoning attacks).

In retrospect -- now that it has been a day and I am no longer hyper-critiquing the game, as I am wont to do right afterward -- it went well enough. I think my real problem with it was that only 2 of the 3 players really got to do anything in that battle (until the dwarves tagged out), except player 3 rolled initiative for the PC side.

Out of curiosity, I just ordered Castles and Crusades -- my curiosity finally got the better of me, with a little help from New Years libations -- and I was wondering where it sits on the grid<-->no grid scale.

Just to put it out there, if bottle-necking is a "bad" tactic that is only enabled by using a grid, it's a good thing the Spartans had a DM that used a grid. ;)

At any rate, I don't think a grid is a bad thing at all, as long as it doesn't become a straight-jacket. Even the old BECMI modules recommend that DM's use miniatures and a battle-grid to help represent the flow of combat.

It seems that your primary concern is that some of the players weren't able to do anything in the battle. For a situation where several players aren't able contribute anything meaningful with their PCs, you can keep them involved in other ways. Have one player take on the rolls for the skeletons. Ask another player to track time. Basically, find ways that the other players can help make the combat run more smoothly even if they can't participate directly. There are certainly other situations where one or more PCs might need to "sit out" for any number of reasons, so I try to get the players involved in other ways. I certainly don't want to punish effective use of tactics, and bottle-necking is undoubtedly effective.
 

Mark CMG

Creative Mountain Games
Another way to get folks to not think in terms of "the grid" it to play away from a table, just lounging around on couches or outdoors (weather permitting) with just character sheets, maybe some notes and charts in a binder for the GM, and no surface where the grid might be missed.
 

Thotas

First Post
Even back in 1e, my groups have always used a grid. But before 3e, the idea that you took up exactly 1 square and it was "on" the square were alien. You plonked your mini on the mat, anywhere, the line between two squares, at the intersection, it didn't matter. If it was iffy as to whether you were in an area of effect or not, making the call was what a DM is for ... or to give a bonus on the saving throw if that seemed more appropriate.

As much as I really like 3.x/Pathfinder over other editions, this is one thing I do miss about the old ways of doing things. Sometimes the "pixellated battlefield" makes me a bit sad.
 

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