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Thread: Help me! I don't like 5-foot grids!...

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    Help me! I don't like 5-foot grids!...

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    Prompted by a recent post in another thread, it got me thinking...

    I don't like 5-foot grid movement. I have the same problem with similarly scaled hex-grid movement. I suppose it's not the "grid" itself, but rather the level of spatial detail and rigidity that the "5-foot" scale enforces. It requires that everything be measured to within 5 feet of accuracy. Most times, for me, such detail ends up feeling more frustrating and limiting than anything else.

    Again, I don't think it is the idea of a "grid" itself. Afterall, both Marvel Super Heroes and Spirit of the Century use a "grid" system of "areas" or "zones" in which each square on the grid represents a broad area which is scaled appropriate to the scenario. One "zone" might be the size of a living room, or it might be a city block depending on where the scene is taking place and what is happening. It is even possible (and entirely likely) that not every "zone" on a single map is the same size as the others because "zones" are not bound by concrete measurements.

    More importantly for my contemplations, a "zone" or "area" is broken down more by logically conceptual "boundaries" than by precise measurements. If the PCs are in a house, it seems logically sound that each room might represent a "zone". In a large ballroom, the center "dance floor" might be a zone, the flanking "dining areas" might each be one, the "bar" area and even the "stage". In such a way, the players and GM can identify conceptually. "My character is at the bar" tells you exactly where your PC is on the map. The GM doesn't have to draw in the exact number of bar stools there are nor does the player have to put his token on the exact bar stool he wants to be sitting at. He simply says, "I'm at the bar", and perhaps a little more detail if desired such as, "I take a seat at the far side of the bar from the stage so I get a good view".

    Does anyone else share some similar sentiments and/or knows some good examples of games that take mapping and measurement outside the realm of the carefully measured movement/distance to great effect?
    Last edited by Webhead; 01-15-2009 at 03:38 PM.
    HARRY DRESDEN WIZARD
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    Yes, I have chided DM with the "Strange way the universe is divided into mystical five foot squares. What meaning might the gods have in this?" Being an old miniature player when we didn't use grids. We had a mystical device called a "tape measure" we used for ranges and movement. It works pretty well to.

    I've see the kind of play that grid think develops. Sad, truly sad.

    Garry AKA --Phoenix-- Rising above the Flames.
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    3 foot (or 1-meter) hexes are a little better, since that's a (longish) human stride, and hexes pack more tightly than squares, but I see your point. I, too, much prefer Spirit of the Century's zones, or other, fuzzier definitions of distance ... especially if every character is about the same speed. Chases reduce to a "stat vs. stat" roll, or similar, adjusted by differences in speed.

    If you're using minis and tactical maps, a tape measure works too, although it doesn't seem as convenient as pre-measured hexes or squares. Pre-measured sticks or strings, for each character's maximum movement, might be quicker, or not.
    "On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question."
    - Charles Babbage (1791 - 1871)

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    Use whatever works for you. You don't need miniatures or grids at all if you don't care for it. Many situations don't call for it, and the use of such things just bogs down the game when they are not appropriate. After all you don't need miniatures and a map to play out, "I punch the lousy bum setting on my stool at the end of the bar". However if you are attacked by 12 bugbears coming from three directions, this may involve the need to better track the participants of the brawl. I've only used miniatures a few times in years past, but I know the 4e game relies heavily on them, but most other games don't.
    It's as if there are people who play RPGs that don't have computers or something. Seriously, people need to upgrade to 1994 already. - - -TheRedRobedWizard

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    I really never minded grids or spaces or hexes.

    The games I ply, a lot of them are range X roll to hit, modern days firearms. So it's easier to count 5 feet per.

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    I used to like them more when I was younger, with a preference for hexes over squares, but now I find they distance me from the game. It feels a little too boardgamey for me. I also think that combat should be somewhat confusing, and being able to keep perfect track of everything in a 360 degree field of view bothers me.

    But for most RPGs, the rules amount to: "If knowing the exact position of or distance between two objects becomes important, the GM makes up something reasonable."

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    Using a gridless system and a tape measure is the way I really would like to go as well, but the problem there is that most non-wargamers don't feel as comfortable using that measuring system as compared to a grid system. Plus, it's just easier to measure distance with a grid system over a gridless system.

    Scale tends to be less important that grid/gridless in my opinion. I'm considering going gridless for my next campaign to see if my players will accept it, we'll see how well they accept it.

    As far as a scale is concerned, I prefer a 3 feet per inch scale myself, as that fits the size of the minis a little better, but systems like DnD are built on a 5 feet per inch scale so...

    You might want to consider playing a one-shot game where you're using a gridless/tape measure system and see if your players accept it. The tape measures I'll be using are round plastic with fabric tapes, which are for sewing, and are easier to use than the bigger square metal ones you normally use for construction.
    Skunk
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skunkape View Post
    The tape measures I'll be using are round plastic with fabric tapes, which are for sewing, and are easier to use than the bigger square metal ones you normally use for construction.
    Cheap little spring loaded three footers are perfect. Cheap and usually found at the cashier's station at any hardware store. Break it an a buck or so replaces it. The sewing tape measures that are cased and roll up are not cheap. I know, my wife has them. Nice, but not cheap.

    Garry AKA --Phoenix-- Rising above the Flames.
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    The Olde Phoenix Inn

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    Think I have remarked on this before. Personally I don't have a problem having things marked out on a grid, hex or squares. It does make life a bit easier as most people can count to five of six fairly quick, but you would be surprised (maybe not) at how many people think a movement of 8", 10" or even 12" is the same distance as a 6" movement if there is no grid shown. I have the small 3' tapes Tesral mentions but find it cumbersome compared to the method of using the eyeball or the pointer and pinky finger method.

    When I build terrain pieces I tend to scribe in a one inch grid prior to putting the piece together, but only when I am building the indoor type. All the outdoor stuff is gridless.

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    I'd actually not ever used (or been in a group that used) grids before until recently. The game was Mutants and Masterminds and it was pretty handy having things laid out in front of me, but I'm a visual person and tend to imagine the scene in my own head anyway. What I'm used to is theater-style blocking of combat. What I mean is, the players get up from the table and act out the move they want their characters to make and the players that aren't actively involved in the combat play the NPCs or themselves. People stand roughly as far apart as the GM thinks they should be and we keep normal movement rates in mind and actually walk them out.

    Now of course this lends itself better to people who have a large room to walk around in and isn't very necessary if the type of combat you run consists of descriptions such as, "I hit him with my axe," and "I shoot my bow." In Exalted you get bonuses for well described actions (stunts) and both this and my pseudo-LARP background have combined to create our current method.

    When such methods are not plausible, I invariably just come up with a distance I think is feasible when asked. I don't consult range charts and make things just out of range to be a jerk, so my players generally trust me.
    Games: Exalted 2e pre-errata (hiatus), Recruiting for a Sci-Fi/Fantasy game (System TBD) in SF south bay area
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    Quote Originally Posted by TAROT View Post
    I used to like them more when I was younger, with a preference for hexes over squares, but now I find they distance me from the game. It feels a little too boardgamey for me. I also think that combat should be somewhat confusing, and being able to keep perfect track of everything in a 360 degree field of view bothers me...
    Aye, this is one of many things about the 5-foot grid tracking system that bothers me as well. Players having perfect tactical and logistical understanding of every combat situation. They know exactly how many enemies they're facing, exactly where each one is, how much movement it will take to reach them, which abilities or attacks they are in or out of range for, etc.

    For me, in combat scenarios (when a "grid" is most often demanded by such game systems) I prefer a cinematic, chaotic feel with people darting back and forth, toppling over each other, swinging from rafters, etc. I'm less interested in "I move 30 feet across the table tops" and more in "I bound from table to table like lily pads and lunge at him in a diving tackle". Whether that distance is actually 30, 35 or 40 feet of movement isn't all that important or interesting to me compared to the excitement of the action the character is attempting. I also shouldn't have to track every single NPC individually on the map. It introduces a level of distracting logistics when each and every element needs to be accounted for down to a small scale like that.

    I prefer something a little more nebulous. I'm okay with tracking things by "relative area" (such as "zones", etc). That gives enough of a sense of where everything is relative to one another without forcing precise measurements. I also like anything that makes my job of managing and controlling NPCs quicker and easier, especially systems that use the concept of "mobs" or "groups" of NPCs. I don't care about exactly what square each and every ninja occupies. I'd rather just say, "A group of ninja suddenly flood into the room and begin attacking". Let the players (and GM) imagine what it might look like with a room full of ninja leaping and tumbling around and the PCs fighting for dear life against them.

    That said, I may end up trying the "grid-less" strategy of using a tape measure to gauge distances for an miniatures interaction in my next campaign. Even so, I wouldn't apply it totally rigidly, but rather simply use it as a guideline to determine positions.
    Last edited by Webhead; 01-16-2009 at 11:17 AM.
    HARRY DRESDEN WIZARD
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    Although I have never played (or heard of) Spirit of the Century, I am familiar with zones as in Marvel Superheroes and I do like them. I am alos familiar with the tape measure movement as in the various table top games (Mage Knight). Dispite this I never really thought much about the grid movement complaints that were posted. I guess I just grew up with the grid regulating movement and combat, even in the D&D games my brother ran, he would draw (or we would) out the dungeon or terrain on graph paper and set a scale (usually 10 foot per square) and we would go from there. I do believe I will give a gridless system a try. After all if nobdy likes it we can go back to the grids.
    Never trust a smiling GM, that's when they're dangerous.

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    Here's an explanation of zones in Spirit of the Century (second paragraph):

    http://www.crackmonkey.org/~nick/loy...ming-the-scene
    "On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question."
    - Charles Babbage (1791 - 1871)

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    Quote Originally Posted by wbrandel View Post
    ...Dispite this I never really thought much about the grid movement complaints that were posted. I guess I just grew up with the grid regulating movement and combat, even in the D&D games my brother ran, he would draw (or we would) out the dungeon or terrain on graph paper and set a scale (usually 10 foot per square) and we would go from there...
    Which is probably where most opinions on the subject stem from: what you are used to. I grew up playing RPGs without grids or carefully regulated movement until we had to adopt it with D&D 3.0 when it was released. Even in early editions of D&D, we occasionally made rough sketchs of maps and drew little dots to indicate generally where something was if it was important to know, but we didn't regulate movement to any detail greater than "your character is standing on the parapet" or "you are in the bushes on the west bank of the river" or "the demon-spewing portal is about 50 feet away from you, in front of the bloodied, stone altar".

    Thus, my "natural" state of being is non-grid play, so the grid often feels a little awkward and constricting to my sensiblities.
    HARRY DRESDEN WIZARD
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    Quote Originally Posted by tesral View Post
    Cheap little spring loaded three footers are perfect. Cheap and usually found at the cashier's station at any hardware store. Break it an a buck or so replaces it. The sewing tape measures that are cased and roll up are not cheap. I know, my wife has them. Nice, but not cheap.
    The cheap spring loaded ones are the kind I got, but they were over in the sewing section!
    Skunk
    a.k.a. Johnprime



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