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Deadline247

Grid maps for combat...yes or no?

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I'm getting ready to GM my first RT session this week for a group that mainly consists of D&D players. I was wondering how many of you actually use grid maps during combat and how many just keep things narrative.

If you go the narrative route, do you have any tips for keeping track of ranges and whatnot? Or so you just play loose with that type of detail?

Thanks!

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Without knowing your playgroup personally I can't really make an informed decision as to what I think is best for them.  However I can give you a summary of my experience with both methods.

As a player most of my combats in Rogue trader have been without the grid map.  This was very condusive to fast and loose play and I really enjoy it, even though I know it meant we fudge the rules a bit more often.  In the end it helped keep the narrative going.

That said, now that I am Gming, I have embraced the grid maps for my own players.  I made this switch for a number of reasons.

1.) I have a larger group of 5 players (two of which have servo skulls/grapplehawks) that I have to consider in combat.  Putting them on the grid map and having the players manage the positioning themselves means there is one less thing for me to have to keep track of myself.

2.) One of things that inspired me to do run this game was the idea that I could reuse the modular corridor/room pieces from the DOOM boardgame, since I thought this would be a nice aesthetic choice.

3.) I was also an avid collector of GW minis, but played a game with them in years.  It is nice to be able to break them out again an put them back in good use (especially the space ships).

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 I almost always use maps for my games, mainly because I enjoy making them. I find that they can help keep players engaged in combat, and can save time in-game spent describing the surroundings and asking

"Is there... near me?"

OR

"Can I charge... this turn?"

OR

"Does... have line of sight to me?"

... and so on. However other people may find this not as big of a hassle as I do.

 

**SPOILERS FOR INTO THE STORM**

If you add enough embellishment to the maps, they can also enhance the combat by adding a greater amount of interaction with the environment. In our most recent Rogue Trader session, where I am a player, my Missionary defeated the giant statue of the Emperor by collapsing a stone obelisk on it.

**END SPOILERS**

 

 

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I keep it entirely narrative, other than quickly doodling a rough sketch of the area to show the players where their characters are, and where their enemies are. I just play loose with ranges, just giving them rough ranges rather than anything amazingly accurate.

I've just found that using a map and models makes it degenerate into a tabletop strategy game that takes a lot longer to get through than just using a narrative, and if I wanted that I'd be playing 40k instead lengua.gif

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MILLANDSON said:

 

quickly doodling a rough sketch of the area to show the players where their characters are, and where their enemies are

 

 

I might try this. It seems like a good way to capitalize on the benefits I mentioned while still remaining mostly freeform.

Also, I meant WHISPERS ON THE STORM before, obviously.

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I don't use grid maps for personal combat as i feel it limits the players to using the gridmap and not thinking creatively about the combat.

 

I do use a grid map for space combats as this is much more tactical (almost like a stripped down battlefleet gothic). My "map" is a metre or so square, spray painted black. I've used a toothbrush and some white paint to simulate stars and then put silver grid lines on with a metallic art pen. It looks rather cool, even if i do say so myself (although brushing my teeth now tastes funny :)

 

 

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I use grid maps for reason #1 that BirdOfHermes gives, it passes some of the control over to the players and when they get complicated I don't have to do all the work.

Plus, I love the look of minis. I use the Sci Fi and Den of Evil sets from Dwarven Forge. I never use to like painting minis, but now I do.

I also use a grid for space combat.

The downside with minis on a grid is when the results are clear, you know who's going to win, but the combat can take ages to finish. At this point, I go into Narrative mode. I'll make the party fight the boss down to the last die roll, but everything else goes into narration. NPCs can surrender, blow themselves up with grenades, flee in terror, or just get hit and killed.

 

Here's a good article on running in Narrative mode: http://www.gnomestew.com/gming-advice/tips-for-running-narrative-combats-no-minis-or-maps-required

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PlasmaBomb said:

The Boy Named Crow said:

 

**SPOILERS FOR INTO THE STORM**

 

 

 

Huh? Into the storm hasn't been released yet, or is there a demo out?

As he mentioned earlier, he meant Whispers on the Storm.

Also, as a book of character options, there's really nothing spoiler-worthy in Into the Storm.

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It depends on your groups playstyle and the particulars of the combat involved.

My group used a gridmap about half the time.  The determining factor was not the number of combatants but the complexity of the terrain.  If it was realitively simple to picture the terrain in your head then there was no need for a gridmap.  If it would be hard to keep track of who has cover from where, how many people can move/shoot through a given area, etc. break out the graph paper.

For Space Combat we started with a grid, but quickly moved away from it in favor of just using minis (from axis and allies) and a tape measurer.  It makes it a lot quicker and looks a little cooler.  A word of warning though.  Using 1 inch= 1void unit means that the combat can take a lot of space, and using anything smaller will make the size of the mini matter a lot.  Pick a single point on the mini to represent the actual location of the ship.

 

As for keeping track of ranges when using narrative combat.  It's pretty easy until you get into close range, aseven a pistol uses range incriments of 30m. The main trick is to not worry too much about the little changes in distance (30m vs 40m), and instead focus on the flow of the battle (are the enemies close, or densely packed).  Unless your group are sticklers for details, play flows better if you just fudge it and move along.

Once things get into melee/point blank range, it's a very different mindset.  I found it helped to think of the combat as invidual clusters of violence, keeping track of who was in melee with who for each and everyone else in the cluster being at point blank.

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I've not played Rogue Trader, so I'm not sure how I'd do the Space Combat, but as a group that's been playing Dark Heresy for a while now we pretty much do everything with miniatures. 95% of them are GW miniatures, using GW terrain and whatnot, plus loads of tile sets (DOOM, D&D, Space Hulk, etc.). We all came from being 40K players, so we like the visual aesthetic of using miniatures more than doing it all in our heads. happy.gif

BYE

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My group mostly use narative but we do break out the grid map for large scale combats.  When I am GM I tend never to give exact mesurments as most people do not or can not accuratly judge distance  also being of a certian age in the UK i have fits when 1 metre = 1 foot.  I would like to use grid maps more but all my Minis are eather Star wars lego or ww2 russian  not much use for DH RT or DW  also our table is usally full of bookssweeties coke and coffee for a mapgran_risa.gif.   It boils dow to GM and Player preferance and rembering the range bands

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I usually use both, narative and maping but really depend on the enphasis I want to put on the battle. For mapping I use a whiteboard with my 40k rulers so the movements are more free. If it's more or less a gerrilla movment I'll keep it narative and switch to the map when the player start to place their assets or a more troops against troops mode.

In space combat, 4 colors on a whiteboard is always usefull as the officers ultimatly see only dot on a radar when they engage someone. They just have to keep track on their scaning afterward to remember witch point is which ship.

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Moglwi said:

...all my Minis are eather Star wars lego or ww2 russian  not much use for DH RT or DW...

LOL

Those actually sound perfect as far as I am concerned.  Back when I played 40k there was at least a couple of guys who built there warwagons out of legos so I have no problem using them for other 40k related games.

To be honest I don't actual use most of my 40k minis for games simply because my players aren't space marines, tau or chaos.  I am currently using empire handgunners from Warhammer fantasy to represent my players and the security teams.

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