Freeform Adventuring

Discuss 4th Edition rules, PoL setting concepts, and the GSL here.
The Book-House: Find 4th Edition products, Find D&D Essentials products.

Moderator: Blacky the Blackball

Post Reply
User avatar
1970
Bugbear
Posts: 190
Joined: Wed Dec 19, 2018 5:09 pm
Gender: male
Location: Southeastern Kentucky, USA

Freeform Adventuring

Post by 1970 »

I've recently become kind of enamored with 4E and was wondering how hard it would be to play the game in the theater of the mind instead of on a grid. Has anyone here done it? How did it work? I quick looked through the combat section and it seems like you could do it without too much pain, but I haven't looked over the classes yet to see how reliant their abilities are on the grid and miniature paradigm. I've never played before so I don't have any preconceived notions about how the game should or should not be run.

Thanks in advance for your help and opinions.
Formless Faceless and Free

User avatar
shesheyan
Cardboard Hero
Posts: 3135
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 3:58 pm
Gender: male
Location: Montreal

Re: Freeform Adventuring

Post by shesheyan »

1970 wrote:
Wed Jul 22, 2020 8:05 pm
I've recently become kind of enamored with 4E and was wondering how hard it would be to play the game in the theater of the mind instead of on a grid. Has anyone here done it? How did it work? I quick looked through the combat section and it seems like you could do it without too much pain, but I haven't looked over the classes yet to see how reliant their abilities are on the grid and miniature paradigm. I've never played before so I don't have any preconceived notions about how the game should or should not be run.

Thanks in advance for your help and opinions.
4e is very grid reliant with a lot if displacement of models triggered by character powers or monster powers (push, pull, slide, shift) X number of squares. It might be possible but I didn't try it.
Last edited by shesheyan on Wed Jul 22, 2020 10:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Zeromaru X
Scion of Arkhosia
Posts: 1534
Joined: Sun Jan 10, 2016 7:24 am
Gender: male
Location: San Gil, Colombia
Contact:

Re: Freeform Adventuring

Post by Zeromaru X »

One can say that. However, my current 4e campaign is completely gridless, theater of the mind-focused. I just had to change squares and ranges into distances, and that's all. I find pretty easy to rule it that way, but I don't know if it's because I have a lot of experience with 4e.

agathokles
Gold Dragon
Posts: 8273
Joined: Sat May 24, 2008 6:42 pm
Gender: male
Location: Milan, Italy
Contact:

Re: Freeform Adventuring

Post by agathokles »

My experience is similar to shesheyan's. We always played 4e with a grid and tokens.

GP

P.S.: In this thread, an interesting overview of the main differences between 13th Age and 4e, there is an aspect that might be relevant to this discussion. 13th Age is actually very similar to 4e, but it uses abstract ranges instead of the square grid. The main adjustment in the rules seems to be that area effect powers affect a random number of enemies, to resolve the problem of not being able to precisely measure them on the map.

User avatar
Tim Baker
Axe Beak
Posts: 3547
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2016 7:51 am
Gender: male
Location: United States
Contact:

Re: Freeform Adventuring

Post by Tim Baker »

I initially purchased 13th Age in the hopes of doing this for some of my encounters to make them run faster (especially when borrowing the escalation die mechanic from 13th Age as well). It worked really well for my group. Suddenly, we could play out these quick skirmishes in maybe half an hour, rather than the hour or more we'd spend on a fully tactical encounter with a gridded map.

A few keys were abstract distance ranges, variable targets when using area effects, and ruling generously on questions of movement (this worked for both the PCs and the monsters). I would sometimes sketch out a quick map on a whiteboard to show relative positioning, but that was it.

I would suggest trying a short one-shot, and see how it goes. If you're interested in reading about 13th Age's abstract ranges, you that's part of the free SRD: https://www.13thagesrd.com/combat-rules/#Position. For variable targets, check out some of the spellcasters' spells (e.g., fireball).

User avatar
Tim Baker
Axe Beak
Posts: 3547
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2016 7:51 am
Gender: male
Location: United States
Contact:

Re: Freeform Adventuring

Post by Tim Baker »

Another alternative to using a gridded map could be the use of zones from Fate.

User avatar
1970
Bugbear
Posts: 190
Joined: Wed Dec 19, 2018 5:09 pm
Gender: male
Location: Southeastern Kentucky, USA

Re: Freeform Adventuring

Post by 1970 »

Thanks for your replies!

I have some 13th Age books, but am not very versed in them. I'll probably use those abstract rules when I start playing, which will hopefully be soon!
Formless Faceless and Free

User avatar
Tim Baker
Axe Beak
Posts: 3547
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2016 7:51 am
Gender: male
Location: United States
Contact:

Re: Freeform Adventuring

Post by Tim Baker »

1970 wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 9:54 pm
Thanks for your replies!

I have some 13th Age books, but am not very versed in them. I'll probably use those abstract rules when I start playing, which will hopefully be soon!
I'm glad we could help. Please don't hesitate to post any questions or observations that you have as you begin playing.

Post Reply

Return to “D&D 4th Edition”