Free form combat

Should I even bother with free form combat?

I have a very new group. We play GURPS (with me as GM, I am as new as them), and the thing I hate the most about any RPG combat is having to deal with maps and minis. I have heard of people just doing free form combat, so I wanted to try it out and my players seemed interested in the concept too. In theory the benefits for me would be
1. Not having to deal with maps, drawing them on a hex grid, etc.
2. Not breaking the narrative flow and immersion when combat comes up
3. Not having to spend time managing minis on a map
4. Introducing a lot more verticality to my battle zones
5. Integrating combat more seamlessly with everything else, and being able to start combat swiftly in any situation
6. Maps and minis aren't as comfy as narration

In reality though I have been doing some solo simulations to get the hang of it before I try it with my group, but feels like a mess to keep track of anything but the most basic of melees, and that's not counting the "multiple people trying to imagine the same shit" factor.

Do (you) free form your combat, /tg/?

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  1. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    >I am as new as them
    >the thing I hate the most about any RPG combat is having to deal with maps and minis.
    What the frick are you even doing and who (and where) told you that you must using either of those things?

    >I have heard of people just doing free form combat
    Please provide your own definition of "free form combat", because I have a feeling it's not the thing people think when they hear "free form combat"

    >1. Not having to deal with maps, drawing them on a hex grid, etc.
    You don't have to do that, ever, if you don't feel like it
    >2. Not breaking the narrative flow and immersion when combat comes up
    Depends on the system, and yeah, GURPS is pretty fricking terrible for this, because everything turns into slow-paced autism
    >3. Not having to spend time managing minis on a map
    Consult point 1
    >4. Introducing a lot more verticality to my battle zones
    ? ? ?
    >5. Integrating combat more seamlessly with everything else, and being able to start combat swiftly in any situation
    That depends on both the system you are using and the theme of the campaign you are running, and freeform doesn't solve anything without a proper context
    >6. Maps and minis aren't as comfy as narration
    Again, why the frick you insist so hard on having those?

    Like seriously, Black person ,what's your actual problem? I'm in this hobby since '97. There is a solid chance you weren't even born back then. I've used minis grand total of twice over past 25 years: once we were playing a WW2-themed, combat heavy game, so army men were in heavy use, and once I was playing with some autistic moron, who just wanted to show us how he wasted his monthly wage on custom-made minis for the game we were playing.

    >In reality though I have been doing some solo simulations to get the hang of it
    Doing just about anything solo in TTRPG gives you about the same amount of experience and grasp of it as watching porn makes you good in bed.

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      >I'm in this hobby since '97. There is a solid chance you weren't even born back then. I've used minis grand total of twice over past 25 years
      >YEAH UH I HAVENT EVEN INTERACTED WITH THE HOBBY OUTSIDE MY TINY BUBBLE, KWAB SEETHE COPE
      what was the point of this post?

      • 4 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        Oh, so it's a moronic troll thread. Thanks for sharing then, solid 6/10 material, got me genuinely invested at first

      • 4 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        Since it's Sunday, I'll give you two tips
        1) Asking questions and then sperging out is a great way to not get an answer
        2) You don't need minis nor grid of any kind - a blank piece of scrap paper and a pencil will do the same job, at maybe tenth of effort

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      >who (and where) told you that you must using either of those things?
      It's just how people organize tactical combat.

      >Please provide your own definition of "free form combat",
      Colloquial meaning. No maps, no pieces. Theater of the mind.

      >You don't have to do that, ever, if you don't feel like it
      Well, yes, you're technically right as there is not a gun to my head.
      >Depends on the system, and yeah, GURPS is pretty fricking terrible for this, because everything turns into slow-paced autism
      I played two games of D&D(3.5) before and it seemed to have the same issue. The problem is how disconnected combat feels from the rest of the game, mostly. I like D&D a little bit less in this respect because it has initiative rolls, but I don't think one system is inherently better than the other.
      >>4. Introducing a lot more verticality to my battle zones
      Mapping verticality on a flat grid can only really take you so far. I just don't like the idea of grid wrangling in general.
      >and freeform doesn't solve anything without a proper context
      Just makes it easier because it takes the setup timesink out of the equation. Just a convenience thing.

      >who just wanted to show us how he wasted his monthly wage on custom-made minis for the game we were playing.
      By minis I just mean pieces. In our case we have been using chess pieces. I'm not sure if you think I'm talking about "sculpt" minis, so just to clarify.

      >Doing just about anything solo in TTRPG gives you about the same amount of experience and grasp of it as watching porn makes you good in bed.
      I'm not sure how you can defend this. I played GURPS combat solo a few times in order to get the hang of all the maneuvers I wanted to add to my game, the flow of combat, etc. It helped me keep things flowing and helping players out during the actual game. Maybe you're talking about more experienced GMs, but I'm not experienced at all so it helped me a lot.

      • 4 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        https://i.imgur.com/3krI3Bh.png

        Should I even bother with free form combat?

        I have a very new group. We play GURPS (with me as GM, I am as new as them), and the thing I hate the most about any RPG combat is having to deal with maps and minis. I have heard of people just doing free form combat, so I wanted to try it out and my players seemed interested in the concept too. In theory the benefits for me would be
        1. Not having to deal with maps, drawing them on a hex grid, etc.
        2. Not breaking the narrative flow and immersion when combat comes up
        3. Not having to spend time managing minis on a map
        4. Introducing a lot more verticality to my battle zones
        5. Integrating combat more seamlessly with everything else, and being able to start combat swiftly in any situation
        6. Maps and minis aren't as comfy as narration

        In reality though I have been doing some solo simulations to get the hang of it before I try it with my group, but feels like a mess to keep track of anything but the most basic of melees, and that's not counting the "multiple people trying to imagine the same shit" factor.

        Do (you) free form your combat, /tg/?

        GURPS doesn't require a combat map in the slightest, if you want theater of the mind then just do it.

        The entirety of Chapter 11 in basic is combat assuming no tactical map is being used. The game introduces you to all the concepts of combat and teaches you how to play without a map at all. Chapter 12, which introduces a tactical map is entirely optional and rules intended to expand on that knowledge if you DO decide to use a map.

        • 4 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          >Taking this bait serious
          homie, it's blatantly obvious at this point this is a (You) farm thread

          • 4 weeks ago
            Anonymous

            Your post was just moronic. OP is pretty clearly responding in good faith to people who aren't moronic.

        • 4 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          Maybe it's just a matter of getting used to it, sort of finding a style that works for me and my group. Could just very well be I'm too used to the idea of pieces on a game board and that's just preventing me from "getting it". Like I said, in theory this way of playing sounds really fun, so I will keep trying.

          >. We play GURPS (with me as GM, I am as new as them)
          hooooolyshit that sounds like a trainwreck.

          If it's just a small encounter or one big bad, then positioning doesn't matter much. We don't call it "free form", we call it, "theater of the mind". It works fine enough. A quick diagram helps explain details if anyone is confused.

          Maps and minis are better and make the game more fun when there's some tactical depth to what's going on. Places people need to be. Traps. Pits. People that need saving.

          not him, but you’re trying to avoid engaging with the actual combat as it is in the game
          that’s what freeform means, not engaging with the actual format of the thing and just rping

          >We don't call it "free form", we call it, "theater of the mind".
          I wasn't aware of the distinction, but in that case it would be theater of the mind, I guess. I'm not trying to drop the rules themselves, I love the combat in GURPS.

          so why not play a game where you enjoy it and don't have to try to distance yourself from how it is supposed to be played?

          Not that person, but I like GURPS and its combat, I just personally don't enjoy the board gaming aspects, and its what I'm trying to avoid.

          • 4 weeks ago
            Anonymous

            how can you like the combat but not like how it's played? that's like saying you like magic the gathering but wish you could play it without using cards.

            • 4 weeks ago
              Anonymous

              >how can you like the combat but not like how it's played?

              [...]
              GURPS doesn't require a combat map in the slightest, if you want theater of the mind then just do it.

              The entirety of Chapter 11 in basic is combat assuming no tactical map is being used. The game introduces you to all the concepts of combat and teaches you how to play without a map at all. Chapter 12, which introduces a tactical map is entirely optional and rules intended to expand on that knowledge if you DO decide to use a map.

              >GURPS doesn't require a combat map in the slightest
              The duality of man?
              I don't know what to tell you bro, I'm just quirky like that.

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                I only played one session of gurps and I forget how it went, but people claim you don't need a map to play d&d even though that's bullshit. what they mean is "you can play a dumbed down version of d&d which was already severely dumbed down to begin with."

            • 4 weeks ago
              Anonymous

              I mean, the obvious answer would be the computerized versions of MtG where you don't have to physically arrange cards, shuffle, etc.
              In terms of GURPS the game of bidding penalties against tactical advantages is fun, but the hassle of making and placing minis and maps doesn't add that much to it (just movement which 95% of the time is just trivial).

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                so if the map was automated like a video game would you enjoy it then? if that's the case then the solution is not getting rid of maps, but taking shortcuts to make preparing them easier. consider using a set of pregenerated maps that you reuse for every encounter, or making a modular terrain set out of legos or something.

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                For me personally, I wouldn't mind at all if it was automated. It'd be zero cost, zero gain, no factor.
                I use dry wipe index cards and standees in my home game and use quite abstract zonal mapping to get a sense of the scene and the items/areas in it, but five foot squares are too much squeeze for not enough juice.

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                d&d 3.5 is just a shit game that doesn't reward movement, but that's a problem with the game and not with the concept of playing with a map

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                GURPS didn't seem any different in that regard, and nor have the other (admittedly lighter) systems my group has tried. (for reference I am not OP)
                I think it might be because my group are pretty good at granular movement from boardgames, and as such RPGs rarely have enough interesting situations arise from grids. My players are usually able to go where they want to go and correctly assess who is in range, so why bother making the measurements so finicky? I suppose I could go even further along and make combat into a sort of chess puzzle of movement but I can't say I feel any urge to.

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                the map seems over complicated because they dumbed the games down too much. getting rid of it just causes problems in the other direction and makes the little positioning that does matter completely arbitrary.
                >am I in range of this guy
                >gm: sure I guess
                >ok am I in range of that guy
                >gm: no he's too far away
                >ok but I thought you said that guy was 40 feet away from the other one and my weapon has a range of 60 and using the law of cosines I can make a triangle...
                >gm: loldunno

                I've been pondering this problem on my homemade rpg, but I haven't found a good solution. Maps are cool for positioning and tactical play, and allow to understand the whole combat situation at a glance, the downside is that they take time to prepare and you can't improvise them. I don't really agree with your opinion here as movement and positioning is an important part of combat.

                Theater of the mind doesn't have those flaws, but has others of its own. If movement and positioning rules aren't obvious to see and enforced, players will just tend to go to the closest enemy, attack and repeat until the end. Which is pretty boring imo. AoE get more complicated and players will also have a way worse situational awareness and won't try the more original moves that you may see on maps. You can kinda balance that by allowing more "creative" moves, but then you're entering the "negotiate with the GM before every action" territory. If some of your players aren't focused on the combat, it will also slow it down a lot when they will be asking you for the situation at the start of each of their turns.

                My personal preference would be either with a modular system that allows to create maps on the fly (and not as detailed as 5ft squares), or one that works with formation fighting, ie. there is a party formation and an enemy formation and characters move inside their formation to exploit enemy weaknesses or protect their allies.

                I don't have any great published combat system to recommend though. Heroes of Adventures only tracks distances between characters (everyone at melee range can attack any enemy at melee range). The One Ring has a bit more of the formation fighting type by pairing opponents together.

                Honestly, there is no magic answer here. Try out the things you'd think will work well and homebrew until you're satisfied with the result.

                if you don't want to have a full map use an abstracted one like games like ogre battle where you have a 3x4 or 3x6 grid.

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                >ok but I thought you said that guy was 40 feet away from the other one and my weapon has a range of 60 and using the law of cosines I can make a triangle...
                This player is a shitbag.

                how does it miss the point? knowing what enemies are in range and what opportunities for flanking exist are important considerations. the problem with playing without a map is that everyone will end up trying to create the map in their heads anyway, but now you have discrepancies. or are you one of those people who can't see the apple?

                Fast answers, yes or no, and the player is required to use their brain to accept the GMs answer rather than challenge it.
                Theatre of the Mind combat works best when players focus on the dice/bidding/resource elements of their system, or using the description of enemies and terrain in entertaining ways (dropping chandeliers on people, stabbing minotaur with its own horn). The GM is beholden to say yes to questions like "are they under the chandelier" or use the system's rules to support the action (roll bluff to position the guy then pistol to shoot down the chandelier).

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                >the player is required to use their brain to accept the GMs answer rather than challenge it.
                this is just throwing tactics out the window and leaving everything up to the gm's feelings. at this point you aren't playing a game besides mother may I with the gm.

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                >at this point you aren't playing a game besides mother may I with the gm.
                That is literally what pen and paper RPGs are.

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                If you think talking over a situation with a human is completely random compared to looking at a grid, you're too autistic for RPGs. How about a nice game of chess?

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                imagine trying to play mental chess with someone who can't keep track of where each piece is

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                Imagine thinking that TTRPGs are board games

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                But they are games, so it’s not 100% ‘amateur theater improv hour’ either.

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous
              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                So what is the point then?

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                NAYRT but being able to imagine and describe a scene with an engaging storytelling style (the literal words, delivery etc not predestined outcomes), reading and catching vibes from other players, bringing elements like character details back in fun and meaningful ways, lateral thinking...
                Game mechanics are so seldom consonant with the events happening in the fictional world that being "good at them" usually fricks the game up for everyone else. The GM is trying to pitch you a fun scene about being lost in the desert and you just trivialise it with buildhomosexualry? Worse than lying about your dice rolls. Nobody has fun when someone does that.
                Grid maps are yet another form of boring detail that usually won't add meaningful decision making and will occasionally lead to absurd or frustrating results. Plus all the admin they entail. No thanks.

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                ok but can you see the apple? is that the real reason people push for theater of the mind crap? because they have low spatial iq and struggle even with a map?

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                I can visualise spaces very easily. That's exactly why I find maps so unnecessary.

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                ok so your character is at D13, your party fighter is at C9, and there are two enemies at B6 and D7. you have a fireball spell that has an area of effect radius of 2 and a casting range of 5. you can move up to 3 before casting your spell.

                1) can you hit both enemies with one spell but not your ally?
                2) if so where should the center of the explosion be?
                3) if your spell has a casting time of one round and assuming that the enemies have a movement of 3 and an attack range of 1, where should you move to ensure that you won't be hit before your spell goes off?

                be quick now don't want to waste everyone's time.

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                NTA but that's not how gridless combat should feel like

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                that's what engaging combat where you have to use your brain and think about how to win is like when you think you can remove the map. the only reason systems get away with mapless combat is because they were braindead slop to begin with and even then you are probably making allowances to dumb it down even more.

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                >that's what engaging combat
                That's playing with a grid but without the visual grid. That's still a tactical board game but with additional steps of GM describing the board instead of having it on a table, which is pointless.
                There is time and place for strategic/tactical board game type of combat, but if people think about getting rid of the grid they usually want to make it more dynamic, feel more action and less scratching heads thinking of absolutely optimal strategy.

                >You see a muscular thug running right at you, already preparing a swing with his club. His giant dog is just a few steps behind him, ready to pounce at your friend. You have only split second to react, what do you do?
                >Can my fireball reach them both?
                >Yes, but it can damage your friend too if won't jump away fast enough. The thug is almost on you, what's your decision?

                It's a quite different style of playing.

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                >they usually want to make it more dynamic, feel more action and less scratching heads
                this is all just a weasel way of saying dumbed down. if you wanted a faster or more dynamic game you might switch to one with cards or tokens or something that you slam on the table like pogs or karuta to represent character actions and reactions. your example is just typical narrative slop where you describe something and then roll a die to see if it happens because you aren't mature enough to do real improv theater.

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                >a weasel way of saying dumbed down
                Well if you want to believe pushing minis on a grid and selecting an option from a predefined action list is more intellectually sophisticated I don't want to change your mind about it, enjoy yourself.
                And maybe you're right that I'm not mature enough to have fun in the proper way, but I do have fun anyway so I think I'm going to keep it like that.
                (I do use tokens and sometimes even cards btw)

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                This could easily be portrayed on a grid and save you from having to answer questions like
                >if I run away will he be able to catch me and strike me on his next turn?
                >will his dog?
                >are they close enough to my friend that he has an attack of opportunity against them if they pursue me?
                >is there a clear line of sight between me and him without my friend blocking it?
                >what about his dog?
                >is his dog directly behind him, or slightly to the right or left? If so, how much so?
                >Is my friend already in melee range? Or about to enter it?
                >can he run away from the dog without provoking an attack of opportunity?
                >can he run to my aid and grab the man with the club in one turn?
                The grid effortlessly ensures that the DM and the players all have a shared understanding of each of these questions without wasting session time discussing them.
                In terms of flavour, none have to be sacrificed. You can read your very tasteful description of the scene, and then position the minis (or chess pieces or dots) on the grid in a few seconds.

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                >effortlessly

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                Unironically play some AW or something. Go find out what everyone else in the thread is talking about.

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                I was so bored by your description I ghosted the game.

                >that's what engaging combat
                That's playing with a grid but without the visual grid. That's still a tactical board game but with additional steps of GM describing the board instead of having it on a table, which is pointless.
                There is time and place for strategic/tactical board game type of combat, but if people think about getting rid of the grid they usually want to make it more dynamic, feel more action and less scratching heads thinking of absolutely optimal strategy.

                >You see a muscular thug running right at you, already preparing a swing with his club. His giant dog is just a few steps behind him, ready to pounce at your friend. You have only split second to react, what do you do?
                >Can my fireball reach them both?
                >Yes, but it can damage your friend too if won't jump away fast enough. The thug is almost on you, what's your decision?

                It's a quite different style of playing.

                This is correct, except there's no head scratching because 99% of the time a near optimal choice is obvious and the tiny differences between near optimal and truly optimal aren't worth the thinking time.

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                >t. literal NPC

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                This whole argument sounds like pretentious arrogance hiding a poor understanding of the very game you are trying to run. It’s not really “buildhomosexualry” they just know the game rules better than you and are playing the game as intended, and rather than commend your players for wanting to engage with the full length and breadth of the game, so you don’t have to be the sole arbiter of the rules, you choose to lash out.

                You aren’t a storyteller, you’re just an insecure little b***h.

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                tabletop rpgs will always be worse games than board games because of the hubris of thinking that rpgs are above games somehow.

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                OP here. No I wouldn't. The very concept of maps goes against what I want from the games I'm trying to play. Like I said, I just fundamentally do not like the concept. It breaks the flow and structures combat in a really jarring way compared to the rest of the game.

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                I've been pondering this problem on my homemade rpg, but I haven't found a good solution. Maps are cool for positioning and tactical play, and allow to understand the whole combat situation at a glance, the downside is that they take time to prepare and you can't improvise them. I don't really agree with your opinion here as movement and positioning is an important part of combat.

                Theater of the mind doesn't have those flaws, but has others of its own. If movement and positioning rules aren't obvious to see and enforced, players will just tend to go to the closest enemy, attack and repeat until the end. Which is pretty boring imo. AoE get more complicated and players will also have a way worse situational awareness and won't try the more original moves that you may see on maps. You can kinda balance that by allowing more "creative" moves, but then you're entering the "negotiate with the GM before every action" territory. If some of your players aren't focused on the combat, it will also slow it down a lot when they will be asking you for the situation at the start of each of their turns.

                My personal preference would be either with a modular system that allows to create maps on the fly (and not as detailed as 5ft squares), or one that works with formation fighting, ie. there is a party formation and an enemy formation and characters move inside their formation to exploit enemy weaknesses or protect their allies.

                I don't have any great published combat system to recommend though. Heroes of Adventures only tracks distances between characters (everyone at melee range can attack any enemy at melee range). The One Ring has a bit more of the formation fighting type by pairing opponents together.

                Honestly, there is no magic answer here. Try out the things you'd think will work well and homebrew until you're satisfied with the result.

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                >If movement and positioning rules aren't obvious to see and enforced, players will just tend to go to the closest enemy, attack and repeat until the end.
                This is probably a skill issue, and it also happens with maps. Most likely maps are the common way to handle combat, because most players want to game first and tell stories second, so it kind of just stuck as the de-facto way to handle it.

                >"negotiate with the GM before every action" territory.
                The world inevitably exists in the GM's head. The way I have been looking at it is that the players' jobs are to query the GM for information, which can be done well or poorly. Maps only address the issue of movement. There's plenty of stuff you can do without having to negotiate with the GM, and when you do have to ask, you simply ask the same kind of questions you would outside of combat anyway:
                >Can I reach anyone else with my attack?
                >Is there cover nearby I can run to?
                >Can I disengage in a safe way at all?
                You already ask plenty of these questions during combat as well, things like
                >Does the enemy look hurt?
                >Can I try to calm them down?
                >Does that enemy seem focused on me?
                >Are there any rocks on the ground I can pick up?
                etc.

                Of course, this is obviously harder to handle as a GM, but I don't think this is because the map is superior, but rather because it lets you fall back into a style of gaming where you don't really *need* to describe much if anything at all, so you probably are inherently not going to be as descriptive as you could be. Feels like maps by their nature prevent a lot of minutia from coming play; when they're there, they become an inescapable abstraction, and the game has to wrap around them. That's what I don't like about them.

                If you’re used to a crunchy tacti-physical system, trying to TotM it is going to feel weird. Rip the band aid off, run a few rounds of Wushu, and come back to GURPS with the lessons learned in that fresh new environment.

                I am unsure how learning a new system when I'm new in the first place and just starting to get the hang of GURPS is going to help.

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                >Can I reach anyone else with my attack?
                >Is there cover nearby I can run to?
                >Can I disengage in a safe way at all?
                maps answer all of those questions. the point of using maps and a ruleset that clearly defines the game state is that you don't have to constantly ask the gm to lay out the game state, it is all done at the start when the encounter is set up. to use mtg as an example again I don't have to ask my opponent how many lands he has untapped or how many creatures can block, I can just look at the table and immediately see all of the information I need to play.

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                >maps answer all of those questions.
                Yes, that's what I said, those are the questions you wouldn't ask if you had a map.

                >the point of using maps and a ruleset that clearly defines the game state is that you don't have to constantly ask the gm to lay out the game state
                The game outside of combat is asking the GM to lay out the world. Combat isn't special.

                the map seems over complicated because they dumbed the games down too much. getting rid of it just causes problems in the other direction and makes the little positioning that does matter completely arbitrary.
                >am I in range of this guy
                >gm: sure I guess
                >ok am I in range of that guy
                >gm: no he's too far away
                >ok but I thought you said that guy was 40 feet away from the other one and my weapon has a range of 60 and using the law of cosines I can make a triangle...
                >gm: loldunno

                [...]
                if you don't want to have a full map use an abstracted one like games like ogre battle where you have a 3x4 or 3x6 grid.

                >am I in range of this guy
                >ok am I in range of that guy
                These kinds of questions completely miss the point. You can scrutinize any symbol and abstraction in this way. The questions just don't fit. If you want map combat you use map combat.

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                how does it miss the point? knowing what enemies are in range and what opportunities for flanking exist are important considerations. the problem with playing without a map is that everyone will end up trying to create the map in their heads anyway, but now you have discrepancies. or are you one of those people who can't see the apple?

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                Sounds like you never read a book in your life.

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                a book is not a game you play with other people that relies on everyone having the same understanding

      • 4 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        not him, that’s not what freeform means

      • 4 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        >Colloquial meaning. No maps, no pieces. Theater of the mind.
        If you strictly mean mapless combat done through narration and describing the scene, it's best you refer to it as "theater of the mind." Because "freeform" meant and still means something entirely different (not really bothering with any of the combat rules in the book).

      • 4 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        Adding one more to the pile that this is NOT the colloquial meaning of freeform combat

        Which sucks because I really wanted to come discuss actually freeform combat

        • 4 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          > Which sucks because I really wanted to come discuss actually freeform combat
          I’m gonna guess that your definition is closer to

          I don’t think what you want is what you’re saying you want.

          A truly “Freeform” combat would be one that completely eschews any combat mechanics altogether and that’s not a good idea. The whole reason that the combat portion is one of the most complicated and granular parts of any system is because no one actually wants to take an “L” in a fight, plot be damned, so to avoid every combat encounter being a dry and predictable “you win effortlessly until the DM ordains otherwise” (and that last one is guaranteed to rustle jimmies and get sour grapes) so the game has a specific set of rules to arbitrate the combat to make it fair and engaging; otherwise it might devolve into that childhood argument of
          > “I got you!”
          > “No you didn’t because!”
          > “But I did because!”

          And that’s not fun.

          Now what it sounds like you actually want is a more fluid combat system that leans more toward “theater of the mind”-type stuff. Which is commendable, and plenty of systems do go this route. Genesys especially encapsulates this as its more cinematic game style is more fluid to the point that it’d actually be impossible to translate it into a board and miniatures setup.

          But even if you want to get away from minis and grids, it would still behove you to have some kind of visual aid of the combat area if only for your own sake, as combat is one of those situations where it becomes highly critical that everyone is aware of where everyone else is in relation to themselves and their surroundings and in the chaotic swirl of combat this can get very hard to keep track of just in your head, never mind trying to relay accurately that image to the other players. Just a quick sketch on some scrap paper might be all you need.

          definition

  2. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    >plays gurps
    >the first thing he complains about is maps
    very strange indeed
    >Do (you) free form your combat, /tg/?
    depends on how much the player characters can schmoove around and frick with the environment
    if it's for example a supers game where they can kick buildings over or fly at mach 5, trying to map that is just fricking moronic
    but if its just dungeon fantasy shit or regular dudes with guns, yeah I like having paint.net tier maps (anything more high quality is not worth the absolute headache of making)

  3. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Just scribble some lines on a grid and use some nondescript markers for characters if the battle is too complicated to keep track of without it. You don't need a detailed map and toys and shit, it's not Warhammer.

  4. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    I suppose you're talking about theater of the mind?
    Systems that use range bands do well woth it,in my experience.
    SW:EotE has been my (re)entrance into the hobby and I've been using it and its successor system most of the time since then. So, yeah.

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      Counter-point: ranges instead of actual distance create more problems than they solve, unless the whole combat is theatre of the mind, damage included.
      Case the point - the worst part of 2d20 is the fact it uses ranges, so you've got combat that's not abstract and requires specific values and equipment to be used, BUT the distances are pure abstraction and thus any sort of tactics you want to use will fail by default, as the game won't support them anyway, but will in the same time punish you for treating it as abstract theatre of the mind

      • 4 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        > unless the whole combat is theatre of the mind, damage included.
        This does not make sense in any way. Theatre of the mind simply means forgoing maps and miniatures.
        >Case the point - the worst part of 2d20 is the fact it uses ranges, so you've got combat that's not abstract and requires specific values and equipment to be used, BUT the distances are pure abstraction and thus any sort of tactics you want to use will fail by default, as the game won't support them anyway, but will in the same time punish you for treating it as abstract theatre of the mind
        I have no idea how you've reached this conclusion. We've been using range bands for around ten years and. Though we've used FFG rpgs and not 2d20.
        Still I have no idea how abstract ranges would hamper your ability to use numbers.

        • 4 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          >We've been using range bands for around ten years and
          *no one so far was confused by using basic math.

        • 4 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          >Though we've used FFG rpgs and not 2d20.
          Nta, but 2d20 ranges are kind of shit, so I think he's b***hing more about specific game than ranges in general. See, the way how 2d20 works mean you theoretically can use all sort of positioning, covers and what not... except they do jack and shit, and it takes GM fiat to make them count for anything. All ranges do in that game is making ranged combat a complete mess, rather than helping with it in any way. I saw enough people just throwing their hands and deciding to use actual, numerical distances than keep using 2d20 ranges, which always recalibrate themselves for the location. And nothing is more annoying than the same gun being once barely able to reach the other side of a room, and once being fine with hitting a target hundred yards away without an issue

  5. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    wanting to free form is just a sign that you don't actually like the game you're playing. if you were playing an actually good game setting up your minis would be part of the fun, not something that you view as a chore.

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      >Engaging with X in this way actually means you don't like X at all
      Or maybe people just enjoy engaging with things in a different way than you do.

      • 4 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        not him, but you’re trying to avoid engaging with the actual combat as it is in the game
        that’s what freeform means, not engaging with the actual format of the thing and just rping

      • 4 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        so why not play a game where you enjoy it and don't have to try to distance yourself from how it is supposed to be played?

  6. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    >. We play GURPS (with me as GM, I am as new as them)
    hooooolyshit that sounds like a trainwreck.

    If it's just a small encounter or one big bad, then positioning doesn't matter much. We don't call it "free form", we call it, "theater of the mind". It works fine enough. A quick diagram helps explain details if anyone is confused.

    Maps and minis are better and make the game more fun when there's some tactical depth to what's going on. Places people need to be. Traps. Pits. People that need saving.

  7. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    >BAM BAM
    >I SHOT YOU
    >NUH-UH YOU MISSED ME
    >WHAM I HIT YOU WITH MY SWORD
    >YOU DIDN'T HIT ME!
    >DID TO!
    >DID NOT!
    We tried this in kindergarten but the novelty wears out, anon.

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      And that's the beauty of d2 systems: you have an outside help to decide if it worked out or not. HEX is fricking perfect for this kind of shit, to the point you don't even need to roll in certain situations, because you know you will hit and the hit will be lethal, while in others, you flip a coin to see the result if you hit and in other, you whip out the entire dice pool and hope for the best.
      The joke, of course, is that HEX is NOT a theatre of the mind game, and it works perfectly fine with all the tacticool bullshit applied to it - if you want to. If you don't, then you can just point finger on the map and say "I kill this dude" and if you've made a combat-centric character, you did, and the game moves on.

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      That's not what he meant by free-form you moron. Please read more than the very first line of OPs post, he is talking about theater of the mind.

      • 4 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        Then OP needs to get better at communicating ideas.

        • 3 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          It seems others got him, so maybe you need to get better at reading comprehension?

          To stay on topic if you want to get rid of combat maps for more immersive, dynamic battles you need both players and GM putting at least a bit of effort in it so it's not just
          >I attack him
          >He attacks you back
          Some rewards for creativity or rules that give players tools and options for cool actions are helpful.

  8. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    I assume you mean theatre of mind and it's actually how you're kind of supposed to play it. You'll just need to make lots of rulings re facing and the resultant hit/defence modifiers

  9. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    >Do (you) free form your combat, /tg/?
    No, my combat tends to follow a structure of decisions based on player skill and luck, not the whims of some sod who can just say "he isn't close enough" when it doesn't suit the 'narrative'.
    Have a bump anyway.

  10. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Describe an exciting combat scenery with potential for doing cool shit.

  11. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    If you’re used to a crunchy tacti-physical system, trying to TotM it is going to feel weird. Rip the band aid off, run a few rounds of Wushu, and come back to GURPS with the lessons learned in that fresh new environment.

  12. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Just try FATE. What you're describing isn't as fun as you would imagine it would be.

  13. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    One way to make Theater of the Mind combat more fun is to give limited powers to the player in creating parts of the location as they play.
    But depending on your group, that may not be doable. Some people are too autistic to not cheat if they have the chance to do so.
    Giving some power to the players goes back to Arneson and Gygax.

  14. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    I don’t think what you want is what you’re saying you want.

    A truly “Freeform” combat would be one that completely eschews any combat mechanics altogether and that’s not a good idea. The whole reason that the combat portion is one of the most complicated and granular parts of any system is because no one actually wants to take an “L” in a fight, plot be damned, so to avoid every combat encounter being a dry and predictable “you win effortlessly until the DM ordains otherwise” (and that last one is guaranteed to rustle jimmies and get sour grapes) so the game has a specific set of rules to arbitrate the combat to make it fair and engaging; otherwise it might devolve into that childhood argument of
    > “I got you!”
    > “No you didn’t because!”
    > “But I did because!”

    And that’s not fun.

    Now what it sounds like you actually want is a more fluid combat system that leans more toward “theater of the mind”-type stuff. Which is commendable, and plenty of systems do go this route. Genesys especially encapsulates this as its more cinematic game style is more fluid to the point that it’d actually be impossible to translate it into a board and miniatures setup.

    But even if you want to get away from minis and grids, it would still behove you to have some kind of visual aid of the combat area if only for your own sake, as combat is one of those situations where it becomes highly critical that everyone is aware of where everyone else is in relation to themselves and their surroundings and in the chaotic swirl of combat this can get very hard to keep track of just in your head, never mind trying to relay accurately that image to the other players. Just a quick sketch on some scrap paper might be all you need.

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      I think Diceless games are the closest thing you can get to "freeform" combat, where having the bigger number usually decides who wins unless you spend X limited resource or think of an strategy that your DM deems good enough to force the advantage to your side (eg: turning a discussion into a brawl because you think you're better at that than the other guy). These tend to rely on a bit of hidden knowledge so there's uncertainty on what attributes you might met your match.
      That said they are kind of very reliant on GM Fiat, specially with ties. There's also no Nat 1/20 moments so that might be a detriment to some. I do like Everway's mechanic of pulling up custom tarot carts that might affect the final outcome.

      • 4 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        Diceless is a lot more fun/easy that it sounds. The best combat we did were Diceless. But we're all dice/randomness piggies in my group, so we don't do it that much even if the result is better in the end than our regular way of doing things.

        • 4 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          It takes a good GM. You have to become the npc more fully and act like they would instead of with your GM knowledge. It also requires a lot more fleshing out of the enemies in the GM's mind.

  15. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    This worthless thread is going to now stick until autosage, isn't it?

  16. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    >feels like a mess to keep track of anything but the most basic of melees
    That is because it is a mess. The people around your table are humans with a limited working memory. Exceed that limit, and the game will grind to a halt as your players struggle to remember all the critical information you are throwing at them. But hey, you could always use some visual aids to take some of the cognitive burden off your players. Like, say, a map to represent important components of the environment. And some sort of token or mini to represent all the actors involved and their relative positioning in that environment.
    >that's not counting the "multiple people trying to imagine the same shit" factor
    If the spatial layout of the combat scenario matters, you are overcomplicating it. Either cut down everything to featureless rooms, handle it all narratively, or crack out the minis for some figurine action.

    Grid based figurine combat exists for a reason. It makes complex scenarios understandable at a glance, and removes most of the ambiguity caused by the GM-player information gap. This comes at the cost of oversimplifying the environment, and slowing down play by forcing everyone to micromanage the physical drawings and props in addition to everything else that has to happen.

    If you don't want to use maps and minis, then you are either going to have to suffer the problems that maps and minis solve, or you need to avoid the situations that maps and minis are useful for. This means a lot of combats in wide featureless plains or small rooms where precise positioning doesn't matter and there are very few ways that the players could misinterpret the GM. Or just handle most combats narratively and don't engage with the overly complicated combat minigame rules that most RPGs shove into their ruleset. But if you want to treat combat like its own minigame with a huge stack of rules and information to track, then this is literally what map and mini is meant for.

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      >This means a lot of combats in wide featureless plains or small rooms
      I would do the opposite. Less combat, but in exciting scenery like a bridge over lava or a room with heavy chandelier over opponent's head and a rug that could be easy to pull from someone's feet. You can spell it out for the most perceptive character and then players will start looking for such features in the environment themselves. Let them have fun.
      You don't have to get rid of combat mechanics completely for that.

      • 4 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        and this just results in the kind of narrative slop that I talked about where players aren't mature enough to play improv theater so they waste time doing essentially the same thing but with a bunch of arbitrary dice rolls. compare

        >gm: the horde of goblins rush you from across the cavern
        >player 1: I shoot a stalagmite with my disrupting ray and drop it into the middle of the goblins
        >gm: the giant rock smashes all of the goblins except for the quickest ones who run out of the way
        >player 2: I dash forward and cut the survivors in half with my battle axe

        to

        >gm: the horde of goblins rush you from across the cavern
        >player 1: how close together are they?
        >gm: uhh fairly close uhh like 15 yards maybe
        >player 1: can I attack the ceiling to create a cave in?
        >gm: sure why not
        >player 1: ok I use my spell it does 4d6 damage
        >roll: 11
        >gm: I don't have the chart for rock hp in front of me so we'll just say that's enough
        >player 1: so does it hit all the goblins?
        >gm: uhh I guess they get to make a reflex save at uhh let's say dc 15
        >rolls: 8, 2, 6, 14, 19
        >gm: ok 2 of the goblins were fast enough to avoid the rocks I'm not going to roll damage so we'll just say the other 3 get smashed and die
        >player 2: ok it's my turn now are the remaining 2 goblins close enough together for me to hit with one greater cleave?
        >gm: uhh sure we can say that
        >player 2: ok I try to cut through them
        >rolls: 15, 12
        >player 2: ok at +8 and +3 does that hit?
        >gm: uhh yeah roll damage
        >player 2: ok 1d12+3
        >rolls: 7, 9
        >gm: ok you cleave through both goblins

        • 4 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          I'd say dice are important. They serve as an objective judge, plus people get strongest dopamine spikes if the payoff is somewhat randomized. There is also the satisfaction from succeeding in something they have put points into.
          Using D&D rules which have more of a tactical approach to play a more narrative game is not the best idea.
          "Horde of goblins" implies many weak opponents, which usually makes pretty lame and boring combat.
          Relying on charts and tables during combat misses the whole point. Also GM should avoid describing things with numbers if possible.
          Making couple of expandable goblins roll dice is not the best idea, it should usually be the player's rolls that really matters, for example shooting the stalactites (stalagmite wouldn't drop from the ceiling).

          • 4 weeks ago
            Anonymous

            dice can have value in a system that is designed to be an engaging game, but in the type of system where you are just rolling for permission to do stuff they are nothing but a guardrail to prevent "that guy" from ruining things.

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      >the ambiguity caused by the GM-player information gap
      This ambiguity is a good thing, as long as the GM is even remotely interested in his players having a good time. If he isn't, a grid can't save the game anyway.

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      > That is because it is a mess. The people around your table are humans with a limited working memory.
      Exactly, and spatial awareness in an abstract location takes even more brain power to process, provided that you can even accurately convey the space in its entirety to the players.

      The map is just a visual aid to help players and GM keep track of everything. Otherwise it can become a confusing mess:
      > “you enter the large industrial space, a long gantry ahead of you and many levels of catwalks crisscross above and below you. There are further catwalks running along the sides of the room and assorted crates and barrels in one corner”
      > “well my character will cautiously approach the crates and inspect them”
      > “~and my ranger will stay close to the door and watch the catwalks”
      > “you do that and about halfway across goblins rush out from the doorways onto the catwalks and gantry”
      > “uhh, I dive for the crates for cover”
      > “can’t, they’re still too far away”
      > “hang on, how long is this gantry?”
      > “not important”
      > “yes it’s important!”
      > “uh, dunno, 50ft?”
      > “so if I’m halfway, wouldn’t that mean that they are only 25ft from my character? he should be able to run and dive to safety, right?”
      > “hang on, how big is 50 feet?”
      > “what?”
      > “I’m having a hard time visualizing how big that is”
      > “I can visualize it just fine”
      > “well I can’t”
      > “FINE it’s like, a little longer than a school bus”
      > “-and you’re saying I can’t dive half that distance for cover?”
      > “fine! Whatever! You dive for cover! You are sheltered from the attacks from the goblins ahead, but not above”
      > “Why?”
      > “because the goblins on the upper catwalks are closer”
      > “hang on, if I have to run under some goblins just to get to the crates, then I would’ve not gone that way, I would’ve dived backwards towards the door I entered through, can I take my action back”

  17. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    I've thought abiut something similar a lot lately.
    Been really inspired by the zone combat systems in stuff like imperium maledictum, soulbound or stuff like sword world. It feels like a great middle ground between full grids and maps and more vague stuff like range bands or theater of the mind.
    Instead just throwing down index cards describing a vague 10m space and the stuff in it and maybe using the sword world engagement zones along side it to limit movement.

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