No Minis, No Map

Discuss our dark fantasy adventure tabletop roleplaying game based on BioWare's computer game, Dragon Age Origins.

No Minis, No Map

Postby caul » Tue Dec 22, 2009 7:11 pm

So, I want to run Dragon Age, but for the longest time I have been running games using minis and maps, and I really don't want to deal with the hassle anymore...I'm all for narrative storytelling, and I don't think that it will be a big issue, but with ranges and movement and things like Skirmishing...does anyone have any suggestions on how to handle such without a map?
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Postby Balgin Stondraeg » Tue Dec 22, 2009 7:22 pm

Basicaly abstract more.

1: Small distances. Describe stuff so everyone knows where everything is in relation to everything else "Ser Gareth is fighting against 2 Genlocks over to your left" and "that Emissary's so far back it's going to take you two or three rounds to reach him". Simply ensure that everyone's close together enough to help each other out when the moment arises and you'll find that the only time distances will matter is to find out if something's at long range, or even out of range.

2: In addition to abstracting distances, make movement slightly elastic too for narritive effect. No fussing over if someone's just out of charge range.

3: Remember to have a clear mental picture in your head and be ready to describe it to the players at any moment that they ask for a reminder or an update.
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Postby Brokensoul » Tue Dec 22, 2009 7:23 pm

Just describe the action and placement of the bad guys. I will use extra dice lying around sometimes to represent placement if I am not using a map and mini.

The only real issue is being fair as a GM when determining range and how many and who are caught in area effect spells.
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Postby caul » Tue Dec 22, 2009 8:05 pm

I was thinking about being so abstract as to treat all combat as being close, short, and long ranged. The only concern I have with this is that pretty much destroys the point of Speed...but I might be able to live with that...
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Postby Jekias » Tue Dec 22, 2009 8:10 pm

caul wrote:I was thinking about being so abstract as to treat all combat as being close, short, and long ranged. The only concern I have with this is that pretty much destroys the point of Speed...but I might be able to live with that...

Well speed would still effect things like running away or similar in this sort of setup.
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Postby caul » Tue Dec 22, 2009 8:38 pm

Jekias wrote:Well speed would still effect things like running away or similar in this sort of setup.


Fair point, I didn't think about that.
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Postby extrakun » Tue Dec 22, 2009 10:33 pm

You may want to play with the concept of 'zones'. Basically, you draw a map of the area (a stylized one, no need for squares or scale) and just divide the map into zones, where one zone is about one round of movement (or 12 yards). You can take into consideration terrain and etc. (so a the side of a hill consists of smaller zones)
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Postby caul » Tue Dec 22, 2009 10:36 pm

extrakun wrote:You may want to play with the concept of 'zones'. Basically, you draw a map of the area (a stylized one, no need for squares or scale) and just divide the map into zones, where one zone is about one round of movement (or 12 yards). You can take into consideration terrain and etc. (so a the side of a hill consists of smaller zones)


Now there's a really interesting idea. I could also apply modifier's to zones as well, for terrain effects and such...
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Postby Troll66 » Wed Dec 23, 2009 1:12 am

WFRP 3rd ed uses a NO map NO figs approach. Ranges are engaged, close, medium, long and very long. You need to use a maneuvre action to change range band (you get an action and a free manuevre - extra maneuvres are possible but cost fatigue).

Also uses marker card stand ups with counters in between groups to show range bands. Also uses terrai cards which list anyterrain effects to play. very cool and 100% narrative focus.
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Postby extrakun » Wed Dec 23, 2009 2:10 am

Troll66 wrote:WFRP 3rd ed uses a NO map NO figs approach. Ranges are engaged, close, medium, long and very long. You need to use a maneuvre action to change range band (you get an action and a free manuevre - extra maneuvres are possible but cost fatigue).

Also uses marker card stand ups with counters in between groups to show range bands. Also uses terrai cards which list anyterrain effects to play. very cool and 100% narrative focus.


Now I wish I have bought WFRPG 3e too now >.< Sounds like it is a cool idea to explore.

I probably will be using zones for my games. I would report back how it goes (with photos!)
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Postby Bill » Wed Dec 23, 2009 6:23 am

Brokensoul wrote:Just describe the action and placement of the bad guys. I will use extra dice lying around sometimes to represent placement if I am not using a map and mini.

The only real issue is being fair as a GM when determining range and how many and who are caught in area effect spells.


This is important. In my experience, many people, gm's included, are simply terrible at keeping range and position clear in their heads. You end up with angry players. "Why is my longbow so useless?" "How the heck did the orcs run up and hit me so fast?" stuff like that.

All sorts of potential problems. Its mainly intuition but you do need to take care that the relative positions of the combatants is handled with some degree of logic.
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Postby Kaleb7 » Wed Dec 23, 2009 7:32 am

Usually not using any kind of range tracking works to the benefit of the melee characters, and severely hampers effective missile use. (Hard to keep track mentally of who is where, closing rates etc...)
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Postby angel_lord » Wed Dec 23, 2009 11:41 am

With the exception of the occasional argument over positioning, I have used the no map, no minis approach fairly successfully.

I personally prefer the abstract map compromise, but for the sake of my players I often go a bit more detailed.

Of course it depends on the system I am running as well. DARPG seems perfect for introducing more visualization and fewer props, but it will depend on my players which way we go.
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Postby Caomgen » Wed Dec 23, 2009 1:04 pm

I've been using maps and minis since I started playing, and it's kept me from getting a terrible headache. It also makes certain spells, such as Shock, require more tactical thinking, in order to prevent hitting your allies.
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Postby Batgirl III » Wed Dec 23, 2009 1:08 pm

I will make a rough sketch of an area or make use of a pre-printed map (from an Dungeon magazine, say) which I will chop up into disticnt "zones."

For example, an inn will be chopped up into the 'kitchen,' 'common room,' 'balcony,' and 'guest room #3.' It takes an average character a full-round movement action to shift from one to any adjacent one, everyone in any one zone is considered a simple movement action from melee with anyone else in that zone, and ranged combat is short range to anyone in the same zone, with long range varying by weapon.

This has worked for me for games ranging from AD&D2e to White-Wolf.
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Postby bushido11 » Wed Dec 23, 2009 1:34 pm

To continue the concept of zones, you can turn the Speed stat into a rollable ability, just like Cunning, Strength, etc. Moving within one zone counts as a free action, while moving into an adjacent zone counts as one action. If you wish to move more than one zone, you can call for a Speed test, with the difficulty starting at Average for 2 zones, and each zone thereafter, you can increase the difficulty by one category. Terrain and obstacles may increase the difficulty of the task, so much that just moving to an adjacent zone may call for a Speed test.

For racial modifiers, elves may receive a +1 racial bonus to Speed, dwarves have a -1 racial penalty to Speed, and humans get no modifiers.

The WFRP 3e ranges mentioned by Troll66 sound really good as well. Agon also uses a range band in combat, and positioning is pivotal in combat to get the optimal use out of your weapons. I wonder which of the WFRP 3e books has the combat rules; drivethrurpg.com has the .pdf files of the books for sale, but I'm not really that interested in paying to find out a particular rule or so.
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Postby Combert » Wed Dec 23, 2009 3:20 pm

I just draw a sketch on paper (or use premade maps, usually from Pathfinder modules). Draw my the first letter of my players name to mark their positions, and indicate the scale.

If in doubt the players just ask me if this is in range, or if this can be reached etc.

Really fast and easy.

I have actually also made a map into flash to be displayed with a projetor when we game in a meeting room at my office.
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Postby IzualTheMighty » Thu Dec 24, 2009 1:53 am

I use a large dry erase board with grid points, which come in handy in situations like that. I draw nothing detailed out, but would put a large block for a building and dot and note the characters locations on it. Easy of course to make quick changes to it during combat. Terrain or obstacles of the like could be drawn or dotted out also, with a few verbal descriptions. And I'm certainly no artist so squares, dots and squiggles are enough for me, hah.
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