Sick and tired of maps...

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So, I have decided I absolutely hate map-heavy rule sets. I REALLY prefer more narrative approaches. Unfortunately 4e is a very map heavy rule set. Other than this one feature, for the most part, I really like 4e. I am wondering if anyone knows of a decent set of house rules designed to transform 4e into a game that makes use of narrative combat instead of map-heavy, board-gamey combat.

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So, I have decided I absolutely hate map-heavy rule sets. I REALLY prefer more narrative approaches. Unfortunately 4e is a very map heavy rule set. Other than this one feature, for the most part, I really like 4e. I am wondering if anyone knows of a decent set of house rules designed to transform 4e into a game that makes use of narrative combat instead of map-heavy, board-gamey combat.




Could you define narrative combat?  I am not sure I really understand the approach.
"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." --Bill Cosby (1937- ) Vanador: OK. You ripped a gateway to Hell, killed half the town, and raised the dead as feral zombies. We're going to kill you. But it can go two ways. We want you to run as fast as you possibly can toward the south of the town to draw the Zombies to you, and right before they catch you, I'll put an arrow through your head to end it instantly. If you don't agree to do this, we'll tie you this building and let the Zombies rip you apart slowly. Dimitry: God I love being Neutral. 4th edition is dead, long live 4th edition. Salla: opinionated, but commonly right.
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quote author=56832398 post=519321747]Considering DnD is a game wouldn't all styles be gamist?[/quote]
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Totally confused now . . .
"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." --Bill Cosby (1937- ) Vanador: OK. You ripped a gateway to Hell, killed half the town, and raised the dead as feral zombies. We're going to kill you. But it can go two ways. We want you to run as fast as you possibly can toward the south of the town to draw the Zombies to you, and right before they catch you, I'll put an arrow through your head to end it instantly. If you don't agree to do this, we'll tie you this building and let the Zombies rip you apart slowly. Dimitry: God I love being Neutral. 4th edition is dead, long live 4th edition. Salla: opinionated, but commonly right.
fun quotes
58419928 wrote:
You have to do the work first, and show you can do the work, before someone is going to pay you for it.
69216168 wrote:
If you can't understand how someone yelling at another person would make them fight harder and longer, then you need to look at the forums a bit closer.
quote author=56832398 post=519321747]Considering DnD is a game wouldn't all styles be gamist?[/quote]
I don't see what's non-narrative about using a map... ?

But, if you do like a narrativist aproach, I can see how you'd like 4e in general, it's very friendly to that aproach.  Anyway...

I've run Champions without a hex map, and it has fairly precise movement rules and even 'knockback' which works something like a more complicated 4e push effect, so I know it's possible.   The DM just has to take responsibility for positioning.  Instead of players keeping track of where enemies and terrain features are, they just ask you a lot of questions like "can I charge the ogre without having to go through the wall of fire?" or vaguely conditional actions like "I move close enough to minimize my range penalty before I fire..."

Nothing too difficult if you're willing to wing it a litte.  You have to at least give the players the impression that you have everything 'in your head,' though, or they'll start to think that movement-related powers don't really matter...

 

 

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Ooooooh.  So narrative means describing the entire scene. 

What are the benefits?

Because as it stands, that sounds like a lot of work for not much payoff.
"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." --Bill Cosby (1937- ) Vanador: OK. You ripped a gateway to Hell, killed half the town, and raised the dead as feral zombies. We're going to kill you. But it can go two ways. We want you to run as fast as you possibly can toward the south of the town to draw the Zombies to you, and right before they catch you, I'll put an arrow through your head to end it instantly. If you don't agree to do this, we'll tie you this building and let the Zombies rip you apart slowly. Dimitry: God I love being Neutral. 4th edition is dead, long live 4th edition. Salla: opinionated, but commonly right.
fun quotes
58419928 wrote:
You have to do the work first, and show you can do the work, before someone is going to pay you for it.
69216168 wrote:
If you can't understand how someone yelling at another person would make them fight harder and longer, then you need to look at the forums a bit closer.
quote author=56832398 post=519321747]Considering DnD is a game wouldn't all styles be gamist?[/quote]
Ooooooh.  So narrative means describing the entire scene.


By drawing a map, perhaps?
Ooooooh.  So narrative means describing the entire scene. 

What are the benefits?


SARN-FU 2: Why to SARN-FU
4E combat is incredibly map focused. It is, perhaps, its greatest strength, and depending on your tastes, its greatest weakness. So I totally get what you're saying.

With regard to the Fluid 4E rules, I gave them a try and saw them as unneeded additional kludge. They kind of work but I didn't want a NEW ruleset to run 4E, I wanted to remove the grid heavy implimentation of 4E.

The short answer. It can't really be done without a bunch of new rules or a DM taking inordinate amounts of questions. 4E is so intensely designed around the assumption of a battle grid, minis and the like that it pretty much ceases to be 4E when you remove that. Many powers become useless without a grid.

And that is the solution. If you REALLY really want to make this work, here is how I was able to get to almost kind of sort of work.

You have to get your players on board with this, since there will be a lot of off limits material.

You also have to be open to collaborative combat descriptions. Let your players tell you what THEY see and trust them not to do things just to screw you and vice versa. If they feel like the battlefield exists as it does in their mind and they can contribute to that vision in a meaningful way, things will go more smoothly IMO>

Basically, you have to sort through your power choices and pick those powers that don't rely heavily on the grid. Striker powers are easy. Raw damage or ongoing damage is the simplest. For controllers, look for ongoing effects. Prone is a really good one because it allows for combat advantage without having to worry about adjacency or flanking. Avoid things that push/pull/slide since their effectiveness is mostly negated.  For leaders look for attack buffs/debuffs and raw healing. Avoid powers that grant an additional square of movement of free shifts, since those are pretty much useless. For defenders, look for marks that work when adjacent and then houserule them to work when engaged with the defender. Avoid auras since they're too hard to track without a grid. Now, as the DM, you have to do the same for monsters. Avoid monsters that have auras (unless you want to use an Aura 1 to mean anyone who actively engages that monster). Avoid monsters who push/pull/slide unless the forced movement results in the player engaging that monster toe to toe. Be careful with your use of skirmishers. They can really get hairy.

To sum it up, you can kind of make it work if you're VERY selective with the powers you choose.

Good luck!
I really dont see the difference between maps and narrative. I typically roleplay to the max, and describe every action my character takes, as if I were writing it down for a story, beheading on killing blows and all. I like the maps because I'm a visual person and they help me keep track of where everything is.  If you mean narrative by just...describing combat without a map, then I guess do it? But I see no real benefit to that..the maps don't hurt my RP at all. They either dont effect, or enhance it.
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So, I have decided I absolutely hate map-heavy rule sets. I REALLY prefer more narrative approaches. Unfortunately 4e is a very map heavy rule set. Other than this one feature, for the most part, I really like 4e. I am wondering if anyone knows of a decent set of house rules designed to transform 4e into a game that makes use of narrative combat instead of map-heavy, board-gamey combat.


I can't say this has been a problem since I've used maps for every edition of D&D. However, for the handful of times that I chose not to use a map, I did it the same way I always have, rolling for attacks, narrating effects, and glossing over any details that relied too heavily on mapping (so instead of counting how many squares someone got pushed, just make a not that person must take a move action before making any melee attacks).
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I am wondering if anyone knows of a decent set of house rules designed to transform 4e into a game that makes use of narrative combat instead of map-heavy, board-gamey combat.

I recommend Wrecan's SARN-FU homebrew.  

When I first started with 4e, I simply couldn't adjust to the 'chess-like' nature of the game.  I quickly gave up on battle grids but it wasn't til Sarn-Fu that I had something that really helped me keep all the action in my head (as it were ;)).  

Back when I started DMing in 2nd edition, we almost never used maps or minis.  I don't DM much anymore though.  My DM style is better suited to mapless games I think.  As a player, I'm fine with the idea of a map.

= = =

That all said, battle grids did eventually grow on me.  It's all in how I visualize the action in my mind.  For non-combat encounters, such as NPC conversations, I see things face-to-face (first-person view).  For combat encounters, my mind's eye pulls back, for a more tactical view (third-person).  I've seen this approach in video games.  It took me a while to get my head around the battle grid but now I honestly enjoy the system.

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Thank you. I think I can make that work...

To those asking what the benefits of a more narrativist approach are: personal pleasure and taste. To me, RPGs are all about storytelling. I care more about the storytelling aspect of such games than I do anything else. I like to run games that really feel like a group is sitting around the table telling a communal story. The rules of the game are just a means to that end; they serve as little more than a system of mediation. I prefer when benefits such as cover, flanking, or the like are gained via player and GM discussion surrounding description, not square-counting. I prefer when a scene is described. The process is its own benefit. That approach is one of the reasons I prefer WFRPG 3e to D&D 4e. However, it would simply take too many house rules to run many D&D settings using the WFRPG rule-set. Wrecan’s SARN-FU might make it possible for me to capture the more narrative approach of such games in a 4e game. That would make me happy. That is all.   


To those saying that maps don’t hurt your roleplaying, awesome! I have no interest in telling you that maps will empirically do anything. All I know is how I feel about maps. They make the game feel very board-gamey to me. I have watched narration go out the window due to the maps with the groups I have played with. I have watched as all the things that make the game feel like a process in storytelling go out the window during combat because the game does not require that process in any shape or form during combat. Before someone responds by saying, “You can still describe if you want to!”, I am aware. You can do that while playing monopoly if you want to as well. I prefer RPG systems that require it. Before someone says, "maybe your group doesn't want to narrate," I should note that the same groups that ended up not describing much of combat because there was no requirement to, and freeform description tended to get tedious, got burnt out on 4e due to the fact that "it felt too much like a boardgame after a few years of playing it." That same group got really into the swing of WFRPG 3e due to its more narrative approach.


Please note, I am not saying that 4e is not an RPG. I am not saying that 4e is like monopoly. I am not saying 4e is a bad game. I just prefer narrative heavy approaches. That is what I like. I still really like 4e. I am trying to marry 4e with a more narrative approach. That is all. End of story.  

Learn SARN-FU



Thank you. I think I can make that work...

To those saying asking what the benefits of a more narrativist approach are: personal pleasure and taste. To me, RPGs are all about storytelling. I care more about the storytelling aspect of such games than I do anything else. I like to run games that really feel like a group is sitting around the table telling a communal story. The rules of the game are just a means to that end; they serve as little more than a system of mediation. I prefer when benefits such as cover, flanking, or the like are gained via player and GM discussion surrounding description, not square-counting. I prefer when a scene is described. The process is its own benefit. That approach is one of the reasons I prefer WFRPG 3e to D&D 4e. However, it would simply take too many house rules to run many D&D settings using the WFRPG rule-set. Wrecan’s SARN-FU might make it possible for me to capture the more narrative approach of such games in a 4e game. That would make me happy. That is all.   


To those saying that maps don’t hurt your roleplaying, awesome! I have no interest in telling you that maps will empirically do anything. All I know is how I feel about maps. They make the game feel very board-gamey to me. I have watched role-playing go out the window due to the maps with the groups I have played with. I have watched as all the things that make the game feel like a process in storytelling go out the window during combat because the game does not require that process in any shape or form during combat. Before someone responds by saying, “You can still describe if you want to!”, I am aware. You can do that while playing monopoly if you want to as well. I prefer RPG systems that require it. Before someone says, "maybe your group doesn't want to roleplay," I should note that the same groups that ended up not describing much of combat because there was no requirement to, and freeform description tended to get tedious, got burnt out on 4e due to the fact that "it felt too much like a boardgame after a few years of playing it." That same group got really into the swing of WFRPG 3e due to its more narrative approach.


Please note, I am not saying that 4e is not an RPG. I am not saying that 4e is like monopoly. I am not saying 4e is a bad game. I just prefer narrative heavy approaches. That is what I like. I still really like 4e. I am trying to marry 4e with a more narrative approach. That is all. End of story.  


Good for you. Ignore the haters. Play your game.
fluid 4e

at-will.omnivangelist.net/2009/12/fluid-... 



Thank you. That is an awsome ruleset! Minus the guard rule, that might be exactly what I am looking for. 
Good for you. Ignore the haters. Play your game.



Wink
To those saying asking what the benefits of a more narrativist approach are: personal pleasure and taste.

Sure, I'm down with narrativism.  I just don't see how having a map - whether a poster map or a simple grid like a battle mat - gets in the way of it.   Well, unless you take it to the level of freestyle, in which case you hardly need rules, let alone maps. 


All I know is how I feel about maps. They make the game feel very board-gamey to me.

Well, that's how you feel, then.  Just be aware that your feeling is irrational and wrong.  ;)

Seriously, though, it helps to understand the problem when offering advice.  And 'how do I get away from maps to make my game more narrative' is hard for me to grasp when maps make a fine narrative aid, IMX. 

 I have watched role-playing go out the window due to the maps with the groups I have played with.

I'd say it's due to the group, not the maps.  But whatever, if your group can't handle the style of play you're after when using a map, that's a problem.  How to deal with it without giving up the existing narrativist qualities of 4e is an interesting question... (see, I'm getting to it).

I have watched as all the things that make the game feel like a process in storytelling go out the window during combat because the game does not require that process in any shape or form during combat. Before someone responds by saying, “You can still describe if you want to!”, I am aware. I prefer RPG systems that require it.

Require RP?  I've seen games do that and it's often quite forced and clumsy.  But, I think what you mean isn't require RP so much as require a bit of player/GM negotiation or creativity in resolution.  That sounds to me like an inadequate ruleset, but maybe that's just a glass-half-empty thing on my part.  :shrug:

Really, then the solution is right in front of you:  don't use the map.  Without it, the mechanics of  4e positioning - movement, forced movement, reach, range, area, etc - become less functional, calling on the DM and players to resolve questions of positioning/range/movement through some more creative process.  Not exactly what I'd call 'narrativist,' but if it's what you're going for, just abandoning the map without particularly changing the rules should get you there.

I am trying to marry 4e with a more narrative approach. That is all. End of story.

Your use of the word 'narrative' is confusing me, I guess.   4e has a number of strongly narrativist elements - indeed, it takes a lot of flack for them.

 

 

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I think he means abstract, not narrative.

A scene is divided into a few general locations, and everyone is in one of those locations ("on top of the guard tower", "in front of the gates", and so on), but positioning isn't tracked or relevant beyond that. Something like a melee attack would require you to be in the same general location as the target, but the system otherwise doesn't worry about your exact position relative to your target.

This would go well beyond Wrecan's proposal, but it would also require a major overhaul of the system - it isn't really something that can be made to work in 4E.
Even with map and grid, position is interconnected with time and umm that has been abstracted to the point that its pretty much a head exploder / Lets see all motion and activity are basically considered interleaved and turns are roughly simultaneous if you think about it your position is kind of quantum you cant be sure where you are at any given time. --- There is certainly abstraction going on.
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I can't stand not having a map even in an abstract system. It seems to move a lot slower. Rather than everyone being on the same page and knowing what's going on, everyone is always asking the GM where they are, what's in the way, if something is in range, etc. The map actually helps immersion for me, because it puts everyone in the same place rather than a different picture in 6 different minds.
In a properly-done abstract system, those aren't issues. If you and that other guy are in the same location then nothing is in the way and you're in range of one another. Those factors simply don't exist.

However, it's pretty much the opposite to what D&D has always done. (4E isn't alone in being positioning-dependent; all of the old-Es assumed some sort of specific positioning/facing/etc system, even if they didn't employ a grid.)
In a properly-done abstract system, those aren't issues. If you and that other guy are in the same location then nothing is in the way and you're in range of one another. Those factors simply don't exist. However, it's pretty much the opposite to what D&D has always done. (4E isn't alone in being positioning-dependent; all of the old-Es assumed some sort of specific positioning/facing/etc system, even if they didn't employ a grid.)



remember how in 2nd ed

"A sheild is useful only to protect the front and flanks of the user. attacks from the rear or rear flanks cannot be blocked by a sheild(exception: a sheild slung across the back does help defend against rear attacks)."

that's under the description of the shield item. i was also surprised to see we were using sheilds wrong and that small sheilds could only be used to block 2 attacks per round. huh.

Sure, I'm down with narrativism.  I just don't see how having a map - whether a poster map or a simple grid like a battle mat - gets in the way of it.   Well, unless you take it to the level of freestyle, in which case you hardly need rules, let alone maps.  


The way map based/grid-heavy combat resolution systems such as 4e get in the way is very simple; they remove the requirement that one narrate what they are doing during combat resolution. Narrative systems require you to narrate your activities. The system that 4e uses requires no narration. You can count squares, move your figure, point to an attack power, point to a target, and roll a die in silence.  


 Well, that's how you feel, then.  Just be aware that your feeling is irrational and wrong.  ;)



I really hope you are joking. I have a feeling that, despite your smiley face, you are not. 

Seriously, though, it helps to understand the problem when offering advice.  And 'how do I get away from maps to make my game more narrative' is hard for me to grasp when maps make a fine narrative aid, IMX.


Based on your responses in this thread, I don’t think you are the right person to be offering advice at all… I am not sure there is anything I can say that would change that. I think you have an outside agenda. I think your agenda precludes you from being able to accept that 4e might have some elements that genuinely don’t mesh with someone else’s subjective taste. You appear to have a vested interest in believing 4e is fine as is, even in regards to my subjective tastes, no matter what I might say.  

I'd say it's due to the group, not the maps.  But whatever, if your group can't handle the style of play you're after when using a map, that's a problem.  How to deal with it without giving up the existing narrativist qualities of 4e is an interesting question... (see, I'm getting to it). 


Yep. We should never try and modify the game so that it fits better with our subjective tastes. If we prefer something different than you the problem is always us. ::roleseyes::

I'd Require RP?  I've seen games do that and it's often quite forced and clumsy.  But, I think what you mean isn't require RP so much as require a bit of player/GM negotiation or creativity in resolution.  That sounds to me like an inadequate ruleset, but maybe that's just a glass-half-empty thing on my part.  :shrug:


Sorry, I did not mean to say anything about requiring RP. I meant to say something about requiring narration. That is not quite the same thing. As for what you believe is an inadequate ruleset, that is irrelevant to me. You don’t share my tastes. Your aesthetic judgements on them mean absolutely nothing to me. I prefer games that require narration as opposed to gamey piece movement and grid counting. That does require a certain level of player/GM negotiation. I don’t think there is anything inadequate about that. I could care less if you do…

Really, then the solution is right in front of you:  don't use the map.  Without it, the mechanics of  4e positioning - movement, forced movement, reach, range, area, etc - become less functional, calling on the DM and players to resolve questions of positioning/range/movement through some more creative process.  Not exactly what I'd call 'narrativist,' but if it's what you're going for, just abandoning the map without particularly changing the rules should get you there.


Thanks for the facetious response, but it doesn’t help me any. Then again, like I noted, I doubt you are the right person to help me.

Your use of the word 'narrative' is confusing me, I guess.   4e has a number of strongly narrativist elements - indeed, it takes a lot of flack for them.


It does make use of a lot of narrative elements. In combat resolution, however, it makes use of (almost exclusively) gamist tactics. I like a lot of those gamist tactics. However, I prefer more narrative approaches to combat resolution. If the use of the word “narrative” confuses you, you should look up the word in the dictionary. Allow me to help:


Narrative:


That narrates or recounts, that tells a story; of or concerned with narration; having the character or form of narration.


Narration:


A thing narrated or recounted; a story, an account.


If you examine some of the more contextual definitions in the OED it also becomes evident that the term often has a verbal quality (and though this is not always the case, it is certainly the case in terms of the context in which I am using the term).


Since an account is the type of narration we are discussing, account, v.:


To render a reckoning….To present an account or reckoning of (one's actions, etc.)


Guess what doesn’t really fit into those definitions? If you guessed silently counting squares, figuring out modifiers based on grid positioning, pointing to a power, pointing to an enemy figure, and then rolling a die you would be correct. Of course, if you wanted to argue semantics you could argue that you are still producing a narrative when you perform those actions, bodily narration shall we say. It is arguable, since you are not really producing an account, you are producing a set of actions (which a narrative would have to account for). Then again, maybe one can create accounts with different forms of bodily media. Some forms of dance are considered narratives after all. The discussion is kind of pointless, though, because that narrative would not really mesh with the verbal quality that I am attributing to the term contextually speaking; yes, I am discussing oral narration, verbal storytelling, spoken word. That is what entices me in the genre of role-playing games. It is also the baseline assumption of context that the terms narration, storytelling, or word tend to carry--written or oral, verbal in both cases.

I think he means abstract, not narrative. A scene is divided into a few general locations, and everyone is in one of those locations ("on top of the guard tower", "in front of the gates", and so on), but positioning isn't tracked or relevant beyond that. Something like a melee attack would require you to be in the same general location as the target, but the system otherwise doesn't worry about your exact position relative to your target. This would go well beyond Wrecan's proposal, but it would also require a major overhaul of the system - it isn't really something that can be made to work in 4E.




No, I mean narrative. See my last post. Though, the abstract system that you are describing would be more narrative if it also forced people to recount their position and actions via narration (as in oral, verbal narration, in case anyone wasn’t sure). 

> Narrative systems require you to narrate your activities.

My experience with this style of play - which you can also impose on 4E - is that this narration quickly becomes repetitive or reaching (out of sheer desperation to come up with a new way to say the same thing for the umpteenth time).

Moreover, requiring a blah-blah-blah to accompany every turn/action/etc is a great way to produce the "combat is taking too long!" problem that we see people complain about; again, my experience is that "drags on and on" is the inevitable result when someone gets the bright idea that requiring narration will somehow improve the game. ("Oh look - a fight scene narrative that makes Salvatore's descriptions seem minimalist!")

Plus, since it's all (narratively speaking) supposed to be occurring simultaneously, a lot of that narrative ends up making very little sense.

It usually seems to work out better when someone does a brief end-of-round summary. That's what I'd go for if I was into pushing narrative play; at the very least it's less likely to produce broken record syndrome.
> Narrative systems require you to narrate your activities. My experience with this style of play - which you can also impose on 4E - is that this narration quickly becomes repetitive or reaching (out of sheer desperation to come up with a new way to say the same thing for the umpteenth time). Moreover, requiring a blah-blah-blah to accompany every turn/action/etc is a great way to produce the "combat is taking too long!" problem that we see people complain about; again, my experience is that "drags on and on" is the inevitable result when someone gets the bright idea that requiring narration will somehow improve the game. ("Oh look - a fight scene narrative that makes Salvatore's descriptions seem minimalist!") Plus, since it's all (narratively speaking) supposed to be occurring simultaneously, a lot of that narrative ends up making very little sense. It usually seems to work out better when someone does a brief end-of-round summary. That's what I'd go for if I was into pushing narrative play; at the very least it's less likely to produce broken record syndrome.



Ok. We have different experiences. It sounds like we also have different tastes. That’s cool by me. I still like what I like... I don’t know if it is possible to achieve this particular goal in a fast fluid way with 4e. However, it is what I LOVE about WFRPG 3e. In fact, it is what made WFRPG 3e surpass 4e D&D in terms of my own personal tastes. Then again WFRPG 3e has some interesting features that help mitigate some of the problems you have complained about, so I don't know if I would ever be able to achieve anything that flows quite the same way with 4e's base ruleset. Then again, I remember really enjoying the more narrative approach of 2e D&D back when I played that, so… I am still interested in trying. 

I've never understood why people don't like knowing where they are relative to everything else in combat, and knowing where and how they can manuever in combat without problems or taking extra time fiding things out that can change their decisions. 

I've played since 2nd edition, and even back then my groups have always used maps and mini's, even if it was just graph paper and dice at times.  It just seemed practical, you get the description of the room, and then the map is put out.  You know how big things are, where various elements are compaired to others... useful knowledge. 

There are only a few games I don't mind playing without a "combat map"  and in those... combat is usually a bad idea anyway. Paranoia and Call of Cthuluh.   Against a single large monster or a few boring monsters in the middle of a blank room, it might be okay but if the fight is boring, there's not really a reason to have it either.

I admit, that 4E is specifically made to be run on a grid, but that's where a large portion of the balance comes into play.  I generally describe what I'm doing, but like others have said, it gets very samey after a while.  Not every killing blow will decapitate(most shouldn't), not every wizards spell leave gaping holes thru the targets body(again most don't). There is a point where doing 30 points of fire damage goes from turning everything in a room from living flesh to charcoal, and doing 30 points of fire damage is unnoticed by the wall of demons charging out of a portal to hell you just activated.
Preferences... Not where they should be. Asking someone if they're Trolling you is in violation of section 3 of the Code of Conduct.
I think he means abstract, not narrative. A scene is divided into a few general locations, and everyone is in one of those locations ("on top of the guard tower", "in front of the gates", and so on), but positioning isn't tracked or relevant beyond that. Something like a melee attack would require you to be in the same general location as the target, but the system otherwise doesn't worry about your exact position relative to your target. This would go well beyond Wrecan's proposal, but it would also require a major overhaul of the system - it isn't really something that can be made to work in 4E.



I'm not sure why what you describe goes beyond SARN-FU.  It seems to be somethign that is easily handled using SARN-FU and is pretty much one ofthe hypothetical uses for SARN-FU I describe in SARn-FU 2: Why to SARN-FU.
I can't understand the "sick and tired" part of the title.  Maybe the OP was intentionally trying to be over the top with it?

Anyway, I did abstract combat way back in 1e, but that only lasted for about a year until more detail was required to stop constant bickering.  What we then went to is essentially the same rules that combat now uses in 4e.  We plotted everything out on graph paper with pencil and erased and redrew position marks often, but it was essentially the same.

I also don't understand how the OP could claim to like 4e and not like tactical combat.  There isn't much else to the 4e rule set than tactical combat. 

I've seen abstract games run at cons before, and honestly there isn't any reason most of the time to have any rules in them.  In fact the DMs should just read a short story to the crowd and be done with it.  Player input has an effect, but is minimized by the lack of concrete rules.  Definitely not for me.

If you want a rules light, abstract game system try Amber diceless roleplaying.  It is almost entirely abstract and narrative.  I'm sure some copies are floating around the internet for sale.       

Kalex the Omen 
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Concerning Player Rules Bias
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
Gaining victory through rules bias is a hollow victory and they know it.
Concerning "Default" Rules
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
The argument goes, that some idiot at the table might claim that because there is a "default" that is the only true way to play D&D. An idiotic misconception that should be quite easy to disprove just by reading the rules, coming to these forums, or sending a quick note off to Customer Support and sharing the inevitable response with the group. BTW, I'm not just talking about Next when I say this. Of course, D&D has always been this way since at least the late 70's when I began playing.

Wrecan: What I saw of SARN-FU is that you're still dealing with "melee 1, melee 2, ranged 5, ranged 10, same-space" and similar distinctions.

As opposed to:

Location A
Location B
Location C

You're either in the same location as the other guy, or you aren't. If you are, you're fully engaged. If you're not, you're not engaged. (Maybe you can make ranged attacks against people in other locations, but there isn't any sense of range 5/10/20 etc.)

And you simply move to another location by spending an action to do so (with no such thing as movement speed/etc in combat; locations and individuals don't have any particular distance between them).

So there are only (in this case) three locations, and there are no further gradients beyond that. SARN-FU tries to maintain smaller gradients based loosely on the 4E speed/range/etc values.
Wrecan: What I saw of SARN-FU is that you're still dealing with "melee 1, melee 2, ranged 5, ranged 10, same-space" and similar distinctions. As opposed to: Location A Location B Location C You're either in the same location as the other guy, or you aren't. If you are, you're fully engaged. If you're not, you're not engaged. (Maybe you can make ranged attacks against people in other locations, but there isn't any sense of range 5/10/20 etc.) And you simply move to another location by spending an action to do so (with no such thing as movement speed/etc in combat; locations and individuals don't have any particular distance between them). So there are only (in this case) three locations, and there are no further gradients beyond that. SARN-FU tries to maintain smaller gradients based loosely on the 4E speed/range/etc values.



I don't see why SARN-FU can't handle that.  All it does is convert ranges into narratives descriptions.  You're just saying what if everything was squeezed, adjacent, far, or unreachable.  Oversimplifying SARN-FU into SA-FU isn't a big deal, particularly if you incorporate the ides of "knots" as described int he third and final installment of SARN-FU.
> what if everything was squeezed, adjacent, far, or unreachable.

I'm putting it as two states: same location and different location.

No version of D&D has been designed to work that abstractly though, and making such a change would involve a complete redesign of the way combat works. It certainly won't happen mid-edition.
I wasn't going to post here since it seems to be turning into a huge discussion, but I just wanted to add my 2 cents so to speak.

I've played RPGs with and without a map for combat, and I find it frustrating not having a visual representation of the fight. Without a map, problems arise such as "do I have line of sight to this enemy?", "am I far enough away to charge?" or "How many targets does my fireball hit?". It usually ends up being DMs call which I feel takes control away from the player, which is a bad thing I think.

Years ago I stopped playing tabletop RPGs because this was one of the problems I had with them. With the introduction of the battle map, I have come back to D&D.

In my eyes it's just easier and less hassle to drop some tokens on a map.

Yeah, its more preparation and more work, but I think it's worth it. In our games there is plenty of RP in the non combat sections.
 
Cyber-Dave:

Does WFRPG 3e have opportunity attacks?  I don't know anything about this system, so it would help to know a bit more about what you can and can't do.

In addition to SARN-FU (which seems like a great system for handling combat without a grid and minis if the DM can handle it and the group all goes along with it), another solution would be to simply hide the grid from the players.  Because it seems that your issues with the grid don't come from the DM side, but from the player side.  You dislike lazy players simply moving their mini, grunting toward a monster, pointing to a power card, and rolling the dice.  An easy fix (assuming you have a laptop) would be to make your maps using a program like Maptools (or any other mapping program...even Excel works if you make the grid into squares).  That way you don't have to waste mental energy on keeping track of everything, and the players will have to narrate their actions and at the same time know that you are not just giving a subjective answer.
I'm putting it as two states: same location and different location. No version of D&D has been designed to work that abstractly though


I thought we were talking about SARN-FU, which can work that way.
If it can, it certainly isn't the impression it gave what with the focus on melee 1 being distinct from melee 2 and moving taking a number of actions based on your speed and so forth.

I've never understood why people don't like knowing where they are relative to everything else in combat, and knowing where and how they can manuever in combat without problems or taking extra time fiding things out that can change their decisions.



This is a strawman characterization of what people like me do or don't like. It has nothing to do with knowing where you are relative to everything else in combat. In fact, I do like knowing where I am relative to everything else in combat. It is about not liking when the game stops being about verbal narration during any type of encounter. When the game no longer requires that you verbally narrate anything, it stops being about verbal narration. In combat 4e stops being about verbal narration. It didn’t bother me at first, but overtime this aspect of the game has come to really turn me off.

I admit, that 4E is specifically made to be run on a grid, but that's where a large portion of the balance comes into play.  I generally describe what I'm doing, but like others have said, it gets very samey after a while.  Not every killing blow will decapitate(most shouldn't), not every wizards spell leave gaping holes thru the targets body(again most don't). There is a point where doing 30 points of fire damage goes from turning everything in a room from living flesh to charcoal, and doing 30 points of fire damage is unnoticed by the wall of demons charging out of a portal to hell you just activated.


Seeing people count squares, point to a power, point to a target, and roll a die gets very “samey” to me after a while. I would rather hear people repeat similar verbal utterances to that…

It has nothing to do with knowing where you are relative to everything else in combat. In fact, I do like knowing where I am relative to everything else in combat. It is about not liking when the game stops being about verbal narration during any type of encounter. When the game no longer requires that you verbally narrate anything, it stops being about verbal narration. In combat 4e stops being about verbal narration. It didn’t bother me at first, but overtime this aspect of the game has come to really turn me off.



And this is why a lot of people have been cautiously suggesting that this is not the fault of 4e.  Many groups still fully describe their actions, make up flavor text descriptions for their powers, and do everything you say isn't happening in your game.  Oh, and they play 4e.

Now, not to be entirely unsympathetic this was beginning to happen somewhat in my game, but rather than drastically change how the game works, I sat down with my players and asked them if they wanted to be more descriptive.  They did, so now we do more of that.  It boils down to a choice.  You and your group seem to be making a choice that bothers you, so choose to do things differently.  It's really as simple as that.
 
Seeing people count squares, point to a power, point to a target, and roll a die gets very “samey” to me after a while. I would rather hear people repeat similar verbal utterances to that…



This is just bad roleplaying regardless of the system used.  I call it lazy, not a problem with 4e.

Kalex the Omen 
Dungeonmaster Extraordinaire

OSR Fan? Our Big Announcement™ is here!

Please join our forums!

Concerning Player Rules Bias
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
Gaining victory through rules bias is a hollow victory and they know it.
Concerning "Default" Rules
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
The argument goes, that some idiot at the table might claim that because there is a "default" that is the only true way to play D&D. An idiotic misconception that should be quite easy to disprove just by reading the rules, coming to these forums, or sending a quick note off to Customer Support and sharing the inevitable response with the group. BTW, I'm not just talking about Next when I say this. Of course, D&D has always been this way since at least the late 70's when I began playing.

I can't understand the "sick and tired" part of the title.  Maybe the OP was intentionally trying to be over the top with it?



Do you not understand what the colloquialism "sick and tired" means? It generally refers to something that you have taken part in or of for some time, but which you no longer enjoy. I own almost every 4e book. I have played the game since release. I also played 3e D&D. I also played 2e D&D with the combat and tactics optional rules (once they were released). All those games made heavy use of grids and maps. I have gotten sick and tired of the practice. I pine for the pre-combat and tactics days of 2e, and have come to enjoy WFRPG 3e more than any other fantasy RPG on the market, because of their map/grid-less approach.

I also don't understand how the OP could claim to like 4e and not like tactical combat.  There isn't much else to the 4e rule set than tactical combat.


I suppose it depends on what you mean by “tactical.” I like much of 4e’s setup. I like gamey RPGs. I like RPGs that require tactics. I just don’t like maps and grids anymore. At least, not heavy use of maps and grids which require regular squarecounting, and which distribute modifiers based on squarecounting.

If you want a rules light, abstract game system try Amber diceless roleplaying.  It is almost entirely abstract and narrative.  I'm sure some copies are floating around the internet for sale.       


I am not looking for a rules light game. I already know which games I enjoy. I just want to try and find a way to run 4e without all the squarecounting. Thanks to two of the posters in this thread I think I can now do that…

Cyber-Dave:

Does WFRPG 3e have opportunity attacks?  I don't know anything about this system, so it would help to know a bit more about what you can and can't do.



No, it does not make use of opportunity attacks. It does force you to engage/disengage with targets before you can make a melee attack against them, though. 

In addition to SARN-FU (which seems like a great system for handling combat without a grid and minis if the DM can handle it and the group all goes along with it), another solution would be to simply hide the grid from the players.  Because it seems that your issues with the grid don't come from the DM side, but from the player side.  You dislike lazy players simply moving their mini, grunting toward a monster, pointing to a power card, and rolling the dice.  An easy fix (assuming you have a laptop) would be to make your maps using a program like Maptools (or any other mapping program...even Excel works if you make the grid into squares).  That way you don't have to waste mental energy on keeping track of everything, and the players will have to narrate their actions and at the same time know that you are not just giving a subjective answer.



Yea, I think that between SARN-FU and the other ruleset provided I can make 4e do what I want it to. Keeping a private DM map also seems like a good idea.
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