The theater of the mind takes longer.

So after the third session, we're pretty much used to the rules and flow of the game, and the theater of the mind takes too long.

Mainly, people spend more time asking "how far away am i from X", and "can i do Y", "can i stand adjacent to Z", and "can i see Ω", then they asking similar questions in 4e.  Though 4e had alot more interesting things to do.

It's also confusing, as sometime someone will say "i move back 30'" and 2 people will think "back is corridior A" and 2 other's will think "back is corridor B".  In fact, a few times the DM had to draw a map and using dice as mini's just to get everyone on the same page.  Which we then took to using.


Now for some smaller skirmishes, it's faster.  For the "hey there's an oger, i use icy ray's, everyone else throws stuff" roll off there's little reason to have a map  (batch dice rollers, yes).  But generally speaking, a map is worth about 10-20 words (or about 30 seconds per turn).


Edit: for the record, there are 2 4e only players, and 3 that played from 1 or 2e.  The 4e player's probably ask twice as many questions, but there's still plenty of clarification talk from the 2e ones.

guides
List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
Power
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

I agree. There are times where TotM is faster and others when it is slower.

Complex combat setups benefit from at least some kind of graphic representation. It doesn't need to be a combat grid, though. A hand-drawn sketch or map is often sufficient enough to clear up the Corridor A/Corridor B type issues.

 
I agree with you both, and I think that is the point of the system.  You use the method that works best for you, and this can change depending on the situation.

Playing without any visual aid does require players to have a good visual imagination, and they must give plenty of detail when describing their actions.  It isn't enough to say, "I move back 30 ft."  You have to say, for example, "I move back 30 ft, away from the fighter and the orcs over to the table by the west door."

Keep in mind as well, most players at this juncture are used to playing on a table top mat, or other visual device, so they ask questions that would matter in that situation, but not in one without a mat.  Eventually, instead of asking: Mainly, "how far away am i from X", and "can i do Y" and waiting for answers, they will start saying, "I move to the edge of my range for Y, and target X".
We played TotM in our 1st session and with the mat in our 2nd, and it is faster with mat. It's exactly like you say, with TotM everyturn is punctuated with the need to validate your position and your planned action with the DM, where with mat, players just spell out what they're going to do directly.
We played TotM in our 1st session and with the mat in our 2nd, and it is faster with mat. It's exactly like you say, with TotM everyturn is punctuated with the need to validate your position and your planned action with the DM, where with mat, players just spell out what they're going to do directly.



this is true - but i still feel that the battlemat robs you of some imagination by absolutely nailing everything down to exact positions. But that's just my own preference, and even i confess that the battlemat can be a real boon to complex encounters.

But the way my group plays, we don't go in for 'how many yards away am i from x' we just ask - can i reach x? and the gm makes a call, there's no need to know the exact plositions of everything and everyone, just have a rough idea. I personally prefer 'zones' of proximity - engaged, close, mid, long to explicit ranges. Keep it fuzzy and the need to know exactly where everything is, is replaced by a knowledge of roughly what's in reach and you can tell the DM what you want to do narratively (and it makes it easier for the DM to fudge positions to allow cool stuff).

but that's just me - neither way is the wrong way to play. it's all down to preference. I have a feeling TOTM is going to be the default assumption in next, which i am obviously happy about. But they won't leave out the battlemat option - it will be there as a modular option - which I'm also happy about. Because that caters to 2 major ways of envisioning the game - the imagination/narrative style - and the mapped/tactical style.

Both are fun for different reasons. But the edition warriors defend their preferences with far too much Zeal. and that gets everyone wound up.
It depends on the group.   We playtested both ways.  For my group, I used the grid for the Hobgoblin prison (only 2 hobgoblin torturers in the prison area).  As soon as I placed the grid down and the minis on it, my game slowed to a crawl.  My players completely pulled out of character and started to talk strategy, count squares, process different optional moves, etc.   With such a small combat, I should have kept to the ToTM, but I wanted to see how grid would work.

I'm sure the grid will be useful for "Boss" fight or larger battle, but I really like the way ToTM keeps my players in character and the action flowing.   

A Brave Knight of WTF - "Wielder of the Sword of Balance"

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

@barefootwanderer
The biggest area it came up for us was the P-clerics Channel divinity which is party unfriendly. So when we got friendly fired with it by the cleric, it wasn't on the DM ('are sure I was only 20' away from him?'). Also when sleep was used the DM was guestimating the impact where with map the mage could just point to a spot and it was those enemies affected. But I agree it's a group choice, and in the future, I'm pretty sure we'll use a combination depending on encounter complexity.

@rhenny
In our group which was 3 4e'ers one grognard (myself) and one novice Pathfinder, the only change in pace was measuring AoE spells, otherwise it was just as fast and furious. It may help that our personality is more Charge of the Light Brigade and less Seal Team Seven. Just may depend on the group. 
I would also submit that ToTM can make the game more difficult for melee characters as opposed to ranged/spellcaster characters.  It was easier to just guesstimate or assume that a target is in range for a ranged attack, since in most cases I played so far in Next, it's been less common to be out of range of a target due to the fact that ranged attacks are ... well, ranged.  But melee characters not only have to be sure they have enough movement to close the distance, but keep track of who they are in melee with and who they are not and know their position more exactly so they can know whether they are in position to gain advantage or not.

Because of what I experienced with that, I actually found that the games slowed down for the melee characters as they try to figure out who they are next to.  For the ranged characters and spellcasters they were able in most cases to just stand where they started and say "I shoot him," because they know they're within range and there's no way they can't be due to the size of the encounter area.

IOW, ToTM actually resulted in another instance of "Fighters Can't Have Nice Things" for our group. 

YMMV.

OD&D, 1E and 2E challenged the player. 3E challenged the character, not the player. Now 4E takes it a step further by challenging a GROUP OF PLAYERS to work together as a TEAM. That's why I love 4E.

"Your ability to summon a horde of celestial superbeings at will is making my ... BMX skills look a bit redundant."

"People treat their lack of imagination as if it's the measure of what's silly. Which is silly." - Noon

"Challenge" is overrated.  "Immersion" is usually just a more pretentious way of saying "having fun playing D&D."

"Falling down is how you grow.  Staying down is how you die.  It's not what happens to you, it's what you do after it happens.”

My experience was that TotM works best when the map is pretty much irrelevant. An example of this is a fight against one guy. Fighting just the ogre in his cave works fine without a map because there are basically two states a player is in: either, next to the ogre, or not next to the ogre. In a fight against a whole bunch of enemies ends up being simpler with the map, because everyone then knows where they are in reference to everyone else.

Nothing.

That is all.

It was faster for my group.

Now 2 of us are veteran players from 2e and before. 1 is a 3e player who has worked in TotM before and the other 2 have primarily worked with the mat.

The key here is that the DM was experienced in TotM and so was able to give accurate descriptions from the start.

Edition wars kill players,Dungeons and Dragons needs every player it can get.

It depends on the group.   We playtested both ways.  For my group, I used the grid for the Hobgoblin prison (only 2 hobgoblin torturers in the prison area).  As soon as I placed the grid down and the minis on it, my game slowed to a crawl.  My players completely pulled out of character and started to talk strategy, count squares, process different optional moves, etc.   With such a small combat, I should have kept to the ToTM, but I wanted to see how grid would work.

I'm sure the grid will be useful for "Boss" fight or larger battle, but I really like the way ToTM keeps my players in character and the action flowing.   



+1
And when my characters talk strategy (regardless of edition) I let the monsters overhear and respond accordingly (if they understand the language). I also limit such talk during turns. After all how much can you plan in 6 seconds?

Edition wars kill players,Dungeons and Dragons needs every player it can get.

Right, because out-of-game events totally affect in-game ones.

My experience with TotM is exactly the same as the OPs. It takes far too much time, and the cinematic "freedom" it gives can be replicated (easier, I find) with a grid and the average DM who can handle improv.

Gold is for the mistress, silver for the maid

Copper for the craftsman, cunning at his trade.

"Good!" said the Baron, sitting in his hall,

"But Iron -- Cold Iron -- is master of them all." -Kipling

 

Miss d20 Modern? Take a look at Dias Ex Machina Game's UltraModern 4e!

 

57019168 wrote:
I am a hero, not a chump.
And when my characters talk strategy (regardless of edition) I let the monsters overhear and respond accordingly (if they understand the language). I also limit such talk during turns. After all how much can you plan in 6 seconds?



While I personally think that this specific approach is way too extreme, I strongly agree with the theory behind this.  We usually used the grid instead of TotM in most campaigns I DMed (every player I've had either preferred grid or had no preference), but when a player's turn came up, they moved, rolled the dice, described what they did, done.

I didn't even need to enforce it, really.  If a player's turn came up and they hadn't already been deciding what they were going to do while they were waiting, the other players were more than happy to tell them to "get their head in the game", with the occasional exception of the healers.  For some reason people never rush the healers Wink.

It's funny.  Until I came to these forums I never noticed that 4e combat was slower than 3e, and until I read this thread I never noticed that TotM combat was slower than using the grid.  I'm sure I'll take a lot of criticism for this, but maybe players just take longer when they don't feel comfortable playing the game a certain way?  In my experience, the more practice a person has in something, the faster they can do it.  It applies to pretty much every other activity in the universe, so why not D&D combat?
Right, because out-of-game events totally affect in-game ones.

"And then Purpleleaf the Nimble suddenly reappears from nowhere, carrying tacos and beer."

Mainly, people spend more time asking "how far away am i from X", and "can i do Y", "can i stand adjacent to Z", and "can i see Ω", then they asking similar questions in 4e.  Though 4e had alot more interesting things to do.

It's also confusing, as sometime someone will say "i move back 30'"

It takes a lot more work for a DM to use Theatre of Mind. But if you're accustomed to it, it can also be easier on a DM (don't have to draw in every single map, have the right minis, etc). Also it looks like you're trying to use grid tactics without the grid which as you've discovered is difficult.

Rather than say "I move back 30 feet" it's easier to say "I move back to Corridor A" and the DM says "you make it this turn" or "you'll get there next turn."

Right, because out-of-game events totally affect in-game ones.

If you allow out of game strategy and have your characters telepathically linked, then why not allow PCs to metagame a monster's strengths and weaknesses?
Mainly, people spend more time asking "how far away am i from X", and "can i do Y", "can i stand adjacent to Z", and "can i see Ω", then they asking similar questions in 4e.  Though 4e had alot more interesting things to do.

It's also confusing, as sometime someone will say "i move back 30'"

It takes a lot more work for a DM to use Theatre of Mind. But if you're accustomed to it, it can also be easier on a DM (don't have to draw in every single map, have the right minis, etc). Also it looks like you're trying to use grid tactics without the grid which as you've discovered is difficult.

Most of the issue is with the defender.  "who can i stand next to while still hitting an enemy and blocking the corridor" is a long question to ask every round.

And yes, i realise that we're mostly 4e people, used to grids, and that "training" would make things quicker.  But generally, it takes just as long to make a quick sketch, and put down some dice-as-mini's as it does to answer the question once.  Let alone 4 times.

guides
List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
Power
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

If you allow out of game strategy and have your characters telepathically linked, then why not allow PCs to metagame a monster's strengths and weaknesses?

I comfortably assume that the PCs know more about combat than do the players, so the communication between players about how to set up their cooperation is a reasonable and justifiable out-of-game explanation for in-game actions.

At the same time, I am equally comfortable assuming that my *players* know more than their respective PCs know about most of the monsters in the game, having access to their respective books, compendiums, and web articles.

The difference lies in the presumed source of the information. Player talk regarding PC actions in combat is usually metagame supporting the simulation. Player talk regarding monster facts is usually metagame undermining the simulation.
Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.
I agree with you both, and I think that is the point of the system.  You use the method that works best for you, and this can change depending on the situation.



I once again agree with and support this person's perspective.  


For what it's worth, my group found that playing without minis was much faster.  However, at the time it was mostly ranged fighting so precise locations were not as important.


I think the most important point is that the rules support both, and you should use whatever you're comfortable with.

Strange. My experience is that TotM is about 3x faster than using mini's. My play group are big on mini's but they all concede that TotM is faster. That doesn't make it better or anything but this is the first place I've heard anyone conclude that TotM is slower than minis.

I mean I'm an avid war gamer. I play mini's systems designed specifically for combat simulation. Its not fast. Its specific, and visually appealing but fast it isn't. 
I firmly believe that both Theatre of the Mind and use of battle-map and physical representation of characters involved are equally fast and equally slow.

Theatre of the mind, when used for combat in open terrain (sparse woods, plains, open caverns, a city square instead of a city street, etc.) or for combat only involving a small number of enemies is worlds faster than drawing out the area and throwing down minis.

Map and minis, when used for combat in complex terrain (a chamber full of pillars, a cramped and twisting cave formation, a bridge over a moat leading into a fort with overturned wagons for cover on the non-fort side, a city street littered with merchant stalls, wagons, stacks of crates and barrels, alleyways and balconies, etc.) or involving large numbers of enemies - or even enemies coming into the battle from multiple directions is worlds faster than handling the situation with Theatre of the Mind.

There is no universally "best" method, just the best method for each encounter based on that encounter's details.

One thing I can say, however, is that I have never been able to manage a quicker pace than 1 Map+Mini encounter per hour (regardless of system used) due to the time spent removing one map and setting up the next... and not having a poster map ready to go for every encounter to speed things up.

My personal pace with Theatre of the Mind encounters, however, is around 3 an hour on average.

I hold the personal preferrence to run most encounters TotM, but to include some Map+Mini encounters were they fit into the campaign - whether it be through complex terrain, or encounter scale.

ATTENTION:  If while reading my post you find yourself thinking "Either this guy is being sarcastic, or he is an idiot," do please assume that I am an idiot. It makes reading your replies more entertaining. If, however, you find yourself hoping that I am not being even remotely serious then you are very likely correct as I find irreverence and being ridiculous to be relaxing.

I've always found battle-map combat to be painfully slow. Not because battle-map combat is inferior, but because it changes the players into "optimization" mode. In battle-map combat, I find the players spend incredible amounts of time trying to move their characters into the optimal positions to do whatever they are trying to do. To them, the roleplaying often becomes subordinate to the rules. In TotM, they're more concerned about doing cool things. Once you get the players into the mindset that absolute position doesn't matter at all and you just want them to be awesome, TotM becomes incredibly fast and super-fun.

I'm not knocking battle-map combat in any way, 'cause I actually love me some strategic table-top combat. It's when it grinds an RPG to a halt for the next two hours that it makes me cry. Cry


It's funny.  Until I came to these forums I never noticed that 4e combat was slower than 3e, and until I read this thread I never noticed that TotM combat was slower than using the grid.  I'm sure I'll take a lot of criticism for this, but maybe players just take longer when they don't feel comfortable playing the game a certain way?  In my experience, the more practice a person has in something, the faster they can do it.  It applies to pretty much every other activity in the universe, so why not D&D combat?




Great point!

One factor that makes using grid more time consuming is that DM has to set up the map and place minis.  Also, often the DM has to make the grid prior to the game, or draw it on the spot.  That takes time.

I'm really enjoying playing with ToTM again after so many years of grid and minis.  I'm looking forward to more interesting 5e sessions that mix and match - 3 totm skirmishes, 1 larger grid battle, roleplaying/interaction and exploration all in 2 1/2 to 3 hours.  That will be awesome! 

A Brave Knight of WTF - "Wielder of the Sword of Balance"

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

I've always found battle-map combat to be painfully slow. Not because battle-map combat is inferior, but because it changes the players into "optimization" mode. In battle-map combat, I find the players spend incredible amounts of time trying to move their characters into the optimal positions to do whatever they are trying to do. To them, the roleplaying often becomes subordinate to the rules. In TotM, they're more concerned about doing cool things. Once you get the players into the mindset that absolute position doesn't matter at all and you just want them to be awesome, TotM becomes incredibly fast and super-fun.

This is an excellent point, and for more reasons than you describe.

My friends are, for the most part, perpetually in "optimization mode."  That's why they have to know the exact distances and relationships to all characters and monsters at all times.  TotM, for them, would be really slow because I'd have to answer positioning questions all the time.

For people in "role-playing/narrative mode," minis are undoubtedly slower.  I'm sure they're also slower when position is moot (one big bad enemy in a featureless plain), regardless of how "optimize-y" the players are feeling.

I'm running the playtest with a different group this weekend, and I've never played with them before, so I'm not sure what their style is like.  I'll try TotM and see what happens.

"Edison didn't succeed the first time he invented Benjamin Franklin, either." Albert the Alligator, Walt Kelly's Pogo Sunday Book  
The Core Coliseum: test out your 4e builds and fight to the death.

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