I'm looking for tips on how to show minitures in flight on a battlemat. Specifically, what if the flying monster is above the characters, physically over the squares their minis are occupying?
we have a supply of nice big 6-siders, and we set the face to show elevation. Usually only 1-4 stand for actual altitude level, and 5-6 means either way the heck up there or way, way, way the heck up there and the DM just keeps track of actual height. We have a few flying bases from W40K or maybe Battletech floating around, too, but the dice are more readily at hand.
There are very few times where putting something in the same square matters enough that just putting the critter in an adjacent square (preferably in an otherwise unoccupiable square, like over a wall) doesn't work equally well. When it does matter, we have used some other token to designate location - offhand I remember a small ball of tin foil, a miniature eraser shaped like a bee, a penny, and chit of paper - and then just set the mini to the side with an elevation marker written on the map/initiative board or noted with dice.
Sometimes with the die method simlar to FLAvatar, other times I use the clear plastic box my dice came in; it works great but only when you are a bit away from the action.
I have mini cards for each of my monsters and players have their own sheets, we keep track of each other's altitude via D8's on each character/monster sheet.
The little 3 legged plastic disk from in side a take out or delivery pizza.
I saved a couple for that express purpose.
We've done flying creatures/players a couple different ways. Sometimes we just say we're x number of squares high and just remember it or the DM will write it down.
The other way is we got some small 1 inch wooden cubes that fit the squares on our mats perfectly. So we'll put however many cubes on the square to lift the piece up.
And lastly in one of our old games everyone had a method of flight and we frequently had pure flying combats. One of our group built metal grids on short legs, three of them that can stack on top of each other to represent a 3D environment.
Chessex dice boxes.
They're about 2'' x 2'' and work great for flying, as you can take off the lid and stack it atop miniatures. So you can have someone flying above another mini. It's also possible to stack them two high if you use the lid as a connector, so you can have three layers of height.
Disposable transparent plastic cups, the "wine" ones with "feet" have a 2" diameter.
Also, "ketchup" paper cups as given out in cafeteria or quarter sweets vending machines are OK, but don't allow putting minis underneath.
Of course, dice to indicate altitude, though poker chips work, too (e.g. blue = 5", red = 1")
Most times we use a d6 (for smaller creatures) or a dice container (for larger creatures) under the mini, and write the altitude on the battle mat.
There are some times where do a "d-2 projection of a 3-d model" -- usually when there's a cliff or wall in play. Basically you just draw a line on the mat that indicates where two planes meet. e.g.
I use these elevated miniature stands from Game Mastery (paizo). Drop a die in the bottom to indicate the number of squares up.
We have that heroscape game and stack the board pieces up to show every 5' in height
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