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    Orc in the Playground
     
    MonkGuy

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    Default Theatre of the Mind: yay or nay?

    In looking for ways to speed up combat in 5E I came across this:

    https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/amp.r...nd_tothepoint/

    Tldr: it describes a general approach where you view combat as intermingled with the rest of the adventure as much as you can. It emphasises keeping sight of the objective, both for the DM and the players. Keep in mind what the party and the monsters are actually trying to accomplish by fighting and a lot of fights can be cut short: monsters might surrender, flee, or fight to the foregone conclusion without having to play out the last couple of rounds. The story moves on with no need to get bogged down in the combat system.

    I really like this whole idea, but one things that jumps out at me is that the author says they use theatre of the mind combat. Now that makes a lot of sense with this approach to combat, since drawing out a map and placing miniatures down not only eats up time but, I think, gets everyone in the "fight mode" headspace, sort of like the screen whooshing and the battle music starting in a Final Fantasy game. It seems to me that as a player, psychologically, I would find it harder to think of the battle as just one more part of the adventure, and not as a mini game scenario to be played out in full, with a battlegrid and minis in front of me. Some players might even feel sort of cheated, I suspect. The author suggests wrapping up a combat once it gets one-sided in the PCs' favour by, for example, just stating that the remaining monsters flee. Now the players decide whether to let them go or chase them. I suspect that with the grid in front of them, a good many players would a) be more likely to give chase without even considering that they could choose not to and b) would expect to play out the chase on the grid using combat rules and might feel cheated if you said "ok now make Athletics checks to catch up" or whatever.

    All of which suggests theatre of the mind really would work better for this kind of approach. But I have to say there are a couple of things grid-based combat does that I really like:

    A) it makes it easier to design spaces in which PCs (and monsters) can interact with the environment in a meaningful way, with difficult terrain and cover and so on.

    B) it creates a shared objective reality for the fighting to take place in. Everyone can see exactly how far they can move, which enemies they can and can't target, who has cover, when the rogue can get a sneak attack and so on. To me, this definite-ness is really important, since it means that every little decision counts, and that being able to move that extra five feet because you chose to play a wood elf can be the difference between success or failure. To me that's a big thrill and I suspect it would be harder to get with TotM combat.

    Am I wrong? Does anyone use TotM? Or does anyone use the grid but still make the fast-and-integrated approach work?

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Theatre of the Mind: yay or nay?

    Quote Originally Posted by HidesHisEyes View Post
    In looking for ways to speed up combat in 5E I came across this:

    https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/amp.r...nd_tothepoint/

    Tldr: it describes a general approach where you view combat as intermingled with the rest of the adventure as much as you can. It emphasises keeping sight of the objective, both for the DM and the players. Keep in mind what the party and the monsters are actually trying to accomplish by fighting and a lot of fights can be cut short: monsters might surrender, flee, or fight to the foregone conclusion without having to play out the last couple of rounds. The story moves on with no need to get bogged down in the combat system.

    I really like this whole idea, but one things that jumps out at me is that the author says they use theatre of the mind combat. Now that makes a lot of sense with this approach to combat, since drawing out a map and placing miniatures down not only eats up time but, I think, gets everyone in the "fight mode" headspace, sort of like the screen whooshing and the battle music starting in a Final Fantasy game. It seems to me that as a player, psychologically, I would find it harder to think of the battle as just one more part of the adventure, and not as a mini game scenario to be played out in full, with a battlegrid and minis in front of me. Some players might even feel sort of cheated, I suspect. The author suggests wrapping up a combat once it gets one-sided in the PCs' favour by, for example, just stating that the remaining monsters flee. Now the players decide whether to let them go or chase them. I suspect that with the grid in front of them, a good many players would a) be more likely to give chase without even considering that they could choose not to and b) would expect to play out the chase on the grid using combat rules and might feel cheated if you said "ok now make Athletics checks to catch up" or whatever.

    All of which suggests theatre of the mind really would work better for this kind of approach. But I have to say there are a couple of things grid-based combat does that I really like:

    A) it makes it easier to design spaces in which PCs (and monsters) can interact with the environment in a meaningful way, with difficult terrain and cover and so on.

    B) it creates a shared objective reality for the fighting to take place in. Everyone can see exactly how far they can move, which enemies they can and can't target, who has cover, when the rogue can get a sneak attack and so on. To me, this definite-ness is really important, since it means that every little decision counts, and that being able to move that extra five feet because you chose to play a wood elf can be the difference between success or failure. To me that's a big thrill and I suspect it would be harder to get with TotM combat.

    Am I wrong? Does anyone use TotM? Or does anyone use the grid but still make the fast-and-integrated approach work?
    I use both TotM and miniatures back and forth, and about as often. Depends on the setup and what I want the fight to focus on.

    I run TotM when the dungeon is too large to draw easily or the combat is pretty simplistic in nature or not overly important to the main narrative. Sometimes I'll then mix things up by suddenly pulling out a map for the one or two big fights in a session, then go right back to TotM.

    I'd say try a similar approach a few times, and note the difference in feel. Some players will get frustrated with TotM. Try to tell them not to think so rigidly, and throw them a bone with what they're trying to do. If they say "I'm trying to stay far enough back in the room to not be attacked!", let them make some sort of skill check to accomplish that, maybe finding something to hide behind or figuring out the best tactical spot in the room to snipe from. Let the fighter play the Big Damn Hero and hand-wave threat range as 'yeah, you're threatening ALL of them' regardless of how impossible that would be on a grid. Let the wizard make arcana checks to determine how many enemies they can safely cook with a fireball. They'll settle into the idea that skill checks circumvent the need for precision, especially if you give them a wide berth to get away with things they couldn't do on a grid.

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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Tanarii's Avatar

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    Default Re: Theatre of the Mind: yay or nay?

    It's very difficult not to confuse your players with ToTM if there are more than a few of them, or they are fighting a large group of enemies, or the situation is complex tactically.

    That said, I still prefer it. Because battle-mat tends to:
    1) Cause a huge break right at the start of combat as you set up. The start of combat should be the quickest and most scary part for players. Pausing to set up a battle mat makes it very un-scary.
    2) Ensure combat will think in combat terms during an encounter. They're less likely to try and stop or escape combat. Battle mat = combat & define the arena of combat, in the mind of most players.
    2) Slow down player's turns, as they try to take a more tactically significant turn.
    3) Lock players into thinking on the grid and of their character as a mini. It tends to suppress non-linear / out-of-box thinking.

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    Orc in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Theatre of the Mind: yay or nay?

    I despise totm outside of chase scenes or very quick combat segments.

    How do I judge, as a DM, whether the sorcerer can hit five kobolds or six with his fireball? Many times do I have to answer questions like 'with thirty feet of movement, can I get to the wizard?'

    Roll 20 and other such tools are essential to keep combat flowing, though.

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    Default Re: Theatre of the Mind: yay or nay?

    Works fine in certain encounters, such as fights with a single enemy. When multiple enemies are involved and people start dropping AoE, don't use it.
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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Theatre of the Mind: yay or nay?

    here's what i do. prepare a basic image of the layout of any area that the party will be fighting in if it's complex enough just so they can get a visual idea of the space (ie: ok so this part is elevated and there's kinda tall grass or a shallow pool here etc.) but aside from that everything else is TotM.

    I find that this way the players are way less likely to get confused as to what is going on where, but you dont have the clunky time wasting of sliding pieces from square to square every two seconds.
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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Theatre of the Mind: yay or nay?

    In my experience, TotM results in a great deal of confusion on nearly every person's turn. People are not sure what is going on, and where they are in relation to each other, they find it difficult to keep track of how many opponents there are, who can get hit in range, what the cover and source of cover might be and how to circumvent it... etc etc etc. and these decisions the GM makes feel more like pure fiat every time.

    TotM is a frustrating nightmare for me.

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    Default Re: Theatre of the Mind: yay or nay?

    Quote Originally Posted by strangebloke View Post
    How do I judge, as a DM, whether the sorcerer can hit five kobolds or six with his fireball? Many times do I have to answer questions like 'with thirty feet of movement, can I get to the wizard?'
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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Theatre of the Mind: yay or nay?

    We resolve most combat with TotM and bust out the map when someone asks or things get confusing. If it's a small encounter with little terrain concerns that will be over in a couple combat rounds, the theater is fine.

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    Default Re: Theatre of the Mind: yay or nay?

    I play mainly with TotM as we don't have a grid or anything like that, i, sometimes, print maps for some boss encounters.

    So... i guess... Yay?

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    Default Re: Theatre of the Mind: yay or nay?

    Quote Originally Posted by Matrix_Walker View Post
    In my experience, TotM results in a great deal of confusion on nearly every person's turn. People are not sure what is going on, and where they are in relation to each other, they find it difficult to keep track of how many opponents there are, who can get hit in range, what the cover and source of cover might be and how to circumvent it... etc etc etc. and these decisions the GM makes feel more like pure fiat every time.

    TotM is a frustrating nightmare for me.
    I'm not a huge fan, but I've used it a few times and it's ran ok. However, you need a very descriptive DM and mature, attentive players that are willing to go with the flow a bit. If you have players that constantly argue about how many creatures they want to hit, or look up from their phone on their turn and don't know what's happening, it's not going to work. At all. Whenever I do it I tend to revert to Numenera's idea of Close, Medium and Long descriptions for distances instead of using feet. It's a lot easier to say "Jurgon, you have 3 Orcs at close distance surrounding you, you see 2 Orcs have sprinted toward Kenra and are at Long distance as they try to shut down the ranger. Thartrik is going one on one with the Ogre to your left at medium distance and he seems to be losing."

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    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Theatre of the Mind: yay or nay?

    I use a grid, for pretty much exactly as you stated, Hides.

    I've been starting to naturally speed up combat though, especially when it becomes one-sided.

    Last session, the players were fighting Hamun Kost and his 12 zombies in LMoP. After taking out Hamun, the cleric managed to Turn 6 zombies. The party cut (very slowly, due to lack of crits/radiant and lucky Con saves) the remaining down. Then decided to chase the 6 remaining zombies who were dashing away 40' a round. I just hand waved the combat. I didn't really want to play out another 20 minutes of "you don't do enough damage to defeat the zombie" while the zombies wiff against the players.

    Given the game I'm running has a specific ending time every evening, I'll probably utilize quick combat resolution more often. Once it becomes apparent that the party is out of trouble, I'll just declare them the winners.

    I am a little concerned over resource utilization though. Seems cheap to not require any expenditure, but also seems unfair to have an arbitrary loss of ammunition and HPs... Anyone have thoughts on that aspect?
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    Default Re: Theatre of the Mind: yay or nay?

    Back in the days, we didn't use grids or movement rules or miniatures, but we did often use hand-scribbled mapping of combat just to keep everyone on the same page and prevent any "no wait you said..." moments.
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    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Theatre of the Mind: yay or nay?

    Quote Originally Posted by Theodoxus View Post
    I am a little concerned over resource utilization though. Seems cheap to not require any expenditure, but also seems unfair to have an arbitrary loss of ammunition and HPs... Anyone have thoughts on that aspect?
    If you or your players are the kind of people who care about this level of minutia (tracking ammunition), then you probably shouldn't use quick resolution. The whole point of using these kind of shortcuts is to save time and not worry about stuff like ammo or a few hit points.

    If you still go with quick resolution, just assume it costs the players nothing and treat it as a gift from DM to players.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Theatre of the Mind: yay or nay?

    Sometimes staying off the grid removes some of the flavor of the fight, and I have a few players that enjoy the tactical mini-game aspect of fighting on the grid. It makes it easier for them to use things like jumping in for a sneak attack and then disengaging, using terrain, hiding, using cover, etc.

    On the other hand, sometimes staying off the grid adds a whole new level of flavor to the fight. The other night I had my party, who is in a swamp, come across a giant poisonous snake. They paused, faced it down, and it eventually just decided to slither away. As it slid off the path and into the water of the swamp, suddenly the coils of a gigantic constrictor snake erupted out of the algae-covered water, enveloping the poisonous snake, and further coils grabbed one of the party members. A round later, another set of coils lunged out of the water and grabbed yet another party member. After a few rounds of fighting what they thought was three giant constrictor snakes, it gradually became clear to them that this was all one giant snake, and that sort of blew their minds. On a grid, it would have been hard to pull off the positioning of all these coils in relation to where the party members were standing or where they moved to, etc., but in TotM I got to use the inherent fuzziness and slight confusion to play up the fact that this enormous snake just seemed to be everywhere.

    So I go back and forth.

    I also do handwave the end of fights quite often. Fights are only fun, IMO, when the outcome is still not obvious. But if we're fighting two dozen goblins, when the party finally breaks them, the survivors are going to just flee off screen - if the party wants to capture one or more, it will just happen. I'm not going to sit through five rounds of the goblin disengaging and dashing, and the party chasing, before one of them finally fails a constitution check to dash and either catches it or gets away. That's fun once, maybe, but not after every fight. They only have to actually play it out if there are any actual consequences for failing to chase the enemy down.

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    Orc in the Playground
     
    MonkGuy

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    Default Re: Theatre of the Mind: yay or nay?

    Quote Originally Posted by Armored Walrus View Post
    Sometimes staying off the grid removes some of the flavor of the fight, and I have a few players that enjoy the tactical mini-game aspect of fighting on the grid. It makes it easier for them to use things like jumping in for a sneak attack and then disengaging, using terrain, hiding, using cover, etc.

    On the other hand, sometimes staying off the grid adds a whole new level of flavor to the fight. The other night I had my party, who is in a swamp, come across a giant poisonous snake. They paused, faced it down, and it eventually just decided to slither away. As it slid off the path and into the water of the swamp, suddenly the coils of a gigantic constrictor snake erupted out of the algae-covered water, enveloping the poisonous snake, and further coils grabbed one of the party members. A round later, another set of coils lunged out of the water and grabbed yet another party member. After a few rounds of fighting what they thought was three giant constrictor snakes, it gradually became clear to them that this was all one giant snake, and that sort of blew their minds. On a grid, it would have been hard to pull off the positioning of all these coils in relation to where the party members were standing or where they moved to, etc., but in TotM I got to use the inherent fuzziness and slight confusion to play up the fact that this enormous snake just seemed to be everywhere.

    So I go back and forth.

    I also do handwave the end of fights quite often. Fights are only fun, IMO, when the outcome is still not obvious. But if we're fighting two dozen goblins, when the party finally breaks them, the survivors are going to just flee off screen - if the party wants to capture one or more, it will just happen. I'm not going to sit through five rounds of the goblin disengaging and dashing, and the party chasing, before one of them finally fails a constitution check to dash and either catches it or gets away. That's fun once, maybe, but not after every fight. They only have to actually play it out if there are any actual consequences for failing to chase the enemy down.
    This going back and forth seems like a good policy. A while back, though, I sprung a random encounter on a party with a handful of goblins that was supposed to be a nuisance encounter (I was using Angry DM's time dice system and this was the consequence of dawdling and being noisy), and I said "I'm not gonna use the grid for this" but the players immediately insisted that we did use it. Going forward I guess I should just explain that I want to runs things in such a way that sometimes the grid is appropriate and other times it's not, but my point is that grid really has a way of defining the way the game works. Players get to rely on it, or perhaps they just like it.

    Anyway, thanks for the input everyone. The more I DM the harder it gets, that is one thing I can be sure of!

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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Theatre of the Mind: yay or nay?

    Quote Originally Posted by mephnick View Post
    I'm not a huge fan, but I've used it a few times and it's ran ok. However, you need a very descriptive DM and mature, attentive players that are willing to go with the flow a bit. If you have players that constantly argue about how many creatures they want to hit, or look up from their phone on their turn and don't know what's happening, it's not going to work. At all. Whenever I do it I tend to revert to Numenera's idea of Close, Medium and Long descriptions for distances instead of using feet. It's a lot easier to say "Jurgon, you have 3 Orcs at close distance surrounding you, you see 2 Orcs have sprinted toward Kenra and are at Long distance as they try to shut down the ranger. Thartrik is going one on one with the Ogre to your left at medium distance and he seems to be losing."
    I can see how that might work for some, but if I have allot of goodies in my toolkit, I want see what my best choices are with a glance... Does close mean I can break up my attacks amongst them, or get more than 2 in an area effect? Who should I move next to for my rogue buddy to best sneak attack, and if it's not the guy I attacked, do I have enough move left after the step I took to get into melee range... Sure these things can be answered if you ask a bunch of questions, but you may forget to ask certain things that would be immediately apparent at a glance...

    So, if the GM doesn't bust out the battle matt, I ask for it.

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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Theatre of the Mind: yay or nay?

    Quote Originally Posted by Armored Walrus View Post
    Sometimes staying off the grid removes some of the flavor of the fight, and I have a few players that enjoy the tactical mini-game aspect of fighting on the grid. It makes it easier for them to use things like jumping in for a sneak attack and then disengaging, using terrain, hiding, using cover, etc.
    Agreed, much much easier.
    Quote Originally Posted by Armored Walrus View Post
    On the other hand, sometimes staying off the grid adds a whole new level of flavor to the fight. The other night I had my party, who is in a swamp, come across a giant poisonous snake. They paused, faced it down, and it eventually just decided to slither away. As it slid off the path and into the water of the swamp, suddenly the coils of a gigantic constrictor snake erupted out of the algae-covered water, enveloping the poisonous snake, and further coils grabbed one of the party members. A round later, another set of coils lunged out of the water and grabbed yet another party member. After a few rounds of fighting what they thought was three giant constrictor snakes, it gradually became clear to them that this was all one giant snake, and that sort of blew their minds. On a grid, it would have been hard to pull off the positioning of all these coils in relation to where the party members were standing or where they moved to, etc., but in TotM I got to use the inherent fuzziness and slight confusion to play up the fact that this enormous snake just seemed to be everywhere.

    So I go back and forth.
    See, this sort of thing is why TotM is a problem for me. It seems like your players were more confused about the situation than their characters should have been. If the line and flow of the creature would give it away, but since the players can't see it (while the characters should be able to) they made different assumptions... Thats not a feature. Being stressed about not understandng what is being described is different than feeling the tension of the story.

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    Tanarii's Avatar

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    Default Re: Theatre of the Mind: yay or nay?

    Quote Originally Posted by Matrix_Walker View Post
    but since the players can't see it (while the characters should be able to) they made different assumptions
    Battlemats generally give FAR more information than the character could reasonably be expected to see. That's one of my favorite things about TotM. It gives the right about of 'fog of war' to replicate what combat should probably feel like. Panicky, not enough time to make decisions, and unable to tell much accurately other than 'there's some orcs over there attacking Alice and I'm probably in range to shoot them with Acid Splash'.

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    Default Re: Theatre of the Mind: yay or nay?

    Quote Originally Posted by Matrix_Walker View Post
    In my experience, TotM results in a great deal of confusion on nearly every person's turn. People are not sure what is going on, and where they are in relation to each other, they find it difficult to keep track of how many opponents there are, who can get hit in range, what the cover and source of cover might be and how to circumvent it... etc etc etc. and these decisions the GM makes feel more like pure fiat every time.

    TotM is a frustrating nightmare for me.
    This has generally been my experience as well-- If nothing else, it absolutely will not speed up your encounter. Especially if you have players trying to be tactical and make careful choices. I think the game works best somewhere in between-- you don't want to snap to a grid or take twenty minutes to draw a careful map, but you don't want pure anarchy either. Take thirty seconds to sketch out the battlefield, maybe throw in some coins or dice to represent characters ("you guys are here, by this low hill; the orc archers are on the other side of this ditch here, and there's some thick growth and ponds down here"), and then generally proceed in a TotM fashion, keeping track of everyone's approximate position on your crude sketch.
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    Default Re: Theatre of the Mind: yay or nay?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Battlemats generally give FAR more information than the character could reasonably be expected to see. That's one of my favorite things about TotM. It gives the right about of 'fog of war' to replicate what combat should probably feel like. Panicky, not enough time to make decisions, and unable to tell much accurately other than 'there's some orcs over there attacking Alice and I'm probably in range to shoot them with Acid Splash'.
    I totally agree and I love this idea, but at the same time I love the tactical combat rules of 5E and I think that despite the DMG's section on TotM, the rules really are geared towards the grid.

    I am having a genuine crisis over this!

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    Default Re: Theatre of the Mind: yay or nay?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    If nothing else, it absolutely will not speed up your encounter.
    I've played and run 5e both battle mat and TotM.

    TotM is universally faster, just comparing with the same DMs, me or someone else. Every single time.

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    Default Re: Theatre of the Mind: yay or nay?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    I've played and run 5e both battle mat and TotM.

    TotM is universally faster, just comparing with the same DMs, me or someone else. Every single time.
    This has been my experience as well.
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    Default Re: Theatre of the Mind: yay or nay?

    Quote Originally Posted by Matrix_Walker View Post
    Agreed, much much easier.

    See, this sort of thing is why TotM is a problem for me. It seems like your players were more confused about the situation than their characters should have been. If the line and flow of the creature would give it away, but since the players can't see it (while the characters should be able to) they made different assumptions... Thats not a feature. Being stressed about not understandng what is being described is different than feeling the tension of the story.
    No, that's the point, the characters wouldn't have been able to see it. They were busy fighting for their lives, in a muddy, swampy, wet environment, the coils came up from all around them. The bulk of the snake would still have been below the water, and the characters could only percieve the parts of it that they were interacting with. The fact that it was all one monstrous creature wouldn't dawn on them immediately because the thought of something that huge would go against the characters' expectations given they had interacted with other giant snakes and had an idea of how big they were and what they were capable of.

    If this had been on a grid in front of them, where they could pinpoint where every attack was occuring, it would have been harder to convey the shock and awe that the encounter was meant to have.

    Edit: To the point in your post that preceded the one I quoted above; I have a couple players that also enjoy the tactical minigame aspect of D&D, and that's why I do make sure there are a few opportunities for a mapped combat in each session in addition to whatever unmapped fights happen. The point of having the two options is that at times it's not the fight itself that's important, but the narrative around the fight. Other times it's about posing a complicated tactical situation and letting the players try to solve it via optimal tactical decisions. Two different flavors, two different approaches. It's why I use both methods. Some of my players will be frustrated by the unmapped fights, some of my players will be bored by the mapped ones, all in all, I try to strike a balance that makes the session fun for everyone.
    Last edited by Armored Walrus; 2017-08-09 at 07:18 PM.

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    Default Re: Theatre of the Mind: yay or nay?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    I've played and run 5e both battle mat and TotM.

    TotM is universally faster, just comparing with the same DMs, me or someone else. Every single time.
    That has not been my experience. I've had good TotM encounters that flowed nicely, and I've had TotM encounters that got bogged down by "okay, who's still standing? I go for the-- oh, he's too far away to reach? How many can I hit with this power? Where was the shaman again?" Occasionally with the same GM. TotM gets harder and harder the more characters (PC and NPC) are involved in the fight.
    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    Grod's Law: You cannot and should not balance bad mechanics by making them annoying to use
    Major Works

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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    May 2016

    Default Re: Theatre of the Mind: yay or nay?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    That has not been my experience. I've had good TotM encounters that flowed nicely, and I've had TotM encounters that got bogged down by "okay, who's still standing? I go for the-- oh, he's too far away to reach? How many can I hit with this power? Where was the shaman again?" Occasionally with the same GM. TotM gets harder and harder the more characters (PC and NPC) are involved in the fight.
    Yeah, I've seen that from time to time in my own game. I got off the grid because we were in the middle of a dungeon crawl, playing on roll20, and the whole experience started feeling too much like a video game. I (over)reacted to that by trying to remove the grid completely in all aspects of play. I've compromised since then and begun to develop a feel of which fights need a grid and which don't.

    To the OP. I read the final question in your post finally. I can say that it is possible to handwave the wrap up stage of combat even on a grid. Either they flee off the map or you can tip the mini over as the combatant drops its weapons and cowers, surrendering. If they feel the need to pursue, either that's now a new encounter, basically, and you can make that as complicated an exciting as the battle itself, or you can offer them one shot with their bow, and if it hits, it drops them, if it misses they get away, or just assume they catch the runner, or whatever works best in a given situation.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Jan 2017

    Default Re: Theatre of the Mind: yay or nay?

    Totm is awful. I get that not every DM has the ability, time and money to make or source good battlemaps, but I'll take even a rudimentary grid with black lines for walls over over the Quantum entanglement mess that is trying to do D&D combat mentally. There are systems that can be played mentally, D&D is not one of those systems.
    Last edited by War_lord; 2017-08-09 at 08:15 PM.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    May 2016

    Default Re: Theatre of the Mind: yay or nay?

    It's a little insulting to assume that a DM choosing not to use a grid for a battle is displaying a lack of ability or means. One method is not intrinsically better than the other, which is why both methods exist and get used. You may have a preference of one over the other, but that doesn't make the other method wrong.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Jan 2017

    Default Re: Theatre of the Mind: yay or nay?

    No, using a grid is intrinsically better for D&D. "30 feet" on a grid of 5 foot squares is 6 squares. 30 feet of movement in the DM's head means nothing, even if they have a photographic memory the players don't. You could, of course, design a system that doesn't rely on exact positions and movements, but that's not the D&D system.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    May 2016

    Default Re: Theatre of the Mind: yay or nay?

    No, using a grid allows you to apply the combat rules as written directly, that's true. That does not automatically equate to better. In some instances, the feel of a combat works better without the grid, in some instances it works better with it. Similarly, using an automated character sheet makes it easier to apply encumbrance rules, track ammo, etc. But that wouldn't automatically result in a better game than playing at a table that handwaves or flat out ignores those rules.

    Again, you may have a preference, but that doesn't automatically make one better than the other. D&D works just fine without a grid, as evidenced by the tables that run it that way habitually.

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