Comments on 5e: The Grid — 7 Comments

  1. So… I just wrote you a long response, which WordPress then ate because it had a Captcha error…

    And of course, I trusted the machine and didn’t copy it first and so lost everything I wrote.

    Suffice it to say… I enjoy reading your blog (no sarcasm at all in this) because it reminds me that there are people out there who have radically different ideas about gaming from me and play in a radically different style.

    I agree with you that Wizards is likely going to fail in their D&D for Everybody approach. I disagree with just about everything else in this post. But it’s entirely too exhausting to try and recreate that response right now… maybe I’ll try again later.


  2. I feel your pain, re:Losing messages. I’ve developed a habit of Ctrl-a, Ctrl-c, notedpad, ctrl-v for any long post before I press “Send”. If it’s not a capcha error, it’s an internet glitch, timeout because I spent an hour writing the message (and the Internet assumes a ten minute attention span, at best), etc.

    I’d love a “D&D for everyone”; I love scalable systems, in general, where I can have as much or as little detail in an area as possible. I just have trouble seeing it work in D&D, especially with combat. How do you make a monster which challenges characters built using 1e/Basic methods (“I’m a fighter. I roll to hit. The end.”) AND which challenges someone built using 3e/4e methods? (“I’m a Two-Weapon Fighter (Mercenary Template) with Improved Critical, Bleeding Critical, four different Combat Tricks, and 5 Proficiency Points I can use to add special features to each of my attacks.” (I am making up some of these mechanics, but you get the idea.)) A lot of the rogue’s abilities in 3e, for example, dealt with avoiding AOOs; remove the grid, and those abilities might as well be “Improved Flower Arranging”. So, then, what does the rogue get in compensation, assuming that the class was balanced in part due to those abilities, which he now never gets? About the only thing I can think of is trying to tie class abilities, feats, or powers to the “modules” that use them, so “If you’re using tactical combat, rogues get +4 vs. opportunity attacks”, which is the sort of thing that works when the game is small (initial core release) but explodes to a nightmare of complexity when more modules are added, even worse if the modules are fine-grained — maybe you want a hex grid for movement but no AOOs, or you don’t use a grid, but have a simplified abstraction for AOOs (“Anytime someone moves past an armed combatant, that combatant can make a melee attack. In addition, the DM may rule some actions are complex or distracting enough (such as rooting through a bag for spell components, or trying to bandage a fallen ally) that an adjacent enemy can swing at the character as he performs the action.”)

    I won’t say it’s *impossible*. I will say, “It’s difficult, and the usual end result of trying to please everybody is pleasing nobody.”

    One thing which has occurred to me is that, to a certain extent, there’s only two real editions of D&D: 1974-1999, and 2000-Present. Those editions, other than sharing some very basic terms and a few conceptual similarities, are very different in mechanics and game philosophy, and trying to hammer them together into one unified edition is like trying to jam a square peg into you can’t make it drink.

    No, that’s not a typo.

    • Yeah, it sucks to lose a post. I usually do copy them when I’m on blogger but that’s the first one I’ve ever had eaten by WordPress. I’ll do it everywhere now.

      I agree with you – not Impossible but highly unlikely/improbable. I mean, just looking at something as simple as your point here… your groups ADD the grid to games that specifically don’t use it (M&M, WoD) and I do everything I can to take it out whenever possible. We’d have an awkward time gaming at the same table with a set of rules trying to accomodate us both.

      I think the points you make in your comment are spot on too. It’s not just “grid vs. no-grid” but also all the little rules that spawn from grid/no-grid. It really is like your final statement — square peg, no drink.

      As someone who has been around D&D a long time too though, I think 4E and 3/3.5 are conceptually different enough to say that they don’t fall in with each other as much as OD&D,1E, early 2E do. I’d say that late 2E was conceptually already thinking a little like 3E (I’m talking about Kits, Skills&Powers, etc.)

  3. Pingback: 5E, Friday, Fundamental Disagreement… « The Rhetorical Gamer

  4. I join among those that have lost a post 😛 I tried to send from my mobile, but I just keep getting captcha error, and I don’t seem able to copy the text to clipboard from this textarea. So, I’ll just write it again here.

    I kind of missed those games you described 🙂 on the other hand, I played such games mainly in very small groups and lead by a very good gm.

    I used to have an in-between option in my earlier 3E and Star Wars games, which worked really well. I used miniatures on tabletop but without the grid, using approximate distances, sometimes measuring with a side of a card. It worked really well in rpg’s (but I hate measuring in miniature games), and I tended to be generous towards pc’s, rounding distances a bit so player’s charge isn’t declined because the target is 1/3″ too far etc.

    But my 4E group insisted on grid because of the very mechanical nature of the game, and after using grid since beginning of 4E I’m afraid I can’t go back to gridless, even if I wanted to. I’m currently using Savage Worlds which has solid tabletop mechanics but without a grid, but I’m so used to grid I’m converting distances into squares – thankfully the game uses inches to measure distances so it’s almost automatic.

    But I still think gridless map would work better for a roleplaying game. Even if the combat is tactical, it’s not competitive like in rpg’s, and a gamemaster should be able to be a fair referee for unclear situations.

  5. One small thing to add to the ‘grids or no grids’ debate:


    Don’t forget the love that these little plastic figures bring. Some players/DMs love to show-off their mini’s. Some love to make the scale sets/terrain. Well painted mini’s and terrain are always appreciated, as much for their aesthetic value as their tactical value.

  6. I am more in the use figures as representation catagory – although we had to use a grid in some of the games. One of the gamers had an imagination problem. He imagined that he was everywhere at once 🙂

    Every one I know stopped playing D&D when it went to 4E. My first reaction was “They are trying to make it into a tabletop MMO” It really didn’t appeal to us.

    Pathfinder is ok, but I pine for the days of more imagination. The GM makes all the difference and the current ones are a little young yet 🙂

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