gull2112
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Not using figures!

Wed 08 Sep 2021, 18:07

I know using figures in combat is sine qua non in RPGs, but I intend to go full narrative in TOR 2E. What I mean by that, is that I will not be using figures or detailed maps for combat, but I will still be using dice.

I find that using figures and floor plans makes combat feel less fluid and more mechanical. This does require more from the players, as they need to imagine the combat. Too often, when using figures, combat involves two opponents, a hex apart, swinging at each other. [yawn] Without figures and hex counting, when describing combat, characters can run and jump, summersault and swing, be... Heroic! My players know that the more dramatic and epic their descriptions, the more likely I am going to allow them to roll for it, and the more cool their success will be. When we first started playing this way they were still very stiff and colorless, but once the more adventurous got into it, they all got into it. Of course, I draw the line if it becomes too cartoonish or silly, or involves something their characters obviously can't do (like flying around, or outrunning a galloping horse), but more often, if they are quite specific as to how the hero is accomplishing the feat, they themselves reign in the worst excesses.

I am curious if others have tried playing this way, and what their experiences have been.
 
Mythicos
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Re: Not using figures!

Wed 08 Sep 2021, 18:37

I have NEVER played TOR with miniatures.

To be honest, I burned out on combat maps and miniatures during my D&D 3rd edition days.

While nothing prevents you from using them with TOR, there's also no rules that really make use of them.

So unless it's to clear out a confusing situation for the benefit of the players, combat is strictly Theater-of-the-Mind for us.
 
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eternalsage
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Re: Not using figures!

Wed 08 Sep 2021, 22:44

Yea, I used minis a little in the 3rd ed D&D days (early in my career as a GM), but my second system was New World of Darkness (specifically Werewolf: the Forsaken) which did not specify minis (3rd ed D&D made it seem like you had to have them to play, the descriptions of combat and everything are laid out on a grid and talk about line of sight and all kinds of crazy crap like that). Since it didn't specify minis I didn't bother. At first I used a dry erase board and a 3 inch piece of string marked every 1/4 inch (i was equating a yard with a 1/4 inch) that I would use to measure distances. I would rough in scenery with boxes and scribbles.

After doing that for awhile, my group started playing HERO system, but I decided I didn't want to go back to putting things in hexes. HERO had a secondary unit of measure of "inches" (because hexes are an inch across on old wargames, apparently) so I just took that literally and continued the white board experiment with a new switch... I stopped drawing the scenery. After a few months, I stopped using the board and started saying "oh, your speedster can definitely reach the villain in one turn, everyone else will take 2." It was a revelation.

That was 2008 and I have never used a map since. After playing FATE and Black Hack which have very narrative movement in combat (I adore Black Hack's use of descriptors for the different ranges: saying things like "I attack the Nearby orc" actually has a discreet meaning, and spells target "all Distant enemies" or something like that... really sweet) and then TOR 1e which doesn't even have movement rules in combat and I have managed to hone my "no-map" skills considerably.

I find the core need is to establish early on the general scenery and train players to ask questions about their surroundings. If you are playing a Pirates of the Caribbean themed game, make note of chandeliers and stair rails and any other objects that the players might want to do stuff with, and if you don't have a thing, they know they can ask "hey, this is a banquet, are there pies?" "um, yes, that seems reasonable" "I want to grab a pie and hit my enemy in the face with it to blind him temporarily!" "lol, sure. Give me a Thrown Weapons roll (or whatever)." This approach has led to superheroes throwing cars, spies diving through storefront windows as a shortcut during chases, and an attempt to climb/tie up a dragon. Very fun, and as you said, my players have taken too it. One of my players recently tried their hand at GMing 5th ed D&D, and they never once paid any attention to the movement rules. I was proud. LOL.
“It is useless to meet revenge with revenge; it will heal nothing.” - Frodo Baggins, Return of the King
 
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Anders Molin
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Re: Not using figures!

Thu 09 Sep 2021, 15:56

I know using figures in combat is sine qua non in RPGs D&D
Fixed that for you! :)

I have played many different systems over the last 35 years and 98 percent have been "theatre of the mind"-style combat, backed up by varying degrees of crunchiness in the rules.
 
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eternalsage
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Re: Not using figures!

Thu 09 Sep 2021, 19:23

While D&D is the only system I know that actively references minis in the text, any system that measures movement in some form or has rules that in anyway reference facing (i.e. getting a sneak attack etc if attacking from behind) is presuming minis. And that covers a HUGE swath of RPGs.
“It is useless to meet revenge with revenge; it will heal nothing.” - Frodo Baggins, Return of the King
 
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Anders Molin
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Re: Not using figures!

Fri 10 Sep 2021, 12:27

I can certainly see how minis help with visualising relative positions, but I have played a number of systems with mechanics for facing, flanking etc that in no way presumed minis.

So as a general word of encouragement to the OP: you shouldn't feel as if you are trying something outlandishly unthinkable here - go full-tilt narrative and enjoy the freedom!
 
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eternalsage
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Re: Not using figures!

Fri 10 Sep 2021, 15:17

I'm not trying to argue here friend. I'm not saying you can't play them that way. I have, you have, many people have.

What I'm saying is those kind of mechanics do not naturally lend themselves to map-less play because those are things that get confusing really quickly and in my experience get handwaved away when doing them in this style. That is what I mean. Those mechanics are made for maps, even if the system text never mention maps its obvious that is what the author intended or subconsciously assumed it would be played.

This is not to say those games are bad or that somehow you are a bad gm or anything crazy like that. Just pointing out that only a handful of games were purposefully built from the ground up with no maps or minis in mind. Most games are at least assuming that you have those because so many RPGs do and so many GMs and players use them. Maps and minis have been the status quo for a long time but games like TOR, Black Hack, and FATE are gradually changing that.
“It is useless to meet revenge with revenge; it will heal nothing.” - Frodo Baggins, Return of the King
 
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jamesrbrown
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Re: Not using figures!

Fri 10 Sep 2021, 21:51

I'm a theater-of-the-mind kind of guy myself. I don't like how movement and battle tactics take too long to decide when trying to tell a story. However, I think there might be tremendous benefit to include some type of player tokens or minis during a game of TOR, primarily for the management of engagements and the separation of ranged and close combatants. Whatever type of battle maps could be developed would need to be used, not as a precision map with distances, squares, or hexes, etc, but as a piece of visual art and a place to abstract general positions of fighters and locations or unique location advantages and disadvantages, etc. The maps and tokens used in Fantasy Flight Star Wars are a good example of what I am talking about, except that in TOR, they would be even more useful to the Loremaster due to the rules of combat. I think players like to visually see what they are up against as well. Basically, to me, minis and tokens are great for visuals and imagination, as long as the rules for movement are very simple and abstract, rather than precise, and character traits or special abilities are not tied to movement on a map. This is what I hated about Star Wars Saga Edition. Everything else I loved...well, except that keeping track of Feats got ridiculous and NPCs at higher levels were not easily created and managed, but this is now off-topic. LOL.
 
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eternalsage
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Re: Not using figures!

Fri 10 Sep 2021, 22:37

Yea, I have a battle mat I use for TOR that is just a visual reminder of stances and turn order. I adapted one someone else had made years ago for 1e.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1eV8ahA ... p=drivesdk

We just use pennies as tokens on the sheet. It works well but is totally not required. I only started using it because someone said it helped keep larger groups straight.

EDIT: Oh, I just realized you are James Brown. You are the guy I was talking about lol. Also loved your mass combat rules and Wild Adventures! Were you planning on updating those to 2e?
“It is useless to meet revenge with revenge; it will heal nothing.” - Frodo Baggins, Return of the King
 
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jamesrbrown
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Re: Not using figures!

Sat 11 Sep 2021, 00:58

EDIT: Oh, I just realized you are James Brown. You are the guy I was talking about lol. Also loved your mass combat rules and Wild Adventures! Were you planning on updating those to 2e?

I'm not sure what I will update or create next for TOR 2e! Honestly, I am just looking forward to playing the game and learning the new rules. I have a group that is wanting to form again and that is exciting. Once I get back into the swing of things, I'm sure something will come to mind. I can't help but create things. It is my nature. Probably the first thing that will happen is creating one-shots and adventure sites.

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