Movement and Position

Right, it’s house rule time again.

As we have seen, combat in fourth edition is written around tactical movement. Movement is measured in squares (not feet), combat manoeuvres, powers and feats demand that you move your character. The fact that the move action can no longer be used to take extra attacks, makes movement a much more attractive proposition than in third edition. In fact, if you play 4e then you’ll want to move your character – I’ve played a ranger and personally testify that this is the case.

As a result of all this, the need to know where everything is on the battlefield (to within one square) is of much greater importance than it ever has been. That ethos does not fit well with the way that I run combats. Without miniatures and a grid, some of the rules for movement, measurement and position are going to have to be tweaked to preserve the utility and the options of the fourth edition game.

These are utilities and options well worth preserving. Combat in fourth edition is fun – it really is. Each class has unique tactics hardwired into its abilities, feats and powers. It is well worth playing and well worth us going to the trouble of protecting the designers’ intent.

So, we’re going to look at the combat chapter from the PHB1 (chapter nine) and go through it, altering all the rules that depend on exact measurement and absolute position to very similiar rules that have identical effects, but can be easily adjudicated in a freeform system. Once we have done this, we’ll have a list of changes that can then easily be applied to all feats and powers. I’m not going to hunt down all the feats and powers that need to be modified (as I did for opportunity attacks). I think once the basic premise is down, then everything else slots neatly into place.

Unlearn what you have Learned

The fourth edition rules teach you to see the world in squares. I’ve never played with a battle grid and never want to, but after reading the rulebooks I couldn’t help seeing the effects of powers in terms of squares and straight lines. The breath weapon of a dragon born, for example, is a blast. It emenates from the square where the dragonborn is standing and engulfs everything in a three square by three square area.

But dragonborn don’t vomit up a burst of fire in a perfect square do they? The 4e rules assume that they do, and this is excellent for adjudicating who is or is not caught in the area of effect, but in reality the breath is going to be in a cone, or an arc.

We have to stop looking at the game world in the artificial terms imposed by the rules, and start looking at it through the eyes of the characters. They don’t see distance in terms of sqaures, they see it in terms of feet (or whatever weirdo fantastic measure exists in your campaign world). A fireball is a fireball. The clue is in the name.

If we take away the rigid definitions of squares and straight lines then combat immediately becomes more fluid and workable. It also becomes more believable. It’s much easier to immerse yourself in the actions of your character, when you’re not counting off squares on a battle grid.

Distance and Speed

The first change is easily made. All measures in the game are represented in five foot squares. An elf with speed 7 can cover seven squares (thirty-five feet) as a move action. A power described as Ranged 10 will hit a single target  within ten squares (fifty feet) of the origin square. Conversion here is simple: take the distance in squares, multiply it by 5 and you have the distance in feet. No problem.

If you’re mathematically challenged (like me) and find multiplying by 5 takes up slightly too much brain power, it’s much easier to multiply by 10, and then divide by 2. Have a go, you’ll see I’m right. Does everyone agree with me here? Changing from squares to feet is dead easy, isn’t it? Right?

Well…

We do have a small problem. Namely, that all characters (of small and medium size) are considered to inhabit a square five feet to a side. So if you think that a spell goes off from the middle of that square then something denoted as “Ranged 20” actually reaches 102½ feet from a medium-sized character. My solution to this problem is to ignore it. Ranged 20 is 100 feet, we won’t count the starting square. Everyone happy with that?

The ability to convert seamlessly from squares to feet is complicated somewhat when an ability targets an area instead of an individual. A little work needs to be done regarding the three key units of measurement for powers: blasts, bursts and walls.

Blasts, Bursts and Walls

Blasts, bursts and walls are normally used to describe the area of effect of magic or supernatural powers, such as a dragon’s breath weapon, or a wizard’s spell. Sometimes more mundane powers use them as well. A fighter using a power to spin on the spot and hit all the enemies around him is using a burst power. The Bloody Path power of the rogue, that was mentioned in the post on Opportunity Attacks, affects enemies in a burst.

Let’s look more closely at this:

Blasts

The text on p272 of PHB1 states that “a blast fills an area adjacent to you that is a specified number of squares on a side”. So something designated as a Close Blast 3 would affect an area that was 3 squares by 3 squares. In our terms a Close Blast 3 translates as a square area 15 feet to a side. Blasts orignate from the caster (or fighter, or whatever), and do not affect the caster. The caster must be adjacent to the area of the blast – which means you cannot cast it at a distance. However, you can be standing at any point along the edge of the area of effect, so you can manipulate where the blast falls.

Squares are not a good mechanic for adjudicating what is obviously a cone effect. So here are my rules on blasts: unless, the text states otherwise, a blast affects everything in a 90° arc, with a radius equal to indicated distance. The arc emenates from the caster. So, the dragonborn’s breath weapon is a burst of elemental pain that extends 15 feet from the dragonborn in a 90° arc.

Adjudicating such an arc is not as difficult as it sounds, if you assume that the caster can always engage in a little fancy footwork to be facing in the most profitable direction (which is something 4e assumes anyway). Just follow these guidelines:

Firstly, you can direct your blast on foes attacking you in mêlée combat. However, there is a limit to the number of such foes that you can get with one blast. The actual number depends on the size of the character initiating the blast and the size of the target, as can be seen in this table:

Target
Small/Medium
Large
Huge
Gigantic
Caster
Small/Medium
3
2
1
1
Large
3
2
1
1
Huge
5
3
2
2
Gigantic
5
3
2
2

The figures on the table represent the maximum possible number of mêlée targets you can catch in your blast. It assumes that they are all helpfully standing next to one another and attacking you from the same side. This may not be the case.  Maybe they deliberately aren’t standing together because they know you have a blast power. Maybe circumstances mean that they cannot be next to one another. It is the GM’s responsibility to adjudicate this fairly. The GM also has the power to rule that you can affect more than the usual maximum with your blast, for example all the dragonborn’s enemies are hiding in his wardrobe, he opens the door and the breathes on them.

Secondly, unless you have a blast with a five foot range, it is going to affect targets beyond normal mêlée range. Beyond mêlée, a blast will hit everything in the caster’s line of vision up to the range indicated. It may be obvious who is standing there, it may not. But the GM will have the final say on the matter.

Thirdly, it should be noted that a blast only requires line of effect, so invisible creatures would be affected if they happened to be standing within the cone.

Now, where the borders of the cone falls is evidently open to interpretation and could be the source of disagreements between players and the GM. However, if the GM is doing his job correctly (and perhaps scribbling the more complicated fights on a white board), then everyone should share the same rough idea of position in relation to everyone else. If in doubt, refer to these guidelines:

  • The GM should make it abundantly clear to the player where the area of effect of his cone will fall before the power is used. Surprising a character with a deep-fried ally is only funny once.
  • Blasts are neither subtle nor precise. It is not usually possible to target (or exclude) a specific target with a blast.
  • If you use a blast against an enemy that is engaged in mêlée combat with one of your allies, then you are also going to catch that ally in the blast. So what if the caster backs off so that the mêlée between enemy and ally is happening right on the edge of his range, what if he says he is going to time the blast so just to catch the back of the enemy as the opponents spar in their deadly dance of death? Assuming such manoeuvres are possible then by all means allow it. Have the PC make the attack on the intended target at a penalty (the GM can assign it). If he hits then everything goes as the player planned. If he misses (regardless of what he rolled) then he must also make an attack roll on his ally.

Blasts without battle grids are not as easy to adjudicate (and certainly take more text to explain). However, I believe that they are straight-forward enough. As long as the GM displays a consistant approach to blasts – whether they are initiated by players or NPCs then we won’t go far wrong.

Bursts

There are two types of bursts. Close bursts are centred on you (and don’t tend to affect you unless the text of the power says otherwise). Area Bursts are targeted at a distant spot. They have an area of effect and a range. The range dictates how far away the centre of the effect can be placed from the caster. The area of effect is measured in squares, but translating them into a true measure of distance requires a little more clarification.

For example: Flame Strike is an Area Burst. It is described as Burst 2 within 10. The range is 10 squares (50 feet) and area of effect is 2 squares. But what do those 2 squares represent? A burst 2 power affects the origin square and everything within 2 squares of it. So imagine a grid. The flame strike affects the origin square (five feet by five feet) and then everything within 2 squares (10 feet) of it on all sides. This creates an area that is 5 squares (25 feet) to a side.

The easiest thing with bursts is to imagine them as a blast radius. Everything within a certain range of the caster (if its a close burst) or a distant spot (if its area burst) will be affected. However, that means that a Burst 2 Flame Strike affects everything in a 12½ ft radius. 12½ radius? Oh no, we can’t be having that.

Just as with Ranges I suggest that we drop the origin square from the calculation. It makes the radius of a burst slightly smaller than the rules suggest, but to be honest it’s not going to be a deciding factor in a game with no battle grid. It also makes it easier to work out. A burst 1 is everything in a five foot radius, a burst 10 is everything in a fifty foot radius and so one and so forth.

So how many creatures can you catch in a burst? Well, the easy answer is as many as the GM thinks you can. A burst centred on you will affect at least everyone engaged in mêlée combat with you, and probably many beyond. Unlike blasts that are genuinely tricky to work out on the fly, circular bursts are pretty simple. The key is communication.

The player tells the GM that he wants to use his burst power, and wants to catch as many of the bad guys as possible within it. The GM then refers to either the whiteboard, the notes, or simply the images running through his head and tells the player what he can hope to achieve with his burst in this context, and where his character needs to move to do the most damage. Consistency on the part of the GM, and trust on the part of the player will see us through.

Bursts are like blasts in that you cannot target them precisely. Use the rules for blasts above if a player wants to hit the villains but avoid his allies with a burst effect.

Walls

Like area bursts, walls normally have a range (so they can be cast at a distance). In the official rules, all walls are five feet thick (the thickness of one square). Their length is measured in squares, and the description of the power will explictly state how long and how high a wall has to be (they are usually ten feet high). Think of the wall as being made up of a series of 5 ft by 5 ft building blocks (of a height determined by the power). You can then arrange those blocks how you like as long as they are touching one another.

What this means is that a wall must be 8 squares (40 feet) in length to completely surround a medium or small sized character. It must be 12 squares (60 feet) in length to completely surround a large character. What utter nonsense. This is an example of the rules coming before common sense. It sounds all right on paper. A wall is five feet thick, you can only create square or rectangular walls (because of the grid). Therefore it takes a 40 ft wall to surround a space 5 ft by 5ft, and a 60 ft wall to surround a space 10 ft by 10 ft. We obviously need to do something about this.

The problem is that in the real world, a normal medium sized creature does not take up a five foot by five foot space – not even the really fat ones. The solution here is to work out the area that each wall can encompass, and the GM can use that as a guide for how many people can be trapped within the wall. As it happens, there are only four powers in PHB1 that have the wall area-of-effect. We might as well be thorough and look at all of them:

Blade Barrier (Cleric Daily Attack 9; PHB1 p67): The wall can be up to 5 squares long and 2 squares high. Proposed fix: The blade barrier takes the form of a wall ten feet high, five feet thick and up to twenty-five feet in length. The blade barrier can encompass an area that is eight feet across (four foot radius). Two medium sized creatures could be imprisoned in such a wall.

Wall of Fog (Wizard Daily Utility 6; PHB1 p162): The wall can be up to 8 squares long and 4 squares high. Proposed fix: The wall of fog is twenty feet high, five feet thick and up to forty feet in length. It can encompass an area that is twelve feet across (six foot radius). Five medium sized creatures could be concealed within such a wall.

Wall of Fire (Wizard Daily Attack 9; PHB1 p163): The wall can be up to 8 squares long and 4 squares high. Proposed fix: The wall of fire is twenty feet high, five feet thick and up to forty feet in length. It can encompass an area that is twelve feet across (six foot radius). Five medium sized creatures could be imprisoned within such a wall.

Wall of Ice (Wizard Daily Attack 15; PHB1 p165): The wall can be up to 12 squares long and 6 squares high. Proposed fix: The wall of ice is thirty feet high, five feet thick and up to sixty feet in length. It can encompass an area that is twenty feet across (ten foot radius). Nine medium sized creatures could be imprisoned within such a wall.

The width of the area inside the wall was calculated from the radius of a circle of the indicated circumference. I rounded it to the nearest significant number. The number of medium sized creatures that could be contained in these walls is a guide only. I based it on the game’s assumption that one character takes up 25 ft² and compared that figure to the area of the circle in square feet. It assumes that all these characters are adjacent to one another when the spell is cast. It’s up to the GM to decide exactly how many individuals could fit inside a wall on any given occassion.

More on Position

The above deals with most of the movement and distance related problems faced when running 4e without miniatures. However, there are instances mentioned in PHB1 that may require a little clarification. We’ll have a brief look at these now:

Cover and Concealment

The rules state that you find out if someone has cover by drawing a line from the corner of your square to the each corner of your target’s square. If any of those lines cross a barrier then the target has cover of some kind. This is likely to be the kind of cover that imposes a -2 penalty to hit. Obviously, that doesn’t make any sense without a grid. Use the following guidelines instead:

  • Cover only applies to ranged attacks. There may be some exceptions, but on the whole you only need to worry about cover if you are attacking from range.
  • Area effects (blasts and bursts) ignore light cover (the -2 penalty to hit), but not superior cover (the -5 penalty to hit). This is a change to the rules, but one I think makes sense – and also makes play easier. Everyone will forget about cover modifiers when the wizard drops a fireball in the middle of the archduke’s banquet.
  • The responsibility for cover rests with the player. The player has to remember that he has cover, and the player has to be the one who actively seeks out cover for his character. Asking the GM “Does this give me cover?” is a good question to ask before attacks are rolled.
  • If you are engaged in mêlée combat then you have cover from your foe (and your foe has cover from you) against ranged attacks. This is another change to the rules. The official rules state that your allies don’t grant cover to your enemies; which is utterly ridiculous. This rule change slightly penalises bowmen, so I’ve written a heroic tier feat to get around it (see below).
  • I’m excising any existing house rules for accidentally hitting an ally when firing into mêlée. Those rules didn’t exist in third edition, I just made them up. They were a bit fiddly, and were never properly utilised. Let’s forget about that for the time being.

PRECISE SHOT [Ranger]
Prerequisite:
Archer Fighting Style
Benefit: You ignore the penalty for light cover (-2 to hit) when making ranged attacks. You still take the full penalty (-5 to hit) from targets enjoying superior cover.

Thoughts on the feat? Too powerful? Should it be a paragon tier feat? Should it be for all classes and not just the ranger? Should it just allow the archer to ignore the -2 cover penalty of mêlée combatants? In introducing this rule, I am giving the archer a disadvantage that he didn’t initially possess in the system. By making the fix a feat, I am compelling most archers to consider this feat – and if they take it, then it’s one less feat they get to spend on something else. I therefore wanted to give the feat some utility above and beyond the changes I have made to the rules. Have I gone too far?

Occupied Squares

The rules go to some lengths to inform players how they cannot end their move in an occupied square, cannot move through the squares of enemies, or stand up in a square occupied by another person. It’s all irrelevent without a battlegrid – see how I’m really simplifying things?

Difficult Terrain

Your speed when moving through difficult terrain is halved. I don’t really see what more you need to know than that to be honest. The rules are full of largely obvious points – such as if a square is completely filled with an obstacle you can’t go through it, or that you can ignore difficult terrain if you are flying. There’s nothing specific to adapt. There’s also stuff on diagonal movement which just does my head in. No, we’ll be glossing over mostly everything that’s written here.

Flanking

I’ve mentioned the house rules for this before on this blog, but I’ll reiterate them just to be thorough. The official rules for flanking state that in order to flank you need to be adjacent to your enemy and on opposite sides of that enemy’s space. This is very hard to adjudicate without a grid. Here’s the house rule.

You and one or more of your allies are engaged in mêlée combat against a single foe. As long as you outnumber your foe by 2:1 then you are considered to be flanking. Flanking grants combat initiative.

Forced Movement

Many powers enable you to push, pull or slide (move in either direction) a foe. The distance is expressed in squares, but is easily converted. I quite like the mechanic – it’s nicely cinematic to have the PCs throw their enemies around the combat like rag dolls – and be thrown around in return! There are some silly elements to these rules, though.

You can push, pull or slide any opponent. So a halfling could use a martial exploit and push an ancient red dragon back fifteen feet. There are a number of powers that force opponents to move without giving them any chance to resist the impulse, or bothering to explain why the movement should take place. Fine if the PCs are using the power on a bunch of koblolds, not so fine if the power ever gets used on the PCs.

However, for the time being I’m going to let the forced movement rules stand. I need a better feel for how they work in context. I don’t want to rule that you can only push, pull or slide creatures of one size category higher than you or smaller – at least not yet. It may be what I eventually do, but not yet.

Teleportation

There’s not much to say here. You move to a point a given distance away without crossing the intervening space. You need line of sight for most teleports, but not all of them. On the whole there’s nothing here that doesn’t easily fit into what we have discussed above.

It’s all Relative

All the above changes may seem a little much. However, I’ve been using most of the changes in third edition for some time, and this blog has simply given me the opportunity to formalise them. There’s more work to do on this, specific powers to look at and adapt but these are the principles and the guidelines I’m going to run with.

When adjudicating movement in a gridless system remember that, more often than not, movement is all relative. The movement of one PC only really matters in context to the movement and the position of the NPCs. If a PC teleports 90 feet out of combat, all you as the GM needs to know is that it’s going to take him three rounds to walk back. Knowledge of his absolute position is seldom necessary.

Life without the battle grid is not as daunting as it seems.

Next

Back to PHB1, and we’ll have a look at the character classes.

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6 thoughts on “Movement and Position

  1. Hi Neil! :)

    One quick question (whilst I remember). Are you going to house-rule the diagonal movement thing? In 3E, moving diagonally counted as 1 1/2 times as far (so you would move 1-2-1-2, meaning moving diagonal 4 times would count as 30ft of movement, not 20). This has changed in 4E (again, to make things simpler and quicker) to every square, any direction, counts as 1. So, the same four diagonal squares would count as 20ft.

    This is the reasoning behind “Firesquares”, that even diagonally, the corner square is still within range by the new counting mechanics.

    -hvg3

  2. ((additional comments))

    “12 1/2 t radius” – not sure why this is a problem, but would it be easier to just view it as a 25ft diameter? That way, the attacks wouldn’t be nerfed as much as they would be otherwise. (burst 2 currently hits 25 squares, 10ft radius would only hit 12…) As most of the area spells are weaker than single attacks (compare wizard damage to ranger or rogue damage), their benefit is hitting multiple targets. With such a small area, the opportunities to hit multiple targets will be reduced.

    In fact, I would recommend of rounding up (so 12 1/2 ft becomes 15ft), to regain some of those possible targets lost via changing it from a square to a circle. (Square => Circle will also weaken classes such as the wizard)

    Blasts – having someone use a blast and take a penalty firing into melee might make them a little unbalanced to the normal archery-type people. That is, in 4E, there is no penalties for rangers etc firing into melee. If you were to introduce this penalty for blasts (and bursts, I guess), that would crimp a big bit of the wizard’s powers. Even though i think that both should have the penalty, but will probably play it with neither, I think the more important thing is to make it even. If you include the penalty for blasts into melee, do so for ranged into melee too.

    Spaces – You keep referring to a person taking up “five by five feet of space”. I am not sure if you mean physically, but 4E (and 3E before it), is not saying that the person is that big, rather they need that much space to fight effectively. Lots of the simplification goes in here. The characters don’t stand still for six seconds and take a single swing of their sword, rather they are moving about in that area, parrying, stepping aside, and so forth.

    They can squeeze into spaces smaller – and take penalties to fight in them (not enough room to swing or dodge properly). But to trap a person, you have to trap the entire space – else they would automatically dodge out of the way. I would suggest leaving the rules for walls as written – there is nothing wrong with them, and any changes seem to complicate things.

    I mean, it would require a huge levels of sill to create a wall that closes the person in an unmoveable area (or even with a few inches left over). Wizards simply go for a larger area to assure they get their victim.

    EG – when trying to catch a spider (or mouse, etc), do you use the smallest container that will hold the creature, or something a bit larger? I’d go after a mouse with a 4L container, and the mouse would only take up a fraction of that space. But it is far easier for me to catch them if I anticipate where they could move to, and ‘catch’ the entire area.

    Same with the Wizard – he catches them in a 5x5ft area to make sure he catches them, and they don’t dodge out of the way.

    Cover – this might be then “some exceptions” you mentioned, but – large creatures attacking over / through smaller ones; characters attacking over a fence / rock / table; characters attacking around a corner. Three common uses for cover in melee.

    Also, for area effects – remember that 3E used this. Cover granted a bonus to reflex save. That is exactly the same mechanic as penalising the attack roll vs reflex. So, that fireball at the banquet, if you have a chair or table to hide behind, it *is* harder for the wizard’s attack to hit you. I’d suggest leaving that one, too :)

    With cover / fighting in melee, the idea is more that you are a party that works together. The ranger calls out to the fighter “Heads!”, and he ducks to the side, letting the ranger get his attack in. Or, the warlock watches the Paladin, knowing that after he does his one-two move, he swings with his shield then steps left, allowing the warlock to blast. Enemies still give cover, and your allies will grant you cover from enemies, its just your allies don’t penalise you. And yes, that feat is very powerful. Effectively +2 to hit is a very big thing in 4E.

    Anyway, another interesting read! :) Some good changes there, but a few that I think unbalance some classes, and / or area a little unnecessary. But, that’s just my thoughts :p

    Looking forward t hearing your views on the 4E classes!

    -hvg3

  3. Gosh, a lot of food for thought there. You make some good points I hadn’t thought of. Let’s take it from the top.

    Firstly: diagonal movement. In the real world there’s no such thing as diagonal movement. You just move in the direction you’re facing as far as you want to go, to the limit of your Speed. If there’s a pit of fire, then you move around it. The exact distance covered isn’t that important. As the GM you just have to decide from the following:

    1) Can the PC still reach his target?
    2) If he can’t reach the target is he in melee range of his foe?

    Secondly: blast radius. I’m used to measuring a blast radius, not a diameter. Saying something has a 12.5 foot radius just didn’t sit well with me. I know that looking at it on a grid, reducing the radius means the blast affects significantly fewer squares – but with no grid then it really doesn’t matter.

    A blast 2 becomes a 10 ft radius blast instead. The GM determines who gets caught in that 10 ft radius, not the position of figures on a grid. Whether I’m looking at a 25 ft diameter or a 20 ft diameter my decision probably isn’t going to change that much.

    My main motivation with sticking with this, at least for the time being, is that it makes conversion easier as well. If a Ranged 10 attack converts into Ranged 50 ft, and an Area Blast 10 converts into a Area Blast 50 ft radius, then there’s a certain amount of consistency that is useful.

    Thirdly: firing into melee. You have a point here. If I’m going to apply cover to ranged attacks, then I should probably apply it to blasts and bursts as well. But that does open a whole can of worms, and a -2 penalty to hit is, as you say, a big deal in fourth edition.

    But foes already grant cover to other foes if you are shooting into melee. It just seems ridiculous that allies don’t. So, how about this: get rid of this rule entirely. Cover like this is hard to adjudicate without a grid anyway. We’ll not use the feat I devised, and just rule that anyone can fire into melee with anything at any time without taking a penalty to their attack roll. It’s simple, it’ll work and we can quickly move on.

    Fixed cover – like bushes, trees, tables and so will still provide a cover bonus. It’s just creatures (or anything that moves about) that won’t.

    The GM should retain the right to impose a cover penalty (-2 or -5), but only in special circumstances – for example, if the the halfling necromancer deliberately surrounds himself with zombies to protect him from the ranger’s arrow, or the mage’s fireball. Exceptional circumstances for the exception-based rules system.

    Fourthly: walls. A see what you’re saying here, but a wall forty feet long just to catch one foe still seems a bit excessive, doesn’t it? I think I did work this out fairly. A forty foot wall translates into a ring with a forty foot circumference. Such a ring has an area of about 127 square feet.

    (I’m no maths whiz – but this is a brilliant site: http://www.csgnetwork.com/circlecalc.html)

    Assuming one medium sized creature takes up five foot space, then that creature fills 25 square feet. Therefore a 40 foot wall that encompasses 127 square feet can catch 5 medium sized creatures. So each creature is still taking up the five foot square you suggest.

    The discrepancy comes from the rules insistance of making a wall from enormous building blocks. In actuality, you could probably fit far more than five in there, but five is a benchmark that the GM can work with when he makes his ruling.

    Yes – it does make things more complicated, but you only have to do the maths once. The length of the wall, and the number of people it can encompass should be written down in the player’s notes or on a power card or something. And those notes should be referenced instead of the PHB.

    Fifthly: cover in general. I think I covered most of this, but yes cover can apply in melee as you say. I’m not sure that I was thinking when I wrote that it couldn’t.

  4. Yep, I guess the diagonal stuff works out without squares :p (see? i am still struggling to remove the lines in the sand :D )

    And, yep. Simplicity of calculation (blast 10 becomes 50 radius) probably wins out over balance of powers. Perhaps just throw in an extra guy to the zone here and there to make sure the powers are still viable options?

    As for firing into melee, I’m still all for enemies getting cover from other enemies. I mean, its fair (you give cover to your allies vs the enemies), and reasonable (your allies are trying to stay out of your road, the enemies are doing no such thing), and it makes parties work together better. My 3.5E group took some of the group training abilities, and the first thing they did was to negate the cover penalty for shooting past each other. It makes them fit together as a well-oiled machine.

    The wall: Well, it might be a forty foot wall, but it is also a 20ft wall. It is also a 60ft wall, all depending on how you measure it. I’d assume the wall takes up the 5ft area, even if its not 5ft thick, nothing else can act easily in that area. So, the “inside” distance is only 4×5=20ft, and the area of a 20ft circumference circle is only 32 square feet. The rest of your ‘area’ would be the thickness of the wall.

    Of course, 127 sq ft for a 25 sq ft creature is not that bad. 1/5th of the area. That spider I was mentioning would be that ratio – or less.

    Another thing to realise with these wall powers is that they are designed to balance appropriately for how many they can fit. If the powers can suddenly capture five times as many as they could otherwise, that power likewise becomes five times as powerful. If it is the size thing that is getting you concerned, I would recommend simply using the wall’s inside diameter, and keeping the number of affected creatures the same.

    -hvg3

  5. I take your point regarding walls. I am, as you point out, calculating the area of encompassed by the wall as if the wall had no thickness at all. There may be balance issues in stating that a wall of a certain length encompasses five times the area that the rules say it does.

    My instinct is telling me that any imbalance is probably mitigated by the fact that I’m not using a grid in the first place. I may be wrong, but the whole thing about walls bugs me enough that I want to do something to change it. I’ll see how this change works in play.

    As for foes only giving cover to foes… even if I agreed with you that such a thing is possible or desirable (and let’s for the sake of argument say that I do) it’s very hard for me to rule on this sort of thing if I don’t know everyone’s exact position. Without a battlegrid how do I know if foe A is granting cover to foe B?

    The way I see it, I can either rule that:

    a) No combatant grants cover to anyone else.

    or

    b) If you are engaged in melee combatant, then the person you are fighting grants you cover against ranged attacks (and maybe area attacks if we wanted to go down that road). I can rule this because it’s pretty obvious who is engaged in melee combat with you, regardless of where anyone is standing.

    If you can think of a quick and easy way for me to adjudicate whether any one foe is granting cover to another foe without just plucking my answer out of the air, then I’d be happy to hear it!

  6. With the “not knowing who would give cover” thing, don’t you already have an idea of where people are, to work out who can make it to someone (to attack them)? Would this not be enough information (enemy X is behind enemy Y) to work out cover? I wouldn’t expect it to come up often, but brutes in front of spellcasters / leaders, or enemies in a hall – basically, any time a ranged person wants to shoot past a close enemy to hit one behind them.

    Again, I am not really sure how you would run the combat at all :p so not sure how abstractly the combatants move / stand about the place. But, if you know it well enough to even consider having some form of AOOs, or area effect spells, then cover shouldn’t be that hard…I would imagine :p

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