Forums Archive RPGMP3 Chatter Dungeons and Dragons 4e Does using minatures curtail creative thinking in combat?

Viewing 15 posts - 16 through 30 (of 49 total)
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  • #600497
    eformo
    • Posts : 566
    • Gelatinous Cube
    HisDivineShadow wrote:

    If you want to know what’s caught in the blast, it takes only seconds to count out, say, a 3 by 3 square. This is MUCH better for the players than the DM telling them what they can hit.

    I can only assume you haven’t been playing the 4th ed rules correctly…

    I think I’m misinterpreted here. It’s not the player I think needs to break out a tape measure – it’s the character. If you’ve ever been in a chaotic scenario like a fight, you’ll recognize just how difficult it is to calculate a point that is precisely 30ft (not 29, because then the fireball would get the fighter too) from a given point.

    Imagine the scenario where two soldiers are fighting in hand to hand combat. Is it even remotely feasible for a 3rd soldier to come along and toss a grenade far enough to the side so that 1 soldier will be totally unscatched by the blast? No. So how is the party wizard going to calculate that for purposes for placing the fireball? Unless they are fighting in a room with a grid on the floor, their characters can’t just count out a 3×3 square.

    I don’t question the ability of players to do this in a time effective manner, but I despise the approach to combat that makes this possible for the players.

    And we’re playing 4e rules exactly as written. I’m merely expressing my disdain for them. Just because I don’t like the rules system well doesn’t preclude my enjoying a game with friends that happens to involve said rules.

    A final note about GM’s and players. The Players get to decide what they are TRYING to do. The GM decides what actually happens (often with dice playing an important role). It’s how all the players work together, both the player who is Game Mastering and the players who are PCing. You may disagree, but this is the view I take and I choose not to GM in groups where this philosophy isn’t shared. I’ll play a character in other groups, but won’t GM.

    #600498
    Dungnmaster001
    • Posts : 215
    • Orc
    eformo wrote:
    I think I’m misinterpreted here. It’s not the player I think needs to break out a tape measure – it’s the character. If you’ve ever been in a chaotic scenario like a fight, you’ll recognize just how difficult it is to calculate a point that is precisely 30ft (not 29, because then the fireball would get the fighter too) from a given point.

    Imagine the scenario where two soldiers are fighting in hand to hand combat. Is it even remotely feasible for a 3rd soldier to come along and toss a grenade far enough to the side so that 1 soldier will be totally unscatched by the blast? No. So how is the party wizard going to calculate that for purposes for placing the fireball? Unless they are fighting in a room with a grid on the floor, their characters can’t just count out a 3×3 square.

    I don’t question the ability of players to do this in a time effective manner, but I despise the approach to combat that makes this possible for the players.

    I can see where you’re coming from but for me this falls under the category of “suspending disbelief for the sake of the game” there is a point where being realistic bogs the game down in pointless details. Having the grid and minis makes the players choices easier and the game runs more smoothly in most cases.

    eformo wrote:
    A final note about GM’s and players. The Players get to decide what they are TRYING to do. The GM decides what actually happens (often with dice playing an important role). It’s how all the players work together, both the player who is Game Mastering and the players who are PCing. You may disagree, but this is the view I take and I choose not to GM in groups where this philosophy isn’t shared. I’ll play a character in other groups, but won’t GM.

    Absolutely no disagreement here. I think that’s the way it should be.

    #600499
    MelkiorWhiteblade
    • Posts : 1180
    • Owlbear

    It does seem a little ludicrous, but it reminds me the first time Balazar in WLD cast fireball. There was debate about how, having never cast fireball, he would be able to place it accurately.

    I think it was determined that he just ‘knew’. I think that falls under suspension of disbelief. Balgin had a good suggestion though. In D&D 3.x, A DM could require a spellcraft roll to accurately place something like a fireball.

    The miniatures can really help make sure everyone is one the same page too. DMs who game with their significant others have found that arbitrary systems may lead to accusations of favoritism. (Actually, that happens anyway, but not as often…) 😉

    Kind of back to the original question (Does using miniatures curtail creative thinking in combat?), I think it depends on the system more. Palladium Fantasy RPG didn’t have much of a grid system. But you could use miniatures to show where things are. D&D does harken back to war gaming more, so it seems that the grid and miniatures are important. But, the rules tend to allow some ambiguity, though not as much as Palladium. Heroquest, though more of a board game than an ‘true’ RPG, uses miniatures, but the ruleset limits creativity.

    It really depends on the group and how they play. In the end, I don’t think it’s the miniatures that impact it as much as the players themselves.

    #600500
    centauri
    • Posts : 1275
    • Owlbear

    This thread has gone on for almost two whole pages. Time for a derailment!

    First of all, fireballs are not grenades and thinking of them as huge explosions unnecessarily stresses the simulation and everyone’s suspension of disbelief. Don’t get me wrong, huge explosions are cool (not to say, “da bomb”) but that image inevitably leads to people asking problematic questions, such as how can someone’s reflexes protect them, or why didn’t all the windows blow out, or why does someone on the edge take the same damage as some one at the center, or how can it be placed with tactical precision?

    Second of all, calling for Spellcraft/Arcana/Intelligence checks to avoid one’s allies unnecessarily penalizes the user of the fireball, by placing additional rules on their use, essentially requiring a extra, random, and ad hoc “to hit” roll to the rules. If it’s agreed to beforehand by all the players, that’s different, but I’ve been in games where the DM disliked the effectiveness of fireball and called for a check midgame. That’s dirty pool.

    Third of all, there are in-game arguments one can make as to why area effects can be dropped with 5′ of precision. Spellcasters tend to be intelligent, for one thing (I’ll get back to you on Charisma- or Constitution-based caster). For another, maybe the spell figures it out for itself where to go in accordance with the caster’s wishes.

    Finally, it’s magic. When you see something that doesn’t make sense, a wizard did it.

    As one who has had many an encounter ruined by fireballs and sleep spells, I can understand the desire to make them riskier. The key method for doing this is, and should be, getting the enemy in amongst friendlies or vice versa. I’ve thought for a while that a good tactic for an invading army would be to intersperse innocent captives or slaves with the troops. Fireball that, Elminster.

    To tie this into the the actual post. I think minis and a grid help with the fair adjudication of area effects as written. Either you can hit just the enemy or you must risk hitting a friend. There’s no “I think you’ll hit some of your friends, too” vs. “But I’m placing it to avoid my friends!” It’s right there.

    #600501
    Dungnmaster001
    • Posts : 215
    • Orc
    centauri wrote:
    I’ve thought for a while that a good tactic for an invading army would be to intersperse innocent captives or slaves with the troops. Fireball that, Elminster.

    Agree with everything you said…except one minor detail that makes this a bad example … Elminster’s an archmage. They get to (in 3.5 and I think 4th too, have to check that) make safe spots in their aoe spells so he actually could place a fireball in said army without harming the innocents 🙂 I know what you were saying though, I just couldn’t help but point that out 🙂 (I’m a fan of Elminster so it caught my attention)

    Edit: besides; the day elminster needs to use something so simple as a fireball is the day .. umm well I can’t think of a good way to end that sentence so we’ll just say it’s unlikely.

    #600502
    MelkiorWhiteblade
    • Posts : 1180
    • Owlbear

    Okay, how does my wise, but none too smart druid friend flame strike the baddies and not the friendly woodland creatures?

    Just kidding. Sometimes, magic is just magic. It’s difficult to put real world physics and logic on something like that.

    But, on another derailment, I think hand painted miniatures are much better than the plastic ones. The plastic ones, though, are sometimes better than unpainted metal ones. I still can’t decide on that aspect though.

    #600503
    centauri
    • Posts : 1275
    • Owlbear
    MelkiorWhiteblade wrote:
    Okay, how does my wise, but none too smart druid friend flame strike the baddies and not the friendly woodland creatures?

    It’s one of those “circle of life” things.

    Quote:
    But, on another derailment, I think hand painted miniatures are much better than the plastic ones. The plastic ones, though, are sometimes better than unpainted metal ones. I still can’t decide on that aspect though.

    A nice hand-painted miniature is keen, but plastic ones win out in convenience, price, portability, and commonality (as in, everyone has at least a few). But I’m thinking very strongly of just using Scrabble tiles for future games.

    #600504
    Balgin
    • Posts : 2127
    • Succubus
    MelkiorWhiteblade wrote:
    Balgin had a good suggestion though. In D&D 3.x, A DM could require a spellcraft roll to accurately place something like a fireball.

    I’ve actualy seen two GM’s require a spellcraft roll at 15+ the spell level to avoid catching friends in the blast if you’re aiming at empty squares near targets. One of them has done so consistently on multiple occassions and no players argued with either of them as it seemd fair and made sense :).

    #600505
    TheGlen
    • Posts : 296
    • Thri-kreen

    I didn’t use miniatures until 3rd edition made them mandatory. Too much reliance on miniatures and it’s a board game. Tell me what my character first sees. Let me ask questions to turn the environment to my favor. Minotaur bursts into the room. Is there a chandelier? Torches nearby? A staircase? What about a table I can jump on? Save a lot of time setting up by giving me a brief description and let my imagination do the rest. This is supposed to be a swirling melee. Not a top down Turn Based Strategy.

    #600506
    Dungnmaster001
    • Posts : 215
    • Orc
    TheGlen wrote:
    I didn’t use miniatures until 3rd edition made them mandatory. Too much reliance on miniatures and it’s a board game. Tell me what my character first sees. Let me ask questions to turn the environment to my favor. Minotaur bursts into the room. Is there a chandelier? Torches nearby? A staircase? What about a table I can jump on? Save a lot of time setting up by giving me a brief description and let my imagination do the rest. This is supposed to be a swirling melee. Not a top down Turn Based Strategy.

    Miniatures should never take the place of good descriptions or curtail player imagination. It’s just a visual representation of where each combatant is. If the DM doesn’t describe the scene very well, it’s up to the player to ask those same kinds of questions you just did. A chandelier, torches, stairs, tables, etc are not part of the miniatures grid… well perhaps stairs and tables might be marked on the map depending on how detailed it is but there’s nothing that says “if it’s not on the grid it’s not there” ASK THE DM.

    Most of the negative comments I typically hear about using minis and a battle grid is that it makes combat seem mechanical but really it’s all in the players. Some players learn to think creatively on their feet despite a battle mat and minis while some can’t see past the physical grid in front of them. Good DMs should encourage players that seem stuck on the mechanics of the grid to think outside the box a little.

    #600507
    Bazorkin
    • Posts : 373
    • Thri-kreen

    I’m not saying your idea is without merit, DM, but, from what I’ve listened to and seen at the game table, it doesn’t happen. The closest players of 4e get that I’ve seen is ask stuff like how tall the table is. Mainly just the dimensions that you can’t get from a flat map.

    The thing that bugged me from the get-go is having one of the DnD Day demo folks tell me, as a selling point, that the game didn’t need a DM.

    “Just make characters, place the monsters and go.”

    That doesn’t sound like an RPG to me, or at least one I’d enjoy for a campaign.

    As I’ve gamed over the years, minatures were a nice little collectible or hobby for my RPG groups. Nice to have but never really used.

    To answer the original question, yes, I do think it curtails roleplay.

    Granted, I’m biased. But in the end, it wasn’t how I was taught to play, and it isn’t how I enjoy playing.

    (Incidentally, the most useless minatures I think I ever saw were CoC minatures. If any game could be said to be badly impacted from an exactly drawn map, use of counting squares of movement, and tactical manuevering, Call of Cthulhu would be it.)

    Not that the minatures weren’t pretty though…

    #600508
    eformo
    • Posts : 566
    • Gelatinous Cube
    Bazorkin wrote:

    That doesn’t sound like an RPG to me, or at least one I’d enjoy for a campaign.

    Yet any role playing system will stink without players desiring to Role Play. Perhaps we should just categorize 4e, not as an RPG, but as a G. If you happen to role play while playing the G, that’s ok, just like you could roleplay while drinking a beer or playing gold.

    Role Playing in 4e is optional, you can play the game without role playing at all, just like you don’t have to role play to play monopoly. Hence, maybe it should lose the title.

    #600509
    MelkiorWhiteblade
    • Posts : 1180
    • Owlbear

    I love scrabble! I think if the scrabble tiles were being used, I’d be tempted to push the monsters together to form words.

    I’ve played a few dungeon crawls in 3rd edition using the ideas from the miniatures handbook. Essentially, the rooms are populated with random creatures from a stack of the miniatures stat cards. It didn’t require a DM either, which gave me a chance to play.

    However, it did turn out to be very mechanical. Not much roleplay as in getting into character. I’d do it again though…it would give me a break. Not much planning required. But would I really characterize it as a roleplaying game? Probably not.

    #600510
    HisDivineShadow
    • Posts : 139
    • Orc
    eformo wrote:

    I think I’m misinterpreted here. It’s not the player I think needs to break out a tape measure – it’s the character. If you’ve ever been in a chaotic scenario like a fight, you’ll recognize just how difficult it is to calculate a point that is precisely 30ft (not 29, because then the fireball would get the fighter too) from a given point.

    But with 4th ed rules, this is not necessary.

    Quote:
    And we’re playing 4e rules exactly as written.

    You can’t be, otherwise you wouldn’t be worrying about a point that was precisely 30ft…

    #600511
    eformo
    • Posts : 566
    • Gelatinous Cube
    HisDivineShadow wrote:
    eformo wrote:

    I think I’m misinterpreted here. It’s not the player I think needs to break out a tape measure – it’s the character. If you’ve ever been in a chaotic scenario like a fight, you’ll recognize just how difficult it is to calculate a point that is precisely 30ft (not 29, because then the fireball would get the fighter too) from a given point.

    But with 4th ed rules, this is not necessary.

    But it is. If the character is going to place the fireball on a specific square, based on measurements of how far it is from each combatant, that would require that the character has some knowledge of the distances involved. That’s IN GAME knowledge. The squares on the map are not IN GAME knowledge, they are META GAME knowledge. For the character to act based on meta game knowledge is not something that a Role Playing Game GM ought to allow, it’s something a Roll Playing Game GM might. The player looks at the map, fine. But for the CHARACTER (who is the one casting the spell) to know those distances, that requires some method to measure.

    The whole point here is that the use of the battlemat is a failing on the part of 4e rules. More pertinently to the topic of this thread, it is a limiting factor to the imaginative role playing experience.

    The 29 v 30 foot part is still important in 4e, namely because if the point is 29 feet away, it will extend into the fighter’s square and damage him too. Just because the exact blast point is described only in terms of who it hits does not make the precision required significantly less.

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