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Does using minatures curtail creative thinking in combat?


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#21 MelkiorWhiteblade

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Posted 11 August 2008 - 04:53 PM

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.
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#22 centauri

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Posted 11 August 2008 - 05:34 PM

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.

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.
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#23 Balgin

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Posted 11 August 2008 - 08:02 PM

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 :).
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#24 TheGlen

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Posted 11 August 2008 - 08:43 PM

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.
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#25 Dungnmaster001

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Posted 11 August 2008 - 09:44 PM

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.
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#26 Bazorkin

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Posted 12 August 2008 - 01:08 AM

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...
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#27 eformo

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Posted 12 August 2008 - 08:11 AM

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.
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#28 MelkiorWhiteblade

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Posted 12 August 2008 - 08:53 AM

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.
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#29 HisDivineShadow

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Posted 12 August 2008 - 10:40 AM

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.

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...
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#30 eformo

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Posted 12 August 2008 - 11:13 AM

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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#31 HisDivineShadow

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Posted 12 August 2008 - 11:30 AM

When you are playing the game, it is simply NOT necessary.
It's not supposed to be a simulation, it's a GAME!
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#32 centauri

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Posted 12 August 2008 - 11:47 AM

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.

He does. The character can see the field of battle and has intimate in-game knowledge of how the spell works.

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.

The fighter doesn't take up all 25 square feet of the space allotted to him. Flames might lick to within a few feet of him, maybe even singing his eyebrows, but in game terms the effect is less than 1 hit point of damage. If he wants, and the players agree, he's within his rights to get angry at the wizard for risking friendly-fire. That's role-playing.
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#33 woojitsu

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Posted 12 August 2008 - 02:12 PM

As I've said before, I don't understand how a combat system, any combat system, can be said to curtail roleplaying. Combat rules aren't meant to facilitate or curtail roleplaying. They're meant to be a quick and easy method for determining the outcome of specific actions. In the end, whether or not you use miniatures and/or a battle grid should be dependent on whether or not such tools speed up play for your group, not whether they help or hinder your imagination. A player will use his imagination or he won't, but I seriously doubt that the battle grid is a significant factor in that.
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#34 Lindsay

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Posted 12 August 2008 - 02:25 PM

This is aimed at no-one, btw, I havent even really read the thread, just wanted to post my thoughts.

I have problems using mini's, one of the main ones being how it can spoil the gaming mood. Drawing grids, fishing out mini's, getting the positioned correctly, drawing room features all takes time and this can really ruin the mood for me..It distracts the DM, as he/she then has to monitor the situation, prepare anything else thats going to need to be brought into play and I dont think the roleplay aspect of the game benefits from this interuption/distraction, however brief.
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#35 woojitsu

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Posted 12 August 2008 - 02:35 PM

Okay, I can see how that could be a problem. It's not something I would have thought about; our group is so used to using miniatures and grids that we don't feel that it's an interruption. Of course, we tend to ramble, joke, and just get generally distracted anyway, so I'm not sure that we'd notice if the minis were causing a break in the game.

But that's kind of what I was saying, anyway. If you feel that using minis slows down the game, definitely don't use them. They're only useful if they make combat go faster.
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#36 HisDivineShadow

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 02:54 AM

To be honest, if you're not interested in combat, you shouldn't be playing D&D.

D&D has always been about combat - after all, it evolved from Chainmail, a medieval miniatures wargame! I have always used miniatures with D&D.
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#37 Dungnmaster001

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 12:10 PM

To be honest, if you're not interested in combat, you shouldn't be playing D&D.

D&D has always been about combat - after all, it evolved from Chainmail, a medieval miniatures wargame! I have always used miniatures with D&D.



I agree to an extent; however DnD also has always (for many of us anyway) been more about the roleplaying aspect. I wouldn't want to play in a game completely devoid of combat, but neither would I enjoy one where there weren't any opportunities for character interaction (with NPCs or other Players). KoTS is a combat heavy module for example but there are still some opportunities for roleplay though you have to look harder for them than some others. Thunderspire Labyrinth looks to be a more balanced in terms of combat to roleplay ratios and suits my style of gaming a little more.
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#38 centauri

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 01:23 PM

When my character is in combat, I try to decribe my character's actions, speak in my character's voice, and make choices my character would make. Events in combat serve to help me form my character concept and my character's relationship with the other characters. Am I role-playing?
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#39 BigJackBrass

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 02:32 PM

Am I role-playing?

Well, if you're not then you certainly seem to get into more fights than I do :D
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#40 blinkhic

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Posted 15 August 2008 - 01:21 PM

I'm all about the visuals. So minis help me for that. I can see how some are not fans but i think to each his own.
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