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NowhereMan583
2010-07-11, 11:25 PM
So, the players in my D&D 3.5 campaign have reached the point where it's completely feasible for any or all of them to be airborne during a battle, via spells, mounts, magic items, etc. On a couple occasions now, they have used this to their advantage (to navigate obstacles, avoid opponents, etc.), and it's become increasingly common for some of them to spend a minority of the battle actually on the ground.

On one hand, it makes combat more interesting, but on the other hand, it makes it more complicated. This is especially problematic when they are facing one or more opponents who ALSO have the ability to fly. The fact is, it's proving difficult to represent a three-dimensional battleground on a two-dimensional grid.

Does anyone have suggestions on how I could handle this without bogging down combat or discouraging the use of flight?

(I apologize if there is already a thread on this somewhere. I checked the first few pages, but I could have missed something.)

Prodan
2010-07-11, 11:35 PM
Use legos.

ShneekeyTheLost
2010-07-11, 11:36 PM
Battletech used to build hex-grids with foam to build hills and mountains et all. If you standardize the 'height' of a 10' cube, you can then create lots of them quickly, and build towers upon which flying people may safely dance upon.

HunterOfJello
2010-07-11, 11:43 PM
legos are probably the best suggestion. if you don't have a ton of them lying around, i'm sure you could find plenty at garage sales

In-game you could provide a roof to limit their ability to fly or climb around too much. One of my players always uses a gorilla animal companion to climb around on things, which leads me to create dungeons with low ceilings.

NowhereMan583
2010-07-12, 12:05 AM
Legos do sound like a good idea. The only problem I see is that it makes it difficult for two characters to occupy the same square at different elevations. For example, if the wizard wants to hover 30 feet above the fighter, the lego tower on which the wizard-miniature sits would get in the way of the fighter-miniature on the ground, even though the tower doesn't represent any sort of physical obstacle. That likely wouldn't come up a whole lot, though, so it's still a workable solution.


In-game you could provide a roof to limit their ability to fly or climb around too much. One of my players always uses a gorilla animal companion to climb around on things, which leads me to create dungeons with low ceilings.

Well, I don't really want to limit their ability to fly. I actually think it's pretty cool, and the players seem to get a kick out of it. The only issue is representing it on the grid without anyone getting too confused.

Seracain
2010-07-12, 12:12 AM
In my campaign, we use a plastic marker with a flat surface next to the flying model. When someone is flying/falling/etc., we use a whiteboard marker to write the number of squares up (or down when falling off bridges and the like) they are. Quick, efficient, and allows everybody to reference other models places.

Prodan
2010-07-12, 12:17 AM
Legos do sound like a good idea. The only problem I see is that it makes it difficult for two characters to occupy the same square at different elevations. For example, if the wizard wants to hover 30 feet above the fighter, the lego tower on which the wizard-miniature sits would get in the way of the fighter-miniature on the ground, even though the tower doesn't represent any sort of physical obstacle. That likely wouldn't come up a whole lot, though, so it's still a workable solution.

You know you can stick Lego blocks on top of a model's head, right?

jiriku
2010-07-12, 12:23 AM
I use a whiteboard surface, with magnetic tokens representing the PCs. With a dry-erase marker, I note PC initiative counts in one corner of the board. When my players started using alternate movement modes routinely, I got some large magnetic arrows (silver for flying, black for burrowing), and notated each character's altitude right next to his initiative total (negative numbers for burrowing characters). It's fairly easy to stack flat magnets, so players can share the same square without much trouble.

NowhereMan583
2010-07-12, 01:04 AM
The thing is, I'm not sure how well replacing the miniatures with legos or magnets would go over. We've gotten used to having normal plastic or pewter miniatures that look somewhat like the characters, and I'd rather not have to ditch those.

I'm inclined to use Seracain's system - it's not as visually striking as some of the others, but it also doesn't involve getting rid of the miniatures we're used to using. (Or any extra expense, which is a plus.)

Thanks, guys.:smallsmile:

AslanCross
2010-07-12, 05:02 AM
I use the "writing down the altitude" method as well. It works fine.

hamishspence
2010-07-12, 05:07 AM
Possible way to handle attacks from underneath- an open small box, placed on the square on its side, place the model on top of the box, and the attacker from below can be placed inside the box.

Enables models to be placed under models without problems.

If you have enough (maybe made of card) you could show a host of enemies attacking in "wall formation"

Beelzebub1111
2010-07-12, 05:59 AM
one inch square cubes to stack on the battle-mat, placing the mini on top. They should have them at most eduacation supply stores.

hamishspence
2010-07-12, 06:30 AM
Works well- except in cases where minis have to be stacked on top of each other. In these cases, you need boxes rather than cubes.

taltamir
2010-07-12, 06:37 AM
Legos do sound like a good idea. The only problem I see is that it makes it difficult for two characters to occupy the same square at different elevations. For example, if the wizard wants to hover 30 feet above the fighter, the lego tower on which the wizard-miniature sits would get in the way of the fighter-miniature on the ground, even though the tower doesn't represent any sort of physical obstacle.

use red legos as "5 feet of air", and a colored lego to represet the fighter and mage (say, blue for fighter, green for mage). Build a tower of lego using a blue piece, on top of which 5 red pierces, on top of which a green piece. This represents both of them. (no miniatures).

valadil
2010-07-12, 08:48 AM
Traditionally we used dice to represent altitude. A d12 next to the character indicates how many 10s of feet they're at.

I've also recently been using construx (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/4487311081/) for 3d terrain. It's awesome for buildings, or raise surface that the players might find themselves under. Not sure how well it interacts with flying characters though. They haven't quite leveled that high yet.

Person_Man
2010-07-12, 08:58 AM
Buy some Heroclix, Mage Knight, and/or Horrorclix pieces (basically anything by WizKids (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WizKids)). You can get a box commons for relatively cheap online. They have various attributes in the base, which you can change by turning the underside of the base.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/ba/Clix_figure.png

The Defense numbers generally range from 1-15. Just use this number in place of elevation (multiplying by 5 if you want feet and not spaces). Plus there are flying and non-flying figures (represented by a thin clear pedestal for the miniature) so everyone can tell who is flying and who isn't flying at a glance. If Player A is directly on top Player B, put Player B under a small clear medicine or dixie cup.

As an added bonus, you get figures for an entirely new and very fun game(s).

Having said that, I personally find combat with flight highly unwieldy unless the entire game system is built around flight (ie, Wings of War or some similar fighter pilot game). As such, I try to discourage it.

valadil
2010-07-12, 09:32 AM
Buy some Heroclix, Mage Knight, and/or Horrorclix pieces (basically anything by WizKids (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WizKids)). You can get a box commons for relatively cheap online.

I tried this. My group balked because the bases were just slightly too big. Having one or two of them on the map is fine, but more than that and nothing fits in the grid any more.

My solution? (You may not want to read this if you're a Mage Knight fan.) Rip off the bottom piece, pull out the paper. Attack the remaining bit of plastic with a Dremel until it fits your grid of choice. It's less time consuming, less expensive (assuming you already own a Dremel), and much more fun than simply gluing new bases on.

subject42
2010-07-12, 09:43 AM
I can't find the post right now, but Gabe from Penny arcade did an awesome setup where he used clear grids and stacked them on top of each other with dowels in between to create space.

hamishspence
2010-07-12, 09:58 AM
Sounds like it would work great for small/medium models- but not so good when it's a mix of models comparable to the players, and really big ones.

Say, party vs Huge to Gargantuan dragon, or vs a Roc.

Person_Man
2010-07-12, 10:38 AM
I tried this. My group balked because the bases were just slightly too big. Having one or two of them on the map is fine, but more than that and nothing fits in the grid any more.

My solution? (You may not want to read this if you're a Mage Knight fan.) Rip off the bottom piece, pull out the paper. Attack the remaining bit of plastic with a Dremel until it fits your grid of choice. It's less time consuming, less expensive (assuming you already own a Dremel), and much more fun than simply gluing new bases on.

Another solution is to use maps scaled for 28mm figures. They're almost as plentiful as maps made for 25mm figures, and just as cheap. For example, Herocscape terrain (my choice for outdoor encounters) is 28mm. Or you can just print them out from maps online.