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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Default Brainstorm: Zone System (to replace battle grid)

    In the 5e discussion threads, there have been a few musings lately about using a "zone system," as several other RPGs do, in place of a battle grid. An abstracted system where instead of "squares," terrain is categorized into qualitative zones, such as "corridor, doorway, balcony, courtyard, throne dias," etc.

    While there are charming aspects to this sort of system in other RPGs, such as OldSchoolHack (the version I'm personally most familiar with), most of the existing ones lack the tactical depth of a battle grid. However, I don't think that has to be the case.

    If a Zone System could be constructed that preserves tactical options, while at the same time making it so combat can be played out on an ordinary "map" or drawing of an area rather than a map that's pre-divided into grid squares, I think it would be an impressive step of progress in RPG design. (My dream is that, if this system could get working really well, I could eventually integrate it into CRE8.)

    So my big idea to improve what's already out there has to do with the action economy. As far as I've seen, existing Zone Systems use one of the following two variations:
    1. Creatures only get one action per turn. Moving (to an adjacent zone) must be done at the expense of other actions, such as attacking or spellcasting. This tends to render battles a bit static.
    2. Creatures get a move action in addition to their "main" action, but the only thing they can use it for is to move to an adjacent zone. If they have no desire to leave their current piece of the battlefield, this action is simply wasted.


    So what if we introduce other alternatives that a Move Action can be used for? Even if movement within a single Zone is abstract, can't it be used to duplicate some of the same options that were enabled by movement/position in a grid-based system? For example, what if the following menu of Move Actions was available?
    • Move to an adjacent Zone.
    • Flanking maneuver. This requires having an ally with a melee weapon in one's same Zone. After using a Move Action in this manner, any melee attacks made this turn gain the bonus traditionally awarded for flanking.
    • Guard. After using a Move Action in this manner, any creature who moves into the "guarded" Zone provokes an opportunity attack. (Or if that's too strong, maybe moving into the zone and attacking another creature would be required in order to provoke.)
    • I'm sure there are some important options I'm forgetting.


    Note that this menu is based on the assumption that opportunity attacks are an important part of tactics/battlefield control, like in 3e and 4e. I'm ok with that, since they're a wide-reaching way to make lots of terrain and geography worthwhile. I'd imagine that, regardless of which Move Action a creature uses, he can still make opportunity attacks against creatures who attempt to leave his Zone within the next round.

    How does this basic idea sound?

    Unanswered Questions

    Reach Weapons
    What value do polearms have in this system? Reach is such a powerful effect in 3e (which is consistent with history); it seems a shame to destroy it entirely. My basic thought is to make it so that polearms, but not other weapons, can be combined with the Guard move action to gain an opportunity attack against any foe that moves into the wielder's Zone.

    Speed
    What value does higher Speed have in this system? Predecessor Zone Systems (AFAIK) don't use Speed; they just allow moving one Zone per action. I guess that's workable, but Speed is a flavorful difference to have between e.g. Dwarves and Humans. So I'd like it to still mean something in a Zone System. Perhaps instead of moving to an adjacent Zone, a creature who makes a successful "Speed check" can move two Zones away? Or with a successful "Speed check," can avoid provoking opportunity attacks when it exits a zone?

    Ranged Weapons
    In OldSchoolHack, ranged weapons only work into the nearest Zone. Seems a bit wussy. But how many Zones away should be targetable? Tough to say, considering the highly variable size of a Zone. The simulationist in me wants to continue defining weapon ranges using feet or meters rather than Zones. Is it inelegant to have a double standard for distance measurements like this? (Seems particularly appealing in MapTool, where it's easy to measure distances on the fly, even on a gridless map.)

    5-foot Steps
    I'm leaning towards saying that 5-foot steps no longer have any mechanical effect; they're just the small within-a-zone movement adjustments that are assumed to happen for free. But if someone has a great idea for what effect they should have -- i.e., what benefit a character should get from their Move Action by default, if they don't select anything from my "menu" -- then I'd love to hear about it.
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    Default Re: Brainstorm: Zone System (to replace battle grid)

    This is a concept I would greatly like to explore. I came up with a rudimentary system before, however it didn't really fit what I wanted.

    First off, my beginning question is: how exactly is a zone going to be defined? In my original conception, the zones actually would get smaller or larger depending on the number. It was complicated and ultimately unusable, but I liked it.

    As for your questions... My first thoughts on Reach weapons are this: they allow a character using them to make attacks of opportunity against enemies which enter their occupied zone. Combine it with your guard option and its quite powerful.

    I quite like the idea of speed being something one can train in, being able to make a check to move further. I would almost want to say that perhaps make it require a full action in order to make a speed check, so that it's something that has to be focused on to use effectively (maybe make the check to move a single additional zone fairly small so that most characters will be able to move at least two zones if they spend an action to do so, but more skilled characters can possibly move even further?).

    I say get rid of 5-foot steps. I never liked them, personally; too miniatures focused.

    As for ranged weapons, I had weapons classified by their ability to penetrate zones. A pistol might be able to only hit those within a single zone, but a rife is designed to strike those further away. In the same vein, a sniper rifle should be able to hit things much further away. This just seems sensible to me.
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    Default Re: Brainstorm: Zone System (to replace battle grid)

    Here are some thoughts I have related to your questions, and some by Domriso.

    Definition of a Zone: A zone is a room or otherwise defined area usually between 30 and 50 feet across. It can be any shape, but must be contiguous. Most zones are roughly symmetrical, but there are options for Narrow Zones, like corridors or bridges. Generally, your map should be constructed in such a way that no zone is contained wholly within another.

    Hazards and Narrow Zones: Movement inside of a zone is usually free and abstract. However, some zones are full of Hazards (spiked walls, barricades, fire, etc.). Moving into or out of a zone that is Hazardous requires an Acrobatics (or Mobility, or what have you) check. If you fail, you cannot complete your movement and the hazard usually gets a chance to harm or hinder you.

    Narrow zones are similar. Attempting an action which would have you moving through a space too narrow for you requires an Acrobatics check. For example, a dwarf fighter and an elf ranger are on a narrow bridge with a few goblin archers and a bugbear. The DM declares that everyone is in the same zone, but the bridge is too narrow for more than one character to stand abreast. If the ranger and the bugbear start to fight in the middle of the bridge, the Dwarf would need to make an Acrobatics check to squeeze past them and get to the goblin archers.

    Melee Range: You may use melee attacks with someone if you are within Melee Range (within 5 feet, usually). Entering Melee Range with a character requires a move action from within the same Zone, or a charge action from an adjacent zone. Leaving Melee Range usually provokes an attack of opportunity.

    Reach Weapons: A reach weapon is one which is especially long. It allows you to make Melee attacks without being in Melee Range, although you still have to be in the same zone. In addition, anyone who moves into your Zone and attempts an action provokes an attack of opportunity.

    Shift: The 5-foot step. Allows you to leave Melee range without provoking an attack of opportunity, or avoid an attack of opportunity from a reach weapon. Also can help you avoid traps or hazards in your zone.

    Speed: Every 30 feet of speed allows you to use a Move action to move from one zone to an adjacent zone. Each five feet above 30 gives a +1 to Initiative and a +1 to any Acrobatics check to deal with Hazards or Narrow zones, to a maximum of +5. Every 5 feet slower than 30 you move, you instead take a -1 penalty to Initiative and Acrobatics, to a minimum of -5.

    Ranged weapons: For all intents and purposes, each zone is 30 feet from each adjacent zone. You have line of sight to a target if:
    • you share a zone
    • there are no solid walls between your zone and your target's zone
    • the target is not in total cover


    Shaped effects: Honestly, I don't have any idea what to do with, for example, spell cones or blast effects.

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    Default Re: Brainstorm: Zone System (to replace battle grid)

    Variable Move - Some zones require movement rolls to enter, with something rolled to get in it. For instance, a balcony might be adjacent to an underlying room, but a Climb or Jump roll must be made to go either way, with going from the balcony being easier.

    Variable Reach - Moving into melee range against longer weapons requires a special roll (I'm thinking that it would be based on a combat stat, movement, and equipment, with some weapons and shields giving a bonus). On a failure, the person moving is within their enemies range, but not in range.

    Variable Range - Thrown weapons go one zone, projectiles usually go two, extremely long range projectiles go three.

    Cover - Cover is a trait between zones. Every ranged weapon that passes through cover takes a penalty equal to the quality of the cover. This stacks across multiple zones.

    Take Cover - If staying within a zone, characters may Take Cover as a move action. This usually doubles the cover value of one zone border, though there may be talents/feats/whatever or specific zones where it one can take cover against multiple zones.
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    Default Re: Brainstorm: Zone System (to replace battle grid)

    I'm not necessarily against taking it a step further, but I think the following would combine the easiest with 3e/4e and would be the simplest starting point:
    • Divide the battlefield into simple zones. A room, a hallway, etc. as you said. Very large things should be subdivided into multiple zones, but this should be avoided as much as possible.
    • A move action moves you to the next zone. For the most part speed is useless.
    • You may automatically flank with any ally in the same zone.
    • If you have reach and a foe with less reach moves and attacks you in the same turn (but not on different turns), it provokes an attack of opportunity.
    • If a foe leaves your zone without withdrawing it provokes an attack of opportunity.
    • Actions remain mostly unchanged. If you don't move you can do a full round action, etc.


    Examples of special cases:
    • 5 foot steps: gone.
    • Ranged weapons: Redefine the range increments for each weapon, in number of zones. Short ranged thrown weapons must be targetted in the same zone, so the only benefit is the ability to use dexterity instead of strength to hit. Targetting a creature more than 1 zone away must be done with DM permission, since it is not always a straight shot. Most non-thrown weapons should have a range increment of 2 or 3 zones. So a sling has a -2 penalty to fire 2 zones away (no penalty 1 zone away), a longbow has a -2 to fire 3 zones away (no penalty 2 zones away). If an ally is in the same zone as your target there is a -4 to hit unless you have precise shot. If cover that your foe might use (like a pillar or his buddy, usually not your buddy) is in the same zone or a zone before it, the target gets +4 AC. Firing at a foe in the same zone as you does *not* provoke an attack of opportunity (90% of the time in 3e/4e this is avoidable anyway, so best to ignore it).
    • Ranged spells: Close = 1 zone, medium = 4 zones, long ~= on the same battlefield. Same DM decision as above for reaching more than 1 zone away.


    You may wish to figure out special cases on the fly based on whatever players and monsters you have, rather than doing it ahead of time for 100 different things. You may notice I did things like flanking and cover passively to make things easier. In general I tried to stick to existing rules as much as possible to make a starting point.
    Last edited by ericgrau; 2012-06-25 at 07:11 PM.
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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Brainstorm: Zone System (to replace battle grid)

    Quote Originally Posted by Domriso View Post
    First off, my beginning question is: how exactly is a zone going to be defined?
    I guess it's "a chunk of the battlefield that's small enough that you don't care whether people move around within it; their exact position won't make much of a difference."

    As for your questions... My first thoughts on Reach weapons are this: they allow a character using them to make attacks of opportunity against enemies which enter their occupied zone. Combine it with your guard option and its quite powerful.
    OK, one vote for the "OA vs. things that enter your zone" option -- although I still think it should only be usable if you use the Guard option.

    I quite like the idea of speed being something one can train in, being able to make a check to move further. I would almost want to say that perhaps make it require a full action in order to make a speed check, so that it's something that has to be focused on to use effectively (maybe make the check to move a single additional zone fairly small so that most characters will be able to move at least two zones if they spend an action to do so, but more skilled characters can possibly move even further?).
    Well, I'm not really fond of "full-round actions" in general, but I think I can still work with what you're saying here. Basically you're saying that you can move one zone as a move action automatically, but if you try to give up your standard action to "double move" on a turn, you have to pass a (fairly easy) Speed Check or else you get stranded after just one zone? Hmmm. There's some sense there, but it seems pretty harsh on the whole.

    One idea I've had since starting the thread is adopting something like the "hustling" rules from 4e: you can move further than normal, but you end up granting combat advantage (as if you were e.g. flanked or dazed) if you do. Perhaps even moving one zone can be done automatically, but requires you to make a (fairly easy) Speed Check or take the penalties of Hustling?

    I say get rid of 5-foot steps. I never liked them, personally; too miniatures focused.
    Yeah, that's kind of what I was thinking. Opinion noted.

    As for ranged weapons, I had weapons classified by their ability to penetrate zones. A pistol might be able to only hit those within a single zone, but a rife is designed to strike those further away. In the same vein, a sniper rifle should be able to hit things much further away. This just seems sensible to me.
    Variable Range - Thrown weapons go one zone, projectiles usually go two, extremely long range projectiles go three.
    This still grates against my sensibilities about how subjective a zone can be. What about a series of zones, hypothetically, that are only a couple meters wide each, all in a series of rows? (Necessitated by rows of different types of terrain.) It doesn't make sense for a pistol not to be able to fire across several of them.

    Quote Originally Posted by BarroomBard View Post
    Hazards and Narrow Zones: Movement inside of a zone is usually free and abstract. However, some zones are full of Hazards (spiked walls, barricades, fire, etc.). Moving into or out of a zone that is Hazardous requires an Acrobatics (or Mobility, or what have you) check. If you fail, you cannot complete your movement and the hazard usually gets a chance to harm or hinder you.
    Hmmm, yeah, good call on bringing up the question of what difficult terrain actually does in a system that doesn't measure each 5-foot step of movement. My initial reaction is to say that it would make more sense for difficult terrain only to have an effect when you try to leave a zone, not when you try to enter it.

    Narrow zones are similar. Attempting an action which would have you moving through a space too narrow for you requires an Acrobatics check. For example, a dwarf fighter and an elf ranger are on a narrow bridge with a few goblin archers and a bugbear. The DM declares that everyone is in the same zone, but the bridge is too narrow for more than one character to stand abreast. If the ranger and the bugbear start to fight in the middle of the bridge, the Dwarf would need to make an Acrobatics check to squeeze past them and get to the goblin archers.
    This is uncomfortably close to going back to keeping track of creatures' exact locations on a grid again. But then, it is at least situational, and I don't have a better idea to handle terrain like narrow bridges. So ... I suppose something along these lines works ok.

    Melee Range: You may use melee attacks with someone if you are within Melee Range (within 5 feet, usually). Entering Melee Range with a character requires a move action from within the same Zone, or a charge action from an adjacent zone. Leaving Melee Range usually provokes an attack of opportunity.
    This does away with the whole notion of motion within a zone being abstract. What is the benefit of doing so, rather than just declaring that you can melee attack anyone in your same zone? (Besides giving an easy definition for reach, like you do below.)

    Reach Weapons: A reach weapon is one which is especially long. It allows you to make Melee attacks without being in Melee Range, although you still have to be in the same zone. In addition, anyone who moves into your Zone and attempts an action provokes an attack of opportunity.

    Shift: The 5-foot step. Allows you to leave Melee range without provoking an attack of opportunity, or avoid an attack of opportunity from a reach weapon. Also can help you avoid traps or hazards in your zone.
    Why would anyone ever not use a 5-foot step to leave Melee range? And again, this is ... workable, but too close to still using a grid for my comfort level.

    Speed: Every 30 feet of speed allows you to use a Move action to move from one zone to an adjacent zone. Each five feet above 30 gives a +1 to Initiative and a +1 to any Acrobatics check to deal with Hazards or Narrow zones, to a maximum of +5. Every 5 feet slower than 30 you move, you instead take a -1 penalty to Initiative and Acrobatics, to a minimum of -5.
    Speed doesn't really have much to do with initiative, and situational Acrobatics bonuses make sense in many systems but not mine.

    More importantly, the sudden HUGE leap in mobility between Speed 55 and Speed 60 is concerning.

    Shaped effects: Honestly, I don't have any idea what to do with, for example, spell cones or blast effects.
    Ah, that's another good issue that I meant to bring up. Thanks. I'm leaning towards just having these types of effects target everything within a particular zone (or plural) ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    Variable Move - Some zones require movement rolls to enter, with something rolled to get in it. For instance, a balcony might be adjacent to an underlying room, but a Climb or Jump roll must be made to go either way, with going from the balcony being easier.
    Yes, this is definitely the sort of thing I imagine. It doesn't really answer the question of use of Speed, though. Or are all light-armored elves unilaterally better at jumping and climbing than heavy-armored dwarves?

    Variable Reach - Moving into melee range against longer weapons requires a special roll (I'm thinking that it would be based on a combat stat, movement, and equipment, with some weapons and shields giving a bonus). On a failure, the person moving is within their enemies range, but not in range.
    Good simulationism, but would slow combat down way too much.

    Cover - Cover is a trait between zones. Every ranged weapon that passes through cover takes a penalty equal to the quality of the cover. This stacks across multiple zones.
    Hmmm, so cover always works across "all" or "none" of the border between two zones? So, if you have a fairly empty field with one boulder in the middle that provides pretty good cover, just the shadow of the boulder will need to be its own zone? I'm going to have to think on this some more.

    Take Cover - If staying within a zone, characters may Take Cover as a move action. This usually doubles the cover value of one zone border, though there may be talents/feats/whatever or specific zones where it one can take cover against multiple zones.
    Ooh, I don't want anything as fiddly as "doubling the existing cover bonuses," but I do like the idea of Taking Cover as another option for Move Actions. In fact, that might eliminate the need for defining borders between zones as "granting cover" and "not granting cover" entirely.

    Quote Originally Posted by ericgrau View Post
    I'm not necessarily against taking it a step further, but I think the following would combine the easiest with 3e/4e and would be the simplest starting point:[list][*]Divide the battlefield into simple zones. A room, a hallway, etc. as you said. Very large things should be subdivided into multiple zones, but this should be avoided as much as possible.[*]A move action moves you to the next zone. For the most part speed is useless.

    [*]You may automatically flank with any ally in the same zone.
    Hmmm, is there a specific reason you don't like the idea of requiring a Move Action to set up flanking? Automatic flanking kind of reduces the cinematic appeal of the combat, to me ... although I grant you that this would be an easy and useful special ability to build into the system, kind of like the Island of Blades stance in Tome of Battle. I like the automatic flanking idea in cases like that.
    [*]If you have reach and a foe with less reach moves and attacks you in the same turn (but not on different turns), it provokes an attack of opportunity.
    So, only works for defending yourself? Not your allies? Does that make more sense?
    In general I tried to stick to existing rules as much as possible to make a starting point.
    Heh, I'm already in far, far too deep to adopt this as a guiding principle of my work.
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    Default Re: Brainstorm: Zone System (to replace battle grid)

    Quote Originally Posted by Draz74 View Post

    Hmmm, is there a specific reason you don't like the idea of requiring a Move Action to set up flanking? Automatic flanking kind of reduces the cinematic appeal of the combat, to me ... although I grant you that this would be an easy and useful special ability to build into the system, kind of like the Island of Blades stance in Tome of Battle. I like the automatic flanking idea in cases like that.
    Mostly for simplicity. And half the time you or your flanking buddy would set up the flank as part of his move into the zone, or as a free action using a 5 foot step. OTOH half the time he wouldn't, so maybe it's a bit generous.

    Quote Originally Posted by Draz74 View Post
    So, only works for defending yourself? Not your allies? Does that make more sense?
    Good point, didn't consider that. Though that gets more into the details of making creatures move around you, the size of choke points and so forth. You might add a mechanic where you could protect an ally with a reach weapon, perhaps as part of the move into the zone or as another move action if done later on.

    Wasn't sure if you were unhappy about the system trying to stick close to the basic rules or movement speed becoming irrelevant. In the first case you can always make additions to the starting skeleton. In the second case you might say that each 30' lets you move an extra zone while smaller increments are irrelevant. Or if you love speed you might add on tactical bonuses for those who move faster. Maybe humans in light armor can charge across 2 zones but dwarves can't. You might want to make a table for such things for easy reference.
    Last edited by ericgrau; 2012-06-28 at 01:53 AM.
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    Default Re: Brainstorm: Zone System (to replace battle grid)

    Quote Originally Posted by Draz74 View Post
    Good simulationism, but would slow combat down way too much.
    I figure it would be minor if one simply had a precalculated Close statistic they rolled to get in range.

    Quote Originally Posted by Draz74 View Post
    Hmmm, so cover always works across "all" or "none" of the border between two zones? So, if you have a fairly empty field with one boulder in the middle that provides pretty good cover, just the shadow of the boulder will need to be its own zone? I'm going to have to think on this some more.
    The thing about cover bonuses is that they only sometimes have an effect, and as such effectively model the way people are only sometimes behind cover. Plus, with Take Cover this gets better. I figure a boulder in the middle of a field would provide minor cover against all borders, because sometimes people aren't on the right side of the border. However, Take Cover could, in this case, nearly render one immune to attacks coming from one particular zone.

    Quote Originally Posted by Draz74 View Post
    Ooh, I don't want anything as fiddly as "doubling the existing cover bonuses," but I do like the idea of Taking Cover as another option for Move Actions. In fact, that might eliminate the need for defining borders between zones as "granting cover" and "not granting cover" entirely.
    There are probably better ways to handle it, particularly in situations such as the boulder above. With that said, keep Take Cover - it dramatically effects ranged combat, pushes for mobility, and makes tactics critical. It also makes crossfires extremely effective, as they should be.

    Regarding movement: The easiest way I can see to do it is with several skills, where armor provides a penalty. [Run, Jump, Tumble, Swim, Climb, Fly] provides medium-high detail, [Run, Athletics] low detail, [Move] really low detail, and something like [Run, Crawl, Tumble, Swim, Running Jump, Standing Jump, Swim, Climb, Dive, Fall, Turn, Squeeze Through, Pass, Balance, Slide] would be used for the rules heavy option. Personally, I think that [Run, Swim, Climb, Agility] would work pretty well, where Agility covers tumble, jump, squeeze through and fly. Then, some borders require checks to cross. The rules heavy option is a bad one, but is included for completion. There is a similar very rules light one, where there is just [Move], which I'd consider too simple, but worth considering. Then there is the extremely rules heavy version, where every single skill in the rules heavy version is actually a subsystem, but we don't need that.

    Then, one merely has movement checks for certain zones. These probably aren't common, and are likely needed only for shortcuts most of the time. Say we have a 5 zone battlefield, consisting of a bridge, 2 shelves next to a bridge that generally taper out, and bridge landings. Shelf-Landing-Bridge is a viable option regardless, but Shelf-Bridge is going to need a Jump/Agility/Athletics/Standing Jump/Move check.
    Last edited by Knaight; 2012-06-28 at 04:41 AM.
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    Default Re: Brainstorm: Zone System (to replace battle grid)

    I actually really like where this is going. I don't know that anything really special needs to be done for people who aren't using there move action for something else, wouldn't that just let them make a Full Attack like it normally would?

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    Default Re: Brainstorm: Zone System (to replace battle grid)

    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    I figure it would be minor if one simply had a precalculated Close statistic they rolled to get in range.
    That would help, but the extra rolls are still giving me a headache just imagining them.

    I figure a boulder in the middle of a field would provide minor cover against all borders, because sometimes people aren't on the right side of the border.
    Ah, more abstraction to deal with the directional issues. That makes more sense. I'm still not wild about the amount of bookkeeping that the "borders with variable bonuses" idea uses, though. (It could make a good optional variant rule to include for people who don't mind the bookkeeping, but I'd rather come up with some core rules that are simpler and easier to run.)

    Regarding movement: The easiest way I can see to do it is with several skills, where armor provides a penalty.
    [snip]
    Personally, I think that [Run, Swim, Climb, Agility] would work pretty well, where Agility covers tumble, jump, squeeze through and fly. Then, some borders require checks to cross.
    What kinds of zones do you envision requiring a Run check?

    Quote Originally Posted by Loki_42 View Post
    I actually really like where this is going. I don't know that anything really special needs to be done for people who aren't using there move action for something else, wouldn't that just let them make a Full Attack like it normally would?
    Full Attacks are bad game design. They take a long time to resolve, they inherently limit melee characters, and the iterative attacks often miss anyway. Getting rid of them is something 4e did right, IMO. 5e, meanwhile, sounds like it will probably go the same direction as Legend: keep the concept of multiple attacks for high-level characters, but not require "not moving" as a condition for using them.

    All that said, yes, if these zones were used in a 3e-type system of full attacks, then getting a full attack would be plenty of reward for not using your Move Action for anything else.
    Last edited by Draz74; 2012-06-28 at 11:37 AM.
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    Default Re: Brainstorm: Zone System (to replace battle grid)

    Quote Originally Posted by Draz74 View Post
    What kinds of zones do you envision requiring a Run check?
    There are a few obvious examples (Ride would also apply to most of them).
    1) There is a slope boundary, and the easiest way up is just to build up speed by sprinting and run up it.
    2) A character intends to try and move multiple zones, involving completely crossing one. This is the main one, really.

    As for borders with variable bonuses - I don't necessarily see this as difficult, but it can also just be a part of a zone, where one fires into or through a zone and takes a penalty. That way, you track 1 or 2 values per zone, if the zone even has cover, instead of all borders. Firing into a cluttered zone causes problems, as does firing through one. Otherwise, there is always cover value and double cover value, though I like that one less given the boulder example.

    Which brings me back to range - your example of a bunch of zones with slightly different terrain is unnecessary, as that could easily be one zone characterized by generally weird terrain within it. 1 zone range on thrown weapons, 2 on most projectiles, 3 on extreme range projectiles (or 1 and 2 with some sort of +1 range talent) has been tested and works, specifically in the FATE system.
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    Default Re: Brainstorm: Zone System (to replace battle grid)

    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    2) A character intends to try and move multiple zones, involving completely crossing one. This is the main one, really.
    OK, so should multiple-zone movement be possible with just a single move action (and a successful Run check)? If so, does that mean that a double-moving character should be able to move four zones in one turn?

    As for borders with variable bonuses - I don't necessarily see this as difficult, but it can also just be a part of a zone, where one fires into or through a zone and takes a penalty. That way, you track 1 or 2 values per zone, if the zone even has cover, instead of all borders. Firing into a cluttered zone causes problems, as does firing through one.
    Better, especially if that same value takes on the role of designating "difficult terrain."

    Hmmm, can we make this sort of zone-value qualitative instead of quantitative? I kind of liked OldSchoolHack's system of "Tight," "Hazardous," "Open," "Dense," and "Neutral" zones.
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    Default Re: Brainstorm: Zone System (to replace battle grid)

    Quote Originally Posted by Draz74 View Post
    OK, so should multiple-zone movement be possible with just a single move action (and a successful Run check)? If so, does that mean that a double-moving character should be able to move four zones in one turn?
    Perhaps make the check harder if you use it twice in one turn? So you'd have to pass the check, move 2 zones, then pass a harder check if you want to move 4.

    Also, on speed: If you go with the various action skills that Knaight mentioned, what if your base speed was changed into skill points you could only spend on those skills? that way an elf or human would be able to naturally jump farther or run faster than a dwarf (though only slightly), but as they get stronger, the dwarf could fairly easily catch up if he wanted too. If you get a bonus to speed from a class, like barb or monk, then you get bonus skill points again. Armor would give a penalty to those skills (in addition to armor check penalties) if they would restrict your speed normally.
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    Default Re: Brainstorm: Zone System (to replace battle grid)

    On the matter of reach, closing distance, and opportunity attacks, how about this?

    "When making a melee attack, if the attacking creature has less Reach than the attacked creature, then, unless the attacking creature's attack roll beats the attacked creature's Defense by 2 (per point that the attacked creature's Reach is higher than the attacking creature's) or more, the attacking creature triggers an opportunity attack from the attacked creature (opportunity attacks are immediate reactions which resolve before any triggering actions)."

    Your typical, medium-sized human has Reach 0 with his fists or with a dagger, Reach 1 with a sword or axe, and Reach 2 with a spear. A fire giant with a spear might have Reach 4.

    Hell, you could make it even simpler than that, if you wanted (though maybe this should be a feat or class feature):

    "When making a melee attack, if the attacking creature has less Reach then the attacked creature, unless the attacking creature spends a move action, then the attacking creature triggers an opportunity attack from the attacked creature (opportunity attacks are immediate reactions which resolve before any triggering actions)."

    If you wanted to use both of these principles, then I'd suggest that the former be the default rule, and that you provide a "Mobility" feat that allows characters to spend a move action to avoid the opportunity attack (or perhaps, a little more powerful, to avoid any and all immediate reaction abilities).
    Last edited by Ziegander; 2012-06-28 at 08:24 PM.
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    Default Re: Brainstorm: Zone System (to replace battle grid)

    Quote Originally Posted by Draz74 View Post
    This is uncomfortably close to going back to keeping track of creatures' exact locations on a grid again. But then, it is at least situational, and I don't have a better idea to handle terrain like narrow bridges. So ... I suppose something along these lines works ok.
    The "Narrow Zones" idea is one that I sort of stole from The One Ring, the new LotR RPG. I would suggest looking at it for a grid-less combat system. It goes even more abstract than you seem to be shooting for, but might give you some ideas.

    The basic idea here is to allow some tactical use of terrain without having to count every square. Your fighters can hold the line while your ranged guys can shoot from relative safety.

    This does away with the whole notion of motion within a zone being abstract. What is the benefit of doing so, rather than just declaring that you can melee attack anyone in your same zone? (Besides giving an easy definition for reach, like you do below.)
    I suppose this is a fair point. I thought it would help characters who fill (to use the 4e term) the Defender role in the party hold aggro. But I guess that's what the Guard move you mentioned is for.

    Why would anyone ever not use a 5-foot step to leave Melee range?
    The same could be said even in a system that uses a combat grid.

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    Default Re: Brainstorm: Zone System (to replace battle grid)

    I'm working on a D10 system I'm thinking of implementing something like this with.


    Definition of Zone: macro-scale combat areas. Defined by either a change in terrain (courtyard to steps for example) or space (up to DM but in general 30ft is assumed). Each Zone can hold from 0 to 8 people inside comfortably (Bull-Rushing or other ways of being forced into full Zones causes something to happen)

    Speed as AC: Have you ever seen in a movie the Rogue simply dodge the big axe? Or flip over the enemy to avoid an attack? This is something similar.
    For every 10ft of Speed you have over 30, gain +1 AC, Acrobatics and Reflex saves. For every enemy you are outnumbered (Enemy numbers - Allies including you = enemies outnumbered by) reduce this bonus by 1 to a minimum of 0.
    Speed Bonuses do not count if you are prone or otherwise denied your Dex Bonus.

    Hazardous Zones: Zones with gaping chasms, pillars of fire and swinging log traps are not the best places for a fight. Hazards force a save at the start of every round for anyone inside the Zone and whenever someone first enters the Hazardous Zone. It is also harder to utilize one's speed and acrobatics when trying to avoid everyone. At the start of your turn you can choose to either only apply 1/2 of your Speed Bonus OR keep the full but should the enemies attack defeat your Non-Speed AC but not your Speed-boosted AC then you must roll a save against the Hazard (as if entering the zone).
    Ignoring a hazard's effect on Speed requires the Bypass Hazard Rank of equal to or greater than the Hazard Rank. Alternatively being immune to the type of Hazard (Fire Immunity beats a fire, Flight beats a hole in the ground etc.)
    Rank 0: Not a hazard. Rank 1: a small corridor or fight on a bridge. Rank2: It's on fire or other basic effects. etc. etc.

    Ranged Weapon: Minimum range 1 zone (unless otherwise stated), range measured in ft not Zones. -1 to hit for every enemy outnumbering you (like Speed but for To Hit)
    Ranged Cover: cumulative, kind of. Firing past a barricade, several allies and enemies and into shadows is harder than firing into shadows. Taking Cover behind and obstacle only counts with cover inside your own Zone and dim light/radiant light is only applicable inside your own Zone. Each form of cover is downgraded one level if not in the target's Zone unless it's Total Cover (a low fence counts as nothing, a chest-high wall counts as a low fence but a 20ft high castle wall can't be shot through etc.)

    Flanking: Requires the expenditure of your 5ft step along with an ally's 5ft step to negate a target's Dex Mod against everyone. You cannot do this if the enemy in your Zone outnumbers by atleast 2 (remember the 8 max for people, 3 people against 5 means no flanking)
    Guarding the Zone requires the expenditure of your 5ft step and the next person to enter the Zone provokes an AoO. (Feats can expand this number)
    Aiding requires the expenditure of your 5ft step and the designated ally gains +1 on all non-mental, non-poison rolls.
    Bodyguard requires the expenditure of your 5ft step and the next person to attack the designated ally (allies and multiple enemies with Feats)
    Aim requires you are under the effect of Bodyguard and the expenditure of your 5ft step. You are treated as having no enemies in your Zone for any Ranged Attacks.
    Bypass Reach requires the expenditure of your 5ft step and denies a Reach-weapon-wielder the AoO for attacking.

    Reach: If you wield a Reach weapon (or a Ranged weapon capable of attacking In-Zone) you may use you AoO whenever someone attacks you with Melee.

    AoE spells hit the entire Zone, Shaped AoE may designate up to 2 people that are not hit within the Zone OR hit 1 randomized person in an adjacent Zone (roll a D4/6/8, disregarding numbers not assigned to characters).

    Cones are In-Zone spells that hit 1 designated and 2 randomized characters (never yourself). Maximum 1/2 the number of people in a zone (can't attack with 1 person, just designated if 2-3 people in a zone, 1 designated, 1 random with 4-5 and 1 designated 2 random with 6-8). If you would hit an ally with your attack you may choose to call off the spell for no cost, choosing a different action (except for Cone effects)

    Moving through Zones:
    Characters can move 1 zone +1 for every 30 speed above 30. DC10+X (where X is the amount of Speed you want to gain) Speed check to increase your effective Speed for this movement. Every zone you pass through triggers it's hazard or Guards and reduces your Speed bonus by 1 for every Zone passed through (minimum 0)
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