One of the design goals that I discussed in my big list of elements I want in the game is that it should be less grid reliant. Battle grids are really powerful tools but as soon as you presume their presence they become really powerful crutches. A lot of game design presumes their presence and I think the game is the worse for it. A good example is that difficult terrain is two-squares of movement instead of one. It is a simple, quick rule that has an interesting impact on the game. It also destroys imagination because each square, now, is really, really important. If someone wades though a muddy bog, the bog probably has to conform to square dimensions because it matters whether or not that square costs two or one. It is also challenging for a GM, assuming no grid, to have an idea how many squares of difficult terrain a character passes through and almost impossible for a player to be expected to know from a description. Just not a good situation.
So I am trying to distill movement in combat down to its fundamental elements and then build it back up, making sure not to embed the need for a grid with each step. Today all I want to do is figure out what are the most basic movements characters take. I think I got it down to four:
- Tactical approach. From outside of a threatened zone, you approach and engage an enemy.
- Tactical withdraw. From within a threatened zone, you move away from an enemy.
- Tactical move. From outside a threatened zone, you move.
- Tactical maneuver. From within a threatened zone, you move and end within the threatened zone.
For each of them, I also took a snapshot of how it changes if the threatened range expands. I merely expanded it to two squares, but the principles would be the same even if it were expanded to three or five or whatever. My idea is to develop simple principles for each type of move that are reliable enough that a grid wouldn't be required to adjudicate. The hope is that by focusing on basic statuses (i.e. adjacent) instead of ranges (i.e. within 2 squares) you can have a lot of the same functionality with a lot less rules. It also makes it more natural to how grid-less combat is played with people focusing on whether someone is adjacent, within range, etc.
To that same end, I plan on making OA relatively rare. Nothing is more annoying than having a player try and take back an action because it is too detrimental, nothing slows the game down more than adding in more attacks, and nothing imbalances combat quicker than adding more attacks. So all in all, they detract a lot. They are neat in that they balance various maneuvers, but there are a lot of ways to add balance.
What I need help with is two fold:
- What did I miss? What other types of movement are fundamental to the game and combat?
- How many little levers and tools do you think you need? That is, are OAs a good tool? Is reach a good mechanic? Anything similar?