Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Going off the grid ... BLASPHEMY!!

My friends all know my standing rant of "this isn't Dungeons and Dragons ... that died when 3.0 was introduced and the grid became a requirement for the game."  Usually a one way ticket to hell in the minds of most D&D fans and or an automatic mental ignore. Such is the life of a garrulously loquacious wanderer.

Again don't get me wrong ... sure I have extensively played 3.0, 3.5, pathfinder and 4e.  I've spent hundreds (probably thousands) on books, supplements, modules, minis ... to play in a grid world. Hell I'm a mini gamer, I play Warhammer, 40k, Warmachine, etc.  I actually enjoy modeling and painting minis.  But to me the core of a role playing game is players delving into what makes their character tick and finding a living breathing character there.  The DM can use that to make the game better and better.  The grid pulls everyone out of that immersive experience and brings them into something not very different from 40K or Warmachine, etc. but in a cooperative board game style of mini game.  Its cool and fun ... but its a very watered down version of role playing in my opinion.  I usually get shouted down as a grumpy old grognard when I say this in public though these days.
 I recall the old days though back when Hexes were traditionally used for large maps (entire regions) where the grid was reserved for smaller scales stuff (anything from buildings to dungeons to towns). In that regard the grid and hex seemed to be better suited for their respective uses.  I still use hex for large maps and grid for anything smaller when I'm doing my own campaigns, regardless of the system.  As was mentioned with 3.0 onwards for D&D you needed to use the grid for game play due to so many rules that you needed to track in terms of player proximity to things, etc.  Abstract combats became a thing of the past and the rise of grid gaming was complete (for D&D anyway) "Oh combat ... 10 minute pause as the grid is brought out and everyone drops out of RP mode into tactical board game mode."  Again as I said I've been engaging in 3.0 grid based gaming as most of us have for a long time now ... but I remember the days before the must use grid to be able to play ... RPGs.  Also I've heard the "oh you can play 3/3.5/pathfinder/4e without a grid.  In response to that I've always said don't give me any lame shit about how the grid games don't need a grid ... you can't bullshit us ... most of us have tried it without the grid and it sucks.  Half of the rules in the games are combat advantage, flanking, attacks of opportunity, AoE stuff with specific square effects, etc. etc. it would be so labor intensive for the DM to run a non-handwave fudge all the rolls game of 3.0-4e it wouldn't be worth the effort and there would be so many interuptions it would still disrupt the game with delays.  That or it would just turn into the DM faking everything and essentially railroading most of the game.

Having recently returned to non-grid based RPGs I am beginning to remember what made them magical and I'm enjoying it.  As a DM I'm seeing the story remain in play for the entire session. With the grid based games as soon as the grid rolls out its tactical board game time and all meta conversation about tactics.  That doesn't mean that in non-grid games players don't attempt to do so but in my experience you get less of it.  Also as a DM I am finding its easier to shut down the meta talk and excessive BS tangents and non-game talk.  I'm seeing my players have their characters do alot more RP type actions in combat situations.  I'm seeing players seem to get into their characters more etc.  This might not be the case for others and other gaming groups but so far in mine my grumpy old grognard theories are proving true.  So its been refreshing.  On the flip side of the coin though its not a balanced fight against me as the DM the way things were in 4e, etc.  I am more the stage manager again ... instead of an mini game opponent to my players ... I like this role more I think.

SO here is to twisted Blasphemy and heretical teachings!! Down with the grid! Up with pentagrams!

No comments: