With the oncoming death of the VT (actually, this was spurred because while insanely useful, the VT made mapmaking a HUGE pain in the ass), I was spurred to create a “mapless” battle plotter for D&D 4th Edition. The rules below are a first stab at such a system. All powers and ranges, etc. are handled normally, with the abstractions listed below.
Unless specified otherwise, In this description below, any rounding is done with .50 or lower rounding down, .51 or higher rounding up.
Bands are indeterminate distances, generally considered about 10 spaces across. When an encounter is defined, the number of bands is decided (and may be undefined). Generally the two “outermost” bands are considered “in the middle distance” and are in sight of the combat, but are disengagement territory – to move off the bands is to remove oneself from the encounter.
Within a Band:
* The band # you’re in confines you to melee combat with other creatures in that band only
* range 5 powers reach target(s) in your current band and those two adjacent bands at the time the power is used
* range 10 powers reach target(s) in your current band and up to two bands away
* range 20 powers reach target(s) in your current band and up to four bands away
* even with altitude, you’re still in a band – range to altitude creatures is altitude within your band, altitude + 3*(the difference in bands) for those outside your band
* to move between bands, use a move action roll your current speed (which might be more than normal if you expended a power, or less if you are slowed or immobilized) or less on a d6 to move one band up or down the scale.
* a non-shift move action or ranged attack in your band will provoke OA from whatever enemy/enemies are currently adjacent
Push and Pull:
Push and Pull powers and effects can be used to pull creatures from another band into the caster’s band, or may shove creatures from the caster’s band into an adjacent band, just as if the caster were using a move action – the caster rolls a d6, and if the total is equal to or less than the total length of the push/pull, the desired shift in bands occurs (if a pull, the caster may pull the creature affected adjacent if (s)he desires it).
Without shifting as given above, you are considered adjacent to 20% or at minimum 1 enemies in your band (random) at any given time, rounded.
You may expend 1 move action to be adjacent to a specific creature in your band. This does not provoke OA.
You may expend 1 move action to become adjacent to 10-40% (d4 * 10, round down) of remaining enemies in the band.
You are considered to always be adjacent to 20% (round down, minimum 1) allies in the same band without expending any movement points.
You may expend a move action as a shift to remove yourself from adjacency to a number of creatures equal to or less than your shifting speed.
Burst and Blast Powers:
A close-burst power will always catch every creature adjacent to you as part of the affected group.
The affected group of a close-burst-2 will add 10-20% of creatures in the band (random, round down) in addition to those adjacent to you.
A close-burst-3 will add 30-60% of creatures in the band (random, round down) in addition to those adjacent to you.
A close-burst-4 or higher will add 70-90% of creatures in the band (random, round down) in addition to those adjacent to you.
A burst attack that is not “close-burst” may be designated to be centered on (a) a creature, or (b) a space. If a creature, treat the burst using the same rules as the close-burst above, centering on the creature in question. If a space, treat the space as if it were a creature using adjacency rules above and apply the same rules as close-burst powers above.
A blast attack will catch 10-30% (d6/2 * 10) of all adjacent creatures (caster’s choice of which ones, rounded), and will catch additional creatures as given above under close-burst attacks – but may not target any additional adjacent creatures. Adjacent creatures not eligible for targeting are counted among those that do not fall into the affected group. Allies adjacent to targets (but who are not already among the randomly-determined affected) that fall into the blast may be included or excluded from the affected group at the caster’s choice.
Zone powers are treated the same as burst powers when they are laid down. Any creature in a zone may roll to escape the zone if it chooses to. The required roll must be greater than the zone size (as defined by its size in the power with any inherent modifications due to feats, equipment, what-have-you) minus the creature’s current speed on a d6. For example:
Joe throws a burst-3 zone over a speed-6 hobgoblin. Size 3, minus speed 6, results in a total of -3. If the hobgoblin chooses to escape the zone by spending a move action, it can do so automatically.
However, if Joe’s zone includes a Slow effect, that reduces the hobgoblin’s speed to 2, which means it has to roll higher than a 1 in order to escape. If the hobgoblin were somehow immobilized, it would have no move action and could therefore not escape this turn.
The DM may insert conditions that make the roll more difficult as (s)he deems appropriate.
Many zones include a movement rider if the caster spends a move action or commits some other activity. In those cases where the caster may move a zone, the caster may choose to try to add creatures to the zone’s area of effect (in which case, expending action to have the zone engulf creatures), or may attempt to move the zone into an adjacent band.
Engulfment: the caster may attempt to add a number of creatures to the zone’s effect no greater than the zone’s size plus 1 (add one creature for a burst-1 zone, two for burst-2, etc.). The caster rolls a dX, where X is the number of spaces the zone is able to move. The resulting roll determines the maximum number of creatures that may be added (not to exceed the limit established by the zone’s size). Any creatures already in the zone remain under its effect. The creature(s) so affected are determined randomly, unless the caster chooses IN ADVANCE to reduce the roll by 1, in which case allies of the caster are excluded.
Changing Bands: the caster may attempt to shift the zone into another band by rolling the total movement of the zone this turn or less on a d6. If successful, the caster may change the zone’s band and may then attempt an Engulfment (as above) on creatures in this band.
So as a DM you’d allocate forces, describe the terrain, and maybe decide how many bands wide it would be – few for tight spaces, lots for wide-opens. I figure average would be about seven. If players are calling for cover or using terrain in their description of how they want to act, the DM imposes difficult terrain penalties etc. per judgment call. A sample band set might look like this:
Band 1: cornfield, 4′ high, not difficult terrain but possible cover (full cover for creatures under 4′)
Band 2: grassy lawn, open area
Band 3: burnt down farmhouse, difficult terrain, some cover available
Band 4: grassy lawn, some burnt bodies, open area
Band 5: burnt down barn, difficult terrain, no cover available
Band 6: partially-burnt cornfield, cover available but only if asked for
Band 7: dirt wagon-road, open
Players start in band 7, what do you do?
Much of the combat would then be descriptive, range combat could still be shielded by gaurdians, because a double move would bring you two bands to go face-to-face as needed, etc. I’m working on some rules for pulls/pushes in case you want to keep the target in your band, etc., and how to wrangle large squads of adjacents (for when you want to throw around really big #s of minions).