Tag: Dungeons and Flagons

Building a D&D Player Character – 301

Building a D&D Player Character – 301

Back into building a D&D character. We’ve talked previously about the simplest ways to make a character that doesn’t step on other players toes, that fits into the game, and one that is fun to play. Next we’ve talked about how you can use the […]

RPG – Epic or Small

RPG – Epic or Small

As I’ve been thinking about finding people to run a new D&D game with, I started thinking, what sort of scope do I want for my D&D game? Do I want to do another epic story like the first season of Dungeons and Flagons where […]

Minis or the Mind?

Minis or the Mind?

There are two main ways that you can play Dungeons and Dragons, and they primarily resolve around combat. Do you do combat in theater of the mind or do you have a battle map with minis? There are some people that are going to prefer it either way, but that’s spoiling the ending of the article.

Image Source: Wizards

Theater of the Mind

With Theater of the Mind, the combat takes place in the peoples heads. If Jane’s Dwarf is charging the Vampire on the far side of the room, there’s nothing physical to represent you getting closer together, you are all just picturing what is looks like in your heads. The chandelier and balcony that might be in the room are also these concepts floating around. And if you need there to be two chandeliers instead of one, you can change that up on the fly.

Image Source: Forgotten Realms

That’s one of the big advantages of theater of the mind, if the player wants there to be a giant pile of straw beneath the edge of the loft in the barn, there totally can be. If the bad guys are in a tough spot, can they cut a rope and ride up to the ceiling as a chandelier drops to the ground?  You better believe they can do that. Your combat on a mountain can have everything that you want it to have, even surfing down an avalanche fighting the bad guys as you go until the avalanche peters out.

The downside to this is always, the question, are they in range? I really want to cast fireball, are the bad guys in range, how about for magic missile, how about for acid spray? Or someone having a different idea of what it looks like on the battlefield than you do. It’s something that as players and DM’s you have to be flexible and ready to describe what you see the battle looking like so that everyone can get on the same page.

Mini Combat/Tactical Combat

This type of combat takes place on a battle grid/battle map with minis of the monsters and the players so that they know where they are. Basically everything in the room is drawn out on the board. When you are planning out your attacks, you know where everyone is and can discuss strategy more so than you would in theater of the mind because the map is laid out in front of you.

The main advantage to this is that everyone knows precisely where everything is and how close they are to everyone. If they want to cast fireball, the player can see how many monsters they can catch in the blast. Everything in the room is also there so you can describe your actions more clearly if you aren’t great at remembering the details of what the place looked like or aren’t great at adding things on the fly, so it can help spark creativity that way.

The downside is that there are clearly drawn limits on the board. The hayloft that is partly over the barn is hard to have because you can’t see what’s under the hayloft. If there’s only one chandelier on the map, there’s one chandelier on the map. So nothing can be abstracted and if someone wants to try to do something, say run across a table and take a flying dive at a bad guy, it might take them a couple of rounds because that’s what the grids say, so you lose some of the cool moments of the DM being able to say, “You do that, give me a dexterity check to see how it goes.”

Image Source: D&D Beyond

Which is Better?

So, I said that either of them is fine at the start of the article, and after writing out my thoughts, I agree with myself still. Either of them is fine, it depends on the group and it depends on the situation. I personally primarily run theater of the mind because I don’t have to come up with anything extra. If there needs to be a combat because someone slapped the king, there’s no rushing to draw a battle map, the combat can just start. However, at the end of Season One of Dungeons and Flagons, we used a battle map and tactical combat. So I can make it work both ways. If I were to suggest something, I’d suggest doing primarily theater of the mind with a little tactical combat thrown in.

The reason I say that is because that makes your big boss battles feel more special. You have this visual aspect that makes that battle feel unique and special as the story winds down. But it also takes a lot of work off of the DM’s plate by having most of it being theater of the mind. When you are drawing a map or building terrain and buying minis it can take a lot of time, a lot of money, or both. Or, in my case, it can take a fair amount of artistic skill that I don’t have (yet).

But it really does come down to your group, maybe your group would have too much trouble wrapping their head around distances in combat if it’s all theater of the mind. I’ve been trying, as I play to set it up better where things are either in range or they aren’t, not to break it down into how many feet someone is away, because that means a whole lot more mental math for me, and I do enough math in real life as it is. Abstracting those things out can bug some players though, so be careful while doing that and know your group.

Do you have a preferred way of combat in D&D? Do you prefer it to be tactical or theater of the mind?


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City Building in D&D

City Building in D&D

Building a city as a home base or where your adventure is taking place can be a cool thing to do, it can also be a daunting thing to do, because putting together a whole city can be a lot of work. I rarely go […]

The Death of a Bard

The Death of a Bard

The party rushes into a cavern. Red glowing eyes stare at them from the blackness and they stop quickly. The bard opens her mouth and begins to speak but is quickly cut off as the dragon reaches it’s long neck out and chomps down, swallowing […]

Dungeons and Flagons Episode 14: The Lie and The Cheat

Dungeons and Flagons Episode 14: The Lie and The Cheat

Welcome back to season two of Dungeons and Flagons.

Image Source: Wizards

 

Von’thre and Nori find out that what they think is happening isn’t quite what it seems.

Syldi on the other hand has to spend some time with the enemy.


If you have questions for Nerdologists: Dungeons and Flagons emails them to nerdologists@gmail.com or find us on Facebook or Twitter! We’ll be doing a recap and Q&A every twenty-five episodes.


Our players are:

Ashley – Nori the Mountain Dwarf Champion Fighter

Kristen (@Kefka73) – Syldi the Half-Elf Rogue Thief

Clint – Von’thre the High Elf Divination Wizard

The DM:

Peder (@TheScando)


Please give us reviews and let us know how you listen to the show!

You can find us on iTunes

Or on Stitcher

Reviews help with the algorithms that allow more people to find our show. Every review you give helps, and we thank you for them! We have three reviews currently on iTunes; once we get five, we’ll be able to see them, and properly thank those who have given us reviews.


Share questions, ideas for articles, or comments with us!

Email us at nerdologists@gmail.com
Follow us on Twitter at @NerdologistCast
Message me directly on Twitter at @TheScando
Visit us on Facebook here.

Dungeons and Flagons Season 2 Episode 13: Sideways

Dungeons and Flagons Season 2 Episode 13: Sideways

Welcome back to season two of Dungeons and Flagons.   The best laid plans of Nori, Von’thre, and Syldi go sideways pretty quickly on them. What is the next twist and turn? If you have questions for Nerdologists: Dungeons and Flagons emails them to nerdologists@gmail.com […]

Dungeons and Flagons Season 2 Episode 10: So Where are We Again?

Dungeons and Flagons Season 2 Episode 10: So Where are We Again?

Welcome back to season two of Dungeons and Flagons. After making some shocking discoveries deep in the underground, our adventurers begin to wonder if they actually know there way back out of there. If you have questions for Nerdologists: Dungeons and Flagons emails them to […]

Dungeons and Flagons Season 2 Episode 9: Under the City

Dungeons and Flagons Season 2 Episode 9: Under the City

Welcome back to season two of Dungeons and Flagons.

Image Source: Wizards

Resting after their nearly fatal encounter with the drow, Von’thre, Nori, and Syldi decide to use the tunnels that Von’thre had found out about to see if they could track down the drow and their way back to the warehouse.


If you have questions for Nerdologists: Dungeons and Flagons emails them to nerdologists@gmail.com or find us on Facebook or Twitter! We’ll be doing a recap and Q&A every twenty-five episodes.


Our players are:

Ashley – Nori the Mountain Dwarf Champion Fighter

Kristen (@Kefka73) – Syldi the Half-Elf Rogue Thief

Clint – Von’thre the High Elf Divination Wizard

The DM:

Peder (@TheScando)


Please give us reviews and let us know how you listen to the show!

You can find us on iTunes

Or on Stitcher

Reviews help with the algorithms that allow more people to find our show. Every review you give helps, and we thank you for them! We have three reviews currently on iTunes; once we get five, we’ll be able to see them, and properly thank those who have given us reviews.


Share questions, ideas for articles, or comments with us!

Email us at nerdologists@gmail.com
Follow us on Twitter at @NerdologistCast
Message me directly on Twitter at @TheScando
Visit us on Facebook here.

Dungeons and Flagons Season 2 Episode 8: Getting Chippy

Dungeons and Flagons Season 2 Episode 8: Getting Chippy

Welcome back to season two of Dungeons and Flagons. When things seem to be at their worst, can they figure a way out? Von’thre, Syldi, and Nori find themselves in a rocky situation that they need to find their way out of. If you have […]