Off the Grid: 4e Tactical Pool Expanded

Tactical retreat’ my arse.

Previously I’ve written about how we’re playing without a map or grid in our 4e Dark Sun game, very successfully as a matter of fact, by translating the normal slides, pushes, shoves etc that take place on the combat map into a ‘combat pool’ that acts as free-floating bonuses for either side to use to boost their attacks or defences. It’s an abstract representation of the kind of positional advantage that a group with high tactical skill and mobility can have over a slower or less populous group.

This works great for one-on-one and small unit tactics as is, so I don’t really need to expand on it as that’s where 4e D&D sits, at the skirmish level. Now that I’ve introduced this change though my brain starts to think on how I might encourage and expand the use of the existing rules I’ve created at the existing level of combat.

So, how else can we use this combat pool without needlessly complicating matters? After all, simplicity was one of the main reasons we decided to get rid of the board in the first place (and boy does it speed combat up). We also need to keep in mind that these bonuses are also available to the bad guys, should they manage to outmanoeuvre the characters. So, I think we’re really looking at other ways that this tactical pool can be spent:

  • Moving further: Spend points 1/1 to move further, up to your normal movement again.
  • Passing on your turn: 5 points to give your go to someone else on your side, your action becoming a distraction to the enemy that allows your ally to go again. Someone can only get one extra turn this way.
  • Taking an extra turn: 10 points to get an extra turn with your character as you outmanoeuvre your enemies. You can only get one extra turn this way.
  • An automatic critical: 20 points to automatically strike an enemy for a critical hit. A sort of advanced backstab, available to anyone who’s managed to so completely control the battlefield.