Nov 21

Faculty Meeting # 118 – Spectrum of running combat.


New RPG Academy Crest Hi Rez clean edges

Hello and welcome to Faculty Meetings – The general advice and discussion podcasts from The Rpg Academy. This is Faculty Meeting # 118 – Spectrum of running combat.


In this episode my guest co-host Mike Shea (aka Slyflourish) discuss the various options for running a combat in D&D or similar RPGs from 100% Theater of the Mind (Narrative combat) all the way to complex 3d terrain set ups using Dwarven Forge or similar.

Slyflourish on Twitter

Slyfourish blog

Arcknight starter pack curated by Slyflourish


Please take a moment to fill out our listener feedback survey.

Rate each show from favorite (1) to least favorite (7)

and use the last question Text Box for any specific feedback you have.


Link to the listener feedback survey


Please visit our episode sponsor 5th Epoc Publishing here

Michael has a Patreon Goal of $2k/month and he can quit his day job and focus on the Academy Full time.




Comments and Feedback are always welcome.
E-mail us at Podcast@TheRpgAcademy
Follow us on twitter @TheRpgAcademy
Visit our Facebook Page
Join our Google+ Community Page at: The RPG Academy
Support our show by becoming a Patron at www.Patreon.Com/TheRpgAcademy



  1. Much is made of the “mode switch” indicated by “break out the maps and minis” – this seems to assume a lot about the type of games DMs are running, specifically assuming that everyone is running sandboxy campaigns.

    For lots of DDAL games (lets say, running Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan) the entire experience is in a dungeon map and are public play, with limited trust.

    Also, Dwarven forge is not the only option terrain/props. Using it as the only example definitely distorts the discussion. Note the link above. Scale up a map, print it, and cut to room size. I gave the set to my FLGS so more people can use it for no cost at all.

    SLYFLOURISH, PLEASE STOP USING THAT 10% NUMBER FOR “BETTERNESS” – there’s no way you can back that up as a general statement of any kind.

    Or, can we expect your next book to be “The Lazy Statistician?”

    1. OldSchoolDm,

      I can only speak for myself, but my games do tend to be sandboxy and there is clear delineation between role playing and then bringing out the maps and minis. I’m sure there are games that are all in a dungeon, but I think assuming many/most games are like that is a bit of stretch.

      We did mention there were other options but used Dwarven Forge sorta like saying Kleenex for tissue paper, it was a stand-in for any sort of 3d terrain.


  2. >”I’m sure there are games that are all in a dungeon, but I think assuming many/most games are like that is a bit of stretch.”

    Most of the DDAL adventures I’ve run at my FLGS over the last several years have been very heavily scripted, and play the DMs there think are best with map & minis, at least for the bulk of the combat encounters (of which there has been more than one in every session I can recall.) As you say, there are many ways to play – so being inclusive is important.

    >”We did mention there were other options but used Dwarven Forge sorta like saying Kleenex for tissue paper, it was a stand-in for any sort of 3d terrain.”

    This is a *false equivalency*… especially since the podcast went to some lengths to portray the 3D-terrain is very, very expensive, slow, bulky, and not worth the value (the phrase “exponential cost” was used.) Using the most bulky, most expensive version of a thing as a “generic” term, and then criticizing those features is not a fair comparison.

    A sheet of paper minis costs the ink and the page of paper/number of minis made. Cheap as dirt.

    Paper terrain (the guest mentioned Fat Dragon Games in passing) is also dirt cheap.
    And if you make it fold-flat (like I do), it takes up very little storage space. I transport an entire 3d forest scene in a cigar box.

    If you’d like to see what can be accomplished, I post my stuff on the FB forums, and my home game at

    Truly, I appreciate the disclaimer on this and every episode, but please try to remember when comparing and contrasting things (especially for which you have a pre-existing strong position) – it’s always good to consider that your generalizations might be introducing unintentional bias in your contrast. We’re only human, we all do it.

    So much of the TToM/Grid false dichotomy discussion sounds like the old books v. radio, and then radio v. tv debates. Eventually people realize there’s no real benefit in comparing them directly, but extolling the right media for the right context and the right constraints. Admit it! A map and tokens/minis is better in some contexts (locations, play venues, lack-of-trust)! Terrain may add significant value.

    A Movie is sometimes awesome, even if it isn’t a direct translation of the book. 🙂

    BTW, of all the people who use terrain, I don’t know a single person (myself included) that doesn’t also extensively use TToM – at least for distance travel and in-town shopping trips. 🙂

    Thanks for the episode. It was much better than most on the topic !

    For anyone interested in paper gaming terrain, might I recommend

    Many designers and builders hang out there, and I post all my Fold-Flat mods free for sharing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.