Simplifying Movement in Basic

In the last post, we talked a bit about the new milestone system in Basic instead of good old XP in M&P Deluxe. As as GM, I can tell you that I look forward to avoiding computing the XP of every little creature or encounter my parties run into. Number crunching is not my thing!

Today I want to talk a little bit about movement.

The Old Way

Movement was always a bit of a mystery to me in OD&D. We usually battled on grid paper or on a dry erase mat with squares or hexes to figure out how far away our enemies were. Would our fireball reach all the way to our intended victims? Could our ranger fire arrows into that back row of villains as they charged us to do their worst?

For our magic-user and their Fireball spell, he or she had a range of 240 feet.

If our fighter had a longbow in M&P Deluxe, it was:

  • Short range (0-70) – +1 to hit
  • Medium range (71-140) – no modifier
  • Long range (141-210) – -1 to hit

To make things more entertaining, it was feet underground and yards outside.

It’s not often you will find straight corridors in dungeons that go for 200+ feet, but it was a little out of whack outside. 240 feet is only 80 yards. That’s only medium range for our fighter with a bow. And you’d have to break out your ruler or count those squares… are they 5 feet or 10 feet? or is it yards?

And then if you look at how far a character could move, it was usually 30 feet for longer-legged races and 20 feet for shorter. And you could do a double-move or sometimes even go further depending on which rules you looked at… Did I move 30 feet or 60 feet? Did I have to convert it to yards? Bah.

We always made it work. (I usually defaulted to feet inside and outside and just used the good old 10′ squares.) But it was always one of the more fiddly parts of combat.

The New Way

In Basic, we are using more of a “theater of the mind” approach to combat distances and movements rather than worrying about tracking how far a particular character can move in a round and how much they can accomplish. To do this, we have simplified distances to: Point Blank, Short, Medium, and Long.

Each turn of combat, a character can move and act or move twice. Unless encumbered, a character can move a Short distance and act each turn, or move two Short distances to reach a Medium distance, but not act. Anything beyond a Medium distance is considered out of range to get to and would require another turn to reach.

Some characters (like the Fighter) now gain additional attacks in combat. That doesn’t necessarily mean they can move further, only that they can attack more when they choose to act.

To clarify, moving once moves a character a Short distance and gives them the opportunity to act.

Moving twice (and forgoing their action) moves a character a Medium distance. And doing that two rounds in a row, a character can move a Long distance.

Our measurements of distance and movement then become…

  • Point Blank: Up to 5 feet
  • Short: 5 feet to 60 feet
  • Medium: 60 feet to 120 feet
  • Long: 120 feet or more

Now everything slips in line with everything else and we’re even tossing the notion of yards outside and just simplifying to feet in these rough categories.

So if you look at it now… our fighter and our wizard have the same odds and distances. Firing an arrow to Medium range means the same thing as casting a Fireball in the same vicinity.

This greatly simplifies many of the issues at my table. I don’t really need a map — just a vague notion of where folks are in comparison to their targets. The Theater of the Mind works much more easily with these vagaries. 🙂


What do you think of this new mechanic? Leave us some feedback in the comments!

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