Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The value of battlemaps

At our last session of 7th Seas I learned something new about battlemaps.

Have you seen the floorplan in the back of the 7th Sea rules? It depicts a small tavern, with some tables, stools, benches and a bar. Also, there are some stairs, an oar up on a wall, a chandelier and a row of bottles on the walls. Nothing odd or special for a small seaside tavern, eh? No, but also a treasure chest of ideas for what to do when a brawl erupts in that locale.

The first thing my players said when I took it out and placed it in the middle of the table was "oh!" and "ah!". They at once started talking about how cool it would be to grab that oar and whack some bad guy with.

When the fight erupted they were primed for doing cool stuff. Naturally when a woman was treated badly, one proud Castilian declared the ruffian to be lowlife and scum before charging into combat. I guess I don't need to tell you how well this gelled with the mook fighting rules of 7th Seas? Grab the end of a table and turn it over in order to push a brute squad out the door again. Nothing breathes action like disposing of 5 opponents with one attack!

All in all it turned out to be a great fight, and a great gaming session. Not in any way was the battlemap used to plan where to be, or to count squares and distances. The only thing that made it work was the paraphernalia, the extra, the decorations. It was a stark contrast to the hastily drawn squares and corridors I used to make on the Chessex vinyl battlemap we used when playing D&D3.

Visuals matter.
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