Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Hybrid Stat Block: Move

We continue today looking at my ideas for a new "hybrid" monster stat block for 4e. These will eventually appear in my upcoming fanzine, and they are basically combinations of old Oe/1e/B/X stats with those of 4e. Today we look at how the stat block will note monster movement.

As you are no doubt aware, 4e stats simply say "Speed", followed by a number. This number is the base amount of squares a creature can move (unless immobilized, running, etc) with its "move action". Squares correspond to a grid, where a 1" by 1" square is equal to a 5 foot by 5 foot area. Land speed is typically listed first, followed by things like Fly: 8 and the like. So you could say that for a creature with Speed 5, that its base speed is 25 feet.

B/X was completely different. It usually gave two speeds, both listed in feet. One was the "turn" movement, basically how far a PC could be expected to get in an underground area in ten minutes, provided they were moving cautiously, etc. Then, one-third of this number was like your "encounter" speed. This was the distance you could typically move and still be able to attack in combat. So you would see 120' (40'). I actually like this, and think it is a good houserule for 1e to just go back to this.

Finally, in 1e, things got a little bizarre. The speed was listed in inches, like 9". But this could mean more than one thing. It was tens of feet underground, tens of yards in the "wilderness". We won't get into segments versus rounds versus turns right now, it is too early in the morning.

So, as you know, my fanzine incorporates a lot of my ideas on bringing old-school flavor into 4e. I am not just looking for ways to tweak the way 4e plays; I'm also looking for simple ways to bring an old-school look into 4e. So some changes are more cosmetic than anything. Like what I am doing with movement in the stat block.

It is one of those great coincidences that even though movement was not handled the same way in 1e that it is in 4e, the rates of movement in 1e were still noted in terms of inches, even if inches weren't always actually being represented. 4e literally DOES use inches. At the same time, I really like to change terms where possible, if it means adding a little old-school flavor to the mix.

So, putting it all together, instead of the stats saying Speed 6, like in 4e, my 4e Forever version will say Move: 6". This will look like 1e, but will not really mean the same thing. Move: 6" in 4e of course still means your speed is 30 feet/6 squares/6 inches. If a creature has a fly speed or what have you, it might read Move: 4", Fly: 10".

I know to many people this might look like an almost pointless change. It really does not change the mechanics of 4e at all. But to me, it is significant in that the look and feel of the statistic reflects older editions. Taken together with all of the other little changes I am making, it really helps reinforce the vibe that I am going for.

So what do you think about it? I'd love to hear your opinion, so leave a post!


  1. I love the idea of mixing nostalgia for the older systems with 4e.

    I enjoy much of the system of 4e, but hate the in-game jargon that arose out of it.

    That said, 4e brought alot of clarity to design. So the question becomes one of weighing the nostolgic benefit against any loss of clarity or efficiency.

    In this particular instance, I don't think either side of the scale weighs anything for me. The inch thing doesn't hold any nostalgic value (for me personally), but it also doesn't really cost any clarity or efficiency to change.

    So if there is ANY nostalgic return on the change for you, I say go for it.

  2. Thanks as always for the comment. I am with you. I am all for clarity, and I really am making an effort to find a clean, simple, balance between old and new. I imagine most people that read this will not really have any strong feeling either way regarding the change, but like you mentioned, there IS a nostalgic return for me, so that is why it is there. I am glad you checked it out Crypt Thing!