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Playing on a grid is an optional rule Implicitly, 5e uses “Theater of the Mind” for combat: that is, tracking positions and distances only loosely and focusing on the narrative. Playing on a grid is explicitly called out as a variant rule, with clarifications for Squares, Speed, Entering a Square, Corners and Ranges: Variant: Playing on a Grid (PHB, p. ...


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Typically the map/grid is optional item you can use. The map/grid is only typically used in combat situations, or in particular types of situations the DM deems that a map/grid is needed or could be of use. It allows for members of the party and in particular the DM to keep track of the creatures, where they stand in respect to one another. As keeping things ...



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