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Questions tagged [theatre-of-the-mind]

For questions about "theater of the mind" (TOTM) gameplay. In TOTM play, the DM uses verbal descriptions to define spatial relationships between characters and the game environment, especially to describe combat in this fashion rather than using drawings, miniatures, or other visual means.

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86 votes
7 answers
36k views

D&D 5e and "Theatre of the Mind" in combat

Our target play style for combat encounters would be to use battle boards roughly half the time (when there is enough of interest in play that the tactics are fun to play out), and to skip that with ...
15 votes
4 answers
1k views

How to speed up combat by helping players to visualize the scene?

We play D&D 5e over Discord, using voice and chat channels, and use D&D Beyond for character sheets and most die-rolling. It generally works great, but sometimes combats lag, reasons for which ...
12 votes
2 answers
2k views

Movement optimised PCs in theatre of the mind

Our group has recently started a campaign and we’ve decided to go gridless for the first time. It has been going really well but one issue that has popped up has been how we handle characters that are ...
3 votes
0 answers
427 views

Playing online without a VTT, and is it worth it? [closed]

New DM here. I have dabbled a bit with D&D in the past, including playing on FG back in 2010. I'm now looking to get back in to it and start up an adventure with my wife and a few friends. My ...
17 votes
5 answers
3k views

How can I make theater-of-the-mind dungeon-crawling/location exploration fun and engaging?

I've been struggling with making exploration of locations/dungeon crawls engaging for the players. This is occurring for me in several systems including D&D 3.5e, D&D 5e, and Numenera. I've ...
3 votes
0 answers
1k views

What's the best way to represent gradual memory loss/Amnesia in an exploration adventure? [closed]

I'm going to DM a D&D 5e hexcrawl Westmarch-style, and for story-wise reasons the worst danger the players will have to face is Amnesia. Each character will have a 7th ability score called Memory ...
32 votes
4 answers
10k views

Do you have to have figures when playing D&D?

I am pretty new to playing D&D and our DM does not use figures with a grid, so we kind of use our imagination. According to the official D&D rules, are we doing it wrong?
24 votes
10 answers
4k views

Is it possible to run Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition without a battlemap?

The push, pull, and slide mechanics immediately come to mind as being difficult to track accurately without a battlemap. Auras are another. Has anyone come up with a simple solution to narrating ...
24 votes
5 answers
6k views

How to reduce minis dependence in d20-based games?

In Pathfinder and similar versions of D&D, there is a lot more miniatures/tactical map dependence than in earlier versions (and in most other RPGs). I am interested in reducing the dependence on ...
4 votes
1 answer
486 views

Does D&D have any official text on theatre of the mind?

I am new to DnD and I am intrigued by this concept. Someone mentioned it in another post and I was curious if Wizards of the Coast has any official literature describing it?
12 votes
4 answers
3k views

How to track persistent area effects with TotM?

My group is trying theater of the mind (TotM) battles instead of using a mat with miniatures. A challenge we're having is when someone casts a spell like entangle, which affects a location. On a map, ...
13 votes
2 answers
1k views

Rolling for Movement in Theatre of the Mind

From D&D 5e and "Theatre of the Mind" in combat, mxyzplk had the second highest answer about running combat in theatre of the mind. He mentioned: Same thing with movement. I have all ...
28 votes
1 answer
23k views

Origin of term 'Theater of the Mind'

What is the history and origin of the term 'Theater of the Mind', as used in 5e?
40 votes
16 answers
15k views

Narrative Combat versus Use of Miniatures

When I first started playing D&D, my DM did not use battlemaps or miniatures to describe combat. Everything was described to us, and questions to the DM were part and parcel of the experience, ...
8 votes
2 answers
2k views

Is there a difference in movement increments between Grids and Theatre of the Mind?

Do you move in 5' increments on a battle map, or can you move less than that? If so, how do you track that on the map? If there is, does it create any cases that may be a concern?
12 votes
3 answers
2k views

How can a DM run D&D 4e combat as theater of the mind rather than a grid?

I am DMing a new 4e group, and I am interested in approaching the game as a "theater of the mind" style combat rather than the traditional grid format. We are locked into doing D&D 4e because of ...