Theater of the Mind vs Combat of the Table

Hey all my first post so be gentle.

Been running our group for about 2 years and after a short break we are about to get back to it. We have been purely using the theater of mind for combat and all other things and I have found that Conan loans itself better to this than any other system I have used. That being said I have not used maps to plot out combats, but the idea of the zones of movement get me thinking I would love it from a table top war gaming perspective because of the fluidity.

For those of you who have used minis and maps talk to me about what you love about it for future games, because the collective story telling we are doing without it is outstanding but I don’t know that it will work with all of the groups I might work with in the future.


I’ve been using maps for years, even with systems where rules for such do not exists. From the vinyl matts with wet erase markers to printed and now - digital.

There are two huge benefits of a well prepared map:

  • Increases the immersion
  • Reduces ambiguity in a scene

The main benefit for us is to streamline the narrative and help all players visualize better the dimensions and key areas of the location. Everyone is imaging different things when GM narrates a scene and some players do that better than others. Put a map and suddenly the quality and effort for a combat scene improves.

When the map is well prepared one, with details that complement the narrative and rules by introducing visual places for cover, maneuver, difficult terrain etc., players are drawn further into the action.

The modular tiles provided by Modiphius for Conan served me quite well in the virtual tabletop space with Fantasy Grounds and Foundry. Too bad they stopped producing those, as the current options for environments are limited. Now I simply pick a good looking one and draw the zones using the tools supplied from the tabletop.

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I have been playing grid and hex maps for years I had just not done it with this system. I have found that the use of no battle maps have sped up combats and lead to players being much more creative than, I move these spaces and swing my stick. Its has been refreshing to find a system that lends itself better to this. But its good to hear that it works as good as a map based wargame as some of the other systems out there.

For me, zones bring the immersion of a good map with the freedom of TotM. I hate playing a game where I need to use my entire action to move an extra 5’ because the bad guy is just one square away.

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