An interesting idea came to mind with regard to encounter content, and the negotiation that takes place between the game master and the players. Whereas the game master has presumably decided upon the basic location of the encounter and the creatures, does he define everything? Should he? Is there a negotiation?

Since I’ve been researching parkour in an effort to integrate a greater degree of dynamic movement during encounters (far greater without the interference of the grid) and I was trying to figure out if it made sense to have one of the rogue or thief players “add” a wall or barrier to the encounter so they could run up it.

Essentially, the idea is that the game master defines the basic space, and the players are allowed to fill it using their powers. The most straightforward form of this is the wizard’s “wall of fire”-type spell where a literal wall of fire is conjured, but this is a bit more abstract. The thief runs up a wall, therefore a wall must be present.

Once a terrain element is acknowledged to exist, then a negotiation has been successful. In a way, it’s like when a Giant Spider blocks a Flying creature in Magic: the Gathering. I mean, if you stretch your imagination such that a spider can spin a web that large, or put it in the right place… never mind. I mean, it must be hard.

Except that we do it all the time.

My thinking is that developing a straightforward terrain system and then implementing it in such a fashion that it sees constant use would enable players to grasp abstract terrain concepts more readily. Sure, it’ll take practice, but I also just memorized a seven-digit string of numbers this morning, using a combination of tricks.

I don’t think it’s too much to ask that the players memorize a couple key mechanics. Everything else is borrowed or otherwise inspired by something familiar. Some things will have to be wholly original because other examples simply don’t exist. But once I’ve made them, I’m sure there will be a parade of follow-the-leader concepts. *snerk*

So yeah, negotiating encounter content. The rogue wants to run up a wall and spring off of it. The paladin wants to ride his mount through the battlefield. Somehow there has to be room for both. The players happen to be fighting spider-like humanoids amidst some ruined columns. Can you picture the fight now?

Each character brings a particular combination of elements to the fight.