In order to keep things clicking and not bogged down in strategy, I had initially decided to go boardless but have since considered going to a battle-board model. I’d always wanted the players to build the environment as a way of reifying setting. The current model is to use a simple lattice of index cards and perhaps postit notes. The players will build out some setting and play off each other. They will have a chance to buy Conditions as well as buy positioning of NPCs.
In the example here, one player has purchased the Condition Darkness which makes it more difficult to travel between the external buildings unless other players or npcs have illumination or night vision. Also in this set-up, the Escalator has taken enough damage that it has a later-added post-it of the Condition “On Fire” making transportation through that area more expensive.
Some initial notes on NPCs. Each PC will have a number of NPCs that are part of the story hook. One or two will be brought in as offerings for the scene and placed to the side in the Far category. During the build out of the Setting, other players may pay to move your npc closer on the track to Near, and in extreme examples they may also pay to place them on the map and in the way of danger. Setting index cards that have taken enough damage to cause them to change with a new added Condition (eg. when the Escalator setting takes too much damage and flips to “On Fire”) then any NPCs positioned at that location would be severely injured or killed.
Now that i’m contemplating this location grid for a battle map, it brings two new questions of: ranged attacks; and teleportation. I’m going to allow PCs to purchase an extra movement with the use of action tokens. There’s also going to be some added movement through chargen – but there will always be some sort of limitation. It feels like i must tie in ranged attacks with movement but i may be over-mathing the problem. Also, if movement is a commodity now and relates to story via NPCs then i’m going to have to solve the question of characters that want to teleport from one location to the next. That will somehow sidestep Conditions and Hazards. grr.