Friday, October 4, 2013

A Quick and Easy Crowd Movement Mechanic

Last night I was reading the Murder in Balder's Gate Launch adventure when I was struck by how lackluster the guidelines for the crowd's movement were; and rather than complain about it I decided to do something. These then, are my guidelines.

 You can also get it in PDF, if you'd like.


  1. These are excellent, I will be printing them off and using them when situations call for it.

  2. A few questions:
    1) what happens if something large is thrown into a crowd (for instance a giant centipede or a rock
    2) what would happen if someone polymorphed into something much bigger (for instance a person polymorphed into a dragon or something) in the middle of a crowd?
    3) How would magic against a crowd work? Someone wanting to disperse a crowd, not caring who they kill, cast a fireball into it?

    1. I have a few answers for you:

      To question #1: The location of the object/critter would be considered the start position (after damage and deaths were taken from the crowd) and the crowd would move as indicated in a panicked state.

      To question #2: The crowd would become automatically panicked and would move away from the polymorphed person, with that person as the start position.

      To question #3: You would roll damage normally for the spell, and if anyone were still alive they would flee in a panic. I would use the central location for the fireball as my start location.

    2. A couple of points
      1) any point forward of the creature/ stone whatever would be considered automatically blocked, or if it were inanimate would move around it in a paniced stated?
      2) How would you deal with the people who were "underfoot" as it were from the polymorphed creature? Would they automatically get a reflex save or would the people unfortunate in such a condition be squished automatically?
      3) would anyone get a save for half damage (or because there is no room to dodge, duck, whatever) everyone would automatically get full damage?

  3. On number 1: I’m not real sure what you’re asking me here. Could you explain your question a bit more?

    On number 2: If the people in question were players then I would give them either a Reflex Save or a Dexterity Check depending on which option we’ve elected to use in the group. By contrast, if the people in question are non-player characters then they would get squashed in the most colorful manner possible.

    On number 3: I think that would be up to individual Dungeon Masters and based on the situations they encounter.

  4. Ok, on point 1, what I was asking is in your 9 square (3X3 grid), where it lands would automatically be "start", right? And so l-3, and 7-8 would be blocked, leaving the only escape route to be 4-6... or if it lands on start, and it's an inanimate object, provided that there's room for the other 8 spaces, would they be able to flee in any random direction they wanted to (maybe divided in half, half going forward and right, half going back and left)

    1. Oh! I get what you’re asking me now.

      No, the start position represents the position of the crowd with 1-8 representing directions they could flee towards. When an object strikes the crowd and they flee from that position they move in the direction rolled. If a creature is polymorphed into a dragon or some larger creature then it would be assumed that where the creature forms is the start position and the crowd would be fleeing in the direction rolled.

      Does that answer your question?

    2. gotcha. but why would the WHOLE crowd go in one direction? If you look at crowds in real life, provided there's space, they could scatter in all 8 directions, latterly scattering. Maybe you need to have a "scatter crowd" mechanic as well vs. a crowd working as a cohesive whole.

    3. I was thinking of the crowd in individual groups - similar to a swarm. But I'll think about it.


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