Figuring out vertical space in combat


So I’ve been toying around with a world building idea and came across a mechanical question. In a scenario where elevation (or in my case depth as I’m creating an underwater world) would potentially play into a combat or other encounter ( a chase scene/combat was my first thought that led to this question) does ICRPG have rules somewhere that cover it? If not what are some thoughts on how to handle it ( my first thought was to use dice to indicate depth, adjacent numbers are NEAR then incrementally different from there) but I figured I’d see what everyone else take might be


For my own games, when like there was a hot air balloon engaged in combat with the ground, I just printed a lot of white space under the paper mini. I’ve also used frames like this for height once or twice when there was some airship to airship combat to consider:

Depth might seem like another thing entirely, but really if all depends on what the PCs see as “the default level” and keep a clear relationship to it.

Another angle on this might be to change up the table to make depth (frex: underwater) more obvious and visual. Like maybe set up a vertical bulletin board with a deep sea backing color and use that instead of table flat when the main element in play is vertical space.

It’s a neat challenge to bring to a game table. I’m curious to see other people’s ideas.


These T style look like they’d be an even better option than the Slanted ones.


I’m interested in seeing what you come up with, other than adding a Z axis grid, typically designated with letters. I have never found anything that works well and keeps my players on an even playing field. Keeping it simple enough to use both on maps and theatre of the mind would make airship chases fun again.

I’ve been a terrible designer of this, becase I have no problem thinking in 3D, and more than 50% of the population it is not something they do. Though many travel in 2d vectors with different acceleration patterns for hours a day.


What makes the depth interesting? Is it a different space? Are there other treats or threats higher up? Basically, why does it matter. And if it does, make a separate index card for that element that characters can go to and leave from. Otherwise I think it gets a bit too complex to keep track of. Then again, I don’t have much experience in those kinds of encounters. Hope it helps!


@Drake I have a lot of very visual oriented players. I tend to end up with a table full of Encounter stuff, background art, cards, paper minis, not to mention often 6 PCs sometimes 8!

On the trickier nights it can be a real challenge keeping track of all the things when I’m running a scene with a lot of sublocations, timers, and moving parts. (What I’ve done for that is now mostly foes and NPCs are 2.5” circle cut colorful tokens that lay flat with the art on the table, and the PCs are standup paper minis with color coded standees… working okay so far.)

But back to main question: it’s about the visual interest. Most of my players would have a hard time with pure theater of the mind and dislike it to some degree. Having a way to handle a supers game with many flyers at varying heights— fighting each other in air while some are on ground—and do it in a neat clean way that doesn’t make things harder instead—that’s a table problem I’m definitely interested in solving. Been fiddling with some stuff hope to put a prototype picture up soon as I catch a break.


What about transparent cubes? The character climbs a mountain drawn on the board? Put up cubes underneath to represent the elevation in 5 ft. increment.

The only problem becomes swimming… :disappointed_relieved: