Zone terrain


Anybody use zones in their games? I know the near, far system is really simple with near being 25feet or so and far being beyond that. But I was just thinking about zones on an airship I’m going to be using this weekend and wondered if anybody uses them and how.


I first learned about Zones from FATE and have used them on and off since.

For an airship you’d have a few zones - each deck would be a zone with “sub zones” as needed per deck. So on the main deck you might have the following zones

Main deck

      Crows nest


Forecastle deck 


  Captain's Cabin

the main idea is figuring out how zones interconnect

I used rough zones for this “map” because my group does voice only - but I needed to know where the players were



Honestly, when I use zones I just make close whoever is already base to base with each other, near inside the zone, far to reach another.

It may be oversimplified, but it works, it’s simple, and it does not bog down play.


Would you allow somebody to move to the next zone and attack or would that be classed as a far move?


I’m going to do a chart like this I think. Thanks.


Far move.

I only divide zones in very different situations/types of terrain. Changing from one to another is not a matter of distance all the time, but of effort spent doing so. Maybe some kind of check, depending on context, could be used to allow for what you proposed there, but mostly not.


Generally if zones are next to each other, I make it NEAR, or could be with a check (eg. climb up the banner to the balcony).
Depends how big the “map” is they are playing with:

Underground cult chamber vs bandit fort

I feel like the visuals of the map/scene make it fairly obvious what zone is NEAR/FAR


And forms of traversing from one to the other.

Winding Tunnels, Rickety Stairs and Bridges, Wall to be Climbed, all of these factor in the NEAR/FAR determination.


I don’t necessarily use Zones for MOVEMENT like many people, but I do use them for RANGES.

  • Fireball can go FAR, and hits all within a SMALL/MEDIUM zone (up to my discretion)
  • Magic Missile can hit ALL ZONES within sight
  • Summon Whatever always appears in YOUR ZONE
  • Most weapons can attack anyone in their zone, or move to attack someone in a nearby zone
  • Spears and polearms can usually hit anyone in a nearby zone

and so on. Often, however, zones are great for theater of the mind. I don’t have to dungeon crawl every dungeon - I can choose to or not to with the use of graph paper/zones.


B has been using them in his games lately, and references them in his videos. Latest:


Little pips on a picture to show to the players where they can go and stuff was a really good idea from Hank. I’ll be trying to use that more often in my online games! :smiley:


It was this video that made me think about it to be fair. I like the idea players can’t start getting all detailed on exactly where they are, game it hard and slow the game down. (I now have one of those players)


I know, those images made me think it’s cool to be able to get a cool piece of art not intended for a map and make it so. Like a city come to think of it with pips for locations pcs can visit


Thanks for all the responses, as usual, some great stuff to think on and will defo be having an encounter using zones soon to try it out. I now have a player in my group all concerned with the details to the mm of distance and ranges. He’s new to rpgs and due to video games I believe he is suited to pathfinder or 4e d&d lol. For now…


Definitely, I would get Runehammer to draw me some backgrounds!


Art by Runehammer

Range is relative to the scale of MOVE. A car can move much farther than a human. A plane can move further than the car. A spaceship moves further than a plane, but each makes 1 Move (and each has 1 Action).


I love Zones, ever since introduced to them via Fate Accellerated. They are a great kind of conceptual shorthand that will make prep easy (if you let them) and when well-constructed, can really be leveraged to create a sense of variety each session as well as a “living world” feeling when used as callbacks for later.

They can also be used to help with pacing. One ninja trick that can pay off for one shots or even sessions or campaign arcs, if you fractal it out, is to take something like the “abstract map” from Geiger Counter Hubris and build your zones in a similar vibe.


I did that in my last game, and it worked great. It also helps the players get a quick bead on what they can do and where they can go. I think I might start noting checks and consequences on the borders of the zones so they have an even clearer picture.


That abstract map is really cool. I love tools that drive at a purpose like that. They’re really helpful for making the space/setting facilitate the story.


You could definitely have zone effects and perhaps even have a TN that is shifty in certain areas!