D&D 4e Condition Markers & Condition Cards

D&D 4e’s combat system is rich and deep, and its many hampering conditions are important to track – visually and with color-codes highly recommended. 

Here’s what we do in my games, as DM or player.  Use any of these ideas or tools to help you and your friends more easily track the chaos of combat and  save some precious session time:
alt text
Conditions: We use colored hair bands and bottle rings instead of solid tokens, since they’re a) inexpensive, and b) can often fit around minis instead of underneath, saving some space.  Kudos to Mike Shea of Sly Flourish for the fantastic bottle ring idea.  His Three Cheap 4e Game Aids post alone is worth its weight in platinum!

Condition Cards: We also use condition cards – a short summary of its rules on a power-sized card, next to the player or DM.  You can find the PDFs of the ones I like best @ Weem’s Updated 4e Condition Cards.  I’ve seen many others, but Weem’s are best I’ve found so far because they have a nice design, some color, a quick, simple visual or icon on them, plus the rules.  Perfect to put right in front of the player or DM as they happen.  Efficient, space-saving, and they don’t get in the way of seeing the battlemap or minis.

Zones: We also use chenelle stems / pipe clears for zones or different types of lingering areas (illumination, auras, etc.).  Like Sly Flourish has mentioned in at least one of his articles or videos, a trip into a Michael’s or similar arts & crafts store and a few bucks is all you need for these.

Condition Ring Colors:
I developed this list based on some common and reasonable associations, visuals or themes for the given color, so we could remember them easier:


Most Common Conditions

Bloodied: Red = Duh, blood! And red light, stop, this is important to pay attention to.
Stunned: Pink = About as horrible as Bloodied, so similar in color, but brighter, because maybe it IS more horrible.
Dazed: Yellow = Yellow light, caution, danger.  Not as horrible as being bloodied, but in some ways, close.
Dominated: Black = You’re wearing a black hat now, you’re one of the bad guys!  Dark side! 

Immobilized:
Blue = Frozen like icy waters.
Slowed: White = Slogging through snow.

Ongoing Damage
: Orange = the color of fire, as fire burns for a while.  The condition card shows the damage value - very important.
Weakened: Gray or Black = Both colors conjure that shadowy, wraith-like, energy-draining feel, though Black steps on dominated’s toes.

Marked: Green = Green means “go,” is a friendly debuff typically, and directly effects who a monster “goes” after.

Prone: (none) = Minis, easy, we knock over.  Tokens?  Not sure yet… right now, just trying to remember they’re prone.

Uncommon Conditions

These come up much less, so we either don’t have a color or we borrow from one above.

Dying, Helpless, Unconscious = the bloodied, prone and “I’m down!” is usually plenty to remember how this trifecta typically shows up. 

Blinded = black for darkness, borrowing from dominated.

Deafened = very rare, no ring.

Grabbed = variation of immobilized, we just use blue and put the condition card next to the player.
Restrained = variation of immobilized, we just use blue and put the condition card next to the player.

Petrified = very rare, too memorable to need a ring, though we do “elevate” the miniature or token with a d6 so it’s more statue-esque!

Removed from Play = self-explanatory, though a bead or something similar to remind everyone where the creature was helps.

Surprised = surprise rounds are usually quick and clean, easy to remember.

Other Useful Markers

Hunter’s Quarry, Oath of Enmity, and other similar class features that apply a unique condition-like effect usually use one of the few remaining available colors, such as purple, teal, or gold. 

Unfortunately, some of these colors are a little too close to existing colors, so we try to limit these.  And we limit them so we don’t bloat the battlefield more than it already is!

Drawbacks

Visual aids via combat markers like these are a tremendous help in D&D 4e combat.  It’s hard to play without them!  That’s how rich 4e’s tactical gameplay can be. 

However, sometimes there’s just too many rings on a miniature or token, and so it blocks vision or makes the battlefield look a bit ridiculous, killing some of your imagination and giving it more of a board game look.  I really dislike that aspect, but it’s something to live with for now considering the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

More Resources

There’s a lot of great ideas out there for this – Sly Flourish and The Weem are great, and check out This Is My Game’s brand new post, 4e Cutout Condition Markers and this D&D forum post for ideas too.

To Battle!

Armed with these practical and inexpensive visual combat aids, your combats will start running more smoothly – your heroes will be crushing their enemies in no time! 

Got some helpful, colorful, visual D&D 4e combat aids of your own?  Share and let the world know in your comments down below.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

6 Responses to “D&D 4e Condition Markers & Condition Cards”

  1. [...] finally getting a better handle on visually tracking combat conditions with markers and cards, mapping is a similar visual aid I really struggle with in 4e, as much as there are tons of mapping [...]

  2. Geek Ken says:

    Thanks for the nod in your post. As I’ve stated many times I am a huge fan of having something tangible in your hands over marking down information on a character sheet, especially for temporary effects. I have to agree having a color code system works wonders for marking conditions, and makes using items like pop bottle rings, beads, or pipe cleaners much more effective. Cheers!

    • Kilsek says:

      Hey Ken, thanks for your comment and welcome! You’re absolutely right, it seems less effective or efficient to track things on paper with notes today like was common in previous D&D editions. Sign o’ the times – everything is more and more visual with the intent of faster and more engaging communication.

  3. [...] aid or simple tool to track it all.  For example, hairbands and bottle rings make for excellent color-coded visual condition markers, as do Weem’s Condition Cards.  Also, just as important, you need a way to track all the [...]

  4. [...] 4e Condition Cards are absolutely fantastic references and reminders for all the ever-present conditions in play, I found myself needing more help and visual aids for those other common game situations [...]

  5. [...] Conditions.  Though tracking them is a separate story, the various stock conditions that can be applied is a great feature of combat.  Easy to understand, ripe for combinations, whether individual or cooperatively. [...]

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge