KB’s Guide to PbP

KB's Guide to PbP

PbP differs from the table in a couple of key areas. The biggest area of concern is the slower pace and (potentially) long turn-around time. Combatting this concern is the primary goal of many of these techniques. If something makes the game slower, I generally will cut it unless it's of utmost importance to the game.


Variables that you should replace in your commands with the relevant words are denoted with <<Variable Name>>.

Parts of a command that are optional are denoted with [square brackets].

Avrae often allows the use of additional parameters separated by the | character. This is not my notation, and must be typed in to Avrae.

Quick Tips

Use Quotes

Many commands work when you specify some minimal part of an attack or monster name, but the way different scripts handle ambiguity is all over the map. For the best results, type a few extra characters to be clearer and use quotes around names of things so that you can type spaces.

!init madd "Goblin Boss"

!init cast "Fire Bolt" -t "John Johnson"


Getting Started

Begin initiative with

!init begin

and make sure to post

@everyone roll initiative

to ping your players. They will all need to join with 

!char "<<CHARACTER NAME>>"

!init join

Adding Monsters

Avrae has built-in support for loading monsters from books you own on D&D Beyond. If you sign into your Discord at https://www.dndbeyond.com/account you can add any monster in a book you've purchased online using

!init madd "<<Monster Name>>"

Adding NPCs

You can add an NPC like any other monster, but you may specify a name when you do to make them stand out in initiative.

!init madd "<<Monster Name>>" -name "<<NPC Name>>"

Adding Objects/Effects/Actions

Sometimes you need something like a Lair Action that does not represent a monster per-se, but has to have initiative or something like a door that has HP. These can be added using a slightly different command.

!init add 0 "Lair Action" -p 20

!init add 0 "<<Object Name>>" -p <<Initiative Count>> -hp <<Max HP>>

Monster Groups

When running a large number of monsters, you may wish to have a number of them go at once. You can add multiple monsters at the same time to a group, but you can also add individual monsters to the same group.

!init madd "Gnoll" -n 4 -group Gnolls

!init madd "Gnoll Pack Lord" -group Gnolls

Combat Rounds

You can begin combat with

!init next

Monster Turns

Monsters can attack or cast spells through init depending on their stat block. Not all of the monster abilities are always translated into the stat block, so check the attacks first by messaging Avrae

!monster_attack "<<Monster Name>>" list

To make an attack on the monster's turn, you use

!init attack "<<Attack Name>>" -t "<<Target Name>>"

To cast a spell on a monster's turn

!init cast "<<Spell Name>>" -t "<<Target Name>>" -t "<<Another Target Name>>"

This handles both class spellcasting and innate spellcasting and ticks off the slots.

Monster Reactions

Sometimes a monster gets an opportunity attack or a spell does damage at the start of someone else's turn. To handle that you have

!init aoo "<<Monster Name>>" "<<Attack Name>>" -t "<<Target Name>>"

And for spells

!init rc "<<Monster Name>>" "<<Spell Name>>" -t "<<Target Name>>" -t "<<Another Target Name>>"

If you have a spell like spirit guardians that does damage on the start of another creature's turn, you can still use the spell to do the automatic save/damage/effect by adding the "-i" option to stop it from using a spell slot/concentration

!init rc "<<Monster Name>>" "<<Spell Name>>" -t "<<Target Name>>" -t "<<Another Target Name>>" -i

Player Reactions

Every player character can take an opportunity attack if you move a monster away from them, but many classes and feats allow other reactions. You're probably going to forget these sometimes and there's just not a lot you can do about it, unfortunately.

Battle Maps

If you enjoy running tactical combat, you're going to want a battle map. One of the better ways to do this that is integrated into Avrae is to use the !map alias from the workshop (https://avrae.io/dashboard/workshop/5f6a4623f4c89c324d6a5cd3)

Finding a Battle Map

There are lots of great resources for battle maps online, including Reddit (https://www.reddit.com/r/battlemaps/). When you find one you like, you need to copy the URL to the image (by clicking on the image to bring it full screen and then copying the URL bar, don't try to copy the image preview on Reddit).

When you find a link to a battle map, the things you need to keep track of are the dimensions (normally posted in the image) and the resolution of the image (sometimes posted, but available in the image metadata).

Take the total image resolution (e.g. 1200×1800) and the grid size (e.g. 20×30) and divide to find the cell size (e.g. 60). You will use the grid size and the cell size when you add the map (e.g. 20×30 and 60).

Getting Started

The first thing you need to do is add a non-combatant named Lair, DM or Map

!i add 0 DM -p 20

Once you've added that, you can add the map if you know the cell size and the grid size.

!map -bg <<Map Url>> -mapsize <<Grid Size>> -options c<<Cell Size>>

This should show your image, perfectly gridded and ready to to (though, it often won't, see Troubleshooting if your image is not working for you).

Placing Monsters

Setting monsters is pretty straightforward, the normal way you do this is to specify the monster name, the cell coordinate, the size and the color. Size and color are optional, but helpful if you've got multiple factions or if some of the monsters are not hostile.

!map -t "<<Monster Name>>" -move <<Space>>[ -size <<Size (s, m, l, h, g)>>][ -color <<Color (r, g, b, bk, w)>>]

Once you get used to that, there's also a shorthand which can handle placing multiple monsters at once, which can reduce the number of commands you're typing and also the number of map images that end up polluting the game chat.

!map -t "<<Monster Name>>|<<Space>>|<<Size>>|<<Color>>

You can specify fewer parameters by either dropping everything from a | on or by putting no value between two ||s

!map -t GO1|C7

!map -t GO1|D9|l

!map -t GO1||b

You can also chain these commands all in one command

!map -t GO1|C7 -t GO2|D10

Recommended Resources

Avrae Workshop

!map alias



Battle Maps



Thanks to all the developers who have sunk hours into the mentioned tools to make our fun easier.

Special thanks to Teren, without whom, I would have just kept this to myself.

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