This is so ridiculously simple I am now very interested in trying it. Thanks to Uskglass for this post, it's immediately got me interested in trying 4E again with the TotM approach. Here's the text of it, but click his link at the WotC blog forums for the original.
This is an adaptation of a relative proximy zone, ToTM stylem combat system (as seen in WFRPG 3e and 13th Age) to D&D 4E. It can be used as replacement of grid combat, but since it doesn't change the basic stats and numbers of 4E it is always possible to switch from one to the other for each battle.
It makes combat a bit more hazy and unpredictable, trading off a some tactical control for the sake of smoothness and a more organic, freeform feel.
Background: As seen in WFRPG 3e and 13th Age, the system works using zones of relative proximity. Basically once in combat anything is either Engaged (melee reach), Nearby (1 move action away) or Far Away (2 move actions away). It is still a good idea using minis or tokens for ease of visualisation (we do), but it's not required.
STATES AND MOVEMENTS
• Engaged = Melee (base contact)
• Nearby = One move action away (5 squares or more)
• Far away = Two move actions away (10 squares or more)
• Disengage = Shift; with # being the number of enemies disengaging from (shift 1 = disengage 1 enemy); no roll required
• Difficult Terrain = Slowed = Movement 4 or less : Nearby becomes Far Away, Shift is halved (round down)
• Flanking = two or more allies engaging the same target
RANGES AND AREAS OF EFFECT
• Range 10+ = any Nearby or Far Away target
• Range 5+ = any Nearby target
• Blast = Nd3 Nearby targets (3=1d3; 5=2d3)
• Area burst = Nd3 Nearby targets to origin (1=1d3; 2=2d3)
• Close Burst = All Engaged targets + Nd3 Nearby (2=1d3; 3=2d3)
• Walls = 1dN Nearby targets to origin per square of wall (round down). One move action to bypass the wall, if possible
• Friendly fire = allies engaged to affected targets need a saving throw to avoid AoE/Walls targeting ‘creatures’ in the area
• Pull = Move towards origin
• Push = Move away from origin
• Slide = Move anyway from origin
• 5+ = Specific position Nearby in the direction
• 4 or less = Generic position Nearby in the direction (roll 1d6 and add it to the forced movement: a total of 6+ means a specific position is achieved in the direction of the movement)
Original Source: Uskglass's Community Page
Sigh...I really miss playing 4E sometimes! Stuff like this makes me want to jump back in, though I can usually assuage my sense of longing by delving deep into my massive Pathfinder collection or messing around with Magic World, Runequest and BRP.