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Great article. I'm going to give this a try in my Dark Sun campaign this weekend. The Dark Sun monsters deal a lot of damage. So far every encounter has been a fight to the death, forcing me as DM to pull a punch here or there to prevent a TPK. It seems more interesting to keep attacking full strength and remind the PCs that they could flee at the end of a round.
I have to agree with everyone else, great article. My only complaint... it's "Unearthed Arcana" and not core. This deserves to be core imo.
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I have to agree with everyone else, great article. My only complaint... it's "Unearthed Arcana" and not core. This deserves to be core imo.Keeping it in Unearthed Arcana makes it easier to treat as an optional rule. If you go ahead and declare it core, some DMs will be caught off guard when, several rounds into combat, players declare they are moving into 'chase scene mode' and demand Bluff/Intimidate/Acrobatics checks to break off from combat without Opportunity Attacks. Personally, I like the rules, and plan on trying them out. But I think Unearthed Arcana is the perfect place for this sort of thing - I just don't see any benefit from making it a core rule, rather than keeping it as an optional one.
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Incidentally, this simple Combat Status mechanic is awesome for modern campaign settings. In the modern world, urban areas normally make violence an unappealing option because of legal consequences. So, switching to other strategies to resolve encounters nonviolently is important for flavor.
The first problem is when the retreat begins. In our case, we clearly had the bad guys on the rocks and were close to defeating them. All of a sudden, they got away, in spite of our initiative giving us attacks before their next actions. My runepriest's abilities to immobilize the enemy were useless, as were the other 5 players abilities.
The second problem is using overland movement rules. Pursuit should not be at the pace of the slowest party member. I've never heard of pursuers waiting for their slowest person while they chase someone. Perhaps if this were truely an overland pursuit over a more significant time, but at the end of an encounter folks are going to give pursuit at top speed if they believe they have the advantage and can catch someone.
A third potential problem is rewards or lack of rewards for the pursuers. If the enemy escapes, do pursuers still get full experience for the encounter? Except for their fallen comrades, pursuers don't get any loot from the escapers, which typically would include the highest level/best equipped opponent.
Ultimately, the use of these options took me as a player out of the game as my characters abilities, powers, feats all were useless in spite of their utility in preventing movement. I felt like a spectator instead of a participator. (yes, in each case I rolled successful checks only to have other party members roll poorly)I understand the need for simplicity in the rules, however I think this is an area where a little more complexity makes the adventure more 'realistic'. I'm not saying rules trump story, or story trumps rules, but it should be explainable in a way that lets the players feel like their characters weren't just screwed.I'm curious if any other players have had their DM use this option, and how they felt about it as the failing pursuer.