Rule to encourage less focus Fire

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I was wondering if anyone came across any house rules that encourage less focus fire tactics in combat?  I can design encounters to lessen the effects, but I can't help but watch my party default into this tactic every time.  The game design seems to encourage this, but I don't find it all that realistic, heroic, or engaging.

One thing I was thinking of was starting in round 2 of the combat, any enemy that has full hit points gets a +2 to hit.  For every round they remain at full hit points, they get an additional +1.  This would keep the tracking down to a minimum.  All you have to do is check the round of combat and if the monster was not hit and apply the bonus.  If they lost hp in any way, the bonus is gone for the remainder of the combat.

This would encourage the party to damage as many enemies as early on as possible.  And if certain monsters were left alone because of focus fire, the combat can remain dangerous even if they are dropping monsters every round.  You can throw in other rules like a defender adjacent to monster cancels it out (in line with the defender role).  Controllers also gain a bit more value for their ability to damage >1 monster a round, a needed boost I think to this role (not just a minion killer). 



Interesting concept. Is it necessary though? And do your players get the +2 as well.

How is your usage of terrain?  I notice in the published adventrues most fights have some significant enviromental chokepoints, pits, difficult terrain etc. that can be used to break up a line. 
I suppose that would work, but is focus firing really a problem?

I just think it's good tactics.

-O
Conservation of Ninjutsu Powers
enemies which are enraged and inspired when there allies go down... if they are not bloodied themselves ofcourse. 

Similarly they might have a big blow out attack before dying if they werent bloodied the previous round.

These are perhaps subtle but rather more flavorful than across the board ideas.

I have a blog where I talk about the same kind of thing for Players....

Seems the Conservation of Ninjutsu and how it prevents cascade failure of a team is useful on both sides of the board....

  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

I suppose that would work, but is focus firing really a problem?

I just think it's good tactics.

-O



It is but its harder than the games mechanics sometimes make it and it goes against certain fantasy fighting paradigms. 
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

I favor the 'monster B suddenly has a really nasty encounter power that recharges if it's ignored' approach.
I favor the 'monster B suddenly has a really nasty encounter power that recharges if it's ignored' approach.

On  a round it isnt attacked the recharge for certain powers go from 6 to 4,5,6
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

Or make em just like a battle rager... temp hit points when they attack and bonus damage when they have temp hit points at the beginning of their turn.
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

I suppose that would work, but is focus firing really a problem?

I just think it's good tactics.

-O



I concur.

I also think there's really no way to stop focus fire; unless the penalties for doing so are so severe as to be ridiculous, it's always going to be smarter to eliminate one foe than damage several.  If there are 5 opponents, killing one reduces your incoming damage by 20%.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
Some sort of monster reaction power (encounter) that gives resist 10 to all famage afterthe 1st hit each round? Recharge 4-6.

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 Fear is the Mind Killer  

Here is a simple anti focus fire one bonus on anybodies to hit if they werent attacked last round... tadah
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

Focus fire is simply good tactics from the party. Encouraging bad tactics is bad. It will also significantly increase your combat time.
Some sort of monster reaction power (encounter) that gives resist 10 to all famage afterthe 1st hit each round? Recharge 4-6.



I like it its a turtle power perhaps they get instant plate like magic armor.. that fades out.
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

Focus fire is simply good tactics from the party. Encouraging bad tactics is bad. It will also significantly increase your combat time.



Only do it some-times (hence why you attach it to certain monsters)  so heros can learn differing tactics for differing enemies.

If varying tactics are useful you make fights more interesting and player discernment more useful. 
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

How about a riposte that kicks in on the second time they are attacked in a round.


Hey might encourage a twin strike ranger to use a different at-will once in  a while. (nyeh he will just switch targets).
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

What about a stance? The creature being ignored changes fighting styles to become more aggressive, gaining a bonus to damage or attack rolls, while taking a penalty to defenses or gaining a vulnerability.

The benefit being you can actually use this power without being dependent on the players sticking to a particular tactic.
What about a stance? The creature being ignored changes fighting styles to become more aggressive, gaining a bonus to damage or attack rolls, while taking a penalty to defenses or gaining a vulnerability.

The benefit being you can actually use this power without being dependent on the players sticking to a particular tactic.



The I get aggressive when I feel neglected... but I can get aggreessive when I just bloody feel like it power... ooh thats nice.

 
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

The I get aggressive when I feel neglected... but I can get aggreessive when I just bloody feel like it power... ooh thats nice.


Other benefit: the players can exploit it. You answer Samrin's objection by making being observant and target shifting in response a good tactic.
Here is the easiest fix for focus fire ever invented: use monsters that are equally threatening so that the party has to split up and take them down at least two at a time or be doomed to failure.

Such as have a hulking brute wailing away on the party while a controller or artillery blasts them with high accuracy and high damage, or debilitating effects - the party will either split to take both down quickly, or try to focus fire on one while the other takes advantage (either by flanking or by using area attacks, both of which get easier when focus fire happens).

Further complicate the issue by using monsters that mark and actually punish ignoring the mark.

I find that the only time my players actually gang up and focus fire it is because they are in a solo fight and the solo is alone for whatever reason.

Another great tip to prevent focus fire: encourage the party not to travel shoulder to shoulder, and once they spread out a bit, have enemies come at them from multiple directions - they will either have to spread around to handle the monsters, or grant their enemies an easy path to flanking them.

You don't need houserules to encourage/discourage desired behaviors - you just need to plan encounters such that undesired behaviors will be poor choices.

ATTENTION:  If while reading my post you find yourself thinking "Either this guy is being sarcastic, or he is an idiot," do please assume that I am an idiot. It makes reading your replies more entertaining. If, however, you find yourself hoping that I am not being even remotely serious then you are very likely correct as I find irreverence and being ridiculous to be relaxing.

I foresee Leader-role characters being very unhappy when their "...allies gain a ______ bonus to attack/damage/etc against the target until the end of your next turn" powers are suddenly a BAD thing.
I was wondering if anyone came across any house rules that encourage less focus fire tactics in combat?

Why would we want to? Heck, my players find it difficult enough to coordinate their focused fire with maximum efficiency as it is, operating at almost 50% inefficiency in any given round.

Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.
thank god for players focusing fire, it keeps combat moving
thank god for players focusing fire, it keeps combat moving


I quote myself... 

If varying tactics are useful you make fights more interesting and player discernment more useful.



I find focus fire always being a good thing a tad boring.


  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

thank god for players focusing fire, it keeps combat moving

I guess it can keep things moving if 3 or 4 out of the 5 monsters die and the last one or two give up because of hopeless odds.  However, if players are dealing out a specific amount of HP per encounter, I don't see how it speeds anything up if it is distributed equally amount 5 different opponents vs. on one opponent a round till he drops.  In fact, sometimes my players are upset that an enemy only has 5 or so HPs left because they waste HPs of damage on them, or they don't want to waste their round just doing a basic attack.  I guess you save some time on the DM side because you have less monsters to control per round, but I can take a round of monsters in about 2 mins, so it doesn't save too much time.

I suppose that would work, but is focus firing really a problem?

I just think it's good tactics.

-O

Something you do every single combat from 1 through 30th level is not categorized as good tactics to me, it’s just an obvious choice of action because the rules do not encourage any other action, or discourage you from doing it.  You would be a fool not to do it.  It makes all the sense in the world to reduce your exposure to an attack by 20% per round by focusing fire.  There are exceptions, and with good encounter planning you can reduce it, but its still the norm in your average vanilla encounter. 


 

I suppose that would work, but is focus firing really a problem?

I just think it's good tactics.

-O

double post


 

thank god for players focusing fire, it keeps combat moving

I guess it can keep things moving if 3 or 4 out of the 5 monsters die and the last one or two give up because of hopeless odds.  However, if players are dealing out a specific amount of HP per encounter, I don't see how it speeds anything up if it is distributed equally amount 5 different opponents vs. on one opponent a round till he drops.  In fact, sometimes my players are upset that an enemy only has 5 or so HPs left because they waste HPs of damage on them, or they don't want to waste their round just doing a basic attack.  I guess you save some time on the DM side because you have less monsters to control per round, but I can take a round of monsters in about 2 mins, so it doesn't save too much time.




The main thing is focus fire depletes enemy agression/action economy causing the players to take less damage and use fewer resources on the fight... . it cascades if the enemy has any synergy because there alliy has been lost. 
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

I favor the 'monster B suddenly has a really nasty encounter power that recharges if it's ignored' approach.

Good idea, but I like to keep fudging to a minimum.  Also, without a hard an fast rule that the PCs know about and that has an actual impact on tactics, it won't change the overall tactical approach to combat in my opinion.
I favor the 'monster B suddenly has a really nasty encounter power that recharges if it's ignored' approach.

On  a round it isnt attacked the recharge for certain powers go from 6 to 4,5,6



Another good idea.  I do not like a lot of book keeping, but auto recharges or increased recharges might be a good idea.

thank god for players focusing fire, it keeps combat moving

I guess it can keep things moving if 3 or 4 out of the 5 monsters die and the last one or two give up because of hopeless odds.  However, if players are dealing out a specific amount of HP per encounter, I don't see how it speeds anything up if it is distributed equally amount 5 different opponents vs. on one opponent a round till he drops.  In fact, sometimes my players are upset that an enemy only has 5 or so HPs left because they waste HPs of damage on them, or they don't want to waste their round just doing a basic attack.  I guess you save some time on the DM side because you have less monsters to control per round, but I can take a round of monsters in about 2 mins, so it doesn't save too much time.




The main thing is focus fire depletes enemy agression/action economy causing the players to take less damage and use fewer resources on the fight... . it cascades if the enemy has any synergy because there alliy has been lost. 



I agree, but besides being less threatening of an encounter in the end, my point was that it doesn't speed things up if thats what was meant by "keeping things moving". 

I favor the 'monster B suddenly has a really nasty encounter power that recharges if it's ignored' approach.

On  a round it isnt attacked the recharge for certain powers go from 6 to 4,5,6



Another good idea.  I do not like a lot of book keeping, but auto recharges or increased recharges might be a good idea.




I was sort of translating his idea from something fudged to something more designed/pre-planned.
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

 
The main thing is focus fire depletes enemy agression/action economy causing the players to take less damage and use fewer resources on the fight... . it cascades if the enemy has any synergy because there alliy has been lost. 



I agree, but besides being less threatening of an encounter in the end, my point was that it doesn't speed things up if thats what was meant by "keeping things moving". 



Well the lost synergy in enemies can result in them losing defensive ability as well... which can speed things along more than distributed fire.  
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

I suppose that would work, but is focus firing really a problem?

I just think it's good tactics.

-O



I concur.

I also think there's really no way to stop focus fire; unless the penalties for doing so are so severe as to be ridiculous, it's always going to be smarter to eliminate one foe than damage several.  If there are 5 opponents, killing one reduces your incoming damage by 20%.




I think my suggestion of a +2 to hit in round 2 for any unharmed enemy/+1 per round thereafter, might be enough to get the characters attention.  Maybe the same bonus to damage as well would top it off.  Also, ignoring foes to try and reduce your opponents killing power by 20% will not be so dramatic because the foes you ignore will hit and damage you more than normal, thus keeping the fight more threatening longer.  It make sense too because those foes would be able to tee up and unload on you since you are ignoring them.

Think of a cinematic combat, 3 musketeers, encountering a group of foes.  Do they all beat on one till he drops, or do they each engage a foe to start the fight....and you know where I’m going.  That is the theme I’m trying to capture.
 

I suppose that would work, but is focus firing really a problem?

I just think it's good tactics.

-O



I concur.

I also think there's really no way to stop focus fire; unless the penalties for doing so are so severe as to be ridiculous, it's always going to be smarter to eliminate one foe than damage several.  If there are 5 opponents, killing one reduces your incoming damage by 20%.




I think my suggestion of a +2 to hit in round 2 for any unharmed enemy/+1 per round thereafter, might be enough to get the characters attention.   



Its a bit flavorless compared to one enemy who can rage riposte against the second attack made against him in a round...
Or a static benefit on there attacks damage or to hit if they didnt get attacked last round call it soaring confidence. 
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

Focus fire is simply good tactics from the party. Encouraging bad tactics is bad. It will also significantly increase your combat time.



I'd rather capture a more cinematic combat feel, rather than what is mathematically the best option to do.  I fully understand that to focus fire is the best tactic in D&D, but it’s only because the rules encourage it, not because it is how combat would occur realistically (I know, it’s D&D, how real can you get).
Actually, what that sounds like ("3 musketeers, encountering a group of foes") is more having a bunch of minions with maybe one or two important figures in the fight.

There are many ways to either make focusing fire less desirable or untenable without resorting to full house rules. Several sorts of monster powers serve well at this role, such as ones where the death of one benefits others. Focus fire becomes dangerous, and the optimal tactic is dropping several foes at the same time (or near it) to minimize the impact of the death boons. Skirmishers and other mobile monsters tend to make more trouble for a group without much area denial, and that forces hard choices re: focus fire. Also, monsters that use player-like tactics for survival's stake could be interesting, such as creatures with regeneration swapping locations to make focusing fire on the beaten monster harder to accomplish.

Barring that, you can even use the nature of fight objectives above and beyond the mere defeat of the monsters to establish new ideal tactics. Example: there's an area where if any of the enemies can make a break for it, they alert their allies and cause a mess of trouble down the line. Unless they can nova through multiple guys per round, they'll likely have to break up to occupy all the enemies. Likewise, having to protect an NPC or a location creates situations where focusing fire isn't necessarily a perfect solution.

FWIW, if a defender is pegging down someone and the rest of the group is mowing down that same guy, that suggests just using more monsters should make that tactic less optimal, forcing at least one of the party members to lay down some covering fire while the rest of the team goes for their main target.
I suppose that would work, but is focus firing really a problem?

I just think it's good tactics.

-O



I concur.

I also think there's really no way to stop focus fire; unless the penalties for doing so are so severe as to be ridiculous, it's always going to be smarter to eliminate one foe than damage several.  If there are 5 opponents, killing one reduces your incoming damage by 20%.




I think my suggestion of a +2 to hit in round 2 for any unharmed enemy/+1 per round thereafter, might be enough to get the characters attention.   



Its a bit flavorless compared to one enemy who can rage riposte against the second attack made against him in a round...
Or a static benefit on there attacks damage or to hit if they didnt get attacked last round call it soaring confidence. 



Right, but a quick and dirty rule is better to me than having to think of the way each monster or foe will have its own flavor of rage/riposte.  But i like your idea for perhaps limited use in certain situations, maybe for bosses.

I don't want to track who got attacked last round or any sort of book keepiing.  I already keep track of rounds and HP, and I assume everyone does, so to check if someone has not been hit and what round it is would be easy on the book keeping.

Use doppleganger infiltrators and laugh away as the party tries to focus fire.

Or, assuming the party is at least half melee, monsters that explode when they die.

Or monsters that cause splash damage against all nearby targets each time they are hit (see newer black dragons and their acidic blood)

Or monsters that are simply mobile enough that the slower party members can't really do much except charge if they want to join in on the focus fire

Or monsters that 'power up' the more players are near them.  Imagine creatures with an aura 2 or something that states for each adventurer in the aura, this monsters attack, damage, and defenses increases by 2

Or monsters with forced movement/immobolize/grabs

Or monsters that turn invisible when hit until the start of their next turn

Or (and this is the best choice) have more going on in the encounter be it a trap, skill challenges, a secret treasure that needs to be reached in the first 2 rounds, a prisoner about to be killed, or whatever else you can think of such that killing the monsters efficiently is no longer the party's highest priority.

Interesting concept. Is it necessary though? And do your players get the +2 as well.

How is your usage of terrain?  I notice in the published adventrues most fights have some significant enviromental chokepoints, pits, difficult terrain etc. that can be used to break up a line. 




hahaha, no, the player's don't get it.  They are already beefed up enough and kick enough butt. They don't need anymore bonuses.  If anything, I need to increase the threat of fights to keep things interesting.

I do use terrain and encounter design to try and reduce focus fire.  However, even when the party is split, I see them do all they can in their power to still focus fire.  Example, party is split by the encounter design into two groups (2 PCs and 3 PCs).  The group of 3 PCs, even though they are surrounded by 5 foes, focus fire on one till he drops and so on.  It’s cool and all, but everyone shifting in and out to stab one guy all the time gets old.  I'd like to punish them for leaving other foes in their face untouched. 



thank god for players focusing fire, it keeps combat moving

I guess it can keep things moving if 3 or 4 out of the 5 monsters die and the last one or two give up because of hopeless odds.  However, if players are dealing out a specific amount of HP per encounter, I don't see how it speeds anything up if it is distributed equally amount 5 different opponents vs. on one opponent a round till he drops.  In fact, sometimes my players are upset that an enemy only has 5 or so HPs left because they waste HPs of damage on them, or they don't want to waste their round just doing a basic attack.  I guess you save some time on the DM side because you have less monsters to control per round, but I can take a round of monsters in about 2 mins, so it doesn't save too much time.




The main thing is focus fire depletes enemy agression/action economy causing the players to take less damage and use fewer resources on the fight... . it cascades if the enemy has any synergy because there alliy has been lost. 



I agree, but besides being less threatening of an encounter in the end, my point was that it doesn't speed things up if thats what was meant by "keeping things moving". 


A DM's turn takes longer when he's controlling 5 monsters instead of 2, even moreso if they have some sort of tactical synergy.  If you still think of this as inconsequential, then think if it as keeping the game moving.  A party using focus fire could get through double the number of encounters in an adventuring day before running out of resources.

It's just horrible, horrible tactics to let 5 monsters pound on you for an entire fight.  They're all fighting at full power (many even get powered up when bloodied), and they get the maximum amount of time to recharge all their powers.  It may seem unheroic to focus-fire, but it seems equally unbelievable for heroes to actively avoid it when it makes things so much more dangerous.

I will definitely acknowledge Garth's point that sometimes a battle can be more fun or thematic with a different structure, but focus fire is deeply built into this game.  Pointing out leader buffs was a good example of this, as well as the point noted above that a monster at 1hp fights just as strong as one at full.  But there are many others - warlock's curse boon for example.  It would suck to get no benefit from it until the last round when everything dies.  Many defenders can only hold down one or two creatures, allowing the rest to run rampant and unchalleneged throughout the whole encounter.  I'm sure there are many other examples.

Because of these things, discouraging focus fire should be used sparingly if at all, and only by a DM who really knows what he's doing.  Discouraging it across the board is a great way to lengthen every fight, wear down PCs, and frustrate classes that are built on the premise of focus fire or enemies dying throughout the battle (rather than just at the end).  With all the many other avenues of increasing the difficulty of an encounter, this should really be a last resort.


Use doppleganger infiltrators and laugh away as the party tries to focus fire.

Or, assuming the party is at least half melee, monsters that explode when they die.

Or monsters that cause splash damage against all nearby targets each time they are hit (see newer black dragons and their acidic blood)

Or monsters that are simply mobile enough that the slower party members can't really do much except charge if they want to join in on the focus fire

Or monsters that 'power up' the more players are near them.  Imagine creatures with an aura 2 or something that states for each adventurer in the aura, this monsters attack, damage, and defenses increases by 2

Or monsters with forced movement/immobolize/grabs

Or monsters that turn invisible when hit until the start of their next turn

Or (and this is the best choice) have more going on in the encounter be it a trap, skill challenges, a secret treasure that needs to be reached in the first 2 rounds, a prisoner about to be killed, or whatever else you can think of such that killing the monsters efficiently is no longer the party's highest priority.




Lots of good ideas here, thanks.  I really like the one about 'power up' monsters when > 1 PC is near them.  One of my players is playing a blackguard and he gets goofy amounts of damage bonuses when I do this to him.

So far, it sounds to me like people are not as annoyed as I am about 'focus fire'.  I just seems like the only way a group would not do it is if they could not do to circumstances/encounter design.  I guess my issue is that I'm always planning how I can avoid it as a DM, so it gets annoying.  (ex; if I put this boss here, they will just all jump him the first round and blah blah blah and so on.  What new thing can I think of to keep them from doing it and maybe get them to pay attention to the other foes on the board.)