Opportunity Attacks and D&DNext - Do we really need them?

After giving the playtest a run, and reading many posts I find that one issue worth discussing is how it feels to remove OAs from the game.


Here are some of my thoughts (which I did post somewhere else, but I feel that this issue could use its own thread):

In previous editions with Opportunity Attacks, I think the problem is that once all creatures know that every other creature has an OA, it often bogs down the game.  For my players (in 3.0, 3.5 and 4e), they rarely gamble and let creatures attack them with OAs, so there is a lot less movement in combat and combats kind of slog along.  It also makes my decision as DM more difficult when I play the monsters.   Do I make moves that give the players OA or not?  I don't like making that decision.


In this playtest, without OAs, the players were able to move more, and have some fun.   The combats do move faster without the OAs.  

Not having OAs also gave me a better opportunity to allow my monsters to run away when they were hurt, not fearing that they would be cut down from behind.  That added tremendously to the feel of the game (and the roleplaying potential).  Likewise, when the cleric was injured badly, he was able to step behind the fighter and get out of harms way.  That was cool, and it saved the group.


One time in our playtest, the rogue ran away from goblins and went behind the cleric, so the two goblins, who wanted to target the halfling rogue, targeted the cleric instead.  Luckily their spears missed the mark.  The cleric sarcastically thanked the rogue for attempting to make him a pin cushion.  We laughed and had fun with it.

The guardian ability to shield an ally, could go a long way to providing protection for squishies.  Also, old tactics like looking for a defensible position will also become more important.

These playtest experiences are actually making me rethink the need for OA.   

One way to perhaps make it work, is to give only certain PCs and monsters the ability to make 1 OA if a creature tries to run through a threatened square.  This way, most creatures and PCs won't expect OA so when they happen they will be more of a surprise.  They can also add an ability that will stop a creature in its tracks (I think I may have read about this one somewhere..not sure).

What are your experiences with the playtest not having OA?   


A Brave Knight of WTF - "Wielder of the Sword of Balance"

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

I pretty much agree. OA should be a class/background/theme feature
I'm adding one more vote for doing things this way!  I really liked being able to have my Kobolds beet feet when things were going pare shaped for them and not getting cut down. 

The last one still took a bolt to the back anyways but it was great in a cinematic way. ;)
Opportunity attacks - the bane of the villain's quick escape...
We may not need OA/AoOs...but we do need something. Beyond the current "ranged attacks are at disadvantage in melee", there needs to be some mechanic in place to prevent people from doing just anything they want in the middle of combat. It doesn't have to be OA necessarily as that mechanic can be confusing until you wrap your head around it, but there should be some sort of punishment beyond just taking disadvantage on the attack/check if you're casting a spell or trying to pick a lock. It's not just a distraction, you're pretty much lowering your guard. It's possible that just granting advantage until your next turn would be enough if you do certain things.

And while I agree with what you're saying, the difference between running away and a "fighting retreat" or shift/move has been in the game since at least 1st Edition. You just run away at full speed from melee without protecting yourself, the enemy gets a free swipe at you as you run but you get to move further away.
The guardian ability to shield an ally, could go a long way to providing protection for squishies.

I've been considering that for the Guardian theme the Hold the Line and Defender feats would be better if they were switched around. Conceptually flailing around so somebody doesn't move past you might be easier then parrying a blow intended for somebody else, and at the lowest levels stopping enemies from running past you to the mage would probably be more usefull then defending against fairly weak damage blows.
Something needs to add danger for trying to move away from a combatant. Right now, the Fighter is at a huge disadvantage because no one would realistically want to stand toe-to-toe with him, and just wander back to fight something that doesn't have the highest AC and do the highest melee damage.
Remember this though, the reason that fighters relied so heavily on OA or Retreating from melee mechanics (1st ed) is because they either couldn't move and attack in the same turn (1st ed), or they required full round actions to accomplish anything great, at least in the later levels. But in this game there is no such thing as a Full round action, at least not yet, so a fighter can move and attack as simply as everyone else. Sure a wizard can move away and cast a spell, but a fighter can just walk right back up to him and attack...twice at level 2!

Now there IS an argument to be made about having nothing to kind of keep the enemies away from the casters, but at the same time the caster can get away as easily as enemies can "Get away" from the fighter. 
My two copper.
Sure a wizard can move away and cast a spell, but a fighter can just walk right back up to him and attack...twice at level 2!


No he can't. The fighter has a speed of 25, almost anything else has a speed of 30. The wizard can move away from the fighter and if they're not in a tight room the fighter can never catch up to make another attack.
Doh, forgot about the heavy armor. Still, 25 feet? That's plenty of walking space to find another target
My two copper.
We may not need OA/AoOs...but we do need something. Beyond the current "ranged attacks are at disadvantage in melee", there needs to be some mechanic in place to prevent people from doing just anything they want in the middle of combat. It doesn't have to be OA necessarily as that mechanic can be confusing until you wrap your head around it, but there should be some sort of punishment beyond just taking disadvantage on the attack/check if you're casting a spell or trying to pick a lock. It's not just a distraction, you're pretty much lowering your guard. It's possible that just granting advantage until your next turn would be enough if you do certain things.

And while I agree with what you're saying, the difference between running away and a "fighting retreat" or shift/move has been in the game since at least 1st Edition. You just run away at full speed from melee without protecting yourself, the enemy gets a free swipe at you as you run but you get to move further away.



This. All of the experienced D&D players who were in my game said that the lack of any penalty for the casters to either perform a ranged attack, or move 30ft out of combat and then cast a spell just didn't feel right or balanced. I do need to have a few more battles in enclosed spaces first, before I'm completely willing to call it.
I am strong believer that AoO and associated rules have been a welcome and needed addition to the game these last 12 years or so.

Without them it makes positioning and movement in combat kind of pointless.

However it depends on your preferred playstyle. If what you want from the system is the capacity to run lots of brief, relatively simple combats a session then AoO is more cumbersome then useful.

I on the other hand feel that as a player and DM, that a 1-2 round combat is not worth having and are a waste of everyone's time. I would rather a session have 1-2 epic story driven, highly tactical, set piece encounters, with lots of complex terrain features, as opposed to a lots of short fights.

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Something needs to add danger for trying to move away from a combatant. Right now, the Fighter is at a huge disadvantage because no one would realistically want to stand toe-to-toe with him, and just wander back to fight something that doesn't have the highest AC and do the highest melee damage.


And the fighter can't follow them because?
Something needs to add danger for trying to move away from a combatant. Right now, the Fighter is at a huge disadvantage because no one would realistically want to stand toe-to-toe with him, and just wander back to fight something that doesn't have the highest AC and do the highest melee damage.


And the fighter can't follow them because?



Because they're orcs with a move of 30 feet per round (6) and he only has 25 feet per round (5).  It's also a problem because a DM playing tactically will pick on the squishies and there's nothing the fighter can do to prevent it.  Neither can the guardian at 1st level, because the DM can easily find a square adjacent to the squishy that isn't adjacent to the guardian.
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />Because they're orcs with a move of 30 feet per round (6) and he only has 25 feet per round (5).  It's also a problem because a DM playing tactically will pick on the squishies and there's nothing the fighter can do to prevent it.  Neither can the guardian at 1st level, because the DM can easily find a square adjacent to the squishy that isn't adjacent to the guardian.


Sounds like the squishies should stay within 20 feet (4) of the fighters and the fighters should carry a crossbow.  Guardians don't have to be adjacent to the attacker.

Besides, if a monster wants to run away from the fighter bad enough an AoO isn't going to stop it.  It'll just slow the game down with another interupt action.
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />Because they're orcs with a move of 30 feet per round (6) and he only has 25 feet per round (5).  It's also a problem because a DM playing tactically will pick on the squishies and there's nothing the fighter can do to prevent it.  Neither can the guardian at 1st level, because the DM can easily find a square adjacent to the squishy that isn't adjacent to the guardian.


Sounds like the squishies should stay within 20 feet (4) of the fighters and the fighters should carry a crossbow.  Guardians don't have to be adjacent to the attacker.

Besides, if a monster wants to run away from the fighter bad enough an AoO isn't going to stop it.  It'll just slow the game down with another interupt action.



Guardians need to be adjacent to the squishies in order to give disadvantage to the attackers, I stand corrected. However, giving AoO actually makes it a tactically poor choice for the DM to just ignore the fighter, since it may actually result in the creature's death.

Also, I' m fairly confident that I speak for most fighter fans when I say we'd rather charge with an axe than plink with a crossbow. 
Also, the danger that a creature faces if he or she runs past the fighter to get to the spellcaster is that next round, the fighter will be able to (most likely) hack the creature from behind!  Ouch.  This presents another tactical decision.

 

A Brave Knight of WTF - "Wielder of the Sword of Balance"

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

However, giving AoO actually makes it a tactically poor choice for the DM to just ignore the fighter, since it may actually result in the creature's death.

Also, I' m fairly confident that I speak for most fighter fans when I say we'd rather charge with an axe than plink with a crossbow. 


It's a bad idea to ignore the fighter without AoO!  It's a good idea to run away if you can.  If one AoO is going to kill you then you're probably done for soon anyway.  At least that's the way it's worked for 12 years now IME.

And even the dwarven fighter had a crossbow.  I'm sure he favored his axe, for sure.
Also, the danger that a creature faces if he or she runs past the fighter to get to the spellcaster is that next round, the fighter will be able to (most likely) hack the creature from behind!  Ouch.  This presents another tactical decision.

 


 This might represent a tactical choice if there were rules for facing.  I didn't see any.
However, giving AoO actually makes it a tactically poor choice for the DM to just ignore the fighter, since it may actually result in the creature's death.

Also, I' m fairly confident that I speak for most fighter fans when I say we'd rather charge with an axe than plink with a crossbow. 


It's a bad idea to ignore the fighter without AoO!  It's a good idea to run away if you can.  If one AoO is going to kill you then you're probably done for soon anyway.  At least that's the way it's worked for 12 years now IME.

And even the dwarven fighter had a crossbow.  I'm sure he favored his axe, for sure.



I'm not convinced that my best tactic as a DM is to attack the fighter.  I'd rather save him for after the cleric and the Mage are down?  However, if I can't move away from him without provoking an AoO, then I'll definitely stay next to him and take my swing.

Most humanoids in this play test can be taken down with one solid hit from the fighter. 
Also, the danger that a creature faces if he or she runs past the fighter to get to the spellcaster is that next round, the fighter will be able to (most likely) hack the creature from behind!  Ouch.  This presents another tactical decision.

 


 This might represent a tactical choice if there were rules for facing.  I didn't see any.




True.  They would need facing rules.  We just assumed them.

As for most intelligent monsters, they would target the spellcasters if they could.   Therefore, the picket fence or establishing a meat shield wall will definitely be an important tactic. 

A Brave Knight of WTF - "Wielder of the Sword of Balance"

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

Does lack of AoO make the combat faster? Yes? Then that should be the core rule.  The amount of tactical talk this has generated is deeper than 99% of new gamers, or old gamers that play for fun and not tactics,  are ever going to consider.

Leave them out of core, and add them in as a 4th ed -style battle module later.  That way everyone is happy.  I DM almost exclusively for players new to RPG's, and Opportunity Attacks are one of the biggest stumbling blocks.  (Can I move here? no. Can I move here? no. Can I move here? yes. Can I attack from here? no. etc, etc)

They add a great deal of complication all considered - think of all the rules for shifting, moving through multiple squares, etc.  Again, add that in as a tactical module for those that want it later.  I think disadvantage in the new system is a pretty good penalty, and the DM can apply that at will quickly and easily.  Plus it adds the suspense of rolling two dice for the player. 

You may hate quick combats, a lot of players love them.  Make quick and easy the default, and complicated but more realistic a later option.
I am a fan of oppurtunity attacks because it makes my players think about every move and plus it give me as a DM a whole host of ways to block them. For example I can have a large creature (with 5-foot reach) block an entire corridor with one boss instead of having to throw many many minions for them to wade through. It just gives more choice for DM in my opinion.
...The combats do move faster without the OAs.  ...



Sold.  



In all seriousness, I don't miss them.  The fact that you have a lot fewer actions that happen out of turn order (a traditional time sink) is a massive plus.

Like many others, I have found OAs to really bog down combat. One compromise I saw as a suggestion here that I am seriously considering implementing in home games (not the playtest, yet) is making movement through threatened areas akin to difficult terrain (costs double movement). In this way you simulate a certain caution in battle movement. The reason this appeals to me is that it makes a great platform for themes and such that want to further monopolize on it (damaging creatures that pass by, or like the Defender holding the line) while retaining a base and simple penalty for trying to dance around combat on a whim.
When I get the chance, I plan to playtest a variant where *only* the Fighter may make OAs. If the OA hits, then the target loses the rest of their move. The target may then either attack the Fighter or retreat. Has anyone else tried something similar?

Wounds Module [updated for Basic]

Proficiency Module

Why wait for a packet for it?  Try it, and provide feedback!

We have the opportunity here to be somewhat experimental, and easy additions like this are the perfect thing to try out in advance of it coming in a packet.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
So the goal is to speed up the flow of combat. AoO definatly bog things down. Why not grant advantage till end of next round instead of giving the AoO.
OAs are one of the only tactical features in D&Dnext.   OAs definitally should stay.  It should stay or virtually any roadblock or whatnot will be able to be bypassed without any substaintial penalty to the players.   No OAs will also empower casters and ranged characters, which will cause an imbalance. 
I'm not crazy about OAs and we really didn't miss them during our first playtest.  I agree we need something to help the fighter control his opponent's movements a little.

I would probably house-rule something like: "You can only shift 1 square as your move action when moving away from an adjacent melee combatant."

That would let a goblin shaman shift back 1 square to fire off a spell at the fighter, but keep the fighter close enough to follow him.  The goblin shaman could run further away, but he'd give up his attack to do it.

Roy


Terrific comments.  I think we should all experiment as suggested by Mand12.

I especially like Bookseller's comment:


Does lack of AoO make the combat faster? Yes? Then that should be the core rule.  The amount of tactical talk this has generated is deeper than 99% of new gamers, or old gamers that play for fun and not tactics,  are ever going to consider.

Leave them out of core, and add them in as a 4th ed -style battle module later.  That way everyone is happy.  I DM almost exclusively for players new to RPG's, and Opportunity Attacks are one of the biggest stumbling blocks.  (Can I move here? no. Can I move here? no. Can I move here? yes. Can I attack from here? no. etc, etc)

They add a great deal of complication all considered - think of all the rules for shifting, moving through multiple squares, etc.  Again, add that in as a tactical module for those that want it later.  I think disadvantage in the new system is a pretty good penalty, and the DM can apply that at will quickly and easily.  Plus it adds the suspense of rolling two dice for the player. 

You may hate quick combats, a lot of players love them.  Make quick and easy the default, and complicated but more realistic a later option.



Adding an optional OA rule will be very easy if the default leaves them out.

Keep the ideas flowing.

Cheers.

A Brave Knight of WTF - "Wielder of the Sword of Balance"

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

When I get the chance, I plan to playtest a variant where *only* the Fighter may make OAs. If the OA hits, then the target loses the rest of their move. The target may then either attack the Fighter or retreat. Has anyone else tried something similar?



I haven't played it yet, but we were kicking around the idea (that another poster already noted) of allowing Opportunity Attack as a fighter trait tied to theme/background/etc... similar the cleric's Defender trait with the shield. However, a landed attack would still allow the enemy to move through the threatened square.

I do like that idea, but perhaps that should be a separate (related?) "Hold the Line" trait which allows fighters to prevent movement through their threatened squares. 

Both of these items coud still be "core traits", but only available to certain classes... which means that everyone can have their cake AND eat it too. Fighters get the OAs they'd like, but everyone else essentially ignores that rule and it speeds up play.

It could also add suspense if it is the PC who needs to move through threatened squares. Does that creature have a special OA reaction?  Probably not, but maybe... but the PC needs to take that chance to save to rogue!

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OAs are one of the only tactical features in D&Dnext.   OAs definitally should stay.  It should stay or virtually any roadblock or whatnot will be able to be bypassed without any substaintial penalty to the players.   No OAs will also empower casters and ranged characters, which will cause an imbalance. 


Um.  As far as we know, there aren't any OAs in D&DN.
The playtest Fighter is a slayer. His (or her) job is to kill the enemies, not to protect the squishies. I wouldn't mind seeing OAs tied to particular themes, but I think it's a mistake to tie it to any class. The fighter class is no longer inherently a defender. If a player wants his or her fighter to be a defender, then he or she just needs to take a defendery theme like Guardian.
http://www.infernaltitans.com/
The playtest Fighter is a slayer. His (or her) job is to kill the enemies, not to protect the squishies. I wouldn't mind seeing OAs tied to particular themes, but I think it's a mistake to tie it to any class. The fighter class is no longer inherently a defender. If a player wants his or her fighter to be a defender, then he or she just needs to take a defendery theme like Guardian.



Good point!

A Brave Knight of WTF - "Wielder of the Sword of Balance"

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

I don't think we necessarily need OAs as they exist in 4th edition or even the 1/round as it was in 3rd edition.

We do need something. If it's tied to a particular kind of charachter (class or theme), I'd be okay with that.

A few ways to give something so that moving away from an enemy isn't just nothing (I'm good with disadvantage on ranged attacks)
1.
For weapon users: str or dex mod damage (no weapon die) to the creature moving away, scale this at higher levels
For non-weapon users that have a minor melee spell only: magic modifier damage to the creature moving away, scale at higher levels
2.
Disadvantage on attacks until end of turn for moving away from an enemy (maybe with an opposed dex check?)
3.
Class or theme gets OAs or something similar to OAs such as the above mentioned attack modifer of damage
I've never enjoyed OAs for the reason that they tend to make combats (at least those with experienced powergamers) very static. I'm thrilled to see OAs gone from the basic rules here. That said, I wouldn't mind any optional rules covering OAs or something similar---I just wouldn't use them in my own games.
When I get the chance, I plan to playtest a variant where *only* the Fighter may make OAs. If the OA hits, then the target loses the rest of their move. The target may then either attack the Fighter or retreat. Has anyone else tried something similar?



Why the fighter? It should be given to the cleric as part of his defender theme. I think a lot of this "easy to get around the fighter" is an artifact from 4e, defending/tanking is based on the theme now and not the class. 

The fighter in the packet is a damage dealer, his theme is damage dealer. Give him a shield and the defender theme if you want to see how he tanks/defends.

I do plan on giving the fighter both the defender and slayer theme (per Mearls) to see how he works using 2 themes at once, and how he compares to others.

I know we're talking about mechanics and what's the most fun and all, but (this is kinda besides the point) but it might bear mentioning...
Raise your hand if you've ever been in a fight or watched one.  Also raise your hand if you've ever seen a movie or read a book that had a fight in it.  If you haven't, youtube is a couple clicks away.
If one guy decides he'd rather not fight anymore and turns around to bolt, he doesn't get punched one last time in the back of the head.  He just turns and runs.  If the other guy chases him, he might catch up, tackle him, whatever.  Point is, the "one last hit on your way out" doesn't really reflect anything I've ever experienced irl OR ever seen or read in fiction.

So it's not like reality and it's not like a fun narrative.  It's just a mechanism to stop movement.  That said, most monsters and classes don't really deserve an OA.  Everyone has seen a monster retreat from the wizard, then get OA'd by a sorry-ass -1 d20 rfor a measly 1d4-1 damage.  Waste o' time.

OA could be a special monster feature, just like DR or ethereal, etc.  It could also be a feat for the bruisers who really ought to have them.

Edit: Might also make a good weapon feature, like for the spear or something.  I've always wanted to see the spear made as a viable option for fighters.
I think it would be nice if you could take an action such as the Dodge action in the "How to Play" document", that allowed Opportunity Attacks. Basically, you forgo your action and movement for the round and you would be able to attack creatures that move through or out of your threatened area as a reaction as if you had the "Combat Reflexes" feat from 3.5.
I don't want to see any rules that "force" you to use miniatures and grid all of your combat.  Yes I know I could just ignore these rules but I don't want classes, races, themes, backgrounds and whatever else comes along to be pointless becasue my group doesn't want to count out our movement on a board.  I am fine with reach, everyone has it and I can still use it without a grid but with something like threat ranges and opportunity attacks based on movment and location we are just getting to tactical.  If Wizards wants to write another squad based tactical war game or even large scale battle game that I can port my player's characters into for a dramatic battle, I love it, I'll buy it, I'll use it, but that needs to reamain a seperate entity from core RPG.