Retreat and chase

Something I liked about the first playtest's lack of OAs was that it made running away viable. So, I'm wondering how would you like to see this handled? Can an enemy (or PC) turn tail and run out?
I'd like to see it be one (or more OAs), and then something like a 4e skill challenge. I worry that retreating isn't a viable enough option for PCs, nor enemies.
"What's stupid is when people decide that X is true - even when it is demonstrable untrue or 100% against what we've said - and run around complaining about that. That's just a breakdown of basic human reasoning." -Mike Mearls
Barring special circumstances (like actually being trapped in a chamber/cave), running away (or a strategic retreat) should always be an option for both PCs and monsters.  Naturally, the problem with this is that the party (PCs or monsters) that is not running will often be inclined to continue to pummel their foes as they retreat.  This often results simply in a choice of "do you want to be shot/zapped in the front or back when you die?"

There are a great many problems that can be circumvented by players and DMs having a mature discussion about what the game is going to be like before they ever sit down together to play.

 

The answer really does lie in more options, not in confining and segregating certain options.

 

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Save the breasts.

There was a great article on how to handle this in Dragon 396 titled "Fight or Flight".  In short, at the end of any round either side can decide to surrender (or demand that the other side surrender), attempt to parlay, or attempt to run.

If you surrender, the other side of course can choose to accept or just keep fighting.  Same with attempting to parlay.

For running, the article handled it as a skill challenge.  First, the group must attempt to break away, which is resolved via a group skill check.  Athletics and Stealth were listed as the most common skills here, but of course others could apply.  The difficulty depends on how close you are to an enemy.  If more than half the group passes their check, the group breaks away.  If not, combat continues.

Once the group has broken away, a chase scene might occur (if the other side doesn't want to let you escape), again handled with a skill challenge.

The exact mechanics of handling the situation might change, but I think the overall message of the article is very useful: don't let combat eliminate all options other than fighting to the death.
Aye, remember that retreating was always an option in battles. But being routed and retreating was never a safe option.
My two copper.
3e's way of handling it was kind of rubbish though, and unclear. The idea that you get an opportunity at the end of the round to decide what to do is pretty good. I could even see it being resolved by an attack roll: hit their AC and you don't do damage, but you can break away and run without provoking a reaction.
I'm not seeing the problem here. Monster wants to run away from a fight,

Action: Disengage (move 10 feet, unmolested)
Move: Move speed further away from the combat.

Done.    
I'm not seeing the problem here. Monster wants to run away from a fight,

Action: Disengage (move 10 feet, unmolested)
Move: Move speed further away from the combat.

Done.    

It is more a problem for the heroes.  The trouble is because of the way initiative works.  The PCs will most likely be spread out in turn order, with the monsters going in between.  So when the players decide that they need to retreat, they need to somehow get everyone out safely within the bounds of the initiative order.

As each character takes a turn and attempts to retreat, you are left with fewer and fewer characters facing the monsters.  By the end, you will most likely have the monsters surrounding the last character.

As the article says, initiative is very good at some things, but handling retreat (or parlay, or surrender) isn't one of them.  That is why it suggests breaking out from the initiative order when one side wants to do one of those things.

The trick is to remember that initiative, like so much of D&D, is an abstraction.  In the "actual" fight, characters don't act one after another, everyone on the battle waiting patiently for each character to finish before acting themselves.  It is actually a confusing mesh of activity in which each combatant acts at the same time.  Of course, there is no way to easily handle this in an RPG, so initiative and turns makes a lot of sense.  But when the situation calls for it, set the abstraction aside in favor of other methods of resolution.

I'm not seeing the problem here. Monster wants to run away from a fight,

Action: Disengage (move 10 feet, unmolested)
Move: Move speed further away from the combat.

Done.    

It is more a problem for the heroes.  The trouble is because of the way initiative works.  The PCs will most likely be spread out in turn order, with the monsters going in between.  So when the players decide that they need to retreat, they need to somehow get everyone out safely within the bounds of the initiative order.

As each character takes a turn and attempts to retreat, you are left with fewer and fewer characters facing the monsters.  By the end, you will most likely have the monsters surrounding the last character.

As the article says, initiative is very good at some things, but handling retreat (or parlay, or surrender) isn't one of them.  That is why it suggests breaking out from the initiative order when one side wants to do one of those things.

The trick is to remember that initiative, like so much of D&D, is an abstraction.  In the "actual" fight, characters don't act one after another, everyone on the battle waiting patiently for each character to finish before acting themselves.  It is actually a confusing mesh of activity in which each combatant acts at the same time.  Of course, there is no way to easily handle this in an RPG, so initiative and turns makes a lot of sense.  But when the situation calls for it, set the abstraction aside in favor of other methods of resolution.



If the whole party wants to escape, everyone in the party can just delay until the lowest initiative member, and then they all break contact at once.

If the whole party wants to escape, everyone in the party can just delay until the lowest initiative member, and then they all break contact at once.


That works very poorly because the entire party had to stand there and take hits during their delay and then they have to risk opportunity actions (depending on where everyone is situated) during the retreat.  It really means that retreat is not a viable option.
If the whole party wants to escape, everyone in the party can just delay until the lowest initiative member, and then they all break contact at once.


That works very poorly because the entire party had to stand there and take hits during their delay and then they have to risk opportunity actions (depending on where everyone is situated) during the retreat.  It really means that retreat is not a viable option.

Exactly.  My entire point is that there is no reason to use the initiative system in cases where something else would work better.