Drawing a weapon at start of combat

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Does anyone actually play with the rule that characters must use a minor action to draw their primary (and, potentially, off-hand) weapon at the start of combat, or do you just assume that they have their weapons/implements out at the beginning of combat?

For the most part I play with the latter, reserving feat, item, etc features that allow item-swapping or quick draw-like action economy for switching things up during combat. Is this being too lenient on my players? Certainly, those rare suprise rounds would become a lot less interesting were I to change: "Uh, I draw my sword," "I pull a wand from my pack," etc.
Well for most situations it's pretty safe to assume the PC's would have their weapons ready unless there was some specific reason they couldn't or wouldn't already have their weapons drawn (like a suprise attack during a social encounter or something like that).
I'm with Jay on this one - unless they were in a situation where weapons/implements wouldn't commonly be drawn (i.e.most areas in a friendly town), they would probably be at the ready.  They also might not have weapons drawn during overland travel unless there is a reason to suspect an attack.  Staff wielders likely always have their staff ready as it can double as a walking stick.  Within a dungeon or any scenario where danger is expected, characters are pretty much always going to have a weapon drawn.

There are some cases where a character would have to draw a weapon:
1) If the character is typically melee or typically ranged, they may have to switch from their default weapon, depending on the scenario.
2) If the characters were climbing, moving heavy objects, riding on horseback, sailing a ship, or anything that would typically require the use of both hands, they would probably have to draw a weapon.

There are options the party can take if they want to draw weapons for free:

The feats Master of Arms and Quick Draw both help (and Quick Draw lets you draw items like potions as well)
Light/Heavy blade users can get one of the magical scabbards which allows drawing with the same action you attack with the blade. 
The Samurai Theme utility power Iajutsu lets you draw a weapon for free everytime you roll initiative.
The Whistle of Warning wonderous item has a minor action encounter power that lets every party member within range draw a weapon or implement for free.
It should be noted there are additional tricks beyond what RisingZan noted.  Off the top of my head:

*Battle Harness armor
*Arcane familiar- Disembodied Hand or Rakshasa Claw
*Clever Tail for Tieflings with daggers

And I'm sure there are plenty more. 

 Yup - the ranger's Hunter fighting style also gives you Quickdraw for free and lets you sheathe a weapon as a free action.  Thri kreen can draw or stow an item or weapon for free once per turn.

 Pretty much any experienced party of adventurers is going to be habitually armed to the teeth and ready to throw down any time they're more than five feet from civilization. All of my characters have always traveled with a cocked and loaded crossbow sitting across their lap when they ride a horse. And if they're anywhere where they're actually expecting the possibility of combat, they have their weapons drawn before they walk in the door.


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I go one step further.  Not only do we assume PCs have their weapons out when combat starts, but we also make it a given that those with Defender Auras and such have them switched on before the fight starts.  RAW?  No.  But hey, it's fun.

OD&D, 1E and 2E challenged the player. 3E challenged the character, not the player. Now 4E takes it a step further by challenging a GROUP OF PLAYERS to work together as a TEAM. That's why I love 4E.

"Your ability to summon a horde of celestial superbeings at will is making my ... BMX skills look a bit redundant."

"People treat their lack of imagination as if it's the measure of what's silly. Which is silly." - Noon

"Challenge" is overrated.  "Immersion" is usually just a more pretentious way of saying "having fun playing D&D."

"Falling down is how you grow.  Staying down is how you die.  It's not what happens to you, it's what you do after it happens.”

I go one step further.  Not only do we assume PCs have their weapons out when combat starts, but we also make it a given that those with Defender Auras and such have them switched on before the fight starts.  RAW?  No.  But hey, it's fun.

Um, Defender Aura lasts until you end it or until you fall unconcious. Any at-will stances are similarly on till you turn them off. So yeah, that is RAW.
I go one step further.  Not only do we assume PCs have their weapons out when combat starts, but we also make it a given that those with Defender Auras and such have them switched on before the fight starts.  RAW?  No.  But hey, it's fun.

Um, Defender Aura lasts until you end it or until you fall unconcious. Any at-will stances are similarly on till you turn them off. So yeah, that is RAW.

Um, thanks for pointing that out, Bobbie Dooley.

OD&D, 1E and 2E challenged the player. 3E challenged the character, not the player. Now 4E takes it a step further by challenging a GROUP OF PLAYERS to work together as a TEAM. That's why I love 4E.

"Your ability to summon a horde of celestial superbeings at will is making my ... BMX skills look a bit redundant."

"People treat their lack of imagination as if it's the measure of what's silly. Which is silly." - Noon

"Challenge" is overrated.  "Immersion" is usually just a more pretentious way of saying "having fun playing D&D."

"Falling down is how you grow.  Staying down is how you die.  It's not what happens to you, it's what you do after it happens.”

Um, thanks for pointing that out, Bobbie Dooley.


You're welcome for the correction. ^.^
to pick a nit off your nit, it's not RAW. at least not until they get turned on at least once. you fall unconscious when you sleep, so barring some ability that lets you stay awake during an extended rest it is safe to stay that pretty much every Defender Aura and stance gets shut off roughly once a day.

It's a good house rule, rather than making some poor knight recite the "I turn on my aura" mantra after every extended rest or KO. They should pick a default stance though, rather than "magically" being in the most appropriate one for the surprise encounter they just got dropped into. It's just good manners to tell the DM.

you were probably distracted due to a busy Western Estates Homeowners Association meeting, so don't feel too bad (dig the Phil reference, Red [:D])

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I was assuming players with enough intelligence to turn things on when they wake up, because they understand their class. Clearly that is asking too much of some people. The point being you wouldn't be doing it in combat. Unless you happened to got woken up by a surprise encounter.

Eladrin and Warforged would be exceptions, of course.
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