D&D 5E Anticipatory Movement

Kinematics

Adventurer
So, a recent thread praising the improvements in movement in 5E reminded me of a thing that has annoyed me about movement for a while. In the latest cycle of consideration, I came up with a couple extra "movement" actions that feel like they'd help alleviate things.

Hold Your Distance

Choose a creature that you can see that is outside of your reach. When that creature moves, you may use your reaction to move simultaneously with it, enabling you to maintain a constant distance away from it as it moves.

This acts as if you had used a readied action, allowing you to move up to your full speed, but without the requirement that you perform the entirety of the movement at once in response to the trigger.

Each 5' movement step is performed simultaneously, so at no point would either party get an opportunity attack against the other as long as distance can be maintained. Opportunity attacks by other creatures against either you or the target creature are still resolved normally, though.

If you are unable to maintain your distance from the creature (such as if you are backed into a corner), any remaining movement is lost, and Hold Your Distance ends.

Note: Handling of other types of movement (jump, tumbling, climbing, etc) while this is active can have potentially complicating issues. I don't have rules for resolving all of those yet.

~

The main purpose of Hold Your Distance is to allow more complicated scenes between characters, where lots of movement is allowed (and expected), but without triggering a cascade of opportunity attacks, or having to deal with the clumsiness of turn-based movement. For example, two opponents circling a table, or a chase scene around a store. Normal movement rules would be clunky and artificial.


Guard Stance

You may enter a Guard Stance as an action.

The Guard Stance ends if you are incapacitated, confused, charmed, frightened, move away from your guard position, choose to end it as a free action, or have maintained it for a number of minutes equal to your Constitution modifier. When your Guard Stance ends, you must complete at least one additional turn before you can re-activate the stance.

While you are in a Guard Stance, you gain the following benefits:

All spaces that you threaten with a melee weapon are treated as difficult terrain.

You may use a reaction to make an opportunity attack against a creature that enters a space that you threaten. Creatures provoke these opportunity attacks even if they have used the Disengage ability beforehand. If you hit, the creature's speed is reduced to 0 until the end of its turn.

If you reduce a creature's speed to 0 with an opportunity attack, you have advantage on grapple checks made against it until the end of your next turn.

~

This is sort of a reworking of the Sentinel feat. It shifts how opportunity attacks apply to creatures (more like Pathfinder), activating when entering a space you threaten, rather than leaving it. It removes the reaction attacks, and adds difficult terrain in your threat zone instead, along with advantage on grapples.

This makes it much more difficult to get past a guard line without needing an entire shield wall worth of enemies to prevent someone from advancing. At the same time, it leaves open lots of ways to get someone to drop their guard, whether by being frightened, seduced, tricked, stunned, etc, trying to draw the creature away from his guard position, or making more tactical use of Dodge. This allows for more interesting, creative tactics to overcome the obstacle.

~~~

Pretty much all problems I have with movement options boil down to one of the above scenarios — either the inability to have dynamic movement between two creatures because of the turn-based system, or the inability to lock down movement (and breaking through that lockdown). I'm curious about other people's thoughts on movement issues, and whether the above suggestions feel like they'd work satisfactorily.
 

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Kinematics

Adventurer
Kinematics said:
This is sort of a reworking of the Sentinel feat.
So why have the feat?
To be honest, I built up the concept for the stance first, then put together the pieces that would make it work, before realizing it was so similar to Sentinel. So saying that it's a reworking of the Sentinel feat is more of a post-construction revisionism.

As for whether you'd need the feat afterwards? Not especially, but it isn't entirely replaced. The primary advantage that Sentinel still offers is that Guard Stance breaks if you move out of position (along with other ways of breaking the stance). It also takes an action to re-activate. Sentinel is something that's always on, and can't be taken away.

This is something that feels like it should be an aura for a paladin or a manoeuvre for a battlemaster.
Both of those would feel appropriate, but I also wanted it to be useful for thugs guarding a warehouse, fighters of any stripe protecting the entrance to a Lord's audience chamber, or a protective line of random mooks protecting the master spellcaster. It also works as a counter to Hold Your Distance if you have at least two people cooperating.

Basically, there are way too many use cases for this to be siloed behind a single class, and maybe even a feat. I'd originally considered making it a feat, but then decided that that felt like it made it too constrained when I really wanted to open up additional challenges for combat movement in general.

I wanted a look at how it could affect lots of different setups, and an idea of if/when it might be poorly balanced. It's easier to file back the excess if there aren't too many limits on its use.
 


timbannock

Adventurer
I feel like you could remove the "squares you threaten are difficult terrain" part of Guard Stance and it becomes a little less OP and diminishing the Sentinel feat. Is there a use case I'm not thinking of that calls for it creating difficult terrain?
 

toucanbuzz

No rule is inviolate
extra "movement" actions that feel like they'd help alleviate things.
It seems your main concern is the ability of anyone to just run by enemy lines and attack the back ranks with impunity.
Hold Your Distance

Choose a creature that you can see that is outside of your reach. When that creature moves, you may use your reaction to move simultaneously with it, enabling you to maintain a constant distance away from it as it moves.
1. Tracking monsters could be a pain for the DM. If you have 15 orcs, you're having to track who used what reactionary movement and when.
2. If a monster or class has a bonus action feature for extra movement, like orcs, movement could get silly.
3. A chase scene becomes warped because it is triggered by the opposition's movement.

What you're trying to do reminds me of Hackmaster rules where each "tick" of initiative, players can move until they're out, and that's where they are for the rest of the round. It's meant to create that type of dynamic, fluid movement you're describing. However, I don't have any playtest for converting that type of reactionary play to 5E.

While you are in a Guard Stance, you gain the following benefits:
What about large creatures or creatures with Reach weapons? I envision a guy with a switchblade knife locking down a charging rhino under this rule.

I house-rule the 3E rules on getting an AoO when someone enters your threat zone, but only if you have Reach and they don't (Reach is anything 10'+ or a Polearm Master weapon equipped).

Pure brainstorm, what about something like losing 5' of your movement if you're hit during an AoO?
 

Kinematics

Adventurer
Guard Stance replies:

I feel like you could remove the "squares you threaten are difficult terrain" part of Guard Stance and it becomes a little less OP and diminishing the Sentinel feat. Is there a use case I'm not thinking of that calls for it creating difficult terrain?
Hm. Well, Sentinel's main purpose is to keep an enemy from leaving your threat zone. Guard Stance's main purpose is to keep an enemy from passing through your threat zone. Sentinel does not prevent someone from moving around within your threat zone, and Guard Stance does not prevent someone from leaving your threat zone.

For Guard Stance (GS) to achieve its purpose, you want to reduce the target's movement. This can be done by setting speed to 0; reducing speed by some amount (as suggested by @toucanbuzz); or increasing the cost of moving through the area (where difficult terrain is one such method).

Both Sentinel and GS need to counter the Disengage action, or neither can do their thing. Sentinel achieves exactly what it wants by setting speed to 0, since it's trying to keep the target pinned. GS isn't trying to pin someone down in one place; it's trying to prevent passage through an area. Really, having GS set speed to 0 probably isn't the best model, and that should be changed rather than the difficult terrain.

It would probably be better to keep the difficult terrain effect, and have the opportunity attack reduce your speed (as @toucanbuzz suggested). Maybe -10', since, with the difficult terrain, that would reduce a creature's movement by 1 square. That would also allow it to remain complementary with Sentinel, as Sentinel could then be a last-ditch stop against a creature leaving your threat area.

It seems your main concern is the ability of anyone to just run by enemy lines and attack the back ranks with impunity.
Maybe for other purposes than just attacking the back ranks, but generally, yes.

What about large creatures or creatures with Reach weapons? I envision a guy with a switchblade knife locking down a charging rhino under this rule.
OK, limit it to creatures one size larger than you (similar to grappling). If you guard with a reach weapon, you control a larger area. If someone that wants to move through that area has a reach weapon, that should be mostly irrelevant; they can stay outside your reach if they wish.

Pure brainstorm, what about something like losing 5' of your movement if you're hit during an AoO?
Either a direct reduction, or maybe uses half your movement (similar to standing up)? I don't want to set speed to 0, given what my considerations above, but half speed seems reasonable. Have to fiddle with it to see what seems the best choice.

Rework:

Guard Stance

You may enter a Guard Stance as an action.

The Guard Stance ends if you are incapacitated, confused, charmed, frightened, move away from your guard position, choose to end it as a free action, or have maintained it for a number of minutes equal to your Constitution modifier. When your Guard Stance ends, you must complete at least one additional turn before you can re-activate the stance.

While you are in a Guard Stance, you gain the following benefits:

The spaces that you threaten with a melee weapon (including unarmed strikes) are your "guarded area". You may affect creatures within your guarded area as long as the creature is no more than one size larger than yourself.

A creature that enters or moves through your guarded area treats it as difficult terrain.

When a creature enters or moves through (but not out of) your guarded area, you may use your reaction to make an opportunity attack against it which, if it hits, costs the creature half of its speed. You may make this opportunity attack even if the creature has used the Disengage action.

You have advantage on grapple checks made against creatures in your guarded area.

~~

Hold Your Position replies:

Tracking monsters could be a pain for the DM. If you have 15 orcs, you're having to track who used what reactionary movement and when.
I had originally set it up so that you had to choose a target 10' away from you since it doesn't really make much sense to choose someone 50' away, but then had to consider reach weapons, and ended up just using a simpler set of wording. The action should largely only be of consideration for a target that's close to you, so identifying which of 15 orcs you picked shouldn't be as much of an issue. I don't have a good way to phrase it without getting clunky, though.

Maybe: Choose a target within 15' of you, that cannot hit you with its current reach...? That basically covers all the pieces that matter.

What you're trying to do reminds me of Hackmaster rules where each "tick" of initiative, players can move until they're out, and that's where they are for the rest of the round. It's meant to create that type of dynamic, fluid movement you're describing. However, I don't have any playtest for converting that type of reactionary play to 5E.
I didn't want to get that fiddly with the game overall, just during certain specialized circumstances. But that is sort of what I'm looking at.

If a monster or class has a bonus action feature for extra movement, like orcs, movement could get silly.
Yeah, I hadn't come up with solutions for that yet.

A chase scene becomes warped because it is triggered by the opposition's movement.
True, this shouldn't be usable in chase scenes. Or rather, both sides using it is just the normal chase result.
 

Kinematics

Adventurer
The thread about running away made me consider adding another option here: Some method to make it reasonably possible to escape a battle.

This is my first pass attempt. It's a bit clunky, and completely untested, but I kinda like the framing. It's not quite an "anticipatory" movement, but it still falls within the general theme I'm working on, so here goes.

Withdraw

On your turn, you may call for your allies to withdraw from the battle. If the majority of the party agrees, the combat shifts into preparation for escape.

All party members act on your turn, rather than their individual initiatives.

There is a contest to see how well each side performs during the escape.

For those attempting to escape:
  1. Start with 10 + the highest Dex mod of the party.
  2. Each character may attempt to provide two benefits they bring to the escape. Each benefit adds +1 to the total. These can be things like bonus action Dash (standard action Dash does not count), Expeditious Retreat, classes with movement enhancements (eg: barbarian or monk), appropriate feats (eg: Alert), or successful knowledge checks that are appropriate to the circumstances for finding a safe way out.
  3. Alternatively, you may use one of your two modifiers to hinder the enemy, such as obscuring the area with Fog Cloud. These add a penalty to the enemy's total (GM decides how much).
  4. A penalty of -1 is added for inclement circumstances, such as being encumbered, hindered by difficult terrain, or being unconscious. There must also be at least one conscious party member for each unconscious party member being evacuated.
For the enemy:
  1. Start with 10 + the Dex mod of the fastest or primary enemy.
  2. Add +1 for every 10 feet of movement it has.
  3. Add +2 for being a legendary creature.
  4. The enemy group may take two actions which either help its own success, or hinders the party's success, similar to the players. These actions do not need to be performed by the designated enemy, above.

Each side then rolls 1d6 and adds it to the total.

If you win the challenge by 5 or more, you successfully escape combat, and come to rest at a place of your, or the GM's, choosing. If the party had already designated a safe fallback location, that is likely to be the destination.

If you fail the challenge by 5 or more, the enemy creatures may make opportunity attacks against the fleeing party. After that, you finish your escape. If any party member is knocked unconscious by the opportunity attacks, it is assumed that someone else will carry that person's body during the escape.

If the challenge result is between those two values, a chase scene ensues.

~~~

Design points:
  • It should be easy to withdraw from a fight. This helps encourage players to consider it a viable tactical option.
  • It's termed "withdraw" rather than "run away" to avoid the stigma of seeming like a coward.
  • All outcomes should be effective for its purpose. There is no "fail" state, even if the middle ground transitions to a chase.
  • Performing a withdrawal should be interesting. Give the players something to do to try to help make the action more effective.
  • Don't make a chase scene mandatory. Sometimes they can be fun, but you don't want to make that a burden on the choice to withdraw.

It's not mathematically balanced; I just put in numbers to show a rough idea of what I was going for. There are lots of factors that can impact the party's odds. I did try to keep it somewhat limited, though, because escape is still the primary goal of the ability.

On the enemy side, the "majority has to agree" limit could be seen as a reflection of morale. Aside from that, it can work similarly to the player's version. Making it a thing that monsters do can help normalize this as a thing that players do as well.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
So, a recent thread praising the improvements in movement in 5E reminded me of a thing that has annoyed me about movement for a while. In the latest cycle of consideration, I came up with a couple extra "movement" actions that feel like they'd help alleviate things.

Hold Your Distance

Choose a creature that you can see that is outside of your reach. When that creature moves, you may use your reaction to move simultaneously with it, enabling you to maintain a constant distance away from it as it moves.

This acts as if you had used a readied action, allowing you to move up to your full speed, but without the requirement that you perform the entirety of the movement at once in response to the trigger.

Each 5' movement step is performed simultaneously, so at no point would either party get an opportunity attack against the other as long as distance can be maintained. Opportunity attacks by other creatures against either you or the target creature are still resolved normally, though.

If you are unable to maintain your distance from the creature (such as if you are backed into a corner), any remaining movement is lost, and Hold Your Distance ends.

Note: Handling of other types of movement (jump, tumbling, climbing, etc) while this is active can have potentially complicating issues. I don't have rules for resolving all of those yet.

~

The main purpose of Hold Your Distance is to allow more complicated scenes between characters, where lots of movement is allowed (and expected), but without triggering a cascade of opportunity attacks, or having to deal with the clumsiness of turn-based movement. For example, two opponents circling a table, or a chase scene around a store. Normal movement rules would be clunky and artificial.


Guard Stance

You may enter a Guard Stance as an action.

The Guard Stance ends if you are incapacitated, confused, charmed, frightened, move away from your guard position, choose to end it as a free action, or have maintained it for a number of minutes equal to your Constitution modifier. When your Guard Stance ends, you must complete at least one additional turn before you can re-activate the stance.

While you are in a Guard Stance, you gain the following benefits:

All spaces that you threaten with a melee weapon are treated as difficult terrain.

You may use a reaction to make an opportunity attack against a creature that enters a space that you threaten. Creatures provoke these opportunity attacks even if they have used the Disengage ability beforehand. If you hit, the creature's speed is reduced to 0 until the end of its turn.

If you reduce a creature's speed to 0 with an opportunity attack, you have advantage on grapple checks made against it until the end of your next turn.

~

This is sort of a reworking of the Sentinel feat. It shifts how opportunity attacks apply to creatures (more like Pathfinder), activating when entering a space you threaten, rather than leaving it. It removes the reaction attacks, and adds difficult terrain in your threat zone instead, along with advantage on grapples.

This makes it much more difficult to get past a guard line without needing an entire shield wall worth of enemies to prevent someone from advancing. At the same time, it leaves open lots of ways to get someone to drop their guard, whether by being frightened, seduced, tricked, stunned, etc, trying to draw the creature away from his guard position, or making more tactical use of Dodge. This allows for more interesting, creative tactics to overcome the obstacle.

~~~

Pretty much all problems I have with movement options boil down to one of the above scenarios — either the inability to have dynamic movement between two creatures because of the turn-based system, or the inability to lock down movement (and breaking through that lockdown). I'm curious about other people's thoughts on movement issues, and whether the above suggestions feel like they'd work satisfactorily.
I've got one more, that you can take in my game but it's rounds work very different from modern dnd, distance is in yards, etc. I'll try to translate it to DND.

Intercept
When a creature you have marked moves into or out of a space within 15ft of you, or moves toward a creature, space, or object you are guarding while within 15ft of you, you can move up to half your speed to a space within 5ft of that moving creature, or within 5ft of the target of your protection.

Combine that with some stuff like better protection fighting style, and the stuff you've proposed, and add in some direct language about marking and guarding, and you're set.
 

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