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D&D 3E/3.5 Charge!

Water Bob

Adventurer
I am setting up a Conan game for my players. This is a brand new game, and there will be some players new to Conan.

I'm using the Conan RPG by Mongoose, which is based on d20 3.5.

I'm looking for opinions on how you would describe the situation to a new player who isn't used to the rules.



Situation: A Pirate is walking down a path among some ruined buildings. Picture devastated cities in Europe at the end of WWII, but with a fantasy twang to the scene, and you get the idea. There's plenty of places to hide.

And, sure, if the player playing the Pirate does something to earn a warning, I'll surely give that to him. But, for this question, let's say he's just walking down the path. It's near dusk. He's wary to a general level--not super alert, but not with his head in the clouds either.

A Barbarian steps out from behind a rock 20 feet in front of him.

We roll initiative. The Barbarian wins. The Pirate cannot act until the Barbarian's turn is over. In fact, the Pirate is flatfooted until after the Barbarian has completed his actions.

The Barbarian charges the Pirate.




How would you explain that to a player, especially if the players says, "As soon as I see the Barbarian, I jump five feet to my left behind a rock, just off the path (assuming there is such a rock--let's say this is possible)."

How do you explain to the player that, because of the game rules, the Pirate must wait for the Barbarian to spend the time to cross the 20 feet and charge him. The Pirate can't dodge out of the way, even though the distance to dodge out of the way is just a few feet?

Mechanically, the Pirate lost initiative, but he's frozen for a few seconds while the Barbarian runs at him. By the rules, the Pirate can't even draw his weapon until after the Barbarian's charge!

Help me explain that logically so that a player would accept it (without just saying, "Whelp! Dem's the rules!")



The example is the same (but, I think harder to explain) if the charge distance is 60 feet.

Or, what if the Barbarian emerges from behind a rock 60 foot distant. The Pirate stops in his tracks, stares at the Barbarian, and tries to parley, "Ho there! State your business!" And, the response from the Barbarian is that he breaks into a run, directly at the Pirate, the Barbarian screaming his head off with a war cry.

The Barbarian can cover that 20 yards in a few seconds. Let's say 3 seconds or so. Three seconds seems like it is an eternity when you see a bear of a man running towards you.

How do you describe that situation so that it makes sense to a person who has never played the game before?
 

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Water Bob

Adventurer
Guess I'll answer my own post. Nobody plays 3.5E anymore?


I'm about to hit the sack, and I put on Conan The Destroyer. Early in the film, Conan & Co. is being follow by Grace Jones' character, Zula. They're all on horses. Bombaata, played by Wilt Chamberlain, doubles back to turn her away, and she seems to leave. But, as he turns to head back to Conan and the group, Zula begins a charge, screaming a war cry!

I counted. Six seconds! She takes about six seconds to gallop up on Bombaata, and he reacts so slowly that he barely gets his sword from his scabbard when she strikes, knocking Bombaata--the Commander of the Guard at Shadizar--off his horse!

Obviously, Bombaata was caught flatfooted (even though he's on his horse), and Zula won initiative and used a Charge Maneuver on her action.

Check it out! The charge starts at 1:16, and by 1:22, Bombaata is off his horse!




So....this really answers my question.
 

You explain it that despite how it looks at the table, the actions in the game world are happening largely simultaneously, and the combat sequencing via the stop-start nature of combat rounds is an abstraction and a conceit of turn based combat within the game.

A reasonable player accepts this and moves past it.

An unreasonable player who sooks it up at this point, has larger issues.
 

Water Bob

Adventurer
You explain it that despite how it looks at the table, the actions in the game world are happening largely simultaneously, and the combat sequencing via the stop-start nature of combat rounds is an abstraction and a conceit of turn based combat within the game.

Which is fine for round 2+. The first combat round, though, it's hard to accept simultaneous action when one party of that action isn't doing anything.

The Pirate is walking down the path.

50 feet in front of him, the Barbarian steps out from behind a rock, standing in the path. He is not moving. Just standing, staring at the Pirate.

The Pirate stops walking. He doesn't want to provoke the Barbarian, so he says, "Ho, there, Friend! What..."

Then, the Barbarian starts running at the Pirate, screaming a feral war cry.




The Barbarian starts combat with his offensive action, the charge, from 50 feet away.

Initiative is rolled. The Barbarian wins.

This means that the Pirate is flatfooted. And, he can't even pull his weapon from his scabbard as the Barbarian runs to him from 50 feet away.

I could see a player asking, "I'm just standing there doing nothing as the guy runs across 50 feet towards me?"
 

Hewet

First Post
This is what makes sense to me:

The barbarian surprises the Pirate, so he has a partial action: moving out of the rock. If he wants to attack directly, then that action is moving out of the rock (let's say it costs 10') and moving another 30'. In this round the Pirate is flatfooted, but he is not receiving any attack now. This is the first round, the barbarian had a partial action and the Pirate had nothing.

Next round, they roll iniative because both can do something. The round starts at the point where the barbarian is moving towards the Pirate. If the barbarian wins the initiative, he... well, is faster in his action than the Pirate reacting. If the Pirate wins the initiative, he can react to this threat before the barbarian arrives where he is at, but doesn't have much time, he has to think fast because the barbarian is charging. But he is not flatfooted so he can dodge the attack (at least he can try 😅).

PS: in the movie, I see that the attacker had the partial action to start charging with the horse and next round he won the initiative, so he could hit the other man.
 


Teemu

Hero
If I remember things right, there’s a variant rule in either 3.0 or 3.5 where combatants are restricted to one standard action only during the first round of combat (similar to surprise). That’d change things if the barbarian and the pirate are far enough when initiative is rolled, because you’d be restricted to a partial charge (up to your speed only, not double).

The variant favors casters, which is mentioned wherever it’s published (maybe DMG). Perhaps not an issue in the Conan game.
 


Water Bob

Adventurer
This is what makes sense to me:

The barbarian surprises the Pirate, so he has a partial action: moving out of the rock. If he wants to attack directly, then that action is moving out of the rock (let's say it costs 10') and moving another 30'. In this round the Pirate is flatfooted, but he is not receiving any attack now. This is the first round, the barbarian had a partial action and the Pirate had nothing.

Next round, they roll iniative because both can do something. The round starts at the point where the barbarian is moving towards the Pirate. If the barbarian wins the initiative, he... well, is faster in his action than the Pirate reacting. If the Pirate wins the initiative, he can react to this threat before the barbarian arrives where he is at, but doesn't have much time, he has to think fast because the barbarian is charging. But he is not flatfooted so he can dodge the attack (at least he can try 😅).

PS: in the movie, I see that the attacker had the partial action to start charging with the horse and next round he won the initiative, so he could hit the other man.


But, let's say that there is no Surprise. And, let's say the Barbarian is 60 feet away.

Say that they exchanged words. We're not yet in combat. Then, the Barbarian gets tired of the jabbering and charges the guy.

Initiative is rolled. Barbarian wins.

Barbarian runs 60 feet to swipe at the Pirate, and the Pirate waits for that to happen.
 

Hewet

First Post
Back in the day we used to "declare initiative". "What is your intent?" before rolling initiative.

In that case, if the Pirate say "I'll try to jump 5 feet away" and barbarian wins initiative, then the barbarian tries to hit the Pirate while he is trying to move/hide or whatever he wants to do. This helps to understand that actions are occurring "at the same time".
 

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