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D&D 5E Flanking


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TheOneGargoyle

Explorer
Oh. Yeah, I do. I streamline the Marking rules very slightly because it seems like an unnecessary extra step to declare that you’re Marking a target when it’s free to do. I just assume you Mark any creature you target with a melee attack to speed things up a bit.
Yeah I like that, makes sense.

Do you also assume a facing if not specifically stated?
 

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
So, recapping from Darryl's work:

Flanking is too easy to get.
Then you need to create a house-rule to make it harder to get into position.

Having it grant advantage detracts from class features that otherwise grant advantage.
Then you need to have it grant something other than advantage.

Facing is too fiddly.
Since you use a VTT, depending on your tokens you can make them to indicate facing, such as the examples below:

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Oh. Yeah, I do. I streamline the Marking rules very slightly because it seems like an unnecessary extra step to declare that you’re Marking a target when it’s free to do. I just assume you Mark any creature you target with a melee attack to speed things up a bit.
You can only Mark a creature you've made a melee attack against. Of course, if you attack multiple targets, I would assume you could mark any of them...
 


Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Cant face diagonally by DMG rules. Which is why spaces half in one arc and half in another favor front, then side, then back. Which also further contributes to the specificity of positioning required to gain advantage for being in a target’s back arc.
You can only Mark a creature you've made a melee attack against. Of course, if you attack multiple targets, I would assume you could mark any of them...
Exactly, so specifying that you Mark a target is an unnecessary extra step. If you make a melee attack against a target, you Mark it. Nothing in the Marking rule says you can’t have multiple target’s Marked, so I assume if you make melee attacks against multiple targets in one round, you Mark all of them.
 

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
Cant face diagonally by DMG rules. Which is why spaces half in one arc and half in another favor front, then side, then back. Which also further contributes to the specificity of positioning required to gain advantage for being in a target’s back arc.
Yeah, it is a limitation of the grid system IMO.

Since you only allow advantage on attacks from the rear, it basically limits only one creature to gaining that advantage. But (correct me if I am wrong) you also require the target be marked?

Or does also marking the target simply allow you the free OA against it?

I don't mean to be thick, I am just trying to piece together exactly what you are doing compared to RAW.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Yeah, it is a limitation of the grid system IMO.

Since you only allow advantage on attacks from the rear, it basically limits only one creature to gaining that advantage.
That’s correct.
But (correct me if I am wrong) you also require the target be marked?

Or does also marking the target simply allow you the free OA against it?
The latter.
I don't mean to be thick, I am just trying to piece together exactly what you are doing compared to RAW.
No problem! Sorry if I’ve been unclear. I just use the facing rule and the marking rule both RAW, apart from the fact that I don’t require players to declare that they are marking a target when they attack it. I find the two rules compliment each other very well, and accomplish what I want out of a flanking rule (encouraging tactical positioning), without the problems I’ve found the flanking rule in the DMG to cause (making it too easy to gain advantage). As an added benefit, they’re both optional rules I can just point to in the DMG rather than having to introduce a house rule.
 

TheOneGargoyle

Explorer
Well, it’s kinda explicitly stated by the position of the mini (or token on a VTT). I don’t think I’d use facing in TotM. Too much to keep in your head.
Oh yeah. Derr.... !! B-)
I just use the facing rule and the marking rule both RAW, apart from the fact that I don’t require players to declare that they are marking a target when they attack it. I find the two rules compliment each other very well, and accomplish what I want out of a flanking rule (encouraging tactical positioning), without the problems I’ve found the flanking rule in the DMG to cause (making it too easy to gain advantage). As an added benefit, they’re both optional rules I can just point to in the DMG rather than having to introduce a house rule.
This ^^
 

TheOneGargoyle

Explorer
So, recapping from Darryl's work:

Flanking is too easy to get.
Then you need to create a house-rule to make it harder to get into position.

Having it grant advantage detracts from class features that otherwise grant advantage.
Then you need to have it grant something other than advantage.
This is a completely valid alternative approach.
Upsides are that you can play around with the exact mechanics to tune it to your desired strength, and you can streamline the amount of overhead required to run it at the table.
Downsides are you don't have the DMG RAW to point to, plus it's more work to come up with it.
YMMV as which works for you better.
 

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
No problem! Sorry if I’ve been unclear. I just use the facing rule and the marking rule both RAW, apart from the fact that I don’t require players to declare that they are marking a target when they attack it. I find the two rules compliment each other very well, and accomplish what I want out of a flanking rule (encouraging tactical positioning), without the problems I’ve found the flanking rule in the DMG to cause (making it too easy to gain advantage). As an added benefit, they’re both optional rules I can just point to in the DMG rather than having to introduce a house rule.
Ok, I can see how using facing more encourages tactics (I always preferred such options in AD&D and 3E, despite the complexity):

1. Making sure you are facing the target(s) you want to use your shield against and also not allow advantage against you (from rear attacks).
2. Gaining the rear attack position to gain advantage on your attacks.

In #2, having allies engaged with the target is what creates the situation for you to get "behind" the target.

This (replacing flanking) means the only way to get advantage is to be in the rear position. It is obviously much less applicable than flanking since only one creature can gain it.

For the most part, the OP's idea of side-position getting +2 and rear attacks getting +5 mimic this closely and still allows other sources of advantage to come into play. IIRC in AD&D it was +2 and +4 for rear attacks...

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But how does Marking help? I mean, OAs are rare IME and don't happen that often, so gaining advantage on them is sort of meh and even allowing it as a free action would (IME) not benefit many builds (mostly rogue will LOVE this!!!).

I mean, they are two separate things: flanking (advantage on all attacks) vs. marking (free OA with advantage).
 

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
This is a completely valid alternative approach.
Upsides are that you can play around with the exact mechanics to tune it to your desired strength, and you can streamline the amount of overhead required to run it at the table.
Downsides are you don't have the DMG RAW to point to, plus it's more work to come up with it.
YMMV as which works for you better.
I can see how @Charlaquin's idea to use facing helps with the first part (harder to get into position) but doesn't really help with the second because it is still advantage...
 

TheOneGargoyle

Explorer
Ok, I can see how using facing more encourages tactics (I always preferred such options in AD&D and 3E, despite the complexity):

1. Making sure you are facing the target(s) you want to use your shield against and also not allow advantage against you (from rear attacks).
2. Gaining the rear attack position to gain advantage on your attacks.

In #2, having allies engaged with the target is what creates the situation for you to get "behind" the target.

This (replacing flanking) means the only way to get advantage is to be in the rear position. It is obviously much less applicable than flanking since only one creature can gain it.

For the most part, the OP's idea of side-position getting +2 and rear attacks getting +5 mimic this closely and still allows other sources of advantage to come into play. IIRC in AD&D it was +2 and +4 for rear attacks...

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

But how does Marking help? I mean, OAs are rare IME and don't happen that often, so gaining advantage on them is sort of meh and even allowing it as a free action would (IME) not benefit many builds (mostly rogue will LOVE this!!!).

I mean, they are two separate things: flanking (advantage on all attacks) vs. marking (free OA with advantage).
My take on what Charlequin is saying about using them both together (and the reason I'm interested in trying them at my table) is as follows:
  • Using Facing means there is an addition contender for use of the Reaction, meaning OAs will be even less likely to be used than normal
  • Using Marking as well gives OAs without needing to use the Reaction, easing the constraint imposed by using Facing.
  • Using Facing only gives advantage when attacking from the rear, which isn't going to be all the time (but as you say, Rogues will love it)
  • Using Marking gives advantage when doing OAs as well, so it's still not all the time, but it's more often that just rear attacks (and gives the tanks some love too).
  • Using Facing means people will be encouraged to think about their positioning & facing, for reasons 1 & 2 you mention above, which encourages a level of strategic playstyle.
  • Using Marking as well means that OAs are more likely to hit meaning they bump up in the threat assessment, so that movement taking advantage of Facing needs to be more considered.
To me there's just a whole bunch of synergies and elegance about things that play really nicely together that end up being more than just the individual parts.
 

TheOneGargoyle

Explorer
I can see how @Charlaquin's idea to use facing helps with the first part (harder to get into position) but doesn't really help with the second because it is still advantage...
Sometimes they'll get advantage through these rules, but not always. Only on OAs or rear attacks.
There'll still be plenty of opportunities for class features that grant advantage in other situations to still be of benefit.
As opposed to just always getting advantage for every attack from flanking just because you showed up to the fight with a mate nearby.
 

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
Using Facing means there is an addition contender for use of the Reaction, meaning OAs will be even less likely to be used than normal
I rarely see reactions needing more contention. Other than OAs, shield, and Uncanny Dodge, there isn't a lot for reactions IME.

Using Marking as well gives OAs without needing to use the Reaction, easing the constraint imposed by using Facing.
Which defeats the purpose of the first item, creating more contention. So, it is sort of self-defeating.

Using Facing only gives advantage when attacking from the rear, which isn't going to be all the time (but as you say, Rogues will love it)
Yep, that is one reason why I understand @Charlaquin liking the idea of facing.

Using Marking gives advantage when doing OAs as well, so it's still not all the time, but it's more often that just rear attacks (and gives the tanks some love too).
Hitting in 5E is rarely a problem, so giving OAs advantage and making them free is overkill IMO. Making them a free reaction would be good enough I would think.

Using Facing means people will be encouraged to think about their positioning & facing, for reasons 1 & 2 you mention above, which encourages a level of strategic playstyle.
Again, I understand why facing is a good option to replace flanking, I just don't see how marking really brings anything to the "replace flanking" table.

Using Marking as well means that OAs are more likely to hit meaning they bump up in the threat assessment, so that movement taking advantage of Facing needs to be more considered.
Again, increasing the chance of hitting is not much of a benefit. IME players are already loathe to provoke OAs, so will disengage if they have to before risking an OA. Only features like those from Sentinel which offer other means to gain an OA will really benefit from marking as the advantage is there and the OA becomes free.

So, using marking is fine if you want to make OAs stronger (not my goal, personally, and I don't think a goal of the OP but I could be wrong), and replacing flanking with facing solves at least one of the OP's issues, but not the second.

Sometimes they'll get advantage through these rules, but not always. Only on OAs or rear attacks.
True, which is much less than flanking does (just facing alone, really).

There'll still be plenty of opportunities for class features that grant advantage in other situations to still be of benefit.
As opposed to just always getting advantage for every attack from flanking just because you showed up to the fight with a mate nearby.
In which case the OP might as well remove flanking and not worry too much about facing, simply declare any attacker in position opposite the target's last attack as "rear", and give that one creature advantage or whatever "something else" to replace it.
 

Thinking more about this, although flanking greatly advantages the larger party, it adds enough to fun (YMMV) that I think the best solution is to tune the fights, not can the rule.

Give the boss minions, or lair actions, or just higher AC. Whatever.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Ok, I can see how using facing more encourages tactics (I always preferred such options in AD&D and 3E, despite the complexity):

1. Making sure you are facing the target(s) you want to use your shield against and also not allow advantage against you (from rear attacks).
2. Gaining the rear attack position to gain advantage on your attacks.

In #2, having allies engaged with the target is what creates the situation for you to get "behind" the target.

This (replacing flanking) means the only way to get advantage is to be in the rear position. It is obviously much less applicable than flanking since only one creature can gain it.

For the most part, the OP's idea of side-position getting +2 and rear attacks getting +5 mimic this closely and still allows other sources of advantage to come into play. IIRC in AD&D it was +2 and +4 for rear attacks...

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

But how does Marking help? I mean, OAs are rare IME and don't happen that often, so gaining advantage on them is sort of meh and even allowing it as a free action would (IME) not benefit many builds (mostly rogue will LOVE this!!!).

I mean, they are two separate things: flanking (advantage on all attacks) vs. marking (free OA with advantage).
Because without marking, you can't change your facing and make an opportunity attack in the same turn. Without marking, a single attacker can gain advantage against a target by literally running circles around them.

Let's say you're engaged in melee combat with an orc, and you are each facing towards each other at the top of the round. You can use 15 feet of movement (or 10 feet if you don't sweat diagonals) to maneuver into the orc's back arc. Now, the orc can use its reaction to turn around and prevent you from attacking with advantage, but you'll still have enough movement left to move around them again and get into their back arc, and the orc no longer has a reaction available to punish this maneuver with an attack of opportunity.

By introducing the marking rule, the orc can change facing and still protect its back arc by threatening an opportunity attack.
 

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