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D&D 5E Flanking

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I don't mind breaking up your move, what bothers me with it is the way initiative works in D&D. Fortunately, with CIV it works a lot better so I am pretty happy with it in that respect.

What I don't like are things like the lack of a 5-foot step, moving through threatened spaces without provoking OAs, etc.
A 5-foot step is cake to add to 5e thanks to the clever movement-as-resource design. “You can use an amount of movement equal to your speed to move 5 feet without provoking opportunity attacks.” Add movement within a target’s reach provoking OAs back in and Bob’s your uncle.
 

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6ENow!

The Game Is Over
A 5-foot step is cake to add to 5e thanks to the clever movement-as-resource design. “You can use an amount of movement equal to your speed to move 5 feet without provoking opportunity attacks.” Add movement within a target’s reach provoking OAs back in and Bob’s your uncle.
Oh, I know, and we've thought about putting it back in.

I did have another thought on movement though a threatened space by making it difficult terrain, so it will cost you extra movement to avoid the OA (if added back in). Then, something like Mobile would offset it.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Oh, I know, and we've thought about putting it back in.

I did have another thought on movement though a threatened space by making it difficult terrain, so it will cost you extra movement to avoid the OA (if added back in). Then, something like Mobile would offset it.
Oh, that’s a neat idea!
 


Rockyroad

Explorer
Oh, I know, and we've thought about putting it back in.

I did have another thought on movement though a threatened space by making it difficult terrain, so it will cost you extra movement to avoid the OA (if added back in). Then, something like Mobile would offset it.
Hey, I just mentioned that on another thread. Great minds think alike lol!
 

I've always liked the +2 flanking rule. But +5 for attacking in the back is a bit much. As I imagine combat, the opponent is constantly moving around. It is not as if his back is facing any specific direction, even if his miniature might suggest otherwise. +2 is more than enough.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I've always liked the +2 flanking rule. But +5 for attacking in the back is a bit much. As I imagine combat, the opponent is constantly moving around. It is not as if his back is facing any specific direction, even if his miniature might suggest otherwise. +2 is more than enough.
The flanking idea is that no matter where the target is facing, they have at least one of two people outside the target’s field of vision, which makes it hard to defend against either attacker. It’s not called “backstabbing” for a reason.
 

We removed flanking almost immediately after 5ed release. It was too easy to get advantage... for the monsters. This was resulting in a lot of tpk at first. During one of our Friday night D&D a few spectators asked us why we had removed the flanking.

We showed them this scenario
A group is attacked by 4 ogres. One of the ogres start a grab with the fighter, succeed and immediately drop the fighter behind him. Very fast, the fighter is surrounded by four angry ogres which will attack with advantage. Now imagine this scenario with low level characters and 6 hobgoblins...

Yes when advantage is in favor of the players it is powerful. But in the hands of the monsters, it is deadly.
 

jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
We use the flanking rule because most of my players were coming from 3.5 and expected it. I do think they enjoy it. I kind of wish I could convince them to try playing without it, because it does seem to grant advantage an awful lot of the time, but on the other hand, it applies to the monsters as well (but I have a large group, so that means we have to have a lot of monsters). And I guess having combats go faster isn't a bad thing, overall.
 

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
We removed flanking almost immediately after 5ed release. It was too easy to get advantage... for the monsters. This was resulting in a lot of tpk at first. During one of our Friday night D&D a few spectators asked us why we had removed the flanking.

We showed them this scenario
A group is attacked by 4 ogres. One of the ogres start a grab with the fighter, succeed and immediately drop the fighter behind him. Very fast, the fighter is surrounded by four angry ogres which will attack with advantage. Now imagine this scenario with low level characters and 6 hobgoblins...

Yes when advantage is in favor of the players it is powerful. But in the hands of the monsters, it is deadly.
Yep, and when 5 PCs can gang up on 1 BBEG, they drop it just as quickly. :(

After more thought, I really like my suggestion of +1 to attack rolls for each ally engaging the same target. So, to get the rough equivalent of advantage (+4-5), you would need 5-6 attackers all on the same target.

EDITED for clarity. The first attacker (of the allies) doesn't add to the bonus. So, if two allies are attacking the same target, they each get a +1 bonus, not +2.
 
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Yep, and when 5 PCs can gang up on 1 BBEG, they drop it just as quickly. :(

After more thought, I really like my suggestion of +1 to attack rolls for each ally engaging the same target. So, to get the rough equivalent of advantage (+4-5), you would need 5-6 attackers all on the same target.
What I have seen though, is that the flanking comes into play a lot more on the monsters' side than to the PCs. I don't have the exact math, but almost all early tpk in 5ed has been because a few low level monsters but with a sh*t load of HP (as all 5ed monsters have) and good damage. After the sixth TPK we started to analyze and we came to the conclusion that advantage for flanking was too strong and introduced a swinginess in combat that was not desirable at our table.

I can't imagine going back to the flanking mechanic in my games. The players would bring me to the pyre...

As for your solution, it would still be a deadly trap as monster ganging up on a PC is a common occurrence.

Those same four ogres could do this.
Round 1, grab and release the PC.
1 ogre help one ogre giving him advantage and +4 to hit... deadly.
1 ogre attack at +4...
Round two.
Four ogres could attack with +4 or two with advantage and +4... Again, a deadly combination, especially if it is the healer that is in the middle of them.
 

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
As for your solution, it would still be a deadly trap as monster ganging up on a PC is a common occurrence.

Those same four ogres could do this.
Round 1, grab and release the PC.
1 ogre help one ogre giving him advantage and +4 to hit... deadly.
1 ogre attack at +4...
Round two.
Four ogres could attack with +4 or two with advantage and +4... Again, a deadly combination, especially if it is the healer that is in the middle of them.
Well, four ogres surrounding the same PC would all get +3. I edited my prior post if that wasn't clear.

But four ogres surrounding the same PC should be deadly. That PC had better take the Dodge action ASAP until help arrives!

I'm not sure where you get two attack with advantage and +4 anyway?

If an ally is "helping" they aren't attacking, so they don't contribute to the flanking bonus.
 

Well, four ogres surrounding the same PC would all get +3. I edited my prior post if that wasn't clear.

But four ogres surrounding the same PC should be deadly. That PC had better take the Dodge action ASAP until help arrives!

I'm not sure where you get two attack with advantage and +4 anyway?

If an ally is "helping" they aren't attacking, so they don't contribute to the flanking bonus.
Ok. +3 then.
Helping does not remove the threat you represent. So they still count as threatening for the flanking rule. They could still make an OA, unlike dodging. So it would be advantage and +3. Not such a huge difference. And if the character is low AC, it would be four attacks with a +3... deadly indead. And hobogblins get even deadlier... And they're not so rare.
 

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
Ok. +3 then.
Helping does not remove the threat you represent. So they still count as threatening for the flanking rule. They could still make an OA, unlike dodging. So it would be advantage and +3. Not such a huge difference. And if the character is low AC, it would be four attacks with a +3... deadly indead. And hobogblins get even deadlier... And they're not so rare.
Again, it is less than what advantage typically contributes (especially since IME it is usually no more than 3-1) and the point of being surrounded and attacked by 4+ creatures is it should be deadly. In all this, what are the other PCs doing? If the encounter is 20 monsters vs 4-5 PCs, and they let themselves get surrounded in such a situation--a TPK is in order IMO. 🤷‍♂️ YMMV of course...
 

tetrasodium

Hero
Supporter
Again, it is less than what advantage typically contributes (especially since IME it is usually no more than 3-1) and the point of being surrounded and attacked by 4+ creatures is it should be deadly. In all this, what are the other PCs doing? If the encounter is 20 monsters vs 4-5 PCs, and they let themselves get surrounded in such a situation--a TPK is in order IMO. 🤷‍♂️ YMMV of course...
It's not like they had a whole lot of options to mitigate the "let themselves get surrounded" with the removal of things like 5 foot step/shift or eat an AoO all that needs to happen is for N ogres to be near enough to each other that they can reah a PC and have an extra 10 or 20 feet of movement. & it can happen before that PC even has their turn come up. "well just don't be a melee character" isn't exactly a reasonable alternative.
 

Again, it is less than what advantage typically contributes (especially since IME it is usually no more than 3-1) and the point of being surrounded and attacked by 4+ creatures is it should be deadly. In all this, what are the other PCs doing? If the encounter is 20 monsters vs 4-5 PCs, and they let themselves get surrounded in such a situation--a TPK is in order IMO. 🤷‍♂️ YMMV of course...
6 ogres against four 7th level can do this fairly easy enough. The other three players could be out of the room in the corridor (not every encounter has to be outside, it Dungeons and dragons...). By grabbing and releasing the unforunate PC, not only s9me ogres will get advantagre while one or two other ogres will delay the party, but with your method, they will get an additional +3. Whereas in the normal rule, they would simply get advantage as advantages from different sources do not stack.

With your method, these two attacks are even more likely to succeed and thus hurting the PC to the point of possibly killing him. There is a defenite good reason that 5ed avoided the "+" method as other editions did.

And for low level PCs, a group of hobgoblins would be able to pull off the same trick with even more likeliness to succeed in killing the PC and the hobgoblin blocking the other character wpuld even think to use the dodge action and with an AC of 16, it is going to get hard to bypass that f*cher. At my table, these are standard tactics so my players are careful not to get into such situations but evem with expserience, theY sometimes fall to such tactics. And yes, they do it to my poor monsters too...
 

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
It's not like they had a whole lot of options to mitigate the "let themselves get surrounded" with the removal of things like 5 foot step/shift or eat an AoO all that needs to happen is for N ogres to be near enough to each other that they can reah a PC and have an extra 10 or 20 feet of movement. & it can happen before that PC even has their turn come up. "well just don't be a melee character" isn't exactly a reasonable alternative.
Shrug

IME it wouldn't be easy for this to happen unless:
  • the PCs literally walked into an ambush (you have no point man?) and were surprised (not likely for Ogres with no Stealth and DEX 8)
  • the players all rolled crappy Initiative. Remember, Ogres have that -1 DEX mod again...
  • they didn't in any other way "see a troop of ogres" advancing on them
  • or some combination of the above.
Now, at lower levels, change the scenario to goblins or something that is adept at hiding, and you could be in a world of hurt. Or orcs even with Agresssion.

But Ogres? Nah, can't really see that happening much.

Finally, since @Helldritch says this was an issue for his game and removed flanking, that's fine. I don't find it to be as big a deal as is, and offer suggestions for people who do find it problematic.
 

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
6 ogres against four 7th level can do this fairly easy enough. The other three players could be out of the room in the corridor (not every encounter has to be outside, it Dungeons and dragons...). By grabbing and releasing the unforunate PC, not only s9me ogres will get advantagre while one or two other ogres will delay the party, but with your method, they will get an additional +3. Whereas in the normal rule, they would simply get advantage as advantages from different sources do not stack.
Why is that PC by himself?

And how are they getting advantage on their attack with an additional +3? The +3 bonus replaces advantage for flanking. I'm not sure what sources of advantage you are giving ogres, which are notoriously not good at hiding and stealth.

With your method, these two attacks are even more likely to succeed and thus hurting the PC to the point of possibly killing him. There is a defenite good reason that 5ed avoided the "+" method as other editions did.
It will work fine if you are actually applying it correctly. And FWIW, we DO allow different sources of advantage to stack in our games. Doesn't hurt a thing... ;)

And for low level PCs, a group of hobgoblins would be able to pull off the same trick with even more likeliness to succeed in killing the PC and the hobgoblin blocking the other character wpuld even think to use the dodge action and with an AC of 16, it is going to get hard to bypass that f*cher. At my table, these are standard tactics so my players are careful not to get into such situations but evem with expserience, theY sometimes fall to such tactics. And yes, they do it to my poor monsters too...
Sure, which is why hobgoblins are dangerous to low level PCs...

Anyway, I am off to work. I'll check back in this discussion later. :)
 

Ok lets go at it again step by step so tjat you can follow.
PCs are in a corridor. They open a door and six ogres are in a big room. Big enough for a few more persons to get in.

Initiative is rolled, and a few attacks are made, one PC takes point and block the doorway. This is a standard tactic after all.

One ogre approach, and tries to grab the high ACed PC. For the sake of convenience the ogre wins the grab.

With the PC in hand, the ogre turn around, and release the PC in the room.

Now the other ogres close in, and three attack with a +3 to hit. The last ogre pushe out the room and attack the othe PCs.

Round two.
One ogre us down or not but our PC is now attacked by two ogres and two other ogres are using the help action to guve the two other advantage on their attack. So the two attacking ogres have advantage and an additionnal +3 to hit with your method. Which is way better than a simple advantage (which are not supposed to stack). So now, they can fairly and reliably hit our high level PC because they now have the equivalent of +8 to hit (advantage is usually considered to be +5). Whereas with the normal method, they would be attacking with advantage.

If the poor sod tries to dodge, then two of them will still have +3 to hit (two ogres would use help action) whereas with the normal method they would either all attack with disadvantage or two of them of them would attack with normal chances to hit with the two other ogres would take the help action.

I will stress that it is the monsters that usually benefits the most from flanking as they usually outnumber PCs at a ratio of 1.5 vs 1. If course, this depends a lot on the CR of said monsters and characters' levels. But at mid level, 1.5 vs 1 is fairly common.
 

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
Ok lets go at it again step by step so tjat you can follow.
PCs are in a corridor. They open a door and six ogres are in a big room. Big enough for a few more persons to get in.
Ok sure, let's do this-- I have tomorrow off. :)

Six ogres? A mighty big "room" but ok, especially with "enough room for a few more persons to get in." If that is all the extra room there is, those ogres must be feeling pretty darn cramped IMO.

Anyway...

Initiative is rolled, and a few attacks are made, one PC takes point and block the doorway. This is a standard tactic after all.
A few attacks by who? The PCs? Six ogres against a party of what? Party consistency is part of the picture as well. Let's assume a party of 4, so you have the 1.5 to 1 ratio you mention. Even at 6th level, 6 ogres would be a deadly encounter, regardless of tactics. At 7th, it becomes hard, at 8th moderate, and finally easy at 11th level. So, let's make it "hard" and say the PCs are 7th level.

As to blocking the door: the players are idiots IMO. That is the worst thing they can do. They stay in the corridor (typical D&D 10-footer?) so only one ogre can approach the party at a time. You let the ogre block the door so the other ogres can't get at the party.

One ogre approach, and tries to grab the high ACed PC. For the sake of convenience the ogre wins the grab.
Sure, even in the corridor your tactic of the ogre grapping one of the two PCs on the front line could happen. You suggest the "high AC" PC, so if this is a front-liner, let's assume proficiency in Athletics and STR 16, so +6 vs. the Ogre's +4 for STR only. The ogre would have about a 38% chance of winning in the grapple attack, so there's a decent chance it will work--benefit of the doubt.

With the PC in hand, the ogre turn around, and release the PC in the room.
That isn't how it works. The ogre can move and take the PC with him, but unless he actually moves, the PC isn't moved either. But, for discussion's sake let's agree the ogre drags the PC back into the room where other ogres are waiting. Well, an ogre can move 40. So, if it moved into the corridor, it will likely have maybe 20 feet of movement left. Dragging the grappled PC halves movement so the ogre can only go 10 feet--not very far--assuming it can move even that much. And of course the other front-liner PC will get an OA (give that PC a hit and Sentinel and the ogre isn't moving at all ;) ).

Now the other ogres close in, and three attack with a +3 to hit. The last ogre pushe out the room and attack the othe PCs.
So, the other ogres surround the PC (you're right with their reach of 5 feet, only 4 ogres could be in position). The grappling ogre isn't doing anything, so the other three attack with +3 to hit. Given this is the "high-AC" PC, at best--even with +3--each has maybe a 50/50 chance of hitting. shrug

Round two.
One ogre us down or not but our PC is now attacked by two ogres and two other ogres are using the help action to guve the two other advantage on their attack. So the two attacking ogres have advantage and an additionnal +3 to hit with your method. Which is way better than a simple advantage (which are not supposed to stack). So now, they can fairly and reliably hit our high level PC because they now have the equivalent of +8 to hit (advantage is usually considered to be +5). Whereas with the normal method, they would be attacking with advantage.
Ok, so you are trading 1 normal attack at +6 and 3 attacks at +9 for two attacks at +9 with advantage. Fine. Let's do the math. We'll assume the PC has AC 20 (reasonable for a high-AC PC at level 7 IMO).

Scenario 1: one at +6 and three at +9: expected damage is 25.85 per round.
A (+6): 0.3 x 13 + 0.05 x 22 (critical) = 5
B (+9): 0.45 x 13 + 0.05 x 22 = 6.95 x 3 = 20.85

Scenario 2: two at +9 with advantage: expected damage is 21.255 per round.
(+9): 0.6525 x 13 + 0.0975 x 22 = 10.6275 x 2 = 21.255

Scenario 3 (RAW): four attacks at +6 with advantage: expected damage is 33.54 per round.
(+6): 0.48 x 13 + 0.0975 x 22 = 8.385 x 4 = 33.54

So, of course RAW has the highest damage at 33.54, but you seem to think two ogres "helping" while only two attack will be more deadly than if all four attack? No, giving a couple ogres advantage by helping is a losing strategy for the ogres--but then again, they aren't too bright. :)

If the poor sod tries to dodge, then two of them will still have +3 to hit (two ogres would use help action) whereas with the normal method they would either all attack with disadvantage or two of them of them would attack with normal chances to hit with the two other ogres would take the help action.
Scenario 3 (RAW) is easy: 20 points per round expected. (All with advantage cancelled by the Dodge action gives 5 expected damage per ogre).

Scenario 1: all attack with disadvantage: expected damage is 11.4325 (44% of the non-Dodge expected damage)
A (+6): 0.12 x 13 + 0.0025 x 22 = 1.615
B (+9): 24.75 x 13 + 0.0025 x 22 = 3.2725 x 3 = 9.8175

Scenario 2: two attack as normal (helping cancels the disadvantage imposed by dodging): expected damage is 13.9 (65% of the non-Dodge)
(+9): 0.45 x 13 + 0.05 x 22 = 6.95 x 2 = 13.9

So, if the PC decides to dodge, then the ogres helping each other will work out better, but whether or not it is a good strategy for the PC depends largely on what the other three PCs are doing. Either way, the PC will live longer with the reduced damage and if the PCs move into the room they are actually now flanking a couple ogres (if the surrounded PC is attacking, that is...).

I will stress that it is the monsters that usually benefits the most from flanking as they usually outnumber PCs at a ratio of 1.5 vs 1. If course, this depends a lot on the CR of said monsters and characters' levels. But at mid level, 1.5 vs 1 is fairly common.
Well, of course, but that is pretty realistic isn't it? To have a game where having extra numbers in battle isn't a contributing factor is pretty poor design. I agree for many tables advantage is too strong, so my idea offers a method where numbers can still matter, but not as much as normal flanking would.

Anyway, also with my idea you would need a large number of allies to come close to giving you the same increase advantage does. Given the numbers above, of a 6-4 battle, if things happen to get "spread out" more evenly (2-1, 2-1, 1-1, 1-1) then two ogres would get a +1 and that's it. Not as big a deal, is it? ;)
 

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