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5E How do OAs trigger when an enemy has multiple reaches?

Stalker0

Legend
Take for example a Dragon. They have a reach as small as 5ft with their claw, and as large as 15ft with their tail.

So in order to "leave the enemy's reach" to generate an OA....do I need to just leave the 5 ft area, or the 15 foot?
 

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CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
Interesting question. An adult red dragon has three attacks with three different reaches: 5' for the claw, 10' for the bite, and 15' for the tail.

I don't know if it's the "right way" or not, but the way I would rule it: if the character moves 5 feet away, the dragon can use its reaction to make an OA with its claw. If the character moves 10 feet away, the dragon can use its reaction to make an OA with either its claw or its bite. And if the character moves 15 feet away, the dragon can use its reaction to make an OA with either its claw, its bite, or its tail.
 
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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I’d say moving out of any of its attack’s reaches provokes an opportunity attack with that attack. So, if you are 15 feet from the dragon and you move to 20 feet away, it can make a tail attack against you but not a claw attack or a bite attack. If you move from 10 feet away to 15 feet away, it can make a bite attack but not a claw attack or a tail attack. If you move from 5 feet to 10 feet, it can make a claw attack but not a bite attack or a tail attack.

Of course, since the dragon only has one reaction and it’s opportunity attacks don’t stop movement, this is functionally pretty much the same as CleverNickName’s ruling in most situations.
 

Dausuul

Legend
Interesting question. An adult red dragon has three attacks with three different reaches: 5' for the claw, 10' for the bite, and 15' for the tail.

I don't know if it's the "right way" or not, but the way I would rule it: if the character moves 5 feet away, the dragon can use its reaction to make an OA with its claw. If the character moves 10 feet away, the dragon can use its reaction to make an OA with either its claw or its bite. And if the character moves 15 feet away, the dragon can use its reaction to make an OA with either its claw, its bite, or its tail.
This is backward, isn't it? OAs themselves must also follow the reach rules. A character 15 feet away is already out of reach of the dragon's bite and claw; the tail is the only option available. On the other hand, a character 5 feet away is a legit target for all three, and the OA rules just say you make "one melee attack" against the provoking creature. So, by the book, bite or tail can be used when you move out of reach of the claw.

Personally, I'd be inclined to follow Charlaquin's approach: The attack used for OA must have the reach that was used to trigger the OA. It feels more intuitive and fair. But I believe RAW allows the use of any melee attack that can hit the target.
 

DM's choice I'd say, but if a shorter one is allowed, it must be with the attack it's moving out of (thus only the claw could be used when moving away from 5 ft).
 


Mistwell

Legend
We've been playing that you measure threat range not per specific attack, just threat range per creature. So anywhere from 5 to 15 feet you're still in their threat range and have not left it, and only after you leave their 15' range do you trigger.

But that tweet looks fine too. It would have helped one of my PCs.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
This is backward, isn't it? OAs themselves must also follow the reach rules. A character 15 feet away is already out of reach of the dragon's bite and claw; the tail is the only option available. On the other hand, a character 5 feet away is a legit target for all three, and the OA rules just say you make "one melee attack" against the provoking creature. So, by the book, bite or tail can be used when you move out of reach of the claw.
Well yes, but the assumption is for the character to move 15 feet, they have to move one foot at a time. The dragon's target will cross the five-foot mark first, and instead of stopping there it just keeps moving. So the dragon can decide to use its reaction at any point along that 15-foot movement: 5' if it wants to use its claw, 10' if it wants to use its bite, or 15' if it prefers the tail.
 
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Dausuul

Legend
Well yes, but the assumption is for the character to move 15 feet, it moves one foot at a time. The target will cross the five-foot mark first, and then it just keeps moving. So the dragon can decide to use its reaction at any point along that 15-foot movement: 5' if it wants to use its claw, 10' if it wants to use its bite, or 15' if it prefers the tail.
Ah, I see. Yes, that makes sense. I thought you were assuming the character started at X distance, rather than starting at adjacent and moving through the "zones" of the dragon's attacks.
 

DMMike

Guide of Modos
Personally, I'd be inclined to follow Charlaquin's approach: The attack used for OA must have the reach that was used to trigger the OA. It feels more intuitive and fair. But I believe RAW allows the use of any melee attack that can hit the target.
What about RAI? An opportunity attack is a melee attack against someone "fleeing or passing by." Just backing away from a dragon's claws isn't fleeing or passing by. You're still fighting the dragon. In this sense, there's no OA due until a character tries to leave an opponent's furthest reach. An OA is retroactive, anyway: "the attack occurs right before the creature leaves your reach." So the DM should be able to choose which attack mode is used, given that even the shortest mode doesn't trigger until an enemy has left his range already.

This is better than the 3-zone approach, because it prevents the "Which-Zones-Did-She-Leave" minigame, and it streamlines (ahem) OAs until a character is actually "fleeing."
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
What about RAI? An opportunity attack is a melee attack against someone "fleeing or passing by." Just backing away from a dragon's claws isn't fleeing or passing by. You're still fighting the dragon. In this sense, there's no OA due until a character tries to leave an opponent's furthest reach. An OA is retroactive, anyway: "the attack occurs right before the creature leaves your reach." So the DM should be able to choose which attack mode is used, given that even the shortest mode doesn't trigger until an enemy has left his range already.

This is better than the 3-zone approach, because it prevents the "Which-Zones-Did-She-Leave" minigame, and it streamlines (ahem) OAs until a character is actually "fleeing."
Point of order, though: you don't provoke an OA by "fleeing," you provoke one by moving out of a creature's reach. A target's motives for moving out of that reach don't come into play.
 

MarkB

Legend
We've been playing that you measure threat range not per specific attack, just threat range per creature. So anywhere from 5 to 15 feet you're still in their threat range and have not left it, and only after you leave their 15' range do you trigger.
This does open a minor exploit for ranged attackers in melee. Normally the dichotomy for such characters is that they must either attack with disadvantage if within 5 feet of the foe, or move away and risk being attacked themselves. With the above rule, they can step back 5 feet with no risk and then attack normally.
 

This does open a minor exploit for ranged attackers in melee. Normally the dichotomy for such characters is that they must either attack with disadvantage if within 5 feet of the foe, or move away and risk being attacked themselves. With the above rule, they can step back 5 feet with no risk and then attack normally.

Yes. And that is problematic. So even if it is a bit more complicated, I track reaches seperately.
 

What about RAI? An opportunity attack is a melee attack against someone "fleeing or passing by." Just backing away from a dragon's claws isn't fleeing or passing by. You're still fighting the dragon. In this sense, there's no OA due until a character tries to leave an opponent's furthest reach. An OA is retroactive, anyway: "the attack occurs right before the creature leaves your reach." So the DM should be able to choose which attack mode is used, given that even the shortest mode doesn't trigger until an enemy has left his range already.

This is better than the 3-zone approach, because it prevents the "Which-Zones-Did-She-Leave" minigame, and it streamlines (ahem) OAs until a character is actually "fleeing."
Since it hasn't been FAQ'd at all and Jeremy Crawford confirmed the multiple zone approach, I would say that is RAI. If that wasn't the intention, I would expect to see someone say that wasn't the intention when it was designed. Unless we have something to say otherwise, I think we need to assume RAW and RAI are the same here.
 

DMMike

Guide of Modos
Point of order, though: you don't provoke an OA by "fleeing," you provoke one by moving out of a creature's reach. A target's motives for moving out of that reach don't come into play.
More support for Furthest-Reach-Only: fleeing becomes the more likely motivation as a character gets further away.

Jeremy Crawford confirmed the multiple zone approach, I would say that is RAI. If that wasn't the intention, I would expect to see someone say that wasn't the intention when it was designed. Unless we have something to say otherwise, I think we need to assume RAW and RAI are the same here.
There's an overriding intention though: consistent rules interpretation. It's more important that the entire structure remains standing than one part of it getting called out for being built strangely. Interpreting OAs based on RAI instead of RAW calls all clearly written rules into question. That's not good for the franchise, but it can work for your table.

The opportunity attack was born back in 3.0 edition (it probably had inspiration in other games before that) and it answered the turn-based combat problems:
1) How do I create a defensive line when opponents can just waltz through any 5-foot gap in it? (Hence, "passing by.")
2) How can my opponent run away from me without consequence, as if I'm letting him go unharmed?

An attack of opportunity is intended to answer those problems by saying, "now they can't!" To apply that to the 3-range-dragon problem, you can apply the Crawford solution or the DMMike solution:

Crawford (RAW):
1) As your opponent (the PC) waltzes through, you have three different decision points to consider, occurring chronologically, to harm your opponent/defend the line.
2) As your opponent moves near you (possibly without fleeing), three zones around you allow you to get an extra attack against him.

DMMike (RAI):
1) As your opponent (the PC) waltzes through, you can attack him once with any of your melee attacks if he continues beyond your (furthest) reach.
2) As your opponent moves near you, combat continues as normal. If your opponent leaves the range of (all) your melee attacks, you can make an attack with any weapon that would have not let him go unharmed.

Note that the OP problem diminishes or vanishes when you eschew the "optional" grid rules. If you say "we form a defensive line!" then it's clear that someone trying to get through will be stopped or attacked. If you say "I back away from the dragon's claws!" then it's clear that you're not fleeing. Or if you say "I'm getting away from the dragon!" then it's clear that the dragon will get an OA with whatever means it had available.
 

More support for Furthest-Reach-Only: fleeing becomes the more likely motivation as a character gets further away.
I don't think that supports your furthest reach argument at all. Not really sure how you think it supports that.

There's an overriding intention though: consistent rules interpretation. It's more important that the entire structure remains standing than one part of it getting called out for being built strangely. Interpreting OAs based on RAI instead of RAW calls all clearly written rules into question. That's not good for the franchise, but it can work for your table.
I'm not really sure what point you're trying to make here.

Crawford (RAW):
2) As your opponent moves near you (possibly without fleeing), three zones around you allow you to get an extra attack against him.
Not sure where you're getting this from. This isn't RAW at all. You don't trigger OAs by moving closer to a dragon. You only do it by leaving the reach of a weapon/attack. When you go from 5' to 10' away from the dragon, it can make an attack with its bite. Going from 10' to 15', its claw attack. Going from 15' to 20', its tail attack. Moving from 15' to 10' doesn't trigger its tail attack because you are not leaving the reach of the tail.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Man, the OA rule would have been much better if it was when you move and a creature leaves YOUR reach. Better advantage to reach weapons, and makes stepping away from a dragon you can no longer effectively threaten a dangerous endeavor.

Still, to the rules, I think OA is much simpler -- if you leave reach the opponent can take an attack on you as a reaction. Which reach isn't defined, so it's up to the controller of the opponent, and which attack isn't defined, so it's up to the controller of the opponent. This follows the idea that the creature in question decided ambiguities and make it's less cumbersome to track things, as you don't have to be constantly aware of "bands".

That said, there's absolutely nothing wrong with going with bands.
 

DMMike

Guide of Modos
Sometimes I get ahead of myself.

I don't think that supports your furthest reach argument at all. Not really sure how you think it supports that.
CNN said that a victim's motives don't come into play. And well, you don't really know if a victim is fleeing or passing by if he has simply moved out of the reach of one weapon, but stayed in the reach of two others. But if a victim leaves the reach of all weapons, it's more clear that the victim was actually fleeing or passing by. So an RAI OA rule would say, "you know, let's just wait on that OA until we have a better idea of what the victim is up to."

I'm not really sure what point you're trying to make here.
It's possible Crawford had to address the intention of following the rules as written as primary, and subordinate the intention of OAs. Which is to say, the RAW of OAs takes precedence over the RAI.

Not sure where you're getting this from. This isn't RAW at all. You don't trigger OAs by moving closer to a dragon. You only do it by leaving the reach of a weapon/attack. When you go from 5' to 10' away from the dragon, it can make an attack with its bite. Going from 10' to 15', its claw attack. Going from 15' to 20', its tail attack. Moving from 15' to 10' doesn't trigger its tail attack because you are not leaving the reach of the tail.
I didn't say "moving closer to a dragon." I said "moving near," which is what's happening when you go from 5' to 10', or 10' to 15'. The spirit of 5e is to play 3.5e without slogging through rules. In this special case, OAs don't accomplish that.
 

MarkB

Legend
Sometimes I get ahead of myself.


CNN said that a victim's motives don't come into play. And well, you don't really know if a victim is fleeing or passing by if he has simply moved out of the reach of one weapon, but stayed in the reach of two others. But if a victim leaves the reach of all weapons, it's more clear that the victim was actually fleeing or passing by. So an RAI OA rule would say, "you know, let's just wait on that OA until we have a better idea of what the victim is up to."
Why does motivation matter here? Bear in mind that one common motivation for moving back from an opponent in 5e is to negate the disadvantage for using ranged attacks while within 5 feet. That isn't fleeing - but OAs are intended to counter such behaviour, forcing the ranged attacker to choose between safety and getting a good shot.

I didn't say "moving closer to a dragon." I said "moving near," which is what's happening when you go from 5' to 10', or 10' to 15'. The spirit of 5e is to play 3.5e without slogging through rules. In this special case, OAs don't accomplish that.
Nor are they designed to. They are intended to penalise moving away from an opponent, not moving towards them. The only exception is the Polearm Master feat, and a monster would need to have specific text in their stat block in order to gain a similar benefit.
 

TaranTheWanderer

Adventurer
huh. So, since a polearm can be used to attack someone both 5 feet or 10 feet away, a polearm fighter can use their AoO when an opponent steps back from 5 to 10 feet And/OR when they step back from 10 to 15 feet.

Generally, I've been taking the longest reach and allowing people to move inside that reach unmolested. Mostly because the 5e rules state that AoO only occur when you leave someone's threatened space.

I like the multiple reach method better.
 

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