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D&D 5E How to switch from combat to chase


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My answer: as soon as one creature announces that they're making a run for it.

Something like "On your turn, you can take an action to remove yourself from combat". Then, on their turn, other characters/creatures can decide to either 1) stay in combat or 2) initiate a chase, at which point they too are removed from combat.
I'm uncomfortable with this. So in one round creatures go from being in range, around 0-50 feet and suddenly they are magically out or range? I've got players with 600ft range. For me, it's not fair to them to suddenly have to start chasing their targets, when they really should have several more rounds to attack the fleeing enemy.
 


el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
I find it interesting that a couple of people have mentioned bows or spells with very long ranges. That may be the case in ideal conditions, but in my experience unless the combat is happening in a very large open field, it is fairly easy in a dungeon, forest, swamp, urban environment, etc - to get far enough away, around a a corner, through some thick brush, just over a rise, etc to be technically within range but out of line of sight without really be "hiding," thus 90% of the time severely limiting very long range combat like that (or course there are other times when PCs or enemies have higher ground and a better vantage to get some use of out of those long ranges).

As for the question at hand, it really is ad hoc for me, because it depends on things like how many enemies decide to turn and run, are they all doing it at once in response to a command or combat event, or are they doing it as their individual morale breaks becomes a cascade? I guess I should also note that I prefer to roll separate initiative for each monster or group of monsters. So assuming there is no immediate combat to resolve and one or more of the enemies are fleeing, I might just move to theater of the mind and keep it in rounds that just move a lot faster because most turns all people are doing is moving. Eventually, the foes either get far enough away or out of sight to hide or be unreachable in some other way or they are caught and combat resumes OR they surrender. Of course, other possibilities exist like, you don't catch them but you observe them from a distance crawl down a sewer grate or disappear into warehouse, etc. . . and then action shifts again.
 

Laurefindel

Legend
I'm uncomfortable with this. So in one round creatures go from being in range, around 0-50 feet and suddenly they are magically out or range? I've got players with 600ft range. For me, it's not fair to them to suddenly have to start chasing their targets, when they really should have several more rounds to attack the fleeing enemy.
Ultimately it's mostly a question of whether you want to introduce retreat as a valid combat option or not. As for range, I'd tend to adjudicate based on the terrain, and give chase benefits to feats or features that increase accuracy and range. Otherwise in most combat situation, I's a good assumption that someone could lose line-of-sight after 100 feet.

What I want to avoid is a situation where "creature A dashes for 60 feet, creating an attack of opportunity from creature B. Then creature B moves within 5 feet of creature A. Next round, creature A dashes for 60 feet, creating an attack of opportunity from creature B. Then creature B moves within 5 feet of creature A, etc" giving creature B an infinite number of attacks of opportunity against creature A who cannot ever get out of reach short of having a greater speed.

or

"creature A dashes for 60 feet. Then creature B moves 30 feet closer, reducing the gap to 30 feet, and makes a (full round worth of) ranged attack/spell. Next round, creature A dashes another 60 feet Then creature B moves 30 feet closer, reducing the gap to 60 feet, and makes a (full round worth of) ranged attack/spell, etc" giving creature B anywhere from 10 to 20 rounds worth of attacks before creature A is out of range.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
What I want to avoid is a situation where "creature A dashes for 60 feet, creating an attack of opportunity from creature B. Then creature B moves within 5 feet of creature A. Next round, creature A dashes for 60 feet, creating an attack of opportunity from creature B. Then creature B moves within 5 feet of creature A, etc" giving creature B an infinite number of attacks of opportunity against creature A who cannot ever get out of reach short of having a greater speed.

or

"creature A dashes for 60 feet. Then creature B moves 30 feet closer, reducing the gap to 30 feet, and makes a (full round worth of) ranged attack/spell. Next round, creature A dashes another 60 feet Then creature B moves 30 feet closer, reducing the gap to 60 feet, and makes a (full round worth of) ranged attack/spell, etc" giving creature B anywhere from 10 to 20 rounds worth of attacks before creature A is out of range.
In the first case, adding some variability to speed and/or a run action can help shut it down.

In the second case, creature A should be dead unless they can find cover.

Another run at the run action:
Run: You can take the Run action on a turn after you took the Dash or Run action.

When you Run, you first roll Strength(Athletics) and add that to your speed. Then you gain the benefits of the Dash action. Finally, you have disadvantage on opportunity attacks until the end of your next turn.

---

Now, A dashes 60 feet, provokes an OA. B dashes and closes the distance.

Now A runs. It gets 1 more OA, but now gains an extra set of distance.

B can now open up the distance. If A keeps pace while also Running, the OAs will be at disadvantage.

Now, it takes effort to get away here. All things being equal, B is screwed, because A can keep up. But fleeing combat is dangerous; you usually have to leave someone behind to delay your foes to buy time.

If fleeing combat wasn't dangerous or hard, then you couldn't ever kill a foe with weapons unless they held their ground. They'd just walk away.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I've played around with a few ways of handling chases and my most recent iteration abstracts it a bit into the following. I play on the grid for combats, notably. We don't use initiative for chases.

Capture.JPG


The Chase Begins
If a creature leaves the area shown by the map and another creature pursues, move to the Chase screen. The quarry is placed in Zone H. The hunter is placed in Zone C.

If the quarry has a faster speed than the hunter, the quarry can automatically escape if they so choose.

Fly, You Fools!
The quarry goes first, moving from its current zone to the next one, but not before encountering a random wilderness complication that may impede progress.

The hunter goes next, moving from its current zone to the next one, encountering the same complication.

A Complication Ensues
The DM presents the complication. The hunter and quarry must describe how it is dealing with the complication and make any relevant ability checks if necessary. If there is more than one hunter or quarry, the creature dealing with the complication cannot have already dealt with a complication (unless all hunters or quarry have done so already). Failing by 5 or more can sometimes carry additional consequences.

Hide!
If the quarry was successful in dealing with the complication, the quarry may attempt to hide, making a Dexterity (Stealth) check against the hunter's passive Perception score. If the hunter failed at dealing with the complication when moving into the current zone, this check is made at advantage.

If the attempt to hide is successful, the quarry escapes and is safely away from the hunter, but cannot help other quarry. If the attempt to hide is not successful, the chase continues (repeat, starting at Fly, You Fools!).

No Place Left to Run
If the quarry fails to hide in or before Section E, the hunter catches up to them and an encounter follows, starting at a range of 1d3 x 30 feet.
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth (he/him)
A chase begins when someone, player or DM, declares an action to pursue a creature that is moving away. Whatever distance away from the pursuer the fleeing creature is when pursuit begins is the starting distance.
 

Laurefindel

Legend
In the first case, adding some variability to speed and/or a run action can help shut it down.

In the second case, creature A should be dead unless they can find cover.

Another run at the run action:
Run: You can take the Run action on a turn after you took the Dash or Run action.

When you Run, you first roll Strength(Athletics) and add that to your speed. Then you gain the benefits of the Dash action. Finally, you have disadvantage on opportunity attacks until the end of your next turn.

---

Now, A dashes 60 feet, provokes an OA. B dashes and closes the distance.

Now A runs. It gets 1 more OA, but now gains an extra set of distance.

B can now open up the distance. If A keeps pace while also Running, the OAs will be at disadvantage.

Now, it takes effort to get away here. All things being equal, B is screwed, because A can keep up. But fleeing combat is dangerous; you usually have to leave someone behind to delay your foes to buy time.

If fleeing combat wasn't dangerous or hard, then you couldn't ever kill a foe with weapons unless they held their ground. They'd just walk away.
The desired style counts for a lot.

In my experience, the "move, then OA, then move, then OA etc" tends to drag on and make combat unnecessarily long for a fight that - in effect - is already over. We are only playing a loosely tactical game. If we were playing more hardcore tactical D&D, we would likely do it different.

As for retreating monsters/enemies; that's OK if they flee; they have been defeated. 90% of the time, the player's purpose has been fulfilled and not all combats end-up being a fight-to-the death. As a bonus, the body trail left by the players is made a bit more reasonable.

And even if they announce a retreat, players would often win the chase unless the opponent could fly or had enough speed to warrant advantage or impose disadvantage. A fleeting creature is hardly simply walking away. So in then end, few enemies that the PC really wanted to kill managed to run away. And you know, they'd get them eventually. All it did was saving precious time at the table.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
I'm uncomfortable with this. So in one round creatures go from being in range, around 0-50 feet and suddenly they are magically out or range? I've got players with 600ft range. For me, it's not fair to them to suddenly have to start chasing their targets, when they really should have several more rounds to attack the fleeing enemy.
You are in fact able to choose to attack/cast instead of dash, when pursuing someone. In that case you are trying to stop them in a different way, but if you miss their distance from you increases and thus their chance of not being targettable next round and closer to escape. Indeed even those escaping can choose to shoot the pursuers if they think they have a reason to do so.
 

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