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

Li Shenron

Legend
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.
But that sounds weird... if it is the pursuer declaring a chase. Why would a pursuer want to switch to chase rules, when the "sticky" combat movement rules make it very difficult for someone to flee?

I mean, the foe moves away... you just move back close to it. This is always advantageous to the pursuer because of Opportunity Attacks, whether the quarry tries dash, disengage or dodge. To have a chance the quarry needs a higher base speed, only in that case maybe a pursuer with a higher Constitution might think it has a better chance of catching up in a chase.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Li Shenron

Legend
The Chase Begins
If a creature leaves the area shown by the map and another creature pursues, move to the Chase screen.
I highlight this because it's what matters for the discussion, not so much how to handle the chase itself.

If I understand correctly, this is a small metagamy but effective approach of having a sort of perimeter of the combat area, so that exiting the perimeter triggers the switch from combat to chase?

It sounds very easy to manage, assuming everyone accepts the small loss of suspension of disbelief.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I highlight this because it's what matters for the discussion, not so much how to handle the chase itself.

If I understand correctly, this is a small metagamy but effective approach of having a sort of perimeter of the combat area, so that exiting the perimeter triggers the switch from combat to chase?

It sounds very easy to manage, assuming everyone accepts the small loss of suspension of disbelief.
Yes, in practice, once everyone's "off the map" and the monsters (or PCs) want to give chase, we dump into the above rules for resolving it.
 

Laurefindel

Legend
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.

View attachment 149693

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.
I just caught that each letter is a zone/range band. Makes a lot more sense! I like it.

My question however, is how big is the battle map (or should the battle map be), especially for games that do not use a battle map?
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I just caught that each letter is a zone/range band. Makes a lot more sense! I like it.

My question however, is how big is the battle map (or should the battle map be), especially for games that do not use a battle map?
In this particular campaign, maps are generally 120 feet x 120 feet with encounters starting at 30, 60, or 90 feet. If you start at 30 feet, you're more toward the center of the map. If you start at 90 feet, you're more toward the edge. Which makes sense in terms of chases - if you're further away, you can move off the map quicker.
 

"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, ...
This does not come up for us, because we use random initiative / re-roll initiative each round. So it adds to chaos and either makes getting away easier or harder. But not something easy to predict.

I also like the idea of adding a variable to speed based on Athletics, but not sure just what rules there I would go with.

And a note on my earlier range comment; yes, in range means the target is visible, and yes it depends upon terrain and line of sight etc.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
Whether you use the DMG chase rules, or your own version of them, how do you exactly switch from the turn-based combat initiative sequence to the simultaneous movements during a chase?
Movement in D&D combat grants everyone, even the monsters, a degree of tactical competence by assuming that each step is a calculated affair. Spend six seconds walking thirty feet and you'll see what I mean. When a character wants to flee, that character is dropping all tactics and calculations other than "I must get away." So a declaration to flee is a declaration to stop following the combat rules - removal from combat. Pursuing characters are those who use their next turn to say "I also leave combat, to chase my opponent." Doing anything else on the next turn is the same as letting the opponent escape.
But what if a whole party wants to run away from battle together? Would you handle this as long as possible within combat rules, for example by having all of them (except maybe the last) use the Ready action to coordinate before triggering a chase? Or would you rather use some simpler blanket rule (such as "everyone triggers an OA no matter what, and stop tracking individual positions straight away")?
To "run away from battle together," each member starts his/her turn by exiting combat, as above. You don't need to ready actions, since everyone's actions occur more or less at the same time (one round lasts six seconds, not six seconds per combatant). If you really want to use Opportunity Attacks, require your fleeing characters to move off your battle map in order to leave combat.

Given some of the responses here, I'd like to present some examples of what fleeing actually looks like:
 

Movement in D&D combat grants everyone, even the monsters, a degree of tactical competence by assuming that each step is a calculated affair. Spend six seconds walking thirty feet and you'll see what I mean...
I'm not sure what you are going for here.

A typical walking/hiking pace is 3.5 miles per hour. Which is really close to 30 feet per 6 seconds (30.8). A non-athlete can typically run a 10 minute mile, or 52.8 feet per 6 seconds. The world record for a mile is 3:43, resulting in is 140 feet per 6 seconds, and for a 100 meter sprint is 9.76 seconds for 23.35 mph or 205 feet per round.

Except for the 100 meter record (Usain Bolt!), all of those numbers are achievable, or close, in D&D. Take a rogue with fast movement, there is 120 feet / round. Add magic or higher base speeds and such and only Usain's sprint speed is hard to mimic.
 


NotAYakk

Legend
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.
Sure.

But if you are in melee, and you are running away from someone who moves at the same speed or faster than you do, you don't get away unless you pull off something fancy.

If everyone is move/OAing, then the fleeing foes are killed. You could eyeball how far they run if it matters. If it really matters (if the foe gets 100' away the world ends!) do the mechanics of each round.

The players are free to let fleeing foes flee. If they don't, well, you can solve "they won't get away" without mechanics, no?
 

Laurefindel

Legend
Sure.

But if you are in melee, and you are running away from someone who moves at the same speed or faster than you do, you don't get away unless you pull off something fancy.

If everyone is move/OAing, then the fleeing foes are killed. You could eyeball how far they run if it matters. If it really matters (if the foe gets 100' away the world ends!) do the mechanics of each round.

The players are free to let fleeing foes flee. If they don't, well, you can solve "they won't get away" without mechanics, no?
That's what the chase rules are for, with different checks to see who catches up with who, and who manages to run away from who. At least that's the "pulling something fancy" part. You can use the chase rules in the DMG or houseruled ones, but usually chase rules are a subsystem different from combat. Then, the question is when does a combat stop being combat and when does it start to be a chase.

My take is still: as soon as one wishes to escape, at the start of their turn.
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
But that sounds weird... if it is the pursuer declaring a chase. Why would a pursuer want to switch to chase rules, when the "sticky" combat movement rules make it very difficult for someone to flee?
What do you mean "want"?

I'm saying when the pursuer says they chase someone, it triggers the chase rules. What the pursuer wants is to catch their quarry and not let it get away. That's why they said they were chasing it.

I mean, the foe moves away... you just move back close to it.
Except that while you are trying to move back close to it, it continues to move away!

This is always advantageous to the pursuer because of Opportunity Attacks, whether the quarry tries dash, disengage or dodge. To have a chance the quarry needs a higher base speed, only in that case maybe a pursuer with a higher Constitution might think it has a better chance of catching up in a chase.
Again, this isn't about the pursuer choosing to invoke the chase rules. The chase rules are invoked because the pursuer chooses to pursue!
 

I rule a chase can happen at the end of a combat round. In combat or not.

If it doesn't then in reality running away doesn't really happen, because coordinated action isn't really possible in combat. Even if the players agree on something, the situation changes.

I'm perhaps a little asymmetrical in that I'd give engaged players an attack of opportuntiy, but don't usually worry about it the other way, but it doesn't really matter.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
I rule a chase can happen at the end of a combat round. In combat or not.

Interesting... I am used to not really give any meaning to the end of a round and just continue to highest initiative in the next, but this could be in fact one of the simplest solutions: the end of a round could be a time to assess the situation OOC and for a group to coordinate an escape.
 

S'mon

Legend
The PCs hardly flee. Last time they tried nobody wanted to be first and kept trying to use their action to help and then the fighters turn came back around and he was still trying to keep the big bad occupied and still nobody fled thinking to help the fighter.

IME this inability to retreat in individual-init games is a major source of TPK and near-TPK. So many players think in terms of 'not leaving anyone behind' and don't realise that the PC 'behind' them is about to get their turn, whereas if they go back to 'help' the monsters will go for them, and then the other PCs will feel obliged to go back to 'help', and you get this cascade of disaster.
 

Ok! So basically there is a sort of one round of transition during which everyone who wants to runaway OR pursue takes the Dash action (and I suppose they might also use their bonus action) while the others can take a regular turn but won't be allowed to join the chase. And after this transition round, you stop counting movements on the map and switch to simply tracking the distance as per the chase rules. Did I understand correctly?
Kinda depends on the exact situation, but more or less. You don't get to flee if you can't get off or near the edge of the battlemap, but I'm usually pretty lenient. If someone's staying behind, you have to be outside of their movement after your Dash to pursue, making a rear guard a very valuable retreat strategy.

Overall, I don't use the chase rules often after combat, as my players will often just choose to take pot-shots at them as they flee. They had a Han Solo moment early in my first 5E campaign, and decided not to risk that happening again.
 

S'mon

Legend
If I understand correctly, this is a small metagamy but effective approach of having a sort of perimeter of the combat area, so that exiting the perimeter triggers the switch from combat to chase?

Yeah, that's what I do. Chase rules are for 'unmapped' areas with imprecise locations. The combat rules work on a different paradigm.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
I'm not sure what you are going for here.

A typical walking/hiking pace is 3.5 miles per hour. Which is really close to 30 feet per 6 seconds (30.8). A non-athlete can typically run a 10 minute mile, or 52.8 feet per 6 seconds. The world record for a mile is 3:43, resulting in is 140 feet per 6 seconds, and for a 100 meter sprint is 9.76 seconds for 23.35 mph or 205 feet per round . . .
I'm referring to the contrast between fighting and fleeing speeds. If you're moving at a walking/hiking pace in combat, it's not because you're feeling chill. It's because you're fighting as you move. You're doing everything necessary to not instantly die, which is why you're moving at only 3.5 miles per hour.

When you flee in the neighborhood of, well, as fast as you can go, you're not fighting as you move, so the combat rules no longer apply.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
So, anyone can take the "flee" action in combat.

Once they do so, they move their speed away from hostile creatures, and ... become immune to being attacked until someone chases them?
 

Laurefindel

Legend
So, anyone can take the "flee" action in combat.

Once they do so, they move their speed away from hostile creatures, and ... become immune to being attacked until someone chases them?
That’s pretty much it.

It works best with a house rule where you can « chase » a prey with a spell or a ranged weapon without actually moving.

If one wants to allow retreat in D&D, that’s the best way to do it. Otherwise it becomes an option so inefficient that you’re better off fighting to the death pretty much all the time.

If the monsters flee? The PCs win their fight, they get their XPs, they look bad ass, and the game saved 20 minutes of tedious combat where the outcome was almost certain (otherwise the baddies wouldn’t have fled). Everyone's happy. If they really don’t want the bad guy to get away; that’s what the chase rules are for.

If the PCs flee? The PCs lost their fight, the game avoided a (probable) TPK, the bad guys keep doing their bad guy stuff, and everyone is happy. Well, the bad guys are at any case. If the bad guys really want to kill or capture the PCs; that’s what the chase rules are for.
 
Last edited:

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top