Level Up (A5E) Level Up Playtest Document: #18: Combat

This is a big one, folks. If any playtest document needed playing rather than just reading, this is it. What we are giving you here is the entire combat chapter. You can use this chapter in your regular 5E combats (or you can use our previous playtest documents, like Combat Maneuvers); it’s the same game you know and love, the same system you’re familiar with, but with upgrades and tweaks. We can’t wait to find out what you think of it!

Take this and use it on your 5E games. Then come back and tell us how it went. Thank you!


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Well, that was fun
Staff member
Is the long standing DM who love to dig in to rules minutiae confused, no.

Would a more casual player reading through the section be confused.... maybe.
Well, the survey will reveal all! But, please, do answer for yourself, not what you imagine some hypothetical other person might answer. That's the opposite of useful playtest data. If something is confusing, those who are confused by it will let us know. :)

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  • One confusion on Fatigue: It says you get fatigue "when you fall unconscious 2+ times in combat". So on the third unconscious, do I get a new fatigue or is it one time per encounter? That part is not clear to me.
This part is not clear to me either


OK, I, as usually, have some questions (relevant sections bolded):

For mounted combat, it says you make a Dex save or fall off the creature you're riding. What happens if you succeed? Are you still mounted, but prone on the animal? It also says that if your creature is knocked prone, you might fall prone (unless you use a reaction to land on your feet). I feel this should be a Dex save--if you save, you can use your reaction (if you can't use your reaction, you just fall prone). If you fail, you fall prone and are trapped under the animal and have to use an action or some movement to pull yourself loose.

I have to ask... are there critical fumble tables?

On two-weapon fighting, just to make sure: if you have Extra Attacks--say, for two attacks per round--you could theoretically make four attacks. Two with your main weapon and two with your off-hand weapon. Yes?

For critical hits, you double all of your damage modifiers? In 05e, you only add those once. Just making sure that that's not a mistake.

Did I say I liked ongoing damage already? I like ongoing damage. I take it that this damage doesn't end after a minute, which things like this normally do in 05e, but just keeps on going.

Maybe it's just me, but I feel like massive damage should destroy or damage the body in some way, making spells like revivify unusable and requiring something like raise dead instead.

I think you can get away with saying that a death saving throw is DC 10, rather than going through the whole "if you roll a 10 or higher, you succeed" thing Save a few lines.

You should probably have the Fatigue, Death, and Doom section actually be Death, Fatigue, and Doom--the order in which you're explaining things.

Edit: You should probably give some examples for being Doomed beyond just taking a lot of fatigue.

I really like the "sacrifice shield" thing. It's very evocative. Any chance you can do something like this against an effect that calls for a save? Because having your shield take the brunt of a dragonfire would be really cool. Like, sacrificing the shield to give you a bonus to your save, or maybe reducing the damage by a Xd6 or something?

A love, love, love the environments you have here! My only suggestion is that Forested and Frigid could have slippery patches of wet leaves or ice that could cause creatures to slip and fall prone. (Ditto Rocky, with rolling gravel.) Also? Love that you can deflect spells with a mirror! I squee'd. You may have heard me.

This line from controlling summons and multiple creatures needs explaining: Add +1 to the DC and damage for every other member of the group, or +2 if they are Medium-sized or larger. The phrase "every other" can mean "each additional" or it can mean that you count one, skip one, count one, skip one.

In general, well done! I'll go over the packet a few more times and see what else comes up.


Also, I did a combat:

The Scene
Kaidu, a young emerald dragonborn (3rd-level fighter, Samurai archetype) is walking down the road, whistling tunelessly to herself as she travels to the mysterious town of B. Little does she know that a bugbear has been lurking in the bushes. Initiative is rolled, and Snarg the bugbear rolls higher. Kaidu is not a Dex build.

Round 1
Snarg the bugbear is so well-hidden that he surprises Kaidu when he uses 10 feet of movement to leap out and attack. Kaidu can't move or take actions this turn, and can't take reactions until after her first turn. Snarg tries to Strangle her. Snarg rolls with advantage for being hidden, but his highest roll only totals 17, which misses Kaidu's AC of 18 (chainmail + shield).

It's now Kaidu's turn, but she can't do anything because of surprise. Sadly, she also can't use her Exploit Footing maneuver reaction either, which would be perfect in this situation.

Round 2
Annoyed that his sneak attack didn't work, Snarg grabs his morningstar (Use an Object, free action) and decides that he wants this fight over quickly--that's why he attacked from hiding to begin with! Snarg decides to use his bonus action to Press the Attack. Kaidu, who had totally not been prepared for this ambush, freaks out a little. She uses her reaction to Fall Back. Snarg curses, and rerolls the dice. He only rolls a 14 this time.

Still freaking a bit, Kaidu uses her breath weapon which, due to her emerald dragon ancestry, is a loud, keening wail that sets up sonic vibrations. Snerg, happily (for him) easily succeeds on his save and so only takes 3 points of thunder damage, dropping his hp to 23. While doing so, she draws her longsword.

Round 3
Through ringing ears, Snarg decides that fair fights suck and tries to Knockdown Kaidu. It succeeds, as Kaidu, despite being quite strong, only gets an 8 on the die. She takes 1 point of damage (bringing her to 27 hp) and is now prone.

Kaidu, using half her movement, stands up. Seriously miffed now, she first uses her bonus action to bring up her samurai Fighting Spirit, gaining advantage on her attack rolls this turn plus 6 temp hp. She then spends 2 exertion on the Eye Slash maneuver and attacks... rolling a natural 20! Kaidu gives a quick prayer to the goddess, She-Who-Rolls-Dice, who had created the Holy Houserule that crits always have one of the dice do max damage. And so Kaidu does a total of 16 slashing damage. Snarg also has to make a DC 14 Con save or be blinded. He rolls a 2.

Round 4
Snarg, now down to 7 hit points and currently blind, is seriously regretting his life choices now. He briefly longs for the days his grandma told him about, when morale checks existed and he could run away. Ah, screw it. Despite being in quite a bit of pain, he remembers to Disengage, and starts to run. Well, to walk away at a speed of 30 feet.

Kaidu hesitates briefly: run after him, or let him go? Well, the bugbear is clearly a threat to passers-by, so she runs (walks) the 30 feet and attacks again, this time spending another exertion (leaving her with only 1 left) on the Knockdown Assault maneuver. She rolls a 15, which is just enough to hit, but and ends up rolling 9 damage--enough to cause Snerg to drop to 0 hp. Well, he's down; Kaidu didn't realize how badly damaged he was. A waste of an exertion point, but oh well.

Since he's unconscious now, Kaidu decides to leave it up to Fate (as determined by She-Who-Rolls-Dice) to determine whether or not the bugbear will live or die. She hopes that if he does live, he rethinks the whole "jump out at strangers" thing and instead decides to become a farmer or something.


I read that as gaining a point of fatigue every time you go down in an encounter beyond the first one. It's a solution I really appreciate for popcorn healing and adds great tension and choice to someone being downed in a dangerous fight.

I love the bit in Countdowns we didn't get in the preview, I'd already been thinking about making it a 5 or 6 on the final die, but having that included with a handy math chart is very very nice :D

The only thing that caught me as concerning on a first read through was in the Variant Facing rule. It says you can use a Reaction to turn and face someone moving around you, but that reads as a bit too restricting. It should just allow adjustment to facing in general. If someone is running behind me but I'm already facing someone, I feel like I should be able to half turn and give both a +1 while keeping my eyes on both of them instead of turning my back to the other one.


Are the values for surrounding creatures in the size categories table supposed to also be valid for playing on a hex grid (with a medium creature taking up 2 hexes so it still has 8 surrounding ones), or should those values drop to 6, 6, 6, 9, etc.?


Countdown is a really cool mechanic. If there's room, I'd add some guidelines about how more dice with a lower target number will give you a somewhat more predictable countdown – a slow one-die countdown and a medium 4-5-die countdown both take an average of 6 rounds, but the one-die countdown has about a 40% chance of expiring in three rounds or less, but the 4-die countdown only has about a 25% chance. So if it's "this could happen at any moment", go for fewer dice with a lower chance, and if it's more predictable, go for more dice with a higher chance. Also, I would have the countdown happen at the end of the round, so you don't run the risk of going "Ha-ha! Now you're going to have to fix this before I roll fives or sixes on these four dice... oops."

(If you want to do math to it, calculating
output [count {5,6} in 4d6]
will show you the probabilities of rolling 0 through 4 5s or 6s on 4d6 in Anydice. Cascading those through multiple iterations can get pretty complex however.)

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