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Need suggestions for Flanking house rule

Malif

First Post
I've always had a problem with Flanking and the rogue's Sneak Attack, and I'm looking for opinions. Here's a hypothetical situation exaggerated to highlight the absurdity of the situation:

A 19th level rogue and 19th level fighter square off for a fight. Now, let's say the fighter charges the rogue and they start duking it out in Round 1. There's no surprise, no loss of Dex bonus, no Sneak Attack for the rogue. On the second round, the rogue's first-level follower rushes in behind the 19th level fighter and gives the 19th level rogue flanking. Now, the follower is a first-level NPC armed with a dagger. The 19th level fighter has seen this guy hanging around before. He knows the follower is pathetic. His chance to get through the fighter's +4 Full Plate is small and his damage is pathetic even if he gets lucky and hits. There's no way the 19th level fighter has anything to worry about from this guy. So, why does that justify the 19th level rogue gaining three primary and one off-hand attacks (he's fighting two-handed) each with full Sneak Attack damage (up to 40d6 extra damage depending on how many attacks hit), when in the first round, he didn't have the possibility of doing all that extra damage?

My view is that the fighter should just be able to say, "I totally ignore the 19th level rogue's flanker." If I allow such a thing, though, what "to hit" bonus should I give to the first-level follower who is flanking? I'm assuming it should be big, but not quite as big as if the 19th level fighter were "helpless", since he is still a moving target. I’m curious. What specifically do you think?

-- Malif
 

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El Mahdi

Muad'Dib of the Anauroch
For what you want to do, I'd say the flanker that's being ignored would be able to attack the fighter as if the fighter was flat footed. As long as the fighter "ignores" the flanker, the rogue isn't able to apply any backstabs. But, anytime the fighter makes an attack against the flanker, the rogue can backstab for the duration of 1 round (that way, if the rogue goes first in a round, the fighter can't decide to attack the flanker on his turn and still enjoy the benefit of no backstabs from the rogue).
 

StreamOfTheSky

Adventurer
If the Fighter is truly ignoring the follower. Enough to not have to worry about flanking, the follower can do a coup de grace every round on the Fighter. To completely let your guard down, that seems fair. And anything less than that just makes it too easy in less extreme examples for monsters to deny a rogue flanking.

So...take literally ONE attack to kill/knock out the pesky follower, then devote all your other attacks in that full attack to the rogue for one measy stinking round...or risk a 5% chance of instant-death from a really lucky dagger prick every round. Your call. :)
 

Kerrick

First Post
You can't be serious. A coup de grace? Against an active, not-dying foe? Come on.

I'd either go with "he's flat-footed" or just give the follower a +4 bonus.
 

Aus_Snow

First Post
I'd say, keep the rules as they are. Rogues are deviously clever, when it comes to exploiting even the least distraction. A flanker - any flanker - qualifies, in 3e.
 

Dross

Explorer
If the Fighter is truly ignoring the follower. Enough to not have to worry about flanking, the follower can do a coup de grace every round on the Fighter. To completely let your guard down, that seems fair. And anything less than that just makes it too easy in less extreme examples for monsters to deny a rogue flanking.

So...take literally ONE attack to kill/knock out the pesky follower, then devote all your other attacks in that full attack to the rogue for one measy stinking round...or risk a 5% chance of instant-death from a really lucky dagger prick every round. Your call. :)

Doesn't CDG provoke Attacks of opportunity (unless totally ignoring the L1 guy precludes threatening him)? As an aside, grapple the L20?

If I was to allow ignoring one attacker, the penalty would need to be huge (there really isn't an "ignore" rule other than not attacking) flat footed, plus +4 to hit would be minimum.

But, how does someone determine the threat level of a flanker?
 

Malif

First Post
Just wanted to thank everyone who took time to reply so far. This is a tough one for me. It's one of those, "Yeah, it might not fit reality, but what does changing it do to game balance?" kind of quandaries.

I found another thread here on invisible opponents flanking a target that, unfortunately, just makes it even more complicated:

http://www.enworld.org/forum/d-d-3rd-edition-rules/253648-can-you-flanked-invisible-opponents.html

A couple people point out that the rules only require you to threaten the opponent's square to be considered a potential flanker, and that means invisible opponents can be flankers. That pretty much throws out the whole, "I get a bonus to hit you because you're having to worry about the guy behind you hitting you too" thing.

That sort of leaves me thinking that either:

a) flanking is just some sort of quasi-mystical combat skill that can't be explained by any real-world circumstance, or

b) you can't be flanked if you don't know you're being flanked or if you choose to ignore your flanker

I think if I go with "b", I should take a clue from the whole "guy is surrounded by 8 thieves who all have Improved Invisibility" scenario from the other discussion and say that if you choose to ignore a flanker, the flanker is essentially "invisible" and gains whatever advantage an invisible attacker would have if they decided to just open up on you while you stood next to them.

But then again, maybe "a" is better for the game.

Thanks again, guys!

-- Malif
 

Nebten

First Post
It doesn't matter if attacker "knows" he's being flanked or not, its just that he is and the bonuses apply accordingly.

On the other end of the spectrum, an Illusion (figment) of a dragon on opposite side the rogue doesn't provide a flanking bonus since isn't not "threatening" with a weapon (natural or otherwise). But I'm sure that fighter will not ignore the dragon. Just play with it as a mechanic and have fun. Much like how evasion allows you to ignore 100% damage from a fireball that fills up a 5' wide corridor.

If you want to make the rules more complicated as they are try this: ignoring other combants makes you flat footed, +4 bonus to hit and you no longer have a threat zone with your weapon. I would make it all or nothing, not just picking which one or 2 combants you wish to ignore that round.
 

StreamOfTheSky

Adventurer
Doesn't CDG provoke Attacks of opportunity (unless totally ignoring the L1 guy precludes threatening him)? As an aside, grapple the L20?

The Fighter can't take the AoO, and in fact doesn't threaten the L1 guy, by virtue of the fact he's IGNORING him completely. :)

And yes, Kerrick, I'm serious. To totally disregard a foe threatening you is a grevious laxitude. If you really want to get technical about the whole "what if the guy has no chance at all of harming me?" scenario, he's still at least a nuissance. If someone kept jabbing me in the spine with a plastic knife, it wouldn't really hurt, but I wouldn't be able to just ignore it for long without turning around and strangling the little bastard.

And from a game balance perspective, it's important to make sure the rogue gets his flanking benefit in melee. Even with it, he generally gets pulverized by an equal level fighter in a full attack exchange. And there could be many situations where mathematically if the penalties were minor, it would be very much worthwhile to ignore the rogue's flanking buddy.

And again, this is all not taking into account the point another poster made (I forgot to, glad he did): awareness has nothing to do with getting flanked. Invisible attackers can flank you, even if you don't realize one of them is there. Flanking in 3E is some weird mish-mash of abstracted facing rules + coordinated teamwork + other stuff all rolled into one simple condition.

Back to the coup de grace thing. I think if the fighter truly were ignoring the L1 guy completely and not caring to leave his defenses wide open, it makes perfect sense for the L1 to line up a coup de grace. What the OP is talking about goes beyond "not seeing" the weak ally. The fighter is actively choosing to not even try to defend himself.
 

Ilja

First Post
I'd say as some others have already said: Consider him flatfooted, and the ignored character gets flanking bonus.

And I'd like to add: Once the ignored flanker has inflicted at least 1 point of damage or ANY other sort of negative effect on the fighter, he can't be ignored anymore.

I don't agree with coup de grace though. Even if you invisible, inside a Silence spell, and sneak up to someone without sense of smell from behind when he's eating dinner, you don't get coup de grace as he's not per the rules helpless (as I see them in the PHB at least). He'll still be a moving target in full plate, and automatically hitting him is weird. Actually, it's pretty much impossible to hit someone wearing full plate with a dagger from behind. I mean, THIS stuff is hard to get through.

Something that the ignored guy CAN do with great success though, and a thing that was used IRL to combat warriors in full plate, is simply tripping him.

Consider the fighter (Level 19 Fighter Str 20, Dex 13, Con 16, +4 full plate, some magic giving +3 AC thus 10+12+1+3=26 AC, 14 Touch AC, 25 FFAC) and the follower (Level 1 Rogue, Str 11, Dex 13, Con 10).
If the rogue attempts to trip the fighter, he must make an touch attack roll against the flat-footed fighter.
He gets 1d20 + 2 (for flanking) versus an AC of 13 (neither armor nor dexterity counting). He's got 50% chance of succeeding at this. After that, he has to roll
1d20 and beat 1d20+5. He's got a 30% chance of succeeding at this (120/400).
I'd of course rule that if you can't take an attack of opportunity, you can't respond to the trip attempt by trying to trip the attacker. This I'd do regardless of the situation.
This means he's got a 15% chance of succeeding to trip the fighter. In a prolonged fight, it's DEFINATELY in the fighters best interest to get rid of the flanker ASAP. Should he fall prone, not only will the rogue get sneak attack bonus - the fighter would also gain -4 on AC and if trying to stand up, provoke an AoO.

Still, I don't have a problem with a 19-th level warrior with almost superhuman strength and magic protection and full plate being able to ignore the threat of a 1-st level rogue for a couple of turns. On the other hand, if there's three of the first-level rogues, you're in for a problem. They can simply push you to the ground and do their work in whatever time they wish, two people grappling and one removing the helmet. Past that, I feel sorry for the fighter (except that dealing 1d6+1d4 damage to a grappled fighter means it will take an average of 28 turns for him to hit "dying", not including criticals.)

tl;dr
If you've got a full plate, the guys dagger is seriously NO threat at all. The risk consists of him throwing all his weight on you.
 
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