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D&D 5E Ranged attacks and disadvantage in melee

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
Using ammunition as a melee weapon falls under improvised weapon rules.
He also fires his bow in those situations--I was not talking about him stabbing an orc with an arrow. :rolleyes:

Watch the movies again. :D

Now you're being obtuse for the sake of being obtuse.
No, I was quoting you:
Not when the sword guy is literally bearing down on him and about to stick him.
And how is it any different from a melee character when a "sword guys is literally bearing down on him blah blah blah"?
and decided I had quoted enough since I really didn't see this discussion leading anywhere productive. ;)

If I have to explain to you the obvious fact that it is much easier to defend yourself against and attack an enemy in melee combat with an actual melee weapon
You don't have to explain anything... you don't even need to reply, in fact.

there is no reason to continue this conversation.
Finally, you say something that makes sense! Have a nice day. :)
 

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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Here's an interesting side question (well, to me anyway, since I have two characters in our games with nets, one a sea elf wizard and one a ranger with the fisher background):

A Net is a ranged weapon that has a range of 5'/15'. Is the attack always at disadvantage when throwing it?
Yep, unless the net user has Crossbow Expert and/or Sharpshooter.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Always? No. But it usually is at disadvantage. The times when they're not at disadvantage is when you are unseen, when your target is incapacitated (stun, unconscious, paralyzed, etc.), when you're underwater, when you've gained advantage from a source not listed above.

Notice the situations called out negates the "ranged in melee" situation, so they stack with advantage. Sneak up on someone and use your net attack, you get advantage on the roll. It can be quite useful for sneak attacks. Monk stuns the enemy? Use the net to basically ensure it has to get through the net and the stun to get rehabilitated.
Oh, good points.
 

and decided I had quoted enough since I really didn't see this discussion leading anywhere productive. ;)
Your suggestion to give ranged combat, already on the powerful side of things in 5e, a buff it never needed, using the most corner-case fantasy example ever as your justification, was never going to result in a productive discussion.

Quite frankly, your 6eNow! handle makes it obvious any discussion with you about 5e rules will never be productive.
 

Asisreo

Archdevil's Advocate
Why impose disadvantage or grant an OA? A melee opponent is assumed always be actively threatening their target, regardless of what weapon you are wielding. And, as you say, ranged attackers typically already have lower ACs and are often denied "parry"-type features.
I don't entirely understand what you're asking but I'll clarify some things.

When a creature is in melee with someone hostile to it, it has disadvantage on ranged attacks (both weapon and spell attacks). This means a ranged combatant must now fight in melee, which is something they rarely want to do with someone that is built specifically for melee. Well, they could walk away, but they risk Attacks of Opportunities against an enemy who already has strong melee attacks.

So if the Ranged attacker wants to escape with minimal pressure, they'd have to teleport, use their action to disengage, or make themselves unseen somehow. These all have costs to them, though. When a ranged combatant is in melee, they are at disadvantage both technically and definitively.
Oh, good points.
One last point that undoes disadvantage: Charming the enemy.

The enemy must be hostile to have a net put on it, but certain charm effects turn the opposition into friendly acquaintances or better. This means you don't get disadvantage against them since they aren't hostile to you.
 

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
Your suggestion to give ranged combat, already on the powerful side of things in 5e, a buff it never needed
It isn't a buff--it is removing a nerf. Also, I disagree that ranged combat is really any more powerful than melee, anyway.

using the most corner-case fantasy example ever as your justification
One of the most commonly cited concepts of ranged combat in melee

was never going to result in a productive discussion.
Frankly, there was never anything to discuss.

your 6eNow! handle makes it obvious any discussion with you about 5e rules will never be productive.
Lots of people want and speculate on 6E, and I still play 5E, so that really has nothing to do with this. shrug
 

So if the Ranged attacker wants to escape with minimal pressure, they'd have to teleport, use their action to disengage, or make themselves unseen somehow. These all have costs to them, though. When a ranged combatant is in melee, they are at disadvantage both technically and definitively.
One last point that undoes disadvantage: Charming the enemy.

The enemy must be hostile to have a net put on it, but certain charm effects turn the opposition into friendly acquaintances or better. This means you don't get disadvantage against them since they aren't hostile to you.
I like the charm idea!

Now that you bring up the hostile requirement, I'm noticing something else in the rule:

you have disadvantage on the attack roll if you are within 5 feet of a hostile creature who can see you and who isn't incapacitated.

Would you say that as long as any hostile creature is within 5' of the PC, a ranged attack on any creature is at disadvantage regardless of whether or not the target of the ranged attack is that same hostile creature?
I had always thought the rule was specific to a target that is next to the ranged attacker, but now I'm thinking the disadvantage actually goes beyond that...
 

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
I don't entirely understand what you're asking but I'll clarify some things.

When a creature is in melee with someone hostile to it, it has disadvantage on ranged attacks (both weapon and spell attacks). This means a ranged combatant must now fight in melee, which is something they rarely want to do with someone that is built specifically for melee. Well, they could walk away, but they risk Attacks of Opportunities against an enemy who already has strong melee attacks.

So if the Ranged attacker wants to escape with minimal pressure, they'd have to teleport, use their action to disengage, or make themselves unseen somehow. These all have costs to them, though. When a ranged combatant is in melee, they are at disadvantage both technically and definitively.
Ok, picture this: a wizard (empty hands but a spell component pouch) is being attacked by two orcs in melee.

Case 1: He casts shocking grasp (without problems) against an orc.
Case 2: He casts fire bolt at one of the orcs instead (suppose he doesn't know shocking grasp)! But now he is supposed to have disadvantage...

Why the disadvantage in the second case? In both cases he has no weapon to block with, etc. and is just as exposed to melee attacks regardless of which spell he casts. He is still attacking one of the orcs he is facing, not focusing on a third target or anything.

So, my point is why would you attribute disadvantage to an attack form (ranged) and not another (melee) when the PC is in the same situation?
 

Asisreo

Archdevil's Advocate
I like the charm idea!

Now that you bring up the hostile requirement, I'm noticing something else in the rule:

you have disadvantage on the attack roll if you are within 5 feet of a hostile creature who can see you and who isn't incapacitated.

Would you say that as long as any hostile creature is within 5' of the PC, a ranged attack on any creature is at disadvantage regardless of whether or not the target of the ranged attack is that same hostile creature?
I had always thought the rule was specific to a target that is next to the ranged attacker, but now I'm thinking the disadvantage actually goes beyond that...
This is precisely the interaction and why I think Ranged combat gets too overstated.

A melee combatant shuts down any and all ranged attacks from every nearby enemy regardless of targets.

This also helps tanking-type builds. Most disregard tanking in 5e because there's hardly any reliable way to force aggro but being able to disrupt attacks is nearly as effective. A Barbarian that reckless attacks both makes targetting the distant members harder while they make targetting themselves easier. Backing up to attack still puts the Barbarian's damage on the board and basically multiplies their damage by x1.5-2.
Ok, picture this: a wizard (empty hands but a spell component pouch) is being attacked by two orcs in melee.

Case 1: He casts shocking grasp (without problems) against an orc.
Case 2: He casts fire bolt at one of the orcs instead (suppose he doesn't know shocking grasp)! But now he is supposed to have disadvantage...

Why the disadvantage in the second case? In both cases he has no weapon to block with, etc. and is just as exposed to melee attacks regardless of which spell he casts. He is still attacking one of the orcs he is facing, not focusing on a third target or anything.

So, my point is why would you attribute disadvantage to an attack form (ranged) and not another (melee) when the PC is in the same situation?
Mostly game balance. Again, there should be some significant trade-off for added range.

Ranged attacks already have alot going for them. Dexterity is a favorable ability score in almost all campaigns anyways. Alot of enemies are more effective in melee than at ranged. Terrain itself usually favors ranged characters too since anything that makes movement harder makes getting close to ranged enemies harder by consequence.

More damage, higher AC, and more carrying capacity probably isn't exactly enough to justify putting your character in a dangerous position: front and center. There should be more rewards to being in melee and more penalties for ranged combatants being in melee.
 


6ENow!

The Game Is Over
Mostly game balance. Again, there should be some significant trade-off for added range.

Ranged attacks already have alot going for them. Dexterity is a favorable ability score in almost all campaigns anyways. Alot of enemies are more effective in melee than at ranged. Terrain itself usually favors ranged characters too since anything that makes movement harder makes getting close to ranged enemies harder by consequence.

More damage, higher AC, and more carrying capacity probably isn't exactly enough to justify putting your character in a dangerous position: front and center. There should be more rewards to being in melee and more penalties for ranged combatants being in melee.
This isn't the case of a bow or other ranged weapon, though, this is a spellcaster using INT--not nearly as favored an ability score RAW.

Ranged attacks also have to deal with firing into melee and cover issues. Return range fire has all the advantages you have when making a ranged attack. Terrain adds to cover, so at best ranged attackers must ready an attack and use their reaction, limiting them to one at best.

Ranged is superior to melee overall as it should be. The penalty a ranged PC has in melee, again, is typically a lower AC, etc.

And frankly, IMO, game balance is never good justification for a rule. Period. Otherwise, it is just poor game design. shrug

Anyway, I know why they made the rule--I just don't think it is needed. AD&D never had such a rule and the game played well without it. Remove it from 5E, and things really won't change much IMO.

Removing a nerf IS a buff.
No, it is setting things back to level. If ranged attacks made against opponents in melee with the attacker had advantage, that would be a buff. :)
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
A melee combatant shuts down any and all ranged attacks from every nearby enemy regardless of targets.
Shut down? No, just makes it harder. And compared to 3e and ranged attacks provoking an AoO, this is a lot easier on the ranged attacker. And when you consider they can take a feat to avoid the problem entirely, it's very easy to neutralize this as a problem if the player chooses to do so.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
Anyway, I know why they made the rule--I just don't think it is needed. AD&D never had such a rule and the game played well without it. Remove it from 5E, and things really won't change much IMO.
AD&D also had minute long rounds, so it was considerably more abstract when it came to combat. It also had relatively arcane rules about what a shot in close quarters was actually capable of hitting. Unless the target were well out of melee, shooting in and around the fracas could be a dubious plan. In some ways, that's a worse complication than being penalized with disadvantage.
 

aco175

Legend
I agree with the first few posters. Goes with some of the hiding threads in that if someone moved behind me and then hid behind a curtain or bush- I would still know he is there and I would still impose disadvantage. I would allow someone that is invisible to shoot normally, at least until they turned visible.

Blindsight, I always pictured like in the Daredevil movie with the rain bouncing off things and he being able to make things out.

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I like the charm idea!

Now that you bring up the hostile requirement, I'm noticing something else in the rule:

you have disadvantage on the attack roll if you are within 5 feet of a hostile creature who can see you and who isn't incapacitated.

Would you say that as long as any hostile creature is within 5' of the PC, a ranged attack on any creature is at disadvantage regardless of whether or not the target of the ranged attack is that same hostile creature?
I had always thought the rule was specific to a target that is next to the ranged attacker, but now I'm thinking the disadvantage actually goes beyond that...
It goes beyond that. All attacks will be made at disadvantage whether you target the opponent next to you or the one that is further away. I always thought that the rule was pretty clear.

That said. Historically, archer units were the lord of the battle field. Yet, in order to fire bows and carry many arrows, they were usually less armored and carried relatively short swords. Launching your troops against unites of archers was costly in manpower and thus, cavalry comes into play. The role of the cavalry was to destroy the archery units as fast as possible then cavalry was countered by pikemen and skirmishers which were countered by infantry... The trick was to know and predict which move would come first.

As soon as archers were in hand to hand combat, they were put to shred with very few survivors. Giving them disadvantage in melee is quite logical and accurate. As for the spells...
Shocking grasp is a melee spell. Melee vs melee I see no reason to give disadvantage. You just want to connect with your target. You do not aim precisely, you just want to connect (there should be a rule for touch attacks...).
The firebolt on the other hand is much like an arrow because you need to aim for your target. Targeting is way more difficult than striking and parrying.
 

Ok a few things came up on the verbiage:

"you have disadvantage on the attack roll if you are within 5 feet of a hostile creature who can see you and who isn’t incapacitated."

Ok this brought up a specific cases in a recent game I DM and caused a larger discussion with one of the players. Here is my interpretation, tell me if I am wrong.

1. "I move behind him so he can't see me"
My rule is being behind someone does not mean they can't see you. Most enemies can turn and look at you. If you are sneaking up behind someone who does not know you are ther and you pass your stealth check ok I might let this go and I might even give you advantage, but if you are within 5 ft of an enemy an he knows you are there he is going to turn his head and look at you before you shoot.

2. Blind sight is not the same as seeing me
I am actually going to go with the player on this. If you are fighting someone who has no eyes (like a plant) I will let you shoot from 5' without disadvantage since he has no eyes and can't "see" anything.

What do you think?
Disadvantage in both cases. Unless you are using facing rules, it is assumed people are staying aware of things happening all around them.
Blindsight is still sight. Compare with blindsense or tremorsense which would not give disadvantage.

Shocker--ranged attacks are more dangerous. Which is why ranged combat is so strong historically. Being able to attack a foe without immediate risk to yourself is pretty good.
Ranged combat has probably been stronger than melee in military terms for around maybe 10% of history.

If a PC has a sword and the foe has a bow, the bow guy definitely has the advantage. PCs (given the heroic view) wouldn't suffer issues uses a ranged attack in melee.
Dropping a human sized target with a bow is not easy. Give the melee guy a shield and your odds plummet. Ranged attacks in D&D are probably more effective in comparison to melee than realism would dictate.

Good points, all, but I want to address this in particular:


Why impose disadvantage or grant an OA? A melee opponent is assumed always be actively threatening their target, regardless of what weapon you are wielding. And, as you say, ranged attackers typically already have lower ACs and are often denied "parry"-type features.
I believe that the designers thought that trying to line up a shot with a bow or crossbow while someone is actively hacking at you and your weapon is trickier than taking the shot when you and your weapon are not being smacked around.

I like the charm idea!

Now that you bring up the hostile requirement, I'm noticing something else in the rule:

you have disadvantage on the attack roll if you are within 5 feet of a hostile creature who can see you and who isn't incapacitated.

Would you say that as long as any hostile creature is within 5' of the PC, a ranged attack on any creature is at disadvantage regardless of whether or not the target of the ranged attack is that same hostile creature?
I had always thought the rule was specific to a target that is next to the ranged attacker, but now I'm thinking the disadvantage actually goes beyond that...
Any ranged attack. Doesn't matter who you're targetting.
He also fires his bow in those situations--I was not talking about him stabbing an orc with an arrow. :rolleyes:

Watch the movies again. :D
Most of the time he is shooting orcs at short range but before they got within swinging range.
The other times? He is just that good.

Ok, picture this: a wizard (empty hands but a spell component pouch) is being attacked by two orcs in melee.

Case 1: He casts shocking grasp (without problems) against an orc.
Case 2: He casts fire bolt at one of the orcs instead (suppose he doesn't know shocking grasp)! But now he is supposed to have disadvantage...

Why the disadvantage in the second case? In both cases he has no weapon to block with, etc. and is just as exposed to melee attacks regardless of which spell he casts. He is still attacking one of the orcs he is facing, not focusing on a third target or anything.

So, my point is why would you attribute disadvantage to an attack form (ranged) and not another (melee) when the PC is in the same situation?
I would posit that Shocking Grasp has components that do not expose you quite as much as Fire Bolt's do.
On the basis that melee range spells with components that do expose you simply aren't used.
 

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
Ranged combat has probably been stronger than melee in military terms for around maybe 10% of history.
I might argue as much as 20%, but of course your premise is correct.

Dropping a human sized target with a bow is not easy. Give the melee guy a shield and your odds plummet. Ranged attacks in D&D are probably more effective in comparison to melee than realism would dictate.
Well, I wouldn't know first hand as I've never tried shooting an arrow at a human-sized target, especially in combat when it was trying to avoid me. ;)

With a shield, of course the odds plummet! (For 5E, your chance decreases 10% with the +2 AC bonus.)

I agree with the bolded statement as well (to a point).

The other times? He is just that good.
And the rule suggests PCs can't be unless you take Crossbow Expert. Or, who knows... maybe it is just because orcs' ACs suck and he is so good the disadvantage really doesn't matter? That is more likely the case.

I mean orcs in 5E have AC 13. Assuming Legolas has +12 to hit, he would only miss on double 1's or less than 10% of the time if he did have disadvantage...

I would posit that Shocking Grasp has components that do not expose you quite as much as Fire Bolt's do.
On the basis that melee range spells with components that do expose you simply aren't used.
I'm not following you here. Care to elaborate?
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
TL: DR Throw the 5-foot disadvantage rule out, and OP's 2nd concern becomes moot.

More damage, higher AC, and more carrying capacity probably isn't exactly enough to justify putting your character in a dangerous position: front and center. There should be more rewards to being in melee and more penalties for ranged combatants being in melee.
Did I miss the context? Why, exactly, should melee be rewarded over ranged combat?

I believe that the designers thought that trying to line up a shot with a bow or crossbow while someone is actively hacking at you and your weapon is trickier than taking the shot when you and your weapon are not being smacked around.
I believe they did, too. But that doesn't make sense for two reasons:

1) Ranged weapons take disadvantage at distance. The opposite of that, being as close to the target as possible, should get advantage.

2) "Someone actively hacking" is part of the assumption. But how many D&D opponents fit this assumption? Spellcasting wizards don't. Neither do animals (which should include many monsters with similar tactics...and plants...); they don't bat/parry away your attacks (or bow in this case). They just try to bite the closest or most accessible thing they can. Which could be your leg, arm, head... Regardless, they don't make it any harder to shoot them with your bow than to spear them or stab them.
 

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